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Selected Messages Book 2

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    Chapter 15—Admonition Will Be Heard

    [Appeared in Notebook Leaflets, Methods, No. 1.]

    We are living in the last days of this earth's history, and we may be surprised at nothing in the line of apostasies and denials of the truth. Unbelief has now come to be a fine art which men work at to the destruction of their souls. There is constant danger of there being shams in pulpit preachers, whose lives contradict the words they speak; but the voice of warning and of admonition will be heard as long as time shall last; and those who are guilty of transactions that should never be entered into, when reproved or counseled through the Lord's appointed agencies, will resist the message and refuse to be corrected. They will go on as did Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar, until the Lord takes away their reason, and their hearts become unimpressible. The Lord's word will come to them; but if they choose not to hear it, the Lord will make them responsible for their own ruin.2SM 147.1

    In John the Baptist the Lord raised up for Himself a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord. He was to bear to the world an unflinching testimony in reproving and denouncing sin. Luke, in announcing his mission and work, says, “And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).2SM 147.2

    Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees came to the baptism of John, and addressing these, he said, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:7-12).2SM 148.1

    The voice of John was lifted up like a trumpet. His commission was, “Shew My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1). He had obtained no human scholarship. God and nature had been his teachers. But one was needed to prepare the way before Christ who was bold enough to make his voice heard like the prophets of old, summoning the degenerate nation to repentance.2SM 148.2

    Heard by All Classes

    And all went forth into the wilderness to hear him. Unlearned fishermen and peasants came from the surrounding countries and from regions nigh and afar off. The Roman soldiers from the barracks of Herod came to hear. Chieftains came with their swords girded by their sides, to put down anything that savored of riot or rebellion. The avaricious tax gatherers came from the regions round about; and from the Sanhedrim came forth the phylacteried priests. All listened as if spellbound; and all came away, even the Pharisee, the Sadducee, and the cold, unimpressionable scoffer of the age, with the sneer gone, and cut to the heart with a sense of their sin. There were no long arguments, no finely cut theories, elaborately delivered in their “firstly,” “secondly,” and “thirdly.” But pure native eloquence was revealed in the short sentences, every word carrying with it the certainty and truth of the weighty warnings given.2SM 148.3

    The warning message of John was in the same lines as the warning to Nineveh, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). Nineveh repented, and called upon God, and God accepted their acknowledgment of Him. Forty years of probation was granted them in which to reveal the genuineness of their repentance and to turn from sin. But Nineveh turned again to the worship of images; her iniquity became deeper and more desperate than before, because the light had come and had not been heeded.2SM 149.1

    John called every class to repentance. To the Pharisees and Sadducees he said, Flee from the wrath to come. Your claims to Abraham as your father are not of the least value to you. They will not impart to you pure principles and holiness of character. Ceremonial sacrifices possess no value unless you discern their object, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. You turn from God's requirements and follow your own perverted ideas; and you lose those characteristics which constitute you children of Abraham.2SM 149.2

    And pointing to the rocks in wild confusion around through which the stream was winding its course, he said, “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).2SM 149.3

    John the Baptist met sin with open rebuke in men of humble occupation and in men of high degree. He declared the truth to kings and nobles, whether they would hear or reject it. He spoke personally and pointedly. He reproved the Pharisees of the Sanhedrim because their religion consisted in forms and not in righteousness of pure, willing obedience.... He spoke to Herod in regard to his marriage with Herodias, saying, It is not lawful for thee to have her. He spoke to him of a future retribution, when God would judge every man according to his works....2SM 149.4

    “Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?” (Luke 3:12). Did he say, Leave your toll and custom houses? No, he said to them, “Exact no more than that which is appointed you” (Luke 3:13). If they were taxgatherers still, they could hold just weights and balances of truth in their hands. They could reform in those things that savored of dishonesty and oppression.2SM 150.1

    “And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14)....2SM 150.2

    The Sword of Truth at Work

    Christ also spoke pointedly to every class of men. He reproved those who dominated over their fellow men, those whose passions and prejudices caused many to err and compelled many to blaspheme God. The sword of truth was blunted by apologies and suppositions; but Christ called things by their right names. The ax was laid to the root of the tree. He showed that all the religious forms of worship could not save the Jewish nation, because they did not behold and receive by faith the Lamb of God as their Saviour.2SM 150.3

    Just such a work and message as that of John will be carried on in these last days. The Lord has been giving messages to His people, through the instruments He has chosen, and He would have all take heed to the admonitions and warnings He sends.2SM 150.4

    The message preceding the public ministry of the Son of God was, Repent, publicans; repent, Pharisees and Sadducees, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Our message is not to be one of “peace and safety” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). As a people who believe in Christ's soon appearing, we have a work to do, a message to bear—“Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12). We are to lift up the standard, and bear the third angel's message—the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.2SM 150.5

    The Message for Today

    The message we bear must be as direct as was the message of John. He rebuked kings for their iniquity. He rebuked the adultery of Herod. Notwithstanding his life was in peril, the truth did not languish upon his lips. And our work in this age must be as faithfully done. The inhabitants of the world at this time are represented by the dwellers upon the earth at the time of the Flood. The wickedness of the inhabitants of the old world is plainly stated: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God became weary of these people whose only thoughts were of pleasure and indulgence. They sought not the counsel of the God who had created them, nor cared to do His will. The rebuke of God was upon them because they followed the imagination of their own hearts continually; and there was violence in the land. “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” “And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:6, 12, 13)....2SM 151.1

    There are special duties to be done, special reproofs to be given in this period of the earth's history. The Lord will not leave His church without reproofs and warnings. Sins have become fashionable; but they are none the less aggravating in the sight of God. They are glossed over, palliated, and excused; the right hand of fellowship is given to the very men who are bringing in false theories and false sentiments, confusing the minds of the people of God, deadening their sensibilities as to what constitutes right principles. Conscience has thus become insensible to the counsels and the reproofs which have been given. The light given, calling to repentance, has been extinguished in the clouds of unbelief and opposition brought in by human plans and human inventions.2SM 151.2

    It is living earnestness that God requires. Ministers may have little learning from books; but if they do the best they can with their talents, if they work as they have opportunity, if they clothe their utterances in the plainest and most simple language, if they are humble men who walk in carefulness and humility, seeking for heavenly wisdom, working for God from the heart, and actuated by one predominating motive—love for Christ and the souls for whom He has died—they will be listened to by men of even superior ability and talents. There will be a charm in the simplicity of the truths they present. Christ is the greatest teacher that the world has ever known.2SM 152.1

    John had not learned in the schools of the rabbis. Yet kings and nobles, Pharisees and Sadducees, Roman soldiers and officers, trained in all court etiquette, wily, calculating taxgatherers, and world-renowned men, listened to his words. They had confidence in his plain statements, and were convicted of sin. They asked of him, “What shall we do?” (Luke 3:14)....2SM 152.2

    Earnestness Is Necessary

    In this age, just prior to the second coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven, the Lord calls for men who will be earnest and prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. The men who have spent long terms in the study of books are not revealing in their lives that earnest ministry which is essential for this last time. They do not bear a simple, straightforward testimony. Among ministers and students there is need of the infusion of the Spirit of God. The prayerful, earnest appeals that come from the heart of a whole-souled messenger will create convictions. It will not need the learned men to do this; for they depend more on their learning from books than upon their knowledge of God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. All who know the only true and living God will know Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, and will preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified....2SM 152.3

    Does anyone suppose that the messages of warning will not come to those whom God reproves? The ones reproved may rise up in indignation and seek to bring the law to bear upon God's messenger, but in doing this, they are not bringing the law upon the messenger, but upon Christ, who gave the reproof and the warning. When men endanger the work and cause of God by their own wrong course of action, shall they hear no voice of reproof? If the wrongdoer only were concerned, and the work reached no farther than him, he alone should have the words of warning; but when his course of action is doing positive harm to the cause of truth, and souls are imperiled, God requires that the warning be as broad as the injury done. The testimonies will not be hindered. The words of rebuke and warning, the plain “Thus saith the Lord,” will come from God's appointed agencies; for the words do not originate with the human instrument; they are from God, who appointed them their work. If a suit is instituted in earthly tribunals, and God suffers it to come to trial, it is that His own name may be glorified. But a woe will be upon the man who gives himself to do this work. God reads the motives, whatever they may be. I pray that the Lord will teach our brethren to be straightforward, and make no compromise in the matter. The cause of God has been bruised and wounded by any such men connecting with it, and the sooner they are separated from it, the better....2SM 152.4

    God calls for men of decided fidelity. He has no use in an emergency for two-sided men. He wants men who will lay their hand upon a wrong work and say, “This is not according to the will of God.”—Letter 19a, 1897.2SM 153.1

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