[Dedication sermon at Prospect Church, N. S. W., Australia.]
By Mrs. E. G. White
The heart of Christ was ever touched with human woe. It was his tenderness of heart that caused him to come to earth to bring salvation to our world; it was love that led him to step down from his throne, to lay aside his royal robe, and clothe his divinity with humanity. Every voice ought to be proclaiming, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” In the highways, in the byways, the people of God should be proclaiming the message of truth. Some will hear and will be converted, and some will not. In the time of Christ there were many priests that believed on him, but they would not acknowledge him for fear they would be turned out of the synagogues. They feared they would not be popular, and that they would be in disgrace if they followed in the footsteps of Christ. The mission of Christ was to seek and to save that which was lost, and we thank God that there are a few who will take their position upon the commandments of God, even though it places them on the unpopular side. We are glad that we have been able to put our mites together and to erect a house in which to worship God. Let us praise him with heart and soul and voice. You have taken hold of the truth for the truth's sake, and have decided to obey the word of God. You have embraced the seventh-day Sabbath according to the commandment of God. The commandment says, “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
It requires moral courage to take a position to keep the commandments of the Lord. An opposer of the truth once said that it was only weak-minded people, foolish, ignorant persons, who would turn away from the churches to keep the seventh day as the Sabbath; but a minister who had embraced the truth, replied, “If you think it takes weak-minded persons, just try it.” It takes moral courage, firmness, decision, perseverance, and very much prayer to step out on the unpopular side. We are thankful that we can come to Christ as the poor suffering ones came to Christ in the temple. We hope that this house will be a house of prayer, and that those who enter here will realize that they are coming to meet with God. Christ has said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” We do not expect to be able to furnish you with a minister always; but you must have root in yourselves. You must learn to draw for yourselves from the fountain of life. You have not dared to trample under foot the commandments of God, and have stepped out on unpopular truth, let the result be what it may. Will the Saviour ever turn away to leave you to struggle alone?—No, never. But he never told his disciples that they should have no trials, no self-denial to endure, no sacrifices to make. The Master was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty, might be rich.” We thank God that in your poverty, you can call God your Father. Poverty is coming upon this world, and there will be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. There will be wars and rumors of wars, and the faces of men will gather paleness. You may have to suffer distress, you may go hungry sometimes; but God will not forsake you in your suffering. He will test your faith. We are not to live to please ourselves. We are here to manifest Christ to the world, to represent him and his power to mankind.
We have been hewn as rough stones from the quarry of the world. Will he leave us with our rough edges, leave us to practice close dealing, and to manifest selfishness?—Never. He brings us into his work-shop to be hewed and squared, polished and finished, for the heavenly building; for you are to be framed into a holy temple unto the Lord. When the truth is received, the rough character changes, and worldliness, selfishness, and pride are worked out of the heart. The office of the Holy Spirit is to work the man. It is not our place to work the Holy Spirit. If we are ignorant when brought into the truth, we are not to remain so. Was Christ ignorant? He was the greatest teacher the world ever saw. He chose the unlearned fishermen to be his disciples in order that they might learn of him, and become wise unto salvation. Why was it he did not choose the scribes and the Pharisees?—It was because he could not trust them. He said of them, “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Why is it that the Lord does not choose the learned and the popular today, and work with the churches?—It is because they follow the same course as did the scribes and the Pharisees. But the greatest Teacher the world ever knew says to you, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I [the Son of the infinite God] will give you rest.” But there is something more. He continues, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Christ said, “I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” Christ is testing us today to see if we will be obedient to the law of God as he was, and be fitted up for the society of heavenly angels. God wants a loyal people. Rebellion originated in heaven; but it is not to be found there again. If we are willing to inquire, What is the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment, to seek mercy, and to walk humbly with our God, we shall hear him say, “Child, come up higher.” He has builded for us a city, and he is not ashamed to call us brethren. He will gather the strangers and the pilgrims to himself.
We hope that this house will be a place where the honor of God shall dwell. Let every one who comes to worship here surrender himself to God, with all the affections and desires. Satan will try to work upon human hearts to cause dissension among brethren, to weaken faith. Faith! of course we want it. Faith and works go together, and faith is made perfect by works. We want the faith that works, that works by love, by the love we have for Jesus Christ. If our hearts are all aglow with love for him as our personal Saviour, we shall do the work of God. Dissension will not enter here, for you will be one, as Christ is one with his Father. Your old passions will be put away, the soul temple will be cleansed by the work of the Holy Spirit, and Christ will abide in the heart, and through him we shall be able to do all things. Standing under the broad shield of omnipotence, we do not feel that we are in the minority; God is a majority. Wherever we shall go, we shall remember those who worship here, and shall pray that others may unite with you. We are to consider that Christ has set us to be a light amid the moral darkness of the world. We are not to misinterpret the character of God, we are not to be fretful, to speak out what we think, to blame and criticise and censure others; but we are to let the Holy Spirit fashion the character after the similitude of Christ.
Now let us see what Jesus will do for us if we let him. In his prayer for his disciples he said: “And now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” Is it possible to have joy in obeying Christ? It is the only real joy that any soul can have. You may have what you call “a good time,” and laugh and joke; but your joy will be only a foolish gratification of a mind that is not well balanced by the Spirit of God. Christ continued, “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Do you expect that the world will love you when you go contrary to the customs and traditions of the world? Do you expect to be treated better than was the Master of the house? “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” You have received the truth. Now do not feel that you must hide it under a bushel. Let it be known to others, let it shine forth, that others may be saved, may be sanctified through it. Be a living example, be under the control of the Spirit of Christ. Jesus says, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” This tells you your duty. The word of those who believe is to be as seed sown in the hearts of others, that will spring forth and bear fruit unto life eternal.
Christ prays for the unity of his people, and says, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou has sent me.” What a oneness is here represented! In this unity, divine credentials are presented to the world that they may believe in Jesus. “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them [that is the character which Christ has, his righteousness]; that they may be one, even as we are one.” Christ within is the glory of God, the hope big with immortality and eternal life. “That they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know,”—and now comes the greatest assertion that has ever been made in behalf of his people,—“That thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” Can we take that in? The God of heaven loves us as he loves his son. All the world is in rebellion against God; but those who struggle, who strive, who agonize to enter in at the strait gate, are beloved of God with peculiar tenderness, and they shall find the broad path; for “thy commandment is exceeding broad.” “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”
When the world is brought in connection with the converted people of God, they realize that they have been transformed in character, and thus they glorify God. Of them Jesus says, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory [they are to behold his divinity, his oneness with the Father which he had from the beginning], which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” Christ said to his disciples, “In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.... I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
“O righteous Father,” the world knows all about thee. Is that the way it reads? Does the world know all about you, brethren? Jesus says, “The world hath not known thee; but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Praise God, brethren, with heart and soul and voice. Even when amid trials, we should be the happiest people on the earth, because our life is hid with Christ in God, and when he shall appear, we also shall appear with him in glory. We are not living for the applause of the world; we are living for the future, immortal inheritance. We are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. When sorrow takes hold of your soul, when persecuted and afflicted, lift up your head, for your redemption draweth nigh. You are to have a life that measures with the life of God. You are not to seek to meet the world's standard, but to be commandment-keepers, to be members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King, and to enjoy eternal riches.
Climb the ladder of progress heavenward. Christ is the ladder, whose base is on the earth and whose topmost round reaches to the highest heaven. God is above the ladder, and his glory is shining on every round. You must climb the ladder by clinging to Christ, and finally reach the everlasting kingdom. I pray you in the name of Christ, put on every piece of the armor of God, and fight manfully the battles of the Lord. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” When you are met with sneers and ridicule, rejoice that your names are written in the books of heaven, that you are to be made immortal, to have an abundant entrance into the kingdom of heaven, because you are law-abiding citizens of the heavenly country. You shall see the King in his beauty, and dwell with him, and have a life that runs parallel with the life of Jehovah.