Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

April 22, 1890

“I Will Keep Thee From the Hour of Temptation”

[Continuation of sermon in last week's issue.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the Jews, the priests, and the rulers of this world expected to see the disciples of Christ cast down and discouraged, because their Lord had been put to death. The disciples might have reasoned that they were in danger, and that they would better go out of Jerusalem; some might have said, “Do not stay there, but if you do stay, do not mention the name of Christ; for he is regarded as an impostor.” But Christ had said, “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye are endued with power from on high.” After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they were to begin their work in Jerusalem, and let it extend from this city to the uttermost parts of the earth. Did any one lose his life in exalting Jesus before the people? Was any one killed?—Yes, Stephen was killed. Their enemies expected that terror would come upon the disciples, and that they would be afraid to speak the message of God. But hear what Peter says: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by wonders and miracles and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you as ye yourselves also know: him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”

God wants his witnesses to present the genuine in contrast to that which is false. There were many converted under Peter's preaching, and it greatly disturbed the people; and as they spake to the people, the Sadducees came upon them. The disciples remembered the falsehood which these great, and supposedly good men had so zealously circulated,—that the disciples had stolen him away by night while the Roman guard slept. Can you be surprised that the Sadducees were grieved because those who believed, preached the resurrection of the man they had murdered, when the number of those who believed was about five thousand? The seed that Christ had been sowing while he was on earth, sprang up. Many were waiting for this God-given testimony to come from the disciples in reference to Christ and his resurrection, and they believed when they heard it; for it revived the testimony they had heard from the lips of Jesus, and they took their stand in the ranks of those who believed the gospel of Christ.

We have on record another testimony that proves the boldness of the disciples. When Peter and John had bidden the paralytic arise in the name of Jesus, and he had been healed, the people were amazed; and the Scripture says, “And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you: and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name, through faith in his name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know; yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”

“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, and Annas the high-priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high-priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.” The disciples were not afraid to proclaim the truth. They expected that they would be persecuted. “Whom ye crucified.” Why did they not keep that back?—Because it was a testimony that they were to bear before the great men of the earth. “This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Then they asked in this council, “What shall we do to these men?” I expect that this question will be asked many times in reference to those who keep the commandments of God in these days of peril as time is about to close. The priests acknowledged that a notable miracle had been wrought, but they said, “That it spread no further among the people, let us straightly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people; for all men glorified God, for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was showed. And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.” They said, “Lord, thou art God,” and we shall have to say the same thing.

When the authorities come between us and God, we shall receive help if we only trust in him as did the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and with them we shall be able to say, “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.” But while we trust in God, no one should be presumptuous; and that we may not take an unwise course, we should pray constantly. We should not rush into danger unless God sends us there; nor should we call our brethren cowards because they are cautious in their plans that they may not unnecessarily provoke the rulers and powers of the earth. What was the strength of those who in the past have suffered imprisonment and death for Christ's sake?—It was union with God, union with the Holy Spirit, union with Christ. They had fellowship with God and with his Son, and the multitude that believed were of one mind and one soul. We may safely seek to be of one accord in doctrine and spirit, and if this were done, we would be in harmony with God's will. If selfishness and pride and vanity and evil surmising were put away, we would become strong in God, and the door of our heart would be open for the entrance of Christ; the baptism of the Holy Ghost would fall upon us, and we should be filled with all the fullness of God. Then we should know what is the length and depth and breadth and height of the love of God which passeth knowledge,—we should know something of the mystery of godliness. We would be able to speak, as did Peter and John, of the things which we had seen and heard. What we need is a living experience in the things of God. We need the transforming grace of Christ to bring into subjection every thought of the mind, every power of the intellect. The physical, mental, and spiritual powers should be under the control of the God of heaven who gives us life, who gives us food, who gives us every blessing. He is the God of Israel, therefore we will accept him, and him alone will we serve.

We read in the Acts of the Apostles that after the miracle at the temple gate, many signs and wonders were wrought, and many were healed. “Then the high-priest rose up, ... and all they that were with him, ... and were filled with indignation.” Why?—Because the great adversary of God and man was provoked that he could not hold his captives in torment, and that Christ was doing the very work that he had declared in Nazareth he would do. He had said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

And then they shut the disciples up in a prison, that the message of God should no longer be given to the people, but the angel of the Lord was there. All heaven was looking upon them then, and the angels are now looking upon those who are living at this closing period of earth's history. The angel of the Lord came by night to the servants of God, and said, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” Here was an order directly contrary to the command given by the potentates of the earth. But the direction of the angel was from the highest court in the universe. Did the apostles say to the angel, “We cannot do this until we have consulted the magistrates, and received permission of them?”—No; God had said “Go,” and they went forth to speak according to his commandment. In the morning their enemies called a council, and sent to the prison that they might be brought before them, but when the officers found them not, they said, “The prison truly found we shut with all safety, ... but when we had opened, we found no man within.” The angel of God could take them through the prison walls, and they had no power to hold them. We have the same God today, and he works on the same plan. When they said the prison was shut, the chief priest doubted the keeper. God was working and the enemy was working, and the battle was waged between the God of heaven and the powers that be. Then the captain sent the officers and had them brought, because they feared the people, and when they were before the council, the high-priest asked, “Did not we straitly command you, that ye should not teach in his name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.” Then the apostles answered, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” We ought to be obedient to all the laws of our country, except when those laws come in collision with the law of God, and then we must obey God, irrespective of everything else.

“Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; and said unto them, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught. But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

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