“Christ came to teach us how to live. He has invited us to come to him, to learn of him to be meek and lowly of heart that we may find rest unto our souls.”
“In order to walk in the narrow way the believing one must follow the leader, turning not to the right hand or to the left. On every hand waits the enemy to present before the soul the attractions of the world. Jesus presents the attractions of the eternal world; but many who see that they cannot enter heaven and indulge themselves in this world, turn away from the eternal realities and choose the broad way that leads to destruction. The Lord saw the danger incurred by his followers in mingling with the world, and he entreats them to examine themselves, and see that they make no mistake as to which road they will travel. The line of demarcation between the church and the world has become sadly obliterated because many professors of religion have thought they could please themselves, and meet the world’s standard, and at the same time have their names upon the church book. Even in the pulpits of the land there are many false shepherds who cry to those who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, ‘Peace and safety,’ when there is no peace or safety. Jesus gives a positive warning against these false shepherds. He says: ‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.’ . . .
“There are many who profess to know Christ, ‘but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.’ ‘These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear; clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.’ There are many who can make excellent speeches, speak smooth things, and prophesy deceit; but they are not to be received simply because of their smooth words and fair speeches. It is an easy matter to talk. The question is, What fruit do they bear unto holiness? It is the fruit that testifies to the character of the tree. To say and to do not is to be as a tree full of pretentious leaves, yet barren and fruitless. The punishment that awaits the hypocrite will be unmingled with mercy. Those who profess to know Christ, and in works have denied him, have passed themselves off as gold, but in the sight of God they have been as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. In professing faith in the gospel, the hypocrite may gain the confidence of men, but nothing short of doing the sayings of Christ will give him an entrance into the strait gate, into the way cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in,—the only way that leads from earth to heaven. . . .
“Christ came to teach us how to live. He has invited us to come to him, to learn of him to be meek and lowly of heart that we may find rest unto our souls. Because Jesus has lived our example, we have no excuse for not imitating his life and works. Those who profess his name and do not practice his precepts are weighed in the balances of heaven and found wanting. But those who reflect the image of Christ will have a place in the mansions which he has gone to prepare.”1
* * *
“With Judas an element of antagonism was introduced among the disciples. In connecting himself with Jesus he had responded to the attraction of His character and life. He had sincerely desired a change in himself, and had hoped to experience this through a union with Jesus. But this desire did not become predominant. That which ruled him was the hope of selfish benefit in the worldly kingdom which he expected Christ to establish. Though recognizing the divine power of the love of Christ, Judas did not yield to its supremacy. He continued to cherish his own judgment and opinions, his disposition to criticize and condemn. Christ’s motives and movements, often so far above his comprehension, excited doubt and disapproval, and his own questionings and ambitions were insinuated to the disciples. Many of their contentions for supremacy, much of their dissatisfaction with Christ’s methods, originated with Judas. . . .
“So far as Judas himself was concerned, Christ’s work of love had been without avail. But not so as regards his fellow disciples. To them it was a lesson of lifelong influence. Ever would its example of tenderness and long-suffering mold their intercourse with the tempted and the erring. And it had other lessons. At the ordination of the Twelve the disciples had greatly desired that Judas should become one of their number, and they had counted his accession an event of much promise to the apostolic band. He had come more into contact with the world than they, he was a man of good address, of discernment and executive ability, and, having a high estimate of his own qualifications, he had led the disciples to hold him in the same regard. But the methods he desired to introduce into Christ’s work were based upon worldly principles and were controlled by worldly policy. They looked to the securing of worldly recognition and honor—to the obtaining of the kingdom of this world. The working out of these desires in the life of Judas, helped the disciples to understand the antagonism between the principle of self-aggrandizement and Christ’s principle of humility and self-sacrifice—the principle of the spiritual kingdom. In the fate of Judas they saw the end to which self-serving tends.
“For these disciples the mission of Christ finally accomplished its purpose. Little by little His example and His lessons of self-abnegation molded their characters. His death destroyed their hope of worldly greatness. The fall of Peter, the apostasy of Judas, their own failure in forsaking Christ in His anguish and peril, swept away their self-sufficiency. They saw their own weakness; they saw something of the greatness of the work committed to them; they felt their need of their Master’s guidance at every step.” 2
* * *
“While the living human agents are being moved with a power from beneath and the satanic agencies seem to have full control (almost) of the world, acting a conspicuous part just before the second appearing of our Lord to take the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever and ever, the two classes which are formed to enact the solemnities of the last day will be distinguished as the commandment-keeping people of God, and the commandment breakers who are inspired by the devil and his angels. The appearance is as if the infernal government had been transferred from hell to earth. The Lord Jesus will open the eyes of all who have been walking in the light that they shall not be deceived with the pretentious spirit of those who claim great sanctity and say, ‘Lord, Lord’ while they stubbornly refuse to do the will of God. Christ repeated the princely titles of Satan as one perfectly familiar with his workings and usurped authority. Christ gave the warnings to be heeded, and pointed to Satan’s thrones, principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places.
“The professed Christian world is under Satan’s sway. Christ calls the prince of this kingdom Satan, Beelzebub, a liar, a murderer from the beginning, the wicked and evil one who is constantly working with the unholy and disobedient to trample upon the laws of Jehovah. Satan acquired the supremacy as a legislator in guilt to compel by decree the transgression of God’s law, and the professed Christian world come under his banner fully choosing his service and shall do after the works of the fallen foe. The rebellious chieftain signalized himself as having authority to establish laws entirely contrary to the laws of Jehovah, the living and only true God, the supreme Ruler in heaven and in earth. When this deceiving power is accepted in the place of light plainly given in God’s word, Satan stands as their ruler. The daring leader in rebellion is given by human agencies the pre-eminence above God, and the prince of darkness is acknowledged as their supreme authority. The number of his angels we cannot conjecture, but his field is the world and he multiplies himself through his agencies over his whole field, the world, concurring in and actively instigating the clergy to be his efficient workers in making of none effect the law of God, of tearing down His memorial the insignia of His honour and His supremacy. There is no lack of satanic agencies. . . .
“Oh what can we say to awaken the soul’s interest to make no compromise with Satan; but make thorough work for repentance before it is everlastingly too late? How can we make them consider that there are limits to the forbearance of God, and that it is possible for them to pass the limit of the forbearance of God, as did Judas and Saul? . . . God will arise in mighty power, and show, though slow to anger, He will not acquit the wicked.”3