Sabbath, July 12, 2014
“Strive to arouse men and women from their spiritual insensibility. Tell them how you found Jesus, and how blessed you have been since you gained an experience in His service. Tell them what blessing comes to you as you sit at the feet of Jesus, and learn precious lessons from His Word. Tell them of the gladness and joy that there is in the Christian life. Your warm, fervent words will convince them that you have found the pearl of great price. Let your cheerful, encouraging words show that you have certainly found the higher way. This is genuine missionary work, and as it is done, many will awake as from a dream.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 38 (1909).
Warning against indifference
1. Does it matter whether something is called good or bad? What is at stake in this?
Isaiah 5:20, 21 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
“The Lord abhors indifference and disloyalty in a time of crisis in His work.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 148.
“Satan will work with his deceptive power to influence the heart and becloud the understanding, to make evil appear good, and good evil. The stronger and purer the faith of God’s people, and the firmer their determination to obey Him, the more fiercely will Satan try to stir up against them the rage of those who, while claiming to be righteous, trample upon the law of God.” –Gospel Workers, p. 264.
“The Lord Jesus demands that every soul make a reality of truth. Show that you believe that you are not half with Christ and half with the world.… Indolence and carelessness and frivolity separate the soul from Christ, and Satan comes in to work his will with the poor worldly subject. We have a great truth, but through careless indifference the truth has lost its force upon us. Satan has come in with his specious temptations, and has led the professed followers of Christ away from their Leader, classing them with the foolish virgins.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 130.
2. Of what grave danger is everyone warned–both young and old?
Ezekiel 33:31, 32 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32 And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.
Zephaniah 1:12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil.
Malachi 3:14, 15 Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
“Will you, young friends, arise and shake off this dreadful indifference and stupor which has conformed you to the world? Will you heed the voice of warning which tells you that destruction lies in the path of those who are at ease in this hour of danger? God’s patience will not always wait for you, poor, trifling souls. He who holds our destinies in His hands will not always be trifled with. Jesus declares to us that there is a greater sin than that which caused the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is the sin of those who have the great light of truth in these days and who are not moved to repentance. It is the sin of rejecting the light of the most solemn message of mercy to the world.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 380.
3. Even though the Lord appreciates beautiful, harmonious music and actions, why can impressive church services, beautiful singing, and wonderful instrumental music not commend anyone to Him?
Amos 5:21-24 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. 22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. 23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. 24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
“Form and ceremony do not constitute the kingdom of God. Ceremonies become multitudinous and extravagant as the vital principles of the kingdom of God are lost. But it is not form and ceremony that Christ requires….
“Gorgeous apparel, fine singing, and instrumental music in the church do not call forth the songs of the angel choir. In the sight of God these things are like the branches of the unfruitful fig tree which bore nothing but pretentious leaves. Christ looks for fruit, for the principles of goodness and sympathy and love. These are the principles of heaven, and when they are revealed in the lives of human beings, we may know that Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. A congregation may be the poorest in the land, without music or outward show, but if it possesses these principles, the members can sing, for the joy of Christ is in their souls, and this they can offer as a sweet oblation to God.” –Evangelism, pp. 511, 512.
Risks and consequences of apathy
4. If Christ’s stirring appeals arouse no response in one’s heart, what might be the reason?
Romans 2:4-6 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds.
“The reason why there are so many hardhearted men and women in the world is that true affection has been regarded as weakness, and has been discouraged and repressed. The better nature of these persons was stifled in childhood; and unless the light of divine love shall melt away their cold selfishness, their happiness will be forever ruined. If we wish our children to possess the tender spirit of Jesus, and the sympathy that angels manifest for us, we must encourage the generous, loving impulses of childhood.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 516.
5. What will happen if the teachings of truth are regarded with indifference?
Ephesians 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
“God calls for men and women of stability, of firm purpose, who can be relied upon in seasons of danger and trial, who are as firmly rooted and grounded in the truth as the eternal hills, who cannot be swayed to the right or to the left, but who move straight onward and are always found on the right side. There are some, who, in time of religious peril, may almost always be looked for in the ranks of the enemy; if they have any influence, it is on the wrong side.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 75.
6. What is another great danger? Why?
Matthew 24:48-50 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of.
“Faith in the soon coming of Christ is waning. ‘My Lord delayeth His coming’ is not only said in the heart, but expressed in words, and most decidedly in works. Stupidity in this watching time is sealing the senses of God’s people as to the signs of the times. The terrible iniquity which abounds calls for the greatest diligence and for the living testimony, to keep sin out of the church. Faith has been decreasing to a fearful degree, and it is only by exercise that it can increase.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, pp. 255, 256.
“… Knowledge of the nearness of Christ’s coming should not be allowed to lose its force, and we become careless and inattentive, and fall into slumber–into an insensibility and indifference to realities. In slumber we are in an unreal world, and not sensible of the things which are taking place around us….” –(The Youth’s Instructor, August 25, 1886) Maranatha, p. 220.
Lessons from the experience of the disciples
7. What great weakness did the disciples reveal in a time of crisis? In what danger did this place them?
Matthew 26:40, 41 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
“But the disciples trusted to themselves. They did not look to the mighty Helper as Christ had counseled them to do. Thus when the Saviour was most in need of their sympathy and prayers, they were found asleep. Even Peter was sleeping.
“And John, the loving disciple who had leaned upon the breast of Jesus, was asleep. Surely, the love of John for his Master should have kept him awake.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 688, 689.
8. Why is the same danger present today?
1 Thessalonians 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
“Watch, brethren, the first dimming of your light, the first neglect of prayer, the first symptom of spiritual slumber. ‘He that endureth to the end shall be saved.’ It is by the constant exercise of faith and love that believers are made to shine as lights in the world….
“ ‘Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.’ Matthew 26:41. There are stern battles for you to fight. You should put on the whole armor of righteousness and prove yourselves strong and true in your Redeemer’s service.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 124, 125.
9. Why has Christ not yet come? What is certain?
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Hebrews 10:35-37 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
“Our Lord delays because of His longsuffering to usward, ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’ But when we, with all the redeemed, shall stand upon the sea of glass, with harps of gold and crowns of glory, and before us the immensity of eternity, then we shall see how short was the waiting period of probation. ‘Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching.’ ” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 485.
“We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel; but for Christ’s sake, His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with the consequence of their own wrong course of action.” –(Letter 184, 1901) Evangelism, p. 696.
Obtaining the victory
10. What is necessary for victory and salvation?
Philippians 2:12, 13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Hebrews 12:4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
1 John 3:2, 3 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
“Day by day and year by year we shall conquer self, and grow into a noble heroism. This is our allotted task; but it cannot be accomplished without help from Jesus, resolute decision, unwavering purpose, continual watchfulness, and unceasing prayer. Each one has a personal battle to fight. Not even God can make our characters noble or our lives useful, unless we become co-workers with Him. Those who decline the struggle lose the strength and joy of victory.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 487.