BY WHAT are men sanctified?
"Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth." John 17:17.
To what knowledge would God have all men come?
"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowl- ledge of the truth." 1 Timothy 2:4.
After receiving a knowledge of the truth, what must one do in order to be sanctified by it?
"God hash from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." 2 Thessalonians 2:13.
And what besides a mere belief in the truth is necessary?
"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience." 1 Peter 1:2.
What effect does obedience to the truth have?
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit." Verse 22.
How should the truth ever be cherished?
"Buy the truth, and sell it not." Proverbs 23:23.
NOTE.—That is, buy the truth at whatever sacrifice or cost, and sell it under no consideration.
SPECIAL MESSAGES FOR SPECIAL TIMES
Does the Bible recognize what may be called "present truth"?
"Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remem- brance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth." 2 Peter 1:12.
Note.—Some truths are applicable in all ages, and are therefore present truth for every generation; others are of a special character, and are applicable to only one generation. They are none the less important, however, because of this; for upon their acceptance or rejection depends the salvation or loss of the people for that generation. Of this kind was Noah's message of a coming Flood. To the generation to whom it was preached that message was present truth; to later generations it has been past truth, and not a- present, testing message.
Similarly, had the first advent message of John the Baptist, of the Messiah at hand, been proclaimed in the generation either before or after John's time, it would not have been applicable—would not have been present truth. The people of the generation before would not have lived to see it fulfilled, and to those living after, it would have been wrongly timed. Not so with general truths, such as love, faith, hope, repentance, obedience, justice, and mercy. These are always in season, and of a saving nature at all times. Present truths, however, always include all these, and hence are saving in character, and of vital importance. What was the special message for Noah's day? "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. Make thee an ark of gopher wood." Genesis 6:13, 14.
How did Noah show his faith in this message?
"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteous- ness which is by faith." Hebrews 11:7.
How many were saved in the ark?
"The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." 1 Peter 3:20.
NOTE.—Doubtless many who were lost in the Flood held, in a nominal way, to faith in God; but the test as to the genuineness of this came with Noah's special message; and the difference between their faith and his was made plain when they rejected the saving truth for that time—the warning message concerning the coming Flood.
JONAH AND NINEVEH
What special message was given to Jonah for Nineveh?
"So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. . . . And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." Jonah 3:3, 4.
What saved the people from the predicted overthrow?
"So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them." "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that He had said that He would do unto them; and He did it not." Verses 5, 10. (See Jeremiah 18 :7-10.)
NOTE.—So likewise would God have spared the antediluvian world had they received Noah's message, and turned from their evil ways.
THE PREACHING OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
What was the special mission of John the Baptist?
"There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe." John 1:6, 7.
What answer did he return when asked concerning his mission?
"He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias." Verse 23.
What did Christ say of those who rejected John's message?
"But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." Luke 7:30.
What did those do who were baptized of John?
"And all the people that heard Him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John." Verse 29.
Note.—That is, they honored God by this act, which showed their faith in His truth for that time.
CHRIST AND HIS RECEPTION
Did God's chosen people receive Christ when He came?
"He came unto His own, and His own received Him not." John 1:11.
What reason did they give for not receiving Him?
"We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence He is." John 9:29.
NOTE.—That was the trouble; they had no faith in anything new. They knew that God spoke by Moses: it required little faith to believe that. They felt perfectly safe in accepting him, for everything had demonstrated that he was sent of God. All could see that. But here was One whom, although He had come in fulfillment of the prophecies of Moses and the prophets as their long- looked-for Messiah, they felt there was a risk in accepting, because they did not understand the prophecies relating to Him, and time had not worked out to their satisfaction the truthfulness of His claims. It required too much faith, as against their desire to walk by sight, to accept Chrj§t. It also called for a change of views in some things, and a reformation in life. So they rejected Him. They believed in the Flood, faith in which had saved Noah; they believed in Elijah also, and professed faith in all the prophets; but when it came to this special truth for their time, they refused to accept it. Thus it has been in all ages, and thus we may expect it to continue to be to the end.
How did Christ say those who rejected Him reasoned?
"Ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets." Matthew 23:29, 30. Nora.—While they condemned the action of their fathers in slaying the prophets whom God had sent with messages of reproof and warning applicable to those times, they soon filled up the measure of the iniquity of their fathers by putting to death the Son of God. This showed that they would have done as did their fathers had they lived in their day. Thus we see that present truths are testing truths.
What was the result of the Jews' not accepting Christ?
"And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." Luke 19:41, 42. "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." Matthew 23:38.
SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR THE LAST DAYS
Is there to be a special message for the last days?
"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over His household, to give them meat in due season?" Matthew 24:44, 45.
NOTE.—In the last days a message will go forth which will be "meat in due season" to the people. This must be the warning concerning the Lord's soon coming, and the preparation necessary to meet Him. Because such a message was not always preached is no evidence that it is not now to be proclaimed. In his farewell address to the Pilgrim Fathers on their departure from Holland for America, John Robinson said:"The Lord knoweth whether I shall live ever to see your faces more. But whether the Lord hath appointed it or not, I charge you before God and His blessed angels to follow me no farther than I have followed Christ. If God should reveal anything to you by any other instrument of His, be as ready to receive it as ever you were to receive any truth of my ministry; for I am very confident the Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth out of His holy word. For my part, I cannot sufficiently bewail the condition of the reformed churches, who are come to a period in religion, and will go at present no farther than the instruments of their reformation. The Lutherans cannot be drawn to go beyond what Luther saw; . . . and the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where they were left by that great man of God, who yet saw not all things. This is a misery much to be lamented; for though they were burning and shining lights in their time, yet they penetrated not into the whole counsel of God, but were they now living, would be as willing to embrace further light as that which they first received."
What does Christ say of that servant who, when He comes, is found giving "meat in due season"?
"Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing." Verse 46.
Note.—The coming of Christ in glory has been the hope of the faithful in all ages. Luther declared: "I persuade myself verily, that the day of judgment will not be absent full three hundred years. God will not, can not, suffer this wicked world much longer." Said Knox, the Scotch Reformer: "Has not our Lord Jesus carried up our flesh into heaven and shall He not return? We know that He shall return, and that with expedition." Ridley and Latimer, who laid down their lives for the truth, looked in faith for the Lord's coming. Ridley wrote: "The world without doubt—this I do believe, and therefore I say it—draws to an end." Said Baxter: "The thoughts of the coming of the Lord are most sweet and joyful to me. It is the work of faith and the character of His saints to love His appearing and to look for that blessed hope."
What will be the burden of the closing gospel message?
"Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judg- ment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. . . . Babylon is fallen, is fallen. . . . If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God." Revelation 14:7-10.
How are those described who accept this message?
"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Verse 12.
How earnestly is this work to be prosecuted?
"And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." Luke 14:23.
Note.—This work is now going on. In every part of the world the sound of this closing gospel message is being heard, and the people are being urged to accept it, and to prepare for Christ's coming and kingdom. See readings on pages 245-259.
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