For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14, KJV).
This scripture teaches a very different lesson from that which is presented in the words of many who profess to believe the gospel. We are exhorted to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, and to look for the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Some have made an objection to my work, because I teach that it is our duty to be looking for Christ’s personal appearing in the clouds of heaven. They have said, “You would think that the day of the Lord was right upon us to hear Mrs. White speak in reference to the coming of Christ; and she has been preaching on that same subject for the last forty years, and the Lord has not yet come.”
This very objection might have been brought against the words of Christ Himself. He said by the mouth of the beloved disciple, “Behold, I come quickly,” and John responds, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Jesus spoke these words as words of warning and encouragement to His people; and why should we not heed them? The Lord has said that it is the faithful who will be found watching and waiting for Him. . . .
The exact time of Christ’s second coming is not revealed. Jesus said, “No man knoweth the day nor the hour.” But He also gave signs of His coming, and said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the door.” He bade them, as the signs of His coming should appear, “Look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”
And in view of these things the apostle wrote: “Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day.” Since we know not the hour of Christ’s coming, we must live soberly and godly in this present world, “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. His people are to preserve their peculiar character as His representatives.
There is work for every one of them to do. The rich should bring their means, the honored their influence, the learned their wisdom, the poor their virtue, if they would be effective workers with God. They are to bring themselves into right relation with God, that they may reflect the light of the glory of God that shines in the face of Jesus Christ.
We read of a class who put far off the day of the coming of Jesus; but upon such His coming will be as a thief in the night, and they will be suddenly overtaken with destruction. How many there are who are willing to be rocked to sleep in the cradle of carnal security; but it is time for us to wake out of sleep. Says the apostle, “We are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
We should be awake to discern the signs of the times, and to give warning to the people. There are many in the world who seek to quiet the alarm of the people, who say, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace”; but we should take an opposite course from this. There are many who say to the aroused people, “Do not disturb yourselves, go on in godlessness, go on glorifying yourselves, and living in pleasure. The day of the Lord is not at hand.”
Did not Christ have an object in view when He said, “Behold, I come quickly”? Did He not see that His church would need to keep this solemn event in mind? Shall we say with the last-day scoffers, “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation”? I do not mean to be with this class. I mean to arouse men with the message of Christ’s near coming.
A GREAT RESPONSIBILITY
Those who have a knowledge of present truth are under a great responsibility before the world. They are to warn men of the coming judgments. They are to represent Christ to the people. They are not to go about deploring their condition, talking of their darkness, and murmuring and complaining of the hardness of the way; they are to lift up their minds to God, open the door of their hearts to Jesus, and let Him come in and abide with them.
We must have Christ enthroned in the heart, that the soul-temple may be cleansed from every defilement. The soon coming of our Saviour must be a living reality to us. The question of all importance for this time is, “How is it with my soul? Am I seeking to reiterate the words of Christ? Am I teaching my children that they have souls to save; that peace and holiness must be a part of their life? Am I teaching them to place their hands in the hands of Christ, that He may guide them?”
We have most earnest work to do, and we have no time to waste in drinking at empty cisterns that can hold no water. We should come to Christ without delay for the water 23of life. We should diligently study the Bible. The study of the Bible is of the greatest importance to us. The Scriptures are able to make men wise unto salvation, yet how few find time to search the Word of God!
Men and women are all absorbed in the things of this perishing earth. They are building their hopes upon worthless foundations, and writing their names in the sand. Even those who profess to be followers of Christ do not heed His injunction. . . .
God gives us His rich blessings to enjoy, and He expects us to bring forth fruit to His glory; but many neglect His work. They do not make a full surrender to His will. There are many who seem to feel that to think of God and heavenly things tends to make men gloomy and desponding; that it is detrimental to health to permit the mind to dwell upon religious subjects.
When in my youth God opened the Scriptures to my mind, giving me light upon the truths of His Word, I went forth to proclaim to others the precious news of salvation. My brother wrote to me, and said, “I beg of you do not disgrace the family. I will do anything for you if you will not go out as a preacher.”
“Disgrace the family!” I replied. “Can it disgrace the family for me to preach Christ and Him crucified! If you would give me all the gold your house could hold, I would not cease giving my testimony for God. I have respect unto the recompense of the reward. I will not keep silent, for when God imparts His light to me, He means that I shall diffuse it to others, according to my ability.”
Did not the priests and rulers come to the disciples, and command them to cease preaching in the name of Christ? They shut the faithful men in prison, but the angel of the Lord came to them and released them that they might speak the words of life to the people. This is our work. . . .
TRUTH AS IT IS IN JESUS
We are to present the truth as it is in Jesus. Christ came into the world to save sinners. For thirty years He lived our example. He endured insult, ignominy, reproach, rejection, and death; yet He lives. He is a living Saviour. He has ascended on high to make intercession for us.
Just before His crucifixion, He prayed that His disciples might be one with Him, as He was one with the Father. Is it indeed a possibility that sinful, fallen man may be brought into such exalted relationship with Christ? Such a union with Christ will bring light and peace and comfort to our souls. When He went to heaven, He told His disciples, “It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” Who would not have the Comforter in times of trial?…
Tell of the love of Christ, talk of His power, and you may have a heaven in this world to go to heaven in. Respond to the light of God, and you will be like a watered garden; your health will spring forth speedily; your light will rise in obscurity, and the glory of the Lord will be your rereward.
Questions for Reflection
What does it mean to live “soberly, righteously, and godly”? In that context, does the nearness of Christ’s return make us more inclusive, or more exclusive?
As we anticipate Christ’s return, which Bible passages are most useful in learning to reflect Christ’s character to those around us?
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest), how confident are you that you will be saved if Christ returned today? Be honest.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This excerpt is taken from a letter written by Ellen White that was later published in Signs of the Times, June 24, 1889.