Bible Studies

04-1895 General Conference Sermon by A.T. Jones

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  We have looked at the evidences which reveal to us the existence and active working of both the beast and his image in the United States--both are even now grasping for supreme power, governmental power, to be used in enforcing the same thing, the mark of the beast. Our message is against that. "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." It is not enough, however, for us to tell the people that the course that these others are following is wrong,  unless we show to them that this is so; it is not enough for us to say it, unless we can cause them by the Scriptures to see it; and therefore the lesson we will study now is the reasons why that thing is wrong.

We will begin with Phillipians 3:20, reading the Revised Version. "Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." This is the Lord's statement concerning every Christian. Every Christian's citizenship is in heaven. The Authorized Version is, "Our conversation is in heaven," but that word "conversation" does not mean simply our words and the conversation which we have one with another in talking about neighborly affairs, or whatever it may be, but our manner of life, our course of conduct, our walk, is in heaven.

Now as our citizenship, the citizenship of every Christian, is in heaven, what has any citizen of heaven or of the heavenly government rightly to do with the political or governmental affairs of any other government or any other kingdom? In fact what has a citizen of any government rightly to do with the political concerns or management of any other government?

These people of whom we have been reading in the previous lessons, profess to be citizens of the heavenly kingdom, profess to be those whose citizenship, the Scripture says, is in heaven, but they are constantly involving themselves in the political workings of the governments of this earth. They profess to have a citizenship in heaven and yet they manipulate the affairs of the kingdom of earth! They profess to be citizens of the kingdom of God, yet they propose to regulate the affairs of the governments of men. But that is a thing that never can rightly be done.

If a citizen of Great Britain should come into the United States, still retaining his citizenship in the government of Great Britain, and should take part, or attempt to take part, in the political affairs of this government, his action in that respect would be resented by every citizen of the United States. It matters not with what party he might wish to ally himself and work; they would not have it. They would say to him, That is none of your business. You do not belong here. You are a citizen of another government. If the laws of this country do not suit you, that has nothing to do with the case. The political systems of this country suit us, and if things do not suit you, just let them alone, or else change your citizenship from the government to which you belong, and bring your citizenship here, and then begin to discuss the laws and how they should be made and what they should be.

You know that that is so. You know that that is the way that a citizen of another country would be treated by all the citizens of this country if he should undertake to manipulate, to control, or have any part in the political concerns of this country. That is not denying his right to live here; he may do that, but all do deny his right and his very citizenship in another country denies his right to have anything to do with the citizenship of this country or with the political affairs of this country.

As the Christian's citizenship is in heaven, that itself, the very principle of it, prohibits him from taking part in any of the political concerns of any other government, even though it be the government of the United States. And that is so. It exists in the very nature of the case. It lies in the very principle of citizenship itself.

Not to dwell too long on any one text, although each text that shall be read will tell the whole story, turn next to 2 Corinthians 5:20: "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." This is not simply the ordained minister, for all who receive the grace of God are to minister that; they are ministers of that grace. So it is written: "As every man hath received the gift,  even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." Even if it were confined to the ministry, this text would not be out of place in this connection, because it is the ministry that takes the lead in all this work of the beast and his image and is managing the whole movement, leading the people under their charge into these devious and evil ways.

So then, "We are ambassadors for Christ." An ambassador is one sent, and accredited by one government as the representative of that government to another country. Now the principle of ambassadorship prohibits him from any interference whatever with the political concerns of the government to which he is accredited. If the British ambassador to the United States that is tonight in Washington city--or the ambassador from France or any other of these countries--should express an opinion upon, or take any part in, any of the political concerns of this country, his sovereign would be immediately notified that he was no longer an accepted person here, and would be called upon to withdraw him from the position of ambassador in this country.

That has been done at least twice in my recollection. In one of Grant's administrations the Russian minister to this country touched in some slight way upon some political issue, a mere insignificant one so far as any particular turn of politics was concerned. Yet he was sent out of the country at once, recalled. In the campaign between Cleveland and Harrison the first time, you remember the British minister to this country, Sackville-West,  received a letter from a Mr. Murchson of California, who pretended--whether it was correct or not--to be a British subject, and in the letter were some questions and observations upon the then current issues of the presidential campaign. The British Minister answered the letter and expressed an opinion. The letter was published and a dispatch was immediately sent to the court of St. James, demanding his recall, and he was recalled.

These are cited merely to illustrate the recognized principles of ambassadorship among nations, among men.

"We are ambassadors for Christ." These church leaders who are building up the beast and his image profess to stand in the place of and profess to be ambassadors for Christ, yet they not only express opinions, but they lay down laws, they manipulate campaigns, they mold politics, and shape the whole political course of the governments among the nations and the people to whom they are accredited, and thus violate the first, the last,  and every principle that is involved in ambassadorship.

Here then are two distinct reasons given in these two plain scriptures, the same principle expressed in two ways that demonstrate that the course of these professed citizens of the heavenly kingdom, these professed ambassadors for Christ, is absolutely wrong. And our preaching the message and the warning against the worship of the beast and his image, against the evils which are simply the result of the violation of the principles here laid down--our opposition to that, our warning against it, must be one of principle, and not merely in theory,  nor from policy. Unless our proclamation against it is founded upon principle and is loyal to principle, our proclamation will amount to nothing. If we hold in theory only that it is wrong and make the proclamation against it even in the words of Scripture and in practice ourselves violate the principle, our proclamation will amount to nothing. So that our connection with this must be with the principle and that in principle and in loyalty to the principle and that from the heart--not in theory, not assenting to it merely. The principles of Jesus Christ speak to the heart. They take hold of the heart and are of value only as they have hold upon the heart. If they do not have hold upon the heart, the man who professes these principles will violate them in his actions, even though he be a Seventh-day Adventist.

"Our citizenship is in heaven," and of all people our "citizenship is in heaven, from when we look for the Savior,  the Lord Jesus Christ."

Again, John 18:36:

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews.

If His kingdom were of this world, then for what kingdom would His servants fight? For a kingdom of this world.  For what kingdom would they contend? For what would they work? For the kingdom of this world. Then the man who fights for a kingdom of this world, who contends for supremacy and power in the kingdom of this world,  denies His connection with the kingdom of Jesus Christ, for His kingdom is not of this world. But that is what these men are doing who are leading in this movement of which we have read in two preceding lessons. They seek to take possession of the kingdoms of this world, to rule the governments of this world, to fight, actually to fight, for the governments of this world, to work to put themselves in places of position and relationship to the governments of this world, and therefore they proclaim with the loudest voice they possibly can that they are of this world and not of the kingdom of Christ at all.

Another scripture in connection with the same thing is found in Luke 22:24-26: There was also a strife among them which of them should be accounted the greatest in the kingdom which they expected to come upon this earth--the kingdom which they expected Christ to set up and which they expected would be a kingdom of this world, and in which they would have a place. There was a strife among them as to which should be accounted the greatest, and which would have the greatest place in that expected kingdom. It was a mistaken idea, to be sure, with respect to the kingdom, but the lesson that he gave them upon it is applicable in all cases of the kind.

"And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors."

Factors, agents; benefactors, agents of good! That is what these church leaders now profess to be; agents of good to the country, to the people; to be working the redemption of cities, states, and nations--thus these would now be called benefactors. "But ye shall not be so." "So" what? These exercise lordship over them and exercise authority upon them. "Ye shall not be so." Where? Why, ye shall not exercise authority and lordship over one another in the church, in the place where you do belong. How, then, about exercising authority and lordship over people in a place where you do not belong at all?

Another verse in connection with the one we had a moment ago, "My kingdom is not of this world":

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints of light:  who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. Col.  1:12, 13.

What we want to study there is the contrast between this light and the darkness. "Delivered us from the power of darkness." That is not simply the power that darkness itself exerts upon us, but the idea is, delivered us from the dominion, the rulership, the government of darkness; brought us out from under the jurisdiction of the power of darkness, and "hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son."

Now we read in Eph. 6:10-12:

Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.

There are defined the dominion, the rulership, and the authority that rules the darkness of this world. Now we are to contend against that. And only those can contend successfully who have been delivered from the power of that darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son.

In this I am not saying that the kings and other rulers of the political governments of this world are the "rulers of the darkness" referred to in the text. The text is not quoted for that. The "rulers of the darkness" here referred to,  we all know to be the spiritual powers of darkness. But the text says that these spiritual powers are the rulers of the darkness of this world. And it therefore shows that this world is in that darkness and is of that darkness and shows therefore that kingdoms and governments being of this world only are in and of the darkness. That is what the text is quoted for.

Now read in Eph. 5:8: "Ye were sometimes darkness." When? Why, when we were subject to "the rulers of the darkness of this world," when we were in sin. "For ye were sometimes darkness but now are ye light in the Lord:  walk as children of light; proving what is acceptable unto the Lord."

Governments, nations, political organizations are of this world only; they belong to this world only. And the world is under the dominion of darkness. "Darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people." Are governments and municipalities of the kingdom of God or of this world? They belong to this world and to this world alone. That is the side of darkness.

 

But he who is translated out of darkness, delivered from that darkness and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son is of another world; he belongs to another world. He is connected with another world, and that world indeed is the heavenly world. The city to which he belongs is the heavenly city. There is his citizenship--in the dominion and the world of light. Then what connection has that kingdom of light with the kingdoms of darkness? What has that government which is in the light and is of the light, to do with governments that are in the darkness and of the darkness? What have those who profess, as these National Reformers do, to belong to the dominion of light, to [do with] the kingdom of light? What have these rightly to do with the affairs of darkness and the rulership and the dominions that pertain only to this world of darkness? "What fellowship hath light with darkness?" That question belongs here. And the same thought is expressed right here in connection with the text we are studying. Read now the whole connection:

Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth), proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

How much of the world is to be embraced under the dominion of the beast and his image? All the world. What is our message? "If any man worship the beast and his image." That is our message to the world. To how much of the world is that message due and applicable? All the world. Then what has that message to do but to do this very thing--to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them?" Will that message be a reproving message to everyone that is engaged in the work of the beast and his image? It will.

Thus the work of the beast and his image is violative of the principle of citizenship of the kingdom of God, or any other kingdom; violative of the principle of ambassadorship of Jesus Christ or any other ambassadorship;  violative of the principle that Jesus Christ laid down for his disciples as to seeking place and authority; violative of the principle of his that separates the government of God from the governments of this earth--that separates between light and darkness. It is simply an attempt to blend light and darkness and is always and only darkness that will seek to blend the government of light with the governments of darkness.

There are several other texts that I want to read. John 17:14 and onward, Christ's prayer for His disciples: "I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them." In another place He says to them:

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own, but because ye are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his Lord.

Now the 18th verse: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." Then turn to another place and you find the statement of Christ: "The world cannot hate you, but me it hateth, because I testify of it,  that the works thereof are evil."

When the beast and his image govern the world and here are a people that are testifying against it, testifying that its works are evil, then what will follow? That people will be hated. But if one does not testify to the world that its works are evil, is the world going to hate him? Oh no, the world will love its own.

Now read on in the 17th chapter of John and the 14th verse: "And the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." There is the standard; there is the measure of compassion that tests our relationship to this world. That is Jesus Christ. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Here are these National Reform church leaders, professing to be not of this world. If that profession be true, they will act as Jesus Christ did when he was in this world with respect to governmental affairs on the earth. That is what we are talking about now. The beast and his image are of the world. If these church leaders are right, if they are of the truth, if they are of Christ's truth, then they are no more of the world, and no more interfering and taking part with the affairs of this world, or seeking to control in political affairs, than Jesus Christ did himself in the world.

And to what extent did He do it? He never touched it. Were there not evils in His day that ought to have been corrected? Evils in city government? Evils in colonial government? Evils in imperial government? Why in the world did He not set about to redeem Jerusalem and Rome by political wire-working? Why didn't He? Because He was not of this world. Then as certainly as these are engaged in it, they demonstrate that they are not of Christ, 9 nor of the truth of Christ, but are of this world. And they being of this world, yet professing the name of Christianity, seek to run Christianity in the mold and the form of this world, and that is antichrist.

Let us read a text in which we have a definite statement upon this subject. In the book of Luke, 12th chapter, 13th verse to the 21st: "One of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me." Here is a man whose parents had died, leaving an inheritance. His brother, it seems, had not dealt fairly with him, and he calls upon Jesus to speak to the brother and have him act right in the matter. That was, in principle, asking Jesus to take the position of a magistrate or an arbitrator in affairs of this world, concerning things that pertain to the government of this world, to sit in judgment upon that case and decide what was right and direct accordingly. It is a case that contains the whole principle which is involved in the evidences which we read in the extracts given in the two preceding lessons. "And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto him," (not simply to him, but that was a text from which Christ would teach him and all the rest a lesson):

Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease,  eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasures for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Now for the application of another point upon ambassadorship. Ambassadors are rightly sent from one government, one kingdom, to another. He is not sent there, as we found in studying the former point, to manipulate, to interfere, or have anything at all to do with the affairs of the government or of the people of that government as they stand related to that government. He is sent to that country, to that government, to attend to the affairs of his own government as they may arise in that government or in that country. That is what he is here for.

There are subjects of Great Britain in the United States, and there are in this country interests that concern Great Britain, in connection with her subjects here. She sends her ambassadors here, a personal national representative, to attend to the affairs of Great Britain and of the subjects of Great Britain, as these things may arise within the territory of this government. And to these things alone is he to turn his attention and devote his time--to the affairs of his own country, as they may arise in the country where he is.

So was Jesus Christ sent as the ambassador of God to this world. He was in the country of Judea, the government, the dominion, and the jurisdiction of Rome. He was asked to attend to the affairs and take jurisdiction in matters that pertained to that other country. But instead of yielding to the invitation, he stuck closely to the affairs that belonged to his own country.

They asked him to act as a judge and a divider in the things that belonged altogether to the government in whose territory he was, and where the man was. But he was not there to attend to these things. He was there to attend to the affairs of the kingdom of God, the affairs of the government which sent him. And instead of crossing the line, and interfering with the affairs that belonged properly under the jurisdiction of this world, He,  as became Him, was loyal to the kingdom to which He belonged, and to the king whom He represented, and accordingly He adhered strictly and attended closely to the affairs of that government of the kingdom of God, as they arose in that kingdom of this world.

God has people in this world. He has interests in this world. His people have interests in this world. That is true.  Therefore God rightly has ambassadors in this world, but they are here to attend to the affairs of the kingdom of God and the people of God, as the affairs of the kingdom of God may arise in the course of things in this world,  and not at all to any affairs of the kingdoms of this world. And the ambassador for Jesus Christ that goes over the line and undertakes to attend to the affairs of this world, abandons his own government, breaks his allegiance to his own King, and unlawfully and illegally invades the province of another government. That is why the wickedness of this thing is so great; that is why it made the beast in the first place; that is why the violation of these principles makes the image of the beast in the second place.

Now I want to ask a question: Taking only the texts which we have studied tonight and the principles that lie in them--not that are brought to them but lie inevitably in them--taking those texts alone, and if these principles of the church had been strictly adhered to, as they were by Jesus Christ in this world, would there, or could there ever have been a papacy? Could there have been such a thing as the beast? Could there ever, then, have been such a thing as the image of the beast? No, sir. That is evidently true. Then upon that, as the violation of those principles inevitably made the beast in the first place, the violation of those principles in the second place could not possibly do anything else than to make the image of the beast. It was not because the people, the professed Christians, in the Roman Empire were worse than any other professed Christians that ever were, that made the papacy; it was not that. It was the violation of the best principles that ever came into the world, that made the worst thing that ever was in the world. And when God had called the world once more unto himself by the principles of Christianity, through the work of the Reformation and set forth once more the principles of Christianity as against the beast, that made Protestantism as it was. And when these professed Protestants violate these principles, it brings the same identical thing, in the perfect image of the original thing that was made by the violation of the principles in the first place.

Then it has been demonstrated before all the world on these two occasions, that the violation of those principles revealed in the verses which we have read, can do nothing else than curse the world with the very papal beastly spirit. Then what thing is most to be avoided by everyone that names the name of Christ? It is the violation of those principles, and if it comes home even to Seventh-day Adventists themselves, the thing to be done is to wed ourselves eternally to the principles and hold to them, because those principles violated by Seventh-day Adventists will work the workings of the papacy, as well as by Protestants or by Catholics.

So I say again, It was not because the professed Christians of the Roman Empire were worse than any other people on the earth that made the papacy as bad as it is. It is not because the Protestant church leaders in this land are worse than anybody else that the image of the beast has been made and is carrying on its cruel workings, but it is because those people violated the principles that have been laid down for the good of the world and the violation of them can do nothing else than to curse the world. And if they are violated by Seventh-day Adventists even, it will be a curse--a curse wherever it is done.

Once more, and then we will have to close this lesson at about half way through: John 17:9: "I pray for them."  That is, His disciples, whom He said to the Father, thou hast given me out of the world. "I pray for them: I pray not for the world." Then can the man whose affections and attention and his working and labor are upon this world and engaged in the affairs of this world have the benefit of that prayer? No, sir. "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are Thine." Given me out of the world. Taken from the world. Given them to me. I pray for them; they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Then every man who would have the benefit of that prayer must be separated from the world, from the things of this world,  from the affairs of this world--his affections off from anything that is in the world or of it, as certainly and as entirely as Jesus Christ Himself, for "they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."