"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field." [Matthew 13:44]
As men seek for earthly treasure, so are they diligently to search for the truth. The truth is to be regarded of higher value than anything else within the reach of man, and the searcher for truth must be willing to purchase it at any sacrifice or cost to himself. The word of God is the mine of truth, and the Lord would have us individually search the Scriptures, that we may become acquainted with the great plan of redemption, and take in the grand subject as far as it is possible for the human mind, enlightened by the Spirit of God, to understand the purpose of God. He would have us comprehend something of his love in giving his Son to die that he might counteract evil, remove the defiling stains of sin from the workmanship of God, and re-instate the lost, elevating and ennobling the soul to its original purity through Christ's imputed righteousness.
The only way in which the fallen race could be restored was through the gift of his Son, equal with himself, possessing the attributes of God. Though so highly exalted, Christ consented to assume human nature, that he might work in behalf of man and reconcile to God his disloyal subject. When man rebelled, Christ pleaded his merit in his behalf, and became man's substitute and surety. He undertook to combat the powers of darkness in man's behalf, and he prevailed, conquering the enemy of our souls, and presenting to man the cup of salvation.
God has endowed humanity with attributes whereby we may appreciate God; and though man has revolted from God, and has endeavored to supply the place of God with other objects of worship, the true God alone can fill the wants of the soul. Christ said: "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." [John 12:32] Christ is to be the great center of attraction, the object to which the attention of the world is invited; and the word of God so portrays him. The Lord has intrusted to his children his written word, in order that they might search the Scriptures, and understand what is truth, and proclaim the truth to those who are in the darkness of error. How diligently should we search this word. The diligent student will be amply rewarded; for gems of truth are to be gathered up, and separated from the companionship of error. The Bible is presented to us as a precious revelation from heaven; but in order to understand it, we must diligently search its pages, with prayerful spirit and humble heart.
The prevailing spirit of our times is that of infidelity and apostasy. The spirit manifested in the world is one of pride and self-exaltation. Men boast of illumination, which in reality is the blindest presumption; for they are in opposition to the plain word of God. Many exalt human reason, idolize human wisdom, and set the opinions of men above the revealed wisdom of God. This affords opportunity for the working of Satan, and the spirit of antichrist is far more wide-spread than any of us imagine. Among the great mass of professed Christians, the grievous character of the transgression of the law of God is not understood. They do not realize that salvation can be obtained only through the blood of Christ, through his imputed righteousness; but this alone will avail to make fallen man what he should be, and exalt him to become a member of the royal family.
The truth as it is in Jesus is regarded as an old-fashioned doctrine. The maxims of the world, that know not God, have been worked into the theories of the church. In the eyes of men, vain philosophy and science, falsely so-called, is of more value than the word of God. The sentiment prevails to a large extent that the divine Mediator is not essential to the salvation of man. A variety of theories advanced by the so-called worldly-wise men for man's elevation, are believed and trusted in more than is the truth of God, as taught by Christ and his apostles. The lying spirit that enticed Eve in Eden, finds acceptance with the majority of earth's inhabitants today. Even the Christian world refuses to be converted by the Spirit of God, but listen to the prince of darkness, as he comes to them in the garb of an angel of light. The spirit of antichrist is prevailing in the world to a far greater extent than it has ever prevailed before. The day of test and purification is just upon us. Signs of a most startling character appear, in floods, in hurricanes, in tornadoes, in cloud-bursts, in casualties by land and by sea, that proclaim the approach of the end of all things. The judgments of God are falling on the world, that men may be awakened to the fact that Christ will come speedily. The Lord is about to reveal the difference between the righteous and the wicked; for his "fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into his garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." [Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3:17]
The time is upon us when the miracle-working power of the arch deceiver will be more decidedly revealed. And his deceptions will increase in their delusive attraction, so that they will perplex, and if possible, deceive, the very elect. The prince of darkness with his evil angels is working upon the Christian world, inducing those who profess the name of Christ to stand under the banner of darkness, to make war with those who keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus. An apostate church will unite with the powers of earth and hell to place upon the forehead or in the hand, the mark of the beast, and prevail upon the children of God to worship the beast and his image. They will seek to compel them to renounce their allegiance to God's law, and yield homage to the papacy. Then will come the times which will try men's souls; for the confederacy of apostasy will demand that the loyal subjects of God shall renounce the law of Jehovah, and repudiate the truth of his word. Then will the gold be separated from the dross, and it will be made apparent who are the godly, who are loyal and true, and who are the disloyal, the dross and the tinsel. What clouds of chaff will then be borne away by the fan of God! Where now our eyes can discover only rich floors of wheat, will be chaff blown away with the fan of God. Every one who is not centered in Christ will fail to stand the test and ordeal of that day. While those who are clothed with Christ's righteousness will stand firm to truth and duty, those who have trusted in their own righteousness will be ranged under the black banner of the prince of darkness. Then it will be seen whether the choice is for Christ or Belial. Those who have been self-distrustful, who have been so circumstanced that they have not dared to face stigma and reproach, will at last openly declare themselves for Christ and his law; while many who have appeared to be flourishing trees, but who have borne no fruit, will go with the multitude to do evil, and will receive the mark of apostasy in the forehead or in the hand.
Now we have the precious opportunity of making our calling and election sure. Every soul is to proclaim the truth because it is the truth. There must not be with any of us a betrayal of sacred trusts. Although Satan lifts up himself, although he numbers the world as his subjects, and exalts himself above God, we must be faithful and loyal sons and daughters of God, our eyes not blinded by the enemy, our hearts not corrupted by the delusive deception that has covered the people. Let us raise high the standard of victory, proclaiming in the strength of Jehovah, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, while believing with all the heart that "the Lord our righteousness" [Jeremiah 23:6 and Jeremiah 33:16] will be our defense in that day.
We are living in a time of world-wide apostasy; but the more wide-spread unbelief and infidelity are, the more does the word of God shine forth as the truth to the believing soul; for in the Bible the believer recognizes the voice of the Almighty. With what awe and reverence, with what humiliation of soul, should we attempt the searching of the Scriptures, the word of the living God. At this time the Lord has precious truth to open unto us. It is not new truth, but old, old truth, although to the receiver it is new, grand, inspiring, and glorious truth. It has been rescued from the companionship of error, and has been placed in the framework of truth. Long enough have the Lord's precious words of truth been perverted to serve the purpose of the enemy.
Christ was the great Teacher of truth, and to him we must come to learn of the great doctrine of justice, grace, and mercy. His words are as seeds that germinate and take root, and are again to be sown and cultivated by his delegated embassadors. The disciples were put in close connection with eternal, essential truth; for it was laid open to their understanding; but they failed to comprehend it in its fullness, and although the living oracles are in our hands, although we have some understanding of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments, there is much that even in our day we do not see and comprehend. In order to understand the truth of God, there is need of deep research, that we may discover in the teachings of Christ new aspects of truth, and behold the exceeding breadth and compass of grand old truth, of which we have only a superficial knowledge. The searching of the Scriptures would reveal the harmony existing between the various parts of the Bible, and the bearing of one passage upon another. We do not perceive the meaning of the word of God without much study; but the reward of the study of the Bible is exceedingly precious to him who fears God and earnestly searches for truth as for hidden treasure. At the present day there are a large number in our churches who are not sufficiently interested in Bible study to seek to understand the mysteries of the truth. They do not go below the surface. Those who are living in these last days, who acknowledge the binding claims of the law of God, have no ordinary responsibility. They are not to be satisfied with the surface truths. That which lies plainly revealed, which costs us no effort, will not be esteemed as highly as the treasure that costs us diligent, prayerful research and investigation. Celestial truth is represented as treasure hid in a field, "which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field," [Matthew 13:44] that he may work every part of it to discover the golden ore or precious gems. The earth itself cannot reveal treasures of as great value as can the Bible. No toil can so repay the diligent worker, as can the search for truth. Let the mines of revelation be properly worked, and the unsearchable riches of Christ will be revealed.
How can we stand in the day of test if we do not understand the words of Christ? He said: "These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." [John 14:25-26] It is the holy Spirit that is to bring to our remembrance the words of Christ. The theme Christ chose to dwell upon in his last discourse to his disciples was that of the office of the holy Spirit. He opened before them a wide tract of truth. They were to receive his words by faith, and the Comforter, the holy Spirit, was to bring all things to their remembrance. The consolation given by Christ in this promise was found in the fact that the divine influence was to be with his followers to the end. But this promise is not accepted and believed by the people today, and therefore is not cherished by them, nor is its fulfillment seen in the experience of the church. The promise of the gift of the Spirit of God, is left as a matter to be little considered by the church. It is not impressed upon the people, and the result is only that which might be expected,--spiritual drouth, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death. Minor matters occupy the mind and soul, but divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, which would, if possessed, bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, although it is offered to us in infinite plentitude. Just as long as the church are satisfied with small things, they are disqualified to receive the great things of God. But why do we not hunger and thirst after the gift of the holy Spirit, since it is the means whereby the heart may be kept pure? The Lord designs that divine power shall co-operate with human effort. It is all-essential for the Christian to understand the meaning of the promise of the holy Spirit just prior to the coming of our Lord Jesus the second time. Talk of it, pray of it, preach concerning it; for the Lord is more willing to give the holy Spirit than parents are to give good gifts to their children. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." [John 3:16]
We are living in the last days, when error of a most deceptive character is accepted and believed, while truth is discarded. The Lord will hold both ministers and people responsible for the light which shines in our day. God calls upon all who claim to believe present truth, to work diligently in gathering up the precious jewels of truth, and placing them in their position in the framework of the gospel. Let them shine in all their divine beauty and loveliness, that the light may flash forth amid the moral darkness. This cannot be accomplished without the aid of the holy Spirit, but with the aid of the Spirit we can do all things. When we are endowed with the holy Spirit, we by faith take hold of infinite power. There is nothing to be lost of that which comes from God. The Saviour of the world sends his divine messenger to the soul, that men may dig for the truth, that by its revelation they may dispel the multitude of errors. This is the Christian's work.