“And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee.” Luke 15:17, 18.
Hundreds and thousands of young people from all socio-economic levels have separated themselves from their parents, seeking pleasure, adventure, so-called freedom and a better life. Many of the parents of these runaways have made determined and costly efforts to find their son or daughter and bring them back home. Sometimes the concerned parents will hire special agencies to search for their lost child. It may take months or even years of waiting before any clues crop up regarding the whereabouts of their prodigal child. So much time and effort and money is spent in order to locate the child but it is all worth it if the child is found and returns home.
How very tragic it is when a youth in the prime of life decides to disconnect him/herself from a loving home and wanders off into a far country of sin and degradation to waste his life away.
The thought of separation from a loving parent is terrible, but separation from a loving God is infinitely worse. It is a sad truth that we must all admit to and that is that we have all broken our relationship with our heavenly Father. It is the pollution of sin that keeps us far apart. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3:23, 11, 12. “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” Romans 7:14, 15. The apostle Paul describes the fierce battle that rages within the human heart. This deadly element of sin which infects the heart is like a cancer that destroys the character and unfits man to enter the land of glory.
Just look for a moment at the prodigal son and see what sin had done in his life.
“The youth who has boasted of his liberty, now finds himself a slave. He is in the worst of bondage—‘holden with the cords of his sins.’ (Prov. 5:22) The glitter and tinsel that enticed him have disappeared, and he feels the burden of his chain. ….With money spent, with hunger unsatisfied, with pride humbled, with his moral nature dwarfed, with his will weak and untrustworthy, with his finer feelings seemingly dead, he is the most wretched of mortals.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 200.
“He had brought upon himself his position of friendlessness and want. His own disobedience and sin had resulted in his separating himself from his father.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 101.
Thus, realizing his desperate condition, the prodigal resolves, “I WILL ARISE AND GO!”
“Miserable as he was, the prodigal found hope in the conviction of his father’s love. It was that love that was drawing him toward home.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 202.
As you read this article, you may feel that you have wandered far away from the Lord. Won’t you say, “I will arise!” and then go to the Father? Permit the Father to embrace and kiss you. He loves you and is eagerly waiting for your return. The clock of eternity will soon strike 12:00 and God’s forbearance will come to an end. With this in view, there is very little time left to arise and return. Storm clouds are rapidly gathering and will soon break into the fury of Armageddon. The world will come to a cataclysmic climax. Can’t you see the signs of the times declaring the return of our beloved Jesus? How much longer shall we trifle with our souls’ salvation? Has not God been warning us of imminent disaster? Just look at our political, economic, social, and religious conditions. Everything is ready to break into pieces and collapse.
Especially noteworthy, in the light of prophecy, are the recent developments between church and state in the United States. America will be the first nation to enforce the Mark of the Beast–Sunday legislation–with all the other nations of the world following her example. The Christian nations are eagerly cooperating in order to achieve their long-looked-for unity. Different faiths which have been separate and Protestant for centuries are now reaching out to the Pope in Rome. We know what the end result will be–a world church power that will persecute the remnant people of God. And so we find very significant the recent establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the United States government and the Vatican. This should be a warning to us to prepare for the last battle. The end is near. Jesus is coming soon!
These events should encourage us to make haste and ARISE to take our stand on the Lord’s side. “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.” Hosea 6:1. “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.” Joel 2:12.
In your sad state you may have drifted onto the rocks of formalism, fanaticism, work-righteousness, or a perilous lukewarmness. God wants you to return to Him while probation is still lingering. God wants you to return to Him personally. Of course, the grace of Christ has been provided to keep us faithful. Each one of us should strive to obey the commandments of God through the grace of Christ.
Let us now consider a few areas where we Adventists, Sabbath keepers, can be more faithful.
God has given us six days in which to work and one day, the Sabbath, to devote all of our time and interest to serving Him. Have you been neglecting the counsel of Isaiah, chapter 58? How do you feel when you desecrate the Lord’s Day by your worldly conversation concerning finances, houses, cars, and other secular topics? It is sad to catch our thoughts and words running in the wrong channels. There may be even some who feel that the Sabbath is too long and can’t wait for the sun to set so they can get on with their worldly activities. (Amos 8:5) Another way in which Sabbath may be desecrated is to enter it with a spirit of anger or hate towards someone. Remember also that it is very important to guard the edges of the holy Sabbath day. Isn’t it then high time to arise and return to the Lord to serve Him faithfully?
Another area where God’s people need to come up is in healthful living. This does not just include proper diet but physical exercise, adequate time for sleep, cleanliness, modesty in dress and a right mental outlook on life. We may abstain from flesh meats, alcohol and tobacco, but it is possible that we are still consuming other harmful products. An overindulgence in even nutritious food is bad for your health. May the Lord help us to arise in this matter also and truly reform our habits before we succeed in destroying our health.
When Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius there were many persons buried in the ruins who were afterwards found in their different locations. Some were found in deep vaults, as if they had gone there for security. Others were found in lofty chambers. But where did they find the Roman sentinel? They found him standing at the city gate where he had been placed by the captain, with his hands still grasping the weapon. There, while the earth shook beneath him, there, while the floods of ashes and cinders overwhelmed him, he had stood at his post; and there, after a thousand years, he was found! We should all stand faithfully at the posts where our Captain Jesus has placed us.
In Early Writings, p. 66, we read the following from the Lord’s servant: “The little remnant who love God and keep His commandments and are faithful to the end will enjoy their glory and ever be in the presence of Jesus and sing with the holy angels.”
Time is short and all of us need to arise before Michael arises from the judgment seat in the Most Holy. This means that all cases will then have been decided for life or death and the sentence will be irrevocable.
Arise in the Family
What is the spiritual condition of your home? How is your family life? Apostle Paul challenges the Christian to revival with these words: “He must manage his own business well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church?” 1 Timothy 3:4, 5 (R.S.V.).
Ask yourself, what should be done in my home to make it more what Jesus would have it to be? Do you need to practice more patience? Is there too much permissiveness in your home? Is everyone going his way, doing his own thing? Is there personal caring and concern and time spent on each other, or just pursuing the acquisition of wealth?
As families all around us are in deep trouble, are our homes assimilating the thinking and practices of the society at large? What can we do to revive our homes?
Here are some practical steps toward a family revival.
Television introduces the values and non-values of the world and robs us of time to witness. It gives a distorted representation of life and of reality; it cheapens love; it conditions children to expect a high level of excitement in real life, encourages greed, and inhibits the capacity to respond positively to people. Satan is using television for the purpose of destroying the image of God in humanity. Don’t let him do it in your home! Don’t let him succeed in his aim to make you insensitive both to the appeal of the Holy Spirit and to the needs of your fellow men.
Secondly, let’s reestablish family cohesiveness. Let’s take time to listen, to communicate love, to establish confiding relationships. Those in the Lord’s work also need to remember that their first duty is to their children. “Nothing can excuse the minister for neglecting the inner circle for the larger circle outside.” The Adventist Home, p.353. Let us beware that we do not place the emphasis on endless activity and
conveying information such as lectures and canvassing rather than on quality human relationships. Let us take time to really hear what our children are saying to us. They need to know that they matter to us, that their parents have time for them.
And lastly, let us rededicate ourselves to teaching and living the moral values of the Ten Commandments.
Not only should Christ be the center of the home, but His Spirit is to be manifested in the Church. The Spirit of love and kindness will drive away all the anger, malice, envy, and gossip. No evils can flourish in a heavenly atmosphere. When the church rises to this challenge, Christ’s coming will be hastened. Let us then put away all the negative traits and be a strength to one another.
Arise and Be a Blessing for Humanity
We are one year nearer to the end of this world’s history. Before us lies the challenge of fulfilling the great gospel commission. There is a work to be done to save souls and to warn the wicked of the destruction to come. The Lord says through prophet Isaiah, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
All of God’s people are to respond to the challenge of carrying out the Gospel commission–housewives, students, professionals, skilled laborers, all, “The Lord desires to have in His service intelligent men, men qualified for various lines of work.” Messages to Young People, p. 222.
It is the love of God that motivates us to go and search for the prodigals, the wanderers, and the lost. Let me illustrate this with a simple story of a father and his son.
In the early pioneer days, near Chicago, there lived a fine Quaker family by the name of Hartman. John, a good son, had grown to manhood and was now about 19 years of age. One day, he and his father had a violent quarrel which was a very unusual occurrence in that peace-loving family. It was so heated that the father ordered the son to leave home. John, then as big and tall as his father, arose and said, “Father, I’m going and will never return unless I have a personal invitation from you.” He then decided to go west in search of work, and so, with pick and shovel, he found a wagon train that was heading west for California, for gold had just been discovered there.
Only a few days passed when the father came to himself and with a broken heart acknowledged his mistake in sending his son away. He decided to go in search of his son. He sold some of his stock to provide for his wife and family and means to make his trip. After learning that his boy had gone west, he joined himself to the next wagon train heading for California. Soon he was tramping from one camp to another only to find that his son, John, had left that camp just a few weeks before. Finally, his money spent, he realized that he must return home. But a thought came to him as he rounded a bend in the trail and noticed an overhanging ledge of rock. “I will paint a message upon the rocks inviting John to come home.” And so he did, again and again. And with a prayer in his heart that his son John would come along that trail before the wind and the weather effaced the writing, the father headed back for Chicago. And by providence, soon young John was making his way along the trail when suddenly he noticed the words, “John Hartman, your father loves you. Come home!” He bit his lip and went on stubbornly. But there it was again: “John Hartman, your father loves you. Come home!” And then John broke down and said, “Father must have loved me a great deal to come clear out here and write this message where everyone could see it. I’m going home!” And he did.
It was the love of the father that led John back home. The father searched and did everything he could to find his son. He even wrote a love message to him.
As Christians we have the solemn responsibility to search and point sinners to Calvary. Let them know that Jesus came all the way from the glory of heaven down to this dark earth. On Calvary, Jesus wrote with His own blood, “Your Father loves you, come home!”
In these last hours of earth’s history we need to arise and invite people home by presenting the message of the unchanging love of the Father. Love is the motivation for our witness. Love to God, love to man. If we love God supremely we will speak for Him and of Him. If we love our fellow man as ourselves we will speak to him about Christ. “And ye shall be witnesses unto me.” “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19.
With love in our hearts, we are animated to do personal work for the lost. “Many are waiting to be personally addressed. In the very family, the neighborhood, the town, where we live, there is work for us to do as missionaries for Christ. If we are Christians, this work will be our delight.” The Desire of Ages, p. 141. “God expects personal service from everyone to whom He has entrusted a knowledge of the truth for this time.” Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 30.
We are to look for the searching souls just where they are: in the church, in the field, in the shop, in school, at the office. Our Savior called His disciples while they were about their daily work. Four of the disciples left their fishing nets in response to His personal appeal. Christ never lost sight of the individual. Think of His personal appeal to Nicodemus the Pharisee that night who did not surrender fully until about three years later. Although this prominent Pharisee procrastinated so long, Christ never gave up hope for him. Just so the personal worker for souls must never give up but pray and have faith. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16.
There is no substitute for the personal touch. This was Christ’s preferred way of working and it bore fruit. Don’t think that you should not get involved personally, standing back and letting the minister do everything. Such limited witnessing would only retard the spiritual growth of the church. Limited witness produces spiritual paralysis and Laodicean lukewarmness. It also produces few accessions to the faith. Where the minister is doing it all and the people are watching him critically judgmental churches are the result. Committee meetings get more difficult. Members lack emotional involvement and attachment.
To counteract this non-involvement attitude the leaders are urged to give proper instruction in gospel work to all believers. The areas to be covered may be house-to-house labor, how to give Bible studies, conducting cooking classes, etc. There is work for all to do and when the church arises to its appointed work it will grow and be strong and healthy spiritually.
I Will Arise and Go into the Service of the Lord
“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” Matt. 9:37, 38. “The work above all work,–the business above all others which should draw and engage the energies of the soul,–is the work of saving souls for whom Christ has died. Make this the main, the important work of your life. Make it your special life work. Cooperate with Christ in this grand and noble work, and become home and foreign missionaries.” Messages to Young People, p. 227. “God calls for ministers, Bible workers, and canvassers.” Ibid., p. 208. “The medical missionary work presents many opportunities for service.” Ibid., p. 218.
Just as Christ called Elisha, Apostle Paul, William Miller, and Ellen Harmon, He will continue to call and appeal to men, women, and young people to enter the missionary field as full-time laborers. Youth are needed who have strength, zeal, and the desire to be witnesses for Christ. It may be your last year of school and you have had thoughts of wanting to be a blessing to humanity. Perhaps you have been wondering whether you should enter God’s service. How may one know if he/she is called by God?
Let me mention a few things that may help you to know.
First, there should be with every person a strong conviction that God would have him in this work. The conviction that Christ wishes him to be His chosen vessel should be a constant, steady impression. Whatever he may be doing he will have the certain knowledge that God is calling him to the work of saving souls.
Secondly, the man or woman who has this conviction should enjoy working with people. Some people do not like to be around others much. They prefer to be alone.
Thirdly, in making this important decision, one finds help through prayer. God will hear and answer the earnest petitions. One should talk with God and ask that, if that feeling is not from God, it be taken away and that he find freedom and peace in other activities.
Fourth, a man under conviction to enter God’s service should study the providences of God. Many have watched these providences and knew that God was leading them away from secular work till only the cause of God mattered for them.
And lastly, people thinking of going into missionary work ought to seek counsel of the brethren. If the Holy Spirit is leading, the brethren will know it, for the Holy Spirit works with the brethren just as fully as He works with the one who is being called. And not only the brethren, but godly parents will recognize the working of the Spirit of God in the call. It is a great joy for Christian parents to see their child become a missionary for Jesus, a person whom the Lord can use mightily to save souls.
Parents, if you have a son, share the following with him:
“The highest of all work is ministry in its various lines, and it should be kept before the youth that there is no work more blessed of God than that the gospel minister. Let not our young men be deterred from entering the ministry.” Evangelism, p. 23.
I appeal to all parents to support and pray for our youth. The time has come for more youth to enter the white harvest. The laborers are few, therefore parents ought to pray even more. In this prophesied Reform Movement we need more medical missionaries, church school teachers, colporteurs, evangelists, Bible instructors, ministers, and publishing house workers.
The world is coming to an end and a great work is still to be done. What will you do with your life? Won’t you give it some serious thought?
If God calls you, don’t resist His love but say, “I will arise and work for Thee!” I pray that our young brothers and sisters will respond to the invitation of Christ when He calls and say, “Here am I, send me!” May God grant this in His mercy.