TEXT FOR PRAYER
Our Dependence Is In God
I shall read from “Christ’s Object Lessons,” p. 63, beginning with the first paragraph:
“The parable of the seed reveals that God is at work in nature. The seed has in itself a germinating principle, a principle that God Himself has implanted; yet if left to itself the seed would have no power to spring up. Man has his part to act in promoting the growth of the grain. He must prepare and enrich the soil and cast in the seed. He must till the fields. But there is a point beyond which he can accomplish nothing. No strength or wisdom of man can bring forth from the seed the living plant. Let man put forth his efforts to the utmost limit, he must still depend upon One who has connected the sowing and the reaping by wonderful links of His own omnipotent power.”
We shall kneel and pray for wisdom, skill, and good judgment in planting the seeds of Truth, to know that beyond this we can do nothing. The Omnipotent One in Whom we live and move and have our being is to do the rest.
Our text is in the sixteenth chapter of Matthew. I shall begin with verses 13 and 14.
Matt. 16:13, 14 – “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.”
Here Jesus asks a vital question: Who do men think I am? The answer given Him reveals the people’s ignorance, for it seems that they should have known that Christ could not have been John the Baptist; they surely should have known that John had baptized Him at the beginning of His ministry. Moreover, Jesus was preaching even before John was beheaded.
Verses 15, 16 – “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
The disciples themselves seemed to have been uncertain as to who Jesus was. Peter alone without a moment’s hesitation replied, “Thou art the Son of the Living God.”
Verse 17 – “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven.”
Peter received the blessing because he was the one to whom the Father had revealed His Son, because he had been impressed by the Spirit of the sacred Truth, and because he freely voiced the Truth. Having been endowed with this gift to his credit, Peter was told:
Verse 18 – “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
The words “thou” and “this” comprehend two objects – Peter and the truth he uttered. The name “Peter” in Greek means “stone.” And so what Jesus was actually saying was not to name the man, but rather to tell him that he was selected to be one of the stones in the spiritual structure – the church. But “On this rock [not on a stone] I will build My church,” Jesus declared. On which rock? – Obviously on the solid rock of Truth, the truth which Peter uttered – the truth that Jesus Christ is the “Son of God.”
Then Jesus made known that the gates of hell could not prevail against the Truth, that the gates could not keep in hell (in the grave) even the dead in Christ, that they, too, are to be a part of the ever-living church, the church that stands on the solid Rock of Truth.
Verse 19 – “And I will give unto thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven.”
Jesus here declares that Peter is become the figure, the type, of all those who declare Divinely-revealed truths. To them, as to Peter, are given the keys of the Kingdom; that is, the promulgators of Inspired Truth are authorized to bind and to loose by the power of the Truth. That which they bind on earth is so recognized in heaven. Elijah bound that there should be a famine for three and one half years, and so it was. Said he, “unto Ahab…there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” 1 Kings 17:1.
Verse 20 – “Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ.”
Since the people knew not that Jesus was the Son of the living God, Jesus realized that to flatly tell them so, would only make them the more prejudiced. He, therefore, charged the apostles to do the same as that which we today are charged to do. Not to say flatly: “We have the Truth, the message of the Eleventh Hour.” Instead we are to teach the Divinely-revealed Bible truths, thus giving our hearers the opportunity to draw their own conclusions, to make up their own minds. If they are honest searchers for Truth, the Father Himself will reveal in their hearts that this is the Eleventh Hour message.
We must not therefore bluntly speak forth the all-important Truth of God. We must use good judgment and tact. We must sow the seed in well-prepared soil if we expect God’s blessing, if we expect His rain and sunshine to cause it to spring forth and bear fruit. If the seed is not sown deep enough, the plant will wither away with the rising of the sun; if we merely drop the seed on the top of the ground, the birds will pick it up.
Verses 21-23 – “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou art an offence unto Me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
Here is magnified the aforesaid truth. Peter’s binding or loosing on earth was acceptable in Heaven only when done by means of Divinely-revealed Truth. When speaking from his own impulses and sentiments, Peter was sharply rebuked, and told plainly that his suggestions were not the Truth, but were prompted by Satan. It is therefore plain that the followers of Christ may bind or loose only with the keys of Truth. They are to realize that Truth alone swings open the gates of Heaven.
Finally, if we have Heaven’s Truth for the hour, as Peter had It in his day, we then have the keys of Heaven and can with It bind or loose – Truth’s decisions on earth are the decisions in Heaven.
Verses 24 – “Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
This verse implies that Peter’s concern was more for his own life than for the life of Jesus, for Peter knew that if Jesus were slain, then his own life would be in jeopardy. Hence Peter was told that if any man would follow Jesus, he, too, would voluntarily consent to carry his own cross if Truth so decrees. The Apostles, we are told, did this very thing, and were faithful unto death.
Verses 25-27 – “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to His works.”
The followers of Christ are here told not to shun Truth’s decree though they be required to surrender their own life, for thus losing their lives they will be actually saving them for eternity – they will rise in the resurrection of the just. But for them to forsake Truth in order to appease the enemies of Truth, and thus save their temporal lives would eventually result in their dying the death from which there is no resurrection.
It should be of interest to know whether the Apostle Peter was the first to be given the Keys of Heaven, or whether others had the Keys before him. Since Present Truth committed to an individual is the Keys of Heaven, and since the teaching of It binds and looses things on earth and is so sanctioned in Heaven, then others must have had the Keys before they were passed on to Peter, for the earth, the church, and Heaven-revealed Truth existed before Peter’s time.
Take for example Noah. He declared that there was to be a flood, that everything outside of the ark which he was building would perish, and that everything that entered into it would live. Then the fact that Heaven sent the flood immediately after Noah preached of it is proof in itself that that which Noah bound on earth was bound in Heaven also. Peter, you, see, was not the first to be given the Keys of Heaven.
After Noah, we shall see that the Keys were passed on to Abraham: since that which was to be bound or loosed on earth had to be bound or loosed in Heaven, the three messengers from heaven consulted Abraham concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was then covenanted that if there be ten righteous persons in the city where Lot lived they should not destroy it. And so it was. Logically, after Abraham the Keys should have been passed on to Isaac: Isaac ruled that Jacob should receive the promised blessings even though by birthright they were to be Esau’s. And in spite of the fact that Jacob obtained the promised blessings by a fraud, Heaven still sanctioned that which Isaac bound on earth – Jacob became the progenitor of Christ.
Thus it is that down through the line of Jacob came the Lord, and thus it is that Jacob’s descendants inherited the Promised Land. Having in possession the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, Jacob at the closing hours of his life decreed that Manasseh’s birthright should be given to Ephraim; to this Joseph protested by endeavoring to persuade his father to put his right hand on Manasseh’s head (Gen. 48:17-19), but what Jacob bound on earth was bound in Heaven, for years later, after the death of Solomon, the tribe of Ephraim, not of Manasseh, ruled the kingdom of Israel. We see, then, that what Jacob bound on earth was also bound in Heaven.
Contemporaneously with Jacob, Joseph by interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream bound that there should be seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine. Thus it was that Joseph’s decree was carried out (bound) by Heaven.
And Moses said, “If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the Lord hath not sent me. But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.” Num. 16:29, 30.
Moses’ decree was bound in Heaven, for “the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.” Verses 32.
The Keys of Kingdom you see, passed along from one generation to another – from the Patriarchs to the Prophets, to the Apostles, and on down to our day. For instance, about three score years ago the founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination declared that the General Conference was no longer Heaven’s highest authority on earth (General Conference Bulletin, 34th. Session, Vol. 4, Extra #1, April 3, 1901, pg. 25, Cols. 1 & 2). And thus it was that when the time arrived for the additional message (which gives power and force to the Third Angel’s Message – “Early Writings,” p. 277) to be proclaimed to the church, it came, not through the General Conference but through the laity. This is proof positive that the Keys with which Peter was invested are at work today.
Plainly, then, the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven are in the hands of those who have the Truth for the day. Consequently just as plain as Heaven can make it, the Truth stands out that the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven today have passed from the hands of the General Conference to the hands of the General Association of Davidian Seventh-day Adventists, as verily as they passed from the Sanhedrin to Peter in the days of Christ’s first Advent. So it is that Truth’s decree on earth today is the decree in Heaven.