In the night season I was in a company of people whose hearts were filled with vanity and conceit. Christ was hid from their eyes. Suddenly in loud, clear accents, the words were heard, “Jesus is coming to take to Himself those who on this earth have loved and served Him, to be with Him in His kingdom forever.” Many of those in the company went forth in their costly apparel to meet Him. They kept looking at their dress. But when they saw His glory, and realized that their estimation of one another had been so largely measured by outward appearance, they knew that they were without the robe of Christ’s righteousness, and that the blood of souls was on their garments.
When Christ took His chosen ones, they were left; for they were not ready. In their lives self had been given the first place, and when the Saviour came, they were not prepared to meet Him.
I awoke with the picture of their agonized countenances stamped on my mind. I cannot efface the impression. I wish I could describe the scene as it was presented to me. Oh, how sad was the disappointment of those who had not learned by experience the meaning of the words, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
There are many professing Christians who know not Christ by an experimental knowledge. Oh, how my heart aches for these poor, deceived, unprepared souls! As I stand before congregations, and see the self-sufficient, self-righteous ones, and know that they are not preparing themselves to do acceptable work for Christ, and to meet Him in peace, I am so burdened that I cannot sleep. I ask myself, What can I say to these souls that will arouse them to a sense of their true condition? Self is the all-absorbing theme of their life. I long to reveal Christ so plainly that they will behold Him, and cease to center their attention on self. . . .
Among those to whom bitter disappointment will come at the day of final reckoning will be some who have been outwardly religious, and who apparently have lived Christian lives. But self is woven into all they do. They pride themselves on their morality, their influence, their ability to stand in a higher position than others, [and] their knowledge of the truth, for they think that these will win for them the commendation of Christ. “Lord,” they plead, “we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets” (Luke 13:26). “Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matthew 7:22).
But Christ says, “I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me.” “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
There is no discussion; the time for that is past. The irrevocable sentence has been pronounced. They are shut out from heaven by their own unfitness for its companionship. (Read Matthew 7:24-27.)
Through the plan of redemption, God has provided means for subduing every sinful trait, and resisting every temptation, however strong.
If God’s people had the love of Christ in the heart; if every church member were thoroughly imbued with the spirit of self-denial; if all manifested thorough earnestness, there would be no lack of funds for home and foreign missions; our resources would be multiplied; a thousand doors of usefulness would be opened, and we would be invited to enter. Had the purpose of God been carried out by His people in giving the message of mercy to the world, Christ would have come to the earth, and the saints would ere this have received their welcome into the city of God.
– Selected Messages, book 1; pgs. 81, 82