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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 27: Caesar's Household

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

The Christian who manifests patience and cheerfulness under bereavement and suffering, who meets death with the peace and calmness of an unwavering faith, may accomplish far more toward overcoming the opposition of the enemies of the gospel than he could have effected had he labored with his utmost energy day and night to bring them to repentance.

When the servants of Christ move actively through the land to contend against prevailing errors and superstitions, they are doing the work which the Lord has given them, standing in defense of the gospel. But when through Satan's malice, they are persecuted, their active labor hindered, and they cast into prison, as was Paul, [p. 294] and finally dragged to the scaffold or the stake, it is then that truth gains a greater triumph. Those who before doubted, are convinced of their sincerity, as they thus seal their faith with their blood. From the martyr's ashes springs an abundant harvest for the garner of God.

Let no one feel that because he is no longer able to labor openly and actively for God and his truth, he has no service to render, no reward to secure. A true Christian is never laid aside. God will use him effectually in health and in sickness, in life and in death. It is in the darkness of affliction, bereavement, trial, and persecution, that the light of Christian faith shines brightest, and the Lord's promises are found most precious. And when the grave receives the child of God, he being dead yet speaketh. His works do follow him. The memory of his words of admonition and encouragement, of his steadfast adherence to the truth under all circumstances, speaks more powerfully than even his living example.

Patience as well as courage has its victories. Converts may be made by meekness in trial, no less than by boldness in enterprise. If Christians would be reconciled to the apparent suspension of their usefulness, and would cheerfully rest from the strife, and lay off the burden of labor, they would learn sweet lessons at the feet of Jesus, and would see that their Master is using them as effectively when they seem to be withdrawn from employment, as when in more active labor.

When the Christian churches first learned that Paul contemplated a visit to Rome, they looked forward to a signal triumph of the gospel. Paul [p. 295] had borne the truth to many lands; he had proclaimed it in great cities. Might not this champion of the faith succeed in winning souls to Christ, even in the court of Nero? But their anticipations were crushed by the tidings that Paul had gone to Rome as a prisoner. They had confidently hoped to see the gospel, once established at this great center, extend rapidly to all nations, until it should become a prevailing power in the earth. How great their disappointment! Human calculations had failed, but not the purpose of God. Paul could not labor as he had hoped, yet before the close of that two years' imprisonment he was able to say, "My bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;" and among those who send greetings to the Philippians, he mentions chiefly them that are of Caesar's household.

The zeal and fidelity of Paul and his fellow-workers, no less than the faith and obedience of those converts to Christianity, under circumstances so forbidding, should be a rebuke to slothfulness and unbelief in the followers of Christ. Never let us, by our human, short-sighted judgment, limit the plans and work of God. Never let us excuse ourselves from efforts to win souls to Christ, even in the most unpromising fields. The apostle and his subordinate ministers might have argued that the servants of Nero were subjected to the fiercest temptations, surrounded by the most formidable hindrances, exposed to the most bitter opposition, and that under such circumstances it would be in vain to call them to repentance and to faith in Christ. Should they be convinced of the truth, how could they render obedience? But the gospel was presented to [p. 296] those souls, and there were some among them who decided to obey it at any cost. Notwithstanding the obstacles and dangers, they would walk in the light, trusting in God for opportunity to let their light shine forth to others.

Who is placed in circumstances more unfavorable to a religious life, or required to make greater sacrifices, to encounter greater dangers, or to bring upon himself fiercer opposition, than would follow the exchange of heathenism for Christianity by those who were in office in the court of Caesar? No man can be so situated that he cannot obey God. There is too little faith with Christians of to-day. They are willing to work for Christ and his cause only when they themselves can see a prospect of favorable results. Divine grace will aid the efforts of every true believer. That grace is sufficient for us under all circumstances. The Spirit of Christ will exert its renewing, perfecting power upon the character of all who will be obedient and faithful.

God is the great I AM, the source of being, the center of authority and power. Whatever the condition or situation of his creatures, they can have no sufficient excuse for refusing to answer the claims of God. The Lord holds us responsible for the light shining upon our pathway. We may be surrounded by difficulties that appear formidable to us, and because of these we may excuse ourselves for not obeying the truth as it is in Jesus; but there can be no excuse that will bear investigation. Could there be an excuse for disobedience, it would prove our heavenly Father unjust, in that he had given us conditions of salvation with which we could not comply. [p. 297]

Servants employed in an irreligious family are placed in circumstances somewhat similar to those of the members of Caesar's household. Such are deserving of sympathy; for if they seek to live a religious life, their situation is often one of great trial. A bad example is constantly before them,—an example of Sabbath-breaking and of neglect of religion. Few religious privileges are granted them; and should they manifest an interest in religion, they might lose the favor of their employer, and bring upon themselves the ridicule of their companions. He who is thus situated has more than a common battle to fight, if he stands forth as a witness for Christ, a candidate for Heaven. But there can be nothing in his surroundings to excuse him for neglecting the claims of God. Whatever the difficulties in his path, they will be powerless to hinder him if he is determined to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Contents  Preface.  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  ...

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