Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

February 8, 1892

“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” He who is united to Christ is accepted in the Beloved. That soul is dear to the heart of God. The benefits of this union will be manifest. The child of God, abiding in Christ, will have the character of Christ. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Wherever a soul is united to Christ, there is love. Whatever else the character may possess, it is valueless without love, not love that is soft, weak, sentimental, but such love as dwells in the heart of Christ. Without love, everything else profiteth nothing; for it cannot possibly represent Christ, who is love.

“Ye are Complete in Him”

[Abstract of a sermon at Melbourne, Australia, December 19, 1891.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

“For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him; rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the godhead bodily.” Now mark the following words: “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”

“Ye are complete in him.” Is not this a wonderful statement? Notwithstanding all our various temperaments, our different defects and imperfections, notwithstanding the attacks of the enemy, his grievous temptations and suggestions, we are said to be complete in Him who is the head of all principality and power. Very much has been presented before you in the words which I have read, but we shall be able to notice but few of the points contained in this scripture, in the short address which I shall give. But I desire that you should be able in some measure to comprehend the possibilities to which we may attain in our Christian life. We are to walk even as Christ walked, or the words of inspiration would not so present the course of the follower of Christ: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.”

In order to attain to this high calling of God in Christ Jesus, you must begin the day with your Saviour. The very first outbreathing of the soul in the morning should be for the presence of Jesus. “Without me,” he says, “ye can do nothing.” It is Jesus that we need. His light, his life, his Spirit must be ours continually. We need him every hour. And we should pray in the morning that, as the sun illuminates the landscape and fills the world with light, so the Sun of Righteousness should shine into the chambers of mind and heart, and make us all light in the Lord. We cannot do without his presence one moment. The enemy knows when we decide to do without our Lord, and he is there ready to fill our minds with his evil suggestions, that we may fall from our steadfastness; but it is the desire of the Lord that from moment to moment we should abide in him, and thus be complete in him, accepted in the Beloved. God designs that every one of us shall be perfect in him, so that we may represent to the world the perfection of his character. He wants us to be set free from sin, that we shall not disappoint the heavenly intelligences, that we may not grieve our divine Redeemer. He does not desire us to profess Christianity and yet not avail ourselves of that grace which is able to make us perfect, that we may be found wanting in nothing, but unblamable before him in love and holiness.

“Well,” I hear one say, “if that is what I must be, I might as well give up, for I can never reach that standard.” But this is what you must be, or you will never enter heaven, and heaven is our desire and aim. But we desire to enter heaven, for there there is no disappointment, no sorrow, no sin, no one who shall say, “I am sick.” There, there is no burial train, no mourning, no death, no parting, no broken hearts; and Jesus is there, peace is there. Oh, we must be with him, for in his presence is fullness of joy, at his right hand there are pleasures forevermore! And it is here that we must behold him, and become changed into his image. “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Oh, it is important that we behold him here by the eye of faith, that we may be made like him, but what will it be to behold him as he is without one dimming veil between?

And who is he?—He is the One who has made an infinite sacrifice in our behalf, the One who has brought eternal redemption to our view; and should we behold in him all he is to us, how gladly would we yield our hearts to him, to love him and obey him! Can we not do it now? Is there not need that we behold him by faith, and become changed into his image, when the world is covered with moral darkness like the pall of death, that we may reflect light into the gloom, that as we flash the light of heaven along the pathway of those who are in perplexity and error, they may see that there is brightness and attractiveness in the Christian's hope? But all this depends upon your reception of the Holy Spirit. It is your privilege to be anointed from on high, or you cannot represent Jesus as he is, and the world cannot take knowledge of you that you have been with him, and have learned of the Divine Teacher. You are to walk in him, to love him, because he first loved you.

Jesus did not seek you and me because we were his friends, for we were estranged from him, and unreconciled to God. It was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us. But he has promised to give us his Holy Spirit, that we may become assimilated to his nature, changed into his image. Therefore we must put away everything like passion, impatience, murmuring, and unrest, and find a place for Jesus in the heart. We must have the buyers and the sellers cleared out of the soul temple, that Jesus may take up his abode within us. He stands at the door of the heart as a heavenly merchantman; he knocks there, saying, Open unto me, buy of me the heavenly wares, buy of me the gold tried in the fire, which is faith and love, the precious, beautiful attributes of our Redeemer, which will enable us to melt our way into the hearts of those who do not know him, those who are cold and alienated from him through unbelief and sin. He invites us to buy of him the white raiment, which is his glorious righteousness, and the eyesalve, that we may discern spiritual things. Oh, shall we not open the heart's door to this heavenly voice? He says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

But everyone who is Christ's, who has tasted of the powers of the world to come, has crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts. As the physical nature is sustained by the food we eat, so the spiritual nature must be sustained by the word and Spirit of God. God desires us to have a healthful experience. We shall be feeble and dying Christians if we have the experience described by the apostle as fashioned after “the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” It is Christ abiding in our hearts by faith that we must have, and then we shall manifest the fruits of the Spirit, which the word of God declares are “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”

But sometimes those who profess to be followers of Christ will say, “You must not be surprised if I am rough, if I speak bluntly, if I manifest temper, for it is my way.” You ask us not to be surprised. Is not heaven surprised at such manifestations, since the plan of salvation has been devised, since an infinite sacrifice has been made on Calvary's cross, that we might reflect the image of Jesus? Will your way enter heaven? Suppose one comes up to the pearly gates and says, “I know that I have been rude and unkind, and it is my disposition to lie and to steal, but I want an entrance into the heavenly mansions.” Will that way find an entrance into the portals of the heavenly city?—No; it is those who keep Christ's way that will enter there. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” If anyone thinks he can climb up some other way, he will find that it will not lead him to the mansions of glory. We want Christ's way, His life must be in us. Jesus has said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.... He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” We should study to understand the meaning of these words, for they are of vital importance to us. Jesus has explained their significance. He says, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

We should take time to study the Bible, for we must know what saith the Scripture. The Bible is the garden of God, and as we see the lovely flowers of promise, we should gather them to our souls, for “exceeding great and precious promises” have been given unto us, that by these we might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

(Concluded next week.)

February 8, 1892

Faith and Works

By Mrs. E. G. White

God will work for us just in accordance with our faith. At the slow rate our people in many States are working, it would take a temporal millennium to warn the world. The angels are holding the four winds that they should not blow until the world is warned, until a people has decided for the truth, the honest of heart have been convicted and converted. Their power, their influence, and their means will then flow in the missionary channel. This is putting out the money to the exchangers, that when the Master shall come, his stewards may present the talents doubled in the ingathering of souls to Jesus Christ. But the wealthy farmers are some of them acting as if in the day of God the Lord only would require of them to present to him enriched, improved farms, building added to building, and they say, “Here, Lord, are thy talents; behold, I have gained all this possession.” If the acres of their farms were so many precious souls saved to Jesus Christ, if their buildings were so many souls to be presented to the Master, then he could say to these men, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But you cannot take these improved farms, or these buildings, into heaven. The fires of the last days will consume them. If you invest and bury your talents of means in these earthly treasures, your heart is on them, your anxiety is for them, your persevering labor is for them, your tact, your skill is cultivated to serve earthly, worldly possessions, and is not directed or employed upon heavenly things. And you come to look upon the means invested for larger plans in extending the work as so much means lost which brings no returns. This is all a mistake, because the earthly is exalted above the eternal. While the heart is on earthly treasures, it can only estimate such; it cannot appreciate the heavenly treasure. It is fully occupied just as the devil wants it should be; and the eternal is eclipsed by the earthly.

Burying Talents in the Earth

Now there are many diligently at work just as though their salvation depended upon their wonderful economy in investing means in the cause of God, as though the least money they consumed in plans and efforts to broaden and build up the work of God was a virtue. And money is held in farms and in business as though their salvation depended upon the improvements to be made upon their earthly property. Do these men know that they are bound up in selfishness? Do these men know that they are robbing God every day of their lives? Do they know that they are devoting their time, their physical and mental talents, in laying upon the foundation, hay, wood, and stubble? All the improvements of years will be consumed with the fires of the last day, and if they themselves are saved, it will be only as by fire. Their whole life work is in ashes. The reward that they might have gained if they had been faithful stewards, is lost, eternally lost. A host of souls that they might have saved are not saved, because of their neglect. All their powers God had given them to prove them as probationers, whether they are worthy to be intrusted with eternal riches. And there are many whose testimonies have been heard in meetings in continual cautions, lest some advance move shall be made calling for some of their means to reflect light to the world. They are found so buried up with earthly things that they have no right estimate of the eternal riches, and would not prize heaven if it were given them. Their taste, their appetite, their pursuits, their inclinations, are all of an earthly, worldly character; they are unfitted for heaven; they perish with their treasures. All our talents are to be used to the utmost. We are required to develop our abilities by exercise until they have reached the highest standpoint in doing—your farming? your building?—No; but God's work, as stewards of the grace of God.

Your powers are to be used as a blessing to the world. To take God's intrusted talents and employ them for earthly, selfish, worldly purposes, and neglect the work of God in winning souls to Christ,—unfaithful servants is charged upon all who do this and neglect a sacred responsibility. It is a fearful thing to take the powers of the body and of the mind, given you to be employed to be a blessing to the world, and use them in such a way that God is not honored. It is also a fearful thing to fold up the talent in a napkin, and hide it in the earth, or world, for fear God would demand it of you. This will be the cutting off of our own hopes of an eternal reward; it is the forfeiting of the crown of life, and showing that we have no esteem for an eternity of bliss.

Transformation Necessary

God calls upon you who have the precious light of truth to no longer have your time and talents devoted to selfish purposes, and thus lost to humanity, and lost to God, by folding up your talents and hiding them in the earth. All these talents must be employed to bring glory to the Giver. Accept your God-given responsibilities and take up your cross, denying yourself, or you cannot be disciples of Christ. God did not design that you should devote brain, bone, and muscle to earthly employments; he intended you should improve your talents to fill some grand and noble place in God's plans, in saving of souls, and in doing God's work. The selfish thoughts and feelings have dried up your souls. The moisture of heaven is not upon many of you. You are as dry as the hills of Gilboa, that were not visited by dew nor rain. Grand opportunities are being lost, and you are shriveled and dying spiritually of non-use of your talents. You cannot fulfill your solemn responsibilities to God unless you are transformed in character. Your unconscious influence in your spiritual attitude of selfish love of the world is saying to the world, “My Lord delayeth his coming.” Your guilt is similar to that of the inhabitants of the old world. You are planting and building, and your works testify that you are not looking and watching and waiting for our Lord's appearing.

Accountability to God

How can you, who are men and women blessed with so great light, so high and sacred privileges, render an account to God why you have done so little as his servants? why you have fulfilled life's grand works so unworthily? God lays responsibilities in your hands to do his work, to educate, to train all your powers to do his work with that efficiency which shall earn for you the, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Wherein does this faithfulness consist? in your withdrawing your interest, your time, your influence, from the work of God, and devoting all your powers to earthly, selfish purposes?—No, the blessing will be pronounced upon those who yoke up with Christ in doing his work. Ye are laborers together with God. You will reveal to the world all the faith you have.

You are not all compelled to go to heathen lands; there are souls just as precious in the sight of God and valuable as your own soul right within your own borders. And how few, very few, workers are employed in giving the message of warning in the large cities? What excuse will you have prepared to offer to God for this terrible neglect of your God-given responsibilities? These souls unsaved within your reach, I was shown, will confront you in the day of judgment. You worshiped your farms, you worshiped your money, you prided yourself upon your wisdom as wise financiers in worldly affairs; but how does all this weigh with God? He said of the rich man, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? Now the application: “So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” The Lord has given you light in testimonies of warning, of reproof, and counsel, but you do but little in accordance with the light given. The words of Christ are explicit, but you are not doers of his words, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Do you contemplate that Christ sacrificed his majesty, his honor and glory, to bring salvation within your reach, and save every son and daughter of Adam? He for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.

“We are laborers together with God.” When he ascended on high, he left his work in the hands of his followers to carry it forward, as he has given us an example in his self-sacrificing life. He went about doing good. Do you follow his example in this? Does your own business seem of greater importance than the precious souls Jesus came to the world to save? Oh, that I could open many eyes that Satan has blinded. Oh, that pen and voice could have an influence to arouse you from your paralysis. Oh, that you could see that you are doing nothing while all heaven is engaged in intense activities to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God.

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