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General Conference Bulletin, vol. 4

April 14, 1901

“Bible Study” The General Conference Bulletin 4, 10.

E. J. Waggoner

By Elder E.J. Waggoner, April 11, 9 A.M.

In first John first chapter we have the message which comes to us, and which we are to pass on to the world. This is the message: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us); that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

This is the message that was from the beginning; so nobody need be afraid of new-fangled ideas, or of new doctrine. We are going back to first principles, to the original message, “which was from the beginning.” Where is the beginning? You remember the message to the Laodicean church,-the last church,-a message to the very end of the world. It begins like this: “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” Revelation 3:14.

And in the first chapter of Revelation as well as in the last chapter, you have him set forth as the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Or, again, in the first chapter of Colossians you have it very clearly: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist: and he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning.”

And his name is I AM; he is the one who was, and who is, and who is to come. Christ is the beginning and the end. The message which we preach is that which was from the beginning. It is the message from Christ, the message of Christ. From him all things flow; in him everything has its origin; in him all things consist, and he is the end as well. And when you and I, and all whom the Spirit of God may impress, have come to the beginning,-when we have accepted the Beginning, then we are ready to go on and do a great work,-to carry the message. Is that it?-No; when you and I, and all whom the Spirit of God can call out, have come to the Beginning, have accepted the Beginning, then the end will come. For the beginning and the end are one; Christ is the beginning and the end. He is the faithful and true. Witness, the beginning of the creation: and when we come fully to the beginning of the creation, we find the end of creation, even the new creation, that is the end of this world and the beginning of the world to come.

This message is a message of life; it is the message of the Word of life, which was in the beginning with God, and was God. In him was life, and the life was the light of man, so that the message is, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” The light is the life. He is the life, and in him is no death at all. The life was manifested, and we have seen it. Can you all say that? Have you all seen the life? Have you taken hold if it? Have you heard it with your ears, and have your hands handled it? If so, then you have fullness of joy, fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” Where is our fellowship?-With the Father, and with the Son. He is light. If we see him in the light, if we see light in his light, then we are enlightened, and become light; the glory of God is seen upon us, as it has risen upon us, and we become light in the Lord, cleansed from all sin.

Then the first thing we want to do this morning is to get our eyes fastened upon the life of God, and see the unity of all his manifestations. What is life? and where is the life? Life is light. God is light. He is the living God; he is your life. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him,” provided we have died with him, and are living with him, because he lives, we shall live.

“If we walk in the light, ... the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” What is the blood?-The blood is the life. Then we read it thus: If we walk in the light, the life of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. Is that true? We are not dealing in fancy. It is not imagination; it is not theory; but the life is so real and tangible that we not only hear it, but we see it, and we get hold of it with both hands. “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” The life is so real that you may grip it with your hands, and hold it, never to let go.

I think we need not spend any time bringing scripture to bear upon the point that we are saved by the life of Christ. We all accept it nominally, if we have not grasped it practically. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Your faith lays hold upon the life that is manifested; for believing is receiving. We receive the life into us, and let that life live in its own way. We do not live any more: nevertheless we do, because Christ has become so identified with us,-with our mortal, sinful body,-that his life in the flesh is our life.

Is there one here who doubts the possibility of Christ’s dwelling in a man’s heart by faith that man may be filled with all the fullness of God? Is there any one who doubts the reality of Christ’s coming to live in sinful flesh, and thus showing himself master? We all believe that. Well, every truth of God is made tangible, so that we can have something real for our faith to lay hold of. Faith does not create anything,

it lays hold of that which already is; faith simply sees a thing that the unbelieving man can not see. Faith is a microscope and a telescope combined. It enables us to see things that are far beyond the range of vision of the sensual men. It magnifies things that are too small for the natural eye to see; it lets us see the reality of things; it enables us to see the invisible, as Moses did. Then we can endure, and until we can see invisible things,-so that they are as real to us as the things that everybody handles and recognizes,-we have no assurance of enduring unto the end. But the man who can stand on the Invisible, and know that he is standing on the rock, can stand when all the visible shall pass away.

Where is the life manifested? The first chapter of Romans tells us that the invisible things of God, even his everlasting power and divinity, are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made, so that the man who does not know God is without excuse. As we studied the other night, we found that the law of God’s kingdom is the life of God. “The kingdom of God is within you.” The law of our life is Christ’s life, isn’t it? That is clear. Then when we are studying this message which was from the beginning, we can use a common term to describe it. You are all familiar with the word “physiology.” What does it mean?-It means the law of nature. Physiology is the law of nature. What is the law of nature? What is the one law for every created thing?-Life. But what is life?-Christ is your life. The life of God is the law of all creation; so when you are studying the life that was manifested, you are studying physiology; or when you study physiology, if you study it from the right standpoint, and in the right way, you are studying God.

There is no use of there being any nonsense and speculation regarding life, not merely ungodly men, not only non-professors: but even many Seventh-day Adventists, held by the traditions of education, will go all around the corner, to get rid of saying God. They talk about what “nature” does,-nature does not like this thing, and nature does not like that. As if “nature” were a god. But God’s life is revealed in nature. And yet men will say, “We don’t know what life is.” Well, the Seventh-day Adventist who does not know what life is, would better find out; for what message can he give to the world if he does not know what life is?

You will not have to go very far to read that life is a combination of forces. Wonderfully clear, isn’t it? But let me tell you that there is just one force in the universe. “God has spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.” The life of God, the power of that life, is the one force that there is in the whole universe. But God is infinite: and the Spirit of God manifests itself in an infinite variety of ways. So the life force of God manifests itself in creation, in matter, in very many ways,-manifests itself in attraction, manifests itself in repulsion. It manifests itself in what is called chemical affinity; it manifests itself in that which is technically called magnetism, or electricity, or cohesion, or adhesion, or whatever form it may be, in which power is manifested to the world, everything that makes matter stable, so that we know what to depend upon,-that is the one life-force of God.

God said that if a people would hear his voice, and keep his commandments, they should have wisdom that would be the astonishment of all the nations: and they should be the head and not the tail; they should lead. Well, then, we don’t need to be frightened because scientists in the world say they don’t know what life is. Our business in the world is to tell people what life is, and to show them the life. God is to have a people, and here in this meeting is the germ, the nucleus, of such a people, who will know the life so well that they can teach physiology to any ordinary physician out in the world. That is to say, they will know the law of life, the law of their being, the law of nature, coming direct from the fountain head, seeing light in his light, better than any other people in the world can know it.

Let us see some of the ways in which this life is manifested, so that we can lay hold upon it. Right here in this chapter, we have it, “God is light.” I believe that. I do not have any explanation to make; I do not trouble my brain in thinking about “spiritual” or “literal” or figurative language, or anything of that kind. The Bible says, “God is light,” and I believe it. Believing that to be so, has revealed to me many things that I never would have known if I had not believed it. Is it the glory of God that he has placed upon the heavens? The heavens declare it. The sun, the moon, and the stars give light to this earth; but whose light are they giving?-The light of God. Christ is the light of the world, and when, on one occasion, he made that statement, he immediately demonstrated it so that we can see how real his light is, because he found a man born blind, and made him see. Then when your eyes look out on such a day as to-day, and see the light covering the whole earth as with a garment, what are you looking at?-Life. Whose life?-Why, the only life there is-God’s life; we are seeing his life. We are too much afraid of coming into touch with realities. Let it be fixed in our minds everlastingly, that when we look out and see this glorious light, we are seeing God’s face,-really seeing the light that shines from God’s face.

Light is one manifestation of God’s life, but in the first chapter of John we have reference to a cleansing fluid as well. We have something that cleanses us from all sin, and that is the life of the Lord, for we are “saved by his life.” Turn to the thirty-sixth psalm: “How excellent is thy loving kindness. O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house: and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasure. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.”

So here we have water, the fountain of life. But life is light, and the river of life, clear as crystal, that flows sparkling from the throne of God, is but another manifestation of that life which is light. And so we have water as a manifestation of that one life. Water cleanses impurity; and by the daily washing of our hands, by the washing of our clothes, by the water that washes the impurities from the earth and carries them away to the sea, by that running water which will take impurities that are cast into the stream and swallowing them up, so that in the course of a few miles’ running, the water will be pure again, the Lord is showing us the cleansing power of his life, so that we may know that if we simply let ourselves be lost in that life, we shall be cleansed and kept free from sin. This is a reality.

In the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, we read, “All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full: unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” The 65th

psalm tells us that the Lord visits and waters the earth. “Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly; thou settest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.” That is to say, the rain which comes down from heaven, softening the earth, and making it rich, that it may send forth corn in abundance, comes from the river of God, which overflows to the earth. The water that we drink, the water in which we bathe, brings to us the life of God that flows in a full stream from his throne. It passes into all the earth, comes back to God again, and again is sent forth as the great heart of God beats for the whole universe. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” There is the manifestation of life, for our encouragement.

We have in this last text another phase of life. We have already the light and the water as manifestations of the life of God; but those who dwell in the house of the Lord shall be satisfied with the fatness of his house. They will feast upon him; as God says, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of God, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” We are to live by feeding upon him, feeding upon him intelligently, recognizing the life by faith.

We learn of ancient Israel that they all “did eat the same spiritual meat, and they drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank of that rock which went with them, and that rock was Christ.” God said, “I will rain bread from heaven for you.” Christ said, “It was not Moses that gave you that bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the bread from heaven.” “I am the bread of life.” He is the manna on which we are to feed. The children of Israel ate of the body, the life, of Christ. But not recognizing the Lord’s body, they ate and drank damnation to themselves, and therefore their carcasses fell in the wilderness.

And so we have the word of Christ at the last supper, “This is my body; take, eat,”-visibly set forth before the multitudes, when he took the loaves of bread in this hands, and they were multiplied so that the people ate, and were satisfied. On that occasion he demonstrated before their eyes the fact that he stated on the night of the last supper,-that his body is meat, indeed,-true meat; or, literally, as in the German, his body is the right food, and his blood is the right drink. And whatever is not the body of Christ and the blood of Christ is not the right food and the right drink.

You say, “You are getting this altogether too literal and gross. Now, you turn that around, and say that our daily life needs to be less gross and more spiritual.” This is no more gross than the Scripture has made it, when it says, “The life is manifested, and we have seen it, and have handled it.” It is not enough for us to hear about the life, but we must get hold of it with both hands, with our whole being: then we have fellowship with the Father, and with the Son.

Again: there is one other common manifestation of life. We have the three now, light, food, drink,-three very common manifestations of life. One more; we must breathe. God made man in his own image, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. He is doing that to-day.

In the fourteenth chapter of Exodus, we have the account of the dividing of the Red Sea, that the children of Israel might pass through, and the statement is that “the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night.” But read in the fifteenth chapter the words of Moses, when he was filled with the Spirit, and sang the same song that you and I must sing, unless we are eternally lost, a song of simple recognition of God as the all-powerful, as the Saviour. Moses said (10th verse): “Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them.” Well, that is plain enough. He caused the water to go back with a strong east wind. But he blew that wind. Then reading the eighth verse of this fifteenth chapter: “With the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as a heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.”

Now, do not get to calling that figurative language. It is fact. We want to get a greater idea of God. The wind that blows, the air that surrounds the earth, is the breath of God, and he is breathing it upon us day by day and month by month.

I do not say that these things are all the manifestations of God’s life; for God has life exceeding abundant above all that we can ask or think. But when we have these manifestations of life, and see them, and lay hold upon them, we are in the channel of life, that God may pour upon us more exceeding abundant life that he has for us.

Every soul of us who thus comes into recognition of the life will know that God is present with us. We shall see God. His personal presence “breathes in the air and shines in the light; it streams from the hills and descends to the plain, and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.” You sing it; do you believe it? Now when we see that, we have God before our face, and we shall not be moved. We shall live as in the presence of God, and shall not sin; for it is simply impossible for a man to sin while consciously standing before the face of God, recognizing his presence around him as in him. Sin would take us from God; but when we rejoice in the presence of the face of God, we simply assent to his wish that sin may be washed out of us, that the light of his countenance may consume the sin that is in us, that his body may feed us, and strengthen us against sin.

This opens up a philosophy, is all and everything that we need know, and it is joy. “These things I say unto you, that your joy may be full.”

How happy I have been as one ray of light after another has come to me. Some time ago, when I was out taking my morning walk, and the soft refreshing breeze was fanning my cheek, I remembered that the breeze that blew was the breath of God’s nostrils. He was blowing his own breath upon my face. You have often thought of the wind kissing the cheek, and then that scripture came to my mind, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for thy love is better than wine.” What a grand thing to know that one is in such close connection with it. [Voice: Amen!] This is happiness. To awaken in the morning, and to feel that life through the whole body, and to know that I am in personal connection with it, to know that God is not only in that room, round about me, but that his life is in me.

Just one thing more. We want to see how it is carried out. God has only one life and it is undivided. There are not two lives, there is just one life. That life cleanses us; that life, flowing continually from God, through us, unhindered, cleanses us from all sin.

Do not get the idea that we shall grow into a place where we can not sin any more in this world. This sinful, mortal body will struggle for the mastery as long as we are in the world, until Christ shall come, and make this corruptible body incorruptible, and this mortal part immortal. But Christ has power over all flesh, and he demonstrated this when he came in the likeness of sinful, flesh, and condemned sin in the flesh; and so when we consciously live by the faith of Christ; when he is in us by his own life, living in us, he represses the sin, and we are masters, instead of the flesh being the master.

Just a thought about this life that comes to us in the air: The Lord used that as an illustration of the Spirit, and we read, “All the while my breath is in me, and the Spirit of God is in my nostrils. My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.” “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration [breathing in] of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” The Spirit of God is to be our spirit, so that the mind of God will be our mind; and there is a possibility of our so recognizing the life that is manifest, and yielding to God, that the Spirit of God will animate our bodies, that God’s Spirit will use our brains with which to think. That is what they are made for-the organs by which his Spirit would manifest itself in human intelligence. Our muscles were made as organs by which his Spirit would manifest itself in human activity. Then we will be one with him, drawing the life direct from the throne, as the water of life comes from it, and the breath comes from his treasures.

This is health reform, because the life that is manifested is that eternal life which death can not conquer, the recognition of which makes us more than conquerors, even in death. “In all these things [which includes death] we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

For about thirty-five years I can well remember there has been talk of health reform among Seventh-day Adventists, but a good deal more talk than practice. I would like to know what good health reform is that does not make a person healthy? If a person is not going to be healthy, and if you and I are going on as long as this world stands, subject to all manner of disease whenever it happens to be in the neighborhood, what on earth is the use of health reform? If we are just as subject to disease as other people who do not live health reform, in what respect are we better off than they? We want to get out of that idea that health reform is a sort of “hair-shirt” that God wants to torture us with. This thing that is called health reform,-that we must suffer something that the world does not suffer, and must deny ourselves,-that is all right; it does take strength; but we shall learn that in the presence of God is fullness of joy, and in his right hand there are pleasures forevermore, and this message is given unto us that our joy may be full.

When you and I come to the very heart of health reform, which is the heart of God, we shall find that self-denial is not in the mention; for the happiness of life, the joy of life, the joy of eating, the joy of breathing, the joy of exercising, will be so great that that which we thought was self-denial, in cutting off this and that bad thing, is altogether lost sight of in the joy of the richness that we receive as we take the life. Then life will be worth living. God wants a people prepared by this message whose joy will be full, not those who will go about mourning and sad.

Take this fact,-that the blood of Christ, the life of Christ, cleanses us from sin. It must be in us in order to cleanse us; and that life is the life of the body, is it not? He rose from the dead. It has power over the grave, and is manifest to us in all these various ways. When you and I accept that life as our salvation, why in the world should we not take it for all there is in it, and have it for our health as well? That is to say, when Christ comes here to do a work which is done by his life, he can do a complete work just as well as a half work. It does not cost the Lord any more effort when he comes into my body to cleanse me from sin, than it does to keep me from doing sinful things; and if I recognize it as such, then I may have it.

Some people call this “pantheism.” Perhaps they know what the word means, but they do not know what they are talking about. What is pantheism?-Pantheism is that form of heathenism which says that everything is God. It is not an ancient form only, either. It is here now in these days. That is the lie into which the truth was changed; but the truth is that God is above all and through all and in all; and there is just as much difference between that and pantheism as there is between this glorious sunlight and the darkness of Egypt. It means that God is everywhere, and the life is everywhere manifest for us to lay hold upon and live by.

Someone will tell me (for I have been told this) that this power which is manifested in all creation, is of course the power of God, but it is not saving power; that there is divine power and creature power. That is pantheism. Because, if this power that is manifest in all creation is not saving power, it is not the power of God; for he says that his name is Saviour, and he is the Saviour. If there be such a thing as creature power,-that is to say, if I have any fragment of power in myself, if any other creature has any fragment of power in itself that is not divine power,-then do you not see you have another power in the universe besides the power of God? That is pantheism.

But this third angel’s message is out in the world to let all the world know that there is only one power, and that is the power of God; that he is everything, and that all creation is nothing outside of him: that God has all power, and that no man has any power. Therefore if a man has no power, you can see he has no right to assume the exercise of power. That opens up another wide subject, does it not?

When you and I can recognize the life that is manifest, and keep our eyes upon it all the time, we have the key that will unlock any gate in Doubting Castle; we have the key of all science; we have the key of heaven; we have the key of all wisdom. The power that is manifested in all creation,-whatever name men may give it,-is the power of God. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed.” Everything that has and may choose his life will have power.

The power thus manifested is for us to grasp, and as we feel that this power comes into us by these various agencies, we know it is the life of God. As we yield to that light, the life that comes into us will keep us back from pride. In the morning we can pray, “Lord, use that power that has kept me alive through the night to keep me to-day in health: let that power that keeps me from selfishness keep me from lust, vanity, envy, and deception. Let it

also keep me from disease.” Then that saving life I will take, only from the fountain head: I will, therefore, have the best of life. I will not take any substitute for that life: I will not take any life which has been allowed to stagnate, but I will go where it flows fresh from the throne of God, and take it in its purity. You see it means getting in all the glorious sunshine that we can have; it means taking in the freshness of the air, good ventilation, and good exercise, that the air may come in contact with every portion of our bodies inside and out.

Somebody may assent to all this, and to more that this leads to: so that when there are two kinds of food, or drink, or air for existence,-one of which has the life of God in its purity, and the other has that life perverted by the curse, like impure air or water, or food which has been adulterated to tickle the palate, and says, “This is good; I know it is the best, but this other is good enough for me; I like it,” what is he saying? “Life is manifest in its perfection in the one, but I can be satisfied with the amount of life in the other.” Is not that it? “There is life enough in this for me.” What is he doing if he is not rejecting the life that is manifest?

When we have such a fullness of life, and life that is so enjoyable, let us beware how we reject the slightest manifestation of that glorious life of God. When we see it and lay hold upon it, we shall find it is health to our bodies, strength to the bones, activity to the muscles, keenness of perception to the nerves, joy to the whole being, and living is a delight because we live in the presence of God; and this is the witness that is to be given to all nations in order that they may be prepared for the end of the world and the coming of Christ.

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