Ellen G. White Writings

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The Present Truth (UK)

November 3, 1885

The Sabbath Reform.

[From a sermon preached in the Mission Rooms at Grimsby, August 23, 1885.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

Text: “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” Revelation 3:7, 8.

Thank God today that there is an open door which Satan and his agents may seek in vain to close. The arm of Almighty Power has opened this door, and no other power can close it. John in holy vision saw a door opened in heaven. “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament.” Looking down the stream of time, the prophet sees a people whose attention is directed to that open door, and then to the ark within, which contains the commandments of God. The third angel of Revelation 14 is represented as flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” This angel presents a message that is to be proclaimed to the world just before Christ comes in the clouds of heaven to take his elect to himself. Just prior to this event, then, the attention of the people is to be called to the trampled-down law of God.

The open door in heaven reveals the temple of God, in the most holy place of which is the ark, and in this ark is the law of ten commandments written with the finger of God on tables of stone. The light that shines forth from the open door attracts the attention of the people of God, and they begin to see what that ark contains,—the law of ten commandments. They are seeking for light, and as they trace down that law, precept by precept, they find right in the bosom of the decalogue the fourth commandment as it was instituted in Eden and proclaimed in awful grandeur from Sinai's mount, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” They then see that instead of observing the seventh day, the day that God sanctified and commanded to be observed as the Sabbath, they are keeping the first day of the week as the Sabbath. But they honestly desire to do God's will, and they begin to search the Scriptures to find the reason for the change. Failing to find this, the question arises, Shall we accept a truth that has become unpopular, and obey the commandments of God? or, shall we continue with the world, and obey the commandments of men? With open Bibles they weep, and pray, and compare scripture with scripture, until they are convinced of the truth, and conscientiously take their stand as commandment-keepers.

I have been connected from the first with those who accepted the light that shone upon the law of God through the open door of the temple in heaven, and I can testify with what burdened hearts they searched the Scriptures to know the truth. And as the Scriptures were opened to these humble seekers for truth, they saw what their work must be. “And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

Many and determined efforts were made to overthrow the faith of those who would build up the old waste places, and heal the breach which had been made in the law of God. How hard Satan and men tried to close the door which had been opened into the sanctuary where Jesus had entered to make atonement for his people, and where the humble, faithful ones followed him by faith. Christ had opened the door, or ministration, of the most holy place, and light was shining from the open door that all who desired might see the claims of the fourth commandment, and believe. God had established his law, and not one jot or tittle of it was to be annulled.

As those who had received the light of truth went forth to present it to others still in the darkness of error, they learned what trials and sufferings were. They met opposition on every hand. They knew what it was to have their names cast out as evil. They suffered privation and want, and yet they could not cease their labors; the message must be given to the world. From the first the work has moved steadily forward. Thousands have accepted the truth in America, and it has been carried to all parts of the world; people of all tongues and nations are taking their stand upon it. It has reached you here in Grimsby. This doctrine may seem strange to many, but we do not ask you to take our word; we want you to search the Scriptures for yourselves, with heart and will in perfect submission to the will of God.

The work is still in its infancy in Europe. Many more will accept the truth, but we must not expect many of the great men of earth to obey; the cross is too heavy for such to lift. How was it in Christ's day? Many of the chief rulers believed his teaching, but they would not acknowledge it for fear of being thrust out of the synagogue. Christ said that they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. The same spirit exists today; the prejudice against the truth is just as strong, the opposition just as decided, as in Christ's day; and that which prevented the chief rulers from confessing the truth will prevent many from confessing it now.

Many obstacles will arise in this country to prevent people from accepting the truth, and entering the service of Christ, but the questions to be settled are, What is truth? and What is your aim in life? If your object is to meet the world's standard, to believe what they believe, and practice what they practice, my words will have little weight. But if you have an earnest desire to answer the claims that God has upon you, if your aim is to reach the highest round of the ladder of progress, to be connected with God and become his children, then, when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. But you must have some definite object before you, some standard that you earnestly desire to reach. No one has power to place you on the topmost round of the ladder. It is your own efforts, through Christ, which will bring you perfection of Christian character. When a path of duty is opened before you, you are not to consult your own convenience, but by living faith you are to walk in the path of humble obedience. All who enter heaven will do so as conquerors. You will have a battle to fight; you will have to overcome difficulties by strong, determined effort. But eternal life is worth a life-long, persevering effort.

We are not at liberty to cast our souls away; we are not at liberty to place ourselves under Satan's power, and become slaves to his will. We are God's property. “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price,” even the precious blood of the Son of God; “therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” God has claims upon us which we cannot throw off; we may ignore them, we may refuse to yield to his wise requirements, but they are nevertheless binding upon us. Says the True Witness, “I know thy works.” We have a work to do every day of our lives in improving our God-given abilities. He has given to us reasoning powers, and we cannot in any way weaken those powers without being called to an account by the righteous Judge of all the earth. He has given us talents, which, if rightly employed, will increase our ability to work for the Master.

If we succeed in becoming men and women of God, it will be by determined efforts. And when the light of truth shines upon our path, and conscience is convicted, shall we turn away from the Heaven-sent warnings because all the world will not heed them? Shall we ask our friends and acquaintances whether it is best for us to obey the invitations of the Spirit of God? They may be the chosen instruments of the enemy of souls to turn our attention from things that concern our eternal interest, and when the work shall be brought in review before God, it may stand registered against them that they turned our feet from the path of duty and obedience. But will this excuse us? No; those who made us err cannot pay a ransom for our souls.

None are forced to accept of Jesus and his truth, but all are invited to do so. Life and death are placed before them, and it is for them to choose which they will have. I am so thankful that a few have accepted the truth here in Grimsby. To you the exhortation is given, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” The mighty cleaver of truth has taken you out of the quarry of the world and placed you in the workshop of God, where you must submit to be hewed, and squared, and polished, if you would be fitted for the heavenly building. A great work must be done for us all before we will have perfection of Christian character. The law of God is the standard of righteousness. This is the mirror into which we are to look to discern the defects of our character. When we look in a common mirror, it points out to us the defects upon our person, but it does not remove one stain; we must go and wash if we would become clean. So it is with the law of God. It is God's great mirror, or moral detector of sin; but there is no saving quality in law; it has no power to pardon the transgressor. There is a provision made for the sinner: “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Then what is the work before the sinner? It is to exercise repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. In his precious blood the stains of sin may all be washed away. There is a fountain open for Judah and Jerusalem, and the defilement of sin may be removed if they will only wash in this fountain.

Dear friends, you each have a case pending in the court of Heaven. Have you secured an advocate to plead in your behalf? Jesus is man's intercessor, and we must make him our friend or we shall lose the case. Now is the time for us to walk humbly with God, to watch unto prayer, and be diligent students of the Scriptures, that we may know the truth and obey it.

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