Ellen G. White Writings

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The Present Truth (UK)

November 4, 1886

“Ye are the Light of the World”

By Mrs. E. G. White

The world is represented as morally dark, and the object of God is the manifestation of his glory to shine amid the moral darkness and attract men and women to the light. The great and constant work of heavenly intelligences is to manifest God to the world, to dispel doubts from human minds, to enlarge and elevate man's conceptions of God, to reveal the unity of the Son with the Father, and to develop the great plan of salvation to human intelligences.

To recognize God in his works, is true science; to become acquainted with God in his providence, is the soul of religion; and to know Christ as the world's Redeemer, is to lay hold on eternal life as set forth in the gospel. Yet the world in its wisdom knows not God. There is much worldly wisdom among men, but they recognize not God as the first great cause. They behold not his beauty and majesty, his goodness and love in laying the foundations of the earth and establishing the heavens. The footsteps of God can be traced in the works of his hands on all around us. But men who enjoy the benefits and blessings of God see not God in his created works, hear not his Divine and stately steppings, therefore they are in moral darkness, and there is a necessity for channels of light to open the blind eyes, to unclose the senses, to unveil his attributes with messages from his oracles, that men shall not remain in ignorance of God and his majesty.

God says to his messengers and to every individual member of his church, “Ye are the light of the world.” Then he uses a symbol to show their true position. “A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Thus the injunction is written that Christ's followers are bound to make him manifest to the world. “Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” Paul speaks of the darkness of this earth as pervading and overshadowing all human society. “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” “He that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Those who follow Jesus will no more walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. The church who walk in the light are radiant with the truth from God's Word. They are the mediums of heavenly illumination to the world, dispelling the moral darkness. The position of the church is to be the light of the world. Should any be pleased to enjoy the light of truth themselves, and feel indifferent in regard to the welfare of their neighbours, close by their own doors, and make no special effort to reveal to them the light of truth, then they are not obeying the injunctions of the Word of God; their light is hid under a bushel.

Noah, amid the moral darkness prevailing just before the deluge, was the light of the world. God employed him as a channel through which to transmit his light to future generations, to reveal to them the honour, authority, goodness, and fidelity of God. Abraham was a channel of light in his generation. His life and precepts and example reflected the light from God in bright, clear, strong rays, revealing to them the only living and true God, in holiness, in condescension, in goodness, in mercy, in love, and justice. Joseph was a medium of light, catching the heavenly rays and reflecting them upon a nation of gross idolaters. Moses was God's channel of communication to Pharaoh. The light of heaven was flashed upon the gross darkness of Egypt, revealing a greater than Pharaoh as sovereign of the heavens and the earth in the great “I AM.” Israel's marching out of Egypt was a testimony that God rules. The Hebrew host was made a living channel of light to preserve a knowledge of God's law, and to show forth the purposes of God, to establish and maintain a kingdom in the world against the power and craft of Satan; and when scattered in captivity among the idolatrous nations of the world, they were still God's witness—a light amid the moral darkness.

Elijah was a light, blazing forth amid the moral darkness, and testifying to Israel that there was a living God, the only One to be revered and worshipped, the One who could control the heavens and the earth, the One who had power to open the windows of heaven in blessings, and to close them in his wrath. Mordecai was a witness for God in his age. Ezra and Nehemiah were lights shining brightly in the kingdoms of earth. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel gathered rays of light from above, and flashed them upon the darkness of the world.

Daniel and his fellows in the captivity revealed the only One who is mighty in counsel. They gave to future generations an example that, when kings and rulers make laws in contradiction to the law of Jehovah, man must be true to the higher Power, and by precept and example exalt God as the only object of worship, the only power that is supreme. Here the bright light from God's witnesses sent its rays far and near, not only through the kingdom of Babylon, but to the godless nations throughout the world. God's law was acknowledged as authority over the consciences of men; the wiser acknowledged it as supreme. The light flashing from the throne of Heaven ever fulfils its mission. It irradiates even where it does not merit, and gives reverence to God's claims and moulds opinions when it fails to give permanent authority over the life and actions of men.

Daniel also was made a channel of light for generations to come to the end of time. He caught the light of God's purposes, hidden from the great men and the mighty potentates of earth and reflected this on the proud courts of kings and earth's greatest despots, and revealed to them, not only the majesty of God as supreme ruler in the heavens, and over the kingdoms of earth, but revealed truth that stretches far down the stream of time through successive generations to the end of the world. The light of heaven beamed out upon a blind and apostate race in clear, steady, living rays. And when the Light of the World, the Sun of Righteousness, had once risen, its illuminating rays were not only reflecting light to the future, but back through preceding generations, giving significance to the whole plan and purpose of God from Adam's day down through all the patriarchs and prophets. The old ceremonies were lighted up. These luminaries which God had placed in the moral heavens were never more to grow dim, but were to shine with clearer, steadier rays as the light from the cross of Calvary flashed upon the prophetic past.

If the saints of the Old Testament were to be bright and shining lights to the world, we are bound to shine brighter than they, because we have all the light which they had flashing upon our pathway from the prophetic past and the additional light which has come to us in the life of Christ. Fuller prophecies reveal the true Jehovah to those upon whom the ends of the world are come. God has a special light in this age of the world, a special message to give in the proclamation of the third angel's message—the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Now in this age of moral darkness, of general spiritual declension, the words of Christ come with great force to every one who believes the message of mercy and the truth for this time, “Ye are the light of the world.” The gospel as revealed in the Word of God becomes a living reality, and the faith, the doctrine, and the works will correspond. The truth as it is in Jesus will be developed in the character of the sincere followers of Jesus Christ, and this truth is intended of God to be the light that is to reflect its diffusive rays to the world. The light of God's Word is now shining: and ere long it will shine in the cabinets of kings and on the statute books of nations. Their institutions, customs, and practices will be laid beside the law of God's moral government.

The people who obey God's commandments are now the light of the world, the preserver of the Word of God in its purity, and they are elevating and exalting the law of God,—the only true, infallible standard of character in our world,—therefore every man and woman whom Heaven has intrusted with this most sacred truth are required to be active instruments to diffuse the light to others. The church who obeys God's law is to send forth her sons as missionaries and preachers, and her daughters as teachers. The Bible is to be opened and explained to those who are in the darkness of error. The great missionary work is to draw men to Christ. Every individual member of the church is under the claims of God to let this light shine to the world. God is drawing to himself the sinner who sees the way of salvation, that he may communicate to him light, not to be placed under a bed or under a bushel, but to be put on a candlestick. The conversion of a soul is to glorify God by diffusing his light. All heaven looks on with intense interest to see what that soul will do. Whether he will selfishly shut up the light to himself or diffuse it to others. Your conversion disappointed Satan, but caused joy in heaven to your Heavenly Father, to Jesus your Redeemer, and to the angels of God. Now will that one soul go on shining brighter and brighter unto the perfect day? God made provision that your light should never grow dim, but that you should go on catching more and more the bright beams of light from the throne of God, and let it shine more upon the world of moral darkness. God has set each member in the church, not to be irresponsible agents, not to be neutral, but to be true lights, and as responsible beings to reflect light to others. All our natural abilities are capable of improvement. God has presented before us his truth that it may affect the life and transform the character. He designs that we should be sanctified through the truth, elevated, ennobled, and all our powers increased to do good.

Christ has bought his church and washed her with his own precious blood, clothing her with garments of salvation. He has made her the depository of his law, and he has transferred to her in a high and holy sense the work to be wrought in his name. That work which Christ did upon the earth through his teachings and miracles his followers are called upon to carry forward by earnest love for souls for whom he has paid an infinite price, by the power and beauty of holiness, by sacrifice, by positive obedience to all of God's commandments, by continual self-denial, and undying zeal. Thus they are to exemplify the life of Christ, and be as a city set on a hill which cannot be hid.

Will the workers see the indifference and carelessness of the world, who seem to be trying to forget that there is a God who has claims upon them, who would urge from their minds the thought of eternity? The workers may be disheartened, but their light is not to grow dim; for God designs that the light shining through his delegated agencies shall keep before the minds of the world God and the judgment. Every true Christian is a bright and shining light, and irradiates the darkness, so that men cannot put God entirely out of their minds.

There is many a church in our land composed of men of intellect, men of power, men of wealth, and may be thought to be a strong church. Its members can do much in worldly enterprises; they can build churches, endow colleges, and do many great works; they may have imposing forms and ceremonies, but these do not emit light from the throne of God to the world. They dazzle, but do not illuminate. That church which does not heed God's Word is weak and dark, it receives not Heaven's light, therefore cannot reflect it to others.

Let all who claim to be united to Christ do their work for time and for eternity by leaving a bright track heavenward. We cannot let our light go out in darkness without being stumbling-blocks to others. Rightly related to the Light of the World, we can reflect His light upon those who are in darkness.

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