Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

April 19, 1898

“All That Will Live Godly in Christ Jesus Shall Suffer Persecution”

Mrs. E. G. White

After hearing Christ's words in regard to the destruction of Jerusalem, the disciples came to him with the question, “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” In answer, Christ gave them important lessons, interweaving with the destruction of Jerusalem a still greater destruction,—the final destruction of the world. The warning here given as to what the disciples would have to meet at the hands of their fellow men is a warning to us also.

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted,” Christ said, “and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” These words will be fulfilled. Those who have been our companions in Christian association will not always maintain their fidelity. Envy and evil-surmising, if cherished, will separate very friends. When a man loses the shield of a good conscience, he loses the co-operation of heavenly angels. God is not working in him. He is controlled by another spirit.

We must not think that Satan will cease for one moment his efforts to do to Christ's followers as he did to Christ. “If the world hate you,” Christ said, “ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.... This cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” Can those who claim to be followers of Christ say, with their Master, “They hated me without a cause”?

“The mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” “Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord God; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a god, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:.... therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God.”

The time is fast approaching when this scripture will be fulfilled. The world and the professedly Protestant churches are in this our day taking sides with the man of sin; and to those who have the light of the commandments of God is the message given, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.... For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.” The great issue that is coming will be on the seventh-day Sabbath. This day God would have us reverence. “I am the Lord your God,” he declared; “walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and hallow my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.”

There are many who would serve Christ, provided they could serve themselves also. But this cannot be. The Lord will not accept cowards in his army. There must be no dissembling. Christ's followers must stand ready to serve him at all times and in every way that may be required. “He that is not with me is against me,” Christ declares; “and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

Many have tried neutrality in a crisis, but they have failed in their purpose. No one can maintain a neutral position. Those who endeavor to do this will fulfill Christ's words, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” Those who begin their Christian life by being half and half, will at last be found enlisted on the enemy's side, whatever may have been their first intentions. And to be an apostate, a traitor to the cause of God, is more serious than death; for it means the loss of eternal life.

Double-minded men and women are Satan's best allies. Whatever favorable opinion they may have of themselves, they are dissemblers. All who are loyal to God and the truth must stand firmly for the right because it is right. To yoke up with those who are unconsecrated, and yet be loyal to the truth, is simply impossible. We cannot unite with those who are serving themselves, who are working on worldly plans, and not lose our connection with the heavenly Counselor. We may recover ourselves from the snare of the enemy, but we are bruised and wounded, and our experience is dwarfed. “Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

Christ does not promise his followers a smooth and easy path, but he does not ask them to travel the Christian way alone. “When the Comforter is come,” he said, “who I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.” Christ told his disciples the truth regarding the future, that when their trial came, they might not fall into discouragement and doubt. When John the Baptist was beheaded, his disciples were inclined to reproach Christ because he had not worked a miracle to save his servant. So today there is danger that we shall become dissatisfied because Christ does not work a miracle in our behalf, and humiliate our enemies.

“They shall put you out of the synagogues.” Has not this been done? Have not those who have accepted the light in regard to the binding claims of the law of God, who have decided to observe conscientiously the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, been turned out of the churches? But they are precious in God's sight. When the light came to them, they repented and were converted, and Christ's words are applicable to them: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

“Yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” These words come sounding down along the line to our time. A deception is upon those who oppress their fellow men because they do not believe the same form of doctrine that their oppressors believe. Such can give no stronger evidence to the heavenly universe and to the worlds unfallen that they have chosen to stand on Satan's side; for Satan is ever an oppressor of those who love God.

Again Christ repeated the reason for so fully presenting the future: “These things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you,” to strengthen you by my presence and comfort you by my words. “But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.”

The true and faithful follower of Christ must suffer persecution. There is no way of avoiding it. Paul wrote to Timothy: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.”

How many have come to Christ, ready to cast their interests in with his, and, like the rich young ruler, earnestly desiring to inherit eternal life! But when the cost is presented to them,—when they are told that they must forsake all, houses and lands, wife and children, and count not their lives dear unto themselves,—they go away sorrowful. They want the treasures of heaven, and the life that measures with the life of God, but they are not willing to give up their earthly treasures. They are not willing to surrender all to obtain the crown of life.

Persecution has frightened many poor souls from the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel to the black banner of the great apostate. For the sake of this life, they transgress the law of God, and in that day when all transgressors are destroyed, they will be bound up with Satan to suffer the second death. But while persecution from those who worship at false shrines will cause some to yield up the truth, it will never induce a true child of God to separate from Christ, in whom his hopes of eternal life are centered.

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