Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

April 14, 1891

“What Shall We Do That We Might Work the Works of God?”

[Sermon at workers’ meeting at Grand Rapids, Mich., September 25, 1887.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you; for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” This is a very important question to us all; many an anxious one has come to me inquiring, “What shall I do, that I may work the works of God?” I suppose there are many before me with this question in their hearts. This is the answer that Jesus gave to the inquiry: “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

There are many who would answer. “We do believe on Christ, but feel that we fail to work the works of God.” I am not so sure that you have the faith which Jesus spoke of when he said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” The faith Jesus spoke of was more than a nominal assent to the truth that Christ is the Son of God. You are to believe that he is your Saviour, your Redeemer. You are to believe that you are his child, that it is your right to claim the promises of his word, your privilege to represent him to the world. This genuine faith in Christ will manifest itself in your daily life, in your character and works, and will prove to the world that there is transforming power in the Christian's religion. Your faith will be manifest to the world as a faith that lifts the soul above the low things of earth, that elevates the thoughts, and fastens the affections upon things above.

But when Jesus had answered them concerning what was meant by the works of God, they were still filled with doubt, and queried, “What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

From these words you may understand the character of real faith in Christ; it is a faith that lays hold upon his divine merits. It is the faith spoken of as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The people whom he addressed did not have this faith, but insisted on seeing some mighty miracle as a sign of his messiahship. Had they not seen a sign in the very lesson he had given them? And he said unto them, “Ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Jesus has promised that he will in no wise cast out those who come to him. We are to come with the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. What has the Father given the Son? He has given him every one who has genuine faith in Christ; for this faith will enable its possessor to endure unto the end, and he will be raised up at the last day.

“The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life.” Christ did not speak of temporal bread, but of the bread of life, of which if a man eat, he shall have the life that measures with the life of God.

Jesus continued: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.... Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not.”

How is it with those who are here today? Are there not some who believe not, who have no real foundation for their faith? Are there not some who would find in the hour of temptation that their hope was but sliding sand? We should seek to know the character of our title to the heavenly treasure. God knows who among us will turn aside and give heed to seducing spirits. He knows those who are cherishing defects of character, and permitting these defects to have an overcoming power upon them, until they shall be led, as was Judas, to betray their Lord.

The words that Jesus uttered proved the hearts of many who professed to be his followers, and “from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Christ brought a testing truth to bear upon his disciples at that time, and had they borne the test, they would have manifested the faith that makes the soul a partaker of the divine nature; but the test found their faith an empty profession, and at the suggestion of the enemy they were turned against their Lord. The difficulties, the self-denials, seemed more than they could surmount, and they walked no more with him.

We shall all be tested by trial and temptation, and we shall be able to endure only by having genuine faith, by having root in ourselves. It will not do for us to depend upon others. We must know that we have a hold from above. May God help us to realize the importance of examining our hearts to see whether or not we are in the faith. There are many who will fail because they do not gather every ray of light emanating from the word of life; they do not cherish the divine precepts, and dwell upon the precious promises of God. If they did this, fruits of righteousness would appear in their life, and every day they would be growing stronger and stronger, and more and more like Christ.

Our bodies are composed of what we eat; and by partaking of nourishing food, we have good blood, firm muscles, and vigorous health. So in our spiritual nature, we are composed of what we dwell upon. If we take the lessons which Christ has given us, and make them practical, living out his instructions, we are then eating the flesh and drinking the blood of our Saviour, and becoming more and more like him in life and character. In this way we come to know that his going forth is prepared as the morning. How is that? When the day dawns, the light is faint and subdued; but as the sun rises, its light increases and strengthens, until its rays reach the perfect day. This is the way in which the Christian's light is to increase. We are to know more of Christ today than we knew yesterday; we are to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour; we are to trust him more in trial and difficulty, looking to him as the author and finisher of our faith. In sorrow and temptation we are to realize that he is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; that he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; that he was wounded for our transgressions, and by his stripes we are healed.

Christ has promised, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” He will hear and answer our prayers, and faith appropriates the rich promises of God, believing they are for us. As we accept the promises of God, we grow stronger in faith, and find the word of the Lord fulfilled as he has spoken it. We may feel our weakness and unworthiness, and because of this, realize our dependence upon God. Every one of us can have a rich experience in the things of God if we will utterly forsake our sin and submit ourselves to God. O, how can we cherish impurity in the soul when Christ has died for us, that we may become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust? We are to be sanctified through the truth, and this sanctification is not the work of a moment, but of a life-time. We must all learn to lean upon Jesus; for the time will come when we shall be scattered, and we cannot lean upon one another. Christ is ready to give us the help we need. The Bible is full of precious treasure, but we must dig for it as did the man who purchased the field of treasure. In this way we shall learn what it is to have living faith. Many are enfeebling the mind by the reading of stories and novels, and are losing their relish for the word of God. They are becoming mental inebriates, and will be unable to look at the solemn questions of life and destiny in the right light, unless they put away this practice. Search the Scriptures, and know what is truth. Lean upon God, and know what is living faith, and live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

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