Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

September 5, 1893

The Remnant Church Not Babylon

By Mrs. E. G. White

(Continued.)

In the parable of the wheat and the tares, we see the reason why the tares were not to be plucked up; it was lest the wheat be rooted up with the tares. Human opinion and judgment would make grave mistakes. But rather than have a mistake made, and one single blade of wheat rooted up, the Master says, “Let both grow together until the harvest;” then the angels will gather out the tares, which will be appointed to destruction. Although in our churches, that claim to believe advanced truth, there are those who are faulty and erring, as tares among the wheat, God is long-suffering and patient. He reproves and warns the erring, but he does not destroy those who are long in learning the lesson he would teach them; he does not uproot the tares from the wheat. Tares and wheat are to grow together till the harvest; when the wheat comes to its full growth and development, and because of its character when ripened, it will be fully distinguished from the tares. The church of Christ on earth will be imperfect, but God does not destroy his church because of its imperfection. There have been and will be those who are filled with zeal not according to knowledge, who would purify the church, and uproot the tares from the midst of the wheat. But Christ has given special light as to how to deal with those who are erring, and with those who are unconverted in the church. There is to be no spasmodic, zealous, hasty action taken by church-members in cutting off those they may think defective in character. Tares will appear among the wheat; but it would do more harm to weed out the tares, unless in God's appointed way, than to leave them alone. While the Lord brings into the church those who are truly converted, Satan at the same time brings persons who are not converted into its fellowship. While Christ is sowing the good seed, Satan is sowing the tares. There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God.

Jesus knew that Judas was defective in character, but notwithstanding this, he accepted him as one of the disciples, and gave him the same opportunities and privileges that he gave to the others whom he had chosen. Judas was left without excuse in the evil course he afterward pursued. Judas might have become a doer of the word, as were eventually Peter and James and John and the other disciples. Jesus gave precious lessons of instruction, so that those who were associated with him might have been converted, and have no need of clinging to the defects that marred their characters.

Some people seem to think that upon entering the church they will have their expectations fulfilled, and meet only with those who are pure and perfect. They are zealous in their faith, and when they see faults in church-members, they say, “We left the world in order to have no association with evil characters, but the evil is here also;” and they ask, as did the servants in the parable, “From whence then hath it tares?” But we need not be thus disappointed, for the Lord has not warranted us in coming to the conclusion that the church is perfect; and all our zeal will not be successful in making the church militant as pure as the church triumphant. The Lord forbids us to proceed in any violent way against those whom we think erring, and we are not to deal out excommunications and denunciations to those who are faulty.

Finite man is likely to misjudge character, but God does not leave the work of judgment and pronouncing upon character to those who are not fitted for it. We are not to say what constitutes the wheat, and what the tares. The time of the harvest will fully determine the character of the two classes specified under the figure of the tares and the wheat. The work of separation is given to the angels of God, and not committed into the hands of any man. False doctrine is one of the Satanic influences that work in the church, and brings into it those who are unconverted in heart. Men do not obey the words of Jesus Christ, and thus seek for unity in faith, spirit, and doctrine. They do not labor for the unity of spirit for which Christ prayed, which would make the testimony of Christ's disciples effective in convincing the world that God had sent his Son into the world, “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” If the unity for which Christ prayed, existed among the people of God, they would bear living testimony, would send forth a bright light to shine amid the moral darkness of the world.

Instead of the unity which should exist among believers there is disunion; for Satan is permitted to come in, and through his specious deceptions and delusions he leads those who are not learning of Christ meekness and lowliness of heart, to take a different line from the church, and break up, if possible, the unity of the church. Men arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after themselves. They claim that God has given them great light; but how do they act under its influence? Do they pursue the course that the two disciples pursued on their journey to Emmaus? When they received light, they returned and found those whom God had led and was still leading, and told them how they had seen Jesus and had talked with him. Have the men who have claimed to have light concerning the church, pursued this course? Have they gone to those who are chosen of God to bear a living testimony, and given them evidence that this light would better qualify them to prepare a people to stand in the great day of God? Have they sought counsel of those who have been and are still bearing the truth, and giving to the world the last message of warning? Have they counseled with those who have had a deep experience in the things of God? Why were these men so full of zeal for the cause, not present at the General Conference held at Battle Creek, as were the devout men at Jerusalem at the time of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? At the great heart of the work, men opened their treasures of light, and while the Lord was pouring out his Spirit upon the people, did these men receive of the heavenly anointing? While the deep movings of the Spirit of God were made manifest among the people, and souls were being converted, and hard hearts broken, there were those who were listening to the suggestions of Satan, and they were inspired with zeal from beneath to go forth and proclaim that the very people receiving of the Holy Spirit, who are to receive the latter rain and the glory that is to lighten the whole earth, were Babylon. Did the Lord give these messengers their message?-No; for it was not a message of truth.

Although there are evils existing in the church, and will be until the end of the world, the church in these last days is to be the light of the world, that is polluted and demoralized by sin. The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows his supreme regard. The world is a workshop in which, through the co-operation of human and divine agencies, Jesus is making experiments by his grace and divine mercy upon human hearts. Angels are amazed as they behold the transformation of character brought about in those who yield themselves to God, and they express their joy in songs of rapturous praise to God and to the Lamb. They see those who are by nature the children of wrath, converted, and becoming laborers together with Christ in drawing souls to God. They see those who were in darkness becoming lights to shine amid the moral night of this crooked and perverse generation. They see them becoming prepared by a Christ-like experience to suffer with their Lord, and afterward to be partakers with him in his glory in heaven above.

God has a church on earth who are lifting up the down-trodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. The church is the depositary of the wealth of the riches of the grace of Christ, and through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory. The prayer of Christ that his church may be one as he was one with his Father, will finally be answered. The rich dowry of the Holy Spirit will be given, and through its constant supply to the people of God, they will become witnesses in the world of the power of God unto salvation.

There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach, and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places; and for any man to call the attention of the world and other churches to this church, denouncing her as Babylon, is to do a work in harmony with him who is the accuser of the brethren. Is it possible that men will arise from among us, who speak perverse things, and give voice to the very sentiments that Satan would have disseminated in the world in regard to those who keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus? Is there not work enough to satisfy your zeal in presenting the truth to those who are in the darkness of error? As those who have been made stewards of means and ability, you have been misapplying your Lord's goods in disseminating error. The whole world is filled with hatred of those who proclaim the binding claims of the law of God, and the church who are loyal to Jehovah must engage in no ordinary conflict. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Those who have any realization of what this warfare means, will not turn their weapons against the church militant, but with all their powers will wrestle with the people of God against the confederacy of evil.

Those who start up to proclaim a message on their own individual responsibility, who while claiming to be taught and led of God, still make it their special work to tear down that which God has been for years building up, are not doing the will of God. Be it known that these men are on the side of the great deceiver. Believe them not. They are allying themselves with the enemies of God and the truth. They will deride the order of the ministry as a system of priestcraft. From such turn away, have no fellowship with their message, however much they may quote the testimonies and seek to intrench themselves behind them. Receive them not; for God has not given them this work to do. The result of such work will be unbelief in the testimonies, and as far as possible, they will make of none effect the work that I have for years been doing. Almost my whole life-time has been devoted to this work, but my burden has often been made heavier by the arising of men who went forth to proclaim a message that God had not given them. This class of evil-workers have selected portions of the testimonies, and have placed them in the frame-work of error, in order by this setting to give influence to their false testimonies. When it is made manifest that their message is error, then the testimonies brought into the companionship of error, share the same condemnation; and people of the world, who do not know that the testimonies quoted are extracts from private letters, used without my consent, present these matters as evidence that my work is not of God, or of truth, but falsehood. Those who thus bring the work of God into disrepute will have to answer before God for the work they are doing.

(Concluded next week.)

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