Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

August 28, 1879

Christians, Christ's Representatives

By Mrs. E. G. White

In his sermon on the mount, Christ addressed his followers in these words: “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is 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.”

If we take in the full meaning of our Saviour's words, we shall feel a responsibility resting upon us that is not small. We are to be channels of light. We are to so connect ourselves with Him who is the light of the world, that his character will appear in us his followers. There are excellent men and women in our organized churches, who will ever be standard bearers, faithful Calebs. Such will be lights in the world; but the mind and purpose of Christ in the usefulness of many of the church-members is not met. He comes to them as he came to the barren fig tree, searching for fruit, and finds “nothing but leaves.”

There has been on the part of many a sacrifice of the simplicity of true godliness to outward forms and appearances. Worldly thoughts and cares absorb their attention, and the things of eternal interest are made secondary. Christians holding daily communion with God, feasting upon the truths of his word, will by their religious conversation be constantly exerting a powerful influence for good upon their fellow-men. Hearts imbued with the love of Jesus will not fail to express themselves in words. The precious love of Christ has been experienced by them, and they cannot refrain from relating their experience to others. From a heart throbbing with a Saviour's love, the story of the cross of Christ will be repeated, and they will thus testify that Jesus has power on earth to forgive sins.

The individual members of the church, as sons and daughters of God, should show by their words and by their transformed characters, the divine reality that there is in the religion of Christ. They may exemplify in their lives that the happiness which worldlings seek after in vain is to be found in the service of Jesus Christ. Here alone is serenity, peace, contentment, and true happiness and joy. Those who have a name to live, but are dead, are by their unconsecrated lives daily confirming the sinner in his impenitence, and thus, while neglecting their duty to gather with Christ, they are scattering abroad by their silence and the indifference which they manifest.

The testimonies borne in the prayer-meeting frequently savor of gloominess and self-condemnation, and sinners think that if there is no more brightness and cheerfulness in religion than is expressed, and revealed in their lives, they do not desire it. But hundreds and thousands profess Christ who are unacquainted with him, and who do not the will of God in Heaven. Eternal life is a matter of tremendous moment; and if those professing Christ can testify by words and actions to the love of Christ, and can have the divine witness of the Spirit to their testimonies, sinners will be convicted. It is the indifference of the members of the church which makes the truths they profess powerless.

There is a decided lack of genuine, living conversion among Christ's professed followers. When his people are thrown into the society of unbelievers, whether walking, working, riding, trading, or visiting, they should, as they have opportunity, introduce the subject of religion, and speak of the things which concern their eternal interest. They should not do this abruptly, but with tact. This was the way in which our Saviour taught concerning the kingdom of God. Everything in nature, and the incidents passing under their notice were to him texts for impressive sermons. He thus bound up his sacred lessons with the flowers, with the recurring seasons, with the rocks, the hills, and the mountains, and with the every-day occurrences of life. Thus it is the duty of every follower of Jesus to sow beside all waters, and in so doing he is fulfilling the purpose of God, and doing his work as Christ's representative on earth.

August 28, 1879

Spiritual Life in the Church

The question is often asked, Why is there not more power in the church? why not more vital godliness? The reason is, the requirements of God's word are not complied with in verity and in truth; God is not loved supremely, and our neighbor as ourselves. This covers the entire ground. Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Let these two requirements of God be obeyed explicitly, and there would be no discord in the church, no inharmonious notes in the family. With many the work is too superficial. Outward forms take the place of the inner work of grace. They are whited sepulchers,—beautiful without, as far as claims to piety and a profession of the truth are concerned, but within full of uncleanness. The theory of the truth has converted the head, but the soul temple has not been cleansed from its idols.

When the commandment came home to the mind and heart of Paul, he says, “Sin revived and I died.” In these days of pretense there are many sham conversions. True conviction of sin, real heart sorrow because of wickedness, death to self, the daily overcoming of defects of character, and the new birth,—these, represented as old things, Paul says had passed away, and all things had become new. Such a work many know nothing of. They grafted the truth into their natural hearts, and then went on as before, manifesting the same unhappy traits of character. What is now needed is the plain testimony borne in love from lips touched with living fire.

Church-members do not show that living connection with God that they must have in order to win souls from darkness to light. Make the tree good, and good fruit will be the result. The work of the Spirit of God upon the heart is essential to godliness. It must be received into the hearts of those who accept the truth, and create in them clean hearts, before one of them can keep his commandments and be doers of the word. “Marvel not,” said the great Teacher unto the astonished Nicodemus, “Marvel not that I said unto you, Ye must be born again.”

The Bible is not studied as much as it should be; it is not made the rule of life. Were its precepts conscientiously followed, and made the basis of character, there would be steadfastness of purpose that no business speculations or worldly pursuits could seriously influence. A character thus formed, and supported by the word of God, will abide the day of trial, of difficulties and dangers. The conscience must be enlightened, and the life sanctified by the love of the truth received into the heart, before the influence will be saving upon the world.

What is needed is men of action for the time, prompt, determined, firm as a rock to principle, and prepared to meet any emergency. Why we are so weak, why there are so many irresponsible men among us, is because they do not connect with God; they have not an indwelling Saviour, and do not feel the love of Christ ever fresh and new, calling forth deep gratitude to God, and unfeigned love for souls for whom Christ died. No earthly relationship is as strong as this love. Nothing can compare with it. It elevates, ennobles, and develops all that is great and beautiful in humanity. It is constantly elevating the human to the divine. This life should be a living representative of Jesus Christ.

E. G. White.

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