Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

June 10, 1884

The Transforming Grace of God

[Remarks addressed to the ministers assembled in General Conference at Battle Creek, Mich., in their morning meeting held November 16, 1883.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

This morning one of the ministers remarked that he had been greatly helped in these meetings. He understood faith better than he ever had before; but he could not yet rejoice in the full assurance of the favor of God. His heart craved the blessing of God. His life seemed productive of little good; but he wished to go forth to his labors wholly consecrated, with no selfish motive, but with the object to save his fellow-men, and glorify his Creator.

Another said that he had been in discouragement, and almost in despair, but the words spoken in these morning meetings had helped him. Rays of light had broken in upon his mind, dispelling the dark clouds that enshrouded him, and he felt that the Lord, for Christ's sake, had forgiven his sins. He could now see that unbelief had been the greatest hindrance to his enjoyment of the blessing of God.

Others bore testimony that they were confessing their sins and striving for the blessing of God, but they had fears that Jesus would not, could not, pardon them. They could have faith for others, but not for themselves. This was the language of unbelief. Such persons will receive no help, no freedom, until they look to Jesus. There is no merit in self; Jesus is our only hope.

Some confessed that they had a light and trifling spirit, which cut off their influence in the desk. They now realized the magnitude and wickedness of this fault as they never had before. This spirit of jesting and joking, of lightness and trifling, is a stumbling-block to sinners and a worse stumbling-block to those who give way to the inclination of the unsanctified heart. The fact that some have allowed this trait to develop and strengthen until jesting is as natural as their breath, does not lessen its evil effects. When any one can point to one trifling word spoken by our Lord, or to any lightness seen in his character, he may feel that lightness and jesting are excusable in himself. This spirit is unchristian; for to be a Christian is to be Christ-like. Jesus is a perfect pattern, and we must imitate his example. A Christian is the highest type of man, a representative of Christ.

Some who are given to jesting, and to light and trifling remarks, may appear in the sacred desk with becoming dignity. They may be able to pass at once to the contemplation of serious subjects, and present to their hearers the most important, testing truths ever committed to mortals; but perhaps their fellow-laborers, whom they have influenced, and who have joined with them in the careless jest, cannot change the current of their thoughts so readily. They feel condemned, their minds are confused; and they are unfitted to enter upon the contemplation of heavenly themes, and preach Christ and him crucified.

The disposition to say witty things that will create a laugh, when the wants of the cause are under consideration, whether in a committee meeting, a board meeting, or any other meeting for business, is not of Christ. This untimely mirth has a demoralizing tendency. God is not honored when we turn everything to ridicule one day, and the next day are discouraged and almost hopeless, having no light from Christ, and ready to find fault and murmur. He is pleased when his people manifest solidity, strength, and firmness of character, and when they have cheerful, happy, hopeful dispositions.

Says Peter, “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Here is a lesson for us to learn; here is a work for us to do to control the mind, not letting it drift on forbidden themes, or spend its energies on trifling subjects. “The end of all things is at hand; be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” We are not only required to pray, but to guard the words and actions, and even the thoughts,—to “watch unto prayer.” If the mind is centered upon heavenly things, the conversation will run in the same channel. The heart will overflow at the contemplation of the Christian's hope, the exceeding great and precious promises left on record for our encouragement; and our rejoicing in view of the mercy and goodness of God need not be repressed; it is a joy that no man can take from us.

During the waking hours, the mind will be constantly employed. If it dwells upon unimportant matters, the intellect is dwarfed and weakened. There may be some spasmodic flashes of thought; but the mind is not disciplined to steady, sober reflection. There are themes that demand serious consideration. They are those connected with the great plan of redemption, which is soon to be finished. Jesus is about to be revealed in the clouds of heaven, and what manner of characters must we have to enable us to stand in that day? By dwelling upon these themes of eternal interest, the mind is strengthened, and the character developed. Here lies the foundation of that firm, unswerving principle which Joseph possessed. Here is the secret of growth in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.

The religion of Christ is not what many think it is, nor what their lives represent it to be. The love of God in the soul will have a direct influence upon the life, and will call the intellect and the affections into active, healthful exercise. The child of God will not rest satisfied until he is clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and sustained by His life-giving power. When he sees a weakness in his character, it is not enough to confess it again and again; he must go to work with determination and energy to overcome his defects by building up opposite traits of character. He will not shun this work because it is difficult. Untiring energy is required of the Christian; but he is not obliged to work in his own strength; divine power awaits his demand. Every one who is sincerely striving for victory over self will appropriate the promise, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

Through personal effort joined with the prayer of faith, the soul is trained. Day by day the character grows into the likeness of Christ; and finally, instead of being the sport of circumstances, instead of indulging selfishness and being carried away by light and trifling conversation, the man is master of his thoughts and words. It may cost a severe conflict to overcome habits which have been long indulged, but we may triumph through the grace of Christ. He invites us to learn of Him. He would have us practice self-control, and be perfect in character, working that which is well pleasing in His sight. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” is his own standard of judging character.

If we are true to the promptings of the Spirit of God, we shall go on from grace to grace, and from glory to glory, until we shall receive the finishing touch of immortality. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” Can any earthly promotion confer honor equal to this,—to be sons of God, children of the heavenly King, members of the royal family? Man may be ambitious of the honor that his finite fellow-man can bestow; but what will it avail? The nobility of earth are but men; they die, and return to dust; and there is no lasting satisfaction in their praise and honor. But the honor that comes from God is lasting. To be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, is to be entitled to unsearchable riches,—treasures of such value that in comparison with them the gold and silver, the gems and precious stones of earth, sink into insignificance. Through Christ we are offered joy unspeakable, an eternal weight of glory. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

We are wanting in simple faith; we need to learn the art of trusting our very best friend. Although we see him not, Jesus is watching over us with tender compassion; and he is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. No one in his great need ever looked to him by faith, and was disappointed. Brethren, do not express doubt; do not let your lips utter one complaining, repining word. The Christian is not morose, sullen, and desponding; he is the happiest man in the world. He feels secure; for he trusts in Jesus, and enjoys his presence. His “defense is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.” Do not defer this matter, but begin here in this Conference to fix your minds more firmly upon Jesus and heavenly things, remembering that by beholding we become changed into the same image. Have courage in God, brethren; have courage in God.

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