Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

December 22, 1885

Christian Growth

By Mrs. E. G. White

The Lord has rich blessings in store for all who seek him with real contrition of heart. He would have us reach up by faith and grasp his promises. He would not have his commandment-keeping people dwarfed in religious experience, and halting by the way, when they might be strong in his strength. It is his will that we grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, committing the keeping of our souls to him as unto a faithful Creator. We must daily compare our character with the law of God, the great rule of righteousness; and if that does not condemn us, we may approach the throne of grace in faith. We may plead that we have complied with the conditions, and now claim the fulfillment of the divine promises. “If ye abide in me,” says Christ, “and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” There is no place or excuse for a doubt. The promise is positive, and the rich blessings of Heaven are ours to enjoy.

As Jesus once taught his disciples, he called attention to a house built high up among the rocks. The bleak hill-side was difficult of access, and it appeared a far less inviting location than the smooth valley below, which was clothed with green grass and springing flowers. But on this low ground he pointed out a house that was now in ruins. It had appeared to stand secure; but the wind and storm made manifest the folly of the builders.

Taking up this illustration, Jesus said, “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

Earnest, untiring, persevering efforts must be put forth by every one who succeeds in building up a character for eternity. We may hear and believe the truth; but if we are not doers of the words of Christ, putting them into daily practice, we shall be like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand.

If we are Christ's representatives, we shall work the works of Christ. Let none of us deceive ourselves with the idea that we can carry into our religious life the crookedness of character, the unchristian traits, which have been transmitted to us as a birthright and strengthened by education. Through the plan of redemption, God has provided means for subduing every sinful trait, and resisting every temptation, however strong.

God has made it for our interest, in every sense, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present life, that we may form characters worthy of the future, immortal life. His commandments are not grievous, and in keeping them there is great reward. Nothing that he has enjoined can we neglect or disregard without injury in this life, and the sacrifice of that life which is to come. The ways in which he would have us walk are ways of pleasantness and peace, and the end thereof is happiness which no language can express.

Brethren, you fail to receive the blessings which God longs to bestow upon you, because you place yourselves beyond their reach. It is essential for your spiritual life and growth that you should hang upon him from moment to moment. He will give you fresh supplies of grace day by day. Your dependence must be continual, your obedience unceasing.

Be thankful for the strength that you have for today. Praise God. Let gratitude be cherished in the soul. Be a well-spring of life, ever supplying yourselves from the living Fountain.

But the wants of the soul are not to be supplied unless we feel our need, and ask for the things we lack. Christ has more than human acquaintance with our needs, and we must study every lesson, every word of instruction, he has given us. Let none complain that they have not the assurance of the love of God, that they cannot obtain the evidence of their acceptance with him. Let them diligently search the Scriptures, and see if they are following the example of their Lord. We should dwell much upon the excellences of Christ's character, and should cultivate the same graces in our own. Look carefully, dear reader, lest you fail of the grace of God through your own negligence and unbelief. We need to practice close self-examination, to see what we are cherishing in ourselves that will grieve the Spirit of God, and to understand the work we have to do that we may be a blessing to others.

The easy position so pleasing to the carnal heart is, that Christ has done all, that personal striving is unnecessary, and would be an evidence of unbelief. But the Bible tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Self-complacency will never save us. Those who imagine that because Christ has done all that is necessary in the way of merit, there remains nothing for them to do in the way of complying with the conditions, are deceiving their own souls. There are higher attainments for us. Are we indeed channels of light to the world? Then how important that we seek perfection of character. Said Christ, “I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”

The servants of Christ have a sacred work. They must copy his character and his ways and plans of reaching men. God does not want them to labor with their own finite power, but in his strength; he wants them to represent to the world, in their own characters, the Saviour's purity, benevolence, and love. The reason why we accomplish no more in the work of God is, that we need more spirit and life from Jesus in appealing to the conscience. Our own hard hearts must be melted by his love; this alone can break the spell of indifference, alarm the soul, and cause men to consider where they stand. A tame, formal sermon, argumentative though it may be, will accomplish little. We must have Jesus abiding in us, that the words we utter may be his words; our sluggish souls must be stirred by his Spirit, in order to bring us in close connection with the souls we wish to save. “Without me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.” In him we can do all things.

The apostle Paul gives us some idea of his ministry, in these words: “I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints; to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory; whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

How can we do this great work, how can we represent Christ to the world, if our lives are inconsistent? The divine must be blended with all our work in the cause of our Master. If Christ is not abiding in us, the Satanic will appear in our words or actions. Selfishness should have no place in our intercourse with others. We must be pure in heart, having an eye single to the glory of God. Paul manifests the most tender solicitude for his Thessalonian brethren: “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” Brethren, we fail to give a correct example to others, because we are not sufficiently in earnest ourselves. We may reach higher; we may conform to the divine Model; we may be channels to communicate the living water to thirsting souls; we may so build that neither storm nor tempest can move us from the foundation, for we are united to the Eternal Rock.

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