Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

February 7, 1888

“Sanctify Them Through Thy Truth”

By Mrs. E. G. White

Before Jesus went forth to his final conflict with the powers of darkness, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and prayed for his disciples. He said: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.... Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.”

The burden of Jesus’ request was that those who believed on him might be kept from the evil of the world, and sanctified through the truth. He does not leave us to vague surmising as to what the truth is, but adds, “Thy word is truth.” The word of God is the means by which our sanctification is to be accomplished. It is of the greatest importance, then, that we acquaint ourselves with the sacred instruction of the Bible. It is as necessary for us to understand the words of life as it was for the early disciples to be informed concerning the plan of salvation. We shall be inexcusable if, through our own negligence, we are ignorant of the claims of God's word. God has given us his word, the revelation of his will, and has promised the Holy Spirit to them that ask him, to guide them into all truth; and every soul who honestly desires to do the will of God shall know of the doctrine.

The world is full of false teaching; and if we do not resolutely search the Scriptures for ourselves, we shall accept its errors for truth, adopt its customs, and deceive our own hearts. The doctrines and customs of the world are at variance with the truth of God. Those who seek to turn from the service of the world to the service of God, will need divine help. They will have to set their faces like a flint toward Zion. They will feel the opposition of the world, the flesh, and the Devil, and will have to go contrary to the spirit and influences of the world. Since the time when the Son of God breasted the haughty prejudices and unbelief of mankind, there has been no change in the attitude of the world toward the religion of Jesus. The servants of Christ must meet the same spirit of opposition and reproach, and must go “without the camp, bearing his reproach.”

The mission of Jesus was demonstrated by convincing miracles. His doctrine astonished the people. It was not the contradictory jargon of the scribes, full of mysticism, burdened with absurd forms and meaningless exactions; but it was a system of truth that met the wants of the heart. His teaching was plain, clear, comprehensive. The practical truths he uttered, had a convincing power, and arrested the attention of the people. Multitudes lingered at his side, marveling at his wisdom. His manner corresponded with the great truths he proclaimed. There was no apology, no hesitancy, not the shadow of a doubt or uncertainty that it might be other than he declared. He spoke of the earthly and the heavenly, of the human and the divine, with positive authority; and the people “were astonished at his doctrine; for his word was with power.”

He had declared himself to be the Messiah, but the people would not receive him, though they saw his wonderful works and marveled at his wisdom. He did not meet their expectation of the Messiah. They had been instructed to look for earthly pomp and glory at the advent of their Deliverer, and they dreamed that under the power of “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” the Jewish nation would be exalted to pre-eminence among the nations of the world. With these ideas they were not prepared to receive the humble Teacher of Galilee, although he came just as the prophets had foretold that he should come. He was not recognized as “the truth,” the “light of the world,” although he spake as never man spake; for his appearance was humble and unpretending. He came without attendants of earthly pageant and glory. There was, however, a majesty in his very presence that bespoke his divine character. His manners, though gentle and winning, possessed an authority that inspired respect and awe. He commanded, and disease left the sufferer. The dead heard his voice and lived, the sorrowing rejoiced, and the weary and heavy-laden found rest in his compassionate love.

Spies watched him with suspicious glances, ready to put an evil construction on any word or action that was in the least questionable. They were continually lying in wait to find whereof they might accuse him. He was the central object of observation and scrutiny to the people of Judea. His steps were thronged with curious multitudes that waited for a sign. The lame, the blind, the palsy-stricken, the leprous, and those afflicted with all manner of diseases, came to him, and he healed them all. Those who had come to criticise and condemn, heard the people glorifying God; and his fame spread from city to city. Heaven indorsed his claims with mighty manifestations; but the evil hearts of men, filled with unbelief born of prejudice, thrust aside the tokens of his truth, and clung to their empty traditions. They were not prepared to acknowledge him as the long-looked-for Messiah, because of their false conceptions as to the manner of his advent and the character of his mission. They walked in the obscuring shadow of man-made theories.

The word of God, that they professed to believe, stated plainly every detail of his ministry, and again and again he quoted from the prophets, and declared, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” But the minds of the Jewish people were so concentrated on the hope of earthly power and national elevation that they despised the humble Nazarene, and would not have him to reign over them. Had they earnestly searched the Scriptures, and brought their theories and expectations to the test of God's word, Jesus need not have wept over their impenitence. He need not have declared, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,” “because thou knowest not the time of thy visitation.” They might have been acquainted with the evidences of his Messiahship, and the calamity that laid the proud city in ruins might have been averted. The minds of the Jews had become dwarfed and narrowed by their unjust prejudices and unyielding bigotry. The practical lessons of Christ revealed the deficiencies of their characters, and demanded thorough repentance. If they accepted his teaching, their practices must be changed, their thoughts enlarged, and their cherished hopes relinquished. They would have to sacrifice the honor of men, in order to be honored of heaven; and if they obeyed the words of this new “Rabbi,” they would have to go contrary to the opinions of the great teachers and thinkers of the time.

Many wonder at the unwillingness of the Jews to receive Christ as the promised Messiah. Why did they cling to their false creeds, empty forms, and useless ceremonies, when the truth of heaven waited their acceptance? They spent their money for chaff and husks, when the Living Bread was within their reach. Why did they not go to the word of God, and search diligently to know whether or not they were in error, and to discover to Jesus the absurdity of his claims and the evidences of his deception? The cause of their rejection of Christ was the same as that which keeps men in error today: they “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Truth was unpopular in Christ's day. Truth is unpopular in our day. It has been unpopular ever since Satan first gave man a disrelish for it by presenting bewitching fables that lead to self-exaltation. Do we not meet theories and doctrines today that have no foundation in the word of God? Men cling as tenaciously to them as did the Jews to their traditions and delusions. We have the same difficulties to meet and resist as did the Redeemer of the world.

The Jewish leaders were filled with spiritual pride. Their desire for the glorification of self, manifested itself even in the services of the sanctuary. They loved the highest seats in the synagogues, and the praise of men. They loved greetings in the market-places, and were gratified with the sound of their titles on the lips of men. As real piety declined, they became more jealous for their traditions and ceremonies. Do we not see the same perverseness in the Christian church of today? Those who love God with sincere hearts should the more earnestly desire the truth as it is in Jesus. They should search the Scriptures with humble hearts, intensely desiring to know what is truth; for Christ prayed that his disciples might be sanctified through the truth.

The Jews, because their understanding was darkened by selfish prejudice, could not harmonize the strange power and authority of Christ's convicting words, with his humble life and appearance. They did not appreciate the fact that real greatness can afford to go without display. This man's poverty and humility seemed wholly inconsistent with his claims to the great honor and power of the Messiah. That he should announce himself as the Son of God, they deemed intolerable blasphemy. They questioned, if he were the Messiah, why was he so unpretending? What would become of their nation if he were satisfied to be without the force of arms? When and how would the glory and power, so long anticipated, bring the nations as subjects to the city of the Jews? Had not the priests taught that they were to bear rule over all the earth? and could it be possible that the great religious teachers were in error? The Lord had answered their query through Isaiah: “O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.”

The scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees had wandered away from the truth, and Jesus exhorted the people to study the Scriptures for themselves. God has endowed men with intellect, and has made it possible for them to be enlightened by the word of life; but today, as then, people will accept the teaching and doctrines of men, rather than obey the plain word of God. They choose to take the broad road that leads to death, rather than to bear their cross and follow the blood-stained path that leads to eternal life.

Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians joined to oppose the Son of God. Their rejection of the truth influenced many to turn from the Saviour. Those who cherish enmity to the pure principles of heaven, are acting in concert with the “rulers of the darkness of this world.” When Christ met with success in his ministry, those who hated truth and rejected light manifested their spirit of opposition, and sought to silence him. The same spirit is apparent today, wherever the truth is brought in contact with long-established error of doctrine and custom. With mad prejudice, men bitterly condemn that which disturbs their preconceived opinions. It is a matter of the highest importance and interest to us that we understand what the truth is, and our petitions should go forth with intense earnestness that we may be guided into all truth.

David appreciated the divine enlightenment, and recognized the power of the word of God. He declares, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Let those who want light, search the Scriptures, comparing scripture with scripture, and pleading with God for the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The promise is, that those who seek shall find.

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