Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»

The Review and Herald

June 4, 1889

Constant Attainment Essential to Christian Life

[Sermon at Potterville, Mich., November 24, 1888]

By Mrs. E. G. White

Text: “Whereof 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.” Colossians 1:25-29.

In this scripture, instruction is given as to the position of those who are seeking to open the word of God to others. This work cannot be done negligently. It cannot be undertaken in mere human strength. The work of the ministry has been carried forward altogether too much in our own human wisdom. We have seemed to think that an understanding of the theory of the truth was sufficient for the work. When we have talked to the people, we have gone over the ground to them, and explained all the lines of truth, and yet we have not brought into it the divine power of the truth to transform the life and character. When the work of God is done mechanically, it cannot be effective in converting souls. Though we have the truth, though our position be so well taken that our enemies cannot controvert it, this is not all that is necessary. There must be a power with our work beyond the mere knowledge of the theory of the truth. We must have divine energy to accompany our human effort.

Paul speaks of the riches of the glory of the mystery that is to be made known to the Gentiles. There are many mysteries in the word of God that we do not comprehend, and many of us are content to stop our investigation when we have just began to receive a little knowledge concerning Christ. When there begins to be a little unfolding of the divine purposes to the mind, and we begin to obtain a slight knowledge of the character of God, we become satisfied, and think that we have received about all the light that there is for us in the word of God. But the truth of God is infinite. With painstaking effort, we should work in the mines of truth, discovering the precious jewels that have been hidden. It is the minister's privilege to have a constant supply of fresh truth for the people. He should be in such a position that he can bring from the treasure-house of God not the same thing over and over, but new beauty and new truth.

The Spirit of God will rest upon the diligent searcher for truth. He who desires the truth in his heart, who longs for the working of its power upon the life and character, will be sure to have it. Says the Saviour, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” When ministers themselves taste and see that the Lord is good, when their minds are filled with thoughts of heaven, then the eternal realities of the unseen world will open to their understanding, and they will be able to present the truth of God, and it will make an impression upon human minds.

Those who seek for more and still more of the Spirit of God, will not be disappointed. They will hold daily communion with God, and divine power will surely attend their efforts as they present the truth. As certainly as the truth is presented in the Spirit of Christ, it will reach the hearts of the people. Brethren, we should not go into the desk unless we have previously devoted some time to wrestling with God in prayer. We should not be satisfied to use the set discourses that we have preached over and over for the last ten, fifteen, or twenty years. We should draw fresh, new matter from the store-house of God's word. We are desirous that the angels of God may stand by our side when we are in the sacred desk, that God may impress the mind; that there may be glorious unfoldings of the truth; that it may be presented in the demonstration of the Spirit; that it may be meat in due season to the flock of God. It is the special grace of God that makes the sermon effectual. The minister's words will have very little influence upon the people, unless divine enlightenment accompanies them to the hearts of the hearers. We need much more of the Spirit of God than we have had in the past. Brethren, how long are you going to continue to labor without receiving the holy unction from on high?

If you search the Scriptures with a meek and teachable spirit, your efforts will be richly rewarded. “The natural man receiveth not of the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The Bible should be studied with prayer. We should pray as did David, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” No man can have insight into the word of God without the illumination of the Holy Spirit. If we will but come into the right position before God, his light will shine upon us in rich, clear rays. This was the experience of the early disciples. The Scriptures declare that “when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing, mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” God is willing to give us a similar blessing, when we seek for it as earnestly.

The Lord did not lock the reservoir of heaven after pouring his Spirit upon the early disciples. We, also, may receive of the fullness of his blessing. Heaven is full of the treasures of his grace, and those who come to God in faith may claim all that he has promised. If we do not have his power it is because of our spiritual lethargy, our indifference, our indolence. Let us come out of this formality and deadness.

There is a great work to be done for this time, and we do not half realize what the Lord is willing to do for his people. We talk about the first angel's message, and the second angel's message, and we think we have some understanding of the third angel's message; but we should not be satisfied with our present knowledge. Our petitions, mingled with faith and contrition, should go up to God, for an understanding of the mysteries that God would make known to his saints. We should have a realization that unless taught by the Holy Spirit, we shall not rightly comprehend the Bible; for it is a sealed book even to the learned, who are wise in their own conceit. Jesus meant just what he said when he directed his disciples to “search the Scriptures.” Searching means to compare scripture with scripture, and spiritual things with spiritual. We should not be satisfied with a superficial knowledge. We should search for the hidden treasure concealed beneath the surface, as the merchant-man seeks for goodly pearls. Light, great light, will reward the diligent searcher for truth.

There are many who have not taxed their mental powers, and who have no experience in putting to the stretch their utmost ability to find out what is truth. It is not possible that the Holy Spirit shall fall upon you unless you feel your need, and are more desirous for its descent than you now are. You should realize that you are living upon the very borders of the eternal world, that Christ is coming very soon, and that all heaven is interested in the work that is in progress in fitting up a people for his coming. If ever there was a people that needed to heed the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodicean church to be zealous and to repent before God, it is the people who have had opened up before them the stupendous truths for this time, and who have not lived up to their high privileges and responsibilities. We have lost much in not living up to the light of the solemn truths which we profess to believe.

Isaiah had a wonderful view of God's glory. He saw the manifestation of God's power, and after beholding his majesty, a message came to him to go and do a certain work. He felt wholly unworthy for the work. What made him esteem himself unworthy? Did he think himself unworthy before he had a view of God's glory?—No; he imagined himself in a righteous state before God; but when the glory of the Lord of hosts was revealed to him, when he beheld the inexpressible majesty of God, he said, “I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a living coal in his hands, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar, and he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” This is the work that as individuals we need to have done for us. We want the living coal from off the altar placed upon our lips. We want to hear the word spoken, “Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.”

If you are content to think and to preach in one narrow channel, you will not advance in understanding, nor know the depth and grandeur of the truth. If you desire to understand the mysteries of God, you must search the Scriptures. There is nothing that will develop the intellect like wrestling with the great problems of truth revealed in God's word. You may keep your mind in constant meditation and prayer, even when your hands are busy. The truth of God is a treasure that is of more value than everything else in the world. Its priceless value is illustrated by the parable of Christ, concerning the man who found a treasure in a field, and he went and bought that field, that he might plow every part of it, and search out all the treasure that it contained. The blessed Bible, the field that contains the treasure, the garden of God, is open to you. Search the Scriptures; dig in the mines of truth until the precious jewels that have been hidden there for ages shall be brought out, and you can present them to the people.

In the time of the Saviour, the Jews had so covered over the precious jewels of truth with the rubbish of tradition and fable, that it was impossible to distinguish the true from the false. The Saviour came to clear away the rubbish of superstition and long-cherished errors, and to set the jewels of God's word in the frame-work of truth. What would the Saviour do if he should come to us now as he did to the Jews? He would have to do a similar work in clearing away the rubbish of tradition and ceremony. The Jews were greatly disturbed when he did this work. They had lost sight of the original truth of God, but Christ brought it again to view. It is our work to free the precious truths of God from superstition and error. What a work is committed to us in the gospel! An angel's pen could not portray all the glory of the revealed plan of redemption. The Bible tells how Christ bore our sins, and carried our sorrows. Here is revealed how mercy and truth have met together at the cross of Calvary, how righteousness and peace have kissed each other, how the righteousness of Christ may be imparted to fallen man. There infinite wisdom, infinite justice, infinite mercy, and infinite love were displayed. Depths, heights, lengths, and breadths of love and wisdom, all passing knowledge, are made known in the plan of salvation.

When the scribes and Pharisees saw that Christ did not reverence their forms and traditions, they accused him of contempt for the law and the prophets. But Christ did not show the least contempt for the old truths. Because he did not work in the same narrow forms that they did, they said, “He is come to destroy the law.” But there fell upon their astonished ears the words of Christ, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Christ was the originator of the law; and the blindness of the Pharisees is an illustration of how people who claim great light and knowledge can misunderstand and misrepresent the work of God. Glorious truths have been buried out of sight, and have been made lusterless and unattractive by error and superstition. Jesus reveals the light of God, and brings forth the beautiful radiance of the truth in all its divine glory. The minds of the honest are filled with admiration. Their hearts are attracted in holy affections toward him who brought forth the jewels of truth and displayed them to their understanding.

The Jews understood some portion of the truth, and taught some part of the word of God; but they did not comprehend the far-reaching nature of the law of God. Christ swept away the rubbish of tradition, and displayed the real kernel and heart of the purposes of God. When he did this, they became exasperated beyond control. They circulated false reports from one town to another that Christ was destroying the work of God. But while Jesus did away with the old forms, he re-instated the old truths, placing them in the frame- work of truth. He matched and joined them together, making a complete and symmetrical system of truth. This was the work our Saviour did; and now what shall we do? Shall we not work in harmony with Christ? Shall we be ruled by hearsay? Shall we let our own imaginings hide from us the light of God? We are to read attentively, to hear understandingly, and to teach others also the things we have learned. We must be constantly hungering for the bread of life, constantly seeking for the living water and the snow of Lebanon, that we may be able to lead the people to the living, cooling waters of the Fountain of truth.

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»