Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

March 29, 1892

“It Is Not for You to Know the Times and the Seasons”

[Sermon at Lansing, Mich., September 5, 1891.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

(Continued.)

Brethren and sisters,

With the increased light that has shone upon you at this meeting, will you go home to be more faithful in your Christian life? Meetings have been held every day to instruct your children as to how to give their hearts to Jesus, how to live in a manner that will be acceptable to God. They have been instructed that if they repent of their sins, Jesus will forgive them, and cleanse them from all unrighteousness. Who will carry forward the good work that has been begun? Day by day these children need instruction as to how to follow the Lord. Will you pray for them and teach them, and lead them in the way of righteousness? Will you teach your little ones of the love of God which led him to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life?

Those who would be successful in winning souls to Christ, must carry with them the divine influence of the Holy Spirit. But how little is known concerning the operation of the Spirit of God. How little has been said of the importance of being endowed by the Holy Spirit, and yet it is through the agency of the Holy Spirit that men are to be drawn to Christ, and through its power alone can the soul be made pure. The Saviour said: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”

Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to his church, but how little is this promise appreciated. How seldom is its power felt in the church; how little is its power spoken of before the people. The Saviour has said: “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me.” With the reception of this gift, all other gifts would be ours; for we are to have this gift according to the plentitude of the riches of the grace of Christ, and he is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive. Then let us not be satisfied with only a little of this blessing, only that amount which will keep us from the slumber of death, but let us diligently seek for the abundance of the grace of God.

God grant that his converting power may be felt throughout this large assembly. O, that the power of God may rest upon the people. What we need is daily piety. We need to search the Scriptures daily, to pray earnestly that by the power of the Holy Spirit God may fit every one of us up to work in our place in his vineyard. No one is prepared to educate and strengthen the church unless he has received the gift of the Holy Spirit. No minister is prepared to labor intelligently for the salvation of souls, unless he is endowed by the Holy Spirit, unless he is feeding on Christ, and has an intense hatred of sin. There are some who are regarded as laborers together with God, who have no connection with God, and are sinning against him. They are not led by Christ; another is their captain. They do not wait upon the Lord, and renew their strength in Christ; they have no burden for souls. What kind of account will these false shepherds have to meet in the judgment? What will they have to say to justify their inefficient, unconsecrated lives? What excuse can they render to the God of heaven? Was there not a sufficient sacrifice made in their behalf, that they might become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust? We are to make intelligent work for eternity. This is the object for which we should labor.

I have no specific time of which to speak when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will take place,—when the mighty angel will come down from heaven, and unite with the third angel in closing up the work for this world; my message is that our only safety is in being ready for the heavenly refreshing, having our lamps trimmed and burning. Christ has told us to watch; “for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.” “Watch and pray” is the charge that is given us by our Redeemer. Day by day we are to seek the enlightenment of the Spirit of God, that it may do its office work upon the soul and character. O, how much time has been wasted through giving attention to trifling things. Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

We now call upon you to give yourselves to the service of God. Too long have you given your powers to the service of Satan, and have been slaves to his will. God calls upon you to behold the glory of his character, that by beholding, you may become changed into his image. There are many who have not an experimental knowledge of God or of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. Christ came into the world because men did not have a correct knowledge of the character of God, and he came to reveal the Father. He said: “Neither knoweth any man the Father, but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” Jesus came to reveal to the world the love and goodness of God.

It was thought that Solomon knew God. In a dream the Lord appeared unto Solomon, and said unto him: “Ask what I shall give thee.” And Solomon said: “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?” And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom and riches and power and influence, and Solomon served the Lord for a time. At the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed unto the Lord, and blessed the people, saying, “Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us: that he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers. And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be nigh unto the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.”

But although Solomon had had great light, he became lifted up in himself, and imagined that he was wise enough to keep himself, so he separated from God. Then he made alliances with the heathen nations around him, and married idolatrous women, and bowed at pagan shrines, and worshiped after the manner of the heathen.

He forgot the benefits that God had bestowed upon him; he forsook the sacred temple of the Lord, but he afterwards repented, and turned from his evil ways. But did Solomon know God when he was doing according to the ways of idolaters?—No; he had forgotten the rich experience of his youth and the prayers he had made in the temple.

The True Witness speaks to us today, and says, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” The Lord wants you to set things in order in your families, and to come back to your first love. He says, “Except thou repent, I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place.” The candlestick was removed out of its place when Solomon forgot God. He lost the light of God, he lost the wisdom of God, he confounded idolatry with religion. The Saviour declares, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” and every one of you who persists in sinning against God when you have had such great light, will be lost, “except thou repent.” Do you imagine that you can give the third angel's message to the world while you are still carnal and corrupt, while your characters are still sinful? “No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.” Unless your hearts are emptied of sin every day, unless you are sanctified through the truth, you would better not touch the message of God. You cannot cleanse yourselves, but by coming to Jesus in humility, in contrition, surrendering yourselves to God, through the merits of Christ's righteousness you may have an experience in the things of God, and taste of the powers of the world to come. You then will have fruit unto life eternal.

Christ says, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” “O,” you may say, “I do keep the commandments.” Do you? Saul came to meet Samuel, and when reproved, he declared, “I have kept the commandments of the Lord.” Do you carry out the principles of God's commandments in your home in your family? Do you never manifest rudeness, unkindness, and impoliteness in the family circle? If you do manifest unkindness at your home, no matter how high may be your profession, you are breaking God's commandments. No matter how much you may preach the commandments to others, if you fail to manifest the love of Christ to others in your home life, you are a transgressor of the law. But if the grace of Christ appears in your life, you will be in a position to glorify God, and to manifest Christ to others. But do you think that that man who goes from the sacred desk to indulge in jesting and joking, and in all manner of trifling conversation, is a representative of Christ to the world? Has he the law of God in his heart?—No. His heart is filled with self-love, self-importance, and he makes it manifest that he has no correct estimate of sacred things. His conduct is the product of his thoughts, showing just what is in the heart. Christ is not there, and he does not go weighted with the spirit of the solemn message of truth for this time. An exhibition of this character clearly proves that the man does not know God, and has not been intrusted with the solemn work which he does not understand or appreciate.

If the minister had a realizing sense of the presence of God, would he conduct himself in this way? He had great light, and had taken upon himself the sacred responsibility of a minister of God, and yet he acts as carelessly as if he was an unbeliever. His actions make it evident that he has as much realization of the presence of God as had Belshazzar when he drank from the sacred vessels from the house of the Lord, praising the gods of gold and silver. The mighty men and the lords of the kingdom were assembled, and they ate and drank, and had a jovial time, but the True Witness was there, and their profanity was recorded in the books of heaven. In the midst of their revelry, a bloodless hand appeared, tracing mysterious characters upon the wall of the palace, and their godless mirth was checked, and terror and despair took its place. They inquired for some one who could interpret the writing, and Daniel, the prophet of God, was called to the banquet room, and the servant of the Lord was able to decipher the writing, and interpret the meaning of the words. “This is the interpretation of the thing: Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. Peres; Thy kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

The same Witness that recorded the profanity of Belshazzar is present with us wherever we go. Young man, young woman, you may not realize that God is looking upon you; you may feel that you are at liberty to act out the impulses of the natural heart, that you may indulge in lightness and trifling, but for all these things you must give an account. As you sow, you will reap, and if you are taking the foundation from your house, robbing your brain of its nutriment, and your nerves of their power by dissipation and indulgence of appetite and passion, you will have an account to render to him who says, “I know thy works.”

If you knew God, if you were truly converted, you would not take pleasure in sinful things. The fear of God would be upon you, and as you looked to Calvary, the hateful character of transgression would be revealed to you, and you would see the great love wherewith God has loved you, and you would not have a disposition to sin. But how would it be with many of you who have dared to handle sacred things with unclean hands and with defiled souls, should the trumpet sound today? How would it be with some of you, should you be called to render up your account at the judgment seat of Christ today? I ask, What would be your condition if Christ should leave the holy place today, and probation should close, and Christ should come? That time is soon to come, though we know not the day or the hour.

The times and the seasons are known only to God, but we are each to know that it is well with our souls, that Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. We are to know that our Redeemer liveth, and that we will be among that number who shall hear the voice of Christ, who will be gathered by the angels of God, and caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

(Concluded next week.)

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