Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

January 24, 1893

“Seek First the Kingdom of God”

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” The Lord Jesus will scrutinize every talent, and expect interest in proportion to the amount of capital intrusted. By his own humiliation and agony, Christ has paid the purchase money for our salvation, and he has a right to our services. The very name of servant implies the doing of work, the bearing of responsibility. All our capabilities, all our opportunities, have been intrusted to us for wise improvement, that Christ may receive his own with usury. The heavenly Master ascended on high, and led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men,—divine treasures of truth to be presented to all the world. What use are we individually making of these gifts, the talents in our hands? Are we like the unwise and unfaithful servant, burying these talents in the world, where they will bring no returns to God? It behooves all with careful fidelity to improve the talents intrusted to them; for talents will increase as they are used for the good of humanity and the glory of God.

Every soul should seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. We are not to use up all the strength of brain, bone, and muscle in worldly business interests; for if we do, we imperil our spiritual interests, and we shall lose an eternity of bliss. The whole unfallen universe is interested in the great work which Jesus came to our world to accomplish, even the salvation of our souls. And shall not man on earth co-operate with our Redeemer, who has ascended into heaven to make intercession for us? Shall we show no special zeal, no devoted interest, in the work that was devised in heaven to be carried forward in the world for the good of men? Shall we who have been bought with the precious blood of Christ refuse to do the work left in our hands,—refuse to co-operate with the heavenly agencies in the work of saving the fallen? Shall we not go even to the ends of the earth to let the light of truth given to us of heaven shine forth to our fellow-men?

We are to be diligent workers; an idle man is a miserable creature. But what excuse can be offered for idleness in the great work which Christ gave his life to accomplish? The spiritual faculties cease to exist if they are not exercised, and it is Satan's design that they shall perish. All heaven is actively engaged in the work of preparing a people for the second coming of Christ to our world, and “we are laborers together with God.” The end of all things is at hand. Now is our opportunity to work. “The night cometh, in which no man can work.” We should proclaim Christ and him crucified, thus preparing the way for his second appearing. Lift him up, the Man of Calvary. Place yourselves where you may receive heavenly inspiration and be able to point the weary, the heavy-laden, the brokenhearted, the perplexed soul, to Jesus, the source of all spiritual strength. Be faithful minutemen, to show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. With pen and voice proclaim that Jesus lives to make intercession for us. Unite with the great Master-worker, follow the self-denying Redeemer through his pilgrimage of love on earth. The same Jesus that walked with his disciples, that taught them upon earth, that toiled and suffered in his human nature, is with us in his divine power. He is at our right hand to help in every emergency. Let us lift up Jesus, and reveal the Bible foundation for our faith. We are all to proclaim the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Jesus came to magnify the law, and make it honorable. He died to exalt the law of God, testifying of its changeless character; and as we proclaim God's law, we may look unto Jesus and be comforted with the assurance, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

Satan is now working with all his insinuating, deceiving power, to lead men away from the work of the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with mighty power. When the enemy sees that the Lord is blessing his people, and preparing them to discern his delusions, he will work with his masterly power to bring in fanaticism on one hand and cold formalism on the other, that he may gather in a harvest of souls. Now is the time to watch unceasingly. Watch for the first step of advance that Satan may make among us.

There are dangers to be guarded against on the right hand and on the left. Those who are inexperienced, who have newly come to the faith, will need to be strengthened, and to have a correct example set before them. Some will not make a right use of the doctrine of justification by faith. They will present it in a one-sided manner, making everything of faith, and belittling works. Others will seize the points that have a leaning toward error, and will ignore works altogether. Now, genuine faith always works by love; it supplies a motive power. Faith is not an opiate, but a stimulant. Looking to Calvary will not quiet your soul into nonperformance of duty, but will create faith that will work, purifying the soul from all selfishness. In laying hold of Christ by faith, we but just begin our work. Every man has corrupt and sinful habits, that must be overcome through vigorous warfare. Every soul must fight the fight of faith. He who is a follower of Christ, cannot deal deceitfully; he cannot be hard-hearted and devoid of sympathy. He cannot be coarse in speech. He cannot be a surmiser of evil, an accuser of the brethren. He cannot be full of pomposity and self-esteem. He cannot be overbearing, using harsh words, and censuring and condemning those around him.

The labor of love springs from the work of faith. You are to “let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” We are to “be zealous of good works;” “be careful to maintain good works.” And the True Witness says, “I know thy works.” While it is true that our busy activities will not in themselves insure salvation, it is also true that faith which unites us to Christ will stir the soul to activity; and good fruit, which is good works, will be the result of faith.

Those who have no time to give attention to their own souls, to examine themselves daily whether they be in the love of God, and to place themselves in the channel of light, will have time to give to the suggestions of Satan, and the working out of his plans. Satan will insinuate himself little by little, until he can have a controlling influence on the soul, and induce men gradually to adopt worldly policy. The specious devices of Satan will be brought to make of none effect the special work of God at this time.

There are men who are careless in regard to the spirit which they carry with them in their business. They hide their light under a bushel. They say, Religion is religion, business is business. But all our work in this world, even in a business line, is God's work, and should be done with a heart full of his love, and of heavenly enlightenment. But if we need the heavenly enlightenment in business employments in the world, how much more do we need his grace and help in the business especially connected with his precious cause. There must be no coldness, no formality, no deadness in his work. The hardness of heart that is manifest in business lines among us as a people, is an offense to God.

Men connected with our institutions in responsible position are intrusted with sacred interests, and they cannot be safe men unless they make God their trust every moment, unless they are men of earnest prayer and fervent piety, in their home life, in the work appointed them, in all their business. There is danger that these men will cheat their souls by neglecting to receive the ever-present help of the Holy Spirit, because they have not a true sense of their own weakness. They fail to become channels of light, and if they will continue to be devoid of light, they will fail of the eternal blessedness hereafter. No one can stand safely in a neutral position.

The workers in our institutions need the divine endowment daily. But instead of drawing nearer to God when they accept positions of trust, many think they have so much to do, that they cannot attend religious meetings, and their voices are seldom heard in the congregation of the saints. They act as if they were now so far advanced that they needed not to engage in fervent prayer to God. They do not feel their constant need of education and training in the school of Christ, that they may learn his meekness and lowliness of heart, and they become lifted up in self. Traits of character are manifested by them which are unchristlike. They must be transformed, or they will do harm; for with these unchristlike characteristics they are not qualified for the place. They need to bring their powers under the control of the Spirit of God, that they may realize the necessity of seeking spiritual help, of “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Those who desire wisdom from God, who wish to follow Jesus at every step, will seek for the light, and it will shine in their hearts. “They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.”

Satan is constantly at work to wound and poison the soul. In order to withstand his efforts, we must breathe the atmosphere of heaven. We must individually get hold and keep hold of Christ. The truth of God, dwelling in the heart, and guiding the life, will be our safeguard. With the truth in our possession, we may humbly and firmly advance from light to a greater light, and we shall be guided into every good and holy way. Unless the truth of God transforms the character, it is of no value to the receiver. Those who are in earnest about the future life, will not neglect the opportunities within their reach in this life. They will not only place themselves with the learners of the truth, but will feel that they are under obligation to God to learn all that is possible for them to know of spiritual and heavenly things; they will carry every matter in prayer to God.

Coming nigh to God inspires confidence, and stimulates the soul to action. The body would die if deprived of suitable nourishment, and so with the soul; in order to have spiritual strength, or even life, it must be nourished by the word, which is spirit and life. It must be constantly fed by the truth, which connects the soul with Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being. Every man in a responsible position needs the sunbeams of Christ's righteousness constantly to illuminate his soul, or his course will do much harm. Every person who is in a position to command, needs to come as often as possible into association with the worshiping assemblies, that he may be surrounded with a spiritual atmosphere, and have greater depth of experience in divine things.

To keep your soul in the love of God you must place yourselves in the channel of light, and breathe in a holy atmosphere; for through neglect of any means of grace which God has ordained to impart spiritual strength and grace, you bring blindness upon your souls, and hardness into your hearts, and Satan will lead you to look at things in a perverted light. If you have no respect for the messages which God sends you by his chosen servants, what power has he in reserve that will reach your case and correct your errors, so that you shall not be led into false paths? The garden of your heart must be cultivated. The poisonous, Satanic plants must be uprooted, the soil must be prepared, thoroughly plowed by the word of God, and the precious seeds of truth must be sown and tended by a wise, skillful gardener.

“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” The parable of the man from whom an evil spirit had been cast out, who did not fill the soul with the love of Christ, illustrates the necessity of not only emptying the heart, but of supplying the vacuum with a divine occupant. The demon desired to return to the heart from which he had been expelled. He came, and though it was swept and garnished, he found it still empty, and entered in with seven other spirits more evil than himself, so that the last state of the man was worse than the first. The man in this parable refused to do the work of Satan; but the trouble with him was that after the heart was swept and garnished, he failed to invite the presence of the heavenly guests. It is not enough to make the heart empty; we must have the vacuum filled with the love of God. The soul must be furnished with the graces of the Spirit of God. We may leave off many bad habits, and yet not be truly sanctified, because we do not have a connection with God. We must unite with Christ. There is a reservoir of power at our command, and we are not to remain in the dark, cold, sunless cave of unbelief; or we shall not catch the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness.

To be a Christian requires more than a profession of faith. There must be an earnest effort to conquer through the grace freely given of God. All things around us must be made to be helps to growth in grace and the knowledge of Christ. Satan, the great rebel, is ever seeking to entice us to sin against God. He will introduce false imaginings, and sway the understanding against the revealed will of God, the lower passions against purity and self-denial, the independent judgment against God's decisions, the wisdom from beneath against the wisdom from above. But the Holy Spirit has come into the world to subdue all things unto himself, and shall God's will be put in the background, and man's will be held as supreme? Can man's will be the controlling power in God's great contest for the recovery of his own?—No, for those who are laborers together with God must have the mind of Christ, and work with pen and voice in the Spirit of Christ to meet wrong tendencies, to correct errors, that have been coming in among us. The truth must no longer be kept in the outer court, but be brought into the inner sanctuary of the soul. The religion of Christ requires not only the putting away of pride, malice, covetousness, injustice, but the cultivation of the precious graces of humility, unselfishness, kindness, love, generosity, and nobility of soul. The Christian should be constantly aspiring, pressing on from grace to grace, from faith to a greater faith, from glory to a greater glory.

(To be continued.)

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