Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

August 7, 1894

Look to God for Wisdom

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” How can the truth be laid out before our people that they will every one arouse from the lethargy which has been upon them, and come to a realization of the times in which we are living? How shall we present the need of greater zeal and more determined earnestness in searching the Scriptures, so that they may dig in the mines of truth and bring forth the treasures of God's word? It is not safe for us as reformers to repeat the history of the Reformers in every particular; for after those to whom God gave light advanced to a certain knowledge, many of them ceased to be reformers. We must not for a moment think that there is no more light and truth to be given us, and become careless, and let the sanctifying power of the truth leak out of our hearts by our attitude of satisfaction in what we have already attained. We are not to fold our hands in complacency, and say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.”

It is a fact that we have the truth, and we must hold with tenacity to the positions that cannot be shaken; but we must not look with suspicion upon any new light which God may send, and say, Really, we cannot see that we need any more light than the old truth which we have hitherto received, and in which we are settled. While we hold to this position, the testimony of the True Witness applies to our cases its rebuke, “And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Those who feel rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing, are in a condition of blindness as to their true condition before God, and they know it not. But the True Witness declares, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.”

What is it that constitutes the wretchedness, the nakedness of those who feel rich and increased with goods?—It is the want of the righteousness of Christ. In their own righteousness they are represented as clothed with filthy rags, and yet in this condition they flatter themselves that they are clothed upon with Christ's righteousness. Could deception be greater? As is represented by the prophet, they may be crying, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we,” while their hearts are filled with unholy traffic and unrighteous barter. The courts of the soul-temple may be the haunt of envy, pride, passion, evil surmising, bitterness, and hollow formalism. Christ looks mournfully upon his professed people who feel rich and increased in the knowledge of the truth, and who are yet destitute of the truth in life and character and unconscious of their destitute condition. In sin and unbelief, they lightly regard the warnings and counsels of his servants, and treat his ambassadors with scorn and contempt, while their words of reproof are regarded as idle tales. Discernment seems to have departed, and they have no power to discriminate between the light which God sends them and the darkness that comes from the enemy of their souls.

The voice of the True Witness calls to his chosen people, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” We have tried to arouse our brethren to the fact that the Lord has rich blessings to bestow upon us as a people. The people of God have lost much by not maintaining the simplicity of the truth as it is in Jesus. This simplicity has been crowded out, and forms and ceremonies and a round of busy activities in mechanical work have taken its place. Pride and lukewarmness have made the professed people of God an offense in his sight. Boastful self-sufficiency and complacent self-righteousness have masked and concealed the beggary and nakedness of the soul; but with God all things are naked and manifest. Yet Jesus is going from door to door, standing in front of every soul-temple, proclaiming, “I stand at the door, and knock.” As a heavenly merchantman, he opens his treasures, and cries, “Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” The gold he offers is without alloy, more precious than that of Ophir; for it is faith and love. The white raiment he invites the soul to wear is his own robes of righteousness, and the oil for anointing is the oil of his grace, which will give spiritual eyesight to the soul in blindness and darkness, that he may distinguish between the workings of the Spirit of God and the spirit of the enemy. Open your doors, says the great Merchantman, the possessor of spiritual riches, and transact your business with me. It is I, your Redeemer, who counsels you to buy of me.

Those to whom God has intrusted sacred truths should be far in advance of what they are; they should have grown in grace and in the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. All who practice the truth will be bright and shining lights amid a crooked and perverse nation. Whatever light God sends us, let us be open to receive it, immediately recognizing the voice that says, “Buy of me.” Great weakness has been brought upon the church which he has blessed with great light, because their character and work have not corresponded to the light that God has given them. They have misrepresented the truth, and by their attitude have lulled the people to sleep, so that those with whom they have associated have no real sense of the times in which they are living.

The people of God have educated themselves in such a way that they have come to look to those in positions of trust as guardians of truth, and have placed men where God should be. When perplexities have come upon them, instead of seeking God, they have gone to human sources for help, and have received only such help as man can give. If as brave soldiers of Jesus Christ, they had borne their burden, doing their work with courage, with fidelity, and in faith, they would have received great blessings. Christ has sounded the invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;” but instead of carrying their perplexities and difficulties to Jesus, as he has told them to do, they have laid their burdens upon human souls, and have looked to human beings and human counsels, and they have received accordingly; for God removes his wisdom from men who are looked up to as God. Those who occupy positions of trust are greatly injured when they are tempted by their brethren to think that they must always be consulted by the workers, and that the people should bring to them their difficulties and trials. It is a mistake to make men believe that the workers for Christ should make no move save that which has first been brought before some responsible man. Men must not be educated to look to men as to God. While it is necessary that there be a counseling together and a unity of action among the laborers, one man's mind and one man's judgment must not be the controlling power.

When Jesus went away, he intrusted to men his work in all its varied branches, and every true follower of Christ has some work to do for him, for which he is responsible to his own Master, and that work he is expected to do with fidelity, waiting for command and direction from his Leader. We are the responsible agents of God, and have been invested with the goods of heaven, and we should have an eye single to the glory of Him who has called us. On our part there should be a faithful execution of duty, doing our appointed task to the full measure of our intrusted capability. No living being can do our work for us. We must do our work through a diligent use of the intellect which God has given, gaining in knowledge and efficiency as we make progress in our work. God never designed that another should do our thinking, while we leave our mental powers to rust through inaction. God has never designed that one man should be crushed under the burden, should be loaded down with various kinds of work as a cart pressed beneath the sheaves, while another should go free of all burden and responsibility. The president of the Conference is not to do the thinking for all the people. He has not an immortal brain, but has capabilities and powers like any other man. And to every man God has given his work. When men place the president of the Conference in the place of God, and make him the depositary of all their difficulties, the bearer of all their burdens and troubles, and the adviser in all their plans and in all their perplexities, they are doing that which is exactly opposite to what Christ has told them to do.

(Concluded in next number.)

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