Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

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

The Review and Herald

April 10, 1900

Pure and Undefiled Religion

Mrs. E. G. White

“Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

Christ was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. His human life was one long travail in behalf of the inheritance he was to purchase at such infinite cost. He was touched with the feeling of our infirmities. And in consideration of the value he places upon those who are the purchase of his blood, he adopts them as his children, making them the objects of his tender care; and in order that they may have their temporal and spiritual necessities supplied, he commits them to his church, saying, Inasmuch as ye do it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye do it unto me. This is to be our watchword; and if we carry it faithfully into our lives, we shall hear the benediction, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: ... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Speaking through his prophet of the work to be done by Christ in the world, God says: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.” And Christ himself declared: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.”

This is to be the work of every servant of Christ; and his professed followers would do well to ask themselves, Have I the mind of Christ? Have I, with humble heart, sought to help and bless the souls that are oppressed, those who are tempted and tried by poverty and affliction? or have I heard the voice of my fellow men asking for pity, for consideration, and for mercy, and spurned their earnest cry? Have I made it harder for them to place their faith and confidence in a prayer-hearing God? Have I by harsh, unpitying words crushed the wounded spirit, and in hardness of heart quenched the last spark of hope in the soul? In the sight of God the richest treasure is a humble, contrite heart. The name of the Lord is magnified when the heart becomes tender, sensitive to another's woe, and pitiful of his suffering. When the Holy Spirit works upon our hearts and minds, we shall not shun duty and responsibility, and, like the priest and Levite, pass by on the other side, leaving the wounded, helpless soul to its misery. Angels of God stand ready to work with us as we minister to souls.

It is possible for a man to think himself a Christian, and yet have entirely incorrect ideas of Christianity. He may regard himself as a follower of Christ, and think he is doing an essential work, and yet do that work with such a spirit and in such a way as to stir up the worst passions of the human heart. There are many intelligent men who mean to be Christians, but who deceive themselves. Their religion is not after the order of Christ, but is a shadow of some other man's mind, and does great harm to the cause of truth when brought into connection with the work. If these persons would study the works of Christ, they would see that in their lives are revealed the attributes of Satan, rather than the beauty of the meek and lowly Jesus.

There are many who believe the truth, but their faith is not that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. At times they may speak the truth as it is in Jesus. They may be kind, and may deal with equity. They may have right ideas, and at times come to correct decisions in regard to the work. They may have ability to teach others, to educate the young, or to deal with the erring; but self is strong in them, and if in their work something arises which cuts across their plans, they place all the strength of their being on the enemy's side. They become unkind and unfeeling. They make unholy decisions, and act in a way to hurt souls nigh and afar off. They lie against the truth, while claiming to believe. Bitterness is cherished against the souls who are the purchase of the Son of God; and when, through misconception, their own spirit is brought into exercise, their unchristlike disposition manifests itself against those who are innocent. These men misrepresent Christ. By the heavenly universe as well as by men, it is seen that they have not renewed, sanctified hearts, but are coarse in disposition, unsympathetic, unkind, uncourteous, unchristlike.

God has represented this work in his word, saying, “Ye have thrust with side and with shoulder, and pushed all the diseased with your horns, till ye have scattered them abroad.” This has been the course pursued by many professing Christians. They have driven souls onto Satan's battle ground, to be tempted, to falter, and to fall. For a time the work may not show the result of such a course of action; for God works to preserve the honor of his cause. But when messages of warning and mercy are repeatedly rejected, these defects will become apparent; alienation will be aroused, distrust awakened. Those who have connected themselves with these men will find that they are losing personal piety and faith in Christ, that their characters are becoming molded after a wrong pattern. Temptations will be many and strong to be unmerciful, unsympathetic, untouched by the feeling of others’ infirmities. Instead of learning in the school of Christ, they are being educated in wrong ways by teachers whose defects of character will close against them the gates of heaven.

When the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, these men will be called to account for the blood of souls that is upon their garments. In that day God will ask them, “Who hath required this at your hand?”

No man is to be trusted with high responsibilities who does not take himself in hand daily, and through the grace given set his heart in order. Often those who do the greatest harm are those who accept positions of trust, but who have not inquired at every step, Is this the way of the Lord? The one who allows his heart to become hardened by Satan's temptations, who permits his natural disposition to gain the victory, fails to receive the impress of heaven. He becomes sapless and impoverished, and bears only wild fruit. The professed children of God who refuse the guidance of their Heavenly Father, and disregard God's message and messengers, will mourn too late the blessings they have lost. With anguish of soul they will call to mind the opportunities and privileges that were within their reach, but which they failed to improve, and which are lost to them forever.

Men are slow to learn the lesson that the spirit manifested by Jehu will never bind hearts together. It is not safe for us to bind up our interests with a Jehu religion; for this will result in bringing sadness of heart upon God's true workers. God has not given to any of his servants the work of punishing those who will not heed his warnings and reproofs. When the Holy Spirit is abiding in the heart, it will lead the human agent to see his own defects of character, to pity the weakness of others, to forgive as he wishes to be forgiven. He will be pitiful, courteous, Christlike.

Mark how tender and pitiful the Lord is in his dealings with his creatures. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, and he stands ready to receive every wanderer who will return. The ear of the Lord is open to the cry of every one who is poor in spirit. Even before the prayer is offered, or the yearning of the soul made known, the Spirit of God goes forth to meet it. Never has there been a good desire, however weak, never a prayer lifted to God, however faltering, never a tear shed in contrition of soul, but grace from Christ has gone forth to meet the grace working in the human heart.

Our Heavenly Father appreciates his erring child, and encourages him to return. The Father's arm is placed about his repenting son; the Father's garments cover his rags; the ring is placed upon his finger as a token of his royalty. And yet how many there are, themselves needing salvation as much as he, who look upon the struggling soul not only with indifference, but with contempt. Like the Pharisee they say, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, ... or even as this publican.” How hard and ungracious are the thoughts cherished toward the straying sheep! How can God look with pleasure upon men and women who, claiming to be co-workers with Christ, regard the prodigal with contempt; who, while the soul is making its first struggles against the flood of temptation, stand by, like the elder brother in the parable, stubborn, self-willed, complaining? Will he not judge for these things? If those in positions of trust had realized what God expects of them in rescuing the human race, many lambs that have been killed by neglect would now be safe in the fold of God. If one half the time and strength that is now devoted to sermonizing were spent in seeking to win back the straying ones, there would be rejoicing in the heavenly courts. These sermons lived would have a telling influence in winning souls to Christ.

We need to make great changes. We need to hold to pure principles in reverence for Christ and respect for the purchase of his blood. There must be a continual growth in those attributes that tend to perfection of character. When divine grace has opened our hearts, we shall impart to others of the grace we have received. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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