Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

May 26, 1903

“Repent, and Do the First Works”

Mrs. E. G. White

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless 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 words fall from the lips of One who can not lie. The picture reveals eternal vigilance. Christ is in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, walking from church to church, from congregation to congregation, from heart to heart. He that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. If the candlesticks were left to the care of human beings, how often the light would flicker and go out! But God has not given his church into the hands of men. Christ, the One who gave his life for the world, that all who believe in him may not perish but have everlasting life, is the Watchman of the house. He is the Warder, faithful and true, of the temple courts of the Lord.

“These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand.” The words are spoken to the teachers in the church,—those entrusted by God with weighty responsibilities. The sweet influences that are to be abundant in the church are bound up with God's ministers, who are to reveal the precious love of Christ. The stars of heaven are under his control. He fills them with light. He guides and directs their movements. If he did not do this, they would become fallen stars. So with his ministers. They are but instruments in his hands, and all the good they accomplish is done through his power. Through them his light is to shine forth. The Saviour is to be their efficiency. If they will look to him as he looked to his Father, they will do his work. As they make God their dependence, he will give them his brightness to reflect to the world.

Christ walks in the midst of his churches through the length and breadth of the earth. He looks with intense interest to see whether his people are in such a condition spiritually that they can advance his kingdom. He is present in every assembly of the church. He knows those whose hearts he can fill with the holy oil, that they may impart it to others. Those who faithfully carry forward the work of Christ, representing in word and deed the character of God, fulfill the Lord's purpose for them, and Christ takes pleasure in them.

“I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience.” Christ is acquainted with the history and experience of every one who has accepted him. To his people he says, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” He cherishes carefully every act of love and endurance performed by them.

“And how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” While we should not find fault and accuse, we should never give encouragement to evil. There are those who are vain talkers. Their influence is misleading. Unless they repent, they will be weighed in the balances, and found wanting. Faithful reproof may save them.

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” At the first, the experience of the church at Ephesus was marked by childlike fervor and simplicity. An ardent, heartfelt love for Christ controlled the believers. They rejoiced in the love of God because Christ was an abiding presence in their hearts. In sentiment and action they were united. Love for Christ was the golden chain that bound them together. They followed on to know the Lord more and still more perfectly, and brightness and comfort and peace came into their lives. They trusted in the Lord. They did not think of hoarding the precious treasures of the grace of Christ. Their highest aim was to win souls to the Saviour. They felt the importance of their calling; and weighted with the precious message of the gospel,—peace on earth and good will toward men,—they called upon all to come to Christ.

Visiting the fatherless and the widow was part of their daily experience. They kept themselves unspotted from the world. They knew that a failure to do this would be a denial of the Redeemer.

In every city the work was carried forward. Warm, inspired appeals were made, and sinners were brought to the cross. In their turn they felt that they must tell of the inexhaustible treasure they had found. They could not rest until the beams of light which had illumined their minds were shining into the minds of others. Multitudes of believers were made acquainted with the reason of the hope held by the Christians. Precious light was flashed into minds darkened by error.

After a time coldness crept into the church. Differences unworthy of notice sprang up, and the eyes of the believers were taken from beholding Jesus as the author and finisher of their faith. Their love for one another began to wane. The multitudes that might have been convicted and converted by a faithful practice of the truth were left unwarned.

How is it with the church of today, which has received such great light? God sees that its members have lost the love for souls which Christ revealed to them when first they saw his unspeakable mercy for the fallen race. Then they could not keep silent. They were filled with desire to give to others the blessings they had received. Thus it is with all who are truly converted. Those who love sinners with the love of God will work the works of God.

Let the church arise and shine; for their light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon them. Let them understand that Christ expects them to do the work that he did while on this earth.

The leaven of truth needs to be introduced into society. The means of God's people should be used to carry forward his work in new fields. But many have selfishly grasped for themselves all the means they dared, and have coveted more. Grave evils have sapped the life and zeal and virtue of the church. Let us change quickly, or he who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, will say to us, as he said to the church of Ephesus, “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.” The work that God desires to see done by Seventh-day Adventists is not done. Unless there is a decided change, the people will accept as truth that which is not truth.

A Call to Activity and Zeal

Nigh and afar off the laws of God's kingdom are to be proclaimed. Let the churches arouse. Let the ministers clothe themselves with zeal as with a garment. God says to them, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Anything less than active, earnest service for the Master gives the lie to our profession of Christianity. Only the Christianity that results in practical work will make an impression upon those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Praying, humble, believing Christians, who show by their actions that their greatest desire is to make known the saving truth that is to test all people, will gather a rich harvest of souls for the Master.

We need to break up the monotony of our religious labor. We are doing a work in the world, but we are not showing enough activity and zeal. If we were more in earnest, men would be convinced of the truth of our message. The tameness and monotony of our service for God repels many who are looking to see in us a deep, earnest, sanctified zeal. Legal religion will not answer for this age. We may perform all the outward acts of service, and yet be as destitute of the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. We need spiritual moisture; and we need also the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to soften and subdue our hearts.

In times past there were those who fastened their minds upon one soul after another, saying, “Lord, help me to save this soul.” But now such instances are very rare. How many act as if they realized the peril of sinners? How many take to God in prayer those they know to be in danger, pleading with him to save them?

Remember that there are those who will perish unless we as God's instrumentalities work with a determination which will not fail or become discouraged. The Lord will provide ways and means for those who will seek him with all the heart. He has in readiness the most precious revelations of his grace to strengthen and encourage the sincere, humble worker. There is no excuse for the faith of our churches being so feeble. “Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope.” There is strength for us in Christ. He is our Advocate. He dispatches his messengers to every part of his dominion to communicate his will to his creatures. He walks in the midst of his churches. He desires to sanctify, elevate, and ennoble his followers. The influence of those who truly believe in him will be a savor of life in the world. Christ holds the stars in his right hand, and it is his purpose to let his light shine forth through them to the world. Thus he desires to prepare his people for higher service in the church above. He has given us a great work to do. Let us do it faithfully. Let us show forth in our lives what divine grace can do for humanity.

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