Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

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

The Signs of the Times

June 26, 1884

Palm-Tree Christians

By Mrs. E. G. White

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.” “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

These texts describe the happy state of him whose soul is rooted and grounded in Christ. But there is always danger of being satisfied with a superficial work; there is always danger that souls will not anchor themselves in God, but be content to drift hither and thither, the sport of Satan's temptations. “Enter ye in at the strait gate,” says Christ, “for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” The work of the Spirit of God in the heart will develop true penitence, which will not end with confession, but will work a decided reformation in the daily life. There will be manifested an earnestness, a perseverance, and a determination that can be properly represented by agonizing. Many professed Christians greatly need just this experience.

Are you beginning to see the defects in your character? Do not feel helpless and discouraged. Look to Jesus, who knows your every weakness and pities your every infirmity. He came “not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” It is no disgrace to confess our sins and forsake them. The disgrace rests upon those who know their sins, but continue in them, and grieve the dear Saviour by their crooked paths. A knowledge of our wrongs should be more highly prized than a happy flight of feeling; for it is evidence that the Spirit of God is striving with us and that angels are round about us. Let the heart-searching work go forward; let it be deep and earnest, until every barrier is removed, and your heart is opened to welcome the messenger of pardon and peace, that has long been waiting to bring light and joy and gladness. In true contrition for sin, come to the foot of the cross, and there leave your burdens; come exercising repentance toward God because you have broken his law, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ to pardon your transgressions and reconcile you to the Father. Believe what God says; take his promises to your heart.

It is Christian's privilege to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.” See the weary traveler toiling over the hot sands of the desert, with no shelter to protect him from the rays of a tropical sun. His water supply fails, and he has nothing to slake his burning thirst. His tongue becomes swollen; he staggers like a drunken man. Visions of home and friends pass before his mind, as he believes himself ready to perish in the terrible desert. Suddenly those in advance send forth a shout of joy. In the distance, looming up out of the dreary, sandy waste, is a palm tree, green and flourishing. Hope quickens his pulses. That which gives vigor and freshness to the palm tree, will cool the fevered pulses, and give life to those who are perishing with thirst.

As the palm tree, drawing nourishment from fountains of living water, is green and flourishing in the midst of the desert, so the Christian may draw rich supplies of grace from the fountain of God's love, and may guide weary souls, that are full of unrest and ready to perish in the desert of sin, to those waters of which they may drink, and live. The Christian is ever pointing his fellow-men to Jesus, who invites, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” This fountain never fails us; we may draw, and draw again.

We may individually have an experience of the greatest value. The fact that iniquity abounds, that we are surrounded by infidels and skeptics, or by professed Christians who have a name to live, and are dead, is no reason why one of us should be swept away by the current toward perdition. Because there is an almost universal forsaking of God, there is the greater need that we stand firm and loyal. Says Christ, “Ye are the light of the world.” We must gather the divine rays from the Sun of Righteousness, and reflect them to the world. In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, we must show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Nothing but a deep personal experience will enable us to stand the test of the trials and temptations we shall meet in the Christian warfare. Too often we feel well when everything goes smoothly; but when doubts assail the soul, and Satan whispers his suggestions, our defense is gone, and we yield quickly to the arts of the tempter, with scarcely an effort to resist and repulse him. It is not enough to have good impulses. The soul must be barricaded by prayer and study of the Scriptures. Armed with these weapons, Jesus encountered our wily foe on the field of battle, and overcame him. We may all conquer in his strength; but it will not answer for us to suppose that we can dispense with his help. He says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” But no truly humble soul who walks in the light as Christ is in the light, will be ensnared by Satan's deceptive devices.

All self-confidence, all boasting, all pride of talent, must be yielded, and the soul must fall broken on the Rock Christ Jesus. Those who have a proud spirit, and feel that they are capable of doing a great work, will be left to their own weak strength, to fall into grievous sins. They do not realize what a pure, virtuous, and holy character they must possess if they would stand without fault before the throne of God. Self must be crucified. There must be a thorough transformation of character. The clear, sharp testimony of living truth will separate the wheat from the chaff, the half-hearted from the humble and devoted.

There never was a time of greater danger to the church than the present, and many will not be true to their own souls. They will not be sanctified through the truth. They have lamps, but no oil in their vessels to replenish them, and their light goes out in darkness. Eli and his sons trusted to the ark, the symbol of the divine presence, while they were transgressing the holy law enshrined in the ark, and their sins were separating them from God. As a consequence of their presumption, both the sons of Eli were slain, and God permitted the ark to pass into the hands of the enemies of his people. Some in our day are making a similar mistake in trusting to their profession while they are transgressing the holy requirements of God's law. Such are asleep to their true condition.

The apostle Paul exhorts careless and unconcerned professors: “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” Christ, the True Witness, would break the slumbers of his ease-loving people. His voice is heard addressing them: “I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” I will not take your names into my lips, for you are unworthy. I am ashamed to call you brethren. “Be zealous therefore, and repent.” “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 eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”

Our only safety is in Christ. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Those who enter Heaven will not scale its walls by their own righteousness, nor will the gates be opened to them for costly offerings of gold and silver; but they will gain an entrance to the many mansions of the Father's house through the merits of the cross of Christ. Jesus is the ladder by which every soul must mount who would climb from earth to Heaven. But there is round after round of painful ascent; for our characters must be brought into harmony with the law of God, and every advance step in this direction requires self-denial.

The prize before us will amply repay every effort that we make to gain it. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” “As the days of a tree,” says the Lord through his prophet, shall be “the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” As by an eye of faith we view the glories of that better land, the saints’ everlasting inheritance, we rejoice, clinging to the merits of our crucified Redeemer. Love kindles in our hearts toward Him “who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,” and faith grasps the promise, “How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Thus Jesus becomes the medium of communication between Heaven and our souls, and holy angels are sent to minister unto us. And while these divine messengers are striving to lead sinners to plant their feet on the ladder that extends from earth to Heaven, let us be co-laborer's with them, and urge all who will to climb the shining way.

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