Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

May 22, 1884

Faith the Christian's Victory

[Remarks in the 6 o'clock morning meeting at Oakland, Cal., April 21, 1884.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

These are precious opportunities that we are enjoying. Jesus is present with us today; for he has promised, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” His presence insures a blessing; but blessings do not always consist in a happy flight of feeling. The greatest blessing we can have is a correct knowledge of ourselves, that we may see our defects of character, and by divine grace remedy them.

We can never graduate in the school of Christ, but we should make continual advancement. We should never be satisfied with our present position and attainments. Like the apostle, we should “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” and day by day grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Are we doing this? Are we nearer to God today than we were a year ago? What a change there would be in our religious experience, what a transformation in our characters, if day by day we carried out the principle that we are not our own, but that our time and talents belong to God, and every faculty should be used to do his will and advance his glory. If we spent all our spare moments in work for the Redeemer, in searching the Scriptures, and in pleading with God to be imbued with his Spirit, what precious victories we should gain for Jesus!

We should study the Bible more that we may become familiar with the promises of God; then when Satan comes in, flooding the soul with his temptations, as he surely will, we may meet him with, “It is written.” We may be shut in by the promises of God, which will be as a wall of fire about us. We want to know how to exercise faith. Faith “is the gift of God,” but the power to exercise it is ours. If faith lies dormant, it is no advantage to us; but in exercise, it holds all blessings in its grasp. It is the hand by which the soul takes hold of the strength of the Infinite. It is the medium by which human hearts, renewed by the grace of Christ, are made to beat in harmony with the great Heart of love. Faith plants itself on the promises of God, and claims them as surety that he will do just as he said he would. Jesus comes to the sinful, helpless, needy soul, and says, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Believe; claim the promises, and praise God that you do receive the things you have asked of him, and when your need is greatest, you will experience his blessing and receive special help.

Many know so little of faith that when they have asked God for his help and blessing, they look to themselves to see if their prayer is answered; and if they have a happy flight of feeling, they are satisfied. This is not faith, but unbelief. We should trust God, whether we experience any change of feeling or not. We cannot expect to be very joyful and hopeful while we look to ourselves; for we must think of self as sinful. A large class of the professed Christian world are watching their feelings; but feeling is an unsafe guide, and those who depend upon it are in danger of imbibing heresy. Satan can move upon our feelings, and he can so arrange surrounding circumstances as to make our feelings changeable. Victory in God is not feeling, but faith. It is the faith that will not yield although there are seeming impossibilities to be encountered.

If I were to promise one of you a book tomorrow morning, what kind of respect would you show me if you were to respond by saying, “I wish I could believe you; but I will not believe until I have the book in my hand. When I get the book, I will believe.” Would that be trusting my word? Oh, no! When you have the book in your possession, it is sight, and not faith at all. But this is just the way we treat our heavenly Father. We insult and dishonor him by our distrust, and are kept at a distance from him, and deprived of the rich blessings within our reach, by our wicked unbelief and ingratitude. We may have daily victories; but we lose the most precious gifts that Heaven can bestow because we will not take God at his word. When I am sick and afflicted, and ask for help, I do not sit in my room and wait for this help to come to me. I go forward in the path of humble obedience, expecting the Lord to answer my prayers, and sustain and bless me in doing the work that duty requires. Although all may seem dark, I place myself in the channel of light. What have I to do with feelings of darkness and discouragement? What have I to be troubled about? Faith can penetrate the darkest cloud. God has promised, and he will not fail me. It is no difficult, mysterious problem to believe. We take Jesus at his word; we come to him with all our burdens and our soul needs, and, according to his promise, find in him a helper and a strong deliverer.

There is a deep, rich, and full experience for us individually to gain. We shall every one of us be tested and tried. We have a rough pathway before us; but Jesus has traveled this way, and he knows just how to help us. Faith lightens our burdens and relieves our weariness by the anticipation of Heaven at our journey's end. Faith rejoices in hope, and is patient in affliction. Faith waxes strong and valiant in conflict, and conquers in the great fight of temptation. We must have a living faith,—a faith that will hold the soul in the hour of trial; for everything that can be shaken will be. In summer there is no noticeable difference between evergreens and other trees; but when the blasts of winter come, the evergreens are fresh and green, while other trees are stripped of their foliage. Just so it is with professed Christians. When no particular test is brought to bear upon them, we may not be able to distinguish between the true Christian and the hypocrite; but in times of trial and temptation the difference is easily discerned, for the source of the Christian's strength is made manifest. There are two classes of builders. One class are building on a foundation of sliding sand; the other, on the eternal Rock, and the winds blow and the tempests beat against this foundation in vain.

The inquiry in many hearts is, How shall I find happiness? We are not to make it our object to live for happiness, but we shall surely find it in the path of humble obedience. Paul was happy. He affirms repeatedly that notwithstanding the sufferings, conflicts, and trials that he was called to bear, he enjoyed great consolation. He says, “I am filled with comfort; I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.” All the energies of the chiefest of the apostles were bent to a preparation for the future, immortal life; and when the time of his departure was at hand, he could exclaim in holy triumph, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” And the shout of victory of this warrior of faith has come sounding down the ages to our time.

It is one thing to profess the truth, but it is a very different thing to live it out. Many who profess to be keeping the commandments of God are deceiving their own souls. They have no union with Christ, and do not make the truth practical. In their homes, selfishness is interwoven with their daily life. There is manifested a want of refinement, an uncourteous, unkind selfishness. The religion of Jesus should be carried into the home circle, the work-shop, and all the business transactions. The genuine Christian will show in his life the fruits of the Spirit. The love of Jesus will flow out naturally in words and deeds of kindness. Those who yield themselves to the heavenly power, which alone can quell tumultuous passion, will be as angels of peace and blessing in the home circle.

Has the truth sanctified the receiver? Is he purer, nobler, better, for believing it? The words and deeds are the fruit which testifies whether the mind of God dwells in us, and we are guided by his law. We shall surely deceive ourselves if we think that because we hold certain Bible doctrines firmly, we actually possess the blessings which these doctrines were designed to bestow. The intellect may accept truth in its noblest form; but if this truth exerts no influence on the life and character, it is of no practical value. On the contrary, it proves a delusion if it quiets the conscience while it does not sanctify the soul. A theory of truth may be a beautiful covering to hide the deformity of a carnal heart. This was the sin of Chorazin and Bethsaida, which called forth the denunciation of Christ: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”

Jesus is coming. Great and important events are just before us. Are we ready, waiting and watching? Have we on the wedding garment, the robe of Christ's righteousness? Now is the time to secure this wedding garment. We must make no delay, but open the door of our hearts to the Saviour, who has long stood knocking for admittance. We must be in sympathy with Christ, and, as soldiers of the cross, make personal, interested efforts for the salvation of souls. What a privilege is ours that we may become co-laborers with Christ, and that our efforts may be accepted of God. We may join the conquering army if we will, and may share in its conflicts and its triumphs; but if we refuse, they will move on to final victory, and leave us behind. We each have an account to render at the bar of God, and it is essential for us to cultivate spiritually, to think often of Jesus, and to keep faith alive. Let us ever remember that God sees us. We may say with the psalmist, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” The whole life should be moulded after the divine Pattern, and then we shall see the King in his beauty, and live in his presence through the ceaseless ages of eternity.

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