Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

August 18, 1887

The Christian's Privilege

By Mrs. E. G. White

“I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.”

The apostle prayed for the church at Ephesus, that God would grant them “according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” The spiritual strength here spoken of is something that we may each obtain; but how shall we get it? Perhaps we are in darkness, feeling weak and discouraged and that God does not love us. If so, we are not to give way to feeling; feeling has nothing whatever to do with the matter. We are to take the word of God as it reads, the words of Christ as he has spoken them.

Hear these words of our Saviour: “Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.” It is the privilege of every one of us to build upon the Eternal Rock; then we shall not dishonor God, nor by our words and actions scatter away from Christ. There are some who do this, and Jesus is ashamed to call them brethren.

We may come to our Saviour in the hour of trial, and plead: “I am in poverty and need, and I must have thy blessing. I come to thee; for thou hast told me to come. Thou hast invited all who are weary and heavy laden to come unto thee, and thou hast promised them rest. Thou hast said; ‘Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’” And when he has given you rest, do not grieve his Spirit by talking darkness and unbelief. Talk faith; but, above all things, hold daily communion with Jesus.

Satan will tell you that you do not feel any better than you did before you went to Jesus with your troubles. But here the question arises again, What has feeling to do with it? The Lord says: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Again we read: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will” grudgingly pardon. Is that it? No, indeed! This is the way it reads: “For he will abundantly pardon.” When you have thrown yourself upon the mercy of God, and taken him at his word, and yet the enemy comes, and suggests your faults and failings, and tells you that you are no better than before you sought the Lord, you can point to Jesus, and repeat his promises, and tell what he has done for you.

The apostle continues: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” While this divine fullness has been placed within our reach, how easily we are satisfied. We have accustomed ourselves to think that it is enough to have a knowledge of the truth without its sanctifying power. Just a little sip at the fountain of life quenches our thirst. We do not come again and again to drink. But this is not in accordance with the mind of God. Our souls should be continually athirst for the water of life. Our hearts should ever go out after Christ, longing for communion with him. It is hungering and thirsting after righteousness that will bring us the full measure of his grace.

Enoch “walked with God;” but how did he gain this sweet intimacy? It was by having thoughts of God continually before him. As he went out and as he came in, his meditations were upon the goodness, the perfection, and the loveliness of the divine character. And as he was thus engaged, he became changed into the glorious image of his Lord; for it is by beholding that we become changed.

We have something more to do than merely to attend church services. Prayers and testimonies in the social meeting will not answer, when we never say a word for Jesus outside the meeting-house. We are to reflect the character of Jesus. Everywhere, whether in the church, at our homes, or in social intercourse with our neighbors, we should let the lovely image of Jesus appear. This we cannot do unless we are filled with his fullness. If we would become better acquainted with Jesus, we should love him for his goodness and excellence and we should desire to become so assimilated to his divine character that all would know that we had been with Jesus, and learned of him.

It is by carrying out in our lives the pure principles of the gospel of Christ that we honor and glorify our Father who is in Heaven. When we are doing this, we are reflecting Heaven-given light upon the dark world around us. Sinners will be constrained to confess that we are not the children of darkness, but the children of light. How shall they know this? By the fruits we bear. Men may have their names upon the church-book; but that does not make them children of light. They may hold honorable positions and receive the praise of men; but that does not make them children of light. They may shut themselves in monasteries, and clothe themselves in garments of sanctity, and yet not be the children of light. All this will not help them to shun or to overcome temptation. There must be a deep work of grace,—the love of God in the heart, and this love is expressed by obedience.

It is Christ dwelling in the soul that gives us spiritual power, and makes us channels of light. The more light we have, the more we can impart to others around us. The more closely we live to Jesus, the clearer views shall we have of his loveliness. As we behold him in his purity, we discern more clearly our own faults of character. We yearn after him, and for that fullness that is in him, and that shines out in the perfection of his heavenly character; and by beholding we become changed into his image.

How was it with our Saviour? He represented his Father in every act of his life, and in like manner the people of God are expected to represent Christ. Are we representing him in cross-bearing, in self-denial, in patience, and in labor for perishing souls? Let us think soberly and candidly about this matter. If we are not really deceiving ourselves, are we not, by our unbelief, daily depriving ourselves of the riches of his grace?

We should not allow the worldliness all about us to control our actions, but should be steadfast in the faith and strong in the word of God. Every day we are sowing some kind of seed. If we sow the seeds of unbelief, we shall reap unbelief; if we sow pride, we shall reap pride; if we sow stubbornness, we shall reap stubbornness; “for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

We do not want to be covered over with the mildew and slime of the world. We are to remain in this world but a little while. We are pilgrims and strangers here, and are on our way to a better country, even a heavenly; and we want to become acquainted with that land to which we are going. Our conversation should not be exclusively of the world and worldly things; but our tongues should be trained to talk of the Christian's reward, and our eyes to discern the glory of that better country. It should be our daily work to gain a fitness for those mansions Jesus has gone to prepare for us.

Our hearts may be filled with all the fullness of God; but there is something for us to do. We must not pet our faults and sins, but put them away, and make haste to set our hearts in order. When this is done, let us take the key of faith, and unlock the storehouse of God's rich blessings. Does he want us to entertain doubt and darkness? Does he want us to be destitute of his Spirit? No, indeed. There is an infinite fullness to draw from; and we have the promise of our divine Lord, “According to your faith be it unto you.” We may win the crown of life, a place at God's right hand, and as we enter the pearly gates, hear the words, sweeter than any music, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”

Basel, Switzerland.

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