Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

September 12, 1892

The Promise Verified to Faith

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” How many who ask a blessing of the Lord would be surprised should they receive their request. Of what is this want of expectation that our prayers will be answered, a proof?—It proves that we have no definite belief that the blessing will be granted, that we have no genuine faith that God will hear, that we do not watch for the answer, so that when it is received, we may connect it with the prayers we have offered. The Lord said: “What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Luke says: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

If we would only believe, we should receive the Holy Spirit. The question is asked, “Is the Lord's arm shortened that it cannot save? is his ear heavy that he cannot hear?”—No, he now works in the hearts of those who ask, who believe that God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. We must not be discouraged if Satan seeks to leaven the mind with subtle unbelief while we are engaged in prayer, and our hearts are impressed with the high standard of holiness to which we would attain. The enemy will suggest that the Lord will not keep us from sinning, and make us obedient to all his requirements. He will direct our mind to our past imperfections, to our sins, failures, and mistakes, and tell us we need not expect to come off conquerors at last. We are not to listen to the suggestions of the enemy, or think that our unaided efforts can save us, but we are to believe that Jesus does the work for us. At times when we have exercised a little faith, we have experienced a little help, and we have hoped to be victorious overcomers. But have we had faith that through Christ we should be able to overcome every temptation as he overcame? We have not generally exercised this quality of faith.

Many think that they have not time to pray, or that it would be useless to pray if they had time; for they have an inheritance of unchristlike traits of character that are strong by heredity, and stronger by cultivation. The least crossing of their will arouses their combativeness and upsets their temper. I am describing not simply the experience of children and youth, but of men and women, fathers and mothers, who have had a limited experience in the Christian life. They have allowed secular interests to divert the mind and to engage the attention. They have indulged a strong passion to meet the world's standard, and have been filled with a desire for human praise. While they are thus unemptied of self, they cannot expect to receive answers to their prayers; for evil tempers and corrupt inclinations will make prayer of none effect. The Psalmist says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” The tremendous load of evil upon these souls must be rolled off into the sepulcher, that they may believe, not from impulse, but from calm assurance, that God is true, knowing that whatever he has promised he will fulfill.

The Lord has promised to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him, and as an illustration of our need and his willingness to give, he presents before us a hungry child asking his earthly parent for bread. The question is asked, “What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?” He appeals to the strong, natural affection of the parent for his child, and then says: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” Is it any wonder that we receive not, when we believe not? Should we receive in our faithless condition, we would not appreciate the grace given us of God, or render glory to him for the benefits. “Taste and see that the Lord is good;” this is asking and receiving. Those who have tasted of the goodness of God cannot keep the knowledge of this blessing to themselves; for Christ is in them a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. Those who are most blessed of God have the most constant indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and they diffuse the light of heaven to others. Wherever there is distinguishing mercy, there is always distinguishing duty. Jesus said to his followers: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”

To none will it be granted to enjoy the presence of Christ in the paradise of God if they do not enjoy his presence and love in this probationary life, if they do not have a likeness of character to him on earth. Since nothing short of Christlikeness is expected of the followers of Jesus, God has left abundant promises whereby this expectation may be fulfilled. The apostle says: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The storehouse of unlimited resource is opened to all who knock in faith.

Unbelief is the sin that so easily besets us; and this sin is obnoxious to God. However secret is its working in the heart, the guilty one stands revealed and convicted before heaven. The Redeemer of the world has pledged his word, saying, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” Is it any marvel then that the blessing of God is withheld when you dishonor his name by your unbelief? Who is it that has made to you these promises? It is He who “so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Who is it that says, “Ask, and it shall be given you”? Who is it that stands before the great multitude holding forth the divine promise?—It is He who came into the world to rescue us from the bondage of Satan, and make us free men and women in Christ Jesus.

Then come to God with full assurance of faith, knowing that he who hath promised is faithful, and will fulfill his word. Like Habakkuk, say, “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me.” Having asked the Lord for good things, as a hungry child asks his parent for bread, believe from your heart that the Heavenly Father giveth not the Spirit by measure unto you; for to them that ask in faith the Holy Spirit will be given in its fullness, as free as the river that proceedeth from the throne of God, slaking the thirst of all who will come and drink. Come, then, feeling that all Heaven invites you. Come, then, in steadfast faith, knowing that all Heaven welcomes you. Fasten your soul on the blessed assurance, God has spoken this promise, God has invited me, not to mock me, not to disappoint me, for before I knocked, he was unlocking the door for me; while I was yet speaking, he answered, “Here I am.” Then put away this distrust of God; come to him now, and let all the angels of God have occasion for rejoicing, as they see those who are athirst partaking of the waters of life.

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