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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899) - Contents
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    Ms 13, 1899

    Christian Perfection


    November 20, 1898 [typed February 23, 1899]

    Portions of this manuscript are published in 5BC 1110; CTr 52. See ST 10/25/1899. +NoteOne or more typed copies of this document contain additional Ellen White handwritten interlineations which may be viewed at the main office of the Ellen G. White Estate.

    The parable of the wedding garment opens before us a lesson of the highest consequence. It presents the marriage of humanity with divinity, and shows the standard of character each must reach to be accounted a fit guest at the wedding. This parable is to be studied carefully, and the full import of its meaning gathered.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 1

    Many are guilty of presumption in matters where their eternal interests are involved, which will result in the loss of their souls. All do not agree with the standard God has given. Many measure character according to their own ideas. As I consider this, I am afraid, not that God will fail to fulfil every specification of His promise, but that He will be hindered by our continuing in sin. A firm stand must be taken by all who decide for Christ. There must be a surrendering to God of that which is already His own. Unless we accept the righteousness of Christ, as defined in the sixth chapter of John, we have not on the wedding garment.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 2

    As Christ was about to leave His disciples, He illustrated by the symbol of the vine and the branches the relation which should exist between Him and His disciples. “Every branch in me,” He said, “that beareth fruit, he purgeth (pruneth) it, that it may bring forth more fruit. ... Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” [John 15:2, 4-7.]14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 3

    What fulness is expressed in these words! Why does not every soul understand their significance? We read them, but how little of their depth and breadth do we comprehend. This morning, November 20, 1898, I awaken with a great longing of soul that I and the people of God may comprehend this lesson, given to the disciples by their beloved Teacher to be given to the world. Certainly there is nothing hidden, nothing clothed in mystery, in these words. I have an intense longing that none who claim to believe in Christ shall work on the enemy’s side. Those who abide in Christ will reveal Him to the world. Thus only can they bear fruit to God’s glory.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 4

    Unbelief greatly dishonors God. We need to take in the real meaning of Christ’s words. We may read them over and over again, and yet miss their true significance. In this way we lose the blessing of the promises there given. Do not be satisfied to follow Christ a great way off. Many today are doing this. They think that they are trusting in the Saviour, but their faith resembles that of the multitude, who touched Him with only a casual touch.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 5

    In answer to an earnest invitation, Christ was on His way to exercise His divine skill as a compassionate physician. As He went, the multitude pressed as closely to Him as possible, anxious to get near the center of attraction. There was a woman in the throng who had long been troubled with a painful malady. For twelve years she had suffered. She had spent all she had on physicians, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse. She was told of Christ’s power, but she did not think herself worthy of His notice. She thought, “If I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be made whole.” [Matthew 9:20, 21.] She watched her opportunity, and knowing her heart’s desire, Christ in His infinite love moved in her direction. In faith she put forth her hand, and touching the hem of His garment, was instantly made whole. Her faith was not in the garment, but in the virtue which the garment covered.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 6

    Happiness now filled the woman’s soul, and she was seeking to escape from the crowd and go quietly on her way when Christ’s voice, plain and distinct, was heard saying, “Who touched me?” As he looked round to see who had touched him, Peter and the other disciples said, “Master, the multitude throng and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” It seemed a strange question to ask, but Christ desired to teach a lesson which would sound down through the ages to our time, and He said, “Somebody hath touched me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people, for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.” “Daughter,” Christ said, “be of good cheer; thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” [Luke 8:45-48.]14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 7

    We need to understand this lesson, for it has a deeper meaning than many realize. It is possible to be in Christ’s presence, and even to press close to Him, and yet receive no blessing, because we touch Him only with the casual touch of the multitude. There are hundreds and thousands who think they have faith in Christ, but they do not touch Him with the faith manifested by the suffering woman.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 8

    Why do we not show more faith? We do not know what blessings we are losing because of unbelief. To exercise faith it is not necessary that we become worked up into an ecstasy of feeling; this is not at all essential. Exercising faith means taking God at His word, believing in His power to save to the uttermost all who come to Him, relying upon His Word because He is behind the promise and can do all things. If we come to Him in living faith, we shall receive of His fulness. “If ye ask anything in my name,” He says, “I will do it.” Then comes the condition: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:14, 15.] Our obedience makes us witnesses for God.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 9

    What a Friend we have at court. After His resurrection Christ spoke to His disciples, saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” [Matthew 28:18.] These words were spoken to all who will receive them as a living assurance. Do we not often forget this promise, and limit the Holy One of Israel? God cannot honor indifference, neither can He honor unbelief. Hear His words: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things, (not a few injunctions) whatsoever I have commanded you, and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” [Verses 19, 20.]14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 10

    This promise is as surely given to the people in 1898 as it was to those in whose hearing Christ spoke. Why need any one be mystified? Why do human beings so often go to human beings with inquiries regarding their trials and temptations and their desire to please God? Where is their faith? Is it centered in human instrumentalities, or in the One who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life? “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth in him is not condemned.” Shall we not remember this statement? Many are wearing continually the yoke of condemnation, because they do not take the Word of God as Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” [John 3:17, 18.] He may have a casual faith in Christ as the Son of God, but that is of no avail.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 11

    “What think ye of Christ?” [Matthew 22:42.] What is He to you personally? Is your faith centered in Him as your Redeemer? Do you believe that He saves you from sin, that He imputes to you His righteousness?14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 12

    “This is the condemnation that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” [John 3:19.] They will not come to the light, for fear that their deeds will be reproved. This is the position taken by many. Their names are in the church books. They observe a round of ceremonies, but they do not love the truth. They have been satisfied to stand at the door. They do not press their way into Christ’s presence, to share with Him the glory of His royal life. Their characters are not brought into harmony with the truth. They have not the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Evil-speaking, evil-surmising, dishonest actions, cast a dark shadow athwart their pathway. Their faith sinks into this shadow of shame, and they feel that they are separated from Christ. There is a sting in the conscience, a condemnation in the life. They feel a desire to hide away from God. Light has come into the world, but they love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 13

    Is not this the reason [for] our dwarfed spirituality? Is not this the reason why we have so little faith? We live under a sense of condemnation. The time has come when it is for our eternal interest to believe in Christ. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1 John 1:9.] He is the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. He says, “I will write my law in their hearts.” [Jeremiah 31:33.] He will create in those who come to him in faith a divine principle of holiness, which shall rule in the soul, enlightening the understanding and captivating the affections.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 14

    Full and free the invitation comes to us, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] What an invitation! It was this invitation that He gave to Enoch before the world was destroyed by the flood. That time was no more favorable to the development of Christlike character than is the present time, yet we read that Enoch walked with God. Christ was as verily Enoch’s Saviour as He is our Saviour, and in His power, notwithstanding the corruption of that degenerate age, Enoch perfected a Christian character.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 15

    The voice saying to us, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness” [John 8:12], said the same words to Enoch, assuring him that if he followed the Saviour, he would not walk in the darkness of ignorance.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 16

    The Lord instructed Enoch, and made him His watchman. He was a faithful witness for God. He warned the inhabitants of the old world not to follow the example of the Cain-worshipers, but to serve the living God. “Enoch also the seventh from Adam prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” [Jude 14, 15.]14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 17

    It is our privilege to walk as did Enoch. Christ has assured us that those who walk in His steps are His disciples, His true representatives. He says, “I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” [John 8:12.] Is not this sufficient assurance? Should not these words fill us with holy peace and joy?14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 18

    “Herein is my Father glorified,” Christ declares, “that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you, continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” [John 15:8-11.] The greatest sin we can cherish is the sin of unbelief. Many say, “I do not know how to be a Bible Christian.” It is because you do not receive Christ a sin-pardoning Saviour. Therefore your experience is full of inconsistency and unbelief. No one can have joy and peace who does not receive and obey Christ’s words.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 19

    We need the riches of faith and love. But we can only obtain these by surrendering the will to Christ. When we take the Saviour at his word, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight, complete unity will prevail. We shall constantly grow more like our Leader. His character has been plainly revealed, and we have been plainly told that we are to be like Him. Our watchword is, “Go forward.” [Exodus 14:15.] Pressing onward to the Light of life means victory. Do not deplore the crookedness of your past life; for this does not bring strength but weakness. We see much in our hearts that is dark and forbidding, and there is much we do not see at all, but God is greater than our hearts, and He knows all things. All unbelief is moral deformity. In bemoaning our past there is no healing balm, but only sorrow and sin, which makes the heart sick and faint. Thus we become more and more discouraged. Might we not better look to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world?14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 20

    Why did God permit the children of Israel to be bitten in the wilderness. Because of their wicked unbelief and continual murmuring, because of their perversity and rebellion. They did not stop to think how much God was saving them from, how many evils He was holding in check. He had forbidden the poisonous serpents to touch the people. He had restrained the wild beasts of the forest, and had saved his people from a thousand dangers.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 21

    God sent them test and trial, to see whether they had learned the lesson of submission and were prepared to receive the rich blessings he had in store for them. He was seeking to correct their selfishness, that they might take their place in His divine theocracy as a representative people. It was His purpose that they should reveal His character and bear a living testimony to the world that God honors those who honor Him. He desires them to be pure, holy, intelligent people, who could be used as light bearers to the world. But instead of remembering that the angel of the Lord was constantly guiding and protecting them, the children of Israel lost sight of God’s merciful and wonderful dealings, and magnified the trials sent to prove them. God could not work with a people who continually lost sight of their advantages and dishonored Him by unbelief.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 22

    Sin and holiness are entirely opposite. They cannot harmonize. The children of light are those who have the righteousness of Christ. They are pure, holy, undefiled. God has made every provision that those who take hold of His strength shall make peace with Him, and be free [from] condemnation. He bids those who have the light live no longer in sin, but walk in the light. He promises that if they are obedient to His commandments He will give them every temporal and spiritual advantage.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 23

    Study the history of ancient Israel, and the words of counsel given them. In no case practice their sins, but practice the mercy, the love, the compassion they were enjoined to show, not only toward their brethren, but to the stranger within their gates. God does not promise freedom from temptation, but He charges His people to honor Him at all times, and He promises to honor them among all nations of the earth. He would have us put far from us all injustice, all fraud, all selfishness.14LtMs, Ms 13, 1899, par. 24

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