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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900) - Contents
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    Lt 76, 1900

    Irwin, G. A.

    “Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

    May 22, 1900

    Portions of this letter are published in PM 219; 7BC 970; 6MR 275. +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.

    Dear Brother Irwin:

    Please do not read in public the letters I have written in regard to the illustrations of The Desire of Ages. There are minds that cannot comprehend the matter, and they think the book is condemned because profusely illustrated. Satan takes any word of which he can make a handle, and so presents it before minds that they come to strange conclusions.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 1

    The matter, as opened before me was that there was a fervor, an enthusiasm, among authors to seek to excel one another in the appearance made by their books.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 2

    I ask you to be guarded in this matter. The Lord would have The Desire of Ages do its work. The illustrations will be no detriment to the book, but an advantage in its sale. The investment of so large an amount of money in illustrations was not essential, but that should not in any way hinder the canvassers from handling the book. Canvassers generally have much to say in favor of illustrations. Now, because cautions and warnings are given to prevent the coming in of an evil which no one suspected, <some may> refuse to handle The Desire of Ages.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 3

    The enemy is watching every motion of the believers, seeking for an opportunity to impress his attributes on the work done for the Lord. We need now to be minutemen, watching unto prayer. We are not secure in merely reading the Bible. We are to appropriate it to ourselves, as the bread sent down from heaven. The one who supposes that he can be his own counsellor, and can take an independent course, irrespective of a “Thus saith the Lord,” walks into the devil’s snare, and will suffer the consequence.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 4

    The great feebleness of the church is the result of a failure on the part of the members to appropriate the Word of God as their spiritual food. The Word of God, inspired by the Spirit of God, is not fiction, but truth, and it preeminently deserves, and with positive assurance demands, our serious appreciation. We are to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. We are in no danger of obtaining too much of the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, who He has sent. We may find by a study of the Word that we are in danger, through our negligence, of losing the waymarks. Coming to the light of the Word, our duty is made plain and clear.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 5

    The experience of God’s people would become rich with precious instruction if they would more earnestly study His Word. Here is found, plainly stated, the whole will of God, which will guide us in safe paths. The Bible is our light. It is not for us to turn from the Bible to the torchlight glimmer of human maxims. The interpretation of men is not needed to make the Word of God plain. Too often their interpretation confuses the mind. Men make of none effect the commandments of God by their traditions, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men. Let us have more Bible reading and less story reading. All may know how to understand what saith the Lord in regard to the gift of life in Christ Jesus. The Bible contains the science of salvation. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” [2 Timothy 3:16, 17.]15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 6

    The teachings of the Old Testament Scriptures are the words of Christ, spoken in plain, simple language. There is presented the obedience required by God. The truths of the Bible are of inestimable value, and should be treasured up in the heart and mind. The precepts of the Word of God should govern the whole life in this world, preparing us for the future world.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 7

    Would that I could speak words that would sink deep into the hearts of the people of God, arousing them to mix faith with their hearing as well as with their reading of the Word. Open your Bibles alone before God, and ask Him to give you an understanding heart and firm, righteous principles. Ask Him to give you a realization of the importance of implicit obedience, and to fill the heart with an abiding, comforting assurance of the love of Christ. Ask Him to inspire you with a holy endeavor and an unshrinking faith, which takes God at His word. An increase of faith and confidence in God is the result of an increased knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, gained through studying His Word. Thus we may have a visit with the very best Friend we have.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 8

    Paul writes, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom: Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine, ... but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 9

    “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 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 not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” [2 Timothy 4:5-8.]15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 10

    “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” [Verses 3, 4.] What a representation! Is there not danger, great danger, of the appetite for storybooks being cultivated? Is there not danger of many becoming intoxicated by a class of reading that gives no real strength to the mind or solidity to the character? Let there be less recommendation of books which are fables. Do not encourage the publication of books of this character. The Word of God, if earnestly perused and diligently studied, will make men wise unto salvation.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 11

    There could not be a more marked apostasy from the faith and practice of the gospel than is seen in the churches of today. Satan finds the souls of church members ready for the introduction of his specious deceptions and false theories. Accepting his deceptions, they lose their way in the mist and fog of skepticism, and perish with the wicked.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 12

    Those who claim to believe in Christ must live the pure, elevated, unselfish life of Christ. Those who profess to believe the Word, but do not obey it in their practice, lead others in the path of deception. They do not represent Christ. Like Balaam they see Him, not nigh, but afar off. Human theories, human ambitions, human exaltation, close against them the gates of the city of God.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 13

    Those who study the Bible with a true purpose will become wise unto salvation. He who breathed into man the breath of life, and made him a living soul, has breathed into the Scriptures a vital, life-giving power. “The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 14

    “Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need.” [Hebrews 4:12-16.]15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 15

    We all need to study the Word of God far more than we do. Thus we shall see our selves as we are. Let us take this holy Word as the man of our counsel. Let us study the Bible with a heart open to receive its teachings.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 16

    Writing of his experience, Paul says, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the law; for I had not known lust expect the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. ... For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” [Romans 7:7, 9.] Paul was alone in his own estimation. This is the great deception that is upon so many. The Bible is so casually read that the truth is not discerned. The commandments extend to our thoughts, our words, all the desires of the mind and heart. God receives them to be holy, just, and good. When the Holy Spirit did its work upon Paul’s heart, convincing him of sin, he applied the law in its spirituality and to its full extent. Sin revived, and he saw himself a sinner, and sin the increase of the power of guilt. This then killed the sinful life of Paul. The law is ordained to life to all who obey it, conforming the character to its holy requirements, but it is death to the transgressor.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 17

    “I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived,”—was seen in its grievous, hateful character—“and I died. And the commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” [Verses 9-11.] Then did Paul say that the law in its condemning power was a curse, to be trampled under foot? No; no. “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know”—after the conviction of the enormity of sin—“that the law of spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.” [Verses 12-14.]15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 18

    “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” [Romans 8:1-4.]15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 19

    As a correct measurement of sin, the divine law is essential to a right knowledge of one’s self. All who claim to preach the Word of God, the gospel, should faithfully preach the law of Jehovah, showing its universal and perpetual obligation. It can never lose its force and its sacred claims. It is holy, just, and good, and was ordained to life, but to the transgressor it is condemnation and death unless he repents and is converted, returning to his loyalty to God.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 20

    Does Paul say that the law was the hateful thing that must be killed? No; it was his own wickedness—in violating the principles which brought him into harmony with God who is without sin—that must die. But Satan leads men to do just as he has done, to take offense at the law which, because of his sin of rebellion, called for his expulsion from heaven. His work is to lead the whole world to resist the law of God and to continue in sin in spite of light and evidence.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 21

    “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” [Psalm 19:7.] A lawyer asked Christ, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” [Luke 10:25.] Jesus saw fit to let him answer his own question.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 22

    He said, “What is written in the law? How readest thou?” And the lawyer answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” “Thou hast answered right,” Christ said; “this do, and thou shalt live.” [Verses 26-28.] The question was a direct and important one; for the lawyer’s eternal life was involved. The answer was just as direct and positive.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 23

    The two great principles of the law are firmly established. The first four commandments enjoin supreme love to God; the last six love to our fellow men. Upon these two great principles hang all the law and the prophets. In them is comprehended the whole duty of every being on the face of the earth. Any man who claims to be a minister of the gospel, and yet leads men to think the law has no claim upon them, is a false teacher, and is deceiving souls to their ruin. He is working at cross-purposes with Jesus Christ, who is his Creator and Redeemer, and who instituted the law in Eden and proclaimed it in awful grandeur from Sinai. As the words of the law were spoken, the voice of God echoed through the entire encampment and through the whole earth.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 24

    When so much is at stake, even eternal life, how important it is for man to gain a correct view of the spirituality of the law and a knowledge of the extent of its claims. What is sin. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it know him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away”—what? The law which defines sin? No; to take away sin if the transgressor will confess his sin and purify himself from all transgression. [1 John 3:1-4.]15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 25

    “In him is no sin”—no transgression of the law. “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen him”—hath not accepted him as a personal Saviour—“neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” [Verses 5-8.]15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 26

    The grace of Christ is beyond finite conception. What wondrous love He has shown for the fallen race, in that He gave His life to make it possible for those who believe in Him, through His grace, to keep His holy law and practice His righteousness. Guilty human beings, rebels against God, are made, through obedience, children of God, members of the royal family, heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, partakers of that life which measures with the life of God.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 27

    Those who claim to be Christians, and yet live in sin, take an active part against Christ, and misrepresent Him to the world. Unless they cease sinning, they will be treated as the servants of Satan.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 28

    The gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to work the works of righteousness in all who believe. True Christians have free access to God as their Father. Imbued with His Spirit, they love as brethren. Those whose works do not show the fruits of righteousness have reason to fear that they are in the bondage of sin and know not the truth.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 29

    Brother Irwin, these things that I have written have been impressed upon my mind. In the night season I have spoken these words in council meetings at Battle Creek. The light that I have is that there are many who are transgressors of the law and unconverted. The principles of the law of God, in truth, in righteousness, in true brotherly love, is not the fruit they bear. This is the reason why those who claim to be keeping the commandments have so little power. They are not controlled by the Holy Spirit. Full of hurry and activity, the sweet perfume of the life of Christ is not with them.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 30

    This is why I have been led to present these matters. I am alarmed, for many will not receive the seal of God because they do not keep His commandments or bear the fruits of righteousness.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 31

    I have not completed this subject, but what I have written must go in the mail tomorrow morning, so I shall have to leave it half-finished.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 32

    With love to your wife and to all friends.15LtMs, Lt 76, 1900, par. 33

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