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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902) - Contents
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    Ms 96, 1902

    Talk/“Conformity to the world ...”

    St. Helena, California

    June 19, 1902

    This manuscript is published in entirety in 2SAT 204-212. +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.

    Early Morning Talk Before the Pacific Union Medical Missionary Council, Sanitarium Chapel

    Conformity to the world is causing many of our people to lose their bearings. I feel deeply over this matter, because it is continually kept before me by the Lord. For many years it has been presented to me again and again that a worldly policy has been coming into the management of many of our institutions. And when I read the published Testimonies that were given in the early seventies and even before that time, I am surprised to see how clearly our dangers in this matter have been pointed out and how plainly the right way has been outlined from the beginning. But the way, so plainly specified, has not been followed. Men act as if counsels had never been given; and yet we expect the Lord to uplift us and to do great things for us! True, He will help us if we so relate ourselves to Him that He can; but He will not serve with us while we are weaving threads of selfishness into the web.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 1

    A Deviation From Right Principles

    There is a sentiment among our people—opposed by some, it is true, but held by many—that each one connected with God’s service may be sharp, keen, and designing, in order to make the best possible showing, indicating that his line of work is a success. Those who continue to hold to this idea will be bitterly disappointed when at the judgment they find that they have no place in the kingdom of God. False principles will never prevail in heaven. Not one thread of selfishness is to be brought into any part of God’s service in His work upon the earth.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 2

    A worldly policy has been coming into the management of our institutions. It nearly spoiled our publishing house in Battle Creek. God was not made first and last and best in everything. Human judgment, human ideas, were taking the lead and control of everything.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 3

    God is not pleased with those who are ambitious of being regarded as shrewd men in the estimation of the world; nevertheless this ambition is cherished by not a few men of responsibility in our ranks. God’s work should mean a great deal more to us than it does. It is more important than we have supposed.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 4

    Men in positions of responsibility who in any way deviate from Bible principles are divorcing themselves from God. We must be determined not to permit a worldly policy to be brought into our work. The servants of the living God and the servants of Satan are to be as distinct from one another as light is from darkness. The line of demarcation between them must be unmistakable.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 5

    If ever there was a time when those who have a knowledge of present truth should find their bearings, it is the present time. Although no one is to move independently of his brethren, yet each one must gain a knowledge of his own condition, his exact bearings. The question that each one should ask himself is, “What is my relation to God?”17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 6

    It is conformity to the world that is causing our people to lose their bearings. The perversion of right principles has not been brought about suddenly. The angel of the Lord presented this matter to me in symbols. It seemed as if a thief were stealthily moving closer and still closer, and gradually but surely stealing away the identity of God’s work, by leading our brethren to conform to worldly policies.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 7

    The mind of man has taken the place that rightfully belongs to God. Whatever position a man may hold, however exalted he may be, he should act as Christ would were He in his place. In every stroke of work that he performs, in his words, and in his character, he should be Christlike.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 8

    Man is not to permit God’s work to be carried on contrary to a plain “Thus saith the Lord.” But it is becoming more and more customary for men to separate from God, thinking that it is their privilege to go forward in their own way and according to their own ideas.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 9

    Restrictions That Are Contrary to the Spirit of the Gospel

    A few weeks ago I saw in a Battle Creek paper a statement that startled me. It was to the effect that no funds of the Battle Creek Sanitarium can be sent outside of the State of Michigan to build or support other enterprises of any kind. Brethren, God will not endorse this arrangement.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 10

    When we were struggling in Australia—a new, unworked field—the Lord bade me ask the Battle Creek Sanitarium to assist us in establishing a sanitarium there which was even more needed to give character to the work in that new field than the Battle Creek Sanitarium was to give character to the work in America. But no response was made to the Lord’s request. When I read this statement in regard to the restriction placed upon the earnings of the institution in Battle Creek, I began to understand why we received no help from this source while we were in Australia.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 11

    Such a restriction is not in accordance with the principles of the gospel. Christ commissioned His disciples to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. He did not restrict the blessings of the gospel to Judea or any other one country. In God’s work there is equity. We helped establish the medical institution in Battle Creek and nourished it tenderly in its infancy; and having become strong, it should have been ready to respond to the appeal made to its managers to help us establish a similar institution in Australia.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 12

    Let our brethren take heed that in the organization and management of the various branches of our work, no place be given to any such selfish policy or plan.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 13

    Erroneous Principles to be Put Away

    The Lord expects us to make most diligent efforts to free ourselves of the worldly spirit that has come in among us. He desires us to understand that we are not to build immense sanitariums in favored localities; for this would absorb means that should be used in assisting to build many sanitariums in other places. He desires that medical institutions shall be established in many places in many lands, and in every country to which the truth is carried.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 14

    The Lord calls for a reformation. In every place where believers have adopted worldly principles, He desires a voice of warning to be raised. “Cry aloud,” He says, “spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” [Isaiah 58:1.] As a people and as individuals we must put away the erroneous principles and ambitious projects which lead us to embrace so much within a narrow compass. God desires us to learn to walk firmly and solidly, ever advancing in His way. He desires us to erect every building with reference to the needs of other places that must sometime have similar advantages.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 15

    In no respect is God’s work to be circumscribed by manmade restrictions. Many of the ambitious plans and policies that have been made are not endorsed by Him. He is no party to keeping many advantages in one place. He desires every institution established to stand ready to help establish the next institution that is needed. Upon every one who knows the truth rests the responsibility of bringing others into the truth. Just so it is with the establishment of institutions. No person, no institution, is to be so bound about that this principle of service for others must be violated. Some are already bound; but the Lord desires to have them set free. In the night season it seemed as if I were watching those upon whom yokes were being put. Then one in authority came forward and broke every yoke, saying, “I make no such yokes. Let every one stand in his God-given independence, and yet remain humble as a little child.”17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 16

    God desires His people both to labor for those around them and to sustain the workers who are sent into new fields. Those who are living in comfortable homes, surrounded by kind friends, are not to tell the self-sacrificing workers who go into new fields that they must make their work self-sustaining. Brethren and sisters, remember that the missionaries whom you send to far-away lands often labor among enemies who constantly plan to hinder them in their work. Would it not be much better for the workers in the home field to sustain themselves, rather than to ask the brethren sent to mission fields, where the truth is unknown, to sustain themselves in spite of unfavorable surroundings? God is calling upon the workers in America to stand by their fellow workers abroad and sustain them in every enterprise that they undertake. When they are instructed by the Lord to arise and build, those in charge of the work in this country should be ready to give them liberal assistance.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 17

    A Plea for Principles of Justice and Righteousness

    From many minds a realization of the times in which we are living is as far away as is heaven from the earth. It seems that their duty to prepare to meet a soon-coming Saviour is entirely forgotten. God wants us to come to our senses. He wants us to act like rational beings who are living on the borders of the eternal world.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 18

    Remember that in preparing yourselves for the heavenly kingdom, you are preparing others. The Scriptures say, “Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way.” [Hebrews 12:13.] Many are weak in moral power; many have not had the privileges and the training that we have had; many have never had opportunity to receive instruction, “precept upon precept; line upon line; ... here a little, and there a little.” [Isaiah 28:10.] God lays heavy responsibilities upon those who have had such instruction. They ought to spend much time in prayer. In the place of feeling that their judgment is supreme, they ought to feel terribly afraid. Instead of gathering to themselves all the burdens that they can possibly grasp, which give them no time to pray, no time to meditate on their spiritual condition, they should spend much time in communion with their Maker.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 19

    God’s cause is of so much consequence to Him, that of every one who claims to be His steward He requires a correct representation of His character. None but those who walk circumspectly before Him are qualified for stewardship. He works with those who properly represent His character. Through them His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 20

    Let us offer daily the prayer that Christ taught His disciples to pray and then live our prayer during the day. To practice this prayer is the whole duty of man. Its principles lie at the foundation of the spring of all right action. Those who carry out every phase of these principles will become sensible men—men whose minds God Himself can control and guide.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 21

    When a man comes into right relation with God, the principles of justice and righteousness will permeate the whole being. My brother, my sister, have you received the Holy Ghost? Well might this question be asked of those who have in their hands the lines that guide the movements of God’s workers.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 22

    Every one of God’s professed followers needs a humble and contrite spirit; and those who are in high positions of responsibility need a double portion of the spirit of humility. Instead of being careless and indifferent, instead of thinking that they are the ones who receive the most wisdom from God and know best how to direct others, those to whom much responsibility has been entrusted should humble themselves in the dust, pleading with God as they have never pleaded before. God desires to see every man of influence in our ranks cherishing the principles of justice and equity.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 23

    We cannot afford to be careless and indifferent in regard to our spiritual welfare. It has been presented to me that the work of grace first begins in the home, in individual hearts. A knowledge of God and His law should be given the children from their earliest years. The instruction that God gave to the fathers and mothers of Israel in regard to teaching His precepts to their children is for the parents of this time. God says: Thou shalt teach these words “diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” [Deuteronomy 6:7-9.] Why is God so particular about a knowledge of His law?—Because a departure from it means destruction, not only to the transgressor, but to many others as well who have transgressed through his misleading influence.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 24

    Our Relation to God

    I have been shown that our relation to God is the same as that of little children to their parents. The God of heaven is watching His people, His church, just as loving parents watch their children. And we are as foolish as little children are; for how prone we are to think that we know everything, when really we have not begun to know what God is waiting to teach us when we show willingness to follow in His footsteps.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 25

    Will we come down from our position of self-righteousness and as little children take hold of God’s work? Will we be willing to be taught and led of Him? With tottering steps we are just beginning to walk. In time we shall learn to take firmer steps, but now we are liable at any moment to stumble and fall. From the highest to the lowest, we each have spiritual weaknesses and troubles similar to the weaknesses and troubles of helpless children. And as these inexperienced children cannot place their dependence on one another, but must depend on their parents, so we must learn not to hang our helpless souls on any human being, but cling to the One mighty to save. Man’s policy is valueless. We must individually depend upon God for strength and guidance.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 26

    It is of no use for man to attempt to use his own human wisdom while occupying a high position of responsibility in God’s service. His work for the church will be of no value, unless he puts his trust in the wisdom of the great Head of the church. God calls upon us to make our movements in His fear and to walk tremblingly before Him. “Work out your own salvation,” He says, “with fear and trembling. ... For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” [Philippians 2:12, 13.]17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 27

    So long as we work in Christ’s lines, laying hold of the arm of the Mighty One, we are safe; but just as soon as we loosen our grasp of His arm, and begin to depend upon human beings, we are in great danger.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 28

    This very day the Lord desires us to reach a higher standard than we have ever reached in the past. Day by day we are to advance upward, ever upward, until it can be said of us as a people, “Ye are complete in Him.” [Colossians 2:10.]17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 29


    The work of God is advanced more rapidly when His workers are in unity. In unity there is a life, a power, that can be obtained in no other way. United with one another, working together in harmony, we shall indeed be “laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.]17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 30

    “Yes,” one says, “this is exactly what I believe in—consolidation.” But this unity is not what the world calls consolidation. Unity among brethren results in consolidation with Christ and with the heavenly angels. Such consolidation is heaven-born. It is that for which Christ longed when He prayed: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” [John 17:20-23.]17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 31

    Walking in the Light

    If it were not for the light that is given us from above, we could not follow step by step in God’s footsteps. Christ came to this world in order that we might have this light. He is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” He, the Majesty of heaven, the Son of the living God, the One equal with the Father, came to our world to stand by the side of fallen beings, through His sacrifice giving value to humanity. Lower and still lower He stepped in humiliation, until it was impossible for Him to descend any lower. For our sake He suffered and died. While hanging upon the cross, He exclaimed, “It is finished.” [John 19:30.] He had accomplished His work for us; He had become the propitiation for our sins; He had made it possible for us to become clean through faith in Him.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 32

    If from the beginning we had walked in the counsel of God, thousands more would have been converted to the present truth. But many have made crooked paths for their feet. My brethren, make straight paths, lest the lame be turned out of the way. Let no one follow a crooked path that some one else has made, for thus you would not only go astray yourself, but would make this crooked path plainer for some one else to follow. Determine that as for yourself, you will walk in the path of obedience. Know for a certainty that you are standing under the broad shield of Omnipotence. Realize that the characteristics of Jehovah must be revealed in your life, and that in you a work must be accomplished that will mold your character after the divine similitude. Yield yourself to the guidance of Him who is the Head over all.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 33

    Brethren and sisters, we are doing our work for the judgment. Let us be learners of Jesus. We need His guidance every moment. At every step we should inquire, “Is this the way of the Lord?” not, “Is this the way of the man who is over me?” We are to be concerned only as to whether we are walking in the way of the Lord.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 34

    God will honor and uphold every true-hearted, earnest soul who is seeking to walk before Him in the perfection of Christ’s grace. He will never leave nor forsake one humble, trembling soul. Shall we believe that He will work in our hearts? that if we allow Him to do so, He will make us pure and holy, by His rich grace qualifying us to be laborers together with Him? Can we with keen, sanctified perception appreciate the strength of His promises, and appropriate them, not because we are worthy, but because by living faith we claim the righteousness of Christ?17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 35

    The Reward of Obedience

    Those who honor God and keep His commandments are subject to the accusations of Satan. The enemy works with all his energy to lead human beings into sin. Then he pleads that on account of their past sins, he should be allowed to exercise his hellish cruelty on them as his own subjects. Of this work Zechariah has written, “And he showed me Joshua the high priest”—a representative of the people who keep the commandments of God—“standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” [Zechariah 3:1.]17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 36

    Christ is our High Priest. Satan stands before Him night and day as an accuser of the brethren. With masterly power he presents their objectionable features of character as sufficient reason for the withdrawal of Christ’s protecting power, thus allowing Satan to discourage and destroy those whom he has caused to sin. But Christ has made atonement for every sinner. We may by faith hear our Advocate saying, “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the burning?” [Verse 2.]17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 37

    “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments.” [Verse 3.] With garments of sin and shame the enemy clothes those who by his masterly temptations have been overpowered and led from allegiance to God. Then he declares that it is unfair for Christ to be their Light, their Defender.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 38

    But, poor, repentant mortals, hear the words of Jesus, and, as you hear, believe: “And He answered (the accusing charge of Satan) and spake unto these (angels) that stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him.” I will blot out his transgressions. I will cover his sins. I will impute to him My righteousness. “And unto him He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” [Verse 4.]17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 39

    The filthy garments are removed; for Christ says, “I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee.” [Verse 4.] The iniquity is transferred to the pure, holy, innocent Son of God; and man, all undeserving, stands before the Lord cleansed from sin, and clothed with the imputed righteousness of Christ. Oh, what a change of raiment is this!17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 40

    And Christ does more than this for the repentant sinner: “And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then thou shalt also judge My house, and shalt also keep My courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.” [Verses 5-7.]17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 41

    The Outlook

    We are on the verge of the eternal world. Some may say, “How do you know this, Sister White?” I know it by the judgments of God that are in the land. These judgments are given to bring men and women to their senses. God has a purpose in everything that He permits to take place in our world, and He desires us to be so spiritually minded that we shall perceive His working in the unusual happenings that are now of almost daily occurrence. Already His judgments have begun to fall upon the inhabitants of the land. He can touch the largest so-called fire-proof buildings, and in two or three hours they are as nothingness—burned to the ground.17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 42

    We have before us a great work—the closing work of giving the last warning message to a sinful world. But what have we done in the world? Look, I beg of you, at the many, many places that have never even been entered. Behold the Southern field with its millions upon millions of souls. Who is interested in their salvation? Look at the large buildings that have been piled up in a few places. Witness the showing in Battle Creek and in a few other centers of our work. Consider the amount of time, the effort, the means, that have been expended in making a great showing in a few places. Look at our brethren and sisters treading over and over the same ground, while around them is a neglected world, lying in wickedness and corruption—a world as yet unwarned! To me this is an awful picture. What appalling indifference we manifest to the needs of a perishing world!17LtMs, Ms 96, 1902, par. 43

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