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The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials - Contents
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    Chapter 106—Peril of Trusting in the Wisdom of Men

    MS - 55 - 1890

    [Concerning the issue over the law in Galatians]

    The customs and practices of the Jews were very exacting. The sayings and dogmas of finite men were constantly put in front, as essential to their salvation. Ceremonies and display were put in the place of inward piety. The Lord had instituted rites and ceremonies as the means of making eternal realities understood and impressive. But this did not satisfy the minds of those who had witnessed the idolatrous, superstitious, revolting festivities of the Egyptians in their religious worship. They were constantly approaching idolatry by placing the commandments of men where God and His requirements alone should be. The chastisement of the Lord was upon the people because they were idolizing things, sentiments, and ideas of their own creating.1888 839.1

    In the days of Christ, under the guise of the perverse and most rigorous devotion to the forms and the traditions of that which they claimed to be the Mosaic system, the real [meaning of] the precious ceremonies proceeding from God had become obscured. The spiritual and eternal import of the truth in regard to the work and mission of Jesus Christ to our world, prefigured in the sacrificial offerings, became mixed and mingled with the false theories of men. These false theories were the great barriers to the correct understanding of doctrines, and to practical piety. They clung to the type, the shadow, rejecting the antitype and the substance. The deceiving power of Satan wrought upon unconsecrated minds to fasten them in blind suppositions. Their incorrect interpretations fastened them hopelessly in error, because the real, true light shining upon their way was accounted as something they must resist, since it did not substantiate their own ideas and interpretations of the Scriptures.1888 839.2

    The lessons of Christ could give them precious gems and jewels of truth which had been lost sight of. He gathered up these grand, glorious jewels—originated by Himself and given to patriarchs, prophets, and apostles—and replaced them in the framework of the gospel, giving them their own divine brightness. But the Jews were obstinate. Their own ideas and customs and practices were their idols. Would they give up their own misinterpretations, which they had taught the people to regard as sacred doctrines? No; never! They formed a confederacy to stand by the old traditions. Their human interpretations they set in defiance to the lessons and pure truths of practical godliness.1888 840.1

    The miracles Christ performed were the manifestation of divine power to testify to the authority of the work and mission of Christ. This was something in God's arrangement to sweep away their prejudice and inspire faith. Did it do this? No. They had entrenched themselves in impregnable walls, forming a confederacy that they would not yield. The appeals made for them to believe, and the exhortations to repentance, were met with, “Show us a miracle. When Christ and the apostles presented convincing arguments of truth, the Jews would not hear; they would not receive the truth. They clamored for signs and miracles. This was not that they might obtain clearer views of the truth, but to divert the minds of the hearers from the clearest evidences of truth which had been presented. The Saviour had performed many miracles before them, but these were no longer the medium of convincing them of truth. If they could not turn the minds of the hearers away [by other means] they would say, “He works these remarkable signs through Beelzebub, the prince of devils.”1888 840.2

    The same spirit of resistance is to be found even among those who claim to believe the truth for this time. The gospel of Christ, His lessons, His teachings, have had but very little place in the experience and the discourses of those who claim to believe the truth. Any pet theory, any human idea, becomes of the gravest importance and as sacred as an idol to which everything must bow.1888 840.3

    This has verily been the case in the theory of the law in Galatians. Anything that becomes such a hobby as to usurp the place of Christ, any idea so exalted as to be placed where nothing of light or evidence can find a lodgement in the mind, takes the form of an idol, to which everything is sacrificed. The law in Galatians is not a vital question and never has been. Those who have called it one of the old landmarks simply do not know what they are talking about. It never was an old landmark, and it never will become such. These minds that have been wrought up in such an unbecoming manner, and have manifested such fruits as have been seen since the Minneapolis meeting, may well begin to question whether a good tree produces such evidently bitter fruit.1888 841.1

    I say, through the word given me of God, Those who have stood so firmly to defend their ideas and positions on the law in Galatians have need to search their hearts as with a lighted candle, to see what manner of spirit has actuated them. With Paul I would say, “Who hath bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth?” Galatians 3:1. What satanic persistency and obstinacy has been evidenced! I have had no anxiety about the law in Galatians, but I have had anxiety that our leading brethren should not go over the same ground of resistance to light and the manifest testimonies of the Spirit of God, and reject everything to idolize their own supposed ideas and pet theories.1888 841.2

    I am forced, by the attitude my brethren have taken and the spirit evidenced, to say, God deliver me from your ideas of the law in Galatians, if the receiving of these ideas would make me so unchristian in my spirit, words, and works as many who ought to know better have been. I see not the divine credentials accompanying you. I am warned again and again of what will be the result of this warfare you have persistently maintained against the truth.1888 841.3

    We are, as I have been shown, constantly liable to error in laying too much stress even on sound ideas and proper forms. Those peculiarities which are not required, if allowed to become so distinct, lessen the force of the positions we are compelled to hold upon sound, essential truths that will distinguish us as God's peculiar people. It is this phase in the religious world that has divided up God's professed people. Faith, love, and holiness are the essentials that give true power to the truth for this time. The manifest absence of these, the little many have known of Christ, and the little we preach Christ's lessons, have been a telling witness against Seventh-day Adventists.1888 842.1

    The reproach of Christ is upon us, His people. The gospel of Christ and His love and Him crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews, and it has been evidenced that it is a stumbling block to many who claim to believe present truth. They are forever coming against the Rock of offense. “Man has been placed where God should be,” are the words that have been spoken to me again and again. Christ has made one sufficient sacrifice, and has become the only Mediator and sole Priest between God and man. Let every man stand out of the way, and occupy his own place as wearing Christ's yoke.1888 842.2

    Jesus sets no man as an intercessor or to receive confessions of sins. He calls every sinner into communication with Himself, without any mortal man to interpose between God and the sinner. Jesus will accept every soul who believes on His name, and He will cleanse him from all his moral defilement if he believes on Him whom the Father hath sent into the world.1888 842.3

    With reference to names, forms, or ideas, the tampering with revelation has aroused my fears for our people. The words of Christ are sounding in our ears: “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:17.1888 842.4

    God sent these self-sufficient ones messages of warning, but they would not heed them. He has been appealing to them by His Holy Spirit and by the testimonies, and yet they will not hear. He says to them, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold, ...white raiment, ...and eyesalve.” Verse 18. This is a purchase that will be of the highest advantage. He explains why He has sent earnest appeals, reproofs, warnings. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Verses 19, 20.1888 843.1

    God forbid that those who have had great light and knowledge should let their own systems become their standard and say, “If anyone introduces anything contrary to my ideas, it must be false.” Pretentious human assertions are exalted above the clearest light, and light—heaven-sent light—is pronounced darkness. That which would be to them the power and wisdom of God they refuse. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” Psalm 25:14.1888 843.2

    The constant dwelling upon the law in Galatians, and not presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ in distinct lines, is misleading souls. The preaching of Christ crucified has been strangely neglected by our people. Many who claim to believe the truth have no knowledge of faith in Christ by experience. It is this neglected part of the ministry which will be found the great instrument in the conversion of souls and in leading to the high standard of holiness which every church needs in order to become a living church.1888 843.3

    We meet instability now in every church. But few members emit light; but few are living stones. The unconverted need Christ lifted up before them, expressing His love for fallen men by giving His life to save them from eternal ruin. I tell you, those professing to believe the truth must be converted for men are dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:11888 844.1

    There must be a life-giving power in the ministry. Life must be infused into the missionaries in every place, that they may go forth giving the trumpet no uncertain sound, but with heaven-sent, awakening power, such as can be found only in the preaching of Jesus Christ—His love, His forgiveness, His grace. Justification by faith is to be accepted by every soul, not according to some lifeless, dead idea, but according to the truth presented in the gospel. It is Christ that we need. It is Christ that every sinner needs. Let Him be presented in the Spirit and with power—Christ's humiliation, His meekness, and His lowly life of poverty, that every son and daughter of Adam might be made rich. He died our Sacrifice. He rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven, and there intercedes in man's behalf that he might be brought to believe on Him whom the Father hath sent.1888 844.2

    There have been so many discourses that have not had the fragrance of Christ's merits and His righteousness, that the gospel as it has been preached does not convict and convert souls. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” We may dwell upon the punishing of every sin, and the awfulness of the punishment inflicted on the guilty, but this will not melt and subdue the soul.1888 844.3

    But present in fervent words how punishment for finite man has rested upon the Innocent, even the divine Son of God, in order that man might have a mighty Advocate to plead in the sinner's behalf. Was this done that man might continue in sin and be saved in sin? Oh, no! Sin is the hideous thing for which there was no remedy. Christ took the penalty that man might, through faith in Him, have life. The sinner's heart will melt; the soul will be conquered.1888 844.4

    Copied as grammatically corrected from
    handwritten Book No. 16, Journal for 1890,
    pp. 52-66.
    July 19, 1959.

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