The Reformation Herald Online Edition

At the Brink of Eternity

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Friday, December 6, 2019
Preparation for the Last Crisis
Compiled from the writings of
Ellen G. White
A sobering vision

In a view given June 27, 1850, my accompanying angel said, “Time is almost finished. Do you reflect the lovely image of Jesus as you should?” Then I was pointed to the earth and saw that there would have to be a getting ready among those who have of late embraced the third angel’s message. Said the angel, “Get ready, get ready, get ready. Ye will have to die a greater death to the world than ye have ever yet died.” I saw that there was a great work to do for them and but little time in which to do it.

Then I saw that the seven last plagues were soon to be poured out upon those who have no shelter; yet the world regarded them no more than they would so many drops of water that were about to fall. I was then made capable of enduring the awful sight of the seven last plagues, the wrath of God. I saw that His anger was dreadful and terrible, and if He should stretch forth His hand, or lift it in anger, the inhabitants of the world would be as though they had never been, or would suffer from incurable sores and withering plagues that would come upon them, and they would find no deliverance, but be destroyed by them. Terror seized me, and I fell upon my face before the angel and begged of him to cause the sight to be removed, to hide it from me, for it was too dreadful. Then I realized, as never before, the importance of searching the Word of God carefully, to know how to escape the plagues which that Word declares shall come on all the ungodly who shall worship the beast and his image and receive his mark in their foreheads or in their hands. It was a great wonder for me that any could transgress the law of God and tread down His holy Sabbath, when such awful threatenings and denunciations were against them.1

A greater preparation

. . . I was pointed to the remnant on the earth. The angel said to them, “Will ye shun the seven last plagues? Will ye go to glory and enjoy all that God has prepared for those who love Him and are willing to suffer for His sake? If so, ye must die that ye may live. . . . Sacrifice all to God. Lay all upon His altar—self, property, and all, a living sacrifice. It will take all to enter glory. Lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where no thief can approach or rust corrupt. Ye must be partakers of Christ’s sufferings here if ye would be partakers with Him of His glory hereafter.

Heaven will be cheap enough, if we obtain it through suffering. We must deny self all along the way, die to self daily, let Jesus alone appear, and keep His glory continually in view. I saw that those who of late have embraced the truth would have to know what it is to suffer for Christ’s sake, that they would have trials to pass through that would be keen and cutting, in order that they may be purified and fitted through suffering to receive the seal of the living God, pass through the time of trouble, see the King in His beauty, and dwell in the presence of God and of pure, holy angels.

As I saw what we must be in order to inherit glory, and then saw how much Jesus had suffered to obtain for us so rich an inheritance, I prayed that we might be baptized into Christ’s sufferings, that we might not shrink at trials, but bear them with patience and joy, knowing what Jesus had suffered . . .2

Some, I saw, have not a realizing sense of the importance of the truth or of its effect, and moving from the impulse of the moment or from excitement, often follow their feelings and disregard church order. Such seem to think that religion consists chiefly in making a noise. Some who have but just received the truth of the third angel’s message are ready to reprove and teach those who have been established in the truth for years, and who have suffered for its sake and felt its sanctifying power. Those who are so puffed up by the enemy will have to feel the sanctifying influence of the truth and obtain a realizing sense of how it found them—“wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” When the truth begins to purify them and purge away their dross and tin, as it surely will when it is received in the love of it, the one who has this great work done for him will not feel that he is rich and increased in goods and has need of nothing.

Those who profess the truth and think they know it all before they have learned its first principles, and who are forward to take the place of teachers and reprove those who for years have stood stiffly for the truth, plainly show that they have no understanding of the truth, and know none of its effects; for if they knew any of the sanctifying power, they should yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness and be humbled under its sweet, powerful influence. They would bear fruit to the glory of God, and understand what the truth has done for them, and esteem others better than themselves.

I saw that the remnant were not prepared for what is coming upon the earth. Stupidity, like lethargy, seemed to hang upon the minds of most of those who profess to believe that we are having the last message. My accompanying angel cried out with awful solemnity, “Get ready! get ready! get ready! for the fierce anger of the Lord is soon to come. His wrath is to be poured out, unmixed with mercy, and ye are not ready. Rend the heart, and not the garment. A great work must be done for the remnant. Many of them are dwelling upon little trials.” Said the angel, “Legions of evil angels are around you, and are trying to press in their awful darkness, that ye may be ensnared and taken. Ye suffer your minds to be diverted too readily from the work of preparation and the all-important truths for these last days. And ye dwell upon little trials and go into minute particulars of little difficulties to explain them to the satisfaction of this one or that.” Conversation has been protracted for hours between the parties concerned, and not only has their time been wasted, but the servants of God are held to listen to them, when the hearts of both parties are unsubdued by grace. If pride and selfishness were laid aside, five minutes would remove most difficulties. Angels have been grieved and God displeased by the hours which have been spent in justifying self. I saw that God will not bow down and listen to long justifications, and He does not want His servants to do so, and thus precious time be wasted that should be spent in showing transgressors the error of their ways and pulling souls out of the fire.

I saw that God’s people are on the enchanted ground, and that some have lost nearly all sense of the shortness of time and the worth of the soul. Pride has crept in among Sabbathkeepers—pride of dress and appearance. Said the angel, “Sabbathkeepers will have to die to self, die to pride and love of approbation.”3

Getting our priorities straight

Truth, saving truth, must be given to the starving people who are in darkness. I saw that many prayed for God to humble them; but if God should answer their prayers, it would be by terrible things in righteousness. It was their duty to humble themselves. I saw that if self-exaltation was suffered to come in, it would surely lead souls astray, and if not overcome would prove their ruin. When one begins to get lifted up in his own eyes and thinks he can do something, the Spirit of God is withdrawn, and he goes on in his own strength until he is overthrown. I saw that one saint, if he were right, could move the arm of God; but a multitude together, if they were wrong, would be weak and could effect nothing.

Many have unsubdued, unhumbled hearts, and think more of their own little grievances and trials than of the souls of sinners. If they had the glory of God in view, they would feel for perishing souls around them; and as they realized their perilous situation, would take hold with energy, exercising faith in God, and hold up the hands of His servants, that they might boldly, yet in love, declare the truth and warn souls to lay hold upon it before the sweet voice of mercy should die away. Said the angel, “Those who profess His name are not ready.” I saw that the seven last plagues were coming upon the shelterless heads of the wicked; and then those who have stood in their way will hear the bitter reproaches of sinners, and their hearts will faint within them.

Said the angel. “Ye have been picking at straws—dwelling upon little trials—and sinners must be lost as a consequence.” God is willing to work for us in our meetings, and it is His pleasure to work. But Satan says, “I will hinder the work.” His agents say, “Amen.” Professed believers in the truth dwell upon their petty trials and difficulties which Satan has magnified before them. Time is wasted that can never be recalled.4

Many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.

I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of “refreshing” and the “latter rain” to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. . . . I saw that none could share the “refreshing” unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord and be earnestly seeking that preparation necessary to enable us to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. Let all remember that God is holy and that none but holy beings can ever dwell in His presence.5

The testing time

To all the testing time will come. By the sifting of temptation the genuine Christian will be revealed. Are the people of God now so firmly established upon His word that they would not yield to the evidence of their senses? Would they, in such a crisis, cling to the Bible and the Bible only? Satan will, if possible, prevent them from obtaining a preparation to stand in that day. He will so arrange affairs as to hedge up their way, entangle them with earthly treasures, cause them to carry a heavy, wearisome burden, that their hearts may be overcharged with the cares of this life and the day of trial may come upon them as a thief.

As the decree issued by the various rulers of Christendom against commandment keepers shall withdraw the protection of government and abandon them to those who desire their destruction, the people of God will flee from the cities and villages and associate together in companies, dwelling in the most desolate and solitary places. Many will find refuge in the strongholds of the mountains. Like the Christians of the Piedmont valleys, they will make the high places of the earth their sanctuaries and will thank God for “the munitions of rocks.” Isaiah 33:16. But many of all nations and of all classes, high and low, rich and poor, black and white, will be cast into the most unjust and cruel bondage. The beloved of God pass weary days, bound in chains, shut in by prison bars, sentenced to be slain, some apparently left to die of starvation in dark and loathsome dungeons. No human ear is open to hear their moans; no human hand is ready to lend them help.

Will the Lord forget His people in this trying hour? Did He forget faithful Noah when judgments were visited upon the antediluvian world? Did He forget Lot when the fire came down from heaven to consume the cities of the plain? Did He forget Joseph surrounded by idolaters in Egypt? Did He forget Elijah when the oath of Jezebel threatened him with the fate of the prophets of Baal? Did He forget Jeremiah in the dark and dismal pit of his prison house? Did He forget the three worthies in the fiery furnace? or Daniel in the den of lions? . . .

Though enemies may thrust them into prison, yet dungeon walls cannot cut off the communication between their souls and Christ. One who sees their every weakness, who is acquainted with every trial, is above all earthly powers; and angels will come to them in lonely cells, bringing light and peace from heaven. The prison will be as a palace; for the rich in faith dwell there, and the gloomy walls will be lighted up with heavenly light as when Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises at midnight in the Philippian dungeon.6

The essence of our religion

“Love to God and our neighbor is the very essence of our religion. No one can love Christ and not love His children. When we are united to Christ, we have the mind of Christ. Purity and love shine forth in the character, meekness and truth control the life. The very expression of the countenance is changed. Christ abiding in the soul exerts a transforming power, and the outward aspect bears witness to the peace and joy that reign within.”7

We must be in Christ and He in us; then the defects will disappear from our characters. The closer we live to Jesus, the more we shall reflect in words and character His image. And the farther we separate from God, the farther we live away from the light of life, and, as the sure result, become perverse, dictatorial, hard-hearted. We should make it a life work to gather up the divine rays of light that come from the throne of God, and scatter them upon the pathway of others. . . .

Bearing fruit

It is in this time of probation that we are to prepare either for eternal life in glory, or for perdition. It is here that we are engaged in the work of character-building; and if we succeed, we shall merit from the Master the welcome, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Christ has gone into the most holy department, and has left us word to watch and pray, lest He return suddenly and find us sleeping. The character which we are now making will come in review before God before Christ leaves the sanctuary. Here God will see what characters we have been building for time and eternity. How shall we stand before the great Eternal? How many sheaves will we have brought to the Master through our earnest efforts?

To every man is given his work, and that work is not to be looking for faults in others, nor to be seeking to imitate the world. Says the apostle, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” This means more than we think it does; dead to worldly interests, dead to worldly ambitions. What a position is this! . . .

All have defects of character to overcome, and therefore no human being can be your pattern. You should not feel content to do merely as others do. If they do not live out the truth, will it excuse you for disobedience? You should not imitate their example; you should try to help them by a right course of living before them. Individually you stand before God as though Christ died for you alone; and you must render your account to him for yourself. But not only for yourself alone are you responsible, but for that soul over whom you have an influence, and for whom God has paid such a price. If you neglect your duty in this matter, what will be your portion in the day of God? How do you think the unfaithful ones will feel to see the nations of the saved walking within the portals of the city of God, and they themselves shut out? But how shall we feel, if we can look around and see many in the kingdom as the results of our labors? We shall be able to swell the songs of glory, saying, “Worthy, worthy, is the Lamb that was slain, and liveth again.” No one shall go into the city unless he is pure in heart. . . .

The greatest conquest for every one of us will be to overcome self, to bring self into obedience to the law of God. This is our work; are we doing it? Are we working to save others by our influence? . . . The truth will burn in your hearts so that you cannot keep still, you are obliged to give it utterance; you must advocate it to all who will hear you.

There never was a more solemn and important time than this present period. . . . The lay members of the church especially are not doing one fiftieth part of what they might and ought to do. . . .

Satan will work to divide and separate God’s people one from the other. And while he is doing this kind of work, be careful that none of you are found helping him. We want to put away our cold-heartedness, and let love, tender compassion, true courtesy, and the spirit of tenderness come into our midst. Here we are in the waiting time, in the day of God’s preparation. Here in this world we are to fit up for these great trials that are soon coming upon us. And yet some of us act as though we had a whole millennium before us in which to accomplish the work. But, says the text, “Watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is.” And what Christ said to His disciples, I say unto you, “Take ye heed, watch and pray,” that when the Master comes to reckon with his servants, you may receive from him the crown of life laid up for the overcomer, and rejoice with Him in His kingdom.8

References
1 Early Writings, pp. 64, 65.
2 Ibid., pp. 66, 67.
3 Ibid., pp. 118–120.
4 Ibid., pp. 120, 121.
5 Ibid., p. 71.
6 The Great Controversy, pp. 625–627.
7 Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 337.
8 The Review and Herald, August 18, 1885.