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The Reformation Herald Online Edition

October-Novemeber

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Messages to Councils
[Emphasis supplied throughout].
Ellen. G. White
Our Present Dangers

Brethren and sisters, I appeal to you as Seventh-day Adventists to be all that this name signifies. There is danger of departing from the spirit of the message, and adopting measures that will imperil the work of God. . . .

In your councils, how little experience many of you have in humbling the heart before God! How little you know of striving in prayer that you may enter in at the strait gate! The question of highest importance to you is, “Do I have an experimental knowledge of God? Am I ready to believe what He tells me, to do what He bids, instead of following my own judgment? Am I drawing nearer to God?” The Scripture says, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.” If your hearts are not fully surrendered to God, if you do not submit your will to His, you will devise and plan without the guidance of Him who is mighty in counsel. . . .

How is it when light is given to correct your errors? Do you then accept the light?. . .

“To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Even the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart is to be tested by the word of God. The Spirit which inspired the Scriptures, always leads to the Scriptures.

“Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” The True Witness says of the church, after enumerating many virtues, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” The prevailing idolatry and iniquity have had a paralyzing, deadening influence upon piety and godliness. There is distrust, selfishness, and suspicion. A few hold fast their profession of faith. Others have been leaving the simplicity of the faith, and as the result they are now treading on the border-land of skepticism. . . .

Would that the spiritual eyesight of all the workers might be clear to distinguish the sacred from the common. Blinded by self-love, many lose sight of the claims of others, and also of the glory of God. When you see yourselves as you really are, and see God as He wants you to see Him, you will feel deeply your need of Jesus, and will seek Him with contrite hearts. Then He will be found of you. You will seek for His heavenly treasure of graces as one seeks for precious pearls; and when you find it, there will be no doubt on the minds of your brethren but that you have found the pearl of great price. You will have the mind of Christ; you will work and speak as Christ did.

The people of God are not to be guided by the opinions or practices of the world. . . .

The word of God plainly declares that His law is to be scorned, trampled upon, by the world; there will be an extraordinary prevalence of iniquity. . . .

We have need now for more than human wisdom in reading and searching the Scriptures; and if we come to God’s word with humble hearts, He will raise up a standard for us against the lawless element. . . .

When the world makes void the law of God, what will be the effect upon the truly obedient and righteous? Will they be carried away by the strong current of evil? Because so many rank themselves under the banner of the prince of darkness, will God’s commandment keeping people swerve from their allegiance? Never! Not one who is abiding in Christ will fail or fall. His followers will bow in obedience to a higher authority than that of any earthly potentate. . . . The conflict must be met, in the spirit and meekness of Christ; the truth is to be maintained and advocated as it is in Jesus. Wealth, honor, comfort, home—everything else—is to be a secondary consideration. The truth must not be hid, it must not be denied or disguised, but fully avowed, and boldly proclaimed. . . .

There is every encouragement, in the promises of God, for those who put their trust in Him. The prospect of being brought into personal danger and distress, need not cause despondency, but should quicken the vigor and hopes of God’s people; for the time of their peril is the season for God to grant them clearer manifestations of His power. We are not to sit in calm expectancy of oppression and tribulation, and fold our hands, doing nothing to avert the evil. Let our united cries be sent up to heaven. Pray and work, and work and pray. But let none act rashly. Learn as never before that you must be meek and lowly in heart. . . .

There is to be no compromise with those who make void the law of God. It is not safe to rely upon them as counselors. Our testimony is not to be less decided now than formerly; our real position is not to be cloaked in order to please the world’s great men. They may desire us to unite with them and accept their plans, and may make propositions in regard to our course of action which may give the enemy an advantage over us. “Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy.” While we should not seek for controversy, and should not needlessly offend, we must present the truth clearly and decidedly, and stand firm to what God has taught us in His word. You are not to look to the world in order to learn what you shall write and publish or what you shall speak. Let all your words and works testify, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables.” “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.”

The apostle Paul tells us, “After that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” This was the carrying out of God’s plan for the conviction and conversion of men, who are constantly tempted to magnify their own powers. . . .

What is needed in this, our time of danger, is fervent prayer, mingled with earnest faith, a reliance upon God when Satan casts His shadow over God’s people. Let everyone bear in mind that God delights to listen to the supplications of His people; for the prevailing iniquity calls for more earnest prayer, and God has promised that He will avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them. . . .

When His people shall be in the greatest danger, seemingly unable to stand against the power of Satan, God will work in their behalf, Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. . . .

If we place ourselves on the side of God, of Christ and the heavenly intelligences, the broad shield of Omnipotence is over us, the mighty God of Israel is our helper, and we need not fear. Those who touch the people of God, touch the apple of His eye.

Now the great question is, Are we Bible Christians—doers of the word? . . . The spirit of self-sufficiency and selfish independence that has for years been coming into the hearts of our people is the work of the enemy, that he may cause our feet to slide; and we cannot afford to indulge it. May God help us to put it away! Begin right in your own homes; begin there to be truly courteous, as Christ was; be kind; live not to please yourselves. Then if you are Christians at home, you will carry the same spirit into the church. You will carry it into your councils. . . .

Brethren, will you carry the spirit of Christ with you as you return to your homes and churches? Will you put away unbelief and criticism? We are coming to a time when, more than ever before, we shall need to press together, to labor unitedly. In union there is strength. In discord and disunion there is only weakness. . . .

What we want is the spirit of Jesus. When we have this, we shall love one another. Here are the credentials that we are to bear: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” We need to pray more; and when we have Christ abiding in the soul, His spirit in me will harmonize with His spirit in you; and He who controls our minds, controls also the heavenly intelligences, and they cooperate with us. Then in every council you will have the presence of One mighty in counsel. Jesus will be there. There will be no contention, no strife, no stirring up of the worst passions of the heart. What we want is to find refuge in Jesus. What we want is to be converted; and O, how I have longed for the converting power of God to go through our assemblies! . . .

Shall we fall on the Rock and be broken? Jesus is soon coming in the clouds of heaven. What is He doing now?—He is testing a people here upon the earth, to see if they can live in harmony, without revolt, in heaven. . . .

Do not let any man or woman, or any council or party, lead you to suppress the precious light that God has permitted to shine from heaven in regard to the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus. You need more, much more, of the Spirit of Christ, to take the coldness and iron out of your hearts. Jesus humbled Himself. His whole life was one of humiliation and suffering. He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And all this He bore, that sinners might be redeemed. This is the spirit that must dwell in our hearts.

The object of our faith, hope, and love, should be Jesus—Jesus always, Jesus only. A mere profession of faith will not save us; we must have real faith in Christ. Then the heart will be renewed; we shall be born again. Christ takes our sins upon Himself, and imparts to us His righteousness. . . .

What does Christ say?—”Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” Then let us feast upon Christ. Let us enjoy His love, and praise God for this great salvation. Then we shall come together, heart to heart. When we shall subdue our pride, when we shall pluck from the garden of the soul every fiber of the root of bitterness, our hearts will flow together as the heart of one. And the Saviour’s promise is, “If any two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” Then, I ask, Where is our power?—It is in the sincere prayers going up to heaven continually that Christ will reveal himself to us. And he will do it. The light and glory of God will rest upon His people. And then the world will see, and will say, “Behold, how these brethren love one another.” Then all this heart burning and distrust will cease, and in place of it, there will be love and union, courtesy, kindness, and tenderness. The very countenances will shine with the glory of God. We shall all see eye to eye. We shall speak the same things, and be of the same judgment. . . .

“I have somewhat against thee,” says the True Witness, “because thou hast left thy first love.” And he says, “Except thou repent,” “I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place.” Why?—Because in our separation from one another we are separated from Christ. We want to press together. O, how many times, when I have seemed to be in the presence of God and holy angels, I have heard the angel voice saying, “Press together, press together, press together. Do not let Satan cast his hellish shadow between brethren. Press together; in unity there is strength.”

I repeat the message to you. As you go to your homes, be determined that you will press together; seek God with all the heart, and you will find him, and the love of Christ, that passeth understanding, will come into your hearts and lives.

I tell you, we have enough to do. There is no time to lose in doubt and darkness and inactivity. Your attention has been called to the need of missionary work in almost all parts of the world. . . .

May God help us to awake to our duty! If you have hold of the work of God, I beseech you, for Christ’s sake, do not let go. If God sees that your souls are in danger, He will send reproof to you. Do not rise up against it. Say, “I will seek God, I will find Him, and will be converted.” The True Witness says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Yes, repent. It is not for you to be jealous of the reprover. It is not for you to dissect or discount the message that God may send you. It is for you to receive it, and reform, and be thankful that the Lord has not left you to blindness of mind and hardness of heart. May God help you to be converted.

I beseech you to take Christ with you as you go to your churches. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For 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.” Many are unwilling to have their way crossed. Now, it is not by following your own way that you will enter heaven; it is by choosing God’s way. Will you take it? It is not your spirit that is going into heaven; it is Christ’s spirit. Will you have it? Jesus says, “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.” Then I ask, How is it that so many of you are saying you do not know whether you are accepted of God or not; that you want to find Jesus? Don’t you know whether you have opened the door? Don’t you know whether you have invited Him in? If you have not, invite Him now. Don’t wait a moment. Open the door, and let Jesus in.

Now let us take Christ’s yoke upon us, and learn of Him. He says His yoke is easy, and I believe it. He says the burden is light, and I believe that, too. When you are wearing Christ’s yoke, all your complaining and dissension will cease. When Christ’s disciples fell into controversy by the way, He asked them. “What was is that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. . . . And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and I whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” Now let us be like children before God. Let us be teachable, willing to learn, and then the Spirit of God will cement our hearts together, and we shall be one in Christ Jesus. Then the Father will love us, even as He loves His Son. Let this thought fill the soul with thankfulness, and go on your way to Zion, making melody in your hearts to God. You are called out of darkness to show forth his marvelous light. Go forward, rejoicing in the righteousness of Christ. . . .

Thank God, it is not too late, even at the eleventh hour, for wrongs to be made right. If we learn what is to be the joy of our calling, we shall praise God with heart and soul and voice. And at last we shall have a glorious triumph when our captivity shall be turned, and our mourning and tears shall be forever past. What a shout of praise will then go forth from human lips! Shall we begin it here? God grant that we may! God help you to put away every fiber of the root of bitterness that has been planted in so many hearts. May you put it away, so that it shall never bud nor blossom from this time. Let Christ kill it by His Holy Spirit in every heart. God grant that the root of bitterness may die!1

What might have been

To the Battle Creek Church:

One day at noon I was writing of the work that might have been done at the last General Conference if the men in positions of trust had followed the will and way of God. Those who have had great light have not walked in the light. The meeting was closed, and the break was not made. Men did not humble themselves before the Lord as they should have done, and the Holy Spirit was not imparted.

I had written thus far when I lost consciousness, and I seemed to be witnessing a scene in Battle Creek.

We were assembled in the auditorium of the Tabernacle. Prayer was offered, a hymn was sung, and prayer was again offered. Most earnest supplication was made to God. The meeting was marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The work went deep, and some present were weeping aloud.

One arose from his bowed position and said that in the past he had not been in union with certain ones and had felt no love for them, but that now he saw himself as he was. With great solemnity he repeated the message to the Laodicean church: “‘Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.’ In my self-sufficiency this is just the way I felt,” he said. “‘And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.’ I now see that this is my condition. My eyes are opened. My spirit has been hard and unjust. I thought myself righteous, but my heart is broken, and I see my need of the precious counsel of the One who has searched me through and through. Oh, how gracious and compassionate and loving are the words, ‘I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see’” (Revelation 3:17, 18).

The speaker turned to those who had been praying, and said: “We have something to do. We must confess our sins, and humble our hearts before God.” He made heartbroken confessions and then stepped up to several of the brethren, one after another, and extended his hand, asking forgiveness. Those to whom he spoke sprang to their feet, making confession and asking forgiveness, and they fell upon one another’s necks, weeping. The spirit of confession spread through the entire congregation. It was a Pentecostal season. God’s praises were sung, and far into the night, until nearly morning, the work was carried on.

The following words were often repeated, with clear distinctness: “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).

No one seemed to be too proud to make heartfelt confession, and those who led in this work were the ones who had influence, but had not before had courage to confess their sins.

There was rejoicing such as never before had been heard in the Tabernacle.

Then I aroused from my unconsciousness, and for a while could not think where I was. My pen was still in my hand. The words were spoken to me: “This might have been. All this the Lord was waiting to do for His people. All heaven was waiting to be gracious.” I thought of where we might have been had thorough work been done at the last General Conference, and agony of disappointment came over me as I realized that what I had witnessed was not a reality. . . .

Man is fickle, filled with self-esteem, pride, and selfishness. Let the workers doing God’s service trust wholly in the Lord. Then the leaders will reveal that they are willing to be led, not by human wisdom, which is as useless to lean upon as is a broken reed, but by the wisdom of the Lord, who has said: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:5, 6).2

References
1 General Conference Daily Bulletin, April 13, 1891. [Emphasis added.]
2 Testimonies, vol. 8, pp. 104–106.