Selected Messages Book 3

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Basic Elements Presented at the 1883 General Conference

Introductory Note: At the General Conference session held in 1883 at Battle Creek, Michigan, Ellen White addressed the ministers at thirteen consecutive morning meetings and spoke to the conference on the closing Sabbath. The Review and Herald The next year carried the entire series. In four of the addresses she set forth the principles of righteousness by faith, as presented in the selections which follow. A further basic address,“Christ Our Righteousness,” keyed to these meetings, was first published in Gospel Workers, 1892 edition, 411, and reprinted in Selected Messages 1:350-354, and Faith and Works, 35-39.—Compilers. 3SM 148.4

Friday, November 9, 1883—Look to Jesus—On this morning there was a spirit of earnest intercession for the Lord to reveal Himself among us in power. My heart was especially drawn out in prayer, and the Lord heard and blessed us. Testimonies were borne by many discouraged ones, who felt that their imperfections were so great that the Lord could not use them in his cause. This was the language of unbelief. 3SM 148.5

I tried to point these dear souls to Jesus, who is our refuge, a present help in every time of need. He does not give us up because of our sins. We may make mistakes and grieve his Spirit, but when we repent, and come to Him with contrite hearts, he will not turn us away.... 3SM 149.1

Sabbath, November 10, 1883—Come As You Are—I have listened to testimonies like this: “I have not the light that I desire; I have not the assurance of the favor of God.” Such testimonies express only unbelief and darkness. 3SM 149.2

Are you expecting that your merit will recommend you to the favor of God, and that you must be free from sin before you trust his power to save? If this is the struggle going on in your mind, I fear you will gain no strength, and will finally become discouraged. As the brazen serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so was Christ lifted up to draw all men unto Him. All who looked upon that serpent, the means that God had provided, were healed; so in our sinfulness, in our great need, we must “look and live.” 3SM 149.3

While we realize our helpless condition without Christ, we must not be discouraged; we must rely upon the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. Poor sin-sick, discouraged soul, look and live. Jesus has pledged his word; he will save all who come unto Him. Then let us come confessing our sins, bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. 3SM 149.4

Jesus is our Saviour today. He is pleading for us in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, and he will forgive our sins. It makes all the difference in the world with us spiritually whether we rely upon God without doubt, as upon a sure foundation, or whether we are seeking to find some righteousness in ourselves before we come to Him. Look away from self to the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. It is a sin to doubt. The least unbelief, if cherished in the heart, involves the soul in guilt, and brings great darkness and discouragement.... 3SM 149.5

Some seem to feel that they must be on probation and must prove to the Lord that they are reformed before they can claim his blessing. But these dear souls may claim the blessing of God even now. They must have his grace, the spirit of Christ to help their infirmities, or they cannot form Christian characters. Jesus loves to have us come to Him just as we are—sinful, helpless, dependent. We claim to be children of the light, not of the night nor of darkness; what right have we to be unbelieving?—The Review and Herald, April 22, 1884. 3SM 150.1

Wednesday, November 14, 1883—True Religion Means Conformity to God's Will—Some are ever looking to themselves instead of to Jesus; but, brethren, you want to be clothed in Christ's righteousness. If you are trusting in your own righteousness, you are weak indeed; for you are exposed to the darts of Satan, and after the privileges you are now enjoying, you will have severe conflicts to meet. You are too cold. The work is hindered by your want of that love which burned in the heart of Jesus. You have too little faith. You expect little, and as the result you receive little; and you are satisfied with very small success. You are liable to self-deception, and to rest satisfied with a form of godliness. This will never do. 3SM 150.2

You must have living faith in your hearts; the truth must be preached with power from above. You can reach the people only when Jesus works through your efforts. The Fountain is open; we may be refreshed, and in our turn refresh others. If your own souls were vitalized by the solemn, pointed truths you preach, cold-heartedness, listlessness, and indolence would disappear, and others would feel the influence of your zeal and earnestness. 3SM 150.3

True religion is nothing short of conformity to the will of God, and obedience to all things that he has commanded; and in return, it gives us spiritual life, imputes to us the righteousness of Christ, and promotes the healthful and happy exercise of the best faculties of the mind and heart. Infinite riches, the glory and blessedness of eternal life, are bestowed upon us on conditions so simple as to bring the priceless gift within the reach of the poorest and most sinful. We have only to obey and believe. And his commandments are not grievous; obedience to his requirements is essential to our happiness even in this life.—The Review and Herald, May 27, 1884. 3SM 150.4

Monday, November 19, 1883—Look to Him and Live .—How many are making laborious work of walking in the narrow way of holiness. To many the peace and rest of this blessed way seems no nearer today than it did years in the past. They look afar off for that which is nigh; they make intricate that which Jesus made very plain. He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” The plan of salvation has been plainly revealed in the Word of God; but the wisdom of the world has been sought too much, and the wisdom of Christ's righteousness too little. And souls that might have rested in the love of Jesus, have been doubting, and troubled about many things. 3SM 151.1

The testimonies borne here are not expressive of great faith. It is not hard to believe that Jesus will pardon others, but it seems impossible for each to exercise living faith for himself. But, dear brethren, is it profitable to express doubts in regard to the willingness of Christ to accept you? I fear you are depending too much on feeling, making that a criterion. You are losing much by this course; you are not only weakening your own souls, but the souls of others who look to you. 3SM 151.2

You must trust Jesus for yourselves, appropriate the promises of God to yourselves, or how can you educate others to have humble, holy confidence in Him? You feel that you have neglected duties, that you have not prayed as you should. 3SM 151.3

You seem at a distance from Jesus, and think that he has withdrawn from you; but it is you who have separated from Him. He is waiting for you to return. He will accept the contrite heart. His lips have assured us that he is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him than parents are to give good gifts to their children. 3SM 151.4

We are wounded, polluted with sin; what shall we do to be healed from its leprosy? As far as it is in your power to do so, cleanse the soul-temple of every defilement, and then look to the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). 3SM 152.1

If you are conscious of your wants, do not devote all your powers to representing them and mourning over them, but look and live. Jesus is our only Saviour; and notwithstanding millions who need to be healed will reject his offered mercy, not one who trusts in his merits will be left to perish. 3SM 152.2

Why do you refuse to come to Jesus and receive rest and peace? You may have the blessing this morning. Satan suggests that you are helpless, and cannot bless yourself. It is true; you are helpless. But lift up Jesus before him; “I have a Saviour. In Him I trust, and he will never suffer me to be confounded. In his name I triumph. He is my righteousness, and my crown of rejoicing.” Let not one here feel that his case is hopeless, for it is not. 3SM 152.3

It may seem to you that you are sinful and undone; but it is just on this account that you need a Saviour. If you have sins to confess, lose no time. These moments are golden. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled; for Jesus has promised it. Precious Saviour! his arms are open to receive us, and his great heart of love is waiting to bless us.—The Review and Herald, July 1, 1884. 3SM 152.4

False Sanctification—1885—There was a man, a non-SDA minister by the name of Brown, perhaps you know him. [Ellen White, speaking to the members of the Santa Rosa, California, SDA church, on March 7, 1885, recounted an experience that took place on shipboard the year before, when she traveled from Portland, Oregon, to San Francisco, California.—Compilers.] he claimed to be holy. “The idea of repentance,” said he, “is not in the Bible.” “If,” says he, “a man comes to me and says that he believes in Jesus, I take him right into the church, whether he is baptized or not; I have done so with a good many.” “And,” says he, “I have not committed a sin in six years.” 3SM 152.5

“There are some on this boat,” says he, “that believe that we [are] sanctified by the law. There is a woman on this boat, by the name of White that teaches this.” 3SM 153.1

I heard this, and I stepped up to him and said, “Elder Brown, you hold right on. I cannot permit that statement to go. Mrs. White has never said such a thing in any of her writings, nor has she ever spoken such a thing, for we do not believe that the law sanctifies anyone. 3SM 153.2

“We believe that we must keep that law or we will not be saved in the kingdom of heaven. The transgressor cannot be saved in the kingdom of glory. It is not the law that sanctifies anyone, nor saves us; that law stands and cries out, ‘Repent that your sins may be blotted out.’ And then the sinner goes to Jesus, and as the sinner promises that he will obey the requirements of the law, he blots out their guilty stains and sets them free, and gives them power with God.”—Manuscript 5, 1885. 3SM 153.3

Freedom to Violate Commandments a Deception—1886—You will hear the cry “Only believe.” Satan believed and trembled. We must have a faith that works by love and purifies the heart. The idea prevails that Christ has done all for us, and that we can go on transgressing the commandments and will not be held accountable for it. This is the greatest deception that the enemy ever devised. We must take our position that we will not violate the commandments at any cost, and be in that spiritual condition that we can educate others in spiritual things.—Manuscript 44, 1886. 3SM 153.4

Moral Power Through Jesus—1886—Christ knew that man could not overcome without His help. Therefore He consented to lay off His royal robes and clothe His divinity with humanity that we might be rich. He came to this earth, suffered, and knows just how to sympathize with us and to assist us in overcoming. He came to bring man moral power, and He would not have man to understand that he has nothing to do, for every one has a work to do for himself, and through the merits of Jesus we can overcome sin and the devil.—Manuscript 46, 1886. 3SM 153.5

Goody-goody Religion That Makes Light of Sin—1887—“A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you.” I believe with all my heart that the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the world, and those who have had great light and opportunities and have not improved them, will be the first to be left. They have grieved away the Spirit of God. The present activity of Satan in working upon hearts, and upon churches and nations should startle every student of prophecy. The end is near. Let our churches arise. Let the converting power of God be experienced in the heart of the individual members, and then we shall see the deep moving of the Spirit of God. Mere forgiveness of sin is not the sole result of the death of Jesus. He made the infinite sacrifice not only that sin might be removed, but that human nature might be restored, rebeautified, reconstructed from its ruins, and made fit for the presence of God.... 3SM 154.1

Christ is the ladder which Jacob saw whose base rested on the earth and whose topmost round reached the highest heavens. This shows the appointed method of salvation. We are to climb round after round of this ladder. If any one of us shall finally be saved, it will be by clinging to Jesus as to the rounds of a ladder. Christ is made unto the believer wisdom and righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.... 3SM 154.2

There will be some terrible falls by those who think they stand firm because they have the truth; but they have it not as it is in Jesus. A moment's carelessness may plunge a soul into irretrievable ruin. One sin leads to the second, and the second prepares the way for a third and so on. We must as faithful messengers of God, plead with Him constantly to be kept by His power. If we swerve a single inch from duty we are in danger of following on in a course of sin that ends in perdition. There is hope for every one of us, but only in one way—by fastening ourselves to Christ, and exerting every energy to attain to the perfection of His character. 3SM 154.3

This goody-goody religion that makes light of sin and that is forever dwelling upon the love of God to the sinner, encourages the sinner to believe that God will save him while he continues in sin and he knows it to be sin. This is the way that many are doing who profess to believe present truth. The truth is kept apart from their life, and that is the reason it has no more power to convict and convert the soul. There must be a straining of every nerve and spirit and muscle to leave the world, its customs, its practices, and its fashions.... 3SM 155.1

If you put away sin and exercise living faith, the riches of heaven's blessings will be yours.—Letter 53, 1887. 3SM 155.2

Second Advent Ends Soul Preparation—1888—The robe of your character must be washed till it is spotless, in the fountain opened for all uncleanness. Your moral worth will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, and if you are found wanting, you will be at an eternal loss. All the coarseness, all the roughness, must be removed from your character before Jesus comes; for when He comes, the preparation for every soul is ended. 3SM 155.3

If you have not laid aside your envy, your jealousies, your hatred one against another, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God. You would only carry the same disposition with you; but there will be nothing of this character in the world to come. Nothing will exist there but love and joy and harmony. Some will have brighter crowns than others, but there will be no jealous thoughts in any heart among the redeemed. Each one will be perfectly satisfied, for all will be rewarded according to their work.—The Signs of the Times, February 10, 1888. 3SM 155.4