Selected Messages Book 3

61/222

Precious Promises Versus Gloomy Pictures

It was by faith I ventured to cross the Rocky Mountains for the purpose of attending the General Conference held in Minneapolis.... 3SM 163.2

At Minneapolis we met a large delegation of ministers. I discerned at the very commencement of the meeting a spirit which burdened me. Discourses were preached that did not give the people the food which they so much needed. The dark and gloomy side of the picture was presented before them to hang in memory's hall. This would bring no light and spiritual freedom, but discouragement. 3SM 163.3

I felt deeply moved by the Spirit of the Lord Sabbath afternoon [October 13, 1888] to call the minds of those present to the love God manifests to His people. The mind must not be permitted to dwell on the most objectionable features of our faith. In God's Word, which may be represented as a garden filled with roses and lilies and pinks, we may pluck by faith the precious promises of God, appropriate them to our own hearts, and be of good courage—yes, joyful in God—or we may keep our attention fastened on the briars and thistles and wound ourselves severely and bemoan our hard lot. 3SM 163.4

God is not pleased to have His people hanging dark and painful pictures in memory's hall. He would have every soul plucking the roses and the lilies and the pinks, hanging memory's hall with the precious promises of God blooming all over the garden of God. He would have us dwelling upon them, our senses sharp and clear, taking them in in their full richness, talking of the joy that is set before us. He would have us living in the world, yet not of it, our affections taking hold of eternal things. He would have us talking of the things which He has prepared for those that love Him. This will attract our minds, awaken our hopes and expectations, and strengthen our souls to endure the conflicts and trials of this life. As we dwell on these scenes the Lord will encourage our faith and confidence. He will draw aside the veil and give us glimpses of the saints’ inheritance. 3SM 163.5

As I presented the goodness, the love, the tender compassion of our heavenly Father, I felt that the Spirit of the Lord was resting not only upon me but upon the people. Light and freedom and blessing came to the hearers and there was hearty response to the words spoken. The social meeting that followed evidenced that the Word had found lodgment in the hearts of the hearers. Many bore testimony that this day was the happiest of their lives, and it was indeed a precious season, for we knew the presence of the Lord Jesus was in the assembly and that to bless. I knew that the special revealing of the Spirit of God was for a purpose, to quell the doubts, to roll back the tide of unbelief which had been admitted into hearts and minds concerning Sister White and the work the Lord had given her to do. 3SM 164.1

Many Refreshed, but Not all—This was a season of refreshing to many souls, but it did not abide upon some. Just as soon as they saw that Sister White did not agree with all their ideas and harmonize with the propositions and resolutions to be voted upon in that conference, the evidence they had received had as little weight with some as did the words spoken by Christ in the synagogue to the Nazarenes. Their hearts [the hearers at Nazareth] were touched by the Spirit of God. They heard as it were God speaking to them through His Son. They saw, they felt the divine influence of the Spirit of God and all witnessed to the gracious words that proceeded from His mouth. But Satan was at their side with his unbelief and they admitted the questioning and the doubts, and unbelief followed. The Spirit of God was quenched. In their madness they would have hurled Jesus from the precipice had not God protected Him that their rage did not harm Him. When Satan once has control of the mind he makes fools and demons of those who have been esteemed as excellent men. Prejudice, pride, and stubbornness are terrible elements to take possession of the human mind. 3SM 164.2

Ellen White Counsels With Some of the Leaders—I had received a long epistle from Elder Butler, [The president of the General Conference was detained in Battle Creek because of illness.] which I read carefully. I was surprised at its contents. I did not know what to do with this letter, but as the same sentiments expressed in it seemed to be working and controlling my brother ministers I called a few of them together in an upper room and read this letter to them. They did not, any of them, seem to be surprised at its contents, several saying they knew this was the mind of Elder Butler, for they had heard him state the same things. 3SM 165.1

I then explained many things. I stated that which I knew was a right and righteous course to be pursued, brother toward brother, in the exercise of investigating the Scriptures. I knew the company before me were not viewing all things in a correct light, therefore I stated many things. All my statements set forth correct principles to be acted upon, but I feared that my words made no impression upon them. They understood things in their way, and the light which I told them had been given me was to them as idle tales. 3SM 165.2

Appeals at the Morning Meetings—I felt very much pained at heart over the condition of things. I made most earnest appeals to my brethren and sisters when assembled in the morning meetings, and entreated that we should make this occasion a season of profit, searching the Scriptures together with humility of heart. I entreated that there should not be such freedom in talking in regard to things of which they knew but little. 3SM 165.3

All needed to learn lessons in the school of Christ. Jesus has invited, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). If we daily learn the lessons of humility and lowliness of heart, there will not be the feelings which existed at this meeting. 3SM 165.4

There are some differences of views on some subjects, but is this a reason for sharp, hard feelings? Shall envy and evil surmisings and imaginings, evil suspicion, hatred, and jealousies become enthroned in the heart? All these things are evil and only evil. Our help is in God alone. Let us spend much time in prayer and in searching the Scriptures with a right spirit—anxious to learn and willing to be corrected or undeceived on any point where we may be in error. If Jesus is in our midst and our hearts are melted into tenderness by His love we shall have one of the best conferences we have ever attended. 3SM 166.1

A Busy and Important Session—There was much business to be done. The work had enlarged. New missions had been opened and new churches organized. All should be in harmony freely to consult together as brethren at work in the great harvest field, all working interestedly in the different branches of the work, and unselfishly considering how the Lord's work could be done to the best advantage. If ever there was a time when, as a conference, we needed the special grace and enlightenment of the Spirit of God, it was at this meeting. There was a power from beneath moving agencies to bring about a change in the constitution and laws of our nation, which will bind the consciences of all those who keep the Bible Sabbath, plainly specified in the fourth commandment as the seventh day. 3SM 166.2

The time has come when every man should be found doing his duty to the utmost of his ability to hold up and vindicate the law of God before our own people and the world, working to the limit of his capacity and entrusted talents. Many are blinded, deceived by men who claim to be ministers of the gospel, and they influence very many to consider they are doing a good work for God when it is the work of Satan. 3SM 166.3

Satan's Divisive Strategy—Now, Satan had a council as to how he should keep pen and voice of Seventh-day Adventists silent. If he could only engage their attention and divert their powers in a direction to weaken and divide them his prospect would be fair. 3SM 167.1

Satan has done his work with some success. There has been variance of feelings, and division. There has been much jealousy and evil surmising. There have been many unsanctified speeches, hints, and remarks. The minds of the men who should be heart and soul at work, prepared to do mighty strokes for God at this very time are absorbed in matters of little consequence. Because the ideas of some are not exactly in accordance with their own on every point of doctrine involving minor ideas and theories which are not vital questions, the great question of the nation's religious liberty, now involving so much, is to many a matter of little consequence. 3SM 167.2

Satan has been having things his own way; but the Lord has raised up men and given them a solemn message to bear to His people, to wake up the mighty men to prepare for battle, for the day of God's preparation. This message Satan sought to make of none effect, and when every voice and every pen should have been intensely at work to stay the workings and powers of Satan there was a drawing apart; there were differences of opinion. This was not at all the way of the Lord. 3SM 167.3

The Law in Galatians One Point of Difference—At this meeting the subject of the law in Galatians was brought before the ministers. This subject had been brought into the conference three years before.... 3SM 167.4

We know that if all would come to the Scriptures with hearts subdued and controlled by the influence of the Spirit of God, there would be brought to the examination of the Scriptures a calm mind, free from prejudice and pride of opinion. The light from the Lord would shine upon His Word and the truth would be revealed. But there should be prayerful, painstaking effort and much patience, to answer the prayer of Christ that His disciples may be one as He is one with the Father. The earnest, sincere prayer will be heard and the Lord will answer. The Holy Spirit will quicken the mental faculties and there will be a seeing eye to eye. “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (Psalm 119:130). 3SM 167.5

Justification and Christ's Righteousness Presented—Elder E. J. Waggoner had the privilege granted him of speaking plainly and presenting his views upon justification by faith and the righteousness of Christ in relation to the law. This was no new light, but it was old light placed where it should be in the third angel's message.... What is the burden of that message? John sees a people. He says, “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). This people John beholds just before he sees the Son of man “having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle” (Verse 14). 3SM 168.1

The faith of Jesus has been overlooked and treated in an indifferent, careless manner. It has not occupied the prominent position in which it was revealed to John. Faith in Christ as the sinner's only hope has been largely left out, not only of the discourses given but of the religious experience of very many who claim to believe the third angel's message. 3SM 168.2

Truths Ellen White Had Presented Since 1844—At this meeting I bore testimony that the most precious light had been shining forth from the Scriptures in the presentation of the great subject of the righteousness of Christ connected with the law, which should be constantly kept before the sinner as his only hope of salvation. This was not new light to me, for it had come to me from higher authority for the last forty-four years, and I had presented it to our people by pen and voice in the testimonies of His Spirit. But very few had responded except by assent to the testimonies borne upon this subject. There was altogether too little spoken and written upon this great question. The discourses of some might be correctly represented as like the offering of Cain—Christless. 3SM 168.3

The Mystery of Godliness—The standard by which to measure character is the royal law. The law is the sin detector. By the law is the knowledge of sin. But the sinner is constantly being drawn to Jesus by the wonderful manifestation of His love in that He humiliated Himself to die a shameful death upon the cross. What a study is this! Angels have striven, earnestly longed, to look into the wonderful mystery. It is a study that can tax the highest human intelligence, that man, fallen, deceived by Satan, taking Satan's side of the question, can be conformed to the image of the Son of the infinite God. That man shall be like Him, that, because of the righteousness of Christ given to man, God will love man—fallen but redeemed—even as He loved His Son. Read it right out of the living oracles. 3SM 169.1

This is the mystery of godliness. This picture is of the highest value to be placed in every discourse, to be hung in memory's hall, to be uttered by human lips, to be traced by human beings who have tasted and known that the Lord is good, to be meditated upon, to be the groundwork of every discourse. There have been dry theories presented and precious souls are starving for the bread of life. This is not the preaching that is required or that the God of heaven will accept, for it is Christless. The divine picture of Christ must be kept before the people. He is that Angel standing in the sun of heaven. He reflects no shadows. Clothed in the attributes of deity, shrouded in the glories of deity, and in the likeness of the infinite God, He is to be lifted up before men. When this is kept before the people, creature merit sinks into insignificance. The more the eye looks upon Him, the more His life, His lessons, His perfection of character are studied, the more sinful and abhorrent will sin appear. 3SM 169.2

By beholding, man can but admire and become more attracted to Him, more charmed, and more desirous to be like Jesus until he assimilates to His image and has the mind of Christ. Like Enoch he walks with God. His mind is full of thoughts of Jesus. He is his best Friend.... 3SM 169.3

Study Jesus Our Pattern—“Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1). Study Christ. Study His character, feature by feature. He is our Pattern that we are required to copy in our lives and our characters, else we fail to represent Jesus, but present to the world a spurious copy. Do not imitate any man, for men are defective in habits, in speech, in manners, in character. I present before you the Man Christ Jesus. You must individually know Him as your Saviour before you can study Him as your pattern and your example. 3SM 170.1

Said Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.... Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them” (Romans 1:16-19). 3SM 170.2

Grateful That Minds Were Stirred by God's Spirit—We felt deeply and solemnly grateful to God that minds were being stirred by the Spirit of God to see Christ in the living oracles and to represent Him to the world, but not in words merely. They see the Scripture requirements that all who claim to be followers of Christ are under obligation to walk in His footsteps, to be imbued with His Spirit, and thus to present to the world Jesus Christ, who came to our world to represent the Father. 3SM 170.3

In representing Christ we represent God to our world. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). Let us inquire, Are we reflecting in the church and before the world the character of Jesus Christ? A great deal deeper study is required of us in searching the Scriptures. Placing the righteousness of Christ in the law distinctly reveals God in His true character and reveals the law as holy, just, and good, glorious indeed when seen in its true character. 3SM 170.4

If all our ministering brethren could have come to their Bibles together, with the spirit of Christ, respecting each other, and with true Christian courtesy, the Lord would have been their instructor. But the Lord has no chance to impress minds over which Satan has so great power. Everything that does not harmonize with their mind and their human judgment will appear in shadows and dark outlines.... 3SM 171.1

The Spirit of Many Burdened Ellen White—My burden during the meeting was to present Jesus and His love before my brethren, for I saw marked evidences that many had not the spirit of Christ. My mind was kept in peace, stayed upon God, and I felt sad to see that a different spirit had come into the experience of our brother ministers, and that it was leavening the camp. There was, I knew, a remarkable blindness upon the minds of many, that they did not discern where the Spirit of God was and what constituted true Christian experience. And to consider that these were the ones who had the guardianship of the flock of God was painful. The destitution of true faith, the hands hung down, because not lifted up in sincere prayer! 3SM 171.2

Some felt no need of prayer. Their own judgment, they felt, was sufficient, and they had no sense that the enemy of all good was guiding their judgment. They were as soldiers going unarmed and unarmored to the battle. Can we marvel that the discourses were spiritless, that the living water of life refused to flow through obstructed channels, and that the light of heaven could not penetrate the dense fog of lukewarmness and sinfulness? 3SM 171.3

I was able to sleep but a few hours. I was writing all hours of the morning, frequently rising at two and at three A.M. and relieving my mind by writing upon the subjects that were presented before me. My heart was pained to see the spirit that controlled some of our ministering brethren, and this spirit seemed to be contagious. There was much talking done. 3SM 171.4

A Presentation of Truth She Could Endorse—When I stated before my brethren that I had heard for the first time the views of Elder E. J. Waggoner, some did not believe me. I stated that I had heard precious truths uttered that I could respond to with all my heart, for had not these great and glorious truths, the righteousness of Christ and the entire sacrifice made in behalf of man, been imprinted indelibly on my mind by the Spirit of God? Has not this subject been presented in the testimonies again and again? When the Lord had given to my brethren the burden to proclaim this message I felt inexpressibly grateful to God, for I knew it was the message for this time. 3SM 172.1

The third angel's message is the proclamation of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ. The commandments of God have been proclaimed, but the faith of Jesus Christ has not been proclaimed by Seventh-day Adventists as of equal importance, the law and the gospel going hand in hand. I cannot find language to express this subject in its fullness. 3SM 172.2

“The faith of Jesus.” It is talked of, but not understood. What constitutes the faith of Jesus, that belongs to the third angel's message? Jesus becoming our sin-bearer that He might become our sin-pardoning Saviour. He was treated as we deserve to be treated. He came to our world and took our sins that we might take His righteousness. And faith in the ability of Christ to save us amply and fully and entirely is the faith of Jesus. 3SM 172.3

The only safety for the Israelites was blood upon the doorposts. God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). All other devices for safety would be without avail. Nothing but the blood on the doorposts would bar the way that the angel of death should not enter. There is salvation for the sinner in the blood of Jesus Christ alone, which cleanseth us from all sin. The man with a cultivated intellect may have vast stores of knowledge, he may engage in theological speculations, he may be great and honored of men and be considered the repository of knowledge, but unless he has a saving knowledge of Christ crucified for him, and by faith lays hold of the righteousness of Christ, he is lost. Christ “was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). “Saved by the blood of Jesus Christ,” will be our only hope for time and our song throughout eternity. 3SM 172.4

Battling Prejudice and False Accusations—When I plainly stated my faith there were many who did not understand me and they reported that Sister White had changed; Sister White was influenced by her son W. C. White and by Elder A. T. Jones. Of course, such a statement coming from the lips of those who had known me for years, who had grown up with the third angel's message and had been honored by the confidence and faith of our people, must have influence. 3SM 173.1

I became the subject of remarks and criticism, but no one of our brethren came to me and made inquiries or sought any explanation from me. We tried most earnestly to have all our ministering brethren rooming in the house meet in an unoccupied room and unite our prayers together, but did not succeed in this but two or three times. They chose to go to their rooms and have their conversation and prayers by themselves. There did not seem to be any opportunity to break down the prejudice that was so firm and determined, no chance to remove the misunderstanding in regard to myself, my son, and E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones. 3SM 173.2

I tried to make another effort. I had that morning at an early hour written matter that should come before our brethren, for then my words would not be misstated. Quite a number of our leading responsible men were present, and I deeply regretted that a much larger number were not taken into this council, for some of those present, I knew, began to see things in a different light, and many more would have been benefited had they had the opportunity to hear what I had to say. But they did not know and were not benefited by my explanations and with the plain “Thus saith the Lord” which I gave them. 3SM 173.3

Questions were asked at that time. “Sister White, do you think that the Lord has any new and increased light for us as a people?” I answered, “Most assuredly. I do not only think so, but can speak understandingly. I know that there is precious truth to be unfolded to us if we are the people that are to stand in the day of God's preparation.” 3SM 174.1

Ellen White Encourages Open-minded Study—Then the question was asked whether I thought the matter had better drop where it was, after Brother Waggoner had stated his views of the law in Galatians. I said, “By no means. We want all on both sides of the question.” But I stated that the spirit I had seen manifested at the meeting was unreasonable. I should insist that there be a right spirit, a Christlike spirit, manifested such as Elder E. J. Waggoner had shown all through the presentation of his views: and that this matter should not be handled in a debating style. The reason I should urge that this matter should be handled in a Christlike spirit was that there should be no thrust made against their brethren differing with them. As Elder E. J. Waggoner had conducted himself like a Christian gentleman they should do the same, giving the arguments on their side of the question in a straightforward manner.... 3SM 174.2

The Question of the Law in Galatians Not Vital—The remark was made, “If our views of Galatians are not correct, then we have not the third angel's message, and our position goes by the board; there is nothing to our faith.” 3SM 174.3

I said, “Brethren, here is the very thing I have been telling you. This statement is not true. It is an extravagant, exaggerated statement. If it is made in the discussion of this question I shall feel if my duty to set this matter before all that are assembled, and whether they hear or forbear tell them the statement is incorrect. The question at issue is not a vital question and should not be treated as such. The wonderful importance and magnitude of this subject has been exaggerated, and for this reason—through misconception and perverted ideas—we see the spirit that prevails at this meeting, which is unchristlike, and which we should never see exhibited among brethren. There has been a spirit of Pharisaism coming in among us which I shall lift my voice against wherever it may be revealed”.... 3SM 174.4

I could see a great want of wise discrimination and of good judgment. The evil of such things has often been presented before me. The difference of opinion was made apparent to both believers and unbelievers. These things made such an impression upon my mind that I felt that my brethren had met with a great change. This matter had been set before me while I was in Europe, in figures and symbols, but the explanation was given me afterwards so that I was not left in the dark in regard to the state of our churches and of our ministering brethren.... 3SM 175.1

I returned to my room questioning what was the best course for me to pursue. Many hours that night were spent in prayer in regard to the law in Galatians. This was a mere mote. Whichever way was in accordance with a “Thus saith the Lord,” my soul would say, Amen, and Amen. But the spirit that was controlling our brethren was so unlike the spirit of Jesus, so contrary to the spirit that should be exercised toward each other, it filled my soul with anguish. 3SM 175.2

In the next morning's meeting for the ministers I had some plain things to say to my brethren, which I dared not withhold. The salt had lost its savor, the fine gold become dim. Spiritual darkness was upon the people and many evidenced that they were moved with a power from beneath, for the result was just such as would be the case when they were not under the illumination of the Spirit of God. 3SM 175.3

What pages of history were being made by the recording angel! The leaven had indeed done its sharp work, and nearly leavened the lump. I had a message of reproof and warning for my brethren, I knew. My soul was pressed with anguish. To say these things to my brethren causes me far greater anguish than they caused those to whom they were addressed. Through the grace of Christ I experienced a divine compelling power to stand before my ministering brethren, in the name of the Lord, hoping and praying that the Lord would open the blind eyes. I was strengthened to say the words which my secretary took in shorthand.—Manuscript 24, 1888. 3SM 175.4

Minneapolis a Proving Ground—The Lord was testing and proving His people who had had great light, whether they would walk in it or turn from it under temptation, for but few know what manner of spirit they are of until circumstances shall be of a character to test the spirit which prompts to action. In many the natural heart is a controlling power, and yet they do not suppose that pride and prejudice are entertained as cherished guests, and work in the words and actions against light and truth. Our brethren who have occupied leading positions in the work and the cause of God should have been so closely connected with the Source of all light that they would not call light darkness and darkness light.... 3SM 176.1

Righteousness by Faith Does Not Downgrade the Law—Holding up Christ as our only source of strength, presenting His matchless love in having the guilt of the sins of men charged to His account and His own righteousness imputed to man, in no case does away with the law or detracts from its dignity. Rather, it places it where the correct light shines upon and glorifies it. This is done only through the light reflected from the cross of Calvary. The law is complete and full in the great plan of salvation, only as it is presented in the light shining from the crucified and risen Saviour. This can be only spiritually discerned. It kindles in the heart of the beholder ardent faith, hope, and joy that Christ is his righteousness. This joy is only for those who love and keep the words of Jesus, which are the words of God. 3SM 176.2

Were my brethren in the light the words that the Lord gave me for them would find a response in the hearts of those for whom I labored. As I saw that the hearts with which I longed to be in harmony were padlocked by prejudice and unbelief, I thought best for me to leave them. My purpose was to go from Minneapolis the first of the week.... 3SM 177.1

I wished to meditate, to pray, [that I might know] in what manner we could work to present the subject of sin and atonement in the Bible light before the people. They were greatly needing this kind of instruction that they might give the light to others and have the blessed privilege of being workers together with God in gathering in and bringing home the sheep of His fold. What power must we have from God that icy hearts, having only a legal religion, should see the better things provided for them—Christ and His righteousness! A life-giving message was needed to give life to the dry bones.—Manuscript 24, 1888. 3SM 177.2