Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9

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Ms 82, 1894

Fanaticism and Side Issues

NP

January 14, 1894

Formerly Undated Ms 111. This manuscript is published in entirety in 3MR 25-36.

The Lord is soon to work among us in greater power, but there is danger of allowing our impulses to carry us where He does not want us to go. We must not take one step that we shall have to retrace. We must move solemnly, prudently, and not make use of extravagant expressions, or allow our feelings to become overwrought. We must think calmly, and work without excitement, for there will be those who become easily wrought up who will catch up unguarded expressions and make use of extreme utterances to create excitement, and thus counteract the very work that God desires us to do. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 1

There is a class of people who are always ready to go off on some tangent, who want to catch up something strange and wonderful and new; but God desires us all to move calmly, considerately, choosing our words in harmony with the solid truth for this time. The truth should be presented to the mind as free as possible from that which is emotional, while still bearing the intensity and solemnity befitting its character. We must guard against encouraging extremists, those who would be either in the fire or in the water. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 2

I beseech you to weed out of your teachings every extravagant expression, everything that unbalanced minds, and those who are inexperienced, will catch up, and which will lead them to make wild, immature movements. It is necessary for you to cultivate caution in every statement, lest you start some on a wrong track, and make confusion that will require much sorrowful labor to set in order, thus diverting the strength of the laborers into lines which God does not design shall be entered. One manifestation of fanaticism among us will close many doors against the soundest principles of truth. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 3

Oh how careful should every worker be not to rush on before the Master, but to follow where He leads the way! How it would rejoice the enemies of our faith to get hold of some statement made by our people which would have to be retracted! We must move discreetly, sensibly, for this is our strength; then God will work with us, and by us, and for us. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 4

Oh, how Satan would rejoice to get in among this people, and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential, and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings and to refute claims not endorsed by the Word of God. We want to hold the lines evenly, that there may be no breaking down of the system of regulation and order. In this way license will not be given to disorderly elements to control the work. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 5

We are living in a time when order, system, and unity of action are most essential. And the truth must bind us together like strong cords in order that no distracted efforts may be witnessed among the workers. If disorderly manifestations appear, we must have clear discernment to distinguish the spurious from the genuine. Let no messages be proclaimed until they have borne a careful scrutiny in every jot and tittle. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 6

My soul is much burdened, for I know what is before us. Every conceivable deception will be brought to bear upon those who have not a daily, living connection with God. Satan’s angels are wise to do evil, and they will create that which some will claim to be advanced light, and will proclaim [it] as new and wonderful; yet while in some respects the message may be truth, it will be mingled with human inventions, and will teach for doctrine the commandments of men. If there was ever a time when we should watch and pray in real earnest, it is now. Many apparently good things will need to be carefully considered with much prayer, for they are specious devices of the enemy to lead souls in a path which lies so close to the path of truth that it will be scarcely distinguishable from it. But the eye of faith may discern that it is diverging, though almost imperceptibly, from the right path. At first it may be thought positively right, but after a while it is seen to be widely divergent from the way which leads to holiness and heaven. My brethren, I warn you to make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 7

*****

In the work of ministers and laymen who have not a daily connection with God there is not that which will stand the test of storm and tempest. A new order of things has come into the ministry. There is a desire to pattern after other churches, and simplicity and humility are almost unknown. The young ministers seek to be original, and to introduce new ideas and new plans for labor. Some open revival meetings, and by this means call large numbers into the church. But when the excitement is over, where are the converted ones? Repentance and confession of sin are not seen. The sinner is entreated to believe in Christ and accept Him, without regard to his past life of sin and rebellion. The heart is not broken. There is no contrition of soul. The supposed converted ones have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 8

The Old and New Testament Scriptures show us the only way in which this work should be done. Repent, repent, [repent,] was the message rung out by John the Baptist in the wilderness. Christ’s message to the people was, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5. And the apostles were commanded to preach everywhere that men should repent. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 9

The Lord desires His servants today to preach the old gospel doctrine, sorrow for sin, repentance, and confession. We want old-fashioned sermons, old-fashioned customs, old-fashioned fathers and mothers in Israel. The sinner must be labored for, perseveringly, earnestly, wisely, until he shall see that he is a transgressor of God’s law, and shall exercise repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. When the sinner is conscious of his helpless condition, and feels his need of a Saviour, he may come with hope and faith to the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. Christ will accept the soul that comes to Him in true repentance. A broken and contrite heart He will not despise. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 10

Brethren should not feel that it is a virtue to stand apart because they do not see all minor points in exactly the same light. If they agree on fundamental truths, they should not differ and dispute about matters of little real importance. To dwell on perplexing questions, that after all are of no vital consequence, tends to call the mind away from truths vital to the saving of the soul. Brethren should be very modest in urging these side issues which often they do not themselves understand, points that they do not know to be truth and that are not essential to salvation. When there is difference of opinion on such points, the less prominence you give to them the better it will be for your own spirituality and for the peace and unity of the church. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 11

Unbelievers are critical, and they seek to frame some excuse for not receiving the truth as it is in Jesus. Where these differences exist among us, those who stand outside will say, “It will be time enough for us to believe as you do when you can agree among yourselves as to what constitutes truth.” Thus the ungodly take advantage of the divisions and controversies among Christians. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 12

We are to pray for divine enlightenment, and at the same time we should be careful about receiving everything termed new light. We must beware, lest, under cover of searching for new truth, we allow Satan to divert our minds from Christ and the special truths for this time. I have been shown that it is the device of the enemy to divert men’s minds to some obscure or unimportant point, something that is not fully revealed or is not essential to salvation. This is made the absorbing theme, the “present truth” [2 Peter 1:12], when all the investigations and suppositions only serve to make matters more obscure and to confuse the minds of some who ought to be seeking for oneness through sanctification of the truth. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 13

*****

All must be careful what they present to the people as truth. Do not present your own imaginations. The enemy tries to warp and twist human minds. To the one who will listen to him, he will present ideas which are odd and peculiar, which will create a sensation. These he leads him to present to others, with a test which he has imagined. Thus Satan sets minds running in wrong channels, diverting them from the genuine tests which God has presented in His Word. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 14

There is no need of entering into controversy with the poor souls who think they are doing God’s service when they are believing fables. When our young ministers hurt themselves and bring reproach upon God’s cause by placing solemn, sacred truth on a level with fables, let them be advised to become converted by closely studying the Word with men of experience, who for years have understood the truth. Let them turn from romance, from the fanciful interpretations which have no foundation in God’s Word. “What is the chaff to the wheat?” Jeremiah 23:28. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 15

In this age of error, of daydreaming and reverie, we need to learn the first principles of the doctrine of Christ. Let us strive to be able to say with the apostle, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:16. The Lord calls upon us to follow high and noble principles. We must let the principles of the third angel’s message stand out clear and distinct. The great pillars of our faith will hold all the weight that can be placed upon them. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 16

Young men must be educated to keep within the bounds of “It is written.” Paul writes, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering 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. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” That time has come. I present the word of warning: “Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 17

No one is to put truth to the torture by placing a forced, mythical construction upon the Word. Thus some are in danger of turning the truth of God into a lie. There are those who need in their hearts the touch of the divine Spirit. Then the message for this time will be their burden. They will not search for human tests, for something new and strange. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the test for this time, and all connected with this great memorial is to be kept before the people. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 18

I have words to speak to the young men who have been teaching the truth. Preach the Word. You may have inventive minds. You may be expert, as were the Jewish teachers, in getting up new theories; but Christ said of them, “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9. They presented to the people traditions, suppositions, and fables of all kinds. The forms and ceremonies they enjoined made it simply impossible for the people to know whether they were keeping the Word of God or following the traditions of men. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 19

Satan is well pleased when he can thus confuse the mind. Let not ministers preach their own suppositions. Let them search the Scriptures earnestly, with a solemn realization that if they teach for doctrine the things that are not contained in God’s Word, they will be as those represented in the last chapter of Revelation. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 20

Let those who are tempted to indulge in fanciful, imaginary doctrines sink the shaft deep into the mines of heavenly truth, and secure the riches which mean life eternal to the receiver. Precious treasure will be secured by those who study God’s Word with earnestness, for heavenly angels will direct the search. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 21

Our ministers must cease to dwell upon their peculiar ideas, with the feeling, “You must see the point as I do, or you cannot be saved.” Away with this egotism! The great work to be done in every case is to win souls to Christ. Men must see Jesus on the cross; they must look and live. It is not your ideas they must feed upon, but it is the flesh and blood of the Son of God. He says, “My flesh is meat indeed.” “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” [John 6:55, 63.] The soul that accepts Jesus places himself under the care of the Great Physician, and let men be careful how they come between the patient and the Physician who discerns all the needs of the soul. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 22

Christ, the Physician of the soul, understands its defects and its maladies, and knows how to deal with the purchase of His own blood. What the soul lacks, He can best supply. But men are so officious, they want to do so much, that they overdo the matter, leaving Christ no room to work. Whatever molding and fashioning needs to be wrought in the soul, Christ can best do. The conviction may not be deep, but if the sinner comes to Christ, viewing Him upon the cross, the Just dying for the unjust, the sight will break every barrier down. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 23

Christ has undertaken the work of saving all who trust in Him for salvation. He sees the wrongs that need to be righted, the evils that need to be repressed. He came to seek and save that which was lost. “Him that cometh to me,” He says, “I will in no wise cast out.” [Verse 37.] Through the goodness and mercy of Christ the sinner is to be restored to the divine favor. God in Christ is daily beseeching men to be reconciled to God. With outstretched arms He is ready to receive and welcome, not only the sinner but the prodigal. His love, manifested on Calvary, is the sinner’s assurance of acceptance, peace, and love. Teach these things in the simplest form, that the sin-darkened soul may see the light shining from the cross of Calvary. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 24

Satan is working in many ways, that the very men who ought to preach the message may be occupied with fine-drawn theories which he will cause to appear of such magnitude and importance as to fill the whole mind; and while they think they are making wonderful strides in experience, they are idolizing a few ideas, and their influence is injured and tells but little on the Lord’s side. Let every minister make earnest efforts to ascertain what is the mind of Christ. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 25

There are those who pick out from the Word of God, and also from the Testimonies, detached paragraphs or sentences that may be interpreted to suit their ideas, and they dwell upon these, and build themselves up in their own positions, when God is not leading them. Now all this pleases the enemy. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 26

We should not needlessly take a course that will make differences or cause dissension. We should not give the impression that if our particular ideas are not followed, it is because the ministers are lacking in comprehension. There are in the lessons of Christ subjects in abundance that you can speak upon; and mysteries which neither you nor your hearers can understand or explain might better be left alone. Give the Lord Jesus Christ Himself room to teach; let Him by the influence of His Spirit open to the understanding the wonderful plan of salvation. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 27

There is a time of trouble coming to the people of God, but we are not to keep that constantly before the people, and rein them up to have a time of trouble beforehand. There is to be a shaking among God’s people; but this is not the present truth to carry to the churches; it will be the result of refusing the truth presented. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 28

The ministers should not feel that they have some wonderful advanced ideas, and unless all receive these, they will be shaken out, and a people will arise to go forward and upward to the victory. Satan’s object is accomplished just as surely when men run ahead of Christ and do the work He has never entrusted to their hands, as when they remain in the Laodicean state, lukewarm, feeling rich and increased with goods, and in need of nothing. The two classes are equally stumbling blocks. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 29

Some zealous ones who are aiming and straining every energy for originality have made a grave mistake in trying to get something startling, wonderful, entrancing, before the people, something that they think others do not comprehend; but often they do not themselves know what they are talking about. They speculate upon God’s Word, advancing ideas that are not a whit of help to themselves or to the churches. For the time being, they may excite the imagination; but there is a reaction, and these very ideas become a hindrance. Faith is confounded with fancy, and their views may bias the mind in the wrong direction. Let the plain, simple statements of the Word of God be food for the mind; this speculating upon ideas that are not clearly presented there, is dangerous business. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 30

Some are naturally combative. They do not care whether they harmonize with their brethren or not. They would like to enter into controversy, would like to fight for their particular ideas; but they should lay this aside, for it is not developing the Christian graces. Work with all your power to answer the prayer of Christ, that His disciples may be one, as He is one with the Father. Not a soul of us is safe unless we learn of Christ daily His meekness and lowliness. In your labor do not be dictatorial, do not be severe, do not be antagonistic. Preach the love of Christ, and this will melt and subdue hearts. Seek to be of one mind and one judgment with your brethren, and to speak the same things. This talking about divisions, because all do not have the same ideas as present themselves to your mind, is not the work of God but of the enemy. Talk the simple truths wherein you can agree. Talk of unity; do not become narrow and conceited; let your mind broaden. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 31

Christ does not weigh character in the scales of human judgment. He says, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32. Every soul who responds to this drawing will turn from iniquity. Christ is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto Him. He who comes to Jesus is setting his feet upon a ladder that reaches from earth to heaven. Teach it by pen, by voice, that God is above the ladder; the bright rays of His glory are shining upon every round. He is looking graciously upon all who are climbing painfully upward, that He may send them help, divine help, when the hand seems to be relaxing and the foot trembling. Yes, tell it, tell it in words that will melt the heart, that not one who will perseveringly climb the ladder will fail of an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; those who believe in Christ shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His hand. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 32

Tell the people in clear, hopeful language how they may escape the heritage of shame which is our deserved portion. But for Christ’s sake do not present before them ideas that will discourage them, that will make the way to heaven seem very difficult. While we must often impress the mind with the fact that the Christian life is a life of warfare, that we must watch and pray and toil, that there is peril to the soul in relaxing spiritual vigilance for one moment, the completeness of the salvation proffered us by Jesus, who loved us and gave Himself that we should not perish but have everlasting life, is to be our theme. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 33

Day by day we must talk with God, day by day following on to know the Lord, entering into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, laying hold on the hope set before us. If we reach heaven it must be by binding our souls to the Mediator, becoming partakers of the divine nature. Leaning on Christ, your life being hid with Christ in God, is your trust. And led by His Spirit, you have the genuine faith. Believing fully in the efficacy of His atoning sacrifice, we shall be laborers together with God. Trusting in His merits we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 34

Always keeping hold of Christ, we are coming nearer and nearer to God. Jesus desires us to keep this always prominent. Do not arouse your combative spirit; the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits. 9LtMs, Ms 82, 1894, par. 35