The Unwise Use of Money and the Spirit of Speculation


Chapter 8—Wrong Methods Condemned

Sanitarium Cal.,

June 7, 1911.

Stonewall Jackson Harris, San Francisco, Cal.,

Dear Brother,

Yesterday I received your letter dated May 30, and the little booklet containing the statements regarding the Harris Company, which you say you wrote for publication in the Signs of the Times and the Watchman. SpTB17a 23.1

You say in your letter that you are getting out 35,000 copies of this statement to send out to our people, and you ask me to read the statement, and to ask the Lord to show me if this is His work. SpTB17a 24.1

In answer to your questions, Brother Harris, I am instructed to say to you that God is not leading you in your large plans and speculations. SpTB17a 24.2

I have been instructed that we should not accept your representations and plans and methods for obtaining money for the advancement of the work of the third angel's message. That which you suppose to be light from the Lord is a device of the enemy of souls to lead you and others out of the way of the Lord. Your proposals should not be encouraged by our people. SpTB17a 24.3

Again and again in the experience of the church, the servants of God have been called to meet deceptions in various forms that have crept in among the people to lead them astray and spoil their Christian experience. As we have sought the Lord for instruction concerning these delusions, I have been instructed that they were deceptions of the enemy by which he designed to lead men and women away from the sacred truth of the word of God, which must ever be their guide, into strange and forbidden paths. SpTB17a 24.4

The enemy is well pleased when, by means of wonderful representations, he can mislead church-members and persuade them to receive impressions regarding their work that bring dishonor to the cause of God. SpTB17a 24.5

You endeavor to reach correct decisions regarding religious duties, and to make decisions regarding business enterprises, by the tossing up of a coin, and letting the position in which it falls decide what course you shall pursue. I am instructed to say that we are not to give encouragement to any such methods. They are too common, too much like sleight-of-hand movements. They are not of the Lord, and those who depend upon them for direction will meet with failure and disappointment. Being nothing more than a matter of chance, the influence of adopting such tests regarding duty is calculated to lead the mind to depend on chance and guesswork, when all our work and plans for work should be established on the sure foundation of the word of God. SpTB17a 25.1

The people of God can come to a correct understanding of their duty only through sincere prayer and earnest seeking for the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. When they seek aright for instruction concerning their course of action, these strange and unreliable methods will not be accepted by them. They will then be saved from haphazard work, and from the confusion that is ever the result of depending on human devisings. SpTB17a 25.2

Brother Harris, the methods by which you design to raise means for the advancement of the cause of God, as set forth in your statement, do not bear the divine credentials, and therefore should not be accepted by the people. If you persist in carrying out your ideas, your work will have to be met by the message that God has given me. It is not by any such methods as you have adopted that God makes known His will to His children. These sleight-of-hand methods are the devices of the enemy to work on human hearts and lead them from God into deception and confusion. SpTB17a 25.3

The work of God for this time is not to be supported by the results of wild speculation. God would have our energies drawn out, not in a speculative experience that will lead souls on to Satan's ground, but in honest, hard work that produces beneficial results, and in earnestly seeking Him to know His will. Here we shall find certainty, and not guesswork. Those who seek the Lord with all the heart, will obtain a knowledge of their duty, and the assurance that the prayers of God's faithful people are honored in heaven. SpTB17a 26.1

Again and again testimonies of reproof have been given to the church to correct the spirit of speculation. Now I say to you, my brother, the Lord did not guide your mind when you were led to take up the work you are now doing. My testimony to you and to those who are united with you in your plans and speculations, is that you are pursuing a course which, if continued, will lead men and women away from obedience to God's commandments. You and those associated with you need to learn to distinguish between the interposition of Providence and the workings of a deceived mind. SpTB17a 26.2

Should the plan you are following for the raising of means be adopted by our people, a state of things would be brought in that would result in great confusion and loss of faith, and many souls would be hindered from reaching that sanctification of heart and purpose that God requires in His church. SpTB17a 26.3

The spirit of venture that you are manifesting is not in accordance with the Spirit of the Lord. If persisted in, it will bring disappointment and confusion to those who are caught with the ideas you present. Again and again in the past experience of the church, men have led out in speculations similar to those you are now undertaking, led on by the hope of securing great gain for the advancement of the cause of God. But after many trials, and the investment of time and money that brought in little returns, they were led to see that this is not the way of the Lord for His people. I have not time to tell of the many different ways in which men sought to obtain means by wrong methods, and whose course the Lord has corrected by testimonies of reproof and instruction. SpTB17a 27.1

I was instructed that our conference presidents and those who hold responsible positions in the work should be careful to give no encouragement to the speculative plans for the securing of means, for by these plans Satan will work to confuse the judgment. I was shown that in these last days there will arise many deceptive doctrines. Those who stand as teachers in the cause of truth need to learn the way of the Lord, that they may not be easily deceived by the agencies of evil. The work that is so essential to be done in these last days calls for earnest effort, and lives consecrated to entire obedience to the will and ways of God. SpTB17a 27.2

To our people I will say, Let none be led from the sound, sensible principles that God has laid down for the guidance of His people, to depend for direction on any such device as the tossing up of a coin. Such a course is well pleasing to the enemy of souls; for he works to control the coin, and through its agency works out his plans. Let none be so easily deceived as to place confidence in any such tests. Let none belittle their experience by resorting to cheap devices for direction in important matters connected with the work of God. SpTB17a 28.1

The Lord works in no haphazard way. Seek Him most earnestly in prayer. He will impress the mind, and will give tongue and utterance. The people of God are to be educated not to trust in human inventions and uncertain tests as a means of learning God's will concerning them. Satan and his agencies are always ready to step into any opening to be found that will lead souls away from the pure principles of the word of God. The people who are led and taught of God will give no place to devisings for which there is not a “Thus saith the Lord.” SpTB17a 28.2

Let all who claim to be preparing for the coming of the Lord humbly seek Him for a knowledge of His will, and for a spirit that is willing to walk in all the light He sends. As a people we have had much instruction regarding our duty to depend upon God for wisdom and counsel. Let us go to the word of God for instruction. “Search the Scriptures,” the Saviour said; “for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.” We need to humble our hearts and purify our souls daily, learning at all times to walk by the faith of the Son of God. SpTB17a 28.3

My brethren and sisters, leave all minor tests that you may be tempted to make, and test your spirit by the witness of the word of God. Study that word, that you may know the character and will of God. It is positively essential that every believer make the truths of the Bible his guide and safeguard. To every young man and woman, and to those of advanced years, I testify that the study of the Word is the only safeguard for the soul who would remain steadfast unto the end. SpTB17a 29.1

Ellen G. White