The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials


Chapter 28—The Discernment of Truth

MS - 16 - 1889

Cir. Jan. 1889

Many times in my experience I have been called upon to meet the attitude of a certain class, who acknowledged that the testimonies were from God, but took the position that this matter and that matter were Sister White's opinion and judgment. This suits those who do not love reproof and correction, and who, if their ideas are crossed, have occasion to explain the difference between the human and the divine. 1888 257.1

If the preconceived opinions or particular ideas of some are crossed in being reproved by testimonies, they have a burden at once to make plain their position to discriminate between the testimonies, defining what is Sister White's human judgment, and what is the word of the Lord. Everything that sustains their cherished ideas is divine, and the testimonies to correct their errors are human—Sister White's opinions. They make of none effect the counsel of God by their tradition. 1888 257.2

Brother B. is on the wrong track. God has not given the work into his hands to set up his human wisdom to put his hand on the sacred ark of God. When sitting in judgment upon the living oracles of God, did he consider that God had placed upon him the work to pass judgment as to what is inspired in the Word of God and what is not inspired? Has God committed the work to him to state what sort of degrees of inspiration attend some utterances and what is wanting in others? Whatever may be his thoughts in these things, if they are kept to himself they will not harm other souls. 1888 257.3

Did God put the burden upon him? I answer, No, He never gave any such burden to any mortal man. And if he had not become exalted he would never have dared to put his hand on sacred things to cut and carve the sacred Scriptures as he has ventured to do. 1888 257.4

The words spoken to Joshua are applicable to Elder B. “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.” Joshua 5:15. You are led astray by the enemy, and while you have been doing a work the Lord has never committed to mortal minds to do, you have been wonderfully zealous in regard to any difference of opinion being presented upon the law in Galatians. You speak of the position I have taken upon it and the letter I wrote you being the cause of your sickness. This may be your own interpretation of the matter, but I have reason to lay your sickness to causes that you do not see. 1888 258.1

God is not pleased with your work. His condemnation is upon it. And these skeptical ideas that undermine all inspiration have been taught in our college and have been printed in our church paper. The seeds have been springing up and you must reap the harvest. These sentiments should never have seen the light of day. They should never have been put into the paper. Have God's people put out their eyes, that they cannot distinguish between truth and error, the sacred and the profane? Elder B. you will never want to meet your harvest in the day of God. 1888 258.2

I am pained to the heart, for I have been shown that if our brethren had stood in their proper place, seeking counsel of God and trusting in God, they would not have placed Elder B. in the place of God and Elder B's judgment would not have been considered as the judgment of God. 1888 258.3

When the resolution was urged upon the conference that nothing should be taught in the college contrary to that which has been taught, I felt deeply, for I knew whoever framed that resolution was not aware of what he was doing. And when one of the elders of the church was asked if Elder Jones was not to be invited to speak and give his views on national reform and the Sunday law, the answer was that Elder ______ thought he had better not be invited to speak, for he took rather strong positions. And the arrangements were made to shut him out of the school for fear something should come in that would be at variance with what has been taught in the school. Was this a conscientiousness inspired by the Spirit of God? Certainly there was not the spirit of inspiration upon you from God, but from another source. 1888 258.4

When your pen traced those lines, I said Elder B. does not half understand the Scriptures. New and Old Testaments are not understood by finite minds as they will be. The Bible is a progressive book; the communication of intelligence grows with the opening of God's Word to the understanding. 1888 259.1

Oh, how little finite beings comprehend the deep things of the Lord God! How few comprehend or try to ascertain the mysteries of the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles! The Bible presents beautiful truths that all may understand, and at the same time it deals in deep mysteries and doctrines which will require deep thought to understand. But nothing is to be misinterpreted, misapplied, or weakened as lightly inspired if inspired at all. God does nothing by halves. His Word is inspired. And God designs that men shall take the Scriptures as His inspired Word, and any man that shall venture to distinguish between the portions of God's Word, exalting one and belittling another, and taking away from another, places himself in a dangerous position. 1888 259.2

There are most precious truths which the lapse of time and separation from God, the source of light, had displaced and disconnected from their true position. Their principles had become extinct. Christ came to remove the rubbish which had covered these truths from sight. He presented them as gems in a new framework of truth. He brought them before the people. He showed them that far from disdaining the repetition of old, familiar truths, He came to make them appear in their true force and beauty, the glory of which the people had never yet discerned. These truths He put in new settings and made them available by recalling them, clothing them with their original simplicity, and establishing them anew. 1888 259.3

The principles and bearings of the truth had disappeared from the minds of men as they separated in heart and practice from God and the truth. These principles had become covered up with superstition, forms, and customs. Men in their depravity had misinterpreted revealed truths and explained them to suit their own unconsecrated condition, their own destitution of spirituality and the love of God. Himself the Author of these truths, Christ could reopen and revive them. This work was to restore the significance of truth and to make plain the divine will. 1888 260.1

Christ had the power of recasting important truths, releasing them from the forms and customs in which they had been incased, which robbed them of life and vital power, and giving them back to the world in all their original freshness and force and in their sacred, elevated character. Himself the originator of truth, He could explain its true, far-reaching principles. He borrowed nothing from earthly intellect of the highest order. He Himself had created all the thought, all the talent, but the minds of men of the highest intelligence had been able to comprehend only a small part of the infinite whole. 1888 260.2

Christ condescended to assume human nature, but the dwarfed powers of man were unable through ignorance to comprehend or distinguish the divine. Jesus was not spared the necessity of defining and defending His divine nature, because the minds of men were so thoroughly human they could not discern the divine beneath the assumption of humanity. In order to make His lessons forceful, He was compelled, when these impressions hindered His usefulness, to refer to His mysterious and divine character, leading their minds into a train of thought that was favorable to the transforming power of truth. 1888 260.3

He used the natural things with which they were familiar to make divine instruction clear to their understanding, thus preparing the way for the seeds of truth to be dropped into the prepared soil of the heart. He made them feel that He was identified with their nature and their interest. At the same time they were favored with opportunities of contrasting His superior excellencies with the most honored and acceptable rabbinical teachers. His excellence in all His teachings was revealed in a simplicity, dignity, and power that had an attraction for all who listened to His words, with the exception of the priests and rulers, who hated Him for the very graces which influenced the people to leave them and go to Jesus to hear His teachings. 1888 261.1

What shall we say to present this matter as it is, and make it comprehensible to the minds of the teachers of truth as well as the minds of the hearers of truth? What can ignorance and finite powers do to this subject? Christ lifted His eyes to heaven and in a voice made pathetic by pity and sympathy for the ignorance of fallen man, He prayed, “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee.” John 17:25. “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” Matthew 11:27. “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world.” John 17:6. 1888 261.2

If ever a people have need of clearer and increased light from heaven, it is the people whom God has made the repository of His law. The men to whom God has committed sacred trusts need to be spiritualized, elevated, vitalized by the sacred truth they profess to believe. When the history of our cause and work reveals that men who have occupied positions of sacred trust, who have been teachers of the truth to others, are found unfaithful and turn away from the holy commandment delivered unto them, what carefulness should it lead us to! What distrust of self! How it should strip us of self-sufficiency and spiritual pride! What humble views we should have of our wisdom and our own insufficiency! How we should sense the fact that we are kept by the power of God through faith! 1888 261.3

God has heretofore spoken to me at sundry times and in divers manners. Notwithstanding He has given to men precious views of the divine character, this light did not save them. Solomon at one time, as he entered upon his work, had remarkable manifestations of divine power. He was employed to build the temple of God and he offered a most remarkable prayer at its dedication and yet he could and did forsake the very temple to worship idols. 1 Kings 9:2-10. 1888 262.1

Copied from handwritten original
as grammatically corrected.
December 4, 1958.