The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials


Lessons from the Vine

Remarks of Mrs. E. G. White at the Bible School
February 7, 1890

I have been thinking of the lesson that Christ gave to His disciples just prior to His entering the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing it would be His last opportunity to instruct His disciples before His crucifixion. He says to them, as he points to a vine—and the vine is something that the Jews greatly prized and respected and considered very beautiful—“I am the true vine; my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit shall be taken away.” Now, here is something for us to study. “Taken away.” We have our opportunities now to bear fruit; we have our opportunities now that we can reveal that we are fruit-bearing branches of the vine. And if we go on now in a careless and indifferent manner, then what will be our position? He tells us He will take us away, for we cannot do anything without Christ; and if we are as a dead branch and do not draw any sap and nourishment from the living vine, we shall become withered branches. He says every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it (pruneth it), that it may bring forth more fruit. Then He tells them that “It is My Father's good pleasure that ye bring forth much fruit.” Are we the branches of the living vine? Now, if we are, we are distinct; we are not all blended together; there are a number of branches, but we have one parent stock. If we are in Christ, and Christ is in us, will not our conversation, our words—everything we say—our deportment—everything we do—will it not have reference to Jesus Christ? 1888 561.1

Well, then, supposing that every branch had a voice—if they are bearing fruit they do have a voice—will they talk to every shrub, every tree, and everything that is around them, and not talk to the parent stock? Now, if we are in that parent stock, shall we not direct our conversation to that stock? Will not Christ be our center? And shall we not refer everything, and hang everything upon Him? 1888 561.2

Where we have made a mistake, brethren, is in considering men infallible, no matter what their position, no matter how high a position they may have. It is in considering that men are infallible because the Lord has given them a work to do. Now, if these men were ever abiding in Christ, and Christ ever abiding in them, without any moment that they were separated from Christ, then we could have more dependence than we can today; but we know that frequently they make mistakes and errors. Then shall we judge them because they may make some mistakes and some errors? There is no more dependence to be placed in those than those you count infallible, because there are not any of us infallible. But I tell you what is infallible—the truth of the living God is infallible. And if we can get hold of the truth, and have the truth in us, abiding in us, we shall be sanctified through the truth, and we shall be drawing nearer and nearer to God. 1888 562.1

And yet we have the enemy in our world to contend with. We have the powers of darkness to meet. We have to be in this conflict just as long as time shall last. Our Saviour was in the conflict with the powers of darkness, and the powers of darkness were in conflict with Him ever after He entered our world. Satan was in conflict with Him. And then just as soon as His reasoning powers were exercised, then he was in conflict with the powers of darkness. His very coming—as a babe in Bethlehem—was to set up a standard against the enemy. You can't take the whole world; you can't claim it. 1888 562.2

And when He went away, what did He do? Who is to take up the controversy? Who are the visible ones who are to take up the controversy here in this world and carry it through to the very end? They are those who are Christ's followers, every soul of them. It is not merely the delegated ministers. There is where our people make a grand mistake. They seem to think that day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute in the conflict, the ministers must take care of them. It belongs to every soul of us. 1888 563.1

We do not know what work God has for us to do, we cannot tell, unless we begin with the very talents He has given us. If we have only the one talent and we begin to put that to the exchangers, and then we begin to work with that one talent, and God sees that we are faithful in that which is least, then He will give us another talent. And then as we use that to the glory of God, and we are all the time centering in Christ as the branch is centered in the vine, drawing our sap and our nourishment from Jesus Christ, then we are in a position to bless all who come into connection with us. And thus the talent keeps increasing and growing; and the more we put it to the exchangers the more talents we have to employ to the glory of God. Now, brethren, we do not half understand the lessons that Christ has given us—the most precious lessons—and we want to understand them more and more. We want to come to Christ and ask Him to enlighten our minds, to give us spiritual eyesight, that we may know more of the truth. 1888 563.2

Do not any one think, that there we have got all the truth we need; we have got the main pillars of the faith, and if we are right there we have no need to trouble ourselves that we may understand the truth ourselves. One minister who has been in the work for years and years, says, “Now, Sister White, have we got to understand ourselves? There are reasons that are from the Bible in regard to the points of our faith; why can't we take them, as others have prepared them, and then we need not take that time; and we proclaim it. We believe these to be men of God (and there was one man mentioned). Don't you believe that he was inspired of God?” No, I do not. I do not believe any such thing. I believe that God has given him a work to do. And if there is a man or a woman who is not consecrated and devoted to God every hour, I do not care who they are, the enemy will slip in some of self—weave it right in, his peculiar traits, his peculiar ideas—and the first thing, he is molding others, he is putting his fashion upon those who are around him. It is dangerous business to exalt man, or to lean upon man, to make flesh our arm. What we want is to lean upon the arm that has been stretched out for us to lean upon, and that is the Lord God of Israel, and in Him we may trust. 1888 563.3

Now, there is a power for this people. I know it. God has been revealing it to me for years, and the time has come. We want to know that that living faith should be inspired in our hearts, and that we shall be reaching out for more light and more knowledge. Every individual wants to know the truth for himself. 1888 564.1

Now, here you are in this school. Brother Waggoner may present the truth before you. You may say that the matter that he presents is truth. But then what will you do? You must go to the Scriptures for yourselves. You must search them with humble hearts. If you are just full of prejudice and your own preconceived opinions, and if you entertain the idea that there is nothing for you to know, and that you know all that is worth knowing, you will not get any benefit here. But if you come like children, you want to learn all there is for you—if the God from heaven has sent anything for me, I want it. The Lord of Heaven has led the mind of man to make a specialty of studying the Scriptures, and when those Scriptures are presented, He has given me reasoning powers. I can see the evidence just as well as he can see it; I can find the evidence as he finds it. I can go out and speak the truth because I know it is the truth. And I do know that it is the truth, and therefore I can present it—not as the product of somebody else's mind, but I can present it as the woman of Samaria, as she bore testimony that she had found the Messiah. They flocked out to hear Him, and they said, We know for ourselves, we have seen Him, we have heard Him for ourselves; and we know that this is the Christ. 1888 564.2

Cannot you question and investigate with one another? Indeed you can. But the great trouble is that self is so large in us all that just as soon as we begin to investigate, we will do it in such an unchristian manner. It has been done here in Battle Creek; it was done in Minneapolis; it has been done in many other places. God is not in any such work as that at all; it is the devil that is in such work as that. We want to come to the Scriptures with humble hearts. If God has a work for us we are ready for it, and we want to know that it is the truth for ourselves, and thus you be driven to your Bibles. You must be driven to them. 1888 565.1

From the light that God has given me, we shall be separated and scattered, many of us. You will have to stand in places alone. You will not have any connection with other leading minds that you can gather strength from them. You will have to stand with your own God by your side, and know that He is by your side. We want to know that He is by our side today; that He is right with us when we come together in this house. You should remember that the Master of assemblies is here. God does not leave the ship for an ignorant pilot to steer anywhere; He just stands at the helm, and then we work under orders. Now, we want the orders, and we want the orders from the Captain of our salvation. I believe without a doubt that God has given precious truth at the right time to Brother Jones and Brother Waggoner. Do I place them as infallible? Do I say that they will not make a statement or have an idea that cannot be questioned or that cannot be error? Do I say so? No, I do not say any such thing. Nor do I say that of any man in the world. But I do say God has sent light, and do be careful how you treat it. We want the truth as it is in Jesus. We do not want to go away from the meeting and if there is a word spoken that we cannot agree with, scatter that where our brethren and sisters are. No. Go to your knees and pray that we may know what is truth. And the teachers in the Sabbath School, they need to know there are minds they are molding; and it is no light matter to stand up before the pupils and claim that you have light, when perhaps there is dangerous error mixed in with it. 1888 565.2

I spoke the other morning in regard to some coming to the meeting. That is why I wanted them to come. I mentioned Brother Ballenger's name, with Brother Smith's name—Brother Leon and Elder Smith. Now, it was not because I would give you the impression that Brother Ballenger was closing his ears to the truth; for he has been receiving it as he has had opportunity. But I speak of these men that they may know, that they may understand, what is truth; and if they will not hear, if they will keep away, just as the ministers tell the congregations, the stay-away argument, don't go to hear. Now, you want to hear everything. If he has got error we want to know it, we want to understand it, those that are in prominent positions, and then we want to investigate for ourselves. We want to know that it is truth; and if it is truth, brethren, those children in the Sabbath School want it, and every soul of them need it. This is what we want. 1888 566.1

Those that are in responsible positions, I say you are under obligation to God to know what is going on here. And then everything that is said—right “to the law and testimony; if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them.” If the light is in them, and they have it, why, I beseech you, do not be so full of prejudice. 1888 566.2

This has given me such a sadness and grief to know that there are those who have just had their hearts filled with prejudice. And they listen for every word they can catch. Why, there, there it is; they are Perfect. Who says they are perfect? Who claims it? We claim God has given us light in the right time. And now we should receive the truth of God—receive it as of heavenly origin. When we come together to examine the Scriptures, let us have the spirit of Christ. When a point is proven, Oh, they will not acknowledge a word. Why, they see no light, but pour it in, question after question. Well, not one point is settled. They do not acknowledge they have met that point; but pour in a whole list of questions. Now, brethren, we want to know what it is to examine the Scriptures, as those who want light, and not as those who want to shut out the light. May God give us His Holy Spirit here this morning, and may He give us His spirit day by day. We want to walk humbly with God. We want to stand in the light of His countenance. We want the meekness of Christ. God help us that we may learn in the school of Christ every day. 1888 567.1

Copied from material furnished by GC Archives
7/28/78 nc
see Review and Herald, March 25, 1890 for similar material