The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials


Chapter 162—The Danger of Self-Sufficiency in God's Work

Ms - 18 - 1896

[Sent to J. E. White, O. A. Olsen, E. J. Waggoner, C. H. Jones, Uriah Smith, May 10, 1896.]

God is continually exercising his love toward the beings formed in his own image. He regarded us of such value that he gave his beloved son to a shameful death to save us from ruin. No earthly parent ever manifested for his children such tender, disinterested love as he, the holy God, has shown toward the transgressors of his law. He has affectionately studied the happiness of his own heritage, and he delights in the manifestation of harmony and love among his children. 1888 1356.1

As sons and daughters of God, and members of the royal family, we are to learn of him daily, that we may do his will and represent his character. The love of God received into the heart is an active power for good. It quickens the faculties of the mind and the powers of the soul; it enlarges the capacity for feeling, for loving. He who loves God supremely will love all the children of God. He will ever approach them with a respectful demeanor. And whatever his position of trust, his own considerate courtesy will win for him confidence and respect. 1888 1356.2

If this spirit pervaded our institutions, leading everyone to manifest toward his fellow-workers a love that is without dissimilation, these institutions would be a representation of heaven on earth. They would be a perpetual testimony to the world of what sanctifying truth can do when practiced by the receiver. Every man desires that this love may be exercised toward himself; and God calls upon him to reveal the same spirit toward others. 1888 1356.3

The Lord will never sanction the exercise of arbitrary authority, nor will he serve with the least selfishness or dishonesty in the dealing of men with their fellow-men. Yet these things have been manifest in the management of affairs in connection with the work in Battle Creek. Words cannot express too strongly the offensive character of the disposition to rule or ruin which has for years been revealed, and which has been strengthening by exercise. 1888 1357.1

As the state of things existing in the office of publication has been presented before me by the Holy Spirit, I have not withheld the message that God has given me for the men in responsible positions. Again and again I have been moved upon to reprove the selfishness that, as you know, has prevailed in many lines of the work. Men who know little of the working of the Spirit of God upon their own hearts have exalted themselves beyond measure in undertaking to force others to accept their terms and come under their control. There are those who regard no man's judgment as superior, or even equal to their own. They are narrowing the work by disregarding the suggestions of men of experience, because these ideas do not coincide with their own plans. At the same time these very ones are not willing for others to exercise their independent judgment. Plans are set on foot for restricting the liberty of the workers. Through these oppressive plans, men who should stand free in God are trammelled by restrictions from those who are only their fellow-laborers. 1888 1357.2

Men in the office at Battle Creek have acted as if they had jurisdiction of other men's intellect and conscience, and could manipulate them to serve any purpose which they might choose. They have had an opportunity to reveal how much they themselves really have the cause of God at heart. If it can be advanced through their plans for compelling others to sacrifice for it, they are glad to see its prosperity. While grasping all the benefit possible for themselves, they have, both in the matter of royalties and other lines felt it their prerogative to crowd down the very ones whom God was using to diffuse light. Of the work of these persons they have made very little, while they made much of their own, that bore the stamp of the unsanctified human agent. It would have been better for the cause today if these men had never put their hand to the work. They have tried to force their ideas upon those who have the cause much nearer their hearts than some of these who are so forward to dictate. 1888 1358.1

How does the spirit of self-exaltation and grasping for arbitrary authority compare with the spirit and example of Christ? Our people, who talk of religious liberty, have lessons to learn as to what liberty in Christ really is. The Lord has marked the oppression that has been practiced. To the men that are working in lines that are not in accordance with Bible principles he declares that he will not accept the means gained in this way. 1888 1358.2

Bro. Olsen's eyes have not always been clear to discern; he himself has been misled, and has sanctioned wrong by sustaining men that were not walking in the light. His course has not been pleasing to God, in favoring many of the propositions that have been acted upon since the Minneapolis meeting. Since that meeting, he has not, at all times, borne a straightforward, unflinching testimony for the right. From his compromising position, the men who were trying to carry things according to their own will, have thought that he sustained their plans. 1888 1359.1

Now it is represented to me that financial matters have become embarrassed. The employment of worldly plans and methods by some of our responsible men has entangled their feet in the snares of Satan, and has laid a net in which the Lord's work is becoming, entangled, and from which there will be difficulty in extricating it. Now Bro. Olsen shrinks from taking a decided course, for he fears the results. 1888 1359.2

If the Lord had not sent line upon line, and precept upon precept, the case would be entirely different. But light has been given, and yet many have chosen darkness rather than light. I tell you that which I know: God has been greatly dishonored by the conniving to bringing money into the office by robbing brain workers of their rights. Bro. Olsen needs to have as co-laborers, different men to represent the cause of God,—men who are surrounded by an entirely different atmosphere. 1888 1359.3

For those at the heart of the work, who have treated their fellow-men as if they had hearts of steel, I testify that upon the record of the books of heaven they stand enrolled as those that are not doers of the words of Christ. Your ingenious devising and your confederating to sustain one another, will not avail to give you a more favorable showing before God. You must be brought to see what has been the foundation principles of your management. The selfishness, the oppression and robbery must cease, before God can look with favor upon your work. 1888 1359.4

And you, my brother Olsen, are not clear before your God. While you allow yourself to be influenced and moulded as you have been, you are virtually saying to those whom God reproves, It is well with you. For years the Lord has been setting their sins before them, yet the reproofs and warnings are unheeded. What does it mean? I am sore troubled in your behalf, because you do not regard the light given. Unless you shall make a decided change in your policy, and no longer permit yourself to be guided by the words of unwise counsellors, the light in you will become darkness, and you will not have a clean record in the books of heaven. 1888 1360.1

Biblical Institutes.

The holding of so many biblical institutes among our own people is not wise. The object is good in itself, but there is a more urgent work to be done in carrying the light of truth into regions where it has not penetrated. The laborers held to work for those who already have a knowledge of the truth are kept away from the people who know it not. Souls in spiritual blindness, prejudiced by these who misrepresent the truth, have been left unhelped. O the neglect that will be charged against individuals, organizations, and churches in that day when every man shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body. Then it will be found how great was the measure of responsibility for failing to extend the work to the regions beyond. 1888 1361.1

The Lord has bidden us look to Jesus for spiritual knowledge, not that we may hide the light under a bushel, but that it may give light to all who are in the house. God has given his Son “for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.” (Please read also Isaiah 43:9-13; 44:3-8.) 1888 1361.2

When institutes and similar meetings are held, let them be held at some other place than Battle Creek. Let them give character to the work, and spread the knowledge of the truth in localities where it is not known. This may not be convenient, but, I ask, was it convenient for Christ to leave the royal courts? Was it convenient for him to leave his honor, his glory, and his high command, and humble himself to become one with us? Our Saviour came to this world that was all seared and marred with the curse. He did not go to worlds unfallen, but to those who needed him most. His example we, to whom he has entrusted his work, are to copy. He calls us to feed the hungry sheep and lambs. Christ reached to the very depths of human woe that he might rescue us, but how do his methods of labor compare with those of many who profess to believe on him. 1888 1361.3

Building in Battle Creek.

You ask in regard to the propriety of erecting more buildings for our work in Battle Creek. Has not the light been given in regard to this matter? No doubt many urge, “It will be more convenient to have additional buildings.” What if it is? Shall the Lord's money be used in adding building to building, when there are so many places where there are none? Have you, my brother, read the testimonies on this point, and then put them aside as others have done, and never looked at them again? In what kind of condition is Battle Creek, that you should seek to bring in more people to be leavened with the influences that prevail there? The cloud of God's wrath is already gathering over the cities where great light has been shining, and has not been appreciated, and where those who profess the truth have misrepresented it in their characters, in their spirit, and in the atmosphere that surrounds their souls. 1888 1362.1

From the very last letter I sent to Battle Creek, but a few weeks ago, I read the testimony, “The money spent in enlarging the institutions in Battle Creek might far better be devoted to planting the truth in places where it had not yet taken hold.” Money has been entrusted to human agents to be invested, to be put out to the exchanger and increased by use. Again and again the men in positions of trust have had laid before them the necessity that the Lord's vineyard be more equally worked. Places in the very shadow of Battle Creek are overlooked. The field is the world. Every part of it is the Lord's, and should receive due attention. No one locality is to swallow up every resource that can be obtained to multiply its facilities while the larger parts of the field are left destitute. This policy is not inspired of God. The gracious calls of mercy are to be given to all parts of the world. 1888 1363.1

Read the word; read and consider; do not be so active that you cannot stop to hear the counsel of God. Our people must have the testimonies, many of which have reached only to Battle Creek, to be there argued away. Those whom the Lord has warned, feel that the warning means something else; they explain it to signify exactly the opposite of that which the Lord has said. 1888 1363.2

With the example of Christ before you, can you plead convenience for the erection of more buildings and the centering of more interests in Battle Creek? Our people have deep, earnest lessons to learn in the experience presented in the words of Christ: “He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” You are not to choose the most convenient path and, because selfish practices have been followed, continue the same course. Look to Christ, and learn how he dealt with humanity. He loved his neighbor better than he loved himself. He denied himself that he might be a perfect example for us. With unfeigned reliance upon the righteousness and efficiency of our Redeemer, we are to consider that as sons and daughters of God we are no longer our own. In receiving Christ we become dead unto the world. Our high vocation—the very highest that any human being can have in this life—is this, that we are called to be children of God. The whole future life is to be consecrated to the service of God. Sacred obligations rest upon every soul. All the faculties of mind and body are God's property; and every hour spent in selfish gratification or self-uplifting will bring its returns in a harvest which none will care to garner. 1888 1364.1

Personal Appeal.

God calls upon you who are connected with his instrumentalities to do his work according to his plans, not your own. He calls for an entire consecration of yourselves to him. If you heed the requirement, it will be a blessing to you in this life and the inheritance of life eternal. There is now a precious period, though short, allotted to you for repentance and improvement. 1888 1365.1

Brethren A. R. Henry and Harmon Lindsay, God is in earnest with you. Your duty is plain and imperative. Your minds need cultivation, that you may discern heavenly things, and choose them above the common and the earthly. Let not the present opportunity pass unimproved. Unless the warnings that God in his mercy is sending to you are heeded, before a long time shall elapse you will make shipwreck of faith. You have sown the seeds of unbelief all along the line. And you have so long refused the evidence of the operation of the Holy Spirit that it is questionable whether you will ever again recognize the light from heaven. It may even appear as darkness to you, until the time shall come when every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess to God. Instead of regarding it as your imperative duty to cultivate personal piety, with a zeal proportionate to the preciousness of the holy faith you profess and the responsibility of your position, you have suffered yourselves to drift along, your impulses controlled by unholy imaginations and prejudices, until your course is an offense to God. What wonder that you lead the minds of others into the same channels? What wonder that some, following you, turn away from the rock foundation of eternal truth, to build, as you are building, upon the sand. It is a grievous robbery of God to become so blinded as you are today because you have refused heaven's light, slighted the appeals that God has sent you, and have done your best to prove them inconsistent, and have declared them untrue. Your assertions have not made them untrue, but by your resistance against God your hearts have become hard and stubborn. 1888 1365.2

Again I appeal to you: will you now be zealous and repent? You have shown your zeal in strong words and oppressive measures toward your brethren. Now I beseech you to give evidence of earnest repentance before it shall be forever too late. 1888 1366.1

Those who, notwithstanding the light given, have yoked up with you as men imbued with the Spirit of God, and actuated by a self-denying interest in his cause, make themselves responsible for the influence you have exerted and will exert contrary to the truth. Guilt will rest upon those who have placed increasing responsibilities upon you, when you have no living connection with God. 1888 1366.2

A condition of things has been brought about, that, unless God in mercy shall interpose, will work disaster to his cause. Inexperienced minds are being troubled at the outlook. For reasons that you can give, God is not moving upon the hearts of his people to supply the treasury. When you shall receive the Holy Spirit's unction by returning unto the Lord with full purpose of heart, you will see yourselves in a new light altogether. You who are finite, erring, and unsanctified, have supposed that God's children were put under your jurisdiction, for you to plan for them, and bring them to your terms. The policy you have labored so hard to establish in your connection with the work is an offense to God. He has never justified any arrangement, through organization, discipline, or laws, whereby men who have evidenced that they are not susceptible to the Holy Spirit's moving shall use their power to sustain others in a like disregard of the Spirit's work. But such has been the arrangement that has prevailed. You have made it hard for those whom you do not especially like, while others who are self-serving have been favored and exalted. Partiality and hypocrisy have excluded the Spirit of God from many hearts, and left them as destitute of his grace as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew or rain. Let it no longer be regarded as your privilege to control God's heritage. 1888 1366.3

The Lord himself will turn and overturn, and set things in order. He has the responsibility of his own work, and he has not entrusted the management of his people to unsanctified human hands. 1888 1367.1

It is hard for men to learn their real weakness and ignorance and inefficiency. It is hard for the ambitious heart to receive God's ideas and plans, with unquestioning faith and obedience. Some have very high ideas of the importance of their own individuality, and by their headstrong course are saying, We want not God's way, but our own way. 1888 1367.2

The time is near when God by his providence will make manifest what principles have been cherished by the men connected with the management of his work. Unless these men are converted, they will be separated from the work. But, the appeals and warnings given have had no more affect upon their hearts than the messages of Christ had upon the Pharisees, and I greatly fear in their behalf, lest they shall continue to walk in the same path, manifesting the same exacting and intolerant spirit, as did the ruling Pharisees: I fear that the same judgments will fall upon them because they have rejected the Lord's reproof, and have set the stumbling block* of their iniquity before their eyes. 1888 1368.1

My brethren, in the name of the Lord I counsel you to seek him by repentance and confession. Let your sins of omission and commission may go beforehand to judgment, that pardon may be written against your names, that you may be accounted worthy to stand before him when he shall appear. 1888 1368.2

(Written May 30, 95; copied May 6, ’96.)