Manuscript Releases, vol. 8 [Nos. 526-663]

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MR No. 529—In Manuscript Release No. 1165

MR No. 530—“Surface Religion”-Will It Stand the Test?

Keep your soul in the love of God, and make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. Keep your taper kindled from the divine altar, and then let your light shine to others. Let your confidence be wholly in the Lord. Learn meekness and lowliness of heart. You need to put your entire trust in Jesus Christ. He is the only safe Teacher. The great question now is the salvation of the soul. If you walk with Christ, you learn wisdom by communion with him, as did Enoch. 8MR 10.1

It is the privilege of every soul to reach the highest standard. Stop at no low standard in your experience. Beware of admitting any worldly or selfish motives whatever in the settlement of the great question between God and your soul. The Lord requires all that there is of you through constant improvement of every talent, that you may make a success in the formation of Christian character. By faith let the Holy Spirit instruct you, that you may not only receive but impart the heavenly grace. 8MR 10.2

All is to be surrendered to Christ. There must be no reservation. God expects more of us than we give him. It is an insult to Jehovah to claim to be Christians and yet speak and act as worldlings. We cannot yield the smallest place to worldly policy. We need to be sanctified every hour through the belief of the truth. It is not safe for one day to neglect putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. We can make no compromise. We want not to make extra efforts for a more tasteful development of Christianity. We want Christ formed within, the hope of glory. 8MR 10.3

Catch the divine rays of light from Christ, and you need not try to shine; for you will reflect his image, which is formed within. You cannot help shining. Others will see the Christ side of the character revealed. There is a great deal of rough work to do, but the grace of Christ will be revealed in spirit, in speech, in experience. The salvation of souls is the grand object to be kept before us, and mental and spiritual improvement will be seen in all our ways, habits, and practices. They will be fragrant with the atmosphere which surrounds Jesus Christ. We all have now, and ever have had, the sympathies of the divine intelligences. Heavenly beings cooperate with us in the battle as we advance against fallen angels and fallen men to press the battle into new territories, even where Satan's seat is. 8MR 11.1

Young men who have little experience in the self-denial that Christ practiced, will be constantly urging the necessity of a more tasteful development of Christianity than we are wont to meet with, even among those who have long known the truth. I agree that there is need of sanctified refinement. There is need of an emptying of self and an opening of the heart to an abiding Christ. But my heart has been much pained by the introduction among us of certain forms that ape worldly customs and fashions. In connection with the most precious sentiments of truth there is brought in an outside polish, a regard for that which is called taste, which has little of the true element which works by love and sanctifies the soul. That quality of refinement which is but an outside polish and which is esteemed by the world is of little value with God. In everyday life we must have an abiding Christ, who is working constantly to conform all our attributes to the image of the divine. 8MR 11.2

That surface religion talked of so glibly by the tongue that prates of the beautiful, I have learned the value of to my sorrow. Many who with flippant words are ever ready to speak of elevation and refinement do not act as though they had any practical knowledge of that which their tongues express. Their poetical religion is not the religion that will stand test and trial. I have learned to my sorrow that they have little respect for true Christlike piety, little desire for the sanctification of the Spirit of God unto true holiness. To exalt a theory which will exalt self is their great ambition. To conform to the divine plan does not suit their frothy ideas. 8MR 12.1

O what deceptions are upon those who are looking for the beautiful and poetic in their speculations. They hear not the voice of the One who gave his life to self-denial, to humiliation, to suffering and a cruel, ignominious death to make it possible for human beings to keep the law of God. They can do this only by heeding the invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29, 30.) These are the lessons the great Teacher has given us. We are to take his yoke of submission, restraint, and obedience, in meekness and lowliness of heart. Those who yoke up with Christ will find rest and peace. 8MR 12.2

Exhibitions of self, strife for the supremacy, putting the false in the place of the true, will be developed in a certain class. In theory they represent the God of the beautiful, the divine author of the material world. They observe the beautiful representations in his operations and plans, and they weave into poems a sentimentalism that tells for nothing in making their own character-building symmetrical. Their work is not in harmony with the plan of God for fitting men to unite with the angelic family and to become children of the heavenly King. All these soaring ideas God counts as nothingness. There is a supposed inspiration which is modified by hereditary taste and by education and temperament. 8MR 12.3

Let us hear what Christ has to say. “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34.) To follow in the footsteps of Christ is to practice true godliness. All who are partakers with Christ of his humiliation and self-sacrifice will be constantly learning how to lay upon the foundation stone gold, silver, precious stones, not the material represented as wood, hay, and stubble, which will perish in the fire of the last days. We want true sanctification, true wholeness to God. We would not encourage the soaring element in the make up of character, but we would encourage true solidity. What is the chaff to the wheat? The world is not to be saved through the divine songs and melodies of even the angelic host in heaven. These angels have their appointed work to do on earth. They find a world in gross darkness as to what constitutes sin, which is the transgression of the law of God. Darkness, vice, deception, prevarication, dishonesty, exist among those who profess godliness. And there is a call made, “Lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, ... as a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God.” (Isaiah 58:1.) 8MR 13.1

What have God's people to learn? “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God.” (1 Peter 5:6.) “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.” (James 4:8.) There is work, solid work, to be done for every soul that shall stand in the great day of the Lord. “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17.) 8MR 13.2

The one in whose heart the grace of Christ abides is daily undergoing a transformation of character. He is preparing for the higher school, where all characters blend in a perfect whole. The divine harmonies of the heavenly intelligences would be out of place in the world. They would not be understood. For the world knoweth not God nor Jesus Christ whom he hath sent. Sin and violence are in the land. In transgression of the law of God, fallen men with their sinful tempers, appetites, tastes, and attributes have arrayed themselves in hostility to God. They resemble the inhabitants of the Noachian world. 8MR 14.1

He who would be an effective co-worker with God in his broad vineyard must do most diligent, earnest, hard work; he must meet the people where they are. If they will not come to the gospel feast to which the call of Christ invites them, then God's messengers must accommodate themselves to the circumstances, and bear the message to them in house to house labor, thus extending their ministry to the highways and by ways, giving the last message to the world.—Letter 164, 1899. (To Edson and Emma White, October 20, 1899.) 8MR 14.2

Released May 20, 1977.