Believe His Prophets


Chapter 14—What Manner of Persons Ought We to Be?

Today I am more convinced than ever before that Seventh-day Adventists have the truth for this time, and that God has been good to the remnant church. He speaks to us through His servants of old and through His messenger in our time. To introduce the thought of this chapter and in keeping with these very critical days of this world’s history we turn to the apostle Peter for our message. He declares: BHP 277.1

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. BHP 277.2

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? BHP 277.3

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless (2 Peter 3:9-14).” BHP 278.1

Thinking through this solemn instruction given by the apostle, I have come to the conclusion that the warning is for me personally, and the appeal is to me as to what kind of person I am going to be from today on. It is not my business primarily to think about you and your condition—the kind of person you ought to be. That is your problem. My problem is, What kind of person ought I to be? If each of us will answer that question for himself, I feel confident that we shall be ready for this great event that is described in such graphic terms. BHP 278.2

On this vital question I turn now to the counsel from the messenger of the Lord, and as I read the counsel for myself I hope that each one of you will make a personal application. Ellen G. White says: BHP 278.3

“I make myself a criterion for no one else.” Medical Ministry, 285. BHP 278.4

“Let no one think himself a criterion for all—that everyone must do exactly as he does.” Counsels on Health, 156. BHP 278.5

“Some are continually anxious lest their food, however simple and healthful, may hurt them. To these let me say, Do not think your food will injure you; do not think about it at all. Eat according to your best judgment; and when you have asked the Lord to bless the food for the strengthening of your body, believe that He hears your prayer, and be at rest.” The Ministry of Healing, 321. BHP 278.6

“If there are those who are better in health when eating three meals, it is their privilege to have three.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 178. BHP 279.1

“We are not to be as the Pharisees, bound about by set rules and regulations…. We are to be careful not to make laws like the laws of the Pharisees, or to teach for doctrines the commandments of men.” Medical Ministry, 284. BHP 279.2

“Those who have but a partial understanding of the principles of reform are often the most rigid, not only in carrying out their views themselves, but in urging them on their families and their neighbors. The effect of their mistaken reforms, as seen in their own ill-health, and their efforts to force their views upon others, give many a false idea of dietetic reform, and lead them to reject it altogether.” The Ministry of Healing, 318, 319. BHP 279.3

“Shun the extremes, both of indulgence and of restriction.” The Ministry of Healing, 319. BHP 279.4

“These extremes frequently do more harm in a short time than could be undone by a lifetime of consistent living.” The Ministry of Healing, 324. BHP 279.5

“It is impossible to make an unvarying rule to regulate every one’s habits, and no one should think himself a criterion for all.” The Ministry of Healing, 319. BHP 279.6

“Carefully consider your diet. Study from cause to effect. Cultivate self-control. Keep appetite under the control of reason. Never abuse the stomach by overeating, but do not deprive yourself of the wholesome, palatable food that health demands.”—The Ministry of Healing, 323. BHP 279.7

It was my privilege while in India to live in the home of the division secretary. Each day at mealtime a dish containing honey was kindly passed to me, and if I am not mistaken the honey came from Assam, and therefore it was especially delectable. But unfortunately, each time I had to pass the dish of honey by, and I shall give you the reason why. BHP 280.1

Many years ago I found that by eating honey, even so small an amount as a teaspoonful, I gave myself a real old-fashioned stomach-ache, which lasted about three days. Therefore, this instruction is very good for me. “Carefully consider your diet. Study from cause to effect.” This I have done, and no one can persuade me to eat honey knowingly. Now, you may eat it. You may enjoy it. You may not have the reaction that I have. But, since I have that reaction, I would not want you to force on me your idea that honey is the best food in the world, no matter where it comes from. BHP 280.2

In studying my own health habits over a period of years, I have learned what is good for me and what is not. There are a number of fruits and vegetables that do not agree with me. I cannot eat them with safety. So I pass them by in accordance with this good instruction, “Keep appetite under the control of reason.” However, I would not want to force my restriction regaming honey on somebody else, because I notice that most people enjoy honey very much indeed, and the Bible says much approving its use. BHP 280.3

Mrs. White continues: BHP 280.4

“The narrow ideas of some would-be health reformers have been a great injury to the cause of hygiene.” The Ministry of Healing, 323. BHP 281.1

“Those who are governed by principle will be firm and decided in standing for the right; yet in all their associations they will manifest a generous, Christlike spirit and true moderation.” The Ministry of Healing, 324. BHP 281.2

“Health reform must not be urged in a radical manner…. We must be careful to make no innovations, because under the influence of extreme teaching there are conscientious souls who will surely go to extremes. Their physical appearance will injure the cause of health reform; for few know how to properly supply the place of that which they discard…. Thus health reform is brought into disrepute.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 352, 353. BHP 281.3

Now the strangest thing about those who are very radical in health reform, and those who are most insistent in passing their ideas on to the other person, is that they are usually thin, emaciated, scrawny—just the opposite of what we would expect as an example of health. Therefore, with Mrs. White I would suggest that if such a person is what your health reform has made of you, you had better not talk about it, for you are a poor specimen of the blessings that should come from a consistent following of the health messages. BHP 281.4

I close this part of my message with this thought: The God who gives His beloved sleep has furnished them also suitable food to sustain the physical system in a healthy condition, and I thank God for that. I find very few places in the world that do not enjoy the blessings from heaven of a fine and bountiful supply of good, wholesome, nourishing food. There are only a few places in the world that I have found so far where I would have to digress from my habits of eating. BHP 281.5

Yes, I think the health message is a most wonderful message for me. I have decided to live it out as carefully as possible, including not only what I eat, but how I use my time, my strength, and my energy. Believing that Christ is coming soon, that this world is on the verge of dissolution, and that the apostle writes, “What sort of man should D. E. Rebok be?” I have decided to study my physical nature and try to bring it into complete harmony with the full instruction that has come through the Scriptures and through the writings of the servant of the Lord. BHP 282.1

But there is another part of man’s being. Man does not just eat. He does not live to eat, but rather I am told that a man ought to eat in order to live; that his living is primary, and eating is only a means to an end. There is something far more important than my physical being. And I want to emphasize that part in these words from several passages of Scripture. BHP 282.2

Romans 14:15, and I read it from Weymouth: BHP 282.3

“Still, if your brother is pained by the food you are eating, you are no longer following the guidance of love. Do not by your food ruin a man for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is a boon to you and others bring reproach. For the Kingdom of God does not consist in eating and drinking, but in uprightness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit; and whoever in this way serves Christ, pleases God and is approved by men. Therefore let us aim at whatever makes for peace, and the spiritual upbuilding of one another.” BHP 282.4

This phase of my living, namely, my character, my moral life, the kind of person I really am, is equally as important as the physical. I find it described in these words in 1 Corinthians 10:31: BHP 283.1

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” BHP 283.2

Whatever I do includes much more than what I eat and what I drink. My eating and drinking has become just a sort of necessity; in fact, at home we spend very little time thinking about eating and drinking. My wife says I am very easily satisfied, and therefore our problem of eating is not a big one. But there is another angle to my living that is not so easily dealt with, and that is the way I talk, the way I conduct myself, my attitude of mind and body, the way I deal with my fellow men, the way I mingle with my fellow workers, the kind of example I live before the people in the church and the people out of the church. This is the place upon which I need to put some emphasis. BHP 283.3

Colossians 3 gives me the method by which I may heed the instruction from the servant of the Lord. Whether the Christian virtues are being developed, cultivated, in my daily life and experience is to me a very important part of my living. BHP 283.4

I read in Colossians 3:1-4: BHP 283.5

“If, however, you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, enthroned at God’s right hand. Give your minds to the things that are above, not to the things that are on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ appears—He is our true Life—then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Weymouth). BHP 283.6

This is the great objective of my life today, to somehow learn to live in such a way that I may become the sort of man that Christ was, so that when He comes I shall be like Him, He will recognize me as one of His own, and I shall have the courage to look up into His face and recognize Him as my personal Saviour and my King of kings. This then is the kind of instruction that I now read for myself: BHP 284.1

“Therefore put to death your earthward inclinations—fornication, impurity, sensual passion, unholy desire, and all greed, for that is a form of idolatry. It is on account of these very sins that God’s wrath is coming, and you also were once addicted to them, while you were living under their power” (Colossians 3:5-7, Weymouth). BHP 284.2

Is that the end of it? No. If we have had that type of earthly or earthward inclinations in the past, the instruction is, Put them to death. Cut them off. Get rid of them. BHP 284.3

Continuing: BHP 284.4

“But now you must rid yourselves of every kind of sin—angry and passionate outbreaks, ill-will, evil speaking, foul-mouthed abuse—so that these may never soil your lips. Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its doings, and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being remoulded into full knowledge so as to become like Him who created it” (Colossians 3:8-10, Weymouth). BHP 284.5

How can I get rid of all these things that would tend to pull me down and keep me tied to the earth—such things as anger, passionate outbreaks, evil speaking, ill-will, and foul-mouthed abuse? How can I get rid of them? The answer is, By being molded and fashioned by the prophets. This molding work is the specific purpose of having the gift of prophecy in the ancient church, and in the modern. BHP 285.1

In the new creation there will be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian nor Scythian, slave nor free man. And I should like to add a few others: There will be neither Indian nor Chinese, Japanese nor Javanese, German nor Italian, nor any other nationality. There will be nothing of that kind. There will be no division by race or creed or color. There will be no geographical divisions among God’s people, who are living in harmony with the instruction given through the prophets. “But Christ is all, and in all,” and what a difference that makes in every man who allows the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, to come in and take up His abode in the heart. BHP 285.2

In India a representative from the city government came out to our estate to see me, and while we were waiting for Chad Israel, our public relations man, he looked around and asked, “Sir, have you been in India very long?” BHP 285.3

I replied, “Not long; in fact, only two weeks.” BHP 285.4

Then he inquired, “Have you seen India?” BHP 286.1

I hesitated for a moment, not knowing exactly how to answer. “I have seen Poona. No, I have not really seen very much of Poona—I have spent these two weeks here at this headquarters, the Salisbury Estate.” BHP 286.2

“Well,” he said, “then you have not yet seen India.” BHP 286.3

To which I agreed, “I am sure you are right.” BHP 286.4

He continued, “As a matter of fact, when you are here on this estate you are not actually seeing India as she is.” BHP 286.5

I asked him frankly, “What makes the difference?” BHP 286.6

He did not answer my question, but I can give you the answer. It is having Jesus in the heart of a man or woman, a boy or a girl, that makes the difference. I thank God for what I saw on that estate. I saw men and women, boys and girls, who have had this very experience that makes the difference. “Christ is all, and in all.” O that we might see that difference made in millions of the people of the world! BHP 286.7

“Clothe yourselves” you see over there he says to put off, to get rid of, and now he turns to the opposite idea and says to put on— BHP 286.8

“Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own people holy and dearly loved, with tenderheartedness, kindness, lowliness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another and readily forgiving each other, if any one has a grievance against another” (Colossians 3:12, 13, Weymouth). BHP 286.9

Is not that a wonderful way to live? That is what it means to be the sort of man whom Christ will welcome into His kingdom. The kind of person who, if slapped on one cheek, can with a smile offer the other and say, “Brother, do it to this one also.” The kind of man who, when he is roughly treated or abused, when he is reviled, or when something is said against him, can stand with a smile and say, “Brother, that is nothing compared with the way they treated my Master, my Saviour.” The kind of man who, when sharp words are spoken to him, can smile and return a soft answer. The kind of man who, when he is cheated or deceived, can smile and say, “Brother, do not worry about that. I know you are in difficulties; let me give you more than I am duty bound to give.” BHP 286.10

It is that kind of person I want to be—holy and dearly loved, tenderhearted and kind, lowly in mind, meek and long-suffering, willing to bear with the mistakes of others, and readily forgiving others. BHP 287.1

I came across this paragraph in my reading, and I want to share it with you: BHP 287.2

“As children of God, we should be constantly gaining in fitness for the heavenly mansions which Christ told His disciples He was going away to prepare for them. He who lays hold upon the righteousness of Christ may become a perfect man in Christ Jesus. Working from a high standpoint, seeking to follow the example of Christ, we shall grow up into His likeness, possessing more and more refinement.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 150. BHP 287.3

I liked that paragraph, and I said to myself, “That is the kind of experience I want in my daily life, gaining in fitness for my heavenly mansion He is preparing over there for me.” Is that making it too realistic? Is that making it too common, bringing it down on my level of understanding? BHP 287.4

“All who would enter the city of God must during their earthly life set forth Christ in their dealings. It is this that constitutes them the messengers of Christ, His witnesses.” Christian Service, 15, 16. BHP 288.1

It is my aim to be there, dear friends, and I plan to be in that city of God, in His everlasting kingdom. Mrs. White says if I would enter the city of God, I must during my earthly life learn to set forth Christ in all my dealings. BHP 288.2

There are a few more interesting paragraphs along the same line: BHP 288.3

“Religion means the abiding of Christ in the heart, and where he is, the soul goes on in spiritual activity, ever growing in grace, ever going on to perfection.” The Review and Herald, May 24, 1892. BHP 288.4

“Some of us have a nervous temperament, and are naturally as quick as a flash to think and to act; but let no one think that he cannot learn to become patient. Patience is a plant that will make rapid growth if carefully cultivated. By becoming thoroughly acquainted with ourselves, and then combining with the grace of God a firm determination on our part, we may be conquerors, and become perfect in all things, wanting in nothing.” Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 134. BHP 288.5

Of course, it is so easy to let go and give vent to that temper that is down inside. It seems to be so close to the surface, and breaks forth so easily when that explosion inside takes place. Then I try to explain, “You see, I am that way by nature. My father was that way. He was that kind of man, and so I am just that way.” Is that all it takes to get rid of it? Oh, no! I cannot blame it on my father or on my mother either. The instruction is that when I feel that I must give vent to my feelings—speak as quick as a flash and act in the same way—it is then that I need to take hold of myself. BHP 288.6

Mrs. White puts it in this way: BHP 289.1

“When tempted to say sarcastic things, refrain. Censure no one, condemn no one. Let the life argue for Jesus, and the lips be opened with wisdom to defend the truth. The consistent life, the long forbearance, the spirit unruffled under provocation, is always the most conclusive argument and the most solemn appeal. We are often brought into positions that are trying, where human nature longs to break forth, but in such cases, be still, do not retaliate.” Gospel Workers (1892), 467. BHP 289.2

Let me add just one more paragraph from Mrs. White, and then I shall draw my conclusions: BHP 289.3

“The largest share of life’s annoyances, its heartaches, its irritations, is due to uncontrolled temper. In one moment, by hasty, passionate, careless words, may be wrought evil that a whole lifetime’s repentance cannot undo. O, the hearts that are broken, the friends estranged, the lives wrecked, by the harsh, hasty words of those who might have brought help and healing! … In his own strength man cannot rule his spirit. But through Christ he may gain self-control.” The Signs of the Times, 25, 1904. BHP 289.4

I have often told my wife that if I could just learn to hold back when something happens to me, when somebody speaks in a rather sharp, caustic way, there would be no argument, there would be no trouble. My difficulty—and I think some of you are somewhat like me—is that when someone speaks to me in that kind of voice, my tendency is to give it back, twice as hard as it came to me. Is that the way it is in your experience? BHP 289.5

There will never be a fight so long as just one man wants to engage in the fight. It takes at least two, and I, as a Christian, cannot with safety be that second person. BHP 290.1

“Do not reply unless you can return a pleasant answer. Say to yourself, ‘I will not disappoint my Saviour.’ The Christian woman is a gentlewoman. On her lips is ever the law of kindness. She utters no hasty words. To speak gentle words when you are irritated will bring sunshine into your hearts, and make your path more smooth. A schoolgirl, when asked for a definition of meekness, said, ‘Meek people are those who give soft answers to rough questions.’ Christ says, ‘Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.’ They will be fit subjects for the kingdom of heaven; for they are willing to be taught.” The Review and Herald, April 7, 1904. BHP 290.2

It is such counsel and instruction as this that occupies so prominent a place in the writings of Ellen G. White. BHP 290.3

These are the words God speaks to the remnant church—to you and me—who keep all of His commandments, and who cling to the testimony of Jesus Christ, which is the Spirit of prophecy. BHP 290.4