The Review and Herald


October 21, 1890

Danger in Rejecting Light


“Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” Before this opening of their understanding, the disciples had not understood the spiritual meaning of what Christ had taught them. And it is necessary now that the minds of God's people should be opened to understand the Scriptures. To say that a passage means just this and nothing more, that you must not attach any broader meaning to the words of Christ than we have in the past, is saying that which is not actuated by the Spirit of God. The more we walk in the light of the truth, the more we shall become like Christ in spirit[,] in character[,] and in the manner of our work, and the brighter will the truth become to us. As we behold it in the increasing light of revelation, it will become more precious than we first estimated it from a casual hearing or examination. The truth, as it is in Jesus, is capable of constant expansion, of new development, and like its divine Author it will become more precious and beautiful; it will constantly reveal deeper significance, and lead the soul to aspire for more perfect conformity to its exalted standard. Such understanding of the truth will elevate the mind and transform the character to its divine perfection. RH October 21, 1890, par. 1

The entire system of the Jewish religion was the gospel of Christ presented in types and symbols. Then how inappropriate was it for those who were under the Jewish dispensation, to reject and crucify Him who was the originator and foundation of what they claimed to believe. Where did they make their mistake?—They made their mistake in not believing what the prophets had said concerning Christ, “That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” RH October 21, 1890, par. 2

It is not God that puts the blinder before the eyes of men or makes their hearts hard; it is the light which God sends to his people, to correct their errors, to lead them in safe paths, but which they refuse to accept,—it is this that blinds their minds and hardens their hearts. They choose to turn from the light, to stubbornly walk in sparks of their own kindling, and the Lord positively declares that they shall lie down in sorrow. When one ray of light which the Lord sends is not acknowledged, there is a partial benumbing of the spiritual perceptions, and the second revealing of light is less clearly discerned, and so the darkness will constantly increase until it is night to the soul. Christ said, “How great is that darkness!” RH October 21, 1890, par. 3

It is an astonishment to the whole universe that men do not see and do not acknowledge the bright beams of light that are shining upon them; but if they close their hearts to the light, and pervert the truth until it is interpreted to be darkness, they will imagine that their own criticism and unbelief is light, and will not confess their opposition to the ways and works of God. By pursuing a course like this, men who might have stood fast to the end, will place their influence against the message and messenger that God sends. But in the day of judgment, when the question is asked, “Why did you intercept yourself, your judgment and influence, between the people and the message of God?” they will have nothing to answer. If they open their lips then, it will only be to say that they now see truth as God sees it. They will confess that they were full of pride of opinion, trusted in their own judgment, and strengthened the hands that sought to tear down that which God had commanded to be built up. They will say, “Although the evidence was strong that God was working, I would not acknowledge it; for it was not in harmony with what I had taught. I was not in the habit of confessing any error in the past in my experience; I was too stubborn to fall upon the Rock and be broken. I determined to resist, and not be converted to the truth. I would not reveal the fact that I thought my course was wrong in any degree, and my light went out in darkness.” To such the words apply, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” RH October 21, 1890, par. 4

As the prophet looked down the ages, and beheld the ingratitude of Israel, as he was shown in vision their unbelief, he also saw that which brought him joy of heart, and gave him a vivid sense of the goodness of God to Israel. He said, “I will mention the loving-kindnesses of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving-kindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the Angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” But through their own course of rebellion the blessing of God toward Israel was turned away from them. That which they had sown in questioning and unbelief, they had to reap. The record says, “But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them.” May the Lord forbid that the history of the children of Israel in departing from God, in refusing to walk in the light, in refusing to confess their sins of unbelief and rejection of his messages, should be the experience of the people claiming to believe the truth for this time. For if they do as did the children of Israel in the face of warnings and admonitions, the same result will follow in these last days as came upon the children of Israel. The apostle admonishes, “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.” Now comes the warning of the apostle, sounding down along the lines to our time: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” RH October 21, 1890, par. 5

The exhortation of the apostle applies to us as well as to those to whom this epistle was directed. “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them.” Christ taught the people the principles of Christianity, speaking from the pillar of cloud and of fire, by day and by night; but they did not obey his words, and the apostle presents before us the consequence of their disobedience, stating that they were overthrown in the wilderness because of their rebellion. He says, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Shall we who are living near the close of this world's history “take heed”? Shall we heed the apostle's warning, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it”? The Lord would have his people trust in him and abide in his love, but that does not mean that we shall have no fear or misgivings. Some seem to think that if a man has a wholesome fear of the judgments of God, it is a proof that he is destitute of faith; but this is not so. A proper fear of God, in believing his threatenings, works the peaceable fruits of righteousness, by causing the trembling soul to flee to Jesus. Many ought to have this spirit today, and turn to the Lord with humble contrition, for the Lord has not given so many terrible threatenings, pronounced so severe judgments in his word, simply to have them recorded, but he means what he says. One says, “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.” Paul says, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” RH October 21, 1890, par. 6

The love of God is to be dwelt upon, and when it is presented in the demonstration of the Spirit, it has power to break down every barrier which separates Christ from the soul, provided the sinner will yield to its influence, and make an entire surrender to God; but the stern voice of rebuke and denunciation is uttered against those who will not be drawn to Christ, who will not be affected by the marvelous display of his love. The word of God declares, “He that believeth not shall be damned.” “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” In these words there is something terrible to evil workers, and by these they should be convicted of their self-sufficiency, and feel the terror of the Lord. But mercy's sweet voice entreats every one who will hear, saying, “Behold, I have set before thee an open door;” “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” RH October 21, 1890, par. 7

Those who have faith in the messages of God will reveal it in their spirit, words, and actions. We are not to sit down and present excuses for unbelief; we are to realize our error, and be zealous and repent. The record says, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” RH October 21, 1890, par. 8

When the Lord sends light to his people, he means that they shall be attentive to hear and ready to receive the message. In great forbearance, he waits for man to come to his terms. For 120 years he waited for the people of the old world to receive the warning of the flood. Those who rejected the message turned his long forbearance and patience into an occasion of scorn and unbelief. The message and messenger became the butt of their ridicule. Noah's earnestness and zeal in appealing to them to turn from their evil way, was criticised and jeered at. God is not in a hurry to carry out his plans; for he is from everlasting to everlasting. He gives light and opens his truth more fully to those whom he would have to receive it, that they in their turn may take up the words of warning and encouragement, and give them to others. If men of repute and intelligence refuse to do this, the Lord will choose other instruments, honoring those who are looked upon as inferior. If those in positions of trust will put their whole heart into the work, they may bear the message for this time, and press the work forward; but God will honor those who honor him. RH October 21, 1890, par. 9

There are ministers who claim to be teaching the truth, whose ways are an offense to God. They preach, but do not practice the principles of the truth. Great care should be exercised in ordaining men for the ministry. There should be a close investigation of their experience. Do they know the truth, and practice its teachings? Have they a character of good repute? Do they indulge in lightness and trifling, jesting and joking? In prayer do they reveal the Spirit of God? Is their conversation holy, their conduct blameless? All these questions need to be answered before hands are laid upon any man to dedicate him to the work of the ministry. We should heed the words of inspiration, “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” We need to lift the standard higher than we have done hitherto, when selecting and ordaining men for the sacred work of God. RH October 21, 1890, par. 10