Christmas is coming” is the note that is sounded throughout our world from east to west and from north to south. With youth, those of mature age, and even the aged, it is a period of general rejoicing, of great gladness. But what is Christmas, that it should demand so much attention? This day has been made much of for centuries. It is accepted by the unbelieving world, and by the Christian world generally, as the day on which Christ was born. When the world at large celebrate the day, they show no honor to Christ. They refuse to acknowledge Him as their Saviour, to honor Him by willing obedience to His service. They show preference to the day, but none to the One for whom the day is celebrated, Jesus Christ.
The twenty-fifth of December is supposed to be the day of the birth of Jesus Christ, and its observance has become customary and popular. But yet there is no certainty that we are keeping the veritable day of our Saviour’s birth. History gives us no certain assurance of this. The Bible does not give us the precise time. Had the Lord deemed this knowledge essential to our salvation, He would have spoken through His prophets and apostles, that we might know all about the matter. But the silence of the Scriptures upon this point evidences to us that it is hidden from us for the wisest purposes. . . . He has concealed the precise day of Christ’s birth; that the day should not receive the honor that should be given to Christ as the Redeemer of the world—one to be received, to be trusted, to be relied on as He who could save to the uttermost all who come unto Him. The soul’s adoration should be given to Jesus as the Son of the infinite God.
There is no divine sanctity resting upon the twenty-fifth of December; and it is not pleasing to God that anything that concerns the salvation of man through the infinite sacrifice made for them should be so sadly perverted from its professed design. Christ should be the supreme object; but as Christmas has been observed, the glory is turned from Him to mortal man, whose sinful, defective character made it necessary for Him to come to our world. Jesus, the Majesty of heaven, the royal King of heaven, laid aside His royalty, left His throne of glory, His high command, and came into our world to bring to fallen man, weakened in moral power, and corrupted by sin, aid divine. He clothed His divinity with humanity, that He might reach to the very depths of human woe and misery, to lift up fallen man. By taking upon Himself man’s nature, He raised humanity in the scale of moral value with God. These great themes are almost too high, too deep, too infinite, for the comprehension of finite minds.
Parents should keep these things before their children, and instruct them, line upon line, precept upon precept, in their obligation to God, not their obligation to each other, to honor and glorify one another by gifts and offerings. But they should be taught that Jesus is the world’s Redeemer, the object of thought, of painstaking effort; that His work is the grand theme which should engage their attention; that they should bring to Him their gifts and offerings. Thus did the wise men and the shepherds.
As the twenty-fifth day of December is observed to commemorate the birth of Christ, as the children have been instructed by precept and example that this was indeed a day of gladness and rejoicing, you will find it a difficult matter to pass over this period without giving it some attention. It can be made to serve a very good purpose. The youth should be treated very carefully. They should not be left on Christmas to find their own amusement in vanity and pleasure-seeking , in amusements which will be detrimental to their spirituality. Parents can control this matter by turning the minds and the offerings of their children to God and His cause and the salvation of souls. The desire for amusement, instead of being quenched and arbitrarily ruled down, should be controlled and directed by painstaking effort upon the part of the parents. Their desire to make gifts may be turned into pure and holy channels, and made to result in good to our fellow men by supplying the treasury in the great, grand work for which Christ came into our world. Self-denial and self-sacrifice marked His course of action. Let it mark ours who profess to love Jesus; because in Him is centered our hope of eternal life. . . .
On Christmas, so soon to come, let not the parents take the position that an evergreen placed in the church for the amusement of the Sabbath-school scholars is a sin; for it may be made a great blessing. Keep before their minds benevolent objects. In no case should mere amusement be the object of these gatherings. While there may be some who will turn these occasions into seasons of careless levity, and whose minds will not receive the divine impress, to other minds and characters these seasons will be highly beneficial. I am fully satisfied that innocent substitutes can be devised for many gatherings that demoralize. . . .
Christmas is coming. May you all have wisdom to make it a precious season. Let the older church members unite, heart and soul, with their children in this innocent amusement and recreation, in devising ways and means to show true respect to Jesus by bringing to Him gifts and offerings. Let every one remember the claims of God. His cause cannot go forward without your aid. Let the gifts you have usually bestowed upon one another be placed in the Lord’s treasury. I present before you, my brethren and sisters, an object, the European mission. In every church let your smaller offerings be placed upon your Christmas tree. Let the precious emblem, “ever green,” suggest the holy work of God and His beneficence to us; and the loving heart work will be to save other souls who are in darkness. Let your works be in accordance with your faith . . . . If all, both old and young, will forgo giving presents to one another, and forgo the selfish outlay of means in these coming holidays, there would be in heaven a most precious record of self-denial for Christ’s sake.
Our Thanksgiving is approaching. Will it be as it has been in many instances, a thanksgiving to ourselves? Or will it be a thanksgiving to God? Our Thanksgivings may be made seasons of great profit to our own souls as well as to others, if we improve this opportunity to remember the poor among us. God has placed His poor in our midst, and he identifies his interest with them. Those who for Christ’s sake relieve their necessities thus show that they would gladly do the same for Jesus; but as they cannot manifest their love to Jesus in person, they do their acts of sympathy, their deeds of love and beneficence, to Him in the person of His saints. . . .
But these are the degraded poor, bearing the present penalty for their evil course, preparatory to the final judgment of God, and the reward they will receive according as their deeds have been. While He bears long with the perversity and iniquity of those who profess to be Christians, but who are so only in name, God never forgets, and He will punish their transgressions and visit their iniquities. There are poor among us who have done the best they could; but misfortune and sickness seem to be their lot. Their homes are not attractive because they cannot make them so. They have no money to indulge in the gratification of luxuries or those things their tastes desire. The plain necessities of life are all they can afford. There are many such ones to whom it is exceedingly galling to be obliged to depend on charity in the least sense. But, brethren and sisters, God has placed these very ones in our midst to test and prove us, to keep our dispositions Christlike. God withholds nothing from us; we are the recipients of His mercies. Day by day and hour by hour, God is giving to us generously; and shall we for one moment look down upon the poor as though in God’s sight we were better than they? God forbid! Never let the hungry cry of the destitute and afflicted ones come up to God against us; for every tear and every pressure of suffering want bears a cry up to heaven—a grave charge upon some one of God’s favored ones.
There are a hundred ways that can be devised to help the poor in so delicate a manner as to make them feel they are doing us a favor by receiving our gifts and sympathy. We are to remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive. The attentions of our brethren are most liberal to those whom they wish to honor, and whose respect they desire, but who do not need their help at all. Custom and fashion say, Give to those who will give to you; but this is not the Bible rule of giving. The Word of God declares against this way of gratifying self in thus bestowing our gifts, and says, “He that giveth to the rich shall surely come to want.”
Now a season is coming when we shall have our principles tested. Let us begin to think what we can do for God’s needy ones. We can make them through ourselves the recipients of God’s blessings. Think what widow, what orphan, what poor family you can relieve, not in a way to make a great parade about the matter, but be as a channel through which the Lord’s substance shall flow as a blessing to His poor. As you look upon your own children, consider how many there are just as good and noble who have but little to cheer or make them glad. They may be orphans, with no home, no father, no mother, subject to temptations and influences calculated to lead them to ruin when these days of festivity occur. Who has a care for these homeless ones? Whose doors are open to them? Let the widow and the orphan be remembered.
But this does not embrace all your duty. Make an offering to your best Friend; acknowledge His bounties; show your gratitude for His favors; bring a thank-offering to God. . . . Brethren and sisters, eat a plain dinner on Thanksgiving day, and with the money you would spend in extras with which to indulge the appetite, make a thank offering to God. . . .
Everything seems to have degenerated into mixing the spurious with the genuine. Thanksgiving is almost entirely perverted. Instead of being a day of solemn gladness and gratitude to God, it has become a day of jollification, self-indulgence, and gluttony. Self interposes for attention, for gratification, for indulgence. This is a thanksgiving and oblation made to self to the forgetfulness of God and all His benefits to us. Let nothing interpose to detract glory from God.
How much good might be done if we would make a right use of our associations with one another! Every one who has received of the heavenly benefits is under obligation to shed some light on the pathway of others. In all our associations we are to be witnesses for Christ. Then all those who truly love God will cease their idolatry of self. Let this be the case in the coming Thanksgiving. Employ your powers to a better purpose than in cooking a variety of food with which to gratify your appetites. Employ that time in becoming missionaries for God’s cause, seeking how much you can do to turn the attention from self to the Lord our Creator. Gather up the offerings. Set the mind to running in a different channel than has been your custom. Let your works correspond with your faith. See what you can do toward turning your thoughts heavenward in place of upon earthly appetite and selfish indulgence. Wisely improve your powers in gathering up the smaller and larger offerings for the Master, and thus present a true thanksgiving to God. Make the most of your social position and influence to advance the interests of God’s cause in the earth. There have been so few true Thanksgivings to God! Everything has been turned from God and heaven to earth; and now let us make every effort in our power to turn the mind back to God, away from earth, away from selfish interests, and away from self-serving. We know but little of the experience of self-denial. We must know more of it, weaving benevolence into our daily experience.
The plan of redemption was formed to bring unity and peace to men. The world was at war with the law of Jehovah; sinners were at enmity with their Maker; Jesus came to make overtures of peace. At the appointed time angels were commissioned to announce His birth, and give expression to their joy in the salvation of the one lost sheep, the fallen world. . . .
Shortly before His crucifixion, Christ bequeathed to His disciples a legacy of peace. “Peace I leave with you,” He said; “my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This peace is not the peace that comes through conformity with the world. It is an internal rather than an external peace. Without will be wars and fightings, through the opposition of avowed enemies, and the coldness and suspicion of those who claim to be friends. The peace of Christ is not to banish division, but it is to remain amid strife and division.
Though He bore the title of Prince of Peace, Christ said of Himself, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.” By these words He did not mean that His coming was to produce discord and contention among His followers. He desired to show the effect His teaching would have on different minds. . . . And He warned His followers: “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” “They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. . . . Ye shall be betrayed both by parents and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.”
This prophecy has been fulfilled in a marked manner. Every indignity, reproach, and cruelty that Satan can instigate human hearts to devise has been visited upon the followers of Jesus. And it will be fulfilled in a yet more marked manner; for the carnal mind is still at enmity with the law of God, and will not be subject to its commands. We have been highly favored in living under a government where we can worship God according to the dictates of our conscience. But human nature is no more in harmony with the principles of Christ today than it has been in ages past. The world is still in opposition to Jesus. . . .
We are required to be Christlike toward those who are our enemies; but we must not, in order to have peace, cover up the faults of those we see in error. The world’s Redeemer never purchased peace by covering iniquity. . . . He was the friend of sinners, and He would not remain silent while they were pursuing a course that would ruin their souls—the souls that He had purchased with His own blood. He was a stern reprover of all vice. . . . Living in a world marred and seared with the curse brought upon it by disobedience, He could not be at peace with it if He left it unwarned, uninstructed, unrebuked. This would be to purchase peace at the neglect of duty. His peace was the consciousness of having done the will of His Father, rather than a condition of things that existed as the result of not having done His duty.
Those who love Jesus and the souls for whom He had died will follow after the things which make for peace. But they must take care lest in their efforts to prevent discord, they surrender truth; lest in warding off division, they sacrifice principle. True brotherhood can never be maintained by compromising principle. . . . That peace and harmony which are secured by mutual concessions to avoid all differences of opinion are not worthy of the name. . . .
The apostle Paul exhorts us, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Care should be taken by Christians to give no offense, that the truth may not be evil spoken of. But the text suggests that no amount of diligence and care will preserve this harmony in all cases. Dissensions will arise even between church members, because they are not Christlike in character....The church as a body is to do all in its power to promote union and prevent schisms. If unsound doctrine is introduced, the safety of the flock of Christ will be endangered; and it is the duty of those in authority, who are jealous for the truth as it is in Jesus, to make a firm, decided protest.
To those who have been injured without cause these words of Scripture apply, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Their failure to live at peace with all men is not due to the course they themselves have pursued, but to the envy, jealousy, and evil surmising of those who have been in the wrong. A division is caused. How shall it be healed? Shall the man that has been sinned against, misjudged, and maligned be called to give an account? . . . Shall he acknowledge himself in the wrong for the sake of making peace? No. If he has tried to do his duty, and has been patient under abuse, he is not to humble himself to acknowledge that he is guilty. . . . Concessions that are not true from the one who has been wrongfully treated gratify the feelings of the carnal heart. The wrongdoers interpret their position as zeal for God, when in truth it is zeal to do the work of the adversary of souls. . . .
There is a work for us to do. We must begin here to cultivate the meekness of Christ. There are stern battles for us to fight against our traits of character that leads us to decisions that make it hard and unfavorable for others. We are not commended by God for a zeal that savors of pharisaism; for this is not of Christ. We are not to go to an extreme in false charity, neither are we to follow a course of unbending severity in cases where kindness and mercy and love would have a telling power. . . . True conversion is needed. Heart work is essential. The nature must be renewed after the divine image, until the work of grace is completed in the soul.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This excerpt is taken from the Review and Herald, June 16, 1900.
If our ministers realized how soon the inhabitants of the world are to be arraigned before the judgment seat of God, to answer for the deeds done in the body, how earnestly they would work together with God to present the truth! How untiringly they would labor to advance God’s cause in the world, proclaiming in word and deed: “The end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7).
“Prepare to meet thy God” is the message we are everywhere to proclaim. The trumpet is to give a certain sound. Clearly and distinctly the warning is to ring out: “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen....Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:2-4). The words of this scripture are to be fulfilled. Soon the last test is to come to all the inhabitants of the earth. At that time prompt decisions will be made. Those who have been convicted under the presentation of the word will range themselves under the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel. They will see and understand as never before they have missed many opportunities for doing the good they ought to have done. They will realize that they have not worked as zealously as they should, to seek and save the lost, to snatch them, as it were, out of the fire.
God’s servants are to be “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” Listlessness and inefficiency are not piety. When we realize that we are working for God we shall have a higher sense than we have ever had before of the sacredness of spiritual service. This realization will put life and vigilance and persevering energy into the discharge of every duty.
Religion, pure, undefiled religion, is intensely practical. Nothing but earnest, wholehearted labor will avail in the saving of souls. We are to make our everyday duties acts of devotion, constantly increasing in usefulness, because we see our work in the light of eternity.
Our work has been marked out for us by our heavenly Father. We are to take our Bibles and go forth to warn the world. We are to be God’s helping hands in saving souls—channels through which His love is day by day to flow to the perishing. The realization of the great work in which he has the privilege of taking part ennobles and sanctifies the true worker. He is filled with the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Nothing is drudgery to the one who submits to the will of God. “Doing it unto the Lord” is a thought that throws a charm over whatever work God gives him to do.
Carry on all your work on strictly religious principles. Let your earnest inquiry be: “What can I do to please the Master?” Visit places where the believers need encouragement and help. At every step ask: “Is this the way of the Lord? Am I, in spirit, in word, in action, in harmony with His will?” If you labor for God with an eye single to His glory, your work will bear the divine mold, and you will be carrying out the Lord’s purposes.
In your study of the Word of God, penetrate deeper and still deeper beneath the surface. Lay hold by faith on divine power and sound the depths of inspiration. Bring into your ministry the power of God, remembering that the Lord is behind you. Let His love shine through all you do and say. Let the truth, the precious, simple truth of the Word of God, shine out in full brightness. Humble self before God. Christ will be your efficiency. He has appointed you as rulers over His household, to give meat in due season. Christ’s laborers are very near His heart of love. He desires to perfect His household through the perfection of His ministers.
Christ is the sympathetic, compassionate Redeemer. In His sustaining power, men and women become strong to resist evil. As the convicted sinner looks at sin, it becomes to him exceeding sinful. He wonders that he did not come to Christ before. He sees that his faults must be overcome and that his appetites and passions must be subjected to God’s will, that he must be a partaker of the divine nature, having overcome the corruption that is in the world through lust. Having repented of his transgression of God’s law, he strives earnestly to overcome sin. He seeks to reveal the power of Christ’s grace, and he is brought into personal touch with the Saviour.
Constantly he keeps Christ before him. Praying, believing, receiving the blessings he needs, he comes nearer and nearer to God’s standard for him.
New virtues are revealed in his character as he denies self and lifts the cross, following where Christ leads the way. He loves the Lord Jesus with his whole heart, and Christ becomes his wisdom, his righteousness, his sanctification, and his redemption.
Christ is our example, our inspiration, our exceeding great reward. “Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:9). God is the Master Builder, but man has a part to act. He is to cooperate with God. “We are laborers together with God” (verse 9). Never forget the words: “together with God.” “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13). The miracle-working power of Christ’s grace is revealed in the creation in man of a new heart, a higher life, a holier enthusiasm. God says: “A new heart also will I give you” (Eze. 36:26). Is not this, the renewal of man, the greatest miracle that can be performed? What cannot the human agent do who by faith takes hold of the divine power?
Remember that in working with Christ as your personal Saviour lies your strength and your victory. This is the part all are to act. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. He declares: “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). And the repentant, believing soul responds: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This selection was taken from Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 9, pp. 149-152.
Editors’ note: The words of three Adventist pioneers, Joseph Bates, Ellen White, and James White, are all part of this feature. We begin with a report from Bates, on a meeting and vision at Dorchester in 1848, given in his pamphlet “The Sealing Message.”
Joseph Bates: “A small company of brethren and sisters assembled in meeting in Dorchester.” “Before the meeting commenced, some of us were examining some of the points in the sealing message; some difference of opinion existed.”
James White: “We all felt like uniting to ask wisdom from God. . . . We had an exceedingly powerful meeting. Ellen was again taken off in vision. She then began to describe the Sabbath light, which was the sealing truth. Said she: ‘It arose from the rising of the sun. It arose back there in weakness, but light after light has shone upon it until the Sabbath truth is clear, weighty, and mighty.’“
It was after this vision that Mrs. White informed her husband of his duty to publish, and that as he should advance by faith, success would attend his efforts (see Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, p. 116, note 1).
Ellen White: “After coming out of vision, I said to my husband; ‘I have a message for you. You must begin to print a little paper and send it out to the people. Let it be small at first; but as the people read, they will send you means with which to print, and it will be a success from the first. From this small beginning it was shown to me to be like streams of light that went clear round the world.’
“While we were in Connecticut in the summer of 1849, my husband was deeply impressed that the time had come for him to write and publish the present truth. He was greatly encouraged and blessed as he decided to do this. But again he would be in doubt and perplexity, as he was penniless. There were those who had means, but they chose to keep it. He at length gave up in discouragement, and decided to look for a field of grass to mow....
“One day in July, my husband brought home from Middletown a thousand copies of the first number of his paper. Several times, while the matter was being set, he had walked to Middletown, eight miles, and back, but this day he had borrowed Brother Belden’s horse and buggy with which to bring home the papers.
“The precious printed sheets were brought into the house and laid upon the floor, and then a little group of interested ones were gathered in, and we knelt around the papers, and with humble hearts and many tears besought the Lord to let His blessing rest upon these printed messengers of truth.
“When we had folded the papers, and my husband had wrapped and addressed copies to all those who he thought would read them, he put them into a carpetbag, and carried them on foot to the Middletown post office. . . .
“With the beginning of this work of publishing, we did not cease our labors in preaching the truth, but traveled from place to place, proclaiming the doctrines which had brought so great light and joy to us, encouraging the believers, correcting errors, and setting things in order in the church. In order to carry forward the publishing enterprise, and at the same time continue our labors in different parts of the field, the paper was from time to time moved to different places. . . .
“During the months of October and November, while we were traveling, the paper had been sus- pended; but my husband still felt a burden upon him to write and publish. We rented a house in Oswego. . . . There my husband wrote, published, and preached.” [Nos. 5 and 6 of Present Truth were issued from Oswego, New York, in December 1849; nos. 7 to 10, from the same place, in March to May 1850.]
“From Oswego we went to Centerport, . . . where we published a monthly magazine called the Advent Review.” [The Advent Review, printed in Auburn, New York, during the summer of 1850, should not be confused with the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, the first number of which was issued in Paris, Maine, November 1850. The Advent Review was issued between nos. 10 and 11 of Present Truth.]
The following note, on the purpose of his mag- azine, appears in White’s first page introduction to the 48-page pamphlet edition of the Advent Review:
James White: “Our design in this review is to cheer and refresh the true believer, by showing the ful- fillment of prophecy in the past wonderful work of God, in calling out, and separating from the world and nominal church, a people who are looking for the second advent of our dear Saviour.”
Ellen White: “In November,1850, the paper was issued at Paris, Maine. Here it was enlarged, and its name changed to . . . the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. We boarded in Brother A.’s family. We were willing to live cheaply, that the paper might be sustained. The friends of the cause were few in number and poor in worldly wealth, and we were still compelled to struggle with poverty and great discouragement. We had much care, and often sat up as late as midnight, and sometimes until two or three in the morning, to read proof sheets. . . .
“We were too much troubled to sleep or rest. The hours in which we should have been refreshed with sleep were often spent in answering long communications occasioned by envy. Many hours, while others were sleeping, we spent in agonizing tears, and mourning before the Lord. At length my husband said: ‘Wife, it is of no use to try to struggle on any longer. These things are crushing me, and will soon carry me to the grave. I cannot go any farther. I have written a note for the paper, stating that I shall publish no more.’ As he stepped out of the door to carry the note to the printing office, I fainted. He came back and prayed for me. His prayer was answered, and I was relieved.
“The next morning, while at family prayer, I was taken off in vision and was instructed concerning these matters. I saw that my husband must not give up the paper, for Satan was trying to drive him to take just such a step, and was working through agents to do this. I was shown that we must continue to publish, and the Lord would sustain us. . . .
“We tarried at Ballston Spa a number of weeks, until we became settled in regard to publishing at Saratoga Springs. Then we rented a house and sent for Brother and Sister Stephen Belden and Sister Bonfoey, who was then in Maine taking care of little Edson, and with borrowed household stuff began housekeeping. Here my husband published the second volume of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald.”
Joseph Bates, Ellen G. White, and James White were principal founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. The material for this article was excerpted from the book Publishing Ministry (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1983), pp. 15-22.
While at St. Louis a year ago, as I knelt in prayer, these words were presented to me as if written with a pen of fire: “All ye are brethren.” The Spirit of God rested upon me in a wonderful manner, and matters were opened to me in regard to the church at St. Louis and in other places. The spirit and words of some in regard to members of the church were an offense to God. They were closing the door of their hearts to Jesus. Among those in St. Louis who believe the truth there are colored people who are true and faithful, precious in the sight of the God of heaven, and they should have just as much respect as any [other] of God’s children. Those who have spoken harshly to them or have despised them have despised the purchase of the blood of Christ, and they need the transforming grace of Christ in their own hearts, that they may have the pitying tenderness of Jesus toward those who love God with all the fervor of which they themselves are capable. The color of the skin does not determine character in the heavenly courts.. . .
“Who,” says Paul, “maketh thee to differ?” The God of the white man is the God of the black man, and the Lord declares that His love for the least of His children exceeds that of a mother for her beloved child. Look at that mother: the sick child, the one afflicted, the one born a cripple, or with some other physical infirmity—how the mother labors to give him every advantage! . . .The Lord’s eye is upon all His creatures; He loves them all, and makes no difference between white and black, except that Hehas a special, tender pity for those who are called to bear a greater burden than others. Those who love God and believe on Christ as their Redeemer, while they must meet the trials and the difficulties that lie in their path, should yet with a cheerful spirit accept their life as it is, considering that God above regards these things, and for all that the world neglects to bestow, He will Himself make up to them in the best of favors. . . .
When the sinner is converted he receives the Holy Spirit, that makes him a child of God and fits him for the society of the redeemed and the angelic host. He is made a joint heir with Christ. Whoever of the human family give themselves to Christ, whoever hear the truth and obey it, become children of one family. The igno rant and the wise, the rich and the poor, the heathen and the slave, white or black—Jesus paid the purchase money for their souls. If they believe on Him, His cleansing blood is applied to them. The black man’s name is written in the book of life beside the white man’s. All are one in Christ. Birth, station, nationality, or color cannot elevate or degrade men. The character makes the man. If a red man, a Chinaman, or an African gives his heart to God, in obedience and faith, Jesus loves him none the less for his color. He calls him His well-beloved brother. The day is coming when the kings and the lordly men of the earth would be glad to exchange places with the humblest African who has laid hold on the hope of the gospel. To all who are overcomers through the blood of the Lamb, the invitation will be given, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”. . .
Among what are called the higher classes, there is a demand for a form of Christianity suited to their fine tastes; but this class will not grow up to the full stature of men and women in Christ until they know God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. The heavenly intelligences rejoice to do the will of God in preaching the gospel to the poor. In the announcement which the Saviour made in the synagogue at Nazareth, He put a stern rebuke upon those who attach so much importance to color or caste, and refuse to be satisfied with such a type of Christianity as Christ accepts. The same price was paid for the salvation of the colored man as for that of the white man, and the slights put upon the colored people by many who claim to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and who therefore acknowledge themselves debtors to Christ, misrepresent Jesus, and reveal that selfishness, tradition, and prejudice pollute the soul. They are not sanctified through the truth. Those who slight a brother because of his color are slighting Christ. . . .
Men may have both hereditary and cultivated prejudices, but when the love of Jesus fills the heart, and they become one with Christ, they will have the same spirit that He had. If a colored brother sits by their side, they will not be offended or despise him. They are journeying to the same heaven, and will be seated at the same table to eat bread in the kingdom of God. If Jesus is abiding in our hearts we cannot despise the colored man who has the same Saviour abiding in his heart. When these unchristian prejudices are broken down, more earnest effort will be put forth to do missionary work among the colored race. . . .
God cares no less for the souls of the African race that might be won to serve Him than He cared for Israel. He requires far more of His people than they have given Him in missionary work among the people of the South of all classes, and especially among the colored race. Are we not under even greater obligation to labor for the colored people than for those who have been more highly favored? Who is it that held these people in servitude? Who kept them in ignorance, and pursued a course to debase and brutalize them, forcing them to disregard the law of marriage, breaking up the family relation, tearing wife from husband, and husband from wife? If the race is degraded, if they are repulsive in habits and manners, who made them so? Is there not much due to them from the white people? After so great a wrong has been done them, should not an earnest effort be made to lift them up? The truth must be carried to them. They have souls to save as well as we.
At the General Conference of 1889, resolutions were presented in regard to the color line. Such action is not called for. Let not men take the place of God, but stand aside in awe, and let God work upon human hearts, both white and black, in His own way. He will adjust all these perplexing questions. We need not prescribe a definite plan of working. Leave an opportunity for God to do something. We should be careful not to strengthen prejudices that ought to have died just as soon as Christ redeemed the soul from the bondage of sin.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This excerpt was taken from A Place Called Oakwood (Huntsville, Ala.: Oakwood College, 2007), pp. 166-169.
Adventists have been blessed by the guidance and counsel of Ellen White. While her writings have been used to amplify our understanding of the Bible, some have used them as weapons to silence opposition or win arguments. The following excerpts indicate that Ellen White understood that searching for truth will always be a useful vocation.—Editors.
Whenever the people of God are growing in grace, they will be constantly obtaining a clearer understanding of His Word. They will discern new light and beauty in its sacred truths. This has been true in the history of the church in all ages, and thus it will continue to the end. But as real spiritual life declines, it has ever been the tendency to cease to advance in the knowledge of the truth. Men rest satisfied with the light already received from God’s Word and discourage any further investigation of the Scriptures. They become conservative and seek to avoid discussion.
The fact that there is no controversy or agitation among God’s people should not be regarded as conclusive evidence that they are holding fast to sound doctrine. . . . When no new questions are started by investigation of the Scriptures, when no difference of opinion arises which will set men to searching the Bible for themselves to make sure that they have the truth, there will be many now, as in ancient times, who will hold to tradition and worship they know not what. . . .
When God’s people are at ease and satisfied with their present enlightenment, we may be sure that He will not favor them. It is His will that they should be ever moving forward to receive the increased and ever-increasing light which is shining on them. The present attitude of the church is not pleasing to God. There has come in a self-confidence that has led them to feel no necessity for more truth and greater light. . . . God wills that a voice shall be heard arousing His people to action.1
We do not claim that in the doctrines sought out by those who have studied the word of truth, there may not be some error, for no man that lives is infallible; but if God has sent light, we want it; and God has sent light, and let every man be careful how he treats it.2
The truth of God is progressive; it is always onward, going from strength to a greater strength, from light to a greater light. We have every reason to believe that the Lord will send us increased truth, for a great work is yet to be done. . . .
Much has been lost because our ministers and people have concluded that we have had all the truth essential for us as a people; but such a conclusion is erroneous and in harmony with the deceptions of Satan; for truth will be constantly unfolding.3
Let no one come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed. The diligent, prayerful seeker for truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the Word of God. Many gems are yet scattered that are to be gathered together to become the property of the remnant people of God.4
Long-cherished opinions must not be regarded as infallible. . . . However long men may have entertained certain views, if they are not clearly sustained by the written Word, they should be discarded. Those who sincerely desire truth will not be reluctant to lay open their positions for investigation and criticism, and will not be annoyed if their opinions and ideas are crossed. . . .
We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed.5
There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.6
We must not for a moment think that there is no more light, no more truth, to be given us. We are in danger of becoming careless, by our indifference losing the sanctifying power of truth, and composing ourselves with the thought, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.’ [Rev. 3:17.] While we must hold fast to the truths which we have already received, we must not look with suspicion upon any new light that God may send.7
In every age there is a new development of truth, a message of God to the people of that generation. The old truths are all essential; new truth is not independent of the old, but an unfolding of it. It is only as the old truths are understood that we can comprehend the new. When Christ desired to open to His disciples the truth of His resurrection, He began “at Moses and all the prophets” and “expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27. But it is the light which shines in the fresh unfolding of truth that glorifies the old. He who rejects or neglects the new does not really possess the old. For him it loses its vital power and becomes but a lifeless form.8
If it were possible for us to attain to a full understanding of God and His Word, there would be for us no further discovery of truth, no greater knowledge, no further development. God would cease to be supreme, and man would cease to advance. Thank God, it is not so. Since God is infinite, and in Him are all the treasures of wisdom, we may to all eternity be ever searching, ever learning, yet never exhaust the riches of His wisdom, His goodness, or His power.9
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.
There is no reason for discouragement. The good seed is being sown. God will watch over it, causing it to spring up and bring forth an abundant harvest. Remember that many of the enterprises for soul saving have, at the beginning, been carried forward amidst great difficulty.
I am instructed to say to you: Move guardedly, doing always that which the Lord commands. Move forward courageously, assured that the Lord will be with those who love and serve Him.
He will work in behalf of His covenant-keeping people. He will not suffer them to become a reproach. He will purify all who yield themselves to Him, and will make them a praise in the earth. Nothing else in this world is so dear to God as His church. He will work with mighty power through humble, faithful men. Christ is saying to you today: “I am with you, cooperating with your faithful, trusting efforts, and giving you precious victories. I will strengthen you as you sanctify yourselves to My service. I will give you success in your efforts to arouse souls dead in trespasses and sins.”
Unswerving faith and unselfish love will overcome the difficulties that arise in the path of duty to hinder aggressive warfare. As those inspired by this faith go forward in the work of saving souls, they will run and not be weary, will walk and not faint. . . .
Remember that prayer is the source of your strength. A worker cannot gain success while he hurries through his prayers and rushes away to look after something that he fears may be neglected or forgotten. He gives only a few hurried thoughts to God; he does not take time to think, to pray, to wait upon the Lord for a renewal of physical and spiritual strength. He soon becomes weary. He does not feel the uplifting, inspiring influence of God’s Spirit. He is not quickened by fresh life. His jaded frame and tired brain are not soothed by personal contact with Christ.
Should not the church on earth be full of praise? Should not Christians publish throughout the world the joy of serving Christ?
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” Psalm 27:14; Lamentations 3:26. There are those who work all day and far into the night to do what seems to them must be done. The Lord looks pityingly upon these weary, heavy-laden burden bearers and says to them: “Come unto me, . . . and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
God’s workers will meet with turmoil, discomfort, and weariness. At times, uncertain and distracted, they are almost in despair. When this restless nervousness comes, let them remember Christ’s invitation: “Come ye yourselves apart, . . . and rest awhile.” The Saviour “giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” Isaiah 40:29.
Difficulties will arise that will try your faith and patience. Face them bravely. Look on the bright side. If the work is hindered, be sure that it is not your fault, and then go forward, rejoicing in the Lord.
Heaven is full of joy. It resounds with the praises of Him who made so wonderful a sacrifice for the redemption of the human race. Should not the church on earth be full of praise? Should not Christians publish throughout the world the joy of serving Christ? Those who in heaven join with the angelic choir in their anthem of praise must learn on earth the song of heaven, the keynote of which is thanksgiving.
Never let your courage fail. Never talk unbelief because appearances are against you. As you work for the Master you will feel pressure for want of means, but the Lord will hear and answer your petitions for help. Let your language be: “The Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Isaiah 50:7. If you make a mistake, turn your defeat into victory.
The lessons that God sends will always, if well learned, bring help in due time. Put your trust in God. Pray much, and believe. Trusting, hoping, believing, holding fast the hand of Infinite Power, you will be more than conquerors.
True workers walk and work by faith. Sometimes they grow weary with watching the slow advance of the work when the battle wages strong between the powers of good and evil. But if they refuse to fail or be discouraged they will see the clouds breaking away and the promise of deliverance fulfilling. Through the mist with which Satan has surrounded them, they will see the shining of the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
Work in faith, and leave results with God. Pray in faith, and the mystery of His providence will bring its answer. At times it may seem that you cannot succeed. But work and believe, putting into your efforts faith, hope, and courage. After doing what you can, wait for the Lord, declaring His faithfulness, and He will bring His word to pass. Wait, not in fretful anxiety, but in undaunted faith and unshaken trust.
“If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This excerpt was taken from Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif., Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1902), vol. 7, pp. 242-245.
Jacob’s experience during that night of wrestling and anguish represents the trial through which the people of God must pass just before Christ’s second coming. The prophet Jeremiah, in holy vision looking down to this time, said, “We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. . . . All faces are turned into paleness. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:5-7.
When Christ shall cease His work as mediator in [humanity’s] behalf, then this time of trouble will begin. Then the case of every soul will have been decided, and there will be no atoning blood to cleanse from sin. When Jesus leaves His position as [humanity’s] intercessor before God, the solemn announcement is made, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11.
Then the restraining Spirit of God is withdrawn from the earth. As Jacob was threatened with death by his angry brother, so the people of God will be in peril from the wicked who are seeking to destroy them. And as the patriarch wrestled all night for deliverance from the hand of Esau, so the righteous will cry to God day and night for deliverance from the enemies that surround them.
Satan had accused Jacob before the angels of God, claiming the right to destroy him because of his sin; he had moved upon Esau to march against him; and during the patriarch’s long night of wrestling, Satan endeavored to force upon him a sense of his guilt, in order to discourage him, and break his hold upon God.
When in his distress Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and made supplication with tears, the heavenly Messenger, in order to try his faith, also reminded him of his sin, and endeavored to escape from him.
But Jacob would not be turned away. He had learned that God is merciful, and he cast himself upon His mercy. He pointed back to his repentance for his sin, and pleaded for deliverance. As he reviewed his life, he was driven almost to despair; but he held fast the Angel, and with earnest, agonizing cries urged his petition until he prevailed.
Such will be the experience of God’s people in their final struggle with the powers of evil. God will test their faith, their perseverance, their confidence in His power to deliver them. Satan will endeavor to terrify them with the thought that their cases are hopeless; that their sins have been too great to receive pardon. They will have a deep sense of their shortcomings, and as they review their lives their hopes will sink.
Jacob’s history is an assurance that God will not cast off those who have been betrayed into sin.
But remembering the greatness of God’s mercy, and their own sincere repentance, they will plead His promises made through Christ to helpless, repenting sinners. Their faith will not fail because their prayers are not immediately answered. They will lay hold of the strength of God, as Jacob laid hold of the Angel, and the language of their souls will be, “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.”
Had not Jacob previously repented of his sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud, God could not have heard his prayer and mercifully preserved his life. So in the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance.
But while they have a deep sense of their unworthiness, they will have no concealed wrongs to reveal. Their sins will have been blotted out by the atoning blood of Christ, and they cannot bring them to remembrance.
Satan leads many to believe that God will overlook their unfaithfulness in the minor affairs of life; but the Lord shows in His dealing with Jacob that He can in no wise sanction or tolerate evil. All who endeavor to excuse or conceal their sins, and permit them to remain upon the books of heaven, unconfessed and unforgiven, will be overcome by Satan. The more exalted their profession, and the more honorable the position which they hold, the more grievous is their course in the sight of God, and the more certain the triumph of the great adversary.
Yet Jacob’s history is an assurance that God will not cast off those who have been betrayed into sin, but who have returned unto Him with true repentance. It was by self-surrender and confiding faith that Jacob gained what he had failed to gain by conflict in his own strength. God thus taught His servant that divine power and grace alone could give him the blessing he craved.
Thus it will be with those who live in the last days. As dangers surround them, and despair seizes upon the soul, they must depend solely upon the merits of the atonement. We can do nothing of ourselves. In all our helpless unworthiness we must trust in the merits of the crucified and risen Saviour. None will ever perish while they do this. The long, black catalogue of our delinquencies is before the eye of the Infinite. The register is complete; none of our offenses are forgotten. But He who listened to the cries of His servants of old will hear the prayer of faith and pardon our transgressions. He has promised, and He will fulfill His word.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This passage was excerpted from the book Patriarch and Prophets (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1890, 1908), pp. 201-203.
More clearly than we do we need to understand the issues at stake in the great conflict in which we are engaged. We need to understand more fully the value of the truths of the word of God and the danger of allowing our minds to be diverted from them by the great deceiver.
The infinite value of the sacrifice required for our redemption reveals the fact that sin is a tremendous evil. Through sin the whole human organism is deranged, the mind is perverted, the imagination corrupted. Sin has degraded the faculties of the soul. Temptations from without find an answering chord within the heart, and the feet turn imperceptibly toward evil.
As the sacrifice in our behalf was complete, so our restoration from the defilement of sin is to be complete. No act of wickedness will the law of God excuse; no unrighteousness can escape its condemnation. The ethics of the gospel acknowledge no standard but the perfection of the divine character. The life of Christ was a perfect fulfillment of every precept of the law. He said, “I have kept my Father’s commandments.” His life is our example of obedience and service. God alone can renew the heart. “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” But we are bidden, “Work out your own salvation.” John 15:10; Philippians 2:13, 12.
Wrongs cannot be righted, nor can reformations in conduct be made by a few feeble, intermittent efforts. Character building is the work, not of a day, nor of a year, but of a lifetime. The struggle for conquest over self, for holiness and heaven, is a lifelong struggle. Without continual effort and constant activity, there can be no advancement in the divine life, no attainment of the victor’s crown.
The strongest evidence of [humanity’s] fall from a higher state is the fact that it costs so much to return. The way of return can be gained only by hard fighting, inch by inch, hour by hour. In one moment, by a hasty, unguarded act, we may place ourselves in the power of evil; but it requires more than a moment to break the fetters and attain to a holier life. The purpose may be formed, the work begun; but its accomplishment will require toil, time, perseverance, patience, and sacrifice.
We cannot allow ourselves to act from impulse. We cannot be off guard for a moment. Beset with temptations without number, we must resist firmly or be conquered. Should we come to the close of life with our work undone, it would be an eternal loss.
Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.
The life of the apostle Paul was a constant conflict with self. He said, “I die daily.” 1 Corinthians 15:31. His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following inclination, he did God’s will, however crucifying to his nature.
At the close of his life of conflict, looking back over its struggles and triumphs, he could say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day.” 2 Timothy 4:7, 8.
The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.
No one will be borne upward without stern, persevering effort in his own behalf. All must engage in this warfare for themselves; no one else can fight our battles. Individually we are responsible for the issues of the struggle; though Noah, Job, and Daniel were in the land they could deliver neither son nor daughter by their righteousness.
There is a science of Christianity to be mastered—a science as much deeper, broader, higher than any human science as the heavens are higher than the earth. The mind is to be disciplined, educated, trained; for we are to do service for God in ways that are not in harmony with inborn inclination. Hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil must be overcome. Often the education and training of a lifetime must be discarded, that one may become a learner in the school of Christ.
Our hearts must be educated to become steadfast in God. We are to form habits of thought that will enable us to resist temptation. We must learn to look upward. The principles of the Word of God—principles that are as high as heaven, and that compass eternity—we are to understand in their bearing upon our daily life. Every act, every word, every thought, is to be in accord with these principles. All must be brought into harmony with, and subject to, Christ.
The precious graces of the Holy Spirit are not developed in a moment. Courage, fortitude, meekness, faith, unwavering trust in God’s power to save, are acquired by the experience of years. By a life of holy endeavor and firm adherence to the right the children of God are to seal their destiny.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. These passages were excerpted from her book The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), pp. 451-454.