Entrance of thy words giveth light

Excerpt of a letter on the spiritual condition of pastors written to Elder Olson.

Ellen G. White

"All the advantages and privileges that may be multiplied for your benefit, that you should be educated and trained, rooted and grounded in the truth, will be no real help to you personally unless the mind and heart are open so that truth shall find entrance and you make a conscientious surrender of every habit and practice, and every sin that has closed the door against Jesus."

I would address those who preach the Word: “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psalm 119:130. All the advantages and privileges that may be multiplied for your benefit, that you should be educated and trained, rooted and grounded in the truth, will be no real help to you personally unless the mind and heart are open so that truth shall find entrance and you make a conscientious surrender of every habit and practice, and every sin that has closed the door against Jesus. Let the light from Christ search every dark corner of the soul; with earnest determination adopt a right course of action. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 24

If you hold on to a wrong course, as many of you are doing, if the truth does not work in you with transforming power so that you obey it from the heart because you love its pure principles, be sure that for you the truth will lose its vitalizing power, and sin will strengthen. This is why many are not efficient agents for the Master. They are constantly making provision to please and glorify themselves, or they cherish lust in the heart. True, they assent to the law of the ten commandments, and many teach the law in theory; but they do not cherish its principles; they do not obey the command of God to be pure, to love God supremely and their neighbor as themselves. While constantly living a lie, can such have strength? Can they have confidence? Will such become efficient workers for God? 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 25

The Saviour prayed for His disciples, “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” John 17:17. But if the receiver of Bible knowledge makes no change in his habits of practice to correspond to the light of truth, what then? The spirit is warring against the flesh and the flesh against the spirit; and one of these must conquer. If the truth sanctifies the soul, sin is hated and shunned, because Christ is accepted as an honored guest. But Christ cannot share a divided heart; sin and Jesus are never in co-partnership. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 26

He who accepts the truth in sincerity, who eats the flesh and drinks the blood of the Son of God, has eternal life. “The words that I speak unto you,” said Jesus, “They are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63. When the receiver of truth co-operates with the Holy Spirit, he will go weighted with a burden of the message to souls; he will never be merely a sermonizer. He will enter heart and soul into the great work of seeking and saving that which is lost; practicing the religion of Christ, he will accomplish a work in winning souls. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 27

Every believer is under bonds to God to be spiritually minded, keeping himself in the channel of light, that he may let his light shine to the world. When all those who are engaged in the sacred work of the ministry shall grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, they will hate sin and all selfishness. A moral renovation is constantly going on; as they continue looking to Jesus, they become conformed to His image, and are found complete in Him, not having their own righteousness, but the righteousness that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 28

The great advantage of the ministerial institutes is not half appreciated. They are rich in opportunities, but do not accomplish half what they should, because those who attend them do not practice the truth which is presented before them in clear lines. Many who are explaining the Scriptures to others have not conscientiously and entirely surrendered mind and heart and life to the control of the Holy Spirit. They love sin and cling to it. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 29

I have been shown that impure practices, pride, selfishness, self-glory, have closed the door of the heart, even of those who teach the truth to others, so that the frown of God is upon them. Cannot some renovating power take hold of them? Have they fallen a prey to a moral disease which is incurable because they themselves refuse to be cured? O, that every one who labors in word and doctrine would heed the words of Paul, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 30

How my heart goes out in rejoicing for those who walk in humility of mind, and love and fear God! They possess a power far more valuable than learning or eloquence. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) and His love and fear are like a thread of gold uniting the human agent to the divine. Thus all the movements of life are simplified. When the children of God are struggling with temptation, battling against the passions of the natural heart, faith connects the soul with the only One who can give help, and they are overcomers. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 31

May the Lord work upon the hearts of those who have received great light, that they may depart from all iniquity. Behold the cross of Calvary. There is Jesus, who gave His life, not that men may continue in sin, not that they may have license to break the law of God, but that through this infinite sacrifice they may be saved from all sin. Said Christ, “I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified,” (John 17:19) by the perfection of His example. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 32

Will those who preach the truth to others be sanctified by the truth themselves? Will they love the Lord with heart and mind and soul, and their neighbor as themselves? Will they meet the highest standard of Christian character? Are their tastes elevated, their appetites controlled? Are they cherishing only noble sentiments, strong, deep sympathy, and pure purposes, that they may indeed be laborers together with God? 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 33

We must have the Holy Spirit to sustain us in the conflict, for we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 34

We have been asked why it is that there is so little power in the churches, why there is so little efficiency among our teachers. The answer is that it is because known sin in various forms is cherished among the professed followers of Christ, and the conscience becomes hardened by long violation. The answer is that men do not walk with God, but separate company from Jesus; and as a result, we see manifested in the church selfishness, covetousness, pride, strife, contention, hardheartedness, licentiousness, and evil practices. Even among those who preach the sacred Word of God, this state of evil is found, and unless there is thorough reformation among those who are unholy and unsanctified, it would be better that such men would leave the ministry and choose some other occupation where their unregenerate thoughts would not bring disaster upon the people of God. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 35

The apostle exhorts the brethren, saying, “Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10, 11, 13. O what a day is before us! What sifting will there be among those who claim to be the children of God! The unjust will be found among the just. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 36

Those who have had great light and who have not walked in it will have darkness corresponding to the light they have despised. We have need to heed the lesson contained in the words of Paul, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Corinthians 9:27. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 37

The enemy is diligently working to see who he can add to the ranks of apostasy; but the Lord is soon coming, and ere long every case will be decided for eternity. Those whose works correspond with the light graciously given them, will be numbered on the Lord’s side. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 38

We are waiting and watching for the grand and awful scene which will close up this earth’s history. But we are not simply to be waiting; we are to be vigilantly working with reference to this solemn event. The living church of God will be waiting, watching, and working. None are to stand in a neutral position. All are to represent Christ in active, earnest efforts to save perishing souls. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 39

Will the church fold her hands now? Shall we sleep as is represented in the parable of the foolish virgins? Every precaution is to be taken now, for haphazard work will result in spiritual declension and that day overtake us as a thief. The mind needs to be strengthened, to look deep, and discern the reasons of our faith. The soul-temple is to be purified by the truth, for only the pure in heart will be able to stand against the wiles of Satan. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 40

We are not to copy the world’s practices, and yet we are not to stand aloof from the people of the world, for our light must shine amid the moral darkness that covers the earth. There is a sad lack in the church of Christian love, one for another. This love is easily extinguished, and yet without it we cannot have Christian fellowship, nor love those for whom Christ died. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 41

Our brethren need to take heed to the injunction, “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” 2 Timothy 2:23-26. We shall have to meet crooked elements in the world and in the church. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 42

Men will come claiming to have great light; but those who have experience in the cause of God will see that what they present as great light is great darkness. Men of this class will have to be treated according to the specifications in the Word of God. Those who are in error may become excited in advocating their views; but those who are walking in the light can afford to be calm, gentle with the erring, “apt to teach,” making manifest the fact that they ask and receive wisdom of God. They will have no occasion to move excitedly, but occasion to move wisely, patiently, “in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” 2 Timothy 2:24, 25. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 43

The time has come when those who are rooted and grounded in the truth may manifest their firmness and decision, may make known the fact that they are unmoved by the sophistry, maxims, or fables of the ignorant and wavering. Without foundation, men will make statements with all the positiveness of truth; but it is of no use to argue with them concerning their spurious assertions. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 44

The best way to deal with error is to present the truth and leave wild ideas to die out for want of notice. Contrasted with truth the weakness of error is made apparent to every intelligent mind. The more [the] erroneous assertions of opposers, and of those who rise up among us to deceive souls, are repeated, the better the cause of error is served. The more publicity is given to the suggestions of Satan, the better it pleases his satanic majesty, for unsanctified hearts will be prepared to receive the chaff that he provides for them. We shall have to meet difficulties of this order even in the church. Men will make a world of an atom and an atom of a world. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 45

Elder Olsen, cannot we do more for the churches that they may be aroused to act upon the light already given? God has appointed to every man his work. The lowliest as well as the mightiest have been endowed with influence that should tell on the Lord’s side, that they [may] devote their talent to His working in their appointed place of duty. The Lord expects every one to do his best. When light shines into the heart, He expects our work to correspond with our light, to be in accordance with the measure of the fullness of Christ which we have received. The more we use our knowledge, and exercise our powers, the more knowledge we shall have, the more power we shall acquire to do more and better work. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 46

Our talents are not our own; they are the Lord’s property, with which we are to trade. We are responsible for the use or the abuse of the Lord’s goods. God calls upon men to invest their entrusted talents, that when the Master cometh, he may receive His own with usury. With His own blood Christ has purchased us as His servants. Shall we serve Him? Shall we now study to show ourselves approved unto God? Shall we show by our actions that we are stewards of His grace? Every effort put forth for the Master, prompted by a pure, sincere heart, will be a fragrant offering to Him. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 47

We are walking in the sight of unseen intelligences. A witness is by our side constantly to see how we trade with the Lord’s entrusted goods. When the good steward returns his talents with usury he will claim nothing. He will realize that they are the talents that God delivered unto him and will give glory to the Master. He knows that there would have been no gain without the deposit, no interest without the principal. He will say, “Lord, thou deliverest unto me five talents; behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.” Matthew 25:20. 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 48

Let the church now consider whether they are putting out to usury the capital the Lord has given. Without the grace of Christ, every soul would have been bankrupt for eternity; therefore we can rightfully claim nothing, yet when we are faithful stewards, the Lord rewards us as if the merit were all our own. He says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 49

How many will mourn for lost opportunities when it is eternally too late! Today we have talent and opportunity, but we know not how long these may be ours. Then let us work while it is day, for the night cometh in which no man can work. (see John 9:4) “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching.” Luke 12:37 7LtMs, Lt 19b, 1892, par. 50