How to Meet a Controverted

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February 18, 1890 How to Meet a Controverted Point of



JAN. 29, 1890.]


By Mrs. E. G. White.



     We want to understand the time in which we live. We do not half understand it. We do not half take it in. My heart trembles in me when I think of what a foe we have to meet, and how poorly we are prepared to meet him. The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ. How the enemy sought every occasion to take control of the minds of the Jews, and today he is seeking to blind the minds of God's servants, that they may not be able to discern the precious truth. {RH,February 18, 1890 par. 1}


     When Christ came to our world, Satan was on the ground, and disputed every inch of advance in his path from the manger to Calvary. Satan had accused God of requiring self-denial of the angels, when he knew nothing of what it meant himself, and when he would not himself make any self-sacrifice for others. This was the accusation that Satan made against God in heaven; and after the evil one was expelled from heaven, he continually charged the Lord with exacting service which he would not render himself. Christ came to the world to meet these false accusations, and to reveal the Father. We cannot conceive of the humiliation he endured in taking our nature upon himself. Not that in itself it was a disgrace to belong to the human race, but he was the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, and he humbled himself to become a babe and suffer the wants and woes of mortals. He humbled himself not to the highest position, to be a man of riches and power, but though he was rich, yet for our sake he became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He took step after step in humiliation. He was driven from city to city; for men would not receive the Light of the world. They were perfectly satisfied with their position. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 2}


     Christ had given precious gems of truth, but men had bound them up in the rubbish of superstition and error. He had imparted to them the words of life, but they did not live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. He saw that the world could not find the word of God, for it was hidden by the traditions of men. He came to place before the world the relative importance of heaven and earth, and put truth in its own place. Jesus alone could reveal the truth which it was necessary men should know in order that they might obtain salvation. He only could place it in the frame-work of truth, and it was his work to free it from error and to set it before men in its heavenly light. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 3}


     Satan was roused to oppose him, for had he not put forth every effort since the fall to make light appear darkness, and darkness light? As Christ sought to place truth before the people in its proper relation to their salvation, Satan worked through the Jewish leaders, and inspired them with enmity against the Redeemer of the world. They determined to do all in their power to prevent him from making an impression upon the people. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 4}


     O, how Christ longed, how his heart burned, to open to the priests the greater treasures of the truth! But their minds had been cast in such a mold that it was next to an impossibility to reveal to them the truths relating to his kingdom. The Scriptures had not been read aright. The Jews had been looking for the advent of the Messiah, but they had thought he must come in all the glory that will attend his second appearing. Because he did not come with all the majesty of a king, they utterly refused him. But it was not simply because he did not come in splendor that they refused him. It was because he was the embodiment of purity, and they were impure. He walked the earth a man of spotless integrity. Such a character in the midst of degradation and evil, was out of harmony with their desires, and he was abused and despised. His spotless life flashed light upon the hearts of men, and discovered iniquity to them in its odious character. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 5}


     The Son of God was assaulted at every step by the powers of darkness. After his baptism he was driven of the Spirit into the wilderness, and suffered temptation for forty days. Letters have been coming in to me, affirming that Christ could not have had the same nature as man, for if he had, he would have fallen under similar temptations. If he did not have man's nature, he could not be our example. If he was not a partaker of our nature, he could not have been tempted as man has been. If it were not possible for him to yield to temptation, he could not be our helper. It was a solemn reality that Christ came to fight the battles as man, in man's behalf. His temptation and victory tell us that humanity must copy the Pattern; man must become a partaker of the divine nature.{RH, February 18, 1890 par. 6}


     In Christ, divinity and humanity were combined. Divinity was not degraded to humanity; divinity held its place, but humanity by being united to divinity, withstood the fiercest test of temptation in the wilderness. The prince of this world came to Christ after his long fast, when he was an hungered, and suggested to him to command the stones to become bread. But the plan of God, devised for the salvation of man, provided that Christ should know hunger, and poverty, and every phase of man's experience. He withstood the temptation, through the power that man may command. He laid hold on the throne of God, and there is not a man or woman who may not have access to the same help through faith in God. Man may become a partaker of the divine nature; not a soul lives who may not summon the aid of Heaven in temptation and trial. Christ came to reveal the Source of his power, that man might never rely on his unaided human capabilities. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 7}


     Those who would overcome must put to the tax every power of their being. They must agonize on their knees before God for divine power. Christ came to be our example, and to make known to us that we may be partakers of the divine nature. How?--By having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Satan did not gain the victory over Christ. He did not put his foot upon the soul of the Redeemer. He did not touch the head though he bruised the heel. Christ, by his own example, made it evident that man may stand in integrity. Men may have a power to resist evil--a power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master; a power that will place them where they may overcome as Christ overcame. Divinity and humanity may be combined in them. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 8}


     It was the work of Christ to present the truth in the frame-work of the gospel, and to reveal the precepts and principles that he had given to fallen man. Every idea he presented was his own. He needed not to borrow thoughts from any, for he was the originator of all truth. He could present the ideas of prophets and philosophers, and preserve his originality; for all wisdom was his; he was the source, the fountain, of all truth. He was in advance of all, and by his teaching he became the spiritual leader for all ages. {RH,February 18, 1890 par. 9}


     It was Christ that spoke through Melchisedec, the priest of the most high God. Melchisedec was not Christ, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. And all through the generations of the past, Christ has spoken; Christ has led his people, and has been the light of the world. When God chose Abraham as a representative of his truth, he took him out of his country, and away from his kindred, and set him apart. He desired to mold him after his own model. He desired to teach him according to his own plan. The mold of the world's teachers was not to be upon him. He was to be taught how to command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. This is the work that God would have us do. He would have us understand how to govern our families, how to control our children, how to command our households to keep the way of the Lord. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 10}


     John was called to do a special work; he was to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight his paths. The Lord did not send him to the school of the prophets and rabbis. He took him away from the assemblies of men to the desert, that he might learn of nature and nature's God. God did not desire him to have the mold of the priests and rulers. He was called to do a special work. The Lord gave him his message. Did he go to the priests and rulers and ask if he might proclaim this message?--No, God put him away from them that he might not be influenced by their spirit and teaching. He was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." This is the very message that must be given to our people; we are near the end of time, and the message is, Clear the King's highway; gather out the stones; raise up a standard for the people. The people must be awakened. It is no time now to cry peace and safety. We are exhorted to "cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 11}


     The light of the glory of God shone upon our Representative, and this fact says to us that the glory of God may shine upon us. With his human arm, Jesus encircled the race, and with his divine arm he grasped the throne of the Infinite, connecting man with God, and earth with heaven. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 12}


     The light of the glory of God must fall upon us. We need the holy unction from on high. However intelligent, however learned a man may be, he is not qualified to teach unless he has a firm hold on the God of Israel. He who is connected with Heaven will do the works of Christ. By faith in God he will have power to move upon humanity. He will seek for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. If divine power does not combine with human effort, I would not give a straw for all that the greatest man could do. The Holy Spirit is wanting in our work. Nothing frightens me more than to see the spirit of variance manifested by our brethren. We are on dangerous ground when we cannot meet together like Christians, and courteously examine controverted points. I feel like fleeing from the place lest I receive the mold of those who cannot candidly investigate the doctrines of the Bible. Those who cannot impartially examine the evidences of a position that differs from theirs, are not fit to teach in any department of God's cause. What we need is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without this, we are no more fitted to go forth to the world than were the disciples after the crucifixion of their Lord. Jesus knew their destitution, and told them to tarry in Jerusalem until they should be endowed with power from on high. Every teacher must be a learner, that his eyes may be anointed to see the evidences of the advancing truth of God. The beams of the Sun of Righteousness must shine into his own heart if he would impart light to others. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 13}


     No one is able to explain the Scriptures without the aid of the Holy Spirit. But when you take up the word of God with a humble, teachable heart, the angels of God will be by your side to impress you with evidences of the truth. When the Spirit of God rests upon you, there will be no feeling of envy or jealousy in examining another's position; there will be no spirit of accusation and criticism, such as Satan inspired in the hearts of the Jewish leaders against Christ. As Christ said to Nicodemus, so I say to you, "Ye must be born again." "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." You must have the divine mold before you can discern the sacred claims of the truth. Unless the teacher is a learner in the school of Christ, he is not fitted to teach others. {RH,February 18, 1890 par. 14}


     We should come into a position where every difference will be melted away. If I think I have light, I shall do my duty in presenting it. Suppose I consulted others concerning the message the Lord would have me give to the people, the door might be closed so that the light might not reach the ones to whom God had sent it. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, "the whole multitude of disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 15}


     The Jews tried to stop the proclamation of the message that had been predicted in the word of God; but prophecy must be fulfilled. The Lord says, "Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." Somebody is to come in the spirit and power of Elijah, and when he appears, men may say, "You are too earnest, you do not interpret the Scriptures in the proper way. Let me tell you how to teach your message." {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 16}


     There are many who cannot distinguish between the work of God and that of man. I shall tell the truth as God gives it to me, and I say now, If you continue to find fault, to have a spirit of variance, you will never know the truth. Jesus said to his disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." They were not in a condition to appreciate sacred and eternal things; but Jesus promised to send the Comforter, who would teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever he had said unto them. Brethren, we must not put our dependence in man. "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" You must hang your helpless souls upon Jesus. It does not become us to drink from the fountain of the valley, when there is a fountain in the mountain. Let us leave the lower streams; let us come to the higher springs. If there is a point of truth that you do not understand, upon which you do not agree, investigate, compare scripture with scripture, sink the shaft of truth down deep into the mine of God's word. You must lay yourselves and your opinions on the altar of God, put away your preconceived ideas, and let the Spirit of Heaven guide you into all truth. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 17}


     My brother said at one time that he would not hear anything concerning the doctrine we hold, for fear he should be convinced. He would not come to the meetings, or listen to the discourses; but he afterward declared that he saw he was as guilty as if he had heard them. God had given him an opportunity to know the truth, and he would hold him responsible for this opportunity. There are many among us who are prejudiced against the doctrines that are now being discussed. They will not come to hear, they will not calmly investigate, but they put forth their objections in the dark. They are perfectly satisfied with their position. "Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 18}


     This scripture applies to those who live under the sound of the message, but who will not come to hear it. How do you know but that the Lord is giving fresh evidences of his truth, placing it in a new setting, that the way of the Lord may be prepared? What plans have you been laying that new light may be infused through the ranks of God's people? What evidence have you that God has not sent light to his children? All self-sufficiency, egotism, and pride of opinion must be put away. We must come to the feet of Jesus, and learn of him who is meek and lowly of heart. Jesus did not teach his disciples as the rabbis taught theirs. Many of the Jews came and listened as Christ revealed the mysteries of salvation, but they came not to learn; they came to criticise, to catch him in some inconsistency, that they might have something with which to prejudice the people. They were content with their knowledge, but the children of God must know the voice of the true Shepherd. Is not this a time when it would be highly proper to fast and pray before God? We are in danger of variance, in danger of taking sides on a controverted point; and should we not seek God in earnestness, with humiliation of soul, that we may know what is truth? {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 19}


     Nathanael heard John as he pointed to the Saviour, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" Nathanael looked at Jesus, but he was disappointed in the appearance of the world's Redeemer. Could he who bore the marks of toil and poverty, be the Messiah? Jesus was a worker; he had toiled with humble working-men, and Nathanael went away. But he did not form his opinion decidedly as to what the character of Jesus was. He knelt down under a fig-tree, inquiring of God if indeed this man was the Messiah. While he was there, Philip came and said, "We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." But the word "Nazareth" again aroused his unbelief, and he said, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" He was full of prejudice, but Philip did not seek to combat his prejudice; he simply said, "Come and see." When Nathanael came into the presence of Jesus, Jesus said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Nathanael was amazed. He said, "Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee." {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 20}


     Would it not be well for us to go under the fig-tree to plead with God as to what is truth? Would not the eye of God be upon us as it was upon Nathanael? Nathanael believed on the Lord, and exclaimed, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 21}


     This is what we shall see if we are connected with God. God wants us to depend upon him, and not upon man. He desires us to have a new heart; he would give us revealings of light from the throne of God. We should wrestle with every difficulty, but when some controverted point is presented, are you to go to man to find out his opinion, and then shape your conclusions from his?--No, go to God. Tell him what you want; take your Bible and search as for hidden treasures. {RH, February 18, 1890 par. 22}


     We do not go deep enough in our search for truth. Every soul who believes present truth will be brought where he will be required to give a reason of the hope that is in him. The people of God will be called upon to stand before kings, princes, rulers, and great men of the earth, and they must know that they do know what is truth. They must be converted men and women. God can teach you more in one moment by his Holy Spirit than you could learn from the great men of the earth. The universe is looking upon the controversy that is going on upon the earth. At an infinite cost, God has provided for every man an opportunity to know that which will make him wise unto salvation. How eagerly do angels look to see who will avail himself of this opportunity! When a message is presented to God's people, they should not rise up in opposition to it; they should go to the Bible, comparing it with the law and the testimony, and if it does not bear this test, it is not true. God wants our minds to expand. He desires to put his grace upon us. We may have a feast of good things every day; for God can open the whole treasure of heaven to us. We are to be one with Christ as he is one with the Father, and the Father will love us as he loves his Son. We may have the same help that Christ had, we may have strength for every emergency; for God will be our front guard and our rereward. He will shut us in on every side, and when we are brought before rulers, before the authorities of the earth, we need not meditate beforehand of what we shall say. God will teach us in the day of our need. Now may God help us to come to the feet of Jesus and learn of him, before we seek to become teachers of others. {RH,February 18, 1890 par. 23}