By Ellen G. White
The professed church of God may be possessed of wealth, education, and knowledge of doctrine, and may say by her attitude, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;” but if its members are devoid of inward holiness, they cannot be the light of the world. The church is to reflect light into the moral darkness of the world, as the stars reflect light into the darkness of the night. These who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof, do not reflect light into the world, and will not have power to reach the hearts of the unsaved. Without vital connection with Christ the value of truth cannot be made to appear in good fruit in the world; but if Christ is formed within, the hope of glory, His saving grace will be manifested in sympathy and love for perishing souls.
Every soul truly converted to God will be a light in the world. Bright, clear rays from the Sun of Righteousness will shine forth through human agents who use their entrusted ability to do good; for they will cooperate with heavenly agencies, and labor with Christ for the conversion of souls. They will diffuse the light which Christ sheds upon them. The Sun of Righteousness shining in their hearts will shine forth, enlightening and blessing others.
The rays of heaven shining from human agents will exert a subduing influence upon those whom Christ is drawing to Himself. The church is weak before the angels of heaven, unless power is revealed through its members for the conversion of those who are perishing. Unless the church is the light of the world, it is darkness. But of the true followers of Christ it is written: “We are laborers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
The church may be composed of those who are poor and uneducated; but if they have learned of Christ the science of prayer, the church will have power to move the arm of Omnipotence. The true people of God will have an influence that will tell upon hearts. It is not the wealth or the educated ability which the members of the church may possess that constitutes their efficiency. The members of the church may have been so situated that they may have had every spiritual advantage, they may have been so situated that they have had opportunity to know the truth, to know Jesus Christ their Lord; but notwithstanding their advantages, if they are not humble, praying men and women, there will not be with them the hiding of the power of God. They will not exert that influence that will be far-reaching as eternity in its results, and men will not see their good works, and glorify God because of His people’s faithfulness. It is when the Sun of Righteousness shines forth from the people of God that Christ is glorified and His kingdom advanced. It is then that they are chosen vessels of salvation, and are fit for the Master’s use.
If the churches established in our world would follow Christ, they would pray as Christ prayed, and the result of their prayers would be seen in the conversion of souls; for when communication is opened up between souls and God, a divine influence is shed upon the world. When the members of the church abide in Christ, they deliver an effective testimony in their lives. They fulfill the words of Christ, “Ye are my witnesses.” By their influence all the day long by precept and example, they say, “Come,” “behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
The Lord is our light. The Lord is our salvation. This is the period in the earth’s history when light will surely be given to the Lord’s chosen people. The world’s Redeemer “is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Jesus says, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” To those who will appreciate light, and who in their turn will impart light to others, God will give increased light. Saints and prophets of former ages were recipients of precious light and knowledge that was to be unfolded to the chosen of God in these last days. The disciples of Christ were honored in having Christ, the Light of the world, among them. But they failed to appreciate their great privileges and blessings, until Jesus had left them. When His presence was no longer with them, they realized that they had been blessed with association with the only begotten Son of the infinite God. That they might fully realize the blessing that had been bestowed upon them, the Lord Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, which would bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever He had said unto them. In their blindness and unbelief they had not comprehended the value of the celestial truth presented to them; but the Holy Spirit was to illuminate the lessons of Christ before their minds, that they might have an appreciation of heavenly things.
Jesus is the fountainhead of knowledge, the treasure-house of truth, and He longed to open before His disciples treasures of infinite value, that they in turn might open them to others. But because of their blindness He could not unfold to them the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. He said to them, “I have yet many things to say unto you; but ye cannot bear them now.” The minds of the disciples were to a great degree influenced by the traditions and maxims of the Pharisees, who placed the commandments of God on a level with their own inventions and doctrines. The scribes and Pharisees did not receive or teach the Scriptures in their original purity, but interpreted the language of the Bible in such a way as to make it express sentiments and injunctions that God had never given. They put a mystical construction upon the writing of the Old Testament, and made indistinct that which the infinite God had made clear and plain. These learned men placed before the people their own ideas, and made patriarchs and prophets responsible for things they never uttered. These false teachers buried up the precious jewels of truth beneath the rubbish of their own interpretations and maxims, and covered up the plainest specifications of prophecy regarding Christ. They made the keeping of the commandments of God appear to be a rigorous round of ceremonies, so needless and foolish that the force of God’s law was destroyed. They heaped exactions upon the commands of God that could never be met, and thereby lessened respect for God.
When the Author of truth came to our world, and was the living interpreter of His own laws, the Scriptures were opened to men like a new revelation; for He taught as one having authority, as one who knew whereof He was speaking. The minds of men were confused with false teaching to such an extent that they could not fully grasp the meaning of divine truth, and yet they were attracted to the great Teacher, and said, “Never man spake like this man.”
This article first appeared in the September 11, 1893, edition of the Signs of the Times, the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s earliest evangelistic journal. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.