Circulation of The Great Controversy

More than ever before I have been made to feel that our churches need the messages of warning which God has given to arouse them to a sense of their responsibility. Amid the dense darkness that covers the earth, every ray of light that has come from heaven must shine forth. The warnings and entreaties of the Word of God and the fulfillment of prophecy in events daily taking place around us are but dimly comprehended by many who profess to believe the present truth. Satan would have men sleep, while he is actively at work sowing the seeds of error. Every eye in the unfallen universe is bent on the scenes unfolding before us—the final scenes of the great controversy—the consummation of the long struggle of evil against good, of hell with heaven. Satan with his miracle-working power is to deceive the world of the ungodly. But Christ, the atoning sacrifice, will be a refuge to every soul that trusts in Him. In the cleft of the Rock we may hide, secure from all the power and arts of the wicked one.

Satan will take possession of every mind given to his control, and will work through every agency that he can secure, to further his plans. And the greater the necessity of shedding light into the darkness of the world, the greater and more varied will be Satan’s efforts to intercept the light.

The Lord has revealed the perils that are around and before us. Through the agency of the Spirit of prophecy, He has unveiled the delusions that will take the world captive, and has spoken to His people, saying, “This is the way; walk ye in it.” Volume Four of The Great Controversy unmasks the deceptions of Satan, and we may expect that the enemy of all righteousness will put forth every effort in his power to keep away from the people that which unveils his arts.

By His Spirit the Lord has given the very instruction that is needed at this time. The special movement under the messages of (Revelation 14), in its relation to the past and the future, the closing work of Christ in heaven and of His people upon earth, has been unfolded. The Lord placed upon me the burden of bringing out these things, and in Volume Four I have presented them; I still feel a burden that the message shall go to the people. In that book are warnings to guard the people of God against the many errors that shall be promulgated as truth. Every family among our people should study it. The truths which it presents will arouse the conscience and to many will prove a safeguard against deception. It will confirm their faith in the past work of the messages. The warnings, reproof, and instruction given by the Spirit of God are needed by all. There is need of an awakening, a searching of heart, in the light that God has given.

The truths presented in Volume Four are needed by the people and have been needed for years. The Lord bade me make no delay in bringing out these warnings, and I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. I have done all that I could do. Other agencies must act their part in giving the book the circulation it should have.

But since the General Conference of 1888, Satan has been working with special power through unconsecrated elements to weaken the confidence of God’s people in the voice that has been appealing to them for these many years. If he can succeed in this, then through misapplication of Scripture he will lead many to cast away their confidence in the past work under the messages. Thus he would set them adrift, with no solid foundation for their faith, hoping to bring them fully under his power. Let the attention of our people be called to the special work of the Spirit of God as it has been connected with the rise and progress of the three messages, and a blessing will result to the whole body. A revival of faith and interest in the testimonies of the Spirit of God will lead to the obtaining of a healthful experience in the things of God.

Some of those who are newly come to the faith claim to have special light from God in regard to these messages, but their new light leads them to set aside established truths that are the pillars of our faith. They misinterpret and misapply the Scriptures. They misplace the messages of (Revelation 14), and set aside the work which these messages have accomplished. Thus they reject the great waymarks which God himself has established. Since their new light leads them to tear down the structure which the Lord has built up, we may know that he is not guiding them.

The experience of those newly come to the faith, if the Lord is working upon their minds, will be in harmony with the Word of God, and with His past dealings with His people and the instruction He has given them. He will not contradict Himself.

God has given the messages of (Revelation 14) their place in line of prophecy, and their work is not to cease till the close of this earth’s history. The first and second angels’ messages are still truth for this time and are to run parallel with that which follows. The third angel proclaims his warning with a loud voice. “After these things,” said John, “I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power, and the earth was lightened with his glory.” In this illumination, the light of all the three messages is combined.

In Volume Four the Lord has revealed to us the coming crisis, which is almost upon us. He has warned us of the dangers that beset our way, in order that we may lay hold upon His strength and get the victory over the beast and his image and stand at last on the sea of glass to sing the song of everlasting triumph. But the Lord does not intend that we shall keep these warnings to ourselves. The light He has given in Volume Four is for the world.

Today iniquity prevails, not only in the world, polluting it as in Noah’s day, but it exists in the church. As a counter influence, the cross of Calvary must be lifted up, the atoning sacrifice must be kept before the people, that men may behold sin in its true hateful character and may lay hold upon the righteousness of Christ, which alone can subdue sin and restore the moral image of God in man.

Many in the church allow things of an earthly nature to interpose between the soul and heaven. They have not a right conception of the character of God. They do not perceive His matchless love, and faith and love die out of their hearts. Many minds are confused. They cannot discern spiritual things, and they are unable to distinguish the voice of the true Shepherd from that of a stranger. How necessary it is that such should study the message that God has given. Lest they be swept away by the overwhelming delusions of the enemy.

The whole world lieth in darkness. Darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people. And the Lord calls, upon the members of the church to labor together with Him in awakening the world, if possible, to their peril. We cannot do this of ourselves. We must derive our efficiency from Christ. Jesus says, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all unto me.” Here is the secret of power, of effectiveness; for though human instrumentalities are employed in the work of salvation, it is the light shining from the uplifted cross that alone can attract hearts heavenward. We must present the truth as it is in Jesus. The light and power of an indwelling Saviour must be ours, or we cannot draw others to Him. We must be imbued with the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of Christ. There is no power in humanity to draw humanity to Christ. We are as iron that cannot attract unless it be magnetized. We must be sanctified through the truth if we would have a sanctifying influence upon others. Jesus says, “Thy word is truth.” It is through a sanctified knowledge of the Word of God that we shall be able to overcome the powers of darkness and win souls for the Master.

I have felt to urge upon all the necessity of searching the Scriptures for themselves that they may know what is truth and may discern more clearly the compassion and love of God. Yet there is need of carefulness and earnest prayer in the study of the Bible, that none may fall into error by a misconception of its teachings. There is one great central truth to be kept ever before the mind in the searching of the Scriptures: Christ and Him crucified. Every other truth is invested with influence and power corresponding to its relation to this theme. It is only in the light of the cross that we can discern the exalted character of the law of God. The soul palsied by sin can be endowed with life only through the work wrought out upon the cross by the Author of our salvation. The love of Christ constrains man to unite with Him in His labors and sacrifice. The revelation of divine love awakens in them a sense of their neglected obligation to be lightbearers to the world and inspires them with a missionary spirit. This truth enlightens the mind and sanctifies the soul. It will banish unbelief and inspire faith. It is the one great truth to be constantly kept before the minds of men. Yet how dimly is the love of God understood, and in the teaching of the Word it makes but a faint impression.

When Christ in His work of redemption is seen to be the great central truth of the system of truth, a new light is shed upon all the events of the past and the future. They are seen in a new relation, and possess a new and deeper significance. It is thus that God by His Holy Spirit has opened these things to His people. From this standpoint Volume Four of The Great Controversy, presents to our view the past experience of the church and the great events of the future. In that book God has laid out before us in their true relation the events that are to take place upon our earth.

But Satan is constantly seeking to intercept every ray of light that God sends to prepare the people for what is before them. To those who should give the light to the world, he will present plans which appear to be for the promulgation of truth, but which will in reality hinder the work. These plans appear so plausible, however, that they are accepted, and thus his object is accomplished. This is why Volume Four has not received the attention it should have had.

It has been urged as a reason why this book has not been more generally sold by our canvassers, that it is more difficult to handle than some others. I have good evidence that, if properly understood and presented, it can be sold as readily as any of our books. But suppose the statement to be true, that it is difficult to sell; is that a reason why it should be neglected? If it is a book which the people need, if the Divine Watcher has therein condescended to unveil the scenes of the great contest in which every soul living will have a part to act, should there not be an earnest effort to circulate it. Should not the canvasser be encouraged to handle it? Should not our people be encouraged to do their utmost to bring it before the world? Are the canvassers instructed as they should be that they are not to handle one book, to the exclusion of all others, because it brings greater profit to them? When we shape our work for the profit it brings, wherein do we manifest a missionary spirit?

The canvasser need not be discouraged if he is called to encounter difficulties in his work; let him work in faith, and victory will be given. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world.” Whenever a book is presented that will expose error, Satan is close by the side of the one to whom it is offered and urges reasons why it should not be accepted. But a divine agency is at work to influence minds in favor of the light. Ministering angels will oppose their power to that of Satan. And when through the influence of the Holy Spirit the truth is received into the mind and heart, it will have a transforming power upon the character.

We can enlighten the people only through the power of God. The canvassers must keep their own souls in living connection with God. They should labor, praying that God will open the way and prepare hearts to receive the message He sends them. It is not the ability of the agent or worker, but it is the Spirit of God moving upon the heart that will give true success.

Many of our brethren do not think but that other publications may be fully as effective in bringing souls to a knowledge of the truth as Volume Four.

There are some who occupy positions of responsibility who have had little experience in the working of the Holy Spirit. They do not appreciate the light in warnings, reproofs, and encouragement given to the church in these last days, because their hearts and minds have not been receiving the Spirit of divine grace. These persons are disposed to conceal the fact that, in connection with the work of the third angel’s message, the Lord through the Spirit of prophecy has been communicating to His people a knowledge of His will. They think that the truth will be received more readily if this fact is not made prominent. But this is mere human reasoning. The very fact that this light, coming to the people, is not presented as having originated with human minds will make an impression upon a large class who believe that the gifts of the Spirit are to be manifested in the church in the last days. The attention of many will thus be arrested, and they will be convicted and converted. Many will thus be impressed who would not otherwise be reached.

Those who set no higher value upon the messages that God sends them than upon the productions of human minds must come into closer connection with heaven before they can discern the things that be of God. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.

I testify to the churches that Volume Four should have had just as wide a circulation as any other work we have published, and it might have had if the effort to bring it before the people had been proportionate to the importance and solemnity of the subjects it presents.

I have waited long for others to feel the importance of placing before the world the warnings in Volume Four. I have waited for them to bring the matter before our canvassers. But no one seems to feel that they have any special duty in the matter. Now I present it to you, my brethren, in the name of the Lord. I think that many of you do not know what it contains, and I ask you to study it carefully and prayerfully. Then you will see the force of my words; you will see the necessity of urging that it find a place in every family among us, and that it be carried to the world.

The results of the circulation of this book [The Great Controversy] are not to be judged by what now appears. By reading it, some souls will be aroused and will have courage to unite themselves at once with those who keep the commandments of God. But a much larger number who read it will not take their position until they see the very events taking place that are foretold in it. The fulfillment of one prediction will inspire faith that others also will come to pass, and when the earth is lightened with the glory of the Lord in the closing work, many souls will take their position on the commandments of God as the result of this agency.1White, E.G. (1890). Circulation of the Great Controversy. Manuscript 31.

References   [ + ]

The Watchman

The Watchman

In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light - bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import, - the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention. Evangelism, p. 119

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Words of Life

God is the owner of the whole man. Soul, body, and spirit are his. God gave his only begotten Son for the body as well as the soul, and our entire life belongs to God, to be consecrated to his service, that through the exercise of every faculty he has given, we may glorify him.

— Ellen G. White, The Youth’s Instructor, September 7, 1893

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