"> '); Prevailing Intercessory Prayer : God Has a Controversy With His People

God Has a Controversy With His People

Ellen White

“The Lord has seen our backslidings, and he has a controversy with his people.” Their pride, selfishness, their opening of the mind to doubt and unbelief, are manifest in his sight and grieve his heart of love. Many gather darkness about their souls as a garment, and virtually say, We want not a knowledge of thy way, O 338 God; we choose our own way. These are the things which separate the soul from God. There is in the soul of man an obstacle which he holds there with stubborn persistency, and which interposes between his soul and God. It is unbelief. God gives sufficient evidence, but man with his unsanctified will refuses to receive evidence unless it comes in his own way, to favor his own ideas. With a spirit of bravado he cries, “Proof, proof, is what we want,” and turns away from the evidence that God gives. He talks doubt, unbelief, sowing the seeds of evil, which will spring up and yield their harvest. He is separating his soul farther and farther from God. {PC 337.2}

Why is it that men do not believe upon sufficient evidence - because they do not want to be convinced. They have no disposition to give up their own will for God’s will. They are willing to acknowledge that they have cherished sinful unbelief in resisting the light of God has given them. They have been hunting for doubts, for pegs upon which to hang their unbelief. They have been willing to accept testimony which is weak and insufficient, testimony which God has not given them in his word, but which pleases them because it agrees with their ideas and is in harmony with their disposition and will. These souls are in great peril. If they will bow their proud wills and put it on God’s side of the question, if they will, with humble, contrite hearts, seek for light, believing that there is light for them, then they will see the light because the eye is single to discern the light which comes from God. They will acknowledge the evidence of divine authority. Spiritual truths will shine forth from the divine page. But the heart must be open for the reception of light, for Satan is ever ready to obscure the precious truth which would make them wise unto salvation. If any do not receive it, it will forever remain a mystery of mysteries to them. {PC 338.1}

“We should earnestly seek to know and appreciate the truth, that we may present it to others as it is in Jesus. We need to have a correct estimate of the value of our own souls; them we would not be as reckless in regard to our course of action as at present. We would seek most earnestly to know God’s way; and we would work in an opposite direction from selfishness, and our constant prayer would be that we might have the mind of Christ, that we might be molded and fashioned after his likeness. It is in looking to Jesus and beholding his loveliness, having our eyes steadfastly fixed upon him, that we become changed into his image. He will give grace to all who keep his way and do his will and walk in truth. But those who love their own way, who worship their ideas of opinion and do not love God and obey his word, will continue to walk in darkness. Oh, how terrible is unbelief! As well let light be poured upon the blind as to present truth to these souls; the one cannot see; the other will not see. {PC 338.2}

“I beseech you whose names are registered on the church books as worthy members, to be indeed worthy through the 339 virtue of Christ. Mercy and truth and the love of God are promised to the contrite soul. The displeasure and judgments of God are against those who persist in walking in their own ways, loving self, loving the praise of men. They will certainly be swept into the Satanic delusions of these last days because they receive not the love of the truth. Because the Lord has in former days blessed and honored them, they flatter that they are chosen and true, and do not need warning, instruction, and reproof. The True Witness says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore and repent! The professed people of God have the charge against them. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of its place, unless thou repent. {PC 338.3}

“The love of Jesus that once burned in the heart has become dim and almost extinguished. Spiritual strength has become enfeebled. The displeasure of the Lord is against his people. In their present condition it is impossible for them to represent the character of Christ. And when the True Witness has sent them counsel, reproof, and warning because he loves them, they have refused to receive the message; they have refused to come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved. Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep. . .Therefore doth my Father love me.” By taking your sins upon myself, I am opening a channel through which his Grace can flow to all who will accept it. In giving myself for the sins of the world, I have prepared a way for the unrepressed tide of his love to flow to men. {PC 339.1}

“All heaven is filled with amazement that when this love, so broad, so deep, so rich, so full, is presented to men who have known the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, they are so indifferent, so cold and unmoved. What does it mean that such amazing grace does not soften our hard hearts? Oh, it is because of the power of unbelief - because “thou hast left thy first love.” This is why the Word of God has so little influence. It is as a fire, but it cannot penetrate nor warm the ice bound heart that cherishes unbelief. {PC 339.2}

“The infinite treasures of truth have been accumulating from age to age. No representation could adequately impress us with the extent, the richness of those vast resources. They are waiting the demand of those who appreciate them. These gems of truth are to be gathered up by God’s remnant people, to be given by them to the world; but self confidence and obduracy of soul refuse the blessed treasure. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Such love cannot be measured, neither can it be expressed. John calls upon the world to “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God.” It is a love that passeth knowledge. In the fulness of the sacrifice nothing was withheld. Jesus gave himself. God designs that his 340 people should love one another as Christ love us. They are to educate and train the soul for his love. They are to reflect this love in their own character, to reflect it to the world. Each should look upon this as his work. In his prayer to the Father, Jesus said, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I sent them into the world.” Christ’s fullness is to be presented to the world by those who have become partakers of his grace. They are to do that for Christ which Christ did for the Father, represent his character. {PC 339.3}

“There is a lack of moral and spiritual power throughout our Conferences. Many churches do not have light in themselves The members do not give evidence that they are members of the True Vine by bearing much fruit to the glory of God, but appear to be withering away. Their Redeemer has withdrawn his light, the inspiration of his Holy Spirit, from their assemblies; for they have ceased to represent the self denial, the sympathy and compassionate love of the world’s Redeemer; they have not love for the souls for whom Christ died. They have ceased to be true and faithful. It is a sad picture - the lack of consecration and devotion to God. There has been a separation of the soul from God; many have cut off the communication between him and the soul by refusing his messengers and his message. {PC 340.1}

“In our largest churches the greatest evils exist because these have had the greatest light. They have not a true knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ whom he has sent. The leaven of unbelief is working, and unless these evils which bring the displeasure of God are corrected in its members, the whole church stands accountable for them. The deep movings of the Spirit of God are not with them. Many come to the assembly as worshippers like a door upon its hinges. They understand not the true application of the Scriptures nor the power of God. They have eyes but they see not; ears have they but they hear not; they continue in their evil ways yet regard themselves as the privileged obedient people, who are doers of the word. A carnal security and ease in Zion prevail. Peace, peace, is sounded in her borders when God has not spoken peace. They have forfeited the terms of peace; there is reason for an alarm to be sounded in all my holy mountain. The sinners in Zion should be afraid; in a time when they do not expect it, sudden destruction will surely come upon all who are at ease. {PC 340.2}

“The Holy Spirit strives to make apparent the claims of God, but men pay heed only for a moment and turn their minds to other things. Satan catches away the seeds of truth; the gracious influence of the spirit of God is effectually resisted. Thus many are grieving away the Holy Spirit for the last time and they know it not. {PC 340.3}

Will the church see where she has fallen? A coldness, a hardness of heart, a want of sympathy for the brethren exists in the church. An absence of love for the erring is manifested. There is a withdrawing from the very ones 341 who need pity and help. A severity, an overbearing spirit, such as existed among the Pharisees, exists in our churches, and especially in those entrusted with sacred responsibilities. They are lifted up in self-esteem and self-assurance. The widow and the fatherless have not their sympathy or their love. This is entirely unlike the spirit of Christ. The Lord looks with displeasure upon the coarse, harsh spirit that has been manifested by some - a spirit so devoid of sympathy, of tender appreciation of those whom he loves. Brethren, you who close the heart against Christ’s suffering ones, remember that as you deal with them, God will deal with you. When you call, he will not say, “Here am I;” when you cry, he will not answer. Satan is watching, preparing his delusions to ensnare those who are filled with self-importance while they are spiritually destitute. {PC 340.4}

“The road to Paradise is not one of self-exaltation but of repentance, confession, humiliation, of faith and obedience. The message to the Laodicean church is appropriate to the church at this time: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the beginning of the creation of God: I know thy works that thou are neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou are 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.” There are many who are priding themselves upon their spiritual riches, their knowledge of the truth, and are living in guilty self-deception. When the members of the church humble themselves before God by zealous, not half-hearted, lifeless action, the Lord will receive them. But he declares, “I will come unto thee quickly and remove thy candlestick out of its place except thou repent.” How long shall this warning be resisted? How long shall it be slighted? {PC 341.1}

“The True Witness declares: “I know thy works,” “Repent, and do the first works.” This is the true test, the evidence that the Spirit of God is working in the heart to imbue with his love. “I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” The church is like the unproductive tree, which, receiving the dew, and rain, and the sunshine, should have produced an abundance of fruit, but on which the divine Searcher finds nothing but leaves. Solemn thought for our churches, solemn 342 indeed for every individual. Marvelous is the patience and forbearance of God, but “except thou repent,” it shall be exhausted; the churches, our institutions, will go from weakness to weakness, from cold formality to deadness while they are saying, “I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing.” The True Witness says, “And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. Will they ever see clearly their true condition? {PC 341.2}

“There is to be in the churches a wonderful manifestation of the power of God, but it will not move upon those who have not humbled themselves before the Lord and opened the door of the heart by confession and repentance. In the manifestation of that power which lightens the earth with the glory of God, they will see only something which in their blindness they think dangerous, something which will arouse their fears, and they will brace themselves to resist it. Because the Lord does not work according to their ideas and expectations they will oppose the work. “Why,” they say, “should not we know the spirit of God when we have been in the work for so many years?” Because they did not respond to the messages, the warnings, and entreaties of the Lord, but persistently said, “I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing.” Talent, long experience, will not make men channels of light, unless they place themselves under the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and are called and chosen and prepared by the endowment of the Holy Spirit. When men who handle sacred things will humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, the Lord will lift them up. He will make them men of discernment, men rich in the grace of his Spirit. {PC 342.1}

“The end is near. We have not a moment to lose. Light is to shine forth from God’s people in clear, distinct rays, bringing Jesus before the churches and before the world. God will give additional light, and old truths will be recovered and replaced in the framework of truth; and wherever the laborers go they will triumph. As Christ’s ambassadors, they are to search the Scriptures to seek for the truths that have been hidden beneath the rubbish of error, and every ray of light received is to be communicated to others. One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up all others, Christ our Righteousness. This is life eternal, “That they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exerciseth loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” 343 {PC 342.2}

“As the Saviour came to glorify the Father by the demonstration of his love, so the Spirit came to glorify Christ by revealing to the world the riches of his love and grace. If the Holy Spirit dwells in us, our work will testify to the fact. We will lift up Jesus. Not one can afford to be silent now. The Burden of the work is to present Christ to the world. All who venture to have their own way, who do not join the angels who are sent from heaven with a message to fill the whole earth with its glory, will be passed by. The work will go forward to victory without them, and they will have no part in its triumph.” T. Oakland, Cal. Aug. 1, 1891. {PC 343.1}

“There has been an abundance of slipshod work done. The only conclusion that the world can come to is that those who profess to believe that the end of all things is at hand, do not really believe the tremendous truth that Christ is at the door. Do they believe the mission of Christ was to save the lost and perishing; that Christ is the only remedy for sin; that the world’s Redeemer came to the world all seared and marred with the curse to lift up fallen man, to reveal to the perishing the love of the Father, and bring them to look and live, and thereby bring many sons and daughters to glory. . . . {PC 343.2}

The most grievous sin of idolatry exists in the church. Anything that interposes between the Christian and the whole hearted service to God, takes the form of an idol, and the most grievous sin of idolatry is idolatry itself. The testimonies of God’s word are plain and clear in regard to the snares of the devil. But these are not only church members on the devil’s ground, but those who are opening the Scriptures to others, practice evil, and defile soul and body. They are guilty before God because they are unholy. Were the church living by faith and had they the oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps, the guilty repose would end. Those who believe the sacred, elevating truths for this time, they cannot sleep over them. . . {PC 343.3}

Is this exclusively addressed to the few individuals who have been ordained to the ministry? No; but to every Christian young or old, rich or poor. If Christ has forgiven them of their sins, if the truth has made them free, have they not a work to do for the Master? If they are Christians, they will present the truth to others. They will not consider that all they have to do is to serve themselves, live to please and glorify themselves. {PC 343.4}

Sins of a grave character are in our borders, and unless there is an awakening such as we have not seen for some time which will convict and convert professed Sabbath keepers, they will die in their sins; and the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah will be light in comparison with those who have had great light and 344 precious opportunities, but have been worldly minded, corrupt in thoughts and practices, and have not purified their souls by obeying the truth. {PC 343.5}

Now we see need of workers in the opening fields before us, but where are the men who can be trusted, men who have been year by year growing into a better knowledge of God and his ways, and the movings of his providence? I want to sound in the ears of these sleepy, half paralyzed souls the words spoken to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” There is need to ask God with all the heart, to elevate the standard. The commonness, the cheapness of conversation reveal the measure of spirituality of the members of the church. Now, those who have lived years in this same experience know not God nor Jesus Christ whom he hath sent; and should such go forth as representatives of Jesus Christ? These men will never give the right mold to other minds. They have not grown up to the full stature of men and women in Jesus Christ. They simply live the name of Christian, but are not fitted for the work of God, and never will be until they are born again, and learn their A.B.C.’s in the religion of Jesus Christ. There is hope in one direction. Take the young men and women and place them where they will come as little as possible in contact with our churches, that the low grade of piety which is current in this day shall not leaven their ideas of what it means to be a Christian. The worshippers of God are in need of transforming grace to subordinate the world to religion. In the place of making the temporal interest first, exhausting soul, body, and spirit to secure temporal advantages, Jesus points us to the heavenly treasure, and tells us not to lay up our treasure in earth which will perish, but to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven which will not perish, for where our treasure is there will our heart be also. Jesus would have all that profess to believe in him deal in the currency of heaven, handling those things upon which God has stamped his image and superscription. These he presents before us of infinite value. We see the need of a deep and thorough work in our churches; but the Lord alone can by his Holy Spirit make the hearts that are as steel, soft and sympathetic, and true to the service of Christ. We are far behind because the churches have folded their hands in a peace and safety attitude, and are at ease in Zion, doing almost nothing when the living zeal should be in their hearts as never before. Satan is stirring the powers from beneath to make one last desperate effort to convert the world to his own principles. He has his plans laid with Satanic subtlety, and destruction cometh suddenly while these that have the light, the warnings that such a crisis is before us are almost unmoved. . . {PC 344.1}

Those who quibble over the authenticity of the Scriptures, and question the authenticity of Revelation will not be influenced. Their hearts are not sound. 345 They are not at enmity with Satan. The heart is the treasure house of sin. Not being expelled, it is hidden until an hour of opportunity, and then is revealed and springs into action. The first work is with the heart. Truth, the love of Jesus must supply the vacuum, Saith Christ, Make the tree good and the fruit will be good. . . . {PC 344.2}

We must as a people rise up from our formality. We must enter the straight gate. Satan has placed his active agents all along the passage to dispute the way of every soul. Christ has encouraged his followers not to be intimidated, but to press, urge your way through. Strive to enter in at the straight gate, “For many I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, but shall not be able.” Darling cherished idols will have to be given up, the sins that have been indulged in, even if it comes as close as the plucking out of the right eye, or cutting off the right arm. Arouse! Force your way through the very armies of hell that oppose your passage. {PC 345.1}

Oh, we must be terribly in earnest to impress every soul that there is a hell to shun and a heaven to be won. Every energy of the soul must be aroused to force their passage, and seize the kingdom of heaven by force. Satan is active, and we must be active. Satan is untiring and persevering, and we must be. This is no time now to make excuses and blame others for our backslidings; no time now to flatter the soul: if circumstances had only been more favorable, how much easier for us to work the work of God. We must tell even those who profess the truth that they must cease to offend God by their sinful excuses. Jesus has provided for every emergency. If they will walk where he leads the way, he will make rough places plain. He, with his presence, will create an atmosphere for the soul. He closes the door and brings the soul into seclusion with God, and the needy soul is to forget everyone and everything but God. Satan will walk with him; but speak aloud to God, and he will drive back the hellish shadow of Satan. With humble, subdued, thankful hearts, they will come forth saying, Thy gentleness hath made me great. The sincere seeker comes forth from the audience with God, rich in the assurance of his love to go forth to distill a heavenly fragrance wherever he goes. He can talk of the righteousness of Christ; he can talk the love of God with sincerity. He has tested, and he knows the Lord is good. This work is to be done in all our churches. Christ his love, his forgiveness, his purity is to be the theme upon which we dwell. The charms of Jesus are to be kept ever before our minds, charged with the elevated character of the true model that every soul should copy. Let us turn our hearts from everything that would dishearten and discourage. Satan will seek to distort everything to 346 our vision, and make a mountain of a mole hill. Our eyes must be steadily fixed on Jesus. The Lord Jesus is our leader. We must follow where he leads the way. We are not to commence to plan for the second step. We are not to say, Lord, after I have taken this step, what shall I do, for I shall meet with difficulties? But by faith we must take that one step, come what will, and trust in Jesus. {PC 345.2}

The reason why our ministers are so inefficient is, that they go to their labors and come from their labors, if they have any success, full of themselves. The disciples of Christ did this when they came and said, “Even the devils are subject unto us.” Jesus could discern their danger, and he said, “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile - come out of the din of the battle, away from the conflict, and hold communion with God.” Thus it is with many workers, they are too strong, too full of self. The Lord cannot lead them or teach them, or use them to his glory, for they are wise in their own conceit, and vainly imagine that the Lord cannot do without them. Self must be buried. We must educate the people to seek the Lord. We must speak plain words to the ministers who are walking in the sparks of their own kindling. The praise and flattery of men make ministers hungry for more, until they think as did Elder D., the praise and flattery of men of more value than the approval of God. {PC 346.1}—Ellen White

We must, if saved, imbibe the spirit and power of Christ, self must be hidden in Christ, and Christ alone appear. Our work is to elevate, not by praising any one, but by upholding Jesus, bringing the mind to Jesus. Lift him up, the Man of Calvary, before the people, and he can do all things for the humble, trusting, believing soul.—Ellen White, Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, May 9, 1892 {PC 346.2}