The Faith That Will Stand the Test
The time has fully come when darkness is called light, and light is called darkness. We are living in an age when sham liberality is extolled; when those who scatter falsehood, false doctrines, and soul-destroying heresies are received and exalted by society, and the most terrible deeds of iniquity are glossed over and excused on the plea of charity. Even the voices from the pulpits of our land are saying, “It shall be well with the transgressor.” Sin is not dealt with as a thing of fearful consequence, destined to bring inevitable ruin upon those who persist in its indulgence. It is not pictured in its abhorrent character before the people of the world. Smooth things are prophesied by false teachers, and the multitudes are resting in their sin, unmindful of the solemn warnings and examples of the word of God. The time has come when we should “sigh and . . cry for all the abominations” that are done in the land.
While the law of God is being made void in our world, there is a decided testimony to be borne. The truth is to be presented in its native force and clearness, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. This cannot be done without exciting opposition. Those who refuse to receive the love of the truth will not rest without attempting to retard its progress. They have been turned unto fables, and will unite with the great adversary of souls to bring the message of heaven into contempt.
The apostle Paul warns us that “some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” This is what we may expect. Our greatest trials will come because of that class who have once advocated the truth, but who turn from it to the world, and trample it under their feet in hate and derision. God has a work for his faithful servants to do. The attacks of the enemy must be met with the truth of his word. Falsehood must be unmasked, its true character must be revealed, and the light of the law of Jehovah must shine forth into the moral darkness of the world. We are to present the claims of his word. We shall not be held guiltless if we neglect this solemn duty. But while we stand in defense of the truth, let us not stand in defense of self, and make a great ado because we are called to bear reproach and misrepresentation. Let us not pity ourselves, but be very jealous for the law of the Most High.
Says the apostle, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” On every side we see men easily led captive by the delusive imaginations of those who make void the word of God; but when the truth is brought before them, they are filled with impatience and anger. But the exhortation of the apostle to the servant of God is, “Watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” In his day some left the cause of the Lord. He writes, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world;” and again, he says, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.”
Prophets and apostles experienced similar trials of opposition and reproach, and even the spotless Lamb of God was tempted in all points like as we are. He bore the contradiction of sinners against himself.
Every warning for this time must be faithfully delivered; but “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.” We must cherish carefully the words of our God lest we be contaminated by the deceptive workings of those who have left the faith. We are to resist their spirit and influence with the same weapon our Master used when assailed by the prince of darkness,–“It is written.” We should learn to use the word of God skillfully. The exhortation is, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” There must be diligent work and earnest prayer and faith to meet the winding error of false teachers and seducers; for “in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” These words portray the character of the men the servants of God will have to meet. “False accusers,” “despisers of those that are good,” will attack those who are faithful to their God in this degenerate age. But the embassador of Heaven must manifest the spirit that was displayed in the Master. In humility and love he must labor for the salvation of men.
Paul continues concerning those who oppose the work of God, comparing them to the men who made war against the faithful in the time of ancient Israel. He says: “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth; men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.” We know that the time is coming when the folly of warring against God will be revealed. We can afford to wait in calm patience and trust, no matter how much maligned and despised; for “nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest,” and those who honor God shall be honored by him in the presence of men and angels. We are to share in the sufferings of the reformers. It is written, “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.” Christ understands our grief. Not one of us is called to bear the cross alone. The suffering Man of Calvary is touched with the feeling of our woes, and as he has suffered being tempted, he is able also to succor them that are in sorrow and trial for his sake. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned.”
God has provided abundant means for successful warfare with principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places; for “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The Bible is the armory where we may equip for the struggle. Our loins must be girt about with truth. Our breastplate must be righteousness. The shield of faith must be in our hands, the helmet of salvation shine on our brows, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, be wielded to cut our way through the ranks of our bitter foes. We must be ready, at the command of our Captain to follow where he may lead. We must be doers of his word, not deceiving our own selves.
If we look to self, and trust in self, we shall surely fall from our steadfastness. The terrible tempest that is gathering will sweep away our sandy foundation, and leave our house a wreck on the shores of time; but the house that is built upon the rock shall stand forever. We must be “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” The apostle spoke some plain words to his Hebrew brethren, that meet the condition of many of those who profess the truth for this time. “We have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. [They were not quick to discern the things of the Spirit of God.] For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” It is positively necessary for those who believe the truth, to be making continual advancement, growing up unto the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. There is no time for backsliding and indifference. Each one must have a living experience in the things of God. Have root in yourselves. Become grounded in the faith, so that having done all you may stand, with unwavering confidence in God, through the time that will try every man’s work and character. Exercise your powers in spiritual things, till you can appreciate the deep things of God’s word, and go on from strength to strength.
There are thousands who claim to have the light of truth who take no steps in advance. They have no living experience, notwithstanding they have had every advantage. They do not know what consecration means. Their devotions are formal and hollow, and there is no depth to their piety. The word of God offers spiritual liberty and enlightenment to those who seek for it earnestly. Those who accept the promises of God, and act on them with living faith, will have the light of heaven in their lives. They will drink of the fountain of life, and lead others to the waters that have refreshed their own souls. We must have that faith in God that takes him at his word. We can have no victory without cloudless confidence; for “without faith it is impossible to please” God. It is faith that connects us with the power of Heaven, and that brings us the strength for coping with the powers of darkness. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” In order to exercise intelligent faith we should study the word of God. The Bible, and the Bible alone, communicates a correct knowledge of the character of God and his will concerning us. The duty and the destiny of man are defined in its pages. The conditions on which we may hope for eternal life are explicitly stated, and the doom of those who neglect so great a salvation is foretold in the most forcible language.
Had the Bible been received as the voice of God to man, as the book of books, as the one infallible rule of faith and practice, we would not have seen the law of Heaven made void, and the swelling tide of iniquity devouring our land.
As men wander away from the truth into skepticism, everything becomes uncertain and unreal, No thorough conviction takes hold of the soul. No faith is exercised in the Scripture as the revelation of God to men. There is nothing authoritative in its commands, nothing terrifying in its warnings, nothing inspiring in its promises. To the skeptic it is meaningless and contradictory.
There are many among us who are not cultivating faith. They have a vacillating experience. They are “like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” Sometimes they seem strong in faith, then a blast of unbelief sweeps over them, and they are filled with gloom and doubt. They make no decided efforts to recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, but are taken captive by him at his will. There are others who, when assailed by temptations of unbelief, flee to the word of God and to earnest prayer, and they are not left to the power of the enemy. The day is coming that will reveal whether we are building on the solid rock or the sliding sand.
If men could realize the blighting influence of doubt upon their minds, if they could but see into the future, they would realize the imperative need of cultivating firm trust in God and implicit confidence in his promises. They would not sow one grain of unbelief; for every single grain blossoms into fruit. Satan is a living, active agent. It is his business to encourage skepticism, and every word of doubt is carefully nourished by the adversary of souls. While men sleep in indifference, suggestions that weaken faith are insinuated into the heart. Influences that confuse the perception of truth are brought to bear upon the life. In every way possible, Satan strives to turn souls from the narrow path that leads to heaven; and because men love darkness they follow the voice of strangers, and reject the call of the Good Shepherd who gave his life for the sheep. The plain, authoritative “Thus saith the Lord,” is refused for some winding sophistry of error. Infidelity has increased in proportion as men have questioned the word and requirements of their Maker. They have taken up the work of cheapening character, and lessening faith in the inspiration of the Bible. Men claiming great wisdom have presumed to criticise and cut and cull the words of the living God, and have started questions to make shipwreck of the happiness of their fellow-men and to ruin their hopes of heaven. This is a work that is pleasing to the enemy of all righteousness. The arguments that men bring against the Bible are the result of the counsels of the evil one. The door of their minds was opened to his suggestions, and the more they drifted into error, the greater grew their desire to draw other souls into the same channel of darkness.
Many claim to believe the Bible, and their names are enrolled on the church records, who are among the most influential agents of Satan. The work they are doing they will not consider an honor to them in the day of Judgment. It will then be seen that every effort that weakened faith was made at a terrible loss. The tremendous price that must be paid will sink them into everlasting shame and ruin. The only safety is in rejecting instantly every suggestion of unbelief. Do not open your mind to entertain doubts, for even an instant; bid them a decided refusal as they come to you for admission. Fasten the mind upon the promises of God. Talk of them, rejoice in them; and the peace of God will rule in your hearts.
The fruits of doubt are not desirable. Oh! look around you and see what havoc has been wrought by the machinations of the evil one. Error and falsehood and heresy have held high carnival in the deceived hearts of men. From century to century the adversary has repeated his experiments with growing success; for in spite of the sad records of lives that have gone out in darkness, as moths fly to the fire, so men rush on into the ruinous deceptions that he has prepared to entrap them. If you desire salvation, I entreat you to shun his insinuations concerning the truth of God’s word. Come to the “sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.” If that is not authoritative, what is? If the word of the Lord of heaven and earth is not solid rock upon which to build, then it is in vain to look for a sure foundation. “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” but “the word of the Lord endureth forever;” and unwavering faith in his word is the only faith that will endure through the perils of the last days.
— E.G. White, Review and Herald, January 10, 1888
More on faith in God’s Word: Lessons on Faith