The Need for LOVE in the Church

The Need for Love in the Church
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Selected quotation from the writings of Ellen White about

            The Need for Love in the Church, 
               and an Appeal to Heed the Message to the Laodiceans 
                            (Written September 1, 1892,  to O. A. Olsen, president of the General Conference.)

 We are certainly living amid the perils of the last days, and, while we may intellectually accept the theory of the truth, it will be of no saving value to us unless the prayer of Christ avails in our behalf, "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth." The meaning of that prayer is, Make them holy through the knowledge of the Word. "The light (Christ) shineth in darkness (the world), and the darkness comprehended it not." Instead of welcoming that which scatters the darkness, many comprehended it not and received it not.  Ministers are sent, as was John, to bear witness of that Light. The office of the messenger sent of God is not to draw the sympathies of the people to himself, but to direct the affections and sympathies away from himself, to center them upon Christ. The burden of his message should be, {1888, page 1018.2}

"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Christ "was in the world, and the world was made by Him"; but the world had sunk to such terrible depths of unbelief that when its own Creator came to it, it knew Him not. "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." This grace is not inherited.  {1888 1018.3}
 I wish that all would see that the very same spirit which refused to accept Christ, the Light that would dispel the moral darkness, is far from being extinct in this age of the world. There are those in our day who are no more ready to recognize and acknowledge light than were the people when the prophets and the apostles came with messages from God, and many rejected the message and despised the messenger. Let us beware that this spirit is not entertained by any one of us.  [Rev. 2:1-5, quoted.]   {1888, page 1019.1}
He who was seen by John in the vision, in the midst of the golden candlesticks, represents Himself as walking among them, going from church to church, from congregation to congregation and from soul to soul. Here is unwearied vigilance. While the undershepherds may be asleep, or engrossed with matters of small importance, He that keepeth Israel doth not slumber nor sleep. He is the true Watchman. The presence and sustaining grace of Christ are the secret of all light and life. We are kept by the power of God, through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God.  {1888 1019.2}
The Lord Jesus Christ gave the message to John to be written, to come down through the ages to the end of the world. Words of commendation are spoken to the church of Ephesus. The "Well done" is pronounced on the good and faithful servant. But the message does not close here. The Saviour says, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." This has been brought in clear lines before me again and again, and I have presented it to the people with pen and voice.  {1888 1019.3}
  Does this striking message mean nothing to us? Is it in no sense applicable? Why are not such solemn warnings contemplated? Why do not all, with watchfulness and humility and confession, manifest that repentance that needeth not to be repented of? Why do so many pass on without taking heed?  {1888 1019.4}
Is love abiding in the church? Is it not almost extinct? With many, their first love for Jesus has cooled. Brethren do not love brethren. The love of many has waxed cold. The True Witness represents all who have left their first love as fallen. Did He not know their peril? "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."  {1888 1020.1}
   Shall these heart-searching truths continue to be passed by with indifference by the churches? The loss of the first love has opened the door to a great amount of selfishness, evil surmising, evil speaking, envy, jealousy, hard-heartedness. This is the fruit borne when the fervor of the first love has grown cold. There has been but little restraint upon the tongue, for prayer has been neglected. A Pharisaical righteousness has been cherished; there is a deadness of spirituality; and a lack of spiritual eyesight is the result.  {1888 1020.2}
 The only hope for our churches today is to repent and do their first work. The name of Jesus does not kindle the heart with love. A mechanical, formal orthodoxy has taken the place of deep, fervent charity and tenderness to one another. Will any give heed to the solemn admonition, "Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die?" Fall upon the Rock, and be broken; then let the Lord Jesus prepare you, to mold and fashion you, as a vessel unto honor. Well may the people fear and tremble under these words: "Except thou repent, I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place." What then? "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"  {1888 1020.3}
The Spirit will not always strive with the heart that is filled with perversity. The infinite, forbearing One, who paid the price of His own blood to save His people, is addressing them. Who will hearken to His warning? Have the churches that claim to believe the truth for these last days been fruit-bearing trees of righteousness? Why are they not bearing much fruit to the glory of God? Why are they not abiding in Christ, and going on from strength to strength, from character to character?  {1888 1021.1}
  The word of the Lord to His people is, "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Why are the people thus addressed degenerating into weakness and inefficiency, not having the love of Christ burning upon the altar of their hearts, and therefore unable to kindle love in the hearts of others?  {1888 1021.2}
God's people have evidence piled upon evidence; they have truth powerful and convincing. Shall it be kept in the outer court, so that it does not sanctify the soul? Shall the candle that once burned brightly, sending its light amid the moral darkness of error, gradually go out, until it is quenched in darkness?  {1888 1021.3}
How was it with Ephesus? she knew not the time of her visitation. She did not heed the solemn admonitions of God. She did not maintain a vital connection with Christ, and grievous wolves entered in, and spared not the flock. That church, once beloved of God, that might have sent her bright rays amid the moral darkness to enlighten many souls, permitted her light to go out.  {1888 1021.4}
 One of the greatest sins that is now extinguishing spiritual light is want of love for Jesus and one another. "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." See the longing, yearning love of Jesus who presents to His people the attractions of the eternal life, that they may catch the glory of the future world, and regain their first love. It is not the fashion now to repent. It is regarded by some as altogether too humiliating a work, altogether too old-fashioned.  [1 John 1:5-10; 2:9-11, quoted.]  {1888 1022.1}
Could any description be more sharp and clear than John has given us. These things are written for us; they are applicable to the churches of Seventh-day Adventists. Some may say, "I do not hate my brother; I am not so bad as that." But how little they understand their own hearts. They may think they have a zeal for God in their feelings against their brother, if his ideas seem in any way to conflict with theirs; feelings are brought to the surface that have no kinship with love. They show no disposition to harmonize with him. They would as lief be at swords' point with their brother as not. And yet he may be bearing a message from God to the people --just the light they need for this time.  {1888 1022.2}
 Why do not brethren of like precious faith consider that in every age, when the Lord has sent a special message to the people, all the powers of the confederacy of evil have set at work to prevent the word of truth from coming to those who should receive it?   {1888 1022.3}
  If Satan can impress the mind and stir up the passions of those who claim to believe the truth, and thus lead them to unite with the forces of evil, he is well pleased. If once he can get them to commit themselves on the wrong side, he has laid his plans to lead them on a long journey. Through his deceptive wiles he will cause them to act upon the same principles he adopted in his disaffection in heaven. They take step after step in the false way, until there seems to be no other course for them except to go on, believing they are right in their bitterness of feeling toward their brethren. Will the Lord's messenger bear the pressure brought against him? If so, it is because God bids him stand in his strength and vindicate the truth that he is sent of God.  {1888 1023.1}
When men listen to the Lord's message, but through temptation allow prejudice to bar the mind and heart against the reception of truth, the enemy has power to present the most precious things in a distorted light. Looking through the medium of prejudice and passion, they feel too indignant to search the Scriptures in a Christlike spirit, but repudiate the whole matter because points are presented that are not in accordance with their own ideas.  {1888 1023.2}
 When a new view is presented, the question is often asked, "Who are its advocates? What is the position of influence of the one who would teach us who have been students of the Bible for many years?" God will send His words of warning by whom He will send. And the question to be settled is not what person is it who brings the message; this does not in any way affect the word spoken. "By their fruits ye shall know them."   {1888 1023.3}
Truth is often preached by one who has not experienced its power; but it is truth nevertheless, and is blessed to those who, drawn by the Spirit of God, accept it. But when the truth is presented by one who is himself sanctified through it, it has a freshness, a force, that gives it a convicting power to the hearer. The truth, in its power upon the heart, is precious, and the truth addressed to the understanding is clear. Both are needful--the word and the inward testimony of the Spirit.  {1888 1024.1}
   In regard to the testimony that has come to us through the Lord's messengers, we can say, We know in whom we have believed. We know that Christ is our righteousness, not alone because He is so described in the Bible, but because we have felt His transforming power in our own hearts.  {1888 1024.2}
  Now, although there has been a determined effort to make of no effect the message God has sent, its fruits have been proving that it was from the source of light and truth. Those who have cherished unbelief and prejudice, who in the place of helping to do the work the Lord would have them do, have stood to bar the way against all evidence, cannot be supposed to have clearer spiritual eyesight for having so long closed their eyes to the very light God sent to the people.  {1888 1024.3}
 If we are to bear a part in this work to its close, we must recognize the fact that there are good things to come to the people of God in a way that we had not discerned; and that there will be resistance from the very ones we expected to engage in such a work. A man that is sincere in the wrong is not justified in the wrong, because he has opened his heart to a class of evidence leading him to condemn the right, and has closed his heart to a class of evidence which, if he would not cherish prejudice, would lead him to see and acknowledge what is truth.   {1888 1024.4}
How long the Lord will have patience with men in their blindness, how long He will wait before leaving them to grope their way to final darkness, we cannot determine. Should the Lord's messengers, after standing manfully for the truth for a time, fall under temptation, and dishonor Him who has given them their work, will that be proof that the message is not true? No, because the Bible is true. "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Sin on the part of the messenger of God would cause Satan to rejoice, and those who have rejected the messenger and the message would triumph; but it would not at all clear the men who were guilty of rejecting the message of truth sent of God.  {1888 1025.2}
  One matter burdens my soul: The great lack of the love of God, which has been lost through continued resistance of light and truth, and the influence of those who have been engaged in active labor, who, in the face of evidence piled upon evidence, have exerted an influence to counteract the work of the message God has sent. I point them to the Jewish nation and ask, Must we leave our brethren to pass over the same path of blind resistance, till the very end of probation? If ever a people needed true and faithful watchmen, who will not hold their peace, who will cry day and night, sounding the warnings God has given, it is Seventh-day Adventists. Those who have had great light, blessed opportunities, who, like Capernaum, have been exalted to heaven in point of privilege, shall they by non-improvement be left to darkness corresponding to the greatness of the light given?   {1888 1025.3}
I wish to plead with our brethren who shall assemble at the General Conference to heed the message given to the Laodiceans. What a condition of blindness is theirs! This subject has been brought to your notice again and again, but your dissatisfaction with your spiritual condition has not been deep and painful enough to work reform. "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." The guilt of self-deception is upon our churches. The religious life of many is a lie.  {1888 1026.1}
   Jesus has presented to them the precious jewels of truth, the riches of His grace and salvation, the glistening white vesture of His own righteousness, woven in heaven's loom and containing not one thread of human invention. Jesus in knocking. Open the door of the heart, and buy of Him the precious heavenly treasure. Shall His pleadings fall upon ears that are dull of hearing, if not entirely closed? Shall Jesus knock in vain? "See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh." If you will hearken, and open the door, He will come in and sup with you, and you may sup with Him. Will you respond, "Come in, Thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest Thou without?"  {1888 1026.2}
I ask, What means the contention and strife among us? What means this harsh, iron spirit, which is seen in our churches and in our institutions, and which is so utterly unChristlike? I have deep sorrow of heart because I have seen how readily a word or action of Elder Jones or Elder Waggoner is criticized. How readily many minds overlook all the good that has been done through them in the few years past, and see no evidence that God is working through these instrumentalities. They hunt for something to condemn, and their attitude toward these brethren who have zealously engaged in doing a good work, shows that feelings of enmity and bitterness are in the heart. What is needed is the converting power of God upon hearts and minds. Cease watching your brethren with suspicion.  {1888 1026.3}
As Christ was about to leave His disciples, He said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another." This is the measure with which we are to love one another--"As I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another." Again He said, "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples. As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you; continue ye in My love."  {1888 1027.1}
   Mark the words of Christ, and bear them in mind: "As I have loved you, that ye also love one another." "This is My commandment, that ye love one another as I have loved you." "Neither pray I for these alone; but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word, that they all may be one."  {1888 1027.2}
 How full and perfect is this union to be? "As Thou, Father, art in Me, and I Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which thou gavest Me, I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me." {1888 1027.3}
What large possibilities are presented before us in the words spoken by Jesus! He says, "I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them." These words from the prayer of Christ are worthy of being written in letters of gold. They should be dwelt upon, and presented to the world by pen and voice.  {1888 1027.4}
  But why is it that those who claim to believe the truth are not doers of the word? Why is so little said upon these subjects which mean so much to every church and to every individual member? Think you that heaven does not look with amazement upon those who profess to be children of God, yet who pass on inattentive, careless, disregarding the plainest words of truth enjoined upon them? Is it not time for us to consider that we must live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God?  {1888 1028.1}
 There are many in the ministry who have no love for God or for their fellow men. They are asleep, and while they sleep Satan is sowing his tares. The flock of God is in need of help from heaven, and the sheep and lambs are perishing for food. But let those who would have a deep and living experience in the things of God cease to depend upon men, even upon their own pastors and teachers, and put their trust wholly in God, using their God-given ability to His glory. Christ is to be lifted up before the people; for by beholding Him we are to become changed to His image. Jesus says, "Without Me ye can do nothing." He has made ample atonement, and he who lays hold upon Christ by faith has peace with God. The Holy Spirit purifies the heart, presenting God in new and enduring views as our heavenly Father.  {1888 1028.2}
 Oh, that evil may be turned out of our hearts! Oh, that the soul may be thoroughly cleansed! Oh, that the love of God may abide in the soul as a living principle! Cultivate love for Jesus, love for those who believe in Him, and love for the wandering and perishing. We must have the love which is of heavenly birth, and nourish it as a heavenly plant. Stubbornness, which prevails to a fearful extent, must be broken up. The professed followers of Christ should no longer catch up little points of difference, meditating upon them, talking about them, and magnifying them until love is gone from the soul, as water from a leaky vessel. We must have the sanctifying influence of the grace of Christ in our hearts, else all our deeds will be as sounding brass and as a tinkling cymbal.  {1888 1028.3}
 Will the people of God heed the voice of warning, and cultivate love? Will they lay aside their suspicions and jealousies? They cannot do this unless they fall all broken before God. Many have made, and are still making, great blunders. They love their own way so well that they will not surrender to God's way. Many have been convinced that they have grieved the Spirit of God by their resistance of light, but they hated to die to self, and deferred to do the work of humbling their hearts and confessing their sins. They would not acknowledge that the reproof was sent of God, or the instruction was from heaven, until every shadow of uncertainty was removed. They did not walk out into the light. They hoped to get out of difficulty in some easier way than by confession of sin, and Satan has kept hold of them, and tempted them, and they have had but feeble strength to resist him.  {1888 1029.1}
Evidence has been piled upon evidence, but they have been unwilling to acknowledge it. By their stubborn attitude they have revealed the soul malady that was upon them, for no evidence could satisfy them. Doubt, unbelief, prejudice, and stubbornness, killed all love from their souls. They demanded perfect assurance, but this is not compatible with faith. Faith rests not on certainty, but upon evidence. Demonstration is not faith.  {1888 1029.2}
     If the rays of light which shone at Minneapolis were permitted to exert their convincing power upon those who took their stand against light, if all had yielded their ways, and submitted their wills to the Spirit of God at that time, they would have received the richest blessing, disappointed the enemy, and stood as faithful men, true to their convictions. They would have had a rich experience. But self said, No. Self was not willing to be bruised. Self struggled for the mastery.  {1888 1030.1}
And every one of these souls will be tested again on the points where they failed then. They have less clearness of judgment, less submission, less genuine love for God and for their brethren now than before the test and trial at Minneapolis. In the books of heaven they are registered as wanting. Self and passion developed hateful characteristics.  {1888 1030.2}
 Since that time, the Lord has given abundance of evidence in messages of light and salvation. No more tender calls, no better opportunities, could be given them in order that they might do that which they ought to have done at Minneapolis. The light has been withdrawing from some, and ever since they have walked in sparks of their own kindling. No one can tell how much may be at stake when neglecting to comply with the call of the Spirit of God.  {1888 1030.3}
The time will come when many will be willing to do anything and everything possible in order to have a chance of hearing the call which they rejected at Minneapolis. God moved upon hearts, but many yielded to another spirit, which was moving upon their passions from beneath. Oh, that these poor souls would make thorough work before it is everlastingly too late. Better opportunities will never come, deeper feelings they will not have.  {1888 1030.4}
 In order to have better opportunities in the future, they must improve the opportunities they have already had, yield to the Spirit of God, and heed the voice from heaven, giving prompt obedience from willing hearts. God will not be trifled with. The sin committed in what took place at Minneapolis remains on the record books of heaven, registered against the names of those who resisted light; and it will remain upon the record until full confession is made and the transgressors stand in full humility before God.  {1888 1031.1}
The levity of some, the free speeches of others, the manner of treating the messenger and the message when in their private stopping places, the spirit that stirred to action from beneath, all stand registered in the books of heaven. And when these persons are tried and brought over the ground again, the same spirit will be revealed. When the Lord has sufficiently tried them, if they do not yield to Him, He will withdraw His Holy Spirit. May the Lord grant that those who are deceived may make thorough work before probation closes.  {1888 1031.2}
God speaks to whom He will to carry His message. They must declare the message He gives, without reservation. Jonah was commanded to proclaim the destruction of Nineveh. For a time he refused to speak the words given him of God. Fainting with fear, wild with the awful message committed to him, he hurried away from the place where he was sent. He was a disobedient prophet; he fled from duty.  {1888 1031.3}
 But when God speaks to men, commanding them to bear His message to the people, it means something. Those who are commanded to bear a message must move out although obstacles of a forbidding character are in the way. Those who claim to know the truth, and yet lay every obstacle in the way so that light shall not come to the people, will have an account to settle with God that they will not be pleased to meet. God manages His own work, and woe to the man who puts his hand to the ark of God. - -Letter 19d, 1892.
This message appears in two places in the writings of EGW. 
1888 Collection, page 118 - 132 and Manuscript Release, Vol. 16, page 100 (aka 16MR, 100)
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