~December 1, 2013~

Partakers of the Divine Nature

by Ellen G. White

The Review and Herald, March 1, 1887

    In creating man, God gave him noble qualities. He endowed him with a well-balanced mind, and made every power of his being harmonious. After the fall there was not given to man another set of faculties. The powers given him before sin entered the world through Adam were high, and their aims holy; all in perfect harmony with the divine mind. The fall did not create in man new faculties, energies, and passions; for this would have been a reflection upon God. It was through disobedience to God's requirements that these powers were perverted; the affections were misplaced, and turned from the high and holy purpose to a lower aim and to meet a lower standard. When a man is converted, when he comes back to his allegiance to God, he then places himself in a right relation to him to heed his warnings, to be instructed by him, by living, not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; and he is in direct communication with him through Jesus Christ, whereby he will regain the moral image of his Maker. Originally man's affections were in perfect obedience to God's will; but they have been perverted, misused, and degenerated by disobedience. In returning to God, the inclinations, the taste, the appetite, and the passions are brought into higher, holier channels. The bias to evil is overcome through man's determined effort, aided by the grace of Christ. The faculties that have been warped in a wrong direction are no longer misused, perverted, and
Through the sanctification of the truth man becomes a partaker of the divine nature
misapplied. They are not wasted in selfish purposes, or fastened upon perishable things. The truth has been accepted, has convicted the soul, transformed the character, and there is a purification and elevation of all the powers of the being, and the God-given powers are no longer debased.  
     Through the sanctification of the truth man becomes a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. What may not man become through the grace given him, if he will but be a partaker of the divine nature? What examples of uprightness, of purity, of holiness would be given to our world! But the debasement of man's highest, noblest powers, which causes so much sorrow, crime, violence and suffering in the world, is because the precepts of God are not respected. It is because his law is transgressed. Oh, that all who claim to be standing in defense of the law of God would indeed practice in their daily life the observance of its holy principles! We see men eagerly striving to accumulate property. They put forth all their energies, tact, wisdom, and inventive powers to gain their object, in securing earthly treasures that they will not need, and cannot use for their own profit or for their children's benefit. These persons have not time to devote to prayer, or to seek God, or to place themselves on the side of Christ. Heaven and eternal things have no charms for them. All their moral powers are dwarfed, and their lives are spent for one purpose, the accumulation of wealth. The time, the opportunities granted them of God to secure heaven, are squandered in striving for earthly gain. Would that it were only to the impenitent that this melancholy picture applied! It is most sad, indeed, when those who profess godliness exhibit to the world such a perversion of their powers.  
     The desire for laying up treasures upon the earth, of making provision for the unknown future, of centering all interest and effort in the earth, and of laboring for corruptible possessions, which must pass away, is not fitting us by the exercise of our powers, to secure the eternal, immortal treasure. If men who claim to believe the truth were as eager candidates for those treasures that are enduring, and if the concentration of their God-given powers were employed in securing the imperishable treasure, what might not they become in the world? What light would be reflected from them! What blessings would be in their flashing the bright beams of light upon the pathway of others! Oh, how many there are who care only for earthly things, and strive only for perishable treasures! All their powers are employed in securing earthly possessions, and time and talents, consequently, are spiritually dwarfed. God sets before man a heaven to gain, a crown to win, and immortal honors to possess. But the powers of his being have been perverted, his object has been changed, and he may be classed with those of whom Paul writes, "who mind earthly things." Body and soul are given to the securing of earthly treasures. 
     Satan carried Jesus to an exceedingly high mountain and presented before him all the glories of the world in a moment of time, and offered it all to him, if he would worship him. He met the stern rebuke of the world's Redeemer, "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Here, then, is the object before us, to worship God, to serve God, and to glorify God. Satan finds those who will give themselves to his service to gain the treasures of the world. He absorbs the mind, and controls the powers so that the service which God demands is given to him. He gains from man all that he tried to secure from Christ. We often see men who stand high in positions of trust, as Christ's followers, but who have made shipwreck of faith. A temptation comes to them and they sacrifice principle and their religious advantages to secure a coveted earthly treasure. The bait of Satan is taken. Christ conquered, thus making it possible for man to conquer also; but man places himself under the leadership of the god of this world, and steps from beneath the banner of Jesus Christ into the ranks of the enemy. All his powers are devoted to gain, and he worships other gods before the Lord.   
     The worldly man is not content with a present sufficiency, or with even an abundance. He is always aiming to possess a larger stock, and turns every thought, every power, in this direction.
The sincere Christian appreciates the warning given by Jesus
Now he who is seeking for eternal riches should be striving for the heavenly treasure with far greater earnestness and perseverance, and with an intensity that is proportionate to the value of the object of which he is in pursuit. The worldly man is laboring for earthly, temporal things. He is laying up his treasure upon the earth, doing just that which Jesus has told him he must not do. The sincere Christian appreciates the warning given by Jesus, and is a doer of his word, thus laying up his treasure in heaven, just as the world's Redeemer has told him he should do. He views an eternity of bliss worth a life of persevering and untiring effort. He is not misdirecting his efforts. He is setting his affections upon things above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Transformed by grace, his life is hid with Christ in God. He has not lost by any means, the power of accumulation; but he employs his active energies in seeking for spiritual attainments; then all his intrusted talents will be appreciated as God's gifts to be employed to his glory. By him property will be prized, not hoarded, valued only inasmuch as it can be used to advance the truth, to work as Christ worked when he was upon the earth, to bless humanity. For this purpose he will use his powers, not to please or glorify self, but to strengthen every intrusted gift that he may do the highest service to God. Of him it can be said, "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord." 
     God does not condemn prudence and foresight in the use of the things of this life, but the feverish care, the undue anxiety with respect to worldly things is not in accordance with his will. It will not do for us to float along with the current, we are to be laborers together with God. God has imparted to us moral powers and religious susceptibilities. He has given his own dear Son as a propitiation for our sins, that through him we might be reconciled to God. He has brought to us knowledge, light, and truth, to open our understanding. He is the way, the truth, and the life; and now it devolves upon man to seek most earnestly to co-operate with the agencies which the Lord has provided for his salvation. He must with earnestness lay hold upon the helps God has placed within his reach. He must pray, he must search the Scriptures, he must believe the word of God, he must obey God, and must employ all his powers in making the most of the opportunities and privileges brought within his reach. Then we must be laborers together with God; for God will not complete his work without human agencies. Jesus has made the infinite sacrifice in our behalf, and he expects of his followers far more than they give him,-- voluntary, zealous, disinterested co-operation. His bounty has brought the treasures of heaven within the reach of man, and God expects us to show our faith by our works. God is waiting, angels are watching, to see what the people to whom are committed the treasures of truth will do. They are God's workmen and his agents, and if those who are so highly favored with intrusted truths fail through love for earthly things to perform the part assigned them, it would have been better for them had they never been born. Not only will they lose heaven themselves, but, failing to act their part in the great plan of saving their fellow-men, they will scatter from Christ by thus neglecting to do their appointed work. Others will follow their example, and they will be cursed of God. There are many souls of all nations and tongues and peoples to be enlightened. Are the chosen, royal people of God paralyzed that they cannot see from the word of God their duty, and sense the weighty responsibility that rests upon them to be laborers together with God? "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me," were the words that fell from the lips of the divine Teacher.   
     Our fidelity to Christian principles calls us to active service for God. Those who do not use their talents in the cause and work of God, will have no part with Jesus in his glory. Light is to shine forth from every soul that is a recipient of the grace of God. There are many souls in darkness, but what rest, and ease, and quietude many feel in this matter! Thousands enjoy great light and precious opportunities, but do nothing with their influence or their money, to enlighten others. They do not even take the responsibility of keeping their own souls in the love of God, that they may not become a burden to the church. Such ones would be a burden and a clog in heaven. For Christ's sake, for the truth's sake, for their own sakes, such should arouse and make diligent work for eternity. Heavenly mansions are preparing for all who will comply with the conditions laid down in the word of God. In behalf of the souls for whom Christ has died, who are in the darkness of error, it is enjoined upon all true followers of Christ to be a light to the world. God has done his part in the great work, and is waiting for the co-operation of his followers. The plan of salvation is fully developed. The blood of Jesus Christ is offered for the sins of the world, the word of God is speaking to man in counsels, in reproofs, in warnings, in promises, and in encouragement, and the efficacy of the Holy Spirit is extended to help him in all his efforts. But with all this light the world is still perishing in darkness, buried in error and sin. Who will be laborers together with God, to win these souls to the truth? Who will bear to them the good tidings of salvation?--The people whom God has blessed with light and truth are to be the messengers of mercy. Their means are to flow into the divine channel. Their earnest efforts are to be put forth. They are to become laborers together with God, self denying, self-sacrificing, like Jesus, who for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.  
     Divine and human agencies are combined in the work of saving souls. God has done his part, and Christian activity is needed now. God calls for this. He expects his people to bear a part in presenting the light of truth to all nations. Who will enter into this partnership with the Lord Jesus Christ? He will prescribe the terms, he will make all the conditions. Has God enlightened you with a knowledge of himself? Have the treasures of his word been opened to your understanding, so that you have become intelligent in regard to the truths therein? Then go to work with your ability. If you are only humble, pure in heart, single in purpose, you will see the needs and wants of God's cause. You will see that there are foreign countries to be visited, that missionaries must go forth with the spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion, to labor, to deny self, to suffer for Christ's sake. And even in our own country there are thousands of all nations, and tongues, and peoples who are ignorant and superstitious, having no knowledge of the Bible or its sacred teachings. God's hand was in their coming to America, that they might be brought under the enlightening influence of the truth revealed in his word, and become partakers of his saving faith. How many have felt any interest for these strangers? How many have been stirred with the spirit of the Master to act as missionaries to those brought, as it were, to our very doors?
A worldly spirit has prevailed among the professed servants of God
What will arouse our churches to their true condition of sleepiness and inactivity while souls are perishing within their reach? Where there is one laborer there ought to be hundreds receiving every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God, and giving it to the people as they can bear it. A hundred-fold more might have been done than has been done. A worldly spirit has prevailed among the professed servants of God, and the souls of men have not been counted of half as much value as their cattle, their farms, and their business. God will hold them accountable for this terrible neglect in the past; but what are they going to do in the future? Will they come into co-operation with our great Benefactor? Will they as men who have had the light of truth, let that light shine forth to those in darkness? God has honored them with the privilege of being co-laborers with Christ in the great harvest field. Will they thankfully, heartily receive all the advantages God has provided, and diligently improve them by exercise, using every ability and every sacred trust in the service of the Master? Their success in advancement in the divine life depends upon the improvement of the talents lent them. Their future reward will be proportioned to the integrity and earnestness with which they serve the Master.   
     All the enterprises in temporal, earthly things prosper in proportion to the wisdom, tact, and concentration of powers exercised in acquiring the desired object. Just so must it be in our Christian enterprises. We must work according to God's word. There must be wise planning. There must be selection of men and gifts appropriate for the various branches of the work. God's word must be our guide as to the conditions that are specified by which we may become laborers together with Christ. The desire to accumulate wealth is an original affection of our nature, implanted there by our Heavenly Father for noble ends. If you ask the capitalist who has directed all his energies to the one object of securing wealth, and who is persevering and industrious to add to his property, with what design he thus labors, he could not give you a reason for this, a definite purpose for which he is gaining earthly treasures and heaping up riches. He cannot define any great aim or purpose he has in view, or any new source of happiness he expects to attain. He goes on accumulating because he has turned all his abilities and all his powers in this direction. There is within the worldly man a craving for something that he does not have. He has, from force of habit, bent every thought, every purpose in the direction of making provision for the future, and as he grows older, he becomes more eager than ever to acquire all that it is possible to gain. It is natural that the covetous man should become more covetous as he draws near the time when he is losing hold upon all earthly things. All this energy, this perseverance, this determination, this industry after earthly power is the result of the perversion of his powers to a wrong object. Every faculty might have been cultivated to the highest possible elevation by exercise, for the heavenly, immortal life, and for the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The customs and practices of the worldly man in his perseverance and his energies, and in availing himself of every opportunity to add to his store, should be a lesson to those who claim to be children of God, seeking for glory, honor, and immortality. The children of the world are wiser in their generation than the children of the light, and herein is seen their wisdom. Their object is for earthly gain, and to this end they direct all their energies. Oh that this zeal would characterize the toiler for heavenly riches!
     Basel Switzerland.