Arthur White, grandson of Ellen G. White, related the following story about his grandmother’s influence at general conference session of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church during the later years of her life. The SDA church had grown to 750,000 members worldwide, and a small group of general conference leaders were reluctant to restructure the church to allow a more decentralized approach to church ministry, evangelism, and world mission.
At the opening meeting of the general conference session, Ellen White moved up to the pulpit and gave the following statement:
“Every soul in every conference, in every part of the Lord’s Vinyard, has the privilege of knowing the truth. But truth is not truth to those who do not practice it. Truth is only truth to you when you live it in daily life, showing the world what those people must be who are at last saved.”
In this statement, Mrs White counselled church leaders to do more than proclaim the truth; they must also be obedient to the truth. To be the light of Christ to a dark world, our actions must be consistent with our beliefs. If we believe God is love and Christ paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, then our lives must reflect trust in Christ and His righteousness. How often has the church honored the gospel with its lips while its heart is still mired in legalism and a focus on human performance?
Our actions must reflect our love for God and our trust in the merits of Christ.
Ellen White added, ” According to the light that been given me–and just how it is to be accomplished I cannot say–greater strength must be brought into the managing force of the conference…There must be a renovation, a reorganization; a power and strength must be brought into the committees that are necessary.”
By this she meant the SDA church needed to rely on God and His wisdom. There was a need to decentralize church authority and rely on the power of God to bring people into church ministry and evangelism. If the Adventist Church was led by Christ, the church would not fail. General conference leaders needed to place more trust in Christ instead of maintaining a strangle-hold on church policy.
At the General Conference Session, after three weeks of church re-organization, Mrs White made these concluding remarks:
“Who do you suppose has been among us since this conference began?…Who has walked up and down the aisles of this tabernacle? The God of heaven and His Angels. We have been trying to organize the work on right lines. The Lord has sent His angels to minister unto us who are heirs of salvation, telling us how to carry the work forward…Press together, press together. Let us be united in Christ.”
Those words revealed Ellen White’s genuine attitude towards the Adventist movement. God was to be in charge. The King of the Universe would be actively involved in managing the church policy. Mrs. White then gave the key to maintaining organizational unity within the church.
She proclaimed, “Let us be united in Christ.”
Effective ministers of the gospel allow Christ to lead. God and His angels are available for guidance, wisdom, and courage to make difficult choices. Our ultimate success does not depend on human programs, human psychology, or human leadership programs. Ministers of Christ must be united in Christ and must acknowledge the supremacy of Christ in the daily life.
The more we are obedient to the Holy Spirit, the more effective will be our witness for Him as we proclaim the gospel to the world.
Listen to the Apostle Paul, who wrote the following while under divine inspiration: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).
Please Join me and unite under the banner of Christ and His Righteousness. Let our daily proclamation be, “Not I, but Christ!”