I am sorry indeed to hear that you have been passing through trials caused by any who claim to believe the truth.
God does not lead any man to advocate such actions as praying with eyes open. We have not a particle of evidence that this was done by the disciples of Christ.
Removing the shoes from the feet when entering the house of worship is not a duty required of us. Anciently those who ministered in sacred office were required, upon entering the sanctuary of God, to remove their sandals, and wash their feet on which dust has accumulated. But there is not the least occasion for this to be done now.
If those who claim to believe the sacred truth for this time should go back to the practice of the ceremonial observances required from the Jews, what kind of a representation would be made before angels and before men?
We should use the utmost care to cleanse every corner of the heart from sin. Those who, in the place of cleansing the soul-temple, perform outward ceremonies, thinking that these will recommend them to God, will find themselves enshrouded in spiritual darkness, even as were the Jews.
To ensure cleanliness God required many ceremonies from ancient Israel. These ceremonies were to illustrate the necessity of carefulness in all their actions, that they might be preserved from all the impurity that it was possible for them to avoid. But these outward ceremonies have not the least bearing upon the people of God at this time. When Christ, our Sin-bearer, died upon the cross, these ceremonies lost their force; for in His death type met antitype.
Those who present such tests to the people of God today only confuse the mind. They put outward performances in the place of the precious truth, making works take the place of religion of heart and life.
God’s Great Tests
God has given a test to all the world. “The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily, my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughtout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord; whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”
This is the Lord’s test. Let us not descend from it to man-made tests.
Grand Truths vs. Nonessential Fables
These weak productions, presented to the church for their instructions and practice, are the product of minds who need that one teach them the first principles of the gospel of Christ.
I have received from the Lord warnings to give to Seventh-day Adventist churches. He has instructed me that Satan is the inventor of unimportant, nonsensical fables, which he presents to human minds to eclipse the grand, elevating, purifying truths for this time. The enemy strives by these miserable inventions to lower the sacred principles of truth, to lead the mind away from health-giving truth to sham ceremonies.
Satan is not pleased when the people of God demonstrate the ennobling, elevating influence that pure truth has upon human minds. He is the author of the silly fables which some have been presenting. The cheap, weak tests which he leads men to advocate should not be received or tolerated in our churches.
Let Us Pray With Closed Eyes
It would seem that the ideas of believers praying with their eyes open, as though looking into heaven, is one of Satan’s cheap fables, and the taking off the shoes when entering the house of worship is another production of his. The Lord is not pleased when His people, who have received such grand, noble truths from His word, allow their minds to dwell on the weak, silly fables which have been presented to me for my opinion. These deceived souls are told that Sister White prays with her eyes open. No; Sister White closes her eyes when she prays, that with spiritual vision she may behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
By the exercise of faith we cleave the dark shadow which Satan throws across our pathway. He desires us to look upon discouraging, forbidding things, so that we shall not obtain clear views of God and eternal realities. Let us pray with closed eyes, seeing by faith the Saviour who knows our every weakness, our every necessity, and who helps our infirmities. “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as were are, yet without sin. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need.”
As a people, we shall have to meet all classes of professed Christians. There will be those who will bring to the foundation a large amount of wood, hay, stubble, which will be consumed by the fires of the last day, and if they themselves are saved, it will be as by fire. Only by straightforward repentance and conversion can they be purified and made white and tried.
Take Heed to Yourselves
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Here is plainly shown the difficulties that will come into the church through men who are not satisfied to dwell upon the lessons given them by our Lord Jesus Christ, who are always seeking for something strange and odd, to present as new light which other men have overlooked. “Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
It has ever been the will of God that in all the cities of America Seventh-day Adventists should do a widespread missionary work. Churches should be built where every Sabbath the people may assemble to worship God and to hear the gospel. Earnest efforts should be made to do the work which should be done at the present time. The Scriptures are to be opened to all who comply with the invitation that the Lord sends to come and listen to the message the Lord sends to His people.
One man is not to suppose that his gift is so full and perfect that it will supply all the church requires. Every talent and every gift that God has set in the church is to be recognized and acknowledged, but great caution is to be exercised to prove all things and hold fast only that which is good.
Not Swayed by Every Wind of Doctrine
The fourth chapter of Ephesians contains instruction which we should all heed. After speaking of the need of unity, the apostle says, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” To speak the truth in love means to walk in the truth, to practice the truth in the transactions of life, to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, doing works which correspond to the elevating influence of the truth. It means to have a faith which works by love and purifies the soul, making us alive in Christ. It means to have in the soul the living water, which Christ gives and which springs up unto everlasting life.
Faithful ministers of the gospel are often made sorrowful by the conduct of those members of the church who do not help, but hinder them, making their work severe and taxing by bringing in strange things, which have no foundation in truth, but are a tissue of falsehood. These persons corrupt the word of God by mingling with it their human opinions, thus making the genuine testing truths for this time of none effect.
The office of minister of the gospel is one of high dignity. True gospel ministers are co-laborers with God in the faithful accomplishment of His great plan. As God’s messenger, they speak the truth in love. They are representatives of Christ, and though their work is often made very hard, yet God will sustain them against all criticism if they will be true to principle, whatever this may mean to them.
Letter 29, 1901. Manuscript Releases, Vol. 3, 55-60.