"And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man." Genesis 6:3.
"The Spirit of God is departing from many among His people. Many have entered into dark, secret paths, and some will never return. They will continue to stumble to their ruin. They have tempted God, they have rejected light. All the evidence that will ever be given them they have received, and have not heeded. They have chosen darkness rather than light, and have defiled their souls."óTestimonies to Ministers, pages 90, 91.
The true significance of these statements must be grasped by each aspirant for eternal life. Godís Spirit will one day leave in the possession of Satan all who have refused to allow Him to take control. The flow from the two olive trees will cease to supply the bowl of the sanctuary lamps. Too late the foolish virgins will rush out to replenish their flickering lights. The divine power which has sustained them heretofore will no longer be available after the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit. The voice that once pointed out the way is no longer to be heard. There is no comforting assurance now of the divine nearness to human problems and needs. No gentle influence prompts the selfish heart to perform loving service for oneís fellow man. It is too late to remedy character defects. Eyes afflicted with Laodicean blindness must remain sightless, both to their own unloveliness and to Christís perfections. Godís seal has been placed on those who have surrendered themselves to Him in love. For all others it is too late.
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." Amos 8:11, 12.
Godís Spirit cannot continue indefinitely to perform His services to mankind and to issue His warnings. God is too kind to leave the door of mercy forever open, and so allow millions of His suffering children to continue in the misery of their present lot. There must come a point when a righteous Judge will close the books and declare an end to probationary time. It will surely come just as soon as God is assured that the last man, woman, and child have chosen either for or against Him. God is far less anxious to prolong this maelstrom in our world than is the holiest, most compassionate of His saints. We may be sure, too, that no additional ones would choose to be saved if God should leave the door of mercy open one moment longer.
Centuries ago the psalmist penned the comforting assurances found in Psalm 87:4-6: "I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know Me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the Highest Himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count, when He writeth up the people, that this man was bon there." Our divine Judge takes into consideration the environment and the heredity of each individual whose case comes before Him in the final judgment. The five localities mentioned in verse 4 are all in heathen territory. Those who have lived under the conditions there are not to be judged by the same standard as are those living in Zion, spoken of in verse 5. Zion, according to Isaiah 51:16, is a collective term referring to the people of God. Hence those born in Zion have advantages of Christian culture and training. At least they have been within reach of the teachings of the Scriptures and hence must always carry greater responsibility in the eyes of God. During the ages of eternity God can always provide further enlightenment to anyone who was willing to follow all the light available to him on this earth. But there is nothing heaven can do for a man or woman who has willfully disregarded light graciously given.
Speaking of Gods judgment concerning the pagan people who lacked the advantages enjoyed by his fellow countrymen, Paul wrote, "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another." Romans 2:14, 15.
God is not helpless to enlighten the heathen peoples because privileged men and women are slothful or selfish and so hinder the spread of the gospel message to the world. The mighty Comforter can speak to the hearts of these other children of God even as He speaks to ours. He is not limited to our voices to bring them salvation. True, their advancement in the knowledge of the kingdom, and their degree of usefulness in giving the message to others, might be greatly enhanced were we to do our share in enlightening them; but God will not doom willing hearts to eternal loss because we have withheld the written word from them. He has other means at His disposal for them, but we shall face irreparable loss if we fail to lay up eternal treasure by giving them Godís saving truths.
Day by day each individual on earth makes decisions for or against eternal life. Moment by moment the voice of the Spirit directs our feet into the ways of peace. No traveler in unfamiliar territory can afford to disregard the advice of an experienced guide. He faces inevitable confusion and the ultimate loss of his way should he do so. Yet how often do men and women flout the voice of Him whom Christ has made available to "guide you into all truth." John 16:13. How sure and dependable is the counsel of the One who guided the footsteps of Jesus past all the pitfalls which Satan prepared to snare His feet as He walked the strange roadways of this world as Son of man. What temptation can Satan lay for any of us which he has not already tried out on the One who "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin"? Hebrews 4:15.
Christ has spoken plainly of the danger in disregarding the counsel of the Holy Spirit. These are awesome words from which proceed the doctrine of the unpardonable sin : "But the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. Ö Whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." Matthew 12:31, 32.
Blasphemy, according to Scriptural definition, is understood in the light of Christís condemnation by the Pharisees when He claimed equality with His heavenly Father. This equality they stubbornly refused to recognize; therefore they accused Him of blasphemy. "For a good work we stone Thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God." John 10:33.
Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, then, would be manís insistence that his own way is as right as the way pointed out to him by the Spirit of God, divinely appointed as manís Guide. Such a course, persisted in, can lead only to duller perception of the Spiritís leadings until eventually man is too far away to hear the warning voice. Thus, with all connection to heaven cut off, sinners are hopelessly lost. There can be no sense of sinfulness apart from contact with the Spirit of God. When His presence has been lost sight of, sinners are no longer conscious of wrongdoing. Hence they can never confess and forsake and receive forgiveness for their sins, of which they are no longer aware. Throughout the earth today the influence of Godís Spirit is being withdrawn wherever men and women are making irrevocable decisions against obedience to God. Yet they themselves are not aware that the decision has been irrevocable. They have merely continued on in familiar pathways, unaware that they have passed the "point of no return."
"God works by the manifestation of His Spirit to reprove and convict the sinner; and if the Spiritís work is finally rejected, there is no more that God can do for the soul. The last resource of divine mercy has been employed."
"God speaks to men through His servants, giving cautions and warnings, and rebuking sin. He gives to each an opportunity to correct his errors before they become fixed in the character; but if one refuses to be corrected, divine power does not interpose to counteract the tendency of his own action. He finds it more easy to repeat the same course. He is hardening the heart against the influence of the Holy Spirit. A further rejection of light places him where a far stronger influence will be ineffectual to make an abiding impression."
"It is a perilous step to slight the reproofs and warnings of Godís word or of His Spirit. Many, like Saul, yield to temptation until they become blind to the true character of sin. They flatter themselves that they have had some good object in view, and have done no wrong in departing from the Lordís requirements. Thus they do despite to the Spirit of grace, until its voice is no longer heard, and they are left to the delusions which they have chosen."óPatriarchs and Prophets, pages 405, 268, 635.
These warnings from the past have been penned so that we will not choose the wrong pathways that the antediluvians took. Godís warning Spirit was finally withdrawn at the time of the Flood, and it surely will be withdrawn in our day when men and women have gone too far along the road of impiety. "Men cannot with impunity reject the warning which God in mercy sends them. A message was sent from heaven to the world in Noahís day and their salvation depended upon the manner in which they treated that message. Because they rejected the warning, the Spirit of God was withdrawn from the sinful race, and they perished in the waters of the Flood. Ö Looking down to the last days, the same Infinite Power declares, concerning those who Ďreceived not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.í 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12. As they reject the teachings of His word, God withdraws His Spirit and leaves them to the deceptions which they love."óThe Great Controversy, page 431.
Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:27. It will be too late to begin following another leader in that day. "Now is the Ö time" (2 Corinthians 6:2) to begin to listen to the Spiritís voice. The more familiar we become with His directives now, the more surely will our feet follow naturally in whatever path He indicates. Then, the withdrawal of Godís Spirit from earth will but signal to the heavenly watchers the completed sanctification of the people of God. His work has been finished in their lives; they no longer need His warnings, His teaching, nor His assurance of Godís continual presence with them. Nor will His departure mean the loss of their contact with heaven, for angels of God are to guard and protect them until Christ appears to take them home at last.
"Could men see with heavenly vision, they would behold companies of angels that excel in strength stationed about those who have kept the word of Christís patience. Ö None can pass the mighty guardians stationed about every faithful soul."óThe Great Controversy, pages 630, 631.
Meanwhile there still remains much to be done to fit Godís people to stand in that great day. He still holds open the door of probation to allow a little more time for the needed refining process. Yet all the signs announce in clarion tones that the door cannot remain ajar much longer.
"We are living in the time of the end. The fast-fulfilling signs of the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand. The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude.
"The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones."óTestimonies, vol. 9, p. 11.
These familiar words were penned more than fifty years ago. There are many today who are asking why these words have waited so long for their fulfillment. But we should remember that God could have brought the proclamation of the last warning message to a glorious conclusion years ago, had He but received manís wholehearted cooperation. We have been reluctant to fulfill our assignment, reluctant to let the Spirit finish His work in our own lives, to make of us usable channels for His grace. This, and not Gods reluctance, has caused the delay. But now the signs in nature and in human relations, in national and international affairs, in science and in religion, have been accumulating with an intensity that leaves us no room for doubt that God will delay no longer.
"Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheadsóit is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be movedójust as soon as Gods people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has already begun."óE.G. White Letter, 173.
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