The "Selections From the Testimonies" were issued to meet definite, recognized conditions and needs that are not met by the nine-volume set. It was found that in the great North American field, only about one half of the rapidly growing church membership have access to the instruction, admonition, and encouragement found in the "Testimonies." And in English-reading fields outside North America a much smaller proportion of the membership have these volumes.
This condition caused concern to the General Conference Committee, which carries the responsibility of the welfare of the church. They faced a practical problem. Before them was the urgent admonition of the messenger of the Lord, who said: "The 'Testimonies' should be introduced into every Sabbathkeeping family, and the brethren should know their value and be urged to read them."—"Testimonies," Vol. IV, p. 390. The committee considered what steps could be taken to make possible a widening of the influence of these messages of instruction and counsel, which are of such inestimable value to each believer.
Many of the newer Sabbathkeeping families in the ordinary walks of life are limited in means, and have to labor earnestly in order to meet the necessities of everyday life and to support the cause which they love. It was to make the counsels found in the "Testimonies" available to the rank and file of a large English-reading laity in the Seventh-day Adventist churches who are now without them, that the "Selections" were issued.
The average lay member is encouraged by the bringing of the most needed testimony counsels into a more practical reading range. This phase of the question is of no small importance. It becomes increasingly clear that we can more nearly reach the objective of having each Seventh-day Adventist family read and know the value of the "Testimonies" now that the smaller and inexpensive set is available. And to that end each pastor and evangelist should lend his aid.
The choice of the matter comprising the three-book set of "Selections From the Testimonies" was not the work of any one man or of one local group. The painstaking work of selecting the articles was assigned to the Board of Trustees of the Ellen G. White Publications, the body of men responsible for the custody of the E. G. White writings. Their work was then reviewed and accepted by the General Conference Committee. Thus the "Selections" stand as the product of the joint work of these two responsible groups. Their work was done most carefully in order to ensure the inclusion of those articles representing the full range of instruction in the "Testimonies" which would be most helpful to the laity.
The many English-reading indigenous and national workers and lay families in overseas lands who have been unable to secure the nine-volume set of the "Testimonies" will find the wealth of counsel and instruction in the three-book set of "Selections" to be of inestimable value. These moderately priced Spirit of prophecy volumes should form an important part of the E. G. White writings library which every overseas English-reading worker should build up.
The full nine-volume set of the "Testimonies for the Church" will always be in demand, and will doubtless have a steady circulation among workers and students and such church members as desire the full 4,956 pages of instruction. The "Selections," containing 1,813 pages and carrying a full range of instruction of great value to thousands of Seventh-day Adventists in the common walks of life who are now without the "Testimony" counsels, will serve valiantly in extending the influence of the messages which God has sent to prepare a people to stand in the day of His coming.