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The Review and Herald Articles
for the Year 1912
(Vol. 89, #1)
When Paul was summoned to appear before the emperor Nero for trial, it was with the near prospect of certain death. The serious nature of the crime charged against him, and the prevailing animosity toward Christians, left little ground for hope of a favorable issue.
Among the Greeks and Romans it was customary to allow an accused person the privilege of employing an advocate to plead in his behalf before courts of justice. By force of argument, by impassioned eloquence, or by entreaties, prayers, and tears, such an advocate often secured a decision in favor of the prisoner; or failing in this, succeeded in mitigating the severity of the sentence. But when Paul was summoned before Nero, no man ventured to act as his counsel or advocate; no friend was at hand even to preserve a record of the charges brought against him, or of the arguments that he urged in his own defense. Among the Christians at Rome, there was not one who came forward to stand by him in that trying hour.
The only reliable record of the occasion is given by Paul himself, in his second letter to Timothy. "At my first answer," the apostle wrote, "no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion."
Paul before Nero--how striking the contrast! The haughty monarch before whom the man of God was to answer for his faith, had reached the height of earthly power, authority, and wealth as well as the lowest depths of crime and iniquity. In power and greatness he stood unrivaled. There were none to question his authority, none to resist his will. Kings laid their crowns at his feet. Powerful armies marched at his command, and the ensigns of his navies betokened victory. His statue was set up in the halls of justice, and the decrees of senators and the decisions of judges were but the echo of his will. Millions bowed in obedience to his mandates. The name of Nero made the world tremble. To incur his displeasure was to lose property, liberty, life; and his frown was more to be dreaded than a pestilence.
Without money, without friends, without counsel, the aged prisoner stood before Nero, the countenance of the emperor bearing the shameful record of the passions that raged within; the face of the accused telling of a heart at peace with God. Paul's experience had been one of poverty, self-denial, and suffering. Notwithstanding constant misrepresentation, reproach, and abuse, by which his enemies had endeavored to intimidate him, he had fearlessly held aloft the standard of the cross. Like his Master, he had been a homeless wanderer, and like him, he had lived to bless humanity. How could Nero, a capricious, passionate, licentious tyrant, understand or appreciate the character and motives of this son of God?
The vast hall was thronged by an eager, restless crowd, that surged and pressed to the front to see and hear all that should take place. The high and the low were there, the rich and the poor, the learned and the ignorant, the proud and the humble, all alike destitute of a true knowledge of the way of life and salvation.
The Jews brought against Paul the old charges of sedition and heresy, and both Jews and Romans accused him of instigating the burning of the city. While these accusations were urged against him, Paul preserved an unbroken serenity. The people and the judges looked at him in surprise. They had been present at many trials, and had looked upon many a criminal; but never had they seen a man wear a look of such holy calmness as did the prisoner before them. The keen eyes of the judges, accustomed to read the countenances of prisoners, searched Paul's face in vain for some evidence of guilt. When he was permitted to speak in his own behalf, all listened with eager interest.
Once more Paul has an opportunity to uplift before a wondering multitude the banner of the cross. As he gazes upon the throng before him,--Jews, Greeks, Romans, with strangers from many lands,--his soul is stirred with an intense desire for their salvation. He loses sight of the occasion, of the perils surrounding him, of the terrible fate that seems so near. He sees only Jesus, the intercessor, pleading before God in behalf of sinful men. With more than human eloquence and power, Paul presents the truths of the gospel. He points his hearers to the sacrifice made for the fallen race. He declares that an infinite price has been paid for man's redemption. Provision has been made for him to share the throne of God. By angel messengers, earth is connected with heaven, and all the deeds of men, whether good or evil, are open to the eye of Infinite Justice.
Thus pleads the advocate of truth. Faithful among the faithless, loyal among the disloyal, he stands as God's representative, and his voice is as a voice from heaven. There is no fear, no sadness, no discouragement in word or look. Strong in a consciousness of innocence, clothed in the panoply of truth, he rejoices that he is a son of God. His words are as a shout of victory above the roar of battle. He declares the cause to which he has devoted his life, to be the only cause that can never fail. Though he may perish, the gospel will not perish. God lives, and his truth will triumph.
Many who that day looked upon him, "saw his face as it had been the face of an angel."
Never before had that company listened to words like these. They struck a chord that vibrated in the hearts of even the most hardened. Truth, clear and convincing, overthrew error. Light shone into the minds of many who afterward gladly followed its rays. The truths spoken on this occasion were destined to shake nations, and to live through all time, influencing the hearts of men when the lips that had uttered them should be silent in a martyr's grave.
Never before had Nero heard the truth as he heard it on this occasion. Never before had the enormous guilt of his own life been so revealed to him. The light of heaven pierced the sin-polluted chambers of his soul, and he trembled with terror at the thought of a tribunal before which he, the ruler of the world, would finally be arraigned, and his deeds receive their just award. He feared the apostle's God, and he dared not pass sentence upon Paul, against whom no accusation had been sustained. A sense of awe restrained for a time his bloodthirsty spirit.
For a moment, heaven was opened to the guilty and hardened Nero, and its peace and purity seemed desirable. That moment the invitation of mercy was extended even to him. But only for a moment was the thought of pardon welcomed. Then the command was issued that Paul be taken back to his dungeon; and as the door closed upon the messenger of God, the door of repentance closed forever against the emperor of Rome. No ray of light from heaven was ever again to penetrate the darkness that enveloped him. Soon he was to suffer the retributive judgments of God.
Not long after this Nero sailed on his infamous expedition to Greece, where he disgraced himself and his kingdom by contemptible and debasing frivolity. Returning to Rome with great pomp, he surrounded himself with his courtiers, and engaged in scenes of revolting debauchery. In the midst of this revelry, a voice of tumult in the streets was heard. A messenger, despatched to learn the cause, returned with the appalling news that Galba, at the head of an army, was marching rapidly upon Rome, that insurrection had already broken out in the city, and that the streets were filled with an enraged mob, which, threatening death to the emperor and all his supporters, was rapidly approaching the palace.
In this time of peril, Nero had not, like the faithful Paul, a powerful and compassionate God on whom to rely. Fearful of the suffering and possible torture he might be compelled to endure at the hands of the mob, the wretched tyrant thought to end his life by his own hand; but at the critical moment his courage failed. Completely unmanned, he fled ignominiously from the city, and sought shelter at a countryseat a few miles distant; but to no avail. His hiding place was soon discovered, and as the pursuing horsemen drew near, he summoned a slave to his aid, and inflicted on himself a mortal wound. Thus perished the tyrant Nero, at the early age of thirty-two.
The Martyrdom of Paul.--During Paul's final trial before Nero, the emperor had been so strongly impressed with the force of the apostle's words, that he deferred the decision of the case, neither acquitting nor condemning the accused servant of God. But the emperor's malice against Paul soon returned. Exasperated by his inability to check the spread of the Christian religion, even in the imperial household, he determined that as soon as a plausible pretext could be found, the apostle should be put to death. Not long afterward Nero pronounced the decision that condemned Paul to a martyr's death. Inasmuch as a Roman citizen could not be subjected to torture, the apostle was sentenced to be beheaded.
Paul was taken in a private manner to the place of execution. His persecutors, alarmed at the extent of his influence, feared that converts might be won to Christianity by the scenes of his death; therefore few spectators were allowed to be present. But even the hardened soldiers who attended him, listened to his words, and with amazement saw him cheerful and even joyous in the prospect of death. To some who witnessed his martyrdom, his spirit of forgiveness toward his murderers and his unwavering confidence in Christ till the last, proved a savor of life unto life. More than one accepted the Saviour whom Paul preached, and erelong fearlessly sealed their faith with their blood.
Until his latest hour the life of Paul testified to the truth of his words to the Corinthians: "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." His sufficiency was not in himself, but in the presence and agency of the divine Spirit that filled his soul, and brought every thought into subjection to the will of Christ. The prophet declares, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." The heavenborn peace expressed on Paul's countenance won many a soul to the gospel.
Paul carried with him throughout his life the atmosphere of heaven. All who associated with him felt the influence of his union with Christ. The fact that his own life exemplified the truth he proclaimed, gave convincing power to his preaching. Here lies the power of the truth. The unstudied, unconscious influence of a holy life is the most convincing sermon that can be given in favor of Christianity. Argument, even when unanswerable, may provoke only opposition; but a godly example has a power that it is impossible wholly to resist.
The apostle lost sight of his own approaching sufferings in his solicitude for those whom he was about to leave to cope with prejudice, hatred, and persecution. The few Christians who accompanied him to the place of execution, he endeavored to strengthen and encourage by repeating the promises given for those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. He assured them that nothing would fail of all that the Lord had spoken concerning his tried and faithful children. For a little season they might be in heaviness through manifold temptation; they might be destitute of earthly comfort; but they could encourage their hearts with the assurance of God's faithfulness, saying, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him." Soon the night of trial and suffering would come to an end, and then would dawn the glad morning of peace and perfect day.
The apostle was looking into the great beyond, not with uncertainty or dread, but with joyous hope and longing expectation. As he stands at the place of martyrdom, he sees not the sword of the executioner or the earth so soon to receive his blood; he looks up through the calm blue heaven of that summer day to the throne of the Eternal.
This man of faith beholds the ladder presented in Jacob's vision, representing Christ, who has connected earth with heaven, and finite man with the infinite God. His faith is strengthened as he calls to mind how patriarchs and prophets have relied upon the One who is his support and consolation, and for whom he is giving his life. From these holy men who from century to century have borne testimony for their faith, he hears the assurance that God is true. His fellow apostles who, to preach the gospel of Christ, went forth to meet religious bigotry and heathen superstition, persecution, and contempt; who counted not their lives dear unto themselves that they might bear aloft the light of the cross amid the dark mazes of infidelity,--these he hears witnessing to Jesus as the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. From the rack, the stake, the dungeon, from dens and caves of the earth, there falls upon his ear the martyrs' shout of triumph. He hears the witness of steadfast souls, who, though destitute, afflicted, tormented, yet bear fearless, solemn testimony for the faith, declaring, "I know whom I have believed." These, yielding up their lives for the faith, declare to the world that he in whom they have trusted is able to save to the uttermost.
Ransomed by the sacrifice of Christ, washed from sin in his blood, and clothed in his righteousness, Paul has the witness in himself that his soul is precious in the sight of his Redeemer. His life is hid with Christ in God, and he is persuaded that he who has conquered death is able to keep that which is committed to his trust. His mind grasps the Saviour's promise, "I will raise him up at the last day." His thoughts and hopes are centered in the second coming of his Lord, and as the sword of the executioner descends, and the shadows of death gather about the martyr, his latest thought springs forward, as will his earliest in the great awakening, to meet the Lifegiver, who shall welcome him to the joy of the blest.
Well-nigh a score of centuries have passed since Paul the aged poured out his blood as a witness for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. No faithful hand recorded for the generations to come the last scenes in the life of this holy man; but Inspiration has preserved for us his dying testimony. Like a trumpet peal his voice has rung out through all the ages since, nerving with his own courage thousands of witnesses for Christ, and wakening in thousands of sorrow stricken hearts the echo of his own triumphant joy: "I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #1)
God expects personal service from every one to whom he has entrusted a knowledge of the truth for this time. Those in the highways and byways of life are to hear the gospel message. Church members are to do evangelistic work in the homes of their neighbors who have not yet received full evidence of the truth for this time.
God calls for Christian families to go into communities that are in darkness and error, and work wisely and perseveringly for the Master. Lend your neighbors some of our smaller books. If their interest is awakened, take some of the larger books. Show them "Christ's Object Lessons." Tell them its history, and ask them if they do not want a copy. If they already have it, ask them if they do not want to read other books of a similar nature. If possible, secure an opportunity to teach them the truth. Beside all waters you are to sow the seeds of truth, though not knowing which shall prosper, this or that.
In many States there are settlements of industrious, well-to-do farmers who have never had the truth for this time. Such places should be worked. Let our lay members take up this line of service. By lending or selling books, by distributing papers, and by holding Bible readings, our lay members could do much in their own neighborhoods. Filled with love for souls, they could proclaim the message with such power that many would be converted.
My brethren and sisters, give yourselves to the Lord for service. Allow no opportunity to pass unimproved. Visit the sick and suffering, and show a kindly interest in them. If possible, do something to make them more comfortable. Through this means you can reach their hearts, and speak a word for Christ.
Eternity alone will reveal how far-reaching such a line of labor can be. Other lines of usefulness will open before those who are willing to do the duty nearest them. There is earnest work for every pair of hands to do. Let every stroke tell for the uplifting of humanity. There are so many that need to be helped. The heart of him who lives, not to please himself, but to be a blessing to those who have so few blessings, will thrill with satisfaction. Let every idler awake, and face the realities of life.. Take the Word of God, and search its pages. If you are doers of the Word, life will indeed be to you a living reality, and you will find that the reward is abundant.
Church members, let the light shine forth. Let your voices be heard in humble prayer, in witness against intemperance, the folly, and the amusements of this world, and in the proclamation of the truth for this time. Your voice, your influence, your time,--all these are gifts from God, and are to be used in winning souls to Christ.
Strive to arouse men and women from their spiritual insensibility. Tell them how you found Jesus, and how blessed you have been since you gained an experience in his service. Tell them what blessing comes to you as you sit at the feet of Jesus, and learn precious lessons from his Word. Tell them of the gladness and joy that there is in the Christian life. Your warm, fervent words will convince them that you have found the Pearl of great price. Let your cheerful, encouraging words show that you have certainly found the higher way. This is genuine missionary work, and as it is done, many will awake as from a dream.
Even while engaged in their daily employment, God's people can lead others to Christ. And while doing this, they will have the precious assurance that the Saviour is close beside them. They need not think that they are left to depend on their own feeble efforts. Christ will give them words to speak that will refresh and encourage and strengthen poor, struggling souls who are in darkness. Their own faith will be strengthened, as they realize that the Redeemer's promise is being fulfilled. Not only are they a blessing to others, but the work they do for Christ brings blessing to themselves.
There are many who can and should do the work of which I have spoken. My brother, my sister, what are you doing for Christ? Are you seeking to be a blessing to others? Are your lips uttering words of kindness, sympathy, and love? Are you putting forth earnest efforts to win others to the Saviour? Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #2)
I am instructed to say to our ministering brethren, Let the messages that come from your lips be charged with the power of the Spirit of God. If there was ever a time when we needed the special guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is now. We need a thorough consecration. It is fully time that we gave to the world a demonstration of the power of God in our lives and in our ministry.
The most solemn truths ever given to mortals have been entrusted to us, and to us has been committed the work of warning the world. In heart and life the minister of God is to be true to the trust committed to him. Never is he to engage in that which would lower before others the standard of the word of truth. His faith is to be revealed, not merely in words, in profession, but in his daily association with believers and unbelievers. Let those who stand as ministers of God to the people be faithful, preparing their own souls for the kingdom of heaven, divesting their own garments of every stain, that neither spot nor wrinkle be found on them. Then the Lord can use them to do a mighty work as his messengers.
We are living in an age when vice is prevalent. Corrupting practises are making the world like it was before the flood. But erelong the workers of iniquity with their wicked works will be consumed. Calamities on every hand, earthquake and fire and flood, the weapons of judgment in the hand of God, point to the more terrible destruction yet in the future, which the Word of God predicts will soon desolate the earth.
This is a time when every evil work, every unrighteous act, should be repudiated by those who are looking forward to the soon return of Christ. It is a time when believers should accept this last message of warning with a faith that purifies the heart and life. We are to stand on holy ground, as a people who watch and wait for their Lord, and who are colaborers with him for the uplifting of men. "Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord," the Word of God declares. Every worker is to look to his own heart, to examine the motives that prompt his actions. He is to purify his own soul by obedience to the truth.
At this time, when evil walks abroad in the land, the Lord through his ministers designs to do battle against the errors and deceptions and evildoing that exist. But if his professed servants pursue a course that is a denial of their faith, he can not do this. If they neglect their own spiritual interests, if they cherish wrongdoing in their lives, God can not work through them to prepare other souls for the kingdom of heaven. And more than this; if souls for whom the minister should have watched as one that must give an account, are lost because of his unfaithfulness, God will require their blood at his hands.
Let every minister at this time consider what it means to keep his lamp trimmed and burning. Read prayerfully the forty-eight and forty-ninth chapters of Isaiah, in which the Lord represents the work of his messengers today. "It is a light thing," he says, "that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. . . . In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in the day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places."
It is not right for ministers who have been placed in positions of responsibility in connection with the work of God to carry the responsibilities of secular concerns. The more closely they confine themselves to the ministry of the Word, to the work to which the Lord has appointed them, the more fully will they understand the sacredness of their calling as ministers. That he may gain efficiency in his work, the minister needs to pray much, and to meditate upon the Word. Then angels will cooperate with him, and the Spirit of God will be his teacher. There is a line of labor that belongs in a peculiar sense to the ordained minister; in order to gain an increasing qualification for it, he must grow in spirituality, by conforming his life practise to an ever deepening knowledge of God and of Christ as a personal Saviour.
There are some who do not act intelligently in regard to the important work that God has given them to do. God desires to guide and direct the efforts of these workers; but because self comes largely to the front, because they choose to follow their own way, and to carry out their own will, God can not work through them as he would for the strengthening of his church and the advancement of his cause. To such workers I would say, Do not continue to follow your own judgment. Seek the Lord in earnest prayer, and accept his guidance at every step. If you will follow on to know the Lord, you will know that his going forth is prepared as the morning.
All through our history there have arisen men who have grown dissatisfied with the work committed to their hands, and who have sought to become leaders, when they should be learners. There were men in Christ's day who sought to follow a similar course. They tried to make themselves his advisers. They thought to influence him to follow their plans and suggestions. But Christ ever followed the clear light from heaven.
The truth of God is found in his Word. As long as we heed the instructions of the Word, we shall remain in unity with our fellow laborers and with the purposes of God. When errors come into our ranks in the form of false and fanciful presentations of the meaning of the Word, we can lead the mind away from these deceptions by presenting the truth as it is revealed in the life of Christ. Truth presented in contrast with error will bring understanding to the minds of the people, and conviction to their hearts. The principles of the Word of God rest upon a foundation as lasting as eternity; they can never fail.
"Wake up the watchmen," is the word of the Lord to his messengers. At this time the truth is to go forth with power, for the time in which to work is short. There is danger that those who hold meetings in our cities will be satisfied with doing a surface work. Let the ministers and the presidents of our conferences arouse to the importance of doing a thorough work. Let them labor and plan with the thought in mind that time is nearly ended, and that because of this they must work with redoubled zeal and energy. Let them seek the Lord earnestly, pressing their petitions to his throne until they are assured that their prayers are answered.
My ministering brethren, guard yourselves and your influence, remembering that you are to be instruments of the Lord for the carrying forward of his work on the earth. "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem," the Lord declares, "which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and until he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth."
Arouse the people to the importance of the times in which we live, that they may be led to place themselves under the discipline of Christ. In his life on earth, Christ revealed the power of God's word to make men partakers of the divine nature. As believers are led to behold his life of self-denial and sacrifice that he might minister truth to the world, they may be changed in life, and may learn to reflect his likeness.
Seek the Lord in faith, holding fast to his promises. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Let us appreciate the great sacrifice that God has made in our behalf. There will never be a time when we shall be more welcome to the gifts of his grace than now. Christ gave his life for men, that they might know how he loved them. He does not want any to perish, but longs to see all coming to repentance. All who will surrender the will to him may have the life that measures with the life of God.
This is the message that you are to bear to the souls perishing in their sins. If they will come to Christ in repentance, he will receive them, and will recreate them in his image.
Christ gave his Son that men and women might be partakers of the divine nature. The sword of justice fell upon him that they might go free. He died that they might live.
Let us ever bear in mind that our work is to be one of advancement. We are to follow on to know the Lord. God understands the actuating principle of every mind. He has witnessed the persistent, rebellious course of some whom he has warned and counseled. His all-seeing eye has noted the determined following of human devisings. "The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord." He "knoweth the thoughts." "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." "He looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven." "The Lord searcheth all hearts."
We are to stand firmly for the principles of the Word of God, remembering that God is with us to give us strength to meet each new experience. Let us ever maintain the principles of righteousness in our lives, that in the name of the Lord we may go forward from strength to strength. We are to hold as very sacred the faith that has been substantiated by the instruction and approval of the Holy Spirit from our earliest experience.
For years there has been creeping into the church an element that is educating many professed believers to resist the teachings of the Holy Spirit. In their efforts to make of no effect the Word of God, many array their strength on the side of the deceiver. I am instructed that we are to cherish as very precious the work which the Lord has been carrying forward through his commandment-keeping people, and which, through the power of his grace, will grow stronger and more efficient as time advances. The enemy is seeking to becloud the discernment of God's people, and to weaken their efficiency; but if they will labor as the Spirit of God shall direct, he will open doors of opportunity before them for the work of building the old waste places. Their experience will be one of constant growth in assurance and power until the Lord shall descend from heaven with power and great glory to set his seal of final triumph on his faithful ones.
The Lord desires to see the work of the third angel's message carried forward with increasing efficiency. As he has worked in all ages to give courage and power to his people, so in this age he longs to carry to triumphant fulfilment his purposes for his church. He bids the saints advance unitedly, going from strength to greater strength, from faith to increased faith in the righteousness and truth of his cause. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #2)
The first step was now to be taken in the organization of the church that after Christ's departure was to be his representative on earth. No costly sanctuary was at their command, but the Saviour led his disciples to the retreat he loved, and in their minds the sacred experiences of that day were forever linked with the beauty of mountain and vale and sea.
Jesus had called his disciples that he might send them forth as his witnesses, to declare to the world what they had seen and heard of him. Their office was the most important to which human beings had ever been called, and was second only to that of Christ himself. They were to be workers together with God for the saving of the world. As in the Old Testament the twelve patriarchs stand as representatives of Israel, so the twelve apostles were to stand as representatives of the gospel church.
The Saviour knew the character of the men whom he had chosen; all their weaknesses and errors were open before him; he knew the perils through which they must pass, the responsibility that would rest upon them; and his heart yearned over these chosen ones. Alone upon a mountain near the Sea of Galilee he spent the entire night in prayer for them, while they were sleeping at the foot of the mountain. With the first light of dawn he summoned them to meet him; for he had something of importance to communicate to them.
God takes men as they are, with the human elements in their character, and trains them for his service, if they will be disciplined and learn of him. They are not chosen because they are perfect, but notwithstanding their imperfections, that through the knowledge and practise of the truth, through the grace of Christ, they may become transformed into his image.
All the disciples had serious faults when Jesus called them to his service. Even John, who came into closest association with the meek and lowly One, was not himself naturally meek and yielding. He and his brother were called "the sons of thunder." While they were with Jesus, any slight shown to him aroused their indignation and combativeness. Evil temper, revenge, the spirit of criticism, were all in the beloved disciple. He was proud, and ambitious to be first in the kingdom of God. But day by day, in contrast with his own violent spirit, he beheld the tenderness and forbearance of Jesus, and heard his lessons of humility and patience. He opened his heart to the divine influence, and became not only a hearer but a doer of the Saviour's words. Self was hid in Christ. He learned to wear the yoke of Christ and to bear his burden.
Jesus reproved his disciples, he warned and cautioned them; but John and his brethren did not leave him; they chose Jesus, notwithstanding the reproofs. The Saviour did not withdraw from them because of their weakness and errors, They continued to the end to share his trials and to learn the lessons of his life. By beholding Christ, they became transformed in character.
The apostles differed widely in habits and disposition. There were the publican Levi-Matthew, and the fiery zealot Simon, the uncompromising hater of the authority of Rome; the generous, impulsive Peter, and the mean spirited Judas; Thomas, truehearted, yet timid and fearful, Philip, slow of heart, and inclined to doubt, and the ambitious, outspoken sons of Zebedee, with their brethren. These were brought together, with their different faults, all with inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil; but in and through Christ they were to dwell in the family of God, learning to become one in faith, in doctrine, in spirit. They would have their tests, their grievances, their differences of opinion; but while Christ was abiding in the heart, there could be no dissension. His love would lead to love for one another; the lessons of the Master would lead to the harmonizing of all differences, bringing the disciples into unity, till they would be of one mind and one judgment. Christ is the great center, and they would approach one another just in proportion as they approached the center.
When Jesus had ended his instruction to the disciples, he gathered the little band close about him, and kneeling in the midst of them, and laying his hands upon their heads, he offered a prayer dedicating them to his sacred work. Thus the Lord's disciples were ordained to the gospel ministry.
As his representatives among men, Christ does not choose angels who have never fallen, but human beings, men of like passions with those they seek to save. Christ took upon himself humanity, that he might reach humanity. Divinity needed humanity; for it required both the divine and the human to bring salvation to the world. Divinity needed humanity, that humanity might afford a channel of communication between God and man. So with the servants and messengers of Christ. Man needs a power outside of and beyond himself, to restore him to the likeness of God, and enable him to do the work of God; but this does not make the human agency unessential. Humanity lays hold upon divine power; Christ dwells in the heart by faith; and through cooperation with the divine, the power of man becomes efficient for good.
He who called the fishermen of Galilee is still calling men to his service. And he is just as willing to manifest his power through us as through the first disciples. However imperfect and sinful we may be, the Lord holds out to us the offer of partnership with himself, of apprenticeship to Christ. He invites us to come under the divine instruction, that, uniting with Christ, we may work the works of God.
"We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves." 2 Cor. 4:7, R. V. This is why the preaching of the gospel was committed to erring men rather than to the angels. It is manifest that the power which works through the weakness of humanity, is the power of God; and thus we are encouraged to believe that the power which can help others as weak as ourselves, can help us. And those who are themselves "compassed with infirmity," should be able to "have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way." Heb. 5:2. Having been in peril themselves, they are acquainted with the dangers and difficulties of the way, and for this reason are called to reach out for others in like peril. There are souls perplexed with doubt, burdened with infirmities, weak in faith, and unable to grasp the Unseen; but a friend whom they can see, coming to them in Christ's stead, can be a connecting link to fasten their trembling faith upon Christ.
We are to be laborers together with the heavenly angels in presenting Jesus to the world. With almost impatient eagerness the angels wait for our cooperation; for man must be the channel to communicate with man. And when we give ourselves to Christ in wholehearted devotion, angels rejoice that they may speak through our voices to reveal God's love.-- "Desire of Ages." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #2)
This was written in May 1908, and addressed to "The Teachers in Council."
We are rapidly nearing the final crisis in this world's history, and it is important that we understand that the educational advantages offered by our schools are not to be such as are offered by the schools of the world. Neither are we to follow the routine of worldly schools. The instruction given in Seventh-day Adventist schools is to be such as to lead to the practise of true humility. In speech, in dress, in diet, and in the influence exerted, is to be seen the simplicity of true godliness.
Our teachers need to understand the work that is to be done in these last days. The education given, in our schools, in our churches, in our sanitariums, should present clearly the great work to be accomplished. The need of weeding from the life every worldly practise that is opposed to the teachings of the Word of God, and of supplying their place with deeds that bear the mark of the divine nature, should be made clear to the students of all grades. Our work of education is ever to bear the impress of the heavenly, and thus reveal the excellency of divine instruction above that of the learning of the world.
To some this work of entire transformation may seem impossible. But if this were so, why go to the expense of attempting to carry on a work of Christian education at all? Our knowledge of what true education means is to lead us ever to seek for strict purity of character. In all our association together we are to bear in mind that we are fitting for transfer to another world; the principles of heaven are to be learned; the superiority of the future life to this, impressed upon the mind of every learner.. Teachers who fail to bring this into their work of education, fail of having a part in the great work of developing character that can meet the approval of God.
The last work of the prophet Elijah was to visit all the schools of the prophets in Israel, and to give the students divine instruction. This he did, and then ascended to the heavenly courts in a chariot of fire. As the world in this age comes more and more under the influence of Satan, the true children of God will desire more and more to be taught of him. Teachers should be employed who will give a heavenly mold to the characters of the youth. Under the influence of such teachers, foolish and unessential practises will be exchanged for habits and practises befitting the sons and daughters of God.
As wickedness in the world becomes more pronounced, and the teachings of evil are more fully developed and widely accepted, the teachings of Christ are to stand forth exemplified in the lives of converted men and women. Angels are waiting to cooperate in every department of the work. This has been presented to me again and again. At this time, the people of God, the truly converted men and women, under the training of faithful teachers, are to be learning the lessons that the God of heaven values.
The most important work for our educational institutions to do at this time is to set before the world an example that will honor God. Holy angels through human agencies are to supervise the work and every department is to bear the mark of divine excellence. Let the Word of God be made the chief book of study, that the students may learn to live by every word that Christ has given.
All our health institutions, all our publishing houses, and all our institutions of learning are to be conducted more and more like the divine model that has been given. When Christ is recognized as the head of all our working forces, more and more thoroughly will our institutions be cleansed from every common, worldly practise. The show and the pretense and many of the exhibitions that in the past have had a place in our schools will find no place there when teachers and students seek to carry out God's will on earth as it is done in heaven. Christ, as the chief working agency, will mold and fashion characters after the divine order; and teachers and students, realizing that they are preparing for the higher school in the courts of God, will put away many things that are now thought to be necessary, and will magnify and follow the methods of Christ.
Into all to which the Christian sets his hand should be woven the thought of the life eternal. If the work performed is agricultural or mechanical in its nature, it may still be after the pattern of the heavenly. It is the privilege of the preceptors and teachers of our schools to reveal in all their works the leading of the Spirit of God. Through the grace of Christ every provision has been made for the perfecting of Christlike characters, and God is honored when his people in all their social and business dealings reveal the principles of heaven.
The Lord gave an important lesson to his people in all ages when to Moses on the mount he gave instruction regarding the building of the tabernacle. In that work he required perfection in every detail. Moses was proficient in all the learning of the Egyptians; he had a knowledge of God, and God's purposes had been revealed to him in visions; but he did not know how to engrave and embroider.
Israel had been held all their days in the bondage of Egypt, and although there were ingenious men among them, they had not been instructed in the curious arts which were called for in the building of the tabernacle. They knew how to make bricks, but they did not understand how to work in gold and silver. How was the work to be done? Who was sufficient for these things? These were questions that troubled the mind of Moses.
Then God himself explained how the work was to be accomplished. He signified by name the persons he desired to do a certain work. Bezaleel was to be the architect. This man belonged to the tribe of Judah,--a tribe that God delighted to honor.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
"And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise-hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee. The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle, and the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot, and the cloths of service, and the holy garments of Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office, and the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do."
The Lord demands uprightness in the smallest as well as the largest matters. Those who are accepted at last as members of the heavenly court will be men and women who here on earth have sought to carry out the Lord's will in every particular, who have sought to put the impress of heaven upon their earthly labors. In order that the earthly tabernacle might represent the heavenly, it must be perfect in all its parts, and it must be, in the smallest detail, like the pattern in the heavens. So it is with the characters of those who are finally accepted in the sight of Heaven.
The Son of God came down to earth that in him men and women might have a representation of the perfect characters which alone God could accept. Through the grace of Christ every provision has been made for the salvation of the human family. It is possible for every transaction entered into by those who claim to be Christians to be as pure as were the deeds of Christ. And the soul who accepts the virtues of Christ's character, and appropriates the merits of his life, is as precious in the sight of God as was his own beloved Son. Sincere and uncorrupted faith are to him as gold and frankincense and myrrh, and gifts of the wise men to the Child of Bethlehem, and the evidence of their faith in him as the promised Messiah. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #3)
I am instructed to bear a message to all who are interested in the proclamation of the truth for these last days. To us has been entrusted enlightening, saving truth, and all about us are multitudes who have never yet been enlightened. To these we must proclaim the lifesaving truths of the third angel's message. We are to hunt for souls, laboring with all diligence to communicate to others that which is for their eternal welfare.
The unwarned multitudes are fast becoming the sport of the evil one. Satan is leading men and women into many forms of folly and self-pleasing. Many are seeking for that which is novel and startling; their minds are far from God and the truths of his Word. At this time, when the enemy is working as never before to engross the minds of men and women, we should be laboring with increasing activity in the highways and in the byways. With diligent, disinterested effort we are to proclaim the last message of mercy in the cities--the highways; and the work is not to end there, but is to extend into the surrounding settlements and in the country districts,--into the byways and the hedges.
All classes are to be reached. As we labor, we shall meet with different nationalities. None are to be passed by unwarned. Jesus is the gift of God to the entire world, not to the higher classes alone, and not to any one nation, to the exclusion of others. His saving grace encircles the world. Whosoever will may drink of the water of life freely.
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." In every place the gospel invitation is to be given; for "how . . . shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"
The Lord is speaking to his people at this time, saying, Gain an entrance into the cities, and proclaim the truth in simplicity and in faith. The Holy Spirit will work through your efforts to impress hearts. Introduce no strange doctrine into your message, but speak the simple words of the gospel of Christ, which young and old can understand. The unlearned as well as the educated are to comprehend the truths of the third angel's message, and they must be taught in simplicity. If you would approach the people acceptably, humble your hearts before God, and learn his ways.
We shall gain much instruction for our work from a study of Christ's methods of labor and his manner of meeting the people. In the gospel story we have the record of how he worked for all classes, and of how as he labored in cities and towns, thousands were drawn to his side to hear his teaching. The words of the Master were clear and distinct, and were spoken in sympathy and tenderness. They carried with them the assurance that here was truth. It was the simplicity and earnestness with which Christ labored and spoke that drew so many to him.
The Great Teacher laid plans for his work. Study these plans. We find him traveling from place to place, followed by crowds of eager listeners. When he could, he would lead them away from the crowded cities, to the quiet of the country. Here he would pray with them, and talk to them of eternal truths.
The sympathy that Christ ever expressed for the physical needs of his hearers won from many a response to the truths he sought to teach. Was not the gospel message of deepest importance to that company of five thousand people who for hours had followed him and hung upon his words? Many had never before heard truths such as they listened to on that occasion. Yet Christ's desire to teach them spiritual truths did not make him indifferent to their physical needs. Weary mothers were in that company who, with their children, had followed him through the day. Christ understood the situation, and he was "moved with compassion" toward them.
"When the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were all filled."
Then he said to the disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten."
In this command there was a lesson for every soul in that large company. It was a lesson that should be stamped upon the minds of old and young, the learned and the unlearned. It should be valued by parents, and its instruction carried into the home. That little morsel of food, with Christ's blessing upon it, multiplied in the hands of the disciples, until that which remained after all were satisfied, was greater than the original supply.
This should be a great encouragement to Christ's disciples today. Christ is the great center, the source of all strength. His disciples are to receive their supplies from him. The most intelligent, the most spiritual minded, can bestow only as they receive. Of themselves they can bestow nothing for the need of the soul. We can impart only that which we receive from Christ; and we can receive only as we impart to others. As we continue imparting, we continue to receive; and the more we impart, the more we shall receive. Thus we may be constantly believing, trusting, receiving, and imparting.
Heavenly agencies will cooperate with all who will follow on to know the Lord, working for the extension of Christ's kingdom. Then let the words spoken be earnest and intelligent, revealing the sanctifying power of the Spirit of truth. The humblest worker, if his heart is imbued with the spirit of Christ, can win souls to him; for with such a worker the angels of God can cooperate, speaking to the soul, and opening heart and mind to receive the truth. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #4)
I have been instructed that in the work of proclaiming the third angel's message, limitations are being placed to its advancement, and this is dishonoring to God. The message of the third angel is a worldwide message; it is to go to foreign lands; it is to be preached in the home country. In our large cities, in the small towns, in the villages, in the byways and the highways, earnest efforts are to be made to give to men and women the light. All around us are people who have not been warned of the nearness of the end, places in which no effort has been made to bring to men the light of present truth. Great is the need that all who have a knowledge of this truth shall be encouraged to grasp every opportunity to labor for the enlightenment of others.
In visions of the night I was shown the difficulties that must be met in the work of warning the people in the cities; but in spite of difficulties and discouragement, efforts should be made to preach the truth to all classes. There are some who advise that our efforts begin with the abandoned classes; but this is not the wisest course. It is true that some souls would be reached by this plan; but if our workers should begin their labors in the cities with this class, they would surely be cut off from the broad work that should be done. Rather let us devise means whereby we may reach the very best class of people; then our work for the abandoned classes will follow. Physicians can do a good work in devising plans for the working out of this problem.
Wise teachers--men and women who are apt in teaching the truths of the Word--are needed in our cities. Let these present the truth in all its sacred dignity, and with sanctified simplicity. And this is a work in which many can fit themselves to have a part. Let all our people, young and old and the middle-aged, ministers and lay members, cherish the impressions made by the Holy Spirit upon their hearts, and they will be quick to grasp opportunities for obtaining an experience in the work of making known to others the truths of the Word.
A mere head knowledge will not suffice to win men and women to Christ. Head and heart must be enlisted if believers would do effectual work for God. The souls of those who listen are to be touched with the converting power of God; therefore it is essential that the hearts of those who teach shall be touched with divine power as they present the lessons of the Word.
As I consider the conditions in the cities that are so manifestly under the power of Satan, I ask myself the question, What will be the end of these things? The wickedness in many cities is increasing. Crime and iniquity are at work on every hand. New species of idolatry are continually being introduced into society. In every nation the minds of men are turning to the invention of some new thing. Rashness of deed and confusion of mind are everywhere increasing. Surely the cities of the earth are becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah.
As a people we need to hasten the work in the cities, which has been hindered for lack of workers and means and a spirit of consecration. At this time, the people of God need to turn their hearts fully to him; for the end of all things is at hand. They need to humble their minds, and to be attentive to the will of the Lord, working with earnest desire to do that which God has shown must be done to warn the cities of their impending doom.
Of great importance to the church is the history of Elijah. Elijah was not called from a high station in life or from a city of renown to take his place in the work of God. He was born among the mountains of Gilead, on the other side of the Jordan, and came from among a nation that was overspread with the idolatry and the abominations of the Amorites.
Elijah entered upon his work with the word of faith and power upon his lips. Here surely was the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Ever since the death of Solomon the evil of idolatry had been coming in among the Israelites, and now the tide of corruption threatened to overthrow the land like a flood. It seemed that no barrier could prevail against its ruinous influence or prevent the torrent of idolatry and general corruption from sweeping everything before it.
The labors of the prophet were not easy. His whole life was devoted to the work of reform. His was a voice crying in the wilderness to rebuke sin and press back the tide of evil. He presented his message as a converting power to all who would receive it. And while he came to the people as a reprover of sin, his message offered the balm of Gilead for the sin-sick souls of all who would be healed.
The Lord desires his people to arise and do their appointed work. The responsibility of warning the world rests not upon the ministry alone. The lay members of the church are to share in the work of soul-saving. By means of missionary visits and by a wise distribution of our literature, many who have never been warned, may be reached. Let companies be organized to search for souls. Let the church members visit their neighbors and open to them the Scriptures. Some may be set to work in the hedges, and thus, by wise planning, the truth may be preached in all districts. With perseverance in this work, increasing aptitude for it will come, and many will see fruit of their labors in the salvation of souls. These converted ones will, in turn, teach others. Thus the seed will be sown in many places, and the truth be proclaimed to all.
The Lord now calls upon those who have a knowledge of the truth for this time, to arouse from their lethargy, and become true missionaries in his service.
Time is short, and the Lord's work must be done without further delay. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #5)
Recently there have been repeatedly given to me messages of warning and instruction to parents, pointing out the need of diligent effort, and of seeking the Lord with close searching of heart and with earnestness of purpose. God desires us as a people to stand in a position where we shall honor him; and we can do this only as we humble our hearts before God, bringing ourselves and our families into right relation to him. We are safe only when we stand under the broad shield of Omnipotence. Only there can God work through us to will and to do of his good pleasure, as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
The Lord desires to see both the youth and those older brought into a sacred nearness to himself. Christ is not here in person, as in the days of his earthly ministry, to teach the youth; but it is the privilege of parents and teachers so to represent Christ in word and character that the light of heaven will shine into the hearts of the youth, and many will be converted to Christ.
Parents have a great and important work before them. With an eye single to the glory of God, they must work to fashion the characters of their children after the perfect pattern. Who is this pattern?--It is the Son of God. Christ came to this world as a human being, that he might by his example teach men and women how to bring their lives into conformity to the will of God. He speaks to fathers and mothers, saying, "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Christ is to be the teacher of those who must train the youth. The law of the Lord is to be their rule of life, for this law is to be written on the hearts of the youth, or they will never obey the truth of God's word. All the will must be yielded to God; he demands entire obedience. If the youth will learn of him, Christ will impart to them the knowledge and wisdom needed to serve him acceptably.
Fathers and mothers, how can I find words to describe your great responsibility! By the character you reveal before your children you are educating them to serve God or to serve self. Then offer to heaven your earnest prayers for the aid of the Holy Spirit, that your hearts may be sanctified, and that the course you pursue may honor God and win your children to Christ. It should give to parents a sense of the solemnity and sacredness of their task, when they realize that by careless speech or action they may lead their children astray.
Parents need the guardianship of God and his Word. If they do not heed the counsels of the Word of God, if they do not make the Bible the man of their counsel, the rule of their life, their children will grow careless and will walk in paths of disobedience and unbelief. Christ lived a life of toil and self-denial, and died a death of shame, that he might give an example of the spirit that should inspire and control his followers. As in their home life parents strive to be Christlike, heavenly influences will be shed abroad in the lives of their family.
In every Christian home God should be honored by the morning and evening sacrifices of praise and prayer. Every morning and evening earnest prayers should ascend to God for his blessing and guidance. Will the Lord of heaven pass by such homes, and leave no blessing there?--Nay, verily. Angels hear the offering of praise and the prayer of faith, and they bear the petitions to him who ministers in the sanctuary for his people, and pleads his merits in their behalf. True prayer takes hold upon Omnipotence, and gives men the victory. Upon his knees the Christian obtains strength to resist temptation.
In ancient times the patriarch Abraham was chosen by God to be his representative in a distant land. But Abraham was also a home missionary, and in the home life he was true to his trust. God chose Abraham to be a teacher of his word. He chose him to be the father of a great nation because he saw that Abraham would instruct his children and his household in the principles of the law. And that which gave power to Abraham's teaching was the influence of his daily life. His great household consisted of more than a thousand souls, many of them heads of families, and not a few but newly converted from heathenism. Such a family required a firm hand at the helm. No weak, vacillating methods would suffice. Yet Abraham's authority was exercised with such wisdom and tenderness that hearts were own.
God declared, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." There would be no betraying of sacred trust on the part of Abraham. He realized that he was answerable to the Lawgiver, and he was determined to walk in the way of the Lord and to command his children after him. And he who blesses the habitation of the righteous, blessed Abraham, saying, "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; . . . and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."
Those who are engaged in the work of the gospel need the help that the members of their family can give in the work of character building. Courage and strength will come to the hearts of the workers when there is a united effort on the part of the family to keep heaven always in view, and to work intelligently for God. Faith enlightens the mind. As ministers and people become laborers together with God for the salvation of their families, the power of truth will be revealed in their labors. Their teaching and their deportment will show that they themselves are being sanctified through the truth.
As laborers together with God, parents, you are to carry out his plans for your children. This will call for continual watchcare, unceasing effort; for the enemy of souls is on the alert to lead them astray. So long as you live, your responsibility for them will not end. Your interest in their spiritual welfare must be deep and constant. But by your ministry for them, in cooperation with the Spirit of God, they may be led to see God's purpose for them, and to accept his will for the disposition of their lives. Who can estimate the value of faithful work in the home? In the midst of difficulties and unceasing care, it is the privilege of parents to look forward to the joys of eternity, and by the eye of faith behold the reward of the faithful.
Until every member of your family is united with you in the faith, do not feel that you can relax your efforts. Through the pleasures and ambitions of the world, the enemy is working to draw the youth into his ranks, and he has much success. As we approach nearer to the close of time, he will invent every possible attraction to draw their minds into worldly channels. At this time we need a pure and undefiled religion. And if parents will make the training of their children their chief work, God will give them increased ability.
There were mothers in Judea who heard of Christ's ministry for all who came to him, and they determined to go to him and ask him to bless their children. They were helpless and needy. Would not the great Teacher help them as he had helped others? Gathering their children together, they took their way to the place where he was preaching. As they went, other mothers with their children joined the company.
When they reached the place where Jesus was, they found him surrounded by a company of men and women, all desirous that he minister to them. The mothers pressed nearer to the Saviour, but the disciples, seeing them, rebuked them. But Jesus heard them, and he said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God." Then, taking the children in his arms, he blessed them, speaking to them words that their young minds could comprehend. Thus he comforted the hearts of these earnest mothers.
When we welcome the spirit of Christ into our hearts, he gives his grace in large measure. When we reach out for him, he reaches out for us. Never does he refuse the hand that is stretched out for aid.
God calls us to come out from the world and be separate. "Ye can not serve God and mammon," Christ declared. If we are indulging habits that unfit us for a place in the kingdom of heaven, let us in Christ's strength overcome these habits. By our example of surrender to the will of God, we are to teach our children that if they would inherit eternal life, they must consecrate their lives to him. If we share the joys of the redeemed in the future life, we must give no place in this life to foolishness and pride and vanity. We are to be overcomers over everything that wars against the principles of the kingdom of God. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #6)
We need to seek for a true understanding of how to train our children for the future life. At this time when wickedness is constantly increasing, we can not afford to be careless or negligent. Our children are God's property. Shall we let them depart from the paths of righteousness, and make no effort to save them? They have eternal life to win; eternal death to shun; and it is ours to help them to choose the good and resist the evil. When they learn to welcome the spirit of Christ into their hearts, the salvation of God will be seen in their lives.
It is sometimes essential to correct children; when this is necessary, do it in love. Show them that you punish them, not because you like to, but because you fear not to do so, lest they continue to cherish evils in their lives. Parents and children need the softening, subduing influence of the Holy Spirit of God. Often we do more to provoke than to win. Let your methods be of a character that they will create love. Love begets love. Do not scold. This will work counter to the results which God desires to see accomplished. An exhibition of passion on your part will never cure your child's evil temper. Talk kindly with the children. Pray with them, and teach them how to pray for themselves. They will not forget these experiences, and the blessing of God will rest upon such instruction, leading the hearts of the children to Christ. The Lord wants you to lay hold of eternal things, and to have an experience in Christian development that will be marked by those with whom you associate. It is your privilege to give to the world a representation of the transforming grace of Christ that will cause them to wonder.
When children realize that their parents are trying to help them, they will bend their energies in the right direction. And to the children who have right instruction in the home, the advantages of our schools will be greater than to those who are allowed to grow up without spiritual help at home.
Do not be turned away from your God-given work by the fleeting and unsatisfying pleasures that the world can offer. Parents have no time to spend in parties of pleasure while their children are left to the temptations of the enemy. Say to those who invite you to join them in worldly pleasure, God has given me the work of training my children for eternity. I want them to stand by my side to help me, and I want to help them to accomplish all that they are capable of accomplishing through faith in Christ and his Word. I want to take my children with me to the city of God, to be crowned with immortal life. I want them to sing his praises in the earth made new. I can not serve the world and accomplish this work.
Do not neglect your children for visitors. Your children should not be left to themselves because company has come to your home. Let your friends understand that your first attention belongs to your children, and that you can not engage in pleasures that will divert your mind from the interest you should exercise in their behalf. You can not afford to let any time pass unimproved. You can not afford to let your children go hither and thither without guardianship or control. The solemn work given to you to do can be neglected only at eternal loss, but the reward for faithful effort is greater than human minds can compute. In winning heaven your children win an inheritance whose value is above that of any earthly possession. Great will be your satisfaction and reward in the future life when you see your children enjoying eternal pleasures, which might have been denied them, had you by the indulgence of self in this life withheld the advantages to be gained by an education in right principles and practise.
Do not spend your time in chatting on the trifling subjects of dress and fashion. Talk of the heavenly dress, the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness, which all must wear who stand in confidence before the throne of God. Talk to your friends of the truth and the requirements of God's Word. As you make use of the knowledge you have, God will give you increased light.
There are neighbors whom you should labor for. Go to them in the Spirit of Christ, and seek to instruct them in Bible truth. As you have opportunity, read to them the promises of God, and the inducements he holds out to those who follow on to know the Lord. Engage with them in prayer, if they are willing. By such profitable association with your neighbors you will be doing the work of God and laboring in Christ's lines.
We are facing events that closely precede the coming of the Lord. At this time it behooves us to be faithful, to guard well our words and actions. Let us not trifle with eternal realities. Those who would be prepared for the coming of Christ must make diligent work for eternity. They have no time to lose; for the end of all things is at hand. Let heart and mind be sanctified by the truths of the Word. Give evidence that you are preparing for the solemn events of eternity.
Will fathers and mothers work wisely for their children, helping them to form righteous characters? You with your children are to prepare to graduate to the higher grades of the school above. Then educate yourselves daily away from every tendency and practise that would unfit you to pass the test of the great examination day. Let it be seen by those with whom you associate that Christ is your pattern in all things.
Let the instruction you give your children be simple, and be sure that it is clearly understood. The lessons that you learn from the Word you are to present to their young minds so plainly that they will understand. By simple lessons drawn from the Word of God and their own experience you may teach them how to conform their lives to the highest standard. They may learn, even in childhood and youth, to live thoughtful, earnest lives, that will yield a rich harvest of good.
As united rulers of the home kingdom, let the father and the mother show kindness and courtesy to each other. Never should their deportment militate against the precepts they seek to inculcate. Parents, be in earnest in seeking to perfect in your children true wisdom,--the wisdom of righteousness. If you would do this, you must set them an example worthy of imitation. Should you be remiss in this respect, and your children fail in meeting the standard of the Word of God, what will you answer when they stand before the bar of heaven as witness to your neglect? How terrible will be your realization of loss and failure as you face the Judge of all the earth with the fruits of your unfaithfulness before you!
I can not find words to describe to you the scenes of the judgment. I can not represent to you how terrible in that day will be the disappointment of those who in this life have chosen to follow their own will instead of the will and way of God. The low standard of the world is not Christ's standard. The world's measurement of righteousness is not his measurement. Those only who in their probationary time use their capabilities to honor and glorify God will hear from his lips the benediction and welcome: "Well done, good and faithful servant: . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
To every father and mother God has given a work in soul-saving that they can not throw upon others. In this work it is their privilege to draw from the Word of God instruction that will give help in every time of need. For all who make it their lifework to seek for the righteousness of Christ there awaits a welcome to the city of God, where they may join the song of triumph and praise, that the battle of life is over. O that we might as a people appreciate more fully the Word which teaches us the way of this wonderful salvation! Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #7)
"I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord." "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart."
From the beginning it has been Satan's studied plan to cause men to forget God, that he might secure them to himself. Therefore he has sought to misrepresent the character of God, to lead men to cherish a false conception of him. The Creator has been presented to their minds as clothed with the attributes of the prince of evil himself,--as arbitrary, severe, and unforgiving,--that he might be feared, shunned, and even hated by men. Satan has striven so to confuse the minds of those whom he has deceived that they would put God out of their thoughts. He would then obliterate the divine image in man, and impress upon the soul his own likeness; he would imbue men with his own spirit, and make them captives according to his will.
At times, Satan's contest for the control of the human family has appeared to be crowned with success. During the ages preceding the first advent of Christ, the world seemed to be almost wholly under the sway of the prince of darkness. Even the covenant people, whom God had chosen to preserve in the world the knowledge of himself, had so far departed from him that they had lost all true conception of his character.
Christ came to reveal God to the world as a God of love, a God of mercy, tenderness, and compassion. By the world's Redeemer the thick darkness with which Satan had enshrouded the throne of the Deity was swept away, and the Father was again manifest to men as the Light of life.
It was the pitiable condition of the fallen race that led Christ to give his life for their redemption. And what a life of humiliation and suffering was his! Not in his glory, heralded by the heavenly host, did he come to this world. Born of humble parentage, and brought up in obscurity at Nazareth, a small town of Galilee, he began his work in poverty and without worldly rank. That he might stand at the head of humanity, he took upon himself our nature. With his human arm he encircled the human race, while with his divine arm he grasped the throne of the Infinite.
Christ is saddened by the sight of men so absorbed in worldly cares and business perplexities that they have no time to become acquainted with God. To them heaven is a strange place; for they have lost it out of their reckoning. Not familiar with heavenly things, they tire of hearing about them. They dislike to have their minds disturbed in regard to their need of salvation. But the Lord desires to disturb their minds, that they may become acquainted with him, in time to accept his offer of salvation. Soon, very soon, whether they desire it or not, they will all know him. The angel of mercy is now folding her wings, almost ready to depart.
To eclipse the beauty and loveliness of the Prince of Light, Satan seeks to engross the minds of men with exciting games and other worldly pleasures. He endeavors so to occupy the attention with trivialities that no time will be taken to think of Jesus. Even after the most solemn presentation of the Word of God, the enemy will, if possible, destroy the impressions made by the Holy Spirit.
In the books of heaven are accurately recorded the sneers and the trivial remarks of sinners who pay no heed to the call of mercy made, as Christ is presented to them by his ministering servants. As the artist takes on the polished glass a true picture of the human face, so the angels of God daily place upon the books of heaven an exact representation of the character of every human being.
Dear reader, are you of the number who slight the instruction and warnings of the Word of God? Do you despise the great salvation proffered you? Are you willing that God and the Saviour who died for you shall say: "Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices."
The Lord is coming. If he were to come today, would you be ready to meet him? Have you made your peace with him? Do you desire to be sent away from God's presence to share in the humiliation and punishment of Satan and his angels? If, during your lifetime you rob God of the service that he has purchased with his own blood, if you spend your time in idle talk and foolish amusement, you will lose heaven. Can you afford to barter away for worldly pleasure the gift of eternal life?
My brother, my sister, today the Spirit invites you to come to Jesus. "Look unto me, and be ye saved," is God's gracious invitation. Will you not choose life, eternal life?
Those who are saved must follow the same road over which Christ journeyed. He says, "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." The character is to be formed according to the Christlikeness.
In the Word the Saviour is revealed in all his loveliness. In the Bible, filled with assurances of what God will do for those who come into right relation to him, there are comfort and consolation for every soul. How can any one, with the privilege of studying the Scriptures, lose his interest in heavenly things, and find pleasure in the amusements and enchantments of this world?
We are to commune with the One who gives us life, the One who keeps the heart in motion and the pulse beating. To every member of his great family here below God is ever giving the breath of life. And he has given his Son as a propitiation for sin, in order that we might stand on vantage ground with God. He deserves our sincere reverence, our earnest devotion. When we consider what he had done for us, how can we help loving him?
To every sinner with whom we come in contact we are to tell what infinite pains Heaven has taken to enable us to attain to a knowledge of God. We are to show that we are amenable to the One higher than any human being; that to God we must render an account for the deeds done in the body; that, notwithstanding his great love for us, he can not take us to heaven as unrepentant sinners.
The day will come when the awful denunciation of God's wrath will be uttered against those who have persisted in their disloyalty to him. The day will come when he must speak and do terrible things in righteousness against the transgressors of his law. But you need not be among those who will come under his wrath. We are living in the day of his salvation. The light from the cross of Calvary is shining forth in clear, bright rays, revealing Jesus, our sacrifice for sin. "We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins."
God desires to restore his image in you. Believe that he is your Helper. Resolve to become acquainted with him. As you draw nigh to him with confession and repentance, he will draw nigh to you with mercy and forgiveness. As you work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, he "worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #9)
For each one of us there is a live, disordered self to master, or it will master us. Christians who live for self dishonor their Redeemer. They may apparently be very active in the service of the Lord, but they weave self into all that they do. Sowing the seed of selfishness, they must at last reap a harvest of corruption. It can not but be thus. Eternal life can not possibly be the result of their lifework, unless they see their mistake, and surrender all to God.
Service for self takes a variety of forms. Some of these forms seem harmless. Apparent goodness is regarded as genuine goodness. But they bring no glory to God. Christ says, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."
The Lord does not accept the service of those who live an inefficient, do-nothing-life. They exert an influence that leads away from Christ. Self-denial and nobility of purpose marked his life. From the beginning to the close of his earthly ministry he went about doing good. In his life no sin appeared. No selfishness marred word or act. "Which of you convinceth me of sin?" he asked the Pharisees, knowing that they could find nothing of which to accuse him. And at his trial, Pilate declared emphatically, "I find in him no fault at all."
Christ declares that as he lived, so we are to live. "Whosoever will come after me," he says, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." His footsteps lead along the pathway of sacrifice.
As we pass through life, there come to us many opportunities for service. All around us there are open doors for ministry. By the right use of the talent of speech, we may do much for the Master. Words are a power for good when they are weighted with the tenderness and sympathy of Christ. Money, influence, tact, time, and strength,--all these are gifts entrusted to us to make us more helpful to those around us, and more of an honor to our Creator.
Many feel that it would be a privilege to visit the scenes of Christ's life on earth, to walk where he trod, to look upon the lake where he loved to teach, and the valleys and hills where his eyes so often rested; but we need not go to Palestine in order to walk in the steps of Jesus. We shall find his footprints beside the sickbed, in the hovels of poverty, in the crowded alleys of the great city, and in every place where there are human hearts in need of consolation.
All may find something to do. "The poor always ye have with you," Jesus said, and none need feel that there is no place where they can labor for him. Millions upon millions of souls ready to perish, bound in chains of ignorance and sin, have never so much as heard of Christ's love for them. Were our conditions and theirs reversed, what would we desire them to do for us? All this, as far as lies in our power, we are under the most solemn obligation to do for them. Christ's rule of life, by which every one must stand or fall in the judgment, is, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them."
"If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?" In the great judgment day, those who have not worked for Christ, who have drifted along thinking of themselves, caring for themselves, will be placed by the Judge of the whole earth with those who did evil. They will receive the same condemnation.
To every soul a trust is given. Of every one the Chief Shepherd will demand, "Where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?" And "what wilt thou say when he shall punish thee?" Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #10)
Not without a purpose does God send trial to his children. He never leads them otherwise than they would choose to be led if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling, as workers together with him. He subjects them to discipline to humble them, to lead them, through trial and affliction, to see their weakness and draw near to him. As they cry to him for help, he responds, saying, "Here am I." He is not regardless of the entreaties of his children. He bears long with their impenitence, and when they turn to him, he receives them graciously.
Of the trial of faith Peter writes: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." And James says, "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
Christians are Christ's jewels. They are to shine brightly for him, shedding forth the light of his loveliness. Their luster depends on the polishing they receive. They may choose to be polished or to remain unpolished. But every one who is pronounced worthy of a place in the Lord's temple must submit to the polishing process. Without the polishing that the Lord gives, they can reflect no more light than a common pebble.
Christ says to man, You are mine. I have bought you. You are now only a rough stone; but if you will place yourself in my hands, I will polish you, and the luster with which you shall shine will bring honor to my name. No man shall pluck you out of my hand. I will make you my peculiar treasure. On my coronation day, you will be a jewel in my crown of rejoicing.
The Divine Worker spends little time on worthless material. Only the precious jewels does he polish after the similitude of a palace, cutting away all rough edges. This process is severe and trying; it hurts human pride. Christ cuts deep into the experience that man in his self-sufficiency has regarded as complete, and takes away self-uplifting from the character. He cuts away the surplus surface, and putting the stone to the polishing wheel, presses it close that all roughness may be worn away. Then, holding the jewel up to the light, the Master sees in it a reflection of himself, and he pronounces it worthy of a place in his casket.
Blessed be the experience, however severe, that gives new value to the stone, causing it to shine with living brightness.
Christianity promises no exemption from sorrow. "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." Faith is needed, strong, trusting faith, which believes that God will bring his children into no temptation greater than they are able to bear. What such faith has power to do is told by Paul in his letter to the Hebrews. Speaking of those who, in the face of persecution and death, had maintained an unshaken trust in God, he says:-
"Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented."
In this world these heroes of faith were counted unworthy of life; but in heaven they are enrolled as sons of God, worthy of the highest honor. "They shall walk with me in white," Christ declares; "for they are worthy." In the courts of heaven there awaits them an "eternal weight of glory."
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."
When the redeemed stand in the presence of God, they will see how shortsighted were their conclusions as to what Heaven records as success. They will see how petty were their supposed trials, and how unreasonable were their doubts. They will see how often they brought failure to their work by failing to show unquestioning faith in God. From the lips of the angelic choir and the redeemed host will peal forth the chorus: "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #11)
Troublous times are right upon us. The fulfilling of the signs of the times gives evidence that the day of the Lord is near at hand. The daily papers are full of indications of a terrible conflict in the future. Bold robberies are of frequent occurrence. Strikes are common. Thefts and murders are committed on every hand. Men possessed of demons are taking the lives of men and women and little children. All these things testify that the coming of Christ is near at hand.
The doctrine that men are released from obedience to God's requirements has weakened the force of moral obligation, and opened the floodgates of iniquity upon the world. Lawlessness and dissipation and corruption are sweeping upon us like an overwhelming tide. In the family, Satan is at work. His banner waves even in professedly Christian households. There is envy, evil surmising, hypocrisy, strife, betrayal of sacred trusts, indulgence of lust. The whole system of religious principles and doctrines, which should form the foundation and framework of social life, seems to be a tottering mass, ready to fall to ruin.
Courts of justice are corrupt. Rulers are actuated by a desire for gain, and love of sensual pleasure. Intemperance has beclouded the faculties of many, so that Satan has almost complete control of them. Jurists are perverted, bribed, deluded. Drunkenness and revelry, passion, envy, dishonesty of every sort, are represented among those who administer the laws. "Justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity can not enter." Men are rushing on in the mad race for gain and selfish indulgence as if there were no God, no heaven, and no hereafter.
The Scriptures describe the condition of the world just before Christ's second coming. The apostle James pictures the greed and oppression that will prevail. He says: "Go to now, ye rich men, . . . ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton. Ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you." This is a picture of what exists today. Be every species of oppression and extortion, men are piling up colossal fortunes, while the cries of starving humanity are coming up before God.
In accidents and calamities by land and by sea, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes,--in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. The visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. "The earth mourneth and fadeth away, . . . the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant."
The crisis is stealing gradually upon us. The sun shines in the heavens, passing over its usual round, and the heavens still declare the glory of God. Men are still eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage. Merchants are still buying and selling. Men are jostling against one another, contending for the highest place. Pleasure lovers are still crowding to theaters, horseraces, gambling hells. The highest excitement prevails, yet probation's hour is fast closing, and every case is about to be eternally decided. Satan sees that his time is short. He has set all his agents to work, that men may be deceived, deluded, occupied, and entranced, until the day of probation shall be ended, and the door of mercy be forever shut. The time is right upon us when there will be sorrow that no human balm can heal. Sentinel angels are now restraining the four winds, that they shall not blow till the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads; but when God shall bid his angels loose the winds, there will be a scene of strife such as no pen can picture.
The "time of trouble, such as never was," is soon to open upon us; and we shall need an experience which many are too indolent to obtain. It is often the case that trouble is greater in anticipation than in reality, but this is not true of the crisis before us. The most vivid presentation can not reach the magnitude of the ordeal. In that trial every man must stand for himself before God. Though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in the land, "as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters;" "they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness."
Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of himself, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept his Father's commandments, and there was no sin in him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble.
"Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare his righteousness: for God is judge himself." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #12)
Let no Christian seek to excuse himself in sin on the ground that others who have claimed to follow Jesus have committed the same errors. Your sin is none the less heinous because others have been guilty; and your manifest duty is to confess your sin to Jesus Christ, your intercessor. Take the weight of your woe to no human being. You have one mediator, Jesus Christ the righteous. In contrition of soul go to him and tell all your sins. The promise is sure, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." John says: "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." "That ye sin not,"--here is where you bring yourself into condemnation when you continue to sin. But in the strength of Christ cease to sin. Every provision has been made that grace should abide with you, and that sin may appear to you the hateful thing it is. But if any man sin, he is not to give himself up to despair, and talk like a man who is lost to Christ. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
The temptations of the enemy will come; but shall we give him the advantage to break down all the barriers, by yielding one iota from the strictest principles of integrity? If we yield in the least, he will follow one temptation with another, until we shall go directly contrary to the plainest statements of the Word of God, and follow the mind and will of Satan. Satan and his confederacy of evil angels are ever on the alert to see by what means they may ensnare and ruin souls who have enlisted under the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel. You did run well for a season, you did taste and see that the Lord is good; but when you fell into sin, you walked in darkness. When you yielded to temptation, you must have ceased to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. But, having confessed your sins, believe that the word of God can not fail, but that he is faithful that hath promised. It is just as much your duty to believe that God will fulfil his word, and forgive your sins, as it is your duty to confess your sins. You must exercise faith in God as in one who will do exactly as he has promised in his Word, and pardon all your transgressions.
How may we know that the Lord is indeed our sin-pardoning Redeemer, and prove what is the blessedness, the grace, the love there is in him for us? O, we must believe his word implicitly, with contrite and submissive spirit! There is no need to go mourning and ever repenting, and under a cloud of continual condemnation. Believe the word of God, keep looking unto Jesus, dwelling upon his virtues and mercies, and there will be created in the heart an utter abhorrence of that which is evil. You will be among those who hunger and thirst after righteousness. But the more closely we discern Jesus, the more clearly we shall see our own defects of character. As we see our failings, let us confess them to Jesus, and, with true contrition of soul, cooperate with the divine power of the Holy Spirit to overcome all evil. If we confess our sins, we must believe that they are pardoned, because the promise is positive: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Let us no more dishonor God by doubting his pardoning love. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #13)
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you," Why is it that we do not take God at his word? Asking and receiving are closely linked together. If you ask in faith for the things that God has promised, you will receive. Look to Jesus for the things that you need. Ask him for forgiveness of sins, and as you ask in faith your heart will be softened, and you will forgive those who have injured you, and your petitions will go up to God fragrant with love. With praying comes watching unto prayer, and every thought and word and act will be in harmony with your earnest petition for reformation in life. The prayer of faith will bring corresponding returns. But a mere form of words, without earnest sincerity and fervent desire for help, with no expectation of receiving, will avail nothing. Let not such a petitioner think he shall receive anything of the Lord. Those who come to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
After asking the Lord for a knowledge of his will, for heavenly wisdom, for the light of the Holy Spirit, the petitioner will search the Scriptures, and find that passages that were dark to his mind have suddenly grown clear, and he understands his duty as never before. Jesus said: "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." The knowledge of divine truth is promised to those who will render obedience to the light and truth that have been given to them. An entrance into the strait gate is not dependent upon the possession of learning or riches, but it is dependent upon the possession of a teachable spirit. He who appreciates the first ray of heavenly light, and appropriates it, and walks in it, bringing his actions into harmony with that ray, and becoming sanctified through it, will receive yet more light. He will understand that the gospel is the plan of salvation.
Striving to enter in at the strait gate means that we give the subject of the future life our first attention. We are to cut away from every hindrance that would prevent our entering into the strait gate. Inclination to evil must be denied, habits and practises not in harmony with the Word of God must be overcome. We must examine the Scriptures, determined to know what is the truth; and whoever comes to the Bible with a humble, teachable spirit, whether he be rich or poor, honored or despised, shall know of the doctrine as he renders obedience to the rays of light that fall upon his pathway. He will not be left to be deceived by the delusions of the enemy, to be swayed hither and thither by the doctrines of devils.
"Strive to enter in at the strait gate." This means nothing else than to be one with Christ, to make him the sole object of attraction. He who thus strives to enter in at the strait gate will hear the voice of Jesus saying: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
He who would enter in at the strait gate can not expect the aid of the world in his necessities; for it is the world that has proved a snare to his soul, and has brought him into a position of hopelessness from which he needs to be rescued. But as he detaches his affections from the world, and accepts the life of self-denial and self-sacrifice that Jesus lived, giving him an example both by precept and performance, he enters in at the strait gate, to travel the narrow path which leads to the celestial city.
He who has an obedient heart, that is ready to do the will of God, will not only gladly receive truth, but will earnestly seek for truth as for hidden treasure. He will come to the Scriptures with a humble and teachable spirit, seeking to understand how he may walk in the light, and saying, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" He is ready to sacrifice anything and everything, if required, in order that he may be in harmony with the will of God. It is not always an easy matter to render obedience to the will of God. It demands firmness of purpose to enter in at the strait gate and to travel in the narrow path that leads to eternal life, for on every hand are voices inviting the soul into bye and forbidden paths. Those who love wealth and honor and high position, will not enter in at the strait gate unless they part with their idols. There is not room to enter in at the strait gate and carry the things of this world along. He who would enter in at the strait gate must make an entire consecration of his all to God. Jesus says, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
He who will follow Jesus through evil as well as good report, knows something of what is truth. He who will walk in the light as it comes, not waiting to have every mystery solved and every chance of doubt removed, will know of the doctrine, and will understand what are the advantages of entering in at the strait gate, and of walking in the narrow way. But he who would carry the world with him, will never enter in at the strait gate. There is no room for one to walk the narrow way and yet carry along evil surmisings, doubts, criticisms, jealousies, and unkindness. Such a one will refuse to enter in at the strait gate because he can not see the whole path to the paradise of God. He has many obstacles to present, many difficulties to bring to view, and Satan is ready to supply the soul with excuses for not entering in at the strait gate. Refusing to walk in the first rays of light, he fails to see the light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. If he would walk while he has the light, the path would be illuminated as he advanced, and all would be made plain. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #14)
Practical Christianity means laboring together with God every day; working for Christ, not now and then, but continuously. A neglect to reveal practical righteousness in our lives is a denial of our faith and of the power of God. God is seeking for a sanctified people, a people set apart for his service, a people who will heed and accept the invitation, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me."
How earnestly Christ prosecuted the work of our salvation! What devotion his life revealed, as he sought to give value to fallen man by imputing to every repenting, believing sinner the merits of his spotless righteousness! How untiringly he worked! In the temple and the synagogue, in the streets of the cities, in the marketplace, in the workshop, by the seaside, among the hills, he preached the gospel and healed the sick. He gave all there was of himself, that he might work out the plan of redeeming grace.
Christ was under no obligation to make this great sacrifice. Voluntarily he pledged himself to bear the punishment due to the transgressor of his law. His love was his only obligation, and without a murmur he endured every pang and welcomed every indignity that was part of the plan of salvation. The life of Christ was one of unselfish service, and his life is our lesson book. The work that he began we are to carry forward. With his life of toil and sacrifice before them, can those who profess his name hesitate to deny self, to lift the cross and follow him? He humbled himself to the lowest depths that we might be lifted to the heights of purity and holiness and completeness. He became poor that he might pour into our poverty stricken souls the fulness of his riches. He endured the cross of shame that he might give us peace and rest and joy, and make us partakers of the glories of his throne.
Should we not appreciate the privilege of working for him, and be eager to practise self-denial and self-sacrifice for his sake? Should we not give back to God all that he has redeemed, the affections he has purified, and the body that he has purchased, to be kept unto sanctification and holiness?
The apostle Paul had learned the meaning of true service when he wrote the words, "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."
In what sense was Paul debtor both to the Jew and to the Greek? To him, as to every disciple of Christ, had been given the commission, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." In accepting Christ, Paul accepted this commission. He realized that upon him rested the obligation of laboring for all classes of men,--for Jew and Gentile, for learned and unlearned, for those occupying high positions and for those in the most lowly walks of life. From a zealous persecutor of the followers of Christ, Paul became one of the Saviour's most devoted and effective workers. Suddenly arrested in his career of persecution, he was given a view of the Saviour, and a complete transformation took place in him. Henceforth his life was wholly devoted to the crucified One.
Paul's calling demanded from him service of varied kinds,--working with his hands to earn his living, traveling from place to place, establishing churches, writing letters to the churches already established. Yet in the midst of these varied labors, he declared, "This one thing I do." One thing he kept steadfastly before him in all his work,--to be faithful to Christ, who, when Paul was blaspheming his name and using every means in his power to make others blaspheme it, had revealed himself to him. The one great purpose of his life was to serve and honor him whose name had once filled him with contempt.
Paul's one desire was to win souls to the Saviour. Jew and Gentile might oppose him, but nothing could turn him from his purpose. Henceforth his testimony was, "Yea verily, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith."
Christian reader, let the great purpose that constrained Paul to press forward in the face of hardship and difficulty, lead you to consecrate yourself wholly to God's service. Whatever your hands find to do, do it with your might. Let your daily prayer be, "Lord, help me to do my best. Teach me how to do better work. Help me to bring into my service the loving ministry of the Saviour."
The responsibility of each human agent is measured by the gifts he holds in trust. All are to be workers; but upon the worker who has had the greatest opportunities, the greatest clearness of mind in understanding the Scriptures, rests the highest responsibility. Every receiver should hold himself accountable to God, and use his talents for God's glory.
Success in the work of God is not the result of chance, of accident, or of destiny; it is the outworking of God's providence, and the award of faith and discretion, of virtue and persevering labor. It is the practise of the truth that brings success and moral power. The bright rays of the Sun of Righteousness are to be welcomed as the light of the mind; the principles of the character of Christ are to be made the principles of the human character. All man's attainments, all his capabilities, are to be laid at the foot of the cross of Calvary. His own righteousness is to be surrendered. Counting all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord, with the meekness and humility of a little child, he is to receive the engrafted word, which is able to save the soul.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." This is the love that is the fulfilling of the law. He whose heart is filled with compassion for fallen man, who loves to a purpose, will reveal that love by the performance of Christlike deeds. True Christianity diffuses love through the whole being. It touches every vital part,--the brain, the heart, the helping hands, the feet,--enabling men to stand firmly where God requires them to stand, lest the lame be turned out of the way. The contemplation of him who loved us and gave himself for us, will make the life fragrant, and give power to perfect a Christian experience.
We can, we can reveal the likeness of our divine Lord. We can know the science of spiritual life. We can glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits, which are his. Christ has shown us what we may accomplish through cooperation with him. "Abide in me," he says, "and I in you." This union is deeper, stronger, truer, than any other. The heart must be filled with the grace of Christ. His will must control us, moving us, by his love, to suffer with those who suffer, to rejoice with those who rejoice, to feel a deep tenderness for every soul in weakness, sorrow, or distress.
If we are partakers of the divine nature, we shall reach forth a helping hand to those in need. Christ's heart was ever touched with pity at the sight of woe. He died on Calvary to lift from men the penalty of transgression. He came to our world to make it possible for sinful human beings to obtain salvation. He wept over the sorrow and suffering he saw on every hand. But he would not fail nor be discouraged. He must believe, and press forward, that a fallen race might gain eternal life.
Laborer for God, cease not to pray. If the answer tarry, wait for it. Lay all your plans at the feet of your Redeemer. Let importunate prayers ascend to God. If it be for his name's glory, the words will be spoken, Be it unto thee according to thy word.
"All things, whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." These words are a pledge that all that an omnipotent Saviour can bestow will be given to those who trust in him. As stewards of the grace of heaven, we are to ask in faith, and then wait trustingly for the salvation of God. We are not to step in before him, trying in our own strength to bring about that which we desire. In his name we are to ask, and then act as if we believed in his efficiency to send the answer. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #15)
With every age God's plan deepens and widens to embrace the world. God's instrumentalities, his lightbearers, are to adjust their movements to his progressive plans. They are to embrace new territory. The churches are to be wide-awake, moving with the force of Omnipotence because they move in harmony with God's purpose. A spirit of greater devotion must be shown by the churches. They must labor with greater zeal for the promulgation of the last message to be given to the world. They are to seize every opportunity for blessing a world in darkness.
Missions at home and missions abroad demand far greater consideration than has been given them. While the church, in comparison with the past years, has made some advance, yet in comparison with what she should be, in comparison with the great sacrifice made in Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary, she is far behind in the greatest work ever given to mortals.
Christ came to our world to teach us the importance of missionary effort. The world was his field of missionary toil. He came from heaven to take his position at the head of a fallen race. Humanity and divinity united in order that all might be done that was essential for the complete recovery of sinners. The reproach of indolence will never be wiped away from the church till every one who believes the truth is willing to labor as did the self-sacrificing Redeemer.
Christ's work is an example to all who go forth as missionaries. It is the model for all missionary endeavor. It calls for unreserved surrender, for the consecration of time and talents. It demands that we return to God the goods he has entrusted to us, with the interest that has come to us as we have traded upon them. All is to be put into the cause to advance the work Christ came into this world to do.
It is impossible for the man who believes in Christ to see the work that needs to be done, and yet do nothing. Daily we are to receive from heaven the healing balm of God's grace to impart to the needy and suffering. Christ's followers are to learn of the woes of the poor in their immediate vicinity, and seek to bring them relief. Those who have a dark and disagreeable life are the very ones whom we should bid to hope because Christ is their Saviour. Are there not those who can go from house to house, from family to family, and repeat the A B C of true Christian experience?
Let Christ be your text. In all your labor, let it appear that you know Jesus. Present his purity and saving grace, so that those for whom you labor may, by beholding, be changed into the divine image. The chain that is let down from the throne of God is long enough to reach to the lowest depths of sin. Hold up a sin-pardoning Saviour before the lost and lonely, for Jesus has made divine intercession in their behalf. He is able to lift them from the pit of sin, that they may be acknowledged as the children of God, heirs with Christ to an immortal inheritance. They may have the life that measures with the life of God.
If all would work in Christ's lines, much would be done to change the conditions that now exist among the poor and distressed. Pure and undefiled religion would shine forth as a bright light. It would induce its advocates to go forth into the highways and byways of life. It would lead them to help the suffering near by, and enable them to go forth into the wilderness to seek and to save the lost.
We need men who will become leaders in home and foreign missionary enterprises,--men whose sympathies are not congealed, but whose hearts go out to the perishing. The ice that surrounds souls needs to be melted, that every believer may realize that he is his brother's keeper. Then men and women will go forth to help their neighbors see the truth and serve God with acceptable service.
In helplessness and disappointment men and women are fighting the battles of life, and the Lord designs that as his sons and daughters we shall help one another. This is to be a part of our Christian experience. Who is your neighbor?--The one who most needs your help. Your brother, sick in spirit, needs the experience of one who has been as weak as himself, one who can sympathize with him and help him. Let it not be that the sympathetic chords, which should be quick to vibrate at the least touch, shall be unresponsive.
O, what treasures of wisdom are to be opened up for the view of the world! Every divine resource is placed at the disposal of man in order that he may become a colaborer with God. Nothing has been withheld. When God gave his only begotten Son to our world, he gave all the treasures of heaven. What power, what glory, was revealed in the life of Christ! In his name I ask, Why is it that with his power at their command, God's people do not awake to their duty? Why do they not do the work that the time demands, first giving themselves and then their talents of means and ability for the enlightenment and salvation of those who are in darkness?
The work is fast closing, and on every side wickedness is increasing. We have but a short time in which to labor. God is not willing that any should perish. He has provided abundant means for the salvation of all who accept him. The Lord pities that part of his vineyard which has not been worked. His heart of mercy is filled with compassion for the thousands who are in ignorance of the truth. He is sparing the world, that increased light may come to it. Why do not those to whom God has committed great light move out into new places? They will have to do this, whether they wish to or not; for God will scatter them into many places. If God's people had gone forth as they should, giving the invitation to others, many souls would have been added to the church.
The world is looking on with gratification at the disunion among Christians. Infidelity is well pleased. God calls for a change among his people. Agents of mercy are needed, not merely in a few places, but throughout the world. Men and women in this field should be preparing for service in distant lands. From every country is heard the cry, Come over and help us! Rich and poor are calling for light. Money and workers are needed.
We need to humble ourselves before God because so few of the members of his church are putting forth efforts that in any wise compare with the efforts that the Lord desires them to put forth. The privileges he has given them, the promises he has made, the advantages he has bestowed, should inspire them with far greater zeal and devotion.
We need the vitalizing power of his Spirit,--the strong cry of a church travailing to bring forth souls. There is need of more earnest wrestling with God for the impartation of his Holy Spirit. Eager, earnest, importunate prayer is needed. There is efficiency in prayer. In answer to fervent prayer, God can turn the thoughts and hearts of men as he turns the water of the sea.
God forbid that our churches and institutions shall be content to leave untouched the fields still unworked. The Saviour is saying to us, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." We are to teach them,--not merely to preach a discourse now and then, but teach them how to find the way to heaven.
In every age, but never so much as now, this has been the work of the church. Dare any one withhold a jot of the influence that should be exerted for the recovery of the souls that are out of Christ? Dare we work out our ambitious projects and satisfy our selfish desires, and then bring to God's altar the fraction that remains of our time and our means? Think you that God will accept such an offering? Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #16)
Our churches are often appealed to for gifts and offerings to aid missionary enterprises in the home field and to sustain the missionary work abroad. Let us not complain because we are often asked to give for the upbuilding of the cause. What is it that makes these frequent calls a necessity? Is it not the rapid increase of missionary enterprises? Shall we, by refusing to give, retard the growth of these enterprises? From every church, prayers should ascend to God for an increase of devotion and liberality. Those whose hearts are knit with the heart of Christ will be glad to do what they can to help the cause of God. They will rejoice in the continual expansion and advancement, which means larger and more frequently given offerings.
We may well feel that it is a privilege to be laborers together with God by giving of our means to set in operation that which will carry out his purposes in the world. All who possess the Spirit of Christ will have a tender, sympathetic heart, and an open, generous hand. Nothing can be really selfish that has Christ for its absorbing object. True faith works by love and purifies the soul. It is a holy faith, superior to sensual delight. It is a power enabling the soul to apply itself resolutely to irksome tasks and self-sacrifice for the Master's sake.
To us has been entrusted the work of proclaiming the last message of mercy to be given to our world,--the message that is to prepare a people to stand in the day of God. Do we realize our accountability? Are we acting our part in the proclamation of the message? The present time is burdened with eternal interests. We are to unfurl the standard of truth before a world perishing in error. God calls for men to rally under Christ's bloodstained banner, give the Bible to the people, multiply campmeetings in different localities, warn the cities, and send the warning far and near in highways and byways of the world.
However large the income of the possessions of any person, any family, or any institution, let all remember that they are only stewards, holding in trust the Lord's money. All profit, all pay, our time, our talents, our opportunities, are to be accounted for to Him who gives them all. The Lord is constantly proving us, to see if our work is free from selfishness and pride. Those workers will have the richest reward who prove that they love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves.
Consider the necessities of our mission fields throughout the world. Our missionaries labor hard and earnestly, but often they are greatly hindered in their work because the treasury is empty, and they can not be given facilities necessary for the greatest success of their labor.
May God help those who have been entrusted with this world's goods to awaken to his design and to their individual responsibilities. God says to them, I have put you in possession of my goods that you may trade upon them to carry forward the Christian missions that are to be established far and near. I have given you the benefits of accumulated knowledge. The advantages of the past and present are yours. The truth for this time must be carried to those who have never heard it. Not all can go as missionaries to foreign lands, but all can do the work waiting for them in their own neighborhood. All can give of their means for the carrying forward of foreign missionary work.
Many today are keeping back that which the Lord has entrusted to them for the carrying forward of his work. Year after year thousands pass into the grave unwarned and unsaved, while the talent of means is hidden in a napkin, buried in worldly enterprises. The guilt of thus hiding the Lord's money passes all computation. When I see persons spending money for needless trimmings and needless furnishings, I think of Jesus. He might have come to this earth adorned with the glory of kingly power. But he chose a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice. "If any man will come after me," said Christ, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Those who follow in his footsteps will remember that every dollar they can spare is needed in the work that God has said shall be done in the earth.
Be merciful, even as your Father in heaven is merciful. Think of the great gift God has made for you. Think of what he has done to secure your salvation. Your sinful condition demanded a sacrifice. In your spiritual destitution you had nothing to offer. But Christ came to the world, and on the cross offered himself as a sacrifice for you. Herein is love. God has given you a proof of his love that defies all computation. We have no line with which to measure it, no standard with which to compare it. God invites you to let your gratitude flow forth in gifts and offerings. He calls upon you to be his merciful helping hand. Can you refuse the request of One who has done so much for you?
(Vol. 89, #17)
Medical missionary work is the pioneer work of the gospel. It is the door through which the truth is to find entrance to many homes. A demonstration of the principles of health reform will do much toward removing prejudice against our evangelical work; and the Great Physician, the originator of medical missionary work, will bless all who thus seek to impart the truth for this time.
God's people are to be genuine medical missionaries, ministering to the needs of soul and body. It is their privilege to lead men and women to see in Christ the Great Physician, who understands their every need, and who, if they will come to him, will save to the uttermost. With the knowledge gained by practical work they are to go out to give treatments to the sick; and as they go from house to house, they will find access to many hearts. Many will be reached who otherwise would not have heard the gospel message.
Physical healing is bound up with the gospel commission. When Christ sent out his disciples on their first missionary journey, he said, "As ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." And when at the close of his earthly ministry he gave them their commission, he said, "These signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Of the disciples after Christ's ascension we read, "They went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following." Luke is called the "beloved physician." He labored in connection with Paul in Philippi; and when Paul left there, Luke stayed on, doing double service as a physician and a gospel minister. He was indeed a medical missionary. His medical skill opened the way for the gospel to reach many hearts.
The divine commission needs no reform. Christ's way of presenting truth can not be improved upon. The Saviour gave the disciples practical lessons, teaching them how to work in such a way as to make souls glad in the truth. He sympathized with the weary, the heavy laden, the oppressed. He fed the hungry and healed the sick. Constantly he went about doing good. By the good he accomplished, by his loving words and kindly deeds, he interpreted the gospel to men.
Brief as was the period of his public ministry, he accomplished the work he came to do. How impressive were the truths he taught, how complete his lifework! What spiritual food he daily imparted as he presented the bread of life to thousands of hungry souls. His life was a living ministry of the word. He promised nothing that he did not perform.
He presented the words of life in such simplicity that a child could understand them. Men, women, and children were so impressed with his manner of explaining the Scriptures that they would catch the very intonation of his voice, place the same emphasis on their words, and imitate his gestures. The youth caught his spirit of ministry, and sought to pattern after his gracious ways by seeking to assist those whom they saw in need of help.
Just as we trace the pathway of a stream of water by the line of living green it produces, so Christ could be seen in the deeds of mercy that marked his path at every step. Wherever he went, health sprang up, and happiness followed wherever he passed. The blind and deaf rejoiced in his presence. The face of Christ was the first that many eyes had ever looked upon; his words the first that had ever fallen upon their ears. These, restored, followed him. His words to the ignorant opened to them a fountain of life. He dispensed his blessings abundantly and continuously. They were the garnered treasures of eternity, the Lord's rich gift to man.
Christ's work in behalf of man is not finished. It continues today. In like manner his ambassadors are to preach the gospel, revealing his pitying love for lost and perishing souls. By an unselfish interest in those who need help they are to give a practical demonstration of the power of the gospel. Much more than mere sermonizing is included in the preaching of the gospel. The evangelization of the world is the work that God has given to those who go forth in his name. God calls for thousands to work for him, not by preaching to those who know the truth for this time, but by warning those who have never heard the last message of mercy. Let them work with a heart filled with an earnest longing for souls. Let them do medical missionary work. Thus they will gain access to the hearts of people, and the way will be prepared for a more decided proclamation of the truth.
Who are laborers together with Christ in this blessed medical missionary work? Who have learned the lessons of the Master, and know how to deal skilfully with souls for whom Christ has died? We need, O so much, physicians of the soul who have been educated in the school of Christ and who can work in Christ's lines. Our work is to gain a knowledge of him who is the way, the truth, and the life. We are to interest people in subjects that concern the health of the body as well as the health of the soul. Believers have a decided message to bear to prepare the way for the kingdom of God. The great questions of Bible truth are to enter into the very heart of society, to reform and convert men and women, bringing them to see the great need of preparing for the mansions that Christ is preparing for all that love him. When the Holy Spirit shall do its office work, hearts of stone will become hearts of flesh, and Satan will not work through them to counteract the work that Christ came to earth to do.
Henceforth medical missionary work should be carried forward with greater earnestness. Medical missions should be opened as pioneer agencies for the proclamation of the third angel's message. How great is the need of means to do this line of work! Gospel medical missions can not be established without financial aid. Every such enterprise calls for our sympathy and our means, that facilities may be provided to make the work successful.
A special work is to be done in places where people are constantly coming and going. Christ labored in Capernaum much of the time because this was a place through which travelers were constantly passing, and where many often tarried.
The Saviour sought the people where they were, and placed before them the great truths of his kingdom. As he went from place to place, he blessed and comforted the suffering, and healed the sick. This is our work. Small companies are to go forth to do the work to which Christ appointed his disciples. While laboring as evangelists, they can visit the sick, praying with them, and if need be, treating them, not with medicines, but with the remedies provided in nature.
There are many places that need gospel medical missionary work, and there small plants should be established. God designs that our sanitariums shall be the means of reaching high and low, rich and poor. They are to be so conducted that by their work attention shall be called to the message for these last days.
The tender sympathies of the Saviour went out for fallen, suffering humanity. Those who would be his followers must cultivate compassion and sympathy. Indifference to human woe must give place to lively interest in the suffering of others. The widow, the orphan, the sick, and the dying will always need help. Here is an opportunity to proclaim the gospel,--to hold up Jesus, the hope and consolation of all men. When the suffering body has been relieved, the heart is opened to receive the heavenly balm. Those with whom the Comforter dwells, who draws from him knowledge and strength and grace, will impart his consolation.
In both the home and the foreign field, prejudice, false zeal, and miscalled piety must be met; but there are also hearts that God has been preparing for the seeds of truth, and these will hail with joy the divine message when it is presented to them.
Many are suffering far more from maladies of the soul than from diseases of the body, and they will find no relief until they come to the wellspring of life. The burden of sin, with its unrest and unsatisfied desires, lies at the foundation of a large share of the maladies the sinner suffers. Christ is the mighty Healer of the sin-sick soul. These afflicted ones need to have a clearer knowledge of him whom to know aright is life eternal. They need to be patiently, kindly, and earnestly taught how to throw open the windows of the soul to the sunlight of God's love. Then complaints of weariness, loneliness, and dissatisfaction will cease. Satisfying joys will give vigor to the mind and health and vital energy to the body.
There is missionary work to be done in many unpromising places. Now is our time and opportunity to do this work. We have an important work to do, a work that will not wait, a work that can be accomplished only in the power of the Spirit and under the guidance and direction of Christ. God expects believers to take up this work, and to do it with earnestness and diligence. Let every believer at this time show himself a laborer together with God. The Lord will work with the one who will yield heart and mind and powers to his control. To all who will be led by the Spirit he will impart his righteousness. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #18)
The Lord has ordained that sanitariums be established in many places to stand as memorials for him. This is one of his chosen ways of proclaiming the third angel's message. By this means the truth will reach many who, but for these agencies, would never be lightened by the brightness of the gospel message. In the presentation of truth, some will be attracted by one phase of the gospel message and some by another. We are instructed by the Lord to work in such a way that all classes will be reached. The message must go to the whole world. Our sanitarium work is to help make up the number of God's people. Through this line of missionary effort infidels will be converted. By the wonderful restorations taking place in our sanitariums many will be led to look to Christ as the healer of soul and body.
Self-sacrificing workers, who have full faith in God, should be chosen to take charge of these institutions. Wise men and women, acting in the capacity of nurses, are to comfort and help the sick and suffering. Our sanitariums are to be as lights shining in a dark place, because physicians, nurses, and helpers reflect the sunlight of Christ's righteousness.
It is the glory of the gospel that it is founded on the principles of restoring in the fallen race the divine image. The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption. In order fully to carry out his plan, it was decided that Christ, the only begotten Son of God, should give himself an offering for sin. And in giving Christ, God gave all the resources of heaven, that nothing might be wanting for the work of man's uplifting. What line can measure the depth of this love? God would make it impossible for man to say that he could have done more.
The establishment of churches and sanitariums is only a further manifestation of the love of God, and in this work all God's people should have a part. Christ formed his church here below for the purpose of showing forth through its members the grace of God. Throughout the world his people are to raise memorials of his Sabbath,--the sign between him and them that he is the One who sanctifies them. Thus they are to show that they have returned to their loyalty, and stand firmly for the principles of his law.
Sanitariums are to be so established and conducted that they will be educational in character. They are to show to the world the benevolence of heaven. Though Christ's visible presence is not discerned, yet the workers may claim the promise, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." He has assured his followers that to those who love and fear him he will give power to continue the work that he began. He went about doing good, teaching the ignorant, and healing the sick. His work did not stop with an exhibition of his power over disease. He made each work of healing an occasion of implanting in the heart the divine principles of his love and benevolence. Thus his followers are to work. Christ is no longer in this world in person, but he has commissioned us to carry forward the medical missionary work that he began; and in this work we are to do our very best. For the furtherance of this work institutions for the care of the sick are to be established, where men and women suffering from disease may be placed under the care of God-fearing physicians and nurses.
In our sanitariums truth is to be cherished, not banished nor hidden from sight; and from them the light of present truth is to shine forth in clear, distinct rays. These institutions are the Lord's agencies for the revival of a pure, elevated morality. We do not establish them as a speculative business, but to help men and women to follow right habits of living. Those who are now ignorant are to become wise. Suffering is to be relieved, and health restored. People are to be taught how, by exercising care in their habits, they may keep well. Christ died to save men from ruin. Our sanitariums are to be his helping hand, teaching men and women how to live in such a way as to honor and glorify God. If this work is not carried on in our sanitariums, those who are conducting them will make a great mistake.
Christ came to this world bearing a message freighted with redemption. To all who receive him as a personal Saviour he gives power to become the sons of God. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, . . . full of grace and truth. . . . And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." All who become the sons of God are possessed of his nature. They dwell in Christ as Christ dwells in God. Converted to the truth, imbued with the Holy Spirit, they are under the transforming influence of divine grace. The life of self-indulgence they once lived is changed to a life of service. Knowing the power of his grace, they are commissioned and qualified to bear the message of salvation to a sinful world, and to make known his grace and truth. As they consecrate themselves wholly to God, the grace they impart will be continually renewed in increased measure.
God has qualified his people to enlighten the world. He has entrusted men with faculties that adapt them to extend their efforts and accomplish a work that will belt the world. Sanitariums, schools, printing offices, and kindred facilities are to be established in all parts of the world. But this work has not yet been done. In foreign countries many enterprises that require means must yet be begun and carried forward. Let all do their best, making their boast in the Lord, and blessing others by their good works.
Christ cooperates with those who engage in medical missionary work. Men and women who unselfishly do what they can to establish sanitariums and treatment rooms in many lands will be richly rewarded. Those who visit these institutions will be benefited physically, mentally, and spiritually. The weary will be refreshed, the sick will be restored to health, and the sin-burdened will be relieved. In far-off countries thanksgiving will be heard from the lips of those whose hearts are turned from the service of sin unto righteousness. And by their songs of grateful praise a testimony is borne that will win still others to the truth. The conversion of souls to God is the greatest work, the highest work, in which human beings can have a part. In the conversion of souls, God's forbearance, his unbounded love, his holiness, and his power are revealed. Every true conversion glorifies him, and causes the angels to break forth into singing.
Upon every truly converted soul--every one who believes in Christ as the world's Redeemer--God has laid the obligation of cooperating with him who gave his life for a perishing world. To every one who is at ease in Zion, he says: Arise, and put your shoulder to the wheel. Bear spiritual burdens. Clear the atmosphere of the soul, that the Sun of Righteousness may shine through you to the people of other tongues, revealing to them a living, testing truth. Let your light so shine that those who are perishing in their sins may learn of God's goodness and mercy and love. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #19)
From Christ's methods of labor we may learn valuable lessons. He did not follow merely one method; in various ways he sought to gain the attention of the multitude, that he might proclaim to them the truths of the gospel.
Christ's chief work was in ministering to the poor, the needy, and the ignorant. In simplicity he opened before them the blessings they might receive, and thus aroused a soul hunger for the bread of life. Christ's life is an example to all his followers. It is the duty of all who have learned the way of life to teach others what it means to believe in the Word of God. There are many now in the shadow of death who need to be instructed in the truths of the gospel. Nearly the whole world is lying in wickedness. Yet we have words of hope for those who sit in darkness: "The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up."
Earnest, devoted young people are needed to enter the work of God as nurses. As these young men and women use conscientiously the knowledge they gain, they will increase in capability and become better and better qualified to be the Lord's helping hand. They may become successful missionaries, pointing souls to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, and who can save both soul and body.
The Lord wants wise men and women, acting in the capacity of nurses, to comfort and help the sick and suffering. O that all who are afflicted could be ministered to by Christlike physicians and nurses who could help them to place their weary, pain-racked bodies in the care of the great Healer, in faith looking to him for restoration.
Every sincere Christian bows to Jesus as the true physician of souls. When he stands by the bedside of the afflicted, there will be many not only converted, but healed. If through judicious ministration the patient is led to give his soul to Christ, and to bring his thoughts into obedience to the will of God, a great victory is gained.
Soul saving is the object for which our sanitariums are established. In our daily ministrations we see many careworn, sorrowful faces. What does the sorrow on these faces show?--The need of the soul for the peace of Christ. Poor, sad human beings go to broken cisterns, which can hold no water, thinking to satisfy their thirst. Let them hear a voice saying, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters." Poor, weary, oppressed souls, seeking you know not what, come to the water of life. All heaven is yearning over you. Come unto Me, that ye may have life.
There are many lines of work to be carried forward by the missionary nurse. There are openings for well trained nurses to go among families and seek to awaken an interest in the truth. In almost every community there are large numbers who do not attend any religious service. If they are reached by the gospel, it must be carried to their homes. Often the relief of their physical needs is the only avenue by which they can be approached. As missionary nurses care for the sick and relieve the distress of the poor, they will find many opportunities to pray with them, to read to them from God's Word, to speak of the Saviour. They can pray with and for the helpless ones who have not strength of will to control the appetites that passion has degraded. They can bring a ray of hope into the lives of the defeated and disheartened. Their unselfish love, manifested in acts of disinterested kindness, will make it easier for these suffering ones to believe in the love of Christ.
Many have no faith in God and have lost confidence in man. But they appreciate acts of sympathy and helpfulness. As they see one with no inducement of earthly praise or compensation coming to their homes, ministering to the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sad, and tenderly pointing all to him of whose love and pity the human worker is but the messenger,--as they see this, their hearts are touched. Gratitude springs up, faith is kindled. They see that God cares for them, and as his Word is opened they are prepared to listen.
Whether in foreign missions or in the home field, all missionaries, both men and women, will gain much more ready access to the people and will find their usefulness greatly increased if they are able to minister to the sick. Women who go as missionaries to heathen lands may thus find opportunity for giving the gospel to the women of these lands, when every other door of access is closed. All gospel workers should know how to give the simple treatments that do so much to relieve pain and remove disease..
Teaching Health Principles.--Gospel workers should be able also to give instruction in the principles of healthful living. There is sickness everywhere, and most of it might be prevented by attention to the laws of health. The people need to see the bearing of health principles upon their well-being, both for this life and for the life to come. They need to be awakened to their responsibility in regard to the human habitation which has been designed by their Creator to be his dwellingplace, and over which he desires them to be faithful stewards.
Thousands need and would gladly receive instruction concerning the simple methods of treating the sick,--methods that are taking the place of the use of poisonous drugs. There is great need of instruction in regard to dietetic reform. Wrong habits of eating and the use of unwholesome food are in no small degree responsible for the intemperance and crime and wretchedness that curse the world.
In teaching health principles, keep before the mind the great object of reform,--that its purpose is to secure the highest development of body and mind and soul. Show that the laws of nature, being the laws of God, are designed for our good; that obedience to them promotes happiness in this life, and aids the preparation for the life to come.
Lead the people to study the manifestation of God's love and wisdom in the works of nature. Lead them to study that marvelous organism, the human system, and the laws by which it is governed. Those who perceive the evidences of God's love, who understand something of the wisdom and beneficence of his laws, and the results of obedience, will come to regard their duties and obligations from an altogether different point of view. Instead of looking upon an observance of the laws of health as a matter of sacrifice or self-denial, they will regard it as it really is, as an inestimable blessing.
Every gospel worker should feel that the giving of instruction in the principles of healthful living is a part of his appointed work. Of this work there is great need, and the world is open for it.
Individual Work.--Christ commits to his followers an individual work,--a work that can not be done by proxy. Ministry to the sick and the poor, the giving of the gospel to the lost, is not to be left to committees or organized charities. Individual responsibility, individual effort, personal sacrifice, is the requirement of the gospel.
"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in," is Christ's demand, "that my house may be filled." He brings men into touch with those whom they seek to benefit. "Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house." he says; "when thou seest the naked, . . . cover him." "Lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Through direct contact, through personal ministry, the blessings of the gospel are to be communicated.
Those who take up their appointed work will not only be a blessing to others, but they themselves will be blessed. The consciousness of duty well done will have a reflex influence upon their own souls. The despondent will forget their despondency, the weak will become strong, the ignorant intelligent, and all will find an unfailing helper in Him who has called them to his service. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #20)
True education is missionary training. The sons and daughters of God are called to be missionaries, called to the service of God and their fellow men; and to fit them for this service should be the object of education.
This object should ever be kept in view by Christian parents and teachers. We know not in what line our children may serve. They may spend their lives within the circle of the home; they may engage in life's common vocations, or go as teachers of the gospel to heathen lands; but all are alike called to be missionaries for God, ministers of mercy to the world.
The children and youth, with their fresh talent, energy, and courage, their quick susceptibilities, are loved of God, and he desires to bring them into harmony with divine agencies. They are to obtain an education that will help them to stand by the side of Christ in unselfish service.
Of all his children to the close of time, no less than of the first disciples, Christ said, "As thou hast sent me into the world, even so I have also sent them into the world," to be representatives of God, to reveal his Spirit, to manifest his character, to do his work.
Our children stand, as it were, at the parting of the ways. On every hand the world's enticements to self-seeking and self-indulgence call them away from the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord. Whether their lives shall be a blessing or a curse depends upon the choice they make. Overflowing with energy, eager to test their untried capabilities, they must find some outlet for their superabounding life. Active they will be, for good or for evil. Let the youth be impressed with the thought that they are not their own. They belong to Christ. They are the purchase of his blood, the claim of his love. They live because he keeps them by his power. Their time, their strength, their capabilities, are his, to be developed, to be trained, to be used for him.
We should educate the youth to help the youth, and as they seek to do this work they will gain an experience that will qualify them to become consecrated workers in a larger sphere. Thousands of hearts can be reached in the most simple, humble way. The most intellectual, those who are looked upon and praised as the world's most gifted men and women, are often refreshed by the simple words that flow from the heart of one who loves God, and who can speak of that love as naturally as the worldling speaks of the things which his mind contemplates and feeds upon. Often the words well prepared and studied have little influence. But the true, honest words of a son or daughter of God, spoken in natural simplicity, will open the door to hearts that have long been locked.
Time is short. Workers for Christ are needed everywhere. There should be a hundred earnest, faithful laborers in home and foreign mission fields where now there is but one. The highways and byways are yet unworked. Urgent inducements should be held out to those who ought now to be engaged in work for the Master.
The signs which show that Christ's coming is near are fast fulfilling. The Lord calls upon our youth to labor as canvassers and evangelists, to do house-to-house work in places that have not yet heard the truth. He speaks to our young men, saying, "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." Those who will go forth to the work under God's direction will be wonderfully blessed. Those who in this life do their best will obtain a fitness for the future immortal life.
The Lord calls upon those connected with our sanitariums, publishing houses, and schools to teach the youth to do evangelistic work. Our time and energy must not be so largely employed in establishing sanitariums, food stores, and restaurants that other lines of work will be neglected. Young men and young women who should be engaged in the ministry, in Bible work, and in the canvassing work should not be bound down to mechanical employment.
The youth should be encouraged to attend our training schools for Christian workers, which should become more and more like the schools of the prophets. These institutions have been established by the Lord, and if they are conducted in harmony with his purpose, the youth sent to them will be prepared quickly to engage in various lines of missionary work. Some will be trained to enter the field as missionary nurses, some as canvassers, and some as gospel missionaries.
Our young men and young women should be devoted workers in the Master's service. If they will walk in the light that the Lord has permitted to shine upon them, they will see precious opportunities which they may improve, and do God's will from the heart. Quietly, modestly, with a heart overflowing with love, let them seek to win minds to investigate the truth, engaging in Bible readings when they can. By so doing they will be sowing the seed of truth beside all waters, showing forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. Those who are doing this work from right motives are doing an important work of ministering. They will manifest no feeble, undecided character. Their minds are enlarging, their manners are becoming more refined. They should place no bounds to their improvement, but every day be better fitted to do good work.
Many young men and women now engaged in secular labor will feel stirred to give themselves to the service of God, to become channels of light. Some will feel a burden to enter the canvassing field, and will become able evangelists. Let these be given an opportunity to obtain an education for the work of God. And let all God's workers help, aid, cheer, and encourage one another with their prayers and faithful conversation, impressing one another with the dignity and responsibility of the work in which they are engaged.
He who puts on the armor to war a good warfare will gain greater and still greater ability as he strives to perfect his knowledge of God, working in harmony with the plan God has laid down for the perfect development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers.
Young men and young women, gather a stock of knowledge. Do not always wait until some human examination pronounces you competent to work, but go out into the highways and hedges, and begin to work for God. Use wisely the knowledge you have. Exercise your ability with faithfulness, generously imparting the light that God gives you. Study how best to give to others peace and light and truth, and the many other rich blessings of heaven. Constantly improve. Keep reaching higher and still higher. It is the ability to put to the tax the powers of mind and body, ever keeping eternal realities in view, that is of value now. Seek the Lord most earnestly, that you may become more and more refined, more spiritually cultured. Then you will have the very best diploma that any one can have,--the indorsement of God.
However large, however small your talents, remember that what you have is yours only in trust. Thus God is testing you, giving you opportunity to prove yourself true. To him you are indebted for all your capabilities. To him belong your powers of body, mind, and soul, and for him these powers are to be used. Your time, your influence, your capabilities, your skill,--all must be accounted for to him who gives all. He uses God's gifts best who seeks by earnest endeavor to carry out the Lord's great plan for the uplifting of humanity, remembering always that he must be a learner as well as a teacher.
Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor. Such an aim is set before the youth of today. The heaven-appointed purpose of giving the gospel to the world in this generation is the noblest that can appeal to any human being. It opens a field of effort to every one whose heart Christ has touched.
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," is Christ's command to his followers. Not that all are called to be ministers of missionaries in the ordinary sense of the term; but all may be workers with him in giving the "glad tidings" to their fellow men. To all, great or small, learned or ignorant, old or young, the command is given. In view of this command, can we educate our sons and daughters for a life of respectable conventionality, a life professedly Christian, but lacking His self-sacrifice, a life on which the verdict of him who is truth must be, "I know you not"?
Thousands are doing this. They think to secure for their children the benefits of the gospel, while they deny its spirit. But this can not be. Those who reject the privilege of fellowship with Christ in service, reject the only training that imparts a fitness for participation with him in his glory. They reject the training that in this life gives strength and nobility of character. Many fathers and mothers, denying their children to the cross of Christ, have learned too late that they are giving them over to the enemy of God and man. They sealed their ruin, not only for the future, but for the present life. Temptation overcame them. They grew up a curse to the world, a grief and shame to those who gave them being.
"The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly." And a world is to be warned.
With such preparations as they can gain, thousands upon thousands of the youth and those older in years should be giving themselves to this work. Already many hearts are responding to the call of the Master Worker, and their numbers will increase. Let every Christian educator give such workers sympathy and cooperation. Let him encourage and assist the youth under his care to gain a preparation to join the ranks.
There is no line of work in which it is possible for the youth to receive greater benefit. All who engage in ministry are God's helping hand. They are coworkers with the angels; rather, they are the human agencies through whom the angels accomplish their mission. Angels speak through their voices, and work by their hands. And the human workers, cooperating with heavenly agencies, have the benefit of their education and experience. As a means of education, what "university course" can equal this?
With such an army of workers as our youth rightly trained might furnish, how soon the message of a crucified, risen, and soon-coming Saviour might be carried to the whole world! How soon might the end come,--the end of suffering and sorrow and sin! How soon, in place of a possession here, with its blight of sin and pain, our children might receive their inheritance where "the righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever"; where "the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick," and "the voice of weeping shall be no more heard." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #21)
I was shown that God will accomplish a great work through the truth if devoted, self-sacrificing men will give themselves unreservedly to the work of presenting it to those in darkness. Those who have a knowledge of the truth and are consecrated to God, should avail themselves of every opportunity to press in the truth. Angels of God are moving upon the hearts and consciences of the people of other nations, and honest souls are troubled as they witness the signs of the times in the unsettled state of the nations. The inquiry arises in their hearts, What will be the end of all these things?
But while God and angels are working to impress hearts, the servants of Christ seem to be asleep. Few are working in unison with the heavenly messengers. All who are Christians should be workers in the vineyard of the Lord. They should be wide awake, zealously laboring for the salvation of their fellow men, and should follow the example that the Saviour has given them in his life of self-denial, sacrifice, and earnest labor.
God has honored us by making us the depositaries of his law, and if ministers and people were sufficiently aroused, they would not rest in indifference. We have been entrusted with truths of vital importance, which are to test the world; and yet in our own country there are cities, villages, and towns that have never heard the warning message. Young men are aroused by the appeals that are made for help in the great work of God, and they make some advance moves, but the burden does not rest upon them with sufficient weight to lead them to accomplish what they might. They are willing to do a small work, which does not require special effort. Therefore they do not learn to place their whole dependence upon God, and by living faith draw from the great Fountain and Source of light and strength, in order that their efforts may prove wholly successful.
Young men should be qualifying themselves for service by becoming familiar with other languages, that God may use them as mediums through which to communicate his saving truth to those of other nations. These young men may obtain a knowledge of other languages even while engaged in laboring for sinners. If they are economical of their time, they can improve their minds, and qualify themselves for more extended usefulness.
It will make our young men strong to go into new fields and break up the fallow ground of men's hearts. This work will draw them nearer to God. It will help them to see that they of themselves are altogether inefficient. They must be wholly the Lord's. They must put away their self-esteem and self-importance, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. When they do this, they will be willing to go without the camp, and bear the burden as good soldiers of the cross. They will gain efficiency and ability by mastering difficulties and overcoming obstacles. Men are wanted for responsible positions, but they must be men who have given full proof of their ministry, in willingness to wear the yoke of Christ.
Young men who desire to enter the field as ministers, colporteurs, or canvassers, should first receive a suitable degree of mental training, as well as a special preparation for their calling. Those who are uneducated, untrained, and unrefined are not prepared to enter a field in which the powerful influences of talent and education combat the truths of God's Word. Neither can they successfully meet the strange forms of error, religious and philosophical combined, to expose which requires a knowledge of scientific as well as Scriptural truth.
Those especially who have the ministry in view should feel the importance of the Scriptural method of ministerial training. They should enter heartily into the work, and while they study in the schools, they should learn of the Great Teacher the meekness and humility of Christ. A covenant-keeping God has promised that in answer to prayer his Spirit shall be poured out upon these learners in the school of Christ, that they may become ministers of righteousness.
It was as a means ordained of God to educate young men and women for the various departments of missionary labor, that colleges were established among us. It is God's will that they shall send forth not merely a few, but many laborers. There are many who would work if urged into service, and who would save their souls by thus working. The church should feel her great responsibility in shutting up the light of truth, and restraining the grace of God within her own narrow limits, when money and influence should be freely employed in sending competent workers into the missionary field.
Hundreds of young men should have been preparing to act a part in scattering the seeds of truth beside all waters. We want men who will push the triumphs of the cross, men who will persevere under discouragements and privations, men who have the zeal and resolution and faith that are indispensable to the missionary field.
There should be many more laborers in the foreign mission field. There are among us those who, without the toil and delay of learning a foreign language, might qualify themselves to proclaim the truth to other nations. God's blessing will rest upon our efforts to qualify those who naturally possess a knowledge of foreign tongues, and who with proper encouragement would bear to their own countrymen the message of truth. We might have had more laborers in foreign mission fields had those who entered these fields availed themselves of the help of every talent within their reach.
The church may inquire whether young men can be trusted with the grave responsibilities involved in establishing and superintending a foreign mission. I answer, God designed that they should be so trained in our colleges and by association with men of experience, that they would be prepared for departments of usefulness in this cause. We must manifest confidence in our young men. They should be pioneers in every enterprise involving toil and sacrifice, while the overtaxed servants of Christ should be cherished as counselors, to encourage and bless those who strike the heaviest blows for God. Providence thrust these experienced fathers into trying, responsible positions at an early age, when neither physical nor intellectual powers were fully developed. The magnitude of the trust committed to them aroused their energies, and their active labor in the work aided both mental and physical development.
Young men are wanted. God calls them to missionary fields. Being comparatively free from care and responsibilities, they are more favorably situated to engage in the work than are those who must provide for the training and support of a large family. Furthermore, young men can more readily adapt themselves to new climates and new society, and can better endure inconveniences and hardships. By tact and perseverance, they can reach the people where they are.
Strength comes by exercise. All who put to use the ability that God has given them, will have increased ability to devote to his service. Those who do nothing in the cause of God will fail to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. If a man should lie down and refuse to exercise his limbs, he would soon lose all power to use them. Thus the Christian who will not use his God-given powers, not only fails to grow up into Christ, but loses the strength which he already had; he becomes a spiritual paralytic. It is those who, with love for God and for their fellow men, are striving to help others, that become established, strengthened, settled in the truth. The true Christian works for God, not from impulse, but from principle; not for a day or a month, but during the entire life.
The Master calls for gospel workers. Who will respond? Not all who enter the army are to be generals, captains, sergeants, or even corporals. Not all have the care and responsibility of leaders. There is hard work of other kinds to be done. Some must dig trenches and build fortifications; some are to stand as sentinels, some to carry messages. While there are but few officers, it requires many soldiers to form the rank and file of the army; and yet its success depends upon the fidelity of every soldier.. One man's cowardice or treachery may bring disaster upon the entire army.
He who has appointed "to every man his work," according to his ability, will never let the faithful performance of duty go unrewarded. Every act of loyalty and faith will be crowned with special tokens of God's favor and approbation. To every worker is given the promise, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #22)
Those who are laboring in places where the work has not long been started, often find themselves surrounded by discouraging conditions. The need of better facilities is great, and encouragement and sympathy may seem to be withheld. At such times let not the workers give way to discouragement, but let them take their perplexities to the Lord in prayer. When trying to build up the work in new territory, we have often gone to the limit of our resources. At times it seemed as if we could advance no farther.. But we kept sending our petitions to heaven, all the time denying self; and God heard and answered our prayers, supplying means for the advancement of the work.
Because circumstances change and disappointments come, because you do not have as much help as you hoped to receive for the building up of the work, you are not therefore to become disheartened. Lay every care at the feet of the Redeemer. "Ask, and ye shall receive." Do your best, and then wait, patiently, hopefully, rejoicingly, because the promise of God can not fail. Christ's life of untiring effort has been recorded for our encouragement. He did not fail nor become discouraged. In time of trial, be patient. Patience is a precious jewel. It will bring health to heart and mind. Wait on the Lord until he sees that you are ready to receive and appreciate the blessings for which you ask. Exercise faith, even though the trials are severe. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Of faith hope is born.
It requires self-control to accept disappointment meekly; but Jesus understands your needs. Every prayer offered to him in sincerity and faith will be answered. Having done your best, refuse to give way to discouragement and despair. When hedged about with apparently insurmountable difficulties, then is the time above all others to trust in the Lord.
The divine command to Moses to deliver Israel found the wilderness shepherd distrustful, slow of speech, and timid. He was overwhelmed with a sense of his incapacity to be a mounthpiece for God. But he accepted the work, putting all his trust in the Lord. The greatness of his mission called into exercise the best powers of his mind. God blessed his ready obedience, and he became eloquent, hopeful, self-possessed, well fitted for his great work. His experience is an illustration of what God will do to strengthen the characters of those who trust him implicitly, and give themselves unreservedly to his service.
It is wonderful how strong a weak man may become, how prolific of great results his efforts through faith in the power of God and devotion to his service. Through the exercise of his abilities in the cause of God, the hesitating and irresolute become firm and decided. His nature becomes exalted; the mission of Christ opens before him with new importance and glory, and with deep humility he recognizes in himself a co-laborer with the Saviour. No higher office than this is given to man. No joy can equal that which comes with the assurance that he is an instrument in the hand of God for the salvation of souls. It is a good thing to look back upon a course of labor marked with definite results in the advancement of Christ's kingdom, to see precious souls reaching up to the standard of Christian living, and to know that God has worked through our efforts for the accomplishment of such results.
The careless onlooker may not appreciate the work nor recognize its importance. He may think it a losing business, a life of thankless labor and needless self-sacrifice. But the servant of God sees it in the light shining from the cross. His sacrifices appear small in comparison with those of the Master. As he reviews his work, the trials and difficulties that have beset him are not magnified in his mind. The consciousness of duty performed and the glory of his coming reward amply compensate for all the sacrifice he may have made.
Laborer for God, when you are weary and heavy laden, flee to Christ, who has promised you rest. He is the Burden Bearer; he is your strength. Your work in this world is to discipline the mind, to store up knowledge, to perfect character. Only thus will you be able to wage successfully the warfare of life. Keep the spirit humble. Envy, pride, worldly ambition, cupidity, and love of ease must be renounced. In simplicity and love be like those little ones whose angels do always behold the face of the Father in heaven. But unite with these virtues the courage of the tried warrior. Faithful Calebs are needed, who will raise their voices fearlessly in defense of the right, who will be first to press to the front of the battle, and plant the banner of truth in the enemy's camp.
A chieftain in Israel, Caleb was one of those chosen to spy out the land of Canaan. When the spies returned from this work, the voices of his companions were raised in complaint. They acknowledged the goodness of the land; but "the people be strong that dwell in the land," they said, "and the cities are walled, and very great; and moreover we saw the children of Anak there."
Caleb saw the difficulties just as plainly as did the other spies, but he stood firmly at the post God had assigned him. He would not shirk any disagreeable responsibility; and now, in the face of his cowardly companions who were threatening to stone him, he cried with a ringing voice, "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it."
It was Caleb's faith in God that gave him courage, that kept him from the fear of man, and enabled him to stand boldly and unflinchingly in the defense of the right. Through reliance on the same power, the mighty General of the armies of heaven, every true soldier of the cross may receive strength and courage to overcome the obstacles that seem insurmountable.
Success in the winning of souls does not depend upon age or circumstances, but upon the love one has for others. Consider John Bunyan imprisoned in the Bedford jail. His enemies think they have placed him where his work for others must cease. But not so. He is not idle. The love for souls continues to burn within him, and from the loathsome dungeon there is sent forth a light that has shone to all parts of the civilized world. There he wrote his wonderful allegory of the pilgrim's journey from the land of destruction to the celestial city. This book, "The Pilgrim's Progress," portrays the Christian life so accurately, and presents the love of Christ so attractively, that through its instrumentality hundreds and thousands have been converted.
Again, consider Luther in his Wartburg prison. His enemies exulted in his absence; for the light of the gospel seemed about to be extinguished. But instead of this the Reformer was filling his lamp from the storehouse of truth; and its light was to shine forth with brighter radiance. While in prison Luther's pen was never idle. While his enemies flattered themselves that he was silenced, they were astonished and confused by tangible proof that he was still alive. A host of tracts, issuing from his pen, circulated throughout Germany. He also performed a most important service for his countrymen by translating the New Testament into the German tongue.
In varied ways God worked for his people in ages past, and he is as willing to work through those who today are laboring for the salvation of souls. But the trouble with many is that they have not enough faith. They are too self-sufficient, too easily disturbed by little trials. There is in the natural heart much selfishness, much self-dignity; and when the workers present the truth and it is resented, they too frequently feel that it is an insult to themselves, when it is not they, but the Author of truth who is insulted and rejected. There is need of hiding self in Jesus. The nearer one comes to Jesus, the less will self be esteemed, and the more earnest will be the effort put forth for others.
Whether you labor in public or private, you will meet difficulties. But remember, brethren, in every perplexity that God has angels still. You may meet opposition, yes, persecution. But if you are steadfast to principle, you will find, as did Daniel, a present Helper and Deliverer in the God whom you serve. This is the time to cultivate integrity of character. To all who engage in missionary work I would say, Hide in Jesus. Let not self but Christ appear in all your labors. When the work goes hard, and you become discouraged, and are tempted to abandon it, bow upon your knees before God, and say, Here, Lord, is thy pledged word. Throw your weight upon his promises, and every one of them will be fulfilled.
Learn to take Christ at his word when you are inclined to despond. Believe that "all power" is given to those who need it, and that this power is for you. Do not look on the dark side, but look in faith to Jesus. The Word of the Lord is sufficient. Take hold unitedly with a will to do what God has said must be done. Success will attend those who cooperate with him all the time.
Let us not be weary in well-doing. Why should we, with such helpers to cooperate with us in fighting the battles of life? At our baptism we were pledged to the service of God. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we received the holy rite. The pledge was a life pledge on the part of heaven if we would comply with the conditions. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God." "In due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
Go, my brethren and fellow workers, and spread out before God your necessities. It was when the heavens were as brass over Paul that he trusted most fully in God, and was delivered again and again from unreasonable and wicked men. Let us trust in God, saying "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him," Let self be crucified. Let the love of God shine forth in words and works. Let the gospel of Jesus Christ exert strong, uninterrupted influence upon mind and heart.
"Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the Lord, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, . . . and all flesh shall know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob." "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #23)
I have been shown that some of our campmeetings are far from being what the Lord designed they should be. The people come unprepared for the visitation of God's Holy Spirit. Generally the sisters devote considerable time before the meeting to the preparation of garments for the outward adorning, while they entirely forget the inward adorning, which is in the sight of God of great price. There is also much time spent in needless cooking, in the preparation of rich pies and cakes and other articles of food that do positive injury to those who partake of them. Should our sisters provide good bread and some other healthful kinds of food, both they and their families would be better prepared to appreciate the words of life, and far more susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Often the stomach is overburdened with food which is seldom as plain and simple as that eaten at home, where the amount of exercise taken is double or treble. This causes the mind to be in such a lethargy that it is difficult to appreciate eternal things, and the meeting closes, and they are disappointed in not having enjoyed more of the Spirit of God.
While preparing for the meeting, each individual should closely and critically examine his own heart before God. If there have been unpleasant feelings, discord, or strife in families, it should be one of the first acts of preparation to confess these faults one to another and pray with and for one another. Humble yourselves before God, and make an earnest effort to empty the soul temple of all rubbish,--all envyings, all jealousies, all suspicions, all faultfindings. "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."
The Lord speaks: enter into your closet, and in silence commune with your own heart; listen to the voice of truth and conscience. Nothing will give such clear views of self as secret prayer. He who seeth in secret and knoweth all things, will enlighten your understanding and answer your petitions. Plain, simple duties that must not be neglected will open before you. Make a covenant with God to yield yourselves and all your powers to his service. Do not carry this undone work to the campmeeting. If it is not done at home, your own soul will suffer, and others will be greatly injured by your coldness, your stupor, your spiritual lethargy.
At home is the place to find Jesus; then take him with you to the meeting, and how precious will be the hours you spend there! But how can you expect to feel the presence of the Lord and see his power displayed, when the individual work of preparation for that time is neglected?
For your soul's sake, for Christ's sake, and for the sake of others, work at home. Pray as you are not accustomed to pray. Let the heart break before God. Set your house in order. Prepare your children for the occasion. Teach them that it is not of so much consequence that they appear with fine clothes as that they appear before God with clean hands and pure hearts. Remove every obstacle that may have been in their way,--all differences that may have existed between themselves, or between you and them. By so doing you will invite the Lord's presence into your homes, and holy angels will attend you as you go up to the meeting, and their light and presence will press back the darkness of evil angels. Even unbelievers will feel the holy atmosphere as they enter the encampment. O, how much is lost by neglecting this important work! You may be pleased with the preaching, you may become animated and revived, but the converting, reforming power of God will not be felt in the heart, and the work will not be so deep, thorough, and lasting as it should be. Let pride be crucified, and the soul be clad with the priceless robe of Christ's righteousness, and what a meeting will you enjoy! It will be to your soul even as the gate of heaven. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #23)
During the years of Christ's public ministry, the first disciples were associated closely with him, that they might be trained for the work that as his representatives they must carry forward when he should be no longer with them. For three years they labored with him, hearing his words of comfort and hope to the weary and desponding, beholding his miracles in behalf of the suffering. When Christ returned to the Father, he bade the disciples continue the work he had begun. They were given power to heal "all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." By healing in his name the diseases of the body, they would testify to his power for the healing of the soul. Through ministry such as Christ had performed, they were to carry to all nations the gospel of his grace.
In the same way his disciples today are to labor. In sympathy and compassion they are to minister to those in need of help, seeking with unselfishness and earnestness to lighten the woe of suffering humanity; and through this means win men and women to the great truth for this time.
"Is not this the fast that I have chosen," the Lord through his prophet declares, "to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?" Wherever the people of God are placed, in the crowded cities, in the villages, or among the country byways, there is a mission field, for which a responsibility is laid upon them by their Lord's commission.
The denominational churches in our land are doing something in the line of Christian Help work. Some are working actively, walking in all the light they have. They would do much more if they understood the truths that we hold. Yet many of those who know the truth, who claim to believe that the last message of mercy is being given to the world, are fast asleep. Many, like the sluggard, are folding their hands in inactivity.
The Lord is calling upon his people to take up different lines of missionary work, to sow beside all waters. We do but a small part of the work that he desires us to do among our neighbors and friends. By kindness to the poor, the sick, or the bereaved we may obtain an influence over them, so that divine truth will find access to their hearts. No such opportunity for service should be allowed to pass unimproved. It is the highest missionary work that we can do. The presentation of the truth in love and sympathy from house to house is in harmony with the instruction of Christ to his disciples when he sent them out on their first missionary tour.
Those who have the gift of song are needed. Song is one of the most effective means of impressing spiritual truth upon the heart. Often by the words of sacred song, the springs of penitence and faith have been unsealed. Church members, young and old, should be educated to go forth to proclaim this last message to the world. If they go in humility, angels of God will go with them, teaching them how to lift up the voice in prayer, how to raise the voice in song, and how to proclaim the gospel message for this time.
Young men and women, take up the work to which God calls you. Christ will teach you to use your abilities to good purpose. As you receive the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit, and seek to teach others, your minds will be refreshed, and you will be able to present words that are new and strangely beautiful to your hearers. Pray and sing, and speak the word.
The medical missionary work presents many opportunities for service. Intemperance in eating and ignorance of nature's laws are causing much of the sickness that exists, and are robbing God of the glory due him. Because of a failure to deny self, many of God's people are unable to reach the high standard of spirituality he sets before them. Teach the people that it is better to know how to keep well than to know how to cure disease. We should be wise educators, warning all against self-indulgence. As we see the wretchedness, deformity, and disease that have come into the world as a result of ignorance, how can we refrain from doing our part to enlighten the ignorant and relieve the suffering?
Because the avenues to the soul have been closed by the tyrant Prejudice, many are ignorant of the principles of healthful living. Good service can be done by teaching the people how to prepare healthful food. This line of work is as essential as any that can be taken up. More cooking schools should be established, and some should labor from house to house, giving instruction in the art of cooking wholesome foods. Many, many will be rescued from physical, mental, and moral degeneracy through the influence of health reform. These principles will commend themselves to those who are seeking for light; and such will advance from this to receive the full truth for this time.
God wants his people to receive to impart. As impartial, unselfish witnesses, they are to give to others what the Lord has given them. And as you enter into this work, and by whatever means in your power seek to reach hearts, be sure to work in a way that will remove prejudice instead of creating it. Make the life of Christ your constant study, and labor as he did, following his example.
Precious are God's promises to those who minister in his name. He says: "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily. . . . Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. . . . And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not."
Then go, teach and preach Christ. Instruct and educate all whom you can reach who know not of his grace, his goodness, his mercy. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #24)
Those who labor in word and doctrine have an important work before them in removing from the minds of those for whom they labor fatal and lifelong deceptions, and impressing upon them the importance of aiming to reach God's great standard of righteousness. These workers should pray earnestly for divine enlightenment, and for wisdom to present the truth as it is in Jesus. Sympathy, tenderness, and love, woven into their discourses and manifested in their lives, will disarm opposition, weaken prejudice, and open the way to many hearts.
Christ came to break the yoke from the necks of the oppressed, to strengthen the weak, to comfort the mourning, to set at liberty those who are bound, and to bind up the brokenhearted. His servants are to take up the work where he left it, and carry it forward in his name. But it is Satan's constant aim so to shape circumstances that the workers will become disconnected from God and labor in their own strength.
Our workers need more of the wisdom that Paul had. When he went to labor for the Jews, he did not first make prominent the birth, betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ, notwithstanding these were the special truths for that time. He first brought them down step by step over the promises of a coming Saviour, that had been given, and over the prophecies that pointed him out. After dwelling upon these until the specifications were distinct in the minds of all, he then declared that this Saviour had already come, and had fulfilled every specification of prophecy. This was the "guile" with which Paul caught souls. He presented the truth in such a manner that their former prejudices did not arise to blind their eyes and pervert their judgment.
Brethren, as you go forth to labor for those who are bound in chains of prejudice and ignorance, you will need to exercise the same divine wisdom that Paul manifested. When, as you labor in a place, you see that the scales are beginning to fall from men's eyes, that they see people as trees walking, be very careful not to present the truth in such a way as to arouse prejudice and close the door of the heart to further light. Agree with the people on every point where you can consistently do so. Let them see that you love their souls, and want to be in harmony with them as far as possible. If the love of Christ is revealed in all your efforts, you will be able to sow the seeds of truth in some hearts. God will water the seed sown, and the truth will spring up and bear fruit to his glory.
O that I could impress upon all the necessity of laboring in the spirit of Jesus! for I have been shown that souls have been turned away from the truth because of a lack of tact and skill in presenting it. In kindness and love seek to instruct those who oppose you. Preach the truth with the meekness of simplicity, remembering that it is not your words, but the Word of God that is to cut its way to the heart.
It should ever be manifest that we are reformers, but not bigots. When our laborers enter a new field, they should seek to become acquainted with the pastors of the several churches in the place. Much has been lost by neglecting to do this. If our ministers show themselves friendly and sociable, and do not act as if they were ashamed of the message they bear, it will have an excellent effect, and may give these pastors and their congregations favorable impressions of the truth. At any rate, it is right to give them a chance to be kind and favorable if they will.
Our laborers should be very careful not to give the impression that they are wolves stealing in to get the sheep, but should let the ministers understand their position and the object of their mission,--to call the attention of the people to the truths of God's Word. There are many of these which are dear to all Christians. Here is common ground, upon which we can meet people of other denominations; and in becoming acquainted with them, we should dwell mostly upon topics in which all feel an interest, and which will not lead directly and pointedly to the subjects of disagreement.
On entering a new place to labor, we should be careful not to create prejudice in the minds of the Catholics, or do anything to lead them to think us their enemies. The Lord has shown me that there are many among them who will be saved. God will just as surely test this people as he is testing us; and according to their willingness to accept the light he gives them, will be their standing before him. We should sow the seed beside all waters, for it is God that gives the increase.
The apostle Paul, in describing his manner of labor, says: "Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ), that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."
Many people had assembled where John was baptizing in Jordan. As Jesus walked among them, the observing eye of John recognized him as the Saviour, and with kindling eye and earnest manner he cried, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Two of John's disciples, whose attention was thus directed to Jesus, followed him. Seeing them following him, he turned and said, "What seek ye? They said unto him, . . . Master, where dwellest thou? He saith unto them, Come and see." And when they had come and seen where he dwelt, he opened to them the great plan of salvation.
The words that he there spoke to them were too precious to be kept to themselves, and the disciples immediately went and found their friends and brought them to Jesus. At that very time Nathanael was praying to know whether this was indeed the Christ of whom Moses and the prophets had spoken. While he continued to pray, one of those who had been brought to Christ, Philip by name, came to him and said, "We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
Notice how quickly prejudice arises. Nathanael says, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Philip knew the strong prejudice that existed in the minds of many against Nazareth, and he did not try to argue with him, for fear of raising his combativeness, but simply said, "Come and see."
Here is a lesson for our ministers and colporteurs and missionary workers. When you meet those who, like Nathanael, are prejudiced against the truth, do not urge your peculiar views too strongly. Talk to them at first upon subjects upon which you can agree. Bow with them in prayer, and in humble faith present your petitions before the throne. As you come into a closer connection with heaven, prejudice will be weakened, and it will be easier to reach the heart.
To those who expect to go to other lands to labor, I wish to say: Remember that you can break down the severest opposition by taking a personal interest in the people whom you meet. Christ took a personal interest in men and women while he lived on this earth. Wherever he went, he was a medical missionary. We are to go about doing good, even as he did. We are instructed to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the sorrowing.
The sisters can do much to reach the heart and make it tender. Wherever you are, my sisters, work in simplicity. If you are in a home where there are children, show an interest in them. Let them see that you love them. If one is sick, offer to give treatments; help the careworn, anxious mother to relieve her suffering child.
Some of you expect to go abroad as canvassers. Sometimes you may wish to canvass a man whose time is fully occupied. You may have to put off your canvass, and it may be possible that you can join him in his work, and talk with him then. The sermon which you thus preach by your helpfulness will be in harmony with the sermon which you preach with your tongue; and the two, together, will have a power that words alone could never have.
When staying at the homes of the people, share the burdens of the household. Be thoughtful enough to keep the water bucket filled. Help the tired father do the chores. Take an interest in the children. Be considerate. Work in humility, and the Lord will work with you.
Christ drew the hearts of his hearers to him by the manifestation of his love, and then, little by little, as they were able to bear it, he unfolded to them the great truths of the kingdom. We also must learn to adapt our labors to the condition of the people,--to meet men where they are. While the claims of the law of God are to be presented to the world, we should never forget that love--the love of Christ--is the only power that can soften the heart and lead to obedience. All the great truths of the Scriptures center in Christ; rightly understood, all lead to him. Let Christ be presented as the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, of the great plan of redemption. Present to the people such subjects as will strengthen their confidence in God and in his Word, and lead them to investigate its teachings for themselves. And as they go forward, step by step, in the study of the Bible, they will be better prepared to appreciate the beauty and harmony of its precious truths.
God's workmen must have breadth of character. They must not be men of one idea, stereotyped in their manner of working. They must be able to vary their efforts, to meet the needs of the people under different circumstances and conditions. God would have his servants, young and old, continually improving, learning better how to minister to the wants of all. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #25)
Health is a blessing of which few appreciate the value; yet upon it the efficiency of our mental and physical powers largely depends. Our impulses and passions have their seat in the body, and it must be kept in the best condition physically and under the most spiritual influences in order that our talents may be put to the highest use. Anything that lessens physical strength enfeebles the mind, and makes it less capable of discriminating between right and wrong.
The misuse of our physical powers shortens the time in which our lives can be used for the glory of God, and it unfits us to accomplish the work God has given us to do. By allowing ourselves to form wrong habits, by keeping late hours, by gratifying appetite at the expense of health, we lay the foundation for feebleness. By neglecting physical exercise, by overworking mind or body, we unbalance the nervous system. Those who thus shorten their lives and unfit themselves for service by disregarding nature's laws, are guilty of robbery toward God. And they are robbing their fellow men also. The opportunity of blessing others, the very work for which God sent them into the world, has by their own course of action been cut short. And they have unfitted themselves to do even that which in a briefer period of time they might have accomplished. The Lord holds us guilty when by our injurious habits we thus deprive the world of good.
The health of the Lord's messengers should be carefully considered. As the true watchman goes forth bearing precious seed, sowing beside all waters, weeping and praying, the burden of labor is very taxing to mind and heart. He can not keep up the strain continuously--his soul stirred to the very depths--without wearing out prematurely. Strength and efficiency are needed in every discourse. And from time to time, fresh supplies of things new and old need to be brought forth from the storehouse of God's Word. This will impart life and power to the hearers. God does not want his workers to become so exhausted that their efforts have no freshness nor life.
I can sympathize with some of my brethren who have strong feelings but not strong bodies. I do not know what we should do without men who feel intensely. But God would have these workers regard the laws of life and health; for when they are exhausted by long speaking and praying, or much writing, the enemy takes advantage of the tired condition of their nerves, and causes them to be impatient and to move rashly. It was at the close of Christ's long fast in the wilderness that Satan thought to gain the victory over him. But Christ drove him from the field of battle, and came off conqueror. Even so may those who preach the word today overcome when tempted in a similar way. But it is necessary that they labor with discretion, in order that they may preserve health and strength in the best possible condition; then, when occasion requires, they can put forth special efforts, and, relying upon him who has conquered the enemy in their behalf, can come off more than conquerors.
While God's workers are to be filled with a noble enthusiasm, and with a determination to follow the example of the divine Worker, they are not to crowd too many things into the day's work. If they do this, they will soon have to leave the work entirely, broken down because they have tried to carry too heavy a load. It is right for them to make the best use of the advantages given them of God in earnest efforts for the relief of suffering and for the salvation of souls; but they are not to sacrifice health. We have a calling as much higher than common, selfish interests as the heavens are higher than the earth. But this thought should not lead the willing servants of God to carry all the burdens they can possibly bear, without periods of rest.
How good it would be if among all who are engaged in carrying out God's wonderful plan for the salvation of souls, there were no idlers! How much more would be accomplished if every one would say, "God holds me accountable to be wide awake, and to let my efforts speak in favor of the truth I profess to believe. I am to be a practical worker, not a daydreamer." It is because there are so many daydreamers that true workers have to carry a double burden. Writing by the Spirit, Paul says: "As we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep." "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
It is the part of a medical missionary to minister to the needs of the soul as well as the needs of the body. Those who put the whole soul into the medical missionary work, who labor untiringly in peril, in privation, in watchings oft, in weariness and painfulness, are in danger of forgetting that they must be faithful guardians of their own mental and physical powers. They are not to allow themselves to be overtaxed. But they are filled with zeal and earnestness, and sometimes they move unadvisedly, putting themselves under too heavy a strain. Unless such workers make a change, the result will be that sickness will come upon them, and they will break down.
We need as workers to keep looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. As workers together with God, we are to draw souls to Christ. We are to remember that each has a special part to act in the Master's service. O, how much good the members of the church might accomplish if they realized the responsibility resting upon them to point those with whom they come in contact to the Redeemer. When church members shall disinterestedly engage in the work given them of God, a much stronger influence will be exerted in behalf of souls ready to die, and much more earnest efforts will be put forth in medical missionary lines. When every member of the church does his part faithfully, the workers in the field will be helped and encouraged and the cause of God will move forward with power.
Some of our ministers feel that they must every day perform some labor that they can report to the conference. As a result of trying to do this, their efforts are often weak and inefficient. They should have periods of rest, of entire freedom from taxing labor; but these can not take the place of daily physical exercise.
Brethren, when you take time to cultivate your garden, thus gaining the exercise needed to keep the system in good working order, you are just as much doing the work of God as in holding meetings. God is our Father, he loves us, and he does not require any of his servants to abuse their bodies.
Another cause, both of ill health and of inefficiency in labor, is indigestion. It is impossible for the brain to do its best work when the digestive powers are abused. Many eat hurriedly of various kinds of food; this causes war in the stomach, and confuses the brain. The use of unwholesome food, and overeating of even that which is wholesome, should alike be avoided. Many eat at all hours, regardless of the laws of health. Then gloom covers the mind. How can men be honored with divine enlightenment when they are so reckless in their habits, so inattentive to the light which God has given in regard to these things? Brethren, is it not time for you to be converted on these points of selfish indulgence? "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." Study these words earnestly.
Life is a holy trust, which God alone can enable us to keep, and to use to his glory. But he who formed the wonderful structure of the body will take special care to keep it in order if men do not work at cross-purposes with him. Every talent entrusted to us he will help us to improve and use in accordance with the will of the Giver. Days, months, and years are added to our existence that we may improve our opportunities and advantages for working out our individual salvation, and by our unselfish life promote the well-being of others. Thus may we build up the kingdom of Christ, and make manifest the glory of God. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #26)
There has been a failure to call into exercise talent which should be employed, but which needs development and cultivation. We have had but few ministers and but few men to bear responsibilities, because we have had so few educators. We have lost much because we have not had those who were apt to teach, and who could conduct a training school for the inexperienced, and press them into service.
The real workers in this cause are few, yet the work covers much ground; and it is often impossible for the laborers to look after the interest awakened. They fail to discern that they must enlist the lay members of the church, and teach them to work, that they may hold all that has been gained, and continue to advance. The plan of labor has been such as to lead the people to feel that they could do very little themselves, and if anything was to be accomplished they must have a minister.
Faith is the assent of man's understanding to God's words, and binds the heart to God's service. And whose is man's understanding, if it be not God's? Whose the heart, if it be not God's? To have faith is to render to God the intellect, the energy, that we have received from him; therefore, those who exercise faith do not themselves deserve any credit. Those who believe so firmly in a Heavenly Father that they can trust him with unlimited confidence, those who by faith can reach beyond the grave to the eternal realities, must pour forth to their Maker the confession, "All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee."
Every man, everything, is the property of the Lord. All that man receives from the bounty of heaven is still the Lord's. Whatever knowledge he has that in any way helps him to be an intelligent workman in God's cause is from the Lord, and should be imparted by him to his fellow men, in order that they, too, may become valuable workmen. He to whom God has entrusted unusual gifts should return to the Lord's storehouse that which he has received, by freely giving to others the benefit of his blessing. Thus God will be honored and glorified.
In all departments of the Lord's work, every laborer is to help his fellow laborer. The workers who have had many advantages are to take no credit to themselves, nor are they to think that they deserve praise for using in the service of Christ the talents that he has entrusted to them. They should realize that the non-employment of these capabilities would place upon them a burden of guilt, making them deserving of God's just displeasure and severest judgments.
Heaven bestowed capabilities should not be made to serve selfish ends. Every energy, every endowment, is a talent that should contribute to God's glory by being used in his service. His gifts are to be put out to the exchangers, that he may receive his own with usury. The talents that fit a man for service are entrusted to him, not only that he may be an acceptable worker himself, but that he may also be enabled to teach others who in some respects are deficient.
If in their ministry those whom we teach develop an energy and an intelligence even superior to that which we possess, we should rejoice over the privilege of having a part in the work of training them. But there is danger that some in positions of responsibility as teachers and leaders will act as if talent and ability have been given to them only, and that they must do all the work in order to make sure that it is done right. They are liable to find fault with everything not originated by themselves. A great amount of talent is lost to the cause of God because many laborers, desiring to be first, are willing to lead, but never to follow.
To those upon whom God has bestowed many talents I am instructed to say: Help the inexperienced; discourage them not. Take them into your confidence; give them fatherly counsel, teaching them as you would teach students in a school. Watch not for their mistakes, but recognize their undeveloped talent, and train them to make a right use of these powers. Instruct them with all patience, encouraging them to go forward and to do an important work. Instead of keeping them engaged in doing things of minor importance, give them an opportunity to obtain an experience by which they may develop into trustworthy workers. Much will thus be gained for the cause of God.
Those placed in positions of responsibility should seek to make others familiar with all parts of the work. This will reveal that they do not desire to be first, but that they are glad to have others become acquainted with details, and to become as efficient as they are. Those who faithfully fulfil their duty in this respect will, in time, have standing by their side a large number of intelligent workers; whereas, should they shape matters in accordance with narrow, selfish conceptions, they would stand alone.
Look for the conversion of a large number from the highways and the byways. Unexpected talent will be developed in those in the common walks of life. If men and women can have the message of truth brought to them, many who hear will receive it. Some who are regarded as uneducated will be called to the service of the Master, even as the humble, unlearned fishermen were called by the Saviour. Men will be called from the plow as was Elisha, and will take up the work that God has appointed them. They will begin to labor in simplicity and quietness, reading and explaining the Scriptures to others. Their simple efforts will be successful.
House-to-house work will be done by men and women who realize that they can labor for the Lord because he has put his Spirit upon them. As they go forth in humble faith, Christ will impart to them grace, which they will impart to others. The Lord will give them the same love for perishing souls that he gave to the disciples of old. Christ will be with these workers; angels of heaven will respond to the self-sacrificing efforts they put forth. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus will move upon hearts.. God will work miracles in the conversion of sinners, and the workers will be filled with joy as they see souls converted.
There are men who will spend and be spent to win souls to Christ. In obedience to the great commission, many will go forth to work for the Master. Under the ministration of angels, common men will be moved upon by the Spirit of God and led to warn the people in the highways and byways. These workers are to be strengthened and encouraged, and as fast as possible prepared for labor, that success may crown their efforts. They harmonize with unseen, heavenly instrumentalities. They are workers together with God, and their brethren should wish them Godspeed and pray for them as they labor in Christ's name.
None who catch the divine rays from the Sun of Righteousness will lack for fitting words. It will not be oratory, as the world counts oratory, but heavenly eloquence; they will speak words that will go direct to minds, awakening conviction, and causing their hearers to ask, What is truth? Let men with the love of Jesus in their hearts go forth to give the invitation, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
There are lay members who are fitted to bear responsibilities, and who would do so if there were some one with patience, kindness, and forbearance, who would teach them how to work. Ministers should show a real earnestness in helping such persons to succeed, and should put forth persevering effort to develop talent. The inexperienced are in need of wise generals who by prayer and personal effort will encourage and help them to become perfect in Christ Jesus. This is the work which every gospel minister should endeavor to do.
Men of varied talents and superior ability will unite with us in the work of giving the last message of mercy to a perishing world. My brethren, learn to recognize ability and talent in others besides yourselves. Be examples to the flock. Give to others the benefit of all the knowledge that the Lord has given to you. He has entrusted you with this knowledge that you may impart it. With the same liberality and freedom that the Master teaches you, teach others, binding them to your heart by love and tenderness.
A great work is to be done in America and other lands. The most important duty before those who have been sent out into the fields at home and abroad as missionaries, is to combine the forces and strength of all whom they can possibly enlist as helpers. Thus they can make mighty strokes for their Master. God will do a great work in every part of the field if, with willing hearts, his servants put self out of sight, and labor only for his glory. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #27)
Christ came to this world to live a life of perfect obedience to the laws of God's kingdom. He came to uplift and ennoble human beings, to work out an enduring righteousness for them. He came as a medium through which truth was to be imparted. In him are found all the excellencies necessary to absolute perfection of character. To those who receive him, he gives power to become the sons of God. "The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, . . . full of grace and truth. . . . And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
In Christ "we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." He is "the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." "By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven."
Christ gave up his high command in the heavenly courts, and laying aside his royal robe and kingly crown, he clothed his divinity with humanity. For our sake he became poor in earthly riches and advantages, that human beings might be rich in the eternal weight of glory. He took his place at the head of the human family, and consented to endure in our behalf the trials and temptations that sin has brought. He might have come in power and great glory, escorted by a multitude of heavenly angels. But no; he came in humility, of lowly parentage. He was brought up in an obscure and despised village. He lived a life of poverty, and suffered often with privation and hunger. This he did to show that earthly riches and high rank do not increase the value of souls in the sight of God. He has given us no encouragement to think that riches make men worthy of eternal life. Those church members who, when a brother becomes poor, treat him as if he were unworthy of their notice certainly did not learn this from Christ. To one who, during the Saviour's ministry, offered to follow him as his disciple, Jesus said, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." Those who follow him must share his poverty. "If any man will come after me," he declares, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." "So shall ye be my disciples."
It is submission to sin that brings the great unhappiness of the soul. It is not poverty, but disobedience, that lessens man's hope of gaining eternal life, which the Saviour came to bring him. True riches, true peace, true content, enduring happiness,--these are found only in entire surrender to God, in perfect reconciliation to his will.
Christ came to our world to live a life of stainless purity, thus to show sinners that in his strength they, too, can obey God's holy precepts, the laws of his kingdom. He came to magnify the law and make it honorable by his perfect conformity to its principles. He united humanity and divinity, that fallen human beings might become partakers of the divine nature, and thus escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.
It was from the Father that Christ constantly drew the power that enabled him to keep his life free from spot or stain of sin. It was this power that enabled him to resist temptation. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #28)
"When thou makest a dinner or a supper," Christ said, "call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for they can not recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."
To every worker for God this thought should be a stimulus and an encouragement. In this life, our work for God often seems to be almost fruitless. Our efforts to do good may be earnest and persevering, yet we may not be permitted to witness their results. To us the effort may seem to be lost. But the Saviour assures us that our work is noted in heaven, and that the recompense can not fail. The apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, says, "Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." And in the words of the psalmist we read, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
While the great final reward is given at Christ's coming, truehearted service for God brings a reward even in this life. Obstacles, opposition, and bitter, heartbreaking discouragement, the worker will have to meet. He may not see the fruit of his toil. But in face of all this he finds in his labor a blessed recompense. All who surrender themselves to God in unselfish service for humanity, are in cooperation with the Lord of glory. This thought sweetens all toil; it braces the will; it nerves the spirit for whatever may befall. Working with unselfish heart, ennobled by being partakers of Christ's sufferings, sharing his sympathies, they help to swell the tide of his joy, and bring honor and praise to his exalted name.
In fellowship with God, with Christ, and with holy angels, they are surrounded with a heavenly atmosphere, an atmosphere that brings health to the body, vigor to the intellect, and joy to the soul.
All who consecrate body, soul, and spirit to God's service, will be constantly receiving a new endowment of physical, mental, and spiritual power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of his own Spirit, the life of his own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in heart and mind.
Many are God's promises to those who minister to his afflicted ones. He says: "Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness." "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty." "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again." "The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself."
While much of the fruit of their labor is not apparent in this life, God's workers have his sure promise of ultimate success. As the world's Redeemer, Christ was constantly confronted with apparent failure. He seemed to do little of the work which he longed to do in uplifting and saving. Satanic agencies were constantly working to obstruct his way. But he would not be discouraged. Ever before him he saw the result of his mission. He knew that truth would finally triumph in the contest with evil, and to his disciples he said: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." The life of Christ's disciples is to be like his, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter.
Those who labor for the good of others are working in union with the heavenly angels. They have their constant companionship, their unceasing ministry. Angels of light and power are ever near, to protect, to comfort, to heal, to instruct, to inspire. The highest education, the truest culture, the most exalted service possible to human beings in this world, are theirs.
Often our merciful Father encourages his children and strengthens their faith by permitting them here to see evidence of the power of his grace upon the hearts and lives of those for whom they labor. "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower; and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but . . . it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."
In the transformation of character, the casting out of evil passions, the development of the sweet graces of God's Holy Spirit, we see the fulfillment of the promise, "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree." We behold life's desert "rejoice, and blossom as the rose."
Christ delights to take apparently hopeless material, those whom Satan has debased and through whom he has worked, and make them the subjects of his grace. He rejoices to deliver them from suffering, and from the wrath that is to fall upon the disobedient. He makes his children his agents in the accomplishment of this work; and in its success, even in this life, they find a precious reward.
But what is this compared with the joy that will be theirs in the great day of final reckoning? There will be a blessed commendation, a holy benediction, on the faithful winner of souls; for they will join the rejoicing ones in heaven, who shout the harvest home. How great will be the joy when the redeemed shall all meet, gathered into the mansions prepared for them that love him! What rejoicing for all who have been impartial, unselfish laborers together with God in winning souls to Christ! What satisfaction will every reaper have when the voice of Jesus shall be heard, saying, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
The Redeemer is glorified because he has not died in vain. Those who have been laborers together with God, see, as does Christ, the travail of their souls for perishing, dying sinners, and they are satisfied. The anxious hours they have spent, the perplexing circumstances they have had to meet, the sorrow of heart because some refuse to see and to receive the things that make for their peace,--all are forgotten. As they look upon the souls they sought to win to Christ, and see them saved, eternally saved, monuments of God's mercy and of a Redeemer's love, there ring through the arches of heaven shouts of praise and thanksgiving.
"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests. . . . Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory and blessing."
"They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #30)
Little mention is made in the book of Acts of the later work of the apostle Peter. During the busy years of ministry that followed the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he was among those who put forth untiring efforts to reach the Jews who came to Jerusalem to worship at the time of the annual festivals.
As the number of believers multiplied in Jerusalem and in other places visited by the messengers of the cross, the talents possessed by Peter proved of untold value to the early Christian church. The influence of his testimony concerning Jesus of Nazareth extended far and wide. Upon him had been laid a double responsibility. He bore positive witness concerning the Messiah before unbelievers, laboring earnestly for their conversion; and at the same time he did a special work for believers, strengthening them in the faith of Christ.
It was after Peter had been led to self-renunciation and entire reliance upon divine power that he received his call to act as an undershepherd. Christ had said to Peter before his denial of him, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." These words were significant of the wide and effectual work which this apostle was to do in the future for those who should come to the faith. For this work, Peter's own experience of sin and suffering and repentance had prepared him. Not until he had learned his weakness, could he know the believer's need of dependence on Christ. Amid the storm of temptation he had come to understand that man can walk safely only as in utter self-distrust he relies upon the Saviour.
At the last meeting of Christ with his disciples by the sea, Peter, tested by the thrice-repeated question, "Lovest thou me?" had been restored to his place among the twelve. His work had been appointed him: he was to feed the Lord's flock. Now, converted and accepted, he was not only to seek to save those without the fold, but was to be a shepherd of the sheep.
Christ mentioned to Peter only one condition of service, "Lovest thou me?" This is the essential qualification. Though Peter might possess every other, yet without the love of Christ, he could not be a faithful shepherd over the flock of God. Knowledge, benevolence, eloquence, zeal,--all are essential in the good work; but without the love of Christ in the heart, the work of the Christian minister is a failure.
The love of Christ is not a fitful feeling, but a living principle, which is to be made manifest as an abiding power in the heart. If the character and deportment of the shepherd is an exemplification of the truth he advocates, the Lord will set the seal of his approval to the work. The shepherd and the flock will become one, united by their common hope in Christ.
The Saviour's manner of dealing with Peter had a lesson for him and his brethren. Although Peter had denied his Lord, the love which Jesus bore him had never faltered. And as the apostle should take up the work of ministering the Word to others, he was to meet the transgressor with patience, sympathy, and forgiving love. Remembering his own weakness and failure, He was to deal with the sheep and lambs committed to his care as tenderly as Christ had dealt with him.
Human beings, themselves given to evil, are prone to deal untenderly with the tempted and the erring. They can not read the heart; they know not its struggle and its pain. Of the rebuke that is love, of the blow that wounds to heal, of the warning that speaks hope, they have need to learn.
Throughout his ministry, Peter faithfully watched over the flock entrusted to his care, and thus proved himself worthy of the charge and responsibility given him by the Saviour. Ever he exalted Jesus of Nazareth as the hope of Israel, the Saviour of mankind. He brought his own life under the discipline of the Master Worker. By every means within his power he sought to educate the believers for active service. His godly example and untiring activity inspired many young men of promise to give themselves wholly to the work of the ministry. As time went on, the apostle's influence as an educator and leader increased; and while he never lost his burden to labor especially for the Jews, yet he bore his testimony in many lands, and strengthened the faith of multitudes in the gospel.
In the later years of his ministry, Peter was inspired to write to the believers "scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." His letters were the means of reviving the courage and strengthening the faith of those who were enduring trial and affliction, and of renewing to good works those who through manifold temptations were in danger of losing their hold upon God. These letters bear the impress of having been written by one in whom the sufferings of Christ and also his consolation had been made to abound; one whose entire being had been transformed by divine grace, and whose hope of eternal life was sure and steadfast.
At the very beginning of his first letter, the aged servant of God hastened to ascribe to his Lord a tribute of praise and thanksgiving. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," he exclaimed, "which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
In this hope of a sure inheritance in the earth made new, the early Christians rejoiced, even in times of severe trial and affliction. "Ye greatly rejoice," Peter wrote, "though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, . . . ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
The apostle's words were written for the instruction of believers in every age, and they have a special significance for those who live at the time when the "end of all things is at hand." His exhortations and warnings, and his words of faith and courage, are needed by every soul who would maintain his faith "steadfast unto the end."
The apostle sought to teach the believers how important it is to keep the mind from wandering to forbidden themes, or from spending its energies on trifling subjects. Those who would not fall a prey to Satan's devices, must guard well the avenues of the soul; they must avoid reading, seeing, or hearing that which will suggest impure thoughts. The mind must not be left to dwell at random upon every subject that the enemy of souls may suggest. The heart must be faithfully sentineled, or evils without will awaken evils within, and the soul will wander in darkness. "Gird up the loins of your mind," Peter wrote, "be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; . . . not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy."
"Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God."
Had silver and gold been sufficient to purchase the salvation of men, how easily might it have been accomplished by him who says, "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine." But only by the precious blood of the Son of God could the transgressor be redeemed. The plan of salvation was laid in sacrifice. The apostle Paul wrote, "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." Christ gave himself for us that we might be rich. Christ gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity. And as the crowning blessing of salvation, "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren." Peter continued, "see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." The word of God--the truth--is the channel through which the Lord manifests his Spirit and power. Obedience to the word produces fruit of the required quality--"unfeigned love of the brethren." This love is heavenborn, and leads to high motives and unselfish actions.
When truth becomes an abiding principle in the life, the soul is "born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." This new birth is the result of receiving Christ as the word of God. When by the Holy Spirit divine truths are impressed upon the heart, new conceptions are awakened, and the energies hitherto dormant are aroused to cooperate with God.
Thus it had been with Peter and his fellow disciples. Christ was the revealer of truth to the world. By him the incorruptible seed--the word of God--was sown in the hearts of men. But many of the most precious lessons of the great Teacher were spoken to those who did not then understand them. When, after his ascension, the Holy Spirit brought his teachings to the remembrance of the disciples, their slumbering senses awoke. The meaning of these truths flashed upon their minds as a new revelation, and truth, pure and unadulterated, made a place for itself. Then the wonderful experience of his life became theirs. The Word bore testimony through them, the men of his appointment, and they proclaimed the mighty truth, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. . . . And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace." (To be continued.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #31)
The apostle exhorted the believers to study the Scriptures, through a proper understanding of which they might make sure work for eternity. Peter realized that in the experience of every soul who is finally victorious there would be scenes of perplexity and trial; but he knew also that an understanding of the Scriptures would enable the tempted one to bring to mind promises that would comfort the heart and strengthen faith in the Mighty One.
"All flesh is as grass," he declared, "and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: but the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious."
Many of the believers to whom Peter addressed his letters, were living in the midst of heathen, and much depended on their remaining true to the high calling of their profession. The apostle urged upon them their privileges as followers of Christ Jesus. "Ye are a chosen generation," he wrote, "a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
"Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."
The apostle plainly outlined the attitude that believers should sustain toward the civil authorities: "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king."
Those who were servants were advised to remain subject to their masters "with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy," the apostle explained, "if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
The apostle exhorted the women in the faith to be chaste in conversation and modest in dress and deportment. "Whose adorning," he counseled, "let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
The lesson applies to believers in every age. "By their fruits ye shall know them." The inward adorning of a meek and quite spirit is priceless. In the life of the true Christian the outward adorning is always in harmony with the inward peace and holiness. "If any man will come after me," Christ said, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Self-denial and sacrifice will mark the Christian's life. Evidence that the taste is converted will be seen in the dress of all who walk in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord.
It is right to love beauty and to desire it; but God desires us to love and seek first the highest beauty, that which is imperishable. No outward adorning can compare in value or loveliness with that "meek and quiet spirit," the "fine linen, white and clean," which all the holy ones of earth will wear. This apparel will make them beautiful and beloved here, and will hereafter be their badge of admission to the palace of the King. His promise is, "They shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy." (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #32)
Looking forward with prophetic vision to the perilous times into which the church of Christ was to enter, the apostle exhorted the believers to steadfastness in the face of trial and suffering. "Beloved," he wrote, "think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you."
Trial is part of the education given in the school of Christ, to purify God's children from the dross of earthliness. It is because God is leading his children, that trying experiences come to them. Trials and obstacles are his chosen methods of discipline, and his appointed conditions of success. He who reads the hearts of men knows their weaknesses better than they themselves can know them. He sees that some have qualifications which, if rightly directed, could be used in the advancement of his work. In his providence he brings these souls into different positions and varied circumstances, that they may discover the defects that are concealed from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to overcome these defects, and to fit themselves for service. Often he permits the fires of affliction to burn, that they may be purified.
God's care for his heritage is unceasing. He suffers no affliction to come upon his children but such as is essential for their present and eternal good. He will purify his church, even as Christ purified the temple during his ministry on earth. All that he brings upon his people in test and trial comes that they may gain deeper piety and greater strength to carry forward the triumphs of the cross.
There had been a time in Peter's experience when he was unwilling to see the cross in the work of Christ. When the Saviour made known to the disciples his impending sufferings and death, Peter exclaimed, "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee." Self-pity, which shrank from fellowship with Christ in suffering, prompted Peter's remonstrance. It was to the disciple a bitter lesson, and one which he learned but slowly, that the path of Christ on earth lay through agony and humiliation. But in the heat of the furnace fire he was to learn its lesson. Now, when his once active form was bowed with the burden of years and labors, he could write, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
Addressing the church elders regarding their responsibilities as undershepherds of God's flock, the apostle wrote: "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
Those who occupy the position of undershepherds are to exercise a watchful diligence over the Lord's flock. This is not to be a dictatorial vigilance, but one that tends to encourage and strengthen and uplift. Ministry means more than sermonizing; it means earnest, personal labor. The church on earth is composed of erring men and women, who need patient, painstaking effort that they may be trained and disciplined to work with acceptance in this life, and in the future life to be crowned with glory and immortality. Pastors are needed--faithful shepherds--who will not flatter God's people, nor treat them harshly, but who will feed them with the bread of life,--men who in their lives feel daily the converting power of the Holy Spirit, and who cherish a strong, unselfish love toward those for whom they labor.
There is tactful work for the undershepherd to do as he is called to meet alienation, bitterness, envy, and jealousy in the church, and he will need to labor in the spirit of Christ to set things in order. Faithful warnings are to be given, sins rebuked, wrongs made right, not only by the minister's work in the pulpit, but by personal labor. The wayward heart may take exception to the message, and the servant of God may be misjudged and criticized. Let him then remember that "the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
The work of the gospel minister is "to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God." If one entering upon this work chooses the least self-sacrificing part, contenting himself with preaching, and leaving the work of personal ministry for some one else, his labors will not be acceptable to God. Souls for whom Christ died are perishing for want of well-directed, personal labor; and he has mistaken his calling who, entering upon the ministry, is unwilling to do the personal work that the care of the flock demands.
The spirit of the true shepherd is one of self-forgetfulness. He loses sight of self in order that he may work the works of God. By preaching of the word and by personal ministry in the homes of the people, he learns their needs, their sorrows, their trials; and, cooperating with the great Burden Bearer, he shares their afflictions, comforts their distresses, relieves their soul hunger, and wins their hearts to God. In this work the minister is attended by the angels of heaven, and he himself is instructed and enlightened in the truth that maketh wise unto salvation.
In connection with his instruction to those in positions of trust in the church, the apostle outlined some general principles that were to be followed by all who were associated in church fellowship. The younger members of the flock were urged to follow the example of their elders in the practise of Christlike humility. "Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith."
Thus Peter wrote to the believers at a time of peculiar trial to the church. Many had already become partakers of Christ's sufferings, and soon the church was to undergo a period of terrible persecution. Within a few brief years many of those who had stood as teachers and leaders in the church were to lay down their lives for the gospel. Soon grievous wolves were to enter in, not sparing the flock. But none of these things were to bring discouragement to those believers whose hopes were centered in Christ. With words of encouragement and good cheer Peter directed the minds of the believers from present trials and future scenes of suffering "to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." "The God of all grace," he fervently prayed, "who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #34)
By a misconception of the true nature and object of education many have been led into serious and even fatal errors. Such a mistake is made when the regulation of the heart or the establishment of right principles is neglected in an effort to secure intellectual culture, or when eternal interests are overlooked in the eager desire for temporal advantage.
It is right for the youth to feel that they must reach the highest development of their natural powers. We would not restrict the education to which God has set no limit. But our attainments will avail nothing if not put to use for the honor of God and the good of humanity. Unless our knowledge is a steppingstone to the accomplishment of the highest purposes, it is worthless.
The necessity of establishing Christian schools is urged upon me very strongly. In the schools of today many things are taught that are a hindrance rather than a blessing. Schools are needed where the Word of God is made the basis of education. Satan is the great enemy of God, and it is his constant aim to lead souls away from their allegiance to the King of heaven. He would have minds so trained that men and women will exert their influence on the side of error and moral corruption, instead of using their talents in the service of God. His object is effectually gained, when, by perverting their ideas of education, he succeeds in enlisting parents and teachers on his side; for a wrong education often starts the mind on the road to infidelity.
In many of the schools and colleges of today, the conclusions which learned men have reached as the result of their scientific investigations are carefully taught and fully explained; while the impression is distinctly made that if these learned men are correct, the Bible can not be. The thorns of skepticism are disguised; they are concealed by the bloom and verdure of science and philosophy. Skepticism is attractive to the human mind. The young see in it an independence that captivates the imagination, and they are deceived. Satan triumphs; it is as he meant it should be. He nourishes every seed of doubt that is sown in young hearts, and soon a plentiful harvest of infidelity is reaped.
We can not afford to allow the minds of our youth to be thus leavened; for it is on these youth we must depend to carry forward the work of the future. We desire for them something more than the opportunity for education in the sciences. The science of true education is the truth, which is to be so deeply impressed on the soul that it can not be obliterated by the error that everywhere abounds.
The Word of God should have a place--the first place--in every system of education. As an educating power, it is of more value than the writings of all the philosophers of all ages. In its wide range of style and subjects there is something to interest and instruct every mind, to ennoble every interest. The light of revelation shines undimmed into the distant past where human annals cast not a ray of light. There is poetry which has called forth the wonder and admiration of the world. In glowing beauty, in sublime and solemn majesty, in touching pathos, it is unequaled by the most brilliant productions of human genius. There is sound logic and impassioned eloquence. There are portrayed the noble deeds of noble men, examples of private virtue and public honor, lessons of piety and purity.
There is no position in life, no phase of human experience, for which the Bible does not contain valuable instruction. Ruler and subject, master and servant, buyer and seller, borrower and lender, parent and child, teacher and student,--all may here find lessons of priceless worth.
But above all else, the Word of God sets forth the plan of salvation: shows how sinful man may be reconciled to God, lays down the great principles of truth and duty which should govern our lives, and promises us divine aid in their observance. It reaches beyond this fleeting life, beyond the brief and troubled history of our race. It opens to our view the long vista of eternal ages,--ages undarkened by sin, undimmed by sorrow. It teaches us how we may share the habitations of the blessed, and bids us anchor our hopes and fix our affections there.
The true motives of service are to be kept before old and young. The students are to be taught in such a way that they will develop into useful men and women. Every means that will elevate and ennoble them is to be employed. They are to be taught to put their powers to the best use. Physical and mental powers are to be equally taxed. Habits of order and discipline are to be cultivated. The power that is exerted by a pure, true life is to be kept before the students. This will aid them in the preparation for useful service. Daily they will grow purer and stronger, better prepared through His grace and a study of his Word, to put forth aggressive efforts against evil.
True education is the inculcation of those ideas that will impress the mind and heart with the knowledge of God the Creator and Jesus Christ the Redeemer. Such an education will renew the mind and transform the character. It will strengthen and fortify the mind against the deceptive whisperings of the adversary of souls, and enable us to understand the voice of God. It will fit the learned to become a coworker with Christ.
If our youth gain this knowledge, they will be able to gain all the rest that is essential; but if not, all the knowledge they may acquire from the world will not place them in the ranks of the Lord. They may gather all the knowledge that books can give, and yet be ignorant of the first principles of that righteousness which could give them a character approved of God.
Those who are seeking to acquire knowledge in the schools of earth should remember that another school also claims them as students,--the school of Christ. From this school the students are never graduated. Among the pupils are both old and young. Those who give heed to the instructions of the divine Teacher are constantly gaining more wisdom and nobility of soul, and thus they are prepared to enter that higher school, where advancement will continue throughout eternity.
Infinite Wisdom sets before us the great lessons of life,--the lessons of duty and happiness. These are often hard to learn, but without them we can make no real progress. They may cost us effort, tears, and even agony; but we must not falter nor grow weary. It is in this world, amid its trials and temptations, that we are to gain a fitness for the society of the pure and holy angels. Those who become so absorbed in less important studies that they cease to learn in the school of Christ, are meeting with infinite loss.
Every faculty, every attribute, with which the Creator has endowed the children of men, is to be employed for his glory; and in this employment is found its purest, noblest, happiest exercise. The principles of heaven should be made paramount in the life, and every advance step taken in the acquirement of knowledge or in the culture of the intellect should be a step toward the assimilation of the human to the divine.
To many who place their children in our schools strong temptations will come because they desire them to secure what the world regards as the most essential education. But what constitutes the most essential education, unless it be the education to be obtained from that Book which is the foundation of all true knowledge? Those who regard as essential the knowledge to be gained along the line of worldly education are making a great mistake, one which will cause them to be swayed by opinions that are human and erring.
Those who seek the education that the world esteems so highly are gradually led farther and farther from the principles of truth until they become educated worldlings. At what a price have they gained their education! They have parted with the Holy Spirit of God. They have chosen to accept what the world calls knowledge in place of the truths that God has committed to men through his ministers and prophets and apostles.
Upon fathers and mothers devolves the responsibility of giving a Christian education to the children entrusted to them. In no case are they to let any line of business so absorb mind and time and talents that their children are allowed to drift until they are separated far from God. They are not to allow their children to slip out of their grasp into the hands of unbelievers. They are to do all in their power to keep them from imbibing the spirit of the world. They are to train them to become workers together with God. They are to God's human hand, fitting themselves and their children for an endless life.
There is earnest work to be done for the children. Before the overflowing scourge shall come upon all the dwellers on the earth, the Lord calls on those who are Israelites indeed to serve him. Gather your children into your own houses; gather them in from the classes who are voicing the words of Satan, who are disobeying the commandments of God. Let us in our educational work embrace far more of the children and youth, and there will be a whole army of missionaries raised up to work for God.
Our educational institutions are to do much toward meeting the demands for trained workers for the mission fields. Workers are needed all over the world. The truth of God is to be carried to foreign lands, that those who are in darkness may be enlightened. Cultivated talents are needed in every part of the work of God. God has designed that our schools shall be an instrumentality for developing workers for him,--workers of whom he will not be ashamed. He calls upon our young people to enter our schools, and quickly fit themselves for service. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #35)
The desire for excitement and pleasing entertainment is a temptation and a snare to God's people, and especially to the young. Satan is constantly preparing inducements to attract minds from the solemn work of preparation for scenes just in the future. Through the agency of worldlings he keeps up a continual excitement to induce the unwary to join in worldly pleasures. There are shows, lectures, and an endless variety of entertainments that are calculated to lead to a love of the world; and through this union with the world faith is weakened.
Satan is a persevering workman, an artful, deadly foe. Whenever an incautious word is spoken, whether in flattery or to cause the youth to look upon some sin with less abhorrence, he takes advantage of it, and nourishes the evil seed, that it may take root and yield a bountiful harvest. He is in every sense of the word a deceiver, a skilful charmer. He has many finely woven nets, which appear innocent, but which are skilfully prepared to entangle the young and unwary. The natural mind leans toward pleasure and self-gratification. It is Satan's policy to manufacture an abundance of this. He seeks to fill the mind with a desire for worldly amusement, that there may be no time for the question, How is it with my soul?
We are living in an unfortunate age for the young. The prevailing influence in society is in favor of allowing the youth to follow the natural turn of their own minds. If their children are very wild, parents flatter themselves that when they are older and reason for themselves, they will leave off their wrong habits, and become useful men and women. What a mistake! For years they permit an enemy to sow the garden of the heart, and suffer wrong principles to grow and strengthen, seeming not to discern the hidden dangers and the fearful ending of the path that seems to them the way of happiness. In many cases all the labor afterward bestowed upon these youth will avail nothing.
The standard of piety is low among professed Christians generally, and it is hard for the young to resist the worldly influences that are encouraged by many church members. The majority of nominal Christians, while they profess to be living for Christ, are really living for the world. They do not discern the excellence of heavenly things, and therefore can not truly love them. Many profess to be Christians because Christianity is considered honorable. They do not discern that genuine Christianity means cross-bearing, and their religion has little influence to restrain them from taking part in worldly pleasures.
Some can enter the ballroom, and unite in all the amusements which it affords. Others can not go to such lengths as this, yet they can attend parties of pleasure, picnics, shows, and other places of worldly amusement; and the most discerning eye would fail to detect any difference between their appearance and that of unbelievers.
In the present state of society it is no easy task for parents to restrain their children, and instruct them according to the Bible rule of right. Children often become impatient under restraint, and wish to have their own way and to go and come as they please. Especially from the age of ten to eighteen they are inclined to feel that there can be no harm in going to worldly gatherings of young associates. But the experienced Christian parents can see danger. They are acquainted with the peculiar temperaments of their children, and know the influence of these things upon their minds; and from a desire for their salvation, they should keep them back from these exciting amusements.
When the children decide for themselves to leave the pleasures of the world, and to become Christ's disciples, what a burden is lifted from the hearts of careful, faithful parents! Yet even then the labors of the parents must not cease. These youth have just commenced in earnest the warfare against sin, and against the evils of the natural heart, and they need in a special sense the counsel and watchcare of their parents.
A Time of Trial Before the Young.--Young Sabbath-keepers who have yielded to the influence of the world, will have to be tested and proved. The perils of the last days are upon us, and a trial is before the young which many have not anticipated. They will be brought into distressing perplexity, and the genuineness of their faith will be proved. They profess to be looking for the Son of man; yet some of them have been a miserable example to unbelievers. They have not been willing to give up the world, but have united with the world in attending picnics and other gatherings for pleasure, flattering themselves that they were engaging in innocent amusement. Yet it is just such indulgences that separate them from God, and make them children of the world.
Some are constantly leaning to the world. Their views and feelings harmonize much better with the spirit of the world than with that of Christ's self-denying followers. It is perfectly natural that they should prefer the company of those whose spirit will best agree with their own. And such have quite too much influence among God's people. They take part with them, and have a name among them; and they are a text for unbelievers, and for the weak and unconsecrated ones in the church. In this refining time these professors will either be wholly converted, and sanctified by obedience to the truth, or they will be left with the world, to receive their reward with the worldling.
God does not own the pleasure-seeker as his follower. Those only who are self-denying, and who live lives of sobriety, humility, and holiness, are true followers of Jesus. And such can not enjoy the frivolous, empty conversation of the lover of the world.
Separation from the World.--The true followers of Christ will have sacrifices to make. They will shun places of worldly amusement because they find no Jesus there,--no influence which will make them heavenly minded, and increase their growth in grace. Obedience to the Word of God will lead them to come out from all these things, and be separate.
"By their fruits ye shall know them," the Saviour declared. All the true followers of Christ bear fruit to his glory. Their lives testify that a good work has been wrought in them by the Spirit of God, and their fruit is unto holiness. Their lives are elevated and pure. Right actions are the unmistakable fruit of true godliness, and those who bear no fruit of this kind reveal that they have no experience in the things of God. They are not in the Vine. Said Jesus, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch can not bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."
Those who would be worshipers of the true God must sacrifice every idol. Jesus said to the lawyer, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." The first four precepts of the decalogue allow no separation of the affections from God. Nor must anything share our supreme delight in him. We can not advance in Christian experience until we put away everything that separates us from God.
The great Head of the church, who has chosen his people out of the world, requires them to be separate from the world. He designs that the spirit of his commandments, by drawing his followers to himself, shall separate them from worldly elements. To love God and keep his commandments is far away from loving the world's pleasures, and its friendship. There is no concord between Christ and Belial.
The youth who follow Christ have a warfare before them; they have a daily cross to bear in coming out of the world and imitating the life of Christ. But there are many precious promises on record for those who seek the Saviour early. Wisdom calls to the sons of men, "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me." They will find that "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #36)
More than half a century had passed since the organization of the Christian church. During that time the gospel message had been constantly opposed. Its enemies had never relaxed their efforts, and had at last succeeded in enlisting the power of the Roman emperor against the Christians.
In the terrible persecution that followed, the apostle John did much to confirm and strengthen the faith of the believers. He bore a testimony which his adversaries could not controvert, and which helped his brethren to meet with courage and loyalty the trials that came upon them. When the faith of the Christians would seem to waver under the fierce opposition they were forced to meet, the old, tried servant of Jesus would repeat with power and eloquence the story of the crucified and risen Saviour. He steadfastly maintained his faith, and from his lips came ever the same glad message: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; . . . that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you."
John lived to be very old. He witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the ruin of the stately temple. The last survivor of the disciples who had been intimately connected with the Saviour, his message had great influence in setting forth the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, the Redeemer of the world. No one could doubt his sincerity, and through his teachings many were continually turning from unbelief.
The rulers of the Jews were filled with bitter hatred against John for his unwavering fidelity to the cause of Christ. They declared that their efforts against the Christians would avail nothing so long as John's testimony kept ringing in the ears of the people. In order that the miracles and teachings of Jesus might be forgotten, the voice of the bold witness must be silenced.
John was accordingly summoned to Rome to be tried for his faith. Here before the authorities the apostle's doctrines were misstated. False witnesses accused him of teaching seditious heresies. By these accusations his enemies hoped to bring about the disciple's death.
John answered for himself in a clear and convincing manner, and with such simplicity and candor that his words had a powerful effect. His hearers were astonished at his wisdom and eloquence. But the more convincing his testimony, the deeper was the hatred of his opposers. The emperor Domitian was filled with rage. He could not dispute the reasoning of Christ's faithful advocate, nor match the power that attended his utterance of truth; yet he determined that he would silence his voice.
John was cast into a caldron of boiling oil; but the Lord preserved the life of his faithful servant, even as he preserved the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace. As the words were spoken, Thus perish all who believe in that deceiver, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, John declared, My Master patiently submitted to all that Satan and his angels could devise to humiliate and torture him. He gave his life to save the world. I am honored in being permitted to suffer for his sake. I am a weak, sinful man. Christ was holy, harmless, undefiled. He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. These words had their influence, and John was removed from the caldron by the very men who had cast him in.
Again the hand of persecution fell heavily upon the apostle. By the emperor's decree, John was banished to the isle of Patmos, condemned, "for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." Here, his enemies thought, his influence would no longer be felt, and he must finally die of hardship and distress.
To outward appearance, the enemies of truth were triumphing, but God's hand was moving unseen in the darkness. God permitted his faithful servant to be placed where Christ could give him a more wonderful revelation of himself, and of divine truth for the enlightenment of the churches. In exiling John the enemies of truth had hoped to silence forever the voice of the faithful disciple; but on Patmos he received a message, the influence of which his enemies could not destroy, and which was to continue to strengthen the church to the end of time. Though not released from the responsibility of their wrong act, those who exiled John became instruments in the hands of God to carry out his purpose; and the very effort to extinguish the light placed the truth in bold relief.
Patmos, a barren, rocky island in the Aegean Sea, had been chosen by the Roman government as a place of banishment for criminals; but to the servant of God this gloomy abode became the gate of heaven. Here, shut away from the busy scenes of life, and from the active labors of former years, he had the companionship of God and Christ and the heavenly angels, and from them he received instruction for the church for all future time. The events that would take place in the closing scenes of this earth's history were outlined before him; and there he wrote out the visions he received from God. When his voice could no longer testify to the One whom he loved and served, the messages given him on that barren coast were to go forth as a lamp that burneth, declaring the sure purpose of the Lord concerning every nation on the earth.
Among the cliffs and rocks of Patmos, John held communion with his Maker. He reviewed his past life, and at thought of the blessings he had received, peace filled his heart. He had lived the life of a Christian, and he could say in faith, "We know that we have passed from death unto life." Not so the emperor who had banished him. He could look back only on fields of warfare and carnage, on desolated homes, on weeping widows and orphans, the fruit of his ambitious desire for preeminence.
In his isolated home John was able to study more closely than ever before the manifestations of divine power as recorded in the book of nature and in the pages of inspiration. To him it was a delight to meditate on the work of creation, and to adore the divine Architect. In former years his eyes had been greeted by the sight of forest covered hills, green valleys, and fruitful plains; and in the beauties of nature it had ever been his delight to trace the wisdom and skill of the Creator. He was now surrounded by scenes that to many would appear gloomy and uninteresting; but to John it was otherwise. While his surroundings might be desolate and barren, the blue heavens that bent above him were as bright and beautiful as the skies above his loved Jerusalem. In the wild, rugged rocks, in the mysteries of the deep, in the glories of the firmament, he read important lessons. All bore the message of God's power and glory.
All around him the apostle beheld witnesses to the flood that had deluged the earth because the inhabitants ventured to transgress the law of God. The rocks thrown up from the great deep and from the earth, by the breaking forth of the waters, brought vividly to his mind the terrors of that awful outpouring of God's wrath. In the voice of many waters--deep calling unto deep--the prophet heard the voice of the Creator. The sea, lashed to fury by the merciless winds, represented to him the wrath of an offended God. The mighty waves, in their terrible commotion restrained within limits appointed by an invisible hand, spoke of the control of an infinite Power. And in contrast he realized the weakness and folly of mortals, who, though but worms of the dust, glory in their supposed wisdom and strength, and set their hearts against the Ruler of the universe, as if God were altogether such a one as themselves. By the rocks he was reminded of Christ, the Rock of his strength, in whose shelter he could hide without fear. From the exiled apostle on rocky Patmos there went up the most ardent longing of soul after God, the most fervent prayers. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #37)
The history of John affords a striking illustration of the way in which God can use aged workers. When John was exiled to the isle of Patmos, there were many who thought him to be past service, an old and broken reed, ready to fall at any time. But the Lord saw fit to use him still. Though banished from the scenes of his former labor, he did not cease to bear witness to the truth. Even in Patmos he made friends and converts. His was a message of joy, proclaiming a risen Saviour who on high was interceding for his people until he should return to take them to himself. And it was after John had grown old in the service of his Lord that he received more communications from heaven than he had received during the rest of his lifetime.
The most tender regard should be cherished for those whose life interest has been bound up with the work of God. These aged workers have stood faithful amid storm and trial. They may have infirmities, but they still possess talents that qualify them to stand in their place in God's cause. Though worn, and unable to bear the heavier burdens that younger men can and should carry, the counsel that they can give is of the highest value.
They may have made mistakes, but from their failures they have learned to avoid errors and dangers, and are they not therefore competent to give wise counsel? They have borne test and trial, and though they have lost some of their vigor, the Lord does not lay them aside. He gives them special grace and wisdom.
Those who have served their Master when the work went hard, who endured poverty, and remained faithful when there were few to stand for truth, are to be honored and respected. The Lord desires the younger laborers to gain wisdom, strength, and maturity by association with these faithful men. Let the younger men realize that in having such workers among them they are highly favored. Let them give them an honored place in their councils.
As those who have spent their lives in the service of Christ draw near to the close of their earthly ministry, they will be impressed by the Holy Spirit to recount the experiences that they have had in connection with his work. The record of his wonderful dealings with his people, of his great goodness in delivering them from trial, should be repeated to those newly come to the faith. God desires the old and tried laborers to stand in their place, doing their part to save men and women from being swept downward by the mighty current of evil. He desires them to keep the armor on till he bids them lay it down.
In the experience of the apostle John during his persecution, there is a lesson of wonderful strength and comfort for the people of God. God does not prevent the plottings of wicked men, but he causes their devices to work for good to those who in trial and conflict maintain their faith and loyalty. Often the gospel worker carries on his work amid storms of persecution, bitter opposition, and unjust reproach. At such times let him remember that the experience to be gained in the furnace of trial and affliction is worth more than all the pain it costs. Thus God brings his children near to him, that he may show them their weakness and his strength. He teaches them to lean on him. Thus he prepares them to meet emergencies, to fill positions of trust, and to accomplish the great purpose for which their powers were given them.
In all ages God's appointed witnesses have exposed themselves to reproach and persecution for the truth's sake. Joseph was maligned and persecuted because he preserved his virtue and integrity. David, the chosen messenger of God, was hunted like a beast of prey by his enemies. Daniel was cast into a den of lions because he was true to his allegiance to heaven. Job was deprived of his worldly possessions, and so afflicted in body that he was abhorred by his relatives and friends; yet he maintained his integrity. Jeremiah could not be deterred from speaking the words that God had given him to speak; and his testimony so enraged the king and princes that he was cast into a loathsome pit. Stephen was stoned because he preached Christ and him crucified. Paul was imprisoned, beaten with rods, stoned, and finally put to death because he was a faithful messenger for God to the Gentiles. And John was banished to the isle of Patmos "for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."
These examples of human steadfastness bear witness to the faithfulness of God's promises,--of his abiding presence and sustaining grace. They testify to the power of faith to withstand the powers of the world. It is the work of faith to rest in God in the darkest hour, to feel, however sorely tried and tempest tossed, that our Father is at the helm. The eye of faith alone can look beyond the things of time to estimate aright the worth of eternal riches.
Jesus does not present to his followers the hope of attaining earthly glory and riches, of living a life free from trial. Instead, he calls upon them to follow him in the path of self-denial and reproach. He who came to redeem the world was opposed by the united forces of evil. In an unpitying confederacy, evil men and evil angels arrayed themselves against the Prince of Peace. His every word and act revealed divine compassion, yet his unlikeness to the world provoked the bitterest hostility.
So it will be with all who will live godly in Christ Jesus. Persecution and reproach await all who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ. The character of the persecution changes with the times, but the principle--the spirit that underlies it--is the same that has slain the chosen of the Lord ever since the days of Abel.
In all ages Satan has persecuted the people of God. He has tortured them and put them to death, but in dying they became conquerors. They bore witness to the power of One mightier than Satan. Wicked men may torture and kill the body, but they can not touch the life that is hid with Christ in God. They can incarcerate men and women in prison walls, but they can not bind the spirit.
Through trial and persecution the glory--the character--of God is revealed in his chosen ones. The believers in Christ, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. On earth they walk in narrow paths; they are purified in the furnace of affliction. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial, and experience bitter disappointments; but their experience teaches them the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christ's sufferings, they can look beyond the gloom to the glory, saying, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #38)
In the second letter addressed by Peter to those who had obtained "like precious faith" with himself, the apostle sets forth the divine plan for the development of Christian character. He writes:--
"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
"And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
These words are full of instruction, and strike the keynote of victory. The apostle presents before the believers the ladder of Christian perfection, every step of which represents continual advancement in the knowledge of God, and in the climbing of which there is to be no standstill. Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity are the rounds of the ladder. We are saved by climbing round after round, mounting step after step, to the height of Christ's ideal for us. Thus he is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
God has called his people to glory and virtue, and these will be manifest in the lives of all who are truly connected with him. Having become partakers of the heavenly gift, they are to go on to perfection, being "kept by the power of God through faith." It is the glory of God to give his virtue to his children. He desires to see men and women reaching the highest standard; and when by faith they lay hold of the power of Christ, when they plead his unfailing promises, and claim them as their own, when with an importunity that will not be denied they seek for the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be made complete in him.
Having received the faith of the gospel, the next work of the believer is to add to his character virtue, and thus cleanse the heart and prepare the mind for the reception of the knowledge of God. This knowledge is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation; and it is this alone that can make one like God in character. Through the knowledge of God and of his Son Jesus Christ, are given to the believer "all things that pertain unto life and godliness." No good gift is withheld from him who sincerely desires to obtain the righteousness of God.
"This is life eternal," Christ said, "that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." And the prophet Jeremiah declared: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.." Scarcely can the human mind comprehend the breadth and depth and height of the spiritual attainments of him who gains this knowledge.
None need fail of attaining, in his sphere, to perfection of Christian character. By the sacrifice of Christ, provision has been made for the believer to receive all things that pertain to life and godliness. God calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection, and places before us the example of Christ's character. In his humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance of evil, the Saviour showed that through cooperation with divinity human beings may in this life attain to perfection of a character. This is God's assurance to us that we too may obtain complete victory.
Before the believer is held out the wonderful possibility of being like Christ, obedient to all the principles of the law. But of himself man is utterly unable to reach this condition. The holiness that God's Word declares he must have before he can be saved, is the result of the working of divine grace, as he bows in submission to the discipline and restraining influences of the Spirit of truth. Man's obedience can be made perfect only by the incense of Christ's righteousness, which fills with divine fragrance every act of obedience. The part of the Christian is to persevere in overcoming every fault. Constantly he is to pray to the Saviour to heal the disorders of his sinsick soul. He has not the wisdom nor the strength to overcome; these belong to the Lord, and he bestows them on those who in humiliation and contrition seek him for help.
The work of transformation from unholiness to holiness is a continuous one. Day by day God labors for man's sanctification, and man is to cooperate with him, putting forth persevering efforts in the cultivation of right habits. He is to add grace to grace; and as he thus works on the plan of addition, God works for him on the plan of multiplication. He is always ready to hear and answer the prayer of the contrite heart, and grace and peace are multiplied to his faithful ones. Gladly he grants them the blessings that they need in their struggle against the evils that beset them.
There are those who attempt to ascend the ladder of Christian progress; but as they advance, they begin to put their trust in the power of man, and soon lose sight of Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith. The result is failure--the loss of all that has been gained. Sad indeed is the condition of those who, becoming weary of the way, allow the enemy of souls to rob them of the Christian graces that have been developing in their hearts and lives. "He that lacketh these things," declares the apostle, "is blind, and can not see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."
The apostle Peter had had a long experience in the things of God. His faith in God's power to save had strengthened with the years, until he had proved beyond question that there is no possibility of failure before the one who, advancing by faith, ascends round by round, ever upward and onward, to the topmost round of the ladder that reaches even to the portals of heaven. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #39)
For many years Peter had been urging the believers to grow in grace and in a knowledge of the truth; and now, knowing that soon he would be called upon to suffer martyrdom for his faith, he once more drew attention to the precious privileges within the reach of every believer. In the full assurance of his faith, the aged disciple exhorted his brethren to steadfastness of purpose in the Christian life. "Give diligence," he pleaded, "to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Precious assurance! Glorious is the hope set before the believer as he advances by faith toward the heights of Christian perfection!
"I will not be negligent," the apostle continues, "to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance."
The apostle was well qualified to speak of the purposes of God concerning the human race; for during the earthly ministry of Christ he had seen and heard much that pertained to the kingdom of God. "We have not followed cunningly devised fables," he reminded the believers, "when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount."
Convincing as was this evidence of the certainty of the believers' hope, there was yet another still more convincing in the witness of prophecy, through which the faith of all might be confirmed and securely anchored. "We have also," Peter declared, "a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the daystar arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
While exalting the "sure word of prophecy" as a safe guide in times of peril, the apostle solemnly warned the church against the torch of false prophecy, which would be uplifted by "false teachers," who would privily bring in "damnable heresies, even denying the Lord." These false teachers arising in the church are accounted true by many of their brethren in the faith, but the apostle compared them to "wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever." "The latter end is worse with them," he declared, "than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them."
Looking down through the ages to the close of time, Peter was inspired to outline conditions that would exist in the world just prior to the second coming of Christ. "There shall come in the last days scoffers," he wrote, "walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." But "when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them." Not all, however, would be ensnared by the enemy's devices. As the end of all things earthly approached, there would be faithful ones able to discern the signs of the times. While a larger number of professing believers would deny their faith by their works, there would be a remnant who would endure to the end.
Peter kept alive in his heart the hope of Christ's return, and he assured the church of the certain fulfilment of the Saviour's promise, "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself." To the tried and faithful ones the coming might seem long delayed, but the apostle assured them: "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
"Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found to him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you. . . . Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
In the providence of God, Peter was permitted to close his ministry in Rome, where his imprisonment was ordered by the emperor Nero about the time of Paul's final arrest. Thus the two veteran apostles, who for many years had been widely separated in their labors, were called upon to bear their last witness for Christ in the world's metropolis, and upon its soil to shed their blood as the seed of a vast harvest of saints and martyrs.
Since his reinstatement after his denial of Christ, Peter had unflinchingly braved danger, and had shown a noble courage and boldness in preaching a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour. As he lay in his cell, he called to mind the words that Christ had spoken to him: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." Thus Jesus had made known to the disciple the very manner of his death, and even foretold the stretching of his hands upon the cross.
Peter, as a Jew and a foreigner, was condemned to be scourged and crucified. In prospect of this fearful death, the apostle remembered his great sin in denying Jesus in the hour of his trial. Once so unready to acknowledge the cross, he now counted it a joy to yield up his life for the gospel, feeling only that for him who had denied his Lord, to die in the same manner as his Master died was too great an honor. Peter had sincerely repented of that sin, and had been forgiven by Christ, as is shown by the high commission given him to feed the sheep and lambs of the flock. But he could never forgive himself. Not even the thought of the agonies of the last terrible scene could lessen the bitterness of his sorrow and repentance. As a last favor, he entreated his executioners that he might be nailed to the cross with his head downward. The request was granted, and in this manner died the great apostle Peter. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #40)
Notwithstanding all that has been said and written regarding the dignity of manual labor, the feeling prevails that it is degrading. The opinion of men has, in many minds, changed the order of things, and men have come to think that it is not fitting for a man who works with his hands to take his place among gentlemen. Men work hard to obtain money; and having gained wealth, they suppose that their money will make their sons gentlemen. But many such men fail to train their sons, as they themselves were trained, to hard, useful labor. Their sons spend the money earned by the labor of others, without understanding its value. Thus they misuse a talent that the Lord designed should be used to accomplish much good.
The Lord's purposes are not the purposes of men. He did not design that men should live in idleness. In the beginning, he created man a gentleman; but though rich in all that the Owner of the universe could supply, Adam was not to be idle. No sooner was he created than his work was given him. He was to find employment and happiness in tending the things that God had created; and in response to his labor, his wants were to be abundantly supplied from the fruits of the garden of Eden.
While our first parents obeyed God, their labor in the garden was a pleasure; and the earth yielded of its abundance for their wants. But when man departed from obedience, he was doomed to wrestle with the seeds of Satan's sowing, and to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Henceforth he must battle in toil and hardship against the power to which he had yielded his will.
It was God's purpose to alleviate by toil the evil that was brought into the world by man's disobedience. By toil the temptations of Satan might be made ineffectual, and the tide of evil stayed. And though attended with anxiety, weariness, and pain, labor is still a source of happiness and development, and a safeguard against temptation. Its discipline places a check on self-indulgence, and promotes industry, purity, and firmness. Thus it becomes a part of God's great plan for our recovery from the fall.
The public feeling is that manual labor is degrading; yet men may exert themselves as much as they choose at cricket, baseball, or in pugilistic contests without being regarded as degraded. Satan is delighted when he sees human beings using their physical and mental powers in that which does not educate, which is not useful, which does not help them to be a blessing to those who need their help. While the youth are becoming expert in games that are of no real value to themselves or to others, Satan is playing the game of life for their souls, taking from them the talents that God has given them, and placing in their stead his own evil attributes. It is his effort to lead men to ignore God. He seeks to engross and absorb the mind so completely that God will find no place in the thoughts. He does not wish people to have a knowledge of their Maker, and he is well pleased if he can set in operation games and theatrical performances that will so confuse the senses of the youth that God and heaven will be forgotten.
One of the surest safeguards against evil is useful occupation, while idleness is one of the greatest curses; for vice, crime, and poverty follow in its wake. Those who are always busy, who go cheerfully about their daily tasks, are the useful members of society. In the faithful discharge of the various duties that lie in their pathway, they make their lives a blessing to themselves and to others. Diligent labor keeps them from many of the snares of him who "finds some mischief still for idle hands to do."
A stagnant pool soon becomes offensive; but a flowing brook spreads health and gladness over the land. The one is a symbol of the idle, the other of the industrious.
In God's plan for Israel, every family had a home on the land, with sufficient ground for tilling. Thus were provided both the means and the incentive for a useful, industrious, and self-supporting life. And no devising of man has ever improved upon that plan. To the world's departure from it is owing, to a large degree, the poverty and wretchedness that exist today.
In Israel, industrial training was regarded as a duty. Every father was required to see that his sons learned some useful trade. The greatest men of Israel were trained to industrial pursuits. A knowledge of the duties pertaining to housewifery was regarded as essential for every woman. And skill in useful duties was looked upon as an honor to women of all stations in life.
In the schools of the prophets, various industries were taught, and many of the students supported themselves by manual labor.
The path of toil appointed to the dwellers on earth may be hard and wearisome; but it is honored by the footprints of the Redeemer, and he is safe who follows in this sacred way. By precept and example Christ has dignified useful labor. From his earliest years, he lived a life of toil. The greater part of his earthly life was spent in patient work in the carpenter's shop at Nazareth. In the garb of a common laborer the Lord of life trod the streets of the little town in which he lived, going to and returning from his humble toil; and ministering angels attended him as he walked side by side with peasants and laborers, unrecognized and unhonored.
When he went forth to contribute to the support of the family by his daily toil, he possessed the same power as when on the shores of Galilee he fed five thousand hungry souls with five loaves and two fishes. But he did not employ his divine power to lessen his burdens or lighten his toil. He had taken upon himself the form of humanity, with all its attendant ills, and he did not flinch from its severest trials. He lived in a peasant's home; he was clothed with coarse garments; he mingled with the lowly; he toiled daily with patient hands. His example shows us that it is man's duty to be industrious, and that labor is honorable.
The things of earth are more closely connected with heaven, and are more directly under the supervision of Christ, than many realize. All right inventions and improvements have their source in him who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working. The skilful touch of the physician's hand, his power over nerve and muscle, his knowledge of the delicate mechanism of the body, is the wisdom of divine power to be used in behalf of the suffering. The skill with which the carpenter uses his tools, the strength with which the blacksmith makes the anvil ring, come from God. Whatever we do, wherever we are placed, he desires to control our minds, that we may do perfect work. Christianity and business, rightly understood, are not two separate things; they are one. Bible religion is to be brought into all that we do and say. Human and divine agencies are to combine in temporal as well as in spiritual achievements. They are to be united in all human pursuits, in mechanical and agricultural labors, in mercantile and scientific enterprises.
There is but one remedy for indolence, and that is to throw off sluggishness as a sin that leads to perdition, and go to work, using the physical ability that God has given. The only cure for a useless, inefficient life is determined, persevering effort. Life is not given us to be spent in idleness or self-pleasing; before us are placed great possibilities. In the capital of strength a precious talent has been entrusted to men. This is of more value than any bank deposit, and should be more highly prized; for through the possibilities that it affords for enabling men to lead a useful, happy life, it may be made to yield interest and compound interest. It is a blessing that can not be purchased with gold or silver, houses or land; and God requires it to be used wisely. No man has a right to sacrifice this talent to the corroding influence of inaction. All are as accountable for the capital of physical strength as for their capital of means.
The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, and those who are diligent in business may not always be prospered. But it is "the hand of the diligent" that "maketh rich." And while indolence and drowsiness grieve the Holy Spirit and destroy true godliness, they also tend to poverty and want. "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand."
Judicious labor is a healthful tonic for the human race. It makes the feeble strong, the poor rich, and the wretched happy. Satan lies in ambush, ready to destroy those whose leisure gives him opportunity to insinuate himself under some attractive disguise. He is never more successful than when he comes to men in their idle hours.
Among the evils resulting from wealth, one of the greatest is the fashionable idea that work is degrading. The prophet Ezekiel declares: "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." Here are presented before us the terrible results of idleness, which enfeebles the mind, debases the soul, and perverts the understanding, making a curse of that which was given as a blessing. It is the working man or woman who sees something great and good in life, and who is willing to bear its responsibilities with faith and hope.
The essential lesson of contented industry in the necessary duties of life, is yet to be learned by the larger number of Christ's followers. It requires more grace, more stern discipline of character, to work for God in the capacity of mechanic, merchant, lawyer, or farmer, carrying the precepts of Christianity into the ordinary business of life, than to labor as an acknowledged missionary in the open field. It requires a strong spiritual nerve to bring religion into the workshop and the business office, sanctifying the details of everyday life, and ordering every transaction according to the standard of God's Word. But this is what the Lord requires.
The apostle Paul regarded idleness as a sin. He learned the trade of tentmaking in its higher and lower branches, and during his ministry he often worked at this trade to support himself and others. Paul did not regard as lost the time thus spent. As he worked at his trade, the apostle had access to a class of people that he could not otherwise have reached. He showed his associates that skill in the common arts is a gift from God. He taught that even in everyday toil God is to be honored. His toil hardened hands detracted nothing from the force of his pathetic appeals as a Christian minister.
God designs that all shall be workers. The toiling beast of burden answers the purpose of its creation better than does the indolent man. God is a constant worker. The angels are workers; they are ministers of God to the children of men. Those who look forward to a heaven of inactivity will be disappointed; for the economy of heaven provides no place for the gratification of indolence. But to the weary and heavy laden rest is promised. It is the faithful servant who will be welcomed from his labors to the joy of his Lord. He will lay off his armor with rejoicing, and will forget the noise of battle in the glorious rest prepared for those who conquer through the cross of Calvary. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #43)
God does not commend nor confirm men in impenitence, for this condition of the human heart does not glorify him, nor work good for humanity. God sheds light upon the souls of men, he grants them opportunities and privileges; and if these are not improved, if the precious moments of probation are neglected, the measure of the light given will be the measure of the guilt incurred through this inexcusable neglect of the gifts of God. The Saviour said, "If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!" We are told that the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart. The repeated refusals of the king to hear the word of the Lord, called forth more direct, more urgent and forcible messages. At each rejection of light, the Lord manifested a more marked display of his power; but the king's obstinacy increased with every new evidence of the power and majesty of the God of heaven, until the last arrow of mercy was exhausted from the divine quiver. Then the man was utterly hardened by his own persistent resistance. Pharaoh sowed obstinacy, and he reaped a harvest of the same in his character. The Lord could do nothing more to convince him, for he was barricaded in obstinacy and prejudice, where the Holy Spirit could not find access to his heart. Pharaoh was given up to his own unbelief and hardness of heart. Infidelity produced infidelity. When Pharaoh hardened his heart on the first exhibition of God's power, he made himself more capable of a second rejection of God's power. Pride and stubbornness held him in bondage, and hindered him from acknowledging the warnings of God. It was contrary to the nature of Pharaoh to change after once having given expression to his purpose not to believe.
What Pharaoh has done, will be done again and again by men until the close of probation. God destroys no man; but when a man stifles conviction, when he turns from evidence, he is sowing unbelief and will reap as he has sown. As it was with Pharaoh, so it will be with him; when clearer light shines upon the truth, he will meet it with increased resistance, and the work of hardening the heart will go on with each rejection of the increasing light of heaven. In simplicity and truth we would speak to the impenitent in regard to the way in which men destroy their own souls. You are not to say that God is to blame, that he has made a decree against you. No, he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth, and to the haven of eternal bliss. No soul is ever finally deserted of God, given up to his own ways, so long as there is any hope of his salvation. God follows men with appeals and warnings and assurances of compassion until further opportunities and privileges would be wholly in vain. The responsibility rests upon the sinner. By resisting the Spirit of God today, he prepares the way for a second resistance of light when it comes with mightier power; and thus he will pass from one stage of indifference to another, until at last the light will fail to impress him, and he will cease to respond in any measure to the Spirit of God.
Those who claim to be Christians are in continual need of a power outside of and beyond themselves. They need to watch unto prayer, and to place themselves under the guardianship of God, else they will be overcome by the enemy. The Christian must look to God, as a servant to his master, as a handmaid to her mistress, saying, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" The servant of God must use his ability in such a way that it will bring glory to God. When he yields himself to the control of the Spirit of God, he will be renewed, transformed into the image of Christ. He will give his affections to God, he will be enlightened, strengthened, and sanctified, and will become a channel of light to the world.
But the sinner who refuses to give himself to God, is under the control of another power, listening to another voice, whose suggestions are of an entirely different character. Passion controls him, his judgment is blinded, reason is dethroned, and impetuous desires sway him, now here, now there. The truth will have but little influence over him, for there is in human nature, when separated from the Source of truth, a continual opposition to God's will and ways. The physical, mental, and moral being are all under the control of rash impulses. The affections are depraved, and every faculty entrusted to man for wise improvement is demoralized. The man is dead in trespasses and sins. Inclination moves, passion holds the control, and his appetite is under the sway of a power of which he is not aware. He talks of liberty, of freedom of action, while he is in most abject slavery. He is not his own. He is not allowed to see the beauty of the truth; for the carnal mind is enmity against God, and not subject to his law. He views truth as falsehood, and falsehood as truth. The mind controlled by Satan is weak in moral power. Can such a one without change be taken into a holy heaven?--O, no; it would be no mercy to the impenitent sinner to place him in the society of the angels.
When the wicked dead are raised from the grave, they come up with the tastes, habits, and characters that they formed in the time of probation. A sinner is not raised a saint, neither is a saint raised a sinner. The sinner could not be happy in the companionship of the saints in light, with Jesus, with the Lord of hosts; for on every side will be heard the song of praise and thanksgiving; and honor will be ascribed to the Father and the Son. A song will be raised that the unsanctified, unholy ones have never learned, and it will be out of harmony with their depraved tastes and desires. It will be unbearable to them. The apostle John heard this song. He says, "I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments. . . . And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." It is impossible for the sinner to enjoy the bliss of heaven. Mrs. E. G. White.
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"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Every moment of our probationary time is precious; for it is our time for character building. We should give most diligent heed to the culture of our spiritual nature. We should watch our hearts, guarding our thoughts lest impurity tarnish the soul. We should seek to keep every faculty of the mind in the very best condition, that we may serve God to the extent of our ability. Nothing should be permitted to interrupt our communion with God. If corrupt thoughts are entertained, they will lead to corrupt actions. O, may the angels of purity guard us, that no stain of immorality may be found upon us! Every worker for God should be pure in thought. The grandest themes, the noblest impulses, the purest conceptions, should be his, for he is a son of God.
We have a work to do in this world, and we must not allow ourselves to become self-absorbed, and so forget the claims of God and humanity upon us. If we seek God with earnestness, he will impress us by his Holy Spirit. He knows what we need, for he is acquainted with our every weakness; and he would have us work away from self, that we may become kind in thought and word and deed. We must cease to think and talk of self, cease to make our needs and wants the sole object of our thoughts. God would have us cultivate the attributes of heaven. To be a Christian is to be Christlike. If we would be successful in winning souls, we must be full of the tact that is born of kindness and sympathy and love. There are some who have a desire to benefit others, but they fail because of their defective manners. They do not realize the fact that before seeking the reformation of others, they themselves need to reform. Those who would work for others, should remember that they are working for Christ's little ones, the members of his body.
We should carefully consider what is our relation to God and to one another. We are continually sinning against God, but his mercy still follows us; in love he bears with our perversities, our neglect, our ingratitude, our disobedience. He never becomes impatient with us. We insult his mercy, grieve his Holy Spirit, and do him dishonor before men and angels, and yet his compassions fail not. The thought of God's longsuffering to us should make us forbearing to one another. How patiently should we bear with the faults and errors of our brethren, when we remember how great are our own failings in the sight of God. How can we pray to our Heavenly Father, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors," if we are denunciatory, resentful, exacting in our treatment of others? God would have us more kind, more loving and lovable, less critical and suspicious. O that we all might have the spirit of Christ, and know how to deal with our brethren and neighbors!
We should manifest great tact in dealing with one who errs. In the spirit of love and meekness, we should seek to restore him to the fold of Christ; but instead of sympathy toward the wanderer, too frequently a censorious spirit is manifested. Those who have not made the mistake which they condemn in another, stand off in an unapproachable attitude, as if they felt themselves secure from making such a blunder. But let him who thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. If those who condemn another loved as Christ has loved a lost race of rebels, they would by every means possible seek to recover the erring one. They would not take delight in publishing his case, in making his fault appear in the worst light possible, but they would heed the injunction of the Scripture, "Ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness." If you do this, you will probably succeed in bringing our erring brother into fellowship with the church without publishing his errors to the church, or making his fault known to another in any way. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
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There are too many among those who profess to be followers of Christ who seek to excuse their own defects by magnifying the errors of others. The highest evidence of nobility in a Christian is self-control. We should copy the example of Jesus; for when he was reviled, he reviled not again, but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously. Our Redeemer met insult and mockery with uncomplaining silence. All the cruel taunts of the murderous throng who exulted in his humiliation and trial in the judgment hall, could not bring from him one look or word of resentment or impatience. He was the majesty of heaven, and in his pure breast there dwelt no room for the spirit of retaliation, but only for pity and love. There is a time when silence is golden. We should always copy the life of Jesus; for we are to be like him. He loves us notwithstanding our defects and shortcomings. Let us not think that one of the graces of Christ is portrayed with no lesson to us in its portrayal. Pure love thinketh no evil. When we constantly imagine that we are not appreciated, and watch for slights, we do ourselves and others great harm. We must forget self in loving service for others.
If you think your brother has injured you, go to him in kindness and love, and you may come to an understanding and to reconciliation. When you deal with the erring, you should always keep in mind the fact that you are dealing with Christ in the person of his saints. Go to your brother whom you think in the wrong, and lovingly talk with him alone; if you succeed in settling the trouble, you have gained your brother without exposing his frailties, and the settlement between you has been the covering of a multitude of sins from the observation of others. Others will not need to know of your difficulty, and thus be put on the alert to watch with suspicion everything the one you think at fault may do, and put a wrong construction on his motives.
"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." If the sinner repents because of your kind and loving admonition, work has been done for eternity. There is great need of carrying out the instruction of Christ in a definite manner, acting up to the word of our Master. This is living the law of God. In thus dealing with our brethren, we may make an impression on others that will never fade from their minds. We may not remember some act of kindness which we do, it may fade from our memory; but eternity will bring out in all its brightness, every act done for the salvation of souls, every word spoken for the comfort of God's children; and these deeds done for Christ's sake will be a part of our joy through all eternity. When we pursue toward our brethren any course save that of kindness and courtesy, we pursue an unchristian course. We should manifest courtesy at home, in the church, and in our intercourse with all men. But especially we should manifest compassion and respect for those who are giving their lives to the cause of God. We should exercise that precious love that suffereth long and is kind; that envieth not, that vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. God would have his servants always appear at their best, both at home and in society; and where Jesus reigns in the heart, there will be sweet love, and we shall be tender and true to one another. It takes special watchfulness to keep the affections alive, and our hearts in a condition where we shall be sensible of the good that exists in the hearts of others. If we do not watch on this point, Satan will put his jealousy into our souls; he will put his glasses before our eyes, that we may see the actions of our brethren in a distorted light. Instead of looking critically upon our brethren, we should turn our eyes within, and be ready to discover the objectionable traits of our own character. As we have a proper realization of our own mistakes and failures, the mistakes of others will sink into insignificance.
Satan is an accuser of the brethren. He is on the watch for every error, no matter how small, that he may have something on which to found an accusation. Keep off of Satan's side. It is true that you should give no occasion for faultfinding. A moment's petulance, a single gruff answer, the want of Christian politeness and courtesy in some small matter, may result in the loss of friends, in the loss of influence. God would have you appear at your best under all circumstances, in the presence of those who are inferior to you as well as in the presence of equals and superiors. We are to be followers of Christ at all times, seeking his honor, seeking to rightly represent him in every way, that we may be lights in the world, showing forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. We are not to exalt our own opinions above those of others. If our ideas are superior to those of others, it will be made manifest without special effort on our part. People of discernment will not fail to realize and appreciate the fact, and we shall receive the credit to which we are entitled. God bids us come to him for wisdom, that we may shed the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit upon others, not the influence of our own high opinion of ourselves. We are to come to God for his grace, that we may magnify and honor him, not praise ourselves, but be able to impart new and noble impulses to those around us. God is taking account of all we do and say in seeking to educate men to lift their hearts to him in gratitude and praise. Let self drop out of sight, and let Jesus appear as the One altogether lovely. We should seek to live for his glory alone, not that men may praise us. We should seek to do the work of God in all humility, in meekness and lowliness of heart, working as Christ worked, and angels will watch over us, and carry the tidings of our faithfulness to God and man, even to the courts of light. Mrs. E. G. White.
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(Reading for Sabbath, December 14)--The Saviour's words, "Ye are the light of the world," point to the fact that he has committed to his followers a worldwide mission. As the rays of the sun penetrate to the remotest corners of the globe, so God designs that the light of the gospel shall extend to every soul upon the earth. If the church of Christ were fulfilling the purpose of our Lord, light would be shed upon all that sit in darkness and in the region and shadow of death; instead of congregating together and shunning responsibility and cross-bearing, the members of the church would scatter into all lands, letting the light of Christ shine out from them, working as he did for the salvation of souls, and this "gospel of the kingdom" would speedily be carried to all the world.
From all countries the Macedonian call is sounding. "Come over and help us." God has opened fields before us. Heavenly beings have been cooperating with men. Providence is going before us, and divine power is working with human effort. Blind indeed must be eyes that do not see the working of the Lord, and deaf the ears that do not hear the call of the true Shepherd to his sheep. Some have heard the call of God, and have responded. Let every sanctified heart now respond, by seeking to proclaim the lifegiving message. If men and women in humility and faithfulness will take up their God-given, appointed work, divine power will be revealed in the conversion of many to the truth. Wonderful will be the results of their efforts.
The Lord is bidding his people in every place to sow beside all waters. It means much to obey his command. It means a continual imparting of the gifts we have received from Heaven. The cause of God needs consecrated workers, and it needs money. Shall we continue to spend our means for things that are unessential, while a neglected work remains undone? Shall we not rather repent of our indifference toward this work, and pray for spiritual discernment to see and understand, as we should, its urgent needs?
The spirit of liberality is the spirit of heaven. Christ's self-sacrificing love is revealed upon the cross. That man might be saved, he gave all that he had, and then gave himself. The cross of Christ appeals to the benevolence of every follower of the blessed Saviour. The spirit here illustrated is to give, give. This carried out in actual benevolence and good works, is the true fruit of the Christian life.
The work of God needs men and women who have learned of Christ. The moment God's workmen see him as he is, that moment they will see themselves as they are, and will ask him to make them what they ought to be. Selfishness makes men hindrances instead of helps. In God's light we can see our defects; and in his strength we can remedy them.
At the final day, when the earth shall perish, he who has laid up treasures in heaven will behold that which his life has gained. If we have given heed to the words of Christ, then, as we gather round the great white throne, we shall see souls who have been saved through our agency, and shall know that one has saved others, and these still others.--a large company brought into the haven of rest as the result of our faithful labors, there to lay their crowns at Jesus' feet, and praise him through the ceaseless ages of eternity. With what joy will the worker for Christ behold these redeemed ones, who share the glory of the Redeemer! How precious will heaven be to those who have been faithful in the work of saving souls!
The nearer we come to the close of this earth's history, the more delusive will be the snares of the enemy. As time passes, his attacks will grow fiercer and more frequent. Satan's supreme effort is made to ensnare and deceive if possible the very elect,--the church and ministers of Christ. With all their ingenuity he and his agencies are working to deceive if possible the very elect. If he can lull them to indifference to their high calling, his triumph is certain. What is needed at this time is thorough conversion and wholehearted consecration. He who is closely connected with Christ will be strengthened to withstand the enemy's devices. Our safety lies in practising heartily the truths of the Bible. By humbling ourselves before God, we invite his saving power.
A great work is to be done in foreign fields; and just as verily a great is to be done in the home field; for it is by consecrated, faithful effort in the home field that workers are to be won for God who will go forth to proclaim the truth in foreign fields. At this time, when the enemy is working as never before to engross the minds of men and women, we should be laboring with increasing activity. Diligently, disinterestedly, we are to proclaim the last message of mercy in the cities--in the highways and byways. All classes are to be reached. As we labor, we shall meet with different nationalities. None are to be passed by unwarned. The Lord Jesus was the gift of God to the entire world--not to the higher classes alone, and not to one nationality, to the exclusion of others. His saving grace encircles the world. Whosoever will, may drink of the water of life. A world is waiting to hear the message of present truth. And while the servants of God are aroused to give light, all nationalities are represented as pressing into service as instrumentalities of divine choosing.
There are many who long for special talent with which to do some wonderful work, while the duties lying close at hand, the performance of which would make the life fragrant, are lost sight of. Let such ones go to work, taking up the work lying directly in their pathway. Success depends not so much on talent as on sanctified energy and willingness. It is not the possession of splendid talents that will enable us to overcome and to serve, but the conscientious performance of daily duties, the lowly spirit, the contented disposition, the unaffected, sincere interest in the welfare of others. If the love of Christ fills the heart, this love will be manifested in the life.
If you have a fitness for a special line of service, this will be seen as you do your best in the work nearest to you. Be faithful and thorough in all that you do. Do not be discouraged if the beginning you make seems small, but set your mark high, and put forth earnest efforts to reach it. Do not allow obstacles to dishearten you. Concentrate your efforts on the surmounting of these obstacles. Persevere, and you will succeed.
Right where you are, and right where the people are, let earnest efforts be put forth. The Word of God has, as it were, been hidden under a bushel. That Word must be explained to those who are now ignorant of its requirements. Search the Scriptures with those who are willing to be taught. This work may be small in its beginning, but others will unite to carry it forward; and as, in faith and dependence on God, labor is given for the instruction and enlightenment of the people, those who listen will catch the meaning of true discipleship.
My message to our people is: "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest."
When the Samaritans came to Christ at the call of the Samaritan woman, Christ spoke of them to his disciples as a field of grain ready for harvesting; "Say ye not, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?" he asked, "Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
And how did that harvest begin?--With one woman,--just giving the truth to one woman, and that woman giving it to others; for she went to the village, and said to the people, "Come." They came, and they listened, and the harvest began. Christ abode with the Samaritans two days; for they were hungry to hear the truths of the gospel. And what busy days they were! As a result of his labors, "many more believed" on him. This was their testimony; "We have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world."
Just such work is to be carried on today. There are many preparing for the harvest, but they know it not. At this time every word and act of ours should be fraught with meaning. We may cry to the Lord, "It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law." But this is not enough. The reapers must act their part. God's people must arouse from their indifference and selfishness, and reveal a desire to be used as the Lord's helping hand.
My brethren and sisters, arise; shine! The time has come when we should make every possible effort in giving this last message to the world. I call upon all who possibly can to connect with the work, and to do it now. Do not be indifferent to the messages God sends for the spiritual uplifting of his people, nor negligent of the responsibility that has been placed upon you in a knowledge of present truth. God's first and great commandment is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." The second is like unto it: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
The Lord is sending us repeated instruction pointing us to the importance of becoming earnest, diligent workers. We have an important work to do, a work that will not wait, a work that can be accomplished only in the power of, and through, the Spirit, and under the direction and guidance of Christ. Let every believer at this time show himself a worker together with God. Let all differences be put away, all light, meaningless talk. Let us speak and act righteously. The Lord will work through every soul who will yield heart and life to his control. To all who will be led by the Spirit, God will impart his righteousness. He commits to his true followers the power of persuasion, the power of his grace and truth, a deep and constant love for his work in home and foreign fields. He gives them hearts that are in earnest in gathering with Christ. With helpers possessing such gifts as these, the missionary work can not be without fruit.
The kingdom of grace is now being established, as day by day hearts that have been full of sin and rebellion yield to the sovereignty of his love. But the full establishment of the kingdom of his glory will not take place till the second coming of Christ to this world. "The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven" is to "be given to the people of the saints of the Most High." They shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. And Christ will take to himself his great power, and reign.
The heavenly gates are again to be lifted up, and with ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of holy ones, our Saviour will come forth as "King of kings, and Lord of lords." Jehovah Immanuel "shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one." "The tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, ... and be their God."
But before that coming, Jesus said, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations." His kingdom will not come until the good tidings of his grace shall have been carried to all the earth. Hence, as we give ourselves to God, and win other souls to him, we hasten the coming of his kingdom. Only those who devote themselves to his service, saying, "Here am I; send me" to open blind eyes, to turn men "from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,"--they alone pray in sincerity, "Thy kingdom come." Mrs. E. G. White.
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The more earnestly we apply our minds to the investigation of truth, the clearer will the evidence of truth appear; and the more closely we relate ourselves to the God of all wisdom, coming into communion with him who has created all things, the richer will be our knowledge, the more fully shall we comprehend divine truth. God has graciously endowed men with intellectual powers, and these powers are to be wisely improved, that men may have ability to search into and understand rich depths of knowledge in the character, word, and works of God. God will open the treasures of his love to the willing and obedient; he that willeth to do the will of God shall know of the doctrine. By communion with God we become refined, broadened, and elevated. To him who desires the knowledge of divine things, God will open hidden wonders, which are beyond the comprehension of those who are unenlightened by the Spirit of God. Those who hear the wonderful things opened to the Christian will be impressed with that which God can give to the consecrated and earnest soul.
Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, gave himself for a fallen world, and in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. No greater gift can be bestowed upon man than that which is comprehended in Christ. And yet men wait, refusing to give to God the allegiance of the heart. But let the impenitent look to the plan of redemption, and ask themselves, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" It is perilous to neglect to render to God the full consecration of all our powers, for he has given them to man in trust. Will you not ask yourself, "How is it with my soul?" The great gift of salvation has been placed within our reach at an infinite cost to the Father and the Son. To neglect salvation is to neglect the knowledge of the Father, and of the Son, whom God hath sent in order that man might become a partaker of the divine nature, and thus, with Christ, an heir of all things. A neglect to lay hold of the priceless treasure of salvation, means the eternal ruin of your soul. The peril of indifference to God and neglect of his gift, is measured by the greatness of salvation. God has done to the uttermost of his almighty power. The resources of infinite love have been exhausted in devising and executing the plan of redemption for man. God has revealed his character in the goodness, the mercy, compassion, and love manifested to save a race of guilty rebels. What could be done that has not been done in the provisions of the plan of salvation? If the sinner remains indifferent to the manifestation of the goodness of God, if he neglects so great a salvation, rejects the overtures of divine mercy, refuses the gift of life purchased by the precious blood of Christ, what can be done to touch his hard heart? If the wonderful achievement wrought out by our Creator and Redeemer, into which he threw all his power and love, does not move the proud human heart, when man sees that his soul was thought of such value that the Son of the infinite God, the Majesty of heaven, was willing to lay down his life in order that he might be saved, then there is nothing that will move that man. Christ left the royal courts, and accepted a life of shame, reproach, and suffering, and did not shrink even from the death of the cross, in order that he might unite humanity with divinity. Are you so infatuated with the love of self, with the suggestions of Satan, that these considerations do not move you to a life of humility, and of submission to God? Will not the love and compassion of him who gave in one gift all that heaven afforded, awaken a response in your heart? "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"
Those who do neglect the great gift of salvation, will have no second probation provided for them, but will be left without hope. The Son of the infinite God was the author of our salvation. He covenanted from the first to be man's substitute, and he became man that he might take upon himself the wrath which sin had provoked. The plan of redemption called forth the amazement of the heavenly hosts. The angels looked with wonder to see the mystery wrought out before them in the life of the Son of God. They saw the Redeemer take step after step down the path of humiliation. They saw him rejected, denied, insulted, abused, and crucified, and yet it was something beyond all finite intelligence to comprehend the full mystery of redemption. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
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The only way in which salvation could be provided for man was through the union of divinity with humanity. Christ in human flesh alone could bridge the gulf that sin had made. With his humanity he was prepared to touch humanity. The greatness, the breadth, of the plan of salvation invests it with incomparable grandeur; but it can only be spiritually discerned, and it increases in greatness as we contemplate it. Looking to Jesus dying upon the cross, and knowing that it was our sin that placed the innocent Sufferer there, we are bowed down before him in wonder and love. The greatness of this salvation proves the peril of its neglect.
Satan constantly seeks to make of none effect the great work of redemption. What importance, what magnitude, it gives to the theme of redemption, that he who has undertaken the salvation of man was the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image of his person! How, then, can Heaven regard those who neglect so great a salvation, wrought out for man at such infinite cost? To neglect to lay hold on the rich blessings of heaven is to refuse, to set at naught, him who was equal with the Father, the only one who could save fallen man. O, shall we through neglect of Christ throw away our one chance for eternal life? Shall we scorn divine mercy, and trample underfoot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing?
The divine Author of salvation left nothing incomplete in the plan; every phase of it is perfect. The sin of the whole world was laid upon Jesus, and divinity gave its highest value to the suffering of humanity in Jesus, that the whole world might be pardoned through faith in the Substitute. The most guilty need have no fear that God will not pardon, for because of the efficacy of the divine sacrifice the penalty of the law will be remitted. Through Christ the sinner may return to allegiance to God. How wonderful is the plan of redemption in its simplicity and fulness! It not only provides for the full pardon of the sinner, but also for the restoration of the transgressor, making a way whereby he may be accepted as a son of God. Through obedience he may be the possessor of love and peace and joy. His faith may unite him in his weakness to Christ, the source of divine strength; and through the merits of Christ he may find the approval of God, because Christ has satisfied the demands of the law, and he imputes his righteousness to the penitent, believing soul. The spotless robe woven in the loom of heaven covers the contrite one, and he wills to be obedient, taking the yoke of Christ, suffering as Christ suffered when he walked a man among men.
What love, what wonderful love, was displayed by the Son of God! The death we deserved was suffered to come upon him, that immortality might be given to us, who could never merit such a reward. Is not salvation great in its simplicity, and wonderful in its comprehensiveness? Christ takes the sinner from the lowest degradation, and purifies, refines, and ennobles him. By beholding Jesus as he is, the sinner is transformed, and elevated to the very summit of dignity, even to a seat with Christ upon his throne. Contemplating the fulness of the provision that God has made whereby every son and daughter of Adam may be saved, we are led to exclaim with John, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." The angels are amazed at the manifestation of divine love for the fallen race. The fact that angels look with wonder upon the marvelous display of love on the part of God for man, shows how terrible a thing it is to neglect the salvation he has provided. The plan of redemption provides for every emergency, and for every want of the soul. If it were deficient in any way, the sinner might find some excuse to plead for neglect of its terms; but the infinite God had a knowledge of every human necessity, and ample provision has been made to supply every need. Thereby our sin can be pardoned, and eternal life secured; for the righteousness of Christ may be imputed unto us, to bear the test and meet the approval of a holy God. What, then, can the sinner say in the great day of final judgment, as to why he refused to give attention, the most thorough and earnest, to the salvation proffered him? Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #49)
Sin-burdened, struggling souls, Jesus in his glorified humanity has ascended into the heavens to make intercession for us. "For we have not an high priest which can not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace." We should be continually looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; for by beholding him we shall be changed into his image, our character will be made like his. We should rejoice that all judgment is given to the Son, because in his humanity he has become acquainted with all the difficulties that beset humanity.
To be sanctified is to become a partaker of the divine nature, catching the spirit and mind of Jesus, ever learning in the school of Christ. "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." It is impossible for any of us by our own power or our own efforts to work this change in ourselves. It is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, which Jesus said he would send into the world, that changes our character into the image of Christ; and when this is accomplished, we reflect, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord. That is, the character of the one who thus beholds Christ is so like his, that one looking at him sees Christ's own character shining out as from a mirror. Imperceptibly to ourselves, we are changed day by day from our ways and will into the ways and will of Christ, into the loveliness of his character. Thus we grow up into Christ, and unconsciously reflect his image.
Professed Christians keep altogether too near the lowlands of earth. Their eyes are trained to see only commonplace things, and their minds dwell upon the things their eyes behold. Their religious experience is often shallow and unsatisfying, and their words are light and valueless. How can such reflect the image of Christ? How can they send forth the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness into all the dark places of the earth? To be a Christian is to be Christlike.
Enoch kept the Lord ever before him, and the inspired Word says that he "walked with God." He made Christ his constant companion. He was in the world, and performed his duties to the world; but he was ever under the influence of Jesus. He reflected Christ's character, exhibiting the same qualities in goodness, mercy, tender compassion, sympathy, forbearance, meekness, humility and love. His association with Christ day by day transformed him into the image of him with whom he was so intimately connected.. Day by day he was growing away from his own way into Christ's way, the heavenly, the divine, in his thoughts and feelings. He was constantly inquiring, "Is this the way of the Lord?" His was a constant growth, and he had fellowship with the Father and the Son. This is genuine sanctification.
Many who claim to be sanctified become boisterous, passionate, and wholly unlike Christ in words and deportment, if their wills are crossed. These show that they are not what they claim to be, the more closely one views Christ, the less disposed will he be to make high claims to holiness. He will have a humble opinion of himself and of his own goodness, but Christ will be revealed in his character.
Christ said, "It is expedient for you that I go away." No one could then have any preference because of his location or personal contact with Christ. The Saviour would be accessible to all alike, spiritually, and in this sense he would be nearer to us all than if he had not ascended on high. Now all may be equally favored by beholding him and reflecting his character. The eye of faith sees him ever present, in all his goodness, grace, forbearance, courtesy, and love, those spiritual and divine attributes. And as we behold, we are changed into his likeness.
Christ is soon coming in the clouds of heaven, and we must be prepared to meet him, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. We are now to accept the invitation of Christ. He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." The words of Christ to Nicodemus are of practical value to us today: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
The converting power of God must be upon our hearts. We must study the life of Christ, and imitate the divine Pattern. We must dwell upon the perfection of his character, and be changed into his image. No one will enter the kingdom of God unless his will is brought into captivity to the will of Christ.
Heaven is free from all sin, from all defilement and impurity; and if we would live in its atmosphere, if we would behold the glory of Christ, we must be pure in heart, perfect in character through his grace and righteousness. We must not be taken up with pleasure and amusement, but be fitting up for the glorious mansions Christ has gone to prepare for us. If we are faithful, seeking to bless others, patient in well-doing, at his coming Christ will crown us with glory, honor, and immortality.
Prophecy reveals the fact that we are nearing the end of all things, and the people of God are to be the light of the world. In character and life we are to make manifest the requirement of God in humanity; and in order to do this, we must gather up the rays of divine light from the Bible, and let them shine forth to those who are in darkness. Christ must abide in our hearts by faith, that we may know and teach the way to heaven. "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever."
Christ is soon coming in glory; and when his majesty is revealed, the world will wish that they had his favor. At that time we shall all desire a place in the mansions of heaven; but those who do not confess Christ now in word, in life, in character, can not expect that he will confess them then before his Father and the holy angels. By those who have denied him, the cry will be raised, even to the mountains, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" O, how happy will those be who have made themselves ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb, who are robed in the righteousness of Christ, and reflect his lovely image! They will have on the pure white linen which is the righteousness of the saints, and Christ will lead them by the side of living waters; God will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and they will have the life that runs parallel with the life of God. Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #50)
If we would have our children pure and elevated in character, we must see that their daily associates are what they should be. If children have companions who are noble and true, in most cases they themselves will become noble and true. They should have companions who will not ridicule what is pure and worthy, but will rather advocate what is right. The fear of ridicule leads many a young person to yield to temptation, and to walk in the way of the ungodly. Mothers may do much by example as well as by precept to show their children how to be upright amid scorn and ridicule. But too often mothers show a morbid sensitiveness as to what others may think of their habits, dress, and opinions, and, to a great extent, they are slaves to the thought of how others may regard them. Is it not a sad thing that judgment bound creatures should be controlled more by the thought of what their neighbors will think of them than by the thought of their obligation to God? We too often sacrifice the truth in order to be in harmony with custom, that we may avoid ridicule. We do not carry all our burdens to the Lord; but craving human sympathy, we lean on broken reeds, seek to drink from broken cisterns that can hold no water.
A mother can not afford to be in bondage to opinion; for she is to train her children for this life and for the life to come. In dress, mothers should not seek to make a display by needless ornamentation. The fringes, ribbons, laces, and ornaments are not necessary, and in the purchase of these things the money God has entrusted to us is turned away from its proper channel; for it should flow into the treasury to supply the wants of God's cause.
We should see that our children have advantages for gaining an education, that they have a pleasant home, furnished simply, and providing convenient, tasteful arrangements. These are legitimate channels in which our means may flow, and in denying self, the gratification of pride, we lose nothing; for we are comfortable in a pleasant home, and provided with neat, plain garments. Mothers, by not following the practises of the world, you may set before your children an example of faithfulness to God, and so teach them to say no. Teach your children the meaning of the precept, "If sinners entice thee, consent thou not." But if you would have your children able to say no to temptation, you yourself must be able to say no. It is as needful for the man to say no as for the child.
With the sacred responsibilities of motherhood, how can a woman give herself to the frivolous fashions of the world, and so teach her children to conform to the world's standard? Demoralizing extravagance prevails everywhere, and souls are going to ruin because of their love of dress and display. The life of nine tenths of those who are devotees of fashion is a living lie. Deception, fraud, is their daily practise; for they wish to appear that which they are not.
Nobility of soul, gentleness, generosity, are bartered away to gratify the lust after evil things. Thousands sell their virtue that they may have means for following the fashions of the world. Such madness concerning the changing fashions of the world should call forth an army of reformers who would take their position for simple and plain attire. Satan is ever inventing fashions that can not be followed except through the sacrifice of money, time, and health.
Having before us the picture of the world's demoralization upon the point of fashion, how dare professed Christians follow in the path of the worldling? Shall we appear to sanction these demoralizing fashions by adopting them? Many do adopt the fashions of the world, but it is because Christ is not formed within them, the hope of glory. Luxurious living, extravagant dressing, is carried to such an extent as to constitute one of the signs of the last days.
Pride and vanity are manifested everywhere; but those who are inclined to look into the mirror to admire themselves, have little inclination to look into the law of God, the great moral mirror. This idolatry of dress destroys all that is humble, meek, and lovely in the character. It consumes the precious hours that should be devoted to meditation, to searching the heart, to the prayerful study of God's Word. In the Word of God, Inspiration has recorded lessons especially for our instruction. Paul writes, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works." No Christian can conform to the demoralizing fashions of the world without imperilling his soul's salvation.
Devotion to dress takes from the means entrusted for works of mercy and benevolence, and this extravagant outlay is robbery toward God. Our means has not been given to us for the gratification of pride and love of display. We are to be wise stewards, and clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and give our means to advance the cause of God. If we want adornment, the graces of meekness, humility, modesty, and prudence are suited to every person, in every rank and condition of life.
Shall we not take our stand as faithful sentinels, and by precept and example frown down indulgence in the dissipation and extravagance of this degenerate age? Shall we not set a right example to our youth, and whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, do all to the glory of God? Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #51)
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation: because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear; forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
I feel a deep interest in those who profess to be the children of God, that they may be the light of the world. If they respond to the requirements of God, there will be need of much greater watchfulness, much more untiring diligence. The responsibility of representing Christ to the world does not rest alone upon those who are ordained as ministers of the gospel. Each member of the church should be a living epistle, known and read of all men. A working church will be a living church. Those who are elected as elders and deacons should ever be on the alert that plans may be made and executed which will give every member of the church a share in active work for the salvation of souls. This is the only way in which the church can be preserved in a healthy, thriving condition.
How earnestly we should search the Word of God; for it is our only safe guide, our only safeguard. The gospel of God is able to make us wise unto salvation. It is not incomprehensible, and placed above us; but its plain, inspired utterances can simplify the perplexing problems of this life, and enlighten each single-hearted believer with the bright beams of heavenly wisdom. As so great a reward attends the earnest searching of the Word of God, should we not with more painstaking effort seek to enter into God's plans, and strive to fulfil his designs in diffusing the light of truth? Paul writes to Timothy: "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." This is God's plan for diffusing light. Those who are called to preach the gospel are not simply to be preachers, but they are to be teachers, to be educators. They are to look deeper than the surface, they are to realize the responsibility that rests upon them as instruments through which God would accomplish his great designs in the salvation of the lost. The servants of God have a most solemn work to do, and they should seek to comprehend the conditions upon which they are accepted to serve a crucified Redeemer.
We are nearing the close of this world's history, and it is essential that every laborer in the cause of God should closely examine his heart, and strive to understand the importance of the work to which he is called. The servant of God should ever seek for higher and higher attainments, both intellectual and moral. The laborers together with God may occupy positions of influence, if God is their dependence and support. They can not afford to be indolent, for the result will be manifest in the defects and deformity of their character, and they will leave the baleful stamp of their deficient character upon those with whom they associate. God has made it possible for his children to grow to the full stature of men and women in Christ; none need be dwarfed.
If the minister is growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus, he will be able to devise plans for the advancement of the work of God, and will bring every member of the church into that place of responsibility for which he is best fitted. Young men and women should be educated for service in the cause of God. The Lord chooses the young because they are strong in body and vigorous in mind; and if the youth are rightly instructed, they will be earnest workers for the Master. God will be the counselor of the young if they put their trust in him; he will accept them, and exalt them to be colaborers with himself, if they will yield themselves in submission to his will.
A great mistake has been committed in permitting the youth to drift hither and thither with no purpose in life but that of self-gratification, when they should have been interested in the service of Christ. The young place themselves in the way of temptation because they desire to follow inclination, and those who have had experience do not take hold of them in the right way; they do not, in pitying love, in Christlike tenderness, seek to show them their danger. The members of the church should not be content to rest until the feet of the young are directed into the path that leads to eternal life. Let those who have the love of Christ in their hearts, who have heavenly wisdom, make it their special business to see that the youth are brought under a saving influence. Let the youth be drawn to Him who died for them; let them be invited into the service of the Master. (To be concluded.) Mrs. E. G. White.
(Vol. 89, #52)
Very much has been lost to the cause of God because of inattention to the young. Ministers of the gospel should form a happy acquaintance with the youth of their congregations. There is great reluctance on the part of many to become acquainted with the youth, but it is accounted of Heaven a neglect of duty, a sin against souls for whom Christ died. The youth are objects of Satan's special attacks; and the manifestation of kindness, courtesy, tender sympathy, and love, will often work the salvation of those who are under the temptations of the evil one. The love of Jesus will win you an entrance into the hearts of the young; and when you have obtained the confidence of the youth, they will listen to your words and take your counsel. You should bind them to your heart by the cords of love, and then instruct them how to labor in the cause of God. The young may labor for their companions in a quiet, unpretending way. This branch of God's work must not be neglected. Our churches are not doing what they might do for the youth. There seems to be no burden for souls for whom Christ died. Why should this labor for the young in our borders not be thought the highest of missionary work? Why do the ministers leave the young without endeavoring to win them to Christ? Why do they not urge the young to give their hearts to God? This work will require the most delicate tact, the most thoughtful consideration, the most earnest prayer that heavenly wisdom may be imparted; for connected with the church are those who are not ignorant of our faith, yet whose hearts have never been touched by the power of divine grace. Can we who claim to love God pass on day after day and week after week indifferent to those who are out of Christ? If they should die in their sins, unwarned, their blood would be required at the unfaithful watchman's hands. Why is it that personal efforts are not put forth that they may be drawn to Christ by the strong cords of love? There is work for each and all to do, and will any one shrink from sacred responsibility? Shall souls be left to perish because of your unfaithfulness? Jesus has said, "Ye are the light of the world." "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Let your light shine in clear, steady rays, that you may represent Him who has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
The church has been appointed as the medium through which divine light is to shine into the moral darkness of this world, and the peace-giving beams of the Sun of Righteousness fall upon the hearts of men. Personal labor with individuals and with families constitutes a part of the work to be done in God's moral vineyard. The meekness, the patience, the forbearance, the love of Christ, must be revealed in the homes of the land. The church must arise and shine. Radiant with the spirit and power of the truth, the people of God must go forth to a world lying in darkness, to make manifest the light of the glory of God. God has given to men noble powers of mind to be employed to his honor; and in the missionary work these powers of mind are called into active exercise. Wise improvement and development of the gifts of God will be seen in his service. Day by day there will be growth in the knowledge of Christ. He who once spake as never man spake, who wore the garb of humanity, is still the Great Teacher. As you follow in his footsteps, seeking the lost, angels will draw near, and through the illumination of the Spirit of God, greater knowledge will be obtained as to the best ways and means for accomplishing the work committed to your hands.
While Christ would lead his servants out into the highways, into the homes of men, to seek and save the lost, Satan is employing his agents to lead souls to ruin. His most effective agents for this work are those whose names are on the church records but who fail of a record in "the Lamb's book of life." There are many who are blind leaders of the blind, and leaders and those who are led will come to destruction at last. Satan is ever on the alert that he may lead men into idolatry, that those who profess to love Christ may bow down to rivals of the Lord of heaven. The success which Satan has achieved in leading the religious world into idolatry, has made him bold, and much of what the world calls "advanced thought" is simply progress into error and darkness.
In order that we may meet the ranks of the adversary with success, there is earnest work to be done. We must study the Word of God, we must pray in secret, we must assemble and agree as to the explicit things that we would have God do for us and for his cause. We must counsel together, and open every plan to those with whom we are connected, that every method may be critically examined, and the very best chosen. We should pray that God will direct in all our plans, that no mistake may be made. There should be a decided advance seen in our work; growing efficiency should be manifested in every department. We now see more doors open for usefulness than we can find laborers to enter; for many to whom God has entrusted ability do not employ the means within their reach for the improvement of their talents.
Those who should have been the light of the world have shed forth but feeble and sickly beams. What is light?--It is piety, goodness, truth, mercy, love; it is the revealing of the truth in the character and life. The gospel is dependent on the personal piety of its believers for its aggressive power, and God has made provision through the death of his beloved Son, that every soul may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. Every soul is to be a bright and shining light, showing forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. "We are laborers together with God," yes, laborers; that means doing earnest service in the vineyard of the Lord. There are souls to be saved,--souls in our churches, in our Sabbath schools, and in our neighborhoods.
We do not so much need the grand church edifice, the worshipers adorned in costly array to harmonize with the church; this will not move one soul toward the kingdom of heaven. Display will not awaken the tender sympathies whereby soul meets soul. We need faith, obedience, genuine love for God and for humanity. This alone will exert the heaven born influence that will move the hearts of men. There are moral icebergs in our churches. There are plenty of formalists who can make an imposing display, but can not shine as lights in the world. God looks with pitying tenderness upon a church whose worshipers, although poor and ignorant, are sincere. They may be scorned and neglected by the world, but they are beloved of God. The glory of the church of God is in the piety of its members, for there is the hiding of Christ's power. The influence of the sincere children of God may be esteemed as of little worth, but it will be felt throughout time, and rightly revealed in the day of reward. The light of a true Christian, shining forth in steadfast piety, in unwavering faith, will prove to the world the power of a living Saviour. In his followers Christ will be revealed as a well of water, springing up into everlasting life. Although scarcely known to the world, they are acknowledged as God's peculiar people, his chosen vessels of salvation, his channels whereby light is to come to the world. Mrs. E. G. White.