By Mrs. E. G. White
Every eye in the unfallen universe is bent upon those who profess to be Christ's followers. Here, in this atom of a world, an earnest warfare is going on,—a battle in which Christ, our substitute and surety, has engaged in our behalf, and conquered. Now we, Christ's purchased possession, must become soldiers of his cross, and conquer in our own behalf, on our own account, through the power and wisdom given us from above. The influence of the cross of Calvary is to vanquish every earthly and spiritual evil power; and we need to know the plan of the battle, that we may work in harmony with Christ.
The promulgation of the gospel is not a haphazard work, operating at random. In the aggressive warfare of truth against error, light against darkness, there is work to be done both in heaven and on earth, and the workers on the earth are to move in perfect harmony with the heavenly agencies. Then the world will see the work moving in wisdom, and although they cannot understand or explain it, they note the effect. But when we, the human agencies, step outside of God's plan, the beauty and harmony of the arrangement is marred, and the work intrusted to our hands does not present the divine characteristics. Adherence to God's plan, which is comprehensive and connected in all its parts, is positively essential to success in the conversion of many souls to Christ.
Human influence, deriving its efficiency from heaven, is God's instrumentality through which the gospel is to be diffused, and its transforming effects revealed. We are to influence one another for good, keeping the Lord ever before us, working with the unseen world in view. The work of Satan is to interpose his sophistry, his lying statements, to lead men to believe a lie rather than the words of God, which are the truth. It is thus that he leads men into presumptuous sins. Satan is ever at work to keep out of our minds the doctrine of the cross of Christ; for this is the counter-influence through which sin is to be vanquished and man be brought back to his allegiance to the law of God.
The cross stands alone, a great center in the world. It does not find friends, but it makes them. It creates its own agencies. Christ proposes that men shall become laborers together with God. He makes human beings his instrumentalities for drawing all men unto himself. A divine agency is sufficient only through its operation on human hearts with its transforming power, making men co-laborers with God.
“Be ye perfect,” said Christ, “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” There cannot be a complete, harmonious development of Christian character when Christians exclude themselves from the world; for in this they are not following the example of Christ. “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Not in the closet alone is perfection of character reached, nor solely in the public assembly; it should be our first work to seek the Lord with humble hearts, to learn his way; then we are to take him with us into the public assembly. Thought and action, prayer and work, are all essential. “Ye are laborers together with God.” It is our privilege to be so closely connected with God that we shall know his will.
I have seen so much of the disposition to ask, “Am I my brother's keeper?” that I have wondered how the Lord could bear with our perversity. The True Witness looks on, beholding all our works.
He marks the selfish, self-caring spirit shown toward our brethren which is so unlike the spirit and works of Christ, which misrepresents his character. As we drink at the fountain and are refreshed, we are to search for other souls who are thirsty, and in love direct them to the same fountain, that they may be refreshed. If we do this, the choicest of heaven's blessings will be ours.
Mighty truths have been committed to human agencies, truths which, when unfolded, quicken into activity the minds of men and women who are in the darkness of error, and call to them, “Come; for all things are now ready.” The knowledge of truth is the great power of God unto salvation to all who believe. The atoning sacrifice, the righteousness of Christ, is to us the vital center of all truth. In the cross of Calvary, mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. The law and the gospel are in perfect harmony; they are interwoven as the warp and the woof. They shed a flood of light amid the moral darkness of the world, stimulating, renovating, sanctifying, all who will believe the truth, all who will gladly and gratefully accept the light coming from the throne of God.
We see the great need of missionary work to carry the truth not only to foreign countries, but to those who are near us. Close around us are cities and towns in which no efforts are made to save souls. Why should not families who know the present truth settle in these cities and villages, to set up there the standard of Christ, working in humility, not in their own way, but in God's way, to bring the light before those who have no knowledge of it? When the Church shall truly have the spirit of the message, they will throw all their energies into the work of saving the souls for whom Christ has died. They will enter new fields. Some who are not ordained ministers will be laborers together with God in visiting the churches, and trying to strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die. There will be laymen who will move into towns and cities, and into apparently out-of-the-way places, that they may let the light which God has given them, shine forth to others. Some whom they meet will not appear to be the most promising subjects, but the only question should be, Will they come into harmony with Christ? will they become partakers of his spirit, so that their influence, in precept and example, will present the attractions of the Author of truth and righteousness? In places where the truth is not known, brethren who are adapted to the work, might hire a hall, or some other suitable place to assemble, and gather together all who will come. Then let them instruct the people in the truth. They need not sermonize, but take the Bible, and let God speak directly out of his word. If there is only a small number present, they can read a “Thus saith the Lord,” without a great parade or excitement; just read and explain the simple gospel truth, and sing and pray with them.
There are many souls who are starving for the bread of life. You may not know where to find them; but Jesus knows, and he will lead them into the light. It may seem to you that this is not a heroic work, nothing that will bring any special glory to yourselves; but that is not what you should labor for. You must walk humbly with God. Let him work; let him lead you. Consecrate yourselves to him daily, as workers, and submit yourselves to the influence of his Holy Spirit.
There are some churches that are doing very little except to get into trouble, and then call the ministers of Christ from important labor to settle their perplexities and grievances which are the result of their own unsanctified course of action. It is the wickedness of the human heart that creates dissension. This it is that is raising the greatest barriers to the union which Christ prayed might exist among his disciples. Men and women who profess to love God will sit down at ease in their fancied prosperity, content to while away precious, golden moments in pleasing themselves, and doing nothing to enlighten those who have never heard the truth. It is for us to fulfill the commission of Christ, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Let there be in every church, well-organized companies of workers to labor in the vicinity of that church. Put self behind you, and let Christ go before as your life and power. Let this work be entered into without delay, and the truth will be as leaven in the earth. When such forces are set to work in all our churches, there will be a renovating, reforming, energizing power in the churches, because the members are doing the very work that God has given them to do. Let all our churches be active, zealous, filled will enthusiasm by the Spirit and power of God. It is the intelligent use of the means, the capabilities, the powers, given you by God, consecrated to his service, that will tell in the communities where you may labor. It may be that you will have to make a very small beginning in some places; but do not be discouraged; the work will grow larger, and you will be doing the work of an evangelist. Look at Christ's manner of working, and strive to labor as he did.
When Jesus came to this world, he found it in a deplorable state of sin and rebellion. He did not move far away from this rebellious multitude, but he came and dwelt among them. Because iniquity abounded, he came close to man in sympathy and tender, pitying love. In Christ dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; yet he came to earth to be one with the oppressed, the poor, the needy; he came to demonstrate how much a God can love, a Saviour suffer, in order to save men from perdition, and bring eternal life within their reach.
Character is influence. Christ's work was to draw minds into sympathy with his own divine mind. He gave his whole self as a sacrifice. We need to regard the Lord Jesus as our personal Saviour. When we do this, we shall, by the grace of Christ, make simple, tender, earnest personal appeals to those who are not Christians. The trouble with many in the church is, they will do anything but the thing which is of the most importance, that which God wants them to do. They feel that they cannot approach men and women in simplicity, and try in the name and strength of Jesus to come close to their hearts. This heart-to-heart work is strangely neglected. If those who profess to be Christians, believing the truth for these last days, would consider the result of their inaction, their wicked indifference to the welfare of the souls for whom Christ has paid the price of his own life, there would be a decided change for the better in our world.