By Mrs. E. G. White
God calls for men and women to be laborers together with him, to be workers who are sound in faith, pure in heart, and single in purpose. They should work to glorify God by the saving of souls that are lost. God requires heart-service. A service of form, lip-service, is wholly inefficient in the work of converting souls to God. A service that comes not from the heart is as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. The heart must be stirred with the co-operative energy of the Holy Spirit; then standing in full view of the cross of Calvary by faith, the worker can communicate to others the divine inspiration of his theme. From a full treasure-house he can bring forth things new and old, which will stir the hearts of his hearers, and convicted, they will cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” If the minister steps from the pulpit, and separates himself from the people without making a special personal effort for those who have been touched by the love of Christ, he has lost an opportunity which he will never recover.
We need more missionary ministers, ministers who are missionaries in deed and in truth, who place themselves in communication with the Lord Jesus Christ by earnest prayer, by complete surrender to God, so that heaven's message through them may be given to the world. Then they will not fail to make decided impressions, inciting those who hear them to repentance, faith, love, joy, and earnest work for the Master. But in order to have the life-giving power from the Source of all light and knowledge, you must be responsive to every movement of the Holy Spirit, that his light may shine through you to the church and to the world. Ministers allow themselves to take a low level, they do not aim high, they do not expect much; and time and opportunities pass by, and they make no improvement of them. In order to exercise themselves unto godliness, in order rightly to take hold of the sacred work in which they are engaged, they need daily to be lifted up by the Holy Spirit, to breathe the pure atmosphere of spiritual holiness.
Among ministers there must be more self-forgetfulness, a more complete hiding of themselves in Christ Jesus, in order that they may work the works of God, in order to win souls both by preaching the word and by ministering in the homes, in visiting the people, in praying with them, in presenting to them the heavenly manna of the word of God, educating them to contemplate the love of Christ. In doing the work the minister will be attended by the angels of heaven, and will be himself instructed and enlightened in the truth that maketh wise unto salvation. In visiting the people, he will learn their necessities, and his sympathies will be called out. The love of Jesus for blood-bought souls will manifest itself in tenderness to the lost, and will grow by exercise. He will sink self in his interest for the work.
He will have many straight and plain words to address to those who need them; for when God commissions men to do his work, he lays upon them the burden of watching for souls as they that must give an account. When needed warnings are to be given, sins are to be rebuked, errors and wrongs are to be corrected, not only in the pulpit but personal labor. This is divine work, and although it is not congenial to the natural inclinations, the minister must proclaim the straight truth which will make the ears of them that hear tingle; for they must lay before those who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, the dangers and perils that are around them, and the doom that awaits the impenitent. Because this message is not agreeable to their inclination, or welcome to those who must be warned, they are solemnly charged to be faithful in its declaration. The ministers will meet wrongs that will seem to defy correction. They will be made aware of sins that seem to be covered that will need to be exposed, on the right hand and on the left. The prophet says, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God.” “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long- suffering and doctrine.” The minister is not to indulge in the relation of anecdotes, but he is to preach the word. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” We are to present Christ to the people, following the words of the apostle where he says, “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” Was it essential for Paul to have this experience? Read carefully, meditate upon his words, and see if it is safe for any of the ministers of Christ to shape their life according to any lower standard of godliness.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” What is there left for us to ask that is not included in this merciful, abundant provision? Through the merits of Christ we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. It is our privilege to draw nigh to God, to breathe in the atmosphere of his presence. If we keep ourselves in close union with the common, cheap, sensual things of this earth, Satan will interpose his shadow, so that we shall fail to discern the blessedness of the promises and assurances of God, and so shall fail to be strengthened to attain to a high spiritual standard. Nothing short of abiding in the presence of Christ will bring peace, freedom, courage, and power.
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” There can be no misunderstanding here, unless there is wilful blindness. We are to be holy and without blame before him in love. The condition upon which we receive an increase of grace is that we improve upon the light we already have. If we would find, we must go on continually seeking; if we would receive, we must ask; if we would have the door opened, we must knock.
The responsibility of our own ruin will lie at our own door. The word of God speaks to us as if everything depended upon our own efforts. We must come, we must resist the Devil, we must strive to enter in at the strait gate, we must run the race with patience, we must fight the fight of faith, we must wrestle with principalities and powers, we must agonize before God in prayer, if we would stand blameless before the throne of God. We must have the faith that works, or it will be powerless. Good works will not pay the price of our redemption; they are only the fruit of our faith.
Our experience must broaden and deepen; for by his grace we are to be made perfect in our weakness. Our will must be placed firmly, decidedly, intelligently, on the side of God's will. There must be no presumption; for it becomes us to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear, not in distrust of the grace of God, but in fear that self shall gain the supremacy. We are not to fear that there will be any failure on the part of God, but fear lest because of our own sinful inclinations any of us should seem to come short of the promise. Let the standard be set high, and let there be an earnest striving to reach it in our daily lives, till our souls burn with holy desire. We need to talk faith; for it is very feeble, but in talking faith we must speak of that faith that works by love and purifies the soul.
We have come to have very meager ideas as to what constitutes the duty of a Christian minister. Many who minister in the sacred desk do not half understand their responsibilities. They are taking things altogether too easy and comfortable, for, in short, many are in Satan's easy-chair, thinking if they partially copy another minister, they will fill the requirements. There is need of alarm among the ministers, but no one need be hopeless. There is need of self-examination that we may understand whether we are learning the meekness and lowliness of Christ; for we are to follow his example. In our labors we are to bear the same testimony as did Paul. He says, “Ye know from the first day that I came into Asia after what manner I have been with you; at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, ... and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” “I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
The Lord Jesus said to Peter, “When thou art converted strengthen thy brethren;” and after his resurrection, just before his ascension, he said to his disciples, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.” This was a work in which Peter had but little experience; but he could not be complete in Christian life unless he learned to feed the lambs, those who are young in the faith. It would require great care, much patience and perseverance to give those who are ignorant the suitable teachings, opening up to them the Scriptures, and educating them for usefulness and duty. This is the work that must be done in the church at this day, or the advocates of truth will have a dwarfed experience, and will be exposed to temptation and deception. The charge given to Peter should come home to every minister. Again and again, the voice of Christ is heard repeating the charge to his undershepherds, “Feed my lambs, Feed my sheep.”