Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

February 21, 1893

Awake Out of Sleep

By Mrs. E. G. White

“For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” “But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” The disciples lived so entirely for the glory of Christ that their lives witnessed to the power of his grace, and by their zeal for God, they declared to the world that they sought a better country, even a heavenly, thus pointing the world heavenward. The Lord could trust them as representatives of his character; for from their meekness, lowliness, piety, and goodness, men could take knowledge of the character and teaching of their Master. In beneficence, in courtesy, in gentleness, in forbearance, in love, in untiring zeal for the salvation of souls, they made manifest the character of Christ.

The record declares, “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” But could the same testimony be borne concerning the professed followers of Christ today? Could Christ leave his character to be interpreted before the world in the zeal, piety, godliness of the church today? Do those who have had great light from heaven manifest intense love for souls for whom Christ has died, so that the world will take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus? The disciples had learned from Christ, the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. Though they were unlearned, they were willing to yield up their will to God, and meekly to receive the instruction of Christ. Jesus rejoiced that the lowly and humble of the earth could comprehend the things pertaining to eternal life. He said: “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent [worldly wise] and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, 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.”

For three years the disciples were under the influence and instruction of Jesus. The Majesty of heaven had made them the repositories of his truth, not that they might hoard it up, but that they might let the light of heaven shine forth to the world. A woeful state of ignorance prevailed among the people, and it was necessary that light be kindled that would never grow dim, but illuminate the moral darkness that covered the earth, and the gross darkness that covered the people. His divine instruction was so simple that the minds of the common people were able to comprehend its truth, and yet his teaching was marked by one characteristic that set it in contrast with the teaching of all others,—he spake as one having authority. Whatever theme he presented, was presented with power, and yet in such a way that it appealed to the human heart with its eloquence, and fastened conviction upon the mind. He knew that his doctrine could not be controverted, although it might be misrepresented, misapprehended, and wrested from its true meaning by those who were condemned by its application. There was marked authority in his requirements and promises, and his invitations were full of compassion and entreaty. How tenderly he said to the toiling people, “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.”

With what power and compassion Jesus cried, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” Again he said: “I am the light of the world,” “I am the bread of life,” “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” “I am the good shepherd.” Do we believe on him who is the light of the world? and is Jesus in us a well of water springing up into life eternal? Are we endowed with the Holy Spirit, so that with heavenly wisdom we may meet the emergencies of this age, and counteract as far as possible the movements of the world? It is no time now for the watchman to become sleepy, and cease to be a sentinel upon the walls of Zion. Peculiar and rapid changes will soon take place, and if the church is not asleep, if the followers of Christ watch and pray, they may have light to comprehend and appreciate the movements of the enemy. It is now time earnestly to seek the Lord that every one of you may know what is the will of God in reference to the part you shall act in the conflict; and when you see an opportunity for labor, obey the indication of the Lord. Christ is saying to his people, “Can ye discern the signs of the times?” It is the duty of the watchman to mark these signs, and at the cry of the church, “Watchman, what of the night?” give the correct signal, and not present that which will be misleading and ruinous. Those who have been, and who still are, diligent students of prophecy, are to “prepare the way of the Lord, and to make his paths straight.”

God has given to every man a work to do in connection with his kingdom. Each one professing the name of Christ is to be an interested worker, ready to defend the principles of righteousness. The work of the gospel is not to depend solely upon the ministers; every soul should take an active part in advancing the cause of God. But instead of this, how many in our large churches come and go like a door upon its hinges, feeling no responsibility for the progress of the work, no interest in the salvation of souls for whom Christ died. They do not dream of weaving their religion into their business. They say, Religion is religion, and business is business; they believe each has a proper sphere, but let them be separated. But in whatever calling the Christian is found, he has his work to do for the Lord in representing Christ to the world. Whatever may be our occupation, we are to be missionaries, having for our chief aim the winning of souls to Christ. If this is not our interest, we rob God of influence, of time, of money and effort. In withholding our heart's service from the Lord, we fail to benefit our fellow-men, and thus rob God of the glory that would flow to him through the conversion of others.

Religion should be interwoven with all the concerns of life. Parents should patiently and lovingly instruct their children, that they may have a knowledge of Christ and his love, call upon his name, and follow in his footsteps. But instead of this, there is great neglect on the part of parents to rear their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. How carefully should the little ones be trained for the service of the Lord, how faithfully instructed in the lessons of Christ! But unless parents are diligent, interested students of the Bible; unless they learn the practical lessons which Jesus taught, they cannot educate their children in the word of the Lord. What excuse can the professed followers of Christ offer for neglecting to train their children in such a way that they will for the sake of advancing the work of Christ, bind about their wants in dress, and avoid all extravagance and display? The children should be educated in such a way that they will have sympathy for the aged and afflicted, and lend all the help in their power to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and distressed. They should be taught to be diligent in the missionary work; and from their earliest years, principles of self-denial and sacrifice for the good of others should be inculcated, that they may be laborers together with God.

Parents have not borne their God-given responsibility; and as a result, many children among us are growing up with no knowledge of God, doing nothing for him who has purchased them with his own blood. They have not been taught to wear the yoke and lift the burden of Christ, and they ignore all responsibility in the religious life. Both at home and in the church, so far as the work of God is concerned, they are as blanks; for they reflect not the light of God. They are trees in the vineyard, but their fruitless boughs proclaim them cumberers of the ground. They spread their branches over the soil that more fruitful trees should occupy. O that parents would look carefully and prayerfully after their children's eternal welfare! Let them ask themselves, Have we been careless? Have we neglected this solemn work? Have we allowed our children to become the sport of Satan's temptations? Have we a solemn account to settle with God because we have permitted our children to use their talents, their time, and influence in working against the truth, against Jesus Christ? Have we neglected our duty as parents, and increased the subjects of Satan's kingdom?

Well-instructed children and youth can work in many lines for the Master, and can even in their early years be a blessing to those with whom they come in contact. When children are unconverted, careless, reckless, irreligious, they influence their playmates to take the same course of godlessness. Let parents consider this question, What can be of sufficient importance to demand your time and influence to the neglect of the training of your families, when by lack of training they become the agents of Satan, the enemies of truth and righteousness? They lift up their hearts in pride, and stand in defiance of every effort made to win them to Christ. What a sad spectacle to the world are the numbers of unconverted children that attend our churches. The influence of a well-ordered, well-disciplined family is far greater for good than is the influence of powerful sermons from the pulpit.

This home missionary work, this home field, has been shamefully neglected, and it is time that divine resources and remedies were presented, that this state of evil may be healed. If parents would see a different state of things in their families, let them consecrate themselves wholly to God, and the Lord will devise ways and means whereby a transformation may take place in their households. Let the church awake, let every member take up his individual work, and vindicate the name of the Lord by which he is called. Let sound faith and earnest piety take the place of slothfulness and unbelief. When faith lays hold upon Christ, the truth will bring delight to your soul, and religion will not be a dull, uninteresting enterprise. Your social meetings, now tame and spiritless, will be vitalized by the Holy Spirit, and your daily experiences will become rich, as you practice the Christianity you profess.

O that this experience might be understood in all our ranks! Were children and parents converted, and did they but unite in using all their intrusted talents for the Master, and by using them double them, what a work might be done. Never was there a time in the history of the world when there was a more urgent demand for workers than at present. The seeds of truth are to be sown, and the reapers are to follow after to gather in the sheaves. If the members of all our churches did but have the love of Christ, and the love for souls which his indwelling presence would impart, they would be aggressive workers, and would lay aside their busy activities upon unimportant things, and would put out to interest their talents, and invest in that which would bring treasure throughout eternal ages. In the service of the Master, they would have increased strength and light. O then, why not study as to how you may reach souls who are out of the ark of safety? Let your work be proportionate to your advantages and privileges, and trade on the talents you have at your command, and you will have a living experience in the things of God. Some excuse themselves, saying they do not know how to do the kind of work that is called for in the missionary. You ought to have known how to do the work from the very beginning of your religious life. Will you be content to rest in ignorance and indifference? Will you venture to be a slothful servant to the end of the chapter? Or will you now seek most earnestly after God, and know what it is to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, and become laborers together with God? “Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” You must render an account to God as to how you build; for every provision has been made that you may be successful in your work. Will he who with his divine finger drew the boundaries of Judea, who designated the exact spot where the temple should stand, who wrought out designs for the Jewish church and for the service of the sanctuary, leave his people, his chosen people, who keep his commandments, to a chance experience, to accident, to stumble along in darkness? Shall those to whom he has committed most precious light, to whom he has intrusted the third angel's message, have less of his providential leading than had his ancient people?

O that the church was awake! O that all who profess the truth for this time were sanctified through the truth, that they might discern the designs of God, and understand their own individual responsibility to give the light to the world. The seed of truth will spring forth in a new creation, and souls will be converted to God.

In the face of what might be done, will the church sleep on, or will they feel the responsibility and the honor that is conferred upon them through the merciful providence of God, and gather up their hereditary trusts, and the advantages of present light, and feel the necessity of rising to the urgent emergency that now presents itself before us? The world is watching our movements with greater interest than we imagine. Many see that what we have told them in regard to the curtailing of religious liberty in our country is coming to pass, although they have denied that such a thing was possible. They have said, “When we see that which you predict, when there is danger of a union of Church and State, we will acknowledge that you have the truth.” But will they acknowledge it? Will they accept the situation, and know that the end is near? Protestantism is reaching out its hands to clasp hands with popery, and every indication makes manifest that the prophecies are about to be fulfilled. And now men are looking upon those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, to see what will be their course. O that all may arouse, and manifest to the world that this is a living faith, that a vital issue is before the world, that Jesus will soon come. Let men see that we believe we are on the borders of the eternal world.

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