Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

December 15, 1885

A Missionary Appeal

By Mrs. E. G. White

Dear Brethren of our General Conference,

I am deeply interested in the work in every part of the field. Now the angels are holding the four winds, and probation is graciously granted us, that we may take heed to ourselves and to the doctrine. There is nothing standing in the way of our doing a great work in warning the world. Home missions are not to be lost sight of for foreign missions; but the needs of both should be laid before our people. Souls that are in error and covered with darkness need our help.

We must have the holy unction from God; we must have the baptism of the Holy Spirit; for this is the only efficient agent in the promulgation of sacred truth. Yet this is what we most lack. The divine power combined with human effort, connection first and last and ever with God, the source of our strength, is absolutely necessary in our work. We must hang our whole weight on the world's Redeemer; he must be our dependence for strength. Without this, all our efforts will be unavailing. Even now the time has come when we must recognize this fully, or we shall be outgeneraled by a powerful, cunning foe. We must connect more closely with God; and all our plans and arrangements must be in harmony with his plans, or they will not prove effectual.

The Holy Spirit is grieved and driven away by the self-sufficiency and rude traits of character which are cherished. These unhallowed elements must be burned out by the Spirit of God. In dealing with our brethren, we must remember that they are children of God, and that he will teach one of his faithful workers as readily as he will teach another. There is no respect of persons with him. He would not have any man receive the idea that God will teach him only, and that all must come to his light. Brethren, go to Jesus, fast and pray, and wrestle with God. Let every one know for himself what the will of the Lord is; then he will not move blindly.

Yet brethren should esteem one another, counsel together, and pray together until there is unity among them. God wants us to work with an eye single to his glory. A vast amount of talent, of influence and piety, is lost to the cause because individual accountability is not recognized and respected. If mistakes are made, as they will be, do not fall back, content to make no further effort, but try again. With agony of desire, in humility, with wrestling faith, come to One who is too wise to err, and who will make no mistakes in your case; One who knows your every weakness, who will hear your heart-felt prayers, and who will let fire from heaven consume your offerings. May God make his servants wise through the divine illumination, that the mold of man may not be seen on any of the great and important enterprises before us.

The churches must arouse, and not sit down at ease, merely enjoying the sermons. Light is beaming all around them; let this light shine forth as a lamp that burneth. Let men enter the work, and let the money God has lent his stewards be invested. Those who can work for God's cause should break loose from their home attachments, sell their farms, and give themselves either to home or foreign missions. You have no time to spend in contention over little matters. Go to work, and that which may now seem obscure, will become clear. There are fields close to your own doors and also in foreign lands, that are ripening for the harvest. The Lord calls for volunteers now. Go forth, workers for God, weeping, bearing precious seed; for doubtless you will return with rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. Your prayers and tears must accompany your labors, that the unholy traits of your own character may not mar the sacred work of God. Depend less upon what you can do, even through your best efforts, and more on what God can do for you in every effort for his name's glory.

We are all human. It will not do to depend wholly upon the judgment of any one man. God will and does use men for his glory; but they are not infallible. You must go to him with all your requests, obtain strength and grace from him, and then counsel together, think and pray, plan and work. The Lord wants each to have an experience for himself. From the highest to the lowest worker, we must be continually in the school of Christ, daily learning new lessons of tenderness, brotherly love, and compassion, or we shall never become efficient agents of the Master-worker.

Brethren, we must have less of self and more of God. He claims the energies of the Church; but to a great extent the ability of our people is absorbed by unworthy objects. Too much time is devoted to petty ideas and claims. God wants us to come up into the mount, more directly into his presence. We are coming into a crisis, which, more than any previous time since the world began, will demand the entire consecration of every one that has named the name of Christ. God's work demands all there is of us. But our people will never make this consecration until their hearts are changed. They need conversion as much as did Peter. When they have been thus quickened, Christ can say to them, “Strengthen thy brethren,” “Feed my sheep,” “Feed my lambs.”

When divine power is combined with human effort, the work will spread like fire in the stubble. God will employ agencies whose origin man will be unable to discern; angels will do a work which men might have had the blessing of accomplishing, had they not neglected to answer the claims of God. The work is now presented to man. Will he take it? There are at the present time many doors unbolted and thrown open to the workers. Will they enter these doors? Who is ready at the bidding of the Master to say, “Here am I, Lord, send me”? The Macedonian cry comes to us in pitiful appeals from all parts of the world, “Come over and help us.”

The missions in Europe need help, and the blood of souls will be upon those whom God has blessed with great light, but who have not sought with earnest faith and determined effort to qualify themselves to open the Scriptures to others. Those who have borne the burden and heat of the day, should not be left to be crushed under the load; but as the standard-bearers are fainting and falling, who are coming up to take their place? There is London, with its five million inhabitants; but no real workers there. There are all the large cities in England, which need many missionaries; who will respond? Are there not men who will dedicate themselves to God, soul, body, and spirit, to go forth and enlighten others? We do not want that class of youth or men who are spendthrifts, who do not know how to economize. We want energetic men who will follow the example of their Lord; men who will be willing to practice self-denial, who have hope, who will make any and every sacrifice to save souls. They will not have to learn a foreign language; but they must have a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. Humble men who can adapt themselves to the situation, can do much.

The churches everywhere in our Conferences are losing their power and favor with God because they feel no burden for souls who have not the knowledge of the truth. Many are in need of just this earnest work, in order to save their own souls. Let not the curse of Meroz rest upon you. “Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty.” I see fields that have never been entered. The torch of truth must be carried into the dark places of the earth. While the angels are holding the winds, we must work as Christ worked. Let no man fix his eyes on his own sphere of labor, and think it is of greater importance than all others. The missionary fields are all to receive equal interest. The field is the world.

There are various gifts that can be employed as God's agencies under his supervision. He will accept all who have ability, if they devote themselves to him in willing service. Men of all ranks and capacities will be raised up in these countries to cooperate in the work for the salvation of their fellow-men. Each is to trade on his own talents, and thus increase them. By their faith, their prayers, their earnest, devoted example, men who have but a limited education will become as truly light-bearers as are the ministers. One will supply the deficiencies of another. Endowed with different gifts, all may act some part in diffusing light, all working together to the one great end. Each contributes not merely to the strength of one branch, but to the upbuilding of all.

Thus “the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” The apostle exhorts “that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, are necessary.” Here the Lord teaches that no one man has all the qualifications essential to the upbuilding of his kingdom. None are to feel that every portion of the work rests upon them. The Lord has a lesson for the older as well as the younger laborers to learn, “that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.” We are to carefully consider every part of the word of God, lest we be found walking contrary to the rules there laid down.

If our workers had been baptized with the Spirit of Christ, they would have done fifty times more than they have done to train men for laborers. Though one or two, or even many, have not borne the test, we should not cease our efforts; for this work must be done for Christ. The Saviour was disappointed; because of the perversity of human hearts, his efforts were not rewarded with success; but he kept at the work, and so must we. If we had toiled with fidelity, patience, and love, we should have had one hundred workers where there is one. Unimproved opportunities are written against us in the same book that bears the record of envy and rebellion against God. Years have been lost to us in our foreign missions. There have been a few earnest workers; but to a great extent their energies have been employed in keeping men who profess the truth from making shipwreck of faith. Had these men who required so much help to keep them propped up, been working for the salvation of their fellow-men, they would have forgotten their trials, and would have become strong in helping others. We are able to achieve vastly more than we have done, if we will call to our aid all whom we can get to enlist in the work. Some will prove worthless; but while finding this out, we must yet keep at work. One worthy, God-fearing worker will repay all our effort, care, and expense.

The plan of holding Bible readings was a heaven-borne idea. There are many, both men and women, who can engage in this branch of missionary labor. Workers may be thus developed who will become mighty men of God. By this means the word of God has been given to thousands; and the workers will be brought into personal contact with people of all nations and tongues. The Bible is brought into families, and its sacred truths come home to the conscience. Men are intreated to read, examine, and judge for themselves, and they must abide the responsibility of receiving or rejecting the divine enlightenment. God will not permit this precious work for him to go unrewarded. He will crown with success every humble effort made in his name.

The dust and rubbish of error have buried the precious jewels of truth, but the Lord's workers can uncover these treasures, so that thousands will look upon them with delight and awe. Angels of God will be beside the humble worker, giving grace and divine enlightenment, and thousands will be led to pray with David, “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” Truths that have been for ages unseen and unheeded, will blaze forth from the illuminated pages of God's holy word. The churches generally that have heard, refused, and trampled upon the truth, will do more wickedly; but “the wise,” those who are honest, will understand. The book is open, and the words of God reach the hearts of those who desire to know his will. At the loud cry of the angel from heaven who joins the third angel, thousands will awake from the stupor that has held the world for ages, and will see the beauty and value of the truth.

When God's word is studied, comprehended, and obeyed, a bright light will be reflected to the world; new truths, received and acted upon, will bind us in strong bonds to Jesus. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is to be our creed, the sole bond of union; all who bow to this holy word will be in harmony. Our own views and ideas must not control our efforts. Man is fallible, but God's word is infallible. Instead of wrangling with one another, let men exalt the Lord. Let us meet all opposition as did our Master, saying, “It is written.” Let us lift up the banner on which is inscribed, The Bible our rule of faith and discipline.

Christiania, Norway.

December 15, 1885

Holiday Gifts

The holiday season is at hand, and old and young are studying what they can bestow upon their friends as a token of remembrance. The world at large are devising gifts for earthly friends; shall we not remember our heavenly Benefactor? Will he not be pleased if we show that we have not forgotten him? While multitudes celebrate Christmas, there are few who show honor to Christ. The day is devoted to selfish indulgence, and the Redeemer's great love and sacrifice awaken no response. Let it not be so with us. Let the precious tokens of his love call forth an expression of gratitude in free-will offerings for his cause.

God is not honored by the practice of bestowing costly presents upon a few favorites because it is the custom. These favorites are seldom the Lord's poor. Many are really perplexed to decide what gifts they can select that will give pleasure to those who are abundantly supplied with the good things of this life. Thousands of dollars are needlessly spent every year on Christmas gifts. The means is lost to the cause of God. Not only so, but it gratifies vanity, encourages pride, and often occasions dissatisfaction and complaints because the gifts are not what was desired, or are not of the value expected. As Christians, we cannot honor a custom which is not approved of Heaven. All that we possess belongs to God, and he has made us his stewards. Let us not expend our means for idols to please the fancy and engage the affections of our friends, to the neglect of our best Friend,-the one to whom we owe everything. When tempted to purchase expensive ornaments or other needless articles, ask yourselves the questions “Can I do this to the glory of God?” Let not time and means be spent in preparing presents that will benefit neither giver nor receiver. Remember that God will call you to account for the manner in which you employ his gifts.

If all the means usually expended by our people at this holiday season were brought as an offering of gratitude to God, to be used in advancing his cause, what an amount would flow into the treasury. Who are willing this year to depart from the custom? Shall we not, old and young, forego the pleasure of making presents to one another, and let the money be invested in the Lord's work? Shall there not be in heaven a precious record of self-denial for Christ's sake?

Our children have learned to regard Christmas as a day of rejoicing, and we should find it a difficult matter to pass over this holiday without some attention. It may be made to serve a good purpose. The youth should not be left to find their own amusement in vanity and pleasure-seeking. If parents will make the necessary effort, the minds of the children may be directed to God, to his cause, and to the salvation of souls. Their desire to make gifts may be turned into channels of good to their fellow-men, to sustaining the work which Christ came to do.

On Christmas let the members of every church assemble, with offerings from willing hands and hearts,—the fruits of love and gratitude to God. Let all exert their influence and ability to make these gatherings attractive and interesting. See how much means you can gather to advance the work of the Lord. Let those who have heretofore planned for self, begin now to plan for the cause of God. On similar occasions in the past, you have taxed your inventive powers to prepare something that would surprise and gratify your friends. Be as earnest and persevering in rendering to God that which is his due. Let the children learn the blessedness of giving, by bringing their little gifts to add to the offerings of their parents.

I present before you the European missions as the object of your liberality. These missions are in great need of funds. The work must go forward. Every penny that can be spared should be invested in the cause. Let us see if this Christmas cannot show thousands, yes, tens of thousands, of dollars flowing into the treasury.

“God loveth a cheerful giver;” and if we with grateful hearts bring our gifts and offerings to him, “not grudgingly or of necessity,” his blessing will attend us, as he has promised: “I will open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing.” He will accept not only the gift, but the giver. And though it may have cost self-denial and sacrifice on our part, the approval of conscience and the blessing of Heaven will make this holiday season one of the happiest we have ever experienced. We may have such a spirit of love and joy in our hearts and homes as will make angels glad.

E. G. White.

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