Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

May 24, 1892

The Work of God to Believe in Christ

By Mrs. E. G. White

(Concluded.)

Good impressions made by the truth upon the minds of those who are out of the faith, often have been effaced by the unconsecrated life of the minister who himself needed to be reconverted. After presenting the truth, he lacked discernment to press the battle to the gates, to act as a prayerful, patient, earnest teacher, full of the solemn importance of the message of grace which he is to bring to his hearers, that they may come to the knowledge of God, to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.

At the last Conference, many professed to see where they had made mistakes in their life and teaching. Have you begun to act upon the light you then received? Are you practicing the better plan, educating both by precept and example, that the world may understand what it means to be a follower of Christ? or, do you still go on teaching in the same way which you have taught in the past? Are you acquiring new facts, getting fresh ideas concerning the plan of salvation? Are you acting upon those truths which you have already received, lest they leak out of your mind as water out of a broken vessel? Those who would become efficient laborers in the cause must put into exercise that which they already know of truth, disciplining the mind to practice line upon line and precept upon precept. The Lord desires that his messengers should find their inspiration by closely studying his holy word, by sinking the shaft deep into the mines of truth. He would have those who minister in the sacred desk able to present things new and old from the treasures of his truth. He would have them able to lift up the world's Redeemer, to magnify his love before the people, to touch the heart, to press the truth upon the conscience, and give full proof of their ministry in souls sanctified to the Master. O, how my heart aches, as I think upon the condition of ministers and people; for I know that many are satisfied to speak smooth things to the people, and those who listen go away not bettered by anything they have heard. And even when earnest appeals are made, those who hear often declare that they are aroused by what they have heard, their emotions have been stirred, their consciences have been touched, but after a little, the precious impression is lost, and they sink back into coldness and indifference.

Ministers are wanted who feel the necessity of being laborers together with God, who will go forth to bring the people up in spiritual knowledge to the full measure of Christ. Ministers are wanted who will educate themselves by solemn, reverential communion with God in the closet, so that they shall be men of power in prayer. Piety is degenerating into a dead form, and it is necessary to strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die. The work of the ministry has been neglected, and the work is raveling out because it has not been wisely bound off. How are you to know that the word spoken in the desk has proved of benefit to the hearers, unless you visit in families, praying with them, and drawing out the true state of their minds, and the real condition of their experience, that you may point them to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world? There is need that the breath of God should blow upon them, and give them spiritual life. The churches need to be enlightened in regard to practical religion in the home life. Again and again the necessity of living a virtuous life, of having a sanctified heart, of revealing a growing conformity to the image of Christ, must be presented to the people. Do they realize that the work of sanctification is to be the work of a lifetime? Jesus prayed that his disciples might be sanctified through the truth, and declared, “Thy word is truth.” He said: “I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified.” Are the undershepherds following the example of the great Shepherd of the sheep? Are they representing Christ, as he represented the Father. Practical religion as it was manifested in the life and character of Christ is a rare thing. Many in our churches are strangers to the experience that it is the privilege of those who believe in Christ to have in the things of God.

Doctrinal discourses have been preached to the people, and many have listened and have accepted the doctrines, who have had little knowledge of the word of God; for they have not been students of the Bible, and have never felt it their duty to dig deep in the mines of truth. They catch at the surface truths. A much more thorough work should be done. Some system must be adopted, that those who really want to know the truth as it is in Jesus, may have an opportunity of becoming students, and that they may seek earnestly for spiritual knowledge and understanding, and partake of the rich provision of the Master's table. They have labored diligently for the bread that perisheth; let them now put forth an effort for the heavenly bread, and work with an earnestness befitting the treasure for which they seek. We plead not that the feelings may be stirred, the emotions awakened, but that the people of God may be fed with their portion of meat in due season. The work of our ministers must be of a different order. They must develop in patience and Christlikeness, that they may teach the way of life by precept and example. The truth is of no value to any soul unless it is brought into the inner sanctuary, and sanctifies the soul. Piety will degenerate, and religion become a shallow sentimentalism, unless the plowshare of truth is made to go deep into the fallow ground of the heart. When the truth is received, it will work radical changes in life and character; for religion means the abiding of Christ in the heart, and where he is, the soul goes on in spiritual activity, ever growing in grace, ever going on to perfection. All through our churches there are those who are spiritually paralyzed. They do not manifest spiritual life.

It is no real evidence that you are a Christian because your emotion is stirred, your spirit stirred by truth; the question is, Are you growing up into Christ, your living head? Is the grace of Christ manifested in your life? God gives his grace to men, that they may desire more of his grace. God's grace is ever working upon the human heart, and when it is received, the evidence of its reception will appear in the life and character of its recipient; for spiritual life will be seen developing from within. The grace of Christ in the heart will always promote spiritual life, and spiritual advancement will be made. We each need a personal Saviour, or we shall perish in our sins. Let the question be asked of our souls, Are we growing up into Christ, our living head? Am I gaining advanced knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent? We do not see the plants grow in the field, and yet we are assured that they do grow, and may we not know of our own spiritual strength and growth?

Growth in grace does not come without much earnest prayer, without the humbling of self at every step. Jesus said: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the spirit which he hath given us.” “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

The sum and substance of the whole matter of Christian grace and experience is contained in believing on Christ, in knowing God and his Son whom he hath sent. But here is where many fail, for they lack faith in God. Instead of desiring to be brought into fellowship with Christ in his self-denial and humiliation, they are ever seeking for the supremacy of self. As long as they will not fall upon the Rock and be broken, they cannot appreciate the love of the character of God. We may be one with Christ, but we must be willing to yield our own way and our own will, and have the mind that was in Christ, that we may know what it is to have a fellowship with him in humiliation and suffering. Our ideas are too contracted; we must have more expanded views of Christ and the character of his work. O, if we did but appreciate the love of God, how our hearts would be expanded, our limited sympathies would be enlarged, and break away from the icy barriers of selfishness, and our comprehension would be deeper than it now is; for we should look beneath the surface.

It is because we do not know God, we do not have faith in Christ, that we are not deeply impressed with the humiliation he endured in our behalf, that his abasement does not lead us to the humbling of self, to the exalting of Jesus. The Lord calls upon you to humble yourselves under his mighty hand, that you may be partakers of his holiness. You are not to be above your Master, but as he was, so are you to be in the world. O, if you loved him as he has loved you, you would not shun an experience in the dark chapters of the suffering of the Son of God!

In order to be partakers with Christ in his sufferings, we must behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. When we contemplate the humiliation of Christ, beholding his self-denial and self-sacrifice, we are filled with amazement at the manifestation of divine love for guilty man. When for Christ's sake we are called to pass through trials that are of a humiliating nature, if we have the mind of Christ, we shall suffer them with meekness, not resenting injury, or resisting evil. We shall manifest the spirit that dwelt in Christ. The Christian cannot hope to live without trials. Difficulties will arise, unexpected sorrows will come to those who are called to be the stewards of the manifold grace of God; but in the face of difficulty, those who, through faith in their Redeemer, are united to Christ as the branch is united to the living vine, will become partakers with him in his self-denial, and will go forth to shed upon those who are in darkness the light of his love. We are to understand what the sacrifice, the labors, and the sufferings of Christ are, in order that we may co-operate with him in working out the great scheme of redemption.

Though Christ endured sorrow which no pen can portray, he did not shrink from the payment of the ransom for lost man. Let the minister and missionary look upon his example of faith and perseverance. Of him it was written, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth.” You are not to grow weary in well-doing, but to be of good courage in the work of God. It was love that sustained Christ in his humiliation, love for perishing souls that enabled him to endure the insults, the contempt, the rejection of men, and at last led him to die on Calvary, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have everlasting life. The salvation of the lost was the object of Christ's mission to earth, and he died to redeem sinners of every race and every clime. We are to be laborers together with him; for as long as there are sinners to be saved, so long are the followers of Christ to deny self, to work intelligently, to go forth into the high-ways and by-ways, showing forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. Christ calls upon all who have discerned the merits of his sacrifice and character, to make known the wonders of redeeming love to those who know him not. He would have us bear with others as he has borne with us in our perversity, in our backslidings; for he hath not cast us off in our waywardness, but has forgiven our transgression, and clothed us with the robe of his righteousness, drawing us to himself by the cords of his love.

We are to bear Christ's yoke, to work as he worked for the salvation of the lost; and those who are partakers of his sufferings will also be partakers of his glory. The apostle says, “Ye are laborers together with God.” Then let us take hold of his strength. Let every one who names the name of Christ among us, become a laborer together with God. Let not the burden of the whole work fall on the ministers, but let every member of the church realize that he has a work to do. Instead of all settling in one place, let the people of God scatter abroad, moving in all directions into cities and villages where the light of truth has not shone, that the knowledge of God may be diffused among men. Tell others what they must do to be saved. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” If you had a realizing sense of the lost condition of souls who are out of Christ, you would work according to your intrusted talents, not growing weary in well-doing. The Saviour's commission to his people is, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” O, how grievously has this work been neglected, and yet the famine-stricken world is perishing for the bread of life. Let every one surrender himself to God, accept the heavenly endowment of the Holy Spirit, and go forth to tell those who sit in darkness of a Saviour's love and sacrifice, that they should not perish, but have everlasting life. In whatever place you take up your abode, be a light to the people, pointing out the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, and thus become laborers together with God.

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