Ellen G. White Writings

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Sabbath-School Worker

December 1, 1891

The Need of Genuine Religion in Sabbath School

By Mrs. E. G. White

Our Sabbath schools are not what the Lord would have them to be, for there is altogether too much dependence placed upon form and machinery, while the life-giving power of God is not manifested for the conversion of souls, for whom Christ died. This order of things must be changed if our Sabbath schools meet the purpose for which they exist. We must have consecrated teachers, who love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves. The Lord has made ample provision that teachers may have increased ability from Sabbath to Sabbath, that they may teach to some purpose, working as for time and eternity. We need in our schools young men and women who have vital godliness, not a cheap, superficial experience, but a deep inward piety that results from learning daily in the school of Christ, that they may impart to others the precious lessons which Christ has taught them.

Those who are satisfied with following a certain dry order, of going through a round, will miss the mark, and fail of the work that should be done by a Sabbath-school teacher, but if those who engage in this important branch of God's cause are Christians in the full sense of the word, doing the work given them of God in his fear, working with love for souls, for whom Christ died, they will be laborers together with God. When superintendents and teachers give themselves without reserve to God, they will not only resolve, but put their resolutions into effect. As soon as the workers in Sabbath and day schools enter upon their proper work, with a full realization of their dependence upon God, the grace of Christ will be supplied to unite with their human effort. It is important that every worker should understand that conviction and conversion of souls follow the co-operation of the human effort with the divine power. Entire consecration of soul must be maintained as much by the teachers and superintendents of our Sabbath schools as by the ministers in our pulpits, for all alike are engaged in the work of bringing souls to Christ. Each in his place is to work as did Christ, in the spirit of love for the erring and impenitent. This is what Christ would see in the Sabbath-school work.

The teachers should set a right example before the youth, in spirit, in deportment, and in dress they should be attired in plain, simple garments, and their spirit should be as humble as a child's, yet pure and elevated, for they stand in the presence of God to represent the character of Christ to their scholars. In the spirit of devotion, with tenderness of heart, they should look upon their charges, remembering that Jesus said, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. The angels of God that behold the face of the Father in heaven are looking upon the children and youth whom you, as living agents for God, are teaching the way of salvation. Think of this, superintendents and teachers, you are in the presence of heavenly angels, doing work the character of which will testify to your fidelity or unfaithfulness to Christ.

If teachers would ever bear in mind that it is the Holy Spirit that must reveal to the soul glimpses of heavenly things, and that as they work in the Spirit of Christ, this heavenly agent is impressing the mind with divine truth; if they would ever realize that angels are about them, that they are standing upon holy ground, much more efficient work would be done in our Sabbath schools. The teachers would not be devoid of spiritual grace and power, for they would have a realization of the divine presence; they would understand that they were but the human agents through whom Christ was imparting his heavenly light. Their labors would be instinct with earnestness and power, and they would know that the Spirit helpeth their infirmities.

The superintendents and teachers in our Sabbath schools must be converted, rescued from their habitual insensibility. The precious lessons of truth must not be taught in a tame, lifeless way; but by daily communion with the Lord, by a reception of the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, life-giving power must be added to their efforts to win souls to Christ. They must continually keep the mind stayed upon Christ, that the thoughts and impulses may be of a spiritual character, and that their manner and method of teaching may be subject to the dictation of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in its highest manifestation to men is to enable them to put forth their best energies, as God is working in them to will and to do of his own good pleasure.

“Without me,” Christ says, “ye can do nothing.” The worker is not to be left alone. The Spirit of God is given unto him that he may will and do of God's good pleasure, that he may make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof. Then, teacher, follow the leadings of the Spirit. As the Spirit of God draws the hearts of the children and youth, you draw with tenderness and love, inviting them, and pleading with them to give their hearts to God.

The children and youth are Christ's purchased possession; he has bought them with an infinite price. Jesus loves the little ones. He looks with pity upon the young, for he knows how Satan will seek to attract them into the broad way, making it look enticing to their eyes, and Jesus bids the angels to take special charge of these inexperienced souls, in their homes, in their school life, and in the Sabbath school. The Spirit is continually striving with them, seeking to draw them to God, and the laborer together with God will feel his responsibility, and will earnestly work to win souls to Christ.

The scholars in your class may be perverse and stubborn, inclined to evil, they may severely test your patience, and yet their hearts are soil into which you may sow heavenly seed that will bear a harvest for good. If the teacher is not imbued with the Spirit of God, he will become discouraged, lose his self-control, and by an impatient word, by a severe reprimand may cut off all his influence, and make a failure of his work.

The Sabbath-school teachers have need of walking carefully and prayerfully before God. They must labor as those who must give an account. They are given an opportunity to win souls for Christ, and the longer the youth remain in impenitence, the more confirmed they become in their resistance of the Spirit of God. With increase of years it is probable that there will be a decrease of sensibility to divine things, a diminished susceptibility to the influences of religion. Every day Satan works to fasten them in their habits of disobedience, their spirit of impatience, and there is less probability that they will become Christians. And what shall be the account finally to be rendered by indifferent teachers? Why does moral diffidence bind the soul of the teacher, and make him reluctant to put forth proper efforts for the conversion of precious souls of youth and children? Why not let the Holy Spirit create an atmosphere about the soul that will drive away moral darkness and bring heavenly light to others?

The truly converted laborer in the Sabbath school will not be moulded after the customs and practices of the world, but will stand in moral independence. He will set an example that will be consistent with his profession, coming out from the world, and maintaining a separation from its spirit and fashions. He will not be turned in the least from his steadfast purpose to be one with Christ, nor yield an iota from his stand of fidelity to God, in opposition to pride, to indulgence in selfish amusement, to expenditure of means for the gratification of inclination or love of display, but will be an example in spirit, deportment, and dress.

Sabbath-school worker, which will you meet, the standard of Christ or that of the world? Oh, will you not say, “I will lift the cross and follow Jesus”? Will you not cultivate his tenderness in persuasion, his earnestness in exhortation, and exemplify the exalted principles of the truth, manifesting in life and character what the religion of Christ has done for you? Shall we not all heed the exhortation of the apostle, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.”

There is need of representing genuine religion before the youth. Such religion will prove a vital power, an all-pervading influence. From heart-felt devotion, joyousness, freshness, and continual growth, will spring, and this is the religion that the youth must behold if they are to drawn to Christ. This kind of religion will leave its divine impression upon souls, and its possessor will be renewed both mentally and physically by the refreshing grace of God.

Try it for one year, you who are educators and teachers in our Sabbath and day schools, and see if you will not be able to say, “The Lord hath wrought wondrously for us, for many souls have been brought to the Master, as precious sheaves for the heavenly garner.”

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