Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

April 7, 1890

Be Strong in the Grace of Christ

By Mrs. E. G. White

“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Those who engage in the work of God in any capacity should strengthen themselves for the work. They should not lift themselves up in self-conceit, but by their humility of spirit, make it manifest that they are strong in the grace of Christ. As opposition and trials increase, the Christian should grow stronger in the power that comes from Heaven. There is always great weakness where there is self-sufficiency, but when, through humble contrition of soul, we take hold of the strength of Jesus, special help will be given as our need may require. We are exhorted to “be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.”

Great self-sufficiency was manifested by Peter when he confidently declared, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” Peter supposed himself to be strong, but when the test came he discovered that he was weakness itself. He had been with Jesus and had often obtained his help, but past grace does not avail for present needs. Daily, hourly, we must have divine strength imparted to us. We must trust at all times in Christ, dwell upon his words till we long to realize their fulfillment in our own case. The reason that more power does not attend the proclamation of the truth for this time, is that there is too much reliance placed upon the ability of man, too much trust in the talent and tact of the workers, and not enough reliance upon the arm of Infinite Power. The gospel of truth is not preached in demonstration of the Spirit and in the power of God. Self is ready to take the credit if any measure of success attends the work, self is flattered, self is exalted, and the impression is not made upon minds that God is all and in all.

Paul gave a solemn charge to Timothy that has the same importance in this day as it did when given. He said, “And the things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” This injunction we must cherish, as did Timothy, as a sacred trust from the apostle. Paul saw that the night in which he could no longer work, was fast hastening upon him. He was to die a martyr's death, and the precious light given him of God was not to lose any of its brightness, but to be committed to others as a rich legacy. Timothy was to train up others to succeed him in the ministry of the gospel. He was not to think that his work was done in merely teaching the truth to unbelievers; he was to impart the knowledge he had received, to repeat the precious instruction he had heard from the lips of Paul, and to record the things which he himself had witnessed, that the light of truth might be passed along to others who were faithful, and who should be ordained to the ministry. These, in their turn, were to realize their responsibility, and teach others also, and thus the sacred truth of the gospel would be communicated from one to another throughout the ages.

Timothy was to have discernment that would enable him to choose men of fidelity and integrity, for he was to commit the word of God to faithful men. The men to whom the solemn truth of God was to be given in trust were not to be self-seekers, but men who would lose sight of self, and have an eye single to the glory of God, and work for the salvation of souls. They were to be willing to do everything in their power to advance the Redeemer's kingdom. They must not only be capable of comprehending the evidences of the truth themselves, but they must be able from their knowledge and experience to impart truth to others; they must be apt to teach. This was the precious light that Paul had received through inspiration, and it was his work to see that no part of this instruction should be lost. He charged Timothy with the responsibility of committing it to faithful men, who would in their turn transmit the precious legacy of truth, pure and uncorrupted, to others. The words, the ideas, of men were not to be mingled with the sacred truth of God in any way to lessen its divine importance. Men of ability, of humility,—men who had a conscientious realization of the fact that they were not to misstate the lessons given them by Paul, were to be chosen, who would not take from or add to the sacred teaching of Scripture. Mark the care with which Paul guards the matter so that the light and knowledge of the gospel shall be imparted in its purity. Timothy was instructed to commit it to faithful men, who would seek others equally faithful, so that the precious truth might reach even to our day, and shine upon our pathway in undimmed brightness.

The New Testament was not then written, therefore there was need of the greatest caution, that the teachings of Christ might be imparted without adulteration. What a responsibility rests upon the chosen men of God for this time; for they, too, are to train up others to succeed them in the ministry, and they are also to see to it that self does not mingle with their work.

The work of the ministry is no common work. Christ is withdrawn only from the eye of sense, but he is as truly present by his Spirit as when he was visibly present on earth. The time that has elapsed since his ascension has brought no interruption in the fulfillment of his parting promise,—“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” God has provided light and truth for the world by having placed it in the keeping of faithful men, who in succession have committed it to others through all generations up to the present time. These men have derived their authority in an unbroken line from the first teachers of the faith. Christ remains the true minister of his church, but he delegates his power to his under-shepherds, to his chosen ministers, who have the treasure of his grace in earthen vessels. God superintends the affairs of his servants, and they are placed in his work by divine appointment.

The work of the messengers the Lord sends to earth is not understood, and the message of truth is too lightly regarded. The energizing presence of Christ is not felt as it should be among the ministers of God. They do not sacrifice all to him as they should; but Paul further charged Timothy to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” All Christians are represented as soldiers of the cross of Christ, but especially this figure applies to the ministers of the gospel. They are to fight under the banner of Prince Emmanuel, and wage war against his enemies, trusting in Christ, for he is the Captain of their salvation. The soldiers of Christ must prove themselves faithful, they must have courage, and be willing to endure hardness. They must expect to have hard things to meet, and they must accustom themselves to bear burdens with patience and fortitude, always maintaining and representing the simplicity of Christ.

(Concluded next week.)

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