Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

September 4, 1879

The Work for This Time

By Mrs. E. G. White

When we reflect upon the amazing love of God to fallen man, and view the small returns we make to him for this great love, we feel deeply humbled. Love of self, and selfish love of the things of the world, cannot find room in the hearts of true Christians. To be a Christian is to be Christ-like. Self is so interwoven in the nature of some that it is the ruling sin of their lives, and not only stands in their own way of attaining Christian perfection, but is a constant stumbling-block to sinners. A vast army might be brought to Jesus Christ through personal effort if selfishness did not obstruct the way.

Many professed Christians will talk and weep over the sacrifice of Christ, the cross he bore up Calvary, his crucifixion, and ascension to Heaven; while at the same time they refuse to co-operate with Christ in working as he worked, in self-denial and sacrifice for the good of souls. They refuse to drink of the cup, or be baptized with the baptism.

Let all those who profess to believe in Christ follow his example, and they will be doing a great work for Jesus. It is easy to cry, when it is popular to do so, “Never man spake like this man,” and to echo the hosannas to the Son of David; though we do not the things he bids us, and do not follow his example in self-denial, and in working to do others good. True religion has to do with the heart and life. All who are true followers of Jesus will have a special interest to work for the Master, whose servants they profess to be, in gathering souls into the ranks of Christ. The Christian life does not consist altogether of meditation and prayer, although these are essential, but of earnest, active working, as well as meditating and praying.

Those who are truly converted to the truth and who love Christ will feel their individual responsibility to make personal efforts for the salvation of others. They cannot be indifferent in this respect. They will see and feel the dangerous position of their friends, and of all who oppose the truths which to them are sacred and dear. They will desire to be actively employed in the work of seeking to win them to the truth. When men and women are convinced of the truth and decide to obey it, they have then only enlisted as Christ's soldiers. The work is all before them, to be doers as well as hearers of the word, and receivers of the heavenly gift. To be merely a passive Christian, receiving blessings, and not an earnest worker, is to be a novice and a dwarf in spiritual things.

The moon and the stars would not essentially benefit us if they retained for themselves their beauty and glory, and did not give to us the light they receive from the sun. The earth itself responds to the showers of rain, and the gentle dew, and the warming rays of the sun, and returns to us its bounties in grains, fruits, and flowers.

Man, the noblest work of God, made in his divine image, is found the most ungrateful. Christ comes to every individual to see what he is doing, and frequently finds neither fruits, nor blossoms, but only leaves.

Some are hearers of the word but not doers. They receive the heavenly benefits, but feel no responsibility to advance the cause of truth and save souls by their personal efforts. The divine command is two-fold; to not only be hearers, but doers, of the word. We are to receive the word ourselves and impart to others the precious light we have received. As we accept the truth, we virtually pledge ourselves to be workers with Christ, and to be consecrated to his service, and no longer live to do our will, and serve ourselves, but to be faithful servants of the Master to whom we have yielded ourselves servants to obey. The commission of Christ to his disciples was, to go and preach the gospel to every creature. We have a worldwide message.

After men and women have received the truth, it is not to their advantage to depend upon their more experienced brethren to hold them up, and carry them to Heaven. They should be instructed that in order to grow spiritually strong, they must be earnest workers to lead others to the truth, as they were led. If those who receive the truth value its importance they will receive ten-fold more encouragement and confidence in seeing their more experienced brethren and the ministers of Christ laboring in new fields, preaching the gospel to unbelievers, and bringing scores to the knowledge of the truth, than to be devoting their precious time and talents to taking care of them.

Missionaries are wanted throughout the great harvest field, self-sacrificing, and who will do as their Master has given them an example in his life.

Ministers to whom is intrusted the most sacred message of warning ever given to the world, have confined their labors too much to looking after the few who have embraced the truth, when their principal labor should have been for those who have not heard the message. There are those who think it is their duty to preach the truth, but they dare not venture from the shore, and they catch no fish. They will choose to go among the churches, over and over the same ground. They report a good time, a pleasant visit, but we look in vain for the souls that are converted to the truth through their instrumentality. These ministers hug the shore too closely. Let them launch out into the deep, and cast their net where the fish are. There is no lack of work to be done. There could be hundreds employed in the vineyard of the Lord where there is now one.

God never does what man can do. We have individually, as servants of Jesus Christ, a work to do in unison with Christ, in saving our fellow-men from perdition. While we do with heart and might what we can in the use of means, God alone can make our efforts effectual. He can clothe the humblest and weakest with wonderful power, and manifest his excellence in our sincere human efforts.

If, after souls have embraced the truth, and have had years of experience, they have not strength to stand alone in the truth with the help God has promised them, and if they are incapable of helping others to the light, they are like the barren fig tree which Jesus cursed. Because, although apparently flourishing, he found upon the tree neither blossoms nor fruit, nothing but leaves.

There are in our churches those who profess the truth who are only hindrances to the work of reform. They are clogs to the wheels of the car of salvation. This class are frequently in trial. Doubts, jealousies, and suspicion, are the fruits of selfishness, and seem to be interwoven with their very natures. I shall name this class chronic church-grumblers. They do more harm in a church than two ministers can undo. They are a tax to the church and a great weight to the ministers of Christ. They live in an atmosphere of doubts, jealousies, and surmisings. Much time and labor of the embassadors of Christ are required to undo their work of evil, and restore harmony and union in the church. This takes from the courage and strength of God's servants and unfits them for the work he has for them to do in saving perishing souls from ruin. God will reward these troublers of Zion according to their works. The ministers of Christ should take their position, and not be hindered in their work by these agents of Satan. There will be enough of these to question, and quibble, and criticise, to keep the ministers of God constantly busy, if they will allow themselves to be detained from the great work of giving the last saving message of warning to the world. If the church has no strength to stand against the unsanctified, rebellious feelings of church-grumblers, it is better to let church and grumblers go overboard together than lose the opportunity of saving hundreds who would make better churches, and have the elements existing within themselves of strength and union and power.

The very best way for ministers and churches is to let this fault-finding, crooked class fall back into their own element and pull away from the shore, launch out into the deep, and cast out the gospel net again for fish that may pay for the labor bestowed upon them. Satan exults when men and women embrace the truth who are naturally fault-finding and who will throw all the darkness and hindrance they can against the advancement of the work of God. Ministers cannot now in this important period of the work be detained to prop up men and women who see and have once felt the force of the truth. They should fasten believing Christians on Christ, who is able to hold them up and preserve them blameless unto his appearing, while they go forth to new fields of labor.

I entreat you, my brethren and sisters, to be self-reliant in the strength of Jesus. Do not hang the weight of your perplexities and burdens upon your ministers. Christ has invited you to come to him, your burden-bearer. If you pass along in a state of unbelief and lack of consecration to God, you hang your weight upon the heart of your ministers, and you take just so much time and strength from them which God requires them to use in giving the message to those who have not heard it. Brethren, will you not rather work yourselves in union with the embassadors of Christ in seeking to win souls to the truth? When tempted to become unbelieving and discouraged, you will find the very best cure for this in talking faith to others, and in presenting the truth to those who are in darkness. Extend your efforts to your neighbors, and to those who have not the privileges of meetings. Sow the seeds of truth beside all waters, and encourage the hearts of the servants of God when they visit you by showing that you have not been idle, but through your instrumentality one or more have been brought from darkness to light. You can keep above despondency and doubt by making it your practice to daily pray for the blessing of God to rest upon the men who are presenting the solemn message of warning to the world. Let your prayers follow the servants of God like sharp sickles in the harvest field. God will hear the earnest entreaties of his people. The prayer of faith will move the arm of God.

A great work is before us. We need the help of every one. The cause will need not only money but earnest workers. We believe that the time has fully come when the work should be enlarged and extended on the Pacific coast. The men who work for God in faith, willing to endure, and suffer toil, privation, and reproach, will be the very men whom God will accept, and make powerful to do his great work. We shall not be stinted for means if we will only work, trusting and believing in God.

Missionaries are wanted to carry the message of warning to other lands. God will accept of men who have devoted hearts, whom he can teach, and impress, and polish, by his own divine hand. God will require personal service at the hands of every one to whom he entrusts his truth. Not one is excused. Some may feel that if they give their substance they are excused from personal efforts. But God forbid that they should deceive themselves in this. Gifts of means do not meet the requirement of God, for the duty is but half done. He will accept nothing short of yourselves. You must work to save souls. All will not be called to go to foreign missions, but you may be missionaries at home in your own families and in your neighborhoods. There is work for you to do for God that you do not see and do not feel, because you have not wanted to see, and know, and do, because your worldly interests and your arrangements in business would be interrupted.

Christ called fishermen from their nets to do his work, and they left them and followed him. He called Matthew, a publican, from his business to follow him, and he obeyed the invitation joyfully. He may call men from their farms, from their merchandise, and from their various trades, and send them forth to warn the world.

With the love of Christ in the heart, Christians will work. All who have made a profession of Christ have virtually pledged themselves to preach the gospel of salvation to sinners. Some may never be required to stand in the pulpit; but there are many ways to preach Christ. By deeds, by a godly, consistent life, and by letting our light shine forth to others, we may preach Christ. In acts of self-denial for others’ good, and showing a love for precious souls that is paramount to love for riches or earthly enjoyment, we may preach Christ.

In doing the works of Christ, the Christian worker will become strong in spiritual strength. God is a present help in every time of need. Those who work for the salvation of souls feel their inefficiency and lack of heavenly wisdom, and in their emergency they flee to their tower of strength, and God meets their necessities, and they are obtaining a valuable experience. They are gaining spiritual strength, and growing in the knowledge of the truth. They are not spiritual dwarfs, or bodies of death; but are shining lights, gathering daily strength from God, and conferring blessings upon others.

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