Testimonies to Southern Africa

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Chapter 9—Counsel to a Missionary in Africa

Letter A

Maitland, N.S.W.

Nov. 9, 1899

Dear Brother_____,

...Every institution we establish, every sanatorium and publishing house and church, should bear the inscription, “To Him who hath loved us, and died for us, we dedicate this building, whose foundation and top stones were laid in His precious name.” Everything that is done in the furnishing of these buildings should be done with reference to economy. Tasteful, appropriate structures should be erected to give character to the work, but there should be no unnecessary outlay of means. God designs that the work of the ministry shall be regarded as sacred. It is not to be in any way demerited. TSA 77.1

It is God's plan to work through His instrumentalities, His chosen earthen vessels, and men are honoured when He places them as His appointed messengers. The work of preaching the Word, presenting Christ crucified as the world's Redeemer, bears the divine credentials, and proof of its sacred character is given in the conversion of souls. It is not the large buildings erected for show that give character to the work, but the winning of souls to Christ. This seals the teacher as a living oracle, as Christ's apostle. This will demonstrate that the work we are doing is of God. “By their fruits,” Christ said, “ye shall know them.” TSA 77.2

I will say to my brethren in _____, there has not been that wisdom and keen foresight used in dealing with the _____ family that there should have beenTrue, they have not been free from mistakes and errors, but others, who have had much greater light, have revealed that they also erred. Have you given these brethren encouragement and wise, judicious help, or have you closed every avenue whereby they might be helped to be labourers together with God? Have you left them to drift whichever way they would?... Have you not crowded out their influence, that they might have no part or lot with you? Much more might have been done than has been done to bind them up with the work.... Lines of work could have been entered into that would have called the young men of the _____ family to act a part in God's cause. Then they would not have drifted away into the world.... TSA 77.3

There is need of an advance movement on the part of God's professed people. We need to draw nigh to God, and see if there are not jealousies and evil surmisings that are keeping the Saviour away. Selfishness and self-sufficiency close the door of the heart against Jesus, saying, “I want not thy way but my way.” Humble yourselves under the hand of God, and He will lift you up. Your simple, heartfelt confessions of hard-heartedness, worldliness, and love of display and pleasure will be heard by God, and these sins will be seen as they appear in the sight of a holy God. The simple prayer of faith is music in the ears of the Lord. But you cannot have faith unless you talk faith and live faith. Then you may expect large things. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and convert you, soul, body, and spirit, and you will show to all around you that your face is turned heavenward. You will be moved to holy endeavour. There is need of heart searching and seeking after God. Then God will take the stony heart out of your flesh, and give you a tender heart, which He can impress. May the Lord help and teach and lead and guide us by His Spirit, that in life and character we may be fashioned after the divine pattern. TSA 78.1

I address every church member. Open the door of the heart and let Christ into the soul. I address every labourer: Put on Christ. In this will lie your greatest triumph. Every minister, every worker in any line needs to put on Christ and have the mind which dwelt in Christ. There is revealed too little deep insight into the situation and real necessities of the Lord's blood-bought heritage. Souls have cost too much for us to be careless and indifferent in regard to them. TSA 78.2

It is a sad fact that not all the men who have come from America as workers have been a help and blessing in South Africa. They were not living in connection with God. This has cost South Africa much. There are those who have not exercised wisdom in dealing with human minds, who have been too indifferent to reach out a hand warm with sympathy and earnest, intelligent love to help the ones Satan has tried to secure for his service. Circumstances consign every man, whatever his position, to a practical test; and the actual results of this test are offered to the world for inspection. “By their fruits,” Christ said, “ye shall know them.” TSA 79.1

Differences of opinion will always exist, for every mind is not constituted to run in the same channel. Hereditary and cultivated tendencies have to be guarded, lest they create controversies over minor matters. Christ's workers must draw together in tender sympathy and love. Let not any one think it a virtue to maintain his own notions and suppose he is the only one to whom the Lord has given discernment and intuition. Christian charity covers a multitude of that which one may regard as a defect in another. There is need of much love and far less criticism. When the Holy Spirit is manifestly working in the hearts of ministers and helpers, they will reveal the tenderness and love of Christ. TSA 79.2

Many things which have reference to outward forms are not all defined in the Scriptures, but are left unsettled; and personal preferences have often been urged too strongly over these matters. When every item is not in accordance with the practice of some other of the body of believers, let not little variances swell into grievances and cause disunion. The methods and measures by which we reach certain ends are not always precisely the same. We are required to use reason and judgment as to how we shall move. Experience will show what is the fittest course to pursue under existing circumstances. Let not controversy arise over trifles. The spirit of love and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will bind heart to heart, if each will open the windows of the heart heavenward and close them earthward. TSA 79.3

The sins marked out in the Word of God must not be allowed to enter the life, as of little consequence. If we would faithfully walk in the light of God's word and will, we must be determined that we will not dishonour God by a lax, loose course of action. It is often the case that the customs and climate of a country make a condition of things that would not be tolerated in another country. Changes for the better must be made, but it is not best to be abrupt. The truth received into the heart sanctifies the receiver. The power of the grace of God will do more for the soul than controversy will do in a lifetime. By the power of the truth how many things might be adjusted, and controversies hoary with age find quietude in the admission of better ways. The great, grand principle, “Peace on earth and good will to men,” will be far better practised when those who believe in Christ are labourers together with God. Then all the little things which some are ever harping upon, which are not authoritatively settled by the Word of God, will not be magnified into important matters. TSA 79.4

The great want in South Africa in religious lines is a clearer sense of the presence of God in every agency and in every enterprise. The purity and holiness of God is the great subject which must awaken the senses to the necessity of true conversion. While on one hand danger lurks in a narrow philosophy and a hard, cold rule of orthodoxy, on the other hand, there is great danger in a careless, impure liberalism. The great theme ever to be kept before people is the indwelling and co-working of divinity, expressed by Christ in the words, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” TSA 80.1

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” TSA 80.2

“Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” TSA 80.3

Let this entire chapter be studied by those who claim to believe the truth for this time. Open the heart to the grace of Christ. While we lament deplorable errors, let us receive the precious lessons of instruction the Lord Jesus has given us. God requires every heart to be filled with pure, clean, sanctified, Christlike love. The love of Christ must not be lost out of our humanity. We are labourers together with God. Ye are God's husbandry; ye are God's building. Christ declares, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Then open the door of the heart and let Jesus in. He is the great worker as well as the lawgiver. The members of our churches need to awake to the realization that they must have none of self and all of Jesus. We must co-operate with the Lord Jesus. The soul is to be awakened to cry aloud with every aspiration for the living God. Let your swelling, struggling heart break for the longing it has for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Let every one who has had an experience in their life in Christ show an earnest faith in God as the true worker. Show that you realize that you are only a channel through which God works. Appreciate the fact that God is our efficiency. We do not remember this, and therefore we lose much in religious experience. We work ourselves in place of being worked by the Holy Spirit's power. We forget to regard ourselves as merely agents. TSA 80.4

We are to contemplate Christ. We are to do our God-given work in our respective places, and by our own example call out the energies of the church to a strenuous co-operation with heavenly agencies; for it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. God will honour His own name if we will clear the way by confessing our sins and removing every stumbling block out of the path of those who would be Christians were it not for the imperfect course of action pursued by those who claim to be followers of Christ. TSA 81.1

Constantly we fall into the error of imputing to the human agent that which should be ascribed to God. This is one great reason why the Lord cannot glorify His name as He longs to do. If He did, the human agent would become self-sufficient, self-exalted. Men would ascribe to themselves and to their human energies the honour that should be given to God alone. We need to walk humbly with God. As teachers, we should be very careful to make straight paths for our feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. In union with divine agencies, we shall have hope and assurance of success, but not a jot of the glory is to be ascribed to man. Having through faith, living, unwearied, persevering faith, secured the co-operation of an all-powerful agency, men must not make the mistake—... now the reason of the great feebleness seen in the churches—that it is their goodness and their merits that have done this great work. When this feeling is cherished, self-exaltation comes in and dishonours God. Self appropriates to itself the glory that God should have. As God's human agents we are to work with unremitting diligence, straining every spiritual sinew and muscle to lay hold of a power out of and above ourselves. Only thus can we accomplish our work. The Lord Jesus is beside us, ready to grasp the hand that is outstretched to Him who is omnipotent. When our hopes are fulfilled, self is hid with Christ in God, and all glory is given to the Captain of our salvation, who has anointed us with the oil of gladness by His divine efficiency. Then we go forth, working like inspired labourers together with God. TSA 81.2

There will always be conditions in God's work. Every man is called upon to dedicate himself unreservedly to God, soul, body, and spirit. Amid self-denial and trial, discouragement and suffering, with the devotion of a martyr and the courage of a hero, he is to hold fast to that hand that never lets go, saying, I will not fail nor be discouraged.... TSA 82.1

It grieves my heart to think of what might have been if the ones who enter the missionary field had been humble, devoted, consecrated workers. TSA 82.2

Those who enter any portion of the Lord's vast vineyard should understand that their supposed acquired abilities will not give them success in their work. A too great recognition of self will place one where he will be alone, terribly alone, without the co-operation of his brethren, and without the co-operation of heavenly agencies. TSA 82.3

Some of the workers... (from America) have been hindrances and not helps. The day of God will reveal the results of their work. They made confusion because they were not converted. Self was working without the power of the pure, true agency. Had these workers been sanctified, purified, and cleansed from all selfishness and self-superiority, had they had a genuine experience in the things of God, had their example and influence been right, Africa would not be what it is today. The grand, far-reaching influence of the truth would have embraced other territories.... TSA 82.4

If in Africa there had been consecrated workers to push their way into unworked fields, with the full co-operation of the men who are bearing responsibilities, the influence of this work would have added large numbers to the Lord's kingdom. But the same error has been committed in Africa that was committed in Battle Creek,—a centre was made in one place at a large outlay of means, while other portions of the Lord's vineyard which should have been worked were neglected. God will use in His work humble men who do not think themselves so useful that they trust to their own judgment and efficiency. TSA 83.1

In Africa there were those who because of their humility were supposed to be unable to do much. Christ worked with these men. God gave them wisdom. But supposedly wiser men bound about the work, and gave little encouragement for it to advance.... Had the work been done that needed to be done, men of talent would have come to a knowledge of the truth, men who could have translated our books into different languages. Every dollar expended in America in adding building to building was needed in the fields that might have been entered but were not because many of the workers sent to South Africa were not sanctified. They were unable to take in the situation. They were not willing to deny self, lift the cross, and follow where Jesus led the way.... TSA 83.2

The greatest praise men can bring to God to exalt His sovereignty is to make themselves consecrated channels through which He can work. The Lord's work is to be done, and He calls upon the members of His firm to act their part as obedient servants. If they have been fitted for service by the grace they have received, they are labourers together with God, but if they have not received this grace, they will be only hindrances. Through all the ages men have worked contrary to God, as did Balaam, because they have brought selfishness and covetousness into the work, leaving God out of their hearts and plans. The angelic agencies are represented as eager and longing to bring divine resources to human agencies for the conversion of souls that the Lord may be glorified. But here are many men and women who are not daily converted to God. They weave self and their own plans into the sacred work, and they are hindrances. God could bless consecrated human instrumentalities who are willing to let the divine influences use them to encircle the world, yet heaven waits while men get in the way of His work with their own plans and methods. God says, Take up the stumbling blocks; make room for Me to work; prepare the way of the Lord and make His paths straight.—Letter 183, 1899. TSA 83.3