Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 4 (1883 - 1886)


Ms 15, 1886

Christian Integrity in the Ministry

Basel, Switzerland


This manuscript is published in entirety in 11MR 82-91.

I have been shown that in times past men have made grievous mistakes. Some who have stood in positions of sacred trust have sullied their integrity. They have not, in their individual responsibility, stood in moral power before God. Those who were not worthy have been flattered, while those who have stood fast for truth and for righteousness, because their ideas did not agree with those of their brethren, have been denounced, discredited, and misjudged. Evil has been imagined against them. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 1

Greatness without goodness is valueless. It is as a tinkling cymbal. The man who does not gather about him the rays of light that God has let shine upon his pathway will surely surround himself with the shadows of darkness. God designs that His people shall press closer and still closer to the light. Then they will go forward and upward. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 2

“Light is sown for the righteous, and truth for the upright in heart.” [Psalm 97:11.] There is altogether too little searching, with painstaking effort, for the truth as for hidden treasure. With hearts softened and subdued by the grace of God, the conscience quickened by habitual prayer and searching of the Scriptures, the whole soul may become familiar with heavenly truth. Such will stand firmly for the right because it is right. Pure and undefiled religion will be interwoven with the life practice. They will honor God, and God will honor them. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 3

I have been shown that there is a fault with us. We honor and flatter human beings, accepting their ideas and their judgment as the voice of God. We advocate their cause. But they are not always safe to follow. Their judgment is erring. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 4

God would have us ever refuse to plead against the truth. His frown is upon all that is false or unfair. This should be the position of every one who stands to minister in the service of his Master. For if one to whom God has entrusted holy responsibilities allows envy, evil surmising, prejudice, and jealousies to find place in the heart, he is guilty of breaking the law of God. And his words, his ideas, and his errors will extend just as far as his sphere of influence extends. God says to every man to whom He entrusts responsibilities, “Put not your trust in man, neither make flesh your arm.” [Jeremiah 17:5.] Look to God. Trust in His infallible wisdom. Regard as a sin the practice so common, even among Seventh-day Adventists, of becoming the echo of any man, however lofty his position. Listen to the voice of the great Shepherd, and you will never be led astray. Search the Scriptures for yourself, and be braced for duty and for trial by the truth of God’s Word. Let no friendship, no influence, no entreaty; let not the smiles, the confidence, or the rewards of any man induce you to swerve from the path in which the Lord would lead you. Let Christlike integrity and consistency control the actions of your life. The man who sits most at the feet of Jesus, and is taught by the Saviour’s spirit, will be ready to cry out, “I am weak and unworthy, but Christ is my strength and my righteousness.” 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 5

Godliness, sobriety, and consistency will characterize the life and example of every true Christian. The work which Christ is doing in the sanctuary above will engage the thoughts and be the burden of the conversation because by faith he has entered into the sanctuary. He is on earth, but his sympathies are in harmony with the work that Christ is doing in heaven. Christ is cleansing the heavenly sanctuary from the sins of the people, and it is the work of all who are laborers together with God to the cleansing the sanctuary of the soul from everything that is offensive to Him. Everything like evil surmising, envy, jealousy, enmity, and hatred will be put away; for such things grieve the Holy Spirit of God and put Christ to an open shame. Love of self will not exist, nor will any engaged in this work be puffed up. The example of Christ’s life, the consistency of His character, will make his influence far reaching. He will be a living epistle, known and read of all men. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 6

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise, blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers, but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” 1 Peter 3:8-12. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 7

It is not safe for us to open our minds and hearts to envy and evil speaking. The fruits of God’s Spirit are plainly specified, so that we need not entertain or cherish those attributes that proceed from the enemy of God and man. The false tongue beguiles the unwary, and makes an easy conquest of those who are not strengthened, stablished, and settled, having root in themselves. The atonement of Christ is to be the anchor of our hope and the Word of God a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Then our words will not be of self, but of Christ and of the all-essential work for this time. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 8

With many there is but a very limited perusal of the Holy Scriptures. The truth is not dwelt upon, and the result is that it is not made the theme of conversation. It is made evident that Christ is not abiding in the heart. Our tongues should speak more of the matchless love of Jesus. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 9

[Romans 11:17-22 quoted.] 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 10

The Lord has shown me that as a people we must have a purer morality. There is among us a flippant reproduction of arguments that are the product of other brains than ours, while the man who first uttered them has not spent hours of earnest study each day in order to know the truth. In his self-sufficiency he has turned away from the truth unto fables. He has not poured out before God his earnest prayer that he might know the hidden mysteries of God’s Word, that he might present to the people things new and old, which by painstaking effort he has dug from the mine of truth. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 11

Mysteries which have been hidden for ages are to be revealed in these last days to humble people, who lean upon the arm of infinite power. Truth will be opened to the humble seeker, whose life is hid with Christ in God. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 12

God calls upon His people to be Christians in thought, in word, and in deed. Luther made the statement that religion is never so much in danger as among reverend men. I can say that many who handle the truth are not sanctified through the truth. They have not the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. They become accustomed to handling sacred things, and because of this, many handle the Word of God irreverently. They have not walked in the light, but have closed their eyes to light. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 13

This is an age of signal rejection of the grace God has purposed to bestow upon His people, that in the perils of the last days they may not be overcome by the prevailing iniquity and unite with the hostility of the world against God’s remnant people. Under the cloak of Christianity and sanctification, far-spreading and manifest ungodliness will prevail to a terrible degree and will continue until Christ comes to be glorified in all them that believe. In the very courts of the temple, scenes will be enacted that few realize. God’s people will be proved and tested, and He may discern “between him that serveth God, and him that serveth Him not.” [Malachi 3:18.] 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 14

Vengeance will be executed against those who sit in the gate, deciding what the people should have and what they should not have. These take away the key of knowledge. They refuse to enter in themselves, and those that would enter they hinder. These bear not the seal of the living God. All who now occupy responsible positions should be solemnly and terribly afraid lest in this time they shall be found as unfaithful stewards. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 15

Satan has come down with great power, knowing that his time is short. The continued apostasy, the abounding iniquity, which chills the faith and constancy of many, should call the faithful ones to the front. Straight, clear, decided testimonies, freighted with light for the time, will be given. Truth, undimmed by the furnace, will shine brighter and brighter until the perfect day. The Spirit and power of the coming One will be imparted in large measure to those who are preparing to stand in the day of God, who are hastening the second advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To these faithful ones Christ gives special communications. He talks with them as He talked with His disciples before leaving them. The Spirit of truth will guide them into all truth. God has lines of communication with the world today. Through His appointed agencies, He speaks to the people He is purifying, warning and encouraging them. There are those who listen with open ears and quickened understanding for the words of reproof and encouragement addressed to them. But Satan is ever on the alert to make these words of counsel of none effect. He seeks to close every avenue through which people receive truth. Unto those that have shall more be given, but from those that have not, shall be taken away, even that which they have. If the ears are dull of hearing, if the eyes are closed to the light which God flashes into the pathway, the light previously received is so mingled with supposition, uncertainty, and darkness, that light cannot be distinguished from darkness. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 16

There are those whom we have loved in the faith who have turned from it and given heed to seducing spirits. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” 1 John 2:19. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 17

The love, the tender compassion, the marvelous condescension of Christ for His disciples is without a parallel. He made them the depositaries of sacred truth, as they could comprehend it. But He said to them, I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. [John 16:12.] Although Christ was with them, as their instructor, yet their former teaching had so molded their ideas and opinions that should Christ unfold the many things He longed to communicate, they would have misinterpreted His words. While He was with them, He sought to impress upon them the knowledge there was for them in the mysteries of the kingdom of God. He would have them see that it was an evidence of His love for Him to lift the veil of the future, and make them the depositaries of knowledge concerning events to come. But much He had told them had been dimly comprehended, and much would be forgotten. He told them that after His crucifixion and ascension the Holy Spirit would open many things to them and give them a better understanding of what He had tried to tell them. [Verse 13.] He would still continue to reveal sacred truth to them, and His Spirit would more fully impart truth to them. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 18

While Christ unfolded the iniquity and sorrow that must come to His disciples, the persecutions, and the trials they must bear, and the rejection of their testimony, He did not design that they should cloud their lives by looking on the dark side. He assured them that they would not be left alone, but be sustained by His Holy Spirit, which would guide them into all truth. “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost,” He said, “whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” John 14:26. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come.” John 16:12, 13. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 19

Here is a precious promise; the purposes and plans of God are to be opened to His disciples. What is a disciple?—A learner, ever learning. Coming events, of a solemn character, are opening before us, and God would not have any one of us think that in these last days there is no more that we need to know. This is a continual snare of Satan. He would not have us meet coming events without that special preparation which is essential to guide us through every difficulty. He would have all not stumbling their way along in ignorance, making self-conceit, self-esteem, self-confidence, take the place of true knowledge. The more satisfied any one is with himself and his present knowledge, the less earnestly and humbly will he seek to be guided into all truth. The less of the Holy Spirit of God he has, the more self-satisfied and complacent he will feel. He will not search earnestly and with the deepest interest to know more of truth. But unless he keeps pace with the Leader, who is guiding into all truth, he will be left behind, belated, blinded, confused, because he is not walking in the light. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 20

All who follow Christ will walk in the light as He is in the light. They will not then regard light with indifference, nor will they misapply the light, or stumble over it as did the Jews. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 21

A spurious light will be accepted in the place of truth by some who feel called upon to be expositors of the Scriptures, because of their calling or position. Extravagance, dishonesty, fraud, licentiousness are mingled with sacred things, until no difference is made between the sacred and the common. Many who claim to preach the Word contemplate some portions of Scripture truth, but do not apply it to the heart and character. They expatiate upon the plan of redemption, and upon the law of God, and become enthusiastic upon some of these glorious themes, but they take no personal interest in the matter. Christ is not brought into their lives. Can we then be surprised to hear of ministers falling under temptation and sin, disgracing the cause they were professedly advocating? Can we wonder that there are apostasies when men who urge conversion upon others are not themselves converted; when they commend to others the love of Christ, which does not glow in their own souls, preaching repentance which they themselves have not practiced, and faith which they have no experimental knowledge of, telling of a Saviour whom they have never known except by rumor? They are self-deceived men, not far from destruction. Pitiful indeed is their situation. All may seem peaceful to them, because the palsy of death is upon them. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 22

We are fully aware that dishonest men, immoral men, who preach the Word, are not always reproved and warned. They are not unmasked. They learn to hold the truth in unrighteousness and can tamper with it without a trembling of heart and rebuke of conscience. O that with pen and voice we might lead the people who claim to be the depositaries of sacred and eternal truth to feel the necessity of enthroning the Word of God in their heart, and bringing every thought, word, and action into subjection to Jesus Christ. It is a fearful responsibility to be in daily connection with the truth of God, telling others of eternal truth and yet be unsanctified through the truth. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 23

It is not safe to place men in the position God should occupy; for men cannot be trusted. If they do not constantly live as in the presence of God, if they do not walk humbly before God and their brethren, they will diverge almost imperceptibly, and by slight degrees, from the straight line of God’s work. Trusting to their own wisdom, they will deceive themselves and their fellow men. Their ideas become so confused that they offer strange fire before the Lord. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 24

The Word of God is to be the man of our counsel. With pen and voice I proclaim to all who bear credentials, to all licentiates, to all colporteurs, and all canvassers, that the Bible, and the Bible only, studied on your knees, laid up in your heart, and practiced in your life, attended by the Holy Spirit’s power, can be your safeguard. It alone can make you righteous and holy and keep you thus. Every human influence is weak and varying unless the truth of God’s Word is brought home to the soul and placed upon the throne. Not till this is done will the heart be sanctified, purified, and made holy, a fountain out of which are the issues of life. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 25

Discourses that have little of Christ and His righteousness in them are given in the desk. They are Christless sermons. To preach in the demonstration of the Spirit is completely beyond the power of those who are without Christ. They are feeble, empty, and without nourishment. They have no Christ to carry with them in private life. They are full of boasting, of pride, of self-esteem, speaking evil of things of which they have no real knowledge. They manifest an impatience of everything that does not follow in their line. They will even scoff and mock at sacred things, because they do not see that spiritual things are spiritually discerned. They degrade themselves by perverting and falsifying truth. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 26

By His Holy Spirit, the Lord will demonstrate that His Word is the only thing that can make men right and keep them right. I have been shown that God’s revealed truth alone can keep men in the path of humble obedience. Standard-bearers are falling round us, not only through death, but through the deceptions of Satan. All heaven is looking upon the remnant people of God, to see if they will make truth alone their shield and buckler. Unless the truth is presented as it is in Jesus, and is planted in the heart by the power of the Spirit of God, even ministers will be found drifting away from Christ, away from piety, away from religious principle. They will become blind leaders of the blind. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 27

Our faith cannot be vested in any man. We need Christ’s righteousness. We need Jesus ever by our side. He is our Rock. It is by His might that we conquer and by His righteousness that we are saved. When I see men exalted and praised, extolled as almost infallible, I know that there must come a terrible shaking. When God’s lamp of life shines into the heart with clear and steady ray, darkness will instantly be dispelled. Every idol will be dethroned, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding will reign in the heart. Truth, precious truth, will be seen, appreciated, and obeyed. The standard will be elevated, and many will rally round it. 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 28

[EGW note, 1897:] (This writing, with other manuscript, came to me about ten days since from America; and as it seemed to meet the present state of things, I have had it copied and sent to the church in Adelaide.) 4LtMs, Ms 15, 1886, par. 29