Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 9 (1894)


Ms 21a, 1894

Testimony to Ministers

Granville, New South Wales, Australia

April 2, 1894

Formerly Undated Ms 92. Portions of this manuscript are published in Ev 102, 104, 116, 336-337; 1NL 127-130; 11MR 278. +Note

Last night I seemed to be in an assembly of men who had been entrusted with large and important responsibilities. There were ministers present, and all seemed to be filled with apprehension for the future. After prayer had been offered, the cases of canvassers who had been appropriating means from the treasury, instead of bringing means into it, were considered with much sorrow, and some counsel was offered as to the best way to deal with those who were proving unfaithful to their trust. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 1

When other grave matters had been presented, I arose and said, “I have been for a long time pressed under the burden of the fact that we are not elevating the standard as we should. New fields are continually opening, and the third angel’s message must be proclaimed to all kindreds, nations, tongues, and peoples. We must not feel that we are compelled to hover over churches who have received the truth. We must not encourage the people to depend upon ministerial labor in order to preserve spiritual life. Every one who has received the truth must go to God for their individual selves, and decide to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Those who have embraced the third angel’s message must not make man their trust and depend upon the ministers to make their experience for them.” 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 2

Let the people of God have root in themselves, because they are planted in Jesus Christ. There must be no strife for supremacy. Let every one seek God for himself, and know for himself that the truth of God is the sanctifier of soul, life, and character. Let every one feel a burden to speak those things in the church which will edify. No one should try to sermonize, but with hearts filled will the love of God, let them have something to say that will not savor in the least of self-exaltation, of questions that will cause dissension; but let each one present lessons from the life of Christ, and present none of self, but all of Jesus. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 3

Let ministers and responsible men lay the burden upon the church which the Lord lays upon them—burden of leading souls into the truth. Teach the people that they should have a strong desire to see those out of the faith converted to the truth. Let those who have opportunities do their God-given work. Those who are not fulfilling their responsibility should be visited, prayed with, and labored for, that they may become faithful stewards of the grace of Christ. Do not lead the people to depend upon you as ministers, but teach every one who shall embrace the truth that he has a work to do in exercising the talents God has given him to save the souls of those who are nigh him. In thus working, the people will have the co-operation of the angels of God, and they will obtain a valuable experience which will increase their faith, and give them a strong hold of God. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 4

Let every one do all in his power to help both by his means and by his prayers to carry the burden for the souls for whom the ministers are laboring. Earnest prayer sent up to God for His blessing upon the laborers in the field will follow the laborers as sharp sickles into the harvest field. When the people thus pray for the work, they will not be selfish and seek to hear the ministers, but will say to the minister, “Go and carry the truth so precious to us to others who are in error, and our prayers will go with you.” This will be a valuable experience to the members of the church. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 5

The messengers whom God sends to the people must not permit the people to attach themselves to them. They must ever keep Jesus Christ before their congregations as the One in whom all their hopes of eternal life are centered. In every messenger whom the Lord uses, there must be humility, meekness, and lowliness of mind. The best methods in all respects have not been employed. In laboring to establish churches, some things have been presented before the people which have not been pure provender, thoroughly winnowed from chaff. Some things which have been unessential have been presented, and other things which have been very essential have been neglected, dealt with hesitatingly or slightly. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 6

The wisdom that comes from above must enter into the methods and plans of the laborers. Self must not seek for recognition and strive to be first. Self must be hid with Christ in God. Self must die, and Christ must live in the soul. The laborers must learn to bear a firm, decided testimony, unadulterated with cheap matters which are never a help, but a hindrance, to the truth. Carry the people upward and forward positively, from strength to strength, step by step, on the firm foundation of sound Bible doctrine. Have an intense interest in your work, and call for decisions and for decisive action as you advance. While the spirit of conviction rests upon the hearts of the people, fasten upon their minds the importance of living out the truth. While they are obtaining gems of truth, lead them out to give practical expression to their faith, and to express their gratitude for every ray of light that shines upon them from the Word of God. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 7

The workers [who] are in the cause of God are to hold themselves continually under the bright rays of the Sun of Righteousness. They are to pray much, to receive the Holy Spirit into the life and character, and then they will manifest its holy influence in their life practices. They are not to feel that it is their prerogative to work the Holy Spirit, but that the Holy Spirit is to work them, mold them out of self, away from hereditary and cultivated tendencies, and fashion them into the image of Christ’s mind and ways. The workers must present in living pictures, line upon line, precept upon precept, that it is the duty of the people to be earnest workers. They are to point out the duty of parents to teach their little ones the truth as it is in Jesus, that they may present what they themselves have learned to their associates. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 8

Let parents be taught that they must teach their children line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, with all patience, long-suffering, and forbearance. The home is to be a school to do the work of perfecting the characters of their children. Parents are asleep. Their children are going to destruction before their eyes, and the Lord would have His messengers present before the people, by precept and example, the necessity of home religion. Urge this matter home upon your congregations. Press the conviction of these solemn duties, so long neglected, home upon the conscience. This will break up the spirit of Pharisaism and resistance to the truth as nothing else can. Religion in the home is our great hope, and makes the prospect bright for the conversion of the whole family to the truth of God. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 9

Will not our ministers wrestle in earnest prayer for the holy unction, that they may not bring unimportant, unessential things into their labor at this important time? Let them not bring into their ministerial labors that which can be heard in any of the denominational churches. Let them ever keep before their hearers an uplifted Saviour, in order to prevent their converts from attaching themselves to the man, to bear his mold and copy his ways in their manner of conversation and conduct. The Lord has a variety of workers, who must impress the people in various lines. One man’s ways are not to be considered perfect and to be adopted exclusively in any congregation. Christ is our example. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 10

This Scripture is to be understood: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” [Ephesians 4:11.] These different workers [are] each to do a special work, but are they to separate themselves, confining their labors to a few whom they have succeeded in bringing to a knowledge of the truth? Shall one say to another of the instrumentalities of God, “Leave these souls to me to work with and to bring along to a profession of the faith. Let me work for, and train, and educate them to perfection of character”? No, this is not the way the Lord works. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 11

All who hold forth the Word of Life will have a part to act in the work whatever they may be, whether they be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, or teachers. They are all to work together, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the light of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow unto him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” [Verses 12-16.] 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 12

To every man is given his work. One man cannot do the work for which another man has been trained and educated. But the work of every man must begin at the heart, in the character, by surrendering the soul to God, and by co-operating with divine agencies. The root must be holy or there will be no holy fruit. All are to be workers together with God, and self must not appear. The Lord has entrusted talent and capabilities to every individual, and those who are most highly favored with opportunities and privileges are under the heaviest responsibilities to God. Those who are represented as having but one talent have their work to do. By diligent trading, not with pounds but with pence, they are diligently to employ their ability, determined not to fail or be discouraged. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 13

Those who faithfully trade upon their one talent will hear the gracious commendation given them with as full heartiness as those who have been gifted with many talents, and who wisely improve them: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” [Matthew 25:21.] He who had but one talent had an influence to exert, and his work was needed. In perfecting his own character, he was exerting an influence that helped to perfect the characters of those who had larger responsibilities, who were in danger of building themselves up, and of neglecting some important little things, which that faithful man with his one talent was regarding with diligent care. By his diligence and unwearied, faithful efforts he gave lessons worthy of imitation to those who from outward appearance seemed to be greatly his superiors. Our various trusts are proportioned to our various abilities. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 14

There should be no murmuring and complaining among the workers when one who moves in a humble position is appointed to work with them. They may suppose this humble worker incapable of co-operating with them, but in this they may be greatly in error. It is essential that they learn the lesson of contentment, and become capable of blending in unity, doing their best under all circumstances, believing that God alone can water the seed sown. In thus doing they will double their influence, for when duty is done with fidelity, and faithful diligence is manifested by the worker, it is proven that he bears the test and proving of God, and the Lord requires nothing more. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 15

Ministers can do no more than to trade according to their entrusted responsibilities. Let not one man think that his method and his way of doing will be sufficient to mold and fashion the souls of his congregation distinctly after his ideas, and that no other laborers are to mingle their talents with his work, because they do not know just how and where to take hold. Let ministers remember that God knows how to use His own agents to His name’s honor and glory. It is a great hindrance to the advancement and perfection of any church, when they are led to think that they are wholly efficient without the varied gifts. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 16

The Lord moves upon ministers who have varied capabilities, that they may feed the flock of His heritage with food convenient for them. They will reveal truth on points that their brother laborer did not regard as essential. Were the work of ministering to the flock left entirely to one man, there would be deficiency in the results. In His providence the Lord sends various workmen. One is strong on some essential point where another is weak. It takes the varied gifts of various laborers who are under the control of the Holy Spirit to carry forward to the fullness of the work. Let men beware how they treat their fellow laborers, for they are in danger of refusing Jesus in the messenger whom He sends. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 17

The Lord understands His own work, and has a thorough knowledge as to how it shall be carried on. He knows what it needs to perfect the work, and what portion of truth will be [given] in due season to His flock. Men may reason that because they have created an interest, and have made out a program of how the work shall be carried on, it would not be safe to trust other workmen, even of experience, to act a part in the work. They fear that this would interrupt the interest and divert the minds from the subjects which the first laborer had outlined. But let not laborers fear to give way for God’s messengers to bear their message. Many have acted with discourtesy in the past in this matter, and have met with loss which it is hard for them to recover, for the Spirit of the Lord has been grieved. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 18

The Lord has not left His work to be controlled by the finite minds of men. When doctrinal points are presented, one discourse following another, the Lord in His providence often sends another laborer in whom is another element, another gift, in order to bring in a line of truth that will supplement the first laborer’s work. Each talent is of value, each qualification is essential to perfect the work, that every soul in the congregation may find his special case met in the truths that are presented in different ways by different laborers. Some laborers will present truths in such a way that they will flash and shine like precious gems. Others will present the truth in such a manner that the minds of the believers are convicted. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 19

A great mistake has been made by some of our ministers in thinking that unless they manage the interest they have begun, the work would be hindered and the interest marred. They have even thought that it would not do for a minister to come in who had more knowledge and experience in the work than they themselves had. Such a conclusion is the fruit of misconception and it mars the work. When they themselves are called to other fields of labor, they will realize how difficult it is to labor with a church that is wrapped up in the minister who first taught them the truth. They will see that the people do not respect God’s messengers who follow in the track of the teacher who was places his own mold upon the church over which he presides, and that the very labor the church needed for the perfection of the saints can do them little good. Much difficult labor has to be performed before such a church learns to appreciate the varied instrumentalities whom God uses. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 20

Wherever an interest is started, the Lord in His providence will bring different gifts in connection with the one or two who are bringing the truth before the people. Let not the laborer be fearful that because a new laborer is introduced to the people, the interest will be interrupted and the work in which they are engaged will be marred. Keep your hands off the ark; God will take care of His work. Additional light will flash forth from the men who are sent of God, who are laborers together with God, and the original workers should receive God’s messengers cordially, treat them respectfully, and invite them to unite with them and speak to the people. Every facility, every new talent, is to be gladly received, respected, and encouraged. To treat indifferently one whom God has sent, is to show disrespect for Christ. God, the Master Workman, knows better than His underlaborers what is needed for the perfecting of the saints. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 21

The laborers who may come in after an interest has been created may be men who have even less ability than those who started the work; but if they are humble men of God, they may present the truth in such a way as to arouse and impress the hearts of some who have been hitherto untouched. The Lord reveals truth to different minds in different aspects, so that through one man’s presentation some point of truth is made clearer than through another man’s presentation, and for this very reason the Lord does not permit one man alone the work of dealing with human minds. He gives to every man his work according to his ability. The Lord will set in operation diverse instrumentalities that are to act together in perfecting the work of God. All these various gifts are given to the church for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 22

One man may carry his part of the work as far as he can, and then the Lord will send another of His workmen to do another part of the work that the first worker did not feel the necessity of doing, and yet it was essential that the work should be done. Therefore let not one man feel that it is his duty to begin and carry forward a work entirely himself. If it is possible for him to have other gifts in other laborers to work for the conversion of souls let him gladly co-operate with them. It is always far better, if possible, to carry out Christ’s original plan. He sent out the first disciples two by two, and in the same manner He sent out the seventy, giving them the first directions that He gave the twelve He first sent out. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 23

There is danger that when one labors alone that he will fall into practices, and cherish habits, that need to be modified or corrected. A laborer may think that his manner of presenting subjects, or his method of work, is without a flaw, when the fact is that he is in need of reformation in many points that his own eyes do not discern. If a brother labors with him, he may discern [those] defects, and correct them in kindness and faithfulness. Let not the ministers be sensitive when the real situation is set before them, but let them be faithful one to another, and be learners in the school of Christ. In this kind of an association, one will be a blessing to the other. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 24

The Lord understands all the peculiar defects in His workmen. He reads the heart and weighs the character. He discerns the envy, the jealousy, the evil surmisings that tempt the soul; He knows the self-esteem that endangers soul’s health, and He will open the eyes of those who are blinded to their own error, if they are teachable, so that they may discern their danger. He also understands what are the peculiar capabilities in His messenger, and if the messenger is cherishing defects, the Lord will bring in connection with him a fellow laborer who will make him sensible of the one-sidedness of his labor, and through His Holy Spirit, He will cause him to realize the necessity of becoming a thoroughly developed workman in all points, in order that he may be a correct teacher of the most solemn, sacred truth ever committed to mortals. Those who would be shepherds of the flock of God, giving them food in due season, must first learn in the school of Christ lessons of meekness and lowliness of heart, if they would teach others. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 25

Christ was the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. He says, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” [Matthew 11:29.] No one is qualified to care for the Lord’s heritage, to win souls to a knowledge of the truth, to establish, strengthen, and settle them, unless he feels his own weakness, and thankfully receives the benefit that may come to him through blessed gifts which the Lord has bestowed upon other laborers. Linked together in confidence, in the bonds of holy love, brother may receive from brother all the help that can possibly be obtained from one another. If such a laborer is consecrated to the cause of God, he will feel such a deep interest for the souls of those for whom he labors that he will call for help, and give full freedom for every God-appointed agency to take hold with him, that if possible those things which he lacks may be supplied by others. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 26

The work must be carried forward by the co-operation of many laborers. Gift must blend with gift in the workers, and all must labor together for one end—the perfecting of the saints, the edifying of the body of Christ. Strife for supremacy makes manifest a spirit, that if cherished, will eventually shut out from the kingdom of God those who cherish it. The peace of Christ cannot dwell in the mind and heart of a workman who criticizes and finds fault with another workman, simply because the other does not practice the methods he thinks best, or because he feels that he is not appreciated. The Lord never blesses him who criticizes and accuses his brethren, for this is Satan’s work. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 27

Our Lord’s gift of peace, of faith and love, does not abide in the soul of him who is full of fault-finding and criticism; it can never find its place there, until all self-complacency is purged from the soul. Let the laborer die to self and never more indulge in speaking evil of others. When every root of bitterness is killed, then the Lord Jesus can work to put His own impress on the human heart, because it is open to His grace and love. Those of His workers who are self-confident, and pleased in having their own way, will feel His chastening rod. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 28

Christ can give His peace only to those who surrender their will and their way to His method and plans. Restless cravings and heart-burnings bring no joy, no happiness, but only sadness and misery to the soul. He who cherishes them views all things in a distorted light, and thinks that others, who do not view matters as he does, do not appreciate his individual importance and work. We may be complete in Jesus Christ only as we are emptied of self. When our life is hid with Christ in God, self is lost, submerged in the depth, breadth, length, and height of infinite love. Let the burden of every soul be to know the love of Christ, which surpasseth knowledge. 9LtMs, Ms 21a, 1894, par. 29