Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)

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Lt 95, 1896

Starr, G. B.

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, Australia

August 11, 1896

Portions of this letter are published in Ev 158-159, 445, 457-458, 463-464; 4MR 36; 6MR 194-195; 8MR 196-197.

Elder G. B. Starr
Queensland, Australia

My Dear Brother:

I have some things to say to you. Do not exhaust your strength by giving long discourses. Search the Scriptures. Seek God in earnest prayer, that when you stand before the people, you may realize the solemn weight of the message which you are about to bear. Talk to the people in simplicity. Let your discourses be short. Handle only a few points, saving your vitality for the house to house work. Ministers too often stand before the people and deliver lengthy discourses, which in order to do good, need to be divided into three parts. The minds of the people are wearied by such discourses, and the truth loses its effect upon them. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 1

Keep humble. In your ministry plead for the presence of the Holy Spirit, for nothing can be done without its aid. Never forget that you are a steward of the grace of God and a servant of the church for Christ’s sake. Mingle no selfishness with your work; pray that self may be covered with the garment of Christ’s righteousness. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 2

Come close to the people in your work. If you can become better acquainted with them by canvassing, do that work. If you can bring the riches of the grace of Christ into their family circles; if, by simple, earnest prayer you can grasp the throne of the Infinite, and then flash the light you have received into the homes you enter, you are doing missionary work of the highest order. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 3

I tell you in the name of the Lord that with your present force of workers, you are not prepared to engage in work in a hard place, where the prejudice is strong. If one half of the time usually spent in making a public effort were devoted to house to house teaching, till the people had become acquainted with the religious sincerity of the workers and with the reasons of their faith, it would be much better. After this work has been done, it could be decided whether a more expensive effort would be advisable. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 4

Public efforts have been made which have accomplished good. Some have responded and received the truth, but oh, how few these have been. The Lord desires that the truth shall come close to the people, and this work can only be accomplished by personal labor. Much is comprehended in the command, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” [Luke 14:23.] There is a work to be done in this line that has not yet been done. Let God’s workers labor for a time in the highways and hedges; let them teach the truth in families, drawing close to those for whom they labor. If they thus co-operate with God, He will clothe them with spiritual power. Christ will guide them in their work, entering the houses of the people with them, and giving them words to speak that will sink deep into the hearts of the listeners. The Holy Spirit will open hearts and minds to receive the rays coming from the Source of all light. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 5

In God’s service difficulties must be met and obstacles encountered. Events belong to God. His servants must meet with difficulties and opposition, for they are His chosen methods of discipline, and His appointed conditions of sure progress, advancement, and success. But I entreat the servants of the Lord Jesus to remember that here is a work which may be done quickly, without arousing that strong opposition which closes hearts to the truth. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 6

If half the time now spent in preaching were given to house to house labor, favorable results would be seen. Much good would be accomplished, for the workers could come close to the people. The time spent in quietly visiting families, and when there speaking to God in prayer, singing His praise, and explaining His Word, will often do more good than a public effort. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 7

Many times minds are impressed with tenfold [more] force by personal appeals than by any other kind of labor. The family that is visited in this way is spoken to personally. The members are not in a promiscuous assembly, where they can apply to their neighbors the truths they hear. They themselves are spoken to, earnestly, and with a kind-hearted solicitude. They are allowed to express their objections freely, and thus objections can be met with a “Thus saith the Lord.” If this work is done in humility by those whose hearts are imbued with the love of God the words are fulfilled, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple.” [Psalm 119:130.] 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 8

There are numbers of families who will never be reached by the truth of God’s Word unless the stewards of the manifold grace of Christ enter their homes and by earnest ministry, sanctified by the endorsement of the Holy Spirit, break down the barriers and enter the hearts of the people. As the people see that these workers are messengers of mercy, the ministers of grace, they are ready to listen to the words spoken by them. But the hearts of those who this work, must throb in unison with the heart of Christ. They must be wholly consecrated to the service of God, ready to do His bidding; ready to go wheresoever His providence leads them, and to speak the words He gives them. If they are what God desires, they shall be, if they are imbued with the Holy Spirit, they co-operate with heavenly agencies, and are indeed “laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 9

When such a worker offers a prayer to God in the family where he is visiting, the hearts of the members are touched as they would not be by any prayer offered in a public assembly. Angels of God enter the family circle with him; and the minds of the hearers are prepared to receive the Word of God, for if the messenger is humble and contrite, if he has a living connection with God, the Holy Spirit takes the Word and shows it to those for whom he is laboring. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 10

This work is just what is needed to soften and subdue hearts, but I have been shown that it is too sparingly done. I tell you in the fear of God that there is more sermonizing than ministering. The field is a large one, but the servants of God, by straining themselves beyond their strength by their efforts to do much preaching, neglect the corners of the Lord’s vineyard, and overlook the hundred weekly opportunities for doing good. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 11

Light, light from the Word of God—this is what the people need. If the teachers of hHs word are willing, the Lord will lead them into close relation with the people. He will guide them into the homes of those who need and desire the truth, bringing them into the situations best suited to, their talents. And as the servants of God in the work of seeking the lost sheep, their spiritual faculties are awakened and energized. Knowing that they are in harmony with God, they feel joyous and happy. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they obtain an experience that is invaluable to them. Their intellectual and moral powers attain their highest development, for grace is given to answer to the demand, grace for grace. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 12

I was once shown a place in which a tent effort had been made. Great preparations had been made, and the expense entailed was large. Enough was done to awaken the whole community, and in one sense it was awakened; but it was to warn of the dangerous errors held by those preaching the truth. An alarm was sounded, and falsehoods were repeated again and again. The stay-away argument was used with much effect. The laborers were much disappointed with their efforts; for only a few came to hear, and very few decided to obey the truth. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 13

I was shown this same place at another time. I saw two Bible workers seated in a family, with the open Bible before them, they presented the Lord Jesus Christ as the sin-pardoning Saviour. Their words were spoken with freshness and power. Earnest prayer was offered to God, and hearts were softened and subdued by the softening influence of the Spirit of God. As the word of God was explained, I saw that a soft radiant light illuminated the Scriptures, and I said softly, “Go ye out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” [Luke 14:23.] 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 14

These workers were not boastful, but humble and contrite in heart, realizing always that the Holy Spirit was their efficiency. Under its divine influence, indifference was dispelled, and an earnest interest was manifested. The precious light was communicated from neighbor to neighbor. Family altars which had been broken down were again erected, and many were converted to the truth. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 15

I saw that those who accepted the truth were represented as a little army, standing under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel. On this banner was inscribed, “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” [Revelation 14:12.] Their faces shone with a light expressive of inward joy, and in tones of gratitude they said, “Redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.” The words were then spoken by the heavenly messenger, “Search the Scriptures. Look as you have never looked before into the perfect law of liberty. It condemns every sin, and requires every virtue.” 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 16

God measures men by the light He has given them, by the opportunities which have been theirs. If those who have had great light do not consult their Guidebook at every step, inquiring, Is this the way of the Lord? Can I with safety walk in this path? their words and actions will be tainted with selfishness. They will forget God and walk in paths that God has not chosen for them. They will forget Christ; and they who do not receive Him as their personal Saviour will reveal hereditary and cultivated defects in their characters. Their conduct will be influenced by their own inclinations; their natural appetites will not be brought into subjection to the law of God. Selfishness will bind them hand and foot. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 17

The Word of God declares, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” [Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:40.] The Lord has a controversy with his people, Many of them do not keep His commandments. As a people, we are far from being doers of the Word of God. Self, highly estimated, strives for recognition. We are told to love our neighbors as ourselves, but too often we disregard this command, walking far apart from those we should help, and cherishing self, calling for praise and recognition. But unless we change this course, and diligently study and faithfully practice the word of God, we shall not be able to endure the perils of the last day. 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 18

“Wherefore lay aside all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” [James 1:21-25.] 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 19

“But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory (from character to character).” “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.” “Now thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place.” [2 Corinthians 3:18; 4:6, 7; 2:14.] 11LtMs, Lt 95, 1896, par. 20