Address To Ministers

The Work of God to Believe on Christ

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do that we might work the works of God?” This was the question that was asked of Jesus by those who had witnessed his divine power in feeding the multitudes. But the question meant, What shall we do that we may deserve heaven? What is the price that we are required to pay that we may obtain the life to come? Now mark the answer of Jesus; for it is essential that we understand the truth he uttered: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” The price of heaven is Jesus. The way to heaven is through faith in “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Those who would be saved must accept by faith the righteousness of Christ; and when they do this, they will work the works of God. PH118 11.1

But the people did not choose to receive this plain statement of divine truth. Unbelief manifested itself; for though they had seen evidences of the divinity of Christ, they still refused to walk in the light of heaven, and hardened their hearts against the Son of God. They asked, “What sign showest thou then, that we may see and believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert: as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believed not.” PH118 11.2

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” “And they strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then said Jesus unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.... It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” The question comes home to us today, Are we eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God? It is by beholding the love of Christ, by drinking it in, by dwelling upon it, that we eat his flesh and drink his blood, becoming partakers of the divine nature. As we meditate upon the truth as it is in Jesus, it becomes more deeply impressed upon the soul. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” It is through the ministry of the Word that the saints are to be perfected. But what does it mean that there is so low a standard of piety among those who profess to be followers of Christ? Are the people fed upon the words of Christ? Are the messengers satisfied with preaching a discourse, and leaving the work of ministering to whoever may feel inclined to do it? There is earnest work to do out of the desk as well as in it. The sermon may arouse the conscience, but the labor will be lost if the soul is left to settle down into the same state of indifference as before the words were spoken. The messenger is to speak as moved by the Spirit of God, and then he must come close to souls through personal labor, and guide the conscience, and fasten the truth in a sure place. The minister has a work to do in the home circle, teaching the members of the family concerning the great love wherewith God hath loved us, that they may know what it is to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God. When the heart of the messenger is warmed with the love of Jesus, he will have a message to give that will be as a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. He will not feel that his responsibility is over when he leaves the desk; there is a God-appointed work for him to do as a careful, tender shepherd of the flock of God. If he is a heaven-sent messenger, the truth will be in him as fire shut up in his bones, and it will be continually shining to enlighten those who are ignorant of what Jesus is to them, and of what they are to Jesus He will teach them that the only way to reach the heaven above, is to cling to Jesus, day by day, hour by hour, mounting step by step to the heights of Christ. PH118 11.3

Those whom God has appointed to become instructors must know by personal experience what it is to have Christ made unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. But let no soul imagine that the gaining of eternal life through the finished work of Christ, will involve no struggle, no conflict. There will be constant battles against their own inclinations and hereditary and cultivated tendencies. The apostle declares: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” We are continually to be found fighting the good fight of faith. We are to behold Christ, to study his character in the light of his word with fervent prayer, dwelling upon his attributes and virtues, until we shall become changed into his image. There is no time to halt and rest upon the ladder of progress. The command is to go forward and upward, looking to God, who is above the ladder. To look back is to become dizzy, to relax your hold, to lose all, to fall back into darkness. You must keep hold on Christ your Mediator, ascending step by step, being changed from glory to glory, from character to character, as by the Spirit of the Lord. Stretch up the hand of faith, taking hold of one line after another in the work of the Redeemer for the saving of precious souls. Those who think to labor for others should not wait till they know it all, before they begin to communicate to others, nor should they think that they have attained all that belongs to the work of the minister when they can preach a discourse. Such a one should set the standard high, and seek to become a minister of the word, teaching the souls for whom you labor precept upon precept, line upon line of divine truth. Your work cannot be a success unless you educate those for whom you labor. Seek to enlighten the minds of the seekers after truth, by giving them clear and definite explanations in their own home circle, in the prayer-meeting, and from the pulpit. Instead of spending all the time in sermonizing, open your Bible, and invite the people to engage with you in studying its precious truths. Let those who desire ask questions concerning that which they do not comprehend, that the plan of salvation may be more clearly revealed to their minds. Plant the feet of all that you possibly can, one step after another, upon the divine ladder reaching from earth to heaven. Lift up Jesus, lift him up as the only One whereby men can be saved. Then will the truth which you present become the power of God unto salvation. PH118 13.1

It is a perilous thing for the minister to become careless in his thoughts and actions; as surely as he does, he will become inefficient. I appeal to those who minister in the sacred desk to put into practice that which you already know from the messages which God has given you to warn, to instruct, and to encourage you. Confess your coldness, and let the warmth of the love of Christ, the precious beams of the Sun of Righteousness, into the heart. If your hearts are filled with the message of God, if mercy and peace and righteousness are yours, if you feel that eternal vigilance is the price of your safety, your influence will be of the character of your experience, and others will follow in your footsteps; eternal things will be to them a divine reality. They will do as you do. It is your privilege to experience the completeness of salvation in Christ. Jesus is your only hope. You are to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. You are to follow on to know the Lord, that you may know that his goings forth are prepared as the morning. You are to be raised up to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. All that is written concerning the spiritual life, is written for you, and may be attained through uniting yourself to Jesus. If you will leave the world, and abandon your former ignorance, pressing on for more and more of the grace of Christ, you may have his guidance continually, and at every step diminish the distance between your soul and God, and be found in him, not having your own righteousness, but the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ. If you love Jesus, you will show this by your love to those for whom he died. If your zeal is languishing, your first love grown cold, accept again of the proffered love of Christ. Eat of Christ's flesh, drink of his blood, and you will become one with the Father and with the Son. PH118 14.1

If you will but improve upon the light that has already been given, the Lord will send you more light by whom he will send; but you are too easily satisfied; you do not push forward your investigations into all the lines of truth that have been given of God. When a message comes to you bearing the signet of heaven, you rejoice in the light, but fail to receive the full blessing of God, because you do not sink the shaft deeper into the mines of truth. You think that the subject has been exhausted, when it has scarcely begun to unfold. When you present the truth to others, you make the same mistake; for when a certain impression has been made, you imagine that the object of the work has been reached, when the plowshare of truth has only stirred the surface of the fallow ground of the heart. You think that when good emotions are manifested, when earnest resolves are expressed, the work is done; but you are to watch for souls as they who must give an account, and see that the heart is sanctified, that the character is moulded after the divine model. You are to visit the flock; the weak and sick, the lame and halting, are to be tenderly nursed; God will not excuse anyone in neglecting this work. PH118 15.1

Good impressions made by the truth upon the minds of those who are out of the faith, are often effaced by the unconsecrated life of the minister, who himself needed to be reconverted. After presenting the truth, he lacked discernment to press the battle to the gates, to act as a prayerful, patient, earnest teacher, full of the solemn importance of the message of grace which he is to bring to his hearers, that they may come to the knowledge of God, to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. PH118 15.2

At the last Conference many professed to see where they had made mistakes in their life and teaching. Have you begun to act upon the light you then received? Are you practicing the better plan, educating both by precept and example, that the world may understand what it means to be a follower of Christ? Or do you still go on teaching in precisely the same way as you have taught in the past? Are you acquiring new facts, getting fresh ideas concerning the plan of salvation, are you acting upon those truths which you have already received, lest they leak out of your mind as water out of a broken vessel? Those who would become efficient laborers in the cause must put into exercise that which they already know of truth, disciplining the mind to practice line upon line and precept upon precept. The Lord desires that his messengers should find their inspiration by closely studying his holy Word, by sinking the shaft deep into the mines of truth. He would have those who minister in the sacred desk able to present things new and old from the treasures of his truth. He would have them able to lift up the world's Redeemer, to magnify his love before the people, to touch the heart, to press the truth upon the conscience, and to give full proof of their ministry in souls sanctified to the Master. O, how my heart aches as I think upon the condition of ministers and people; for I know that many are satisfied to speak smooth things to the people, and those who listen go away not bettered by what they have heard. And even when earnest appeals are made, the emotions of the hearers are stirred, their consciences are roused; but after a little the precious impression is lost, and the people sink back into coldness and indifference. PH118 15.3

Ministers are needed who feel the necessity of being laborers together with God, who will go forth to bring the people up in spiritual knowledge to the full measure of Christ. Ministers are needed who will educate themselves by solemn, reverential communion with God in the closet, so that they shall go forth to be men of power in teaching and in prayer. Piety is degenerating into a dead form, and it is necessary for the shepherd of the flock to strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die. The work of ministry has been decidedly neglected, and the work is raveling out because it has not been wisely bound off. How are you to know that the word spoken in the desk has been a savor of life unto life unless you visit in families, praying with them, and drawing out the true state of their minds, the real condition of their experience, that you may point them to the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world? There is need that the breath of God should blow upon them, and give them spiritual life. The churches need to be enlightened in regard to practical religion in the home life. Again and again the necessity of living a virtuous life, of having a sanctified heart, of revealing a growing conformity to the image of Christ, must be presented to the people. Do they realize that the work of sanctification is to be the work of a lifetime? Jesus prayed that his disciples might be sanctified through the truth, and declared, “Thy word is truth.” He said, “I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified.” Are the under shepherds following the example of the great Shepherd of the sheep? Are they representing Christ as he represented the Father? Practical religion as it was manifested in the life and character of Christ is rare. Many in our churches are strangers to the experience that it is the privilege of those who believe in Christ to have in the things of God. PH118 16.1

Doctrinal discourses have been preached, and many have listened and have accepted the doctrines who have had little knowledge of the Word of God; for they have not been students of the Bible, and have never felt it their duty to dig deep in the mines of truth; they catch at the surface truths. A much more thorough work should be done. Some system must be adopted so that those who really want to know the truth as it is in Jesus may have an opportunity of becoming students, and that they may seek earnestly for spiritual knowledge and understanding, and partake of the rich provision of the Master's table. They have labored diligently for the bread that perisheth; let them now put forth an effort for the heavenly bread, and work with an earnestness befitting the treasure for which they seek. We plead not that the feelings may be stirred, the emotions awakened, but that the church of God may be fed with their portion of meat in due season. The work of our ministers must be of a different order. They must develop in patience, in Christlikeness, that they may teach the people the way of life by precept and example. The truth is of no value to any one unless it is brought into the inner sanctuary, and sanctifies the soul. Piety will degenerate and religion become a shallow sentimentalism, unless the plowshare of truth is made to go deep into the fallow ground of the heart. When the truth is received, it will work radical changes in life and character; for religion means the abiding of Christ in the heart; and where he is, the soul goes on in spiritual activity, ever growing in grace, ever going on to perfection. PH118 17.1