An Appeal to Our Ministers and Conference Committees

Existing Evils and their Remedy

My heart has been sad as I have seen so little accomplished by our laborers. The members of our churches are not incorrigible; the fault is not so much to be charged upon them as upon their teachers. Their ministers do not feed them. All heaven is actively engaged in the work for man's salvation; the rich gifts of the Holy Spirit are waiting to be given to God's human agents; but the hearts and minds of men are so fully occupied with earthly, sensual things, that there is no room to receive the treasures of grace; and that which they do not receive, they cannot impart to others. Those who are trying to teach others the Bible truth, and are not themselves sanctified through obedience to the truth, are sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal. SpTA01b 22.1

Those who are one with Christ have the mind of Christ, and work the works of Christ. They are ever improving, ever drawing nearer to God, ever uplifting the soul to Jesus. By beholding the world's Redeemer, they become changed into his image. A new spiritual life is created, a new motive-power supplied. When one is fully emptied of self, when every false god is cast out of the soul, the vacuum is supplied by the inflowing of the Spirit of Christ. Such a one has the faith which works by love and purifies the soul from every moral and spiritual defilement. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, can work upon the heart, influencing, directing, so that he enjoys spiritual things. He is “after the Spirit,” and he minds the things of the Spirit. He has no confidence in self; Christ is all in all. Truth is constantly being unfolded by the Holy Spirit; he receives with meekness the engrafted Word, and he gives the Lord all the glory, saying. “God has revealed them to us by his Spirit.” “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God.” The Spirit that reveals, also works in him the fruits of righteousness. Christ is in him, “a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.” He is a branch of the True Vine, and bears rich clusters of fruit to the glory of God. What is the character of the fruit borne?—“The fruit of the Spirit is love.” Mark the words,—love, not hatred; it is joy, not discontent and mourning; peace, not irritation, anxiety, and manufactured trials. It is “long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law.” SpTA01b 22.2

Those who have this spirit will be earnest laborers together with God; the heavenly intelligences co-operate with them, and they go weighted with the spirit of the message of truth which they bear. They are a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. They are ennobled, refined, through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. They have not brought into the treasury of the soul, wood, hay, stubble, but gold, silver, and precious stones. They speak words of solid sense, and from the treasures of the heart bring forth pure and sacred things according to the example of Christ. SpTA01b 23.1

The true ambassador of Christ is not given to jesting, to trifling, idle talk, for the word of God condemns this: but he is cheerful, showing forth the praises of Him who has called him out of darkness into his marvelous light. Every minister who after his discourse will engage in frivolous conversation, counteracts all the influence of his words in the sacred desk. He does no honor to God or to the truth, but brings the most sacred things down upon a level with common things, and makes of no effect the truth of heavenly origin. Those who do not walk by the rule laid down by the word of God should be faithfully admonished, and if they fail to reform, should be deprived of their license or credentials. Otherwise the Conference that has sanctioned the labors of these men will share their guilt. It is a mercy to the unfaithful laborer himself to remove him from his position, for the rebuke of God is upon him. It is a duty enjoined by Heaven, that souls may not be contaminated by the unholy spiritual atmosphere which surrounds him. You should not cast him off as a reprobate, but let your dealing with him show him that he has mistaken his calling. The Lord has laid no such burden upon him, or if he has, the man has never taken it. He is not united to Christ; he knows not the influence of the Holy Spirit of God upon the soul; he has not fixed his eyes upon Jesus, and by beholding, become changed into his image. SpTA01b 23.2

The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Solomon testifies, “The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.” Those who are one with Christ cannot enjoy listening to trifling, cheap conversation; much less will they engage in it themselves. If the heart is spiritual, there will be spiritual conversation, for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” In our words and actions our thoughts will be revealed just as they are. The life is a true unfurling of the banner, testifying what is in the heart. SpTA01b 24.1

What I have just written opens to you the reason why there is not more vitality in our churches. The standard of the gospel ministry is lowered unto the dust. The elders of our churches and the ministers have not all been as branches of the Living Vine, drawing nourishment from Christ; they are not rich in spiritual knowledge and heavenly wisdom, but are dry and Christless. The words they speak in the desk may be good in themselves, but they are powerless because the heart of the speaker is not transformed by grace. The churches would do far better without such elders and ministers. SpTA01b 24.2

Money is drawn from the Lord's treasury to support those who are unconverted, and need that one teach them the first principles of the gospel, which is Christ formed within, the hope of glory. When the laborers who are so lacking in spirituality believe in Christ, it will be manifest that they possess the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The words of Paul to the Corinthians, should be heeded by all who labor for the Master: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all things be done with charity.” SpTA01b 25.1

I have felt anguish of soul as I have thus seen the true state of things. There are dishonest men in our churches, there are licentious men. There is declension in the place of constant advancement to a higher, holier standard. And there is little proper labor done by the ministers in the churches because many do not carry the burden of the souls for whom they labor. The truth has not sanctified their own hearts. O, there is need of most earnest, devoted, self-sacrificing labor,—the preaching of the truth, preaching Christ, and living Christ. O that all our workers would be laborers together with God, not trifling with time, not trifling with sacred responsibilities, but representing Christ in all things, watching for souls as they that must give an account; day by day, hour by hour, living in the channel of light: in the churches, and among the people, in cities and villages, diffusing the light received from the Sun of Righteousness. In order to do this, they must devote much time to prayer. Brethren, be instant in prayer. When in society, when compelled to be among the frivolous, the careless and inconsiderate, dart up your petitions to heaven, that the God of all grace may keep your souls in the love of Christ. When the workers are thus connected with God, there will be continual growth in every church. SpTA01b 25.2

Then the finances will be in a prosperous condition. Now the books of heaven bear the record of robbery toward God in a large degree in tithes and offerings. Men who have been pioneers in the work are becoming disheartened, but they ought not to be. Jesus is their example; of him it is written, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged.” For all who are disheartened there is but one remedy,—faith, work, and prayer. Cease to think gloomy thoughts. Let every member fall on the rock, Christ Jesus, and be broken. Then Jesus will fashion the character after his own likeness. Discord and strife will die a natural death, because they have nothing to feed upon. SpTA01b 26.1

Those who are joined to Christ, the Living Vine, will bear the very same kind of fruit as does the parent stock. Christ was the pattern minister. He was the greatest teacher the world ever knew. He gave to his followers, for them to repeat to us, lessons of the utmost importance concerning the salvation of the soul. It is by believing and receiving him that we secure our own salvation, and when we believe on him, we cannot keep it to ourselves; we shall tell others what Christ has done for us. SpTA01b 26.2

There can be no careless disregard of his word without the terrible consequence that always follows backsliding and neglect. Many have not the spirit of Christ, and thus give evidence that they are none of his; and yet this very class are seeking to tell others how to be saved. There is need of humiliation of souls before God, need of confession of sins and restitution. There has been unbelief, there has been dishonesty; a spirit of murmuring has been communicated from one to another in the ranks of Sabbath-keepers. They do not discern spiritual things. Discouraging words have been spoken. Do not indulge this spirit, dear brethren and sisters. You please the enemy in so doing. You cannot afford to garner the harvest that will be thus produced. SpTA01b 26.3

You who have been withholding your means from the cause of God, read the book of Malachi, and see what is spoken there in regard to tithes and offerings. Cannot you see that it is not best under any circumstances to withhold your tithes and offerings because you are not in harmony with everything your brethren do? The tithes and offerings are not the property of any man, but are to be used in doing a certain work for God. Unworthy ministers may receive some of the means thus raised, but dare any one, because of this, withhold from the treasury, and brave the curse of God? I dare not. I pay my tithes gladly and freely, saying, as did David, “Of thine own have we given thee.” A selfish withholding from God will tend to poverty in our own souls. Act your part, my brethren and sisters. God loves you, and he stands at the helm. If the Conference business is not managed according to the order of the Lord, that is the sin of the erring ones. The Lord will not hold you responsible for it, if you do what you can to correct the evil. But do not commit sin yourselves by withholding from God his own property. “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently,” or deceitfully. SpTA01b 27.1

When persons declare that they will not pay their tithes because the means are not used as they think they ought to be, will the elder of the church or the minister sympathize with the sinners? Will he aid the enemy in his work? or will he, as a wise man, endued with knowledge, go to work to correct the evil, and thus remove the stumbling-block? But, brethren, do not be unfaithful in your lot. Stand in your place. Do not, by your neglect of duty, increase our financial difficulties. SpTA01b 27.2

If you open your minds and hearts to the insinuations and suggestions of Satan, you will be led to act a part similar to that of the unfaithful spies. Instead of trusting in God to bring victory, instead of inspiring hearts with firm faith in the leadings of his Spirit, you will talk and act as did the spies. Can you afford to do this? No, no; let your voice be heard echoing the words of faithful Caleb, concerning the land of promise: “Let us go up at once and possess it.” Caleb and Joshua “spake unto all the children of Israel, saying, The land which we passed through to search it, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it, to us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.” This is the spirit that dwelt in Caleb and Joshua. SpTA01b 28.1

When doubts and murmurings are expressed because of the trials in the way to the heavenly Canaan, let not the elders, the ministers, the presidents, by their words of unsanctified sympathy, water the seeds of disaffection, and then present the matter in an exaggerated light to others, as if a terrible rebellion were about to take place, and suppose they are helping the cause of God in so doing. They strengthen the suggestions and temptations of the prince of darkness, and open a wide door for the enemy to enter and take possession of the souls of the people, as he did under the false report of the unfaithful spies. The false and cruel words of discouragement spoken by the unfaithful spies were received by the people, and excited them to desperation. They felt that they were greatly abused, and they mourned and lamented over themselves, and manifested distrust of God, forgetting his mighty works in delivering them from Egyptian bondage, opening the Red Sea before them, and destroying their pursuing foes. Let not one in our ranks be so ungrateful, so forgetful of God, as to repeat the sin of murmuring, rebellious Israel. SpTA01b 28.2

God's people are tempted and tried because they cannot see the spirit of consecration and self-sacrifice to God in all who manage important interests, and many act as though Jesus were buried in Joseph's new tomb, and a great stone rolled before the door. I wish to proclaim with voice and pen, Jesus has risen! he has risen! He is a living Saviour, the Head of the Church. He is the Good Shepherd. “The sheep follow him; for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow.” When things become entangled, and cannot be easily adjusted, we are not to lose heart and courage and faith, and talk doubts and unbelief. Discouragement will spread, and become as a deadly malady. Again and again during the last forty years of our experience we have been brought into strait places, but the Lord's own power, not human philosophy or wisdom, set things straight. The Lord made his voice to be heard, guarding against rebellion, the seeds of which are sown in the hearts that are not right with God. It is the Lord that has saved us from rebellion and apostasy. We cannot fall as long as we hope and trust in God. Let every soul of us, ministers and people, say, as did Paul, “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air,” but with a holy faith and hope, in expectation of winning the prize. Say to your soul, “Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.” By precept and example encourage faith, confidence, assurance. This is the work of the Comforter, and it is your work to co-operate with God's agencies. A discouraged man can do nothing to uplift others. A discouraged church can only sow doubts, complaints, and disaffection. Let all this be cleansed from us. Cease looking to the darkness; look to the light, rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Show that you trust in God to work with his mighty agencies for the upbuilding of his cause, the spread of his truth. Let every ear be sanctified to hear aright; let every eye be sanctified to see aright, let the tongue be sanctified to speak aright, and the heart have the treasures of goodness and love; for out of it are the issues of life. SpTA01b 29.1

Look up, and if one tells you that things are all wrong, tell him the Lord Jesus knows all about it, and just close the heart against doubt and unbelief. Look up, and say, My treasure is laid up on high. Through Christ we shall reach the end of the journey, if we hold fast the profession of our faith. “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward; for ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Do the work of God diligently and with faith. “Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”. SpTA01b 30.1

Ellen G. White

August 10, 1890.