Special Testimony to Our Ministers—No. 2

Return to the First Love

The reason so many fail to have success is that they trust in themselves altogether too much, and do not feel the positive necessity of abiding in Christ, as they go forth to seek and save that which is lost. Until they have the mind of Christ, and teach the truth as it is in Jesus, they will not accomplish much. I walk with trembling before God. I know not how to speak or trace with pen the large subject of the atoning sacrifice. I know not how to present subjects in the living power in which they stand before me. I tremble for fear lest I shall belittle the great plan of salvation by cheap words. I bow my soul in awe and reverence before God, and say, Who is sufficient for these things? How can I talk, how can I write to my brethren, so that they will catch the beams of light flashing from heaven? What shall I say? SpTA02a 17.1

The atmosphere of the church is so frigid, its spirit is of such an order, that men and women cannot sustain or endure the example of primitive and heaven-born piety. The warmth of their first love is frozen up, and unless they are watered over by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, their candlestick will be removed out of its place, except they repent, and do their first works. The first works of the church were seen when the believers sought out friends, relatives, and acquaintances, and with hearts overflowing with love, told the story of what Jesus was to them, and what they were to Jesus. O that the Lord would awaken those who are in responsible positions, lest they undertake to do work, relying upon their own smartness. The work that comes forth from their hands will lack the mould and superscription of Christ. SpTA02a 17.2

Selfishness mars all that unconsecrated workers do. They have need to pray always, but they do not. They need to watch unto prayer. They have need to feel the sacredness of the work; but they do not feel this. They handle sacred things as they do common things. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and until they can drink of the water of life, and Christ be in them as a well of water, springing up unto everlasting life, they will refresh no one, bless no one; and except they repent, their candlestick will be removed out of its place. There is need of enduring patience, of invincible charity, of omnipotent faith in the work of saving souls. Self must not be prominent. Wisdom from Christ must be exercised in dealing with human minds. SpTA02a 18.1

Every worker who deals with souls successfully must come to the work divested of self. There can be no scolding or fretting, no arbitrary authority exercised, no putting forth of the finger and speaking vanity; but come to the work with hearts warmed with love for Jesus, and for precious souls for whom he died. Those who are self-sufficient cannot conceal their weakness. They will come to the trial with overweening confidence in themselves, and make manifest the fact that Jesus is not with them. These self-sufficient souls are not few, and they have lessons to learn, by a hard experience of discomfiture and defeat. Few have the grace to welcome such an experience, and many backslide under the trial. They blame circumstances for their discomfiture, and think their talent is not appreciated by others. If they would humble themselves under the hand of God, he would teach them. SpTA02a 18.2

Those who do not learn every day in the school of Christ, who do not spend much time in earnest prayer, are not fit to handle the work of God in any of its branches; for if they do, human depravity will surely overcome them, and they will lift up their souls unto vanity. Those who become co-workers with Jesus Christ, and who have spirituality to discern spiritual things, will feel their need of virtue and of wisdom from Heaven in handling his work. There are some who neither burn nor shine, yet are contented. They are in a wretchedly cold and indifferent condition, and a large number who know the truth, manifestly neglect duty, for which the Lord will hold them accountable. SpTA02a 18.3

God has given us Jesus, and in him is the revelation of God. Our Redeemer says, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning remain in you, ye shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. If we know God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, unspeakable gladness will come to the soul. O, how we need the divine presence! For the baptism of the Holy Spirit every worker should be breathing out his prayers to God. Companies should be gathered together to call upon God for special help, for heavenly wisdom, that the people of God may know how to plan and devise and execute the work. Especially should men pray that the Lord will choose his agents, and baptize his missionaries with the Holy Spirit. For ten days the disciples prayed before the Pentecostal blessing came. It required all that time to bring them to an understanding of what it meant to offer effectual prayer, drawing nearer and nearer to God, confessing their sins, humbling their hearts before God, and by faith beholding Jesus, and becoming changed into his image. When the blessing did come, it filled all the place where they were assembled, and endowed with power, they went forth to do effectual work for the Master. SpTA02a 19.1

Altogether too light a matter is made of selecting men to do the sacred work committed to our hands. As a consequence of this carelessness, unconverted men are at work in missionary fields, who are full of passionate lusts, who are unthankful, who are unholy. Though some of them have been often reproved, they have not changed their course, and their lustful practices bring reproach upon the cause of God. What will be the fruit of such labor? Why do not all our workers remember that every word, good or evil, must be met again in the Judgment? Every inspiration of the Holy Spirit leading men to goodness and to God is noted in the books of heaven, and the worker through whom the Lord has brought light will be commended in the day of God. If the workers realized the eternal responsibility that rests upon them, would they enter upon the work without a deep sense of its sacredness? Should we not expect to see the deep movings of the Spirit of God upon men who present themselves to enter the ministry? SpTA02a 20.1

The apostle says, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Let every soul heed these words, and know that the Lord Jesus will accept of no compromise. In accepting and retaining workers who persist in retaining their imperfections of character, and do not give full proof of their ministry, the standard has been greatly lowered. There are many in responsible positions who do not heed the injunction of the apostle, but make provision for fulfilling the lust of the flesh. Unless the worker puts on the Lord Jesus Christ and finds in him wisdom, sanctification, and redemption, how can he represent the religion of Jesus? All his efficiency, all his reward, is found in Christ. There must be evidence on the part of those who take the solemn position of shepherds, that they have without reservation, dedicated themselves to the work. They must take Christ as their personal Saviour. Why is it that those who have been long engaged in the ministry, do not grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus? I have been shown that they gratify their selfish propensities, and do only such things as agree with their tastes and ideas. They make provision for indulgence in pride and sensuality, and carry out their selfish ambitions and plans. They are full of self-esteem. But although their evil propensities may seem to them as precious as the right hand or the right eye, they must be separated from the worker, or he cannot be acceptable before God. Hands are laid upon men to ordain them for the ministry before they are thoroughly examined as to their qualifications for the sacred work; but how much better would it be to make thorough work before accepting them as ministers, than to have to go through this rigid examination after they have become established in their position, and have put their mould upon the work. SpTA02a 20.2

The following quotation shows what true consecration will do, and this is what we should require of our workers:— SpTA02a 21.1

“Harlan Page consecrated himself to God, with a determination to live and labor to promote the Lord's glory, in the salvation of the perishing. ‘When I first obtained hope,’ he said on his dying bed, ‘I felt that I must labor for souls. I prayed year after year that God would make me the means of saving some.’ His prayers were signally answered. Never did Page lose an opportunity of holding up the lamp to souls. By letters, by conversation, by tracts, by prayers, by appeals, and warnings, as well as by a holy and earnest example, did he try to reclaim the wandering, or edify the believer. In factories, in schools, and elsewhere did this mechanic labor, and only the mighty power of grace can explain how one so humble could achieve so much. His life is a speaking comment on the words. ‘God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise; God hath chosen the weak things of this world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.’ ‘Our faith in eternal realities is weak,’ he cried, ‘and our sense of duty faint, while we neglect the salvation of our fellow-beings. Let us awake to our duties, and while we have tongue or pen devote them to the service of the Most High, not in our own strength; but with strong faith and firm confidence.’” SpTA02a 21.2

We have increased light. We have a solemn, weighty message to bear to the world, and God designs that his chosen disciples shall have a deep experience, and be endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit. “The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh at the outward appearance; but the Lord looketh upon the heart.” This was a lesson that David never forgot, and in his dying testimony to Solomon he said, “And thou, Solomon my son, know the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts; if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off forever.” SpTA02a 22.1

We are living in an important period of this earth's history; and with the light of truth shining upon us, we cannot now be excused for a moment in meeting a low standard. As co-workers with Christ, we are privileged to share with Christ in his suffering. We are to look at his life, study his character, and copy the pattern. What Christ was in his perfect humanity, we must be; for men must form characters for eternity. SpTA02a 22.2

Ellen G. White

July 15, 1892.