Manuscript Releases, vol. 19 [Nos. 1360-1419]


MR No. 1363—Condescension of Jesus; Unity in Christ; Appeal for an Efficient, Well-Trained Ministry

(Written September 2, 1897, at “Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, NSW, to “My Brethren.”)

In your genuine unity is your strength. There is a great work before us. Those who believe the truth, present truth for this time, are few. Let these be bound together in bonds of closest Christian fellowship, to strengthen one another. Let them stand shoulder to shoulder, hearts blended together in oneness, and bound up with Jesus Christ. 19MR 19.1

That sympathy, that tender regard for one another that brings the blessing of God, that blends all together in God, has not been cherished. There is to be no exalting of self, one above another. Union is enjoined by our Lord Jesus Christ. We are to stand as brothers, our hearts knit with the hearts of our fellow laborers. 19MR 19.2

Selfishness and pride hinder the pure love that unites us in spirit with Jesus Christ. If this love is truly cultivated, finite will blend with finite, and all will center in the Infinite. Humanity will unite with humanity, and all will be bound up with the heart of Infinite love. Sanctified love for one another is sacred. In this great work Christian love for one another—far higher, more constant, more courteous, more unselfish, than has been seen—preserves Christian tenderness, Christian benevolence and politeness, and enfolds the human brotherhood in the embrace of God, acknowledging the dignity with which God has invested the rights of man. This dignity Christians must ever cultivate for the honor and glory of God. 19MR 19.3

Oh, do you not know, can you not understand this? The only begotten Son of God recognized the nobility of humanity by taking humanity upon Himself, and dying in behalf of humanity, testifying throughout all ages that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 19MR 20.1

The human agent who bears the test and trial and proving of God receives his reward. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Here the line is placed in our hands, enabling us to measure the love of God. Yet there are greater depths for the line to reach. The cross is invested with a power that language cannot express. Christ's sacrifice in behalf of the human race puts to shame our meager efforts and methods to meet and uplift humanity, to help sinful men and women to find Jesus. 19MR 20.2

The work of the sons and daughters of God must be of a different character than has yet been manifested by a large number. If they love Jesus, they will have enlarged ideas of the love that has been expressed for fallen man, which required the provision of so expensive an offering to save the human race. Our Saviour asks the cooperation of every son and daughter of Adam who has become a son or daughter of God. 19MR 20.3

Who can limit the Lord God of Israel? Who can present in correct lines His expensive benevolence? Our Saviour declares that He brought from heaven as a donation eternal life. He was to be lifted up upon the cross of Calvary to draw all men unto Him. How then shall we treat the purchased inheritance of Christ? Tenderness, appreciation, kindness, sympathy, and love should be shown to them. Then we may work to help and bless one another. In this work we have more than human brotherhood; we have the exalted companionship of heavenly angels. They cooperate with us in the work of enlightening high and low. 19MR 20.4

Having engaged in the work, the amazing work of our redemption, Christ determined in council with His Father to spare nothing, however costly, to withhold nothing, however highly it might be estimated, that would rescue the poor sinner. He would give all heaven to this work of salvation, of restoring the moral image of God in man. Can we not enlarge our comprehension, and for Christ's sake see the sinfulness of selfish indulgence, the sinfulness of indifference? The want of interest and faith that has long been cherished has so divorced the soul from God that we have only a faint idea of what constitutes us children of God. To be a child of God is to be one with Christ in God, and to put forth our hands in earnest, self-sacrificing love to strengthen and bless the souls that are perishing in their sins. We are to communicate to them that which God has communicated to us. 19MR 21.1

The word comes to me in the night season to speak to those nigh and afar off, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Shall we confine our work in a narrow groove, and labor only for the churches? Our work is to educate all whose names are on the church books, by precept and example showing them how to work to enlighten, encourage, and save perishing souls. 19MR 21.2

The Lord is coming, and we have a great work to do. I have been considering the light given me by God concerning the ministry. Within a few days light has come to me, or, rather, past light has been repeated. In our council One who has been our instructor presented before me the work to be done in our cities. This work embraced the suburbs also. We will have close, earnest, trying work to do. Therefore you that have had an experience must stand together, one in heart and mind. No one must exalt himself above his brother in his measurement of himself. There is need that prayer [should] go up to God in faith, that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers to His harvest, because the harvest is great and the laborers are few. 19MR 21.3

There is need that men be set apart for the ministry; but unless there is a close seeking of the Lord to know His will, men who are unprepared will be set apart for the ministry. No man must be chosen because of his prepossessing appearance. Saul, who was designated as king of Israel, was a man of prepossessing appearance, tall and well proportioned. But neither in experience nor character was he fitted for the work. The Lord changed his heart through the operation of His Spirit, making him a converted man. The effect of divine grace upon the heart was accompanied by a visible change in his spirit. This gave him influence with the armies of Israel. Now he is set in the work aright. If he will cultivate humility and the fear of God, if he will trust in God, and learn His will, and not exalt himself, the Lord will give him grace. 19MR 22.1

The same spirit that changed the heart of Saul will change the hearts of the men who are entering the ministry. A man may be as inexperienced as Saul, but if he will receive the word of the Lord from the old, faithful standard bearers, if he will do the will of God, he will not fail as Saul did. Saul was exalted to the position of king, but he failed by presumptuously following his own judgment. 19MR 22.2

There are minds that are superficial, and that always will be superficial. The less of this class that enter the ministry the better it will be for the people. There is a most solemn work to be done in these last days. Only those who are willing to deny self, who give evidence that they realize that they are to be constantly learning how to do better work, can engage in God's service. Having a vital connection with God, their love for and knowledge of the truth deepening, they reveal that the truth has become a part of their being. Their perceptive faculties are quickened, and the evidence of their growth in grace and habitual fidelity to their appointed work is apparent. 19MR 23.1

Those who give themselves to God with humble, devoted hearts need not spend three or five years in qualifying themselves to do the work essential to win souls to Christ. They are not to graduate from their progressive study when they leave school. Every day they must do humble work for the Master. They must ascertain their duty and perform it, whatever may be its character. 19MR 23.2

Every part of the man—brain, bone, and muscle—is to be worked. The gospel economy is in every way suited and conformed to the condition of man, not in heaven but on earth, during his probationary test and trial. The Holy Spirit is to do its work upon mind and character, exerting an influence upon thoughts and actions. If received, cultivated, and appreciated, it will always be reformatory, refining, elevating, and ennobling. He who always aims for entire conformity to God's will, who does not follow his own natural inclinations, will allow the Holy Spirit to improve and mold and fashion his character upon a plan and model different from his own inherited and cultivated tendencies, changing him to another man. 19MR 23.3

The influence of the Spirit upon the human mind will regulate it after the divine order. But the Spirit does not work in a manner and power beyond the human agent's power of resistance. A man may refuse to hear the counsels and admonitions of God. He may choose to take the regulating of his conduct into his own hands; but when he does this, he is not made a vessel unto honor. Like Moab, he refuses to be changed, emptied from vessel to vessel, and therefore his taste remaineth in him, and his scent is not changed. [See Jeremiah 48:11.] He refuses to correct his defective traits of character although the Lord has plainly pointed out his work, his privileges, his opportunities, and the advancement to be made. It is too much trouble to break up his old ways and transform his ideas and methods. “His scent is not changed.” He clings to his defects, and is thus unfitted for the sacred work of the ministry. He was not willing to make a close examination of himself, or to closely inquire for light to shine upon him in a clear, distinct manner. His prayers have not ascended to God in humility, while with humble endeavor he sought to live his prayers by understanding and performing his duty. 19MR 24.1

After the Lord has put one on test and trial, that he may be assured of his calling to the ministry, if he is content to follow his own way and his own will, if he will not heed the manifestations of the Spirit of God, if he refuses to profit by growth in grace and depth of understanding, be assured that the Lord does not need him, for he cannot communicate that which he has never received. 19MR 24.2

Every soul is to minister. He is to use every physical, moral, and mental power, through sanctification of the Spirit, that he may be a laborer together with God. All are bound to devote themselves actively and unreservedly to God's service. They are to cooperate with Jesus Christ in the great work of helping others. Christ died for every man. He has ransomed every man by giving His life on the cross. This He did that man might no longer live an aimless, selfish life, but that he might live unto Jesus Christ, who died for his salvation. Not all are called to enter the ministry, but nevertheless they are to minister. It is an insult to the Holy Spirit of God for any man to choose a life of self-serving. 19MR 24.3

Ministry means not only the study of books and preaching; it means service. Especially are ministers to engage in useful, profitable manual labor, that all their faculties may be kept in a healthy condition. As they open the Word to others, God will bless them in this line of work; but it is a mistake to read and study all the time, not using the physical organs. It is a neglect of thorough service to God. They cannot be all-around men. There is a necessity of ministers using their powers of ingenuity, that they may not be unskillful in the Word, and may show their ingenuity in devising and planning in business lines. These faculties should be used in the service of God to win souls to the truth. Real planning and devising are required to bring the sinner out of darkness into the light of truth. 19MR 25.1

The apostle Paul was an able minister of the gospel, and yet he labored with his hands, doing the humble work of a tent-maker. By working with his hands he did not lessen his work of communicating to Aquila and Priscilla the great truth of the gospel of Christ. These two men and Priscilla labored with their hands, and Paul's designs in tent-making were ingenious. He brought fresh methods into his work also as he labored for the people, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many were brought to a knowledge of the truth by witnessing the faithful toiler making tents to support himself, that he might not be dependent upon anyone for food and raiment. While thus at work, he showed himself skillful, “not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” [Romans 12:11]. And in preaching the Word, he was no less fervent and able in speech because of his business tact. 19MR 25.2

A man's success in the ministry does not rest upon his excluding himself from useful labor, nor upon his popularity or indolence, but upon his willingness to labor in any position that seems to be duty. Those who are the most willing to toil and show industry in business lines, and who, themselves, plan and devise to be a help to others in branches of common toil, are the men who will be chosen by God to do Him service wherever their lot may be cast. They may be called upon with the help of others to build their own homes, or to build a church, or to do this alone, if they have a knowledge of how to handle tools. 19MR 26.1

Privation may be the lot of every soul who now believes and obeys the truth. Christ has told us that we will have reproach. If persecution for the truth's sake is to come, it is important that every line of work become familiar to us, that we and our families may not suffer through lack of knowledge. We can and should have tact and knowledge in trades, in building, in planting, and in sowing. A knowledge of how to cultivate the land will make rough places much smoother. This knowledge will be counted a great blessing, even by our enemies. 19MR 26.2

A willingness to be ordained, to engage in the work of the ministry, that it may gratify the desire for an easy life without toil, is selfish, and the end unholy. Such willingness is no proof that they are chosen by God for the work. Many are wanting in moral and intellectual qualifications. They do not want to tax their mind, to dig for the hidden treasure. They do not dig deep, they skim the surface, and they see only the things that are upon the surface. 19MR 26.3

The work of God requires all-around men, those who can devise, plan, build up, organize, and exercise wisdom in discipline. These are the ones that are chosen by God for His work. All whom the Lord leads, all who appreciate the solemnity, the probabilities and possibilities of the work for this time, will feel like obtaining all the knowledge they can from the Word. By earnest study of the Word, they will gain all the knowledge they can use in ministering to the needy—the sick both in body and in soul. 19MR 27.1

It has pleased the Lord to have select, representative men connected with the work as missionaries—men who have been tested and proved and tried. Often they have been in trying situations, and by earnest, frequent, and laborious examination of their own spirit, habits, temper, appetites, and practice, they have carefully and thoroughly investigated themselves. Just as a carpenter who, in erecting a building, inspects every piece of timber he puts in to see if any are weak or rotten, and as he discards all defective ones, so the human character should be carefully examined to see if it is becoming more and more like Christ Jesus—pure, peaceable, kind, full of goodness, love, and truth. Those who enter through the gates into the city must and will have a right to the tree of life. To them the promise is made, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” 19MR 27.2

We must try our character by the moral standard, God's holy law. Day by day we must measure our attainments, to see if we shall be of this number. “Thou hast a few names, even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with Me in white; for they are worthy” [Revelation 3:4]. “Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife (the church) hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” [Revelation 19:7, 8]. 19MR 27.3

Dear brethren, we need now to carefully consider every plan. We need now to humble our hearts before God. We need now not to wait in a careless attitude, but in an attentive, reverent attitude. “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” [Acts 9:6]. “Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth” [1 Samuel 3:9]. We are living in the most critical period of this earth's history. We are fully conscious of the great need of workers; but, my brethren, greatly as we need efficient helpers, we must not be careless and allow the work to be cumbered with driftwood. We must draw nigh to God every day, every hour. 19MR 28.1

In whatever we are called to do, we are to keep the spirit clean and fragrant. “Be pitiful, be courteous” [1 Peter 3:8], does not mean that we are to wink at sin and corruption. It frightens me to see how men who know the truth and the poverty of our mission, conduct themselves in their connection with the greatest interests that exist in our world. They take from that treasury which needs to be replenished by them, in the place of being impoverished by their unfaithful stewardship. What does it mean that the cause of God in missionary lines is crippled through the defects in the management of those who ought to know how to move cautiously and circumspectly? 19MR 28.2

The Lord requires that all who do Him service shall study how to save means by economizing. This can and must be done. Those who do not help to increase the fund should be very careful how they subtract from the precious fund that is the Lord's treasure, from which many suffering fields that are in need of the gospel being preached unto them, are supplied. There are many, many souls praying that they may know the truth. 19MR 28.3

The Word specifies the gifts and graces that are essential for every soul who receives the truth. But especially does the Lord require His messengers, who carry His Word to others, to live the truth, to reveal that they are sanctified through the truth. If they do not show their love of the truth by meeting the infallible standard, let them step out from the ministry and no longer dishonor God by their disorderly course of action. Let close, critical examination be made of the tenor of their life and action. Have they the marks that testify that they are children of God, that they apply the Word of God as a test of their own qualification to do service that will properly represent Christ? Have they shown a clear understanding, a right judgment in the things of God? Have they a sweet, pure, clean spirit in the sight of God, in the home and in the church? Do they give evidence that they are undefiled, that they can labor to help others out of Satan's power, or do they show a want of sincere piety and conscientious scruples in willing toil, failing to lift burdens for Christ? Do they give evidence that day by day they are learning the meekness and lowliness of Christ? 19MR 29.1

A great work is to be done. Who will engage in this work? Who will press the work forward and upward to victory? We have all the world against us; all the churches against us; all the synagogue of Satan against us. And if those of our own faith work against the truth by their own unsanctified habits and practices, the work will go very hard. God help us to pray, “O Lord, cleanse the camp of Israel from its defilement.”—Letter 10, 1897. 19MR 29.2

Ellen G. White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

April 14, 1988.

Entire Letter.