The Signs of the Times


January 27, 1890

The Most Effective Agent for God


“The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” ST January 27, 1890, par. 1

The Lord does not delight in the deficiencies of his people, and as we are the objects of his love and pardoning mercy, we should seek most earnestly to come into harmony with his will. The purest, meekest, most child-like Christian will be the most effectual agent in the hands of God for the advancement of his work. The accepted instrument of God will make no great display, but his work will be as enduring as eternity. We are to be laborers together with God. The preaching of the word is an important part of the divine plan of making known Christ and him crucified. The apostle asks: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” ST January 27, 1890, par. 2

Those to whom the gospel is committed should labor diligently to convert souls; and in doing this work, they will save themselves and those who hear them. Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. The faithful workers who have consecrated all to Christ, will receive a hundred-fold in this life, and in the world to come life everlasting. The Lord confers special honors upon the men to whom he has given the work of proclaiming the glad tidings of salvation. The Lord's ambassadors are to stand as a mouth-piece for God, showing forth the love, goodness, and compassion of our heavenly Father. The prayer of Christ for his disciples was: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world, and for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” ST January 27, 1890, par. 3

The apostles had been associated with Christ in his work, but there were still greater attainments for them than they had yet reached. They needed to be purified, renewed, and consecrated to God for the important mission before them. The Master had opened before them many precious gems of truth that had been hidden beneath the rubbish of error; he had placed them in their proper frame-work of truth; and yet all this labor of the Son of God would be in vain unless the truth should be enshrined in the inner sanctuary of the soul. The revealed truth of God must become an abiding principle in the hearts of his followers. The teacher of truth must be a living representation of its sanctifying power. The truth he reveals to others must become a living agent to transform his soul into the divine image. The minister must dedicate all his intrusted capital of power to the Lord's service. ST January 27, 1890, par. 4

Ministers and people have lost much by not dwelling more continually upon the work of our Redeemer. We should contemplate the love that led Christ to give himself as a ransom for fallen man, and this amazing love should be revealed in every discourse. The sacrifice of Christ not only makes apparent his compassion for the children of men, but also makes manifest the love of the Father; and this love ought to draw all men to God. The closest relation exists between God and his people, and the ambassador of God's truth should ever represent Christ. He should exemplify, by precept and example, the love of God, that those who are instructed by him may be brought into a position where they shall receive the divine blessing. The servants of God are to be earnest, penitent, trustful, thankful. Their lives should be living epistles, known and read of all men. They should be continually looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. The subjects dwelt upon by the gospel minister will be of a character to elevate, ennoble, and sanctify the soul. The teacher of divine truth should present the necessity of close communion with God, and dependence upon the righteousness of Christ. When the minister fully realizes his own helplessness without the aid of Christ, the danger of his becoming exalted will be removed, and Christ will absorb everything; his presence will pervade the whole soul, and impress all the senses. ST January 27, 1890, par. 5

Faith in the abiding presence of Jesus will not bring gloom and depression, but it will bring the peace that elevates the mind, the pure and holy joy that is inexpressible and full of glory. It is thus that the Christian will become a light to the world. The truth we believe should make us earnest, full of love, and kindle in us desires to communicate to others that which we have found so great a blessing to ourselves. The representatives of Christ will emit light that will shine into the hearts of the people, and lead them to hold up the standard of divine truth. They will be the agents through whom God will call the attention of men to Him who was lifted up on the cross of Calvary. ST January 27, 1890, par. 6

The people of the world would gladly forget all about eternal things; but they cannot do this while the ambassadors of Christ are working together with God to shed light upon the world. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The duty of letting your light shine can be well done only when you diffuse the light of truth in a humble, Christ-like character. Regulation, ceremony, and display may be found in the church, but without inward holiness it will not shed forth warm, softening rays of light that will subdue the heart, awaken the sympathy, and inspire faith and love in the soul. Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” ST January 27, 1890, par. 7

The minister whose discourses simply move the feelings of the people, does not exert the most healthful influence, nor work for his own spiritual advancement or for that of his hearers. The preaching that calls forth the praises of men to a poor, fallible mortal, instead of to God, does not lead to the best results. If a minister has really accomplished a good work, if he has set forth Christ crucified among you, if he has drawn men and women, not to himself, but to God, the church will not bemoan that he cannot always minister to them. If he has indeed been a messenger of light, if he has done a work for the Master, if the church has been illuminated, the church in her turn will let her light shine in clear, steady, bright rays. We shall know those to whom has come the light of life, for they will arise and shine, because the glory of God has risen upon them. To every man the Lord has given his work, and if the members of the church have indeed opened their hearts to the Sun of Righteousness, wherever they are found they will be a light, for in them Christ will be glorified. They will bear an effective testimony. A living energy will attend their words, because they have a rich endowment in the gift of the Holy Spirit. ST January 27, 1890, par. 8

The success of a church does not depend on the efforts and labor of the living preacher, but it depends upon the piety of the individual members. When the members depend upon the minister as their source of power and efficiency, they will be utterly powerless. They will imbibe his impulses, and be stimulated by his ideas, but when he leaves them, they will find themselves in a more hopeless condition than before they had his labors. I hope that none of the churches in our land will depend upon a minister for support in spiritual things; for this is dangerous. When God gives you light, you should praise him for it. If you extol the messenger, you will be left to barrenness of soul. Just as soon as the members of a church call for the labors of a certain minister, and feel that he must remain with them, it is time that he was removed to another field, that they may learn to exercise the ability which God has given them. Let the people go to work. Let them thank God for the encouragement they have received, and then make it manifest that it has wrought in them a good work. Let each member of the church be a living, active agent for God, both in the church and out of it. We must all be educated to be independent, not helpless and useless. Let it be seen that Christ, not the minister, is the head of the church. The members of the body of Christ have a part to act, and they will not be accounted faithful unless they do act their part. Let a divine work be wrought in every soul, until Christ shall behold his image reflected in his followers. ST January 27, 1890, par. 9

I would warn the churches everywhere to respect your ministers, but do not make idols of them; for you not only imperil your own souls, but the souls of God's messengers. Do not flatter and extol your minister, telling him what a fine discourse he has preached. Let him stand in his position as Christ's ambassador. Listen to his words as to one sent from God; heed his instructions, and show by your life that you have heard to some purpose. And as a humble Christian, without any parade, let the minister fulfill his duties, and give to others what he has received of God. We are nearing the judgment, and the Lord has set watchmen upon the walls of Zion, who are never to hold their peace day or night. They are to watch for souls as they who must give an account. ST January 27, 1890, par. 10