The Review and Herald

584/1902

June 30, 1891

Spiritual Advancement the Object of Camp-Meetings—No 2

EGW

In giving Timothy instruction, Paul exhorted him to “preach the word.” He said, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The apostle presented before Timothy certain principles which he was to observe and teach, and then he declared, “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” RH June 30, 1891, par. 1

The various points of truth are not all equally appropriate to be presented to a congregation at any one time. Even Jesus said to his disciples, who had been with him for three years, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” We must endeavor to present the truth as the people are prepared to hear it and to appreciate its value. The Spirit of God is working upon the minds and hearts of men, and we are to work in harmony with it. Of some truths they already have a knowledge; there are some in which they are interested, of which they are ready to learn more. Show them the deep significance of these truths, and their relation to others which they do not understand. Thus you will arouse a desire for greater light. This was Paul's manner of labor. It is “rightly dividing the word of truth.” RH June 30, 1891, par. 2

“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the Devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” RH June 30, 1891, par. 3

The words addressed to Timothy are addressed to all ministers; and would it not be well if they would become doers of these words? Paul says, “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” The instruction given to Timothy was deemed of great importance, and not to be lost, but was to be communicated to faithful men who would disseminate the light, and spread abroad a knowledge of the principles of truth. My ministering brethren, you are to learn the same lessons, for these are the words of Christ through Paul, given for your instruction and admonition. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” No part of the minister's duty is to be neglected. He is to preach the word, not the opinions of men. He is to labor with individuals, to visit families, not simply to talk of the commonplace happenings, but of things of eternal interest, praying with them, and teaching in all simplicity the truth of God. RH June 30, 1891, par. 4

The State camp-meetings are not as efficient as they should be in bringing about spiritual advancement, because many matters pertaining to temporal earthly things are brought in to occupy the mind. That which relates to business should be reserved to be attended to by those who are appointed to give attention to these matters. And as far as possible these business matters should be brought before the churches at some other time. RH June 30, 1891, par. 5

Instruction in regard to conducting the Sabbath-school should to a large degree be given in the home churches; for the labor can be made more direct and the results will be more permanent if instruction is given at home. This work does not require the services of the ministers; they should be free to attend to the spiritual interests of the people. They are to teach others what to do. They must instruct the people as to how to come to the Lord, and how to lead others to him. There must be time for heart-searching, for soul-culture. When the mind is occupied with all these matters of business, there must necessarily be a dearth of spiritual power. Personal piety, true faith, and heart holiness are not kept before the mind until the people realize their importance. We must have the power of God with us in our camp-meetings, or we shall not be able to prevail against the enemy of souls. Christ says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” Those who gather at camp-meetings must be impressed with the fact that the object of our meetings is to attain to a higher Christian experience, to advance in the knowledge of God, to become strengthened with spiritual vigor; and unless we realize this, the meetings will be fruitless to us. RH June 30, 1891, par. 6

The ministers need to humble their souls before God, and cleanse the soul-temple of every moral and spiritual defilement, that they may attain unto the likeness of Christ in spirit and character, and know how to watch for souls. This they can never do without the impartation of the divine nature and Spirit. Love must be the abiding principle of the soul that would win others to Christ. But how little love is there for God, or for man formed in his image. RH June 30, 1891, par. 7

When man is a partaker of the divine nature, the love of Jesus will be an abiding principle in the soul, and self and its peculiarities will not be exhibited. But it is sad to see those who should be vessels unto honor, indulging in the gratification of the lower nature, and walking in paths that conscience condemns. The corruption within unites with the corruption without, and men professing to be followers of Christ, fall to a low level, always mourning over their shortcomings, but never overcoming, and bruising Satan under their feet. Guilt and condemnation constantly enshroud the soul, and the cry of such might well be, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Through indulgence in sin, self-respect is destroyed; and when that is gone, respect for others is lessened, because we are under the impression that others are as unrighteous as we are ourselves. RH June 30, 1891, par. 8

At our yearly convocations these things should be set before the people, and they should be encouraged to hope in the Lord, for he says, “When ye shall search for me with all your heart,” “I will be found of you.” The standard should be elevated, and the preaching should be of a more spiritual character, that the people may see the reason of their weakness and unhappiness. Many are unhappy because they are unholy. Purity of heart, innocence of mind, only can be truly blessed of God. When sin is cherished in the heart, there can be nothing but unhappiness in the end; and the sin which leads to the most unhappy results is pride of heart, the lack of Christ-like sympathy and love. RH June 30, 1891, par. 9

Many are satisfied with business activity in the cause of God, while their hearts are destitute of love and compassion one for another. They know nothing of the tender sympathy that dwelt in the bosom of Jesus, and unless their characters are transformed, unless the heart is made tender, and they become partakers of the divine nature, they will make grave blunders, and fail to become inhabitants of heaven. Those who are holding responsible positions need to drink deep at the fountain of Christ's love, that their hearts may be made kind and their actions considerate. By his word, by the testimonies of his Spirit, God is appealing to his people both early and late, urging them to the attainment of the divine ideal. It was for this end that Christ took human nature upon himself. The elevation of man is the object of the plan of salvation. This elevation of character is to be reached through the merit and grace of Christ. We are continually to behold him, to meditate on the grace of his character, to contemplate his love; and by beholding, we shall become changed. RH June 30, 1891, par. 10

When Moses besought God to show him his glory, the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” It grieves the heart of God, as our Father, to let justice smite. He “suffereth long and is kind.” While men are hard-hearted, condemnatory, and willing to abandon the one who needs help that his soul may be saved from death, the Father, with heart filled with love for the sinner, opens his arms, and says, “Child, come back to me.” If the Lord were not full of mercy and abundant in goodness, we should not be the subjects of his grace and love today. He pardons abundantly. He entreats the sinner to confess his sin, to come to him and accept forgiveness. RH June 30, 1891, par. 11

And yet, with the lessons of Christ's life before them, how many who claim to be his followers, fail to be tender-hearted, forgiving, and full of love and compassion. In the hardness of their own hearts, in the iron-like stubbornness of their own will, they wound and bruise the souls for whom Christ has died. If they think a brother has erred, they are severe toward him, not remembering that they themselves are in constant need of God's mercy. They pass lightly over things in themselves that are grievous in the sight of God, but censure without mercy those whom they think blamable. How differently does God deal with the sinner; he forgives transgression and sin. He loved us, and gave himself for us. What does it mean that such hardness of heart is manifested among the professed children of God? It is an offense to God; for it misrepresents his character. RH June 30, 1891, par. 12

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It was the love of God that gave Christ to the world, that he might draw all men unto himself. It is for this end that the Spirit is striving with human hearts, that their hardness may be melted away, that they may be purified, ennobled, refined. God would have us of the same mind as was Christ, that we may be fitted for eternal life, and be the sons and daughters of God. When men in connection with the work of God manifest severity, hardness of heart, showing a lack of sympathy and love, they make it evident that Satan is molding them after his own order. The leaven of unrighteousness is working in them, and the loss of souls will result from their unchristian course. My brethren, all this coldness, this hardness of heart, must be put away. When the gold of love is sought for, when the divine nature is imparted to you, men will see a love which is impartial, pure, elevated, and fervent, and the fruits of pure and undefiled religion will appear. To manifest affection in kindly words, in acts of tender consideration, will not then be looked upon as weak and unmanly, but brethren will press together, and bear testimony to the world that the religion of Christ is of divine origin. RH June 30, 1891, par. 13