The Review and Herald

652/1902

January 17, 1893

The Church Must Be Quickened

EGW

“Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” This is a time when every member of the church should be waiting, watching, and working. Through faith in Jesus Christ we should be alive unto God; and every man, woman, and child, who has a knowledge of truth, should be able to discern the signs of the times. The weakness and inefficiency of the church must pass away. Creative power from above must impart life to the human agents whom God would use, that they may be able to co-operate with divine intelligences. The church to whom God has imparted his endowment of heavenly truth must not remain dead in trespasses and sins. RH January 17, 1893, par. 1

The True Witness, the Spirit of the living God. is inspecting the assembly of those who have had great spiritual light and advantages, and the testimony is that in the church of God there is great waste in energy misapplied, in talents perverted to wrong uses, in strength unemployed; and the abilities that God has bestowed on his people are degenerating, because they are not used for the seeking and the saving of those who are lost. The world around us is stirred from beneath with earnest activity in evil works, but apparently dead to all that pertains to their eternal interests. But although this seems to be the condition of those around us, and there is little to encourage us to hope for the conversion of souls, God requires those to whom he has committed his truth for these last days, to present the word to the fallen children of Adam, both in the world and among the churches. As Christ's witnesses, our commission is clear, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” We are to be waiting, watching, working. It is most inconsistent for the church to whom has been opened the treasures of truth, to be dull, worldly, and indifferent. Casting away all unbelief, we should by faith put every capability and every power into exercise. RH January 17, 1893, par. 2

The command of God is addressed to all the members of the church to use their powers in his service. Though the instrument may be weak, it is the power of God that will accomplish the work. A Paul may plant, and Apollos may water, but it is God that giveth the increase. There is a great work to do, and the Spirit of the living God must enter into the living messenger, that the truth may go with power. The people of God must be aroused from their moral deadness. They must be quickened with power from above. The Lord has promised, “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son.” RH January 17, 1893, par. 3

There is great danger that those whom God would use in his work shall become discouraged as they see the world's degeneracy, and their own weakness and inability to do so great a work as must be accomplished. But the Lord would not have required us to go forth as agents through whom his light may shine to those who are in darkness, if he had not provided for our needs, and did not see in the world souls who are responding to the drawing of Christ, who have excellent capabilities intrusted to them for his service. RH January 17, 1893, par. 4

The Lord God of heaven would have the entire church devising ways and means whereby high and low, rich and poor, may hear the message of truth. The Lord Jesus, the mighty Saviour, has died for these souls. He can arouse them from their indifference, he can awaken their sympathies, he can soften their hearts, he can reveal to their souls the beauty and power of the truth. The Master-worker is God, and not finite man; and yet he calls upon men to be the agents through whom he can impart light to those in darkness. God has jewels in all the churches, and it is not for us to make sweeping denunciation of the professed religious world, but in humility and love, present to all the truth as it is in Jesus. Let men see piety and devotion, let them behold Christlikeness of character, and they will be drawn to the truth. He who loves God supremely and his neighbor as himself, will be a light in the world. Those who have a knowledge of the truth are to communicate the same. They are to lift up Jesus, the world's Redeemer; they are to hold forth the word of life. RH January 17, 1893, par. 5

The souls of those whom we desire to save are like the representation which Ezekiel saw in vision,—a valley of dry bones. They are dead in trespasses and sins, but God would have us deal with them as though they were living. Were the question put to us. “Son of man, can these bones live.” our answer would be only the confession of ignorance. “O Lord, thou knowest.” To all appearance there is nothing to lead us to hope for their restoration. Yet nevertheless the word of the prophecy must be spoken even to those who are like the dry bones in the valley. We are in no wise to be deterred from fulfilling our commission by the listlessness, the dullness, the lack of spiritual perception, in those upon whom the word of God is brought to bear. We are to preach the word of life to those whom we may judge to be as hopeless subjects as though they were in their graves. Though they may seem unwilling to hear or to receive the light of truth, without questioning or wavering we are to do our part. We are to repeat to them the message. “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” RH January 17, 1893, par. 6

It is not the human agent that is to inspire with life. The Lord God of Israel will do that part, quickening the lifeless spiritual nature into activity. The breath of the Lord of hosts must enter into the lifeless bodies. In the judgment, when all secrets are laid bare, it will be known that the voice of God spoke through the human agent, and aroused the torpid conscience, and stirred the lifeless faculties, and moved sinners to repentance and contrition, and forsaking of sins. It will then be clearly seen that through the human agent faith in Jesus Christ was imparted to the soul, and spiritual life from heaven was breathed upon one who was dead in trespasses and sins, and he was quickened with spiritual life. RH January 17, 1893, par. 7

But not only does this simile of the dry bones apply to the world, but also to those who have been blessed with great light; for they also are like the skeletons of the valley. They have the form of men, the framework of the body; but they have not spiritual life. But the parable does not leave the dry bones merely knit together into the forms of men; for it is not enough that there is symmetry of limb and feature. The breath of life must vivify the bodies, that they may stand upright, and spring into activity. These bones represent the house of Israel, the church of God, and the hope of the church is the vivifying influence of the Holy Spirit. The Lord must breathe upon the dry bones, that they may live. RH January 17, 1893, par. 8

The Spirit of God, with its vivifying power, must be in every human agent, that every spiritual muscle and sinew may be in exercise. Without the Holy Spirit, without the breath of God, there is torpidity of conscience, loss of spiritual life. Many who are without spiritual life have their names on the church records, but they are not written in the Lamb's book of life. They may be joined to the church, but they are not united to the Lord. They may be diligent in the performance of a certain set of duties, and may be regarded as living men; but many are among those who “have a name that thou livest, and art dead.” Unless there is genuine conversion of the soul to God; unless the vital breath of God quickens the soul to spiritual life; unless the professors of truth are actuated by heaven-born principle, they are not born of the incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth forever. Unless they trust in the righteousness of Christ as their only security; unless they copy his character, labor in his spirit, they are naked, they have not on the robe of his righteousness. The dead are often made to pass for the living; for those who are working out what they term salvation after their own ideas, have not God working in them to will and to do of his good pleasure. RH January 17, 1893, par. 9

This class is well represented by the valley of dry bones Ezekiel saw in vision. Those who have had committed to them the treasures of truth, and yet who are dead in trespasses and sin, need to be created anew in Christ Jesus. There is so little real vitality in the church at the present time, that it takes constant labor to give men the appearance of life to the professed people of God. When the converting power of God comes upon the people, it will be made manifest by activity. They will become workers, and will esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of the world. They will have respect unto the crown of life, the immortal inheritance. They will not be dependent upon their ministers for their life and experience, but will realize that Christ is the Chief Shepherd of the flock. They will not think that their ministers are appointed of God to do their work for them. They will understand that they must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God that worketh in them to will and to do of his good pleasure. RH January 17, 1893, par. 10

From the time that converts come together in church capacity, they should be educated to take up such lines of work as will not only benefit their own souls, but the souls of others. “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” The Lord has given to his followers talents of intellect and energy and means. Those who are known to be men of well-balanced minds, who have the love and fear of God before them, should be appointed as elders and deacons; and through the exercise of the ability God has given them, they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They may plan wisely, and educate the individual members of the church to act their part in trading with their Lord's talents. By a right use of their talents they may increase their efficiency in the cause of God. The church may be visited only occasionally by a minister, and yet be a growing church; for Jesus is our minister, and we are never to think that we are left alone. Jesus never forsakes the flock of his pasture. “This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” RH January 17, 1893, par. 11

The human minister may do his best to help you in all your difficulties; but he is only a mortal man, and can render no service that will be of benefit except to point you to the true Minister. He must do all his work in utter dependence upon God, as you must do your work. You have the same Source from which to receive light and strength as he has, and in every time of need you may come boldly to the throne of grace. Of the Minister above it is written. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.... For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated forevermore.” “Now of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” RH January 17, 1893, par. 12

The enemy of God and man has worked with every conceivable device to insnare souls; and when he can lead the members of the church to pour their trials into the ears of the minister, the confederacy of evil rejoices. Through this very trust, ministers fall under temptation, and fail to look to Jesus every moment. Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing” that is acceptable to God. But when the agent thinks that he is something, when he is nothing; for he frequently has no living connection with God, he is only a broken reed to those who lean upon him. But it is the privilege of every child of God to look to Him who is the author and finisher of their faith. Every child of God must learn the lesson of entire trust in Jesus. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” RH January 17, 1893, par. 13

Ministers are men of like passions with ourselves; and the Lord would have his people learn to come to him with full assurance of faith. You may tell Jesus everything, and he will never take advantage of your weakness. He ever liveth to make intercession for you. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” RH January 17, 1893, par. 14

With these promises shall not every child of God come to Jesus in full assurance of faith? Shall not the church be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might? Will the people of God understand that though they may be deprived of the continuous labors of a minister, they may have the ministration of Jesus in their behalf? They may go to him, and become strong in his strength. The reason why there are so many weak ones in the church is that they do not come to Jesus in faith. They do not engage in his service. They do not have root in themselves, because Christ is not abiding in their hearts by faith. RH January 17, 1893, par. 15

O that the converting power of God may come upon the church, and make its members living branches of the True Vine, that they may bring forth much fruit, because they draw sap and nourishment from the Vine. O that the praises of God may be upon their lips! There is but one whom they can safely praise; but it is appropriate to praise him in the loftiest strains. Then let the people of God sound forth their adoration in the words of the psalmist. “The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.” RH January 17, 1893, par. 16