The Review and Herald

818/1902

March 24, 1896

Christ the Minister's Theme

EGW

The ministry is a sacred office; for the minister is to preach a crucified and risen Saviour,—the power of God unto salvation to all who believe. He is to lift up Christ as a complete Saviour to all who accept him. He is to present the science of salvation, and this subject can never be exhausted. Christ is our living intercessor today, before the Father in the heavenly court. Jesus, the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world, is the theme instinct with divinity, which the servant of God is to present before his hearers. He is to make it plain that through the merits of Christ, through his example of suffering, the disciples of Christ are fitted for every work, for every trial and discouragement. He is to direct the people to look unto Jesus, to contemplate his self-denial, his self-sacrifice, his humiliation in our behalf, and to be ready and willing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus,—to endure the cross, despise the shame, and go without the camp bearing reproach for his sake. RH March 24, 1896, par. 1

The minister is to show the people how the Holy Spirit makes them one with Christ, their divine Leader. The truth is to be enthroned in the heart, that it may sanctify the soul. The power and grace of God in the heart will manifest itself as the power and wisdom of God in the outward life. Jesus said, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” With the divine endowment of the Holy Spirit, the human agent is qualified to work in Christ's lines. “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” The minister, living the life of Christ, knows from experience that the believer becomes a living agent through whom God can work. Those who believe in Christ possess the character of Christ, have the love of Christ, are one with him. They lean on Christ as their only staff and sufficiency. They are Christ's living witnesses. By their spirit, by their words, by their deportment, by their courtesy, by all their actions, they testify to the power of Christ. A power goes out from those who believe in Christ, and their testimony carries with it the conviction that they are laboring together with God; that they have communion with the Saviour. RH March 24, 1896, par. 2

The preaching of the word is not to be undervalued. To preach the grand and solemn truths of the gospel which is to save men's souls, is a sacred, holy work. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth.” What an honor is conferred upon men who are called to be laborers together with God. As John, they are to be messengers to proclaim the coming of Christ! Like him they are to cry, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” “Lift him up, the risen Saviour,” and say to all who hear, Come unto him who “hath loved us, and hath given himself for us.” Lead men to contemplate the self-denial, the compassion, the great love wherewith he has loved them, which led him to pay the purchase money of his own life for our sakes. Let the science of salvation be the burden of every sermon. Let it be the theme of every song of praise. Let it be poured forth in every supplication. Let nothing be brought into the preaching to supplement Jesus Christ, the wisdom and power of God. Let his name, the only name given under heaven whereby we may be saved, be exalted in every discourse. From Sabbath to Sabbath let the trumpet of the watchmen give a certain sound. Let them hold forth the word of life, presenting hope to the penitent, and Christ as the stronghold to the believer. Let them reveal the way of peace to the troubled and despondent; let them show forth the grace and completeness of Christ as their living Saviour. RH March 24, 1896, par. 3

Let the minister not forget to encourage the precious lambs of the flock. Christ, the majesty of heaven, said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Jesus does not send the children to the rabbis; he does not send them to the Pharisees; for he knows that these men would teach them to reject their best Friend. The mothers that brought their children to Jesus, did well. Remember the text, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Let mothers now lead their children to Christ. Let ministers of the gospel take the little children in their arms, and bless them in the name of Jesus. Let words of tenderest love be spoken to the little ones; for Jesus took the lambs of the flock in his arms, and blessed them. RH March 24, 1896, par. 4

Our expectation is from God, who has given us rich and powerful proof and weighty arguments to move the hearts of men through preaching Jesus Christ and him crucified. Simple prayer, indited by the Holy Spirit, will find its way through the open door which Christ has declared he has opened, and no man can shut. The prayers of the saints, mingled with the merit and perfection of Christ, will ascend up as fragrant incense before the Father. Such prayers will be answered; the Holy Spirit will descend; souls will come to the knowledge of the truth; sinners will be converted; and the faces of many will be turned from the world toward heaven and the Sun of righteousness. Men will have new motives for action, and will become witnesses for Christ. RH March 24, 1896, par. 5

Watchmen are not to slumber or sleep in their important mission. They must not only preach, but minister, educating souls by personal labor, and teaching those who have turned from error to truth by precept and example what it means to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and 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. RH March 24, 1896, par. 6

Ministers of Christ, great is your responsibility. Go forward in Christian experience from light to a greater light, reaching a more exalted standard continually. As the power of darkness works from beneath with intense activity, so let God's human agents work more vigilantly, co-operating with the divine, giving the trumpet a certain sound. Present the living oracles of God, showing the relation of the law and righteousness, and let no watchman fail to sound an alarm, and take up the warning coming from heaven, that all may be aroused to watch for souls, as they who must give an account. Light from heaven is waiting to be imparted to those who will walk in the light, as the light is given them. Let the workers for God manifest tact and talent, and originate devices by which to communicate light to those who are near and to those who are afar off. It is no time now to tolerate sleepy watchmen, and they never should have been tolerated. The experience of those who are working under the leadership of the principalities and powers of darkness, will be gained rapidly, and be abundant in suggestion. But because it has been so difficult to arouse from their lethargy the many who have long professed to know the truth, wicked spirits in high places have rapidly advanced their enterprises, and made their plans to hedge up the way of the Lord's army of workers. May the Lord show those who have long been hindrances to the cause of God, who have placed stumbling-blocks in the way of those who would have advanced, what they have been doing, and may they make diligent work of repentance; for they have weakened the hands of others, and have given the enemy every advantage. Time has been lost, golden opportunities have been unimproved, because men have lacked clear, spiritual eyesight, and have not been wise to plan and devise means and ways whereby they might preoccupy the field before the enemy had taken possession. These men may think that they have done a very wise work; but the judgment will show that their warfare has been against Christ and his work. RH March 24, 1896, par. 7

Let us now wake up to earnest work. Watchmen who do not know the time of night, watchmen who feel no burden to lift up the danger signal, and give the warnings for this time, will not be intrusted with the light which God has to give. “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” RH March 24, 1896, par. 8

There must be sleepless vigilance upon the part of every follower of Christ. Every one should look upon himself as a laborer together with God, working in his line to impart light and knowledge to others. God is working, and heavenly intelligences are waiting for the co-operation of human agencies, to work out in life and character a living demonstration of truth before the eyes of men. God has qualified men with the elements of faith, and it rests with them to exercise his intrusted gift and believe the evidences which he presents. They are to accept Christ, submit their will to the will of God, and love God and obey his commandments, that Christ may be formed within, the hope of glory. They must confess Christ, and reveal to the world that they have chosen him as their portion, or they will not be saved, but will be regarded as enemies of truth. Ministers are to present before the people the attractive loveliness of heaven, the glorious prize that Christ holds out before them. Only those will enter the gates of heaven who make Christ their refuge. Let men watch for souls as those who must give an account. RH March 24, 1896, par. 9

The way has been made clear for all those who choose to hear, repent, and believe. All heaven is waiting the sinner's co-operation, and the only barrier that stands in his way is one which he alone can remove,—his own will. He must submit to the will of God, and through repentance and faith, come unto God for salvation. No one will be forced against his will; Christ draws, but never compels, service from any man. The Roman power never had any authority for forcing the conscience, and the Protestant world has no license to follow in its track. In not a single instance have they the example of Christ in forcing men to become his followers. He says, “Come unto me [he gives an invitation to draw the soul] all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Man is required to surrender self, to submit to be a child of God, to submit to be saved by his grace, and when this is done, divine agencies co-operate with the human agent, and the character is transformed. It is in the surrender of the will that the line of demarcation between a child of God, an heir of heaven, and the rebellious, who refuse the great salvation, is distinctly drawn. The apostle asks the question, “Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?” It is the truth that sanctifies the soul. It is Satan that beclouds the mind, so that eternity is lost out of the reckoning. RH March 24, 1896, par. 10

Let us follow the example of Christ, and daily consecrate ourselves to his service, that we may be one with Christ, as Christ is one with the Father; then we can bring glory to our Master. Abide in Christ, as the branch abides in the living vine, and you will bear rich clusters of fruit to the glory of God. Jesus rendered perfect obedience to the divine requirements, and offered to the Father an unblemished offering. Those who believe in Christ as their personal Saviour, are “made the righteousness of God in him.” As you value your own salvation, hold fast to your faith in Jesus Christ; for he is all and in all to those who believe. The time is come when Christ is to be preached as never before. Do we rejoice in this? We are constrained to set forth Christ as a complete Saviour, the necessity of every soul. RH March 24, 1896, par. 11

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” RH March 24, 1896, par. 12

God calls upon the ministers of the gospel not to seek to stretch themselves beyond their measure by bringing forward artificial embellishments, striving for the praise and applause of men, being ambitious for a vain show of intellect and eloquence. Let the ministers’ ambition be carefully to search the Bible, that they may know as much as possible of God and of Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. The more clearly ministers discern Christ, and catch his spirit, the more forcibly will they preach the simple truth of which Christ is the center. They will then preach the truth as it is in Jesus, and there will be no betraying of the sacred trust that has been committed to them in the work of the gospel. How painfully is the Lord Jesus Christ kept in the background! How his glory is veiled by the character and life of his representatives! Let the watchmen on the walls of Zion not join with those who are making of none effect the truth as it is in Christ. Let them not join the confederacy of infidelity, popery, and Protestantism in exalting tradition above Scripture, reason above revelation, and human talent above the divine influence and the vital power of godliness. RH March 24, 1896, par. 13