The Review and Herald

1099/1902

December 11, 1900

Lessons for Christians

EGW

The third chapter of 1 Corinthians contains instruction which all who claim to be following Jesus should study. Contentions in the body of believers are not after the order of God. They result from the manifestation of the attributes of the natural heart. To all who bring in disorder and disunion, the words of Paul are applicable: “I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” Paul here addressed a people whose advancement was not proportionate to their privileges and opportunities. They ought to have been able to bear the hearing of the plain word of God, but they were in the position in which the disciples were when Christ said to them, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye can not bear them now.” They ought to have been far advanced in spiritual knowledge, able to comprehend and practice the higher truths of the word; but they were unsanctified. They had forgotten that they must be purged from their hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong, and that they must not cherish carnal attributes. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 1

It was impossible for the apostle to reprove wrong-doing without some who claimed to believe the truth becoming offended. The inspired testimony could do these no good; for they had lost their spiritual discernment. Jealousy, evil surmising, and accusing closed the door to the working of the Holy Spirit. Paul would gladly have dwelt upon higher and more difficult truths, truths which were rich in nourishment, but his instruction would have cut directly across their tendencies to jealousy, and would not have been received. The divine mysteries of godliness, which would have enabled them to grasp the truths necessary for that time, could not be spoken. The apostle must select lessons which, like milk, could be taken without irritating the digestive organs. Truths of the deepest interest could not be spoken, because the hearers would misapply and misappropriate them, presenting them to young converts who needed only the more simple truths of the word. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 2

“Ye are yet carnal,” Paul declared, “for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and division, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?” Their contentions revealed that they had not the mind and Spirit of Christ, that they were walking after the wisdom of their narrow, conceited minds. Their views and feelings were bound about with selfishness. They did not show the liberality, the generosity, the tenderness, which reveals an abiding Christ. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 3

Holiness to God through Christ is required of Christians. If there are wrongs in the church, they should receive immediate attention. Some may have to be sharply rebuked. This is not doing the erring one any wrong. The faithful physician of the soul cuts deep, that no pestilent matter may be left to burst forth again. After the reproof has been given, then comes repentance and confession, and God will freely pardon and heal. He always pardons when confession is made. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 4

The Lord desires that the soul-temple shall be kept free from all defilement. “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise,”—in his own eyes,—“let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” Let him who seeks the highest place learn to think far less of his worldly wisdom, and humble himself, that God may give him the wisdom which is bestowed only when true humility is shown. The world may call him a fool, but God calls him wise; for “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Obedience to God is of far greater value than the esteem of the world. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 5

God's servants are engaged in one common vineyard. “All ye are brethren.” Their object should not be to make a show, not to exalt self, but to convert souls, to do a work which will stand the assaults of the enemies of truth and righteousness. Let no man belittle another man's work because it is not in exactly the same line as his own. The souls for whom we labor are not to be converted to the minister, but to Jesus Christ. Let man keep himself in the background; let Christ appear. Talk of Christ. Exalt Christ. Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 6

Paul declares, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” Paul was the first to preach the gospel at Corinth. He organized the church there. Apollos came after, winning his way to the hearts of the people, and instructing them. But God gave the increase. The success of both came from Him. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 7

God's servants do not all possess the same gifts, but they are all His workmen. Each is to learn of the Great Teacher, and then to communicate what he has learned. All do not do the same work, but under the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit they are all God's instrumentalities. God employs a diversity of gifts in His work of winning souls from Satan's army. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 8

“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.” God, and not man, is the judge of man's work, and He will apportion to each his just reward. It is not given to any human being to judge between the different servants of God. The Lord alone is the judge and rewarder of every good work. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 9

“He that planteth and he that watereth are one,” engaged in the same work,—the salvation of souls. “We are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” In these words the church is compared to a cultivated field, in which the husbandmen are to labor, caring for the vines of the Lord's planting; and to a building, which is to become a holy temple for the Lord. Christ is the Master Workman. All are to work under His supervision, letting Him work for and through His workmen. He gives them tact and skill, and if they heed His instructions, crowns their labor with success. None are to complain against God, who has appointed to each man his work. He who murmurs and frets, who wants his own way, who desires to mold his fellow laborers to suit his own ideas, needs the divine touch before he is qualified to labor in any line. Unless he is changed, he will surely mar the work. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 10

Remember that we are laborers together with God. God is the all-powerful, effectual mover. His servants are His instruments. They are not to pull apart, everyone laboring in accordance with his own ideas. They are to labor in harmony, fitting together in kindly, courteous, brotherly order, in love for one another. There is to be no unkind criticism, no pulling to pieces of another's work. Together they are to carry the work forward. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 11

There are to be no separate parties in God's work. Every man to whom God has intrusted a message has his specific work, and this is to be done under the great Master Workman. Form no separate parties. In their ministry, God's servants are to be essentially one. Each person has an individuality of his own, which he is not to lose in any other man. Yet he is to work in perfect unity with his brethren. In honor God's workers are to prefer one another. No worker is to set himself up as a criterion, and speak disrespectfully of his fellow worker, treating him as an inferior. Under God each is to do his appointed work, respected, loved, and encouraged by his fellow workers. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 12

“Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” We are to study and obey every caution in the word of God. The Lord desires all to work under His direction. His word is an unerring counselor. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 13

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me,” Paul continues, “as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.” Others afterward bore their message, and gathered in the souls who believed and were converted. “But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” God's servants are to use the greatest care in regard to the doctrines they teach, the example they set, and the influence they exert on those associated with them. The great apostle appeals to the church and to God to witness to the truth and the sincerity of his profession. “Ye are witnesses, and God also,” he says, “how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you.” RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 14

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Isaiah declares: “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” Christ has been crucified for us. He is the propitiation for our sins. He is the atoning sacrifice, the true, immovable foundation. He has gathered the believers in church capacity, that they may labor unitedly, strengthening and building up one another in the faith. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 15

“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.” It is for our eternal interest to place the right material upon the right foundation. Christ is the great necessity for everyone. It will be to the peril of our souls that we mingle selfishness with the offering laid on the foundation. We are to lay upon it material that will do honor to God. The laborer for God is to do thorough work; his mind is to be pure and clean, free from all the cheapness represented as wood, hay, and stubble. The work of those who bring their offerings to God in humility and love, depending hour by hour on the grace of Christ to sanctify and cleanse from moral impurities, bears the impress of God, who estimates our work, not according to the outward appearance, but according to the heart purity brought into it. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 16

In the work of character building, each person is responsible for the way in which he builds. There are many in our world who teach speculative theories, rather than the simple truths which Christ taught. Everyone will be tested, to see whether his conversion is real. The pure doctrines that are taught in faith, the gold, silver, and precious stones that are brought to the foundation, will elevate and ennoble the receiver. But the teaching that is mingled with human philosophy can never satisfy. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 17

It makes every difference what material is used in the character building. The long-expected day of God will soon test every man's work. “The fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.” As fire reveals the difference between gold, silver, and precious stones, and wood, hay, and stubble, so the day of judgment will test characters, showing the difference between characters formed after Christ's likeness, and characters formed after the likeness of the selfish heart. All selfishness, all false religion, will then appear as it is. The worthless material will be consumed; but the gold of true, simple, humble faith will never lose its value. It can never be consumed; for it is imperishable. One hour of transgression will be seen to be a great loss, while the fear of the Lord will be seen to be the beginning of wisdom. The pleasure of self-indulgence will perish as stubble, while the gold of steadfast principle, maintained at any cost, will endure forever. RH December 11, 1900, Art. A, par. 18