The Review and Herald

1461/1902

December 6, 1906

The Work in Oakland and San Francisco—No. 2

EGW

When a special effort to win souls is put forth by laborers of experience in a community where our own people live, there rests upon every believer in that field a most solemn obligation to do all in his power to clear the King's highway, by putting away every sin that would hinder him from co-operating with God and with his brethren. RH December 6, 1906, par. 1

This has not always been fully understood. Satan has often brought in a spirit that has made it impossible for church-members to discern opportunities for service. Believers have not infrequently allowed the enemy to work through them at the very time when they should have been wholly consecrated to God and the advancement of his work. Unconsciously they have wandered far from the way of righteousness. Cherishing a spirit of criticism and fault-finding, of pharisaical piety and pride, they grieve away the Spirit of God, and greatly retard the work of God's messengers. RH December 6, 1906, par. 2

This evil has been pointed out many times and in many places. Sometimes those who have indulged in a censorious, condemnatory spirit have repented and been converted. These God has been able to use to his name's honor and glory. RH December 6, 1906, par. 3

Experiences in Europe

We met this evil in Europe more than once. At the Basel missionary conference, September 17, 1885, I spoke to the delegates regarding methods of labor, and appealed to them to “preach the truth with the meekness of simplicity.” “There are always those in the church and out,” I declared, “who have not the love of Jesus in their souls, and who have, in the place of true religion, a criticizing, exacting spirit, a desire to find something to condemn in their brethren and sisters.” I referred to instances that had come under my notice, of professed Christians’ accusing one another at times when general meetings of the most solemn interest were in progress. “All the religion many have,” I continued, “is to pick flaws. I once knew a lady whose religion was of just this character, and in her family she was so overbearing that they could hardly live with her. A tent-meeting was held near the place where she lived, but instead of taking hold to help those who were laboring very hard in the meetings, or to receive help herself, this woman stood back to criticize.... We shall ever have just such people to deal with in this world.” God calls upon all such to repent, and be reconverted. RH December 6, 1906, par. 4

In November, 1885, I bore a plain message to our brethren and sisters in Christiania, Norway. It was at a time when plans for aggressive work had been laid—when every church-member should have stood ready to lend a willing hand in upholding the servants of God sent to Scandinavia to proclaim the third angel's message by voice and pen in that part of the world. From the report of the words spoken by me to the Christiania church, I quote the following: RH December 6, 1906, par. 5

“If those who indulge in unkind criticism or idle talk could realize that an angel of God is noting down their words, and that all are to appear against them in the judgment, they would be far more careful as to what is entered on that book of records. How must the continual fault-finding appear to the heavenly messengers who are sent forth to minister to God's people? Would that the eyes of all might be opened, that they might see the holy angels walking among them. Surely they would be more guarded; instead of judging their brethren and sisters, and talking of their weaknesses, they would be seeking God with the whole heart.... RH December 6, 1906, par. 6

“Let no Christian be found an accuser of the brethren. Satan is the one who bears this title; he accuses them before God day and night, he stirs up the enemies of our faith to accuse us, and he prompts those of like precious faith to criticize and condemn one another. We are not to take part in his work. These are days of trial and of great peril; the adversary of souls is upon the track of every one; and while we stand out separate from the world, we should press together in faith and love. United, we are strong; divided, we are weak.... RH December 6, 1906, par. 7

“In our labor for the Christiania church we faithfully presented before them the far-reaching requirements of God's law, and the great need, on the part of the members, of thorough repentance and returning unto the Lord. During our meetings, the dear Saviour came very near to us again and again. A good work was begun. We called them forward for prayers several times, and though this was a new experience to them, there was a quick and hearty response. Earnest, heartfelt confessions were made. Several had become discouraged and backslidden because of the accusing spirit manifested, and the lack of love for God and for one another. These humbly confessed their own wrong in allowing their faith in God and the truth to become weakened.... Others acknowledged that they had indulged a critical, fault-finding spirit. Many said that they had never realized as now the importance of the truth, and the influence that it must have upon the life and character. Not a few testified with gratitude that they had received God's blessing as never before. RH December 6, 1906, par. 8

“We were very thankful for every token that this dear people were obtaining a sense of their true condition. But some who should have been personally interested, were looking on as if they had no interest at stake. The testimonies which the Lord gave them did not seem to be received. They did not break the bands that held them under condemnation of the Spirit of God. The Saviour was knocking at the door of their hearts, but they were unwilling then and there to remove the rubbish that barred his entrance. The Lord's time was not their time. Had they cleared the way, the Lord would have given them an experience of the highest value.” RH December 6, 1906, par. 9

Experiences in Australia

By divine direction, we made special efforts in Australia to reach men and women in cities through wisely conducted camp-meetings. It was thus that the work in Newcastle, New South Wales, was started, late in 1898. It was “thought that the time had fully come for us to make a decided effort to present the truth to the eighty thousand people of Newcastle and its surrounding towns; and we knew that the best possible way to do this was by holding a camp-meeting, following it with tent-meetings, accompanied by visiting, Bible work, the selling of the Bible Echo and religious and health books, and by Christian Help work, and the establishment of a medical mission.” RH December 6, 1906, par. 10

For several weeks before the beginning of this meeting, I carried a very heavy burden. Into the church at Cooranbong there had come a spirit very displeasing to God,—a spirit of fault-finding and criticism. Sabbath after Sabbath, I bore a plain message regarding this sin. Before the opening of the Newcastle meeting, I wrote regarding these efforts to a brother in responsibilities, as follows: RH December 6, 1906, par. 11

“On Sabbath, December 3, the burden was heavy upon me. I spoke the words the Lord gave me. In the early morning I had written out a message for the church, which I read and commented upon. Notwithstanding the appeal made, in the social meeting there was no break. Very good testimonies were borne by some, but I felt that we had no special victory. I then knelt down and prayed, and yet there seemed to be the same tied-up spirit.... RH December 6, 1906, par. 12

“Last Sabbath, December 10, I again read important matter. As I read, the power of God was upon me, and I spoke very plainly. The Lord must impress the heart. I can only speak to the ear. RH December 6, 1906, par. 13

“I entreated, I pleaded with the people to set their hearts in order before the camp-meeting. We are living amid the perils of the last days, and we must gather up and appreciate every ray of light. Our testimony must be plain, truthful, and searching. But it must not reveal in any degree a censorious, fault-finding spirit.... Satan can do the fault-finding for the whole world. We may grieve, but we must not fret. We can be sorrowful; we will not scold. I know the battle is often severe. We can not avoid the injunction, ‘Warn them that are unruly; comfort the feeble-minded; support the weak; be patient toward all men.” RH December 6, 1906, par. 14

It was to the members of the Cooranbong church that we looked largely for help at the Newcastle meeting. Newcastle was unentered territory, and much depended on the spiritual condition of the brethren and sisters who would attend from Cooranbong. This is one reason why I was so burdened over the spirituality of this church. Special opportunities for service would be afforded in Newcastle, and God desired that those who claimed to be his representatives should be prepared to bear their share of the responsibilities of the meetings and house-to-house work. RH December 6, 1906, par. 15

An Impressive Dream

It was at the very beginning of this meeting, and immediately after the weeks of anxious labor to rid the Cooranbong church of the spirit of criticism, that the Lord revealed the spiritual condition of many, through an impressive dream. This dream was afterward published; but it contains instruction which throws much light on conditions existing today in some of our churches where every member should be wide awake to improve unusual opportunities for soul saving. The dream, with the accompanying instruction, as published, is as follows: RH December 6, 1906, par. 16

“During the night of the first Sabbath of the Newcastle meeting, I seemed to be in meeting, presenting the necessity and importance of our receiving the Spirit. This was the burden of my labor,—the opening of our hearts to the Holy Spirit.... RH December 6, 1906, par. 17

“In my dream a sentinel stood at the door of an important building, and asked every one who came for entrance, ‘Have you received the Holy Ghost?’ A measuring-line was in his hand, and only very, very few were admitted into the building. ‘Your size as a human being is nothing,’ he said. ‘But if you have reached the full stature of a man in Christ Jesus, according to the knowledge you have had, you will receive an appointment to sit with Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb; and through the eternal ages, you will never cease to learn of the blessings granted in the banquet prepared for you. RH December 6, 1906, par. 18

“‘You may be tall and well-proportioned in self, but you can not enter here. None can enter who are grown-up children, carrying with them the disposition, the habits, and the characteristics which pertain to children. If you have nurtured suspicions, criticism, temper, self-dignity, you can not be admitted; for you would spoil the feast. All who go in through this door have on the wedding garment, woven in the loom of heaven. Those who educate themselves to pick flaws in the characters of others, reveal a deformity that makes families unhappy, that turns souls from the truth to choose fables. Your leaven of distrust, your want of confidence, your power of accusing, closes against you the door of admittance. Within this door nothing can enter that could possibly mar the happiness of the dwellers by marring their perfect trust in one another. You can not join the happy family in the heavenly courts; for I have wiped all tears from their eyes. You can never see the King in his beauty if you are not yourself a representative of his character. RH December 6, 1906, par. 19

“‘When you give up your own will, your own wisdom, and learn of Christ, you will find admittance into the kingdom of God. He requires entire, unreserved surrender. Give up your life for him to order, mold, and fashion. Take upon your neck his yoke. Submit to be led and taught by him. Learn that unless you become as a little child, you can never enter the kingdom of heaven. RH December 6, 1906, par. 20

“‘Abiding in Christ is choosing only the disposition of Christ, so that his interests are identified with yours. Abide in him, to be and to do only what he wills. These are the conditions of discipleship, and unless they are complied with, you can never find rest. Rest is in Christ; it can not be found as something apart from him. RH December 6, 1906, par. 21

“‘The moment his yoke is adjusted to your neck, that moment it is found easy; then the heaviest spiritual labor can be performed, the heaviest burdens borne, because the Lord gives the strength and the power, and he gives gladness in doing the work. Mark the points: “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” Who is it that speaks thus?—The Majesty of heaven, the King of glory. He desires that your conception of spiritual things shall be purified from the dross of selfishness, the defilement of a crooked, coarse, unsympathetic nature. You must have an inward, higher experience. You must obtain a growth in grace by abiding in Christ. When you are converted, you will not be a hindrance, but will strengthen your brethren.’ RH December 6, 1906, par. 22

“As these words were spoken, I saw that some turned sadly away and mingled with the scoffers. Others, with tears, all broken in heart, made confession to those whom they had bruised and wounded. They did not think of maintaining their own dignity, but asked at every step, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ The answer was, ‘Repent, and be converted, that your sins may go beforehand to judgment, and be blotted out.’ Words were spoken which rebuked spiritual pride. This pride God will not tolerate. It is inconsistent with his Word and with our profession of faith. Seek the Lord, all ye who are ministers of his. Seek him while he may be found, call upon him while he is near. ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.’” RH December 6, 1906, par. 23