The Review and Herald

1762/1902

August 8, 1912

A Faithful Under-Shepherd

(Concluded.)

EGW

Looking forward with prophetic vision to the perilous times into which the church of Christ was to enter, the apostle exhorted the believers to steadfastness in the face of trial and suffering. “Beloved,” he wrote, “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.” RH August 8, 1912, par. 1

Trial is part of the education given in the school of Christ, to purify God's children from the dross of earthliness. It is because God is leading his children, that trying experiences come to them. Trials and obstacles are his chosen methods of discipline, and his appointed conditions of success. He who reads the hearts of men knows their weaknesses better than they themselves can know them. He sees that some have qualifications which, if rightly directed, could be used in the advancement of his work. In his providence he brings these souls into different positions and varied circumstances, that they may discover the defects that are concealed from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to overcome these defects, and to fit themselves for service. Often he permits the fires of affliction to burn, that they may be purified. RH August 8, 1912, par. 2

God's care for his heritage is unceasing. He suffers no affliction to come upon his children but such as is essential for their present and eternal good. He will purify his church, even as Christ purified the temple during his ministry on earth. All that he brings upon his people in test and trial comes that they may gain deeper piety and greater strength to carry forward the triumphs of the cross. RH August 8, 1912, par. 3

There had been a time in Peter's experience when he was unwilling to see the cross in the work of Christ. When the Saviour made known to the disciples his impending sufferings and death, Peter exclaimed, “Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.” Self-pity, which shrank from fellowship with Christ in suffering, prompted Peter's remonstrance. It was to the disciple a bitter lesson, and one which he learned but slowly, that the path of Christ on earth lay through agony and humiliation. But in the heat of the furnace fire he was to learn its lesson. Now, when his once active form was bowed with the burden of years and labors, he could write, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” RH August 8, 1912, par. 4

Addressing the church elders regarding their responsibilities as under-shepherds of God's flock, the apostle wrote: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” RH August 8, 1912, par. 5

Those who occupy the position of under-shepherds are to exercise a watchful diligence over the Lord's flock. This is not to be a dictatorial vigilance, but one that tends to encourage and strengthen and uplift. Ministry means more than sermonizing; it means earnest, personal labor. The church on earth is composed of erring men and women, who need patient, painstaking effort that they may be trained and disciplined to work with acceptance in this life, and in the future life to be crowned with glory and immortality. Pastors are needed—faithful shepherds—who will not flatter God's people, nor treat them harshly, but who will feed them with the bread of life,—men who in their lives feel daily the converting power of the Holy Spirit, and who cherish a strong, unselfish love toward those for whom they labor. RH August 8, 1912, par. 6

There is tactful work for the under-shepherd to do as he is called to meet alienation, bitterness, envy, and jealousy in the church, and he will need to labor in the spirit of Christ to set things in order. Faithful warnings are to be given, sins rebuked, wrongs made right, not only by the minister's work in the pulpit, but by personal labor. The wayward heart may take exception to the message, and the servant of God may be misjudged and criticized. Let him then remember that “the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” RH August 8, 1912, par. 7

The work of the gospel minister is “to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God.” If one entering upon this work chooses the least self-sacrificing part, contenting himself with preaching, and leaving the work of personal ministry for some one else, his labors will not be acceptable to God. Souls for whom Christ died are perishing for want of well-directed, personal labor; and he has mistaken his calling who, entering upon the ministry, is unwilling to do the personal work that the care of the flock demands. RH August 8, 1912, par. 8

The spirit of the true shepherd is one of self-forgetfulness. He loses sight of self in order that he may work the works of God. By preaching of the word and by personal ministry in the homes of the people, he learns their needs, their sorrows, their trials; and, cooperating with the great Burden-bearer, he shares their afflictions, comforts their distresses, relieves their soul-hunger, and wins their hearts to God. In this work the minister is attended by the angels of heaven, and he himself is instructed and enlightened in the truth that maketh wise unto salvation. RH August 8, 1912, par. 9

In connection with his instruction to those in positions of trust in the church, the apostle outlined some general principles that were to be followed by all who were associated in church fellowship. The younger members of the flock were urged to follow the example of their elders in the practise of Christlike humility. “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith.” RH August 8, 1912, par. 10

Thus Peter wrote to the believers at a time of peculiar trial to the church. Many had already become partakers of Christ's sufferings, and soon the church was to undergo a period of terrible persecution. Within a few brief years many of those who had stood as teachers and leaders in the church were to lay down their lives for the gospel. Soon grievous wolves were to enter in, not sparing the flock. But none of these things were to bring discouragement to those believers whose hopes were centered in Christ. With words of encouragement and good cheer Peter directed the minds of the believers from present trials and future scenes of suffering “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” “The God of all grace,” he fervently prayed, “who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” RH August 8, 1912, par. 11