The Review and Herald

864/1902

January 19, 1897

The Importance of Personal Effort

EGW

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” RH January 19, 1897, par. 1

Individually we must be earnest, zealous workers for the Master. The Lord desires that we shall communicate to others that which the eternal and unseen communicates to us of spiritual realities. He desires that we shall study the truth for ourselves, that it may become rooted in our hearts, and a part of our very existence; and that, in turn, we shall represent its principles to others. Mind, and heart, and soul, and strength must be enlisted in the service of God. RH January 19, 1897, par. 2

God has placed no barrier in the way of any Christian to prevent his working to bring others to Christ. But self has obstructed the path of obedience to God. Men to whom God has committed his talents have power, and when that power is allied to true goodness as it is in Jesus, it becomes a divine power. But men have appropriated their talents for selfish purposes; and when God has called for his own, their ears have been dull of hearing. RH January 19, 1897, par. 3

When our powers are thus used to accomplish an evil work, they become a savor of death unto death. Never can corruption be so deadly in its influence as when connected with that which is pure and righteous. Pure rites and ordinances, when perverted to selfish purposes by the contaminating influence of worldly men, become instrumental in dishonoring Christ, and hurting the souls with whom he identifies his interest. As God's workmen, we have in the past devoted our efforts too largely to the churches. The time and labor thus expended have done these churches much injury. Our brethren and sisters should feel that now is the golden opportunity to unite their influence in the home circle and in the church, to work for those who have never heard the truth. But they have learned to expect altogether too much labor for themselves. They have been treated to a great deal of food which they have not shared with souls who are starving for the bread of life. They have received an education that has made them selfish. Instead of giving truth to the unenlightened, they have done very little to qualify themselves for work as the servants of God. RH January 19, 1897, par. 4

God's people have neglected their solemn obligations to one another; they have not helped one another as it is their privilege and duty to do. Instead of finding ways and means whereby they could do earnest work for Jesus, who has done so much for them,—instead of encouraging, strengthening, and establishing souls in the truth,—they have called the Lord's delegated workmen away from their appointed labor, to revive and strengthen their own souls. If they were in living connection with Christ, as the branch is in connection with the vine,—if they were drawing their support from Christ, the root,—there would not be such spiritual feebleness. If they would do the work that God has appointed them, they would be partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption which is in the world through lust. RH January 19, 1897, par. 5

The lay members of the church should have far more encouragement to bear responsibilities. They are to be educated to do service for Jesus. Teach them in what lines they can serve God best. Set them to work in many ways. Let there be fewer sermons, and far more taxing, personal labor. All the discourses preached will not help the members of the church to understand their duty unless you teach them how to work. The satisfaction of seeing companies raised up in different places through personal effort will strengthen and establish them. The self-sacrificing efforts put forth by all who believe in Christ as a present help in their work, will give them strength and power. All who truly follow Christ will be used to communicate light to their fellow men. Church-members need closely to examine their own hearts, to see whether they are in the love of God, whether they are serving God or self. RH January 19, 1897, par. 6

Great wisdom is needed in teaching the churches to have root in themselves. They must not be taught to trust in their own sufficiency, but to depend on the Holy Spirit's guidance. Instead of calling upon the ministers for the living water, let them go to the fountain themselves. Let them say, We will not call the ministers from their work of giving the last message of mercy to the world, in order to keep us revived. We will institute every means possible to keep our own hearts pure and holy. We can have life through Christ alone; it is our privilege to seek him. RH January 19, 1897, par. 7

The institutes that have been held for the instruction of ministers have accomplished a good work, but a work that has not been half appreciated. Had those who received instruction in these institutes spent the time, instead, in giving light and truth to those who have no knowledge of it, in starting the work in new localities, in opening the Scriptures to families by house-to-house labor,—had they moved out in simple, trusting faith, saying at every step, I must have Jesus with me,—they would have received an education from the great Teacher himself. In the day of final reckoning it will be seen that the salvation of every soul is dependent upon the fruit borne in good works. RH January 19, 1897, par. 8

This work must be more extended. There must be far less hovering about the churches. Many are spiritually weak because they have not let the light which God has given them shine forth to the world. They have not connected with Christ, and become channels of blessing. God's people must read and practise his word for themselves. In the place of depending upon ministers, they must learn to place their trust in God. He exhorts them to “stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” RH January 19, 1897, par. 9

There are many who desire to see souls coming to a knowledge of the truth; but who among us are engaged in real, earnest work for the Lord? Who, with earnest, humble faith, are bringing souls to him by visiting, by conversing, and by explaining the Scriptures? The sacrifice that we ourselves are willing to make for the good of others is what will convince them of our sincerity. Says one: “I felt so great an interest and love for the souls of the people who know not the truth, that I gave up my home, my church, my family and friends, and gave my whole life to labor for their salvation. They know that I love them.” This is doing as Christ did. Our lives will be a testimony that will speak louder than words. As Christ's followers, we are called to self-denial and self-sacrifice. He has said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” RH January 19, 1897, par. 10

But there is backsliding among us, and God is dishonored. Many lights are burning dimly, and some are going out. Among those who profess to be waiting for the Lord, many are like the foolish virgins; they have no oil in the vessel with their lamps. When the cry is heard, “Behold the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” who among us will be found with our lamps trimmed and burning, and go in with him to the marriage feast? RH January 19, 1897, par. 11

I call upon the church to arouse, to gather up the precious rays of light with which they have been blessed. Lift the torchlight high, that all may see it. Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Gird yourselves, and go forth to proclaim the truth to others because you dare not hold your peace. But do not go in a spirit of self-sufficiency. Go, instead, weighted with the Holy Spirit, and then your words will have power. You are to be like men who are waiting for their Lord,—waiting, watching, and working. You have no time to lose. The signs specified by Christ, as harbingers of his coming, are being fulfilled; the Lord is soon to appear in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. He is coming to be admired in all them that believe. Are you, dear brethren and sisters, ready for his appearing? RH January 19, 1897, par. 12

There are lessons for the children of God to learn. They are required to come up to their high and holy position as members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. They are of heavenly extraction, and they must reveal this in all their works. Have you the light of truth? Then impart the same in purity, in a peaceable disposition, in quietness and heavenly-mindedness. We plead with you to put on your beautiful garments, even the robe of Christ's righteousness, woven in the loom of heaven. Submit yourselves wholly to God. Then you will be vessels unto honor, whom he can use to his own name's glory. RH January 19, 1897, par. 13