The Review and Herald


August 23, 1881

A Working Church


Ministers should impress upon the people for whom they labor the importance of individual effort. No church can flourish unless its members are workers. The people must lift where the ministers lifts, thus seconding his efforts and helping him bear his burdens, and then he will not be overworked and become discouraged. There is no influence that can be brought to bear on a church that will be enduring unless the people shall move intelligently, from principle, to do all they can to forward the work. The individual members of the church should feel a responsibility resting upon them to overcome their own defects of character, and by doing this they encourage others to overcome. Those who profess to be Christians should arouse themselves, and take up their neglected duties; for the salvation of their own souls depends upon their individual efforts. Said the Prince of life, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” “Agonize,” says the margin. There are vastly more seekers than strivers. Tame, half-hearted efforts will not insure success. There must be determined, persevering, untiring effort, proportionate to the value of eternal life, the object of our pursuit. We cannot trust to another to win the crown for us; we must individually fight the battles of the Lord. The ministers cannot save the people. He can be a channel through which God will impart light and knowledge; but after that light is given he cannot make the people walk in the light. Christ could not do this. It is left for those who have the light to appropriate the light, and in their turn let it shine forth in bright rays upon the pathway of others. RH August 23, 1881, par. 1

True Christians will represent Christ in deportment and in character. They will sanctify themselves through obedience to the truth, that the people they would save may be influenced by their Christ-like character, and see a beauty and harmony in the truth. Preachers and people will effect more for Christ by humble, devoted, and virtuous lives, that can be done by preaching where a godly example is wanting. Many, I fear, will not have zeal and earnestness to seek God for themselves, and know for themselves that Christ is formed in them the hope of glory. If they have the heart work, they can, if any man ask them, give a reason of the hope that is within them with meekness and fear. With meekness, because Jesus died for them as sinners that they might have eternal life; with meekness because there is no virtue or goodness in them. They are dependent upon Christ every moment for this great salvation. With fear, lest they fail to represent their faith, which to them is so precious, in such a manner as to convince unbelievers that they have the truth. The meekness of wisdom will be seen in their deportment. They have the evidence that they are built upon the sure foundation, and will stand amid the perils of the last days. They purify their souls through the truth to unfeigned love of the brethren. The fire of affliction may kindle upon them, and although the removal of imperfections from their characters may be to them a severe process, yet they will endure the test and trial so essential to their eternal good. RH August 23, 1881, par. 2

We are not, as Christians, doing one-twentieth part that we might do in winning souls to Christ. There is a world to be warned, and every sincere Christian will be a guide and an example to others in faithfulness, in cross-bearing, in prompt and vigorous action, in unswerving fidelity to the cause of truth, and in sacrifices and labors to promote the cause of God. This is a great work. To meet the standard of God, men must be growing Christians, having root in themselves. Many are separated from God by wicked works, and need the help that growing Christians can give them by a holy life and godly example. When clouds and darkness overshadow us, we are inclined to seek for human sympathy; we do not take our burdens to Jesus; we do not exercise living faith in his promises. There is not a close searching of our own hearts to see if there is not some darling sin cherished, some idol that needs to be cast down in order to give Christ the entire heart's affections. RH August 23, 1881, par. 3

Said Christ, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.” The promises contained in the word of God are exceedingly precious. The word of life, carefully and prayerfully studied, and practically obeyed, will thoroughly furnish us unto all good works. Ministers and people must learn to look to men less and to God more. He can save to the utmost all who put their trust in him. When power and grace in unlimited supply await our demand, why do we neglect to come in living faith for the things God knows we need, and that he longs to bestow upon us if we will only ask him in faith? RH August 23, 1881, par. 4

Enoch lived in a corrupt age, when moral power was very weak. Pollution was teeming all around him; yet he walked with God. He educated his mind to devotion,—to think on things that were pure and holy; and his conversation was upon holy and divine things. He was made a companion of God. He walked with him, and received his counsel. He had to contend with the same temptations that we do. The society surrounding him was no more friendly to righteousness than is the society surrounding us at the present time. The atmosphere he breathed was tainted with sin and corruption, the same as ours; yet he was unsullied with the prevailing sins of the age in which he lived. And so may we remain as pure and uncorrupted as did the faithful Enoch. He was a representative of the saints living amid the perils and corruptions of the last days. For his faithful obedience to God, he was translated. So, also, those who are alive and remain, who are faithful, will be translated to Heaven. They will be removed from a sinful and corrupt world to the pure joys of Heaven. RH August 23, 1881, par. 5

The course of God's people should be upward and onward to victory. One is with us, even the Captain of our salvation, who has said for our encouragement? “Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” “Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” He will lead us on to certain victory. What God promises, he is able at any time to perform. And the work he gives his people to do, he is able to accomplish by them. If we live a life of perfect obedience, his promises will be fulfilled to us. RH August 23, 1881, par. 6

God requires his people to shine as lights in the world. It is not merely the ministers who are required to do this, but every disciple of Christ. Their conversation should be heavenly. And while they enjoy communion with God, they will wish to have intercourse with their fellowmen, in order to express by their words and acts the love of God which animates their hearts. In this way will they be lights in the world, and the light transmitted through them will not go out, or be taken away. It will indeed become darkness to those who will not walk in it; but it will shine with increasing brightness on the path of those who will obey and walk in the light. RH August 23, 1881, par. 7

The Spirit, wisdom, and goodness of God, as revealed in his word, should be exemplified by the disciples of Christ. God's requirements of his people are in accordance with the grace and truth given them. All his righteous demands must be fully met. Accountable beings must walk in the light that shines upon them. If they fail to do this, their light becomes darkness, and the degree of darkness is according to the abundance of light possessed. RH August 23, 1881, par. 8

It is not for lack of knowledge that God's people are now perishing. They will not be condemned because they do not know the way, the truth, and the life. The truth that has reached their understanding, the light which has shone on the soul, that has not been cherished, and which they have neglected, or refused to be led by, will condemn them. What more could have been done for God's vineyard than has been done? Light, precious light, shines upon his people; but the light will not save them, unless they consent to be saved by it. RH August 23, 1881, par. 9

God calls upon his people to act. Will they awake? Will every one who professes godliness seek to put away every wrong, confess to God every secret sin, and afflict the soul before him? Will they, with great humility, investigate the motives of every action, and know that the eye of God reads all,—searches out every hidden thing? Let the work be thorough, the consecration to God be entire. He calls for a full surrender of all that we have and are. Ministers and people need a new conversion,—a transformation of the mind,—without which we are not savors of life unto life, but of death unto death. Great privileges belong to the people of God. Great light has been given them, that they may attain to their high calling in Christ Jesus; yet they are not what God would have them to be, and what he designs they should be. RH August 23, 1881, par. 10