The Review and Herald

188/1902

September 6, 1881

Scattered Churches

EGW

What can be done to maintain spiritual life and prosperity in our scattered churches? Many of these have but a small membership, and enjoy little or no preaching. Must they become weak and sickly, and permit discouragement to come upon them? No, never! If there are but six working members, each of these should feel a responsibility to keep up the interest of the church. Men who know how to conduct worldly business successfully should employ their talents for the upbuilding of the cause of God among them. The members of the church should give diligent attention to the word of God, that they may understand their duty, and then labor with all the energies of mind and heart to make their church one of the most prosperous in the land. RH September 6, 1881, par. 1

When Christ ascended, he left the church and all its interests as a sacred trust to his followers, bidding them see that it was kept in a flourishing condition. This work cannot be left to the ministers alone, or to a few leading men. Every member should feel that he has entered into a solemn covenant with the Lord to work for the best interests of his cause at all times and under all circumstances. Each should have some part to act, some burden to bear, thus investing something in time and interest, for the life and prosperity of the church. If all thus felt an individual responsibility, they would make greater advancement in spiritual things. The solemn burden resting upon them would cause them often to seek God in prayer for strength and grace. RH September 6, 1881, par. 2

The real character of the church is measured, not by the high profession she makes, not by the names enrolled upon the church book, but by what she is actually doing for the Master, by the number of her persevering, faithful workers. Personal interest, and vigilant, individual effort will accomplish more for the cause of Christ than can be wrought by sermons or creeds. RH September 6, 1881, par. 3

True Christians, the world over, will be Christlike. Said the Saviour, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” And again, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” This evidence is conclusive. If Christ dwells in the heart, the precious fruits of his Spirit will as a natural result be manifested in the life. If Satan controls the mind, evil traits will as surely be apparent. RH September 6, 1881, par. 4

Those who profess to be disciples of Christ, while in works they deny him, are serving Satan in disguise, robing themselves in the garments of righteousness to conceal a worldly, selfish, unregenerate nature. Their profession presents a false light to the world. In the field, in the workshop, in the family circle, in the church, they reveal the sad fact that their religion consists in hollow formalism. They are constantly exerting an influence contrary to true godliness. RH September 6, 1881, par. 5

Our Saviour has made it the duty of his followers to prove to the world that while Christianity will lead to industry and economy, to energy and zeal in the interest of the church and the cause of God everywhere, it will also condemn avarice, over-reaching, and every other form of dishonesty. We need God's presence to control, his wisdom to guide us in all the affairs of life. We cannot afford to separate ourselves from him in the smallest transaction. No bargain is ever made in which God has not an interest. We cannot exclude him from any matter in which the rights of his offspring are concerned. Unwavering integrity marked the character and the life of Christ. It was one of the principles of Heaven, thus exemplified on earth. If the course of his professed followers is contrary to the life given them as a pattern, they show that they have no part in him. RH September 6, 1881, par. 6

Satan will come with his temptations to every Christian as he came to Christ. “Be not overscrupulous,” he whispers, “in regard to honor and honesty. If you would succeed in getting gain, you must look out sharply for your own interests.” Many listen to these suggestions, and blindly peril their hope of eternal life for worldly, temporal gain. But though they may for a time appear to prosper, the end will be bitterness and woe. RH September 6, 1881, par. 7

Says the apostle James, “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” “Faith without works is dead.” Every man will manifest in his life all the faith that he has. The Christian's unselfish zeal and earnestness in the cause of truth will make its impression upon the minds of all associated with him. Those who are out of Christ have a constant evidence of the power of divine grace, in the kindness, forbearance, and integrity of his faithful followers. Such Christians render effectual service to their Master. RH September 6, 1881, par. 8

That church whose members feel that they are not responsible for its prosperity will fail to show to the world the unity, love, and harmony that exist with the true children of God. Worldlings are constantly watching and criticising with keenness and severity those who profess to love and serve God, yet who show by their lives that they are strangers to the influence of divine grace. “It is too bad,” says the unbeliever, “to spoil a good worldling to make a bad Christian. That man is as sharp and eager to advance his own interests as before he professed religion. And what an unchristian spirit he manifests. How he loves to exalt himself. How unkindly he speaks of others. He sees something to find fault with in every man's character. I tell you, although he belongs to the church, that man will need watching. There is another who is harsh and severe with those whom he employs. He is impatient even to the animals under his control, and abuses them as if they had no feeling. Such men have made no change for the better.” In too many cases this is a true picture. What a barrier have such professed Christians erected to hinder sinners from coming to Christ! They are a curse to their families, and a curse to the church. Christ's true disciples will manifest his meekness and gentleness in strong contrast to the storm and bluster and bravado of the great adversary and his followers. RH September 6, 1881, par. 9

The second great commandment, “Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself,” will be faithfully kept by all true Christians. Our influence will be perpetuated. Our example, whether good or evil, will live when we are no more. Then let us so live that those with whom we associate may see and feel that we are governed by the divine rule, full of wisdom and love. This is the strongest argument that can be presented in favor of the religion we profess. A pure, unselfish Christian life will prove to all beholders that there is a divine reality in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dear Christian friends, I repeat, if you are Christ's, you will work the works of Christ, and not the works of Satan. Jesus dwelling in the heart will be exemplified in the words, in the deportment, in all the acts and purposes of life. Such Christians will have favor with God and with men. Peace and joy are shed around their pathway, and glory is reflected back to God. RH September 6, 1881, par. 10

Our churches are sadly destitute of spirituality. They have a correct theory of truth, and, satisfied with this, they have indulged a spirit of pride and boasting, while they greatly lack the power of godliness. These churches must be aroused. Their members must seek an experience for themselves. If connected with the Living Vine, they will be nourished by it, and will bring forth fruit in good works. RH September 6, 1881, par. 11

Our religion requires self-denial, self-sacrifice, at every step. Jesus came down from Heaven to teach us how to live; and while on earth he went about doing good. Those who are really representatives of Christ are working for the good of others. They delight in advancing the cause of God both at home and abroad. They are seen and heard, and their influence is felt, at the prayer-meeting. They will try to supply the place of the minister, whose labors they cannot have. They do not seek to exalt self, or to receive credit for doing a great work, but labor humbly, meekly, faithfully, doing small errands or doing a greater work, if necessary, because Christ has done so much for them. RH September 6, 1881, par. 12

It is because we have departed from God that he has withdrawn his Spirit from us. If the members of our churches will work unitedly with interest and zeal in the cause of Christ, the Holy Spirit will attend their efforts, and the power of God will again be seen among his people. RH September 6, 1881, par. 13