The Review and Herald

249/1902

March 4, 1884

Unity in Christ

[An address to the ministers assembled in General Conference at Battle Creek, Mich., in their morning meeting held November 7, 1883.]

EGW

Text:—“Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgments; seek righteousness, seek meekness. It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.” RH March 4, 1884, par. 1

These words are addressed to us, who are here assembled, who have wrought his judgments and kept his ordinances. It would be a sad thing if we were to neglect or refuse to seek the Lord earnestly. It would be a great mistake to let this precious opportunity pass unimproved; for there are great blessings for all who will seek for them with all their heart. RH March 4, 1884, par. 2

Let each ask himself, “Have I done all that I can to bring light and freedom into this meeting?” We each have a work to do that no one can do for us. The Lord would be pleased to see us humble our hearts before him, confessing our sins, and righting every wrong that exists between us and our brethren. There is danger that the adversary will suggest that we need not humble our hearts before God; that we need not make confession to our brethren of the wrongs we have done them in speaking of their faults, magnifying their errors, putting wrong constructions upon their words, and letting into our hearts enmity against them. Some have entertained such feelings. Alienation, prejudice, and jealousy have ruled in hearts, and love for Jesus and for one another has been supplanted by these weeds of Satan's planting. Brethren, shall we let the enemy triumph by allowing these wrongs to go uncorrected? Or shall we, while attending these meetings, confess our own faults and forgive those of our brethren? Shall we here seek meekness? Shall we open our hearts to the pure, sweet influences of the Sun of Righteousness? The apostle exhorts, “Be pitiful, be courteous.” Let the Christ-like qualities of love, gentleness, kindness, possess the soul. Let the character of Jesus shine through your characters, showing that you have the mind of Christ, that you are full of tender compassion for your brethren. RH March 4, 1884, par. 3

In his last talk with his disciples before his cruel death, Jesus illustrated the union that exists between himself and his followers by the vine and its branches. Said he, “I am the vine; ye are the branches.” He also prayed that his disciples might be one as he is one with the Father. Satan heard this prayer; he knows that in union there is strength; and he works hard to bring in dissensions and divisions among God's commandment-keeping people. It is his constant endeavor to thwart the design of Christ. He tempts man; and evil is so natural an element of the human heart that it cannot be overcome except by divine aid. We want the words of Jesus to abide in our hearts, that we may be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Our wills must be trained to obedience. RH March 4, 1884, par. 4

As embassadors for Christ, we are intrusted with the important work of presenting the truth before the people; and we are to do this, not merely by voice and pen, but by example also. This God requires of us; nothing short of this will he accept. We must abide in Christ as the branch abides in the vine, or we shall not be fitted to bear the warning message to the world. The Lord has often to prune us, to remind us that a pure and holy God will allow no evil to stand before him unrebuked. Our sins and iniquities separate us from him. Then our first work is to put away sin; but in order to do this, we must come so close to God that we can understand his character and requirements, and thus measure our sinfulness and our need of a Saviour. RH March 4, 1884, par. 5

Let us review our past year's labor, and see if we have done our whole duty. God should be made first. Have not some mingled so much of self with their labors that the Lord could not bless them with success? Have not some become self-sufficient? Have not others been dilatory, and almost idlers in the Lord's vineyard? Have they not neglected those branches of the work which were not agreeable, and chosen to do that part which was more pleasant? Dear brethren, have you watched for souls as they that must give account? Have you felt that you were responsible for their salvation? Have you suffered them to become selfish and worldly minded without faithfully presenting their danger before them? You have seen them robbing God in tithes and offerings; and have you held your peace? Have you not been afraid of incurring their displeasure, if you plainly presented their disregard of God's express command? What have you been doing, my brethren? Have you not been trying to carry the easy end of the yoke, while shunning to declare the whole counsel of God? Your churches and your Conferences will testify against you; for the sin of neglect is registered in the books of Heaven. RH March 4, 1884, par. 6

It required condescension and sacrifice to prepare the way for man to be restored to the favor of God. The Son of the Most High became one of us, sharing the griefs and infirmities of human nature, that he might lift up fallen man and reunite him to God. Nor do the efforts in our behalf end with the great sacrifice made for our redemption. Divine forbearance and protecting care are ever in exercise to preserve souls from destruction; for it is Satan's constant work to separate them from Christ. We must resist his wiles with watchfulness and prayer; faith and preserving effort will give us the victory. RH March 4, 1884, par. 7

Are we willing to put forth such efforts to save our fellow-men as Christ made for our salvation? Will we manifest such regard for the reputation and interest of our brethren as Jesus has taught us by his care for us? We are one in Christ. In his sight, the bond that unites believers is more sacred and enduring than any other tie. Christ is the Vine; we are branches, and only branches. This view of our relationship to him and to one another should lead us to labor earnestly for the salvation of our brethren. We must be faithful to do our appointed work, to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine. This must be done in the spirit of meekness, while abiding in Christ. Here is our power over hearts. When Christ reigns in the hearts, selfishness will die out, and disinterested benevolence take its place. Coldness and indifference will then be considered as fatal as for a sentinel to sleep at his post, thus exposing the whole army to defeat and death. We must ever be on our guard. Our enemy is vigilant; he is ever watching for opportunities to come in with his snares. RH March 4, 1884, par. 8

Should trials arise, tell all your troubles to Jesus. Should a branch of the vine lean away from its parent stalk, and depend upon some shrub to which it is not united? Shall those who profess Christ seek the friendship of worldlings, but have no communion with the Saviour? Take everything to him who gave his life for us. Oh! he loves us with a love that exceeds that of a mother for her helpless child. RH March 4, 1884, par. 9

“Except ye abide in me,” says Christ, “ye can do nothing.” We need him every day; we cannot part with him for an hour. Every faculty of our being belongs to him, and should be dedicated to his service. My brethren, if you know that this union with Christ is required of you, and then neglect to maintain a consistent walk and to live in the exercise of faith, the heart will become hardened in disobedience. The tendency is to become self-important and emboldened in a wrong course. It is your duty to abide in Christ. We must be daily learners in his school. We must know the way ourselves before we can teach others how to walk in it. RH March 4, 1884, par. 10

“Search the Scriptures,” was the injunction of the Master. Many have lost much because they have neglected this duty. When we search the word of God, angels are by our side, reflecting bright beams of light upon its sacred pages. The Scriptures appeal to man as having power to choose between right and wrong; they speak to him in warning, in reproof, in entreaty, in encouragement. The mind must be exercised on the solemn truths of God's word, or it will grow weak. We have the truth brought out in publications, but it is not enough to rely upon other men's thoughts. We must examine for ourselves, and learn the reasons of our faith by comparing scripture with scripture. Take the Bible, and on your knees plead with God to enlighten your mind. If we would study the Bible diligently and prayerfully every day, we should every day see some beautiful truth in a new, clear, and forcible light. RH March 4, 1884, par. 11

Our ministers are failing here. They are not Bible students, they are weak where they might be strong; for they take things for granted without searching for themselves. They do not become mighty in the Scriptures and in the power of God, because they are satisfied with their present position and attainments. They need to become familiar with prophecy, familiar with the strong pillars of our faith, familiar with the lessons of Christ. Then the man of God, thoroughly furnished unto all good works, will make practical godliness his theme. RH March 4, 1884, par. 12

Many do not make God prominent, but expect to do some great work themselves. Remember, brethren, that though you go forth weeping, sowing the precious seed of truth, you must depend upon divine power to aid you in securing the harvest, that you may return with rejoicing, bringing your sheaves with you. Let us work; let us become Bible students ourselves, and teach all who hear us to search the Scriptures. Preach your own words less, but establish Bible-readings. Let the Lord speak through his word directly to hearts; thus the truth will impress many minds, and the memory will retain it longer than it would a sermon. RH March 4, 1884, par. 13

Sowers in the great harvest field, be diligent, steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. To the gracious, sleepless, mighty One, hopefully and prayerfully commit the result of your labor. Grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” RH March 4, 1884, par. 14