The Review and Herald

266/1902

June 17, 1884

Christian Deportment and Influence

[Remarks addressed to the ministers assembled in General Conference at Battle Creek, Mich., in their morning meeting held November 17, 1883.]

EGW

This morning many good testimonies were borne, expressing faith and confidence in God. But there were some not of this character. Some who come to God by repentance and confession do not accept the forgiveness he has promised. They do not see that Jesus is an ever-present Saviour; and they are not prepared to commit the keeping of their souls to him, relying upon him to perfect the work of grace begun in their hearts. They lose sight of the fact that Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. RH June 17, 1884, par. 1

While some think they are committing themselves to God, there is a great deal of self-dependence. There are conscientious souls that trust partly to God, and partly to themselves. They do not look to God to be kept by his power, but depend upon watchfulness and the performance of certain duties for acceptance with him. There are no victories in this kind of faith. Such persons toil to no purpose; their souls are in continual bondage, and they find no rest until their burdens are laid at the feet of Jesus. RH June 17, 1884, par. 2

There is need of constant watchfulness, and of earnest, loving devotion; but these will come naturally when the soul is kept by the power of God through faith. We can do nothing, absolutely nothing, to recommend ourselves to divine favor. We must not trust at all in ourselves nor in our good works; but when as erring sinful beings we come to Jesus, we may find rest in his love. God will accept every one that comes to him trusting wholly in the merits of a crucified Saviour. Love springs up in the heart. There is no ecstasy of feeling, but an abiding, peaceful trust. Every burden is light; for the yoke that Christ imposes is easy. Duty becomes a delight, and sacrifice a pleasure. The path that before seemed shrouded in darkness becomes bright with beams from the Sun of Righteousness. This is walking in the light as Christ is in the light. RH June 17, 1884, par. 3

One brother said this morning that he had repented of his lightness and trifling again and again, and had asked God to help him to overcome this disposition; but for some reason he did not receive the help he asked for. Has the word of our God been tested, and proved false.? No, no; the fault is with man, not with his Creator. This brother's efforts to reform have been made by fits and starts in his own weak strength. He must put forth steady, persevering effort; he must follow his prayers by placing a strict guard over himself. RH June 17, 1884, par. 4

There is a great and solemn work devolving upon ministers, and many have not felt its weight sufficiently to balance them, and lead them to walk circumspectly. Out of the desk, their ministerial labors cease almost entirely, and their example is not worthy of imitation. Their light, jesting conversation may entertain, and provoke mirth; but believers and unbelievers lose confidence in them as Christ's ambassadors. Such ministers may present a theory of truth to the people; but they have not felt its sanctifying power on their own souls, and the word spoken has but little effect. RH June 17, 1884, par. 5

Those who are convicted of sin by the Spirit of God, need the assistance of loving, kindly labor that the work of grace may be carried forward to completion. This labor for souls is a part of the ministry that God requires of his servants; but it is a part that is sadly neglected by some. They do not realize their responsibility, nor know how to deal with souls. Having laid off the armor of righteousness, they are exposed to the darts of Satan, and often fall under the power of his temptations. They do not remember that a single thoughtless act, a light and trifling word, may balance a soul in the wrong direction, and effect decisions that are made for eternity. RH June 17, 1884, par. 6

Ministers should live close to Jesus, that they may rightly represent him to others. He has set them an example in his ministry. They should labor for souls with the same unselfish love that characterized his labors. They have something more to do than merely to preach in the desk. This is only the beginning of their work. They are “overseers of the flock;” and it is their duty “to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” They are required to “watch for souls,” as “they that must give account;” and they need clear discernment, that no wrong influence may pervert their work. RH June 17, 1884, par. 7

Some ministers choose for their sermons subjects that will please the people, and offend none. This is shunning the cross of Christ. You see one man selfish; another controlled by pride or passion; another robbing God in tithes and offerings; and another doubting and unbelieving. Do not leave these deceived ones to remain blinded by the enemy in regard to their own spiritual standing. For each of these there is a special message in the word of God. Pray for wisdom, that you may be able so to present the instructions of that sacred word that they may see wherein their characters are defective, and what is required of them in order to conform to the true standard. Win their confidence and affection. Bring the truth as it is in Jesus to bear upon their hearts; for there is no other power that can keep the soul steadfast. The truth, planted in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and nourished by divine grace, is our only safeguard against Satan's devices. Thus you are to labor until you can present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. RH June 17, 1884, par. 8

This personal labor is not the most agreeable work; it involves a cross. Nevertheless, ministers have no right to shun the responsibilities laid upon them. To deal wisely and truly with souls is a work that calls for special help from God. A faithful performance of the duties assigned to his servants would drive every worker in the vineyard of the Lord to his closet in earnest intercession for divine aid. The love of God in the heart will lead them to make earnest appeals,—to warn, entreat, and reprove. If this work is neglected, souls will continue in sin, confirmed in a wrong course by those who have spoken to them only smooth things. In view of these considerations, how carefully should we walk; how closely should we cling to Jesus. RH June 17, 1884, par. 9

The Apostle Paul felt the importance of faithfulness. He says of his own ministry in Christ, “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working which worketh in me mightily.” And he exhorts Timothy: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” This is in accordance with the word which through the prophet Isaiah the Lord has spoken to the watchmen on the walls of Zion: “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.” RH June 17, 1884, par. 10

We shall none of us be saved for our own merits. The rewards of eternity are purchased by Christ, and in no case merited by man; yet ministers should remember that every man will receive according as his works have been. The trials of the great assize will proceed most accurately on the basis of works; and our listlessness and want of zeal will tell on its decisions. The parable of the talents illustrates this subject. One man becomes ruler over ten cities, another over five, another over two. Each receives in exact proportion to his work,—to the improvement he has made on the talents lent him of God; and it is the privilege of each to strive for the highest recompense. RH June 17, 1884, par. 11

The thought should be ever present with us that we must meet the record of our lives, that we are building characters for eternity. The lines traced by our pens will be read when the hand that wrote them is lying idle in the grave. The influence of our words and acts will live, and will decide the destiny of souls. Angels of God are writing the history of our lives; let us be careful that the record is such as we shall not be ashamed to meet when the Judgment shall sit, and we shall receive according to the deeds done in the body. RH June 17, 1884, par. 12

Well would it be for us if we could always remember Calvary, where Jesus bore the terrible burden of the sins of the world. In his expiring agony hear him exclaim, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” and remember that he endured the hiding of his Father's face that it might not be forever hidden from fallen man. He endured shame, cruel scourging, insult, and mockery, that we might be reconciled to God and rescued from endless death. If our minds dwell upon these themes, our conversation will be in Heaven, from whence we look for our Saviour, and even vain thoughts will seem out of place. RH June 17, 1884, par. 13

He who died for us loves us with a love that is infinite. He wants us to be happy; but he would not have us find our happiness in foolish jesting and joking, which disgrace the holy cause we profess to love. If we are living branches of the true Vine, we shall bear fruit to the glory of God. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” RH June 17, 1884, par. 14