The Review and Herald

404/1902

May 31, 1887

The Church at Ephesus

EGW

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.” Revelation 2:1-3. RH May 31, 1887, par. 1

The church at Ephesus in her earlier history had been made the dispensator of sacred truth. Rare means and privileges had been bestowed upon her. “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.” RH May 31, 1887, par. 2

Here we see a deep, heart-felt, prolonged struggle; just such a struggle as we might have expected in these last days of conflict. “Thou canst not bear them which are evil.” Rigid and impartial discipline was exercised in the case of all unworthy disciples and false teachers who were bringing in damnable heresies, which were undermining the foundation of the faith. RH May 31, 1887, par. 3

Here the ministers of righteousness are symbolized by the seven stars, which the First and the Last has under his special care and protection. The Lord Jesus Christ is acquainted with the number of the stars. He calls them by their names, binds the sweet influence of Pleiades, and looses the bands of Orion. The ministers of the gospel of Christ are greater blessings to the church than are the stars to our world. All are in God's hand. He directs their motions. He disposes of them in their different orbs in their positions. He fills them with light and influence. He supports them, else they would soon be falling stars. They are instruments in his hands, and all the good they do is done by his hand and by his Spirit's power. RH May 31, 1887, par. 4

He walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks. Thus is symbolized the relation of Christ to his churches, and the stars are used to represent his ministers. He is represented as walking up and down among the golden candlesticks. He is in communion with his people. He knows their true state. He observes their order, their vigilance, their piety, and their devotion; and he takes pleasure in them if he sees these fruits manifest. Although Christ is mediator in the heavenly Sanctuary, yet he walks up and down in the midst of the churches on earth. He goes about from church to church, from congregation to congregation, from soul to soul. He observes their true condition,—that which is neglected, that which is in disorder, and that which needs to be done. He is represented as walking, which signifies unrest, wakefulness, and unremitting vigilance. He is observing whether the light of any of his sentinels, or candlesticks, is burning dim or going out. These under-shepherds may sleep, but He that keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. If these candlesticks were left to the charge of human powers, the flickering flame would languish and die. But He is the true watchman of the home, the sleepless warden of the temple courts. The continual watch-care and presence and sustaining grace of Christ are the source of all light and life. RH May 31, 1887, par. 5

The True Witness bears testimony in commendation of the diligence of the church at Ephesus, declaring. “I know thy works;” and all his commendations and reproofs are to be strictly regarded, for it is One who knows that speaks. Ardent, active piety in judicious work will show a moral strength in the church. Want of well doing leads to want of piety, and want of piety leads to inactivity. Diligent, earnest piety must be required of the church, else there will be a degenerating into mere chapel service, and into dry forms, while there will be less and less holy fervor,—steady burning of light in the candlestick. RH May 31, 1887, par. 6

I am deeply impressed with our great need of individual piety and heart experience in the truth. I see that the terrors of the day of God are upon us. Iniquity is breaking forth, tearing through every barrier; and unless there are more thoroughly determined efforts to resist the power of Satan, he will gather into his ranks many whom we now reckon to be believers in the truth. There will come sore trials to us in grievous disappointments. The Saviour, the one styling himself as the true witness, enjoins upon John to write these things which he has seen and heard. “Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” RH May 31, 1887, par. 7

The work of the minister represented by the seven stars is a high and sacred work. When he entertains the idea that his work is comprehended in sermonizing, he overlooks, and is sure to neglect, the work devolving upon a shepherd of the flock. It is his work to have care, to oversee the flock, to so arrange the elements of the church that each may have something to do. RH May 31, 1887, par. 8

Every member of the church who is united to Christ has sacred responsibilities resting upon him, and is bound by all the holy motives which the gospel recognizes as pure and sacred, to regard the salvation of souls as the highest interest entrusted to mortals, and thus become a co-laborer with God to rescue souls from the snare of Satan, and so influence, and educate, and train these souls that they shall be built up in truth and righteousness; for God will require this work of every individual who has accepted salvation. The devoted church-member should accomplish much by holy living; by a painstaking discharge of every duty; by fervent prayer; by faithful warnings, especially by affectionate intercourse for the help and instruction of these souls for whom Christ has given his life, who are committed to the charge of the church, which charge they cannot neglect without imperiling their own souls and being disloyal to our crucified Redeemer. RH May 31, 1887, par. 9

What a record many will meet in the day of Judgment because of their neglect of the very work which the Lord has left for them as his hired servants to do! It is his work, and none who neglect it can make an atonement for their delinquencies which have endangered souls by their passing by on the other side, while absorbing the mind and God-given abilities in pleasing occupation, retiring within themselves because it is their pleasure so to do, or absorbing the mind in business or worldly pursuits, and crowding upon their time an accumulated amount of little unimportant things, giving no time to God's work. RH May 31, 1887, par. 10

“We are laborers together with God.” But who are laborers together with God?—Those who are doing Christ's work. Those who are wearing Christ's yoke and lifting Christ's burdens; who employ their entrusted talents in active service, studying, devising, planning, with much prayer and earnest faith, ways and means to open the truth to any and every soul,—those that are near, and those that are brought within the sphere of their influence,—constantly studying how to do the very highest service for the Master. RH May 31, 1887, par. 11

Our sisters are not excused from taking a part in the work of God. Every one who has tasted of the powers of the world to come, has earnest work to do in some capacity in the Lord's vineyard. Our sisters may manage to keep busy with their fingers constantly employed in manufacturing little dainty articles to beautify their homes, or to present to their friends. Great quantities of this kind of material may be brought and laid upon the foundation-stone; but will Jesus look upon all this variety of dainty work as a living sacrifice to himself? Will he pronounce the commendation upon the workers, “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience,” and how thou “hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.”? RH May 31, 1887, par. 12

Let our sisters inquire, How shall I meet in the Judgment these souls with whom I have or should have become acquainted? Have I studied over their individual cases? Have I so acquainted myself with my Bible that I could open the Scriptures to them? Have I sought the Lord my Master three times a day by earnest prayer in faith, that he would give me wisdom that I might know how to present the truth to these dear souls? Am I giving them, not only by precept, but by example in my own life of piety and fidelity to God, an assurance that the service of Christ is pleasant and satisfactory, and full of peace and joy? RH May 31, 1887, par. 13

Is it the work God has appointed you as his hired servants, to study the intricate delicate patterns of embroidery and the many obscure points in this class of work, for the purpose of mastering what some one else has done or to show what you can do? Is this the kind of labor that God will commend you in doing, which so absorbs your interest, your God-given time and talents, that you have no taste or education or aptitude for missionary labor? All this kind of work is hay, wood, and stubble, which the fires of the last day will consume. But where are your offerings to God? Where is your patient labor, your earnest zeal, that brings you into connection with Christ, bearing his yoke, lifting his burdens? Where are the gold, the silver, and the precious stones which you have laid upon the foundation-stone, which the fires of the last day cannot consume, because they are imperishable? “I know thy works,” says the True Witness. RH May 31, 1887, par. 14

“And besides this, 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.” Now, grace and peace are to be multiplied to the one who works upon the plan of addition. And with such a one there is an earnest pressing forward to obtain more grace, which is necessary for good works. RH May 31, 1887, par. 15

As light comes to individual members of the church, it must be used to benefit others, that other souls may become learners in the school of Christ. There is a Pattern my sisters can show the talent and ingenuity to pick out, and to educate others to copy, searching the word of God with all earnestness, with a sanctified mental appetite to relish the truth because it is the truth. Those who make any progress in religion must be diligent. Your worsted work, your embroidery, your fancy articles will not be the works that will determine your character as fit for eternal life. It is another class of work altogether, that has weight in the Judgment. Have you been industrious in seeking to save souls—industrious with your entrusted ability in doing God's work? Without giving all diligence there is no gaining ground in the work of holiness. They who are slothful in the things of religion will accomplish nothing in it. They will be weighed in the balances, and be found wanting. There must be an abounding in all the Christian graces. Mental discipline is highly essential to fit us for the great work we are required to do for the Master. RH May 31, 1887, par. 16

God's delegated ministers have need of the prayers of the faithful. If they are unselfishly laboring for the advancement of Christ's kingdom in the exercise of their appointed work, they will have to possess their souls in patience. They will have to meet every phase of character, some rough, uncultured, unappreciative of their constant labor, who will injure their influence if they can. RH May 31, 1887, par. 17

Thou hast borne and had patience. The faithful minister is commended in having zeal against that which is evil. Not only will he not practice evil himself, but he will be an example to believers in his piety, his purity, his godliness, and his devotion to sacred things. “Thou canst not bear them which are evil.” His affections will not fasten upon and cling to the evil doer. He hates the practices of the worker of iniquity. While every effort should be made for the salvation of these souls, in all meekness and wisdom, there must be manifested a zeal to repress evil, to counteract its baleful influence. God will not justify any one in making light of sin, and showing preference to the evil-worker. RH May 31, 1887, par. 18

“Thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” There will be men who claim to have a work to do in preaching the truth to others, and it may be found best to test them. But the most solemn obligation is laid upon those who consent to do this, to watch their going out and their coming in, to follow on their track to closely investigate the manner in which their work is done; whether they are indeed leaving a savory influence, or an influence which belies all their pretensions to be apostles of Jesus Christ. True zeal, Christ-like zeal, is to be shown in every case, that pretenders may not obtain a foot-hold, and through deception insinuate themselves into the confidence of the churches when they are not worthy of the confidence of Christians, because their works are evil, their hearts unsanctified, their actions defiling. RH May 31, 1887, par. 19

If only Christian men would become ministers, how different would have been the state of religion in our world! Martin Luther made a statement that religion is never in such danger as among reverend men. This is the saddest picture held up to our view in the sins found among the ministers of the present age. They handle sacred things with defiled hearts and minds and impure hands. Many consider that ministers have no temptations; that they are fenced about with barriers, and that kept, as they are, daily in contact with sacred truth and thoughts of eternity, all would be pure and lovely and of good report. But although this is as it should be, it is not as it is, as facts show us. When the minister separates his soul from God by wicked works, he still continues to be an exponent of the word of God, and handles that world deceitfully. He is called upon at all times and under all circumstances to contemplate truth in some of its many forms, and applying the truth to hearts and life and practice of persons who are contemplating it, he talks of its advantages and the glories of redemption, and the wonderful plan of Christ in saving men, but he has no personal interest in these sacred truths. They are not brought into his life practice, and becoming dearer and more precious through daily experience. This is the reason why there are so many failures and falls, and why the gospel ministry is brought into reproach and disgraced. Many urge conversion while their own souls are unconverted, and commend the love of Jesus when they never have experienced it. They preach repentance for sin, which they have never practiced, and faith, which they know nothing of by experience. They talk of a Saviour, of whom they have only a theoretical knowledge. They talk of the Spirit of God that they are daily grieving; of heaven, which they do not contemplate because they have a personal interest in it. RH May 31, 1887, par. 20

Here is deception of the worst kind. An irreligious minister should be ranked among those whom God abhors. His whole life is a lie. The word of God is taught to the people, but kept apart from his own life. If the word of God were brought into the life practice, every thought, word, and deed would be subject to God's will. RH May 31, 1887, par. 21

Basel, Switzerland.