The Review and Herald

455/1902

September 11, 1888

The Work of the Minister

EGW

“Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” RH September 11, 1888, par. 1

Who was so capable of giving the very best instruction to Timothy as was Paul, his father in the gospel? This instruction was to be kept in trust by Timothy, to be committed to faithful men, who should be able to teach others also; and, in this way, it was to be brought down the line, to our time. It was by a miracle that Paul had been called to the apostleship of Jesus Christ, and he became a zealous worker for the Master. The light which flashed along his pathway from the Source of all light, entered his heart, and converted his understanding. Like Heaven's light, it was inextinguishable. The deepest waters of trouble could not quench it. RH September 11, 1888, par. 2

A more hearty, persevering, energetic disciple of Jesus Christ than was Paul, has never been upon the earth. He counted all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. He had one aim before him, and that was, that from his lips should go forth the tidings of redemption to perishing souls, that they might be brought into acquaintance with the Redeemer of the world. His whole soul was wrapped up in Jesus, and in the light of truth received from the Source of all light. This light must be carefully cherished. As he gave his last commission to Timothy to teach others also, that nothing of the divine instruction should be lost, he left him his example in faith. The apostle had carefully guarded himself, that he should not betray any murmuring, or make any appeal to his own sympathies. But, for the benefit of those who should follow Christ, he was determined to leave an example worthy of imitation. He was continually “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” This knowledge in his experience he committed to Timothy, that it might be committed by him to others. He desired that Timothy should heartily believe, and carefully meditate upon the sufferings, the crucifixion, and the resurrection, of Christ, and find in the mission of Jesus sufficient support under all trials in the Christian life, that he might be able to endure all for Christ's sake. For if the Master of the house had to suffer trial and persecution, shall not they of his household? Is the servant above his Lord? When Timothy should suffer trouble as an evil-doer because he testified of the mission, the sufferings, the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the ascension of Christ, he was to remember that Paul, his father in the gospel, had been a partaker with Christ in his sufferings, because he was a believer in him, and a doer of his words. Timothy was not to be surprised if he received the same treatment as had his father in the gospel. RH September 11, 1888, par. 3

But the apostle Paul was rejoiced that the gospel was not bound. The power of persecution may hinder or restrain the efforts of the minister; but it cannot hinder the operation of the word of truth upon hearts and consciences. Paul may be bound, he may be a prisoner in chains, but the word of God cannot be bound. It will accomplish the work whereunto it is sent, and human forces cannot prevent it. “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he will also deny us: if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” The condition on the part of the believer, if he is dead with Christ, is that he have his life hid with Christ in God. He must steadfastly believe the truth, and walk humbly before God, in the light that he gives, without turning away, or falling from the holy commandment delivered unto him. He must believe God. He must rest in his word with that confidence and strength of faith, that makes him willing to suffer the loss of all things for Christ's sake. His character, his life course, must be a living testimony to the faithful improvement of talent received from God. He must have an experience and a knowledge in the things of God. His conversation must be in heaven; and while he is engaging in communion with God, he must hold intercourse with men, and shine as a light in the world. RH September 11, 1888, par. 4

If we believe not, it will not make of none effect the word of God; for if we deny him, he will also deny us. God's word is faithful; and how terrible will be the situation of the man whom Christ shall disown at last. God's threatenings of judgment and of wrath, will just as surely be fulfilled, as will his promises. Neither one nor the other will fail. If we are false to Christ, if we dishonor him by doing works that are contrary to the character of Christ, we deny him, and put him to an open shame. Especially is this the case, when men who have been set apart for the work of the gospel, give up their allegiance to the cause of truth. Those who have been put in trust of the gospel, should be of the excellent of the earth, that they may be able to impart blessing of the highest order to those with whom they come in contact. Although there are many who preach the oracles of God, there are some among them who are not made better by the truth which they preach. The law of God is on their lips, but it has not been written upon their hearts. After a time, if they are not sanctified by the truth, they will develop the fact,—they will work the works of unrighteousness. The development of those who are not of the truth, will become of more frequent occurrence, as we near the close of time. Many will show that they are not one with Christ, that they are not dead to the world, that they may live with him; and frequent will be the apostasies of men who have occupied responsible positions. To be dead with Christ, means to be dead to all sin,—dead to the pleasures, the enjoyments, the profits, the honors, of the world; and, if we are partakers of Christ's self-denial and suffering, we shall lose nothing by it, for we shall be partakers with him of his glory. It is at the peril of our souls that we prove unfaithful. RH September 11, 1888, par. 5

“Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.” The ministers of Christ are in constant danger. They are to put their brethren in mind of the things which they already know. “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.” Satan is constantly at work to divert the mind with earthly things, that the truth may lose its force upon the heart; and then there will be no progress, no advancement from light and knowledge, to greater light and knowledge. Unless the followers of Christ are constantly stirred up to practice the truth, they will not be sanctified through it. Questions, speculations, and matters of no vital importance will occupy the mind, and become the subject of conversation, and then there will be caviling and striving about words, and presenting of different opinions, concerning points that are not vital or essential. Those who listened to the present truth in the days of Paul did as do the men of today. They would get up questions, presenting various ideas and opinions of men, and bring the mind of the minister from the important work of preaching the main truths of the gospel, to settle their disputes. The laborer for God must be wise enough to see the design of the enemy, and to refuse to be misled and diverted. The conversion of the souls of his hearers, must be the burden of his work, and he must keep out of controversy, and preach the word of God. RH September 11, 1888, par. 6

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase unto more ungodliness.” The special, deceptive work of Satan has been to provoke controversies, that there might be strivings about words to no profit. He well knows that this will occupy the mind and the time. It raises the combativeness, and quenches the spirit of conviction, in the minds of many, drawing them into diversity of opinions, accusation, and prejudice, which closes the door to the truth. This was the effect in the days of Paul, and we see that it has been the same in our own time. It shakes the confidence of those already partially convinced, and it turns away others who are waiting for some excuse for rejecting the truth. The less the preacher shall multiply words of his own, the more distinct and clear will be the living utterances of God. Let your words be few. Let God speak. Let the plain, “Thus saith the Lord” settle all controversies. If we allow the mind to take its own course, there will be countless points of difference which may be debated by men who make Christ their hope, and who love the truth in sincerity, and yet who hold opposite opinions upon subjects that are not of real importance. These unsettled questions should not be brought to the front, and urged publicly, but should, if held by any, be done quietly and without controversy. RH September 11, 1888, par. 7

Men of ability have devoted a life-time of study and prayer to the searching of the Scriptures, and yet not one half of the Bible has been fully explored; and all parts of it will never be fully comprehended until Christ shall open its wonderful mysteries in the future life. There is much to be unravelled, much that human minds can never harmonize. There are many themes that might seem of special importance to the minds of one class, that to another class would appear in an altogether different light. Satan will seek to create argument upon different points that might better remain unmentioned. A noble, devoted, spiritual worker will see in the great testing truths that constitute the solemn message to be given to the world, sufficient reason for keeping all minor differences concealed, rather than to bring them forth to become subjects of contention. Let the mind dwell upon the great work of redemption, the soon-coming of Christ, and the commandments of God; and it will be found that there is enough food for thought in these subjects to take up the entire attention. RH September 11, 1888, par. 8

The work of the minister must be approved of God. He must live and work as in his sight, having an eye single to his glory. He must study, watch, pray, and search the Scriptures; and practical godliness must appear in his life. God requires that his hired servants shall be workmen of the highest order. They must take pains with their work; for it is bearing the inspection of God; and the work of every day is registered, with the manner in which it has been done, in the books of heaven. With God's employed servants there should be industry, careful study, and painstaking effort, that the work shall not be done in a negligent, unskillful, and unfaithful manner. The laborers cannot meet the mind of God, unless they go on from strength to strength. They have, as God's workmen, business to do with God; and if the work, coming from their hand, cannot bear the approval of God, they will be under his displeasure. RH September 11, 1888, par. 9

What is the work of the minister of the gospel? It is to rightly divide the word of truth; not to invent a new gospel, but to rightly divide the gospel already committed to them. They cannot rely upon old sermons to present to their congregations; for these set discourses may not be appropriate to meet the occasion, or the wants of the people. There are subjects that are sadly neglected, that should be largely dwelt upon. The burden of our message should be the mission and life of Jesus Christ. Let there be a dwelling upon the humiliation, self-denial, meekness, and lowliness of Christ, that proud and selfish hearts may see the difference between themselves and the Pattern, and may be humbled. Show to your hearers Jesus in his condescension to save fallen man. Show them that He who was their surety had to take human nature, and carry it through the darkness and the fearfulness of the malediction of his Father, because of man's transgression of his law; for the Saviour was found in fashion as a man. Describe, if human language can, the humiliation of the Son of God, and think not that you have reached the climax, when you see him exchanging the throne of light and glory which he had with the Father, for humanity. He came forth from heaven to earth; and while on earth, he bore the curse of God as surety for the fallen race. He was not obliged to do this. He chose to bear the wrath of God, which man had incurred through disobedience to the divine law. He chose to endure the cruel mockings, the deridings, the scourging, and the crucifixion. “And being made in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death;” but the manner of his death was an astonishment to the universe; for it was even the death of the cross. Christ was not insensible to ignominy and disgrace. He felt it all most bitterly. He felt it as much more deeply and acutely than we can feel suffering, as his nature was more exalted, and pure, and holy than that of the sinful race for whom he suffered. He was the majesty of heaven, he was equal with the Father, he was the commander of the hosts of angels, yet he died for man the death that was, above all others, clothed with ignominy and reproach. O that the haughty hearts of men might realize this! O that they might enter into the meaning of redemption, and seek to learn the meekness and lowliness of Jesus! RH September 11, 1888, par. 10

The deepest joy of the heart springs from the deepest humiliation. Let not one of us make the mistake that will prove fatal to the Christian life, and evade the demands of duty, because we may see others doing so. We must take counsel of God, and build up a strong, symmetrical character, by meeting the demands of truth and duty, and by shirking no responsibilities that come to us. Peace comes when the conflict has been met and sustained, through the help and power obtained from Jesus Christ. The constant surrender of the will to God, brings conquests in the spiritual life. We must not be overcome with Satan's specious temptations. We must war against them, if we would gain the prize of perfect peace. This peace is not the peace that the world giveth, but the peace of Christ. The most precious promises of God are to be claimed, and held fast, by the exercise of faith. The gifts of Him who has all power in heaven and in earth, are in store for the children of God. Gifts so precious that they come to us through the costly sacrifice of the Redeemer's blood; gifts that will satisfy the deepest craving of the heart; gifts lasting as eternity, will be received and enjoyed by all who will come to God as little children. Take God's promises as your own, plead them before him as his own words; and you will receive fullness of joy. RH September 11, 1888, par. 11