The Review and Herald

1732/1902

January 11, 1912

The Selection of the First Ministers of Apostolic Times

EGW

The first step was now to be taken in the organization of the church that after Christ's departure was to be his representative on earth. No costly sanctuary was at their command, but the Saviour led his disciples to the retreat he loved, and in their minds the sacred experiences of that day were forever linked with the beauty of mountain and vale and sea. RH January 11, 1912, par. 1

Jesus had called his disciples that he might send them forth as his witnesses, to declare to the world what they had seen and heard of him. Their office was the most important to which human beings had ever been called, and was second only to that of Christ himself. They were to be workers together with God for the saving of the world. As in the Old Testament the twelve patriarchs stand as representatives of Israel, so the twelve apostles were to stand as representatives of the gospel church. RH January 11, 1912, par. 2

The Saviour knew the character of the men whom he had chosen; all their weaknesses and errors were open before him; he knew the perils through which they must pass, the responsibility that would rest upon them; and his heart yearned over these chosen ones. Alone upon a mountain near the Sea of Galilee he spent the entire night in prayer for them, while they were sleeping at the foot of the mountain. With the first light of dawn he summoned them to meet him; for he had something of importance to communicate to them. RH January 11, 1912, par. 3

God takes men as they are, with the human elements in their character, and trains them for his service, if they will be disciplined and learn of him. They are not chosen because they are perfect, but notwithstanding their imperfections, that through the knowledge and practise of the truth, through the grace of Christ, they may become transformed into his image. RH January 11, 1912, par. 4

All the disciples had serious faults when Jesus called them to his service. Even John, who came into closest association with the meek and lowly One, was not himself naturally meek and yielding. He and his brother were called “the sons of thunder.” While they were with Jesus, any slight shown to him aroused their indignation and combativeness. Evil temper, revenge, the spirit of criticism, were all in the beloved disciple. He was proud, and ambitious to be first in the kingdom of God. But day by day, in contrast with his own violent spirit, he beheld the tenderness and forbearance of Jesus, and heard his lessons of humility and patience. He opened his heart to the divine influence, and became not only a hearer but a doer of the Saviour's words. Self was hid in Christ. He learned to wear the yoke of Christ and to bear his burden. RH January 11, 1912, par. 5

Jesus reproved his disciples, he warned and cautioned them; but John and his brethren did not leave him; they chose Jesus, notwithstanding the reproofs. The Saviour did not withdraw from them because of their weakness and errors, They continued to the end to share his trials and to learn the lessons of his life. By beholding Christ, they became transformed in character. RH January 11, 1912, par. 6

The apostles differed widely in habits and disposition. There were the publican Levi-Matthew, and the fiery zealot Simon, the uncompromising hater of the authority of Rome; the generous, impulsive Peter, and the mean- spirited Judas; Thomas, true-hearted, yet timid and fearful, Philip, slow of heart, and inclined to doubt, and the ambitious, outspoken sons of Zebedee, with their brethren. These were brought together, with their different faults, all with inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil; but in and through Christ they were to dwell in the family of God, learning to become one in faith, in doctrine, in spirit. They would have their tests, their grievances, their differences of opinion; but while Christ was abiding in the heart, there could be no dissension. His love would lead to love for one another; the lessons of the Master would lead to the harmonizing of all differences, bringing the disciples into unity, till they would be of one mind and one judgment. Christ is the great center, and they would approach one another just in proportion as they approached the center. RH January 11, 1912, par. 7

When Jesus had ended his instruction to the disciples, he gathered the little band close about him, and kneeling in the midst of them, and laying his hands upon their heads, he offered a prayer dedicating them to his sacred work. Thus the Lord's disciples were ordained to the gospel ministry. RH January 11, 1912, par. 8

As his representatives among men, Christ does not choose angels who have never fallen, but human beings, men of like passions with those they seek to save. Christ took upon himself humanity, that he might reach humanity. Divinity needed humanity; for it required both the divine and the human to bring salvation to the world. Divinity needed humanity, that humanity might afford a channel of communication between God and man. So with the servants and messengers of Christ. Man needs a power outside of and beyond himself, to restore him to the likeness of God, and enable him to do the work of God; but this does not make the human agency unessential. Humanity lays hold upon divine power; Christ dwells in the heart by faith; and through cooperation with the divine, the power of man becomes efficient for good. RH January 11, 1912, par. 9

He who called the fishermen of Galilee is still calling men to his service. And he is just as willing to manifest his power through us as through the first disciples. However imperfect and sinful we may be, the Lord holds out to us the offer of partnership with himself, of apprenticeship to Christ. He invites us to come under the divine instruction, that, uniting with Christ, we may work the works of God. RH January 11, 1912, par. 10

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7, R. V. This is why the preaching of the gospel was committed to erring men rather than to the angels. It is manifest that the power which works through the weakness of humanity, is the power of God; and thus we are encouraged to believe that the power which can help others as weak as ourselves, can help us. And those who are themselves “compassed with infirmity,” should be able to “have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way.” Hebrews 5:2. Having been in peril themselves, they are acquainted with the dangers and difficulties of the way, and for this reason are called to reach out for others in like peril. There are souls perplexed with doubt, burdened with infirmities, weak in faith, and unable to grasp the Unseen; but a friend whom they can see, coming to them in Christ's stead, can be a connecting link to fasten their trembling faith upon Christ. RH January 11, 1912, par. 11

We are to be laborers together with the heavenly angels in presenting Jesus to the world. With almost impatient eagerness the angels wait for our co-operation; for man must be the channel to communicate with man. And when we give ourselves to Christ in whole-hearted devotion, angels rejoice that they may speak through our voices to reveal God's love.—Desire of Ages, 297. RH January 11, 1912, par. 12