Organizing Christian Forces

Roanoke, VA, july 17, 2013.

Organizing Christian Forces

Dear Brethren,

After analyzing our spiritual condition as individuals, families, and as a church, we come to the conclusion that a great work must be done urgently in behalf of our brothers and sisters around the world. That is not a human work. We need to humble ourselves before the Lord, recognizing our true spiritual condition and pray fervently to Him so that our negligence in doing His work be forgiven, and we can follow His instructions revealed in His Word.

In this paper, we put Bible and Spirit of Prophecy quotations in regard what need to be done on our part to fulfill our duties according to God’s will.

As we travel around the world, we see where our deficiencies as a people are, and, at the same time, we find real solutions in the inspired word of God which need to be implemented if we really want to take part in the final stage of God’s plan of salvation.

I would like to consider four basic points to be implemented in our churches to incentive missionary work, not only by full time ministers and Bible workers, but involving, as much as possible, the whole church in active service for the Master:

1.      Praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit;

2.      Involving the local church in missionary endeavor;

3.      Using Christ’s methods;

4.      Ordaining local elders and deacons.

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have [sufficient] to finish [it]?  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish [it], all that behold [it] begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.”  Luke 14:28-33.

According to Christ’s words, we need to sit down, count the cost, accept God’s plan for His people, and go ahead announcing the everlasting gospel, under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, to the whole world.

1.   Praying for the baptism of the Holy Spirit

“I [John] indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He [Jesus] that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. Matthew 3:11.

Jesus is the One who baptizes His people with the Holy Spirit.

“And, behold, I [Jesus] send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high”. Luke 24:49.

“Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth”. Acts 1:8.

“Christ was continually receiving from the Father that He might communicate to us. ‘The word which ye hear,’ He said, ‘is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me.’ John 14:24. ‘The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.’ Matthew 20:28. Not for Himself, but for others, He lived and thought and prayed. From hours spent with God He came forth morning by morning, to bring the light of heaven to men. Daily He received a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the early hours of the new day the Lord awakened Him from His slumbers, and His soul and His lips were anointed with grace, that He might impart to others. His words were given Him fresh from the heavenly courts, words that He might speak in season to the weary and oppressed. ‘The Lord God hath given Me,’ He said, ‘the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned.’ Isaiah 50:4.” Christ Object’s Lessons, p. 139.

“I entreat the church members in every city that they lay hold upon the Lord with determined effort for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Be assured that Satan is not asleep. Every obstacle possible he will place in the way of those who would advance in this work. Too often these obstacles are regarded as insurmountable. Let everyone now be soundly and truly converted, and then lay hold of the work intelligently and with faith.” Counsels on Health, p. 548.

“How greatly do the workers need a baptism of the Holy Spirit, that they may become true missionaries for God. They should learn to tax their minds to the utmost, that they may acquire a better knowledge of Bible truth. … Why not humble yourselves before the Lord, and let the impression of the Holy Spirit be manifested upon your character and work? There is far too much self-complacency among those who engage in Sabbath school work, too much machinery and routine, and all this tends to lead the soul away from the Fountain of living water.”—Testimonies on Sabbath-School Work, 73, 74.

“God’s work is to be carried forward with power. We need the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We need to understand that God will add to the ranks of His people men of ability and influence who are to act their part in warning the world. Not all in the world are lawless and sinful. God has many thousands who have not bowed the knee to Baal. There are God-fearing men and women in the fallen churches. If this were not so, we would not be given the message to bear: ‘Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen.’ ‘Come out of her, My people.’ Many of the honest in heart are gasping for a breath of life from heaven. They will recognize the gospel when it is brought to them in the beauty and simplicity with which it is presented in God’s Word.—Testimonies for the Church 9:109-111.

The Work for Today

The third angel’s message is swelling into a loud cry, and you must not feel at liberty to neglect the present duty, and still entertain the idea that at some future time you will be the recipients of great blessing, when without any effort on your part a wonderful revival will take place.... Today you are to have your vessel purified, that it may be ready for the heavenly dew, ready for the showers of the latter rain; for the latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord—fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” Evangelism, pp. 701, 702.

We need to cry to God as did Jacob for a fuller baptism of the Holy Spirit.

“The time for labor is short. Let there be much praying. Let the soul yearn after God. Let the secret places of prayer be often visited. Let there be a taking hold of the strength of the Mighty One of Israel. Let the ministers walk humbly before the Lord, weeping between the porch and the altar, and crying, ‘Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.’ 

“Let none indulge the thought that we have attempted too much. No, no; we have attempted too little. The work which we are now doing ought to have been done years ago. Our plans must enlarge, our operations must be extended. What is needed now is a church whose individual members shall be awake and active to do all that it is possible for them to accomplish.   

“We are not left alone in this work. We are laborers together with God, in partnership with divine resources. The Lord has agencies that he will put in operation in answer to the importunate prayer of faith. He will fulfill his word, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ The Captain of our salvation is on every field of battle where truth is waging war against error. The truth which we profess offers the highest encouragement to the most devoted self-denial and persevering effort that mortal energies can bestow. We should have the courage of heroes, and the faith of martyrs.

“We can do our best human efforts; however, without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, no positive result will be seen. The guidance and power of the Holy Spirit is a must, if we want to be successful in winning souls to God’s kingdom.” Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, p. 294.

Become Active Laborers in Christ’s Service

“When the churches become living, working churches, the Holy Spirit will be given in answer to their sincere request.... Then the windows of heaven will be open for the showers of the latter rain.”—The Review and Herald, February 25, 1890.

“The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with His glory, will not come until we have an enlightened people that know by experience what it means to be laborers together with God. When we have entire, wholehearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God.” Christian Service, 253.

“We must have a living connection with God. We must be clothed with power from on high by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that we may reach a higher standard; for there is help for us in no other way.”—The Review and Herald, April 5, 1892.

“The atmosphere of the church is so frigid, its spirit is of such an order, that men and women cannot sustain or endure the example of primitive and heaven-born piety. The warmth of their first love is frozen up, and unless they are watered over by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, their candlestick will be removed out of its place, except they repent and do their first works. The first works of the church were seen when the believers sought out friends, relatives, and acquaintances, and with hearts overflowing with love, told the story of what Jesus was to them and what they were to Jesus.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 167.

“Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His church, and the promise belongs to us as much as to the first disciples. But like every other promise, it is given on conditions. There are many who believe and profess to claim the Lord’s promise; they talk about Christ and about the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not surrender the soul to be guided and controlled by the divine agencies. We cannot use the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is to use us. Through the Spirit God works in His people “to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13. But many will not submit to this. They want to manage themselves. This is why they do not receive the heavenly gift. Only to those who wait humbly upon God, who watch for His guidance and grace, is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other blessings in its train. It is given according to the riches of the grace of Christ, and He is ready to supply every soul according to the capacity to receive.” The Desire of Ages, p. 672.

Reconversion among ministers, Bible workers, and people

“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?  But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.” 2 Corinthians 13:5, 6.

The experience of Peter, the apostle, contains a very valuable lesson to all the ministers and Bible workers today. He had followed Christ during three and half years, yet he didn’t know himself because he didn’t know Christ. When he said: “I don’t know the Man,” when he denied Christ, he was telling the truth. He didn’t know Christ as we need to know Him, by distrusting completely in ourselves and trusting totally in our Savior. Christ said to him: “When you are converted, confirm your brethren”. For sure we need to go through the same experience of deep conversion of the apostle Peter.

“One reason that there are not more conversions now is because you yourselves need to be converted. Just as soon as you receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, you will see of the salvation of God. Let the breaking-up plow do its work in the heart. We desire to see everyone drawing strength from Christ by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. May God help you. May He cleanse you from all unrighteousness, and let His light shine upon you. May we see the salvation of God before this meeting closes.” (Manuscript 77, 1902).Sermon at Petaluma, California, Campground, Sabbath, June 7, 1902.).

Another example that must be strictly followed is the experience of Jacob, during that night when he wrestled with Christ close to the Jabbok River.

We Need to Wrestle With God in Prayer

Will we carry forward the work in the Lord’s way? Are we willing to be taught of God? Will we wrestle with God in prayer? Will we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit? This is what we need and may have at this time. Then we shall go forth with a message from the Lord, and the light of truth will shine forth as a lamp that burneth, reaching to all parts of the world. If we will walk humbly with God, God will walk with us. Let us humble our souls, and we shall see of His salvation.” The Review and Herald, July 1, 1909.)

2.   Involving the local church in missionary endeavor.

“Time is short, and our forces must be organized to do a larger work.”—Testimonies for the Church 9:27.

“The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort has been presented to me by One who cannot err.”—Testimonies for the Church 7:21, 22.

“Let there be in every church, well-organized companies of workers to labor in the vicinity of that church.”— The Review and Herald, September 29, 1891.

“In every city there should be a corps of organized, well-disciplined workers; not merely one or two, but scores should be set to work.”—The General Conference Daily Bulletin, January 30, 1893.

“In our churches let companies be formed for service. Let different ones unite in labor as fishers of men. Let them seek to gather souls from the corruption of the world into the saving purity of Christ’s love.”—Testimonies for the Church 7:21.

“The church of Christ on earth was organized for missionary purposes, and the Lord desires to see the entire church devising ways and means whereby high and low, rich and poor, may hear the message of truth.—Testimonies for the Church 6:29. 

“If there is a large number in the church, let the members be formed into small companies, to work not only for the church members, but for unbelievers. If in one place there are only two or three who know the truth, let them form themselves into a band of workers.”—Testimonies for the Church 7:22. 

“If discipline and order are necessary for successful action on the battlefield, the same are as much more needful in the warfare in which we are engaged as the object to be gained is of greater value and more elevated in character, than those for which opposing forces contend upon the field of battle. In the conflict in which we are engaged, eternal interests are at stake.”—Testimonies for the Church 1:649.

“God is a God of order. Everything connected with heaven is in perfect order; subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. Success can only attend order and harmonious action. God requires order and system in His work now no less than in the days of Israel. All who are working for Him are to labor intelligently, not in a careless, haphazard manner. He would have His work done with faith and exactness, that He may place the seal of His approval upon it.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, 376.

“Well-organized work must be done in the church, that its members may understand how to impart the light to others, and thus strengthen their own faith and increase their knowledge. As they impart that which they have received from God, they will be confirmed in the faith. A working church is a living church. We are built up as living stones, and every stone is to emit light. Every Christian is compared to a precious stone that catches the glory of God and reflects it. “—Testimonies for the Church 6:435.

In some places, we see that our missionaries are working hard, but, at the same time, the church is not taking part in the work. It comes to our mind the experience written by Ellen White about the supervisor who was hired to maintain a group of employees working, but, instead of doing this, he was performing the work that others need to do, and all others were idle. The supervisor was fired because he wasn’t doing the work he should do.

3.   Using Christ’s Methods

“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

“And [Jesus] called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits.” Mark 6:7.

“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come. Therefore said He unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into His harvest.” Luke 10:1, 2.

Sent Forth Two by Two

“Calling the twelve about Him, Jesus bade them go out two and two through the towns and villages. None were sent forth alone, but brother was associated with brother, friend with friend. Thus they could help and encourage each other, counseling and praying together, each one’s strength supplementing the other’s weakness. In the same manner He afterward sent forth the seventy. It was the Saviour’s purpose that the messengers of the gospel should be associated in this way. In our own time evangelistic work would be far more successful if this example were more closely followed.” The Desire of Ages, 350.

“The workers should go forth two by two, that they may pray and consult together. Never should they be sent out alone. The Lord Jesus Christ sent forth His disciples two and two into all the cities of Israel. He gave them the commission, ’Heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you’.” Evangelism, p. 520.1.

“As He had sent out the Twelve, so He ‘appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two into every town and place where He Himself was about to come.’ RSV. For some time these disciples had been in training for their work. They had had the privilege of intimate association with Him and direct personal instruction.” Healthful Living, p. 330.

     “As He had sent out the twelve, so He ‘appointed seventy others, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself was about to come." Luke 10:1, R. V. These disciples had been for some time with Him, in training for their work. “The Desire of Ages, p. 488.

Youth With Older Workers Two by Two

In this work the youth should be connected with those older in experience, who, if they are devoted to God, can be a great blessing to them, teaching them in the things of God, and showing them how best to work for Him.” Publishing Ministry, p. 295.

“Not only men, but women, can enter the canvassing field. And canvassers are to go out two by two. This is the Lord’s plan.” The Review and Herald, October 7, 1902. {PM 295.2; MPu.327.2}

“I am instructed to say that where an effort is made to open the gospel work in a new field, there should be not less than two speakers to labor together in the ministry. When Christ sent forth His disciples on their missionary tour, He sent them out two by two. This is the Lord’s plan.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, p. 59.

I spoke to the people in reference to the laborers going out two by two. I told them that this was Christ’s arrangement.” Ibid. p. 350.

Teaching, Preaching, and Healing      

“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” Matthew 9:35.

“Jesus devoted more time to healing the sick than to preaching. His miracles testified to the truth of His words, that He came not to destroy but to save. His righteousness went before Him, and the glory of the Lord was His rearward. Wherever He went, the tidings of His mercy preceded Him. Where He had passed, the objects of His compassion were rejoicing in health, and making trial of their new-found powers. Crowds were collecting around them to hear from their lips the works that the Lord had wrought. His voice was the first sound that many had ever heard, His name the first word they had ever spoken, His face the first they had ever looked upon. Why should they not love Jesus, and sound His praise? As He passed through the towns and cities He was like a vital current, diffusing life and joy wherever He went.  

            “The followers of Christ are to labor as He did. We are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the suffering and afflicted. We are to minister to the despairing, and inspire hope in the hopeless. And to us also the promise will be fulfilled, "Thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward." Isaiah 58:8. The love of Christ, manifested in unselfish ministry, will be more effective in reforming the evildoer than will the sword or the court of justice.” The Desire of Ages, p. 350, 351.

4.   Ordaining Local Elders and Deacons

“To Titus, [mine] own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, [and] peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.  For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God."  Titus 1:4-6.

    “It would be well for all our ministers to give heed to these words and not to hurry men into office without due consideration and much prayer that God would designate by His Holy Spirit whom He will accept. 

    “Said the inspired apostle: ‘Lay hands suddenly on no man.’ In some of our churches the work of organizing and of ordaining elders has been premature; the Bible rule has been disregarded, and consequently grievous trouble has been brought upon the church. There should not be so great haste in electing leaders as to ordain men who are in no way fitted for the responsible work--men who need to be converted, elevated, ennobled, and refined before they can serve the cause of God in any capacity.”  5T 617, 618.

We should avoid two extremes: 1. Ordaining no converted and nor consecrated people on the one hand; and 2. On the other hand, the other extreme would be not ordaining new workers.

We should search for people that can be used as ordained elder or deacon in the local church, and prepare them for those positions.

Another point we have failed is for using the talents of our people, and for following a routi nary work visiting our churches to give Lord’s Supper and organizing those churches without instructing our people how to do missionary work by themselves, and not depending on the ministers and Bible workers. The following passage gives us clear orientation how to use the work force of our lay brethren.

 

 

The Seven Deacons in Jerusalem

The experience of the early Christians offers valuable lessons for the church today.

“And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples [unto them], and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.  Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.      And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:  Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid [their] hands on them.  And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”  Acts 6:1-7.

“Summoning a meeting of the believers, the apostles were led by the Holy Spirit to outline a plan for the better organization of all the working forces of the church. The time had come, the apostles stated, when the spiritual leaders having the oversight of the church should be relieved from the task of distributing to the poor and from similar burdens, so that they might be free to carry forward the work of preaching the gospel. ‘Wherefore, brethren,’ they said, ‘look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.’ This advice was followed, and by prayer and the laying on of hands, seven chosen men were solemnly set apart for their duties as deacons.   

            “The appointment of the seven to take the oversight of special lines of work, proved a great blessing to the church. These officers gave careful consideration to individual needs as well as to the general financial interests of the church, and by their prudent management and their godly example they were an important aid to their fellow officers in binding together the various interests of the church into a united whole.  

            “That this step was in the order of God is revealed in the immediate results for good that were seen. ‘The word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.’ This ingathering of souls was due both to the greater freedom secured by the apostles and to the zeal and power shown by the seven deacons. The fact that these brethren had been ordained for the special work of looking after the needs of the poor, did not exclude them from teaching the faith. On the contrary, they were fully qualified to instruct others in the truth, and they engaged in the work with great earnestness and success.” Acts of the Apostles, pp. 89, 90.

Hovering Over the Churches

“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found [it], he layeth [it] on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together [his] friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Luke 15:4-7.

There are many wonderful lessons from this parable. However, we would like to stress just one of them: The good shepherd left the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and went after the lost one, and didn’t return till he found the one which was lost.

This is a very objective lesson for us. We need to leave those sheep which are safe in the fold and go after the one which is lost almost perishing in the world.

Writing to a minister who planned to spend weeks visiting already established churches, Ellen White gave him useful instructions very well applicable to our experience today.

    “Brother-----laid out before me the plans for meetings to be held for weeks in different places among those who know the truth. Doubtless some who have newly come to the faith would be benefited, but I know you are not on the right track. Some of those called together will no doubt have their faith strengthened and confirmed; but this work is not bearing the message of warning to those who are still in darkness and error, who know not the truth. Time is passing, the perils of the last days are upon us; and how many will say to us in the last great day when every man shall receive according to his works: Why have you not warned us? You have not told us those things that we should have known. 

     “Christ says, ’I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’  Let our ministers go forth weighted with the solemn message of warning. When men have had every advantage to obtain knowledge of the truth, how shall plans is laid to keep our laborers from the work of saving souls in the darkness of error? The time is short. Let the message of warning be given clear and distinct. The Lord is coming to execute judgment upon all who obey not the gospel.  

     “Enoch in his day sounded the proclamation of the coming of Christ and the execution of judgment upon the unrighteous; and we now see the fulfillment of Enoch's prophecy concerning the great wickedness that should abound. But these who have the light are the very ones commissioned of God to make constantly aggressive warfare. As the inquiry shall be made, ‘Watchman, what of the night?’ the faithful message is to be heard in response, ‘The morning cometh, and also the night.’  

             “The influence of truth is too much restricted. Let men who know the truth be urged to communicate truth to those who are in darkness. Many are satisfied with a view of truth, but they have not yet stepped into their place to communicate that which they have received. God has let men feel the power of truth, but they are not all doing their appointed work in seeking to save that which was lost. Everyone is to have the armor on, prepared to win others to obedience to the law of God. I see so much given to those who already have; these wonderful meetings for those who wish to get more strength are depriving the world of the very work that should be done. Our ministers should now be working for the saving of the lost. The weeks spent in gatherings to fit men for work might better, far better, be spent in going to the highways and hedges with the proclamation, ‘Come; for all things are now ready.’ 

“To those who obey the light they have, illumination will come from on high; for the heavenly messengers are waiting to cooperate with men in warning a deceived, sinful world. When the people of God engage in this work with real travail of soul there will be manifest a decided change in cities and villages. This hovering about churches to keep them propped up makes them more dependent on human effort. They learn to lean on the experience of their fellowmen and do not make God their dependence and their efficiency. It is time that cities and villages everywhere were hearing the solemn note of warning, ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.’ Get ready that you may be found of Him in peace.   

     “I entreat you whom God has favored with a knowledge of the truth, Go to work; there is work to do everywhere. The fields are all white unto the harvest. Sowers and reapers are needed just now. The time you devote to imparting constantly to those who understand the message of warning will not give one tithe of the strength which they would receive in taking hold of the work to communicate life to save perishing souls. Angels are waiting to bless the consecrated workers. The parable of the lost sheep should be a lesson to every soul who has been rescued from the snare of Satan. We are not to hover over the ninety and nine, but to go forth to save the lost, hunting them up in the wilderness of the large cities and towns. In this work the laborers will be led to feel their weakness and they will flee to the stronghold. The divine presence will be with them to give strength and courage and faith and hope. The truehearted workers will be laborers together with God. 

     Work for Every True Disciple

    “Every true follower of Christ has a work to do. God has given to every man his work. A few are now pointing to the roll of fast-fulfilling prophecy and proclaiming, Get ready, show your obedience to God by keeping His commandments. This is no time for the messengers of God to stop to prop up those who know the truth, and who have every advantage. Let them go on to lift the standard and give the warning, ‘Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him.’

     “Let everyone who loves God consider that now while it is day is the time to work, not among the sheep already in the fold, but to go out in search of the lost and perishing ones. These need to have special help to bring them back to the fold. Now is the time for the careless to arouse from their slumber. Now is the time to entreat that souls shall not only hear the word of God, but without delay secure oil in their vessels with their lamps. That oil is the righteousness of Christ. It represents character, and character is not transferable. No man can secure it for another. Each must obtain for himself a character purified from every stain of sin.  

     “The Lord is coming in power and great glory. It will then be His work to make a complete separation between the righteous and the wicked. But the oil cannot then be transferred to the vessels of those who have it not. Then shall be fulfilled the words of Christ: ‘Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.’ The righteous and the wicked are to be associated together in the work of life. But the Lord reads the character; He discerns who are obedient children, who respect and love His commandments.  TM 231-234.

A Consecrated Ministry

     In His life and lessons Christ has given a perfect exemplification of the unselfish ministry which has its origin in God. God does not live for Himself. By creating the world, and by upholding all things, He is constantly ministering to others. "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Matthew 5:45. This ideal of ministry the Father committed to His Son. Jesus was given to stand at the head of humanity, by His example to teach what it means to minister. His whole life was under a law of service. He served all, ministered to all.  

     Again and again Jesus tried to establish his principle among His disciples. When James and John made their request for pre-eminence, He said, "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." Matthew 20:26-28.  

     Since His ascension Christ has carried forward His work on the earth by chosen ambassadors, through whom He speaks to the children of men and ministers to their needs. The great Head of the church superintends His work through the instrumentality of men ordained by God to act as His representatives.  

     The position of those who have been called of God to labor in word and doctrine for the upbuilding of His church is one of grave responsibility. In Christ's stead they are to beseech men and women to be reconciled to God, and they can fulfill their mission only as they receive wisdom and power from above.  

     Christ's ministers are the spiritual guardians of the people entrusted to their care. Their work has been likened to that of watchmen. In ancient times sentinels were often stationed on the walls of cities, where, from points of vantage, they could overlook important posts to be guarded, and give warning of the approach of an enemy. Upon their faithfulness depended the safety of all within. At stated intervals they were required to call to one another, to make sure that all were awake and that no harm had befallen any. The cry of good cheer or of warning was borne from one to another, each repeating the call till it echoed round the city.  

     To every minister the Lord declares: "O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it, . . . thou hast delivered thy soul." Ezekiel 33:7-9.  

     The words of the prophet declare the solemn responsibility of those who are appointed as guardians of the church of God, stewards of the mysteries of God. They are to stand as watchmen on the walls of Zion, to sound the note of alarm at the approach of the enemy. Souls are in danger of falling under temptation, and they will perish unless God's ministers are faithful to their trust. If for any reason their spiritual senses become so benumbed that they are unable to discern danger, and through their failure to give warning the people perish, God will require at their hands the blood of those who are lost.  

     It is the privilege of the watchmen on the walls of Zion to live so near to God, and to be susceptible to the impressions of His Spirit, that He can work through them to tell men and women of their peril and point them to the place of safety. Faithfully are they to warn them of the sure result of transgression, and faithfully are they to safeguard the interests of the church. At no time may they relax their vigilance. Theirs is a work requiring the exercise of every faculty of the being. In trumpet tones their voices are to be lifted, and never are they to sound one wavering, uncertain note. Not for wages are they to labor, but because they cannot do otherwise, because they realize that there is a woe upon them if they fail to preach the gospel. Chosen of God, sealed with the blood of consecration, they are to rescue men and women from impending destruction.   

     The minister who is a co-worker with Christ will have a deep sense of the sacredness of his work and of the toil and sacrifice required to perform it successfully. He does not study his own ease or convenience. He is forgetful of self. In his search for the lost sheep he does not realize that he himself is weary, cold, and hungry. He has but one object in view--the saving of the lost.   

     He who serves under the bloodstained banner of Immanuel will have that to do which will call for heroic effort and patient endurance. But the soldier of the cross stands unshrinkingly in the forefront of the battle. As the enemy presses the attack against him, he turns to the stronghold for aid, and as he brings to the Lord the promises of the word, he is strengthened for the duties of the hour. He realizes his need of strength from above. The victories that he gains do not lead to self exaltation, but cause him to lean more and more heavily on the Mighty One. Relying upon that Power, he is enabled to present the message of salvation so forcibly that it vibrates in other minds. 

     He who teaches the word must himself live in conscious, hourly communion with God through prayer and a study of His word, for here is the source of strength. Communion with God will impart to the minister's efforts a power greater than the influence of his preaching. Of this power he must not allow himself to be deprived. With an earnestness that cannot be denied, he must plead with God to strengthen and fortify him for duty and trial, and to touch his lips with living fire. All too slight is the hold that Christ's ambassadors often have upon eternal realities. If men will walk with God, He will hide them in the cleft of the Rock. Thus hidden, they can see God, even as Moses saw Him. By the power and light that He imparts they can comprehend more and accomplish more than their finite judgment had deemed possible. 

     Satan's craft is most successfully used against those who are depressed. When discouragement threatens to overwhelm the minister, let him spread out before God his necessities. It was when the heavens were as brass over Paul that he trusted most fully in God. More than most men, he knew the meaning of affliction; but listen to his triumphant cry as, beset by temptation and conflict, his feet press heavenward: "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen." 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18. Paul's eyes were ever fastened on the unseen and eternal. Realizing that he was fighting against supernatural powers, he placed his dependence on God, and in this lay his strength. It is by seeing Him who is invisible that strength and vigor of soul are gained and the power of earth over mind and character is broken.

     A pastor should mingle freely with the people for whom he labors, that by becoming acquainted with them he may know how to adapt his teaching to their needs. When a minister has preached a sermon, his work has but just begun. There is personal work for him to do. He should visit the people in their homes, talking and praying with them in earnestness and humility. There are families who will never be reached by the truths of God's word unless the stewards of His grace enter their homes and point them to the higher way. But the hearts of those who do this work must throb in unison with the heart of Christ.  

     Much is comprehended in the command, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that My house may be filled." Luke 14:23. Let ministers teach the truth in families, drawing close to those for whom they labor, and as they thus co-operate with God, He will clothe them with spiritual power. Christ will guide them in their work, giving them words to speak that will sink deep into the hearts of the listeners. It is the privilege of every minister to be able to say with Paul, "I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." "I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, . . . repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Acts 20:27, 20, 21.

     The Saviour went from house to house, healing the sick, comforting the mourners, soothing the afflicted, speaking peace to the disconsolate. He took the little children in His arms and blessed them, and spoke words of hope and comfort to the weary mothers. With unfailing tenderness and gentleness He met every form of human woe and affliction. Not for Himself but for others did He labor. He was the servant of all. It was His meat and drink to bring hope and strength to all with whom He came in contact. And as                                                                            men and women listened to the truths that fell from His lips, so different from the traditions and dogmas taught by the rabbis, hope sprang up in their hearts. In His teaching there was an earnestness that sent His words home with convicting power. 

     God's ministers are to learn Christ's method of laboring, that they may bring from the storehouse of His word that which will supply the spiritual needs of those for whom they labor. Thus only can they fulfill their trust. The same Spirit that dwelt in Christ as He imparted the instruction He was constantly receiving, is to be the source of their knowledge and the secret of their power in carrying on the Saviour's work in the world. 

     Some who have labored in the ministry have failed of attaining success because they have not given their undivided interest to the Lord's work. Ministers should have no engrossing interests aside from the great work of leading souls to the Saviour. The fishermen whom Christ called, straightway left their nets and followed Him. Ministers cannot do acceptable work for God and at the same time carry the burden of large personal business enterprises. Such a division of interest dims their spiritual perception. The mind and heart are occupied with earthly things, and the service of Christ takes a second place. They seek to shape their work for God by their circumstances, instead of shaping circumstances to meet the demands of God.

     The energies of the minister are all needed for his high calling. His best powers belong to God. He should not engage in speculation or in any other business that would                                                                           turn him aside from his great work. "No man that warreth," Paul declared, "entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." 2 Timothy 2:4. Thus the apostle emphasized the minister's need of unreserved consecration to the Master's service. The minister who is wholly consecrated to God refuses to engage in business that would hinder him from giving himself fully to his sacred calling. He is not striving for earthly honor or riches; his one purpose is to tell others of the Saviour, who gave Himself to bring to human beings the riches of eternal life. His highest desire is not to lay up treasure in this world, but to bring to the attention of the indifferent and the disloyal the realities of eternity. He may be asked to engage in enterprises which promise large worldly gain, but to such temptations he returns the answer, "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Mark 8:36. 

     Satan presented this inducement to Christ, knowing that if He accepted it, the world would never be ransomed. And under different guises he presents the same temptation to God's ministers today, knowing that those who are beguiled by it will be false to their trust. 

     It is not God's will that His ministers should seek to be rich. Regarding this, Paul wrote to Timothy: "The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith,                                                                         love, patience, meekness." By example as well as by precept, the ambassador for Christ is to "charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life." 1 Timothy 6:10, 11, 17-19.

     The experiences of the apostle Paul and his instruction regarding the sacredness of the minister's work are a source of help and inspiration to those engaged in the gospel ministry. Paul's heart burned with a love for sinners, and he put all his energies into the work of soul winning. There never lived a more self-denying, persevering worker. The blessings he received he prized as so many advantages to be used in blessing others. He lost no opportunity of speaking of the Saviour or of helping those in trouble. From place to place he went, preaching the gospel of Christ and establishing churches. Wherever he could find a hearing, he sought to counteract wrong, and to turn the feet of men and women into the path of righteousness. 

     Paul did not forget the churches that he had established. After making a missionary tour, he and Barnabas retraced their steps and visited the churches they had raised up, choosing from them men whom they could train to unite in proclaiming the gospel.  

     This feature of Paul's work contains an important lesson for ministers today. The apostle made it a part of his work to educate young men for the office of the ministry. He took them with him on his missionary journeys, and thus they gained an experience that later enabled them to fill positions of responsibility. When separated from them, he still kept in touch with their work, and his letters to Timothy and to Titus are evidences of how deep was his desire for their success.  

     Experienced workers today do a noble work when, instead of trying to carry all the burdens themselves, they train younger workers and place burdens on their shoulders.  

     Paul never forgot the responsibility resting on him as a minister of Christ, or that if souls were lost through unfaithfulness on his part, God would hold him accountable. "Whereof I am made a minister," he declared of the gospel, "according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 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." Colossians 1:25-29. 

     These words present before the worker for Christ a high attainment, yet this attainment all can reach who, putting themselves under the control of the Great Teacher, learn                                                                          daily in the school of Christ. The power at God's command is limitless, and the minister who in his great need shuts himself in with the Lord may be assured that he will receive that which will be to his hearers a savor of life unto life. 

     Paul's writings show that the gospel minister should be an example of the truths that he teaches, "giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed." Of his own work he has left us a picture in his letter to the Corinthian believers: "In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich." 2 Corinthians 6:3, 4-10.  

     To Titus he wrote: "Young men likewise exhort to be sober-minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you." Titus 2:6-8.  

     There is nothing more precious in the sight of God than His ministers, who go forth into the waste places of the earth to sow the seeds of truth, looking forward to the                                                                            harvest. None but Christ can measure the solicitude of His servants as they seek for the lost. He imparts His Spirit to them, and by their efforts souls are led to turn from sin to righteousness.  

     God is calling for men who are willing to leave their farms, their business, if need be their families, to become missionaries for Him. And the call will be answered. In the past there have been men who, stirred by the love of Christ and the needs of the lost, have left the comforts of home and the society of friends, even that of wife and children, to go into foreign lands, among idolaters and savages, to proclaim the message of mercy. Many in the attempt have lost their lives, but others have been raised up to carry on the work. Thus step by step the cause of Christ has progressed, and the seed sown in sorrow has yielded a bountiful harvest. The knowledge of God has been widely extended and the banner of the cross planted in heathen lands.

     For the conversion of one sinner the minister should tax his resources to the utmost. The soul that God has created and Christ has redeemed is of great value because of the possibilities before it, the spiritual advantages that have been granted it, the capabilities that it may possess if vitalized by the word of God, and the immortality it may gain through the hope presented in the gospel. And if Christ left the ninety and nine that He might seek and save one lost sheep, can we be justified in doing less? Is not a neglect to work as Christ worked, to sacrifice as He sacrificed, a betrayal of sacred trusts, an insult to God?                                                                             

     The heart of the true minister is filled with an intense longing to save souls. Time and strength are spent, toilsome effort is not shunned; for others must hear the truths that brought to his own soul such gladness and peace and joy. The Spirit of Christ rests upon him. He watches for souls as one that must give an account. With his eyes fixed on the cross of Calvary, beholding the uplifted Saviour, relying on His grace, believing that He will be with him until the end, as his shield, his strength, his efficiency, he works for God. With invitations and pleadings, mingled with the assurances of God's love, he seeks to win souls to Jesus, and in heaven he is numbered among those who are "called, and chosen, and faithful." Revelation 17:14. Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 359-371.

We hope the brethren will prayerfully consider these inspired words and implement these instructions to further the progress of God’s work on earth.

Your brother in the blessed hope.

Davi Paes Silva.

President of the General Conference of 7th Day Adventist Reform Movement.

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