I was shown that if the youth at Battle Creek were true to their profession, they might exert a strong influence for good over their fellow youth. But a large share of the youth at Battle Creek need a Christian experience. They know not God by experimental knowledge. They have not individually a personal experience in the Christian life, and they must perish with the unbelieving unless they obtain this experience. The youth of this class follow inclination rather than duty. Some do not seek to be governed by principle. They do not agonize to enter in at the strait gate, trembling with fear lest they will not be able. They are confident, boastful, proud, disobedient, unthankful, and unholy. Just such a class as this lead souls in the broad road to ruin. If Christ is not in them, they cannot exemplify Him in their lives and characters.
The church at Battle Creek have had great light. As a people they have been peculiarly favored of God. They have not been left in ignorance in regard to the will of God concerning them. They might be far in advance of what they now are, if they had walked in the light. They are not that separate, peculiar, and holy people that their faith demands, and that God recognizes and acknowledges as children of the light. They are not as obedient and devotional as their exalted position and sacred obligation as children walking in the light require them to be. The most solemn message of mercy ever given to the world has been entrusted to them. The Lord has made that church the depositaries of His commandments in a sense that no other church is. God did not show them His special favor in trusting to them His sacred truth that they alone might be benefited by the light given, but that the light reflected upon them from heaven should shine forth to others and be reflected again to God by those who receive the truth glorifying Him. Many in Battle Creek will have a fearful account to give in the day of God for this sinful neglect of duty.
Many of those who profess to believe the truth in Battle Creek contradict their faith by their works. They are as unbelieving, and as far from fulfilling the requirements of God and from coming up to their profession of faith, as was the Jewish church at the time of Christ’s first advent. Should Christ make His appearance among them, reproving and rebuking selfishness, pride, and love of the friendship of the world, as He did at His first advent, but few would recognize Him as the Lord of glory. The picture He would present before them of their neglect of duty they would not receive, but would tell Him to His face: “You are entirely mistaken; we have done this good and great thing, and performed this and that wonderful work, and we are entitled to be highly exalted for our good works.”
The Jews did not go into darkness all at once. It was a gradual work, until they could not discern the gift of God in sending His Son. The church at Battle Creek have had superior advantages, and they will be judged by the light and privileges they have had. Their deficiencies, their unbelief, their hardness of heart, and their neglect to cherish and follow the light are not less than those of the favored Jews, who refused the blessings they might have accepted, and crucified the Son of God. The Jews are now an astonishment and reproach to the world.
The church at Battle Creek are like Capernaum, which Christ represents as being exalted unto heaven by the light and privileges that had been given them. If the light and privileges with which they had been blessed had been given to Sodom and Gomorrah, they might have stood unto this day. If the light and knowledge which the church in Battle Creek have received had been given the nations who sit in darkness, they might have been far in advance of that church.
The Laodicean church really believed, and enjoyed the blessings of the gospel, and thought they were rich in the favor of God, when the True Witness called them poor, naked, blind, and miserable. This is the case with the church at Battle Creek and with a large share of those who profess to be God’s commandment-keeping people. The Lord seeth not as man seeth. His thoughts and ways are not as our ways.
The words and law of God, written in the soul, and exhibited in a consecrated, holy life, have a powerful influence to convict the world. Covetousness, which is idolatry, and envy, and love of the world, will be rooted from the hearts of those who are obedient to Christ, and it will be their pleasure to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before God. Oh, how much is comprised in this, walking humbly before God! The law of God, if written in the heart, will bring the mind and will into subjection to the obedience of Christ.
Our faith is peculiar. Many who profess to be living under the sound of the last message of mercy are not separated in their affections from the world. They bow down before the friendship of the world and sacrifice light and principle to secure its favor. The apostle describes the favored people of God in these words: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Chapter 22—Missionary Work
December 10, 1871, I was shown that God would accomplish a great work through the truth if devoted, self-sacrificing men would give themselves unreservedly to the work of presenting it to those in darkness. Those who have a knowledge of the precious truth and who are consecrated to God should avail themselves of every opportunity where there is an opening to press in the truth. Angels of God are moving on the hearts and consciences of the people of other nations, and honest souls are troubled as they witness the signs of the times in the unsettled state of the nations. The inquiry arises in their hearts: What will be the end of all these things? While God and angels are at work to impress hearts, the servants of Christ seem to be asleep. But few are working in unison with the heavenly messengers. All men and women who are Christians in every sense of the word should be workers in the vineyard of the Lord. They should be wide-awake, zealously laboring for the salvation of their fellow men, and should imitate the example that the Saviour of the world has given them in His life of self-denial, sacrifice, and faithful, earnest labor.
There has been but little of the missionary spirit among Sabbathkeeping Adventists. If ministers and people were sufficiently aroused, they would not rest thus indifferently while God has honored them by making them the depositaries of His law by printing it in their minds and writing it upon their hearts. These truths of vital importance are to test the world; and yet in our own country there are cities, villages, and towns that have never heard the warning message. Young men who feel stirred by the appeals that have been made for help in this great work of advancing the cause of God make some advance moves, but do not get the burden of the work upon them sufficiently to accomplish what they might. They are willing to do a small work which does not require special effort. Therefore they do not learn to place their whole dependence upon God and by living faith draw from the great Fountain and Source of light and strength in order that their efforts may prove wholly successful.
Those who think that they have a work to do for the Master should not commence their efforts among the churches; they should go out into new fields and prove their gifts. In this way they can test themselves and settle the matter to their own satisfaction, whether God has indeed chosen them for this work. They will feel the necessity of studying the word of God and praying earnestly for heavenly wisdom and divine aid. By meeting with opponents who bring up objections to the important points of our faith, they will be brought where they will obtain a most valuable experience. They will feel their weakness and be driven to the word of God and to prayer. In this exercise of their gifts they will be learning and improving, and gaining confidence, courage, and faith, and will eventually have a valuable experience.
The Brethren H commenced right in this work. In their labor they did not go among the churches, but went out into new fields. They commenced humble. They were little in their own eyes and felt the necessity of their whole dependence being in God. These brothers, especially A H, are now in great danger of becoming self-sufficient. When he has discussed with opponents, the truth has obtained the victory, and he has begun to feel strong in himself. As soon as he gets above the simplicity of the work, his labors will not benefit the precious cause of God. He should not encourage a love for discussions, but should avoid them whenever he can. These contests with the powers of darkness in debate seldom result the best for the advancement of present truth.
If young men who commence to labor in this cause would have the missionary spirit, they would give evidence that God has indeed called them to the work. But when they do not go out into new places, but are content to go from church to church, they give evidence that the burden of the work is not upon them. The ideas of our young preachers are not broad enough. Their zeal is too feeble. Were the young men awake and devoted to the Lord, they would be diligent every moment of their time and would seek to qualify themselves to become laborers in the missionary field rather than to become combatants.
Young men should be qualifying themselves by becoming familiar with other languages, that God may use them as mediums to communicate His saving truth to those of other nations. These young men may obtain a knowledge of other languages even while engaged in laboring for sinners. If they are economical of their time they can be improving their minds and qualifying themselves for more extended usefulness. If young women who have borne but little responsibility would devote themselves to God, they could qualify themselves for usefulness by studying and becoming familiar with other languages. They could devote themselves to the work of translating.
Our publications should be printed in other languages, that foreign nations may be reached. Much can be done through the medium of the press, but still more can be accomplished if the influence of the labors of the living preacher goes with our publications. Missionaries are needed to go to other nations to preach the truth in a guarded, careful manner. The cause of present truth can be greatly extended by personal effort. The contact of individual mind with individual mind will do more to remove prejudice, if the labor is discreet, than our publications alone can do. Those who engage in this work should not consult their ease or inclination; neither should they have love for popularity or display.
When the churches see young men possessing zeal to qualify themselves to extend their labors to cities, villages, and towns that have never been aroused to the truth, and missionaries volunteering to go to other nations to carry the truth to them, the churches will be encouraged and strengthened far more than to themselves receive the labors of inexperienced young men. As they see their ministers’ hearts all aglow with love and zeal for the truth, and with a desire to save souls, the churches will arouse themselves. These generally have the gifts and power within themselves to bless and strengthen themselves, and to gather the sheep and lambs into the fold. They need to be thrown upon their own resources, that all the gifts that are lying dormant may thus be called into active service.
As churches are established, it should be set before them that it is even from among them that men must be taken to carry the truth to others and raise new churches; therefore they must all work, and cultivate to the utmost the talents that God has given them, and be training their minds to engage in the service of their Master. If these messengers are pure in heart and life, if their example is what it should be, their labors will be highly successful; for they have a most powerful truth, one that is clear and connected, and that has convincing arguments in its favor. They have God on their side and the angels of God to work with their efforts.
The reason there has been so little accomplished by those who preach the truth is not wholly because the truth they bear is unpopular, but because the men who bear the message are not sanctified by the truths they preach. The Saviour withdraws His smiles, and the inspiration of His Spirit is not upon them. The presence and power of God to convict the sinner and cleanse from all unrighteousness is not manifest. Sudden destruction is right upon the people, and yet they are not fearfully alarmed. Unconsecrated ministers make the work very hard for those who follow after them and who have the burden and spirit of the work upon them.
The Lord has moved upon men of other tongues and has brought them under the influence of the truth, that they might be qualified to labor in His cause. He has brought them within reach of the office of publication, that its managers might avail themselves of their services if they were awake to the wants of the cause. Publications are needed in other languages to raise an interest and the spirit of inquiry among other nations.
In a most remarkable manner the Lord wrought upon the heart of Marcus Lichtenstein and directed the course of this young man to Battle Creek, that he might there be brought under the influence of the truth and be converted; that he might obtain an experience and be united to the office of publication. His education in the Jewish religion would have qualified him to prepare publications. His knowledge of Hebrew would have been a help to the office in the preparation of publications through which access could be gained to a class that otherwise could not be reached. It was no inferior gift that God gave to the office in Marcus. His deportment and conscientiousness were in accordance with the principles of the wonderful truths he was beginning to see and appreciate.
But the influence of some in the office grieved and discouraged Marcus. Those young men who did not esteem him as he deserved, and whose Christian life was a contradiction to their profession, were the means that Satan used to separate from the office the gift which God had given to it. He went away perplexed, grieved, discouraged. Those who had had years of experience, and who should have had the love of Christ in their hearts, were so far separated from God by selfishness, pride, and their own folly that they could not discern the special work of God in connecting Marcus with the office.
If those who are connected with the office had been awake and not spiritually paralyzed, Brother I would long ago have been connected with the office and might now be prepared to do a good work which much needs to be done. He should have been engaged in teaching young men and women, that they might now be qualified to become workers in missionary fields.
Those engaged in the work have been about two thirds dead because of yielding to wrong influences. They have been where God could not impress them by His Holy Spirit. And, oh, how my heart aches as I see that so much time has passed, and that the great work that might have been done is left undone because those in important positions have not walked in the light! Satan has stood prepared to sympathize with the men in holy office and to tell them that God does not require of them as much zeal and unselfish, devoted interest as Brother White expects; and they settle down carelessly in Satan’s easy chair, and the ever-vigilant, persevering foe binds them in chains of darkness while they think that they are all right. Satan works on their right hand and on their left, and all around them; and they know it not. They call darkness light, and light darkness.
If those in the office of publication are indeed engaged in the sacred work of giving the last solemn message of warning to the world, how careful should they be to carry out in their lives the principles of the truth they are handling. They should have pure hearts and clean hands.
Our people connected with the office have not been awake to improve the privileges within their reach and to secure all the talent and influence that God has provided for them. With nearly all connected with the office there is a very great failure to realize the importance and sacredness of the work. Pride and selfishness exist to a very great degree, and angels of God are not attracted to the office as they would be if hearts there were pure and in communion with God. Those laboring in the office have not had a vivid sense that the truths that they were handling were of heavenly origin, designed to accomplish a certain and special work, as did the preaching of Noah before the Flood. As the preaching of Noah warned, tested, and proved the inhabitants of the world before the flood of waters destroyed them from off the face of the earth, so the truth of God for these last days is doing a similar work of warning, testing, and proving the world. The publications which go forth from the office bear the signet of the Eternal. They are being scattered all through the land and are deciding the destiny of souls. Men are now greatly needed who can translate and prepare our publications in other languages so that the message of warning may go to all nations and test them by the light of the truth, that men and women, as they see the light, may turn from transgression to obedience of the law of God.
Every opportunity should be improved to extend the truth to other nations. This will be attended with considerable expense, but expense should in no case hinder the performance of this work. Means are of value only as they are used to advance the interest of the kingdom of God. The Lord has lent men means for this very purpose, to use in sending the truth to their fellow men. There is a great amount of surplus means in the ranks of Seventh-day Adventists. And the selfish withholding of it from the cause of God is blinding their eyes to the importance of the work of God, making it impossible for them to discern the solemnity of the times in which we live, or the value of eternal riches. They do not view Calvary in the right light, and therefore cannot appreciate the worth of the soul for which Christ paid such an infinite price.
Men will invest means in that which they value the most and which they think will bring them the greatest profits. When men will run great risks and invest much in worldly enterprises, but are unwilling to venture or invest much in the cause of God to send the truth to their fellow men, they evidence that they value their earthly treasure just as much more highly than the heavenly as their works show.
If men would lay their earthly treasure upon the altar of God, and would work as zealously to secure the heavenly treasure as they did to gain the earthly, they would invest means cheerfully and gladly wherever they could see an opportunity to do good and aid the cause of their Master. Christ has given them unmistakable evidence of His love and fidelity to them, and has entrusted them with means to test and prove their fidelity to Him. He left heaven, His riches and glory, and for their sakes became poor, that they through His poverty might be made rich. After thus condescending to save man, Christ requires no less of him than that he should deny himself and use the means He has lent him in saving his fellow men, and by so doing give evidence of his love for his Redeemer and show that he values the salvation brought to him by such an infinite sacrifice.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3 pp. 199-208