“Turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. Who knoweth if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him?” Verses 12-14.
After Israel’s apostasy and bitter retribution, God’s message of grace for the repentant people was: “Behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” Hosea 2:14, 15.
“And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call Me my husband; and shalt call Me no more my lord…. And I will betroth thee unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord.” Verses 16-20, margin.
“And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and My people shall never be ashamed.” Joel 2:27.
Warning, admonition, promise, all are for us, upon whom the ends of the world are come. “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6.
“Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.” Luke 21:34.
“Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.” Mark 14:38. Watch against the stealthy approach of the enemy, watch against old habits and natural inclinations, lest they assert themselves; force them back, and watch. Watch the thoughts, watch the plans, lest they become self-centered. Watch over the souls whom Christ has purchased with His own blood. Watch for opportunities to do them good.
Watch, “lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.” Mark 13:36.
Section 7—Calls to Service
“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”
Chapter 52—Young Men in the Ministry
There must be no belittling of the gospel ministry. No enterprise should be so conducted as to cause the ministry of the word to be looked upon as an inferior matter. It is not so. Those who belittle the ministry are belittling Christ. The highest of all work is ministry in its various lines, and it should be kept before the youth that there is no work more blessed of God than that of the gospel minister.
Let not our young men be deterred from entering the ministry. There is danger that through glowing representations some will be drawn away from the path where God bids them walk. Some have been encouraged to take a course of study in medical lines who ought to be preparing themselves to enter the ministry. The Lord calls for more ministers to labor in His vineyard. The words were spoken: “Strengthen the outposts; have faithful sentinels in every part of the world.” God calls for you, young men. He calls for whole armies of young men who are largehearted and large-minded, and who have a deep love for Christ and the truth.
The measure of capacity or learning is of far less consequence than is the spirit with which you engage in the work. It is not great and learned men that the ministry needs; it is not eloquent sermonizers. God calls for men who will give themselves to Him to be imbued with His Spirit. The cause of Christ and humanity demands sanctified, self-sacrificing men, those who can go forth without the camp, bearing the reproach. Let them be strong, valiant men, fit for worthy enterprises, and let them make a covenant with God by sacrifice.
The ministry is no place for idlers. God’s servants are to make full proof of their ministry. They will not be sluggards, but as expositors of His word they will put forth their utmost energies to be faithful. They should never cease to be learners. They are to keep their own souls alive to the sacredness of the work and to the great responsibilities of their calling, that they may at no time or place bring to God a maimed sacrifice, an offering which has cost them neither study nor prayer. The Lord has need of men of intense spiritual life. Every worker may receive an endowment of strength from on high, and may go forward with faith and hope in the path where God bids him walk. The word of God abides in the young, consecrated laborer. He is quick, earnest, powerful, having in the counsel of God an unfailing source of supply.
God has called this people to give to the world the message of Christ’s soon coming. We are to give to men the last call to the gospel feast, the last invitation to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Thousands of places that have not heard the call are yet to hear it. Many who have not given the message are yet to proclaim it. Again I appeal to our young men: Has not God called upon you to sound this message?
How many of our young men will enter the service of God, not to be served, but to serve? In times past there were those who fastened their minds upon one soul after another, saying: “Lord, help me to save this soul.” But now such instances are rare. How many act as if they realized the peril of sinners? How many take those whom they know to be in peril, presenting them to God in prayer and supplicating Him to save them?
The apostle Paul could say of the early church: “They glorified God in me.” Galatians 1:24. Shall we not strive to live so that the same words can be said of us? The Lord will provide ways and means for those who will seek Him with the whole heart. He desires us to acknowledge the divine superintendence shown in preparing fields of labor and preparing the way for these fields to be occupied successfully.
Let ministers and evangelists have more seasons of earnest prayer with those who are convicted by the truth. Remember that Christ is always with you. The Lord has in readiness the most precious exhibitions of His grace to strengthen and encourage the sincere, humble worker. Then reflect to others the light which God has caused to shine upon you. Those who do this bring to the Lord the most precious offering. The hearts of those who bear the good tidings of salvation are aglow with the spirit of praise.
“These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand.” Revelation 2:1.
The sweet influences that are to be abundant in the church are bound up with God’s ministers, who are to represent the precious love of Christ. The stars of heaven are under the control of Christ. He fills them with light. He directs their movements. If He did not do this, they would become fallen stars. So with His ministers. They are but instruments in His hand, and all the good they accomplish is done through His power. Through them His light is to shine forth. It is to the honor of Christ that He makes His ministers greater blessings to the church, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, than are the stars to the world. The Saviour is to be their sufficiency. If they will look to Him as He looked to His Father, they will do His works. As they make God their dependence, He will give them His brightness to reflect to the world.
Let those who are as stars in the hand of Christ remember that they are ever to preserve a sacred, holy dignity. They are Christ’s representatives. Simplicity in Christ is the pure, sacred dignity of the truth.
God’s servants are to preach His word to the people. Under the Holy Spirit’s working they will come into order as stars in the hand of Christ, to shine forth with His brightness. Let those who claim to be Christ’s ministers arise and shine; for their light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon them. Let them understand that Christ expects them to do the same work as He has done. Let them leave the churches that know the truth, and go forth to establish new churches, to present the word of truth to those who are in ignorance of God’s warning message.
The number of workers in the ministry is not to be lessened, but greatly increased. Where there is now one minister in the field, twenty are to be added; and if the Spirit of God controls them, these twenty will so present the truth that twenty more will be added.
Christ’s dignity and officework are in imposing such conditions as He pleases. His followers are to become more and more a power in the proclamation of the truth as they draw nearer to the perfection of faith and of love for their brethren. God has provided divine assistance for all emergencies to which our human resources are unequal. He gives the Holy Spirit to help in every strait, to strengthen our hope and assurance, to illuminate our minds and purify our hearts. He means that sufficient facilities shall be provided for the working out of his plans. I bid you seek counsel from God. Seek Him with the whole heart, and “whatsoever He saith unto you, do.” John 2:5.
The Lord has not called young men to work among the churches. They are not called to speak to an audience that does not need their immature labors, that is well aware of the fact, and feels, under their ministration, no drawing of the Spirit. Let young men of ability connect with experienced laborers in the great harvest field. Very many will succeed best by beginning with the canvassing work and improving the opportunities afforded them for gospel ministry.
But let none become shadows of some other man. Let them not become mere machines, to grind out certain subjects by human dictation. No sermon is to be planned out for them to preach where they go. Let them seek to be taught by God through the Holy Spirit. Let them seek help through prayer and the diligent study of God’s word. If they do this, He who calls them to labor in the gospel will make it evident that they are chosen vessels. He will give them words to speak to the people.
Their first duty is to learn lessons in various lines from the Great Teacher. There is one aim set before all in the word of God—to be like Him who “went about doing good.”
“If any man serve Me,” Christ says, “let him follow Me.” John 12:26. By studying the life of Christ let the workers learn how He lived and worked. Let them strive each day to live His life.
Follow on, young men, to know the Lord, and you will know that “His going forth is prepared as the morning.” Hosea 6:3. Seek constantly to improve. Strive earnestly for identity with the Redeemer. Live by faith in Christ. Do the work He did. Live for the saving of the souls for whom He laid down His life. Try in every way to help those with whom you come in contact. Strive continually to improve. Let your life fulfill the words: “Thou through Thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies.” Psalm 119:98. Talk with your Elder Brother, who will complete your education, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. A close connection with Him who offered Himself as a sacrifice to save a perishing world will make you acceptable workers. When you can lay your hand on truth and appropriate it, when you can say, “My Lord and my God,” grace and peace and joy in rich measure will be yours.
Open new fields, is the word from the Lord, and add to your workers. Educate young men to labor, and tarry not. Educate, educate, educate.
“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” John 4:35, 36.
Chapter 53—The Church and the Ministry
It is high time that the members of our churches made decided efforts to sustain the men who are giving the last message of mercy to the world. Let church members, by a manifestation of practical religion, give weight to the message of warning which is being borne to the world by God’s messengers. Intelligent people are alarmed at the outlook in the world. If those who have a knowledge of the truth will practice Bible principles, showing that they have been sanctified by the truth, that they are true followers of the meek and lowly Saviour, they will exert an influence that will win souls to Christ.
Anything less than active, earnest service for the Master gives the lie to our profession of faith. Only the Christianity that is revealed by earnest, practical work will make an impression upon those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Praying, humble, believing Christians, those who show by their actions that their greatest desire is to make known the saving truth which is to test all people, will gather a rich harvest of souls for the Master.
We need to break up the monotony of our religious labor. We are doing a work in the world, but we are not showing sufficient activity and zeal. If we were more in earnest, men would be convinced of the truth of our message. The tameness and monotony of our service for God repels many souls of a higher class, who need to see a deep, earnest, sanctified zeal. Legal religion will not answer for this age. We may perform all the outward acts of service and yet be as destitute of the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. We all need spiritual moisture, and we need also the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to soften and subdue our hearts. We are always to be as firm as a rock to principle. Bible principles are to be taught and then backed up by holy practice.
Those in the service of God must show animation and determination in the work of winning souls. Remember that there are those who will perish unless we as God’s instrumentalities work with a determination that will not fail nor become discouraged. The throne of grace is to be our continual dependence.
There is no excuse for the faith of our churches to be so faint and feeble. “Turn you to the Stronghold, ye prisoners of hope.” Zechariah 9:12. There is strength for us in Christ. He is our Advocate before the Father. He dispatches His messengers to every part of His dominion to communicate His will to His people. He walks in the midst of His churches. He desires to sanctify, elevate, and ennoble His followers. The influence of those who truly believe in Him will be a savor of life in the world. He holds the stars in His right hand, and it is His purpose to let His light shine through these to the world. Thus He desires to prepare His people for higher service in the church above. He has given us a great work to do. Let us do it with accuracy and determination. Let us show in our lives what the truth has done for us.
“Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” Revelation 2:1. This scripture shows Christ’s relation to the churches. He walks in the midst of His churches throughout the length and breadth of the earth. He watches them with intense interest to see whether they are in such a condition spiritually that they can advance His kingdom. Christ is present in every assembly of the church. He is acquainted with everyone connected with His service. He knows those whose hearts He can fill with the holy oil, that they may impart it to others. Those who faithfully carry forward the work of Christ in our world, representing in word and works the character of God, fulfilling the Lord’s purpose for them, are in His sight very precious. Christ takes pleasure in them as a man takes pleasure in a well-kept garden and the fragrance of the flowers he has planted.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6 pp. 409-418