In order to gain riches they accumulate burdens and cares until their minds are almost wholly engrossed with them. They are eager for gains and always anxious for fear of losses. The more money and lands they possess the more eager are they for more. “They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.” They are surfeited with the cares of this life, which affect them as strong drink does the drunkard. They are so blinded by selfishness that they work night and day to secure perishable treasures. Their eternal interests are neglected; they have no time to attend to these things. The great matters of truth are not kept in mind, as is evidenced by their words, their plans, and their course of action. What if souls around them perish in their sins? This is not of so much consequence to them as their earthly treasures. Let souls for whom Christ died sink to ruin; they have no time to save them. In laying plans for earthly gain they show skill and talent; but these precious qualities are not devoted to winning souls to Christ, to the upbuilding of the Redeemer’s kingdom. Are not the senses of such persons perverted? Are they not drunken with the intoxicating cup of worldliness? Is not reason laid aside, and have not selfish aims and purposes be come the ruling power? The work of preparing themselves to stand in the day of the Lord, and employing their God-given abilities in helping to prepare a people for that day, is considered too tame and unsatisfying.
The Saviour of the world has presented a most profitable business in which rich and poor, learned and unlearned, may engage. All may safely lay up for themselves “a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.” This is investing their powers on the right side. It is putting out their talents to the exchangers.
Jesus illustrated His teaching by the case of a substantial farmer whom the Lord had greatly favored. The Lord had blessed his grounds, causing them to produce plentifully, thus placing it in his power to exercise liberality to others not so greatly blessed. But when he found that his grounds had
produced so abundantly, far beyond his expectation, instead of planning how to relieve the poor in their necessities, he began to devise means to secure all to himself. As he saw the gifts of heaven rolling into his garners he poured not out his soul in thanksgiving to the bounteous Giver, neither did he consider that this great blessing had brought additional responsibility. In the pure selfishness of his nature he inquires: “What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?” Taking counsel with his own covetous heart, he said: “This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” The means of real enjoyment and elevation of soul are activity, self-control, holy purposes; but all that this man proposed to do with the bounties God had given him was to degrade the soul. And what was the result? “God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
This poor rich man possessed great earthly treasure, but was destitute of the true riches. How many today are under condemnation for a similar reason. Streams of salvation are poured in upon us from the throne of God. Temporal blessings are given, but they are not improved to bless humanity or to glorify God. The Lord is our gracious benefactor. He has brought light and immortality to light through Jesus Christ. Yes, through Jesus all our blessings come. Oh, that every tongue would acknowledge the great Giver! Let every voice, in clear and joyful strains, proclaim the glad tidings that through Jesus the future, immortal life is opened to us; and invitations are given for all to accept this great boon. All the treasures of heaven are brought within our reach, waiting our demand. Can we be surprised that this poor rich man was called a fool because he turned away from eternal riches, the priceless gift of immortal life, the eternal weight
of glory, and was satisfied with perishable, earthly treasures?
God tests men, some in one way, and some in another. He tests some by bestowing upon them His rich bounties, and others by withholding His favors. He proves the rich to see if they will love God, the Giver, and their neighbor as themselves. When man makes a right use of these bounties, God is pleased; He can then trust him with greater responsibilities. The Lord reveals man’s relative estimate of time and eternity, of earth and heaven. He has admonished us: “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” They have a value when used for the good of others and the glory of God; but no earthly treasure is to be your portion, your god, or your savior.
My brethren, the world will never believe that you are in earnest in your faith until you have less to say about temporal things and more about the realities of the eternal world. The Lord is coming, but many who profess the faith do not realize that that event is nigh. They cannot fasten their faith upon the revealed purposes of God. With some, the passion for money-making has become all-absorbing, and earthly riches have eclipsed the heavenly treasure. Eternal things have faded from the mind as of minor consequence, while worldliness has come in like a flood. The great question is: How can I make money? Men are alive to every hope of gain. They try a thousand plans and devices, among them various inventions and patent rights. Some dig in the earth for the precious metals, others deal in bank stock, still others till the soil; but all have the one object in view of making money. They become bewildered and even insane in the pursuit of wealth, yet they refuse to see the advantage of securing an immortal inheritance.
When Christ was on earth, He was brought in contact with some whose imaginations were fevered with the hope of worldly gain. They were never at rest, but were constantly trying something new, and their extravagant expectations were aroused only to be disappointed. Jesus knew the wants of the human heart, which are the same in all ages; and He
called their attention to the only permanent riches. “The kingdom of heaven,” said He, “is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy there-of goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” He tells men of treasure beyond estimate, which is within the reach of all. He came to earth to guide their minds in their search for this treasure. The way is marked out; the very poorest who will follow Him will be made richer than the most wealthy upon earth who know not Jesus, and they will be made increasingly rich by sharing their happiness with others.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Those who do this will meet with no loss. The treasure laid up in heaven is secure; and it is put to our account, for Jesus said: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Men may sow here, but they reap in eternity.
It is this eternal treasure that ministers of Christ are to present wherever they may go. They are to urge the people to become wise unto salvation. They are not to allow world-loving, timeserving professed believers to influence their course and weaken their faith. It is not their mission to help individuals or churches to contrive how they can save money by narrow plans and circumscribed efforts in the cause of God. Instead of this they are to teach men how to work disinterestedly and thus become rich toward God. They should educate minds to place the right estimate on eternal things and to make the kingdom of heaven first.
Calebs are wanted in these two fields. There must be in these conferences, not children, but men who will move understandingly and bear burdens, letting their voice be heard above the voices of the unfaithful, who present objections, doubts, and criticism. Great interests are not to be managed by children. An undeveloped Christian, dwarfed in religious growth, destitute of wisdom from above, is unprepared to
meet the fierce conflicts through which the church is often called to pass. “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night.” Unless the minister shall fearlessly declare the whole truth, unless he shall have an eye single to the glory of God and shall work under the direction of the great Captain of his salvation, unless he shall move to the front, irrespective of censure and uncontaminated by applause, he will be accounted an unfaithful watchman.
There are some in —– who ought to be men instead of boys and heavenly minded instead of earthly and sensual; but their spiritual vision has become obscured; the Saviour’s great love has not ravished their souls. He has many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. You are children in growth and cannot comprehend the mysteries of God. When God raises up men to do His work, they are false to their trust if they allow their testimony to be shaped to please the minds of the unconsecrated. He will prepare men for the times. They will be humble, God-fearing men, not conservative, not policy men; but men who have moral independence and will move forward in the fear of the Lord. They will be kind, noble, courteous; yet they will not be swayed from the right path, but will proclaim the truth in righteousness whether men will hear or whether they will forbear.
Chap. 28 – Christian Growth
I have been shown that those who have a knowledge of the truth, and yet allow all their powers to be absorbed in worldly interests, are unfaithful. They are not, by their good works, letting the light of truth shine to others. Nearly all their ability is devoted to becoming sharp, skillful men of the world. They forget that their talents were given them of God to be used in advancing His cause. If they were faithful to their duty, the result would be great gain of souls to the Master, but many are lost through their neglect. God calls upon those who know His will to be doers of
His word. Weakness, halfheartedness, and indecision provoke the assaults of Satan; and those who permit these traits to grow will be borne helplessly down by the surging waves of temptation. Everyone who professes the name of Christ is required to grow up to the full stature of Christ, the Christian’s living head.
We all need a guide through the many strait places in life as much as the sailor needs a pilot over the sandy bar or up the rocky river, and where is this guide to be found? We point you, dear brethren, to the Bible. Inspired of God, written by holy men, it points out with great clearness and precision the duties of both old and young. It elevates the mind, softens the heart, and imparts gladness and holy joy to the spirit. The Bible presents a perfect standard of character; it is an infallible guide under all circumstances, even to the end of the journey of life. Take it as the man of your counsel, the rule of your daily life.
Every means of grace should be diligently improved that the love of God may abound in the soul more and more, “that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ; being filled with the fruits of righteousness.” Your Christian life must take on vigorous and stalwart forms. You can attain to the high standard set before you in the Scriptures, and you must if you would be children of God. You cannot stand still; you must either advance or retrograde. You must have spiritual knowledge, that you “may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ,” that you may “be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Many who have an intelligent knowledge of the truth, and are able to defend it by arguments, are doing nothing for the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom. We meet them from time to time, but they bear no fresh testimonies of personal experience in the Christian life; they relate no new victories gained in the holy warfare. Instead of this you notice the same old routine, the same expressions in prayer and exhortation.
Their prayers have no new note; they express no greater intelligence in the things of God, no more earnest, living faith. Such persons are not living plants in the garden of the Lord, sending forth fresh shoots and new foliage, and the grateful fragrance of a holy life. They are not growing Christians. They have limited views and plans, and there is no expansion of mind, no valuable additions to the treasures of Christian knowledge. Their powers have not been taxed in this direction. They have not learned to view men and things as God views them, and in many cases unsanctified sympathy has injured souls and greatly crippled the cause of God. The spiritual stagnation that prevails is terrible. Many lead a formal Christian life and claim that their sins have been forgiven, when they are as destitute of any real knowledge of Christ as is the sinner.
Brethren, will you have a stinted Christian growth, or will you make healthy progress in the divine life? Where there is spiritual health there is growth. The child of God grows up to the full stature of a man or woman in Christ. There is no limit to his improvement. When the love of God is a living principle in the soul, there are no narrow, confined views; there is love and faithfulness in warnings and reproofs; there is earnest work and a disposition to bear burdens and take responsibilities.
Some are not willing to do self-denying work. They show real impatience when urged to take some responsibility. “What need is there,” say they, of an increase of knowledge and experience? This explains it all. They feel that they are “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” while heaven pronounces them poor, miserable, blind, and naked. To these the True Witness says: “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Your very self-complacency shows you to be in need of everything. You are spiritually sick and need Jesus as your physician.
In the Scriptures thousands of gems of truth lie hidden from the surface seeker. The mine of truth is never exhausted. The more you search the Scriptures with humble hearts, the greater will be your interest, and the more you will feel like exclaiming with Paul: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!” Every day you should learn something new from the Scriptures. Search them as for hid treasures, for they contain the words of eternal life. Pray for wisdom and understanding to comprehend these holy writings. If you would do this you would find new glories in the word of God; you would feel that you had received new and precious light on subjects connected with the truth, and the Scriptures would be constantly receiving a new value in your estimation.
“The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly.” Jesus says: “Behold, I come quickly.” We should keep these words ever in mind, and act as though we do indeed believe that the coming of the Lord is nigh, and that we are pilgrims and strangers upon the earth. The vital energies of the church of God must be brought into active exercise for the great object of self-renovation; every member must be an active agent for God. “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” This is a particular work, which must be carried forward in all harmony, in unity of Spirit, and in the bonds of peace. No place should be given to criticisms, doubts, and unbelief.
The Upper Columbia and North Pacific Conferences [SEE FOOTNOTE ON PAGE 249.] years behind. Some who ought to be strong and established in Christ are as babes in understanding and experimental
knowledge of the workings of the Spirit of God. After years of experience they are able to comprehend only the first principles of that grand system of faith and doctrine that constitutes the Christian religion. They do not comprehend that perfection of character which will receive the commendation: “Well done.”
Brethren, your duty, happiness, future usefulness, and final salvation call upon you to sever the tendrils of your affections from everything earthly and corruptible. There is an unsanctified sympathy that partakes of the nature of lovesick sentimentalism and is earthly, sensual. It will require no feeble effort for some of you to overcome this and change the course of your life, for you have not placed yourselves in connection with the Strength of Israel and have become enfeebled in all your faculties. Now you are loudly called upon to be diligent in the use of every means of grace, that you may be transformed in character and may grow to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus.
We have great victories to gain, and a heaven to lose if we do not gain them. The carnal heart must be crucified; for its tendency is to moral corruption, and the end thereof is death. Nothing but the life-giving influences of the gospel can help the soul. Pray that the mighty energies of the Holy Spirit, with all their quickening, recuperative, and transforming power, may fall like an electric shock on the palsy-stricken soul, causing every nerve to thrill with new life, restoring the whole man from his dead, earthly, sensual state to spiritual soundness. You will thus become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust; and in your souls will be reflected the image of Him by whose stripes you are healed.
Tithes and Offerings
The Lord requires that we return to Him in tithes and offerings a portion of the goods He has lent us. He accepts these offerings as an act of humble obedience on our part and
a grateful acknowledgment of our indebtedness to Him for all the blessings we enjoy. Then let us offer willingly, saying with David: “All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee.” Withholding more than is meet tends to poverty. God will bear long with some, He will test and prove all; but His curse will surely follow the selfish, world-loving professor of truth. God knows the heart; every thought and every purpose is open to His eye. He says: “Them that honor Me I will honor, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.” He knows whom to bless and who are deserving of His curse. He makes no mistakes, for angels are keeping a record of all our works and words.
When the people of God were about to build the sanctuary in the wilderness, extensive preparations were necessary. Costly materials were collected, and among them was much gold and silver. As the rightful owner of all their treasures, the Lord called for these offerings from the people; but He accepted only those that were given freely. The people offered willingly, until word was brought to Moses: “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make.” And the proclamation was made to all the congregation: “Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.”
Had some men of limited ideas been on the ground they would have opened their eyes in horror. Like Judas they would have asked: “To what purpose is this waste?” “Why not make everything in the cheapest manner?” But the sanctuary was not designed to honor man, but the God of heaven. He had given specific directions how everything was to be done. The people were to be taught that He was a being of greatness and majesty, and that He was to be worshiped with reverence and awe.
The house where God is worshiped should be in accordance with His character and majesty. There are small
churches that ever will be small because they place their own interests above the interests of God’s cause.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5 pp. 259-268