The greatest help that can be given our people is to teach them to work for God, and to depend on Him, not on the ministers. Let them learn to work as Christ worked. Let them join His army of workers and do faithful service for Him.
There are times when it is fitting for our ministers to give on the Sabbath, in our churches, short discourses, full of the life and love of Christ. But the church members are not to expect a sermon every Sabbath.
Let us remember that we are pilgrims and strangers on this earth, seeking a better country, even a heavenly. Let us work with such earnestness, such devotion, that sinners will be drawn to Christ. Those who have united with the Lord in the covenant of service are under bonds to unite with Him in the great, grand work of soul saving. Let church members, during the week, act their part faithfully, and on the Sabbath relate their experience. The meeting will then be as meat in due season, bringing to all present new life and fresh vigor. When God’s people see the great need of working as Christ worked for the conversion of sinners, the testimonies borne by them in the Sabbath service will be filled with power. With joy they will tell of the precious experience they have gained in working for others.
Our ministers are not to spend their time laboring for those who have already accepted the truth. With Christ’s love burning in their hearts, they are to go forth to win sinners to the Saviour. Beside all waters they are to sow the seeds of truth. Place after place is to be visited; church after church is to be raised up. Those who take their stand for the truth are to be organized into churches, and then the minister is to pass on to other equally important fields.
Just as soon as a church is organized, let the minister set the members at work. They will need to be taught how to labor successfully. Let the minister devote more of his time to educating than to preaching. Let him teach the people how to give to others the knowledge they have received. While the new converts should be taught to ask counsel from those more experienced in the work, they should also be taught not to put the minister in the place of God. Ministers are but human beings, men compassed with infirmities. Christ is the One to whom we are to look for guidance. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, … full of grace and truth.” “And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” John 1:14, 16.
The power of the gospel is to come upon the companies raised up, fitting them for service. Some of the new converts will be so filled with the power of God that they will at once enter the work. They will labor so diligently that they will have neither time nor disposition to weaken the hands of their brethren by unkind criticism. Their one desire will be to carry the truth to the regions beyond.
The Lord has presented before me the work that must be done in our cities. The believers in these cities can work for God in the neighborhood of their homes. They are to labor quietly and in humility, carrying with them wherever they go the atmosphere of heaven. If they keep self out of sight, pointing always to Christ, the power of their influence will be felt.
As a worker gives himself unreservedly to the service of the Lord, he gains an experience that enables him to labor more and more successfully for the Master. The influence that drew him to Christ helps him to draw others to Christ. The work of a public speaker may never be laid upon him, but he is nonetheless a minister for God, and his work testifies that he is born of God.
It is not the Lord’s purpose that ministers should be left to do the greatest part of the work of sowing the seeds of truth. Men who are not called to the ministry are to be encouraged to labor for the Master according to their several ability. Hundreds of men and women now idle could do acceptable service. By carrying the truth into the homes of their friends and neighbors, they could do a great work for the Master. God is no respecter of persons. He will use humble, devoted Christians, even if they have not received so thorough an education as some others. Let such ones engage in service for Him by doing house-to-house work. Sitting by the fireside, they can—if humble, discreet, and godly—do more to meet the real needs of families than could an ordained minister.
Why do not believers feel a deeper, more earnest concern for those who are out of Christ? Why do not two or three meet together and plead with God for the salvation of some special one, and then for still another? 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.
The formation of small companies as a basis of Christian effort has been presented to me by One who cannot err. 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. Let them keep their bond of union unbroken, pressing together in love and unity, encouraging one another to advance, each gaining courage and strength from the assistance of the others. Let them reveal Christlike forbearance and patience, speaking no hasty words, using the talent of speech to build one another up in the most holy faith. Let them labor in Christlike love for those outside the fold, forgetting self in their endeavor to help others. As they work and pray in Christ’s name, their numbers will increase; for the Saviour says: “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 18:19.
The Waste Places of the Earth
In humble dependence upon God, families are to settle in the waste places of His vineyard. Consecrated men and women are needed to stand as fruit-bearing trees of righteousness in the desert places of the earth. As the reward of their self-sacrificing efforts to sow the seeds of truth, they will reap a rich harvest. As they visit family after family, opening the Scriptures to those in spiritual darkness, many hearts will be touched.
In fields where the conditions are so objectionable and disheartening that many workers refuse to go to them, most remarkable changes for the better may be brought about by the efforts of self-sacrificing lay members. These humble workers will accomplish much because they put forth patient, persevering effort, not relying upon human power, but upon God, who gives them His favor. The amount of good that these workers accomplish will never be known in this world.
Self-supporting missionaries are often very successful. Beginning in a small, humble way, their work enlarges as they move forward under the guidance of the Spirit of God. Let two or more start out together in evangelistic work. They may not receive any particular encouragement from those at the head of the work that they will be given financial support; nevertheless let them go forward, praying, singing, teaching, living the truth. They may take up the work of canvassing, and in this way introduce the truth into many families. As they move forward in their work they gain a blessed experience. They are humbled by a sense of their helplessness, but the Lord goes before them, and among the wealthy and the poor they find favor and help. Even the poverty of these devoted missionaries is a means of finding access to the people. As they pass on their way they are helped in many ways by those to whom they bring spiritual food. They bear the message God gives them, and their efforts are crowned with success. Many will be brought to a knowledge of the truth who, but for these humble teachers, would never have been won to Christ.
God calls for workers to enter the whitening harvest field. Shall we wait because the treasury is exhausted, because there is scarcely sufficient to sustain the workers now in the field? Go forth in faith, and God will be with you. The promise is: “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:6.
Nothing is so successful as success. Let this be secured by persevering effort, and the work will move forward. New fields will be opened. Many souls will be brought to a knowledge of the truth. What is needed is increased faith in God.
Our people have received great light, yet much of the ministerial force has been spent on the churches, teaching those who should be teachers; enlightening those who should be “the light of the world;” watering those from whom should flow rivers of living water; enriching those who might be mines of precious truth; repeating the gospel invitation to those who, scattered to the uttermost parts of the earth, should be giving the message of heaven to those who have not heard; feeding those who should be in the highways and byways giving the call: “Come; for all things are now ready.”
Those for whom the fetters of sin have been broken, who have sought the Lord with brokenness of heart and have obtained answer to their yearning request for righteousness, are never cold and spiritless. Their hearts are filled with unselfish love for sinners. They put away from them all worldly ambition, all self-seeking. Contact with the deep things of God makes them more and more like their Saviour. They exult in His triumphs; they are filled with His joy. Day by day they are growing unto the full stature of men and women in Christ.
Chapter 4—Workers from the Ranks
With intense interest God is looking on this world. He has noted the capacity of human beings for service. Looking down the ages, He has counted His workers, both men and women, and has prepared the way before them, saying: “I will send My messengers to them, and they shall see great light shining amid the darkness. Won to the service of Christ, they will use their talents to the glory of My name. They will go forth to work for Me with zeal and devotion. Through their efforts the truth will appeal to thousands in a most forcible manner, and men spiritually blind will receive sight and will see of My salvation. Truth will be made so prominent that he who runs may read. Ways will be devised to reach hearts. Some of the methods used in this work will be different from the methods used in the past, but let no one, because of this, block the way by criticism.”
Those whom God chooses as workers are not always talented, in the estimation of the world. Sometimes He selects unlearned men. To these He gives a special work. They reach a class to whom others could not obtain access. Opening the heart to the truth, they are made wise in and through Christ. Their lives inhale and exhale the fragrance of godliness. Their words are thoughtfully considered before they are spoken. They strive to promote the well-being of their fellow men. They take relief and happiness to the needy and distressed. They realize the necessity of ever remaining under Christ’s training, that they may work in harmony with God’s will. They study how best to follow the Saviour’s example of cross bearing and self-denial. They are God’s witnesses, revealing His compassion and love, and ascribing all the glory to Him whom they love and serve.
Constantly they are learning of the Great Teacher, and constantly they reach higher degrees of excellence, yet all the time feeling a sense of their weakness and inefficiency. They are drawn upward by their strong, loving admiration for Christ. They practice His virtues; for their life is assimilated to His. Ever they move onward and upward, a blessing to the world and an honor to their Redeemer. Of them Christ says: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5.
Such workers are to be encouraged. Their work is done, not to be seen of men, but to glorify God. And it will bear His inspection. The Lord brings these workers into connection with those of more marked ability, to fill the gaps they leave. He is well pleased when they are appreciated, for they are links in His chain of service.
Men who are self-important, who are filled with the thought of their own superior abilities, overlook these humble, contrite workers; but not for one moment does God lose sight of them. He marks all that they do to help those in need of help. In the heavenly courts, when the redeemed are gathered home, they will stand nearest the Son of God. They will shine brightly in the courts of the Lord, honored by Him because they have felt it an honor to minister to those for whom He gave His life.
God will move upon men in humble positions to declare the message of present truth. Many such will be seen hastening hither and thither, constrained by the Spirit of God to give the light to those in darkness. The truth is as a fire in their bones, filling them with a burning desire to enlighten those who sit in darkness. Many, even among the uneducated, will proclaim the word of the Lord. Children will be impelled by the Holy Spirit to go forth to declare the message of heaven. The Spirit will be poured out upon those who yield to His promptings. Casting off man’s binding rules and cautious movements, they will join the army of the Lord.
In the future, men in the common walks of life will be impressed by the Spirit of the Lord to leave their ordinary employment and go forth to proclaim the last message of mercy. As rapidly as possible they are to be prepared for labor, that success may crown their efforts. They co-operate with heavenly agencies, for they are willing to spend and be spent in the service of the Master. No one is authorized to hinder these workers. They are to be bidden Godspeed as they go forth to fulfill the great commission. No taunting word is to be spoken of them as in the rough places of the earth they sow the gospel seed.
Life’s best things—simplicity, honesty, truthfulness, purity, unsullied integrity—cannot be bought or sold; they are as free to the ignorant as to the educated, to the black man as to the white man, to the humble peasant as to the king upon his throne. Humble workers, who do not trust in their own strength, but who labor in simplicity, trusting always in God, will share in the joy of the Saviour. Their persevering prayers will bring souls to the cross. In co-operation with their self-sacrificing efforts Jesus will move upon hearts, working miracles in the conversion of souls. Men and women will be gathered into church fellowship. Meetinghouses will be built and schools established. The hearts of the workers will be filled with joy as they see the salvation of God.
When the redeemed stand in the presence of God, they will see how shortsighted were their conclusions as to what heaven records as success. As they review their efforts to achieve success they will see how foolish were their plans, how petty their supposed trials, how unreasonable their doubts. They will see how often they brought failure to their work by not taking God at His word. And one truth will stand out in clear lines: that position does not prepare a man for entrance into the heavenly courts. They will see, too, that the honor given to man is due to God alone, that to Him belongs all the glory. From the lips of the angelic choir and the redeemed host will peal forth the chorus: “Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy.” Revelation 15:3, 4.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7 pp. 19-28