The people of God who have had light and knowledge have not carried out the high and holy purposes of God. They have not advanced from victory to victory, adding new territory, lifting up the standard in the cities and their suburbs. Great spiritual blindness has been shown by those who have had great light flashed upon them by the Lord, but who have not advanced in the light to greater and still greater light. Church members have not been encouraged to use spiritual nerve and muscle in the work of advancement. They should be made to understand that ministers cannot work out their salvation by hovering over them. It is thus that they are made weaklings when they ought to be strong men.
In every church young men and young women should be selected to bear responsibilities. Let them make every effort to qualify themselves to help those who know not the truth. God calls for earnest, whole-souled workers. The humble and contrite will learn by personal experience that beside Him there is no savior.
Bible truth must be preached and practiced. Every ray of light given is to shine forth with clear, distinct brightness. The truth is to go forth as a lamp that burneth. There are hundreds of God’s servants who must respond to this call and take the field as earnest, soul-saving workers, coming up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. God calls for live men, men who are filled with the vivifying influence of His Spirit, men who see God as the Supreme Ruler and receive from Him abundant proof of the fulfillment of His promises, men who are not lukewarm, but hot and fervent with His love.
Should all the labor that has been expended on the churches during the past twenty years be again expended upon them, it would fail, as it has failed in the past, of making the members self-denying, cross-bearing followers of Christ. Many have been overfed with spiritual food, while in the world thousands are perishing for the bread of life. Church members must work; they must educate themselves, striving to reach the high standard set before them. This the Lord will help them to reach if they will co-operate with Him. If they keep their own souls in the love of the truth they will not hold the ministers back from presenting the truth in new fields.
The large cities should have been worked just as soon as the churches received the light, but many have carried no burden for souls, and Satan, finding them susceptible to his temptations, has spoiled their experience. God asks His people to repent, to be converted, and to return to their first love, which they have lost by their failure to follow in the footsteps of the self-sacrificing Redeemer.
In Courage And Simplicity
The time has come to make decided efforts in places where the truth has not yet been proclaimed. How shall the Lord’s work be done? In every place that is entered, a solid foundation is to be laid for permanent work. The Lord’s methods are to be followed. It is not for you to be intimidated by outward appearances, however forbidding they may be. It is for you to carry forward the work as the Lord has said it should be carried. Preach the word, and the Lord by His Holy Spirit will send conviction to the minds of the hearers. The word is: “And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” Mark 16:20.
Many workers are to act their part, doing house-to-house work and giving Bible readings in families. They are to show their growth in grace by submission to the will of Christ. Thus they will gain a rich experience. As in faith they receive, believe, and obey Christ’s word, the efficiency of the Holy Spirit will be seen in their lifework. There will be seen an intensity of earnest effort. There will be cherished a faith that works by love and purifies the soul. The fruits of the Spirit will be seen in the life.
Christ is the Light of the world. Those who follow Him do not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. John declares of Christ: “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” John 1:12. Behold Christ. Beholding Him brings heart and mind and character into conformity to the will of God.
There is need of all the instruction that our missions can give. Continue in your work in the power of the same Spirit that led in its establishment. By opening the Scriptures, by praying, by exercising faith, educate the people in the way of the Lord; and there will be built up a church founded on the Rock, Christ Jesus.
The work must be carried forward in the simplicity of truth. God says: “I have words of encouragement for you.” The Lord has in our large cities many precious souls who have not bowed the knee to Baal, and He has those who have worshiped Baal ignorantly. On these the light of truth is to shine, that they may see Christ as the way, the truth, and the life.
Carry forward your work in humility. Never rise above the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. Not in the art of display, but in lifting up Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer, will you find success in winning souls. As you work for God in humility and lowliness of heart, He will manifest Himself to you.
By the use of charts, symbols, and representations of various kinds the minister can make the truth stand out clearly and distinctly. This is a help, and in harmony with the word of God; but when the worker makes his labors so expensive that others are unable to secure from the treasury sufficient means to support them in the field, he is not working in harmony with God’s plan. The work in the large cities is to be done after Christ’s order, not after the order of a theatrical performance. It is not a theatrical performance that glorifies God, but the presentation of the truth in the love of Christ.
Do not divest the truth of its dignity and impressiveness by preliminaries that are more after the order of the world than after the order of heaven. Let your hearers understand that you hold meetings, not to charm their senses with music and other things, but to preach the truth in all its solemnity, that it may come to them as a warning, arousing them from their deathlike sleep of self-indulgence. It is the naked truth that like a sharp, two-edged sword cuts both ways. It is this that will arouse those who are dead in trespasses and sins.
He who gave His life to save men and women from idolatry and self-indulgence left an example to be followed by all who take up the work of presenting the gospel to others. God’s servants in this age have been given most solemn truths to proclaim, and their actions and methods and plans must correspond to the importance of their message. If you are presenting the word in Christ’s way, your audience will be deeply impressed with the truths you teach. The conviction will come to them that this is the word of the living God.
Formality In Worship
In their efforts to reach the people, the Lord’s messengers are not to follow the ways of the world. In the meetings that are held, they are not to depend on worldly singers and theatrical display to awaken an interest. How can those who have no interest in the word of God, who have never read His word with a sincere desire to understand its truths, be expected to sing with the spirit and the understanding? How can their hearts be in harmony with the words of sacred song? How can the heavenly choir join in music that is only a form?
The evil of formal worship cannot be too strongly depicted, but no words can properly set forth the deep blessedness of genuine worship. When human beings sing with the spirit and the understanding, heavenly musicians take up the strain and join in the song of thanksgiving. He who has bestowed upon us all the gifts that enable us to be workers together with God, expects His servants to cultivate their voices so that they can speak and sing in a way that all can understand. It is not loud singing that is needed, but clear intonation, correct pronunciation, and distinct utterance. Let all take time to cultivate the voice so that God’s praise can be sung in clear, soft tones, not with harshness and shrillness that offend the ear. The ability to sing is the gift of God; let it be used to His glory.
In the meetings held let a number be chosen to take part in the song service. And let the singing be accompanied with musical instruments skillfully handled. We are not to oppose the use of instrumental music in our work. This part of the service is to be carefully conducted, for it is the praise of God in song.
The singing is not always to be done by a few. As often as possible, let the entire congregation join.
Unity In Diversity
In our efforts in behalf of the multitudes dwelling in cities, we must try to do thorough service. The work in a large center of population is greater than one man can successfully handle. God has different ways of working, and He has different workmen to whom He entrusts varied gifts.
One worker may be a ready speaker; another a ready writer; another may have the gift of sincere, earnest, fervent prayer; another the gift of singing; another may have special power to explain the word of God with clearness. And each gift is to become a power for God because He works with the laborer. To one God gives the word of wisdom, to another knowledge, to another faith; but all are to work under the same Head. The diversity of gifts leads to a diversity of operations, but “it is the same God which worketh all in all.” 1 Corinthians 12:6.
The Lord desires His chosen servants to learn how to unite together in harmonious effort. It may seem to some that the contrast between their gifts and the gifts of a fellow laborer is too great to allow them to unite in harmonious effort; but when they remember that there are varied minds to be reached, and that some will reject the truth as it is presented by one laborer, only to open their hearts to God’s truth as it is presented in a different manner by another laborer, they will hopefully endeavor to labor together in unity. Their talents, however diverse, may all be under the control of the same Spirit. In every word and act, kindness and love will be revealed; and as each worker fills his appointed place faithfully, the prayer of Christ for the unity of His followers will be answered, and the world will know that these are His disciples.
In loving sympathy and confidence God’s workers are to unite with one another. He who says or does anything that tends to separate the members of Christ’s church is counterworking the Lord’s purpose. Wrangling and dissension in the church, the encouragement of suspicion and unbelief, are dishonoring to Christ. God desires His servants to cultivate Christian affection for one another. True religion unites hearts not only with Christ, but with one another in a most tender union. When we know what it means to be thus united with Christ and with our brethren, a fragrant influence will attend our work wherever we go.
The workers in the large cities must act their several parts, making every effort to bring about the best results. They are to talk faith and to act in such a way as to impress the people. They are not to narrow the work down to their own particular ideas. In the past too much of this has been done by us as a people, and it has been a drawback to the success of the work. Let us remember that the Lord has different ways of working, that He has different workmen to whom He entrusts different gifts. We are to see His purpose in the sending of certain men to certain places.
A little longer will the voice of mercy be heard; a little longer will be given the gracious invitation: “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” John 7:37. God sends His warning message to the cities everywhere. Let the messengers whom He sends work so harmoniously that all will take knowledge that they have learned of Jesus.
In The Meekness Of Christ
No human being is to seek to bind other human beings to himself as if he were to control them, telling them to do this and forbidding them to do that, commanding, dictating, acting like an officer over a company of soldiers. This is the way the priests and rulers did in Christ’s day, but it is not the right way. After the truth has made the impression upon hearts, and men and women have accepted its teachings, they are to be treated as the property of Christ, not as the property of man. In fastening minds to yourself, you lead them to disconnect from the source of their wisdom and sufficiency. Their dependence must be wholly in God; only thus can they grow in grace.
However large may be a man’s claim to knowledge and wisdom, unless he is under the teaching of the Holy Spirit he is exceedingly ignorant of spiritual things. He needs to realize his danger and his inefficiency, and to place entire dependence upon the One who alone is able to keep the souls committed to His trust, able to imbue them with His Spirit, and to fill them with unselfish love for one another, thus enabling them to bear witness that God has sent His Son into the world to save sinners. Those who are truly converted will press together in Christian unity. Let there be no division in the church of God, no unwise authority exercised over those who accept the truth. The meekness of Christ is to appear in all that is said and done.
Christ is the foundation of every true church. We have His unalterable promise that His presence and protection will be given to His faithful ones who walk in His counsel. To the end of time Christ is to be first. He is the source of life and strength, of righteousness and holiness. And He is all this to those who wear His yoke and learn of Him how to be meek and lowly.
The duty and delight of all service is to uplift Christ before the people. This is the end of all true labor. Let Christ appear; let self be hidden behind Him. This is self-sacrifice that is of worth. Such self-sacrifice God accepts. Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isaiah 57:15.
Often, as you seek to present the truth, opposition will be aroused; but if you seek to meet the opposition with argument you will only multiply it, and that you cannot afford to do. Hold to the affirmative. Angels of God are watching you, and they understand how to impress those whose opposition you refuse to meet with argument. Dwell not on the negative points of questions that arise, but gather to your minds affirmative truths, and fasten them there by much study and earnest prayer and heart consecration. Keep your lamps trimmed and burning, and let bright rays shine forth, that men, beholding your good works, may be led to glorify your Father which is in heaven.
If Christ had not held to the affirmative in the wilderness of temptation, He would have lost all that He desired to gain. Christ’s way is the best way to meet our opponents. We strengthen their arguments when we repeat what they say. Keep always to the affirmative. It may be that the very man who is opposing you will carry your words home and be converted to the sensible truth that has reached his understanding.
I have often said to our brethren: “Your opponents will make statements about your work that are false. Do not repeat their statements; but hold to your assertions of the living truth, and angels of God will open the way before you. We have a great work to carry forward, and we must carry it in a sensible way. Let us never get excited or allow evil feelings to arise. Christ did not do this, and He is our example in all things. For the work given us to do we need much more of heavenly, sanctified, humble wisdom, and much less of self. We need to lay hold firmly on divine power.”
Those who have departed from the faith will come to our congregations to divert our attention from the work that God would have done. You cannot afford to turn your ears from the truth to fables. Do not stop to try to convert the one who is speaking words of reproach against your work; but let it be seen that you are inspired by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and angels of God will put into your lips words that will reach the hearts of the opposers. If these men persist in pressing their way in, those who are of a sensible mind in the congregation will understand that yours is the higher standard. So speak that it will be known that Jesus Christ is speaking through you.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9 pp. 139-148