If we don’t change our direction, we’ll end up where we’re headed.
By Ellen G. White
In every land there are thousands of souls in darkness, without the knowledge of the truth—souls who have never heard the last message of mercy to a perishing world. They know not that the end of all things is at hand. “Peace and safety” is the cry that is sounded from the popular pulpits. And yet how many of God’s professed people are at ease in Zion. The churches in general are weak and dependent. They think that some one must be with them every Sabbath to spread for them a gospel feast. They do not realize that they must individually appropriate to themselves the truth that has been unfolded to them, and communicate its light to those who know it not; and they are doing comparatively nothing, either in home missions or in the “regions beyond.” Can you, dear brethren and sisters, be doers of the Word of God while indifferent to the souls that are perishing around you? Can you listen to the truth, Sabbath after Sabbath, and not impart its light to others?
The church must not depend so fully as she has done in the past upon the ordained minister alone to carry the gospel to the world. God has given to every man his work. For many years He has been bidding His people, “Go work today in my vineyard.” He calls upon men who understand the Scriptures to go into places where the message of truth has never penetrated, and there work, imparting to others what God has imparted to them. They can be as the salt, communicating saving properties to those with whom they come in contact.
The standard of truth may be raised by humble men and women; and the youth, and even children, may be a blessing to others, by revealing what the truth has done for them. God will use the most feeble instruments if they are wholly submitted to Him. He can work through them to reach souls to whom the minister could not obtain access. There are the highways and byways to be searched. With your Bible in your hand, with your heart warm and glowing with the love of God, you may go out and tell others your experience; you may make known to them the truth that has impressed your heart, praying with faith that God will make your efforts successful in their salvation. Communicate light, and you will have more light to communicate. Thus you may become laborers together with God.
God desires that His children shall make use of all their powers, that in working to bless others, they may grow strong in the strength of Jesus. You may not be learned; you may not be thought capable of doing a great work for God; but there are things which you can do. You can let your light shine forth to others. Through the prophet Isaiah, Christ has said: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward…. And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.”
Every one may have an understanding of the truth, and exert an influence for good. Then go to work, my brethren and sisters. Gain an experience by working for others. You may make mistakes; but this is not more than the most intelligent, and those in positions of trust, have done again and again. You will not always meet with success; but you can never know the result of humble, disinterested effort to help those who are in darkness. Through the agency of the Holy Spirit, you may win souls from error to truth, and in so doing your own souls will be filled with the love of God. Unaccustomed paths will open before you in your work of ministry. You will often have to step out of the beaten track, and, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, do special work for God; but if you make Him your dependence, He will give you wisdom and strength according to your need.
I pray that church members may see the peril of departing from God’s expressed commandment, and repent of their lifelong neglect of the service of Christ while professing to be His followers. If they would go forth as pilgrims and strangers, and make for themselves homes where there is work to be done, letting their light shine forth to those who are in darkness and error, they would then be able to say, “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” We shall receive fresh supplies of grace, as we impart to others that which we already have.
The Holy Spirit will impress upon the mind the truth that the religion of the Bible is a grand and precious reality. You need not only to assent to the truth, but to put it into practise. Let every ray of light which shines from the Word be heeded as the eternal truth of God. Then as you place your will on the Lord’s side, look around for some work to do for the Master. Set to work at whatever your hand finds to do; for it is in practising truth, in blessing others, that you work out your own salvation. If God works in you to will and to do of His good pleasure, you will cultivate those traits of character that every heir of heaven must possess.
The reason many have so superficial an experience is that they do so much for themselves and so little for Jesus. Intercourse with those who are in need of help, with the purpose of saving their souls, will lead us to pray for wisdom, and look to Jesus as our helper. By unselfish labor for others, we shall establish ourselves in the faith far more firmly than by listening to so many sermons. The Holy Spirit will be our helper, giving us arguments with which to meet opposition, and in all our work giving us steadfast faith and unshaken confidence. Thus we shall gain an experience of more value than gold, silver, or precious stones.
The above is excerpted from an article that first appeared in the January 12, 1897, edition of theAdvent Review and Sabbath Herald (now the Adventist Review; see www.adventistreview.org). Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.
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