Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers/The Need of Spiritual Discernment
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(Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers - series A, NO. 6, 1896, pgs 3-17.)
On the steamer "Alameda" on the broad ocean,
November 17, 1891.
Redemption is part of the divine nature. It is the prerogative of God to have to reconstruct, not to destroy. The Son of God was given to die before the foundation of the world. The existence of sin is unexplainable; therefore not a soul knows what God is until he sees himself in the light reflected from the cross of Calvary, and detests himself as a sinner in the bitterness of his soul. When his soul cries out in great need for a sin-pardoning Saviour, then God is revealed as gracious, full of compassion and forgiveness and love, long-suffering and patience. Individually, as church members, we are, if faithful servants of Jesus Christ, laborers together with God. When one is bruised by the enemy and wounded and commits error, as faithful and true to the Master, as workers together with God, we must take up the missionary work next to us, we must work to heal, not to ruin and to destroy. The hope we have in Christ is because we are sinners. We have a right to claim a Saviour. Then when there are those in any of our institutions associated together who err, let not men act the part of denouncing, condemning, and destroying, as though they were faultless.
It is the work of the Christian to mend, to restore, to heal. This healing process saves many a soul and hides a multitude of sins. God is love; God is, in Himself, in His essence, love. He makes the very best of what appears an injury, and gives Satan no occasion for triumph by making the worst appear and exposing our weakness to our enemies. The world must not be introduced into the church, and married to the church, forming a bond of unity. Through this means the church will become indeed corrupt, and as stated in Revelation, "a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."
Influence of Union With Worldlings
Through association with the world our institutions will become unsubstantial, unreliable; because these worldly elements, introduced and placed in positions of trust, are looked up to as teachers to be respected in their educating, directing, and official position, and they are sure to be worked upon by the spirit and power of darkness; so that the demarcation becomes not distinguished between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. The parable is given by Jesus Christ in regard to the field in which it was supposed had been sown pure wheat, but the entrusted ones look upon the field with disappointment, and inquire, "Didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?" The master of the vineyard answers, "An enemy hath done this."
Thus hath it been presented to me in regard to the Rural Health Retreat. I had a message of warning. I spoke with earnestness, and I know the Lord put His Holy Spirit upon me while I presented the danger of association with and love of the world. The worldling is ever on the watch to criticize and accuse those who serve God. This will reveal itself in the querulous complaining of professed Christians, who have never been transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ. They are deadly enemies to those who believe. They despise the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and if they can make it appear that those who are striving to obey the commandments of God are faulty, Satan has cast his arrow, and now what? He has shown his accusing power; but his cruel thrusts will do little harm if the professed believers will stand true to the words of Christ, and be doers of His word and not hearers only. Those to whom these complaints are made are under bonds to Jesus Christ to love and respect and be faithful to one another who are united to Christ in church fellowship. To unite with the faultfinding element, to be accusers of the brethren, to take up the reproach they lay at your door is seconding the work of the enemy by playing yourself into his hands to make his work a success.
Why Christ was Hated
I presented the matter before the hearers that Jesus the Lord of life and glory was crucified to please the malice of the Jews because the principles He presented did not coincide with their own ideas and ambitious aims. He condemned all guile, all underhanded work of policy for supremacy, and every unholy practice. Pilate and Herod became friends in crucifying Christ. They pleased the Jews in making effective their enmity against One whom Pilate proclaimed innocent. I presented to them Judas, who betrayed his Lord for money value; Peter, who denied Him in His humiliation in the judgment hall. A few hours before, he had with great firmness assured his Master he would go with Him to prison and to death; and notwithstanding Jesus' declaration that he would, ere the cock crew, deny Him thrice, he was so self-confident that he took not the words of Christ as verity and truth. How little he knew himself! How soon circumstances tested his allegiance to his Master! He denied Jesus in the very hour he should have watched with Him in fervent prayer. When in the judgment hall he was accused of being one of this Man's disciples, he denied; and the third time he was accused, he emphasized his denial with cursing and swearing.
Effect of Genuine Conversion
Said Christ, "Ye shall receive power, after that he Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me." The look of grief and sadness which Jesus gave Peter was not a hopeless look; it broke the heart of Peter, who denied his Lord.
But Peter was converted, and then after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ when before the rulers, he boldly declared for Jesus, and charged the rulers with these words: "But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life." There Peter shows himself entirely a different man after his conversion than the self-confident, boasting Peter prior to his conversion. I presented before them the voice of the world, the enemies of Christ, saying to Christ's messengers, "Ye should not teach in this name" and "bring this Man's blood upon us." Did this threatening succeed? did it make cowards of the witnesses of Christ? No; they proclaimed the message given them of God; and they were shut up in prison, and God sent His angel to release them. The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors and brought them forth, and said, "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." This voice from the heavenly angels was directly opposite to that voice from the authorities, and which should they obey? "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them." Then Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, pleaded in behalf of the apostles, and his words prevailed. Well, this is a little part of the words the Lord gave me to speak to the people.
How to Treat the Erring
The words given me were of that character that I knew the people needed, and which would benefit them if they would hear. One discourse was upon how to treat those united with us in church capacity if they erred. They were not to permit their minds to be affected to action by the words of the Lord's enemies against His children. If complaints or murmurings or charges are made they must study in Christ's school as to the course to be pursued toward the ones of whom complaints are made. Tell the matter between him and thee alone, and if he will not hear, then take two or three others; if he will not hear these, tell it to the church.
Love Not the World
The world has no part with the believers in this work. They cannot discern the motives and principles by which God's people are bound in their relations and dealings with one another. We must be true, loyal soldiers in the army of Jesus Christ. All His followers are to keep step with their Leader. They should never introduce their secrets to, or make confidants of, the enemies of Jesus Christ in regard to their movements or what they purpose to do in their line of action; for it is a betrayal of sacred trusts, and is giving the enemy every advantage. Let the counsel of the people of God be within their own company. The enemies of Christ should not be made familiar with their secrets, while the children of God are kept in ignorance of the very things they ought to know. The secrets of the Lord are with them that fear Him.
The world is the chief enemy of religion. The satanic forces are constantly at work through the world, and those who are professed Christians, yet associated with the world in close fellowship, are so much one in spirit, aims, and principles of working, that they cannot discern between him who serveth God and him who serveth the world. The enemy works constantly to push the world to the front, to be looked upon as superior to those who believe in Jesus, and who seek to be doers of His word. Words of praise and flattery from worldlings are received as sweet morsels, but the judgment of those who love this sort of food is in accordance with the weakness which they show in this direction. Their spiritual life is composed of just the kind of material they feed upon. Their Christian experience is largely dependent on flattery and human appreciation. The fear and love of God are not interwoven in their experience.
How pitiable and sad to see men who have known something of the Spirit of God fall so completely into the arms of the world as to be swayed and influenced by its voice, and depend upon its favors for strength and success! How manifestly such are alienated from Christ, how full of self-confidence, how full of vaunting, of vanity, and how shortsighted in regard to spirituality! How little true discernment have they to distinguish between him who is a child of God, an heir of the kingdom, and him who is a child of the wicked one, who is a child of disobedience, and an enemy of God!
The Two Classes
There are only two classes in our world: those who are obedient to Jesus Christ, who seek the Master to do His will, and work for the attainment of the salvation of their own souls and the soul of everyone who is associated with them who names the name of Christ; and the children of disobedience. There are but two classes in our world. Then listen to the words of One who knows: "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them." 1 John 4:4, 5. Souls are being deluded. The fear and love of God have not a controlling power. The world is their master, and they chase after its delusive, flattering mirage. Listen to One who gave His life for the world, "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." He spake as never man spake. The whole of John 15 contains a most important lesson. Read it; obey it. Again, hear the voice of God, "Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Mingling of Believers with Unbelievers
Let not God's people in any of our institutions sign a truce with the enemy of God and man. The duty of the church to the world is not to come down to their ideas and accept their opinions, their suggestions, but to heed the words of Christ through His servant Paul, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" This means in a special sense marriage with unbelievers, but it covers more ground than this: it means in our instrumentalities ordained of God, in our institutions for health, in our colleges, in our publishing houses.
The matter is placed before us in the correct light. The question is asked, "And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing." What does this mean-- the suggestions, the evil workings in the children of disobedience. You are not in any case to become contaminated with the spirit or influence of unbelievers. Be afraid of uniting or binding up in bundles with them. Be afraid of communicating the works connected with the Lord's cause to those who have no part with God, or sympathy with those who love the truth of God. "And I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
I raise my voice of warning against the mingling in our institutions of the worldly element with those who believe; we have the danger signal to sound. If in our institutions persons are placed in positions of trust, they are educators. Others are taught to look to these persons for instruction, and in this is a snare to the unwary; their ideas become confused in regard to righteousness and truth. They hear those persons who have no respect for the truth sneer and speak disparagingly of the truth, which should be held firmly and sacredly as truth.
When the day's work on Friday should be planned with reference to the Sabbath of the Lord, there is Satan working with those children of disobedience to prolong the service into the sacred hours, and give their orders that those under their direction shall do work on the Sabbath, and then they exult and Satan triumphs.
And when men in the highest responsible positions make no difference between those who serve God and those who serve Him not, they evidence that their eyes are not single to the glory of God; therefore their whole body is full of darkness. When these men in authority have so mingled with the spirit of worldlings that the words of complaint from the lips of these unbelievers are gathered as verity and truth, they know not what spirit they are of. When they encourage this spirit, and complaints against the people of God, they evidence that they are working on the enemy's side to belittle and humiliate those whom the Lord loves, and that they strengthen the hands of the wicked, who are doing an evil work. When they feel free to suffer the accusers of God's children to plan for them against His chosen ones, they do not have Christ to plan with them.
Deal Justly with the Erring
If one of the children of the Lord errs, then if the men in authority are discerning spiritual things, they will understand that their position allows no betrayal of sacred trusts on their part, and they will not betray the cause of God into the enemy's hands. They will not be reticent to the very ones in whom they should have confidence, and work in silence and secrecy, and open their plans to those who have no sympathy with the chosen people of God. If any workers in our institutions for health are murmured against and accused by unbelievers or believers, let the following special directions given by our Master, Jesus Christ, be placed in mottoes all through the establishment: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
Go to those supposed to be in error, talk with them, not working with duplicity and hypocrisy, meeting them day by day with apparent friendship, and at the same time plotting against them in perfect unity with the satanic agencies at work to uproot, to tear down, to remove from the institution the ones the unbelieving element wants removed, while not a word is spoken with the brethren or sisters in the faith to redeem them, to heal them, if they are in error; and if they are not in the wrong, to vindicate the right, and put the rebuke where it belongs--upon the plotters of an evil work, because Satan is behind the scene. The Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, likening them to sepulchers that do not appear, hidden from sight, but full of corruption. The Lord hates all deception, secrecy, and guile. This is Satan's work; the work of God is open and frank. No one will work against a child of God on the strength of the testimony of the Lord's enemy, and work after Satan's manner--concealing himself, yet suggesting, instigating, planning in perfect unity with the Lord's enemies.
How can the universe of heaven regard such underhanded, cowardly work against those who love God and keep His commandments? Members of the church may commit errors, and often make mistakes; but they are to be dealt with kindly, tenderly, as Christ has dealt with us. But the rebuke of God is upon all those who do the work of God deceitfully, professedly friends of Christ, yet working in an undercurrent style, in darkness, against those who love God. "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
Here is our work, brethren; will we take it up? So little of this is done that the words of the True Witness come home to the church: "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto the quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
"And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the Angel." This was the appearance of Satan. He had deceived these souls by his delusions and devices. Now these souls had repented before God, and pardon was written against their names. Satan was accusing them of sins, and asserting his right to do as he pleased with them because of their transgression which he had caused them to commit. But Jesus looked upon these souls believing in Him, trusting in His righteousness, with the tenderest and most loving compassion. "And He answered and spake unto those that stood before Him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair miter upon his head. So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the Angel of the Lord stood by." Shall the people of God who are placed in positions of trust voice the words of Satan against the children of God? Let us act as Christians, true as steel to God and His holy work; quick to discern the devices of Satan in his hidden, deceptive workings through the children of disobedience.
"Your words have been stout against Me, saith the Lord. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against Thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered." These are the words of the unconsecrated who are separating from God, blinded by the enemy. They cannot discern the ways and works of God. Now is represented the opposite class: "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another." These words were not speaking evil of brethren, or making complaints of God, but were words spoken from sincere hearts, words in which were no deceit, no underhanded working, no guile. "And the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not."
Our Strength in Union with Christ
May the Lord bless His people with spiritual eyesight, to see that the children of God and the world can never be in copartnership. Whosoever will be the friend of the world is the enemy of God. While every individual should work with Christ to transform the children of darkness by showing them the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world, they cannot have overflowing sympathy with worldlings in such a degree that they lend them their influence to carry out their suggestions to weaken and do injustice to God's chosen ones. God does not work in this way. In perfect and complete unity there is strength. Not in numbers, but in the perfect trust and unity with Christ, one can chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. Let us not form unholy bonds of union with the friends of the world; for God has pronounced His curse upon all such unions. Let the people of God take their stand firmly for truth and for righteousness. Already we see the terrible consequences of uniting believers with unbelievers. The result is, the unbelievers are given the confidence that belongs to those only who love and revere God.
Already has the power of darkness placed its mold and superscription upon the work that should stand forth untainted, unpolluted from Satan's cunning devices. We lift our voice of warning upon the social attractions by worldly bids and worldly baits. Keep clear. Touch not the unclean thing. Let not the world's direction and propositions be given to God's people to control them. Woe be unto him whose wisdom is not from above but from beneath! Men of superficial piety, by their desire to receive patronage, to obtain fame, betray the most sacred interests into the hands of unbelievers.
Let not money be obtained by touching or sanctioning any unclean practices. Let the grace of Christ be brought into the heart, and if the workers be few and God can work with them in our institutions, they will prevail. There must be no deceiving power at work, for it is an unclean thing. There must be no hands that are defiled. Clean hands and a pure heart God will recognize. "For 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."
The light of the glory of God must fall upon us. We need the holy unction from on high. However intelligent, however learned a man may be, he is not qualified to teach unless he has a firm hold on the God of Israel. He who is connected with heaven will do the works of Christ. By faith in God he will have power to move upon humanity. He will seek for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. If divine power does not combine with human effort, I would not give a straw for all that the greatest man could do. The Holy Spirit is wanting in our work.--Review and Herald, February 18, 1890.