Fellow laborers in the great harvest field, we have but little time left in which to labor. Now is the most favorable opportunity we shall ever have, and how carefully ought every moment to be employed. So devoted was our Redeemer to the work of saving souls that He even longed for His baptism of blood. The apostles caught the zeal of their Master and firmly, steadily, zealously went forward to the accomplishment of their great work, fighting against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places.
We are living in a time when even greater earnestness is needed than in the apostles' day. But among many of the ministers of Christ there is a feeling of unrest, a desire to imitate the romantic style of modern revivalists, a desire to do something great, to create a sensation, to be accounted able speakers, and to gain for themselves honor and distinction. If such could encounter perils and receive the honor given to heroes, they would engage in the work with unflagging energy. But to live and labor almost unknown, to toil and sacrifice for Jesus in obscurity, receiving no special praise from men--this requires a soundness of principle and a steadfastness of purpose that but few possess. Were there a greater effort to walk humbly with God, looking away from men and laboring only for Christ's sake, far more would be accomplished.
My ministering brethren, seek Jesus with all lowliness and meekness. Do not try to draw the attention of the people to yourselves. Let them lose sight of the instrument, while you exalt Jesus. Talk of Jesus; lose self in Jesus. There is too much bustle and stir about our religion, while Calvary and the cross are forgotten.
We are in the greatest peril when we receive praise of one another, when we enter into a confederacy to exalt one another. The great burden of the Pharisees was to secure the praise of men; and Christ told them that that was all the reward they would ever receive. Let us take up our appointed work and do it for Christ; if we suffer privation, let it be for His sake. Our divine Lord was made perfect through suffering. Oh, when shall we see men laboring as He labored!
The word of God is our standard. Every act of love, every word of kindness, every prayer in behalf of the suffering and oppressed, is reported before the eternal throne and placed on heaven's imperishable record. The divine word pours light into the most darkened understanding, and that light makes the most cultivated feel their inefficiency and sinfulness.
The enemy is buying souls today very cheap. "Ye have sold yourselves for nought," is the language of Scripture. One is selling his soul for the world's applause, another for money; one to gratify base passions, another for worldly amusement. Such bargains are made daily. Satan is bidding for the purchase of Christ's blood and buying them cheap, notwithstanding the infinite price which has been paid to ransom them.
Great blessings and privileges are ours. We may secure the most valuable heavenly treasures. Let ministers and people remember that gospel truth ruins if it does not save. The soul that refuses to listen to the invitations of mercy from day to day can soon listen to the most urgent appeals without an emotion stirring his soul.
As laborers with God we need more fervent piety and less self-exaltation. The more self is exalted, the more will faith in the testimonies of the Spirit of God be lessened. Those who are the most closely connected with God are the ones who know His voice when He speaks to them. Those who are spiritual discern spiritual things. Such will feel grateful that the Lord has pointed out their errors, while those who trust wholly in themselves will see less and less of God in the testimonies of His Spirit.
Our work must be accompanied with deep humiliation, fasting, and prayer. We must not expect all peace and joy. There will be sadness; but if we sow in tears we shall reap in joy. Darkness and despondency may at times enter the heart of the self-sacrificing ones; but this is not against them. It may be God's design to cause them to seek Him more earnestly.
What we need now is Calebs, men who are faithful and true. Indolence marks the lives of too many at the present day. They turn their shoulders from the wheel just when they should persevere and bring all their powers into active exercise. Ministers of Christ, "awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." Your labors taste so strongly of self that Christ is forgotten. Some of you are pampered and flattered too much. As in the days Noah, there is too much eating and drinking, planting and building. The world has stolen the energies of the servants of Christ. Brethren, if you would have your religion honored by unbelievers, honor it yourselves by corresponding works. By a close connection with God and a strict adherence to Bible truth in the face of difficulty and worldly pressure, you may infuse the spirit of the truth into the hearts of your children so that they will work effectually with you as instruments in God's hands for good.
Many are incapacitated for labor both mentally and physically by overeating and the gratification of the lustful passions. The animal propensities are strengthened, while the moral and spiritual nature is enfeebled. When we shall stand around the great white throne, what a record will the lives of many then present. Then will they see what they might have done had they not debased their God-given powers. Then will they realize what height of intellectual greatness they might have attained had they given to God all the physical and mental strength He had entrusted to them. In their agony of remorse they will long to have their lives to live over again.
I call upon those who profess to be light bearers-- ensamples to the flock--to depart from all iniquity. Use well the little remnant of time now left you. Have you that strong hold of God, that consecration to His service, that your religion will not fail you in the face of direst persecution? The deep love of God alone will sustain the soul amid the trials which are just upon us.
Self-denial and the cross are our portion. Will we accept it? None of us need expect that when the last great trials come upon us a self-sacrificing, patriotic spirit will be developed in a moment because needed. No, indeed, this spirit must be blended with our daily experience, and infused into the minds and hearts of our children, both by precept and example. Mothers in Israel may not be warriors themselves, but they may raise up warriors who shall gird on the whole armor and fight manfully the battles of the Lord.
Ministers and people need the converting power of grace before they will be able to stand in the day of the Lord. The world is fast approaching that point in iniquity and human depravity when God's interference will become necessary. And at that time His professed followers should be more marked for their fidelity to His holy law. Their prayer will be as that of David: "It is time for Thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void Thy law." And by their conduct they will say: "Therefore I love Thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold." The very contempt that is shown to the law of God is sufficient reason why His commandment-keeping people should come to the front and show their esteem and reverence for His downtrodden law.
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." The very atmosphere is polluted with sin. Soon God's people will be tested by fiery trials, and the great proportion of those who now appear to be genuine and true will prove to be base metal. Instead of being strengthened and confirmed by opposition, threats, and abuse, they will cowardly take the side of the opposers. The promise is: "Them that honor Me I will honor." Shall we be less firmly attached to God's law because the world at large have attempted to make it void?
Already the judgments of God are abroad in the land, as seen in storms, in floods, in tempests, in earthquakes, in peril by land and by sea. The great I AM is speaking to those who make void His law. When God's wrath is poured out upon the earth, who will then be able to stand? Now is the time for God's people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few--this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader.
The test will surely come. Thirty-six years ago I was shown that what is now transpiring would take place, that the observance of an institution of the papacy would be enforced upon the people by a Sunday law, while the sanctified rest day of Jehovah would be trampled underfoot.
The Captain of our salvation will strengthen His people for the conflict in which they must engage. How often when Satan has brought all his forces to bear against the followers of Christ, and death stares them in the face, have earnest prayers put up in faith brought the Captain of the Lord's host upon the field of action and turned the tide of battle and delivered the oppressed.
Now is the time when we should closely connect with God, that we may be hid when the fierceness of His wrath is poured upon the sons of men. We have wandered away from the old landmarks. Let us return. If the Lord be God, serve Him; if Baal, serve him. Which side will you be on?