A great warfare is before God's servants in the closing work of this earth's history. The God of heaven is soon, very soon, to set up his kingdom,--a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. Every worker is to be an earnest, valiant soldier, fighting under the banner of Prince Emmanuel. Mighty victories are to be gained by the people who bear the banner of truth. We are slow to realize what will be the results of a faithful presentation of the message of the third angel. When they are obedient to the word, when self is hid with Christ in God, and they labor with God's glory alone in view, ministers of Christ will accomplish a work as wonderful as it is far-reaching.
Because some can readily pray and exhort, and seem to have a knowledge of the theory of the truth for this time, it has been taken for granted that these were called by God to the work of the ministry. But these are no special evidences that one has been chosen by God to teach the truth. Men may be able to pray and to preach fluently, they may have a theoretical knowledge of truth, but unless their hearts have been sanctified through obedience to the principles of the truth, they can not exert a saving influence or build up souls in the faith.
I was shown two classes of men. One class thought themselves competent for the work of the gospel field, and were urging themselves forward in it; but their lives did not reveal a growing Christianity. They had not a high sense of the sacredness of eternal things, and in their lives there were no special marks of devotion. They did not reveal a depth of experience in the things of God.
Then I was shown another class whom God was preparing to labor for the salvation of souls. What a contrast there was between this and the first company! These were unassuming men. They did not seek to bring themselves into notice, or to exalt self, but they exalted Christ. By their modest deportment they adorned the truth they professed. They possessed refinement, good judgment, sound minds. They had elevated ideas of sacred things, and a high sense of the sacredness of the work. The language of their heart was, Who is sufficient for these things?
Some of this latter class were advanced in their preparation for the work of teaching the truth; others needed a deeper experience than they had yet obtained. These I was shown should not be urged to take upon themselves responsibilities in the work of ministry yet. God would lead them, giving them the experience they needed for successful work.
Those with whom the Lord is working, and whom he has called to positions of trust in his cause, will possess wisdom and sanctified judgment. God does not lay the burden of his work upon those who do not honor him in their private lives. Some who do not know the grace of Christ may take upon themselves the responsibility of dealing with minds; but God has not laid this work upon them.
I have been shown that there is danger that those who are not wise in the management of their temporal affairs, may not be wise in the management of sacred interests. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." Some there are who do not manage wisely their temporal affairs; but instead of charging their failures in this respect to unfaithfulness and slackness, they deceive themselves into believing that the Lord has not prospered them in their worldly business because he has called them to preach. They allow this idea to influence their actions, and instead of seeking to overcome their failings, accepting counsel and instruction from those who have had experience, they give up to discouragement and defeat.
Men may think that they are doing an excellent work; but if their work is done to exalt self and to divert the attention of the people to the human agency, it will become a snare. We may preach the gospel, we may visit the sick, and help the poor; we may go through the entire range of Christian activities, and yet never live as in the presence of God, because our work is such as to eclipse Christ and glorify self.
I would plead with our workers to watch unto prayer, lest they fall under the deceptive arts of Satan. Watch, watch, lest the enemy obtain a hold upon your souls. Satan is playing the game of life for every soul, and those who are unguarded will be caught in his snares. These may be men in official positions; they may be ministers of the gospel. They may be physicians in our sanitariums who have not a true sense of their responsibilities, and who are letting precious opportunities slip by unimproved, by which they might speak a word in season to needy souls.
I speak to the men in responsible positions, warning you of the dangers of negligence. Bear in mind that Satan is playing the game of life for your souls. He is working through agencies that you little suspect. Holy and perfect trust in the Lord is your only safeguard.
Ministers of the gospel, the enemy is watching for your souls. Some will fall suddenly who have long been tested and tried, but who are unprepared to close up their earthly account with joy. Let our ministering brethren keep their souls guardedly. Those who claim to be children of God should keep the heart with all diligence, guarding every point of attack, lest Satan take us unawares. Temptations will come to every soul.
"Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a son over his own house, whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness . . .) take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end."
The Lord has made some remarkable revelations regarding the experiences his people will pass through, and we have reason to wonder that we have thus far been so well protected from the plottings of the enemy, and that his schemes against us have, to such a large degree, been unsuccessful. Let us gather to our souls the sure encouragements the Lord has given, and read often the precious promises of his Word. Christ is our Mediator and our Redeemer.
We are given a special message to bear in times of depression and discouragement: "Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water."
I ask you to read the whole of this thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, with the fifty-sixth chapter. When you are disappointed because of the spiritual lack you see in the churches and in individuals, read these promising words of inspiration. They are given for the encouragement of our churches, and are to be claimed in times of emergency. When you meet with those who are not willing to be helped and strengthened, do not allow yourselves to become discouraged; when you find halting and disaffection among the believers, let your faith in God be strong. I have been shown that evil angels in the form of believers will work in our ranks to bring in a strong spirit of unbelief. Let not even this discourage you; but bring a true heart to the help of the Lord against the powers of satanic agencies.
It is time now that every soul who has a knowledge of present truth come into line and renew his consecration to God. We are to come up to a much higher standard. Let us make the Word of God our strong testimony. We are to learn to lean upon his sure promise, and be ready to communicate encouragement to others. Let us take hold of the mighty assurances that God has given us in Christ and in his Word, and endeavor daily to carry on the work that the Redeemer undertook in behalf of humanity.