(Written from "Elmshaven," St. Helena, California, October 4, 1903, and sent to a number of leading workers.)
I have a message to bear to those who occupy responsible positions as physicians. My brethren, the Lord has committed to each of you a work which is plainly outlined in His Word.
Those who walk with God are prepared to call wrongdoing by its right name. Sin is sin, whether practiced by ministers, teachers, medical missionaries, or other workers in the Lord's service. Those who discern unChristlike traits in professed Christians occupying positions of responsibility must use great plainness of speech in pointing out these evils, instead of apparently continuing in fellowship with erring men because they are standing in high places. It is on account of the positions of trust that these unChristlike workers occupy that I am instructed to say to our physicians, Great plainness of speech is required. Those who, though occupying positions of grave responsibility, are Christians only in name are not to be sustained and upheld and strengthened by their brethren, for Satan works through the sinners in Zion to bring in strife and contention and difficulties, which make God's people a reproach and a shame to Christ Jesus.
The apostle Paul gives to Timothy a most solemn charge: " I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry" [2 Tim. 4:1-5].
"Sound doctrine" is Bible truth; standard truth for the time in which we live; truth that is always to be kept before the people; truth that is adapted to promote increased piety and devotion, confirming God's people in the most holy faith.
"Sound doctrine" means much to the receiver; and it means much, too, to the teacher, the minister of righteousness; for wherever the gospel is preached, every laborer, whatever his line of service may be, will be either true of untrue to his responsibility as the Lord's evangelist.
Gospel medical missionary workers, as faithful representatives of their Leader, are to bear a message from God. If among this class of workers there should be found those who are not sanctified through the truth; [if there are] those who are unable to work the works of truth and righteousness, who in word and act dishonor the truth and lower the standard that should always be elevated to represent the medical missionary work in its purity, then faithful work is to be done by God's ministers. Like Timothy, they are to "reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine."
All our medical workers are earnestly to use their capabilities in the right way, that there may go forth the impression that the ministry of the Word and the medical missionary work are, in reality, one united work. Some will need to be watched lest their natural propensities overrule, causing them to manifest self instead of the Christlikeness that should always be prominent. When such persons labor not in accordance with the will and way of God, when in business transactions they fail of elevating the gospel standard, their associates are not to keep silent; they are to strive to change the evil lest they become co-workers in that which will do great injury to the cause and work of God.
Every Christian is a standard-bearer of righteous principles. Let there be no lowering of the standard, no countenancing of wrong movements. It was while men slept that the enemy sowed tares among the wheat. It is the unwatchful, sleeping condition of God's servants that implicates them with their associates in guilt. The only way to escape being an unfaithful watchman is to watch and not allow to continue the evils that can be checked. To sustain by silence a work that God cannot approve is to abet Satan's work, and this results in the loss of souls. No one should be at ease until he has done all that it is possible for him to do to counterwork evil.
Let our physicians engage in fervent prayer and in the study of God's Word. Let every missionary be on guard, doing all in his power to counterwork evil, deceptive influences. If faithful work were done, even to a limited degree, it would tell on the side of right. If the senses were keen, quickened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit, wrongdoing would be met and counterworked before it found standing room. Thus many of the
objectionable devisings of men would be arrested, and the widespread influence of evil would be circumscribed.
When will faithful work be done to arrest the evils that ministers and medical missionaries have seen but have not corrected? The Lord now calls for decided action in order that the gospel medical missionary work shall not be entirely spoiled by the tares that the enemy has sown. Let none continue the work of leavening our institutions, our churches, and the world with the objectionable sentiments that have been coming in of late. Let not one wrong thing be passed by uncorrected. Christian medical missionary work is to bear the signature of God, not of man.
Oh, that every man who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ would disrobe himself of his earthly citizen's dress, and, for the sake of the Christian name, put on the robe of Christ's righteousness. Strange work has been done to bring honor to man, and not to God. For the sake of Christ, let matters be brought up to the Christian standard.
To lean upon the arm of the law is a disgrace to Christians; yet this evil has been brought in and cherished among the Lord's chosen people. Worldly principles have been stealthily introduced, until in practice many of our workers are becoming like the Laodiceans--half-hearted, because so much dependence is placed on lawyers and legal documents and agreements. Such a condition of things is abhorrent to God.
Nor will the Lord endorse the spirit that leads a man to engage in commerce in our institutions, after the manner of the world, and to make the laws of the land his defense. Yet the Lord has instructed me that this very spirit is being manifested by some who occupy positions as leaders. If they
continue to follow their own way, God will leave them in the hands of the enemy, that they may be spoiled either through success or through failure. Success will bring them to certain ruin.
The present spiritual condition of some of our church members who stand in high positions of responsibility, shows that in the future there must be a great change. God has no place in His mansions for lovers of deception, of fraud, of sin. In the beginning Satan prevailed on man to sin, and he is still carrying on his mischievous work. He puts forth efforts in our churches, and I call upon our people to be on their guard against him.
God calls for staunch, faithful workers who understand the truth and are sanctified through the truth. Our ministers, physicians, and teachers need to be converted anew, that they may be vessels unto honor. In every place Satan has his forces leagued together to counterwork the work of God. Those who give place to the subtle theories that the enemy seeks to introduce into minds do not regard sin as sinful. Those who set in motion an influence opposed to Christ are doing that which to undo will require a lifetime of Christian effort on the part of those who are standing on the platform of truth. The evil seed sown will spring up and produce a root of bitterness, whereby many shall be defiled. Wrong impressions will be made that it will seem impossible to efface.
He who says that which weakens the force of the principles of God's Word can never efface the impressions made by his words. God alone can undo the injurious effects of such words.
Could each one who proposes to be a believer in the message for this time multiply himself and his means a thousandfold, we as a people should
not be able by our good deeds to retrieve the losses we have sustained on account of our neglect of duty during the last 25 years. The guilt of the past is resting upon us, even upon all the camp of Israel. A complete reformation is now needed in all our institutions. We must arouse, and by the Lord's help strive to put away the evils now existing, and to redeem the time, if possible.
The spiritual life of God's people is being enfeebled by the spirit of centralization and commercialism. We are losing our distinguishing characteristics as Christians. The works of the enemy have been enthroned in many of our institutions, where business is done in accordance with worldly principles, which have come in through unconsecrated men. Great blindness of perception has been revealed. A thorough reformation must now take place.
Soul-Saving . "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time" [Col. 4:5]. Precious time has passed into eternity, unused in the Master's service. Men have been doing a work that the Lord has warned them not to do. The actions of the professed religious world are to be no criterion for those to whom God in His great mercy has given advanced light. We can see that the world is in a great moral conflict. Unwarned souls are perishing in their sins while many of our churches remain content to do little or nothing to let the full light of the gospel, the light of true medical missionary work, shine into the hearts of men and women, that they may behold the way to heaven. We are failing to gain access to souls.
Christ, the great Teacher, was accused of eating with publicans and sinners. He did eat with them, but it was for the purpose of letting the truth shine forth. His example, always high and noble and pure, was in
marked contrast with the example of the Pharisees, the priests, and the rulers of His day. They disregarded the work that He had commissioned them to do.
Christ met the people where they were--at the guest table, in the streets, by the lakeside, in the synagogues and the temple, and on the crowded thoroughfares of travel. In these places were found the multitudes who were willing to admit that they were sinners. In their hearts Christ could sow the seeds of truth; and after His resurrection and ascension these seeds, scattered in almost every place, sprang up under the teaching of the apostles, and in one day 5,000 believers were converted.
Just before His ascension, Jesus said to His disciples, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" [Matt. 28:18-20].
This commission is ours. Not all have the same work to do, but to every man is given his work. To no one man is committed the whole work. No man is to exalt himself or any other man; for whatever man's position may be, he is not free from defects, and he should guard against self-exaltation, envy, jealousy, selfishness, covetousness.
"Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons" with God [Col. 3:23-25].
God's Estimate of Men . In Heaven's sight, the standing of persons in the church is in no wise dependent on the estimation in which they are held by their fellow men. Their acceptance by God is dependent on their union with Christ, by whom alone they are enabled to do right, and to whom they are always amenable. Every moment they are accountable to God.
It matters not how high a position a man may occupy in the work of God, unless he is a follower of the meek and lowly Jesus he puts the Saviour to open shame. He may be a leader among his brethren, and he may be upheld and sustained in his course, but unless he is converted, unless he receives Christ as his counselor, making his confession of Him before believers and unbelievers, he can never win the crown of eternal life.
A Call to Watchfulness and Prayer . The time is at hand when the case of every soul will be decided. The Lord calls upon those who are truly converted to watch and pray; for the controversy between truth and error will increase in intensity. The Bible is to be the man of our counsel.
When our medical missionaries should have been wide-awake they were asleep; and consequently the enemy has established himself in the midst of them. Physicians have cherished lax principles, and have stooped to follow worldly methods. Their inferior piety has enfeebled the church and impaired its usefulness.
Many of those who should be standing as watchmen on the walls of Zion are Christians in name only; and when they should have been on their guard as men of God's appointment, protesting, counterworking, earnestly praying that the Lord God of heaven would work by His Holy Spirit to counteract the movements that were being made by men who trusted in the arm of flesh, they failed of doing their duty.
There is need of a most thorough work in our conferences. God is calling for missionaries who have not upon them the stamp of the specious deceptions of the enemy--missionaries who have not by agreement bound themselves to any other human agencies. To us, as God's chosen people, has been given special light. This light is constantly increasing, and is to shine forth through the gospel ministry and through gospel medical missionary workers.
Our Influence . No true physician or minister will feel that he is partially his own, and that he can do as he pleases. At the present time, some clear-sighted, clean-hearted men are almost neutral in their influence; but they cannot long remain in this position without losing ground spiritually. Unless they reflect the character of Christ Jesus, they will begin to reflect the character of the man of sin.
With the results of sin before them, why are not men fortified against the suggestions of the evil one? Will not our leading brethren keep God's word before them, and be diligent students of His will, that they may not fail as did Adam and Eve? Never should our God-given powers be used to hurt one of His children. Never should we become the agents of Satan to deceive others.
The masterly spirit of self, which many manifest, is abhorrent to God, for it leads to actions that savor of evil. If Satan once gains a place in the mind, not only will he strive to retain all the advantages he has gained, but he will seek to obtain full possession. He will use the person over whom he has gained an influence to influence others. The man whose mind is controlled by Satan cannot be used by God to communicate His grace. With such a man Christ cannot cooperate.
The deceived one becomes inflated with thoughts of his own importance. He is filled with zeal to accomplish some work that he regards as being great. Satan and his angels lead him on by putting into his mind pleasing and flattering suggestions. He unites in counsel with worldly associates, linking up with men who are not wise unto salvation. And while following the suggestions and methods of the enemy, he thinks that God is directing his mind.
Let no man be treated as lord and dictator over the gospel ministry or the gospel medical missionary work. The Lord is testing and proving everyone, to see if in humility men will perform the divine will, taking Christ for their counselor, carefully studying His character, and walking as He walked. To everyone who gives himself unreservedly to Christ is assigned a post where he may engage in acceptable service.
God's cause is now in need of the influence that protests against evil, and strives to counteract it--the influence that Christ has always demanded of His people. Let there be no delay, for the message that I am bearing is from God. While He has been calling upon His people to come out from the world, and to be separate and distinct, not touching that which is unclean, human agencies have been counterworking His work, by linking up with worldly men, cultivating the spirit of commerce, and depending on worldly lawyers and worldly methods. The Lord is sorely displeased with these men who have made themselves one with the world.
No one is without influence. Those who, in an effort to be neutral, manifest no positive hostility toward Christ and their brethren, may think that they are rendering a service to God, but such a thought is delusive.
Upon the minds of those who are endeavoring to stand in a neutral position, satanic agencies are working. The first act of selfishness opens the way for the enemy's forces to enter. Our only safety is in active service for Christ Jesus. He declares" "'Ye cannot serve God and mammon.' All your talents, all your capabilities, are Mine. I have entrusted you with gifts, which are to be put to the very best use as consecrated offerings to Me."
If every man who has influence could ascend some mount of vision from which he could behold all his works as Christ beholds them when He declares, "I know thy works"; if the laborer could trace from cause to effect every objectionable word and act, the sight would be more than he could bear.
My brother, when you have been tempted to cherish feelings of self-exaltation because of the thought that you were a great worker in God's cause; when, in accordance with your judgment, you have endeavored to gather in means and to appropriate it as if you had created it; when you have cherished a spirit of selfish ambition in different movements with which you were prominently connected; when you took pleasure in working out some special schemes that were pleasing to you--if at these times you could have seen the full results of the influence you were exerting, results for which you are responsible, you would have been appalled.
Consider these matters. Trace them from cause to effect. The influences set in operation by our words and deeds are likely many threads, which bind us in intimate relationship either with God or with the world, and which connect mind with mind, heart with heart. God is fully acquainted with the multitudinous effects of certain influences. Even at times when man is most sure that certain traits of his character are unobserved, there
are going forth influences that are a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. As soon as those influences cease to be decidedly good, they are decidedly bad; and the longer evil influences are exerted, the greater swells the tide of evil; the greater is the number of souls led to perdition.
A Message of Warning and Mercy . Those who have sinned against great light are not left without a message of warning and mercy. God says to them: [Rev. 3:15-22, quoted].
This is the testimony borne concerning the church at Laodicea. This church had been faithfully instructed. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul wrote: "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis."
Much excellent labor was bestowed upon the Laodicean church. To them was given the exhortation, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." But the church did not follow up the work begun by God's messengers. They heard, but they failed to appropriate the truth to themselves, and to carry out the instruction given them. The result that followed is the result always sure to follow the rejection of the Lord's warnings and entreaties.
In every age the Lord has sent messages to point out the right way; and just as surely as men have united in walking contrary to the plain word of God, so surely have they been used by Satan to carry out his purposes.
Some to whom the Lord has for years been sending messages, have clearly understood and have magnified every word of encouragement, but have treated as if they were of naught the cautions, the warnings, and the reproofs.
This self-satisfaction is to be dreaded. This is why the Jewish nation did not receive Christ. They rejected the Bible prophecies given in regard to His coming, and chose their own way, in accordance with their natural preferences. Their spiritual condition need not be portrayed by us; for Christ has clearly represented it to His servant John. The history of the Jews has been recorded for our admonition, that we should not follow their example of unbelief and worldliness.
Many are assimilating with the world, and leaving upon human minds the impression that the special messages of warning given in the fourteenth of Revelation, messages that have called us out from the world, are secondary to the medical missionary work. God calls upon those who have heard these messages, to gain an experience very different from that gained by the Jewish nation. He desires His people to come to their senses, and to make their lives and expression of genuine faith and spirituality.
The Need of a Reformation . A failure to reveal the truth in the daily life has resulted in lax views as to what constitutes the truth for this time. Because of this, there exists an inferior piety, by which the church is enfeebled and its usefulness impaired. Men and women have come to believe that they are partially their own; that they have a right to take themselves into their own hands, and to do as they please, following their own judgment, and planning to carry out their ideas as they may choose. Those who believe that they have this right are on losing ground.
In every health institution that has fallen into worldly practices, the Lord calls for a decided change. Let our workers now come out from the world, and be separate. There is to be a full understanding as to who is on the Lord's side. "He that is not with Me," said Christ, "is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad" [Matt. 12:30].
Let no one suppose that because a man is constantly busy he demonstrates his fidelity, for the tempter is constantly busy and is helping those who are endeavoring to labor in accordance with their own devisings. Idolatry of self, of my plans, my devisings, Christ looks upon with contempt.
We are not to do a particle less than it is in our power to do to advance Christ's kingdom. We are to labor in the spirit and manner in which He labored. He holds every man responsible for working in the right way. Only those who labor for the Master in a Christlike spirit and manner, because of their love for Him and their desire to please Him; only those who refuse to take to themselves any praise and glory will receive the approbation of Heaven--Ms 128, 1903. Ellen G. White Estate Washington, D. C. April 10, 1986. Entire letter.