Signs of the Times
June 24, 1886
Through the psalmist God declares, "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me." Much of the public worship of God consists of praise and prayer, and every follower of Christ should engage in this worship. There is also the preaching service, conducted by those whose work it is to instruct the congregation in the word of God. Although all are not called to minister in word and doctrine, they need not be cold and responseless listeners. When the word of God was spoken to the Hebrews anciently, the Lord said to Moses, "And let all the people say, Amen." This response, in the fervor of their souls, was required as evidence that they understood the word spoken and were interested in it.
When the ark of God was brought into the city of David and a psalm of joy and triumph was chanted, all the people said, Amen. And David felt that he was fully repaid for his labor and anxiety by this cheerful, universal response from the people.
There is too much formality in the church. Souls are perishing for light and knowledge. We should be so connected with the Source of light that we can be channels of light to the world. The Lord would have his ministers who preach the word energized by his Holy Spirit. And the people who hear should not sit in drowsy indifference or stare vacantly about, making no response to what is said. The spirit of the world has paralyzed the spirituality of such, and they are not awake to the precious theme of redemption. The truth of God's word is spoken to leaden ears, and hard, unimpressible hearts. The impression given the unbeliever by these professed Christians is anything but favorable for the religion of Christ. They show zeal and ambition when engaged in the business of the world, but things of eternal importance do not engross the mind, and interest them as do worldly things. The voice of God through his messengers is a pleasant song; but its sacred warnings, reproofs, and encouragements are all unheeded. Eternal and sacred things are placed upon a level with common things, and the Holy Spirit is grieved. Said Christ, "Take heed, therefore, how ye hear." Those are spiritually dead who profess to worship God while the heart is not in the work. There should be a hearty, wide-awake church to encourage and uphold the hands of the ministers of Jesus Christ.
Those who profess to be guided by the word of God may be familiar with the evidences of their faith, and yet be like the pretentious fig-tree, which flaunted its foliage in the face of the world, but, when searched by the Master, was found destitute of fruit. Fruitful Christians are connected with Heaven, and intelligent in the things of God. The truth and the love of God is their meditation. They have feasted upon the word of life, and when they hear it spoken from the desk, they can say, as did the two disciples who were traveling to Emmaus when Christ explained to them the prophecies concerning himself, "Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?"
All who are connected with the light will let their light shine to the world, and will, in their testimonies, praise God, to whom their hearts will flow forth in gratitude. Those who have a vital union with Christ will rejoice in the assurance of his love. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by his presence. Walking in the light, they will never disgrace their profession or bring reproach upon the cause of Christ. It is the privilege of every child of God to store his mind with divine truth, and the more he does this, the more vigor and clearness of mind he will have to fathom the deep things of God. He will be more and more earnest and vigorous as the principles of the truth are carried out in his daily life.
We should all be workers together with God. No idlers are acknowledged as his servants. The members of the church should individually feel that the life and prosperity of the church is affected by their course of action. Those in the church who have sufficient talent to engage in any of the various vocations of life, such as teaching, building, manufacturing, and farming, will generally be prepared to labor for the upbuilding of the church by serving on committees or as teachers in the Sabbath-schools, engaging in missionary labor, or filling the different offices connected with the church.
God requires that the first, the best, and the most useful talents shall be employed to carry forward his work upon the earth. The same zeal and energy, tact and order, which are exercised in counting-rooms, shops, and in the fine arts, should be brought into the religious life and exercised in the work of God. All are responsible for the talents given them of God to use to his glory. He calls for them to come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty.
Many will give money because it costs less self-denial and self-sacrifice than to give themselves. Some say: My business claims all my time. So numerous are my engagements and so pressing their demands, I cannot give my time." Of what avail is means without agents to use it? Ministers cannot do a tithe of the work necessary to be done at this time to save souls and preserve the vitality of the church.
What revelations will be made in the day of God, when each individual will see his life as God sees it! What opportunities lost to save souls! How many precious hours wasted in following inclination instead of discharging duties! How much greater advancement might have been made in the knowledge of the truth! How much talent that was given of God for wise improvement, to be spent in his service, has been buried in the cares and allurements of this world! How much strength and courage might have been given to the individual members of the church, had they dedicated to God their talents and used them to his service and glory. And how many souls might have been saved, had they been wise, and sought first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
What can we say to arouse those who profess to be the followers of Christ, to a sense of the solemn responsibilities resting upon them? Is there no voice that shall arouse them to work while the day lasts? Our divine Master gave his life for a ruined world? Who will deny self, and make some sacrifice to save souls for whom he died?
In every act of life Christians should seek to represent Christ,--seek to make his service appear attractive. Let none make religion repulsive by groans and sighs and a relation of their trials, their self-denials, and sacrifices. Do not give the lie to your profession of faith by impatience, fretfulness, and repining. Let the graces of the Spirit be manifested in kindness, meekness, forbearance, cheerfulness, and love. Let it be seen that the love of Christ is an abiding motive; that your religion is not a dress to be put off and on to suit circumstances, but a principle, calm, steady, unvarying. Alas that pride, unbelief, and selfishness, like a foul cancer, are eating our vital godliness from the heart of many a professed Christian! When judged according to their works, how many will learn, too late, that their religion was but a glittering cheat, unacknowledged by Jesus Christ.
Love to Jesus will be seen, will be felt. It cannot be hidden. It exerts a wondrous power. It makes the timid bold, the slothful diligent, the ignorant wise. It makes the stammering tongue eloquent, and rouses the dormant intellect into new life and vigor. It makes the desponding hopeful, the gloomy joyous. Love to Christ will lead its possessor to accept responsibilities for his sake, and to bear them in his strength. Love to Christ will not be dismayed by tribulation, nor turned aside from duty by reproaches. The soul that is not imbued with this love for Jesus is none of his.
Peace in Christ is of more value than all the treasures of earth. Let us seek the Lord with all our heart, let us learn of Christ to be meek and lowly, that we may find rest of soul. Let us arouse our dormant energies, and become active, earnest, fervent. The very example and deportment, as well as the words, of the Christian should be such as to awaken in the sinner a desire to come to the Fountain of life.
Then let us open our hearts to the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Let us work cheerfully, joyfully, in the service of our Master. Let us praise him, not only by our words in the congregation of his saints, but by a well ordered life and godly conversation,--a life of active, noble Christian effort. Let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure, remembering that we shall triumph at last, if we do not become weary in well-doing.