There are many workers in the cause who are not properly equipped for this great work, and when they are given some measure of success, they are in danger of becoming elated and self-sufficient. They work in their own strength, and do not discern their danger, and therefore, do not avoid the perils that are in their pathway. Erroneous ideas will be brought into the work, and presented as a part of the truth to the people; but everything that God has not connected with the truth will only serve to weaken the message and lessen the force of its claims. Satan is constantly seeking to divert the mind from the real work to a spurious work; and those who have but little experience in the dealings of God, are in danger of becoming bound about with overstrained notions, and of holding ideas similar in character to those which bound the Jews in the days of the Saviour's sojourn with men. The rigorous exactions of the Pharisees, the heavy yokes of the traditions of men, made of none effect the commandment of God, and the work of Christ was to free the truth from the rubbish of error and superstition, that men might behold the true character of God, and serve Him in spirit and in truth.
Those who proclaim the truth for today have a similar work to do. The truth must be lifted from the obscurity of men's traditions and errors that the world may behold the marvellous light of the gospel of the Son of God. There are those who turn away from this great and all-important work to follow their own way. They have independent ideas and will not receive counsel. They choose to follow their own course, until the third angel's message becomes a thing of minor importance, and finally it loses all its value. They hold another doctrine, opposed in principal to the doctrine of the Bible. They do not comprehend the nature of the work, and instead of leading the people to the firm platform of truth, they lead them to place their feet on the sandy foundations of error. They induce men to wear a yoke that is not the yoke of the meek and lowly Jesus.
We cannot exercise too great care in sending labourers into the cause of God. If one is left to engage in the work without thorough discipline, he is left to shape his own course. He is left with insufficient experience, with too limited knowledge of the truth, and the old errors which have not been thoroughly uprooted will bear a part in his teaching and influence. His trumpet will not give a certain sound. The doctrine of truth will be mingled with error, and the result will be that those who are taught will cherish error as they do the truth. Those who are raised up under such a teacher, are in need of the most arduous and patient labour. It will be more difficult to reach and correct their errors, than to bring a company into the truth from the darkness of complete ignorance of the truth. It would have been better if they had not heard this mingling of the truth with falsehood, for then the truth in its purity would be more effective in reforming their lives and characters. More harm can be done by one who has a mixture of truth and error, than many who teach the whole truth can undo and correct. There is in the human heart a natural affinity for error and evil. Error takes root in the soil of the heart more readily, and grows more vigorously than the precious seeds of truth. Jesus said, "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." John 5:43. The Jews rejected the divine Son of God; but they were ready to accept many an impostor who came in his own name, making empty boasts of his power and authority. And so it is in our day. Men turn away their ears from hearing the truth and are turned to fables.
Those who would labour in word and doctrine, should be firmly established in the truth before they are authorised to go out into the field to teach others. The truth, pure and unadulterated, must be presented to the people. It is the third angel's message that bears the true test to the people. Satan will lead men to manufacture false tests, and thus seek to obscure the value of, and make of none effect, the message of truth. The commandment of God that has been almost universally made void, is the testing truth for this time. The Sabbath of Jehovah is to be brought to the attention of the world, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear. The word of the Lord, by the prophet Isaiah, declares to the men of this time, "Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil." Isaiah 56:2. The Lord has said that the Sabbath was a sign between Him and His people forever. The time is coming when all those who worship God will be distinguished by this sign. They will be known as the servants of God, by this mark of their allegiance to Heaven. But all man-made tests will divert the mind from the great and important doctrines that constitute the present truth.
It is the desire and plan of Satan to bring in among us those who will go to great extremes--people of narrow minds, who are critical and sharp, and very tenacious in holding their own conceptions of what the truth means. They will be exacting, and will seek to enforce rigorous duties, and go to great lengths in matters of minor importance, while they neglect the weightier matters of the law--judgement and mercy and the love of God. Through the work of a few of this class of persons, the whole body of Sabbathkeepers will be designated as bigoted, Pharisaical, and fanatical. The work of the truth, because of these workers, will be thought to be unworthy of notice.
God has a special work for the men of experience to do. They are to guard the cause of God. They are to see that the work of God is not committed to men who feel it their privilege to move out on their own independent judgement, to preach whatever they please, and to be responsible to no one for their instructions or work. Let this spirit of self-sufficiency once rule in our midst, and there will be no harmony of action, no unity of spirit, no safety for the work, and no healthful growth in the cause. There will be false teachers, evil workers who will, by insinuating error, draw away souls from the truth. Christ prayed that His followers might be one as He and the Father were one. Those who desire to see this prayer answered, should seek to discourage the slightest tendency to division, and try to keep the spirit of unity and love among brethren.
God calls for labourers; but He wants those who are willing to submit their wills to His, and who will teach the truth as it is in Jesus. One worker who has been trained and educated for the work, who is controlled by the Spirit of Christ, will accomplish far more than ten labourers who go out deficient in knowledge, and weak in the faith. One who works in harmony with the counsel of God, and in unity with the brethren, will be more efficient to do good, than ten will be who do not realise the necessity of depending upon God, and of acting in harmony with the general plan of the work.
The instruction of Paul to Titus is applicable to this time, and to our workers: "Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine." Titus 2:1. The apostle had to contend with evils of a similar character to those with which we will have to contend. He speaks of the faithful worker as "holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not. . . . Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth." Titus 1:9-13.
There were those in Paul's day who were constantly dwelling upon circumcision, and they could bring plenty of proof from the Bible to show its obligation on the Jews; but this teaching was of no consequence at this time; for Christ had died upon Calvary's cross, and circumcision in the flesh could not be of any further value. The typical service and the ceremonies connected with it were abolished at the cross. The great antitypical Lamb of God had become an offering for guilty man, and the shadow ceased in the substance. Paul was seeking to bring the minds of men to the great truth for the time; but these who claimed to be followers of Jesus were wholly absorbed in teaching the tradition of the Jews, and the obligation of circumcision.
Instruction for the workers today is given in the word of truth: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15. "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:3-5. "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:5-6. "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement." 1 Corinthians 1:10.
Let those who contemplate giving themselves to the work, place themselves in connection with those who have had a good experience in the ways of God, and a knowledge of His cause. Let all seek a clear understanding of the Scriptures of truth. See to it that the living Saviour is your Saviour, and that you are following in His footsteps. Cultivate piety and humility of mind. Combat intellectual laziness and spiritual lethargy. Be ready for every work that you can do for the Master. Instead of catching up every new and fanciful interpretation of the Bible, cling to the message. Let not every influence affect you; but seek to develop a character that is consistent, meek, teachable, and yet firm and cheerful; and with all this, be sober and watch unto prayer. Walk in a perfect way. Let the high, sacred truth you profess be constantly elevating your character, ennobling and refining you, and fitting you for the heavenly courts. The learners in Christ's school must show that they are not unappreciative scholars. Let the sanctifying grace of God strengthen, soften, and subdue your entire nature. You must yourself be what you wish others to be. Christ prayed concerning His disciples, "I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified." John 17:19. Bring into your life the piety, the Christian courtesy, the respect for one another that you wish to see reflected in those who embrace the truth through your instrumentality.
Review and Herald, May 29, 1888.