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General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

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    Reading for Sunday, December 29.

    DURING the past week attention has been called to several important lines of thought relating to our individual connection with God, and the responsibility resting upon us in view of our relation to his work in the earth. The week has further been spent, it is hoped, in earnestly seeking the Lord, and studying to know his will concerning us; and this has given a more correct understanding of our opportunities and privileges as related to this time and the work of God with which we are connected.GCB December 1895, page 639.1

    God is now preparing a people who will pass through the most trying times that this world has ever experienced, and stand “without spot or wrinkle” before his throne in glory. Satan has come down with great power, knowing that his time is short. He is working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness, to draw away, if it were possible, even the very elect. The issues of life and death are before us. The great controversy is drawing to its close. Eternal destinies are hanging in the balance. Would that we could appreciate the reality of these things, for then we would surely be more prompt and faithful in the performance of the work committed to us.GCB December 1895, page 639.2

    A great deal has already been said in regard to the critical nature of this time and the manifold needs of the cause, but comparatively few seem to truly sense these things. It is as if we were on enchanted ground. A torpor has settled over many of our people, making them cold and inactive. Satan has blinded their eyes, and they fail to see the stirring incidents that are transpiring on every hand, and giving unmistakable evidence that the end of all things is near at hand. The following from the Spirit of prophecy is only one of the many faithful warnings that have come to us of late:—GCB December 1895, page 639.3

    “I am bidden to say to you that you know not how soon the crises may come. It is stealing gradually upon us as a thief. The sun shines in the heavens, passing over its usual round, and the heavens still declare the glory of God; men are still pursuing their usual course of eating and drinking, planting and building, marrying and giving in marriage; merchants are still engaged in buying and selling; publications are still issuing one upon another; men are jostling one against another, seeking to get the highest place; pleasure-lovers are still attending theaters, horse-races, gambling hells, and the highest excitement prevails; yet probation’s hour is fast closing, and every case is about to be eternally decided.”GCB December 1895, page 639.4

    Such are the solemn facts in regard to the nearness of Christ’s coming. It remains for us to consider the extent of the work which is to be done in the short time that is left. What is our commission? — “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.”GCB December 1895, page 640.1

    God has wonderfully favored us in committing this message to us, and in making us co-workers with him. But have we, in the past, been true to our high calling? Have we faithfully performed the work of warning the world? Here is where we have failed, and now note the consequences:—GCB December 1895, page 640.2

    “The work which the church has failed to do in a time of peace and prosperity, she will have to do in a terrible crisis, under most discouraging, forbidding circumstances. The warnings that worldly conformity has silenced or withheld, must be given under the fiercest opposition from enemies of the faith.... The members of the church will be individually tested and proved. They will be placed in circumstances where they will be forced to bear witness for the truth. Many will be called to speak before councils and courts of justice, perhaps separately and alone. The experience which would have helped them in this emergency, they have neglected to obtain, and their souls are burdened with remorse for wasted opportunities and neglected privileges.” — Testimony 32, p. 219.GCB December 1895, page 640.3

    It causes sadness to reflect upon our past failings. But it is dangerous to continue passive and indifferent to the divine claims upon us. Rather let us seek to redeem the time by redoubled zeal and effort. The most important thing is to know our present duty, and do it in the fear of God. What, then, should be our attitude toward the work to-day, in view of its great needs and our past neglect and indifference?GCB December 1895, page 640.4

    “My brother, my sister, ponder these things, I beseech you. You have each a work to do.... You lack the experience and efficiency which you might have had. But before it is forever too late, I urge you to arouse. Delay no longer. The day is almost spent. The westering sun is about sinking forever from your sight. Yet while the blood of Christ is pleading, you may find pardon. Summon every energy of the soul, employ the few remaining hours in earnest labor for God and for your fellow-men.” — Testimony 32, p.219.GCB December 1895, page 640.5

    It may be helpful to us as workers to consider some of the more specific needs of the cause at the present time. Perhaps the most important of these is the call for consecrated laborers. We are instructed by the Saviour to pray the Lord of the harvest that he send forth laborers into his vineyard. Are we doing this with the fervency and earnestness that would become us? and further, do our works correspond with our prayers? These are important questions.GCB December 1895, page 640.6

    In some respects we are doing more work than ever before. We are sending out missionaries in larger numbers than heretofore; but oh how few they are compared with the thousands and millions they go to labor for! We should have a hundred where we now have one.GCB December 1895, page 640.7

    Earnest, consecrated laborers are few in comparison to the demand, and frequently when we fill calls from foreign fields, our home work is crippled. Brethren and sisters, this ought not so to be. Our God is able to prepare workers to carry his truth. But his ability to work for us is limited by our lack of faith. When we freely give ourselves and all that we have into his hands, it is his delight to make us heavenly ambassadors, and clothe us with a power from on high that will more than conquer all the forces of the enemy. O what a privilege it is to have such a God! How little we appreciate it!GCB December 1895, page 640.8

    The burden of our missionary work should rest not only upon our ministers, but also upon our lay brethren. God has thus arranged it. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.” John 15:5.GCB December 1895, page 640.9

    “Every one who connects himself with the church makes in that act a solemn vow to work for the interest of the church, and to hold that interest above every worldly consideration. It is his work to preserve a living connection with God, to engage with heart and soul in the great scheme of redemption, and to show, in his life and character, the excellency of God’s commandments in contrast with the customs and precepts of the world. Every soul that has made a profession of Christ, has pledged himself to be all that it is possible for him to be as a spiritual worker, to be active, zealous, and efficient in his Master’s service. Christ expects every man to do his duty; let this be the watchword throughout the ranks of his followers.” — Testimony 32, p.216.GCB December 1895, page 640.10

    As soon as our people generally take hold of the work with heart and hand, and do their duty in the sight of God, the ranks of our missionaries will be filled, and it will then be possible to meet the demands for laborers. Active and energetic home missionaries will generally make a success of the work in foreign fields. The work is one everywhere.GCB December 1895, page 641.1

    Our second urgent need is that of means. Missionary enterprises already set on foot, must be supported; new fields must be entered, and additional laborers sent forth. God’s providence is going before us and opening the way in a marvelous manner, and we must follow in faith, trusting that our people will awake to the situation, and stand nobly in support of the work undertaken.GCB December 1895, page 641.2

    At the present time the General Conference Committee and Foreign Mission Board are laboring under much embarrassment. Urgent calls for help are coming in from every part of the world, and we are doing our utmost with the material at hand, to respond to them; but while doing this, we have been greatly perplexed to see the contributions to our different missionary funds falling off, so that, at the present time, our treasury is practically empty. Is this as God would have it? — It certainly cannot be. What is our duty to God and to the world in this respect? Let us carefully heed the testimony of his spirit:—GCB December 1895, page 641.3

    “Brethren, awake from your life of selfishness, and act like consistent Christians. The Lord requires you to economize your means, and let every dollar not needed for your comfort flow into the treasury.... The wants of the cause will continue to increase as we near the close of time.... Let us individually go to work to stimulate others by our example of disinterested benevolence. The work might have gone forward with far greater power had all done what they could to supply the treasury with means.”GCB December 1895, page 641.4

    Let us not retard the work of God by withholding the necessary means. He has made us the stewards of his goods, and he holds us responsible accordingly. God does not lack for means. He says, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” “and the cattle upon a thousand hills,” but he has chosen to do his work through human instruments, and made us co-laborers with himself. Christ left the glories of the heavenly court, came to this sin-cursed earth, lived a life of self-denial, and died upon the cruel cross. For our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich. It is required of his people that they follow in his footsteps. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” When this principle governs the lives of Christ’s followers today, there will be funds enough in the treasury, and the work will go with a mighty power. God is always faithful. He never fails to do his part, but as co-laborers with him we must also do ours. The plan of redemption intimately connects the divine with the human. God in his infinite love and mercy cooperates with fallen man in heralding the glad tidings of salvation.GCB December 1895, page 641.5

    As a people we profess to have light in advance of others. This places us in a position of peculiar responsibility with reference to our fellow-men. It is always incumbent upon God’s chosen people to exemplify in their lives the precepts of the Saviour, by showing a spirit of self-sacrifice, and giving freely of their means toward carrying on the work; and the fact that our time to work is short, and the Lord’s coming near at hand, when the things of this world will all pass away, should make us more mindful of laying up treasure in the heavens that fadeth not away. Our duty in this respect is plainly set forth in the following lines from Sister White:—GCB December 1895, page 641.6

    “We ought now to be heeding the injunction of our Saviour, ‘Sell that ye have and give alms: provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not.’ It is now that our brethren should be cutting down their possessions, instead of increasing them. We are about to move to a better country, even a heavenly. Then let us not be dwellers upon the earth, but be getting things into as compact a compass as possible.GCB December 1895, page 641.7

    “The time is coming when we cannot sell at any price. The decree will soon go forth prohibiting men to buy or sell of any man save him that hath the mark of the beast.” — Testimony 31, p.148.GCB December 1895, page 641.8

    This is an age of extravagance. Many unnecessary wants are created, and money is taken to supply them which ought to be used in carrying the truth to the world. Satan can invent numberless ways in which to divert money from the cause of God. Even among our own people thousands of dollars are spent in this way. Thus the professed servants of God are really advancing the cause of Satan. Doubtless this is the case especially with those to whom the Lord has entrusted the larger amount of means, but much improvement can be made also by those who have but little. We can deny ourselves in a variety of ways, and thus be able to contribute toward spreading the gospel. God looks on the heart, and not on the amount. Giving that involves real sacrifice is pleasing in his sight, whether the gift be small or great. The widow who cast in her two mites, which were all she had, was commended far above the others who gave of their abundance, and did not feel the loss.GCB December 1895, page 642.1

    The financial situation of our work demands careful consideration. Hundreds of laborers who have been sent out to different places, are wholly dependent on the General Conference for their support. If our funds fail, so that we cannot supply their necessities, they will be reduced to a suffering condition. Can we feel clear before God in the enjoyment of home privileges and comforts when our brethren and their families, who have at a great sacrifice left home and friends, and gone at the call of the Lord to labor in distant lands, often under adverse circumstances and subject to many privations, are suffering want? Some of them have gone to unfavorable climates, where untimely death has ended the life of many a missionary before them. Yet, moved by the love of Christ, they go without complaint or hesitation. Then shall not we who remain at home deny ourselves of everything that we do not really need, in order to help support them? Thus we may share the burden of the work, and also share in the joy of saving precious souls.GCB December 1895, page 642.2

    Possibly some may have questioned the propriety of the General Conference enlarging its field of operation, and sending out so many workers before the money had been provided to support them; though it is hardly possible that those who understand the nature of our work, will entertain such a thought for a moment. The fact is that we are behind the providence of God, and come far short of doing what we ought to do.GCB December 1895, page 642.3

    “Missionary work is to be widely extended; and those who believe the truth should avoid using their means in purchasing that which is unnecessary. We are not to study our conveniences, but rather our necessities. We shall have to bind about our wants in order that there shall be means in the treasury to raise the standard of truth in new territory. Seek God, believe in him who has infinite resources. If we move wisely, putting our ability into the work, the good hand of God will be upon us. We must push forward the work, not waiting to see the funds in the treasury before we undertake it. God forbid that when his providence summons us to enter the fields white already to harvest, our steps should be retarded by the cry, ‘Our treasury is exhausted. We have no means to sustain the workers that are already in the field, and it is impossible for us to enlarge our operations.’” — Special Testimony, p.50.GCB December 1895, page 642.4

    May this instruction meet with a hearty response on the part of all our people. The truth is going with power, and the earth is being lightened with its glory. This should be a source of joy and encouragement. It is your privilege and mine, dear brethren and sisters, to triumph with the gospel. God so desires. But if we prove unfaithful to our trust at this important time, God will choose others to bear the vessels of his truth. He must have willing and obedient servants, who will faithfully support his work, and in every way correctly represent his character to the world.GCB December 1895, page 642.5

    We have considered the crying need of workers and means. There is a third important need which should engage our earnest attention, and that is the need of a more complete consecration to God on the part of each member of his church. This matter is of even greater importance than the two that have been mentioned. The spiritual condition of God’s people has always been a just criterion of their work and activity. If we were fully awake to the time, and were all, both men and women, young and old, thoroughly consecrated to the work of the message, placing its interests foremost in everything, would there then be any lack of laborers? Would there be any lack of funds with which to support them? I think that every one will answer, No. So then the condition of personal religious experience becomes a question of vital interest to every individual.GCB December 1895, page 642.6

    The refreshing of the early rain is often referred to, and the power that then attended the gospel is spoken of with an earnest longing that it might be seen in our day. Our attention is sometimes called to the experience of 1844, and the wish is expressed that God’s Spirit might be manifested in like measure to-day. But has God changed? Is he less willing to work for his people now than he was then? — Not at all. The fault lies with us, his professed people. We have been too slow to believe his promises, and take him at his word. We have neglected to lay ourselves and all our possessions on the altar of sacrifice. We have gone after the world and the things thereof, forgetting that God would have us to be a peculiar people, zealous only of good works. We have allowed a stupor to come over us, bringing coldness and indifference. All these things we have done, and can we wonder that God’s power is not manifesting itself through us in as large a measure as would be desirable?GCB December 1895, page 643.1

    Let me ask, What was the condition of the disciples when the Holy Ghost descended upon them on the day of Pentecost? Were they slumbering, careless, indifferent? Were they covetous, holding on to the wealth and honors of this world while trying to secure a heavenly home? — No. Their whole heart was set on seeking God, and worldly things were lost sight of. Let God’s people to-day seek him with the same earnestness and zeal, and the Holy Spirit will be poured out in rich measure. Let earthly things be viewed in their true light, and let heart and mind be fixed on eternal interests; let indifference give way to fervent prayer and heart-searching; then we shall see the stately steppings of God among his people. The following words are very pertinent in this connection:—GCB December 1895, page 643.2

    “‘The day of the Lord is near and hasteth greatly;’ but where do we behold the true Advent spirit? Who are preparing to stand in that time of temptation which is just before us? The people to whom God has entrusted the sacred, solemn, testing truths for this time, are sleeping at their post. They say by their actions, We have the truth, we are ‘rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;’ while the true witness declares, ‘Thou knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.’”GCB December 1895, page 643.3

    How much we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Knowing as we do that the end of all things is at hand, how can we consistently withhold from God’s service talents and means that could be used in bringing salvation to thousands of lost and perishing right around us? I sometimes think, and there seems to be reason for it, that we do not really believe in the near coming of our Saviour. If we did, our course of action would be different. There would be greater fervor in the religious life, more praying, more earnest seeking of God, more active efforts put forth in behalf of our fellow-men; we would be shaping our affairs differently.GCB December 1895, page 643.4

    Now is the time to place our money where it can be used in the cause. Soon, yes, very soon, our possessions will be of no value. We have been told by the Spirit of prophecy that there will be a time, after the work has ended, when men will come and offer their money, and beg to have it used; but then it will be too late. The needs of the cause are placed before you to-day, brethren and sisters. We entreat you, consider the matter well. Act now as you will wish to have acted when you meet the realities of the great day of God. Do not think of giving only that which you can just as well do without. Make a real sacrifice. The rich blessing of God will be your reward. He loveth a cheerful giver.GCB December 1895, page 643.5

    We are engaged in a terrible conflict, but, thank God, there is glorious victory ahead. “Then let earnest and determined effort be made to beat back the terrible foe. We want to have on the whole armor of righteousness. Time is passing, and we are fast approaching the close of our probation. Will our names stand registered in the Lamb’s book of life, or shall we be found with the unfaithful? Are we of the number who shall gather around the great white throne, singing the song of the redeemed? There are no cold, formal ones in that throng. Every soul is in earnest, every heart full of thanksgiving for the marvelous love of God, and the overcoming grace that has enabled his people to conquer in the warfare against sin. And with a loud voice they swell the song, ‘Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.’” — Testimony 32, p.140. O. A. OLSEN.GCB December 1895, page 643.6

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