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Manuscript Releases, vol. 17 [Nos. 1236-1300]

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    MR No. 1269—Every Person Has God-Given Talents Which Should Bear Fruit; Church Leaders Not to Exercise Absolute Control Over Others

    (Written May 11, 1896, from Granville, Sydney, NSW, “To My Brethren in Battle Creek.”)

    All secret working is open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. To handle men as if they were machinery, binding their freedom by methods and terms, is an offense which God will not tolerate. This work cannot be done without imperiling souls. But too often men seek to harness men, and drive them as horses are driven. Right principles are perverted by selfishness and covetousness, which is pronounced by God to be idolatry. It is easy for men who suppose their power to be unlimited, to follow the guidance of their own spirit, and make propositions and decisions that turn the work out of the straightforward channels in which God designs it shall travel, into crooked paths. But because a man is in a position at the heart of the work, where he thinks no one would dare to say to him, “Why do ye so wickedly?” he should not seek to rule as a lord over God's heritage.17MR 196.1

    These words God has been and is still addressing to those who are standing in high places of trust. Many have been corrupted, some more and some less, by your deceptive reasoning. You have thought that whatever your councils decided, would stand as the voice of God; but this supposition must no longer exist. You have the Word of God; you have the message which God has given; but you have turned away from obeying this Word.17MR 196.2

    My brethren, angels of God have veiled their faces at the partiality and hypocrisy which has been shown by some. Deceptions similar to that of Jacob are practiced, and the time has come to investigate the teachings of Christ to ancient Israel.17MR 196.3

    God will in no case justify any attempt to turn man from his rights. He will not excuse men for grasping all they possibly can, by deceptive reasoning, irrespective of their own agreements or of the result their course will have upon those disappointed and wronged. Do as you have been doing a little longer and the confidence of the people in any voice from Battle Creek will be destroyed.17MR 197.1

    The word of the Lord to you is, Who has made man? Did you, who treat him as your machine, give him flesh and blood, nerve and muscle? Did you create the mind, the intellect, with which he is to serve Me in My appointed way? Who entrusted man with talents, that he might make the best use of them, and return them to God? I, the Lord, have created man. I, the Lord, gave him reasoning powers. I, the Lord, redeemed him with the blood of My only begotten Son. By creation and by redemption he is Mine. I will demand of him the talents which I loaned him to do My service.17MR 197.2

    Those who have sought unjustly to ruin their fellow men, who have taken man, soul and body, under their control, will have an account to render to God. Some in Battle Creek have sought to guide and control God's human instrumentalities. God says, They are Mine, Mine to work, Mine to impress, Mine to imbue with My Spirit, Mine to use to My name's glory. I give to every human being opportunities to use and improve his abilities and talents, to advance My work, to proclaim My righteousness in the earth. How dare you dictate and seek to control My chosen instrumentalities?17MR 197.3

    The buildings that in your pride you have erected do not glorify Me. The salvation of one soul is more to Me than costly mansions, than gold or silver. But you have made an atom of a world, and a world of an atom. These buildings will soon perish, but they have not a living soul. The souls I have bought at an infinite price—the gift of My only begotten Son—you have failed to appreciate. Some have been treated with partiality and others with indifference, as though they were mere machines. Some have been driven away from Me, and led to despise Me, because of your insincerity and unjust dealing. These souls I will require at your hands. The riches of a world sink into insignificance when compared with the loss of a soul. And yet you have treated those who would not voice your man-made commandments, your human resolutions, as though they did not possess souls capable of living through the eternal ages.17MR 197.4

    Christ died to bring life and immortality to light through the gospel, and therefore man is of value in God's sight. He is to do his part, working where he finds himself best adapted; for God has given him talents and power to use these talents. He is to cultivate his capabilities. He is not to be a machine, a shadow of another man, but is to use his God-given intellect, and with humble, contrite heart ask God for wisdom. He is not to absorb another man's propositions simply because that man is in a high position of trust, but is to remember that there is a fountain of living water from which he may drink, and drink again. The source of divine power is open to all.17MR 198.1

    Man is only finite. At best his sphere is limited. If he is a branch of the living Vine, he must, with other branches, draw nourishment from the parent stock. This makes him of value with God. If men do not draw daily sustenance from the living Vine, they cannot bear the fruit of the Vine, and are cast forth as worthless branches, to be consumed.17MR 198.2

    Let all remember that however flourishing they may appear to be, they do not bear the Vine; the Vine bears them. The power to produce fruit is not in them, but in the parent stock. As they draw nourishment from the parent stock, they bear abundant fruit.17MR 198.3

    Every branch has a work to do. Christ says: [John 15:2-8, quoted].17MR 199.1

    This figure of the vine and the branches is a precious representation of the living Christian and the dead, fruitless professor who claims to be of Christ and yet does not the works of Christ.17MR 199.2

    The character of a man's work is determined by the fruit he bears. Look into his home life. Is he gathering with Christ? Do his spirit, his words, and his actions testify that he has learned in the school of Christ to be meek and lowly, to wear Christ's yoke of perfect obedience?17MR 199.3

    “As the Father hath loved Me,” said Christ, “so have I loved you: continue ye in My love. If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love” [verses 9, 10]. Every soul that has a vital connection with God will reveal the works and ways of God. The doing of the commandments of God is his absorbing interest. He receives light from Christ, and radiates it to others.17MR 199.4

    When men are selected as counsellors, they are looked upon as guardians to protect the rights of those with whom they are connected. To all in this position I would say, When any man, high or low, rich or poor, needs sympathy, advice, or help, bind that man to your heart by wise, compassionate, tender love. Let there be no harshness, no demeaning, for he is Christ's property, beloved of Jesus Christ. Satan has bound him up with sin; he finds sorrow and pain and misery in sin. He is seeking for Jesus. Lift Him up, the man of Calvary, for one soul saved is worth more than the riches of a world.17MR 199.5

    But this work of soul saving has been neglected; personal efforts have not been made. Men in responsible positions, craving large buildings “to make an appearance and give character to the work,” have neglected the only means that can give character to the work. The only way they can do this is to abide in the Vine, and show by their good works that they are vitally connected with it. Thus they can represent Christ in the fruit they bear, and diffuse light to the world. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” [Isaiah 58:6]. “And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” [verse 11]. Christ says of His work: [Isaiah 61:1-3, quoted].17MR 199.6

    The further the Pharisees separated from God, the more eager they were to manufacture commandments restricting the freedom of their fellow men. They bound heavy burdens upon them, grievous to be borne. They transgressed the commandments of God, and mingled with them the traditions and maxims of men. These traditions they exalted above the word of God. “In vain they do worship Me,” said Christ, “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”17MR 200.1

    This is true in regard to those who have done a work which God has not authorized them to do. The very work that should be done, brought to view in Isaiah 61:1-3, has been strangely neglected. Some have been very ready to pronounce judgment upon the work of their fellow men, because it did not exactly represent their ideas. But has God pronounced them infallible? The spirit they have manifested in pronouncing judgment upon God's messengers shows their fallibility and their ignorance, both of the Scriptures and of the power of God. These men are counterworking the work of God. They have felt at liberty to make decisions and laws which would bring talent under their jurisdiction. They have placed themselves in the judgment seat, to control their fellow men. But has God appointed them to do this work? He would say of them, “What doest thou here? Who sent you on this journey? Who gave you this errand to perform? Who made you a critic and judge on matters of doctrine? Who appointed you to pick and to choose the words and expressions which My servants shall use?”17MR 200.2

    God is true. God is trustworthy. He speaks to men, and moves upon human hearts. The very words you would cut out of their articles are, it may be, the very words God has said should be written. God has been imparting light to His people in large measure; and He has not set up an acquisition at Battle Creek to decide questions which should be taken to Him. He does not design that those to whom He has given His Holy Spirit shall be worked by men who need a much larger measure of the grace of God before they can decide what is truth and what is error.17MR 201.1

    It has been the misfortune of some in Battle Creek to be afflicted with a defective eyesight. Like the Jews, they see everything in the light of their own understanding. But does this prove them to be infallible? This spirit, cherished, ruined the Jewish nation, and God will not sanction it in any of His professed people. Men need to pray for the heavenly enlightenment. God calls upon all, high and low, to fasten their eyes upon an uplifted Saviour, and make their souls secure by being clothed in the garments of His righteousness.17MR 201.2

    I have been shown that the ability and talents of every man are entrusted to him by God, and that men are never to be so controlled that they will express and act another man's mind. God has given every man his work. To one He gave five talents, to another two, to another one. To each individual is entrusted some peculiar gift. Every man, woman, and child is in possession of varied talents which may be sanctified to the Master's use, and for which he is responsible to God, the donor.17MR 201.3

    To be talented is not to be applied to a favored class whose privilege it is to look down upon others as being deficient in tact and intellect. The whole family of God is entrusted with talents; they are responsible agents, and are to trade upon the Lord's goods, and learn to acquire more. God will bless all who will use the abilities which He has entrusted to them. If they are faithful and humble, realizing their dependence upon Him to whom they must render an account of their mental and physical endowments, they will receive wisdom from Him, as did Daniel, who looked to God for wisdom and then put into exercise every power that God had given him, until he became a trusted man in the kingdom of Babylon.17MR 202.1

    From the lowest and most obscure to those highest in position, each one has his place in the family of God. Each one has been entrusted with gifts. He is to make the most of his talents, putting them out to the exchangers. The smallest gift should not be ignored or despised. It is not the number of talents that makes men valuable in the sight of God, but the way in which they appreciate and employ their talents. God's gifts are not to be used to glorify self. They must be prized as His gifts, and sacredly consecrated to His glory.17MR 202.2

    While probationary time lasts, men should work the works of God, “for the night cometh, when no man can work.” God requires of every one vigilant work, combined with faithful waiting and watching. Working alone will not do. Bustle and continual activity are not enough to satisfy the requirements of God. We must “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” We must not move hurriedly. We must work and watch and pray and wait.17MR 202.3

    God's children must cultivate personal piety. With humble, contrite hearts they must cherish the love of God, fearing to walk contrary to His will and way. They must be active in every line of service, “not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” With unceasing watchfulness and sincere, earnest prayer, they must keep their lamps trimmed and burning. Every opportunity that presents itself to serve God must be improved. By use our gifts will increase. Christlike virtues are active. The talents are exemplified by representing Christ in every line. This is Christian character, shining in Christian virtues. This is Bible religion. “Take heed to thyself, and to the doctrine.” The neglect of personal piety will make the most so-called splendid endowments of no value in the sight of God. The most splendid service so-called is nothing to Him unless soul, body, and spirit are devoted to His service.17MR 202.4

    The responsibility of each soul is measured by the endowment of grace he has received from God. All are to be laborers together with God. Those who feel sure that they have large ability, that they have been entrusted with a great work, must reveal the character of that work. They may engage in many lines, they may lead a very busy life; but this is of no account with God. Are they yoked up with Christ? is the question God asks. Do they work in Christ's lines, or do they reveal their hereditary and cultivated tendencies?17MR 203.1

    “We are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry; ye are God's building.” All are to labor as Christ labored, increasing in spirituality, and growing in wisdom and knowledge and “in favor with God and man.” Growing—how? To the full stature of men and women in Christ.17MR 203.2

    But when a man in a position of responsibility grows in self-sufficiency, and lifts up his soul unto vanity, feeling the inclination to act as ruler toward any member of God's family, wait no longer, relieve him of his trust; for God is not with him. He will hurt souls. He is venturing a warfare at his own charges. He feels capable of doing a great work without Christ's help. He will exalt himself as a man of superior wisdom, who must be highly esteemed. He thinks that his brethren must do as he decides. God is given no chance to work; for he will tell what this one shall do with his talents and what place that man must occupy, as if he were God. He will take it upon him to lord it over God's heritage. It is not safe to keep any such one in the work in which eternal interests are involved; for he will mingle selfishness, injustice, and unrighteousness with his service. He is a backslider from right principles, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from iniquity.17MR 203.3

    The Lord is now proving every man's fidelity. Some will surrender soul, body, and spirit to the Lord. The church is made up of large and small vessels, and a large revenue is brought to the Lord from the goods He has lent. But God alone can judge the capabilities of His servants. He alone has the power to discern the time and the talents employed for Him. If those entrusted with few talents are faithful in their work, they receive just as large a reward as the one to whom a larger number of talents was entrusted.17MR 204.1

    When men think that they can decide who has accomplished the most good, and treat God's workers accordingly, they often make serious mistakes. The man who is humble, and does his work as unto God and not to man, may not make as great a show as the man who is full of bustle and show; but his work counts for more. Often the one who makes a great parade calls attention to himself, interposing himself between the people and God, and his work proves a dead failure.17MR 204.2

    Those whom God has highly gifted carry a weight of responsibility which they must meet in the judgment. They are responsible for the improvement or the abuse of their talents. If the steward is not faithful, he will be challenged and condemned for corrupting his power and dishonoring his God. We are trading upon God's property. Are we presenting Christ in character? When we seek to reveal the character of Christ, accepting the gift of the Holy Spirit, God will work with us. We will be Christlike. No rebuffs, no harsh, stinging, condemnatory words will come from our lips. We will not lock the door of our hearts against the Holy Spirit's entrance. When God works, we will not say, “It is fanaticism.” No guile will be found on our lips. We will be holy in all manner of conversation, serving God with singleness of purpose. Then we shall be prepared for a pleasant day of reckoning.17MR 204.3

    In the day when God comes to make up His jewels, the works of every soul will stand out clearly and distinctly, not heaped together in an indiscriminate mass. He who bestowed the gift will scrutinize the returns received from every talent. He knows just what men have done, and will reward them accordingly. Happy will be those to whom the words of commendation are spoken, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”17MR 205.1

    The trouble with those in Battle Creek is that they have forgotten that God is not dependent on their fluency or on their business ability. God could do more for them were their hearts humble and contrite; for He can use such workers, while the self-sufficient He cannot use. God will select whom He will for His work. The Lord Jesus when on earth selected fishermen, whom He knew would be willing to be molded. He did not measure their efficiency by their knowledge of grammar or by their business ability, but He prayed to His Father, “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.”17MR 205.2

    There is a diversity of gifts. If those who have received many talents feel the need of keeping proportionately near the Saviour, of keeping closely yoked up with Christ, if they understand that they must live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, their endowments will be used in such a manner that they will be a rich blessing to their fellow men. But men have been proved in Battle Creek, and it has been made manifest that they have not all been “diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” They have been ready to tell this man what he must do, and that man what he must not do, and so the ordering and directing has gone on. They have made rules and resolutions and agreements with their fellow men, only to change and break them, to promise and not perform. Yet notwithstanding their failure to practice well-defined, Christian principles, they have been anxious for more power, anxious to take more responsibilities.17MR 205.3

    God has written in the books of heaven, “Weighed in the balances, and found wanting.” Many have given abundant evidence of their selfishness. They have placed themselves as judges, to judge their fellow men. Yet their cruelty and injustice have not been sufficiently discerned to enable those connected with them to see to what a pass we are coming. God is displeased. His anger is kindled against the men who have acted as gods. Like the Jews, they have been loading the cloud of vengeance, which must at last break upon them. Unless they shall now understand that the souls of men are not given into their hand, that they cannot act out their selfish, avaricious covetousness under the plea that it is for the cause of God, there will be no remedy for them.17MR 206.1

    Wake up, brethren, wake up, before it is too late for your characters to be changed. “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” [Isaiah 55:6, 7].—Letter 7, 1896.17MR 206.2

    Ellen G. White Estate

    Washington, D. C.,

    July 9, 1987.

    Entire Letter.

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