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The Latter Rain!
Our Great Need
Ellen G White
(Review & Herald, July 16 and 23, 1895)
"Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?" Acts 19:2.
The emphasis, titles, and separations of new paragraphs have been added by the compilers.
Our Demand and Reception.
[We are not waiting for Him - He is waiting for us!]
The promise of the Spirit now!
Just prior to His leaving His disciples for the heavenly courts, Jesus encouraged them with the promise of the Holy Spirit. This promise belongs as much to us as it did to them, and yet how rarely it is presented before the people, and its reception spoken of in the church.
In consequence of this silence upon this most important theme, what promise do we know less about by its practical fulfilment than this rich promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit, whereby efficiency is to be given to all our spiritual labor?
The promise of the Holy Spirit is casually brought into our discourses, is incidentally touched upon, and that is all.
Prophecies have been dwelt upon, doctrines have been expounded, but that which is essential to the church in order that they may grow in spiritual strength and efficiency, in order that the preaching may carry conviction with it, and souls be converted to God, has been largely left out of ministerial effort.
Some time in the future?
This subject has been set aside, as if some time in the future would be given to its consideration. Other blessings and privileges have been presented before the people until a desire has been awakened in the church for the attainment of the blessing promised of God; but the impression concerning the Holy Spirit has been that this gift is not for the church now, but that at some time in the future it would be necessary for the church to receive it.
It is our great need now!
This promised blessing, if claimed by faith, would bring all other blessings in its train, and it is to be given liberally to the people of God.
Through the cunning devices of the enemy the minds of God's people seem to be incapable of comprehending and appropriating the promises of God. They seem to think that only the scantiest showers of grace are to fall upon the thirsty soul. The people of God have accustomed themselves to think that they must rely upon their own efforts, that little help is to be received from heaven; and the result is that they have little light to communicate to other souls who are dying in error and darkness.
The church has long been contented with little of the blessing of God; they have not felt the need of reaching up to the exalted privileges purchased for them at infinite cost. Their spiritual strength has been feeble, their experience of a dwarfed and crippled character, and they are disqualified for the work the Lord would have them to do. They are not able to present the great and glorious truths of God's Holy Word that would convict and convert souls through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
The power of God awaits their demand and reception.
A harvest of joy will be reaped by those who sow the holy seeds of truth. "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." [Psalm 126:6].
Special Testimony to Our Ministers. -- No. 2 ................... (DocID: 170247)
A necessary requirement
"Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." [Acts 1:8]
God has left nothing undone that could in any way work for the recovering of man from the toils of the enemy. He poured upon the disciples the Holy Spirit, in order that they might be enabled to co-operate with divine agencies in reshaping and remodelling human character. Of the Holy Spirit Jesus said, "He will reprove ("convince," margin) the world of sin, of righteous- ness, and of judgment." [John 16:8] The Holy Spirit is not only to sanctify but to convict. No one can repent of his sins until he is convicted of his guilt. How necessary, then, it is that we should have the Holy Spirit with us as we labor to reach fallen souls. Our human abilities will be exercised in vain unless they are united with this heavenly agency.
Men have fallen low, they are sunk in depths of sinful degradation, and it is because of a lack of knowledge, of the want of connection with vitalizing truth, and because they are contaminated by the corrupting influence of error.
We are to reveal the divine character
In the work of saving men, men and angels are to work in harmony, teaching the truth of God to those who are unlearned therein, in order that they may be set free from the bonds of sin. Truth alone can make men free. The liberty that comes through a knowledge of truth is to be proclaimed to every creature. Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the angels of heaven are all interested in this grand and holy work. To man has been given the exalted privilege of revealing the divine character of unselfishly seeking to rescue man from the pit of ruin into which he has been plunged. Every human being who will submit to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit, is to be used for the accomplishment of this divinely conceived purpose. Christ is the head of His church, and it will glorify Him the more to have every portion of that church engaged in the work for the salvation of souls.
Our Saviour is to be more distinctly recognised, and acknowledged as the all sufficiency of His church. He alone can perfect the faith of his people. There is to be no wrestling for the supremacy among us, no exalting of self.
Lift up Jesus
No, brethren, let us lift up Jesus, and we shall reap a rich harvest. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." [John 12:32]. Lift him up then; exalt the Holy One; proclaim Him "the Desire of all nations," "the chiefest among ten thousand," the one "altogether lovely." [Haggai 2:7; Song of Solomon 5:10,16]. Let every church of every region take hold with an intense interest to help advance the cause. And while you labour for your own locality, pray for the general prosperity and upbuilding of the church throughout the vast harvest-field. [See Our Great Need of Prayer" as well as the next paragraph on how to do this]
There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents, than over the ninety and nine who suppose they need no repentance. When we hear of the success of the truth in any locality, let the whole church join in songs of rejoicing, let praises ascend to God. Let the name of the Lord be glorified by us, and we shall be inspired with greater zeal to become workers together with God. The Lord urges us to fulfil the injunction, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." [Mark 16:15].
The Spirit is to be in command
But we need to leave more room for the working of the Holy Spirit, in order that labourers may be bound together and may move forward in the strength of a united body of soldiers.
Let all remember that we are "a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." [1 Corinthians 4:9]. Therefore each one should inquire with meekness and fear, What is my path of duty? Entire consecration to the service of God will reveal the molding influence of the Holy Spirit at every step along the way. When apparent impossibilities arise in your path, present the ever ready, complete efficiency of the Holy Spirit before your unbelieving heart, that it may shame away your over-cautious spirit. When your faith is weak, your efforts feeble, talk of the great Comforter, the Strength of heaven. When you are inclined to doubt that God is working by His Holy Spirit through human agents, remember that God has used the church and is using it to the glory of His own name. If men will not obstruct the way, God will move upon the minds of many more to engage in active service for Him.
Christ's prayer to His Father in behalf of His followers was not in the interest of a few; it embraced every believer in the Son of God.
"Neither pray I," said Christ, "for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." [John 17:20-21].
The words of this prayer are very precious. Notice what follows:
"And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one; I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and has loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." [Verses 22-23].
The Christian army is needed
Of all persons on the earth the true Christian is the one that the world has the most need of. But while they remain in the world, they are not to be of the world. The Saviour prayed: "I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil." [John 17:15]. The religion of the Bible is to be revealed in this world, in order that souls may be led to discern Christ, the Light of the world. As light is revealed, by following that light we may escape from all darkness; for He has said, "He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of life." [John 8:12].
The rays of the Light of life shining from the Lord Jesus enable humanity to pick [choose] their ground, to wage successful warfare, and triumph over the powers of darkness.
This glorious Light reveals the abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Walking in its beams we find ready admittance there.
The great General is not only leading a few soldiers; but the Captain of the Lord's host is leading the armies of both heaven and earth to battle; they are marching on to a glorious victory. Every soldier is to put on the whole armour of God, and fight courageously, realising that he is battling in full view of the invisible universe. If the Lord's army will obey orders, they will find themselves influenced by the Holy Spirit to work the works of God. The battlefield is glorified with the light shining from the cross of Calvary.
The prayer of Christ, "That they may be one in Us," should be responded to by every Christian. Each one should show an example of holy devotion, of unreserved consecration, to His service. They should be models of self-denying, self-sacrificing laborers, after the example of Jesus, that God may be glorified on the earth, and that, beholding the love which binds the believers together, the world may realize that God has sent His Son to save them from their sins; and that, believing, many souls may be sanctified through the truth.
The promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit is not comprehended as it should be. The privileges to be enjoyed through its acceptance are not appreciated as they might be.
God desires that His church shall lay hold by faith upon His promises, and ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to help them in every place. He assures us that He is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him, than parents are to give good gifts unto their children.
We are to learn individually
Since it is possible for every one to have the heavenly unction, "Ye need not that any man teach you," [1 John 2:27] and there is no excuse for shunning responsibilities.
No duty should be unwelcome, no obligation evaded. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally." [James 1:5]. Place more confidence in "Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." [1 Corinthians 1:30].
The work of God is retarded by criminal unbelief in His power to use the common people to carry forward His work successfully.
Because men cannot see every step forward distinctly marked out before them, they question, doubt, and hesitate, under the plea of caution. They will not walk by faith, but move by sight alone.
O that frail man would realize that it is the General of the armies of heaven that is leading and directing the movements of His allies on earth. Christ Himself is the renewing power, working in and through every soldier by the agency of the Holy Spirit. Every individual is to become an instrument in His hands to work for the salvation of souls. Not one who desires to labor for the Master is to be refused a place, if he is a true follower of Christ. Every one has his responsibilities to bear in the cause of Christ. The efficiency of the Spirit of God will make effective the labors of all who are willing to submit to His guidance.
Do not try to control others
Therefore, how careful every officer in the Lord's army should be that he does not interpose the commandments and rulings of men between the soldier and his Captain. "Without me," says Christ, "ye can do nothing." [John 15:5]. If the officers abide not in Christ, they can do nothing. How careful, how humble, should every soul be that is enrolled in the Lord's army; how meek and free from self-sufficiency should all His officers prove themselves to be.
The end of all things is at hand. God is moving upon every mind that is open to receive the impressions of His Holy Spirit. He is sending out messengers that they may give the warning in every locality. God is testing the devotion of His churches and their willingness to render obedience to the Spirit's guidance. Knowledge is to be increased. The messengers of Heaven are to be seen running to and fro, seeking in every possible way to warn the people of the coming judgments, and presenting the glad tidings of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. The standard of righteousness is to be exalted. The Spirit of God is moving upon men's hearts, and those who respond to its influence will become lights in the world. Everywhere they are seen going forth to communicate to others the light they have received as they did after the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. And as they let their light shine, they receive more and more of the Spirit's power. The earth is lighted with the glory of God.
The Laodiciean condition
But, O sad picture!
Those who do not submit to the influence of the Holy Spirit soon lose the blessings received when they acknowledged the truth as from Heaven. They fall into a cold, spiritless formality; they lose their interest in perishing souls: they have "left their first love." [Revelation 2:4]. And Christ says unto them, "Remember therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
He will take His Holy Spirit from the church, and give it to others who will appreciate it.
There is no greater evidence that those who have received great light do not appreciate that light, than is given by their refusal to let their light shine upon those who are in darkness, and devoting their time and energies in celebrating forms and ceremonies.
Thoughts of the inner work, the necessary purity of heart, are not entertained. The absence of harmony with God becomes apparent. The light grows dim, goes out; the candlestick has been removed. There is much exercising of man-made authority by those to whom God has not given His wisdom because they did not feel the need of the wisdom from above. This wisdom, "First pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy," [James 3:17] is contrary to their disposition. They have not the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, with which the believer in Jesus should be adorned. They do not represent the meek and lowly Carpenter of Nazareth. They set aside as of little value that which God has said "is of great price." [Matthew 13:46].
Let God work
God has not appointed any man guide, nor made any man conscience for another; therefore let human hands be withheld from restraining His servants who feel the burden to enter His vineyard to labour. Let God work with His own chosen agents by His Holy Spirit.
No human being is to sit in judgment upon his brother. Neither are any to feel that they can handle roughly the precious pearls for which Christ gave His life. The pearl, the precious human pearl, was found by Christ. Let man be warned; be careful how you treat the Lord's "peculiar treasure." [Exodus 19:5]. All discourtesy, all pain, all neglect, which these souls suffer at your hands, is charged against you as inflicted upon Jesus Christ. They are not to be treated in a lordly, commanding manner. Laws and rules are being made at the centres of the work that will soon be broken into atoms. Men are not to dictate.
He will use whom He will
It is not for those in places of authority to employ all their powers to sustain some, while others are cast down, ignored, forsaken, and left to perish. But it is the duty of the leaders to lend a helping hand to all who are in need. Let each work in the line which God may indicate to him by His Holy Spirit. The soul is accountable to God alone. Who can say how many avenues of light have been closed by arrangements which the Lord has not advised or instituted? The Lord does not ask permission of those in responsible positions when He wishes to use certain ones as His agents for the promulgation of truth. But He will use whom He will use. He will pass by men who have not followed His council, men who feel capable and sufficient to work in their own wisdom; and He will use others who are thought by these supposedly wise ones to be wholly incompetent. Many who have some talent think that they are necessary to the cause of God. Let them beware lest they stretch themselves beyond their measure, and the Lord shall leave them to their own ways, to be filled with their own doings. None are to exercise their human authority to bind the minds and souls of their fellow-men. They are not to devise and put in practise methods and plans to bring every individual under their jurisdiction.
Those who know the truth are to be worked by the Holy Spirit,
and not themselves to try to work the Spirit.
The breaking of shackles
If the cords are drawn much tighter, if the rules are made much finer, if men continue to bind their fellow laborers closer and closer to the commandments of men, many will be stirred by the Spirit of God to break every shackle, and assert their liberty in Christ Jesus. If men would act toward their fellow-men as to those whom Christ loves, if they would obey the commandment to "Love thy neighbour as thyself," there would be sweet harmony among the brethren. [Matthew 22:39].
How much better it would be if those who claim to be Christians would behave like Christians.
How much better it would be if all would cease speaking of their own good works and ways, indulging their self-esteem; refrain from the putting forth of the finger, imagining evil, and using their influence to weaken, oppress, and destroy. If men will not come to the terms made by the leading workers, they will not entertain them, they do not care what results may follow their injustice. With them it is rule or ruin. God has not appointed any man to do such work. And no human being shall be permitted to prescribe my liberty or intrench upon the perfect freedom of my brethren, without hearing my voice lifted in protest against it.
God will move upon men of humble position in society, men who have not become insensible to the bright rays of light through so long contemplating the light of truth, and refusing to make any improvement or advancement therein. Many such will be seen hurrying hither and thither constrained by the Spirit of God to bring the light to others. The truth, the word of God, is as a fire in their bones, filling them with a burning desire to enlighten those who sit in darkness. Many, even among the uneducated, now proclaim the words of the Lord. Children are impelled by the Spirit to go forth and declare the message from Heaven. The Spirit is poured out upon all who will yield to its promptings, and, casting off all man's machinery, his binding rules and cautious methods, they will declare the truth with the might of the Spirit's power. Multitudes will receive the faith and join the armies of the Lord.
Many of those who are professedly followers of the Lord at the present time do not submit themselves to the guidance of His Spirit, but try to harness up the Holy Spirit, and drive it in their way. All such must abandon their self-sufficiency, and yield themselves unreservedly to the Lord, that He may work out His good pleasure in and through them.
The seven last plagues are about to descend upon the disobedient. Many have let the gospel invitation go unheeded; they have been tested and tried; but mountainous obstacles have seemed to loom up before their faces, blocking their onward march. Through faith, perseverance, and courage, many will surmount these obstructions and walk out into the glorious light. Almost unconsciously barriers have been erected in the straight and narrow way; stones of stumbling have been placed in the path; these will all be rolled away.
The safeguards which false shepherds have thrown around their flocks will become as naught; thousands will step out into the light, and work to spread the light. Heavenly intelligences will combine with the human agencies. Thus encouraged, the church will indeed arise and shine, throwing all her sanctified energies into the contest; thus the design of God is accomplished; the lost pearls are recovered. Prophets have discerned this grand work afar off, and have caught the inspiration of the hour, and traced the wonderful descriptions of things yet to be.
The blind lead the blind
Our people have had great light, and yet much of our ministerial force is exhausted on the churches, in teaching those who should be teachers;
enlightening those who should be "the light of the world;"
watering those from whom should flow springs of living water;
enriching those who might be veritable mines of precious truth;
repeating the gospel invitation to such as should be scattered to the uttermost parts of the earth communicating the message of Heaven to many who have not had the privileges which they have enjoyed;
feeding those who should be in the byways and highways heralding the invitation, "Come; for all things are now ready." [Luke 14:17]. Come to the gospel feast; come to the supper of the lamb; for all things are now ready."
Jacob's trouble now?
Now is the time for earnest wrestling with God. Our voices should join the Saviour's in that wonderful prayer: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." [Matthew 6:10]. Let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Many may ask, "Who is sufficient for these things?" [2 Corinthians 2:16]. The responsibility rests upon every individual. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God." [2 Corinthians 3:5]. The scheme of salvation is not to be worked out under the laws and rules specified by men. There must be no fixed rules; our work is a progressive work, and there must be room left for methods to be improved upon.
But under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, unity must and will be preserved.
All part of one body
All the revelations of the past bring added responsibilities upon the workers in these last days. The past, present, and future are linked together. We must learn lessons from the experiences of other ages. If there are any of our brethren who think that they have devised plans by which they can secure a monopoly of any line of God's work, they are released from all such burdens. Individually we form a part of the great whole, fulfilling our part in the scenes foreseen long ages ago.
In the counsels of God a place was assigned to every person, and each one is to devote his entire ability, his influence, the energy of his whole being, in an earnest endeavor to discharge the responsibility laid upon him. It is the duty of every human intelligence to put into daily practice the instructions of Christ in the seventeenth chapter of John by living a practical Christian life. We are to be united to one another in the bonds of Christ-like love. This is the path marked out for all. By following in it, without boasting, without self-exaltation, we may satisfy the high claims of God upon us.
If any are inclined to boast of their superior talents, let them bear in mind that these talents are Another's, only lent to them for a season, and that if they are not employed in the Lord's work, they will be taken from them. Make no boasts of your extensive knowledge and influence. The great plan of redemption connects every man with his fellow-labourer. The influence of the past helps to mold the work of the present, and that in its turn enables us to lay hold of the work line after line, upon which we may carry on the future work. All these agencies have a close relation, not only to time, but to the endless ages of the future, reaching into eternity.
Cease to trust in man
Let man now cease to trust in man. While they should respect God's plan for unity of action, let all remember that the Holy Spirit is molding and fashioning the human agent in the divine similitude. The life that is hid with Christ in God is revealed through men.
We are now living in the closing scenes of this world's history. Let men tremble with the sense of the responsibility of knowing the truth. The ends of the world are come.
Proper consideration of these things will lead all to make an entire consecration of all that they have and are to their God. There should be no boasting, no seeking for the highest places; but all should be ambitious to do with fidelity, with an eye single to the glory of God, the sacred work which it is our exalted privilege to engage in.
The eye should not be so constantly looking to man, studying the plans which men devise; but rather seeking for a knowledge of the plans which are determined by the Source of all wisdom. Then there will be no danger of having plans for the work contaminated by flowing through impure human channels.
Look to God;
pray to God;
wait and watch and pray to God;
work for God.
Warn the world
The weighty obligation of warning a world of its coming doom is upon us. From every direction, far and near, calls are coming to us for help. The church, devotedly consecrated to the work, is to carry the message to the world. Come to the gospel feast; the supper is prepared, come. The weak must not now trust in finite man if they would be as David, and David as the angel of the Lord.
If we have ever importuned God, wrestling for His blessing as did Jacob, let it be now.
God calls to the church to arise and clothe herself with the garments of Christ's righteousness.
Crowns, immortal crowns are to be won.
The kingdom of Heaven is to be gained.
A world, perishing in sin, is to be enlightened.
The lost pearl is to be found.
The lost sheep is to be brought back in safety to the fold.
Who will join in the search?
Who will bear the light to those who are wandering in the darkness of error?
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