Ministers of Popular Churches
Why do not the honest-hearted ministers of nominal communions come out and join this movement? Surely there are many godly men among them, as their writings and influence testify.
Yes, your closing statement is undeniably true. Indeed, in "The Great Controversy," page 390, we are expressly told that "the great body of Christ's true followers are still to be found in their communion." Any attempted answer to your inquiry must at best be but partial, for only God knows all the facts and factors. But the lesson of Pentecost and the early rain sheds much welcome light upon it, as there is a marked parallel involved in the latter rain and the approaching consummation of the gospel commission.
Be it remembered that even with the personal presence of Jesus Himself among the Jews, and the powerful appeal of His matchless teachings, parables, and miracles before them, there were but few of the Jewish religious leaders who ever identified themselves in any way with Jesus and His lowly band of disciples. Indeed, it was not the coming of the Holy Spirit that the disciples were fitted rightly to receive and utilize the "great company of the priests" which were then "obedient unto the faith." Acts 6:7.
Comparatively few of the devout Jews became Christians before Pentecost. Yet failure to respond to the personal preaching and call of Jesus did not constitute rejection by God. Their receptive response was gradual. The record of Pentecost expressly speaks of "Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven." Acts 2:5. And under that Spirit-filled message by Peter they were "pricked in their heart." Verse 37. And Peter's calling-out message for that period was, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation." Verse 40. Then three thousand gladly responded. A few days later, speaking again, to the Jews, Peter definitely recognized that their former rejection of Christ was "through ignorance" (Acts 3:17) ; and again honest hearers believed, to the number of five thousand. Acts 4:4. And still again, when filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples spake with such boldness that the number of, them that believed was called a "multitude." Acts 4: 31, 32. Thus the number was " multiplied." Acts 6:7; 11:21; 12:24. And then follows Stephen's Spirit-indited sermon, and so we are introduced to Saul of Tarsus, the greatest Jewish convert of all times.
Likewise today, pending the final rejection of Babylon by God, He still speaks of "My people" (Rev. 18:4) in her communions. Surely this includes many of her ministers, corresponding to the company of priests in the apostolic times. Doubtless God is using them still to hold the torch of light aloft for "His people" in the denominations, which in turn are rapidly rejecting God and Christ and the Bible, and all divine salvation and standards. Soon all such honest souls will find themselves completely alienated from the dominant spirit of Babylon, and forced to separate from her corporate body. Under the loud cry of this message they will identify themselves with God's remnant church. Probably we ourselves have not been ready to receive them. Our own spiritual deficiencies would be a stumbling block, and God has needed and used them where they are.
The following excerpts, out of many similar ones, will be helpful in reaching sound conclusions:
"We have a work to do for the ministers of other churches. God wants them to be saved. They, like ourselves, can have immortality only through faith and obedience. We must labor for them earnestly that they may obtain it. God wants them to have a part in His special work for this time. He wants them to be among the number who are giving to His household meat in due season. . . . Our ministers should seek to come near to the ministers of other denominations. Pray for and with these men, for whom Christ is interceding." —"Testimonies," Vol. VI, pp. 77, 78.
" There are many who are represented to me as being like Cornelius, men whom God desires to connect with His church. Their sympathies are with the Lord's commandment-keeping people. But the threads that bind them to the world hold them firmly. . . . We are to make special efforts for these souls, who are in need of special labor because of their responsibilities and temptations."—/d., p. 79.
"There -are miracles to be wrought in genuine conversion, miracles that are not now discerned. The greatest men of the earth are not beyond the power of a wonder-working God. If those who are workers together with Him, will be men of opportunity, doing their duty bravely and faithfully, God will convert men who occupy responsible places, men of intellect and influence."—Id., p. 82.
"Notwithstanding the wide-spread declension of faith and piety, there are true followers of Christ in these churches. Before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time, to prepare a people for the Lord's second coming."—"The Great Controversy," P. 464.
"Even those whom we suppose to have Passed the boundary of God's mercy, will be won to Christ. The very last work in the controversy may be the enlightenment of those who have not rejected light and evidence, but who have been in midnight darkness, and have in ignorance worked against the truth. Therefore treat every man as honest."—"Gospel Workers," pp. 373, 374.
L. E. F