Have you ever thought of how many leaves fall in autumn? The amount of leaves, the soft, gentle way they fall and how they cover the ground—it’s an excellent illustration of how the word of God must be brought to the world and its wonderful results.
“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (, ).
The history of human culture is closely linked to media in different ages. Although today, modern means allow us to communicate electronically almost instantly with any part of the world, there is a medium that is still the most effective in preaching the gospel. It is the printed page.
In the fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg (1398–1468) revolutionized the press with his invention of mechanical movable type to print on paper. This discovery played a key role in the development of the Protestant Reformation as well as the Industrial Revolution; laying the material foundations for our modern knowledge-based economy and for the spread of mass learning.
The first job that Gutenberg printed in multiple copies was the Bible. Currently, according to the United Bible Societies Global Scripture Access Report 2017, the New Testament has been translated into 1515 languages, and the complete Bible into 674 languages, and remains the best-selling book in the world. It is estimated that more than five billion copies of the Bible have been distributed since the nineteenth century. In recent years, the United Bible Societies have distributed an average of 30 million Bibles per year, in addition to New Testaments and portions of Scripture.
A similar work should be carried out with our publications. The servant of the Lord declares, “From our books and papers bright beams of light are to shine forth to enlighten the world in regard to present truth.”1
The Lord has given us the printed page as an excellent way to bring the gospel of salvation to the world. It can be produced and distributed with ease and brought to every home; literally to the ends of the earth.
The following truths about our publishing work apply to our publications in print and electronic form.
The messenger of the Lord relates: “At a meeting held in Dorchester, Massachusetts, November, 1848, I had been given a view of the proclamation of the sealing message, and of the duty of the brethren to publish the light that was shining upon our pathway.
“After coming out of vision, I said to my husband: ‘I have a message for you. You must begin to print a little paper and send it out to the people. Let it be small at first; but as the people read, they will send you means with which to print, and it will be a success from the first. From this small beginning it was shown to me to be like streams of light that went clear round the world.’”2
“The precious printed sheets were brought into the house and laid upon the floor, and then a little group of interested ones were gathered in, and we knelt around the papers, and with humble hearts and many tears besought the Lord to let His blessing rest upon these printed messengers of truth.
“When we had folded the papers, and my husband had wrapped and addressed copies to all those who he thought would read them, he put them into a carpetbag, and carried them on foot to the Middletown post office.”3
“Our publications have a most sacred work to do in making clear, simple, and plain the spiritual basis of our faith. Everywhere the people are taking sides; all are ranging themselves either under the banner of truth and righteousness or under the banner of the apostate powers that are contending for the supremacy. At this time God’s message to the world is to be given with such prominence and power that the people will be brought face to face, mind to mind, heart to heart, with truth. They must be brought to see its superiority over the multitudinous errors that are pushing their way into notice, to supplant, if possible, the word of God for this solemn time.
“The great object of our publications is to exalt God, to call men’s attention to the living truths of His word. God calls upon us to lift up, not our own standard, not the standard of this world, but His standard of truth.”4
“The publications sent forth from our printing houses are to prepare a people to meet God. Throughout the world they are to do the same work that was done by John the Baptist for the Jewish nation. By startling messages of warning, God’s prophet awakened men from worldly dreaming. Through him God called backsliding Israel to repentance. By his presentation of truth he exposed popular delusions. In contrast with the false theories of his time, truth in his teaching stood forth as an eternal certainty. ‘Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,’ was John’s message. 5. This same message, through the publications from our printing houses, is to be given to the world today.”
“Our health literature is the helping hand of the gospel, opening the way for the truth to enter and save many souls. I know of nothing which so quickly unlocks hearts as this literature, which, when read and practiced, leads souls to the searching of the Bible for a better understanding of the truth.”6
“The circulation of our health publications is a most important work. It is a work in which all who believe the special truths for this time should have a living interest. God desires that now, as never before, the minds of the people shall be deeply stirred to investigate the great temperance question and the principles underlying true health reform. . . .
“True religion and the laws of health go hand in hand. It is impossible to work for the salvation of men and women without presenting to them the need of breaking away from sinful gratifications, which destroy the health, debase the soul, and prevent divine truth from impressing the mind.”7
“Publications upon health reform will reach many who will not see or read anything upon important Bible subjects. . . . The truth must come to the people upon health reform. This is essential in order to arrest the attention in regard to Bible truth.”8
“Many of those looked upon as hopelessly depraved, will, if properly instructed in regard to their unhealthful practices, be arrested with the truth. Then they may be elevated, ennobled, sanctified, fit vessels for the Master’s use. Go with your hands full of proper reading matter, and your heart full of the love of Christ for their souls, reaching them where they are.”9
“Health reform will reach a class and has reached a class that otherwise would never have been reached by the truth. There is a great necessity for labor being put forth to help the people, believers and unbelievers, at the present time by health talks, and health publications. I cannot see why the health books should not have a permanent place as well as the other publications notwithstanding human prejudices to the contrary.”10
“Our publications should go everywhere. Let them be issued in many languages. The third angel’s message is to be given through this medium and through the living teacher.”11
“There are many places in which the voice of the minister can not be heard, places which can be reached only by publications—the books, papers, and tracts, that are filled with the Bible truth that the people need. Our literature is to be distributed everywhere. The truth is to be sown beside all waters; for we know not which shall prosper, this or that. In our erring judgment we may think it unwise to give literature to the very ones who would accept the truth most readily. We know not what may be the good results of giving away a leaflet containing present truth.”12
“In enlightening and confirming souls in the truth, the publications will do a far greater work than can be accomplished by the ministry of the word alone.”13
“We are fast approaching the end. The printing and circulation of the books and papers that contain the truth for this time are to be our work.”14
“Publications must be multiplied, and scattered like the leaves of autumn. These silent messengers are enlightening and molding the minds of thousands in every country and in every clime.”15
“If there is one work more important than another, it is that of getting our publications before the public, thus leading them to search the Scriptures.”16
“Let every believer scatter broadcast tracts and leaflets and books containing the message for this time.”17
“The end is near. Already much time has been lost, when these books should have been in circulation. Sell them far and near. Scatter them like the leaves of autumn.”18
“God has ordained the canvassing work as a means of presenting before the people the light contained in our books, and canvassers should be impressed with the importance of bringing before the world as fast as possible the books necessary for their spiritual education and enlightenment. This is the very work the Lord would have His people do at this time. All who consecrate themselves to God to work as canvassers are assisting to give the last message of warning to the world. We cannot too highly estimate this work; for were it not for the efforts of the canvasser, many would never hear the warning.”19
“The canvassing work, properly conducted, is missionary work of the highest order, and it is as good and successful a method as can be employed for placing before the people the important truths for this time.”20
“I have been instructed that the canvassing work is to be revived, and that it is to be carried forward with increasing success. It is the Lord’s work, and a blessing will attend those who engage in it with earnestness and diligence.”21
“The book work should be the means of quickly giving the sacred light of present truth to the world.”22
“Canvassing campaigns are to be organized for the sale of our literature, that the world may be enlightened as to what is just before us.”23
“When church members realize the importance of the circulation of our literature, they will devote more time to this work. Papers, tracts, and books will be placed in the homes of the people, to preach the gospel in their several lines.”24
“We were in camp meetings and in large meetings in our churches, where the ministers presented clearly the perils of the times in which we live and the great importance of making haste in the circulation of our literature. In response to these appeals the brethren and sisters came forward and purchased many books. Some took a few, and some purchased large quantities. Most of the purchasers paid for the books they took. A few arranged to pay afterward.
“Because books were being sold at low prices, some being especially reduced for the occasion, many were purchased, and some by persons not of our faith. They said: ‘It must be that these books contain a message for us. These people are willing to make sacrifices in order that we may have them, and we will secure them for ourselves and our friends.’
“But dissatisfaction was expressed by some of our own people. One said: ‘A stop must be put to this work, or our business will be spoiled.’ As one brother was carrying away an armful of books, a canvasser laid his hand upon his arm and said: ‘My brother, what are you doing with so many books?’ Then I heard the voice of our Counselor saying: ‘Forbid them not. This is a work that should be done. The end is near. Already much time has been lost, when these books should have been in circulation. Sell them far and near. Scatter them like the leaves of autumn. This work is to continue without the forbiddings of anyone. Souls are perishing out of Christ. Let them be warned of His soon appearing in the clouds of heaven.’
“Some of the workers continued to appear much cast down. One was weeping and said: ‘These are doing the publishing work an injustice by purchasing these books at so low a price; besides, this work is depriving us of some of the revenue by which our work is sustained.’ The Voice replied: ‘You are meeting with no loss. These workers who take the books at reduced prices could not obtain so ready sale for them except it be at this so-called sacrifice. Many are now purchasing for their friends and for themselves who otherwise would not think of buying.’”25
“The silent messengers that are placed in the homes of the people through the work of the canvasser will strengthen the gospel ministry in every way; for the Holy Spirit will impress minds as they read the books, just as He impresses the minds of those who listen to the preaching of the word. The same ministry of angels attends the books that contain the truth as attends the work of the minister.”26
“As long as probation continues, there will be opportunity for the canvasser to work. . . . Until in heaven is spoken the word, ‘It is finished,’ there will be places for labor, and hearts to receive the message.”27
“From the light given me I know that where there is one canvasser in the field, there should be one hundred.”28
In every era, God has especially chosen young people for great responsibilities. “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (). Many of those who accepted and were faithful to their mission, God placed in prominent positions, making them a light of salvation to the world.
“Christ calls for young men who will volunteer to carry the truth to the world. Men of spiritual stamina are wanted, men who are able to find work close at hand, because they are looking for it. The church needs new men to give energy to the ranks, men for the times, able to cope with its errors, men who will inspire with fresh zeal the flagging efforts of the few laborers, men whose hearts are warm with Christian love, and whose hands are eager to go about their Master’s work.”29
“The Lord calls upon our youth to labor as canvassers and evangelists, to do house-to-house work in places that have not yet heard the truth. . . .
“We have a work to do. Educate, educate, educate young men to give themselves to the ministry of the word. Educate them to become canvassers, to sell those books which the Lord by His Holy Spirit has stirred minds to write. This reading matter will thus be given to a large class of people who would never hear the truth unless it was brought to their doors. This is the work of the evangelist.”30
Just like the governments of this world call upon the young people for military service, every young person should make a commitment to the Lord—to devote at least one year of their life to His service, canvassing being the best way to serve Him. It would be a wonderful experience to strengthen their faith in God and assist them in making the best decisions for the present and future life.
“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” May all our young people respond like Isaiah, “Here am I; send me” ().
With the strength of youth, the adults of experience, the simplicity of children and the power of the Holy Spirit, “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” ().
The Lord will reward and multiply even small efforts in the work of taking the gospel to the world. His word will never return void. In addition to collaborating in the salvation of others, we are ensuring our own salvation.
We are pleased to know brothers and sisters—entire families—who were brought to the knowledge of the truth through brochures, magazines or books containing the light for this time. But with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the latter rain, “More than one thousand will soon be converted in one day, most of whom will trace their first convictions to the reading of our publications.”31
The redeemed in heaven will receive beautiful crowns with stars, to enjoy for eternity the reward for the Master and the satisfaction of seeing in the arms of Christ those whom they led to the Saviour. Some “had very bright crowns, others not so bright. Some crowns appeared heavy with stars, while others had but few. All were perfectly satisfied with their crowns.”32
All the promises of the Lord will be completely fulfilled.
“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” ().
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (, ).