James A. Cress was the General Conference Ministerial Secretary when he wrote this article.

God's original plan for humanity included meaningful work. In Eden, His intention for human happiness included employing the capabilities that He had bestowed upon His creatures. "God said to them, be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen. 1:28 Amplified). "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it" (Gen. 2:15 Amplified).

Adventists, who affirm the importance of the fourth commandment's injunction to "rest" on the seventh day (Ex. 20:8-11), need to remember that the same commandment enjoins working the other six days. Indolence is as much disobedience as irreverence.

So it is with unused spiritual gifts. The New Testament tells us, "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore He says, When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men"(Eph. 4:7- 8 NASB). To the extent church members refuse to employ their spiritual gifts in service to the Savior, to that extent they disobey our Lord's intention. To the extent we allow the spiritual gifts of new members to remain undiscovered or underemployed in service to the Savior, to that extent we propagate disobedience and encourage spiritual poverty.

"Many of us do not realize how important it is to serve others. The Holy Spirit equips us to minister. If we do not give it away, we get spiritually puffy" says Robert Tuttle. E. Glenn Hinson adds: "In spite of its affirmation of the priesthood of all believers, there is perhaps no function which Protestantism has so much neglected. Not only have Protestant laymen not assumed the priestly role, but until recently even the clergy have shunned it. A major task for Protestant churches today, not merely the clergy, but the whole church, is to understand and accept their priesthood."

The need for the church at large and the Adventist church in particular is to remember that the call to salvation is a call to discipleship. That means a call to active ministry by every believer. A believer who is not ministering is, essentially, not a believer. No excuse is sufficient. Examples abound of infirm, housebound individuals who have used letters and telephone calls to serve others effectively. "There is no such thing as being a member of the church without also being a minister and a missionary . . . Essentially, the layman and the clergyman do not belong to different categories . . . The layman has no less responsibility for fulfilling his ministry than has the pastor."

R. C. Halverson says: "The authentic impact of Jesus Christ in the world is the collective influence of individual Christians right where they are, day in, day out. Doctors, lawyers, merchants, farmers, teachers, accountants, laborers, students, politicians, athletes, clerks, executives . . . quietly, steadily, continually, consistently infecting the world where they live with a contagious witness of the contemporary Christ and His relevance to life."

During the days of Oliver Cromwell, England faced a serious financial crisis. Attempting to solve the problem, Cromwell and his financial advisers thought of the gold and silver statues of the saints in the churches throughout the land. The call went out, "Melt down the saints and put them into circulation" This is what the church needs today putting the saints into circulation!

James A. Cress writes from Silver Spring, Maryland. He is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

James A. Cress was the General Conference Ministerial Secretary when he wrote this article.