Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Ms 12, 1891

The Needs of the Church in the Colonies

North Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

December 28, 1891

Portions of this manuscript are published in VSS 302-303, 314-315, 317; OHC 178. +Note

At the seven o’clock meeting of the conference, the subject of the need of establishing a school in the Colonies was presented. W. C. White and Elder Tenney made appropriate remarks, and were listened to with deep interest. At the nine o’clock meeting I read important matter in regard to our schools and the work that should be done in them. Suddenly and unexpectedly to me the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I was moved to give a decided testimony concerning the spiritual condition of many who had taken their position upon the truth in the colonies. I spoke of how little was accomplished by many who were preaching the truth because of the want of the simplicity of true godliness, the need of consecration, and of daily conversion to God. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 1

The work was presented to me as almost at a standstill. The spirit of jealousy and envy had been cherished by some of the workers in the office and by some of those who ministered in presenting the truth to others. I told the brethren that they were not prepared to have a school established among them until the converting power of God should be manifest in their midst. The spirit some had cherished would communicate itself to others, and leaven all the influence for good that could be exerted by the school. Until the spirit of envy and jealousy [is] banished from the heart, the Lord could not work to open the way for the establishment of a school or move upon those to whom He had entrusted means and ability to devote to the advancement of His work until there was an earnest seeking of God and humbling of the soul before Him. Isaiah 57:14, 15. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 2

There must be an entire transformation of mind and character among those who are handling sacred things. There is a spirit of frivolity and lightness, manifesting itself in jesting and joking, among those in the office; and if others were brought in connection with these unhallowed influences, they would be demoralized. Should outsiders be brought into association with many of our workers, they would not suspect that they were Christians. The Lord can take no pleasure in those who profess His name when they dishonor Him and put Him to open shame by their un-Christlike deportment. Who would suspect that the mystery of redemption, the incarnation, the atonement, and the mediatorial work of Christ was the theme that occupied the minds and hearts of those who are engaged in the office. Their thoughts are not upon God, their tongues are employed in talking nonsense, in speaking foolishness. It is not possible that their thoughts are upon heaven and heavenly things. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 3

Unless the truth we profess to believe sanctifies the heart, it proves but a savor of death unto death unto us who have light. Those who do not walk in the light, who do not yield to the claims of God’s law, who are not sanctified through the truth, are condemned by the knowledge they have. That many have not been sanctified through it is manifested in the fact that the spirit of envy, of jealousy and suspicion has been working like leaven in their midst. All who believe the truth should cherish love one for another. For all ye are brethren; and there is no respect of persons with God. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 4

The feeling has been cherished that the work of the American brethren was unnecessary and undesirable. It might not be thus; but the Lord has sent the American brethren to Australia and New Zealand in order that they might help the brethren in these lands by their mature experience in the methods of carrying forward His work successfully. The brethren here have thought that the helpers from America were in their way, for they desired to carry forward the work according to their own ideas and shape matters after their own designs and determined to leave the American workers out of their councils, although the Lord had sent these workers to unite with them and to give the right mold to the work. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 5

Those who have not worked in full consecration to God have lost much themselves and have not been able to communicate to the church correct principles of Christianity. Self has not been hid in Christ. Those who handle sacred things are not growing in grace and in the knowledge of the deep truths of the Word of God, attaining to the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. They fall short of the divine measure. Some have preached in the desk, but have failed to reach the people, because they have not had the sanctifying power of Christ in their own hearts. They have not come in personal contact with the people, and they have not been benefited as they might have been. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 6

Not all have presented Christ as the great Center to whom all must come, realizing that He is the author and finisher of their redemption, their all in all. The result of their labor makes it manifest that they have not the deep personal experience they should have, but need deeper piety and unselfish devotion to the work. When they bring faith into their practical life, they will see clearly if they are a savor of life unto life. New habits are to be formed, and powerful human propensities are to be held at bay. They need to know God in order that they may rightly represent Him to others. The Saviour said, “This is life eternal, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” [John 17:3.] 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 7

I entreat of my brethren in Australia and New Zealand to walk humbly with God. Do not trust in yourself, but trust in Jesus Christ. The exaltation of self will result in the humbling of the human agent for the good of his soul. Those who have been entrusted with truths of infinite value have failed to have an appreciation of them proportionate to their importance. They have not felt the necessity of having the divine influence of the Holy Spirit abiding upon them, as the means whereby they may impress others with divine truth. Some have a superficial experience, for they have not been diligent students of the Scriptures, and therefore have not been able to bring from the storehouse things new and old. They have not prepared to feed the flock of God, giving to each one his portion of meat in due season that all may grow in the knowledge of God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 8

Merely to speak to beautiful things that please the ear and attract attention should not be our purpose. We are to present Christ and Him crucified, that souls who are dead in trespasses and sins may be alarmed and quickened. Those who seek to teach others need to be converted to Christ, they need to plead with God that He will imbue them with His Holy Spirit before they can lift up Christ as the sinner’s only hope. Flowery speeches, pleasing tales, anecdotes and stories do not convict the sinner. Men listen to such words as they would listen to a pleasant song, and the laborers gather but few sheaves into the garner. The message the sinner should hear is, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] And the truth will subdue and [make] tender the soul of the teacher because he feels its practical utility. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 9

Those who would secure the good things of this world are obliged to toil, to make sacrifices, to endure conflicts. They often meet with disappointments. And can those who are seeking to secure the eternal substance, to obtain the precious boon of immortality, think that we need to make no sacrifices, no effort? We must have a refined, sanctified, purified ministry. The man of the world prides himself upon his ability to criticize, to detect objections to spiritual truths. He thinks that to question and to doubt is a mark of praiseworthy intelligence and exalted discrimination. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 10

In the world we fully expect to meet those who will carry out the specious workings and devices of the enemy; but when those who claim to be children of God manifest the spirit of Satan, to become accusers, it brings deeper distress upon my soul, for we know that the enemy has succeeded in making them his agents to carry out his wicked designs. Working through their objectionable traits of character, he annoys and distresses and hinders those who are seeking to do the will of God. Who gives them commission to take this judgment and do this kind of work? It does not come from God. Then from whom does it come? Whence do they receive the ideas that lead them to criticize and condemn others? If it is not from the spirit of Christ, it is from another spirit, even from him who is the original apostate and accuser of the brethren. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 11

To those who are influenced by the enemy it is not agreeable to receive this statement: that the peace which passeth all understanding must be retained through continual conflict; that the rest of heaven, the mansions of bliss, must be secured by continual watchfulness against an evil-working foe. The ministers are certainly in discouragement. But in behalf of my heavenly Father and of Jesus Christ whom He has [sent], I would say that this discouragement has not come upon the ministering brethren because of any failure on the part of God or Jesus Christ, for They have made every provision that the servants of Christ shall have strength and power out of, and above, themselves. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 12

Just prior to leaving His disciples for the heavenly courts, Jesus encouraged them with the promise of the Holy Spirit. This promise belongs to us as much as to them, and yet how rarely is it presented to 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 the discourses, is incidentally touched upon, and that is all. Prophecies have been dwelt upon, doctrines have been expounded, but that which is absolutely 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 largely been left out of ministerial effort. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 13

The sure word of prophecy should be constantly presented as the foundation of the faith of Seventh-day Adventists. Daniel and Revelation should be studied and with it the saying, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] But the subject of the promise of the Holy Spirit has been set aside as if some future time would be soon enough to give it consideration. Other blessings and privileges have been set before the people until a desire has been awakened in the church for the attainment of the rich gifts 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. 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. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 14

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 on their own efforts, that little help is to be received from heaven, and the result is that they have little hope or strength for the work of overcoming. They have little light to communicate to other souls who are dying in error and darkness. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 15

The church has long been contented with little of the blessing of God; they have not felt their need of reaching up to the exalted privileges purchased for them at infinite cost. Their spiritual life has been feeble, their experience of a dwarfed and crippled character, and they are disqualified for the work that the Lord would have them do. They are not able to present the great and glorious truths of God’s Holy Word in the power of the Holy Spirit, which would convict and convert souls. 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.] 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 16

The world has received the idea from the attitude of the church that God’s people are indeed a joyless people, that the service of God is unattractive, that the blessing of God is bestowed at severe cost to its receiver. By dwelling upon our trials and making much of difficulties, we misrepresent God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent; for the path to heaven is made unattractive by the gloom that gathers about the soul of the believer, and many turn away in disappointment from the service of Christ. But are those who thus represent Christ believers? No, for believers rely upon the divine promise, and the Holy Spirit is a comforter as well as a reprover. Let all seek for truth as for hidden treasure. The Lord Jesus has measured the power of the human soul beforehand. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 17

The Christian must begin at the foundation if he would build a strong, symmetrical character, if he would illustrate the divine by a consistent proportionate zeal for the truth, if he would be well-balanced in his religious experience. It is in this way that the man will be prepared to meet the demands of truth and righteousness as they are presented in the Bible, for he will be sustained and energized by the Holy Spirit of God. He who is a true Christian will work in Christ’s lines; he will combine tenderness of feeling with great firmness of purpose, with unswerving fidelity to God. He will in no case become the betrayer of sacred trusts. He who is endowed with the Holy Spirit has great capacities of heart and intellect, with strength of will and a purpose that is unconquerable to make a correct representation of truth in his words, deportment, and character. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 18

When the workers in the office are converted, they will be in Christ as new creatures. The Lord says, “A new heart will I give thee.” [Ezekiel 36:26.] There are some who do not know what the salvation of the soul signifies. It is one thing to assent to a truth, and another thing to possess the truth as it is in Jesus. It is one thing to admire the grace of Christ; it is another thing to make that grace your own through faith in His name, and in spirit and person reflect the divine image and give unmistakable proofs that we are sons and daughters of God and can be regarded by heaven as workers together with Christ. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 19

Among those who have embraced the truth in this country there are some in whom wonderful changes have been wrought, for they have been transformed in character. But in others it is difficult to discern any difference in character or manner of life. They profess to believe the truth, to be followers of Christ, and yet by their unconsecrated, unsanctified lives, they are a continual reproach to the cause of God. These will prate about sanctification and holiness. When there is a revival in the church, they mourn over their unchristian lives and make wonderful resolutions; but they fail to carry them out, because their dependence is in self, and their goodness is as lasting as is the frost before the rays of the sun. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 20

The standard of piety must be elevated in this country, and the necessity of a rich Christian experience and a deep heart work must be presented before those who have become members of the church, and especially those who labor in word and doctrine to save a world perishing in sin. If this is not done, the result will be that men with little spiritual discernment will be hurried into the field as teachers and preachers of the truth, when they have not learned in the school of Christ what it means to be meek and lowly in heart. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 21

Some of the brethren look upon these who are not truly converted, and in their finite judgment they think them qualified to go out into the world to labor for the conversion of souls, when they know not what it means to be under the control of Christ. They do not behold Christ continually, but become self-sufficient and do not see the necessity of a depth of knowledge or experience. Their words are abundant, but the Holy Spirit of God is not in them. Their great want is the Holy Spirit. If they become converted, the Bible will be studied by them as a new revelation. They will explore the Word of God as a man explores a mine to find a lead containing the precious treasures. They will study with humble prayer in order to understand the depth of the meaning of Christ’s words. How can one who teaches or preaches give to those whom he would instruct their meat in due season unless he has wisdom to impart the truth as it is in Jesus Christ? Let this be the language of your hearts, “Take from us what thou wilt, but withhold not thy Holy Spirit.” 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 22

I feel deeply for this people. The Lord will work for them if they will but open the door of the heart to Jesus. If they will individually lay bare their souls before God and depart from all the pollution that is in the world through lust, they will have greater zeal in the work of God. Earnestness and soul hunger, not for their own righteousness, but for the righteousness of Christ, will characterize them. Feeling their need, they will resolve not to mar the work of God with their own defects of character, and they will seek for the power from on high which must come upon them before they can present the truth as it is in Jesus in simplicity and truthfulness and humility. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 23

In teaching the truth many reveal self. In their conversation they give expression to thoughts which savor of self, for they weigh in their own scale those better than themselves, and pronounce judgment upon them. They compare their own merits and ability with that of some other brother, and jealously regard the work of another. If some brother laborer is shown some mark of esteem, the one who is envious looks upon it as a personal wrong done to himself, for he looks upon himself as superior in many respects to the one who has been favored. Never will any one reach the perfection of Christian character who cherishes envious feelings in his heart. You may regard this as a little fault, but it is the little things that spoil piety, and mar the purity of the soul. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 24

In New Zealand many who claim to believe the truth manifest their own spirit in its presentation. Self-esteem and self-sufficiency are so prominent that Christ is lost to view, and the terrible fact remains substantiated that many are standing before the world as witnesses for Christ who exalt self, who idolize their own ideas and ways, when their ways and devices are out of harmony with the work of God for this time. Jesus is hid behind poor, selfish humanity. The man appears with his defects glorified by him as perfection. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 25

I have a message to you, my brethren in New Zealand, which I must bear to you either by pen or voice. You must die to self, be crucified to self, and become learners in the school of Christ. In words of tenderness the great Teacher invites you, saying, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] When you learn this lesson, you will become true witnesses for Christ. But until you do learn this lesson, self with all its defects will appear, and Jesus will be kept in the back ground. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 26

When you individually know that your work on earth is to go forth and live over again the life of Christ in meekness and lowliness of heart, then you will become qualified to be Christ’s witnesses. Every one who would truly follow Christ will be filled with sorrow and repentance when he realizes that he has brought self to the front in the place of Jesus. He will mourn that he has not been revealing Christ by manifesting tender, pitying love. He will regret that he has not been full of mercy and good fruits, that he has boasted and talked much, but failed to manifest the divine character to the world. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 27

Some have felt that they are “rich and increased in goods, and in need of nothing,” when could they see as God sees they would acknowledge themselves poor, and blind, and miserable, and wretched. [Revelation 3:17.] To these the true Witness says, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire (which is faith and love), that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment (which is the righteousness of Christ), that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve (which is spiritual discernment) that thou mayest see.” [Verse 18.] 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 28

Brethren, you are self-centered. You are filled with self-sufficiency. But when you are emptied of self, Jesus will come to your help and will give you His gentleness, His tenderness, His patience, His love. Then you can present the truth to your fellow men and lift up Jesus before them. You will work for Christ and lose all thoughts of self, becoming willing to suffer, to endure reproach and shame for His dear name; for this will be the aim and object of your life. Let no one who reads these words become discouraged, and say, “O, if this is my state, I may as well stop. If this is the measure, I can never be a true witness for Christ.” 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 29

For your souls’ sake I ask you to take the Word of God and search its pages as never before in order that you may know what it means to be Christlike. You need not be discouraged, for from the lips of Christ who died to save you, you have this promise, “Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses for me in Judea and in Jerusalem and in all Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” [Acts 1:8.] Mark it: You are to receive power from on high. Then put away all harshness, all denunciation of your brethren, all criticism, and be broken at the feet of your Lord. Let earnestness come into your hearts, and have fervent charity among yourselves. If you bite and devour one another, you will be consumed one of another. Harshness and unkindness is a curse in any home, and it is like a desolating hail in the church. It shuts Jesus out of the heart and out of the church. 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 30

Oh that I could speak to thousands. Come to Jesus. Do not wrap your Pharisaical garments about you, and say, I believe the truth; I am righteous. Rather, surrender your will which you have idolized, and let the will of God be done in you perfectly. When you all respond to the will of God, the prayer of Christ, that we all might be one as He is one with the Father, will be fulfilled. Press together. Do not make little wedges of slight differences of opinion, and drive them in to separate heart from heart, but see how you can love one another even as Christ has loved you. See how you can forgive those who trespass against you, even as you want your Father in heaven to forgive your trespasses. Then you can be definite in your requests; you can be bold in Christ, for Christ presents your requests to God with the heavenly credentials which are His own righteousness, and you can believe that Christ does hear, believe that He does bless, and say, “I am His, and He is mine.” [Song of Solomon 2:16.] 7LtMs, Ms 12, 1891, par. 31