Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 10 (1895)


Ms 7, 1895

Laborers Together With God


March 8, 1895

This manuscript is published in entirety in TM 347-359. +Note

I must speak to my brethren nigh and afar off. I cannot hold my peace. They are not working on correct principles. Those who stand in responsible positions must not feel that their position of importance makes them men of infallible judgment. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 1

All the works of men are under the Lord’s jurisdiction. It will be altogether safe for men to consider that there is knowledge with the Most High. Those who trust in God and His wisdom, and not in their own, are walking in safe paths. They will never feel that they are authorized to muzzle even the ox that treads out the grain; and how offensive it is for men to control the human agent who is in partnership with God, and whom the Lord Jesus has invited, “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.] “We are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 2

The Lord has not placed any one of His human agencies under the diction and control of those who are themselves but erring mortals. He has not placed upon men the power to say, You shall do this, and You shall not do that. But there is a power exercised in Battle Creek that God has not given, and He will judge those who assume this authority. They have somewhat of the same spirit that led Uzzah to lay his hand on the ark to steady it, as though God was not able to care for His sacred symbols. Far less of men’s power and authority should be exercised toward God’s human agencies. Brethren, leave God to rule. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 3

The great work for this time demands that men shall go everywhere, nigh and afar off, into the highways and the hedges, to diffuse light, holding forth the words of life. Has God laid upon one man or a council of men to take this work into their hands, as though the workers, God’s own property, were to be under their control? Writers of books are brought under the dictation of men who know nothing of what is involved in writing books, and who are not qualified to judge in regard to these matters. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 4

The business connected with the work of God in any and every branch requires men who are working in harmony with God, for power and success in the work can be attained through the co-operation of the human and the divine. Without the best of evidence that one understands heavenly and eternal things, he should not be authorized to minister in matters connected with the work that concerns the salvation of souls for whom Christ has died. Unsanctified hands and brains have had altogether too much power entrusted to them, and very unwise moves have been made that are not in accordance with the will and ways of God. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 5

No man is a proper judge of another man’s duty. Man is responsible to God; and as finite, erring men take in their hands the jurisdiction of their fellowmen, as if the Lord commissioned them to lift up and cast down, all heaven is filled with indignation. There are strange principles being established in regard to the control of the minds and works of men, by human judges, as though these finite men were gods. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 6

And how is it with some who are bearing these sacred responsibilities? Men who are not spiritually minded, who are not consecrated to God, have no commission to perform or authority to exercise, in regard to the willing or doing of their fellowmen. But unless men are daily in communion with God, instead of seeking him with all their heart for a fitness for the work, they will assume the power of dictation over the conscience of others. A sense of the divine presence would awe and subdue the soul, but this they have not. Without the love of God burning in the soul, love to men grows cold. Their hearts are not touched at the sight of human woe. Selfishness has left its defiling imprint on life and character, and some will never lose this image and superscription. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 7

Is the working of the cause of God to be entrusted to such hands? Are souls for whom Christ has died to be manipulated at the will of men who have refused the light given them of heaven? We should be afraid of man-made laws, and of plans and methods that are not in accordance with the principles of the Word of God concerning man’s relation to his fellow. “All ye are brethren.” [Matthew 23:8.] 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 8

The present order of things must change or the wrath of God will fall upon His instrumentalities that are not working in Christ’s lines. Has God given any one of you a commission to lord it over His heritage? This kind of work has been coming in for years. God sees it all, and He is displeased with it. When men come in between God and His human agents, they dishonor God and wrong the souls of those who need true encouragement and sympathy and love. I am constrained to appeal to our workers: whatever your position, do not depend on men, or make flesh your arm. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 9

I am urged by the Spirit of God to say to you who have a connection with the Lord’s work, Never forget that you are wholly dependent upon God; and if you pass one hour or one moment without relying upon His grace, without keeping the heart open to receive the wisdom that is not earthborn, be[ing] sure that without Christ ye can do nothing, you will be unable to distinguish between the common and the sacred fire. Words of a very forbidding character will flash from your lips to destroy hope and courage and faith. Thus it is written in the books of heaven: Your words were not inspired of God, but of the enemy that wounded and bruised Christ in the person of His purchased possession. Souls of infinite value were treated indifferently, turned from, left to struggle under temptation, and forced on Satan’s battleground. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 10

Job’s professed friends were miserable comforters, making his case more bitter and unbearable, and Job was not guilty as they supposed. Those who are under the pain and distress of their own wrongdoing, while Satan is seeking to drive them to despair, are the very ones who need help the most. The intense agony of the soul that has been overcome by Satan and is feeling worsted and helpless, is comprehended by those who should meet the erring one with tender compassion! 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 11

Most pitiable is the condition of one who is suffering under remorse; he is as one stunned, staggering, sinking into the dust. And many who suppose themselves righteous become exasperating comforters, they deal harshly with those souls. In manifesting this hardness of heart in offending and oppressing, they are doing the very same work which Satan delights in doing. The tried, tempted soul cannot see anything clearly. The mind is confused; he knows not just what steps to take. O, then, let no word be spoken to cause deeper pain! 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 12

Our Saviour said, “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offenses! for is must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh! ... Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” [Matthew 18:6, 7, 10-14.] 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 13

“I came not,” said Christ, “to call the righteous (you who feel no need of repentance), but sinners to repentance.” [Mark 2:17.] Those who are laborers together with God will work in Christ’s lines. There is many a poor soul who is misunderstood, unappreciated, full of distress and agony—a lost, straying sheep. His mind is beclouded, he cannot find God, and almost hopeless unbelief takes possession of him. Yet he has an intense, longing desire for pardon and peace. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 14

As this picture is opened before you, the inquiry may be made, Are there no Christians to whom such a one can go for relief? This question God answers, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou hast 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.” [Revelation 2:4, 5.] A cold, hardhearted Phariseeism has taken possession of many of the professed followers of Christ, and the love to Jesus is dead. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 15

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou liveth, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” [Revelation 3:1, 2.] Here the problem is solved. The persons here described have [had] light that would have prompted them to altogether different works, if they had followed the light and had strengthened the things that remained that were ready to die. The light which was glowing in their own hearts when Jesus spoke to their souls, “Thy sins be forgiven thee” [Matthew 9:2], they might have kept alive by helping those who needed help. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 16

The work to be done is plainly specified: “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” [Revelation 3:2, 3.] Many have heard and received the Word of life, and have been strongly moved by the truth, but have allowed their souls to become cold, their faith dim, through self-righteousness, self-importance, and pride in the possession of a knowledge of truth which they fail to practice. The truth which is not put in practice loses its power. The heart is closed to its divine influence, and those who should be workers for Christ are idle, and souls whom they might help are left in discouragement and darkness and despair. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 17

There are souls who are starving for sympathy, starving for the bread of life; but they have no confidence to make known their great need. Those who bear the responsibilities in connection with the work of God should understand that they are under the most solemn obligation to help these souls, and they would be prepared to help them, if they themselves had retained the soft, subduing influence of the love of Christ. Do these poor souls, ready to die, look to them for help? No; they did this until they could have no hope of help from that quarter. They see not a hand stretched out to save. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 18

The manner has been presented to me thus: A drowning man, vainly struggling with the waves, discovers a boat, and with his last remaining strength succeeds in reaching it, and lays hold upon its side. In his weakness he cannot speak, but the agony upon his face would excite pity in any heart that was touched with human tenderness. But do the occupants of the boat stretch out their hands to lift him in? No! All heaven looks on as these men beat off the feeble, clinging hands, and a suffering fellow being sinks beneath the waves, to rise no more. This scene has been enacted over and over again. It has been witnessed by One who gave His life for the ransom of just such souls. The Lord has reached down His own hand to save. The Lord Himself has done the work which He left for man to do, in revealing the pity and compassion of Christ toward sinners. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” [John 13:34.] Calvary reveals to every one of us the depths of that love. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 19

There are souls in their darkness, full of remorse and pain and anguish, who still feel that God is just and good. The Lord is keeping alive the spark of hope in their hearts. The poor, darkened soul feels, If I could only appear before God, and plead my case, He would pity for Christ’s sake, and this horrible fear and agony would be relieved. He has tried to speak to men, and has been rudely repulsed, reproved, taunted by his supposed friends. Sometimes the reproaches heaped upon his head have well-nigh destroyed the last spark of hope. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 20

The soul that is conscious of sincere and honest intentions finds he has less to fear from God than from men who have hearts of steel. The soul wrenched with human agony turns away from the misjudgment and condemnation of men who cannot read the heart, yet have taken it upon them to judge their fellowmen. He turns to One who is without a shadow of misapprehension, One who knows all the impulses of the heart, who is acquainted with all the circumstances of temptation. God knows every deed of the past life, and yet in consideration of all this, the troubled soul is ready to trust his case with God, knowing that He is a God of mercy and compassion. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 21

When David was bidden to choose the punishment for his sin, he said, “Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great, and let me not fall into the hand of man.” [2 Samuel 24:14.] He felt that God knew the struggle and anguish of the soul. When one is enabled to catch a glimpse of the character of God, he sees not in Him the heartless, vindictive spirit manifested by human agents; he sees that affliction and trial are God’s appointed means of disciplining His children, and teaching them His way, that they may lay hold of His grace. “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.” [Isaiah 50:10.] As the poor backsliding one is led to the river of God’s love, he exclaims, When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold purified. The suffering soul is made patient, trustful, triumphant in God under adverse circumstances. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 22

“Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffereth being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.” “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” [Hebrews 2:17, 18; 4:14-16; 3:12.] 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 23

When finite, erring man gives evidence that he regards himself as of greater importance than God, when he thinks himself righteous, yet does not manifest the tenderness of spirit that characterized the life of our Lord Jesus, we may know that unless he repents, the candlestick will quickly be removed out of its place. All heaven is astonished at the terrible indifference of the human agents. Men who are themselves tempted to fall into sin, and need pardon, are yet full of self-sufficiency, and are unfeeling toward a brother who is ensnared by the enemy, and whose need and peril should call out Christlike sympathy and effort to plant his feet on the solid Rock. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 24

There is a most fearful, fatal deception upon human minds. Because men are in positions of trust, connected with the work of God, they are exalted in their own estimation, and do not discern that other souls, fully as precious in the sight of God as their own, are neglected, and handled roughly, and bruised, and wounded, and left to die. The converting power of God must come upon men who handle sacred things, yet who are unable, through some cause best known to God, to distinguish between the sacred fire of God’s own kindling, and the strange fire which they offer. That strange fire is as dishonoring to God as was that presented by Nadab and Abihu. The sacred fire of God’s love would make men tender and kind, and sympathetic toward those in peril. Those who indulge in sharp, overbearing words are really saying, I am holier than thou. Do you not see my exalted position? 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 25

But the position does not make the man. It is the integrity of character, the spirit of Christ, that makes one thankful, unselfish, without partiality and without hypocrisy—it is this that is of value with God. To those whose life is hid with Christ in God, the Lord says, “Behold, I have graven thee on the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” [Isaiah 49:16.] 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 26

For all in responsible positions I have a message spoken by the mouth of the Lord—the 55th chapter of Isaiah. Study this chapter, and let not any human being consider that he is above his fellow workers because greater responsibilities are involved in his branch of the work. If he is like Daniel, seeking for the power that comes alone from God, that he may represent, not himself, not his imperfections in selfish and fraudulent practices, but the truth in righteousness, he will not possess a vestige of pride or self-importance; but will be weighed with the Spirit of wisdom from God. He will represent the sacredness of the work, he will magnify the truth, and will ever present before men and angels the holy perfume of the character of Christ. This is the sacred fire of God’s own kindling. Anything aside from this is strange fire, abhorrent to God, and the more offensive as one’s position in the work involves larger responsibilities. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 27

I have a message from God to the sinners in Zion, the ones whom Christ addressed: “Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” [Revelation 3:2.] You need to offer always the sacred fire, for then Christ’s works, His love, His mercy, His righteousness, will ascend before God as a cloud of holy, fragrant incense, wholly acceptable. But strange fire has been offered in the use of harsh words, in self-importance, in self-exaltation, in self-righteousness, in arbitrary authority, in domineering, in oppression, in restricting the liberty of God’s people, binding them about by your plans and rules, which God has not framed, neither have they come into His mind. All these things are strange fire, unacknowledged by God, and a continual misrepresentation of His character. 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 28

I have a message for you: “Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 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.” [Isaiah 55:6-11.] 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 29

“Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation on his head, and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as with a cloak. ... So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn away from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord.” [Isaiah 59:14-17, 19, 20.] 10LtMs, Ms 7, 1895, par. 30