Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 38, 1897



April 1, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in 1BC 1087; ST 05/05/1898, 05/12/1898.

The object of conversion is twofold, personal and relative. It is to bless us, and make us a blessing. This is an individual work; but those who profess to believe the Word of God have so long accustomed their minds to be content with little things, that they have disqualified themselves to discern and appreciate the great things prepared for them. In the place of receiving in good and honest hearts the word the Lord sends in messages to help them, to elevate, ennoble, and sanctify them, they cavil and gossip over it, because it cuts directly across their inclination and appetite. In the place of seeing their need of conversion, they regard the means, which the Lord has provided the change their characters, as idle tales. Their habits to them are stronger than truth. Unless they will heed the warnings, they will wrap themselves in a deception that, as in the case of Judas, will cause them to become traitors and blind. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 1

Individual conversion means a change of character. The human agent must place himself in personal relation to Christ, that in the place of following his own hereditary and cultivated tendencies, he may have the mind of Christ, placing himself under the molding influence of the Holy Spirit. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 2

“Then said Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night; for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.” [Matthew 26:31-35.] 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 3

Jesus entered into controversy with no man. He had a work to do in the world. After His baptism John pointed to Him as “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] Even when in the wilderness of temptation He was met by Satan, He held no controversy with His foe. He took His stand upon the written Word. The weapon with which He met and repulsed the enemy were, “It is written.” And Christ obtained the victory on the point of appetite in behalf of the whole world, that every soul might have His example before them. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 4

And now the steps of Christ are tending to the last place of His humiliation and suffering in humanity. Turning to His disciples, He said in tones of deepest pathos, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night; for it is written, ‘Awake, O sword, against my shepherd and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.’” [Matthew 26:31; Zechariah 13:7.] These words were spoken as from a breaking heart. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 5

Throughout His whole discourse, Christ had made no mournful allusion to His own sufferings and death. The shepherd knows He will be smitten, that the rod lifted in His Father’s hand, will fall heavily upon Him because of the law transgressed. But Christ thinks only of His disciples. His heart of tenderest love is ever seeking to cheer them. He must prepare them for the absence of His bodily presence. “Let not your heart be troubled,” he said, “ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” [John 14:1-3.] He alludes to their scattering and forsaking Him at the very time when He most needs their sympathy and prayers. But He does not allow this thought of sadness to leave a depressing gloom upon them. He adds, “But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” [Matthew 26:32.] 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 6

The period that is to answer to the prophetic past has come. Christ takes His disciples over the terrible scenes to be enacted, and revives them with hope. He assures them that He will break the fetters of the tomb in the morning of the resurrection, when He would meet them in Galilee. He wanted their hearts to know no fear, but to trust in Him. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 7

But now Peter feels that he must speak, and assures his Master that he will never be guilty of denying his Lord. He did not realize that in that very assertion he was refusing caution and reproof from Christ. When men feel themselves so strong, then it is that they need the words of Inspiration brought to their minds, “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall.” [1 Corinthians 10:12.] Had Peter done this, he would not have disgraced himself, and put Christ to open shame. The time had come when silence was eloquence, when to think in quietness was far better than any speech he could have made. But Peter knew so little of his own heart that he denied the truthfulness of Christ’s statement. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 8

Christ had told Peter that he was mistaken in his ideas of himself, and that in not receiving and believing the words of Christ he was doing the very evil that Christ had declared he would be guilty of. We see this same spirit manifested today. We need ever abiding in the soul the treasure of the Word of God, that when the host of hell shall seek to destroy with temptations, we may be ready with sharp perception to discern his wiles, and meet him as Christ met him in the wilderness with “It is written.” When we feel our personal weakness, when we depend on Christ and not on self, we have done what we can. Then the heavenly intelligences are ready to lift up the standard for us against the enemy, saying to the satanic agencies, “Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther.” [Job 38:11.] The tempted one often does not realize that he had unseen, heavenly agencies working in his behalf, but this is so. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 9

The Word must be studied; it must rule in the heart, that we may be prepared to bring from the treasure house good things. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly; then when you are assailed, you will have the armor of God to wear. Having done all, you may stand. We need an abiding Christ with us, as Enoch had when he walked with God three hundred years. We can have what Enoch had. We can have Christ as our constant companion. Enoch walked with God, and when assailed by the tempter, he could talk with God about it. He had no “It is written” as we have, but he had a knowledge of his heavenly Companion. He made God his Counsellor, and was closely bound up with Jesus. And Enoch was honored in this course. He was translated to heaven without seeing death. And those who will be translated at the close of time will be those who commune with God on earth. Those who make manifest that their life is hid with Christ in God will ever be representing Him in all their life-practices. Selfishness will be cut out by the roots. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 10

“Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, that this night before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” [Matthew 26:33, 34.] O how poorly will many who feel so self-sufficient, stand the test! Jesus could see the future. He could read even the thoughts of the heart. He knew that Peter’s first denial would not stop there. Having done so once, occasion was given to deny again, and the second denial brought circumstances in its train to deny the third time, and that with cursing and swearing. Peter should have taken it for granted that Jesus knew him better than he knew himself. He should have humbled his heart, and asked for special grace, that this thing might not be. But he lost this opportunity in not heeding or believing the warning given. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 11

In a most decided manner he declared, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” [Verse 35.] Peter was thoroughly honest in his assertion, but he was not half as wise as he thought himself to be. He was ignorant of himself. He did not realize his own weakness. It is the privilege of the believer to know that Christ knows all things, and that he would never have made that statement if Peter had known his own heart. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 12

Jesus did not try further to make Peter believe that He knew what course he would pursue. But He knew that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” [Jeremiah 17:9.] At this time Peter should have been examining himself. How distrustful of self should he have been! But he refused to admit that the picture presented before him correct, and in the place of inviting research, although the Holy Spirit of God had revealed to him the character he would manifest, under test and trial, he refused to accept it. If he had humbled his soul before God, in the place of denying the searching and reading of his inmost soul, he would have said with the prophet, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” [Isaiah 6:5.] 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 13

Peter needed a deeper, broader knowledge of Jesus Christ. He had listened to His words, and enjoyed His lessons. He had acknowledged Christ as the Son of God, and believed Him to be this; but he had only touched the margin of faith in Christ. There were depths in the knowledge of His character which demanded his homage, his faith, his tribute of perfect trust and unshaken confidence. “Thou shalt see greater things than these,” is the promise that invites increased faith and expectation. [John 1:50.] Jesus stood ready to reveal Himself to Peter. In His great love He told Peter of his denial. He sought to reveal the defects of his character, and his necessity for the help which Christ alone could give. Peter needed a distrust of himself, and deeper views of God. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 14

When many of the disciples left Christ and walked no more with Him because He had claimed to be that bread which came down from heaven He had declared, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” [John 6:53-57.] And what did His own disciples say to His words? “This is an hard saying, who can hear it.” [Verse 60.] The spiritual perception of His hearers could not grasp Christ’s words, and “from that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” [Verse 66.] 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 15

Turning to the twelve, Jesus said, “Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” [Verses 67-69.] 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 16

The soul of Paul was constantly thirsting for greater knowledge. He exclaimed, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” [Philippians 3:8-10.] And how earnest and anxious should every soul be to have a faithful presentation of themselves, of their dangers, and of the trials that await them, that they may lay hold of a power outside of themselves. How earnest should have been Peter’s prayer that the Lord Jesus should instruct him and teach him how to resist the wiles of the devil, how to be watchful against the temptations. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 17

When Peter had done the very things Christ told him he would do, he was filled with shame and sorrow. He was a repentant man, and became thoroughly converted. Then how tender and charitable, how meek and forgiving Peter revealed himself to be. While under the test, he was but a very dim reflector of the character of his Lord. How much of infirmity, of unmortified sin, of carelessness of spirit, of unsanctified temper, of heedlessness in entering into temptation he revealed, rather than giving up his own way and will. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 18

Peter would not let his mind take any close view of the cross. The highest testimony he could have borne for Christ under trial was to reveal his steadfast principles, and in revealing the pure holy beauty of the character of Christ, show that Christ was abiding in him. The Lord would have His followers reveal in their life practice His life of self-denial, lifting the cross at every step. We are to show our consecration in every act. And this will be the highest testimony we can bear to the Redeemer’s glory. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 19

What honor Peter might have done his Lord had he received His words. But he proved himself to be unfaithful, unworthy to be the depositary of the rich treasure of God’s grace. His boastful assertions, while refusing to see himself as Christ saw him, were causing Peter’s light to grow dim. Yet at this time it was his privilege to solicit Christ’s help as earnestly as when, ready to sink beneath the tempestuous waves, he cried, “Lord, save, or I perish.” [Matthew 14:30.] Then his cry for help brought him a hand that grasped his own. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 20

If, when Christ told him he would do, he had said, “Lord, I receive thy word: although I cannot see that it is possible, I love thee, but I do not know myself, and I ask thee to save me from denying thee whom I so love,” Christ would have saved him from himself. He would have asked for him help of His heavenly Father. He would have prayed that Peter might have been made watchful over his temper, vigilant when most strongly assailed by the enemy, wide awake to Satan’s wily assaults. Then how watchful Peter would have been to maintain his loyalty to Christ. While others might deny their Lord, he would remain steadfast. He would listen silently and learn of Jesus how to conduct himself under charges and provocation, and in the darkest hour. Then he would strive to do honor to Christ and come close to his Saviour. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 21

O that Peter had learned more of the lesson given in the fifteenth chapter of John, of the necessity of abiding in Christ! “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,” said Christ, “except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” [John 15:4.] Christ longed to have His disciples understand the privileges and advantages coming to them through Him. Peter heard these lessons as Christ pointed to the vine on which was a withered branch, and said, “Every branch in me that beareth no fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth (pruneth) it, that it may bring forth more fruit. ... As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in me. ... If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” [Verses 2, 4, 6.] 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 22

This lesson we will all learn if we believe on Jesus Christ. O that it might have been received by Judas, who was plotting his Master’s death! If all could have heard this last lesson Christ gave to His disciples, what instruction they would have received. If they had known more of Jesus, more of the deceptions of the human heart; if they could have known the sorrow of Christ’s heart that the shepherd was to be smitten and His sheep scattered; had they known that He was to gather them again, to speak to them with comforting assurances, they would have known more what His great sacrifice meant. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 23

One who loved them was seeking to give them special instruction. He was thinking of them, praying for them. His eye read every phase of their future experience during the terrible ordeal through which He was about to pass. Then how eager would they have been if they could do nothing more than look with sympathy and love upon their Lord, and with faith undimmed show that they realized that His eye was upon them, and that at this trying moment He was guiding, upholding, and caring for them. O, if they could have looked into that heart of infinite love, if they could only have seen how sorry He was for them. If words could have passed from Him to them, they would have been spoken gently and sympathizingly, “Abide in my love.” [Verse 10.] Be of good cheer, thou art in Christ’s heart. Thou art not alone. 12LtMs, Ms 38, 1897, par. 24