Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 130, 1897

The Truth As It Is In Jesus


November 23, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in OHC 32, 208; HP 142; 1MCP 324-325; 2MCP 656-657; 5MR 210-211.

This morning, October 3, 1897, I am unable to sleep past two o’clock. I am anxious to relieve my mind by writing. I would speak of those in whom the Word of God has wrought decided reformation in life and character, in accordance with the divine precepts. These have obtained a personal experience in the knowledge that they will carry with them into the future immortal life. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 1

The Word of God is to be our food. “I am the bread of life,” Christ said; “he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” [John 6:35.] The world is perishing for want of truth, pure, unadulterated truth. Christ is the truth. His words are truth, and they have a greater value and a deeper significance than appears on the surface. All the sayings of Christ have a value beyond their unpretending appearance. Minds that are quickened by the Holy Spirit will discern the value of these sayings. By being anointed with the sacred salve, the eye of the mind can detect the precious gems of truth, though they may be buried treasure. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 2

How needful for all who are workers in the cause of God to ponder these things, that they may guard against self-sufficiency. If men are self-sufficient, the Lord leaves them to their own human wisdom. We are not to trust in self, or make a god of self. I must speak to our people. Pride, selfishness, and all desire for self-exaltation places human agents in a position where the Holy Spirit cannot work with them. In no case can the Holy Spirit cooperate with the methods and plans of self-sufficient men. It is not for any to seek to be great speakers or preachers, wonderful evangelists. All who realize the dignity and elevated character of the message they bear will hide in Christ. Their security and efficiency comes from God. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 3

All, high or low, if they are unconverted to Christ, are on one common platform. Men may work themselves into the grave by abusing the human machinery. They may turn from one doctrine to another. This is being done, and will be done. Papists may change from Catholicism to Protestantism; yet they may know nothing of the meaning of the words “A new heart will I give thee.” [Ezekiel 36:26.] Accepting new theories alone does not bring any new life into the soul, even though the church with which they unite may be founded on the true foundation. A connection with the church does not take the place of conversion. To subscribe the name to a church creed is not of the least value to any one if the heart is not truly changed. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 4

This question is a serious one, and it should be fully entered into and its meaning realized. Men may be members of a church. Apparently they may work religiously, performing a round of prescribed duties from year to year, and still remain unconverted. There are those who write in regard to religious matters. But although they delight to do this work in defense of Christianity, they may yet be unconverted. A man may preach pleasing, entertaining sermons, but he may be far from Christ as regards genuine experience. He may be self-sufficient, and exalted to the pinnacle of greatness, yet never have experienced the inward work of grace that should form the character. Such a one is deceived by his connection and familiarity with the sacred truths of the gospel, which have reached the intellect, but have gone no deeper. The truth has not been brought into the inner sanctuary of the soul. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 5

By his conscience every honest Jew was convinced that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but the heart in its pride and ambition would not surrender. An opposition was maintained against the light of truth, which they had decided to resist and deny. When the truth is held as truth only by the conscience, when the heart is not stimulated and made receptive, the truth only agitates the mind. But when the truth is received as truth by the heart, it has passed through the conscience and captivated the soul by its pure principles. It is placed in the heart by the Holy Spirit, who [molds] its beauty to the mind that its transforming power may be seen in the character. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 6

Unless a man is renewed in the spirit of his mind by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, he will become restless and dissatisfied because he has not died [to] self. “Come unto me,” said Christ, “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 of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] Again Christ says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” [Luke 9:23.] Without me ye can do nothing correctly, any more than could Cain. Of what advantage is any system of religion to one who has not been transformed in character by the profession of faith without works? 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 7

No one who believes the truth will live a selfish, self-pleasing life; for the truth is everlasting, refining, and sanctifying in its influence. The true minister of the gospel will not stand before the people to speak smooth words, to cry, Peace and safety. He realizes the dangers that threaten the soul, and he presents the truth as it is in Jesus. The truth comes from his lips clear, plain, and decided, as though he fully believed the words spoken to be a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. If he knows that he has the spirit and power of God, his words will awaken the consciences of his hearers. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 8

The lessons given by the greatest teacher the world ever knew were given in plain, simple language. Christ’s words were explicit and direct. His lessons were given line upon line and precept upon precept. This should be our example. While cheerfulness, hope, and faith in and through Jesus should be expressed, nothing should be said to create mirth. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 9

Make a practical application of the truth. Urge the truth home with directness, and present the high standard that God sets before His people. Truth must become truth to the receiver to all intents and purposes. It must be stamped on the heart. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Romans 10:10.] “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength.” [Mark 12:30.] This is the service God receives. Nothing short of this is pure and undefiled religion. The heart is the citadel of the being, and until that is wholly on the Lord’s side, the enemy will gain constant victories over us through his subtle temptations. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 10

If the life is given into its control, the power of the truth is unlimited. The thoughts are brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. From the treasure of the heart are brought forth appropriate and fitting words. Especially should our words be guarded. Writing to Timothy Paul says, “Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us.” [2 Timothy 1:13, 14.] 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 11

“All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecutions,” He says again. [2 Timothy 3:12.] But this should not intimidate one soul. What can give such sunshine to the soul as the evidence of sins forgiven? What can impart true nobility if it is not the restoration of the moral image of God in man? From whence can peace come to the soul if not from the Prince of peace? To what source can we look for help but to Him who can give us light in the midst of darkness? 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 12

Christ has promised to send us the Comforter, whose work it is to establish the kingdom of God in the soul. Amid the abundant provisions of mercy, grace, and peace which have been made, why do human beings act as though they entertained the idea that the truth is a yoke of bondage? It is because the heart has never tasted and seen that the Lord is good. The soul that cherishes the love of Christ is full of freedom, light, and joy in Christ. In such a soul there are no divided thoughts. The whole man yearns after God. He goes not to men for counsel, to know what is duty, but to the Lord Jesus, the source of all wisdom. He searches the Word of God, that he may find out what standard has been set up. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 13

Can we ever find a surer guide than the Lord Jesus? True religion is embodied in the Word of God, and consists in being under the guidance of the Holy One in thought, word, and deed. He who is the way, the Truth, and the Life takes the humble, earnest, whole-hearted seeker and says, Follow me. He leads him in the narrow way to holiness and heaven. Christ has opened this way for us at great cost to Himself. We are not left to stumble our way along in darkness. Jesus is at our right hand, proclaiming, I am the way. And all who decide to follow the Lord fully will be led in the royal path, yea more, the divine path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 14

Men in this age of the world act as if they were at liberty to question the words of the Infinite, to review His decisions and statutes, endorsing, revising, re-shaping, and annulling at their pleasure. If they cannot misconstrue, misinterpret, and alter God’s plain decision, or bend and manipulate it to please the multitude and themselves, they break it. We are never safe while we are guided by human opinions, but we are safe when we are guided by a “Thus saith the Lord.” We cannot trust the salvation of our soul to any lower standard than the decision of an infallible Judge. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 15

Those who make God their guide and His Word their counsellor, behold the lamp of life. God’s living oracles guide their feet and the feet of all who are willing to be led, in straight paths. Those who are thus led do not dare to judge the Word of God, but ever hold that His Word judges them. They get their faith and religion from the Word of the living God. It is the guide and counsellor that directs their path. This Word is indeed a light to their feet and a lamp to their path. They walk under the direction of the Father of light, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. He whose tender mercies are over all His works makes the path of the just as a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 16

The teacher of truth must practice the truth he communicates to the people, else his labor will be in vain. Converted messengers of the Most High are needed, to voice the Word of God to the people. Those who support the Word of truth, not only by argument, but by living the truth, range themselves on the side of righteousness. By a converted life they give evidence that they bear the solemn message of warning, which is a savor of life unto life or death unto death. When men are really converted, controversy and debate will be ended. The plain standing truth will be proclaimed by lips that have been touched with a live coal from the altar of God. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 17

God gives to every man His Word, and with the imparted commission He gives to His messengers a measure of power proportionate to their faith. He is constantly unfolding to the heart the riches of His grace. Light will shine forth in clear, bright rays from those who receive light from the Word of God. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 18

God calls upon His people to reveal Him. Shall the world manifest principles of integrity that the church does not maintain? Shall a selfish ambition to be first be shown by the followers of Christ? Shall not the principles cherished by them be unselfish, laid upon the true foundation, even Christ Jesus? What material shall we place upon this precious foundation, that there may no longer be antagonism but unity in the church? What shall we build? Shall worthless material be laid upon this precious foundation? Shall we bring to it wood, hay, stubble? Shall we not rather bring the most precious material, gold, silver, precious stones? Shall we not distinguish sharply between the chaff and the wheat? Shall we not realize that we must receive the Holy Spirit in our hearts, that it may mold and fashion the practical life? Shall we not strive to discern the divinity and atonement of Christ? 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 19

We have the truth. Shall we not practice its living principles? We must practice the truth in our daily lives. Selfishness is the great evil that makes of none effect the preaching of the cross of Christ. Preach the Word, not anecdotes. For Christ’s sake do not drown the voice of Christ by your own interpretation of the Scriptures. Do not make the Word of God mean what He never meant it to. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 20

The Holy Spirit must work on the hearts of the teachers of God’s Word that they may give the truth to the people in that clear pure way that Christ Himself gave the truth. He revealed it, not only in His words, but in His practice. If God’s messengers realize the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s working, this Spirit will speak through them to the hearers. They will understand the meaning of the truth spoken. Lie low my brethren, lie low, if you would appreciate the Holy Spirit’s working upon mind and heart. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 21

Christ reproached His disciples with their slowness of comprehension. Why did they not understand His lessons? Because His words did not agree with what they had been taught in the past, or with their hopes and expectations. The priests and rulers taught for doctrines the commandments of men. Christ tried to impress His disciples that He had left in their possession truths of which they did not comprehend the value. After His resurrection He said to them, “These are the things which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you. ... Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” [Luke 24:44, 45.] 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 22

Brethren, we are living in perilous times. In the fear of God I tell you that the true exposition of the Scriptures is necessary for the correct moral development of our characters. When heart and mind are worked by the Holy Spirit, when self is dead, the truth is capable of constant expansion and new development. When the truth as it is in Jesus molds our characters, it will be seen to be truth indeed. As it is contemplated by the true believer, it will grow brighter, shining in its original beauty. As we behold it, it will increase in value, brightening in its own natural loveliness, quickening and vivifying the mind, and subduing our selfish, unchristlike coarseness of character. It will elevate our aspirations, enabling us to reach the perfect standard of holiness. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 23

We have yet to learn that the whole Jewish economy is a compacted prophecy of the gospel. It is the gospel in figures, for from the pillar of cloud Christ Himself presented the duty of man to his fellow men. In Christ’s words to His appointed agencies, both in the Old Testament and in the New, the Christian virtues are plainly brought out. Christ scattered the precious grains of truth through all His teaching. All will find them to be as precious pearls, rich in value, if they will practice the principles plainly laid down. The Old Testament is the ground where practical godliness was first sown. This was repeated in Christ’s words to His disciples. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 24

Our lack of faith, the absence of the love and respect that is due to all the children of God, detracts from our influence and makes our labors of none effect. When the power of the Holy Spirit is appreciated and felt in the heart, far less of self will be exhibited, and far more of the feeling of human brotherhood revealed that is seen in the tenderness of Christ. Our work is not to exhibit self, but to let the Holy Spirit work in us. Thus self-deceived men and women may be rescued from their delusion. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 25

I cannot forbear to tell you in the name of the Lord that you are not on safe ground unless the truth with its living principles teaches you your danger, bringing you every day closer to Christ in character. Many supposed conversions are talked of and published, which cannot stand the stress of trial and temptation. Under difficulty, the test of God’s Word reveals them to be faithless, envious, jealous, full of evil surmisings. Many, many are [stony] ground hearers. They have no depth of spiritual experience. They do not apply the truth to their hearts and consciences. Self in its unsanctified elements is alive, revealing attributes which strengthen evil in the place of repressing it. Self is not crucified. There is a lack of pure-toned piety, and this lack makes them weaklings in the army of the Lord, when they might be giants if they were willing to be converted to the truth. True conversion is divine, and yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 26

I am afraid for our churches. I tremble before God on their account. We have light on the Scriptures, and we shall be held accountable for the light that is not cherished. The works of men do not harmonize with the truth they have received. There is far too much of the human element in our methods and plans. We do not depend on the Spirit of God to work with its transforming energy upon the life. We are deficient in faith, which is invincible and mysterious. The efficacy of the simple truth is weakened by the course of those who do not purify their souls by obeying the truth. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 27

The secrets of the Lord are with them that fear Him and keep His covenant. We need faith in God, that under the sanctifying power of God’s Word, the principles of human brotherhood may be manifested. We need the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Its power upon minds and hearts will bring pure truth from the Holy Word. And sound doctrines brought into actual contact with human souls will result in sound and elevating practices. We need the working of the Holy Spirit upon mind and character. The truth as it is in Jesus must be cherished. Then Christians will not be Christians in name only. The love of Christ will pervade all their actions. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 28

I know and am afraid as I realize that with hundreds religion is a cold, formal thing. Many professed Christians will lose eternal life that is within the reach of all. Every provision has been made for them, but they have no hungering or thirsting after righteousness. There is no room in the soul either for the Spirit of God or for the Word of God. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 29

Truth is delicate, refined, elevated. When it molds the character, the soul grows under its divine atmosphere. The truth is to be partaken of every day. Thus we eat the words of Christ, which He declares are spirit and life. [John 6:63.] The acceptance of the truth will make every receiver a child of God, an heir of heaven. Truth that is in the heart is not a cold, dead letter. The Spirit of God is truth. The Lord is dishonored when those who profess to serve [Him] reveal a character that is a denial of their faith. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 30

There is fulness of joy in the truth. There is a nobleness in the life of the human agent who lives and works under the vivifying influence of the truth. Truth is sacred and divine. It is stronger and more powerful than anything else in the formation of a character after the likeness of Christ. When it is cherished in the heart, the love of Christ is preferred to the love of any human being. This is Christianity. Thus truth, pure, unadulterated truth, occupies the citadel of the being. This is the life of God in the soul. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” [Ezekiel 36:26.] 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 31

I address my brethren. Do not anchor where you now are; for you are far from the place where the anchor will hold. The truth of the Word of God is regarded by some as a fetter from which the human soul tries to break. But the truth is what makes men free. “If the truth therefore shall make you free,” writes Paul [John], “ye shall be free indeed.” [John 8:32, 36.] The truth as it is in Jesus separates man from his sins, from his hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong. Many poor souls are puffed up with pride and self-importance. If they do not change their position, they will be tempted still more strongly to display their supposed qualifications of power. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 32

O that all who shall read these lines would search their hearts as with a lighted candle, and define, if they can, what true conversion is. The Lord never created man to lord it over his fellow men. This lording propensity has been indulged to the ruin and wreck of humanity. The souls of those that have indulged this propensity are cast in a mold that Satan himself has made to fashion their characters. Every soul carries his credentials with him. By his actions he shows whether or not he is under the power of the Holy Spirit, or whether he is striving to climb over his fellow men to rule or to ruin. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 33

With the great truth we have been privileged to receive, we should, and under the Holy Spirit’s power, we would, become living channels of light. We could then approach the mercy seat, and seeing the bow of promise, kneel with contrite hearts and seek the kingdom of heaven with a spiritual violence that would bring its own reward. We would take it by force as did Jacob. Then the message we bore would be the power of God unto salvation. Our supplications would be full of earnestness, full of a sense of our great need, and we would not be denied. The truth would be expressed by life and character, and by lips touched by the living coal from God’s altar. When this experience is ours, we shall be lifted out of our poor cheap selves, which we have cherished so tenderly. We shall empty our hearts of the corroding power of self, and shall be filled with praise and gratitude to God. We shall magnify the Lord, the God of all grace, who has magnified Jesus Christ. He will reveal his power by making us as sharp sickles in the harvest field. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 34

The usefulness of workers in any lines depends on whether they have an abiding Christ. “Without me,” said Christ, “ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] Workers for God should be filled with His spirit. The real usefulness of the workman will be manifested by his spiritual discernment, which will testify that he has been taught of God, that his eyes are not blinded to the interests of the cause and work of God or to the elements of true Christianity. By their faith and their labor of love true Christians give evidence unquestioned that their work is wrought in God. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 35

“Our gospel came not unto you in word only,” writes Paul, “but also in power and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, as ye know what manner of men there were among you; for your sake.” [1 Thessalonians 1:5.] Paul lived the gospel that he preached, and if our ministering brethren will live the truth, they will be loving, kind, tender, lowly in heart, unpretending, earnest, and devoted. Their works will be their credentials. There would be one hundredfold more conversions than the record shows today if God’s workmen were what they should be. God demands truth in the inward parts. The spirit of those in the ministry must correspond with the truth preached. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 36

Will the workers in the various lines of God’s work ponder these things? A large share of the shallowness of the work is the result of the shallowness of the workers. When the Spirit of God works, something will be done, and in a much larger degree than we have yet seen. Where is the power of the workers? Where is the demonstration of the Spirit? Where is the assurance of faith? There is a sad deficiency, a great lack, in the preaching of God’s Word. Much fluent talking may be done. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 37

Much cleverness may be shown in the presentation of different points of truth. All this has been seen. Ears are gratified, a present commotion is excited; but where are the souls? Where is the Holy unction, the living earnestness, the deep moving of the Spirit of God? Where are those who expound the truth by upholding staunch, correct principles? O that God would impress His ministers with the need of being thoroughly converted, and led to look away from themselves. O that He would impress them with the need of an abiding Christ. Then there would be a revival of the Holy Spirit. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 38

The power of the Holy Spirit is needed to chase away our unbelief and our unchristlike attributes. We must see our need of a physician. We are sick and do not know it. May the Lord convert the hearts of his workmen. When there is a converted ministry, then look for results. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 39

You cannot convert your own hearts. This work can only be wrought by the Holy Spirit. In every stage of the work let the educators advance. “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Zechariah 4:6.] 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 40

The question has been asked, What kind of vessels does the Spirit ordinarily use? What does Christ say? “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 the workers in any branch of the work labor in self, they put upon themselves a yoke which Christ does not co-operate with them in carrying. 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 41

What kind of vessels are meet for the Master’s use? Empty vessels. When we empty the soul from every defilement, we are clean vessels. Are we emptied of self? Are we cured of selfish planning? Whereby we are to be given every favorable chance, while others get along as best they can? O for less self-occupation. May the Lord purify and cleanse His people, teachers, and churches. The Lord has given a rule for the guidance of all. From this standard there can be no careless deaprture. But there has been and still is a swerving from righteous principles. How long shall this condition of things exist? How can the Master use us as vessels for holy service until we empty ourselves, and make room for the Spirit of God to work? 12LtMs, Ms 130, 1897, par. 42