Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 139, 1897

The Work Before God’s People


December 9, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in Ev 430; 9MR 129; BTS 09/1908. +Note

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors, and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body, fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” [Ephesians 4:11-16.] 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 1

Who is there that makes the burden of the sinners perishing in their sins his own? No one can do this unless they sympathize with their God. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] The Lord Jesus was lifted up on the cross that He might draw all men unto Him. The word to be given to all is, “Look and live.” [Numbers 21:8.] By looking unto Jesus, you express faith in Him. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 2

The commission Christ gave to His disciples means far more than many comprehend. No man liveth to himself. Let no excuse be made as a reason why you do not take up your God-given responsibilities. Let none say, I cannot give time to the study of the Word; my children take my time. My domestic duties keep me very busy. Listen to the instruction of our Saviour: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore the eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light, but if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 3

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other; ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment. Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 4

“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? and why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” [Matthew 6:19-33.] 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 5

The instruction is given that we should take heed to every word spoken by the great Teacher. Your children, properly managed, can be instructed to be a great help, and not a hindrance. They should be under the Saviour’s influence, because you lead them there with prayer and tenderheartedness. These children, were they entrusted to you to be a hindrance to your spiritual growth? They were meant to be useful, to be educated. The time God has given them is for the formation of a useful, all-round character; and when reverses come, as they may in the family circle, they will know how to meet them in the grace of Christ. Are they not training to be the Lord’s agencies, living not to please themselves, but to please the Lord Jesus, and to seek to adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour? 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 6

Activity alone is not enough. That activity should be trained in Christ’s lines. Shall the members of the church give a trifling sum of money to the cause of Christ, and then let their children carry on the work and service of Satan? Far better were it had such children never been born. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 7

Let us view the case correctly. Children are the heritage of the Lord, and are to be so educated that they may be the younger member of the Lord’s family, prepared by proper instruction to serve the Lord in their childhood life. Parents, has the religion of consecration and devotion to Christ mastered you? What the Lord Jesus expects in all believers is something besides being occupied and active. God requires wholeness of service. For want of this, all things else are inferior. Your children should have a moral fitness to do the work which is due their Redeemer. They should be fitted to witness in a careless, Christless world, that their Saviour has not died for them in vain. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 8

God requires of all who know the truth that they be disinterested and devoted to the object for which He gave His life—the salvation of perishing souls. If the truth we claim to have has not mastered us, bringing all the powers of our individuality under control to God, how can we show the advantage and power that the truth has over those who profess to believe it? How can the testimony we bear witness to the truth? How can the church members who dress and talk and act as the world plead in behalf of pure and undefiled religion? What power, what moral influence, do they give to the Master, as co-workers with Him in reclaiming the world for Christ, when their own characters do not adorn the cause of Christ, their Redeemer? 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 9

A large portion of our soul is unreclaimed, unsanctified. The objects and idols of sense are worshiped before the Lord of hosts. Self-indulgence reigns. There is a moral waste of our God-given talents. We must feel the burden of souls before we will put aside our frivolity to work for the Master. His work is to be our work, His love is to be our love. “A new commandment I give unto you.” It was not new in principle, for it was definitely given in the Old Testament, but it was new to the disciples, because it was so entirely different from the instruction given by the Jewish teachers. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [John 13:34, 35.] 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 10

These are weighty principles. We must work upon them. We must draw together, cherishing love, and ceasing to criticize one another. The Lord help us to understand what this means, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice.” [Matthew 9:13.] 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 11

The world is selfish. Shall we show that no change has taken place in us in this respect? Shall we remain as self-centered as we always have been? If those who claim to be Christians are Christians only in name, what kind of models are they? If we are not Christians in word and deed, what answer shall we make to the ignorant, who will say sometime, when it is too late, “And you knew all these things, and did not tell us. You did not try to reclaim us, though you knew that we would perish in our sins unless we obeyed the truth. Why were you indifferent?” “Why did you not urge upon us the things which you knew. How could you pass us by, and not tell us what you knew to be true? Why did you leave us to be lost? Why did you leave us to continue in sin? If you were really in earnest, why did you allow us to go on in sin without telling us how we might be saved?” 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 12

This is no idle fancy. It is a most distressing fact. O that the Lord would roll upon the church the burden of souls. Christ has made an infinite sacrifice to draw the world to Himself. The Christian church is to be His instrumentality to be used in His hands. Worldliness, selfishness, corruption, require patient, earnest, persevering labor. In order to save the world, we must be in perfect contrast to the world. Selfishness must die, and Christ live in us. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 13

Success does not depend on our numbers, but on our fitness for the work, on our having a right relation to God. By the power of God, one can chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight. If all who claimed to be Christians were believing, self-denying Christians, penetrated and possessed with the conviction that Christian consistency and entire devotedness to the world’s recovery are one and the same thing, and that an entire, intense devotion to the work admits of no idols of any order, God’s work would prosper. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 14

The one object of Christians is to be the salvation of souls. This should be the all-pervading interest. Nothing can be accomplished in this work unless the heart of the worker is controlled by the Holy Spirit. All who work in Christ’s lines should feel that they are not their own, just as much as if the very stamp and seal of identification were marked upon their persons. They are to be sprinkled with the blood of Christ’s sacrifice, and in the spirit of entire self-consecration, they should resolve that by the grace of God they will be a living, consuming sacrifice. Then the world would indeed know that Christians live not to please themselves. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 15

Those who claim to know the truth cannot know its power until they bring it into their heart and life-practice. The church needs converting as much as does the world, for the world is more susceptible under the influence of the message, and the prayers of God’s people cut them to the heart; while those who know the truth are cold and unimpressible. In some way the great danger of a legal religion must be presented. All who are brought to a knowledge of the truth need personal labor from those who have been long in the faith, and who are able to awaken them to a due appreciation of the spiritual nature of the work in which we are engaged, especially for this time. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 16

The present time will bring dangers which we must individually be prepared to meet. The Lord has a work which is above the world’s seeking. To those who have not the mind of Christ, the features of our faith and our work, the great object to be accomplished, is far above their comprehension and unseen. But we are not to come down from our position of ever remaining a people distinct and peculiar from the world. Our vocation is high, holy, and elevated. Our faith, if appreciated, will keep all true believers from political strife. We are to work for the spiritual recovery of mankind to God, to bring them under His theocracy. Then only are we a safe people. In keeping ourselves in close sympathy with God, our hearts bound up in love for Him, is our only security. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 17

There is no safety for a Christian who acts from the lowest rather than from the highest views of Christian motives. We do not sympathize with God in the salvation of the human race. We do not regard it in the light in which it is viewed by the universe of heaven, as a plan devised from eternity in the mind of God. The greatness of the theme almost takes my breath away—the conditions of life or death to the human race. It required the life of God’s only begotten Son as a sacrifice. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 18

Oh, how tame are our religious exercises. The Holy Spirit is the only adequate agency for our full development! As I look upon those who are handling sacred things, and who feel so self-sufficient and so capable of engaging in the great and solemn work of God, I feel pain of heart that I cannot express, for I know that these men, unless they humble their hearts before God, will mar His work, and will be a hindrance when they suppose they are doing a great work. Oh, how few are heart to heart with God in this solemn, closing up work. There are so many to be warned, and yet how few sympathize with God sufficiently to be anything or nothing, if they can only see souls brought back to their loyalty to God. These poor souls will never see, will never properly consider, the influence they leave behind them. There is scarcely a tithe of the sympathetic compassion there should be toward the souls unsaved. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 19

Jesus died to redeem a depraved and guilty world. He worked for them in humility, in meekness and lowliness of heart. But those who ought to learn His methods, to wear His yoke and lift His burdens, are self-elated, self-sufficient. Their hearts do not beat in unison with the heart of God. O that I had the strength to labor as I once labored. I am praying for physical strength and soundness. I have a message to bear. But my infirmities press me sore. Who is there who makes the burden of a dying world his own, who watches and prays for souls as he that must give an account? How many are left without any special labor? If one half of the sermonizing were done, and double the amount of personal labor given to souls in their homes and in the congregations, a result would be seen that would be surprising. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 20

Jesus wept over obdurate Jerusalem. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” He said, “thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings, but ye would not.” [Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34.] Again He weeps over the devoted city, exclaiming, “O that thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace.” Then with tears in His eyes and quivering lips, He pronounced the irrevocable sentence, “But now they are hid from thine eyes.” [Luke 19:42.] 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 21

It was a hard sentence for Christ to pronounce. It was hard for Him to give up the son of His care. Who can sympathize with Christ in His distress and anguish of soul over the loss of a nation? This was only a symbol of the giving up of a world. Who are so moved by the terrible loss of souls that they have even a faint appreciation of the anguish of Christ’s soul? Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah, and Paul were partakers with Christ in His depths of compassion as far as their human perception could take in the situation. Who can say with Jeremiah, “Rivers of water run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law. O that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughters of my people”? [Psalm 119:136; Jeremiah 9:1.] “I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren,” Paul exclaimed. [Romans 9:3.] 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 22

This sympathy is manifestly needed. Unless the heart can beat in sympathy with Christ, man will never understand the elevated and sacred character of the words, “Watch for souls as they that must give an account.” [Hebrews 13:17.] We talk of Christian missions. Our voices are heard, but our hearts have never felt the tender longing and craving for souls that they must feel. With many, trifling acts of service are supposed to be all-sufficient, but there is not the feeblest appreciation for the souls whom Christ died to save. They know not the value of the human soul. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 23

The fires of the last day will consume many souls who might have been saved if the church had but comprehended her sacred responsibilities. Souls are trifling with their own salvation, and are unfitted to co-operate with the Lord Jesus Christ. When will the church become laborers together with God? The laborers have themselves to blame largely for the state of indifference seen. They need to be broken up in heart and in action. Then the Lord will work to strengthen them. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 24

The root of the evil is selfishness. The dealing in one another branch of the work, with the agents and individuals is of so selfish a character that the Lord cannot vindicate the actions. The Office will never be regarded as the highest and holiest out of heaven until every thread of this narrow figuring is completely eradicated. This poverty of Bible principles will, unless a decided change takes place, place the Office last instead of first. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 25

Oh that these principles which walk into every business establishment, if permitted, could be cleared out of the institutions that God has ordained! He never designed that men who profess to believe sacred truth should deal as men of the world. The Lord hates every species of narrowness connected with His work; and just as far as this is introduced, will He bind about the success of those who practice it. They will lose ten times as much as they have gained in their business transactions. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 26

God calls for noble-spirited, whole-hearted, sympathizing, liberal, tender, unselfish men to handle sacred interests. This meanness, for God calls it nothing else, reveals a lack of faith and trust and benevolence, and should be cut away from every true Christian who would love the Lord supremely and his neighbor as himself. Agents of Christ are supposed to have the Spirit of Christ, to be elevated above all littleness and cheapness of action, all desire to gain an advantage in business lines. The cause of God is one. No lessons must be given on how to take advantage in our conferences or in our institutions, or against the interest of one another. Worldly policy grows every time littleness in deal is practiced. The selfish threads become stronger, the spirit and character more and more offensive, until God will not trust them. The leaven will work, and God’s institutions and conferences will become educated in selfish scheming and a low order of deal. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 27

God calls for nobility in all who are dealing with His cause and work. He will not tolerate one branch of His work scheming against another branch of His work. All the universe of heaven is grieved with the order of management. I am commanded to say the after sufficient trial, God will remove every agent out of His service who will scheme to gain advantage over the one with whom He is dealing. God calls these things robbery. “I hate them, saith the high and holy One; I will not serve with your sins. My name shall not be degraded by the meanness and scheming of men.” 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 28

The Lord will work, and none can hinder Him. May the Lord purify the church, cleanse the institutions, and make noble, pure, and holy, the men who deal in sacred things. 12LtMs, Ms 139, 1897, par. 29