Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 50, 1897

The Work of Christ

Adelaide, South Australia

May 31, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in UL 165.

It may be surprising to some that Christ’s work was not extended to the heathen nations, that it was confined in so small a circumference. But the heathen nations were not prepared for His work. And had He devoted His time to the conversion of the Gentile world, He would have closed the door whereby He could bear His message to the Jewish nation. As it was, Jewish prejudice against Him was strong. One discourse given by Him in Nazareth so enraged the people that they would have killed Him if divine agencies had not saved Him from their wicked purposes. The mob turned Him out of the synagogue, and pushed Him hither and thither, quarreling among themselves as to how they should stop His voice entirely. But presently they lost sight of Christ. He was gone, they knew not where. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 1

Frequently the people of other nations came to Christ to be healed, or to make some request for their relatives or friends. These people represented the great human family, who knew not God or the truth, but who felt a soul-longing for something they had not. All who came to Christ listened to His instruction, and as they heard the word of truth, they were deeply impressed. In speaking words of hope to these weary, unsatisfied souls, in healing the infirmities of those that came to Him, Christ was setting an example to be practiced from one end of the world to another. He was speaking and acting for humanity at large. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 2

While Christ’s field of labor lay among the Jews, He instructed His disciples to go forth to those outside the camp, and to bear to them the message of a Saviour’s love. In the few years of His work He must set forth the object of His mission and lay the foundation of the work that was to be taken up by His disciples. He must show that His work was to set souls free from the slavery of sin. And although generation after generation would pass away, His lessons of practical service would be given by His witnesses. He was to ascend to heaven, but His work was to be carried forward with greater power than before, because He and His Father would co-operate in doing greater things for His people than they had seen while He was among them. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 3

We are to work while it is day, for the night cometh in which no man can work. Our life is represented as a day, and when our work is ended, when the worker ceases his busy activity, the work does not cease. Others take it up. Though the human agents pass away, the work of Christ does not cease, but goes on, each worker doing God service by working as Christ worked. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 4

We often feel that in the work of God there are great interests to be handled that we are unable to touch. We seem bound about. Let us remember that Christ’s work while on earth was confined to a narrow compass. Yet multitudes from all parts of the world heard His lessons. He was giving His message to those who would afterwards become His disciples. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 5

Christ worked out before His disciples and the world a perfect example of true religion. And when men realize the importance of showing patience, sympathy, and regard for the souls of men, nigh and afar off, Christ will be revealed in His followers. “Ye are laborers together with God,” writes Paul; “ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] By His Holy Spirit God is framing the building, using human agents to compose His temple. No one can do a good work, at home or in the regions beyond, unless they receive power from above. If we would work as Christ worked, we must look to Christ, our risen and ascended Saviour, to give the work efficiency and perfection. We must depend upon Christ, our substitute, our surety, our power, and our sufficiency. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 6

Christ was surrounded by religious enemies. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” [John 1:11.] But although He was rejected by His own nation, He did not fail, nor become discouraged. Why did not the Jewish people receive their Lord? Because truth did not languish on His tongue. They were displeased with Him, because He did not receive His knowledge from the religious teachers of the nation. Yet He gave evidence that He had a perfect knowledge of the Jewish system of economy, as represented in the Scriptures. He gave the true interpretation of the law and the prophets, and the true signification of every type and symbol. The scribes and Pharisees taught the law, but they taught also the commandments of men, mingling human tradition with the divine precepts, covering the genuine requirements of God with man-made forms and ceremonies. Thus their true religious service was corrupted. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 7

While the professed teachers of the law made the law a rigorous burden by their traditions and endless round of unimportant exactions, Christ stood alone, living the law of God. He was in the world, but not of the world. His discrimination between true and false religion was so clear and sharp that the Pharisees were reproached by His works. He did not spare their pretentious godliness, which was mingled with selfishness, hypocrisy, covetousness, and unfair dealing. He did not try to obliterate the distinction which should exist between the righteous principles that should ever characterize the lives of those who claim to be the children of God, and the principles of the world. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 8

Christ taught that the idea of remodelling the religion of the scribes and Pharisees was out of the question. A new piece of cloth cannot be sewed on an old garment, for the new will tear away from the old, and the rent will thereby be made worse. So the religion of Christ could not be joined with false religion, for the new principles to be introduced would not harmonize with the old, and the rent would be made worse. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 9

The temple service, formed after the divine pattern, and once so pure, so sacred, and so holy, had been tainted with evil. It could not be remodelled. It was mingled with the defective plans and theories of men, and could not be rebuilt. The true Architect from heaven, who created men, “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.] One sent from heaven came to restore the ruined temple to its sacred and beautiful proportions. In His person and mission He was to reveal the holiness of God; and priests and rulers should have set before Him an open door. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 10

While the Pharisees loaded the people with grievous, man-made exactions, Christ revealed the love of God. The untainted purity of His life, His humility and meekness, His sympathy with all classes, high and low, rich and poor, showed the Pharisees to be whited sepulchers, deceiving the people by their professions of sanctity. The contrast between Christ’s life and the precepts and example of the religious teachers shed rich light on the pathway of those who claimed to worship God. But they chose darkness rather than light. 12LtMs, Ms 50, 1897, par. 11