Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Lt 3, 1897

Brothers and Sisters in Adelaide

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

May 6, 1897

Portions of this letter are published in 9MR 364-366; CTr 202. +Note

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Adelaide:

The truth alone is truth. Spiritual things can be only spiritually discerned. The Bible truth is one of faith alone. The kingdom of heaven can be entered only by those who come to him as a little child. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1.] 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 1

“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” This question was a very important one to this young ruler, for his entire present and future eternal interests were here involved. Christ made answer: “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” [Matthew 19:16-19.] 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 2

This rich young ruler was apparently in earnest. He had seen the love and tenderness of Christ in receiving and blessing little children; he had beheld Christ’s self-denial in lifting the cross, and he was stirred with deep conviction. Running to Christ, he knelt before Him, and poured forth his great desire. “All these things,” he said, “have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” [Verses 20, 21.] 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 3

This was the gospel which Christ came to preach by His words and His works. The poor were His heritage. “The poor,” He declared, “ye have with you always.” [John 12:8.] God has given men talents as He gave to this ruler, to the end that they may be the agents of God, that they may be faithful stewards of their entrusted capital of means, that they may help the poor, the needy, and the suffering ones, and thus represent His own character. The Christian is always to be the representative of the Master whom he serves. He is to follow Christ in the development of love, revealed in works for his neighbor. Those who have been blessed with abundance are to see in their poor fellow man a needy brother, and they are to help and encourage him, that he may have evidence that God has not forgotten him, that the Lord has him in mind, and has imparted to his brother the means to supply his needs. They should also encourage him to help himself, providing ways by which he can do this. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 4

“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly: and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give: not grudgingly, nor of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (as it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth forever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) being enriched in all things to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.” [2 Corinthians 9:6-11.] Here is specified the work that is to be done for the needy ones, those who are in want. Their needs should be sufficient cause for drawing upon the liberal supplies of the wealthy. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 5

The ruler so far believed in Jesus that he was persuaded that He alone could give him the instruction he needed upon this vital question. The passage to Jesus was being thronged with travelers who were going to Jerusalem to attend the passover: but this did not deter him from his purpose, although he knew that as a ruler in Israel, this acknowledgement of Christ on his part would cause violent censure and scathing remarks. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 6

“Why callest thou me good?” asks Christ: “there is none good but one; that is God.” [Mark 10:18.] Christ declined to receive the term good, as applied to human beings apart from the One who only is truly good, and equal with the Father. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 7

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” [Leviticus 19:18.] Here was the lack, the link to be supplied, the absence of which makes the longest and strongest chain worthless. For the sincerity of the young man, his consciousness that something was wanting, and his nearness to the full committal to the proposal of Christ, “Jesus beholding him loved him.” But nevertheless He must tell him the truth. He Himself, in words and works, was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He must follow Christ’s example if he would be perfect. “One thing thou lackest,” He said, “go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” [Mark 10:21.] 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 8

With yearning heart Christ awaited his decision. How the heart of infinite love should have rejoiced to number him as a co-laborer, a fellow worker with the Master, wearing His yoke in perfect obedience, and seeking to save that which was lost. But the young man was “sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” [Verse 22.] 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 9

Only one thing he lacked; but it was a vital principle, a lack which would prove fatal unto him, and one that would finally corrupt all that was good in his nature. Unless he should withdraw his affections from his riches, and fasten them upon the heavenly treasure, his riches would overcome him. Already he was revealing that riches were his idol, and the Lord who reads every heart must speak the truth, however unacceptable, which would prove a savor of life unto life, if he would receive it. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 10

He who was rich in all the treasures of heaven, possessing authority in the heavenly courts, for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. All is the Lord’s. No human being can claim any earthly treasure as his own, or in any way exalt himself. As the giver of man’s means and talents, God lays His authoritative hand upon his earthly possessions, and plainly tells him his duty. “Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and take thy cross, and follow me.” [See Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21.] He does not specify every particular. If the ruler had inquired farther, Christ would have been his Counsellor. In laying his riches at the feet of Jesus, to whom all belongs, he would do no more than his duty: and in doing this he would place all his riches in the savings bank of heaven. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 11

Man is asked to scatter to the needy, suffering one of earth, that he may gather in return the imperishable, eternal riches which thieves cannot steal, moths cannot corrupt, and fire cannot consume. This treasure is eternally secure by the throne of God. And in all the good that man accomplishes, by investing his talents in the work, to advance the kingdom of God, he is following the example of Christ who came to the world to do this very work. He gave all His riches, He gave His own life, He emptied heaven to supply every necessity to accomplish the salvation of a lost world. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 12

Christ invited the young ruler, “Come and follow me.” [Matthew 19:21.] This lesson is for the benefit of every soul. In giving, there is ever an increase in the heavenly treasure for both rich and poor. Every obedient child of God is an heir of God, and joint heir with Christ. We are all choosing for time and for eternity. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 13

It did not please the ruler to keep all the commandments of God, irrespective of consequences, for this demanded self-denial and the use of his talents for God’s glory alone. This was too great a sacrifice. The young man was sorry that he could not be ranked as a follower of Christ, and yet retain all his earthly riches. He parted with Christ that day, and chose another god. He served and worshipped his earthly possessions. He wanted Christ, he loved Christ, but he gave the preference to his earthly treasure. The choice was offered him between earthly riches or heavenly treasure, he chose his idol. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 14

Thus it is with many who suppose themselves fully in harmony with the great Teacher. They may say, What lack I yet? The comprehensive requirement of the law of God makes no reservation. The command is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself.” “This do, and thou shalt live.” [Luke 10:27, 28.] 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 15

Christ’s eye followed the disappointed youth. He longed to draw him back whither his feet were tending. But He would have no unwilling sacrifice. He must have the entire subjection of the heart in consecration and doing God’s will, or the man is no manner of use to Him. “He that willeth to do his will, shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” [John 7:17.] To His disciples Christ said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God.” [Mark 10:23.] 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 16

In the wilderness of temptation, the riches of the world was the bribe presented to our Lord. Satan did not come to Him with his temptations until the human nature was weakened, and was crying out in its necessity. It was then that Satan assailed Christ. It was then that he supposed he could deceive Him. Now was his time, now was his opportunity. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 17

“Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” [Matthew 4:1.] Christ must endure this trial in order to evidence to the fallen world, to the worlds unfallen, to the family of God in heaven, and to all the armies of Satan, that the fallen foe could find nothing in Christ to respond to his evil designs against the Father. It was a part of the plan of heaven that this trial and test should come. Christ’s humanity would have shrunk from that which awaited Him in the desert. But He came to the world, that, by coming into close personal contact with him, He might wrest from the hands of the usurper the Lord’s human heritage. Satan claimed to be the prince of this world, and that by overcoming Adam he had made the human race his subjects and placed them under his control. Adam fell upon the point of appetite, and for forty days Christ fasted and prayed. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 18

At the close of that time Satan came to Christ in the guise of an angel direct from heaven, apparently with a commission from heaven, declaring that His fast was at an end. The sensations of hunger were strong upon Christ; He was craving for food. Now Satan improves his opportunity. While the words of God from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” are still sounding in his ears, he comes suddenly upon Christ and says, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones (which bore the exact appearance of bread) be made bread.” [Matthew 3:17; 4:3.] Satan knew that the personal controversy between the Prince of life and the prince of darkness had commenced, and he sought to overcome Christ in His physical weakness. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 19

The proof that Satan required was for Christ to accept the doubt and act upon it, thus showing that He entertained the doubt by giving the evidence that Satan desired. Had Christ complied with this suggestion of the enemy, his satanic majesty would still have said, Show me a sign, that I may believe you to be the Son of God. But not one of the signs specified was Christ to give. By working a miracle in His own behalf He would show that He questioned God. That sign which is greater than all miracles, a firm reliance upon a “Thus saith the Lord,” was a sign that could not be controverted. “It is written,” He said, “man shall not live by bread alone; but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” [Verse 4.] Where Adam failed, Christ endured the test. And on the point of appetite He was victor in behalf of the whole human family, making it possible for every one to be an overcomer as He in His humanity was an overcomer in their behalf. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 20

How artfully had Satan approached Eve in Eden! “Yea hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” [Genesis 3:1.] Thus far every word that Satan spoke was truth; but his manner of saying them was a disguised contempt for the words of God. There was in his words of truth a covert negative, a denial, a doubt of the divine truthfulness. He sought to instill into her mind the thought that God would not do as He had said; that the withholding of such beautiful fruit was a contradiction of His love and compassion for them. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 21

And now he seeks to inspire Christ with his own sentiments. “If thou be the Son of God.” [Matthew 4:3.] Thus he sought to imbue Christ with his doubts. The words rankle with bitterness in his mind. In the tones of his voice is an expression of utter incredulity. Would God treat His own Son thus? Would He leave Him in the desert with wild beasts, without anything to appease His hunger, without companions, without comfort? He insinuated that God never meant His Son to be in such a state as this. “If thou be the Son of God,” show Thy power by relieving Thyself of this pressing hunger. Command that this stone be made bread. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 22

And thus he comes to every soul who is not in an ecstasy of joy if clouds encompass them, if circumstances work against them, if poverty and distress afflict them, Satan is close by to annoy and perplex them. He attacks their weak points of character. He seeks to shake their confidence in God, who suffers such a condition of things to exist. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 23

Temptations will arise to cause distrust of God and to question his love. And in the place of submissively waiting the Lord’s time, and in faith believing in His care and His love, they take themselves in their own hands, and manifest the very attributes of Satan. They yield their faith and their confidence in God and show by their spirit, their words, and their actions that they will make a place for themselves. They become traitors, rebels against God, and accept the temptations of him whom they choose as their leader. They become a medium for Satan, a channel through which he communicates to other minds the doubts and infidelity with which he was imbued them. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 24

And there are those who will not be led into false paths, who will to deny the faith once delivered to prophets and holy men of old, who spake as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost. “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things; what are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” [1 Peter 1:10-12.] 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 25

Study the 10th chapter of Daniel, and mark particularly the fourteenth verse. “Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.” When our brethren and ministers shall feel the burden that should rest upon them, they will not be content with a few surface truths. They will sink the shaft deep, and will have the spirit that Daniel possessed. There will be no frivolous spirit, no cheap, superficial sanctification, prated from unsanctified lips, and coming from hearts that are destitute of purity, of consecration and wholehearted surrender to God. There will be earnest prayer that the truth may be so indelibly stamped upon the heart that the entire man may be brought, with all his ways, into conformity to the truth. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Romans 10:10.] 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 26

Of Christ it is said that He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. His human nature did not yield to the suggestions of Satan on a single point. And if the Lord Jesus has overcome the temptations of Satan, every son and daughter of Adam may overcome. But there is only one way in which any of us can do this. It is to obey His voice. Let all carefully read the prayer of Daniel: “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand thy truth.” [Daniel 9:13.] This has been our deficiency. The Word has not been a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. But thus it should be, for the Lord, He is God. 12LtMs, Lt 3, 1897, par. 27