Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12

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Lt 52, 1897

Farnsworth, Brother and Sister

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

January 18, 1897

Portions of this letter are published in CS 259-260; HP 300.

Dear Brother and Sister Farnsworth:

We received your letter, and have read it to several. We were much interested in its contents. I can understand the route you have been over, for I have been over the same ground. I am sorry that Brother Harris has given up the Sabbath, and sorry that Brother Finch has lost his interest in the truth. Poor souls, I pity them. I fear that many more will do the same unless they make decided efforts to have root in themselves. 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 1

Brother Blackman wrote me, inviting me to do something for their church. Gladly would I do this, if the great necessity was not now drawing upon me in many ways. Here is the school, demanding every dollar that I can possibly spare. Then I have loaned £35 to the Health Home, that the house they have rented may be furnished. Brother Parcells has had to borrow £10 to make a payment on his place. Most of this W. C. White and I loaned him. I cannot see how I can send money to New Zealand now. 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 2

The next school building is about to be put up in Avondale. The plasterers have come to plaster the building which is nearly finished. We are thankful to see one building up, and ready for the finishing work. They are finishing the other building as fast as possible. The foundation is being prepared. 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 3

I rejoice with you in the prospect of clearing the church buildings from debt. How much might have been saved if extra efforts had been made every year to do this. There is no necessity for our meetinghouses to continue year after year in debt. If every member of the church will do his duty, practicing self-denial and self-sacrifice for the Lord Jesus, whose purchased possession he is, that His church may be free from debt, he will do honor to God. 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 4

The Lord’s great centers, His own instrumentalities, should be free from all debt. Every year many pounds are being swallowed up by the interest paid on debts. If this money was all appropriated to settle the principal, the debt would not be eating, eating, and ever eating. It is a poor, wretched policy to go into debt. If the money that is needed to build could be first accumulated, by strenuous efforts, and the church dedicated free from debt, how much better it would be. O, shall we not make it a rule when building a house for the Lord, to put forth earnest, persevering efforts, that it may be dedicated to Him free from debt? 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 5

The most difficult sermon to preach and the hardest to practice is self-denial. The greedy sinner, self, closes the door to the good which might be done, but which is not done because shillings and pounds are invested in selfish purposes. We may never have opportunity to do great things; we may never be required to make sublime sacrifices. But the greatest victory we can gain is to follow Jesus. What saith the great Teacher? “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” [Luke 9:23.] Every day that Christ lived in our world was for Him a day of self-denial. If we would follow Him over the rugged path of self-denial, we must commence with the earliest years of our life to deny self, and this denial must be carried into the every day occurrences and actions of our life. 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 6

Why cannot we learn the methods and results of Christ’s life-practice? It is the opposite of the world’s practice. The world’s policy is to acquire money and advantages in any way that they can be obtained. An accumulation of this world’s treasure is the ambition of worldlings. The aim and object of the followers of our Lord Jesus Christ is to become Christlike by self-denial and self-sacrifice. They keep their eyes on the eternal riches which they can obtain by renouncing earthly treasure for heavenly treasure. Here are the conditions: “He that will be my disciple, let him forsake all, and follow me,” keeping Christ in view, following where He leads the way. When we steadfastly obey the Word of God, we shall be doers of the Word, eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God. 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 7

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” [Acts 20:35.] Through self-denying effort many pounds, shillings, and pence will flow into the Lord’s treasury, that there may be meat in His house. Self-denial will bring into the treasury of God the means necessary to advance His work. Thus we may act in copartnership with Christ. Christ’s followers consider that in giving back to the Lord His own they are receiving a blessing, for they are accumulating heavenly treasure, which will be given to them when they shall hear the “Well done, good and faithful servant; ... enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:23.] What is that joy? “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” [Hebrews 12:2.] The joy of seeing souls redeemed, souls eternally saved, is the privilege of those who have overcome obstacles in order to put their feet in the footprints of Him who said, “Follow me.” [Luke 9:23.] 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 8

The Lord has shown me that debts need not be left on our meetinghouses in Australia or New Zealand. A debt in every case means a neglect of God’s special, sacred things, for selfish, common things are made first and all-absorbing. Things which should have been made second in Napier have been made first. That which had to do with the worship of God has been made inferior. The common received much more time and consideration than the sacred and eternal. This dishonors God. The heavenly universe beholds the dishonor practiced before God. The very highest honor is to be shown to God’s tabernacle. Every other consideration should be second to this. Our ideas must be elevated, ennobled, and sanctified. 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 9

Worldliness and covetousness have been indulged by parents for their children and for relatives and friends. Money has been appropriated when and where it could not honor God, where it has done positive harm. Gifts have been liberally bestowed on children and relatives and friends, while the gifts that have been made to that which the Lord honors, have been stinted and limited in value and in recurrence. Are we in Australia and New Zealand ready to watch, and to bend our energies individually to wipe off the debts which stand to dishonor God? 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 10

The test question for every Christian to ask himself is, Have I, in my innermost soul, a love for Jesus? Do I love His tabernacle? Will not the Lord be honored by my making every sacred institution my first consideration, thus showing my interest in the Lord’s great centers? Have I not fostered worldliness and vanity in my gifts and offerings, while the Lord’s tabernacle has been regarded as an inferior thing? Have I, in my inmost heart, a love for sacred things? Will I do to the utmost of my God-given ability to wipe out this debt, that the money which it now swallows up may be devoted to the many and various necessities of the work which need to be done? Is my love for God and my Redeemer strong enough to lead me to deny self? When temptations come to indulge in pleasure and selfish enjoyment, shall I not say, No, I will not spend one shilling or even sixpence for my own gratification while the house of God is under mortgage, or bearing the pressure of debt? 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 11

Should not Christ have our first and highest consideration? Should He not demand this token of our respect and loyalty? These very things underlie our heart-life, in the home circle, and in the church life. If the heart, the soul, the strength, the life, is surrendered wholly to God, if the affection is given wholly to Him, you will make God supreme in all your service. The result will be that you will have a sense of what it means to be a partner with Jesus Christ in the sacred firm. The building erected for the worship of God will not be left crippled with debt. It will appear almost like a denial of your faith to allow such a thing. If we love Jesus, we will love to live for Him, to present our thank offerings to Him, to labor for Him. The very labor will be light. And if Christ abides in the heart, He sanctifies all temporal labor. 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 12

Our Redeemer claims far more than we give Him. Self interposes its desire to be first; but the Lord claims the whole heart, the entire heart. He will not come in as second. The house where God meets is dear and sacred to every loyal child of God. Your Father’s house is to be your first consideration. Make any personal sacrifice if only you may have a house free from debt, where God can meet to bless His people. Never withhold means from the Lord’s center; but never do anything with reference to this sacred place unless you can do it cheerfully. At the beginning of every year an offering should be brought to the Lord, to be dedicated to church debts. 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 13

Man would like to reach a character more perfect, a faith more firm, and an experience more clear and decided, because the Word of God requires this. As you read the Word of God, you see that it sets before all who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ a high and holy standard. All who are elect and chosen of God believe in Christ, and act their belief. There is seen in them a completeness and consistency of character which is in marked contrast to the worldling. Their earnest endeavor for righteousness is manifest by their prayerful petitions for the grace of Christ, oft when no one but God can see and understand the yearning of the soul. To all such the Holy Spirit comes as a comforter, a teacher. 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 14

The Lord is well pleased when we make our very highest demands upon Him, that we may glorify Him by being fruitful. We may press onward. The members of the church of Christ may be strong. When they are one with Christ, and a mutual, helpful support to each other, then it is that the heavenly Watcher here on earth bears the tidings to heaven, and it is written in the books, “Ye are laborers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry; ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] “Ye are my witnesses,” saith the Lord. [Isaiah 43:10.] 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 15

When we are in harmony with God, the thought of His honor and glory comes before everything else. No person is to be preferred before God in our gifts and offerings. Let the church place themselves in that position where they will make God’s house their first consideration, where they will honor the Lord by preparing Him a place free from debt, where He can meet and bless His people. If every month you endeavor to bring your offering to the Lord with a true, sincere heart, you will receive the blessing of the Lord. The Lord sees; He reads your desires, and your earnest love for Him, and He will open ways where by you may obtain something for so wise and good an object! Let each individual member of the church feel that he has something invested in the church. He will then feel like saying, “O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the man whose strength is in thee.” [Psalm 84:3, 5.] 12LtMs, Lt 52, 1897, par. 16