Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 22, 1898

Christ, the Great Missionary


February 20, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in TMK 39, 43; TDG 59; 3BC 1140; WM 19-20, 172-173. +Note

“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the princes and kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. ... And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” [Revelation 1:4-6, 17, 18.] 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 1

Some of the great questions which deeply concern our world are connected with the claims of truth upon the one hand, and on the other the pretensions of those who would counterwork and suppress the truth. Christ came to our world as One who could heal all maladies. He was the divine Healer. Every medical practitioner, if he works in fidelity, doing service to God and to his fellow men, will be, under Christ, the restorer of the moral image of God in men, as well as the healer of the diseases of the body. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 2

A man who is a physician carries great responsibilities. If he is a Christian, he is in every sense of the word a laborer together with God. He should ever be in touch with God, and as Christ’s disciple, do the same work as did the apostles, imitating the life of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 3

There is One who loves us, who will never disappoint us. His love is not fluctuating; it does not change with circumstances. It will continue through time and through eternity. The unchangeableness that belongs to His nature is the character of His love. Whom He loves, He loves unto the end. If we will receive Him, we may know that He adopts us into His family, to be loyal and true sons and daughters of God. But it depends upon ourselves whether we are adopted into the royal family. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 4

Prophecy has testified to Christ’s work, and Luke shows the fulfillment of this prophecy. In the synagogue at Nazareth Christ was given the book of the prophet Esaias to read, and when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” [Luke 4:18.] 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 5

Christ’s life was a life of intense reality. He has given us His own testimony; therefore there can be nothing misleading in the words. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not. ... But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” [John 1:4, 5, 12.] 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 6

Christ is as the tree of life in a starving world that does not realize that it is perishing of hunger. “The bread of life is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world,” Christ declared. “Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.” [John 6:33, 34.] Those who said this had in their minds the thought of temporal food; for they did not understand the line of instruction Christ was giving. “Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” [Verses 35-38.] 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 7

“I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth on me though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” [John 11:25, 26.] These are Christ’s claims, testifying to His work. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 8

Christ was an active, constant worker. He found the domain of religion fenced in by high, steep walls of seclusion, as too sacred a matter for everyday life. He threw down the walls of partition, and exercised His helping power in behalf of every one who needed Him. He brought cheerfulness and hope to the desponding. In the place of secluding Himself in a hermit’s cell, in order to show His heavenly character, He labored earnestly for suffering humanity. He did not ask, What is your creed? To what church do you belong? Active, earnest, loving interest marked His life. He inculcated the principle that Bible religion does not consist in the mortification of the body, in punishment for being in a world which God made. He taught that pure and undefiled religion is not meant only for set times and special occasions. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” [James 1:27.] 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 9

The light of a cheerful piety is to be introduced into the worldly element. Like leaven, it will convert all the properties with which it is brought in contact. Christ is the greatest missionary the world has ever known. He lived a man among men, sharing the privation and inconvenience of poverty. He consecrated His whole life to the work of doing good. He shared the sorrows and burdens of His fellow men, making every detail of life important by showing men that they must subordinate all their capabilities to the aim of glorifying God. His life-practice was a lesson book constantly open to the study of the disciples. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 10

Christ changed the estimate of what constituted godliness. He taught that religion does not consist in selfishness, in the professed piety practiced by the Pharisees, who made their religion a yoke of bondage by their endless maxims, by enforcing observances that were not enjoined by God. Under their rule men lived in constant fear lest they should do something wrong. Their man-made exactions and rigorous burdens were grievous to be borne. Their morbid devotion to personal interest was far from being true godliness. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 11

Christ came to this world to testify to His intense interest in the fallen race. We need to study His life. Let us not put out our eyes before we look for fear that we shall discover in our own course of action selfishness that will make us ashamed. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 12

When Christ was yet a child, He was found by Joseph and His mother in the temple among the doctors, listening to them and asking them questions. By His questions He threw great light into their minds. On this visit to Jerusalem He had a realization that He was indeed the Son of God, and that a special work lay before Him. When His mother said to Him, “Son, why hast thou dealt thus with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing,” He answered, “How is it that ye sought me?” Then with the light of divinity shining forth from His countenance, He said in a most solemn manner, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” [Luke 2:48-50.] And although after this He returned to Nazareth, and was subject to His parents, yet He did not lose the realization of His future work, the knowledge that He must labor to save the lost. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 13

He knew that He must keep faithful watch over every faculty, that Satan might not obtain one jot of advantage. In all His actions He must be the Son of God, that He might dwell among men as the representative of the Father. His work was to make others the sons of God, and He must lose no opportunity for casting the leaven into the meal, that other youth, and those of mature age, might see that it is not safe to neglect to become intellectually qualified to be co-workers with God. He must teach His fellow men to labor to the full extent of their ability to become what they would one day wish they had made themselves. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 14

Christ was misunderstood by His brothers, for He was not like them. He worked to relieve every case of suffering that He saw, and He was always successful. He had little money to give, but He often gave His own humble food to those whom He thought more needy than Himself. His brothers felt that His influence went far to counteract theirs, for when they spoke harshly to poor, degraded souls with whom they came in contact, Christ sought these very ones, and spoke words of encouragement to them. If, when in the family circle, He could do no more, He would as quietly and secretly as possible give the wretched beings He was trying to help the cup of cold water, and then place His own meal in their hands. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 15

Christ’s brothers saw that He possessed a tact that none of them had or desired to have. By unselfish actions He relieved the sufferings of those around Him, for He knew that if the knowledge of the truth He conveyed were mingled with acts of mercy, deeds and words would be riveted in the memory. Thus He sowed the seeds of truth, and He knew that the intellect would grasp them, although many of those for whom He labored seemed like hopeless driftwood. He knew Satan’s power, and regardless of sneers and taunts, He grasped poor, suffering, wounded, bruised souls with a fast grip. Nothing could cause Him to relax His hold; and angels of heaven helped Him forward in the work of doing good. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 16

Christ had every resource from which to draw. Treasures of knowledge made His tongue like the pen of a ready writer. His resources furnished Him with material with which to work. Apart from the strange, unholy ways of the world, He gathered stores of natural science from nature. He studied the life of inanimate nature and the life of man. New ideas of ways and means flashed into His mind as He studied insect life and animal life. He was filled with a longing to pity, not to condemn and denounce. He resolved to study the book of nature, and by illustrations drawn from the things seen, present the living oracles of God. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 17

Christ had all kinds of minds to work upon. He spoke a word of sympathy here and a word there, as He saw men weary, and yet compelled to carry heavy burdens. Even in His youth He shared their burdens, and told them of the lessons He had learned from nature, of the love, the kindness, the goodness, of God. He saw men confused in their ideas of God’s goodness and love, and in their minds He sowed the seeds of truth. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 18

Here is one who through selfish indulgence is indeed a representation of the prodigal son. Once he stood in his pride, full of ambitious hopes and aspirations. He won the richest prizes, because he excelled in seeking for victory. But now he is a ruined temple of his own making. Praise and flattery filled him with self-sufficiency. It became a habit for him to indulge in wine drinking, and he sank lower and lower, until he lost courage, and drifted unto Satan’s guidance, having no power to go from the snare. To him Christ speaks words of tender sympathy. He sees that Satan has control of mind and judgment, that the man has lost his God-given manhood. To this one, discouraged, sick, tempted, and fallen, He speaks words that he needs and can understand. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 19

Christ saw youth much older than He, as far as years were concerned, with others of His own age and younger, fighting against wrong. He felt that He must do the work He came to this earth do to—encourage those who were fighting a hand to hand fight with the adversaries of souls. He encouraged them to persevere, assuring them that they would win, for angels of God were on their side, and would help them and give them the victory. Those whom He thus helped were convinced that here was One in whom they could trust with perfect confidence. He would not betray the secrets that they poured into His sympathizing ear. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 20

Christ often longed for some desert retreat, to which He could go to commune with nature and with God. But He came not to please Himself. He must work the works of God. He would encourage all. Christ understands the temptations of Satan, and He would have every one speak gentle, encouraging words to those who minister in word and doctrine. They are preachers, but they are only men, with human difficulties; and some are so constituted that they find it hard to be men at all. They need to be helped to be men, and not querulous children. If they lay hold of Christ with the firm grip of faith, their imperfect manhood will be fashioned after the similitude of Christ. Their ministry may not be of the most eloquent order, but it will be so simple that children will love to hear them, because their hearts have been softened by Christ’s teaching. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 21

Jesus is able and willing to help all who will come to Him. Ever He is seeking some stray sheep, that He may bring it back to the fold. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 22

“But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Far out in the desert He heard its cry—
Fainting and helpless, and ready to die.
13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 23

“‘Lord, whence are these blood drops all the way
That mark out the mountain’s track?’
‘They were shed for one who had gone astray,
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.’
‘Lord, why are thy hands so rent and torn?’
‘They are pierced tonight by many a thorn.’
13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 24

“But all through the mountains, thunder riven,
And up from the rocky steep,
There rose a cry to the gate of heaven,
‘Rejoice, I have found My sheep!’
And the angels sang around the throne,
‘Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own.’”
13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 25

“For Our Sakes He Became Poor”

Christ declared, “The poor have the gospel preached unto them.” [Matthew 11:5.] Poverty abounds, and why? Because of the selfishness of men. The Lord Jesus knows what poverty means. He is the great missionary to the poor, the sick, the suffering. The king of heaven, He could have led a life of wealth and have lived among the wealthiest; but He chose poverty. And He has honored the poor who believe in Him, for He blessed them forever. Poverty with Christ is riches of the highest value. This poverty is sanctified and blessed. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 26

Christ knows of the sin of those represented in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. It was the duty of the rich man to help Lazarus by giving him of his abundance. But he refused to do this and lost his own soul through intemperate, luxurious living. He died in great suffering, and is represented as constantly calling upon Lazarus to relieve him in his burning fever. During his sickness he learned what suffering meant, and thought of his heartless treatment of Lazarus. But he had no knowledge of God. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 27

We turn from this picture to the poor, made so by the dishonest stewardship of those who are trading on the Lord’s goods. Today wickedness and falsehood, crime of every stripe and type, are entered into to obtain money. Selfishness, deceit, robbery, and bloodshed are making this world a veritable Sodom, and its inhabitants as the inhabitants of the old world. The greed for possessions has increased, and God’s law is transgressed. But retribution will overtake the wrongdoer. Riches cannot save one soul from perdition. He who gives himself up to work the works of Satan creates force of evil that he cannot repress. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 28

There is wickedness in our world, but all the suffering is not the result of a perverted course of life. Job is brought distinctly before us as a man whom the Lord allowed Satan to afflict. The enemy stripped him of all he possessed; his family ties were broken; his children were taken from him. For a time his body was covered with loathsome sores, and he suffered greatly. His friends came to comfort him, but they tried to make him see that he was responsible, by his sinful course, for his afflictions. But he defended himself and denied the charge, declaring, Miserable comforters are ye all. By seeking to make him guilty before God, and deserving of his punishment, they brought a grievous test upon him and represented God in a false light; but Job did not swerve from his loyalty, and God rewarded His faithful servant. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 29

There are many things that might greatly help the poor and cast bright light into their lives, if they would realize it. The poor who live in the country have the book of nature before them. And many times those who are poor are saved from many worries. They do not live in fear and trembling lest they shall lose their property. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 30

There is a connection between the religion of Christ and poverty. Christianity is the solace of the poor. There is a false religion, endangering the souls of all who advance it, that teaches that selfish pleasure and enjoyment is the sum of happiness. But the parable of the rich man and Lazarus shows us that this is false. There came a time when the rich man would have given all he possessed to have exchanged places with Lazarus, once poor, and covered with sores. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 31

In the humanity of Christ there are golden threads that bind the believing, trusting poor man to His own soul of infinite love. He is the great Physician. In our world He bore our infirmities and carried our burdens. He is the mighty Healer of all diseases. He was poor, and yet He was the center of all goodness, all blessings. He is a reservoir of power to all to consecrate their powers to the work of becoming sons of God. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 32

Christ has ever been the poor man’s friend. He chose poverty and honored it by making it His lot. He has stripped from it forever the reproach of scorn by blessing the poor, the inheritors of God’s kingdom. Such was His work. By consecrating Himself to a life of poverty, He redeemed poverty from its humiliation. He took His position with the poor that He might lift from poverty the stigma that the world had attached to it. He knew the danger of the love of riches. He knew that this love is ruinous to many souls. It places those who are rich where they indulge every wish for grandeur. It teaches them to look down on those who are suffering the pressure of poverty. It develops the weakness of human minds and shows that, notwithstanding the abundance of wealth, the rich are not rich toward God. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 33

The characters of many have been molded by the false estimate placed on worldly rich men. The man possessed of houses and lands, lauded and deceived by the respect given him, may look down upon the poor man, who possesses virtues that the rich man does not. When weighed in the golden scales of the sanctuary, the selfish, covetous rich man will be found wanting, while the poor man, who has depended in faith upon God alone for his virtue and goodness, will be pronounced heir to eternal riches in the kingdom of God. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 34

The rich man is a steward of God, and if he walks in Christ’s footsteps, maintaining a humble, godly life, he becomes, through the transformation of character, meek and lowly in heart. He realizes that his possessions are only lent treasures, and he feels that a sacred trust has been committed to him to help the needy and suffering, in Christ’s stead. This work will bring its reward in talents and treasures laid up beside the throne of God. Thus the rich man may make a spiritual success of life as a faithful steward of his Lord’s goods. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 35

At the Marriage Feast

Jesus Christ is the originator of all the missionary work done in our world. He worked miracles to heal the sick, but He never worked a miracle in His own behalf. His first noted miracle was performed at a marriage feast in Cana, when He turned water into wine. He did not approach the water jars, or touch the water. He simply gave directions that the jars should be filled with water. They filled them to the brim, and He said to them, “Draw now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 36

“When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was; (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but thou has kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.” [John 2:8-11.] The faith of the humble fisherman, who were to lay the foundation of His kingdom, was confirmed. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 37

By this miracle Christ wished to teach that unfermented wine is far preferable to fermented wine. Christ never created fermented wine. The wine made on this occasion was exactly like the wine that comes fresh from the cluster. Christ knew the influence of fermented wine; and by giving them pure, unfermented wine, He showed them the only safe way in which to use grape juice. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 38

Christ did not draw attention to this act to receive public notice. He wished to teach an important lesson. He did not make or use fermented wine. But men who love the wine that sparkles in the cup, though they applaud His action, will not follow His example. Christ did turn water into wine, but He used wine fresh from the grapes, and never any other. He is our example in all things, and before His death He left as a last legacy to His church the bread, representing His body given for the sins of the world, and the wine, representing His spilt blood. But nothing but unleavened bread and unfermented wine could be used. Nothing of a fermented character is to be used in the communion service, for fermented wine would destroy the figure representing the blood of Christ. We may all look upon this question as forever settled. Fermented wine was not used to represent the blood of Christ. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 39

In the epistles of Paul, we find that the custom and habits of the Gentile world needed to be reformed, and warnings against drunkenness are given. “All things are lawful,” Paul writes, “but all things are not expedient.” [1 Corinthians 6:12.] “It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby my brother is made weak.” [Romans 14:21.] 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 40

Christ wrought this miracle to teach still another lesson. He would not yield to the enemy when tempted to perform a miracle to supply His own necessities, by converting a stone into bread. But on the occasion of the marriage feast He desired to express His sympathy with, and approval of, those at the wedding. Christ did not come to this world to forbid marriage or to break down or destroy the relationship and influence which exist in the domestic circle. He came to restore, elevate, purify, and ennoble every current of pure affection, that the family on earth might become a symbol of the family in heaven. In the Christian home the grace of God is to subdue and transform human character, and then the church will become an active, living, working church. In such families the song may well be sung, “There are angels hovering round; there are angels hovering round. Go, carry the tidings home.” 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 41

Mothers are under the tender care of heavenly angels. How interestedly the Lord Jesus knocks at the door of families where there are little children to be educated and trained! How gently He watches over the mothers’ interest, and how sad He feels to see children neglected, while the mothers live to amuse themselves and gratify their pride. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 42

Christ knows the value of children. In the home characters are formed; human beings are molded and fashioned to be either a blessing or a curse. To the mother the Lord has committed the younger members of the family as they come into our world weak and helpless. Infinite wisdom and infinite love does not commit this gentle office, so pregnant with eternal results, to the fathers, full of business plans and cares. Woman’s heart is full of patience and love if that woman has surrendered her heart to God. she must cooperate with God and her husband in training the precious souls entrusted to her, to grow up into Christ Jesus. And the father, relying upon the grace of God, should bear the sacred responsibility that rests upon him as the husband, which means house-band. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 43

In babyhood and childhood, when the nature is pliable, God would have the firmest impression made for right. A battle is constantly going on between the Prince of life and the prince of this world. The question to be settled is, Whom will the mother choose as her co-worker to mold and fashion the characters of her children? If she will learn that love is the key to the souls of her children, Christ will preside in the home, filling it with heavenly sunshine. This is His work in every home that will admit Him. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 44

Christ came to this world to save perishing souls. He delights to impart His Holy Spirit to every soul who loved His presence. His first work is to preside in the family, that every member may learn lessons of heavenly wisdom and love. John, the heaven-sent messenger, states, “In him was life.” [John 1:4.] He is as the tree of life. In Him is life, original, unborrowed, underived. Our life given to Christ brings us into connection with Him. We have then a living connection with the fountain of life. We are wholly dependent on Him, for our life is received from Him, and as the Giver, He takes it again. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 45

“And the life was the light of men.” [Verse 4.] Without light all vegetation would die. Jesus is the lifegiver. He imparted His life to the sick, the afflicted, those possessed by demons. He turned away none who came to receive His healing power. He knew that those who petitioned Him for help had brought disease upon themselves; yet He did not refuse to heal them. And when in the healthful current, virtue from Christ entered into these poor souls. They were convinced of sin and were healed of their spiritual sickness, as well as of their bodily infirmities. Christ was the most successful physician the world has ever known. 13LtMs, Ms 22, 1898, par. 46