Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 165, 1898

Unity a Test of Discipleship


December 13, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in TDG 356; 5MR 370; 15MR 165-166.

“And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it. For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.” [Mark 9:30, 31.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 1

After saying this, Christ gave His disciples an opportunity to ask Him more particularly in regard to the meaning of His words. But they were thinking and talking of a very different subject. When they reached Capernaum, Christ asked them, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace; for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and a servant of all.” [Verses 33-35.] “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” [Matthew 20:27, 28.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 2

Christ gave His disciples a most important lesson in regard to who should be His disciples. “In the kingdom that I am about to set up,” He said, “strife for the supremacy shall have no place. All ye are brethren. All my servants there shall be equal. The only greatest recognized there will be the greatness of humility and devotion to the service of others. He that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and he that exalteth himself shall be abased. He who seeks to serve others by self-denial and self-sacrifice will be given the attributes of character that commend themselves to God, and develop wisdom, true patience, forbearance, kindness, compassion. This gives him the chiefest place in the kingdom of God.” 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 3

The Son of man humbled Himself to become the servant of God. He submitted to abasement and self-sacrifice, even to death, to give freedom and life and a place in His kingdom to those who believe on Him. He gave His life as a ransom for many. This should be enough to make those who are continually seeking to be first and striving for the supremacy, ashamed of their course. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 4

“He that will come after me,” Christ said, “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” [Luke 9:23.] This is the proof of discipleship. If church members would be doers of the Word, as they solemnly pledged themselves to be when they received baptism, they would love their brethren, and would be constantly seeking for unity and harmony. “And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 18:2, 3.] The world’s Redeemer spoke these words, and no one need misunderstand them. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 5

The true mark of Christian character is plainly set before us. In spirit the Christian is to be gentleness itself. He is not to strive for the highest place. “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child,” Christ declared, “the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” [Verse 4.] Man is to humble himself. No other soul can do this work for him. It is the work of his own heart to cultivate the submission of a little child. The lack of this heart-work is the reason why there is so much dissension and strife among Christians. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 6

Those who believe in Christ and walk humbly with Him, not striving for the supremacy, who watch to see what they can do to help and bless and strengthen the souls of others, co-operate with the angels who minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. Jesus gives them grace and wisdom and righteousness, making them a blessing to all with whom they are brought in contact. The more humble they are in their own estimation, the more blessings they receive from God, because receiving does not exalt them. They make a right use of their blessings, for they receive to impart. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 7

The ministering angels receive instruction from the throne of God to co-operate with human instrumentalities. They receive the grace of Christ, to give it to human beings. They are commanded to impart to Christ’s disciples the spirit and power essential for the success of the work. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 8

A desire to be first is the greatest hindrance to the advancement of the work. Christ cannot cooperate with the one who feels and thinks, I am superior to these men who have not the capabilities that I possess. But when man feels that he cannot do anything of himself, Christ lifts him up and strengthen him. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 9

“Whoso shall receive one such little child, receiveth me,” Christ continued. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones, which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe unto that man by whom the offense cometh!” [Verses 5-7.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 10

If a woe is pronounced on the world because of offenses, how much greater is the sin when the offense comes from those who profess to love Christ. To depreciate or hurt one who loves Me, Christ said, is to treat Me, his Saviour, in the same way. Christ has identified Himself with suffering humanity, and those who wound and bruise their brethren wound and bruise Christ Jesus in the person of His saints, and they will one day realize the sad result of their course of action to themselves. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 11

“The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” [Luke 19:10.] This statement is repeated again and again in Christ’s teaching, worded differently, but meaning the same. I am condemned by the scribes and Pharisees, Christ said, for eating with publicans and sinners. But I came not to call the righteous, who suppose they have a legal claim to God’s favor, but sinners to repentance. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 12

Since this is the work Christ came to do, take heed lest by any jealousy, by accusation and evil-surmising, you cause those Christ came to save to be driven away and lost. Of those who do this Christ declares, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea.” [Matthew 18:6.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 13

We need to bring into our practical life all the pleasantness that comes from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If we are co-laborers with Him, we shall do the work that He did when He was in this world. It is essential that we know how to pray more, how to press our petitions effectually to the throne of grace, that the rich current of the love of God may flow into the heart, to be diffused in kind words and deeds of tender compassion. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 14

“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones,” Christ declares; “for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” [Verse 10.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 15

“And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine, and go after that which is lost until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing, and when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found the sheep which was lost.” [Luke 15:3-6.] See what the Good Shepherd will do when one of His sheep is lost. He goes out into the desert, and searches until He finds it. When it is found, He takes it upon His shoulders, or to His breast of infinite love, and His song of rejoicing reaches the heavenly courts, “I have found my sheep which was lost.” “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not; and to Zion, Let not thine hand be slack. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty, he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” [Zephaniah 3:16, 17.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 16

Seek the Lord most earnestly. Amid the reproaches of the world, amid all the trials that come, work on. Let not thine hand be slack. Do not fail nor be discouraged. “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save thee.” Remember that He is a present help in every time of trouble. Rest in His love. He will save. “He will joy over thee with singing.” [Verse 17.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 17

This is the work God expects every one to do who claims to believe in Him as his personal Saviour. He desires all who come unto Him to be strong because they take hold of His strength. Let them learn to produce their cause, to press to the throne of grace, taking God at His word. The Holy Spirit will come to the believing, praying soul who is meek and lowly. This Spirit must come to every child of God. The spirit of accusing, of envy and evil-surmising, is inspired by Satan. Those who take part in the work here should not stand as independent atoms, but as a solid wall, which the Lord makes firm and immovable. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 18

Satan is playing the game of life for the souls of men. Will those who claim to be Christians work with him to weaken the forces of [the] army and to strengthen the forces of the enemy? Every worker is now to be wide awake, but he is not to train his imaginations to see defects in others and designs and mischief against [himself]. [He is] not to use [his] capability to tear down the influences of those whom God has chosen to do His work. Keep quiet. Let the precious talent of speech be used to win minds to God. Silence is eloquence unless in patience, kindness, and tenderness you can speak to win souls to Christ’s side. Separate from the tempter, and cling to the Lord. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 19

“Verily I say unto you,” Christ declared, “That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst.” [Matthew 18:19, 20.] I ask all who claim to be Christians, who profess to believe the truth for this time, to take God at His word. Let us believe this promise, so full of encouragement and assurance to every believing Christian. Talk a great deal less unbelief and more faith. Agree as touching what you desire, and then approach the throne of grace. Look not upon outward discouragements, but take the Word of God just as it reads. Ask Him for help in your perplexities, and light will come, blessing will come. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 20

The Lord has declared that if two agree as touching anything, and meet to present their petition, they are not alone, for He meets with them. It is the prayer offered for some definite purpose that is heard and will be answered. Unity in prayer is honored by God. In unity there is strength, in division weakness. Unity is the element so much needed in the work of God. This drawing apart, this scolding and fretting, this pettish spirit of faultfinding, might better be cut away; for it is a root of bitterness springing up, whereby many are defiled. He who is imbued with the love of God will be at unity with his fellow workers. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 21

Unity of thought, unity of prayer, unity of action, is essential. When this unity is manifested, the heavenly intelligences will observe the earnestness of our prayers and our love for one another in the Holy Spirit. It is necessary at times to hold church meetings, when the obstinate persistence of a brother must be brought before the church for decision. But of what value is the decision of men who are full of suspicion, jealousy, and evil-surmising. Who can put reliance upon the decisions arrived at in board meetings where such a spirit controls the members? 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 22

Who are at this time true soldiers of Christ? “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” [Ephesians 6:10, 11.] Do not act as though Christ were not a risen, ascended Saviour. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” [Verses 12-16.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 23

We are now to yoke up with Christ. Let a bridle be put upon the tongue. Pray for the Holy Spirit. Gird up the loins of your mind. Humble yourselves. Do not exalt self. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof. God’s true servant stands ready to go wherever Providence leads the way, neither does he call anything which he possesses his own, whether it be talents, learning, position, wealth, or influence. It is the Lord lent treasure, and is to be employed to strengthen His flock. We are all to be messengers of his mercy, ministers of His grace. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 24

God calls upon His people to be converted, to become humble as a little child, that they may have childlike faith. Those who have grown hard and cold and unimpressible may have the form of godliness but they have lost the virtue that keeps the mind humble. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:3.] Remove from the heart that criticizing spirit. God hates it. Those who yield to this spirit have given themselves up to do Satan’s work, and he stands by exulting. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 25

“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones.” [Matthew 18:10.] They may be ignorant. They may not have had the opportunities that you have had. They have a fierce enemy to content against, and in their feeble strength they may err. They need your tender sympathy and compassion. Even though they make mistakes in the work given them, they may be doing their best. As a servant of Christ, you are to watch for souls as one that must given an account. Are you yoked up with the Redeemer? Are you cooperating with Him? Are you obeying the words, “Go work today in my vineyard?” [Matthew 21:28.] Are you doing the best to represent the Lord by manifesting tender sympathy and love for those Jesus has bought with his own blood? Or is your conscience so blinded that it does not lead you to work as Christ worked. 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 26

Christ says to us, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones, who need your tenderest watchcare, who believe on me, but who need to learn each day how to serve me, how to pray, how to obey the Word of God. Any offense given them is regarded as though given to me.” “Take heed.” 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 27

Shall we heed the charge? “For I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” [Matthew 18:10, 11, 14.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 28

Will those who claim to be children of God “take heed”? [Verse 10.] Will they reveal the tender love and compassion revealed by Christ? Or will they be heedless and unkind, careless of the example they set before the youth and those newly come to the Father? If we are laborers with Christ, we shall work just as Christ worked. Our say and our dispositions are not to be grafted into the work. If we have not the spirit of Christ, we are none of His. Profession is nothing. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:20.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 29

More intense interest is to be manifested for the souls perishing out of Christ. All who work for these souls must put on Christ. He says, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] Christ tells all who claim to believe in him that the work they are to do is represented by the shepherd searching for the lost sheep. All our interest, love, and compassion is to be exercised in seeking for the lost sheep. There is to be no neglect in this work. Of the shepherd Christ says, “Doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, He rejoiceth more over that sheep, than over the ninety and nine which went not astray.” [Matthew 18:12, 13.] 13LtMs, Ms 165, 1898, par. 30