Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 36, 1898

Christ’s Mission


March 10, 1898

This manuscript is published in entirety in KC 159-163. +Note

Christ is the greatest missionary the world has ever known. How did He come? What was His message? John, His forerunner, came with a message. His voice was lifted up in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; for this is he which was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” [Matthew 3:2, 3.] 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 1

“Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be laid low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it. Surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 2

“O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into an high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom.” [Isaiah 40:3-11.] 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 3

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 4:17.] This was the work and mission of Christ. The very same message that John bore, Christ bore. But while John preached in the wilderness, Christ’s work was among the people. <That He might reach the people where they were, He encircled the race with> His long human arm, while with His divine arm, He grasped the throne of the Infinite, uniting finite man to the infinite God, and connecting earth with heaven. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 4

“And Jesus walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon, called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting their net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [Verses 18, 19.] These were the first disciples Christ called. They were not chosen from among the Pharisees, but from among the lowly. With these humble men He could co-operate. He could educate and train them to do the highest work ever given to mortals. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 5

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, mine elect in whom my soul delighteth. I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax he shall not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law. Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out: he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it: he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 6

“I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness from the prison house. I am the Lord: that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. ... And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. ... The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake: he will magnify the law, and make it honorable.” [Isaiah 42:1-9, 16, 21.] 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 7

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” Connected with this work was His ministry of healing. He went about “healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those which had the palsy, and he healed them. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judea, and from beyond Jordan.” “And seeing the multitude, he went up into the mountain, and when he was set, his disciples came unto him.” [Matthew 4:23-25; 5:1.] On this mountain the beatitudes were given to the people. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 8

Here I wish to impress upon all interested in missionary work that first the truth is to be presented, and the warning given to the people, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” [Mark 1:15.] Nothing will so impress people as the lifting up of the Saviour before them as Christ and Him crucified. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” [John 3:14.] In the wilderness the word was given, sounded by the trumpet, caught up by appointed men, and the trumpet was given a certain sound. Every one today who is bitten by the sting of the serpent is to look and live. This is the special work to be accomplished. Said John as he saw Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” [John 1:29.] All who look upon Him will live. Then the question, “What shall I do to be saved?” is answered. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 9

The message that God gives to His longing, starving people, the same that Jesus gave to the palsied man who was brought to Him, and let down through the roof as the only way in which he could reach the great Physician, is given to us. “Behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed.” [Matthew 9:2.] There was a crowd about the house, and the sick man’s friends sought means to bring him directly to Christ, that they might lay him before Him. “And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in, because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.” [Luke 5:18, 19.] 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 10

Christ saw the man suffering with bodily disease. He also saw Him suffering with a sinsick soul. In order to heal the bodily maladies, He must bring relief to the mind, and cleanse the soul from sin. The Saviour was not unmindful of the efforts that had been made to bring the man to Him. His heart of love and pity was at once moved. “When he saw their faith,” it was enough. He said unto the sick man, “Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.” [Luke 5:20; Mark 2:5.] Many were watching with bated breath every movement in this strange transaction. Many felt that Christ’s words were an invitation to them. Were they not soul-sick because of sin? Were they not anxious to get rid of this burden? 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 11

But the anger and the frowning countenances of the Pharisees could not be concealed. Apparently their looks expressed holy horror. They began to reason, saying, “Who is this which speaketh blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” [Luke 5:21.] But who was it that had uttered the words, “Thy sins are forgiven thee”? [Verse 20.] The Son of the living God. Had the Pharisees not been blinded, they would have seen that God alone could forgive sins, and that He was the Christ that was before them. Christ was in the Father, and the Father in Christ. “I and my Father are one,” He declared. [John 10:30.] 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 12

Christ took the very course He designed to take toward the afflicted one. He needed health of soul before he could appreciate health of body. “When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, Why reason ye in your hearts? Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of God hath power upon earth to forgive sins, he said unto the sick of the palsy, I say unto you, Arise, take up thy couch, and go into thine house. And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.” He was healed of the leprosy of sin, healed of the maladies that afflicted his body, healed every whit. “And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things today.” [Luke 5:22-26.] What an evidence was this to the priests, rulers, and Pharisees! 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 13

Christ said to the reasoning Pharisees, “That ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins.” [Verse 24.] He had that power in heaven. And He had the same divine power on earth that He had in heaven. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 14

“And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican named Levi sitting at the receipt of custom; and he said unto him, Follow me. And he left all, rose up, and followed him.” Just such invitations are to be given by Christ’s ambassadors. General invitations are given; but not definite and personal invitation, as in this case. If more personal calls were given, more decided movements would be made to follow Christ. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 15

“And Levi made him a great feast in his own house.” [Verse 29.] He felt himself highly honored by Christ’s call, and gave expression to his feelings by making a feast and calling his friends, for he was to be no longer engaged in the business he had followed. Jesus and His disciples were invited, and “many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.” [Matthew 9:10.] Jesus never refused invitations of this kind, because here He could ask and answer questions that would diffuse light. He came to sow the seeds of truth in human hearts, knowing that the time would come when hearts would respond to the truth that fell from His lips. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 16

“But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole (or claim to be whole) need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” [Luke 5:30-32.] This is a lesson for all our churches. The Lord went into the busy thoroughfares of travel that He might find souls, that He might speak words that would reach sinners. They needed a Saviour. They were sick, and needed a physician who could portray before them in parables their true condition. Thus Christ reached to the very depths of human woe and misery. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 17

The Lord has not sent His people at great expense to different parts of the globe, among idolatrous and heathen nations, in order that they may use large amounts of money in building medical missionary hospitals. Their first work is to bear the message, Christ the crucified One is our Saviour. They are to awaken a decided interest in Christ’s willingness to forgive sins. “This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.” [John 17:3.] Christ’s work was a marked work. People flocked and crowded around Him wherever He went. His first work was to teach the truth, then to mingle with His teaching, by the demonstration of the Spirit, the work of healing. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 18

“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” “And as ye go,” He said, “preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in you purses.” [Matthew 10:1, 7-9.] “And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere.” [Luke 9:6.] 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 19

This is the work that should be done today. Missions should be established, not merely in one or two cities in America, but in various localities. These buildings should be as inexpensive as possible. It is not the expensive buildings that give character to our work; it is the spirit of the workers who show that they have the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, that gives power to their influence. It is the spirit revealed in those who bear the message of truth, through whom God works, that gives character to the work. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 20

Jesus gave His disciples an example of the work they should do. In the New Testament is recorded the life of Christ and His way of working. “And from thence he arose, and went into the borders of Tyre and Sidon, and entered into an house, and would have no man know it, but he could not be hid; for a certain woman, whose daughter had an unclean spirit, came and fell at his feet.” [Mark 7:24, 25.] This woman was a Greek. Her daughter was beset by an evil spirit. She followed Jesus, and besought him to cast the devil out of her daughter. In answer Jesus said, Let the children first be filled; for it is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. This was the sentiment of the disciples. “And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way. The devil is gone out of thy daughter. And when she was come to her house, she found the devil gone out, and the daughter laid upon the bed.” [Verses 28-30.] 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 21

“And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech. And they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened and the string of his tongue loosed, and he spake plain.” [Verses 31-35.] The deaf was made to hear, the blind to see. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 22

“And he charged them that they should tell no man, but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.” [Verses 36, 37.] 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 23

This was Christ’s work. Our churches have not filled their place in cooperating with God in this great work. Every position in life is permitted in the providence of God. Each sphere of action requires most thorough consecration to God. Those who are hid with Christ in God will become instruments in God’s hands for the development of Christian virtues. All classes have a part to act. God’s people are not to sit Sabbath after Sabbath hearing the Word, and then do nothing to communicate to others what they have heard. They are to be laborers together with God. The Lord has given every one a work to do. Not one will He excuse who cherishes the least inclination to fold his hands and make himself a center. Truth is to be proclaimed. It is to go forth as a lamp that burneth. Not a thread of selfishness is to be woven into the work. We must see light in God’s light. 13LtMs, Ms 36, 1898, par. 24