Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Lt 80, 1898

Waggoner, E. J.

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

September 24, 1898

This letter is published in entirety in 11MR 367-374.

E. J. Waggoner:

I have not been able to sleep past half-past four a.m. It has been impressed upon my mind that if we realized in a deeper sense the love of God for sinners, much more would be done in the name of Christ to seek and to save that which is lost. The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son, bring out in distinct lines God’s pitying love for those who are erring and straying from Him. Although [following] their own course of action in turning away from God, He does not leave them in their misery. The Lord is full of lovingkindness and tender, pitying love to all who are exposed to the temptations of the artful foe. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 1

How few bear in mind that the tempter was once a covering cherub, a being whom God created for His own name’s glory. Satan fell from his high position through self-exaltation; he misused the high capabilities with which God had so richly endowed him. He fell for the same reason that thousands are falling today, because of an ambition to be first, an unwillingness to be under restraint. The Lord would teach men the lesson that, though united in church capacity, he is not saved until the seal of God is placed upon him, and he is made complete in Christ. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 2

Those who use their God-given intellect to separate themselves from their Maker and lead others into sin need to be searched after and helped. Christ used the parable of the lost sheep to teach a lesson to the hard-hearted scribes and Pharisees. The rebuke of God was upon these men because of their self-righteousness and pride. They did not appreciate the attributes of Christ, His mercy, His goodness and truth. These were in marked contrast to their representation of piety, and they were therefore continually misunderstanding His mission and work. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 3

Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost, but they found fault with Him for receiving sinners and eating with them. Christ did not rebuke them openly, lest He should close the door of their hearts against Him, but He gave them a symbol which they could carry with them, and through which some would be convicted. Upon these, after His resurrection and ascension to heaven, the Holy Spirit would come, and they would unite with the disciples in church capacity. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 4

What did the disciples do under the influence of the Holy Spirit’s working? They called nothing which they possessed their own. All their earthly goods they used to support the poor believers. And this is the influence the Holy Spirit will have upon the hearts of those who believe today. They will not be improvident with the property lent them on trust. They will remember that it is not their own, and will use the Lord’s goods to advance His work. They will publish the glad tidings of the gospel. They will work to relieve the needy, to help the helpless. It was this class for whom Christ manifested the greatest pity, the most tender compassion. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 5

By the parable of the lost piece of silver Christ sought to impress upon the minds of His hearers the necessity of arousing the sensibilities of those within the home to seek for those who were straying from God. Not one member of the family is to be forgotten. The one wayward child is to be sought for. The candle, the Word of God, is to be lighted, and diligently used in examining everything in the house, to see why this one child is lost to God. Parents are to search their own hearts, to examine their own habits and practices. They are answerable for their management of God’s property. Have they done their work well? Are the fathers and mothers who claim to belong to God training their families to serve and honor and glorify Him? 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 6

The Lord works with those who are sinners. These are the ones who need most the help of the great Physician; yet, like the lost piece of silver, they are unconscious of their state. The soul unaroused is in a state of impiety, even at an early age. The woman who begins her search for the piece of silver sweeps the house until she finds it. She removes everything that will obstruct her search. She seeks diligently until she finds it. Then, rejoicing in her success, she calls her friends together, saying, “Rejoice with me, I have found the piece which was lost.” [Luke 15:9.] In every home let the candle be lighted. Fathers and mothers must bring the Word of God into their practical life if they would save the souls of their children. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 7

Every soul is the object of the loving interest of Him who gave His life that He might bring men back to God. This earnest, persevering interest expressed by our heavenly Father teaches us that the helpless and outcast are not to be passed by indifferently. They are the Lord’s by creation and by redemption. If we were left to ourselves to judge, we would regard many who are degraded as hopeless. But the Lord sees the value of the silver in them. Though they do not look for help, He regards them as precious. The ones who sees beneath the surface knows how to deal with human minds. He knows how to bring men to repentance. He knows that if they see themselves as sinners, they will repent and be converted to the truth. This is the work we are to engage in. It lies before us in this locality, and in every place around us. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 8

In the parable of the prodigal son is presented before us the Lord’s dealing with those who have once known the Father’s love, but who have allowed the tempter to lead them captive at his will. The love of God is still strong for the one who has chosen to separate from Him, and He sets in operation influences to bring him back to the Father’s house. Although he has grieved the Lord, yet if he repents, the Father will receive him. This work is to be done by us more thoroughly than it has been done. The work now being done in America in medical missionary lines are recognized as bearing the signature of heaven. The pearls buried beneath the rubbish of human invention are to be discovered; and when this work is done there will be rejoicing in the heavenly courts. The Lord is represented as joying over His people with singing. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 9

In this parable Christ shows us that any class of sinners who will return to God He will receive with joy, and cover with His robe of righteousness. As this work is carried on, Satan is disappointed, and imbues with his spirit the elder brother, who apparently has been faithful in the service of his father. When the elder brother saw the joy that was expressed at the return of the prodigal, he felt that he was insulted, for he had never left his father’s house. This spirit is a spirit of selfishness and jealousy. He is now prepared to watch that brother, to criticize all he does, to accuse him for the least deficiency. He will not forgive as the Lord forgives. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 10

If the restored son makes mistakes, the elder brother marks every defect. He magnifies every wrong action into a large matter. This he does to justify his own unforgiving spirit. This accuser acts out the spirit of Satan to create disunion and heartburning. He sees the mote in his brother’s eye that needs to be plucked out, but he does not discern the beam that is in his own eye. And that beam prevents him from coming close to his brother and adjusting the difficulty. The Spirit of God is not working in that suspicious mind. All this misinterpretation of his brother is placing the accuser where God cannot give him the light of His countenance. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 11

Men often commit wrong through ignorance or want of judgment. In many instances there is no premeditated wrong; it is caused through a lack of thoughtfulness. The one who treats this as sin is himself a sinner. There is with many a keen imagination that makes them offender for a word or action. But often the one judged is innocent in the sight of God. The accuser, who has permitted the tempter to ruffle his feelings, needs to humble his soul before God, to be purified and refined by the Holy Spirit, to love as brethren, be kind, be courteous. The promise to all is, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” [James 4:7, 8.] If one errs, remember that this is no more than you yourself have done. Put away evil surmisings. Christ says, “All ye are brethren.” [Matthew 23:8.] 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 12

The Spirit of the Lord is grieved by those who partake of the feelings of the elder brother. Christ alone can take away suspicion and surmising of evil. It is for His glory to have these things put away, to have self purified. He can then work to mold and fashion the one who has erred. The Saviour’s love can find him and restore him to God, that his capabilities may be exercised for good, his life spent in honoring God and blessing his fellow men. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 13

“The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” [Luke 19:10; Matthew 18:11.] There is a prescription for all who are so rigid in regard to a brother’s wrong, when their own record stands in the books of heaven charged with unconfessed sins. You may ask, What can I do? Listen to the great Teacher: “How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and go 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 of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” [Verses 12-14.] The lessons of this chapter it is for the interest of all to study and practice. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 14

There are those who act out the spirit of the servant in the parable who was forgiven much, but who revealed an unforgiving spirit. After his lord had forgiven his great debt, “he went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow-servants saw what he had done, they were very sorry, and came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: shouldest thou not also have had compassion on my fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.” “So likewise,” said Christ, “shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.” [Verses 28-35.] 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 15

Personal piety can only bear its testimony in a wise and unconditional surrender to God. It can only be obtained by asking of God. We are to shut our doors to all outward activity, and kneel before our Maker. Away from human beings, we are to consider our duty in the light of the Word of God. “I pray not,” said Christ in His prayer to the Father, “that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” [John 17:15.] The soul that seeks after God will find him. And the life will be full of goodness, love, and truth. The conversation will be of heaven, from whence we look for our Saviour. Our religion will tell, in its influence, in our personal deeds. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 16

John declares, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil. Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message which ye heard from the beginning, that ye love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. ... Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. ... Beloved, if our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” [1 John 3:10-14, 16-19, 21, 22.] “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment, which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye had from the beginning.” [1 John 2:4-7.] 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 17

The word given from the beginning is the holy law, spoken from Sinai in majesty and glory (Exodus 20). In the words of Christ to the lawyer we see how important it is that we keep the commandments of God. Said Christ, “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.” [Luke 10:27.] 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 18

The Lord has a work for us all to do. And if the truth in not rooted in the heart, if the natural traits of character are not transformed by the Holy Spirit, we can never be co-laborers with Jesus Christ. Self will constantly appear, and the character of Christ will not be manifested in our lives. The Saviour represented the Word of God by a pearl of great price. When he sent his disciples forth, he warned them: “Cast not your pearls before swine.” [Matthew 7:6.] They understood His meaning. He had placed in their possession truths of the highest value. 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 19

The question is asked: “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” [Romans 3:1, 2.] God had made the Jewish nation the repositaries of His holy oracles. Had they been faithful stewards of the sacred trust, the Lord would have delighted in His people, and would have made them the praise of the whole earth. But they transgressed the law, and broke the covenant of God. They had despised the riches of His goodness, His forbearance, His longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth to repentance, and in so doing they treasured up to themselves “wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgments of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: ... Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” [Romans 2:5-7, 13.] The Jews were the chosen nation. They were favored with the oracles of God. But they did not appreciate the pearl of great price. The apostle asks, “What if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” [Romans 3:3, 4.] 13LtMs, Lt 80, 1898, par. 20