Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 104, 1898

Christ’s Manner of Teaching


August 24, 1898

This manuscript is published in entirety in 20MR 241-248. +Note

Christ spake as never man spake. To the multitude that listened to His sermon on the mount, His lessons illustrated by things with which they were familiar, the law of God, with its living, matchless principles, was brought home to their minds and consciences. Among the thousands who were converted in a day, after Christ had risen from the tomb and ascended to the Father, were the very ones who had heard and believed the words spoken on that occasion. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 1

As Jesus stood among men, clothed with the garb of humanity, He longed to unfold to His disciples the deep mysteries of the plan of redemption; but with sadness He was forced to say, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” [John 16:12.] The temporal, the earthly, was so mingled in their minds with the spiritual and the eternal that the sacred and heavenly were eclipsed. Eternal realities did not stand out before them in clear lines, and the precious lessons Christ desired to give them must be withheld, because they would not be able to comprehend them. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 2

The soul must be infused with the Spirit of the great Teacher if the mind would penetrate into the deep things of God. The truth will enlarge and enrich the mind. Its beauty, its purity, its holiness, its invigorating power, will inspire the receiver, and he will not be content to be circumscribed in his work. The yearning soul will cry out after the living God, “Show me Thy glory.” [Exodus 33:18.] 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 3

There are new forces of power to be gained in searching the mines of truth for precious ore. The mind becomes enlarged and enriched. Let the Spirit of God rest upon the messenger, and the whole man will become a living, burning light, to present the truth as it is in Jesus. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 4

Christ declares, “Ye are the light of the world.” [Matthew 5:14.] Christ is the source of light and power for His church. If the heart is pure and right, if godliness is dwelling there, it will be revealed in the life. It will pervade the conversation and all the relations of man to his fellow man. He will be a doer of the words of Christ. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be furnished, thoroughly furnished unto every good work.” [2 Timothy 3:16, 17.] His every action will shine with a holy luster. He will be invested with power, for the divine presence is with him. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 5

There is in the heart of man that which is opposed to truth and righteousness. For ages the Jews had been looking for a Messiah to come. And because Christ did not come just in the way they expected He would appear, because He did not meet the ideas of His own nation, but few would receive Him. Their proud hearts had laid out the lines, and the Messiah must meet them, or He was no Messiah to them. Christ’s miraculous power gave evidence that He was the Son of God; in the cities of Judah overwhelming evidence was given of the divinity and mission of Christ. When disease fled at His presence, and at His word Death was mastered, and his prey wrested from his grasp, we would naturally suppose that none would turn from Christ, that all would gladly follow Him. But prejudice is hard to deal with, even by Him who is Light and Truth, and the prejudice that filled the hearts of the Jews would not allow them to accept the evidence given. With scorn they rejected the claims of Christ. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 6

Had the scribes and rulers studied the prophecies and sought to understand their deep meaning, they would have accepted Christ. The prophecies, investigated with humble hearts, would have opened a flood of light to their understanding. They would have seen that Christ answered every specification of the Messiah, whose coming the prophecies foretold. But in their pride they misinterpreted the Scriptures. They wanted a temporal Prince, answering to the description of Christ at His second appearing. The glory and power which was foretold would be at His second advent, they were determined to apply to His first coming. These proud ideas were so proudly ingrained in their minds, that when the wonderful miracles were wrought, it was easier for them to charge this to the power of the devil than to admit that they had not interpreted the Scripture aright. Their pride forbade them to admit their error, and this proved their eternal ruin as a nation. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 7

In every age, through periods of great light as well as great spiritual darkness, there is revealed in some a peevish disposition, a disposition to complain, to question and find fault. The most marked evidences of God’s workings has no effect upon these souls. Because everything does not coincide with their ideas, they become faultfinders, accusers, sitting in judgment upon sacred things, which can only be spiritually discerned. With many the truth has but little power upon mind and character. It does not sanctify the receiver. Separate the truth from Jesus and it is powerless. But when the truth is received as it is in Jesus, it has a telling power upon the whole man. A light goes forth from the genuine believer which has a power upon the heart, for it bears the divine credentials. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 8

In His teachings, Christ did not sermonize as ministers do today. His work was to build upon the framework of truth. He gathered up the precious gems of truth, which had been appropriated by the enemy and placed in the framework of error, and reset them in the framework of truth, that all who received the Word might be enriched thereby. Those who receive the Word of God in the heart, will become fruit-bearing branches. They will be partakers of the divine nature. Their thoughts will be in harmony with the divine mind, and they will be in harmony with the great Teacher. Those who listen to their words will know that they have been with Jesus and learned of Him. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 9

If the miracles of Christ were reproduced before the eyes of the impenitent today, would it add to their conviction or turn them to repentance? In the light, which shines forth in such clear rays, divine truth is presented—truth so convincing as to insure the condemnation of those who do not receive it. Christian love will work the grandest of all miracles. Christ is the world’s Redeemer, and men who do not have an experimental knowledge of what He is and what He will be to them, are in darkness. In our day it is a difficult matter to bring those who profess to believe the truth to the experimental knowledge of its vitalizing, sanctifying power. This has been experienced in years gone by, but form has taken the place of power, and its simplicity has been lost in a round of ceremonies. There is need of the spirit and life of God to be breathed into the dry bones. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 10

Letters have come to us in regard to matters upon which God has given us no light, and we are pleased to say to these inquirers, We do not know. The great anxiety in every mind should be to know God and do His requirements. Blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 11

The Saviour was the greatest Teacher the world has ever known and He revealed His wisdom, not only in imparting for the benefit of the world the most precious light, but also in withholding that light. He who came down from heaven could have gathered to Himself large numbers to picture before them the celestial glories of the eternal world. But His work was not to astonish. He came to instruct the world and save it from ruin, that through His divine power men might be overcomers, and become partakers of the divine nature, members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King, that they themselves might behold the glories of the eternal world to be given to the saints of the Most High God. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 12

Those who are so curious to find out things that have not been made known in the Scriptures are generally surface students in regard to those things which have a bearing on the daily life and practice. They do not know God as revealed in Jesus Christ. The Son of God came to bless the world with the example of a pure and perfect life, to practice self-denial, to sacrifice Himself that He might have the joy of seeing souls eternally saved in the kingdom of God. Every one who follows Christ fully will share with Him in this divine work of saving the lost. All who in the name of Jesus teach as He taught, work as He worked have a divine commission. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 13

There is nothing that will give a man a knowledge of the value of his entrusted capabilities as [does] the conviction that he is a laborer together with God, reflecting to the world the light of truth which the Lord has given him. Christ expects us individually to do the work which, when He ascended to the Father, He left in the hands of His believing disciples. We are to reveal to the world that which God has seen necessary to reveal to us. We are not doing the will of our heavenly Father when we speculate upon things which He has seen fit to withhold from us. It is the privilege of everyone to reveal to others that he appreciates the worth of divine truths, that he appreciates the treasures of eternal life, by making every sacrifice to obtain the reward. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 14

If as Christ’s followers we walk in companionship with Him, we will work the works of Christ. In our time it requires no small amount of labor to impress the minds of those who believe the truth with the fact that we are not to stop where we are, as though there were no more knowledge for us to gain. We have only seen the glimmerings of divine glories and the infinitude of knowledge and wisdom. We have been, as it were, working on the surface of the mine, when rich golden ore is beneath to reward the toilsome effort of the worker who will dig for it. We may think we have it all, but there is precious ore still to be found. The shaft must be sunk deeper and still deeper in the mine, and the result will be glorious treasure. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 15

Divine knowledge may become human knowledge. Every minister should study closely the manner of Christ’s teaching. They must take in His lessons. There is not one in twenty who knows the beauty, the real essence, of Christ’s ministry. They are to find it out. Then they will become partakers of the rich fruit of His teachings. They will weave them so fully into their own life and practice that the ideas and principles that Christ brought into His lessons will be brought into their teaching. The truth will blossom and bear the noblest kind of fruit. And the worker’s own heart will be warmed; yea, it will burn with the vivifying spiritual life which they infuse into the minds of others. Then all this tame sermonizing will come to an end, for frequently this is an exhibition of self, rather than the fruit that the teacher bears who has been at the feet of Jesus and learned of Him. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 16

Moses lived in close communion with God. Listen to his prayer, “Send me not up, unless thou shalt go with me.” [Exodus 33:15.] As Moses obtains assurance, as he holds fast the promises of God, he becomes emboldened to ask still greater things. “Show me thy glory,” he pleads. [Verse 18.] He must know God, that he may represent Him to the people in all his ministration. And the Lord heard him. He put His servant in the cleft of the rock, and then declared His own character before him. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 17

How can I present before you in words, my brethren, the thoughts that crowd my mind? The Lord has declared it to be His will that schools shall be established, that our youth may be educated. But while all may think this is the right thing to do, they do not bring the principles right home. The Lord would have ministers to go forth to proclaim the truth [to] the people, and He designs that they in their turn shall be learners. How shall they learn? They are not to think that because a man is selected to act as president, that he [is] to think and plan for them, for by this reasoning they will lose their identity. Each is to act for his individual self. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 18

God never designed that one man’s judgment and plans should be regarded as supreme. He says, “Ye are laborers together with God.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] Let no man undertake to repress or discourage. Let him not seek to put his armor upon his brother, for he has not proved it. The president of our General Conference is not to consider it is his work to lay plans as to how the minister shall carry forward his work. And the ministers are never to copy any man’s gestures, his habits, his attitude, his expressions, the tones of his voice. They are to become man’s shadow, in thought, in sentiment, or in devising and execution of the great whole. If God has made you a shepherd of the flock, he has given you qualification to do that work. Christ says, “Call no man your father which is upon to earth; for one is your Father, even God.” [Matthew 23:9.] Let every man take his Bible, and place himself in divine communion with the great Teacher. God is the source from which all knowledge and wisdom flows. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 19

Many obtain a surface knowledge of truth or Bible doctrine, and then stop, thinking they know it all. But do they know it all? No; no; God’s Word is, Go forward. Because young men measure themselves among themselves, and reach a standard which others have reached, they are satisfied to stop learning. But the voice of God bids them go forward. Fifty time as much might be accomplished in self-education than now is if the minds of men and women were awake to their own possibilities and privileges. Education of self means more than the colleges can give you. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 20

Men of true education are scarce. Men of talent are numerous, but they do not improve their opportunities, and their talents do not increase. When men and women hunger after knowledge for the purpose of blessing their fellow men, God will bless them. He will prepare the new bottles for the new wine. There will be an expansion, a development of the higher faculties, so that men will become deep thinkers. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 21

If the men who have talents would not settle down satisfied that they have sufficient for the great work; if they would dig deeper, there would not be such a dearth of laborers. We should have more spiritual teaching, and the hidden treasure would by diligent effort be brought to the surface. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 22

O, that I could present before our people the great loss of heavenly treasure we are sustaining because human faculties are not trained and disciplined to wrestle with hard problems in the search for divine truth. God designs that we shall possess a vivifying power to make these truths a blessing to the people. There are treasure in the great gift of God to human souls that might be discovered if there were more simplicity and less formality, greater spiritual knowledge and less ignorance if our souls were not high and lifted up unto vanity. There are great and important truths, and these cannot be understood unless minds shall grasp them and love them. If we incorporate them into our lives, then, like an overflowing fountain, we will not be able to restrain them or bind them about. That which we have heard and seen and experience will be to us a living reality, and we cannot but speak and write the things which we know. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 23

Just as soon as men begin to learn, Christ, the Educator, is by their side. If they desire Him to mold the mind and instill His principles into the soul, they will be educated to understand that their talents are entrusted of God for the upbuilding of His kingdom in the world. The minds of S.D.A. ministers are but half trained. The natural disposition, the untrained, uneducated intellect cannot represent the sublime truths for this time. The closing scenes of this world’s history are not to present to the world as educators a set of novices whose frivolous lives and characters reveal that they have not yet learned the first principles of divine truth. Even our present low standard is not reached by ministers who profess to be teaching the truth, and many are disappointed. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 24

That which is most prized by the world’s Redeemer, most sought for in His representatives, is purity and charity that suffereth long and is kind. “Every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” [1 John 4:7.] This is sanctified knowledge. If we love one another as Christ has loved us, His love is perfected in us. “He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” [Verse 16.] The coldness and lack of sympathy that has come into our ranks is not of God. It is of the wicked one. How few really believe that the law of God is comprehended and fulfilled by him who loves God supremely and his neighbor as himself. This is indeed honoring God in the highest, and bringing peace on earth good will toward men. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 25

God looks for fruit in His church—fruit that responds to the lessons of Christ, worthy of the truth we profess to believe, and revealing the wisdom and the mercy of Christ. The Lord calls for a converted ministry—a ministry that will meet the people where they are, that will agree with them wherever they can, but that will not deny the truth. We are not to keep ourselves shut within four walls, so that our light cannot come to others. There is common ground where we may meet those not of our faith, where we may agree in principles and in regard to the lessons of Christ. Few will become combative over these holy principles. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 26

Some ministers, when they find before them unbelievers who are prejudiced against our views upon the nonimmortality of the soul out of Christ, feel all stirred up to give a discourse on that very subject. This the hearers are in no way prepared to receive, and it only increases their prejudice and stirs up their position. Thus all the good impressions that might have been made if the worker had pursued a wise course are lost. The hearers are confirmed in their unbelief. Hearts might have been won, but the combative armor was put on. Strong meat was thrust upon them, and the souls that might have been won were driven farther off than before. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 27

The combative armor, the debating spirit, must be laid off. If we would be Christlike we must reach men where they are. True eloquence flows from the lips of the man whose heart is full of the love of God and for his fellow man. The pure heart, loyal and true to God, has veneration for all that comes from God. Christ does not attach Himself to man because it is habit, but because He is merciful and just and righteous. The soul that is purified and refined by the grace of Christ will not be selfish, will not think the sin of licentiousness and earthliness and sensuality a small matter that should be treated with leniency. Spiritual culture brings men into harmony with Jesus Christ, and the soul that abides in Christ will always be tender, kind, simple, but earnest, and inspired with the Spirit of Christ, willing to suffer for Christ’s sake or to rejoice for Christ’s sake. The words of such are eloquent in their simplicity. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 28

The apostle Paul enjoins us: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” [Romans 13:14; 12:1, 2.] 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 29

It is a wonderful and grand fact that in the laws of God in nature, effect follow cause with unerring certainty. The seed sown will produce a harvest of its kind. So it is in human nature. He that sows to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption. He who sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. If human beings would consider that they are making their own harvest, they would be careful what seed they sow. 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 30

We have had the light of health reform, and the Lord requires us to live that light. God will not daily work a miracle to counteract the unhealthful, selfish doings of man. Man is required to care for his building which the Lord has given him. He must not eat unwisely, and then ask the Lord to give him health. He must not contract habits which will have a tendency to debilitate. Our ministers must become intelligent in regard to their bodies and how to treat them. The minister is to set an example to the people and the world, to reveal that he has sound judgment, that he is sober-minded. The charge of the apostle is: “Young men likewise to be sober-minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” [Titus 2:6-8.] 13LtMs, Ms 104, 1898, par. 31