Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)

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Ms 44, 1898

The Pearl of Great Price

NP

March 29, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in 7BC 907; CTr 301; 5MR 423.

Among the Jews, the pearl is estimated as the most valuable of precious stones. Our Saviour compared the blessing of redeeming love to a pearl of great price. He illustrated this truth by the parable of a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, “who when he had found the pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” [Matthew 13:46.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 1

Christ is the pearl of great price. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. His gospel is to be preached as a witness to all nations. Christ does not say that all nations will receive the gospel and accept the pearl of great price. Many will not appreciate it, because things of minor importance take their attention. Yet the gospel is to be preached, as a witness to all. The light is to shine in the moral darkness, truth is to be placed in contrast with error. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 2

In Christ’s day many great men of the earth heard the gospel, but they did not become sufficiently interested to search for the pearl of great price. But on the Day of Pentecost five thousand were converted in one day by the presentation of the gospel. Christ’s witnesses proclaimed the truth, telling men the wonderful news of the precious pearl. And what a remarkable communication was on that day made from heaven to earth. The great assembly of people who witnessed this scene had recently witnessed in this same city the crucifixion of the world’s Redeemer. How little those who saw that scene understood what it meant. How few realized that “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] God in human flesh died that He might bring life and immortality to light. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 3

When Christ came forth from the tomb, he proclaimed over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, “I am the resurrection and the life.” [John 11:25.] Thus the Lord had appointed. In His wisdom He was fulfilling His plan of infinite magnitude, the unfolding and announcement of which commenced at the fall. In Eden, before the heavenly universe, before the unfallen worlds, and before satanic agencies, God declared that the pearl of great price was to be given as the ransom of a fallen world. The seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head, and it should bruise His heel. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 4

This is the vital all-absorbing truth on which God would have mankind in all ages fix their attention. He would have the death of His Son the great center of attraction. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 5

The crucifixion of Christ took place at the time when the Passover was commemorated. At this time representatives from all the nations of the world were assembled at Jerusalem. Representatives from foreign courts, princes, presidents, men exerting a wide influence, kings and noblemen, witnessed the scenes of the crucifixion. “Lo, the kings were assembled: they passed by, they saw it, they trembled.” [See Psalm 48:4, 5.] It was then that the Lord Jehovah struck a blow which was transmitted by strangers to the remotest borders of the earth. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 6

“For their sakes,” said Christ, “I sanctify myself,” in fulfillment of My previous engagement, made before the foundations of the world were laid. [John 17:19.] Thou, O Lamb of God, didst come, and offer Thyself as a living sacrifice, withdrawing Thyself from the heavenly universe, and setting Thyself apart to make a complete sacrifice. Having taken a survey of all that would be required of Him, Christ summed up the guilt to be cancelled. God’s wrath against sin and the punishment for sin must be exhausted. Christ gathered the entire responsibility to His heart, and bent His whole being to the task. He clothed His divinity with humanity and prepared Himself for the sword that was to smite Him as our substitute and surety. “Therefore doth my Father love me,” He said, “because I lay down my life that I might take it again.” [John 10:17.] He was wounded for our iniquities, bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 7

“Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great king. God is known in her palaces for a refuge. ... Mark ye well her bulwarks; consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever. He will be our guide, even unto death.” [Psalm 48:2, 3, 13, 14.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 8

Christ is the pearl of great price. After His resurrection, He ascended to His appointed honor. Before the heavenly universe and the worlds unfallen He was to be enthroned. The Father would impress the minds of the believers with the glorious reception of His Son in the home He had left. For our sake He became poor, that we thought His poverty might be made rich. He had conquered the world, and His ascension to heaven was made with great honor. Commander of all the heavenly host, He returned to His own dominion amid great demonstrations. The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of thousands. These escorted Him who was the Resurrection and the Life, with a multitude of captives, raised from their graves to join the armies of heaven. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 9

As Christ ascended, His hands were outstretched in blessing upon His disciples. While they stood gazing upward to catch the last glimpse of their ascending Lord, He was received by the heavenly throng into the rejoicing ranks of cherubs and seraphs. And as they escorted Him to His heavenly home, they sang in triumph, “Sing unto the Lord, ye kingdoms of the earth: O sing praises unto the Lord, that rideth upon the heaven of heavens.” [See Psalm 68:32, 33.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 10

Christ determined to bestow a gift on those who had been with Him and on those who should believe on Him, because this was the occasion of His ascension and inauguration, a jubilee in heaven. What gift could Christ bestow rich enough to signalize and grace His ascension to the mediatorial throne? It must be worthy of His greatness and His royalty. Christ gave His representative, the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. This gift could not be excelled. The divine Spirit, converting, enlightening, sanctifying, would be His donation, because He would give all gifts in one. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 11

On the Day of Pentecost Christ gave His disciples the Holy Spirit as their Comforter. It was ever to abide with His church. During the whole Jewish economy the influence of this Spirit has often been revealed in a marked manner, but not in full. The Spirit had been waiting for the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. For ages prayers had been offered for the fulfillment of the promise, for the impartation of the Spirit; and not one of these earnest supplications had been forgotten. Now for ten days the disciples sent up their petitions, and Christ in heaven added His intercession. He claimed the gift of the Spirit, that He might pour it out upon His people. He ascended on high, leading captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Having reached His throne, the Spirit was given as He had promised, and like a rushing, mighty wind, it fell upon those assembled, filling the whole house. It came with a fullness and power, as if for ages it had been restrained, but was now poured forth up on the church, to be communicated to the world. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 12

What followed this outpouring? Thousands were converted in a day. As a flaming, two-edged sword, the truth flashed conviction into human hearts. The news was carried to the uttermost bounds of the inhabited world. Human hearts were brought unto Christ’s control. The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions. The altar of the cross, which sanctified the gift, was rebuilt. Believers were reconverted. Sinners united with Christians in seeking the pearl of great price. The prophecy was fulfilled: “The weak shall be as David, and David as an angel of the Lord.” [Zechariah 12:8.] Every Christian saw in his brethren and sisters the divine similitude of benevolence and brotherly love. One interest prevailed. One object swallowed up every other. The only ambition of the believers was to see who could express most perfectly the likeness of Christ’s character, who could do most for the enlargement of His kingdom. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 13

“The whole multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one mind.” [Acts 4:32.] The Spirit of Christ animated the whole congregation they had found the pearl of great price. Every individual’s spiritual pulse beat in healthful concert. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 14

The value of a gift is proportionate to its adaptability to the needs of perishing souls. When Christ gave Himself, the One precious pearl of great price, He opened up a spiritual fountain of divine influence, that fallen man through faith might be a partaker of the divine nature. Standing near His trial, rejection, condemnation, and crucifixion, He said, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth, It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you, and when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” [John 16:7, 8.] This is a wonderful announcement. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 15

Christ longed to be in a position where He could accomplish the most important work by few and simple means. The plan of redemption is comprehensive. Its parts are few, and each part depends on each other, while all work together with the utmost simplicity and in entire harmony. Christ is represented by the Holy Spirit, and when the Holy Spirit is appreciated and accepted, when those controlled by the Spirit communicate to others the energy with which they are imbued, an invisible chord will be touched, and will electrify the whole. Would that we could all understand how boundless are the divine resources. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 16

Jesus, the truth, the pearl of great price, is not changeable. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is our salvation, the one of great price for which all may seek and be successful in their search. Those who find this pearl do not need to be told how valuable it is; for they appreciate it, and will sell all they have to possess it. They will say, I count all things but loss that I may win Christ. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 17

There are but two classes in our world, the obedient and the disobedient; and at this time the warning comes to us, Take heed that in seeking for the goodly pearl, you are not deceived into accepting the spurious for the genuine. Christ brings every one to the point, saying, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 18

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. But ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. ... He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. ... If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come upon him, and make our abode with him.” [John 14:13-18, 21, 23.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 19

The test is plainly defined: “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings, and the words which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” [John 14:24; 15:10, 11.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 20

In Christ is gathered all the glory of the Father. In Him is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. He is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His person. The glory of the attributes of God are expressed in His character. The gospel is glorious because it is made up of His righteousness. It is Christ unfolded, and Christ is the gospel embodied. Every page of the New Testament Scriptures shines with His light. Every text is a diamond, touched and irradiated by the divine rays. We are not to praise the gospel, but praise Christ. We are not to worship the gospel, but the Lord of the gospel. Christ is a perfect representation of God on the one hand, and a perfect specimen of sinless humanity on the other hand. Thus He has combined divinity and humanity. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 21

The world estimates a man by the amount of money he has, by the value of his residence and its furniture, or by the number of acres in his estate. Christ places upon His people a different estimate. He calls those who obey His commandments His jewels. “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” [Malachi 3:16, 17.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 22

“For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.” [Isaiah 62:1-3.] “And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.” [Zechariah 9:16.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 23

Those here represented have found in Christ the one precious pearl of great price, for which all other pearls should be sold. Those who try to find peace and rest will be unsuccessful unless they find the One of whom John said, Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. [John 1:29.] But the soul that finds Jesus feels that his wants are entirely satisfied. Christ says, A new heart will I give you. [Ezekiel 36:26.] This is the reward of obedience. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 24

The pearl of great price cost God’s only begotten Son the deepest humiliation, human agony, and a shameful death. This precious pearl is presented to those for whom Christ made this great sacrifice. Yet many refuse to accept it. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 25

In His sermon on the mount our Lord compared the truth to pearls, and He warned His disciples to beware how they wasted or threw away truths of the highest value upon those who would not appreciate them, but would trample them under their feet. “Give not that which is holy to dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine,” He said. [Matthew 7:6.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 26

Satan’s power is wholly destructive; God’s power is constructive. Thus the kingdom of God is a kingdom of continual progress. If we follow on to know the Lord, we shall know that his going forth is prepared as the morning, like the sun, which in the morning sheds its mild beams in the east, and keeping on increasing in strength until it reaches the perfect day. How much need, then, there is for us to keep a sharp watch unto prayer, and be earnest and zealous in the effort to secure the pearl of great price. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 27

When this pearl is held up to our view, we should be personally and intensely interested, lest we lose the opportunity offered us. The value of salvation is being tested. The precious jewels of truth are being opened before us. But many listen with weariness to the presentation of the most precious and important truths. Their countenances do not glow with animation. They are listless and uninterested. Who would believe that they were themselves deciding their eternal destiny by their life practice? They should be wide awake, earnestly seeking for the kingdom of God and His righteousness. But do they look like people to whom precious pearls are being presented? 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 28

To all who believe on Christ, He is precious, but how many choose the spurious in the place of the genuine. Many a woman adorns herself with rings and bracelets and ornaments of gold, and thinks that she will be esteemed because of these ornaments. But she does not seek for the pearl of great price. It is not esteemed by her as of as much value as the ornaments with which she adorns her poor, mortal body. The one jewel of great price has no value in her eyes. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 29

Is it not wondrously strange that the perversity of the human heart makes poor souls ignorant of what is worth seeking for they think themselves possessed of superior wisdom. They set more value upon gold and silver and diamonds than on the crown of glory that fadeth not away. “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number. Yet in Me is found the pearl of great price.” [See Jeremiah 2:32.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 30

In the parable, the pearl is not represented as a gift. The merchantman, trading in goodly pearls bought it as the price of all he had. Many question what this means, when Christ is represented as a free gift. He is a free gift to all who give themselves, soul, body, and spirit to Him, without reserve. We are to give ourselves to Jesus, to live a life of full obedience to all His requirements. All that we are and all the talents and capabilities we possess are the Lord’s to be consecrated to His service. Salvation is a free gift, and yet it is to be bought and sold. The great and precious pearl is represented as being bought without money and without price in the market which divine mercy has the management of where His voice is heard saying, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see.” [Revelation 3:18.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 31

In this market all may obtain the goods of heaven, which are lent on trust. “Behold I have set before thee an open door,” the Lord declares, “and no man can shut it.” [Verse 8.] No sword guards the way. Voices from within and at the door say, “Come.” The treasury of the jewels of truth is indeed opened. The Saviour’s voice earnestly and lovingly invites us, “I counsel thee to buy of me.” [Verse 18.] The pearl of great price is presented. The gospel of Christ is a blessing which all may possess. It takes men as they are, poor, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked. The only condition Christ imposes on those who come to Him for riches and to be clothed with His righteousness is obedience to His commandments. The true, strong, joyous life of the soul begins when Christ is formed within, the hope of glory. The law is found by the obedient soul to be a law of perfect liberty, liberty to lay hold by faith upon the hope that is sure and steadfast. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 32

No amount of worldly treasure can purchase salvation. It is by willing obedience that it is purchased, by giving ourselves to God as his own purchased possession. When we render back to God His own, when we wash our robes of character and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, then we shall be entitled to a celestial crown. Earthly wealth is of no value to purchase salvation for it is a lent treasure. Thus the poorest has just as good a chance as the richest. Education of the highest class, or itself, will not bring any man into favor with God. The Pharisees had been favored with every temporal and spiritual advantage, and with boastful pride they said, I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing. Yet they were wretched and poor and miserable. Christ offered them the pearl of great price, but they disdained to accept it, and He said to them, “Verily I say unto you, That publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” [Matthew 21:31.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 33

We are to seek for the pearl of great price, but not in worldly marts or in worldly ways. The price we are required to pay is not gold or silver, for this belongs to God. It is not spiritual advantages. Abandon the idea that these things are your own. God calls for your willing obedience. You are to seek to save the souls that are perishing out of Christ. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten,” Christ declares, “be zealous therefore and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man will open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” [Revelation 3:19, 20.] This is your work. Open the door, and let Jesus in. Christ asks you to give up your sins. “He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Mark 8:34.] “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” [Revelation 3:21.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 34

To deny ourselves daily is our work. We are not saved in sin, but from sin. We cannot buy salvation, but we must seek it as interestedly and perseveringly as though we would abandon everything in the world for it, and sell all that we have to obtain the pearl of great price. By accepting Christ, making Him all and in all, we shall obtain an invaluable experience, for good works will surely follow all who receive Christ. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 35

“As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” [John 1:12, 13.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 36

Christians are to be careful to maintain good works. Christ says to His followers, “Ye are the light of the world. A city set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:14-16.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 37

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Verses 17-20.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 38

These words are full of meaning to all who claim to be followers of Christ. We are to guard against deception. Every professor of godliness is like the piece of silver which a trader tests by ringing it on the counter, to see if it has the true ring. Christ has given His people the lessons essential for them to practice. Would that all who claim to be Christians would be doers of the words, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” [Matthew 6:33.] There is one who constantly watches over those who seek to work out the principles here involved. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 39

The soul that is seeking for rest and peace and happiness finds all these by coming to Jesus. All his wants are satisfied. He has been seeking peace and rest of conscience, and in Christ he has found a clean heart, a renewed mind. Christ has given His invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] Great indeed are the promises God has given in order to bring salvation within our reach. He gave His life for us, and He offers us the pearl of great price. But so many turn with disdain from the salvation offered. Many give the things of eternal interest only a transient thought. This is the reason that they do not duly estimate the value of the pearl of great price. Shall this state of things continue? 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 40

The work of grace is a progressive work. “And besides this,” Peter writes, “giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:5-8.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 41

There is a wonderful deceitfulness in sin. To the heart unchanged by grace, Satan presents a counterfeit righteousness. But those who trust in this righteousness build on the shifting sand, and one day the storm of test and trial will overcome them. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 42

“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” [Malachi 3:16, 17.] 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 43

Service to God is comprehensive. It means much. It means the consecration of all we have, of all the talents that He has lent us. It means that we shall use them to glorify His name. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 44

“Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.” [Verse 18.] How thoroughly in earnest every one should be to be on their guard against being led away by the errors of the wicked. Many who fancy that they are on the way to heaven are walking in strange paths, because they have not given all for the purchase of the pearl of great price. 13LtMs, Ms 44, 1898, par. 45