Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 157, 1898

Be Ye Therefore Perfect


December 5, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in 5MR 369; 6MR 5.

It is the Lord’s will that we should cherish a solemn sense of our individual accountability to him, as the owner of the talents He has lent us. He desires us to appreciate our entrusted gifts. In the varied lines of Christ’s work, each part depends on the other part. God has made provision for reciprocal action and the mutual relation of all animated beings. He has made arrangements that all shall be connected together, and the whole to God. No one can be dropped out of the Lord’s plan without affecting the whole. Nothing is independent of the rest. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 1

In creating Adam and Eve as our parents, God designed that each human being should stand related to the rest, to be a part of the web of humanity. He pledged himself to make every provision for the happiness of the human race, training them to become an imitation of His goodness. He would make them consecrated channels through which blessings from His abundant resources should flow to make others happy. In His divine benevolence God designed that nothing should be wanting to man’s happiness if he remained true and loyal to the commandments of his Creator. Every provision was made that men and women should be children of God, the objects of His special love and care. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 2

The work of consecration must go forward and upward, elevating the mind, elevating the speech. Thus we become more and more heavenly minded, better prepared for translation. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48.] Man is to be perfect in his sphere, as God is perfect in His sphere. How can we attain so lofty a standard? The required perfection is based on the perfection of Christ. In Him is our righteousness. He spoke these words, and He was by birth a human being, though allied to divinity. Every provision has been made that man shall be a partaker of the divine nature. God never issues a command without furnishing the grace essential to carry it out. He says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 3

When such possibilities are presented before us, when we see that it is our privilege to attain perfection of Christian character, should we not strive to reach the standard set before us? Christ shows us how the heavenly universe values the human beings for whom God made so great a sacrifice. Great privileges have been conferred upon the human race. We are God’s by creation and redemption, and He invests those who receive Christ with His strength. They are bound up with Him, and are fully capable of reaching the highest elevation of character. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 4

The main purpose of life should be to understand and appreciate the high honor conferred upon us. Christian conformity means entire conformity of man’s will to the will of God. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48.] This is the standard God designs all His followers to reach. The standard is that of Christlikeness. “Ye are complete in him.” [Colossians 2:10.] This is the only way that a perfect character can be obtained. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 5

Speaking of Christ, John says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. ... And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” [John 1:9-14, 16.] 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 6

Here we are shown what man may become by looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. He who made so great a sacrifice in behalf of the human race will complete that which He has begun, if the human agent will co-operate with the divine. Of himself man cannot obtain that completeness, but through Christ every gift of heaven is granted to those who will co-operate with Him, every day striving for the mastery over the deceptive allurements of the devil. By searching, we cannot find out God, but Christ has declared Him. When Philip said, “Show us the Father,” Jesus said, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” [John 14:8, 9.] 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 7

The more we study the life of Christ, the more we shall endeavor to improve every talent. “In this thy day.” The day is nearing its close. We are living in the last scenes of this earth’s history. Can it be that we shall be among the number which Christ mentioned with so much sorrow as He was halting on the crest of Olivet? Bitter tears accompanied expressions of intense anguish, as with pale and quivering lips and broken utterance, He exclaimed, “O that thou hadst known, even thou in this thy day.” Then came a pause. How reluctant Christ was to pronounce the irrevocable sentence, “But now they are hid from thine eyes.” [Luke 19:42.] It was with a burst of agony that was wrenching Him away from the people of His care that Christ spoke these words. He was bearing a heavy burden for the people He longed to save; but they knew not the time of their visitation. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 8

This is the great sin of which the world is guilty today. They appreciate not the blessings and privileges within their reach. While the superhuman agony of the Son of God was keenly felt in the heavenly courts, those for whom He shed these bitter tears knew not the time of their visitation. The Lord would have each of us, through His holy Oracles, know that Jesus is in our midst. On every Sabbath that God’s people assemble to worship Him, Christ is among them in a special manner. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 9

Every Sabbath should be hailed with joy and gladness. Every preparation should be made during the six working days, that we may hail with reverential joy the hour that brings the Sabbath. “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever, ... that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” [Exodus 31:16, 17, 13.] Those who recognize the Sabbath as the holy of the Lord and honorable, honor Him who gave the Sabbath, and who meets, by His Spirit, with every one, large or [small,] who worships Him in spirit and truth and in the beauty of holiness. How sacred and precious are these hours which God has sanctified and blessed. We may feel that the Sabbath is the best opportunity to hold sweet communion with each other and precious intercourse with God. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 10

God cannot give sanctification to those who have the light of truth, but yet dishonor His holy day. It is the Sabbath, and we are to expect on it a refreshing from the Lord. When the spirit of true worship is cherished by those who meet together to worship God, a valuable experience is obtained each Sabbath. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 11

By cheerful, appreciative obedience we realize the blessing that comes to the soul through true service, not a form, but genuine service. But the manner in which many keep the Sabbath is an offense to God. They bring the spirit of the world into the family and the house of God, when they should realize that they have met together to see the gleams of spiritual life. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 12

O that all would know in this their day the things that belong to their peace. Shall Christ say to any one of us, “But now they are hid from thine eyes”? [Luke 19:42.] A lax manner of observing the Sabbath brings men and women into bondage. They know not that on this day Christ, the wellspring of life, walks among them, for the purpose of sanctifying the worshipers. There is great need of purity as well as of knowledge. When Christ said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect,” He had in view purity of heart in purpose and action. [Matthew 5:48.] It is essential for every soul who desires to possess increased knowledge to have this purity. Christ will be the efficiency of every soul who strives for clear, far-seeing moral faculties. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 13

Perfection can only be attained through the grace given by Christ. Jesus requires the co-operation of the human agent. Temperance must be practiced in all things, in eating, in drinking, in all the habits of life. Christ said to His disciples, “He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Mark 8:34.] The Lord gave this lesson because it is truth, and He desires us to know the truth. He would have all who follow Him wholly in earnest. He would have us cultivate a whole-souled heartiness. Some may call this enthusiasm, but if there is any subject in the world worthy of enthusiasm, it is the subject which concerns our eternal interests. We must be heartily enthusiastic over the wonderful work of redemption of the human soul. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 14

Each one may be so inspired by the life-work of Christ, that he will become full of an earnest desire to be a whole-souled Christian. Those who think, “It will be just as well to be half for Christ, and half for the world,” are under a great deception. They are neither cold nor hot. They are not successful worldlings, neither are they successful followers of Christ, and He says of them, “I would that thou wert cold or not. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. ... 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 3:15, 16, 18.] 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 15

The Lord calls for sincere and earnest work. Half-heartedness spoils the human agent for both worlds. When weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, those who have done a surface work will be found wanting. Without life in Christ there can be no spiritual growth, no real development. Each one of us needs to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. We turn our blessings into a curse, to our own souls and to the souls of others, unless we do this. 13LtMs, Ms 157, 1898, par. 16