Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 65a, 1898

Words of Instruction to Ministers and People


May 22, 1898

Variant of Ms 42, 1898. Previously unpublished.

We are laborers together with God. Spiritual workers are needed, not only to labor in the pulpit, but to do personal work among the people. Too much time is devoted to the churches in preaching. This is not attended with the best results. The work of the Lord’s ambassadors is to organize companies of workers to hunt for the souls who need help. Hours are spent in preaching that might better be devoted to house to house labor. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 1

In the Spirit of Christ, with a heart all aglow with His love, seek to win the hearts of those in the families you visit. Give faithful admonitions and instruction from the Word of God. There are appropriate and applicable lessons from the Scripture that need to be presented in the spirit of Christ and in love for the souls for whom He has died. “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 perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” [2 Timothy 3:16, 17.] 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 2

But there are many who have had no personal labor. Words of kindly instruction have not been spoken to them. It is time that unselfish, consecrated workers entered families who have accepted the truth, but who have not worked for its advancement. It is time that our preaching brethren ministered not only to the congregation, but to families. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 3

When a church is visited by wise and experienced workmen, let these men find out of there is not something they can do for the church that will be a blessing to its members. Let them converse with the members in regard to their spiritual advancement, showing them that they are under obligation to work as those who have received the grace of God. The missionary spirit must be kept awake in the church, and in order for this to be, church members must be laborers together with God. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 4

When visiting a church, come close to your brethren; seek for them; help them; come close to them as one touched with the feelings of their infirmities. Thus you may achieve victories that your small faith has not grasped. The members of these families must be given some labor to perform for the good of souls. Mutual love and confidence will give them moral power to be laborers together with God. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 5

The pastors of our churches are remiss in ministering, in educating faithfully the church members. If they are not acquainted with their duty in this respect, they need to be instructed. “Let a man so account of us,” Paul writes, “as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mystery of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” [1 Corinthians 4:1, 2.] 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 6

“Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder; and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [Matthew 24:45-51.] 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 7

A steward identifies himself with his master. He accepts the responsibilities of a steward, and he must act in his master’s stead, doing as his master would do were he presiding. His master’s interests become his. The position of a steward is one of dignity in that his master trusts him. If in any wise he acts selfishly, and turns the advantages gained by trading with his lord’s goods to his own advantage, he has perverted the trust reposed in him. His master can no longer look upon him as a trustworthy servant, one on whom he can depend. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 8

Every Christian is a steward of God, entrusted with His goods. Ministers and laymen have a work committed to them as individuals. All who are connected by faith with Christ have ministry to perform. Those who have not taken their position on the Lord’s side should do so without delay, for they will have to render an account to God. Christ paid the ransom for them as verily as for every professed Christian. If they despise the gift, the question will be asked, Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 9

Ministers of Jesus Christ, are you faithfully setting before families their accountability to seek and to save that which is lost? Do you enter into this work, educating young men by taking them with you and teaching them how to work? “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” [1 Corinthians 4:2.] He may not be an eloquent speaker, but he can present the truth in the clearest simplicity. He can work intelligently, doing his best according to his ability; and if he is faithful, God will give him wisdom, and increase his talents. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 10

Remember the words, “Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” [Verse 2.] Let us be sure that we are not robbing God in any jots or tittles, for much is involved in this question. This is plainly shown in Malachi. Here we are told that a blessing is given for a faithful disposition of the tithe, and a curse for a covetous retention of the money which should flow into the treasury. They ought we not to be sure that we are working on the right side, so dealing with God when handling the property entrusted to us that no shadow of reproach shall fall on us? 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 11

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse, for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pure you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sake, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground, neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” [Malachi 3:8-12.] 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 12

You may say, I have but small means, and cannot do much with the little I have. The Lord only asks you to be a faithful steward, to render to Him a tenth of all your increase, without stopping to [measure] how you are coming out. You who have but little means, render back to God the portion belonging to Him, for it is not yours. It is a serious matter to rob God. Thus you deprive yourself of the blessing He has promised to bestow on the condition that you are a faithful steward. If you are untrue to God, if you show that you will not do according to the agreement He has made with you, how can you expect Him to bless you with facilities for obtaining more means? 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 13

By working contrary to a “Thus saith the Lord,” you keep yourself under condemnation as unfaithful stewards. You deprive God’s treasury of the proportion of His agreement because you choose to walk in the light of the sparks of your own kindling. In your finite wisdom you think you are making better terms with yourself than God has made with you. How, then, if you are unfaithful with the least, can the Lord entrust you with larger responsibilities? 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 14

God desires all His stewards to be exact in following divine arrangements. They are not to offset the Lord’s plans with some deed of charity, some gift, or some offering, done or given when and how they, the human agents, shall see fit. It is a very poor policy for men to seek to improve on God’s plan and invent a makeshift, averaging up their good impulses in this and that occasion, and offsetting them against God’s requirements. God calls upon you to give all your influence to His own arrangement. He has made His plan known; and all who would co-operate with Him must carry out this plan, instead of daring to attempt to improve on it. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 15

We are to strike true and faithful figures in tithing, and then say to the Lord, I have done as thou hast commanded me. If thou wilt honor me by trusting me with thy goods to trade upon, I will by thy grace be a faithful steward, doing all in my power to bring meat to thy house; and I will seek to instruct others how to work in the same lines. God will honor those who obey a “Thus saith the Lord,” who accept exactly what the Lord has devised. He will work in their behalf. We have His pledged word that He will open the windows of heaven, and pour them out a blessing such as there will not be room enough to receive. But God’s blessing is withdrawn from dishonest, covetous church members. God says it, and what God says is true. Who of you, claiming to be the children of God and yet robbing Him, will venture to meet your delinquencies when the books shall be opened, and every man judged according to the deeds done in the body? 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 16

The first point we each need to settle is that the property we are handling is not our own, to be used as we please. It is the Lord’s, to be used in accordance with His plan. Let all who claim to be Christians deal wisely with the Lord’s goods. God is making an inventory of the money lent you and the spiritual advantages given you. Will you as stewards make careful inventory? Will you see whether you are using economically all the Lord has placed in your charge, or whether you are using the Lord’s goods selfishly, in order to make a display. Would that all that is spent needlessly were laid up as treasure in heaven. Be faithful in giving to the Lord the specified amount He has directed you to give. Then present the great mystery of godliness, lifting up Christ, and saying, Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 17

What makes it so hard for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven? Why are riches, in the place of becoming a precious treasure used to advance the cause of God, made a curse to separate the soul from God? Why allow them to lead to idolatry? God would have rich men use their goods as a sacred trust. He has made them stewards over these goods. They are to plan wisely, using to the very best advantage the means entrusted to them. But oh, how many of God’s gifts have been misused, because those to whom they were given did not have in the soul the fervor of the love of Christ! Men have ignored a plain “Thus saith the Lord” to follow their own plans. There is great need for each one to do his best. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 18

There are those who would have used wisely the talents given them had they been left to struggle and depend on their capabilities. But they became the possessors of means, and they lost the incentive to cultivate their talents and make all it is possible for them to make of themselves, by communicating what they had. An abundance of means spoiled them for faithfully fulfilling their stewardship. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 19

To some are entrusted larger responsibilities than others. But if you have only one talent, by use you may increase it to two. They by working humbly and trustingly, you may add to the two, two more. Thus the work in your charge may be continually growing. But there are a large number of idle stewards. Among these are to be found some who bear the credentials of ministers. But they do not minister, carrying the burden of souls. Dishonest, idle shepherds, they do not feel travail of soul for those who are perishing all around them. Let every church member carefully consider his responsibilities. Become acquainted with yourself. Urge home upon the heart the truth that you are not to seek to make yourself first, for effect and praise, but first in seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Be a most faithful steward over yourself. Search your own heart, and often compare it with the great mirror of the Word of God, until tried and searched by God, you will be approved of Him, not having your own righteousness but the righteousness of Christ. Strengthened by His might, you will be accepted as a vessel unto honor. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 20

God gives more than money to His stewards. Your ability to communicate with others is a God-given talent. Then again, the knowledge of the truth is a talent. Are you communicating the gifts of God to others by your words, by your tender sympathy? There are many souls in darkness that might be enlightened by true, faithful words from you. There are hearts that are hungering for sympathy, perishing away from God. Your sympathy may help them. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 21

All the natural gifts are to be sanctified as precious endowments. They are to be consecrated to God, that they may minister for the Master. All social advantages are talents. They are not to be devoted to self-pleasing or self-gratification. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 22

Money and estates are the Lord’s, to be used wholly to honor Him. He has need of the investment of your means. Are you allowing your money to go into the enemy’s ranks, to ruin the ones you seek to please? You can permit your means to be taken out of your hands to please your children. You may allow the enemy to rob you of the means God calls for, to be used in lifting the standard of truth in places where the people have not yet heard the message. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 23

Your means may be sunk in worldly investments, turned into worldly channels. They may be so used that they do no one any good. But the Lord, the owner of all, will one day call upon you to render an account to Him. He has pledged His word that if we use His entrusted goods as faithful stewards, we shall be so richly blessed that we shall be able to bless others. But if we regard the advantages given to us as our own to be used according to our pleasure, to make a display and create a sensation, our Redeemer is put to shame. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 24

God has given evidence of His love for the world. There was no falsity, no pretense, in what He did. He gave a living gift, capable of suffering humiliation, neglect, shame, reproach. This He did that He might rescue the fallen. The Son of the Infinite God came to our world to give an example of the great work to be done to redeem and save man. But today the proud and disobedient are striving to acquire a great name and great honor from their fellow men by misusing their God-given endowments. This they do instead of calling upon all to behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 25

The gift of correct example is a great thing. But many gather about the soul an atmosphere that is malarious. These know not in this their day the things that belong to their peace. They have, to a great degree, lost the faculty of spiritual discernment. They call good evil, and evil good. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 26

God’s great and strange work is to redeem and save, and thus repair the ruin that sin has made. Some see many things in the Bible that, to them, sanction a course of action that God will never approve. But when God converts them, they will flee to Christ, their life to be hid with Him in God. They will lift up their eyes to the perpetual desolation that sin has made and is making, and will pray that they may be co-laborers with Christ. They will begin to repair the old waste places, which have been made by high and low, in the law of God. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 27

All who desire a place of distinction have an opportunity to gain it by wearing the yoke of Christ. “Learn of me,” cried the great Teacher, “for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:29, 30.] Let the cry of the soul be, “O Lord, thou art my God: I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. ... For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall. ... And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we shall be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” [Isaiah 25:1, 4, 9.] 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 28

God would have all co-operate with Him in the work of saving souls. The talents we possess are given to us by God to make us efficient co-laborers with Him. By the gift of speech, of knowledge, of sympathy and love, we may communicate the grace of Christ. All these gifts are to be dedicated to God. The Lord stands in need of them; He calls for them. There are hearts that are hungering for sympathy, perishing for the help and assistance God has given you to give to them. Our churches are sickly, because they do not do their appointed work. They are not what God would have them. Oh, that they would awake from their lethargy! 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 29

The first thing for all Christians to do is to search the Scriptures with most earnest prayer, that they may have that faith that works by love and purifies the soul from every thread of selfishness. When the truth is received into the heart, it works like leaven, until every faculty is brought into subjection to the will of God. Then the peace of God rules in the heart and we can no more help shining than the sun can help shining. But if the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness do not shine do not shine into the heart, we reveal it by insincerity, by showing that we are satisfied with vanity and outward adornment, by using the means entrusted to us, to provide idols for the unsanctified soul. How small is the treasure laid up by such in heaven! How little do they communicate to others in sacred ministry! 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 30

All, whether believers or unbelievers, are the Lord’s property, bought with a price. You may ignore your relationship to God as His children. Whose children are you then? Children of the enemy of God, and his deeds you are content to do. But all the influence for good that you might have exerted by co-operating with God, all the improvement your talents would have made if used in behalf of truth, all the good you might have done through the power of the atoning sacrifice, but did not do, will be charged against you. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 31

You were given a work to do. A stewardship was entrusted to you; but you would not accept the trust. Christ crucified was presented to you. The Spirit of God pled with you. Uplifted on the cross, Christ sought to draw you to Himself, but your stubborn will would not yield to His invitation. His appeals were resisted. You stubbornly placed yourself on the side of the apostate, giving your influence to his cause. You are a steward, notwithstanding, but an unfaithful, dishonorable steward, burying your talents in the earth, serving Satan instead of serving God. Impenitent sinner, when you are weighed in the balances and found wanting, what excuse will you give to God for thus wasting your opportunities? 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 32

Every truly converted church member is to be given some work. “The cause that I knew not, I searched out,” Job declares. [Job 29:16.] We are to study what service to God means. It means that we are to minister as Christ did when He was on our world. In this work, whether rich or poor, we are to wear Christ’s yoke, and learn from Him how to be meek and lowly. To some may be given especially the work of setting forth Christ by preaching, opening the oracles of God in our churches. Yet these should not neglect the work of visiting families, talking with them, praying with them exhorting them, encouraging those who need encouragement, and presenting a “Thus saith the Lord” to meet every deficiency. Personal labor is greatly needed, and altogether too little of it is done. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 33

Many, many souls might be saved if those who claim to be Christ’s followers would work as Christ worked, living to glorify God, showing genuine love for the Master by making the best use of their entrusted talents. We are called upon to love human beings as Christ loved them; to feel a travail of soul that sinners shall be converted. Hide self out of sight. You must do this if you work as Christ worked, for from the very nature of this work, those who do it will lose sight of self. Oh, what care should be taken by all Christians not to call their passions and self-importance religion. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 34

By showing vanity, by longing for distinction, many hide the person of Christ and expose self to view. They are so self-important, they have such mistaken ideas in regard to their own ability, that the Lord cannot bestow His Holy Spirit upon them, for if He did, they would exalt themselves still higher because of the gift. Their self-sufficient ideas are a great hindrance to the advancement of the work, for whatever part they act, self is the main figure presented. They think their own zeal and devotion to be the great power of truth. Though they may be unaware of it, all such are unfaithful stewards. They swerve the work into false lines. If they are not converted, self-importance will lead them to the place where they will imperil the work by false moves. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 35

We are not to exalt the work of any man, magnifying him and praising his judgment. The first rising of self is the beginning of a fall, a separation from Christ. We cannot exalt self without being humbled. As Christians we are to let the light of Christ’s truth shine. Self is to be kept out of sight. Christ is the Truth and the Light. He is the mirror from which is to be reflected every work done to His name’s glory. The world needs light, and Christ says to us, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” [Matthew 5:16.] 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 36

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 37

“Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breast plate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” [Ephesians 6:10-18.] 13LtMs, Ms 65a, 1898, par. 38