Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 197, 1898

Following Christ



Formerly Undated Ms 120. Previously unpublished.

In the parable of the call to the speaker, the servants of the Lord of the feast are bidden to go forth and say to the invited guests, “Come, for all things are now ready.” [Luke 14:17.] This represents the gospel invitation that is extended to all the world. The way has been opened so that all many come. To every one of us the blessed assurance is given, “yet there is room.” [Verse 22.] Those who accept the gospel invitation receive the grace of Christ by whose influence they exert a compelling power, constraining others to come in to the feast. They are endowed with earnestness of spirit, and even when repulsed and abused they are enabled to press the necessity of compliance with the terms of salvation upon those to whom the gospel invitation is sent. They will not be repulsed or cease their entreaties. They are endowed with the missionary spirit which is persevering and untiring. 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 1

Satan has placed obstacles in the pathway to heaven, and has sought to make the unconverted soul discouraged from entering therein by the hindrances which he has originated. Satan has cast his hellish shadow athwart the pathway, but the Lord Jesus came into the world to dispel this shadow, to tear away the barriers, and leave the pathway open. When the soul is converted to Christ, the joy of infinite love flows in. Those who know Christ are willing to bear His burden, to cheerfully wear the yoke with Him. They do not dwell upon the sharp points of the prohibitions of the law, but discerning its spirit, they become laborers together with God. The cross to them is a pledge of the crown of glory. They lift up Jesus, ever keeping the prize of their high calling in Christ Jesus. They see before them the true Shepherd who says, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” [Matthew 11:29.] 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 2

Those who are laborers together with God receive from Christ “grace for grace.” [John 1:16.] Their hearts are enlarged, and they give wholehearted service to God, and this is holiness. Their earnest zeal is inspiration to others. Christ considered that it was necessary to give us an example in His life, in His suffering and death of what it means to be a messenger for God. He walked with His disciples, acting out His own teachings, and welcomed with joy all who came to Him for instruction. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” [Luke 4:18, 19.] 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 3

The spirit and teaching of Christ was very different to that of the Sadducees and Pharisees, for they despised the poor; they held as contemptible those who were meek and lowly in heart. But it was those who were sensible of their sins, who realized their poverty of spirit, that received and appreciated the words of Christ. The Lord Jesus ever manifested compassion, tenderness, and sympathy toward those who felt their need of help. He was the fountain of comfort and peace and joy. The expression of His countenance, the words of His lips, the works of His hands, all brought blessing to those with whom He associated. It is self-esteem and self-righteousness that forms a barrier between men and the favor of God. 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 4

Self-importance made the Pharisees hardhearted, coarse, rough, and unimpressible. They were greatly offended because Christ in His parables spoke words which reproved their harsh spirit, and which offered hope to those whom they considered infidels and dogs. Christ met with the greatest success when teaching the needy and unfortunate, for they received the richest blessings of His grace and mercy. He did not tell the poor that they would be exalted and honored and made wealthy if they believed in Him. He showed the weakness of all humanity, but also pointed out the help that He could give to the needy and brokenhearted. He said to those who were attracted to Him, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me; so shall he be my disciple.” [Matthew 16:24.] He says again, “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” [Luke 14:27.] 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 5

Jesus spoke these words at the time when a great multitude were following Him. He does not wish any one to act under a false impression. While He rejoiced to accept the soul who was seeking rest through faith in Him, He did not wish any one to follow Him hoping for the fulfillment. He spoke to poor, wearied, dispirited souls who had made a fruitless search after happiness, and invited them to find rest in Him. 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 6

The Father loved sinful men and from the depths of infinite mercy, He provided salvation for all. He sent His only begotten, well-beloved Son into the world as a perfect revelation of His paternal character. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” [John 14:6.] John writes of Him, saying, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” [1 John 2:2-4.] 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 7

Christ made the statement that if we would follow Him we should, if necessary, forsake father and mother, sister and brother, wife and children, and sacrifice even life itself in order to be a doer of His Word. Those who refuse to do the Word of God for the sake of any earthly consideration, do not lift the cross and cannot be the disciples of Christ. We must value Christ above every human being on the face of the earth. God is revealed in Christ, and those who are benefited with His salvation must center their faith, their hope, their all, in their substitute and surety. 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 8

Christ is often insulted and put to shame by those who claim godliness, when their hopes are not centered in Him and the light of his righteousness does not appear in their lives. He who should be ever uplifted, and made to appear in His glory and attractive loveliness, is dishonored by the deceptive lives of His professed people. Through their inconsistent lives His beauty is veiled and His honor is withheld. Christ says to those who contemplate becoming His disciples, “Count the cost.” 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 9

“Which of you, intending to build an house sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he has sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” [Luke 14:28-30.] The Jewish nation had laid the foundation of their religious faith in the typical sacrifices that prefigured the Lamb of God. Their religious service was represented by commencing to build a tower, and their failure to advance was represented by a failure to finish that which they had begun. Their building was incomplete for Christ was the stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to them. 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 10

The One who was prefigured in all their sacrifices was in their very midst, but they refused to accept the world’s Redeemer; and without Christ their salvation was incomplete, and they were left like the ruin of a building. They did not acknowledge Him who alone could make an atonement for them and give efficiency to their faith. Though the Jews had the Old Testament, they failed to search it, and did not become informed as to the danger of their course. They marched steadily on, doing the very work that the prophets had foretold that they would do to Him who was their life and salvation. If they had received Christ by faith, if they had confessed their sins, He would have cleansed them from all unrighteousness. 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 11

Christ presented another illustration that pictures the condition of the soul who does not count the cost. He said, “What king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of peace.” [Verses 31, 32.] The only hope for the Jewish nation was to be found in accepting Christ, in forsaking their sins and becoming reconciled to God. Had they done this, He would have worked for them as He had worked for them in the past, and would have brought them to the heavenly Canaan even as He had planted them in their temple. They were left amid the nations who hated them, and yet they continued their course of pride, and in their religious bigotry ostentatiously boasted of their superiority, without thinking or caring what the result would be. 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 12

The world was against them, and yet they continued pursuing a course that placed them in the enemy’s hands. How much better would it have been for them to have desired conditions of peace from the only One who could have created peace? The words of this illustration have double meaning both to Jews and Gentiles. Many were deeply convicted, and were questioning as to whether or not to receive the invitation to the gospel feast. But they did not venture to accept the invitation for fear that the scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees would be provoked to hatred against them. 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 13

In this day we have the same indecision to contend against in the hearts of men. But the Lord would have each one of us conscientiously weigh the evidence on the side of truth, and then follow the truth irrespective of consequence. Let every one consider whether they have sufficient to build, and not leave their tower unfinished. Let no one engage in the Christian warfare, when they take a course by which they place themselves in the enemy’s hands and can count on nothing but defeat. Let every one realize that life, eternal life, is to be lost or gained, and decide to venture all, to accept of Christ in all His fullness, to know God and His Son whom He has sent, that he may not built in vain, neither labor in vain. 13LtMs, Ms 197, 1898, par. 14