Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 120, 1899

“Go, Work Today in My Vineyard.”


August 23, 1899

Portions of this manuscript are published in TDG 244.

Of every soul the Lord demands service. Those to whom the living oracles have been opened, who see the truth, and yield themselves body, soul, and spirit to God, will understand the words of the Saviour, “Go, work today in my vineyard,” to be a requirement, but not a compulsory one. [Matthew 21:28.] God’s will is made known in His Word, and those who believe in Christ will act out their belief. They will be doers of the Word. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 1

The test of sincerity is not in words, but in deeds. Christ does not say to any man, “What say ye more than others?” but, “What do ye more than others?” [Matthew 5:47.] Full of deep meaning are His words, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” [John 13:17.] Words are of no value unless they are spoken in sincerity and in truth. The talent of words is made effective and of value when they are accompanied by appropriate deeds. It is of vital consequence to every soul to hear the Word and be a doer of it. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 2

“Enter ye in at the strait gate,” Christ said, “for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth unto destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” [Matthew 7:13-18.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 3

This entire chapter contains encouragement and warnings, which we would do well to heed. There is a right and a wrong side. Be careful that you obey the word of the Lord and respond to the leadings of the Holy Spirit. Your words and works will testify on which side you stand. Christ said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in [thy] name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 4

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” [Verses 21-27.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 5

We have evidence that there are many deceivers in the world, men who say, “I go, sir,” but go not. [Matthew 21:30.] They may speak smooth words, and make fair speeches; but they deceive; they reveal in their lives that their works are not wrought in God. The practical life is a genuine index of the character. By our words and works we reveal to the world, to angels, and to men whether we believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 6

Good works do not purchase the love of God, but they reveal that we possess that love. If we surrender our will and way to God, we will not work for God’s love; we will obey the commandments of God because it is right to do thus. The disciple John wrote, “We love him, because he first loved us.” [1 John 4:19.] The true spiritual life will be revealed in every soul who is doing service for Christ. Those who are alive to Christ are imbued with His spirit, and they cannot help working in His vineyard. They work the works of God. Let every soul think prayerfully, that he may act consistently. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 7

When they transgressed Adam and Eve could no longer cultivate their beautiful Eden home. They were shut out of the garden, to work among the thistles and brambles which Satan had sown. Satan had told them that by eating of the forbidden fruit they would have higher perceptions to know good and evil, that they would be like the angels in heaven. They had believed the great apostate, but they proved his words a lie. Henceforth they must work among the thorns and weeds brought by the curse. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 8

Christ came to the world with the invitation, Go, work today in my vineyard. Satan will seek to allure by his temptations, but listen to My voice today. What blessings are here offered to every man, woman, and child. It is the privilege of all to say, “We are laborers together with God, God’s husbandry, God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 9

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” says the apostle; “for it is God which worketh in you, to will and to do of his good pleasure.” [Philippians 2:12, 13.] As laborers together with God, we are to build our characters according to the divine similitude, according to the spirit and mind of Christ. The apostle Peter instructs us as to the plan on which we must work. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you,” he says, “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called you to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” [2 Peter 1:2-4.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 10

We are to climb higher and still higher. Cultivate to the fullest extent the fruits of the true vine. Look to the living Oracles which give you the precious promise of becoming a partaker of the divine nature. If you work on the plan of addition, God will work on the plan of multiplication. Therefore, “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 Jesus Christ. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 11

“But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off; and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly, into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [Verses 5-11.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 12

If you cultivate faithfully the vineyard of your soul, you will not boast; for it is God which worketh in you. He is making you a laborer together with himself. Receive the instruction and grace of God, that you may impart to others a knowledge of how to care for the precious plants. Thus we may extend the vineyard of God. The Lord is watching for evidences of our faith and love and patience. He looks to see if we are using every spiritual advantage to become skilful workers in His vineyard before we enter the Paradise of God, that Eden home from which Adam and Eve were excluded by transgression. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 13

It is ours to have that beautiful garden to cultivate under the supervision of God. Eden restored, how grand, how beautiful it will be! Let us prove our industry in His service by doing faithful work. Do not say as the faithless sinner, “I will not,” or like the untrue son, “I go sir,” and go not. [Matthew 21:29, 30.] But at the call of Christ let us engage ourselves in sincere service. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 14

God has claims upon us which we can evade only at eternal loss to ourselves. But in God’s service there is perfect freedom. Consider the life of Christ. Standing at the head of humanity, serving His Father, He is the Pattern of what every son should and may be. He was given to our world to show us how to live the commandments of God. He counted no sacrifice too great, no toil too hard, in order to accomplish the work He came to do. At the age of twelve He said to His earthly parent, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” [Luke 2:49.] He had heard the call and taken up the work. At another time He said, “I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work.” [John 9:4.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 15

He only serves who acts up to the highest standard of obedience. Of Christ it is said, “Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” [Hebrews 5:8.] All who would be sons and daughters of God must prove themselves workers in the great firm with God and Christ and the heavenly intelligences. This is the test for every soul. Will we prove our submission and obedience? Only those who bear the test will be given work in the garden of God. Of those who faithfully serve Him, the Lord says, “They shall be mine, ... 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 3:17.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 16

Christ declared to the leaders and teachers of the Jewish nation, “The publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven before you.” [Matthew 21:31.] Why? Because their religious life was not sincere. Christ did not say, You cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, but He showed them that the obstacles which hindered them from entering were of their own manufacturing. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 17

The publicans and harlots were ignorant; these learned men knew the way of truth, but they refused to walk in the path which leads to the Paradise of God. The truth which they knew, and which should have been unto them a savor of life unto life, became a savor of death unto death. Open sinners who loathed themselves could receive baptism at the hands of John; but these men were hypocrites. Their own hearts were the obstacles to their receiving the truth. They resisted the conviction of the Spirit of God; they refused obedience to the commandments of God. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 18

The prophet Isaiah had spoken concerning this people: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom: give ear unto the law of God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord. I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hands, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moon, and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide my face from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” [Isaiah 1:10-15.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 19

Still the Lord holds out His hand to take the hand of Israel, and help them to the narrow path of self-denial and self-sacrifice, to share with him the heirship as sons of God. Will they be entreated? Will they discern their only hope? “Wash you,” He says, “make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse, and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” [Verses 16-20.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 20

Israel was fulfilling the vision of the prophet Isaiah, but the heart of Christ pleads for the rebellious son. He weeps over the beloved city: “How is the faithful city become an harlot; it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water; thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loveth gifts and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the mighty one of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies.” [Verses 21-24.] “O if thou hadst known in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” [Luke 19:42.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 21

There are lessons for the people of God to learn in these last days. The history of the children of Israel was written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. We need large donations to advance the work of God for this time; but I fear we shall not receive them because we are not ready for them. We need faith and hope proportionate to the greatness and value of the truth. We need to see the necessity of entire conformity to the will of God and to be worked in God’s way. We must pray with the spirit and with the understanding also. 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 22

Ministers and church members, are you not coming short here? We must give ourselves wholly to the work of seeking the Lord—parents and children, households, and churches in every place. Our institutions must seek the Lord with heart and soul. We must consecrate ourselves to God to follow and obey Him as Christ obeyed Him. The Son of God stood at the head of humanity to teach us the lesson of service. “I came not to do mine own will,” He said, “but the will of him that sent me.” [John 6:38.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 23

In the place of having fewer weeks of prayer, we need to have more, that our schools may be called to earnest supplication; for the students are to be qualified to enter soul, body and spirit into the missionary work. Then pray more. We may desire money, but this will never do the work alone, [even] if we had the revenue of the world at our command. Our success cannot be measured by our means. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” [1 John 5:4.] 14LtMs, Ms 120, 1899, par. 24