Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 48, 1899

Work in Christ’s Lines


March 29, 1899

Portions of this manuscript are published in ST 12/20/1899, 12/27/1899. +Note

The life of Christ was a perfect life. It was a life of intense spirituality. Every circumstance of life Christ turned into an occasion for unfolding truth. As He sat by Jacob’s well, talking to the woman of Samaria, His disciples came to Him with food, saying, “Master, eat. And he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said his disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him aught to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” [John 4:31-34.] While the disciples were thinking of natural hunger, Jesus presents to them a higher need, a spiritual hunger to do the will of the Father. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 1

There is a sustaining power in the deed done to benefit and bless humanity. This was the power that strengthened the world’s Redeemer. Christ declares, I came ... “not to do my own will, but the will of the Father which sent me.” [John 6:38.] His will was put into active exercise to save the souls of men. His human will was nourished by the divine. His servants today would do well to ask themselves, “What kind of a will am I individually cultivating? Have I been gratifying my own desires, confirming myself in selfishness and obstinacy?” If we are doing this we are in great peril, for Satan will always rule the will that is not under the control of the Spirit of God. When we place our will in unison with the will of God, the holy obedience that was exemplified in the life of Christ will be seen in our lives. God requires us to keep His commandments, that by obedience we may cultivate the attributes which made the Saviour’s life pure, holy, and undefiled. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 2

How many blessings are lost to Christ’s professed followers because men and women have so limited an experience in being crucified to the world! When they place themselves under the generalship of Jesus Christ, instead of hurting others by their criticisms, they will institute a warfare against their own defects. They will criticize their own evil wills. Paul declares, “I am crucified with Christ.” [Galatians 2:20.] There is nothing so hard as the crucifixion of the will. Christ was tempted in all points like as we are, but His will was ever kept on the side of God’s will. In His humanity He had the same free will that Adam had in Eden. He would have yielded to temptation as Adam yielded. And Adam, by believing God and being a doer of His word, could have resisted temptation as Christ resisted it. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 3

Had Christ so willed it, He could have commanded the stones to be made bread. He might have cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple. He might have yielded to Satan’s temptation to fall down and worship him, the usurper of the world. But at every point He met the tempter with, “It is written.” His will was in perfect obedience to the will of God, and the will of God was revealed throughout His entire life. It was a part of His very being. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 4

Christ’s obedience to His Father’s commandments is to be the measure of our obedience. Those who follow Christ, if they would become complete in Him, must keep their will surrendered to the will of God. Abundant provision has been made that those who will seek God with the whole heart may find Him a present help in every time of trouble. Help has been laid on One that is mighty. Christ has promised, I will be your helper. I am the vine; ye are the branches. As the branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 5

We have a part to act for the prosperity of the church. We are to shine as lights in the world. Our faith is to be a faith which works by love and sanctifies the soul. In and through Christ we are to be imbued with the spirit of Christ, to work in Christ’s lines. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” the apostle says. “For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” [Philippians 2:12, 13.] A sharp warfare must be instituted against selfishness and the corruption that is in the world through lust. We are to do earnest, faithful work, laboring for souls as they that must give an account. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 6

The man Christ Jesus was the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. During their three years of discipline under His instruction, the disciples received many lessons. They also received rebukes for their dullness of comprehension. They could not take in the great themes presented to them. But when their Teacher was about to leave them, He bade them tarry in Jerusalem until they should be endued with power from on high, before going forth to preach the truth of the kingdom of God. Jesus well knew that their arguments, however logical, would not melt the hard heart, or break through the crust of selfishness and worldliness. He knew that the truth could only be effectual coming from hearts made warm and lips made eloquent by a living knowledge of the Way, the Truth, and the Life. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 7

The spiritual life of the church can only be kept alive as the members make personal efforts to win souls to Christ. No amount of mental culture or theological training will do this work. But it can be done by the soul who is contrite and humble, who is imbued with the Spirit of God, and holds daily intercourse with Him. The bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness must shine upon the heart of the worker and purify his life before light from the throne of God can come to those who sit in darkness. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 8

God calls for living, active, working men, men who from the first moment of their religious life will depend upon God and trust in Him who is the Head of the church. “Ye are a chosen generation,” He says, “a royal priesthood, an holy nation, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” [1 Peter 2:9.] In every church we need Christlike workers, those who in life and character are growing into the divine likeness by working to call sinners to repentance. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 9

The work of the minister is incomplete if he does not educate the souls newly come to the faith to be laborers together with God, visiting and praying with families, showing to the world what Jesus has done for them. God’s Word declares, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” [James 1:27.] These words are addressed not only to the minister, but to every follower of Christ. There are sluggards all through our churches, who frame excuses for their idleness. God calls not only on the minister, but on every soul connected with him, to be a worker in His vineyard. “Herein is my Father glorified,” Christ says, “that ye bear much fruit.” [John 15:8.] By His own life Jesus has paid for your earnest, hearty co-operation. He expects you to work, every one who has passed from death unto life. If you do not work as faithful missionaries, you are untrue to your trust, and you disappoint your Saviour. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 10

There is a solemn obligation resting upon all. God’s admonition reaches to every one: “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.] The wrong act oft-repeated becomes habit, to act and re-act upon mind and heart, and unless divine power shall interpose, and the human agent become a partaker of the divine nature, the sure result will follow. Strengthen not the evil will by training it in wrong lines. Your life hid with Christ in God will be divested of all selfishness. Causes and effects are linked together. We shall not always be able to see the way before us. Circumstances will develop in a way we do not expect. But God sees not as man sees. His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. His hand is above all, and He will cause all things to work together for good to them that love God. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 11

I wish I could impress upon the minds of ministers and people the great danger there is of making blunders in our missionary efforts. We are in danger of failing to realize how essential is the work of the Spirit of God upon the heart. In the work of ministers and laymen who have not a daily connection with God there is not that which will stand the test of storm and tempest. A new order of things has come into the ministry. There is a desire to pattern after other churches, and simplicity and humility are almost unknown. The young ministers desire to be original and introduce new ideas and new plans for labor. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 12

They open revival meetings, and by this means call large numbers into the church. But when the excitement is over, where are the converted ones? Repentance and confession of sin are not seen. The sinner is entreated to believe in Christ and accept Him, without any regard to his past life of sin and rebellion. The heart is not broken. There is no contrition of soul. The supposed converted ones have not fallen upon the Rock Christ Jesus. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 13

The Old and New Testament Scriptures show us the only way in which this work should be done. Repent, repent was the message rung out by John in the wilderness. To the Pharisees he said, “Ye generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come. Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” [Luke 3:7-9.] 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 14

Christ’s message to the people was, “Unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:3.] And the apostles were commanded to preach everywhere that men should repent. The Lord would have His servants today preach the old gospel doctrine, sorrow for sin, repentance, and confession. We want old-fashioned sermons, old-fashioned customs, old-fashioned mothers and fathers in Israel. The sinner must be labored for, perseveringly, earnestly, wisely, until he shall see that he is a transgressor of God’s law, and exercises repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. When the sinner is conscious of his helpless condition, and feels his need of a Saviour, he may come with hope and faith to the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Christ will accept the soul who comes to Him in true repentance. A broken and a contrite heart He will not despise. 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 15

The battle cry is sounding along the line, Let every soldier of the cross push to the front, not in self-sufficiency, but in meekness and lowliness of heart. Your work, my work, will not cease with this life. For a little while we may rest in the grave, but when the call comes we shall take up our work in the kingdom of God to advance the glory of Christ. But this holy work must be begun upon earth. We are not to study our pleasure or convenience. Our question must be, What can I do to lead others to Christ? How can I make known to men the love of God which passeth knowledge? 14LtMs, Ms 48, 1899, par. 16