Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14

430/488

Ms 147, 1899

The Yoke of Restraint and Obedience

NP

October 9, 1899 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in 8MR 266-267; 17MR 27. +Note

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; 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 11:28-30.] 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 1

Christ’s yoke is a yoke of restraint and obedience. We owe full and complete obedience to our Lord, for we are His by creation and by redemption. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 2

We are to bear the yoke of Christ, that we may be placed in complete union with Him. “Take my yoke upon you,” He says. [Matthew 11:29.] When God’s requirements are in direct opposition to the will and purposes of the human agent, what is to be done? Hear what God says. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Matthew 16:24.] The yoke and the cross are symbols which represent the same thing—the giving up of the will to God. Wearing the yoke unites finite man in companionship with the dearly beloved Son of God. We cannot follow Christ without lifting the cross and bearing it after Him. If our will is not in accordance with the divine requirements, we are to deny our inclinations, give up our darling desires, and step in Christ’s footprints. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 3

The Lord does not encourage the wisest, most cherished plans of human beings if He sees that they are not for the healthfulness of the spirituality of His cause. Sometimes the Lord’s purposes come in direct opposition with plans in which the human agent himself cannot see a flaw. Then it is that the right hand must be sacrificed and the right eye taken out. Purposes which seem in every way desirable must be given up. The Lord sees that for the spiritual health of the human agent and for the future well being of His cause, all self-confidence must be cut away. Human wisdom and self-sufficiency must be broken down. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 4

The Lord never makes a false estimate concerning His heritage. He measures the men with whom He is working. When they submit to Christ’s yoke, when they give up the struggle which has not been profitable for themselves or for the cause of God, they will find peace and rest. Men frame for their own necks yokes which seem light and pleasant to wear, but which will prove galling in the extreme. Men do not see this, but Christ sees it as it is, and He says, “Take My yoke upon you. The yoke you would place on your own neck, thinking it a precise fit, will not fit at all. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me the lessons essential for you to learn, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:29, 30.] 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 5

“He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Mark 8:34.] Lifting this cross cuts away self from the soul, and places the human agent where he can learn how to wear Christ’s yoke, how to bear His burdens. When men and women become sensible of their own weakness, their own deficiencies, they will delight to do God’s will. They will submit to the yoke of Christ. Then God can work in them, to will and to do of His own good pleasure, which is often entirely contrary to the plans of the human mind. When the heavenly anointing comes to us, we shall learn the lesson of meekness and lowliness, which always brings rest to the soul. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 6

God brings all into trying positions, to see if they will trust in a power out of and above themselves. He sees not as man sees. He often has to break up human connections and change the order which man has mapped out, which is perfect in his estimation. What man things are for his spiritual and temporal interests may be altogether at variance with the experience he must have in order to be a follower of Christ. His idea of his own value may be far out of the way. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 7

Tests are placed all along the way from earth to heaven. Unless this was so, the road to heaven would not be called the narrow way. Character must be tested, else there would be many spurious Christians, who would keep up a fair semblance of religion until their inclination, their desire to have their own way, their pride and ambition, was crossed. When by the Lord’s permission sharp trials come to them, their lack of genuine religion, of the meekness and lowliness of Christ, shows them to be in need of the work of the Holy Spirit. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 8

Abraham believed God, and delighted to obey Him. When he was commanded to offer up his only son as a sacrifice, he could not reason out the command. He stopped reasoning and obeyed. No one could have been more severely tested. God desired to give Abraham a lesson that would be for his present and eternal good. Abraham obeyed the command and came off conqueror. God’s people today will be tested and tried. The Lord will put His purposes in the place of their devising. This will often be contrary to human desires and inclinations, contrary to the dictates of the flesh. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 9

Christ’s words, “He that will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” [verse 34], is the touchstone which discovers the quality of a man’s experience. When a man’s inclinations or ambitious hopes are crossed, he reveals the spirit which governs him. The Lord permits trials to come to His people; and the only way to do with these trials is to take them all to Jesus. He says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” [Matthew 11:29.] The cross of self-denial and self-sacrifice stands directly in our way. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 10

If we separate from Christ, we shall rebel because we are called upon to lift this cross. We shall fret and complain, manifesting traits of character which show that there is need of a crucifixion of the will before God can work in us. Christ declares that the only course for men and women to pursue which is for their present and eternal good is to comply with His invitation. He, the Majesty of heaven, disrobed Himself of His glory, and clothes His divinity with humanity, that He might pass through what humanity must pass through. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 11

Christ invites all to take His yoke and learn His meekness and lowliness. He knows that it is positively necessary for them to do this. But no human being can wear the yoke of submission and obedience who does not learn daily in the school of Christ. Whatever may be a person’s supposed amiability, however qualified for usefulness he may appear to be, however righteous he may be apparently, he cannot work for God unless he learns of Christ. Qualification for true service can never be acquired apart from Christ. No one, whatever may be his supposed abilities, can bear the test of trial unless he is a student in the school of Christ. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 12

Our Saviour purchased the human race by humiliation of the very severest kind. He submitted to mockery, abuse, scorn, and to a cruel, shameful death to make it possible for man to be saved. He points us to the only path that will lead to the strait gate opening into the narrow way, beyond which lie broad and pleasant pastures. He has marked out every step of the way, and that no one may make a mistake, He tells us just what to do. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, 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.” [Verses 29, 30.] This is the only way in which sinners can be saved. Knowing that no human being can do this in his own strength, Christ tells us not to be worried or afraid, but to remember what He can do if we come to Him, trusting not in our human weakness, but in His strength. He says, If you yoke up with me, your Redeemer, I will be your strength, your efficiency. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 13

The blessings connected with Christ’s invitation can only be realized and enjoyed by those who wear Christ’s yoke. Accepting this invitation, you withdraw your sympathy, your affections, from the world, and place them where you can realize the blessing of close fellowship and communion with God. By coming to Christ, your interests are bound up with His. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 14

The Lord has determined that every soul who obeys His Word shall have His joy, His peace, His continual keeping power. Such men and women are brought near to Him always, not only when they kneel before Him in prayer, but also when they take up the duties of life. He has prepared for them an abiding dwelling place with Himself, where the life is purified from all grossness, all unloveliness. By this unbroken communion with Him, they are made co-laborers with Him in their daily lifework. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 15

Christ says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] As we advance step by step in the path of obedience, we shall know how true is the promise that they who follow on to know the Lord shall know that His going forth is prepared as the morning. Clearer light is ready to shine upon all who follow Him who is the Light of the world. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 16

Every one who takes upon him the yoke of Christ, with full determination to obey every word of God, will have a healthful, symmetrical experience. He will enjoy the blessings which come to him as a result of his life being hid with Christ in God. In business life he will work out the principles laid down in Christ’s sermon on the mount. He will renounce the bag of deceitful weights, and will despise the fraud of tricks in trade. He will earn money, not to hoard it, but to put it in circulation. He has an abiding sense that he is a part of the heavenly firm, and that it is his duty to trade the talents given him by God. He realizes that he is adopted into the family of God, and that he must act toward all as Christ acted when He was upon this earth. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 17

What a diligent, constant work is the work of the true Christian. Ever he wears the yoke of Christ. Evil surmisings are not allowed to take root in his heart. He has genuine modesty, and does not talk of his own accomplishments and qualifications. Self-admiration is not a part of his experience. There is much to learn in regard to what comprises true Christian character. It certainly is not self-inflation. The true Christian keeps his eyes fixed on Him who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins, who requires truth in the inward parts. His constant prayer is, Search me, O Lord, and let me know my heart. Try me, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 18

Compliments are not to be given to sinful, erring men. The glory and majesty of God should ever fill our souls with a holy awe, humbling us in the dust before Him. His condescension, His wide, deep compassion, His tenderness and love, are given us to strengthen our confidence and remove that fear that tendeth unto bondage. The Lord wants us to give Him all there is of us in a steady, evenly balanced Christian life which illustrates the principles of His law. 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 19

Let us not endure the thought of being religious dwarfs. Let us press on, receiving the counsel of Jesus Christ, having that faith that works by love and purifies the soul. We must ever be growing unto the full stature of men and women in Christ Jesus, till we are complete in Him. Christ will come and abide with every soul who will say from the heart, “Come in.” He loves every soul who has a desire to follow Him. He knows that it is the impatience and fretfulness of the human heart, and the pride that loves not humility, that keeps the soul from good. He invites us, “Come unto me. Take My yoke upon you. I require you to do nothing that I have not done before you. All I ask you to do is to follow My example. Walk in the path I have marked out. Place your feet in My footsteps. Consider Him who endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be weary, and faint by the way.” 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 20

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than himself. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” [Philippians 2:3-7.] 14LtMs, Ms 147, 1899, par. 21