Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)

297/339

Ms 68, 1900

God’s People to be Living Epistles

NP

November 30, 1900 [typed]

Previously unpublished.

In God’s arrangements with His people in ancient times, directions are given in the faithful recognition of the gracious and marvelous works which He had done in delivering the children of Israel from bondage and slavery and giving them a goodly heritage and dwelling places. The first fruits of the earth were to be consecrated to God and given back to Him as an offering of gratitude, an acknowledgement of His goodness to them. For, said they, “When we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labor, and our oppression: And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the first fruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me.” [Deuteronomy 26:7-10.] 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 1

Concerning this offering the Lord said, “And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you. When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled.” [Verses 10-12.] This was to be a standing requirement. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 2

“This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice.” [Verse 16.] This is not the voice of man; it is the voice of Jesus Christ enshrouded in the pillar of cloud. Read carefully all of this chapter of Deuteronomy, and all of chapters 27 and 28, for here are stated plainly the blessings of obedience. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 3

These directions which the Lord has given to His people express the principles of the law of the kingdom of God, and they are made specific so that the minds of the people may not be left in ignorance and uncertainty. Lest they should forget these important directions, Christ uttered them with His own voice. These precautions and decided practical demonstrations were essential to remind them that obedience to the commandments of God was for their present and future good. Obedience brings prosperity; disobedience results in a curse. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 4

These Scriptures present the never ceasing obligation of all whom God has blessed with life and health and advantages in temporal and spiritual things. When the Lord in a special manner favors His people, He expects them to publicly acknowledge this. Thus the name of God will be glorified, for it is a testimony that His Word is verity and truth. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 5

Please read 1 Kings 8:55-61. If the Word of the Lord were now as strictly carried out as it was enjoined upon ancient Israel, fathers and mothers would give an example to their children which would be of the greatest value. If instruction in the Word were given in the family, God and angels would be continually ministering in such households. Every temporal blessing would be received with gratitude, and every spiritual blessing would become doubly precious, because the perception of each member of the household had been sanctified. The Lord Jesus is very nigh to those who thus appreciate all His gracious gifts, tracing all their good things back to the benevolent, loving, care-taking God, and recognizing that they come from the great Fountain of all comfort and consolation whose supply is inexhaustible. God would have every family, that He is preparing for the eternal mansions above, give glory to Him for all the rich treasures of His grace. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God.” [Matthew 4:10.] 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 6

The first fruits are not accepted by God unless presented in a spirit of reverence and gratitude. It is the humble, grateful, reverential heart that makes all offerings as a sweet-smelling savor, acceptable to God. The children of Israel might have given all their substance, but had it been given in a spirit of self-sufficiency or Pharisaism, as though God were indebted to them for the favors which they had received, their offerings would have been unaccepted, utterly contemned of God. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 7

“Thou shalt rejoice in every good thing.” [Deuteronomy 26:11.] Were children by precept and example thus educated and trained in the home life, we should see a vital element of heavenly grace as a great educating force circulating through all our schools. If parents would give this class of education to their children there would be cheerfulness in the home life, and the youth would bring a spirit of reverence with them into the schoolroom. And what then? There would be an attendance in the sanctuary where God meets with His people, an attendance at all His appointed holy ordinances in the worship of God, and in all these there would be expressions of thankfulness for the enjoyment of all the gifts of His providence. Thanksgiving and praise should be expressed for whatever comforts God bestows upon families. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 8

By thus diligently and economically trading upon our Lord’s goods, we may increase our store and be able to impart of the same to those who have fallen into distress. Thus we become the Lord’s right hand to work out His benevolent purposes, and fulfill to Him our covenant relation which is expressed in His Word. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 9

There is to be no withholding, for the specifications set forth in the Word of God are not the dictates of human wisdom. “This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.” [Verse 16.] In duty and expressed gratitude we are to obey God, for this is keeping His commandments and obeying His laws. In obeying God we express His character. The purpose of all God’s commandments is to reveal the duty of man, not only to God, but to his fellow men. In this late age of the world, in the year 1900 and 1901 we are not to question or dispute these requirements because of the selfishness of our hearts. We are not by our carelessness and hypocrisy to deceive and rob our own souls of the richest blessings of the grace of God; but our whole heart and mind and soul are to be melted into God’s heart and mind and soul. Then the binding force of God’s covenant, framed by the dictates of infinite wisdom, and made binding by the power and authority of the King of kings and Lord of lords, will be to us a pleasure. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 10

God will have no controversy with us in regard to these binding precepts. It is enough to understand that obedience to His statutes and laws is the life and prosperity of all who obey them. The covenant is mutual. By being obedient to His Word, we testify before angels and men that we live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. We have avouched and solemnly owned and confessed that the Lord Jehovah is our God, our Prince and Ruler. This is by human choice. We render implicit obedience by eating the Word which is spirit and life. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 11

At the baptismal ceremony we virtually take a most solemn oath in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, that henceforth our lives will be merged into the life of these three great individual Agencies; that the life we now live in the flesh we will live in faithful obedience to God’s sacred and holy law, keeping all His statutes and His commandments; that we will live in newness of life as men and women having a new birth unto God. We, as new born souls born to live in newness of life, acknowledge God’s covenant, that [we] are in reality pledging ourselves by a solemn oath to seek henceforth those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. By our profession of faith we acknowledge the Lord as our God, and pledge ourselves to obey His commandments. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 12

“And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor; and that thou mayest be a holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.” [Verses 18, 19.] God accepts us that in true praise we may glorify His wisdom and His majesty in a world of apostasy and idolatry. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 13

Please read Zephaniah 3:14-20. The Lord will have His people stand true to His honor, and carefully guard the interests of one another. “All ye are brethren.” [Matthew 23:8.] The Lord has entrusted money and advantages to His stewards, that they may guard the interests of one another, that there may be a continual praise to God, and that there may be unity among His covenant-keeping people, that they may be praise in the earth, a people that God can bless with still greater advantages, both temporal and spiritual, thus honoring them above the transgressors of His law. God employs His people to do His sacred work in the earth, to be His hand of ministration in imparting these blessings and gifts to one another. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 14

The whole gospel from Genesis to Revelation is the means appointed and specified of God through which to reveal His will to the people, and it is to be appreciated, respected, and heeded. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 15

In the fourth chapter of Ephesians the plan of God is plainly and simply revealed that all His children may lay hold upon the truth. Here is revealed the means which He has appointed to keep His church in that oneness and agreement, that they may reveal to the unbelieving world a healthful, religious experience. Those who conform their lives in obedience to the commandments of God and are united in the faith of the Scriptures; those who are bound together as one in Christ Jesus, their lives hid with Christ in God, will practice the golden rule, and will be a living, abiding testimony that the Father loves them even as He loves His only begotten Son. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 16

They appreciate the great gift of God to our world, their course of life testifies that Christ has not died for them in vain, and they make use of all the provisions supplied them of heaven to reach and draw all souls to the obedience of the holy law of God. By thus becoming partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, they co-operate with the great working heavenly appliances. They become the Lord’s channels through which He works—laborers together with God. Their consistent Christian lives magnify the law of God and make it honorable before a gainsaying world. Their behavior recommends obedience to the commandments of God, and demonstrates to the world that the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 17

“Ye are God’s husbandry; ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] The perfection of Christian character is a living testimony that God lives and that His power is working miracles upon His self-denying, consecrated followers. Those who love one another as Christ has loved them bear a living testimony that unseen agencies are working upon human hearts, bringing them into conformity to the divine Word. It is the design of God that in the unity of the testimony of those who believe in Jesus Christ, the gospel should be expressed before the world. It is His purpose that those upon whom He has bestowed the gift of His own Son should co-operate with Him in saving others. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 18

In Christ is embraced all the children of God. They are members of one family, and should help one another to recover from the suffering which is a result of the unfortunate burden of debt. All who are in Christ must have that unity which exists between the Father and the Son, and [must] love one another as brethren. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 19

If these characteristics are not manifest in the lives of those who believe the truth, if in their lives the principles of the law of God are not demonstrated to an unbelieving world, if professed believers act out the perversity of the sinner, they need to be converted before they can be trusted with responsibilities; for in their own lives and in their association with others they evidence that there is a deficiency, a departure from the righteous principles of the law of Jehovah. This separates their souls from God so that they do not receive the quickening, discerning influence of the divine mind. The human mind is not fashioned and molded by God, because its capabilities are not working out the divine principles contained in the law of God. The power of God is not seen in their spiritual discernment, in their choice of words, or in their care to preserve the fragrance of the Holy Spirit. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 20

The whole of the third chapter of Ephesians is a lesson for all teachers, for all ministers of the gospel, and for all who occupy responsible positions in the work of God. And when their imperfections of character are manifest in spirit or in action, setting a wrong example in their families, in the school, in the church, or in the world, unless they become converted, they should be advised to take up some other calling where they will not in character act the spirit of the unbeliever and lead others in the wrong direction. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 21

The blessings of grace which for Christ’s sake the Lord bestows on those who believe are the fruits of His eternal purpose that all believers shall adorn the doctrine of Christ our Saviour. This doctrine must permeate our whole lives, that its influence may be felt in the family, in the church, and in all business connections with the world. This alone can distinguish us as those who keep the commandments of God. As did Christ in His human nature, so we are to show to the universe of heaven, to the church, and to the world, that we are living the principles of the law of the kingdom of heaven. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 22

We should not be as orphans sad and discouraged, but should show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. And we are not only to acknowledge the Lord as our God and Ruler, but we may call Him by the endearing name of Father. Our countenances should express His love, our lives should tell of His goodness, because the sanctified soul trusts in Him; and the heart meditates upon His goodness, patience, long forbearance, and compassion. 15LtMs, Ms 68, 1900, par. 23