Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)

236/339

Ms 11, 1900

Good and Evil Agencies

NP

January 28, 1900 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in ML 67; CTr 307-308.

Stephen, a man loved by God, and one who was laboring to win souls to Christ, lost his life because he bore a triumphant testimony of the crucified and risen Saviour. The record states that he was full of faith and power, and that he did great wonders and miracles among the people. “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit with which he spake.” [Acts 6:8, 10.] But the spirit which had manifested itself in bitter opposition to the world’s Redeemer was still working in the children of disobedience. The hatred which the enemies of truth had shown for the Son of God, they revealed in their hatred for His followers. They could not bear to hear of the One whom they ad crucified, and that Stephen should bear so bold a testimony filled them with rage. 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 1

“Then they suborned men which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God. And they stirred up the elders and the scribes and the people, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council. And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against the holy place and the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.” [Verses 11-15.] 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 2

In the light which they saw in the face of Stephen, the men in authority had evidence from God. But they despised the evidence. O that they would heed! O that they would repent! But they would not; and the rebuke of God came from the lips of the faithful witness: “Ye stiff-necked, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One: of whom ye have now been the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.” [Acts 7:51-53.] 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 3

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.” [Verse 54.] Satan was working in the children of disobedience. But of Stephen, he whom they were so mad against that they gnashed on him with their teeth, heaven bears the testimony, “He, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God”—looking in commendation upon His faithful witness—“and said, behold, I see heaven opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” [Verses 55, 56.] 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 4

The spectators who heard Stephen’s words understood what would be the result of such a testimony. “And they cried with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran on him with one accord, and cast him out of the city and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man whose name was Saul.” [Verses 57, 58.] As Stephen cried to God, saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” his murderers mocked him, repeating his words. “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he feel asleep.” [Verses 59, 60.] 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 5

Here two armies were in conflict, the army of heaven, and the army of false religious zealots. On which side would this company forever after stand? It was still possible for them to repent and be forgiven even after having done this terrible evil against Christ in the person of His saint. 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 6

“At that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women, committed them to prison.” [Acts 8:1-3.] Here again the two parties are brought to view. These two parties exist in our world today under two distinct generals—generals who were once united in the same work in the heavenly courts. But now, the originator of sin is the leader of the great apostasy. And he will continue to work in the children of disobedience until the time shall come when he and all who have united with him will be destroyed. 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 7

In Samaria the believers were not persecuted. Christ’s conversation with the women of Samaria was not without results. After listening to His words, the woman left Him, and going to the men of the city said, “Come, see a man which told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ? ... And many of the Samaritans believed on him for the saying of the woman which testified, He told me all things that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed, not because of his own word, and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” [John 4:29, 39-42.] Among these Samaritans, the persecuted little flock found a safe asylum. 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 8

Heavenly angels were watching those who were seeking for enlightenment, and cooperating with those who would work in connection with their fellow men to win souls to Christ. A heavenly messenger was sent to Philip to show him his work for the Ethiopian. The evangelist was directed: “Arise and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself unto his chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read Esaias the prophet.” [Acts 8:26-30.] 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 9

Today, just as much as then, the angels are leading and guiding those who will be guided and led. This angel could have done the work himself, but this is not God’s way of working. Men must connect with his fellow men, and as God’s instrumentality work in behalf of others. 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 10

Philip understood his work. This man of high authority was being drawn to the Saviour, and he did not resist the drawing. He did not make his high position an excuse why he could not accept the crucified One. The evangelist asked him, “Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him,” and explain to him the Word of God. “The place of the Scripture which he read was this, he was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: in his humiliation his judgment was taken away, and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip and said, I pray thee, Of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself or of some other man? 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 11

“Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, see here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” [Verses 30-39.] 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 12

While angels from heaven are doing their work, evil agencies are working to draw the mind to something else. Satan is interposing obstacles, so that the inquiring mind that would understand the Word of God shall become confused. Thus he worked with Christ in the wilderness of temptation. The experience of Christ is placed on record that we may understand the methods and plans of Satan. Had Philip left the eunuch with his case hanging in the balance, he might never have accepted the Saviour. Evil angels were waiting for their opportunity, when they could press in their falsehoods and divert the newly awakened mind from seeking after truth. The Lord’s agencies must be wholly consecrated to His service, that they may be quick to understand their work. As wise stewards they must take advantage of every circumstance to teach the grace of God and draw men to Christ. 15LtMs, Ms 11, 1900, par. 13