Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)

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Ms 55, 1900

The First Love

NP

1900

Portions of this manuscript are published in 4BC 1154.

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake has labored, and hast not fainted.” [Revelation 2:1-3.] 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 1

Here is presented a high state of advancement in spiritual knowledge. But Christ speaks of a decline in spirituality. “Nevertheless,” He says, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. ... He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the spirit saith to the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” [Verses 4, 5, 7.] 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 2

Will those in our churches take heed to this instruction? Will they by faith secure the heavenly anointing, that they may discern their defects, their destitution of the love of God? When first Christ was received, the love of God, with its energizing, transforming power, pervaded the soul. Then how simple was the faith, how trustful the confidence in the Lord, how precious the name of Jesus. His love melted and subdued the proud heart! His knock at the door of the heart met with a hearty response. But earnest, vital love has been dying out of the church. Let the members of the church arouse, and put on Christ; let them heed the words of the Saviour, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works.” [Verse 5.] 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 3

“Behold,” Christ says, “I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” [Revelation 3:20.] Thus the world’s Redeemer illustrates the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. The human agent by an act of faith places himself in the hands of the Lord, that in His own time the Saviour may work out His good pleasure in him. In order to abide in Christ we must constantly exercise faith. This requires constant discipline of the mind and heart, that Christ may do His great work in us. Self dies, and Christ’s will becomes our will; His way becomes our way. We become instruments in God’s hands to reveal the righteousness of Christ. We cooperate with God. With our consent, the grace of God works constantly to perfect a Christlike character. In the divine arrangement, God does nothing without the cooperation of man. He compels no man’s will. The will must be surrendered to the Lord, else He cannot accomplish the work that He desires to do through us. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 4

Jesus declared that in a certain place He could not do many mighty works among the people because of their unbelief. [Matthew 13:58.] He wanted to do the work that needed to be done for the people, but He could not because unbelief barred the way. The Potter cannot mold and fashion unto honor that which has never been placed in His hands. The Christian life is one of daily surrender, submission, and continual overcoming. Every day fresh victories will be gained. Self must be lost sight of, and the love of God must be constantly cultivated. Thus we grow up into Christ. Thus the life is fashioned according to the divine model. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 5

Said the apostle Paul, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? ... And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” [1 Corinthians 6:9, 11.] Sanctification of the entire man comes through Jesus Christ, our righteousness. When the first new love pervades the heart, it manifests itself not only in ardent love to God, but in love to man formed in His image. A soft, heavenly light shines in the soul. But it is not hidden there. It shines forth to others. There is a living, active love, sanctified in Christ Jesus. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 6

All the powers must be used to save souls for whom Christ has made the infinite sacrifice of His own precious life. Daily we need to seek wisdom, that we may know how to deal with souls entrapped by Satan. There are many erring, yet well-beloved by God, whom we, if imbued with the Spirit of Christ, may win back to Him. Notwithstanding their sins and follies, the Lord loved them. He gave His only begotten Son to save them. It was because He loved them that He sent His Son into the world. We must ever keep close the Christ, that we may constantly partake of the divine nature, and reveal the same love for others that He has manifested for us. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 7

The Law and the Gospel

In the teachings of Christ the law and the gospel are closely connected. They cannot be separated. But by religionists generally, they have been divorced. Some reject the law, others by rejecting the doctrine of justification by faith, reject the gospel. They do not dwell upon Christ and His matchless love, but bring in theories and reasonings. Many who preach to the people are themselves unconverted. Their hearts have never felt the sweet evidence of the forgiveness of their sins. How then can they present to others the love of God? Only those who have themselves seen the Saviour can reveal Him. Look at the cross of Calvary and you will have desire to point others to the cross. Behold Him in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Behold the sacrifice of God’s dear Son, and the heart will be melted and broken. It will surrender all to God. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 8

Let this point be fully settled in every mind. If we accept Christ as Redeemer, we must also accept Him as Ruler. We cannot have perfect, confiding trust in Christ as our Saviour until we surrender ourselves to obey His commandments. Thus we give evidence of our allegiance to God. Then our faith works by love. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 9

Say from the heart, “Lord, I believe that thou hast died to redeem my soul. Since Thou hast given Thy life for mine, I give my life with all its possibilities into Thy keeping.” 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 10

The will must be brought into complete harmony with the will of God. When this is done, rays of light will shine into the heart, and fill the chambers of the soul. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 11

The Safeguard Against Extremes

Let none be afraid of going to extremes while they are close students of the Word, following Christ in humility of soul. Christ was our example. He never went to extremes, never lost self-control. He never violated the law of good taste. He knew when to speak, and when to keep silent. He was ever self-possessed. Though He walked in humility and patience, He had true dignity. He never erred in His judgment of men or of truth. He was never deceived by appearances. He never raised a question that was not clearly appropriate. He never gave an answer that was not right to the point. He silenced the voice of the cavilling priests by penetrating beneath the surface and reaching the heart, flashing light into the mind, and awakening the conscience. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 12

If those who claim to receive the precious rays of the Sun of Righteousness will follow the example of Christ, there will be no extremist. Calmness and self-possession will be cultivated. If Christ is abiding in our hearts by faith, we shall become like Him, pure, peaceable, and undefiled. We shall reveal Christ in our character. We shall not only receive light, but shall also diffuse it. We shall have more clear and distinct views of what Jesus is to us. The loveliness that was seen in the life of Christ will shine forth in our lives. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 13

Unbelief

Unbelief cherished in the soul has a bewitching power. The seed which it has sown produces its harvest. Every fiber of the root of unbelief must be removed from the soil of the heart. The seeds of faith and love must be planted, cultivate, and cherished there. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 14

Many have educated themselves in skepticism and have cherished unbelief, weaving questions and doubts into their experience. Under the conviction of the Spirit of God, they see that it is their duty to confess their unbelief, and open their hearts to accept of the light sent them. Then they step by faith over the line from wrong to right, from doubt to faith. They consecrate themselves unreservedly to God to follow His light in the place of the sparks of their own kindling. As they maintain their consecration, they will see increased light, and the light will continue to grow brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. 15LtMs, Ms 55, 1900, par. 15