Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902)


Ms 11, 1902

Christian Ministry


February 4, 1902 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in 17MR 28.

“A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none; cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground. And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it; and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” [Luke 13:6-9.] 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 1

This Scripture is of great significance to us. Continually we are brought in contact with men and women represented by the fruitless tree. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 2

We bear the name of Christian. Let us be true to this name. Christ declared, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” [John 15:14.] Those who obey His Word are accounted as friends of God. We should be very careful not to grasp so many responsibilities that we shall weave into the web our individual misconceptions, because we have an incorrect idea of what constitutes principle. If we did fewer of the things that are not essential, and gave more time to those things that stablish, strengthen, and settle the mind and heart, we should grow to the full stature of men and women in Christ, and God would say of us, “Ye are complete in Him.” [Colossians 2:10.] 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 3

Jesus gave himself for us, making an offering so complete, an atonement so perfect, that every one may be accepted in Him. Every one who will copy the perfect Pattern may reach the high standard of perfection. He who gave Himself up to suffering and death in order to restore in human beings the image of God will complete His work in their behalf, if they will act their part as members of His body, each working out his own salvation through the grace given him. Of those who do this it will be written in the book of life, “Complete in Him—without spot or stain of sin.” 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 4

Christ gave Himself for us, “that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” [Titus 2:14.] All who strive lawfully to win the crown of life will realize that there is a helping, keeping power for every one who co-operates with the great Medical Missionary. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 5

We need to understand what it means to follow Christ. It means more than bearing the name of Christian. It means bearing aloft His banner of love, honoring Him by unselfish words and deeds. In the life of the true Christian there is nothing of self. Self is dead. There was no selfishness in the life that Christ lived in this world. Bearing our nature, He lived on this earth the life He requires His followers to live. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 6

In word and deed Christ’s followers are to be pure and true. The attention of the world is to be called to Him who takes away all sin. In this world—a world of iniquity and corruption—Christians are to reveal the attributes of Christ. All they do and say is to be free from selfishness, and from covetousness, which is idolatry. Christ desires to present us to God “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,” purified through His grace, bearing His likeness. [Ephesians 5:27.] In this world of sin we are to be marked as a peculiar people, zealous of good works. We are to cherish the faith that works by love and purifies the soul from all defilement. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 7

In His great love, Christ surrendered Himself for us. He gave Himself up to meet the necessities of the striving, struggling soul. We are to surrender ourselves to Him. When this surrender is entire, Christ can finish the work He began for us by the surrender of Himself. Then He can bring to us complete restoration. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 8

We cannot glorify God unless we surrender ourselves to Christ, to live a life free from all worldliness, all corruption. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 9

Christ gave Himself for the redemption of the race, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but have everlasting life. Those who appreciate this great sacrifice receive from the Saviour that most precious and valuable of all gifts—a clean heart. They gain an experience more valuable than gold or silver or precious stones. They sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, enjoying in communion with Him the joy and peace that He alone can give. They love Him with heart and mind and soul and strength, realizing that they are His blood-bought heritage. Their spiritual eyesight is not dimmed by worldly policy or worldly aims. They are one with Christ as He is one with the Father. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 10

Think you not that Christ appreciates those who live wholly for Him? Think you not that He visits those who like the beloved John are placed in hard, trying positions? He finds His faithful ones and holds communion with them, encouraging and strengthening them. Those who have put out their spiritual eyesight by a refusal to see what Christ is to them and what they are to Christ cannot acknowledge Him aright. Self is so large that Christ is hidden. Man is so officious that Christ is not revealed to those who with longing souls are hungering and thirsting for the bread of life and the water of salvation. The Lord wants to do great things for His people. And He would work with power if men would not place themselves where God should be, revealing a defective, imperfect character. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 11

Said the great apostle to the Gentiles, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” [Galatians 2:20.] By faith Paul appropriated the grace of Christ, and this grace supplied the necessities of his soul. By faith he received the heavenly gift and imparted it to the souls longing for light. This is the experience we need, that, in a time when defilement and corruption of religious faith prevail, we may each say, “I live by the faith of Jesus Christ, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Pray for this faith. Believe in it with heart and soul and strength. Strive for it. Pray that you may not fall short of reaching the standard God has set before you. We are living in the closing scenes of this earth’s history. How important that we represent the truth in all its purity. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 12

Just before His crucifixion Christ said to His disciples, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples.” [John 13:34, 35.] 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 13

By this badge they were to be recognized as Christ’s disciples, His friends, His followers. This love was to distinguish them from the world. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 14

How was this a new commandment? Christ had already declared the last six commands of the decalogue to be summed up in the words, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” [Matthew 22:39, 40.] What, then, was there new in the command to love one another? The disciples had not loved one another as Christ had loved them. And they had not yet seen the fulness of the love Christ was to reveal in man’s behalf. They were yet to see Him dying on the cross for their sins. Through His life and death they were to receive a new conception of love. The command to love one another was to gain a new meaning in the light of His self-sacrifice. In the light shining from the cross of Calvary they were to understand the meaning of the words, “As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” [John 13:34.] 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 15

After His resurrection they were to take the name of Christian. They were not to be recognized as members of a secret society. By their unselfish love they were to be known as Christians. They were without wealth, learning, or fame. They were not to aspire to be recognized as the great men of the world. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 16

The Son of God took human nature upon Him and came to this earth to stand at the head of the fallen race. He dwelt on this earth, a man among men. He died on the cross that men and women might live forever in glory. His work stands before us as the work of the greatest medical missionary the world has ever known. If we would study His love, and try to comprehend His greatness, we should reveal more of it in our lives. The seventeenth chapter of John is an unfolding of the love we are to cherish for one another. In His prayer Christ said, “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work that thou gavest me to do.” [Verse 4.] Christ came to represent His Father by revealing a love that is without a parallel. And so untiring were His efforts that when the time came for Him to leave the earth, He could say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 17

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee; and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” [Verses 5-10.] 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 18

This prayer touches my heart and thrills my whole being. Shall we not strive to make our lives, which cost the Son of God so much, such that He can be glorified in us? 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 19

“Thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” [Verse 6.] These words will be spoken of every one who receives Christ as a personal Saviour and works with His unselfishness to restore in humanity the image of divinity. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 20

“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. ... I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” [Verses 11, 15, 16.] 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 21

Shall we, by our perversity, force God to leave this prayer unanswered? Shall those for whom this prayer was offered be careless and indifferent? The angels in heaven have their appointed part to act in answering this prayer. We, too, have a part to act. We are to be faithful and true, showing Christlikeness in all we do and say. The world needs light. Darkness has covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. We are to be light-bearers, carrying the light of heaven to those in darkness. “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.] We are to reflect light from the Source of light. We are to be witnesses for God, revealing in the daily life the pure principles of His Word. Thus we become the Lord’s medical missionaries. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 22

The world has an abundance of professors of religion. It needs Christians who pray and watch unto prayer, men and women whose practice is in harmony with their profession, whose lives are fragrant with Christlike love, who live the Christ life. This is what the world needs today. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 23

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” [John 17:20-22.] 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 24

If this is a possibility, and we know that it is, shall we continue to be dwarfed in spirituality? Shall we bind ourselves up with worldly interests and draw upon ourselves so many cares and burdens that we have no time to rest in the love of God? 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 25

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” [Verse 20.] Many are to believe on Christ through the communication of truth by His servants. As they see the beauty of the Word of God, and as they see Jesus revealed in the lives of His servants, they will praise Him with heart and soul and voice. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 26

“I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” [Verse 23.] This prayer contains a lesson that for our present and eternal good we should all learn. We must learn it in order to grow in grace and holiness. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 27

“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” [Romans 12:1.] We are far behind. Let us gather up our gifts and bring them to the Master to be purified for His work. Do not feel that in order to have success in your work you must continually come in contact with human opinion. Go to the Word of the living God. He has given us this Word for our perfection in righteousness and sanctification. From it you will gain real strength. But many have been educating themselves to lean on human opinion, human support. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 28

Do not trust any human being to gain for you the experience you need. If you do this, you will become confused and distracted. Christ says: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” [Matthew 7:13, 14.] Make not flesh your arm. If you depend on human beings to show you the way, you will surely miss the path that leads to the city of God. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 29

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” [John 17:17.] How, you may ask, does the truth sanctify us? Christ is the way, the truth, the life. The truth of His Word enlightens our minds, showing us the principles that should control us. The Holy Spirit is the teacher, the comforter, the author of sanctification. The Holy Spirit only can sanctify. God’s Word, studied and obeyed, brings sanctification. It is as the leaves of the tree of life, which are for the healing of the nations. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 30

I ask you, as believers, Is your faith made perfect by your works? There is a great work to be done in our world. We are not in dreamland. Before us are living realities. On every side of us there are the manifestations of Satan’s power. Let us unite our efforts in co-operating with our Advocate. Every soul who works for Christ needs to recruit his strength at the Source of all strength, that he may press forward in the power of God, filled with the faith that will not let go. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 31

Christians need a power of thought, a store of knowledge, a renovated will. They cannot afford to cumber the mind with trifles, so that it cannot be filled with the goods of heaven. Every day the Christian must be renewed in true knowledge and spiritual experience. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 32

My brethren, I entreat you not to seek to be first. Learn of Him who has said, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” [Matthew 11:29.] Learning of Him, you shall find rest. Day by day you will gain an experience in the things of God, day by day realize the greatness of His salvation and the glory of a connection with Him. Constantly you will learn better how to practice His virtues and reveal His attributes. And constantly you will grow more like Him in nobility of character. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 33

What a wonderful work there is before us. If we will die to self, if we will enlarge our idea of what Christ can be to us and what we can be to Him, if we will unite with one another in the sacred bonds of Christian fellowship, God will work through us with mighty power. Then shall we be sanctified through the truth we practice. We shall indeed be chosen by God and sanctified by His Spirit. Every day of life will be precious to us, because we shall see in it an opportunity to use our entrusted gifts for the blessing of others. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 34

My brethren and sisters, consider the wonderful possibilities and probabilities before you, and place yourselves in right relation to God and His truth. 17LtMs, Ms 11, 1902, par. 35