Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902)


Ms 148, 1902

Diary/Be Ye Therefore Perfect

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

September 5, 1902

Portions of this manuscript are published in TMK 130; MM 253-256; 10MR 161. +Note

“Be ye therefore perfect.” 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 1

I have been unable to sleep after one o’clock this morning. We are receiving interesting letters that awaken thought; and, once in deep thought and earnest prayer, I cannot sleep. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 2

I am praying to our heavenly Father to give us His strength and grace and keeping power, that those who know the truth may not walk contrary to its sacred principles. I am praying much for Dr. Kellogg. I pray that the Lord may not permit him to turn away from sanctifying truth. This is the burden that weighs me down—the desire that Dr. Kellogg shall be kept from making mistakes which would hurt his soul and injure the cause of present truth. He is very dull of comprehension in regard to our obligation to preserve the truth in its purity, uncontaminated by one vestige of error. His danger is in holding the truth in light esteem, thus leaving upon minds the impression that it is of little consequence what we believe, if, by carrying out plans of human devising, we can exalt ourselves before the world as holding a superior position, as occupying the highest seat. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 3

Christ presents before us the highest perfection of Christian character, which throughout our lifetime we should aim to reach. “Be ye therefore perfect,” He says, “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48.] Concerning this perfection Paul writes: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend were that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” [Philippians 3:12-15.] 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 4

In this Scripture is the promise that we shall not be left to grope our way along in doubt and perplexity. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 5

How can we reach the perfection specified by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—our Great Teacher? Can we meet His requirement and attain to so lofty a standard?—We can, else Christ would not have enjoined us to do so. He is our righteousness. In His humanity He has gone before us and wrought out for us perfection of character. We are to have the faith in Him that works by love and purifies the soul. Perfection of character is based upon that which Christ is to us. If we have constant dependence on the merits of our Saviour, and walk in His footsteps, we shall be like Him, pure and undefiled. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 6

Our Saviour does not require impossibilities of any soul. He expects nothing of His disciples that He is not willing to give them grace and strength to perform. He would not call upon them to be perfect, even as His Father is perfect, if He had not at His command every perfection of grace to bestow on the ones upon whom He would confer so high and holy a privilege. He has assured us that He is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him than parents are to give good gifts to their children. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 7

Our work is to strive to attain in our sphere of action the perfection that Christ in His life on the earth attained in every phase of character. He is our Example. In all things we are to strive to honor God in character. In falling day by day so far short of the divine requirements, we are endangering our soul’s salvation. We need to understand and appreciate the privilege with which Christ invests us and to show our determination to reach the highest standard. We are to be wholly dependent on the power that He has promised to give us. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 8

Just before making this requirement, the Saviour said to His disciples: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you.” We are to love our enemies with the same love that Christ manifested toward His enemies by giving His life to save them. Many may say, “This is a hard commandment; for I want to keep just as far as I can from my enemies.” But acting in accordance with your own inclination would not be carrying out the principles that our Saviour has given. “Do good,” He says, “to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” [Matthew 5:44, 45.] This Scripture illustrates one phase of Christian perfection. While we were yet enemies of God, Christ gave His life for us. We are to follow His example. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 9


September 6

I must write still more on the Scripture, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. ... Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Verses 44, 45, 48.] I have been deeply impressed by these words. We must understand their real meaning. If we would represent Christ’s character by obeying this requirement, there would be a great change in evildoers. Many souls would be convicted of their sinfulness and converted through the impressions made upon them by our refusal to resent the evil actions of those controlled by satanic agencies. We must prayerfully and determinedly work on the Lord’s side. In all the issues that provoke the soul we should resist the evil and refuse to abuse the evildoer. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 10

Let us daily represent Christ’s great love by loving our enemies as Christ loves them. If we would thus represent the grace of Christ, strong feelings of hatred would be broken down and into many hearts genuine love would be brought. Many more conversions than are now seen would follow. True, it will cost us something to do this. If the ministers who preach the Word, and those who occupy prominent positions in the medical missionary work, would regard it as their special duty to practice the teachings of the Word in the daily life, bringing themselves under the discipline of the requirements of Christ and working under His authority, their consistent course would lead many to break away from the tyranny of Satan’s service and to take their stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 11


September 7

Again my mind is exercised much in regard to our behaviour and formation of character in this life. Professedly we have taken our stand on the Lord’s side to represent in this evil generation the close relationship that Christians enjoy with God and with Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. It is certainly our privilege to enlarge our experience, to deepen our consecration, and to come into closer contact with our heavenly Father, bringing our will and way into conformity with His will and way. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 12

My prayer this morning is most earnest and importunate, that in the Christian warfare we shall not fail nor be discouraged. “There is light above,” a Voice says to me, and in response I withdraw my eyes from the earthly and the discouraging, and look to the heavenly, praying earnestly that God’s people may more distinctly and forcibly realize the dignity that our heavenly Father has conferred upon us in calling us to represent before the world, in sinful flesh, His goodness and mercy. Upon us, as well as upon the unthankful and the unholy, He pours unnumbered blessings. We are to express our thankfulness to Him that we are accepted as workers to co-operate with the Lord Jesus Christ. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 13

Those who preach the Word of the Lord must live that which they teach. If we receive the grace of God in the heart, we must reveal to others this grace in every word and act. Those who dwell upon the long-sufferance and mercy of Christ must practice His patience and forbearance and never reveal a spirit of high-handed injustice toward their brethren or others. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 14

Some will say, “How can we do this? We should be taken advantage of by the unprincipled and designing.” Remember that a disciple is to do the will of His Master. We are not to reason in regard to results; for then we should be kept ever busy and ever in uncertainty. We must take our stand to acknowledge fully the power and authority of God’s Word, whether or not it agrees with our preconceived opinions. We have a perfect Guide-book. The Lord has spoken to us; and whatever may be the consequences, we are to receive His Word and practice it in daily life, else we shall be choosing our own version of duty and shall be doing exactly the opposite of that which our heavenly Father has appointed us to do. We are not our own, to act as we choose. We are called to be representatives of Christ. We are bought with a price. As the chosen sons and daughters of God, we should be obedient children, acting in accordance with the principles of His character as revealed through His Son. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 15

Jesus has said, “Do good to them that hate you.” How much we can accomplish by following this instruction, we can never estimate. “Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” [Verses 44, 45.] 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 16

Are not the principles here brought to view often overlooked? The amount of evil that might be avoided by following them is by no means small; for sometimes the hearts of persecutors are susceptible of divine impressions, as was the heart of the apostle Paul before his conversion. It is always best to endeavor to carry out the whole will of God just as He has specified. He will take care of the results. 17LtMs, Ms 148, 1902, par. 17