Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18 (1903)


Ms 40, 1903

Perseverance in the Work of God


May 4, 1903 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in 6BC 1051; PM 281; 8MR 26. +Note

Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, and Theophilus, to whom it is addressed, had been pleasantly associated. From Luke, Theophilus had received much instruction and great light. Luke had been Theophilus’ teacher, and he still felt a responsibility to direct and instruct him and to sustain and protect him in his work. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 1

At that time it was customary for a writer to send his manuscript to some one for examination and criticism. Luke chose Theophilus, as a man in whom he had confidence, to perform this important work. He first directs the attention of Theophilus to the record of Christ’s life as given in the book of Luke which had also been addressed by the same writer to Theophilus. He says: 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 2

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom He had chosen: to whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” [Acts 1:1-5.] 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 3

But though addressed by name to one person, this book, written by the dictation of the Holy Spirit, is designed for all who desire to understand its truths. Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 4

He who is taught of God will advance step by step in the divine life. His path will grow brighter and brighter even unto the perfect day. His heart will be filled with a desire to make known the truths that he has received. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 5

“Moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” [Ecclesiastes 12:9-14.] 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 6

When those upon whom the Lord has once laid the burden of His work have labored faithfully for a time, they are not to feel that their work is finished. As the light increases, they are to continue to walk and work in the light. Their broader experience and the encouragement they receive as they see the results of their efforts will better fit them for work. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 7

Though Luke had already given precious light, he was still to work under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In his former treatise, he had laid a foundation; under the direction of the Spirit of God, he must continue to build a structure of truth. His later writings were not to take the place of what he had previously written: they contained truths in advance of what he had known at the time of his former writing. If from a sermon or a book we receive new light and knowledge, we are not to reject truth which we have already received. Advanced knowledge will establish and strengthen that which has preceded it and cause it to be more highly appreciated. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 8

The teachings of Christ were to be preserved in manuscripts and books. The duties He taught were to be written out in plain, simple language, presented so clearly that the gracious words of instruction could be cherished and heeded. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 9

Christ Our Pattern

In the Gospels are to be found the history and instruction of Christ, “all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.” [Acts 1:1.] The doctrines He taught were confirmed by the miraculous works which He performed, proving Him to be commissioned of God. Nicodemus “came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a Teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him.” [John 3:2.] 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 10

The life of Christ is the pattern for every one who would labor for God, whether he be a minister or engaged in some other branch of the Lord’s work. Those who, in handling the sacred truths, imitate the self-denial of Jesus, exemplifying His spirit of kindness, forbearance, and love, prove by their lives that Christ was a Teacher sent from God. Though only human beings, they reflect the beams of light and power from the mighty Worker. “By their fruits, ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:20.] The lives of those who bear responsibilities in the work of God should be a continual sermon, ever manifesting a spirit of consecration. They should be producers as well as consumers. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 11

In His words and works, Christ laid the foundation of all that is essential to the saving of the soul. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus.” [1 Corinthians 3:11.] His followers should be more careful to confine themselves to those doctrines that He taught and to follow the example that He set. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 12

Christ left a work to be done and truths to be taught by His disciples. He sent His Holy Spirit to them to give them power for service. Before the world they were to hold up Christ as the perfect Pattern, declaring that those who enter the church above must represent Christ in the church below. Those who do as Christ did and teach as He taught will be workers whom the heavenly universe can endorse. They are doers of the Word, watching for souls as they that must give an account; and their lives are a continual sermon. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 13

The Holy Spirit will co-operate with those whose lives are in harmony with the life of Christ on the earth. When ministers realize as they should the importance of Christ’s ministry, they will speak less upon subjects that have not been revealed and dwell more upon His life and character. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 14

Evidences of Christ’s Resurrection

Before the death of Christ, there were many things connected with His work which His disciples could not understand. On one occasion when they were perplexed by His words, He said, “Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” [John 6:61-63.] 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 15

There is abundant evidence of Christ’s resurrection. For forty days He remained upon the earth, often revealing Himself to His disciples. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 16

Late in the afternoon of the day of the resurrection, two of the disciples were on their way to Emmaus, when Christ appeared to them as a fellow traveller. He listened to their conversation as they talked of the events that had taken place in connection with the death of Him whom they had supposed to be the Christ. Absorbed in their gloom and disappointment, they did not observe their companion closely and failed to recognize in Him their beloved Master. Then beginning at Moses, the very alpha of Bible history, Christ expounded in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. He showed them that though the Messiah would die for sin, yet all this would not end in defeat, but in glorious, eternal victory. When they reached the place of their abode, they pressed Him to abide with them. Christ yielded to this entreaty and went in “to tarry with them.” [Luke 24:29.] 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 17

The simple evening meal of bread is soon prepared. It is placed before the guest who has taken His seat at the head of the table. Now He puts forth His hands to bless the food. The disciples start back in astonishment. Their companion spreads forth His hands in exactly the same way as their Master used to do. They look again, and lo, they see in His hands the print of the nails. Both exclaim at once, It is the Lord Jesus! He has risen from the dead! They rise to cast themselves at His feet and worship Him, but He has vanished out of their sight. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 18

Full of joy they immediately set out again, hurrying to tell the tidings to the disciples in the city. They carry the greatest message ever given to the world, a message of glad tidings upon which the hopes of the human family for time and for eternity depend. They found others were before them with the report that Jesus had indeed risen and had been seen alive that day. But in the sorrow and trial of the disciples, the news seemed too good to be believed. Then Jesus, who had entered unseen, stood in the midst of them. He showed them the marks of the cruel nails in His hands and His feet and the wound of the spear which pierced His side. He asked for food, and having received it, ate and drank before them. Then they knew that it was indeed their Saviour. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 19

This was all the evidence they needed. He was not with them continually in visible form, but though they saw Him not, He abode with them and frequently manifested Himself to them. He remained on the earth forty days that He might further instruct His disciples and make them acquainted with His future office and work as a High Priest who could be touched with the feelings of their infirmities. After He had breathed on them, and the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit had opened their understanding, they could see to the end of that which was abolished. They understood that in the death of Christ on the cross, type had met antitype. As they saw Christ as the one great Offering for the sin of the world, they understood more clearly the meaning of the sacrificial offerings which, having in Christ met their fulfillment, were no longer of value. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 20

Christ instructed them in regard to the work they were to carry on in the earth, according to the example He had set them in His ministry. He said unto them, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; in My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” [Mark 16:15-20.] 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 21

“The Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left His house and gave authority to His servants, and to every man his work.” [Mark 13:34.] 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 22

The Work of the Holy Spirit

Christ Himself, our Redeemer and Mediator, was filled with the Holy Spirit. In giving the commission to His servants, He promised them the Holy Spirit, to act as their Counsellor and to give them the power necessary for the successful accomplishment of their work. The reception of the Holy Spirit would seal them for their work of preaching the gospel. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 23

Christ’s commission is, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” [Matthew 28:19, 20.] 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 24

Shall we not, as believers in Christ, show that we do not disregard His express commands? The eternal truths that mean so much to us are ours to give to those who are still in the bondage of sin. God expects His people living in this period of earth’s history to proclaim with voice and with pen the last message of mercy to the world, working with the power of the Holy Spirit. There are many places in which the voice of the minister cannot be heard, places which can be reached only by our publications—the books, papers, and tracts filled with the Bible truths that the people need. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 25

We are living in the closing days of earth’s history. Many in the world are careless; to them the most momentous truths have become as idle tales, making no impression on their mind and heart, no change in the character. But there are some who will give heed to God’s message and who will not rest until they understand His Word. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 26

The most solemn warnings, the testing truths for this time, are linked with the glad tidings of the abundant mercy and grace brought to our world by Christ. The fountain of God’s love is deep and broad and full. Philosophy has never made men moral, nor has abstract doctrine made them holy. Faith in the incarnation of Christ, obedience to His commandments are the means whereby man is sanctified. In God’s law, men are restricted only in those things which, if indulged, would prove their eternal ruin. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 27

The human family is God’s property, bought with a price—and what a price! As owner of the human family, Christ will redeem and sanctify them, if they will but receive Him. “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” [John 1:12.] At infinite cost, all have been granted a time of probation. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 28

Christ desires to rule in our hearts without a rival. He has purchased us, and we belong to Him alone. He has delegated to no one His right of authority. We must place ourselves wholly under His control. He said to His disciples, “Ye call Me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.” “Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ.” [John 13:13; Matthew 23:10.] In these words He affirms His claims and calls for the allegiance of mind, will, soul, and strength. When man recognizes the authority of the Majesty of Heaven, he will make a determined effort rightly to represent Him. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 29

Our Publishing Houses

The Lord has been looking over our institutions, and He is not pleased with their showing. A great deal of commercial work has been brought into our printing offices. This has produced an order of things which God cannot accept. He gives those responsible for this warning that He will bring upon them loss, many time exceeding that which has been brought in by worldly, ambitious practices. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 30

“Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.” [Hosea 4:1.] 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 31

Now is the time to redeem the past. Those who believe the words of Christ and keep the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end will be saved with an everlasting salvation. But God is displeased with those whose spirituality is so far deteriorated that they have become involved in worldly speculations, and have even used the facilities of the office to publish literature containing the heresies of the last days. While our churches have supposed that the presses in our offices were printing books and papers containing the living truths for this time, these presses have been sending forth a mass of corrupting theories opposed to the truths of heavenly origin. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 32

So much work has been brought into the Review and Herald office, that but little time is left for religious instruction. The apprentices give but little evidence of being fitted to become all-round workers, consecrated to God, able rightly to represent the truth, and to educate others. God, the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, who dwelleth in the high and holy place, gave to the children of Israel His covenant, the ten commandments. He declared Himself the only true and living God and pledged Himself to be their guardian, if they would not mix the common with the sacred. They were to keep His commandments and worship no strange god. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 33

Manual Labor in the Schools

I have received instruction in regard to the college at Berrien Springs. The Lord said, If these, My servants, will walk humbly with contrite hearts, and will obey My voice, heeding the light I have given, I will grant them favor in the sight of men. I will not endorse the words of discouragement uttered by some of our leading men. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 34

The Lord instructed me that some connected with the institution would not see the necessity of uniting agricultural work with the instruction given in the school. In all our educational institutions, physical and mental work should have been combined. In vigorous physical exercise, the animal passions find a healthy outlet and are kept in proper bounds. Healthful exercise in the open air will strengthen the muscles, encourage a proper circulation of blood, help to preserve the body from disease, and will be a great help in spirituality. For many years it has been presented to me that teachers and students should unite in this work. This was done anciently in the schools of the prophets. 18LtMs, Ms 40, 1903, par. 35