Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 19 (1904)


Lt 111, 1904

Butler, G. I.

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

March 13, 1904

Portions of this letter are published in UL 86; VSS 341-342; 2MCP 539. +Note

Dear Brother Butler,—

I write to you as one whom I know the Lord will lead and bless. I wish to tell you that the fewer burdens you take upon yourself regarding the work in Battle Creek, the better. Neither you nor I is called to bear the burdens of the work there. Some of those at the head of the work in Battle Creek seem to think that the apparent prosperity of the work there is a contradiction of the testimonies that have been given. They seem to think that the need for these testimonies has been flatly denied by the recent revival among the young people there. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 1

Let me tell you how the matter was presented to me before the Oakland General Conference. I saw that those who came to Battle Creek to connect with the work there knew little regarding the general situation of affairs. They did not know of the beginnings which have brought about the things which have taken place. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 2

I was instructed by the Lord that we must furnish ministerial help for the work in Battle Creek, that the youth there might not be drawn into the snare of the enemy. Workers of the best talent possible should be sent there—men prepared to understand the situation and to realize the peril of working away from the truth as it is in Jesus. Men who were as firm as a rock to principle were to put on the armor and go to work in Battle Creek, in humility and contrition, and in the love and fear of God, presenting the Word of the Lord so distinctly that, notwithstanding the forbidding features of the situation, those assembled at Battle Creek should receive instruction in the truth for this time, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. The youth were to be given every spiritual advantage possible. Notwithstanding the mistakes made by those who have not worked out God’s appointed plan, a true knowledge of the word was now to be presented, not as a dead letter, but as a living reality. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 3

All would be helped by ministerial labor, by the opening of the Scriptures. Advantage must be taken of circumstances. Tact must be shown, that those in Battle Creek might be interested and impressed. A simple, heartfelt exposition of truth will reach hearts, exerting a powerful influence for good. I saw that if all worked wisely, great good would be done, and the enemy would be defeated. Christ says, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] But with Him as our helper, we can gain the victory over the enemy. His promise is, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” [Matthew 28:20.] 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 4

In every place the shepherds of the Lord are to look perseveringly after the sheep of His pasture. If they are humble, contrite men, the Lord will certainly be with them as they do their all-important work, pointing out the pillars of our faith, and calling upon the people to take a firm stand upon the Rock of Ages, the only foundation that will endure. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 5

Scripture is the key that unlocks Scripture. The suppositions of men are worthless. Great care is to be exercised, lest human fallacies be brought in. Every student is to be educated to give a clear exposition of the Word, according to the example Christ has given in His teaching. He said nothing to gratify curiosity or to stimulate selfish ambition. He did not deal in abstract theories, but in that which is essential to the development of character; that which will enlarge man’s capacity for knowing God, and increase his power to do good. He spoke of those truths that relate to the conduct of life and that unite man with eternity. We read that the common people heard Him gladly. The people “were astonished at His teaching; for His word was with power.” [Luke 4:32.] 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 6

We need not tax our minds for some far-fetched explanation of the words of Scripture. Thus the Jewish teachers did. They quoted the ideas and traditions of the rabbis, confusing the minds of their hearers. They taught for doctrine the commandments of men. We are not to seek for revelations that have not been made in the Word of God. In the simplicity of Christ we are to present the plain teaching of the Bible. Men in high positions of trust in the world will be charmed by a plain, straightforward, scriptural statement of truth. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 7

I have been instructed that the churches have not been advancing in a knowledge of the truth for this time, but that if the teachers of truth will take up the work clearly marked out in the Scriptures, the feet of many will be planted firmly on the platform of eternal truth. Many will know more than ever before of the truth that has been given for these last days. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 8

Some time ago I wrote in my diary the following: 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 9

“We seemed to be assembled in a meeting. One of authority was present. He said: ‘Say to ministers and evangelists, Carry the work forward with true spirituality. Make the application that is made in the Word of God, that the result may not be merely a sympathetic stirring of the feelings—a result that will fade away into nothingness when the impression is removed.’ I am commissioned to say that all who see their need can be helped. Let every step taken be a step of advancement toward genuine conversion, toward unreserved consecration of heart, mind, soul, and strength to the service of the Lord. Let all that is done tend to genuine reformation in thought, in word, in deed, in character building. Let the true be discerned from the false. Do not allow the enemy to lead you to weave wrong figures into the pattern. Keep the love of Christ prominent before the children and youth. Repeat to them often His simple lessons.” 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 10

I have written this out more clearly in one of my diaries, but I cannot go through them now to find it. But let me tell you, I have been watching for the sign of genuine repentance among those whose faith, by their own course of action, has been almost extinguished. I have been waiting for them to be reconverted. O that the message that has reached the youth might reach those whose feet have been standing in slippery places. Will these men, whose course of action has been often reproved, and who have hardened their hearts, make no sign of humiliation and repentance and true conversion? Will they stand where they are until another test and proving shall come? Much of the experience with which they have been carrying on their character building is not to the praise and glory of God. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 11

I am bidden to say, Unless those who by hardening their hearts have made it necessary for God to speak by fire shall repent and be converted, they will be found wanting. They need to reveal in their lives that they have accepted the invitation, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:29, 30.] God cannot accept them unless they learn Christ’s meekness and lowliness. They need to have an experimental knowledge that Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 12

The Touch of Faith

“If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole.” [Matthew 9:21.] 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 13

It was a poor woman who uttered these words—a woman who for twelve years had suffered from a disease that made her life a burden. We do not know that this poor woman had any special culture, but we do know that for a long time she had been refined in the furnace of affliction. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 14

She had spent all her means upon physicians and remedies, only to be pronounced incurable. But her hopes revived as she heard of the great Healer, and she thought, “If only I could get near enough [to] Him to speak to Him, I might be healed.” She had genuine faith, and the result shows. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 15

Christ was on His way to the home of the Jewish rabbi who had entreated Him to come and heal his daughter. The heart-broken petition, “My little daughter lieth at the point of death; I pray Thee, come and lay Thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live,” had touched the tender, sympathetic heart of Christ, and He had at once set out with the ruler for his home. [Mark 5:23, 24.] 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 16

They advanced but slowly; for the crowd pressed Christ on every side. In making His way through the multitude, the Saviour came near to where the afflicted woman was standing. Again and again she had tried to get near to Him, but had failed. Now her golden opportunity had come. She could see no way of speaking to Him. She would not seek to hinder His slow advance. She would not, in the presence of the multitude, speak a word to arrest His attention. But she had heard that healing came from a touch of His garments. Fearful of losing her one chance of relief, she pressed forward, saying to herself, “If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole.” [Matthew 9:21.] 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 17

Christ knew every thought of her mind, and He was making His way to where she stood. He realized her great need, and He was helping her to exercise faith and hope. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 18

As He was passing, she reached forward and succeeded in barely touching the border of His garment. That moment she knew that she was healed. Her faith was centered not in the robe, but in Him who wore the robe. In that one touch was concentrated the faith of her life, and instantly her pain and feebleness disappeared. Instantly she felt the thrill as of an electric current passing through every fibre of her being. There came over her a sensation of perfect health. “Straightway ... she felt in her body that she was healed of the plague.” [Mark 5:29.] 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 19

She desired to express her thanks to the One mighty to save, whose virtue had done more for her in one touch than the physicians had done in twelve long years; but she dared not. With a grateful heart she tried to withdraw from the crowd. Suddenly Jesus stopped, and turning round, He asked, “Who touched Me?” Looking at Him with amazement, Peter answered, “Master, the multitude throng Thee, and press Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me?” Jesus answered, “Somebody hath touched Me; for I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me.” [Luke 8:45, 46.] He could distinguish the touch of faith from the casual contact of the careless throng. Some one had touched Him with a deep purpose and had received answer. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 20

Christ did not ask the question for His own information. He had a lesson for the people, for the disciples, and for the woman. He wished to inspire the afflicted with faith and hope. He sought to show that it was faith which had brought the healing power. The record of this miracle was to come down through the ages to show that He honors the act of faith. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 21

Christ wished to let the woman know that He did not impart His healing virtue unconsciously. Her trust should not be passed by without comment. God must be glorified by her grateful confession. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 22

Looking toward the woman, Jesus insisted on knowing who had touched Him. Finding concealment vain, she came forward tremblingly, and cast herself at His feet. With grateful tears she told Him, before all the people, why she had mingled with the crowd, why she had touched His garment, and how she had been immediately healed. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 23

She feared that perhaps her act in touching His garment had been one of presumption, but no word of censure came from Christ’s lips. He spoke only words of approval. They came from a heart of love, filled with sympathy for human woe. “Daughter,” He said gently, “be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” [Verse 48.] 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 24

How precious were His words to her! Now no fear that she had given offense embittered her joy. Christ desired her to understand that He approved her act of faith. He would not have her depart with a half blessing only. She was not to remain in ignorance of His knowledge of her suffering, in ignorance of His compassionate love, and of His approval of her faith in His power to save to the uttermost all who come to Him. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 25

O precious Redeemer! Whenever Thou art received, decided changes take place in the life. Let us pray for the healing power of the greatest missionary that the world has ever known. O that the Saviour were formed within the hearts of those who in this their day do not know the meaning of entire consecration and sanctification of body, soul, and spirit. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 26

During all His life on this earth, from childhood to manhood, Christ’s mission was to bring light and joy and grace to others. It was His desire that the hearts of all should be filled with His joy. His days were filled with deeds of mercy and compassion. He was often weary. His human nature called for rest. But he had little opportunity to rest. The children of sorrow and affliction thronged His steps. They would not be deterred, knowing that if they could come to where He was, they would not seek in vain for help. Had not He Himself given them their lesson? Had He not said: 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 27

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” [Matthew 7:7-11.] 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 28

Those who are humble and contrite, those who cultivate a spirit of tender compassion, will understand what it means to be one with Christ in God. 19LtMs, Lt 111, 1904, par. 29