Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 20 (1905)

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Ms 46, 1905

Lessons From Paul’s Ministry

“Elmshaven,” St. Helena, California

April 14, 1905

Portions of this manuscript are published in 6BC 1082-1084.

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in everything ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1 Corinthians 1:1-8.] 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 1

The instruction in this epistle is addressed to the church of God at Corinth and directed to be sent to every place where there were companies of saints who had faith in Jesus Christ. As members of the church of Christ, they are said to be “sanctified in Christ Jesus” and “called to be saints.” [Verse 2.] By baptism they pledged themselves to a ministry of good works in seeking to save others who knew not the truth. 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 2

The church at Corinth was largely made up of Gentiles. Paul had labored earnestly among them and had brought them to a knowledge of the truth. But after Paul had left them, false teachers had arisen who had questioned the apostleship and ministry of Paul. They spoke contemptuously of him and tried to make comparisons between themselves and him that would belittle him in the eyes of the church. 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 3

Paul did not seek to exalt himself. But when falsehoods threatened to destroy the effects of his ministry, faithfulness to his mission made it necessary for him to honor God by vindicating his character and magnifying his office. He claims to have a divine mission—that he is “called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.” [Verse 1.] 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 4

Paul had been called to his work by the Prince of life. While Paul had been engaged in the work of cruelly persecuting the followers of Christ, the Saviour had appeared to him and called him to be an apostle to the Gentiles. As an apostle of our Lord, he felt a sacred responsibility for the welfare of the church in Corinth. Under his administration they had not only received, but they had taught the truth to others. They had been so enriched as to come behind in no gift. They had been brought into near and dear relation to Christ. 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 5

Paul could not, by silence, allow himself to be driven from the field by false teachers—teachers who would introduce false sentiments and theories that might lead honest souls away from the truth. The churches must be guarded and warned against deception. Christ gave Himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, that He might purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. His church must be kept free from all false doctrine. 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 6

All who will enter into intimate relation with Christ will be entrusted with responsibilities. As they prove themselves faithful to their charge, they will never find the Lord Jesus to be unfaithful to His appointed servants. We are assured, and Paul could seek from personal experience, that “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Verse 9.] 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 7

The apostle continues: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the house of Stephanus: beside, I know not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” [Verses 10-17.] 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 8

We shall meet experiences similar to those which Paul met. If in the ministry there is a lack of self-denial and self-sacrifice, the church will surely become leavened with selfishness. Some will be unduly praised, and others will be demerited. 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 9

The unsanctified leaven of selfishness will produce spiritual disease. How thankful we should be that, in this time of atonement, there is cleansing for heart and mind from all unholy leaven. The little period of time still left for the purification of the soul is most precious. 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 10

There is a work to be done for every soul. Let there be earnest zeal to examine self. Humble, earnest prayer is the best remedy for contention and faultfinding and mischiefmaking. Let there be more of Christ and less of self. 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 11

“Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God, is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” [Verses 26-31.] 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 12

We are entering upon troublous times, but let us not take our eyes off our Leader. “He that will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” [Mark 8:34.] “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples.” [John 15:8.] Let us walk as Christ has given us example. As we see people in the darkness of error, let us seek to draw their minds to Christ. 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 13

In the second chapter of First Corinthians, Paul writes of his labors in the ministry: 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 14

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” [Verses 1-5.] 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 15

Paul did not come to the churches as an orator or as a scientific philosopher. He did not seek merely to please the ear by flowery words and phrases. In eloquent simplicity he proclaimed the things that had been revealed to him. He was able to speak with power and authority; for he frequently received instruction from God in vision. He declares: 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 16

“Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden mystery, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” [Verses 6-10.] 20LtMs, Ms 46, 1905, par. 17