Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 21 (1906)


Ms 79, 1906

“Leave Your Nets and Follow Me”

St. Helena, California

October 1, 1906

Portions of this manuscript are published in TDG 283; UL 288; 17MR 300. +Note

Christ came to the earth to present a true and exalted standard. Brief as was the period of His public ministry, He accomplished the work He came to do. How impressive were the truths He taught, how complete His life work! What spiritual food He daily imparted as He presented the bread of life to thousands of hungry souls. His life was a living ministry of the Word. He was the Light of the world, pointing to men the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He was its food, the Bread of life. He promised nothing that He did not perform. “Ask,” He said, “and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” [Matthew 7:7.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 1

Just as we trace the pathway of a stream of living water by the line of living green it produces, so Christ could be seen in the deeds of mercy that marked His path at every step. Wherever He went health sprang up, and happiness followed wherever He had passed. The words of eternal life were presented in such simplicity that a child could understand them. Men, women, and children were so impressed with His manner of explaining the Scriptures that they would catch the very intonation of His voice, place the same emphasis upon His words, and imitate His gestures. Youth caught His Spirit of ministry and sought to pattern after His gracious ways by seeking to assist those whom they saw needed help. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 2

The blind and deaf rejoiced in His presence. The face of Christ was the first face that many eyes had ever looked upon, His words the first that had ever fallen upon their ears. These, restored, followed Him wherever it was possible. His words to the ignorant opened to them a fountain of life. He dispensed His blessings abundantly and continuously; they were the garnered treasures of eternity, given in Christ, the Lord’s rich gifts to man. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 3

Christ’s work in behalf of mankind is not finished. It continues today. Through John He declares that as many as receive Him, to them will He give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 4

Where are the believers in His words and His works? I am instructed to rally them around the standard. We must have in our cities teachers who live the Word of God, teachers who come close to souls, and in whom faith is made perfect in works. My brethren, educate, educate men how to receive the Word of life. Call upon them to become acquainted with Christ. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 5

The world was lost through unbelief; it must be restored through faith in Christ as the world’s Redeemer. Without this faith the world can have no hope. When the Jews said to Jesus, “What must we do that we might work the works of God?” the answer was given, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” [John 6:28, 29.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 6

“I am the Bread of life.” [Verse 35.] Christ is the living, everlasting bread that never decays or molds. He gives life, spiritual life, to the world. To all who receive Him, He gives power to become the sons of God. None but Christ could so well reveal to men the Bread of life. “Whoso eateth (spiritually) the bread that I shall give him shall have eternal life.” Those who refuse to receive Christ as the Bread of life will never become the sons and daughters of God. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 7

The life of the soul depends upon spiritual conformity to the life of Christ. When the human life is in communion with the life of Christ, then it is sanctified through the truth; and the prayer of Christ is answered, “Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth.” [John 17:17.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 8

The inviting paths that self may choose will lead us away from Christ. Self must be humbled before God; every obstacle to service must be removed, even to the cutting off of the right arm or the plucking out of the right eye, if these prove a hindrance. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 9

The whole world is stirred and preparing for the last conflict, and it is time for our churches to arouse. I am instructed that my work is to bear the message that God has given me, turning not aside to be led into controversy; for this would be time lost. My work is not to compel men to believe; I am to present the Word. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 10

The Food Work

I am entrusted with a message. In our food work have we not been walking and working more nearly after the pattern of the world than after the pattern of Christ? What words have we spoken to the large multitudes we have fed? How are we presenting to these souls the Bread of life? Can Christ say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:23.] Can each worker truthfully say, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work”? [John 4:34.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 11

There is great danger that some will devote their entire energies in commercial work, trying to maintain large food factories without financial loss, and thus lose a sense of the necessity of eating that Bread which is life to the soul. For years I have seen that in our food work we have been on the losing side. This work has not been the means it should to reveal Christ as the one who can give to us eternal life. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 12

We cannot afford to keep up a strife for gain in our ambitious endeavor to manufacture a large variety of foods, losing our time for prayer and for feeding upon the Word. We must, by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of God, perfect a character fitted for the heavenly courts. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 13

Said Christ, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” [Verse 34.] Shall we take up a work of preparing food for multitudes of unbelievers, and yet leave unspoken the words of life? Shall we so busy ourselves in the preparation of many lines of food that we cannot give an example of what it means to receive and to practice the Word of life? 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 14

A Call to Service

“And it came to pass that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the Word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.” [Luke 5:1-3.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 15

Jesus asks the use of Simon’s boat. Although weary with his toil and disappointment, Simon cheerfully complies with the request of Christ. The unpretentious fishing boat is made the pulpit from which come forth the words of Christ. Surely the little craft of Simon’s was never so honored as on this occasion. It had never been put to so profitable use to its owner. Jesus proclaims Bible truth, He speaks words of eternal life. The truths spoken in that sermon went all over the world and accomplished a work which eternity alone will reveal. When the judgment shall sit, and the books of record shall be opened, and the history of this effort is revealed, it will be seen that a light has sprung up to be reflected all through the world through time and through eternity. This experience has been repeated to thousands of the messengers of the Lord Jesus and has inspired hope and courage and faith. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 16

“Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” [Verse 4.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 17

The night was the most favorable time for the fishermen to work successfully; for in the clear waters the fish would in the daylight see the net and avoid it. Having toiled all night unsuccessfully, it seemed useless, according to human wisdom, to let down the net now. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 18

“Master,” replied Simon, “we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net.” [Verse 5.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 19

This was true obedience. Here is an instance of implicit trust in the words of Christ, in spite of an objectionable past experience. Our first lesson is to learn the will of God, even though we pass through trying circumstances, and then, knowing His will, to obey unquestioningly. Such obedience will always be rewarded. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 20

What was the result of Simon’s obedience? “And when they had done this, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.” [Verses 6, 7.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 21

Jesus designed this experience to be an encouragement to these fishermen in their future efforts in fishing for souls. Their knowledge of the habits of the fish and of the art of taking them made this miracle impressive to their minds. They were overwhelmed with an astonishment they knew not how to express. Simon “was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: and so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon.” [Verses 9, 10.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 22

Christ the Lord of earth and sea was there. Simon was filled with amazement and gratitude. Deeply convicted that he was in the presence of divinity, he was overwhelmed with a sense of his own unworthiness. He falls “down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” [Verse 8.] Peter did not desire Jesus to leave him. He adored Him, his heart was drawn out in love, but he felt utterly unworthy to be in Christ’s presence. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 23

Would that all who read this record might be so impressed with the infinite love of Christ and feel honored with His presence. Let us not be ungrateful to God for His great love expressed in our behalf. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 24

What a powerful influence this wonderful transaction produced upon the minds of these humble fishermen! Christ’s power had drawn the fish into Simon’s net, but these honest-hearted men were themselves completely caught in the net that Christ had prepared for them. “From henceforth, they left all, and followed Him.” [Verses 10, 11.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 25

“Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” [Verses 10, 11.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 26

These men were simple hearted, but they were intelligent in regard to their fishing work. They knew that in order to be successful in their work, they must have their nets well mended and must choose the right time to let down their nets. Christ was dealing with these men. He was fishing for souls, and these disciples were caught. They were not filled with deceit. They were unprejudiced. The doctrine of Christ’s kingdom was that which they needed. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 27

In these men Christ did not have to fight with bigoted minds and preconceived opinions which were selfish and erroneous. As soon as they heard the message from the lips of Christ, these men, who were supposed to be unlearned and ignorant, were ready to see and understand the truth and were converted. The enlightening, convincing power of the Holy Spirit came into their hearts. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 28

They were men of sturdy health. They had no pride to foster, no position to maintain. Christ did not have to clear away a mass of tradition. The Light of the world shone into the chambers of the soul, and they bowed in humility at a plain “Thus saith the Lord.” When Christ said, “Follow Me,” they left all without question; for there was a convincing power attending the command. [Matthew 4:19, 20.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 29

Christ had before him the all-sufficiency of lettered men and priestly rulers; but none of these He accepted; for they were learned in lines that would stand directly in the way of their being taught from the Scriptures. These humble fishermen would accept the Word. They were willing and glad to eat the Bread of life. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 30

Christ saw the hopelessness of appealing to the Sadducees or the Pharisees. They were imbued with the spirit of gall and bitterness. All the wonderful miracles that Christ wrought did not change the tenor of their character. He would have accomplished a work for them if they had emptied themselves of their scientific theories. But they were bigoted and presumptuous and in their dignity considered themselves superior to Jesus Christ. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 31

And so today. Confusion of faith will hold in error many minds, and it is useless to cast pearls before swine; for they will trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you. There are men who are so united to theories of satanic origin that they will continue to resist the truth to the bitter end, when from their lips shall be forced the agonized cry, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” [Jeremiah 8:20.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 32

Belief in a falsehood, faith in scientific sophistry will never save the soul from death. Can the many falsehoods or delusions purify and ennoble the human character? Can they elevate and refine and purify the soul? No lie can sweeten the disposition or prepare the soul for the kingdom of heaven. Only a good tree will bear good fruit. None can be saved who honor not the sacred law of Jehovah, whom all the angels respect and honor. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 33

God calls for implicit obedience to the words of Christ under all circumstances. When Jesus bade Simon launch out into the deep, and cast down his net, the prospect seemed discouraging; nevertheless, he trustingly obeyed. Let every man be careful how he allows his human reasoning in apparent difficulties to lead him to act contrary to a command of the Lord. For years the opinions of men have blocked the work of God. He sometimes calls for work to be done that is contrary to human reasoning and human plans. Let every soul be obedient to the words of Jesus Christ, even though it be against his own experience or preconceived opinions. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 34

Not long ago I read an incident of the late Duke of Wellington. He was present where a party of Christian gentlemen were discussing the possibility of success in missionary effort among the heathen, and he was appealed to whether in his judgment such efforts were likely to prove a success commensurate to the cost. The heroic, old soldier replied: 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 35

“Gentlemen, what are your marching orders? Success is not the question for you to discuss. What are your marching orders? If I read them aright, they run thus, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’ [Mark 16:15.] Gentlemen, obey your marching orders.” 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 36

This commission I present before all; for it is in harmony with the light given me for over half a century. The words of Christ’s commission are a plain “Thus saith the Lord.” They are our marching orders. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 37

Infidels and rationalists may say, Show us a miracle, and then we will believe. They refuse to receive the Word of God. The miracles of Christ are to them as idle tales. But monuments of Christianity are to be seen on every hand. No further evidence will be given to those who have rejected great light and will not believe in the record of the past working of the Lord’s power. When they close their eyes and their senses, and prefer to cherish their scientific delusions, Christ says, Let them alone. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 38

Sometimes I have prayed for the Lord to open the understanding of men who have encased themselves in the science of Satan’s workings, and I have been bidden to say to them: 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 39

“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. 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 40

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” [Matthew 7:13-20.] 21LtMs, Ms 79, 1906, par. 41