Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 23 (1908)


Ms 9, 1908

A Message to the Churches

St. Helena, California

February 10, 1908

This manuscript is published in entirety in 17MR 162-165.

“Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus saith the Lord, ye have sold yourselves for naught; and ye shall be redeemed without money.” [Isaiah 52:1-3.] 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 1

The Lord has instructed me to say to our churches: There is no safety in placing confidence in human wisdom or strength. “Whom shall He teach knowledge?” the prophet Isaiah asks; “and whom shall He make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little; for with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to the people. To whom He said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest: and this is the refreshing; yet ye would not hear. But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” [Isaiah 28:9-13.] 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 2

“Wherefore hear the word of the Lord, ye scornful men, that rule this people that is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us. For we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves; Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” [Verses 14-17.] 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 3

The figures here used by the prophet are representations of spiritual things. “Who among us,” he asks, “shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppression, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high; his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off.” [Isaiah 33:14-17.] 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 4

The Kingdom of Christ

The government of the kingdom of Christ is like no earthly government. It is a representation of the characters of those who compose the kingdom. “Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God,” Christ asked, “and with what likeness shall we compare it?” [Mark 4:30.] He could find nothing on earth that would serve as a perfect comparison. His court is one where holy love presides, and whose offices and appointments are graced by the exercise of charity. He charges His servants to bring pity and lovingkindness, His own attributes, into all their office work, and to find their happiness and satisfaction in reflecting the love and tender compassion of the divine nature on all with whom they associate. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 5

“Look unto Zion, the city of our solemnities,” the prophet continues; “thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be broken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us as a place of broad rivers and streams, wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ships pass thereby; for the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; He will save us. ... The inhabitants shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” [Isaiah 33:20-22, 24.] 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 6

“Be ye glad and rejoice forever, in the things which I create,” the Lord exhorts; “for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in hear, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old, but the sinner, being an hundred years old, shall be accursed. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 7

“And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of My people; and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 8

“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the Lord.” [Isaiah 65:18-25.] 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 9

The power of Christ alone can work the transformation in heart and mind that all must experience who would partake with Him of the new life in the kingdom of God. “Except a man be born again,” the Saviour said, “he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [See John 3:3, 5.] The religion that comes from God is the only religion that can lead to God. In order to serve Him aright, we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will purify the heart and renew the mind and give us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us willing obedience to all His requirements. This is true worship. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 10

Privileges and Duties of Believers

Every converted soul should labor for unity of spirit and action with the One who prayed that He and His disciples might be one. The followers of Christ do His cause decided injury when they follow the customs and habits of the world. Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted to others, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Every one must learn to work and to stand in his place as a burden bearer. Every addition to the church should be one more agency for the carrying out of the great plan of redemption. The entire church, acting as one, blending in perfect union, is to be a living, active missionary agency, moved and controlled by the Holy Spirit. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 11

Having acknowledged Christ as the Saviour of the world, the disciples were charged to prove before men their claims, by representing in their lives the beauty and purity of His character. They had been called to repentance and had been baptized in His name. In His name they were to call others to repentance. And all who would accept the offer of forgiveness were to be baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. By this ordinance, believers were to be admitted to church fellowship; and from this time of open profession, a divine change was to be revealed in their lives. As members of Christ’s church on earth, they were to represent the principles of His church in heaven. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 12

Speaking to His church, Christ said, “And I say unto you, That if ye shall agree on earth as touching anything that ye shall ask, it shall be done of My Father which is in heaven; for where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” [Matthew 18:19, 20.] The professing Christian, who is not a Christian in practice, is not included in this promise. It is only when the voice of the church becomes the voice of Christ, that the promise can be received in its fulness. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 13

The upbuilding of the kingdom of God is retarded or urged forward according to the unfaithfulness or fidelity of human agencies. The work is hindered by the failure of the human to co-operate with the divine. Men may pray, “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven” [Matthew 6:10]; but if they fail of acting out this prayer in their lives, their petitions will be fruitless. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 14

Church Discipline

Let none speak lightly of the duty of the church to administer censure and rebuke; neither let them criticize the action of the church when this painful task becomes necessary. Christ has given plain instruction regarding the duty of the church toward those who, while professing to be loyal members, are bringing dishonor to the cause of God by their course of action. “Every plant which My Heavenly Father hath not planted,” He says, “shall be rooted up.” [Matthew 15:13.] God has commanded that those who prove themselves unworthy of church fellowship shall be separated from His body. Those who speak against the exercise of this authority speak against the authority of Christ. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 15

The one who first brought temptation into the courts of heaven is constantly working against the peace and prosperity of the church on earth. To those who will listen to his words, Satan represents the authority of the church as harsh and lacking in sympathy, because it seeks to free the members from corrupting influences. It was Satan’s purpose in heaven to dethrone God and himself take the place of the Most High. He failed in this purpose and was cast out from the heavenly courts; and since that time he has tried to instil in the hearts of men and women the belief that God is arbitrary and harsh in His dealings with His creatures. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 16

The church does injustice to God when it allows to exist as part of itself elements that are bringing dishonor to His cause. In the responsibilities God has laid upon His church, He gives to each individual a part to act, with encouragement to draw upon the wisdom of God for His help. But there are those who depart from the way of the Lord and who take sides with the tempter and his sympathizers; and there should be those in the church who in the fear of God will act with justice and righteousness and faithfulness in administering reproof. 23LtMs, Ms 9, 1908, par. 17