Ms 176, 1898

1898

Ms 176, 1898

Testimony to the Members of the Prahran Church

Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

April 4, 1898

This manuscript is published in entirety in 21MR 1-4.

I am troubled in spirit. The word of the Lord has come to me to ask the leaders of the Prahran church, “Who has entrusted you with the responsibilities of the church? Say unto these men, ‘When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.’” [Hebrews 5:12-14.] Ms176-1898.1

If the churches in Melbourne and Prahran should continue to act out the principles which have come into their hearts and which have been cherished, it would be perilous to hold camp meetings in Melbourne, for the members of these churches have revealed the impossibility of two walking together, unless they be agreed. In a limited degree, this whole matter was laid open before me, and the representation has nearly broken my heart. Ms176-1898.2

“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” [Luke 9:55; 1 Corinthians 5:6.] The leaven of malice, which should not be admitted to the soul, has taken possession of the members of the church, and is permeating their minds and hearts. The men who have been set as watchmen over little churches in the suburbs of Melbourne are unfaithful to their trusts. God does not acknowledge these men as teachers, because they will not be instructed, but follow their own perverse way, by reason of which the truth is evil spoken of. They have led the people into false paths. There has not been a close investigation of the spirit cherished by those who have been appointed to instruct. Ms176-1898.3

When Jesus walked on earth as a man among men, the people excited His compassion, because He saw that they were as sheep without a shepherd. Although the scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses’ seat, yet they well merited censure as thieves and robbers, who exercised their power in an authoritative manner, but left the sheep unfed. This view of the matter may startle some into a consideration of what kind of guidance the flock of God is receiving today. There needs to be much more well organized effort, and far less preaching. The instruction given in the church is to be given modestly. If the teacher be a doer of the Word he seeks to hold forth to others, he will in all meekness and humbleness of mind open the door of his mind and heart to the instruction of this Word; for “the entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” [Psalm 119:130.] Ms176-1898.4

“Hear the word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities. Shall two walk together, except they be agreed?” [Amos 3:1-3.] This testimony was given to the children of Israel. Ms176-1898.5

The Lord has declared that the work of advancing the truth shall go forth in His strength. Human wisdom is the gift of God; but often that wisdom is not expressed in word, in spirit, in character, as the wisdom of God. God is misrepresented in 1898 by those who have been as graciously enlightened as were the Israelites when Christ, enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, directed the movements of His people. He was their shadow from the heat, and their light amid the darkness of the night. Ms176-1898.6

How true are the words, “Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” [Isaiah 60:2.] Darkness covers the world like a funeral pall. This darkness is not an accident, or an attribute of our moral condition, but a principle, an element, which, like evil leaven, gathers to itself all the properties it can assimilate. It is a constant darkness, pervading and overshadowing the whole world. Ms176-1898.7

Christ is the light of the world. He says, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” [John 8:12.] “He that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” [John 12:35.] “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” [2 Corinthians 4:4.] Those who follow Christ shall not walk in darkness; but all who follow their own ideas, walking contrary to the Word of God, are of the class concerning whom the Lord spoke to the prophet, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” [Amos 3:3.] Ms176-1898.8

The humility of Christ, His example of self-denial, are expressed in His words to His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” [Matthew 16:24.] Christ, the Majesty of heaven, gave Himself up to do His Father’s will. His own will was in perfect harmony with the will of His Father. Ms176-1898.9

Among all who walk in harmony with God, there must be perfect freedom from all the natural passions of the human heart. All who give themselves to the service of Christ will follow the example of Christ, and will be perfect overcomers. When self ceases to wrestle for the supremacy, and the heart is worked by the Holy Spirit, the soul lies perfectly passive; and then the image of God is mirrored upon the heart, the soul is in accord with the mind of God, and human identity is lost in Jesus Christ. Then all temporal and spiritual transactions which need to be done will be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, without worry, perplexity, murmuring, faultfinding, accusation, or wrathful speeches, which, among those who have not surrendered self to God, are often not restrained, but pour forth from the lips in any place and under any circumstance when selfish ideas are interfered with. Ms176-1898.10

Who presides over and controls the selfish heart? Could the curtain be withdrawn, that passionate, professed believer would see a legion of satanic angels controlling him with their own spirit. He is standing in the presence of holy angels and in the presence of Satan’s hellish army, and his conduct shows that he has no right to the name of “Christian.” He professes much, but brings forth thorn berries. Self is the mainspring of action. One such exhibition before the people is sufficient to testify: How can two walk together, except they be agreed? Ms176-1898.11

May the Lord impress upon the minds and hearts of all connected with the sacred work of God the importance of ascertaining whether those who are to minister as deacons and elders are suitable men to be entrusted with the flock of God. Jesus calls Himself the “Good Shepherd.” [John 10:11.] He does this in contrast with those who occupy positions of trust in connection with the church, but who have no right to these places, because they put a wrong mold upon the work. What is natural will appear. Ms176-1898.12

Compare the Good Shepherd, who gave His life for His sheep, with those who are filled with self-esteem, puffed up, dictatorial, loving to rule in the church. The prophets have specified Christ’s attributes. They foretold Him as a gentle Shepherd, who would carry the lambs in His bosom. There are others pointed out by prophecy, who have accepted the position of leaders and religious instructors, whom the Word of God rebukes for their neglect, in their ignorance, to do the work which they should have been doing in their places of responsibility. Ms176-1898.13

“Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the Lord; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.” [Zechariah 11:5.] What does this mean? It describes the counterworking influence of those who pursue their own course, not heeding the light God has been giving them. Ms176-1898.14

Here is a people who have had the privilege of listening to the Word of the Lord; and if they had listened to a purpose, they would have known that they had heard the truth, and they would have practiced it. But they have not done this. Departing from the plain, direct messages God has sent them, which were essential for them to receive and act upon, they have enjoyed their own selfish indulgences. They have chosen to do as the scribes and Pharisees did—according to their own impulses. The scribes and Pharisees opposed the mission of our Lord. These churches have entered upon the same evil course, and do not walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, for how can two walk together, except they be agreed? Ms176-1898.15

The three sects which in Christ’s day exercised a controlling influence over the religious beliefs of the Jews, were the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes. These sects are mentioned as representatives of those who have not been converted. They had not been sanctified through the truth, therefore their ideas were perverse. Self was interwoven in all in which they engaged. They did not feel it to be a special part of their religious program to be one with Christ. Christian fellowship with one another was not an active principle in their lives. Against all whom they supposed did not keep the letter of the law, they cherished the evil of jealousy. Ms176-1898.16

They taught tradition as more essential than the precepts of Jehovah, and killed the world’s Redeemer for difference of opinion with them in regard to senseless, unreasonable forms and minute particulars as to just what ceremonies were to be observed in washing the hands before eating, although they had no commandment from God for the carrying out of their multitudinous traditions which they observed. They supplemented the commandments of God with a mass of oral traditions wholly human and conceived by narrow minds. They exalted their human inventions above the commandments of God. Ms176-1898.17