Manuscript Releases, vol. 11 [Nos. 851-920]


MR No. 920—The Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, and Lost Son

I have not been able to sleep past half-past four a.m. It has been impressed upon my mind that if we realized in a deeper sense the love of God for sinners, much more would be done in the name of Christ to seek and to save that which is lost. The parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son, bring out in distinct lines God's pitying love for those who are erring and straying from Him. Although [following] their own course of action in turning away from God, He does not leave them in their misery. The Lord is full of lovingkindness and tender, pitying love to all who are exposed to the temptations of the artful foe. 11MR 367.1

How few bear in mind that the tempter was once a covering cherub, a being whom God created for His own name's glory. Satan fell from his high position through self-exaltation; he misused the high capabilities with which God had so richly endowed him. He fell for the same reason that thousands are falling today, because of an ambition to be first, an unwillingness to be under restraint. The Lord would teach man the lesson that, though united in church capacity, he is not saved until the seal of God is placed upon him, and he is made complete in Christ. 11MR 367.2

Those who use their God-given intellect to separate themselves from their Maker and lead others into sin need to be searched after and helped. Christ used the parable of the lost sheep to teach a lesson to the hardhearted scribes and Pharisees. The rebuke of God was upon these men because of their self-righteousness and pride. They did not appreciate the attributes of Christ, His mercy, His goodness and truth. These were in marked contrast to their representation of piety, and they were therefore continually misunderstanding His mission and work. 11MR 367.3

Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost, but they found fault with Him for receiving sinners and eating with them. Christ did not rebuke them openly, lest He should close the door of their hearts against Him, but He gave them a symbol which they could carry with them, and through which some would be convicted. Upon these, after His resurrection and ascension to heaven, the Holy Spirit would come, and they would unite with the disciples in church capacity. 11MR 368.1

What did the disciples do under the influence of the Holy Spirit's working? They called nothing which they possessed their own. All their earthly goods they used to support the poor believers. And this is the influence the Holy Spirit will have upon the hearts of those who believe today. They will not be improvident with the property lent them in trust. They will remember that it is not their own, and will use the Lord's goods to advance His work. They will publish the glad tidings of the gospel. They will work to relieve the needs, to help the helpless. It was this class for whom Christ manifested the greatest pity, the most tender compassion. 11MR 368.2

By the parable of the lost piece of silver Christ sought to impress upon the minds of His hearers the necessity of arousing the sensibilities of those within the home to seek for those who were straying from God. Not one member of the family is to be forgotten. The one wayward child is to be sought for. The candle, the Word of God, is to be lighted, and diligently used in examining everything in the house, to see why this one child is lost to God. Parents are to search their own hearts, to examine their own habits and practices. They are answerable for their management of God's property. Have they done their work well? Are the fathers and mothers who claim to belong to God training their families to serve and honor and glorify Him? 11MR 368.3

The Lord works with those who are sinners. These are the ones who need most the help of the great Physician; yet, like the lost piece of silver, they are unconscious of their state. The soul unaroused is in a state of impiety, even at an early age. The woman who begins her search for the piece of silver sweeps the house until she finds it. She removes everything that will obstruct her search. She seeks diligently until she finds it. Then, rejoicing in her success, she calls her friends together, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I had lost” (Luke 15:9). In every home let the candle be lighted. Fathers and mothers must bring the Word of God into their practical life if they would save the souls of their children. 11MR 369.1

Every soul is the object of the loving interest of Him who gave His life that He might bring men back to God. This earnest, persevering interest expressed by our heavenly Father teaches us that the helpless and outcast are not to be passed by indifferently. They are the Lord's by Creation and by redemption. If we were left to ourselves to judge, we would regard many who are degraded as hopeless. But the Lord sees the value of the silver in them. Though they do not look for help, He regards them as precious. The One who sees beneath the surface knows how to deal with human minds. He knows how to bring men to repentance. He knows that if they see themselves as sinners, they will repent and be converted to the truth. This is the work we are to engage in. It lies before us in this locality, and in every place around us. 11MR 369.2

In the parable of the prodigal son is presented before us the Lord's dealing with those who have once known the Father's love, but who have allowed the tempter to lead them captive at his will. The love of God is still strong for the one who has chosen to separate from Him, and He sets in operation influences to bring him back to the Father's house. Although he has grieved the Lord, yet if he repents, the Father will receive him. This work is to be done by us more thoroughly than it has been done. The work now being done in America in medical missionary lines is recognized as bearing the signature of heaven. The pearls buried beneath the rubbish of human invention are to be discovered; and when this work is done there will be rejoicing in the heavenly courts. The Lord is represented as joying over His people with singing. 11MR 370.1

In this parable Christ shows us that any class of sinners who will return to God He will receive with joy, and cover with His robe of righteousness. As this work is carried on, Satan is disappointed, and imbues with his spirit the elder brother, who apparently has been faithful in the service of his father. When the elder brother saw the joy that was expressed at the return of the prodigal, he felt that he was insulted; for he had never left his father's house. This spirit is a spirit of selfishness and jealousy. He is now prepared to watch that brother, to criticize all he does, to accuse him for the least deficiency. He will not forgive as the Lord forgives. 11MR 370.2

If the restored son makes mistakes, the elder brother marks every defect. He magnifies every wrong action into a large matter. This he does to justify his own unforgiving spirit. This accuser acts out the spirit of Satan to create disunion and heartburning. He sees the mote in his brother's eye that needs to be plucked out, but he does not discern the beam that is in his own eye. And that beam prevents him from coming close to his brother and adjusting the difficulty. The Spirit of God is not working in that suspicious mind. All this misinterpretation of his brother is placing the accuser where God cannot give him the light of His countenance. 11MR 371.1

Men often commit wrong through ignorance or want of judgment. In many instances there is no premeditated wrong; it is caused through a lack of thoughtfulness. The one who treats this as sin is himself a sinner. There is with many a keen imagination that makes them offender for a word or action. But often the one judged is innocent in the sight of God. The accuser, who has permitted the tempter to ruffle his feelings, needs to humble his soul before God, to be purified and refined by the Holy Spirit, to love as brethren, be kind, be courteous. The promise to all is, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you: (James 4:7). If one errs, remember that this is no more than you yourself have done. Put away evil surmisings. Christ says, “All ye are brethren” (Matthew 23:8). 11MR 371.2

The Spirit of the Lord is grieved by those who partake of the feelings of the elder brother. Christ alone can take away suspicion and surmising of evil. It is for His glory to have these things put away, to have self purified. He can then work to mold and fashion the one who has erred. The Saviour's love can find him and restore him to God, that his capabilities may be exercised for good, his life spent in honoring God and blessing his fellow men. 11MR 371.3

“The son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). There is a prescription for all who are so rigid in regard to a brother's wrong, when their own record stands in the books of heaven charged with unconfessed sins. You may ask, What can I do? Listen to the Great Teacher: “How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, He rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:12-14). The lessons of this chapter it is for the interest of all to study and practice. 11MR 372.1

There are those who act out the spirit of the servant in the parable who was forgiven much, but who revealed an unforgiving spirit. After his lord had forgiven his great debt, he [Matthew 18:28-35 quoted]. 11MR 372.2

Personal piety can only bear its testimony in a wise and unconditional surrender to God. It can only be obtained by asking of God. We are to shut our doors to all outward activity, and kneel before our Maker. Away from human beings, we are to consider our duty in the light of the Word of God. “I pray not,” said Christ in His prayer to the Father, “that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). The soul that seeks after God will find Him. And the life will be full of goodness, love, and truth. The conversation will be of heaven, from whence we look for our Saviour. Our religion will tell, in its influence, in our personal deeds [1 John 3:10-22; 2:4-7 quoted.] 11MR 372.3

The word given from the beginning is the holy law, spoken from Sinai in majesty and glory. (Exodus 20.) In the words of Christ to the lawyer, we see how important it is that we keep the commandments of God. Said Christ, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27). 11MR 373.1

The Lord has a work for us all to do. And if the truth is not rooted in the heart, if the natural traits of character are not transformed by the Holy Spirit, we can never be co-laborers with Jesus Christ. Self will constantly appear, and the character of Christ will not be manifested in our lives. The Saviour represented the Word of God by a pearl of great price. When He sent His disciples forth, He warned them: Cast not your pearls before swine. (See Matthew 7:6.) They understood His meaning. He had placed in their possession truths of the highest value. 11MR 373.2

The question is asked, “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly because that unto them were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:1, 2). God had made the Jewish nation the repositories of His holy oracles. Had they been faithful stewards of the sacred trust, the Lord would have delighted in His people, and would have made them the praise of the whole earth. But they transgressed the law, and broke the covenant of God. They had despised the riches of His goodness, His forbearance, His long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth to repentance, and in so doing they treasured up to themselves “wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: ... Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:4-7, 13). The Jews were the chosen nation. They were favored with the oracles of God. But they did not appreciate the pearl of great price. The apostle asks, “What if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged” (Romans 3:3, 4).—Letter 80, 1898. 11MR 373.3

White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

April 1, 1982.