Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 46, 1898

The Work Before God’s People


March 31, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in TDG 99; WM 199-200, 311-312; CW 66-67; 2MR 193-196.

There is a work to be done in our cities and suburbs. Decided efforts are to be made to reach families. This work should not be entrusted to novices. Our ministers should not be obliged to hover over our churches in the suburbs of Melbourne. The members of these churches have been long in the truth, and they should have strength in themselves. But they are still as weaklings, because they do not live the truth. They have had great light, and if they were walking in the light as Christ is in the light, they would say to the messengers of God, Go forth into new fields. We will seek help from our Lord and Saviour, and will do our best to help each other keep the faith once delivered to the saints. If we cannot go into the field ourselves, we will not hinder those who can minister from present the truth to those who have never heard it. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 1

The world is to be warned. A large amount of labor has been given to the North Fitzroy church, but it has not been appreciated. The members feel it their duty to attend church to criticize. They cut out the portions that they do not enjoy of what they hear, and throw them into the waste basket. They allow Satan to control their minds, and while the words spoken have an influence for good on some hearts, those who come to criticize listen to them as they would listen to idle tales. They do not understand what it means to hear the Word of God with sanctified ears and hearts, and profit thereby. They are not in communion with Christ. When they yield up their selfishness and pride, when they are sanctified, soul, body, and spirit, to the Lord, they will hear with sanctified hearts and ears. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 2

Many of the church members are ready to express their faith in a theory. They talk of their belief in God’s mercy and of their hope of reaching heaven at last; but they know nothing of the truth as it is in Jesus, or of the power of His grace and resurrection. They do not study the word of God. They cannot give an intelligent reason of the hope that is in them. They need to be born again, as Christ told Nicodemus. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee,” He said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.” [John 3:3.] 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 3

Thus it is with many members of the North Fitzroy church. They do not know experimentally what it means to be converted. Their old, natural tempers still control them. Their hearts have never been cleansed from sin. If they seek the Lord most earnestly, He will be found of them; but if they continue to live as they have been living, they will continue to be a stumbling block to sinners. Will they seek the Lord? Will they be converted? No human power can make them drink from the wells of salvation. Sermonizing will not help them. They must be convicted of sin. Their words are not right; their hearts are not right. They must separate from all evil. Then they will be ready to give to every man that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 4

The true believer loves God. When the grace of God works in the soul, the love of Christ is manifested in the life. The condition of the heart should be our greatest concern. “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts,” the Word of God exhorts us. [1 Peter 3:15.] What does this mean? It means that we are to dwell upon Christ, meditate upon Him. As we behold Him in our meditations, and draw nigh to Him in our prayers, the Holy Spirit molds our minds, enabling us to recognize Christ in His true character, as the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 5

Christ has been given us by God to make a propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for the sins of the whole world. We are to educate our minds aright, putting away all vain thoughts. As faithful sentinels we are to guard the heart, not permitting Satan to fashion it in pride. Do not allow the mind to dwell upon common subjects, because the food you give to the soul is what the mind dwells upon. “I am the bread of life,” Christ declared. “I am the living bread, which came down from heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread which I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” [John 6:35, 51.] 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 6

“The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then said Jesus unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. ... He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” [Verses 52, 53, 56, 57.] 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 7

Those who had never been partakers with Christ, who had listened to Him as many today listen to the Word, but who had not eaten the truth as bread from heaven, said, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not,” He added. [Verses 60-64.] “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given him of my Father. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 8

“From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” [Verses 64-66.] They criticized and disbelieved. Christ met with the same criticism and murmuring that His servants will meet in their work today. “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou are that Christ, the Son of the living God.” [Verses 67-69.] 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 9

The lesson contained in this chapter is not really appreciated at the present time. If it were, it would have far greater influence upon Christ’s disciples. They would receive and practice the words spoken by the great Teacher. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 10

The question is before us as those to whom God has entrusted sacred responsibilities. Do we appreciate the situation? Are we seeking to understand the meaning of the lesson given in this chapter? “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” Christ declared, “he that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” Christ is the representation to the world and to the church of the tree of life. “I am that bread of life,” He says. “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” [Verses 47-51.] 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 11

It is essential that all who minister in word and doctrine have a deep insight into the meaning of these words. When they understand and experience their meaning and import, they will have an altogether deeper consecration and a greater depth of experience. They will not play religion, but will live religion. The food they give their souls to eat will tell its own story in the atmosphere which surrounds the soul, in the home life, in the ministry of the Word. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 12

It is time that we went to our fellow men, touched like our merciful high priest with the feeling of their infirmities. If we are growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we shall be Christlike in all things. If our piety is sound and healthy, it is because we appropriate that which is represented as the flesh and blood of the Son of God, as we eat and appropriate the temporal food for the sustenance of the body. Thus we become one with Christ, as Christ is one with the Father. We have nothing to fear from contact with error as long as truth abides in the soul, because the Spirit of Christ dwells in us. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 13

We must not feel it our duty to disconnect from the world in all business transactions; we cannot do this if we choose. We must be connected with the world as long as we are in it, and our piety and influence in the world is to be as leaven introduced into the meal. It is God’s design that all connected with the publishing institution shall be men and women who shall know by experience the precious privilege of eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood. Thus they can reveal to the world that they have learned of Jesus. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 14

We cannot help the Christless by finding fault with them. We have not been given the work of reproving or giving personal thrusts in our periodicals. This attitude is misleading. We are to be “not easily provoked.” [1 Corinthians 13:5.] We are to remember that by our spiritual attitude we are to show that we are feeding on Christ, the bread of life. By our words, our tempers, and our works, we may testify to those with whom we come in contact, that the Spirit of Christ dwells in us. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 15

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him that hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” [1 Peter 2:9-12.] 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 16

“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” [Verses 13, 14.] This is to be looked upon as lawful and right for us to do. We should be careful to avoid leaving an impression on human minds that will cut off our influence with them, and hedge up our way. We may tie our hands and hinder our work because by some unadvised word or action of ours, we have awakened prejudice. “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, as free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” [Verses 15, 16.] 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 17

There must be no sharp retaliating between brother and brother, or against those who know not God, or Jesus Christ whom He has sent. These men are in darkness and error, and what we as a people restrain from doing, that we may leave a correct impression upon their minds, will do more to give a correct knowledge of the work in which we are engaged, than all efforts to maintain the liberty given us by God. But when any requirement is made that shows disrespect to the Seventh-day Sabbath, we are to refuse compliance. Here eternal interests are involved, and we are to know the ground we should occupy. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 18

Those who compose our churches have traits of character that will lead them, if they are not very careful, to feel indignant because, on account of misrepresentation, their liberty in regard to working on Sunday is taken away. Do not fly into a passion over this matter, but take everything in prayer to God. He alone can restrain the power of rulers. Walk not rashly. Let none boast unwisely of their liberty, using it for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. “Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” [Verse 17.] 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 19

This advice is to be of real value to all who are to be brought into straight places. Nothing that shows defiance, or that could be interpreted as maliciousness, must be shown. “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure rebuke, suffering wrongfully, For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again: when he suffered, he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously; who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” [Verses 18-24.] 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 20

This instruction is given to us all. Ministers are to take heed, and with pen and voice echo the words of God. When we are called upon to violate the law of God, we shall be given wisdom from above, to answer as did Christ, “It is written.” Speak as few words of your own arrangement as possible, but have your heart supplied with the sharp arrows of God’s furnishing. If God, the great Master-workman, is with us, we shall pass through the perplexing ordeals before us, as firm as a rock to principle, obeying God rather than man. This attitude will bring victories which our lack of faith has led us to regard as hopeless and impossible. These definite instructions were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 21

Our greatest necessity is a pure, clean heart and an understanding mind. All kinds of malicious falsehoods were circulated against Christ, and they will be circulated against God’s commandment-keeping people. How shall we prove these to be false? Shall it be by building up a wall between us and the world? Christ’s prayer answers this point: “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” [John 17:15.] While our work is aggressive, it must be conducted on Bible principles. All our enterprises are to be carried forward with Christlike simplicity, patience, forbearance, and love for God and for Christ. Our work is to convince, not to condemn. The human beings around us possess like infirmities with ourselves. They have been educated by the clergy that Sunday is the Sabbath, and so long has this error been cherished, that it has become hoary with age. But this does not make it truth. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 22

We must stand on the platform of eternal truth. As laborers together with God, we are not to hurl thunderbolts at those in error, but uplift Christ before them, and bid them behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world. We are not to storm their ears with prejudice, because this is not the way to break down prejudice. Paul, the faithful witness for Christ, gave this dying charge to Timothy: “I charge thee therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom, Preach the Word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 23

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure affliction, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” [2 Timothy 4:1-8.] Read also 1 Timothy 3:10-16; 2:1-12. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 24

In dealing with unreasonable and wicked men, those who believe the truth are to be careful not to bring themselves down to the same level, where they will use the same satanic weapons that their enemies use, by giving loose rein to strong personal feelings, and arousing against themselves, and against the work the Lord has given them to do, passion and bitter enmity. Keep Jesus uplifted. We are laborers together with God. We are provided with spiritual weapons, mighty to the pulling down of the strongholds of the enemy. We must in no case misrepresent our faith by weaving unchristlike attributes into the work. We must exalt the law of God, as binding us up with Jesus Christ and all who love Him and keep His commandments. We are also to reveal a love for the souls for whom Christ has died. Our faith is to be demonstrated as a power of which Christ is the Author. And the Bible, His Word, is to make us wise unto salvation. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 25

Let the righteousness of Christ, with its life-giving influence into the soul, and then you can sing, He forgiveth all our iniquities. You say, I am full of spiritual disease. The great Physician is calling you to come to Him, that He may heal you. He healeth all our diseases. The worst of these diseases are envy, jealousy, evil-surmising, evil-speaking, a desire to follow plans that counterwork the work of God. The lives of all ought to be holy, but they are full of depravity, and because of this, men are easy subjects for Satan’s temptations. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 26

But if Christ abides in your heart, you can say, He redeemeth our life from destruction: He crowneth us with loving-kindness and tender mercy. Then let songs of praise be upon our lips and in our heart. Meditate upon Christ’s sufferings for us. In the place of watching to find something to accuse and condemn in others, thank the Lord that there is forgiveness with Him. Christ is grieved when we criticize and accuse, for this is the work of Satan. Let us draw water from the wells of salvation, and praise the Lord. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 27

It is not sermonizing that gives evidence that the soul is born again. An appreciation of Christ’s tenderness toward the sheep of His pasture gives evidence of this. But before we can have the joy of the Lord, self must receive its death blow. Put away all pride, all self-exaltation. Consecrate all you have to the Lord. Do not use your money to gratify self. Put it into the Lord’s treasury. Means may be passing out of your hands recklessly, to gratify the wishes of others. You may give to the poor, and injure them, because you teach them to be dependent. Instead, teach them to support themselves. This will be true help. The needy must be placed in positions where they can help themselves. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 28

Those who have accepted Christ are missionaries, and they should be ready to work where they are, or to answer a call to regions beyond. If we have seen and tasted that the Lord is good, we have no time to become self-centered. If we are laborers together with God, we have a wide outlook, and an ever enlarging sympathy. We look beyond ourselves; our hearts beat with sympathy for others. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 29

It is not possible for a Christian to be self-centered. Christians are intensely in earnest. A Christian will never lose his eyes or his heart to human sorrow, human woe, human poverty. The definition of the word Christian is Christlike. Christ’s heart was ever touched by human woe. He went about doing good. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 30

If we are Christlike in spirit and action, we shall not use our hands and our time for ourselves, in making little knickknacks for our houses. There is earnest work for every pair of hands to do. Let every stroke tell for the uplifting of humanity. There are so many that need to be helped. The heart of him who lives, not to please himself but to be a blessing to those who have so few blessings, will thrill with satisfaction. Let every idler awake, and face the realities of life. Take the word of God, and search its pages. If you are doers of this Word, life will indeed be to you a living reality, and you will find that the reward is abundant. 13LtMs, Ms 46, 1898, par. 31