Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 23 (1908)


Ms 17, 1908

The Work in California

St. Helena, California

February 15, 1908

Portions of this manuscript are published in Ev 307; ML 42; 6BC 1059; MR311 20. +Note

My soul is burdened and distressed, because of the way in which the work of our cause in California has been managed for the past three years. It has been laid out before me that there has been a lack of spiritual discernment. A man-ruling power has held sway, and it has injured the sound judgment of some who have carried responsibilities. The outworking of this power has been an offense to God. Men have exercised authority over the Lord’s heritage, according to their own disposition, and this has in some cases made religious liberty an impossibility. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 1

This work did not originate with the Author of our salvation. The Lord forbids everything of this order. The message has been given me that the placing of such power in the hands of men is a work that should be rebuked. God has given to no human agency the right to be conscience for his fellow man. Again and again He has instructed me to point out the defects in the experience and the management of some who have been placed in positions of trust. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 2

It is greatly to be deplored that the influence and labors of some have not led the church members to unity of action in the work of soul-saving. The experience of some in church work has not been such as to prepare them to receive the “well done, good and faithful servant.” [Matthew 25:23.] May the Lord carry on a work of thorough reformation in the hearts and lives of those who have been given great light, but who have refused to repent and be converted! Their position and influence mean much to members of our churches. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 3

The men composing the conference committee should be men of ability. They are called by God to take their place in the work, not like Aaron to assist in a work of idolatry, but to build up the cause of God in right lines. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 4

It should not be the chief consideration of conference officers to collect and save up money, for then the real work of the conference, the salvation of souls, will become a matter of secondary importance. Our people should never be permitted to lose sight of a world shrouded in darkness, waiting for the light of the gospel message. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 5

What a change would have been seen in this conference, if all its laborers, with truly converted hearts, had worked with zeal and sanctified ability! Men and women would have been converted to the truth through the preaching of the Word, and these would have reached out for others. Many souls would have been converted, and all would have brought additional revenue to the cause of God in their tithes and offerings. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 6

The character of the economy, which has sometimes been revealed in gathering up means, is an offense to God. He says, “The gold and the silver is Mine.” [Haggai 2:8.] Religious and spiritual interests must not be subordinated to the saving of the means gathered into the conference treasury, that the officers may stand high in the estimation of the people as good financiers. The Lord looks beneath the surface, and He does not approve of such financiering. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 7

The Lord demands that in His servants shall be found a spirit that is quick to feel the value of souls, quick to discern the duties to be done, quick to respond to the obligation which the Lord lays upon them. There must be a devotion that will regard no earthly interest of sufficient value to take the place of the work to be done in winning souls to a knowledge of the truth. It is a sad fact that the importance of the responsibilities laid upon the workers for the salvation of souls has in some cases been lost sight of in the desire to save all the money possible; and, as a result, some who ought to have entered the field have lost heart. I have been shown that the desire to save money, by paying some of the ministers an insufficient salary, has resulted sometimes in serious depression and has brought upon some faithful laborers much heavier burdens than they needed to have borne; and as a result, the progress of the progress of the work has been seriously retarded. This is displeasing to God. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 8

If more earnest revival efforts had been made, many who are now living in unbelief would have come to a knowledge of the truth. If special efforts had been made by the circulation of our publications, by the giving of Bible readings, and by faithful, untiring ministry as Christ gave example, many, very many would have been converted to the truth, and these in turn would have labored for their friends. Said Christ, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” [Mark 2:17.] 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 9

Many unfortunate experiences have come into the work in the past three years, and these would have continued to occur in the future had not the Lord laid the burden upon my soul, saying, Give the message to the conference that there would have been many souls brought to a knowledge of the truth if human yokes had not been placed upon the necks of some of God’s workers. The Lord saith, “I will move upon human minds to go to places where help is needed, to hold meetings, and to bear testimony where My Spirit shall direct.” 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 10

The Lord knows how to direct and where to send His workers, just as verily as He knew how to direct His servants in the days when He was on earth. Had the workers in California relied more upon the guidance and instruction of the Lord, and less on the judgment of men, hundreds more would have been brought to Christ, and these in turn would have labored for the salvation of their friends. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 11

The spiritual phase of every meeting should always be regarded as of the highest importance. The souls under conviction of the truth need to be visited and labored for. Sinners need a special work done for them, that they may be converted and baptized. The Scriptures should be explained to them, and they should be prayed with. Nothing should be done to discourage or restrict Christian activity, but the workers should be encouraged to do all in their power to advance the kingdom of Christ. Ministers should be encouraged to extend their labors far and near. How few have seen the great need of promptness and faithfulness in this work, which means the saving of souls! 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 12

The workers in the cause of God, if they work wisely, will not fail to follow up by personal labor the interests of the meetings held. They will continue their efforts for the people after they have returned to their homes. The Lord would have been pleased if much more of this kind of work had been done. The tent-meetings laid increased responsibility upon those whom the Lord was moving to visit and labor for souls. But some who should have done this house-to-house work with the interested ones have been disheartened and discouraged by their severe encounter with opposing parties. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 13

I urge our workers to read in Acts the record of how wonderfully the Lord worked for one who was seeking after light. “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down unto Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot reading Esaias the prophet. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 14

“Then the Spirit of the Lord said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 15

“The place of the Scripture where he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so openeth He not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 16

“And as they went their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still, and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.” [Acts 8:26-39.] 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 17

The Lord has His angels in the earth today, ministering, although unseen, to the servants of God. Sometimes they speak to men in person, taking the form of men. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 18

We have another record of the Lord’s work through the agency of angels, in the account of Saul’s conversion, recorded in the ninth chapter of Acts. Here again we are led to see the wonderful connection there is between the heavenly agencies and the earthly. Saul, he who had stood by, consenting, at the stoning of Stephen, was not content to leave the people of God undisturbed. “Breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, Saul went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 19

“And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 20

“And he said, Who art Thou, Lord? 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 21

“And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 22

“And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 23

“And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 24

“And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 25

“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 26

“Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on Thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will show him how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 27

“And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.” [Verses 1-22.] 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 28

In the tenth chapter of Acts we have still another instance of the ministration of heavenly angels, resulting in the conversion of Cornelius and his company. Let these chapters be read and receive special attention. In them we see that heaven is much nearer to the Christian who is engaged in the work of soul-saving then many suppose. We should learn through them the lesson, also, of God’s regard for every human being, and that each should treat his fellow man as one of the Lord’s instrumentalities for the accomplishment of His work in the earth. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 29

The light of prophecy still burns for the guidance of souls, saying, “This is the way; walk ye in it.” [Isaiah 30:21.] It shines on the pathway of the just to commend, and on the way of the unjust to lead to repentance and conversion. Through its agency sin will be rebuked and iniquity unmasked. It is progressive in the performance of its duty to reflect light on the past, the present, and the future. The light of truth, Bible truth, will sustain the workers under the great responsibilities that they are called upon to bear. God is working out His great plan for eternity, and His agencies are to be multiplied. We are all acting our part in obedience to the laws of cause and effect. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 30

Our workers need to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Many need to have a reconversion, a reconsecration to God’s service, to be led and controlled by His will. Now and ever let your trust be in the One who understands the working of every human heart. The Lord is soon to come, and every soul is to be under His control. Let us now arouse to the work before us with energy, letting the truth go forth as a lamp that burneth. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 31

Lay not up your increase in lands or houses or bank-stock. There is a grand and wonderful work for the salvation of men to be done that calls for your means—a work that has been neglected for years. I urge you to put away every extravagance. Let your food be in harmony with the light God has given on health reform. The Lord asks you to break the yoke of custom. Let us become in every sense of the word health reformers. Let us so live that we can come to the Lord with confidence, knowing that we have heeded the light the Lord has given upon health reform. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 32

A knowledge of the truth calls for those who profess to believe in it to take up their appointed work for the arousing of the world. They are to labor to fulfil the Word, “The earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” [Numbers 14:21.] The worker may ask, “Who is sufficient for these things?” [2 Corinthians 2:16.] The only way to enter heaven is by the strait gate and the narrow way. If men would be saved, they must be converted to God’s plans. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 33

Independent Action

My brethren, there is to be no independent action in the work of God. We are to understand that we are a part of God’s great sacred plan and work. Our religious experience is to be in strict conformity to the Word, in which are defined the principles of mercy and the love of God. God calls upon His people to unify as the burdens of the work press upon them. They should engage often in earnest, humble prayer. There should not be made one careless, indifferent move, or one selfish proposition, that would hurt or cut off the influence of one of the Lord’s purchased possessions. I have been shown that the truth is to reveal its consecrating influence by creating in the lives of the believers examples of conscientiousness which will be maintained under every circumstance. Truth is to be revealed as truth that sanctifies the receiver. I have been grieved to see, at times, the banner of truth trailing, as it were, in the dust. Uplift the standard! 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 34

The missionary work that should have been developed among us is not seen as it should have existed. Genuine piety has lessened in the hearts of many, instead of having increased. There has been a loss of genuine simplicity. There is not that understanding of how to win souls that should be revealed. The proper methods for the strengthening of true devotion have not been followed. A true understanding of what God requires of His people will show that there are many who need to be converted. When the mind is under the control of the will of God, laborers will have success in their work, but not until then. The Lord has no use in His work for those who feel satisfied with their labors. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 35

We are part of the most wonderful plan that has ever been devised. None can be stationary. Until the end, each must either be going backward or continually advancing. The object of this great plan is unity. Unity must be among the Lord’s workers. We need to be very careful how we treat the Lord’s purchased possessions; for unless the Lord is the controlling power in our work, serious mistakes will be made. His purchased possession is very dear to the heart of Christ, and those who make the work of His faithful ones hard and trying will be called to account for their actions. Those who have pledged themselves by baptism to be true to God must be faithful in acting their appointed part. They are to exert a sanctified influence and give an example of the working out of pure, unselfish, noble principles. In an example of this character, God is glorified because of His grace imparted for the salvation of men. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 36

The wonderful plan of God for the human family is being worked out when His people reveal that hallowed, benevolent character that was manifested in the life of Christ, given for the saving of a fallen world. He designs that every church member shall reveal such a clean, holy spirit, that the character of Christ can be traced in his lifework. 23LtMs, Ms 17, 1908, par. 37