Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 141, 1899

“What Do Ye More Than Others?”


October 2, 1899 [typed]

Portions of this manuscript are published in Ev 46. +Note

The parable of the two sons reveals that there is a work to be done by every soul in cooperating with God. To every man is given a work, some part in the Lord’s vineyard. The words addressed to the sons were, “Go, work today in my vineyard.” [Matthew 21:28.] This embraced two commands. First he was to show his obedience by going. Then he was to work, to exercise mind and heart continually in doing the work which needed to be done. This test of sincerity is brought to every soul. Will there be deeds as well as words? Will the one called put to use all the knowledge he has, working faithfully, disinterestedly, for the Owner of the vineyard? 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 1

May man take measurement of himself, and his measurement not be correct. He may depreciate his ability to do, when if he would place himself as a learner, he would qualify himself for work. He who fixes his eyes on his own imperfections, and refuses to reach up to the Source of all strength, will never increase his ability to work. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 2

Again, there is a class of men who place a high estimate upon themselves and their work. The parable presents the case of the man who places his own estimate on his works. But the same value was not placed upon them by the One who reads the motives, who calculates the true worth of every work. The Lord placed no high value on those who said, “I go, sir,” but went not. [Verse 30.] 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 3

To the scribes and Pharisees Christ on one occasion said, “What do ye more than others?” [Matthew 5:47.] They had been blessed [with] great privileges, but they became self-exalted. While claiming to be the children of Abraham, they refused to do the works of Abraham. The truths brought before the mind must be comprehended, received, and confessed. “If ye know these things,” Christ says, “happy are ye if ye do them.” [John 13:17.] Our obedience is required. The actions are the index of the character. The tree is valued by the fruit it bears. So those who truly love God will do the things which please Him. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 4

Adam, because he believed Satan’s misrepresentations of God and disobeyed his Creator, was not permitted to work in the garden of Eden. But through the mercy of Christ the call is made to men, “Go work today in my vineyard.” [Matthew 21:28.] You are My purchased heritage. You are called away from the disloyalty of the world to build up a character in obedience to My word. You are accepted as laborers together with God. “Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. ... But God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he hath loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved,) and hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 5

“That in the ages to come, he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness to us through Jesus Christ. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. ... Now therefore we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens of the saints, and of the household of light; and are built upon the foundations of the apostle and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth into an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” [Ephesians 2:1, 2, 4-10, 19-22.] 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 6

“Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” [1 Corinthians 3:9.] Our characters are built up by obedience to the Word of God. The Lord’s plan for character building is to be carried out in the way he has specified. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you,” He says, “Through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 7

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience, and to patience, godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [2 Peter 1:2-8.] 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 8

What is the work which the Lord requires of us? The apostle Paul answers this question: “You that were sometime alienated and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard. ... Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints; to whom God would make known the riches of this glory among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” [Colossians 1:21-23, 26-28.] This work God calls on us to do. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 9

“What could have been done more in my vineyard,” Christ asks, “that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to: I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down. And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold, oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” [Isaiah 5:4-7.] 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 10

Here the prophet describes the expectations of the Lord from His vineyard. He looked that it should bring forth grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes. He looked for the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith—but they were wanting. There is a work to be done in the hearts and minds of Christ’s professed followers. Let those who have a knowledge of the Scriptures look carefully and see if they are disappointing the Owner of the vineyard. While it is called today, harden not your hearts. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you, to will and to do of his good pleasure.” [Philippians 2:12, 13.] 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 11

Those who work in the Lord’s vineyard are to be faithful to one another and to God. Everything that savors of strife is to be cleansed away by the Holy Spirit’s working. The apostle writes, “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another.” [Galatians 5:24-26.] Loyalty to the Owner of the vineyard and love for one another is to mark the lives of the workers as they labor disinterestedly to cultivate the soil. Then rich clusters of fruit will testify to the Source from which they draw their supplies. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 12

The field of labor is to be extended. The Gospel message is to go to all parts of the world. The most unpromising fields must receive earnest determined labor. The sons of God, earnest, true, unselfish, must use all the knowledge they possess in managing this important work. They must make the most of their time, cultivating all their powers to do the highest service. How many are acting as faithful stewards? 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 13

God stands to His people in the position of a Father, and He has a father’s right to our faithful service. I ask all who claim to be Christians, Are you living for your own pleasure alone? Christ has given us His life, that we might give Him our lives in faithful service. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 14

Many who now help to compose the church stand in the position of the second son. They say, “I go, sir,” but they bear no burdens in the vineyard. [Matthew 21:30.] They do not cooperate with those who are doing God service. They are idlers, driftwood. They have not an increasing love for God and the truth, and there is more hope for the publican and the sinner than for them. Those who profess to be Christians, but who refuse to wear the yoke of Christ and learn His meekness and lowliness of heart are stumbling blocks in the way of sinners. They have a form of godliness, but they are not fruit-bearing branches of the vine. Their ears may hear the truth, but their perceptive powers have departed. The heart is hardened, the moral perception dimmed, the conscience seared. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 15

There is no comfort in living a lie, to profess to be sons of God and yet fail to act our part in giving Him diligent faithful whole-souled service. If the Holy Spirit was abiding in the heart as the Comforter, this would be revealed. Said Christ, “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever: even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” [John 14:16, 17.] The world cannot receive this statement, for spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Unconverted church members are registered in the books of heaven as disobedient sons. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 16

Those who have taken this solemn covenant upon themselves, have pledged themselves to receive the Word of God and obey it. But they do not do this. They do not place themselves in obedience to the requirements of God. The surrender to God must be complete. “If ye love me,” Christ says, “keep my commandments.” [Verse 15.] “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” [Matthew 11:29.] My yoke is not, as many suppose, a yoke of bondage. It is a yoke of perfect freedom, linking man with God. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 17

In the Word is revealed to us the adorning of which Christ approves. It is not the wearing of gold, not the plaiting of the hair, not the wearing of apparel. It is the “hidden man of the heart in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” [1 Peter 3:4.] The meek and quiet spirit will testify of itself in good works. This is the fruit which is to distinguish the people of God from the world. In their loving, sympathetic tenderness they reveal that they are wearers of Christ’s yoke, recipients of the gift of the Holy Spirit. 14LtMs, Ms 141, 1899, par. 18