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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900) - Contents
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    Ms 23, 1900

    Unfaithful Servants


    April 1, 1900 [typed]

    Previously unpublished. +NoteOne or more typed copies of this document contain additional Ellen White handwritten interlineations which may be viewed at the main office of the Ellen G. White Estate.

    The church is very precious in God’s sight. He values it, not for its external advantages, but for the sincere piety which distinguishes it from the world. He estimates it according to the growth of the members in the knowledge of Christ, according to their progress in spiritual experience.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 1

    It is of the church that the Psalmist writes, “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt; thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root.” [Psalm 80:8, 9.] And through the prophet Isaiah God declares, “Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved, touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill; and he fenced it (with his commandments), and gathered out the stones thereof, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein.” [Isaiah 5:1, 2.]15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 2

    Then he says, “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.” [Verse 7.] God took the people of Israel into the land of Canaan, and there did for them the work represented by planting and hedging a vineyard. He was the foundation of all their religious ceremonies. Through them the way was to be prepared for the diffusion of His light to all the nations of the world. God furnished them with every facility to enable them to become under His Theocracy, the greatest nation on the earth. They were to honor Him by their steadfast adherence to the highest, noblest principles. They were to preserve practical godliness untarnished by idolatry. Thus in a fallen, wicked world they were to represent the family of heaven.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 3

    In the parable of the vineyard Christ represented the past and future history of His church. “There was a certain nobleman,” He said, “which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and let it out to husbandmen.” [Matthew 21:33.]15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 4

    God looked that His vineyard should bring forth grapes. But the husbandmen failed to fulfill His purpose for them. He sent His messengers to them, to receive the fruit of the vineyard, but instead of being welcomed, they were treated as enemies. The husbandmen persecuted and killed them. God sent still other messengers, but they received the same treatment as the first, only that the husbandmen showed still more determined hatred.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 5

    As a last resource, God sent His Son, saying, They will reverence My Son. But their resistance had made them vindictive, and they said among themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on the inheritance. We shall then be left to enjoy the vineyard, and to do as we please with the fruit.” [Verse 38.]15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 6

    The Jewish rulers did not love God; therefore they out themselves away from Him, and rejected all His overtures for a just settlement. Christ, the Beloved of God, came to assert the claims of the Owner of the vineyard, but the husbandmen treated Him with marked contempt, saying, “We will not have this man to rule over us.” [Luke 19:14.] They envied Christ’s beauty of character. His manner of teaching was far above theirs, and they dreaded His success. He remonstrated with them, unveiling their hypocrisy, and showing them the sure result of their course of action. This stirred them to madness. They smarted under the rebuke they could not prevent. They hated the high standard of righteousness which Christ continually presented. They saw that His teaching was placing them where their selfishness would be uncloaked, and they determined to kill Him. They hated His example of truthfulness and piety and the elevated spirituality He revealed in all He did.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 7

    His whole life was a constant reproof to their selfishness, and when the final test came, the test which meant obedience unto eternal life or disobedience unto eternal death, they rejected the Holy One of Israel. When they were asked to choose between Christ and Barabbas, they cried out, “Release unto us Barabbas.” [Luke 23:18.] And when Pilate asked, “What shall I do then with Jesus?” they cried fiercely, “Crucify him, crucify him.” [Matthew 27:22; Luke 23:21.] “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked, and from the priests and rulers came the answer, “We have no king but Caesar.” [John 19:15.] When Pilate washed his hands, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just man,” the priests joined with the ignorant mob in declaring passionately, “His blood be on us and on our children.” [Matthew 27:24, 25.]15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 8

    Thus the Jewish leaders made their choice. Their decision is registered in the book, which John saw in the hand of <One sitting on the throne,> which no man could open. In all its vindictiveness this decision will appear before them in the day when this book is unsealed by the Lion of the tribe of Judah.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 9

    The Jewish people cherished the idea that they were the favorites of heaven, and that they were always to be exalted as the church of God. They were the children of Abraham they declared, and so firm did the foundation of their prosperity seem to them that they defiled earth and heaven to dispossess them of their right. But by lives of unfaithfulness they were preparing for the condemnation of heaven and for separation from God.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 10

    After Christ had portrayed before the priests their crowning act of wickedness, He asked, “When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?” The priests had been following the narrative with deep interest, and without considering the relation of the subject to themselves, they answered, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render to him the fruits in their season.” Unwittingly they had pronounced their own doom. Solemnly and regretfully Christ asked, “Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner; this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” [Matthew 21:40-44.]15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 11

    Christ would have averted the doom of the Jewish nation if the people had received Him. But envy and jealousy made them implacable. They determined that they would not receive Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. They rejected the Light of the world, and henceforth their souls were surrounded with darkness as the darkness of midnight. The doom foretold came upon the Jewish nation. Josephus tells us that in the siege of Jerusalem more than one million people perished.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 12

    Let the church of today take warning from the church that separated itself from God and crucified the Lord of glory. Year after year the wicked husbandmen occupied God’s vineyard, and year after year God looked in vain for fruit. His messengers were shamefully treated. His beloved Son was crucified. The unfaithful husbandmen appropriated to their own use the goods entrusted to them. They selfishly enjoyed all the benefits of the vineyard, returning no fruit to God. Christ declared that the blessings and privileges which had been abused by the Jewish people would be transferred from them to the Gentiles.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 13

    Has this parable any application at this time? If professing Christians of today would study the matter carefully, they would see that they are following in the steps of the wicked husbandmen. If not, why are they stirred to anger when the claims of the law of God are kept before them. Satan is not dead, neither is he converted. He is converting church members to him, leading them to continue the warfare against God and His truth. Those who have yielded themselves up to do this work hate the light of the pure doctrines which Christ enforced. They rejected God by rejecting His truth, and the sacred trust committed to them will be taken from them and given to others.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 14

    Those religious teachers who refuse to accept the invitation to the gospel feast are following in the tread of the Jewish rulers. They will not see their peril. They are unwilling to make a candid investigation of the Scriptures. When men close their eyes against evidence, they prepare themselves to continue in opposition. The first step taken, the second is easier. As they go on, they show that they hate the principles of Christ’s character as verily as the Jews hated them.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 15

    What are men doing with their Lord’s goods? Many of them are using these goods to dishonor the Giver. Liquor dealers are sustained in their deadly work by those who control in these matters. God looks down from heaven and sees men, some of them professing Christians, handing out licenses to saloon keepers.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 16

    It is Satan’s work to lead church members to disobey the law of God. And he has so far succeeded that from the pulpits of the churches people are taught that the law of God is not binding upon them. The ministers read God’s Word in the light of transgression. God calls them false shepherds; for them the light of truth comes to the people, they do all in their power to persuade them to reject it. They have committed a breach of trust.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 17

    Satan has stolen a march upon professing Christians. Many whose names are on the church roll stand on the same platform as Satan, at war with the law of Jehovah. Satan has put his mark upon men. Under his influence they work to perpetuate transgression. Satan was once the highest of created beings, occupying the place of covering cherub. But a desire to be supreme entered his heart. He instituted a rebellion in heaven, and with his sympathizers was cast out. Those who cherish sentiments of rebellion against God can never enter the heavenly courts. Those who knowingly break the law of God and teach others to break it can no more live in God’s presence than could the angels who took part with the first great apostate.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 18

    A second probation, purchased by the death of the Son of God, has been granted to the human race. Those who do not respect the sacrifice enough to obey the law, which in dying Christ magnified, can never enter the city of God. On earth they form habits of disobedience and rebellion, and if permitted to enter heaven, they would carry with them a spirit that would bring about a second rebellion.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 19

    There is no sin in heaven. Through its portals those who disregard the light sent them by God can never enter. This is why God sends men the message today, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. ... And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.” [Revelation 22:14, 17.]15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 20

    Men and women place their names on the church roll, thereby testifying that, diseased by sin and often falling into temptation, they desire the remedy for sin and uncleanness prescribed in the Word of God. There are those who subscribe themselves as church members who do not realize that they are diseased, who do not take the gospel remedy for spiritual sickness. But others long for spiritual restoration; therefore the message must be given to the different churches. It was Christ’s work to present the remedy for sin to the Jewish church, lest the whole body should become diseased beyond cure.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 21

    To the churches of today we are to give the startling message given by John the Baptist to the Jews, “Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 3:2.] As John prepared the way for the first advent of Christ, so we are to prepare the way for the second advent of the Saviour. We are to ask men and women the question, Are you following the great apostate, disobeying the law of God? or are you following Jesus, who declared, “I have kept my Father’s commandments”? [John 15:10.] This is the line of demarcation between the true church and the world.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 22

    Every member of the church is called upon to do service for the Master, under the precious influence of the Holy Spirit. Everyone who claims to be a Christian should reflect to every other soul the healing rays of the Sun of Righteousness. He should be the plant of the Lord, whose example and godly conversation has a reviving influence upon other plants of the Lord. God’s church is to increase in power and influence as it lifts the standard of truth. Churches must be build in many places, that in these memorials God’s people may assemble to worship Him. Thus Seventh-day Adventists can bear a living witness to the world.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 23

    Let not God’s people, for the want of light, exert a destroying influence. Keep your light steadily burning, else you will fail where you ought to <show> success. God expects those who have a knowledge of Bible truth to use their knowledge aright. What is there that we can do? We can show the line of demarcation between God’s people and the world. We can show that we are in harmony with heaven. We can show by our works that our conversion is genuine. We have no boasting to do; no airs of superior piety to put on. All God requires of us to do is to reveal the light that is in us. Thus we can show how much better is piety than ungodliness, faith than unbelief, liberality than selfishness.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 24

    Seventh-day Adventists need the transforming power of God in their hearts. Then they will reveal Christ in the home, in the church, and in the world. Let us remember that we have been redeemed by a costly ransom—the life of the Son of God. To Him we owe our all, for He has bought us with His blood. Let us remember that all we have and are belongs to God, and that He expects us to bear fruit to His glory. Let us look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Only thus can we represent His character. I call upon Seventh-day Adventists to heed the message, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” [Isaiah 60:1.] Labor together with God for the enlightenment of the world. Live so that all with whom you come in contact will see that you have been with Jesus and learned of Him.15LtMs, Ms 23, 1900, par. 25

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