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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902) - Contents
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    Ms 47, 1902

    Lessons From the Eighteenth of Matthew


    April 2, 1902 [typed]

    Portions of this manuscript are published in UL 106. +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.

    “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” [Verses 1-6.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 1

    The disciples could not believe that Christ was not going to set up a kingdom on this earth, and they were disputing among themselves as to which of them would be the greatest in this kingdom. Calling a little child to Him, Christ set him in the midst of them, as an object lesson of the character of the kingdom He was to set up on the earth. Thus He sought to correct their false idea of His work. Thus He sought to lead them to understand that it is spiritual excellence of character that His believing people are to receive, not earthly display or splendor, wealth or position. None of these things constitute greatness in God’s sight. None of them are of any weight with Him. A character bearing the semblance of Christ’s spotless character is of value in God’s sight. Such a character would make the disciples as a little child, eagerly desiring to take the hand of Christ, and be led in safe paths. They would cherish a submissive spirit, willing to wear the yoke of Christ and learn of Him His meekness and lowliness. Thus they would be enabled to walk wisely in a perfect way. They would be changed into Christ’s likeness.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 2

    Let us study this Scripture in the light of its far-reaching results. What is it upon which Christ insists? “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Verse 3.] You must be converted. The pride, the ambition, the desire for worldly honor and position, which appeal so naturally to the unconverted heart, must be overcome.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 3

    “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 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 over 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.” [Verses 10-14.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 4

    These are the words of Christ, plain, distinct, and easily understood by every heart susceptible to the influence of the Holy Spirit.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 5

    Not only for eminent believers does Christ intercede, but for those whom He calls “little ones.” The weakest ones are to be looked after and encouraged. In their simplicity they may serve God most acceptably. They are so precious in His sight that Christ declares, “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depths of the sea.” [Verse 6.] Thus Christ teaches us to walk and work in all humility of mind. In the Lord’s kingdom, those who have served Him in humility and simplicity will be placed first. They will be especially honored because they trusted in Christ with the confiding simplicity of real faith. The Good Shepherd gives the greatest care to the weakest of the flock.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 6

    “Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between him and thee alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” [Verses 15-20.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 7

    This is Christ’s lesson for all who are connected in church capacity. What a change there would be if every church member would obey these words!17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 8

    “Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” [Verse 15.] This is the way in which misunderstandings are to be settled. Speaking alone, and in the Spirit of Christ to the one who is in fault, will often remove the difficulty. Show Christlike love for your brother by seeking to adjust the difficulty “between thee and him alone.” Talk quietly together. Let no angry words escape your lips. Present the subject in a way that will appeal to his best judgment. And if he will hear you, you have gained him as a friend. Whatever the character of the offense may be, this does not change the plan God has made for the settlement of misunderstandings and personal injuries. Act out the Spirit of Christ. Take the recipe God has provided, and carry it to the spiritually diseased. Give him the remedy that will cure the disease of disaffection. Do your part to help him. Feel that it is a duty and privilege to do this, for the sake of the peace of the church, which is very dear to the heart of Christ. He does not want any wound to remain unhealed on any member of His church. All heaven is interested in the interview between the injured member and the one who has been guilty of error. After settling the difficulty, pray together, and angels of God will come to you and bless you. There is music in heaven over this union.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 9

    As the erring one accepts the testimony borne, and gives evidence of true repentance, the sunshine of heaven fills his heart. Hearts are drawn together. The healing oil of love removes the disease and soreness of the wrong. The Holy Spirit binds heart to heart.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 10

    Those who have been united in Christian fellowship offer prayer to God and pledge themselves to deal justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. If they have wronged others, they continue the work of repentance, confession, and restitution; and the disease is healed. They are fully set to do good to one another. This is the fulfilling of the law of Christ.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 11

    Repentance, confession, and restitution are all required. But these cannot atone for the sin; for God has been wronged in the person of His saints. The Lord Jesus alone is able to atone for sin, by the application of His blood, shed for the guilt of the sinner. His blood cleanses from all sin.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 12

    “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” [Verse 16.] Take those who are spiritually minded and talk with the one in error in regard to the wrong done. He may yield to the united appeals of his brethren. As he sees their agreement in the matter, his mind may be enlightened.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 13

    “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto them as an heathen man and a publican.” [Verse 17.] When this has been done, then the church has cleared herself before God. These precautions are given to preserve the unity and purity of the church and to prevent the evil from becoming more public and more widespread. The evil must be made to appear as it is, and it must be removed; for the health and purity of the church must be preserved, that she may stand unsullied in the garments of righteousness.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 14

    We need to understand the rules of church discipline and the duty that rests upon every church member to do the work that is to be done. All are to strive to preserve perfect harmony in the church, which is to be like a well-regulated family. In the church below, God’s children are to be prepared for the great reunion in the church above. Those who here live in union with Christ may look forward to an endless life in the heavenly courts.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 15

    “Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” [Verses 19, 20.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 16

    Shall we not be Bible readers and Bible believers? Shall we not bring the teaching of Christ into the practical life?17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 17

    “Then came Peter unto him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Unto seven times! but until seventy times seven.” [Verses 21, 22.] This is an important part of what Christ has commanded His people to teach.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 18

    “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor; I am the Lord. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people; but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. I am the Lord.” [Leviticus 19:16-18.] “Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.” You are in danger of being implicated in his guilt if you do not, as a faithful steward of the grace of Christ, seek to save him from his sin.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 19

    If your brother has displeased you, if he has injured you in any way, follow Christ’s instruction in dealing with him. The Saviour’s words are leaves from the tree of life, which you are to present to your brother, that the difficulty may be healed. Do not suffer resentment to ripen into malice. Do not allow the wrong to be like a wound that bleeds inwardly. Go to your brother, and tell him all about the matter. In humility and sincerity admonish him. Do not allow your thoughts and his to continue to be bitter. Do not let the wound fester and its poison break out in words that taint other minds. Do not watch to make your brother an offender for a word or a look. Do not rail against him. This hurts your influence and harms the members of the church. But do not suffer sin upon him. Correct him in the way laid down in the Word of God. Try to make him sensible of his wrong. Do not leave the wound unhealed until it is incurable.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 20

    Do not repeat wrongs. One person is told, and another, and then another, and continually the report grows, and the evil increases, till the whole church is made to suffer. Is it not best to follow a plain “Thus saith the Lord”? Settle the matter “between thee and him alone.” [Matthew 18:15.] This is God’s plan. Do not tell the matter to any one else. Seek to convince the one you think to be in the wrong, but do not expose him, and thus aggravate the difficulty, making the reproof look like a revenge. The wisdom that is from above is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated.” [James 3:17.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 21

    “Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame. Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself; and discover not the secret to another.” [Proverbs 25:8, 9.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 22

    Reason calmly about the matter. Do not exaggerate the wrong. If ye shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. The controversy is ended, and friendship and confidence are restored. The angels of heaven rejoice that agreement has been brought about.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 23

    This is a most important subject, and I fear that I have but feebly represented its importance. The burden is upon me; for I have a message from the Lord for His people. There is medical missionary work to be done in this line in every church that has been established among us. Shall we obey the words of our Lord, or shall we pass on, saying, “It does not matter.” But it matters much to us whether we obey or disobey the words of Christ.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 24


    Christ’s Prayer for Unity

    Christ’s last prayer before His trial was for the unity of His followers. He prayed for complete harmony. “That they may be one, even as we are one,” He said. [John 17:22.] O that the importance of this prayer might be stamped on our hearts. O that we might be influenced and controlled by the spirit of this prayer!17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 25

    “Neither pray I for these alone; but for them also which shall believe on me through their words; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may believe that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” [Verses 20-23.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 26

    Unity of action is essential in the Lord’s work. His followers are to be of one heart and one mind, speaking the same thing. “There is a variety of gifts, but the same spirit.” [1 Corinthians 12:4.] In order for God’s servants to improve every talent as thy should, they must unite with one another in Christian service. Some will labor in one way and some in another. Some will preach the Word, and others will use their ability in writing and translating books. Translations are to be made in every tongue. The gospel is to be preached to every creature.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 27

    Christ’s prayer reveals God’s purpose concerning our spiritual advancement. The heart of the Saviour is set upon His disciples fulfilling God’s purpose, in all its height and breadth. They are to be one in Him, even though they are scattered the world over. The prayer embraces all. And upon us lies the burden of its answering. God cannot make us one with Christ and with one another unless we are willing to give up our way for His way.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 28

    “That they may be one, even as we are one.” [John 17:22.] O that the church may be animated by the Spirit of Christ. Then would His prayer be answered. Upon the virtue of Christ’s sacrifice for us we are all agreed. His prayer for us is that we may be made perfect in one. Shall we, by doing the medical missionary work He has given us to do, make it possible for God to answer this prayer, or shall we, by discord and strife, make it of no avail? Shall we not, by co-operating with the divine agencies, enable God to answer this prayer?17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 29

    Harmony and union existing among men of varied dispositions is the strongest evidence that can be borne that God has sent His Son into the world to save sinners.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 30

    While believers are distinct in individuality, while they differ in disposition, yet they are sanctified by the same spirit, and they are to be one in the things of God. They are different parts of the same great temple.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 31

    “I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent them, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” [Verses 23-26.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 32

    Read the words over and over again, and then go to work upon God’s plan, that hearts may be knit together, that the unity among God’s followers may be even as the unity existing between the Father and the Son. Ministers of the gospel are to strive earnestly and constantly to answer this prayer. This will be their defense against the attacks of Satan. It will give beauty and fragrance to the character. Let those who occupy responsible positions as church leaders take up this subject, that the unity for which Christ prayed may be seen among His followers. Let church members yield their will and their way to Christ. Let all tale-bearing cease. Clear away the difficulties, whether they be large or small. The Holy Spirit is given to purify the church of these annoyances. The Holy Spirit is given to dwell always with believers. Let confessions be made till the church is relieved of the sin that rests upon it and all grievances are settled.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 33

    Shall we not die to self? Shall we not make every effort to answer Christ’s prayer? Think of the wonderful possibilities it contains. We are pointed to the most exalted position that it is possible for human beings to occupy. When divine and human agencies co-operate in the work of soul-saving, sinners will be converted and many souls will be saved.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 34

    It is our privilege to act a part in the great work outlined in Christ’s prayer. But in order to do this, we must place ourselves under Christ’s command. The tender regard the Saviour has shown for His church calls upon us to keep our souls in His love. Each one has something to do. Let us strive earnestly and untiringly to fulfil God’s purpose for us, “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God,” unto perfect men and women, “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” [Ephesians 4:13.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 35


    “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” [Philippians 2:12-15.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 36

    As man works with all his capabilities, in all humility of mind, to resist the evil working of the enemy to confuse and overthrow him, God works in him, to will and to do of His good pleasure. Thus God works with human minds; and under His guidance His servants, His instrumentalities, work in harmonious action. We must preserve unity. Thus we shall glorify God.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 37

    The love of God, cherished in the heart, and revealed in the words and actions, will do more for human beings than all the logic in the world. Without this love, the appeals that may be made will be without power to reach and subdue hearts. In the life of Christ, this love found full and complete expression. His great heart of infinite love yearns toward every soul. He longs to make us partakers of His nature.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 38

    On the cross of Calvary, Christ made a full and complete atonement for the fallen race. He died because of our sin. This was the only way in which we could be pardoned. Holiness is the fruit of Christ’s infinite sacrifice in our behalf. It was not for His friends, but for His enemies, that Christ made this sacrifice, for those who He declared would not come to Him that they might have life, for those who chose earthly pleasures and earthly riches. He longs to save those who have given themselves up to the world. He calls upon them to choose His service, to give themselves wholly into His control, to wear His yoke, and learn of Him how to be meek and lowly, how to do God’s will. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon Himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [Verses 5-11.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 39

    There is a great difference between the spirit of the world and the Spirit of Christ. One leads to self-seeking, to striving for treasures that will be destroyed by the fires of the last day; the other leads to self-denial and self-sacrifice, to striving for the treasure that never perishes.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 40

    The acceptance of truth is the means of sanctification. The more clearly we understand this truth, and the more faithfully we obey it, the more humble shall we be in our own estimation, and the more exalted we shall be in the estimation of the heavenly universe. The more unselfish our efforts for God, the more Christlike will be their influence, and the greater will be the good they will accomplish.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 41

    The Holy Spirit, received by faith, breaks stubborn hearts. This is the soul and power of the sanctification of the truth, the source of the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. All true exaltation grows out of the humiliation developed in the life of Christ, shown by the wonderful sacrifice He made to save perishing souls. He who is exalted by God must first humble himself. God has exalted Christ above every name that is named. But Christ first reached to the very depths of human woe, weaving himself into the sympathies of the race by His meekness and gentleness, His truth and righteousness. He has set an example that all who engage in His service are to follow.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 42

    “Learn of Me,” said the greatest Teacher that the world has ever known. “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:29, 30.] It is not enough for us to read the Word of God. The Scriptures are given for our instruction, and we are to search them carefully and diligently. We are to study the Word of God, comparing one portion with another. Scripture is the key that unlocks Scripture. As we read and pray and study, there will be beside us a divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit, enlightening our understanding, that we may comprehend the great truths of God’s Word.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 43

    We are told to glorify God in our body and in our spirit, which are His, because we have been bought with a price. We are to do this by hearkening to His Word. We are to honor God and Christ by perfect obedience to this Word.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 44

    We are also to search our hearts carefully, to see if we really desire to understand the teaching of the Word of God in regard to our daily duty.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 45

    We are to listen attentively to the words of the ministers of God, those chosen of Him and precious, whose opportunities for learning of Him have been larger than our own. We are to respect and appreciate those who have a knowledge of His Word, who understand better than we do its application.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 46

    “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” [Matthew 28:19, 20.]17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 47

    Thus Christ has pledged Himself to guide, comfort, sanctify, and sustain His people. He declares, “I will be with you in your work of teaching and persuading men and women to be My disciples. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have pledged themselves to aid you in your unselfish efforts to turn men from selfishness to righteousness, from darkness to the living God. They will be with you as you teach all things that I have commanded you.”17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 48

    The Lord Jesus will be with His people. It is upon His presence that their success depends. Those who obey the words of the great Teacher will receive blessings from Him, and, as they use these blessings in doing good, they will receive greater blessings.17LtMs, Ms 47, 1902, par. 49

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