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Manuscript Releases, vol. 5 [Nos. 260-346] - Contents
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    MR No. 334—Seventh-day Adventists and Lawsuits

    When troubles arise in the church we should not go for help to lawyers not of our faith. God does not desire us to open church difficulties before those who do not fear Him. He would not have us depend for help on those who do not obey His requirements. Those who trust in such counselors show that they have not faith in God. By their lack of faith the Lord is greatly dishonored, and their course works great injury to themselves. In appealing to unbelievers to settle difficulties in the church they are biting and devouring one another, “to be consumed one of another” [Galatians 5:15].5MR 410.1

    These men cast aside the counsel God has given, and do the very things He has bidden them not to do. They show that they have chosen the world as their judge, and in heaven their names are registered as one with unbelievers. Christ is crucified afresh, and put to open shame. Let these men know that God does not hear their prayers. They insult His holy name, and He will leave them to the buffetings of Satan until they shall see their folly and seek the Lord by confession of their sin.5MR 410.2

    Matters connected with the church are to be kept within its own borders. If a Christian is abused, he is to take it patiently; if defrauded, he is not to appeal to courts of justice. Rather let him suffer loss and wrong. God will deal with the unworthy church member who defrauds his brother or the cause of God; the Christian need not contend for his rights. God will deal with the one who violates these rights. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.” [Romans 12:19.] An account is kept of all these matters, and for all the Lord declares that He will avenge. He will bring every work into judgment.5MR 410.3

    The interests of the cause of God are not to be committed to men who have no connection with heaven. The interests of those who are disloyal to God cannot be safe counsellors. They have not that wisdom which comes from above. They are not to be trusted to pass judgment in matters connected with God's cause, matters upon which such great results depend. If we follow their judgment we shall surely be brought into very difficult places, and shall retard the work of God. Those who are not connected with God are connected with the enemy of God, and while they may be honest in the advice they give, they themselves are blinded and deceived. Satan puts suggestions into the mind and words into the mouth that are entirely contrary to the mind and will of God. Thus he works through them to allure us into false paths. He will mislead, entangle, and ruin us if he can.5MR 411.1

    Anciently it was a great sin for the people of God to give themselves away to the enemy, and open before them either their perplexity or their prosperity. Under the ancient economy it was a sin to offer sacrifice upon the wrong altar. It was a sin to offer incense kindled by the wrong fire.5MR 411.2

    We are in danger of mingling the sacred and the common. The holy fire from God is to be used in our efforts. The true altar is Christ; the true fire is the Holy Spirit. This is our inspiration. It is only as the Holy Spirit leads and guides a man that he is a safe counselor. If we turn aside from God and from His chosen ones to inquire at strange altars we shall be answered according to our works.5MR 411.3

    Let us show perfect trust in our Leader. Let us seek wisdom from the Fountain of wisdom. In every perplexing or trying situation, let God's people agree as touching the thing they desire, and then let them unite in offering prayer to God, and persevere in asking for the help they need. We are to acknowledge God in all our counsel, and when we ask of Him, we are to believe that we receive the very blessings sought.—Manuscript 196, 1898, pp. 1-4. (“Appealing to Lawyers.”)5MR 412.1

    When you engaged in that lawsuit against A, I said if Elder B has gone so far as to enter into that business, it will be a blot upon his life. I have sorrowed because of your course in this; I know that it is not right, and will not in the least relieve the situation for you in any way. It is only a manifestation of that wisdom which is not from above.5MR 412.2

    I was informed that you intended to institute a suit against me, on the ground that you had been wronged by the testimonies given in your case. A letter came to me, threatening that if I did not acknowledge that I had wronged you, the suit would be entered upon. Now, I could hardly believe that you had gone so decidedly on the enemy's ground, knowing my lifework as well as you do.5MR 412.3

    All that I have written to you, every word of it, was the truth. I have no retractions to make. I have done only that which I know to be my duty to do. My only motive in publishing the matter was the hope of saving you. I had no thought but of sincere pity and love for your soul. You yourself know that I have great interest for your soul....5MR 412.4

    If anyone shall seek to hinder me in this work by appealing to the law, I shall not abate one jot of the testimonies given. The work in which I am engaged is not my work. It is the work of God, which He has given me to do. I did not believe that you would do so terrible a thing as to lift your finite hand against the God of heaven. Whoever shall do this work, let it not be B....5MR 413.1

    I want to say to you, Do not extort money from anyone because of words spoken against you or yours. You harm yourself by so doing. If we are looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, we shall be able to pray, “Lord, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus did not appeal to the law for redress when He was unjustly accused. When he was reviled, He reviled not again; when He was threatened, he did not retaliate.—Letter 38, 1891. (November 10, 1891.)5MR 413.2

    Something must be done to save the people of God from being deceived and led astray. There may be those whose hearts are accustomed to resistance, who will seek to do harm to the one who has reproved them, and resort to the law for “damages” done to their poor souls. Cain killed his brother because, when Abel reproved him for disregard of God's expressed requirements, he thought he had done him damage....5MR 413.3

    If a suit is instituted in earthly tribunals, and God suffers it to come to trial, it is that His own name may be glorified. But a woe will be upon the man who gives himself to do this work. God reads the motives, whatever they may be. I pray that the Lord will teach our brethren to be straightforward, and make no compromise in the matter. The cause of God has been bruised and wounded by any such men connecting with it, and the sooner they are separated from it, the better.5MR 413.4

    But the Lord has a controversy with those who have acted in an underhanded manner, those who have failed to do their duty in their responsible positions of trust. Every soul is worth saving, and this poor soul might have been saved from the tempter's power if those connected with him had done their duty. The Lord holds them accountable for their neglect of frank, open dealing. Years ago a plain, straightforward work should have been done....5MR 414.1

    The Lord has sent warnings and reproof, but they have not been heeded. In the Battle Creek buildings important interests have been piled up which should have been distributed over a larger territory. Man's reasoning and devising has made things very complicated and hard to disentangle. Let the men who are so fearful of their record here in this world only be one quarter as anxious to have their record good on high, to have their motives pure, and lofty, and unsullied, and they will feel safe in committing their case to God's tribunal. Then they can say, “It is a small thing for me to be judged by any man's judgment.”—Letter 19a, 1897. (To “Brethren in Battle Creek,” July 27, 1897.)5MR 414.2

    I have written largely in regard to Christians who believe the truth placing their cases in courts of law to obtain redress. In doing this, they are biting and devouring one another in every sense of the word “to consume one another.” They cast aside the inspired counsel of God and in the face of the message He gives they do the very thing He has told them not to do. Such men may as well stop praying to God, for He will not hear their prayers. They insult Jehovah, and He will leave them to become the subjects of Satan until they shall see their folly and seek the Lord by confession of their sins....5MR 414.3

    I ask you, my brother, to help those who have acted like men with their eyes put out to wake up and be converted, that God can use them. We have a solemn message from God. We have no time to lose. Ask and receive, that you may give.—Letter 61, 1898. (To A. T. Jones, August 1, 1898.)5MR 415.1

    The world and unconverted church members are in sympathy. Some, when God reproves them for wanting their own way, make the world their confidence, and bring church matters before the world for decision. Then there is collision and strife, and Christ is crucified afresh and put to open shame. Those church members who appeal to the courts of the world show that they have chosen the world as their judge, and their names are registered in heaven as one with unbelievers. How eagerly the world seizes the statements of those who betray sacred trusts!5MR 415.2

    This action, of appealing to human courts, never before entered into by Seventh-day Adventists, has now been done. God has permitted this that you who have been deceived may understand what power is controlling those who have had entrusted to them great responsibilities. Where are God's sentinels? Where are the men who will stand shoulder to shoulder, heart to heart, with the truth, present truth for this time, in possession of the heart?—Manuscript 64, 1898. (“The Danger of Rejecting Light,” May 19, 1898.)5MR 415.3

    The widow and the fatherless are the objects of the Lord's special care, and those who in any way rob them of the means they should have, those who regard their wants with indifference, will be dealt with by the Judge of all the earth. Men cannot receive God's favor while they are unfeeling and selfish. The Lord will test His people as individuals. He will not suffer His heritage to be oppressed....5MR 416.1

    If you are afflicted or unjustly used, cry to God. Turn away from those whose hearts are as steel, and make your requests known to your Maker. Your case may seem discouraging, but do not look at outward appearances. Continue to pray. Have faith in God; for He has promised that He will hear the prayer of faith. “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”5MR 416.2

    The judge spoken of in this parable represents those judges who, when human life is in the balance, decide the question in accordance with debased, perverted sentiments. He neither feared God nor regarded man. Self was his god. By this God would show us to what depths of degradation men can sink. This judge was filled with Satanic attributes. Appetite and passion had destroyed his powers of perception. When men yield their powers to Satan, their lower nature is fully developed.5MR 416.3

    There are judges now in office who neither fear God nor regard man. Intemperate practices, liquor drinking, and tobacco using are perverting the judgment of many who occupy positions of responsibility. These unfaithful stewards will be stripped of their robes of honor. They will one day stand before the bar of God, to be tried, and the Judge of all the earth will judge righteously.... The teaching of this parable is applicable to the church of God at this time. When troubles assail, do not go for help to lawyers not of our faith. God would not have us open church difficulties before those who do not fear Him. Let God's people agree as touching the thing they desire, and then let them unite in offering prayer to God, persevering in asking for deliverance. God would not have us depend for help upon those who do not obey His requirements. They have not that wisdom that cometh down from above. Those who trust in such counselors show that they have not faith in God. They dishonor Him by appealing to unbelievers to settle difficulties in the church. What do they think they will gain by opening to lawyers the supposed wrongdoings of their fellow church members? ...5MR 416.4

    Much pride of heart has been revealed by the professed people of God. Many selfish opinions have been cherished. It has been regarded as justifiable to appeal to lawyers to adjust difficulties. Thus God's people have shown, as did ancient Israel, that notwithstanding He has led and prospered them, they will dishonor Him by seeking help from unbelievers....5MR 417.1

    From this we see that the Lord requires His people to be particular in carrying out right principles. When they are in trouble He would have them call upon Him, in the place of betraying the cause of God into the hands of unbelievers. It is a betrayal of sacred trust to open before unbelievers the working of God's institutions. In this way false statements are made, and these statements are reported to others. Those who do this counterwork the cause of God. They are adversaries of the truth.—Manuscript 72, 1898. (“Shall Not God Avenge His Own Elect?” June 14, 1898.)5MR 417.2

    How can men to whom have been committed the living oracles of God appeal to lawyers who are disloyal to God, to settle matters relating to the cause of God? Can we be surprised that more souls are not convinced of the truth when pride, self-love, and self-exaltation make those who claim to believe the truth more like men who have lost their first love than like the children of God?—Manuscript 75, 1898. (“Come Out From Among Them, and Be Ye Separate,” June 16, 1898.)5MR 418.1

    The saints are to judge the world. Then are they to depend upon the world, and upon the world's lawyers to settle their difficulties? God does not want them to take their troubles to the subjects of the enemy for decision. Let us have confidence in one another.—Manuscript 71, 1903. (“To Every Man His Work,” June 18, 1903.)5MR 418.2

    To lean upon the arm of the law is a disgrace to Christians; yet this evil has been brought in and cherished among the Lord's chosen people. Worldly principles have been stealthily introduced, until in practice many of our workers are becoming like the Laodiceans—halfhearted, because so much dependence is placed on lawyers and legal documents and agreements. Such a condition of things is abhorrent to God.—Manuscript 128, 1903. (“Wrongdoing to Be Condemned; Righteousness to Be Exalted,” October 4, 1903.)5MR 418.3

    I want to tell you that the very first thing you must do is to follow the following Scriptures:5MR 419.1

    “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”5MR 419.2

    “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more the things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? No, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law with one another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?”5MR 419.3

    Will you consider that you have known what it means to feel the moving of the Holy Spirit upon your heart, before you had educated yourself to criticize, to find fault, to accuse, to rail against your brethren? When I consider what you might have been, had you improved your God-given powers, had you striven to be kind and pure and unselfish, exerting a spiritual influence and increasing in stability and good works, my heart aches! Had you set a Christlike example, many souls would have been helped in following it. Who can estimate what a good work you might have done had you followed without deviation the instruction given in the teachings of Christ? You have left off to be wise and to do good. But I have hope that you will see yourself as you are and make diligent efforts to counterwork your past influence. I have hope that you will enter the narrow way and pass through the gate that leads unto eternal life.... If you are saved from sin you must have an experience altogether different from that which you now have. God hath shined in our hearts, to give what? A knowledge higher, greater, and infinitely more ennobling than the knowledge that this world gives. When church members have this knowledge, their practice will be of a character to recommend their faith. By a well ordered life, and godly conversation, they will reveal Christ. There will be no lawsuits between neighbors or brothers.5MR 419.4

    I call upon you in the name of Christ to withdraw the suit that you have begun and never bring another into court. God forbids you thus to dishonor His name. You have had great light and many opportunities, and you cannot afford to unite with worldlings and follow their methods. Remember that the Lord will treat you according to the stand that you take in this life.5MR 420.1

    I plead with you to turn to the Lord before it is too late....5MR 420.2

    I tell you solemnly that if you take the action which you now purpose to take, you will never recover from the result of it. If you open before the world the wrongs that you suppose your brethren have done you, there will be some things that will have to be said on the other side. I have a caution to give you. In regard to the case of those who shared large responsibilities with you in the Review and Herald, and who have turned to be enemies of the work, you will not wish to hear the verdict that shall be passed upon them when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, and every man shall be judged according to the things written in the books. I want to save you from following a course that would link you up with those who have linked themselves up with fallen angels, to do all the harm they possibly can to those who love God, and who, under great difficulty, are striving to proclaim present truth to the world.5MR 420.3

    Those against whom you bring your charges know that I have not approved of their manner of dealing with you, and that I have reproved them for their unfeeling management of your case. There are those who have not acted honorably. They have not done as they would be done by. But because of this, should you, in the face of the warnings given, move so manifestly against the instruction given? I beg of you not to cut yourself off from the confidence of your brethren and from taking a part in the publishing work. I would rather share your loss than to have you push this matter through to the injury of your soul, giving Satan an opportunity to present your case before unbelievers in a most ridiculous light, and to hold up the office of publication in a disparaging light....5MR 421.1

    Take this case out of the lawyers’ hands. It seems awful to me to think that you will go directly contrary to the plain word of God, and will open to the world your cruel work against God's commandment-keeping people. If this action of yours were to tell only against those who have done injustice, the harm would not be so far-reaching; but can you not see that it will arouse prejudice against God's people as a body? Thus you will bruise and wound Christ in the person of His saints, and cause Satan to exult because through you he could work against God's people and against His institutions, doing them great harm.—Letter 301, 1905. (To Frank Belden, October 20, 1905.)5MR 421.2

    Released June 26, 1973

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