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Manuscript Releases, vol. 21 [Nos. 1501-1598]

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    MR No. 1556—Church Leader to Be Self-Denying and Humble, Not Proud and Dictatorial

    (Written January, 1901, from St. Helena, California, to Elder E.E. Franke.)

    I am awakened this morning with a burden to write to you. I have a message for you from the Lord. At the present time you are in serious peril healthwise, and this involves more than you realize. You are becoming a religious dyspeptic. God sees that you are in danger of making shipwreck of the faith, and thus greatly dishonoring the Lord Jesus Christ who bought you with His own precious blood. If you will not heed counsel, you will be left to become the sport of Satan's temptations.21MR 269.1

    The Lord did give you a message for the people, and so long as you worked as His servant, He sustained you. He says, “Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:14-17).21MR 269.2

    God commands His agencies to work in perfect harmony. Nothing in this world is so dear to God as His church; nothing is guarded by Him with such jealous care; nothing so offends Him as when an injury is inflicted on His servants and His church.21MR 269.3

    Christ says to His undershepherds, “I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16). How can we do a work that will bear the test and strain of trial? By directing the people to the Source of all power. Christ does not say, If any man thirst, let him go to Brother J or some other disciple. No. He says, “Let him come unto Me and drink.” God does not say of the sinner, “Let him take hold of the strength of some human being.” No, no. He says, “Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with Me” (Isaiah 27:5).21MR 269.4

    The messengers sent by God are to act as true undershepherds. They are not true undershepherds who care only for those who do as they direct, who say of the people, They must do precisely as I command. If they do not follow my voice, I will have no love or care for them.21MR 269.5

    My brother, you have a misconception of your position. You are not to treat those to whom you are sent to minister as your heritage. You must not seek to take the place of God, teaching the people that you are to be conscience for them. You are not their sin-bearer. You cannot take away your own sins or atone for your own inconsistencies. If in the future you follow the same course that you followed in the past, the Lord will not, cannot, accept you as a shepherd of His flock. He will surely remove you.21MR 270.1

    God only can forgive sins. In Micah the question is asked, “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (Micah 7:18-20).21MR 270.2

    God has given to no man the power to bless or curse. This is His prerogative. You are not to feel at liberty to rule or oppress His heritage, to set up or cast down as you please. You are but a man, compassed with infirmities. The power which you have thought was yours to exercise is God's power. You can not, like God, read the hearts of men and know who to favor or condemn. You cannot be conscience for them. God has not given you any such work. You are only a human agent. You have taken burdens on you which do not belong to you, and have presented in word and spirit an objectionable representation of Christ.21MR 270.3

    Jesus came to this earth to stand at the head of humanity. He passed through all the phases of human experience, and at the end died on the cross that we might be saved. He became poor, that we by following in His steps in meekness and lowliness of heart, might become wise unto salvation, and rich with the eternal reward that is for everyone who will accept the invitation, “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. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29, 30).21MR 270.4

    Christ, and Christ alone, knows the value of the souls He has purchased. He declares that He has graven them upon the palms of His hands. The marks of the crucifixion upon the body of the Redeemer speak in behalf of every truly repentant soul.21MR 270.5

    Christ tells us not to depend for help upon those who themselves bear the defects of humanity, but to come to Him. He promises to give us rest. The condition upon which rest may be obtained is obedience to the words, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me.” This, my brother, is the experience you need. If you do not comply with the conditions Christ has laid down, you will never know the joy of rest in Christ. You are now fretting over that which you can no more bring about than you can make a world. Because you suppose that you must be conscience for your brethren, you are taking upon yourself burdens which will crush you.21MR 270.6

    As soon as human beings are converted by receiving Christ as a personal Saviour, they belong to Him, for He has redeemed them by the sacrifice of His life. He does not give them up to any man. God has not given any man the work of ruling over His heritage. He has given His shepherds direction to feed His sheep and His lambs, but not to whip them or drive them.21MR 271.1

    God is omniscient. No sin escapes His notice. He has given to no human being the work of judging the hearts and motives of His blood-bought heritage. He has given all judgment into the hands of His Son, whom He placed at the head of humanity to live in our behalf a life pure and undefiled, without a trace of sin.21MR 271.2

    Christ knows every temptation to which the human soul is subjected. He has been tempted in all points like as we are, only with as much greater force as He is greater than we. Against the Redeemer, Satan, once a covering cherub, directed his fiercest attacks. Christ knows how to meet every device and artifice of the enemy.21MR 271.3

    To keep His glory veiled as the child of a fallen race, this was the most severe discipline to which the Prince of Life could subject Himself. Thus He measured His strength with Satan. He who had been expelled from heaven fought desperately for the mastery over the One of whom in the courts above he had been jealous. What a battle was this! No language is adequate to describe it. But in the near future it will be understood by those who have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. And as they learn what it means to overcome, they will endure the seeing of Him who is invisible.21MR 271.4

    To Christ has been committed all judgment because He is the Son of man. Nothing escapes His knowledge. However high the rank and great the power of spiritual apostates, One higher and greater has borne the sin of the whole world. He is infinite in righteousness, in goodness, and in truth. He has power to withstand principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. Armed and equipped as the Captain of the Lord's host, He comes to the front in defense of His people. His righteousness covers all who love and trust Him. The General of armies, He leads out the heavenly host to stand as a wall of fire about His people. He alone is the judge of their righteousness, for He created them and at infinite cost to Himself redeemed them. He will see that obedience to God's commandments is rewarded, and that transgressors receive according to their works.21MR 271.5

    In the future there will be perplexity and trouble and deception. The only safety of God's people is their unity in the work He has given them to do, over which He alone can act as supervisor. All who hold the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end will receive in their foreheads the mark of God. Of them He will say, “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:4.) At the appointed time the glad tidings of their deliverance will come, filling their hearts with gladness and their lips with joyful praise.21MR 272.1

    At this time the only safety of those who are keeping God's commandments is in being of one heart, bound up with Christ and with one another, hid with Christ in God. (John 13:33-35.) The Saviour looks upon the coming conflict and He calls upon His people to strengthen themselves by taking hold of His strength, by making peace with Him so that when they are challenged, as they will be, God can give them the experience of Jacob, enabling them to claim the words of the promise: “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezekiel 37:26-28).21MR 272.2

    Oh, my brother, do not interpose yourself between God and His heritage. God desires His people to look to Him for guidance that they may be led by His Spirit. He is the eternal, self-existent Source of all life, physical and spiritual. No man is to condemn and denounce his brethren because they do not entertain the ideas and plans that he has worked out.21MR 272.3

    God gives to every man His work. He has given different ones different endowments. All must work according to the ability God has given them. No man has a right to condemn and denounce His fellow man. Those who are seeking for light and truth are not to be treated indifferently, for they are Christ's purchased possession. He can read the heart. He only can rightly estimate the human soul. He says to men, “Keep your hands off My blood-bought heritage. All human beings make mistakes, but I will receive and forgive every one who comes to Me. No one is beyond My saving power.”21MR 272.4

    He alone who proclaimed over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, “I am the resurrection and the life,” who is able when the last trump shall sound, to raise His saints from the grave and clothe them with immortality, giving them everlasting victory over death and the grave, is able now to keep the souls of all committed to His trust against that day, and to deliver them in their perplexities. He has invited them to come to Him, and He has promised to help them, whatever their extremity, and to give them peace and rest as they wear His yoke and learn of Him lessons of meekness and lowliness. He leaves not His heritage to the judgment of any man.21MR 273.1

    It is not according to God's order for His people to break up into separate parties. His ministers are not to follow their own impulses and feelings, doing as the human impulse dictates, as though they were not under God's authority. Every minister of God is to live in the strictest obedience to His Word, following the example of Christ. In his dealing with his fellow men he is to put on Christ.21MR 273.2

    Those newly come to the faith are to be instructed from the Word of God, line upon line, precept upon precept. They are to be taught to seek wisdom from God, to go for help to the Source of all efficiency that they may be strong, to be guided by the unerring Mind, that they may reach sound conclusions. All should be educated and trained to think for themselves, to seek guidance from God's Word.21MR 273.3

    Man has a character to form for himself. This character must be formed in accordance with the elevated, divine standard. No human mold will satisfy the measurement of God. He is the essence of all goodness and truth. There is need for every human being to obtain, as fast as possible, an understanding of his relation to his Creator and Redeemer. Daily the life should be assimilated to the Christ-life. Daily the will and the affections should be brought into subjection to the Saviour.21MR 273.4

    The will of God is man's life. The understanding is only the means by which the love of the human agent for God is brought into activity. The willpower is to be under God's control. One human mind is not to be a power to control all other minds. The fact that one man through much study has received advanced ideas to give to others is no evidence that he is to tie other minds to his mind, keeping them under his influence, doing all in his power to prevent others from influencing them.21MR 273.5

    Christ is the only Head of the church. He only has the right to demand of man unlimited obedience to His requirements.21MR 274.1

    The ministers of God must be ministers of righteousness, who always wear the yoke of Christ and always follow the path of justice and integrity. No words caused by religious dyspepsia should be spoken. God has a people on this earth, and those who minister in word and doctrine must be one, as Christ is one with the Father. The Lord desires all to draw together in even cords as they engage in the solemn services of His sanctuary. As God meets with His people, let not those who are leading the service seek to draw the people to themselves. Let them say instead, “God is among us. We are in the presence of Him whom we have come to worship.” It is His will that all who worship Him shall respect and love one another, carrying out the instruction given by Christ just before His crucifixion. John 17:19-26.21MR 274.2

    It is God's will that all parts of His service shall be managed in an orderly, becoming manner that will impress those strangers who may attend, as well as the regular attendants, with the elevated, ennobling character of the truth and its power to cleanse the heart.21MR 274.3

    In His providence God impresses people to attend our tent meetings and church services. Some come from curiosity, others to criticize or ridicule. Often they are convicted of sin. The word spoken in the spirit of love makes a lasting impression on them. How carefully then should these meetings be conducted. The words spoken should be such that the Holy Spirit can impress them on minds. The speaker who is controlled by the Spirit of God has a sacred dignity, and his words are a savor of life unto life. Let not unsuitable illustrations or anecdotes be introduced into the discourse. Let the words spoken be for the edification of the hearers.21MR 274.4

    Those in the household of faith should cherish love for one another, praying with and for one another. “A new commandment I give unto you,” Christ said, “That ye love one another; ... By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34, 35). Thus a living, practical testimony is to be borne in favor of the truth. There is not one thread of selfishness woven into this web.21MR 274.5

    Schisms and divisions in the household of faith are not of God. Let us study the prayer which Christ offered for the unity of His followers, and let us make earnest efforts to answer this prayer. Christ said, [John 17:19-23, quoted].21MR 274.6

    Those who serve in Christ's army are to present an unbroken front. They are to love one another as Christ loves them.21MR 274.7

    The presence of God will be recognized by the world when His people reveal in their lives the sanctifying power of the truth, when they show respect and love for one another. Then God will enter the assembly of His people to commune with and bless them.21MR 275.1

    Supreme love for God and unselfish love for one another, this is the best gift that the heavenly Father can bestow. Let all believers draw near to God and to one another, that God may draw near to them. No man is to be exalted as supreme. No man is to suppose that he is infallible because he has been enlightened by God and used by Him in bringing souls to the truth. Our endowments are valuable only as they are used as God's entrusted talents to magnify the truth. The one through whom God works is never to exalt himself, never to seek to rule. As a wise steward, he is to do his work in sincerity and humility. He is to do God service by imparting what he has received, by speaking the truth in love in a clear, decided manner. Thus he is to enlighten others, remembering always that God only can impress the mind and purify the heart.21MR 275.2

    Paul wrote to the Corinthians: [2 Corinthians 1:18-24, quoted].21MR 275.3

    “Not for that we have dominion over your faith.” The apostles wished it to be understood that they did not set themselves up as lords over the faith and consciences of the believers. They avoided all the severity they possibly could, and labored to promote the joy of the believers, leading them by kindly persuasion to renounce their errors. Thus we are to work, by faith in God fulfilling our duty, not by exercising authority or dominion, but by revealing Christlikeness of character.21MR 275.4

    “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:1-5).21MR 275.5

    “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.” Those who have had a long experience in the work of the third angel's message are to be highly respected and esteemed. [Verses 6-10, quoted.]21MR 275.6

    I have but partially brought out a portion of the many things which need to be written. My brother, the Lord desires you to take a different position in your ministry. In some things your labors are in need of reform. God has not given you the work of being conscience for any man. You have not been guided by the Holy Spirit in your decisions regarding those whom you fancied were not right because they did not heed all your words and follow all your plans. God does not require anyone to follow implicitly the ideas of another man unless he presents “It is written.” By your influence you are closing doors which would be open if you would walk before God with humility.21MR 275.7

    My heart is drawn out to write these things to you this morning. There is a great and solemn work before us, and we all need to seek to answer Christ's prayer for unity. The Lord has given you a work to do, but He has not given you liberty to do just as you please, to act in accordance with your independent judgment.21MR 276.1

    The twelfth chapter of First Corinthians contains instruction for all who minister before God. The apostle says, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.... For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 12).21MR 276.2

    The vine has many branches, but though all the branches are different, they do not quarrel. In diversity there is unity. All the branches obtain their nourishment from one source. This is an illustration of the unity that is to exist among Christ's followers. In their different lines of work they all have but one Head. The same Spirit, in different ways, works through them. There is harmonious action, though the gifts differ. Study this chapter. You will see from it that the man who is truly united with Christ will never act as though he were a complete whole in himself.21MR 276.3

    God will use you when you are willing to be used in His appointed way. Remember that the church of believers constitutes the body of Christ and “that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (verse 25). God calls upon you to unite with your brethren. He has assigned different gifts to the different members of His body. He has given them such talents and opportunities as will best promote His glory and the advancement of His kingdom. He is put to shame when the members of His body work contrary one to the other.21MR 276.4

    A man does not gain perfection and influence by doing the work of another, but by faithfully discharging his own duties as a part of the great whole. All the members of Christ's body are to be united by sympathy for one another and by fidelity to Christ. With humble faith they are to do their work, laboring in Christ's lines. The man who walks and works away from Christ will finally reach the lowest place, whatever his position and influence may now be.21MR 276.5

    Christ has spoken to the whole world, saying, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross”—and run ahead of Me in his manner of ministering? No—“Follow Me.” (Mark 8:34.)21MR 277.1

    My brother, you are not working in the Lord's appointed way. You handle a large amount of the Lord's money as you please. This does not exert a right influence. Should all use money as extravagantly as you have done, what would be our showing in missionary lines of work? The Lord has not given you any permission to work contrary to the example He has left for His people.21MR 277.2

    God desires you to unite with your brethren in your work. If you do not do this, Satan will surely ensnare you. You will fall through the carrying out of your own plans and ideas. Success will not attend your efforts. You will reveal a spirit uncontrolled by God. If you continue to strive to be a distinct whole, refusing to cooperate with your brethren, working away from the directions God has given, you will bring ruin upon yourself. The sin will lie at your own door.21MR 277.3

    It is the duty of yourself and your wife to think soberly, to wear Christ's yoke, and to draw under His leading. Remember that the perfection of the physical body depends on the perfection of the individual organs. Thus it also is with the spiritual body.21MR 277.4

    “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think” [Romans 12:1-3]. This you are constantly doing. [Verses 3-16, quoted.]21MR 277.5

    Practice the instruction given in this chapter. If you continue in usefulness you must change your attitude. You must keep E. E. Franke under control. It is possible for you to reach the standard of perfection. The success which you have had in the past will not be lost if you will heed the warning now given you. The intelligent, pure, cordial belief in the grace of Christ, which brings salvation to all, will place your feet on the eternal Rock.21MR 277.6

    The perfection of the church depends not on each member being fashioned exactly alike. God calls for each one to take his proper place, to stand in his lot, to do his appointed work according to the ability which has been given him.21MR 277.7

    To do unto others as we would they should do to us, this rule we must follow or we are none of Christ's. My brother, study the words spoken by Christ from the Mount of Blessing: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). The poor in spirit are the ones whom Christ loves. They are humble; they feel their dependence upon the Lord for all temporal and spiritual blessings. They do not trust in themselves, but depend on their Redeemer, the Alpha and Omega.21MR 278.1

    There is to be no self-exaltation among God's people. He will not tolerate self-righteousness. “Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word” (Isaiah 66:1, 2). The Lord is to be glorified and adored, but man is never to seek to be glorified by man or to glorify himself.21MR 278.2

    “When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died” (Hosea 13:1). Just as long as you seek the Lord earnestly, and humble yourself before Him as a little child, He will use you to the glory of His name. But when self-sufficiency takes possession of any minister, when he dictates to his brethren and acts in a masterly manner as though he could read hearts; when he feels it his prerogative to praise or censure as he pleases, let him know that the Lord is not working with him, but Satan has the mind and heart under his control.21MR 278.3

    My dear brother, you are in ill health. You have not peace and rest in the Lord. Your spiritual experience is not healthy. You do not do the good you might if you would place yourself as a learner in the school of Christ. The Lord cannot prosper you while you continue to seek for authority. Your passionate outbursts against your brethren hurt your influence and grieve your Redeemer. Thus you misrepresent Him.21MR 278.4

    God has not given you the work of forming a separate party with yourself as leader. God's people are to be one. They are to blend with one another in their service for God. They are to link up with Christ. [Hosea 14:2-9, quoted.]21MR 278.5

    My brother, you need the blessing of the Lord in your home. This is necessary if you would be a wholesome, healthy Christian. Keep yourself under control, or else you will kill your influence for good. Eat daily of the leaves of the tree of life. Thus you will be enabled to glorify God. Speak no hasty, overbearing, dictatorial words, for thus you misrepresent Christ. Strive to reveal in your life the fruits of righteousness. Make earnest efforts, by a well-ordered life and a godly conversation, to perfect the church. Remember that God is looking on and that the world is taking knowledge of you, and that the world is looking to discern in you the likeness of Christ.21MR 278.6

    Do you love God supremely and your neighbor as yourself? This is the whole duty of man. On these two principles hang all the law and the prophets. If you fulfill them, light and joy and peace and gladness will come into your life. Show by your life your preparedness for the inheritance of the saints in light. In word, in spirit, in action, be a true representative of Christ. Then you will be rich for all eternity.21MR 279.1

    My brother, will you wear Christ's yoke? Doing this, your peace will be as a river and your righteousness as the waves of the sea. Will you not take right hold and wrestle for the victory?21MR 279.2

    Ellen G. White Estate

    Silver Spring, Maryland,

    February 28, 1991.

    Entire Letter.