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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)

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    Lt 3, 1892

    Curtis, Brother

    North Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia

    January 16, 1892

    Portions of this letter are published in 6MR 68-69, 199; PH118 1-10.

    Dear Brother Curtis,

    I feel that I shall not be clear before the Lord unless I present some things to you in regard to your labor that have been presented to me. The work of him who is called to the ministry is not simply to preach, but to minister to the people by coming in personal contact with them. Wherever there is a failure on the part of the minister to do this kind of work, weakness results to the people; and no one should take upon him the sacred responsibility of the gospel minister unless he is willing to undergo all the labor that such a calling demands. The work devolving on a shepherd requires thoroughness; but you have failed to act in the capacity of a shepherd, and those who labor in this country must be as shepherds to the flock, or their labors will not be efficient for good.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 1

    I am greatly distressed because, that while there are so few preachers, there are still fewer ministers. After the sermons are preached the minister has a work to do in visiting those who have been impressed with the truth, and the work of God is greatly hindered when the expositor of Bible truth does not follow up the interest as a wise master-builder, making the most of his opportunity to press home upon the understanding and the conscience the truth which he has presented to the people. He must be a laborer together with God, a zealous, interested worker, visiting those who have heard his expositions of truth.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 2

    He must go to the homes of the people to pray with the members of the family, to open the Bible and make clear the points of truth to them. This is the real work of the gospel minister. But if he excuses himself from the practical work that is to be done he makes it manifest that he has not the spirit of the true shepherd. If the minister thinks that he is not fitted for this work of ministering, he should tarry in Jerusalem until he is endued with power from on high. No man should think that it is his duty to enter the field as a minister unless he is willing to educate and train himself to act as a shepherd to the flock.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 3

    It is necessary that the minister visit from house to house in order that he may become acquainted with the members of his flock, and in this way bind himself up with his people, becoming one in the great web of humanity, bearing the sorrows of the heavy laden, teaching the ignorant, and drawing souls to God, as did the Saviour of the world.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 4

    He who enters upon the solemn, sacred work of the ministry, and fails to look after the sheep of the flock as a faithful shepherd, proves himself unworthy of his charge and responsibility. He must either take up the work he has neglected, or go into some other work where eternal responsibilities are not so closely involved by his course of action. The people of your flock need to be encouraged and instructed in the way of life.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 5

    “Unto the angel of the church of Sardis write; these things saith he that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars. I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I shall come upon thee.” [Revelation 3:1-3.]7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 6

    “For our exhortation was not of deceit or of uncleanness, nor in guile: for as we were allowed of God to be put in trust of the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, not a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome as the apostles of Christ. For we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.” [1 Thessalonians 2:3-7.]7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 7

    “Wherefore I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me whom am the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Ephesians 3:7-11.]7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 8

    “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” [Verses 14-21.]7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 9

    The solemn work of the gospel minister is to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world has been hid in God. If one enters upon this work, choosing the least self-sacrificing part of it, contenting himself with preaching, and leaving the work of ministering for some one else to do, he [need] not expect that his labors will be acceptable to God. Souls for whom Christ died are perishing for well-directed personal labor, and when the minister is not willing to be a servant of the people, as Jesus has directed in His Word, then he has mistaken his calling. Those who administer in the sacred desk, should fall upon the Rock and be broken that the Lord may put His superscription upon them and fashion them as vessels unto honor. If those who engage in the work of the ministry were indeed laborers together with God, we should see a solid and beautiful work wrought in all countries for the saving of the souls for whom Christ died.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 10

    God calls for consecrated men, who are willing to deny self. The work of the heavenly intelligences is constant and earnest; for they are intent upon drawing men to Jesus. This is the manner in which ministers should labor. Their message should be, “Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely.” [Revelation 22:17.] In the ministration of angels, they do not labor so as to shut any soul out, but rather to gather them all in; but if the message of the gospel is to go to all men, human agents must cooperate with the angel workers.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 11

    Divine and human agencies must combine in order to accomplish the great work of saving souls of the lost. Man cannot work out his own salvation without divine aid, and God will not save him without willing, decided co-operation. Human agencies must be educated. They must become sufficient for this great work, and their growth and education depends upon their union with divine forces. God provides all the capabilities, all the talents by which men may enter the work; but the highest development of the worker for God can never be attained without divine co-operation.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 12

    Symmetry of character and the harmonious development of the work will be accomplished through dependence upon God and earnest effort on the part of man, for the secret of our success and power, as a people advocating advanced truth, will be found in making direct personal appeals to those who are interested, having unwavering reliance upon the Most High.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 13

    Satan and his angels are struggling for the mastery of the world, while the Prince of life and the angels of heaven are engaged in the battle determined to rescue all those who have escaped from the bondage of evil. God waits to see what those who have been enlightened by His truth will do. Again and again He has called for His ministers to be shepherds to the flock. He is now waiting for the co-operation of His human agents, waiting for the ministers to minister to the diseased sheep and lambs who are ready to die. O shall not the ministers of God, as obedient children, take up one line of work after another as He presents it to them.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 14

    Every herald of the gospel is to be a minister indeed. Every forgiven child of God is to be instructed by those who are laborers together with heaven, that he is to be a messenger to work in the same way as the Father and the Son are working, seeking to save the lost. The Christian of all orders is to lift up Jesus, and say, Behold Him! “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” [John 1:29.]7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 15

    The sacred responsibility rests upon the minister to watch for souls as one that must give an account. He must interest himself in the souls for whom he labors, finding out all that perplexes and troubles them and hinders them from walking in the light of the truth. Job says, “The cause that I knew not I searched out.” [Job 29:16.] This should be considered the important work of the ministry, even if it demands much painstaking effort and inconvenience. This is home missionary work and it is in no case to be neglected; for eternal interests are here involved.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 16

    The excuses of those who do not do this work do not relieve them of the responsibility. If they choose not to do this work, they neglect the souls for whom Christ died, neglect their God-given responsibility, and are registered in the books of heaven as unfaithful servants. Does the minister work as did the Master to be a strength and a blessing to others when he shuts himself away from those who need his help?7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 17

    Those who neglect personal intercourse with the people become self-centered and need this very experience of placing themselves in communication with their brethren, that they may understand their spiritual condition and know how to feed the flock of God, giving to each his portion of meat in due season. Those who neglect this work make it manifest they need moral renovation, and then they will see they have not carried the burden of the work.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 18

    God calls for men and women to be laborers together with Him, to be workers who are sound in faith, pure in heart. They should work to glorify God by [the] saving of souls that are lost. God requires heart service. A service of form, lip service is wholly inefficient in the work of converting souls to God. A service that comes not from the heart is as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 19

    The heart must be stirred with [the] co-operative energy of the Holy Spirit; then standing in full view of the cross of Calvary by faith, the minister can communicate to others the divine inspiration of his theme. From a full treasure house he can bring forth things new and old which will stir the hearts of his hearers, and convicted, they will cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” [Acts 16:30.] If the minister steps from the pulpit and separates himself from the people without making a special personal effort for those who have been touched by the love of Christ, he has lost an opportunity which he will never recover.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 20

    We need more missionary ministers, ministers who are missionaries in deed and in truth, who place themselves in communication with the Lord Jesus Christ by earnest prayer, by complete surrender to God, so that heaven’s message through them may be given to the world. Then they will not fail to make decided impressions, inciting those who hear them to repentance, faith, love, joy and earnest work for the Master. But in order to have the life-giving power from the Source of all light and knowledge, you must be responsive to every movement of the Holy Spirit, that His light may shine through you to the church and the world.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 21

    Ministers allow themselves to take a low level; they do not aim high; they do not expect much, and time and opportunities pass by, and they make no improvement of them. In order to exercise themselves unto godliness, in order to rightly take hold of the sacred work in which they are engaged, they need to daily be lifted up by the Holy Spirit to breathe the pure atmosphere of spiritual holiness.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 22

    Among ministers there must be more self-forgetfulness, more complete hiding themselves in Christ Jesus, in order that they may work the works of God, in order to win souls both by preaching the Word and by ministering in the homes, in visiting the people, in praying with them, in presenting to them the heavenly manna of the Word of God, educating them to contemplate the love of Christ. In doing this work, he will be attended by the angels of heaven and will be himself instructed and enlightened in the truth that maketh wise unto salvation. In visiting the people, he will learn their necessities and his sympathies will be called out. The love of Jesus for blood-bought souls will manifest itself in tenderness for the lost and will grow by exercise. He will sink self in his interest for the work. He will have many straight and plain words to address to those who need them, for when God commissions men to do His work, He lays upon them the burden of watching for souls as they that must give account.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 23

    When needed, warnings are to be given, sins are to be rebuked, error and wrong are to be corrected, not only in the pulpit, but by personal labor. This is divine work, and although it is not congenial to the natural inclinations, the minister must proclaim the straight truth which will make the ears of them that hear tingle, for they must lay before those who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God the dangers and the perils that are around them and the doom that awaits the impenitent. Because this message is not agreeable to their inclination, or welcome to those who must be warned, they are solemnly charged to be faithful in its declaration.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 24

    The minister will meet wrongs that will seem to defy correction. They will be made aware of sins that seem to be covered, that will need to be exposed on the right hand and on the left. The prophet says, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God:” “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.” [Isaiah 58:1, 2; 2 Timothy 4:1, 2.]7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 25

    The minister is not to indulge in the relation of anecdotes, but he is to preach the Word. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe those things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” [1 Timothy 5:20, 21.] “Be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” [1 Timothy 4:12.] “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” [2 Timothy 2:15.]7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 26

    We are to present Christ to the people, following the words of the apostle where he says, “Whom we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus; whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” [Colossians 1:28, 29.] Was it essential for Paul to have this experience? Read carefully his words, and see if it is safe for any of the ministers of Christ to shape their life according to any lower standard of Godliness.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 27

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” [Ephesians 1:3.] What is there left for us to ask that is not included in this merciful, abundant provision? Through the merits of Christ we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 28

    It is our privilege to draw nigh to God, to breathe in the atmosphere of His presence. If we keep ourselves in close union with the common, cheap sensual things of this earth, Satan will interpose his shadow so that we shall fail to discern the blessedness of the promises and assurances of God, and so shall fail to be strengthened to attain to a high spiritual standard. Nothing short of abiding in the presence of Christ will bring peace, freedom, courage, and power.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 29

    “According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” [Verse 4.] There can be no misunderstanding here unless there is wilful blindness. We are to be holy and without blame before him in love. The condition upon which we receive an increase of grace is that we improve upon the light we already have. If we would find, we must go on continually seeking; if we would receive, we must ask; if we would have the door opened, we must knock.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 30

    The responsibility of our own ruin will lie at our own door. The Word of God speaks to us as if everything depended upon our own efforts. We must come, we must resist the devil, we must strive to enter into the straight gate, we must run the race with patience, we must fight the fight of faith, we must wrestle with principalities and powers, we must agonize before God in prayer if we would stand blameless before the throne of God. We must have the faith that works, or it will be powerless. Good works will not pay the price of our redemption; they are only the blossoms, the fruit of our faith.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 31

    Our experience must broaden and deepen, for by His grace we are to be made perfect in our weakness. Our will must be placed firmly, decidedly, intelligently on the side of God’s will. There must be no presumption; for it becomes us to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear, not in distrust of the grace of God; but in the fear that self shall gain the supremacy. We are not to fear that there will be a failure on the part of God; but fear lest, of our own sinful inclinations, any of us should seem to come short.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 32

    Let the standard be set high, and let there be an earnest striving to reach it in our daily lives, till our souls burn with holy desire. We need to talk faith, for it is very feeble, but in talking faith we must speak of that faith that works by love and purifies the soul.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 33

    We have come to have very meager ideas as to what constitutes the duty of a Christian minister. Many who minister in the sacred desk do not half understand their responsibilities. They are taking things altogether too easy and comfortable, for, in short, many are in Satan’s easy chair, thinking if they partially copy another minister they will fill the requirements. There is need of alarm among the ministers, but no one need be hopeless.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 34

    There is need of self-examination that we may understand whether we are learning the meekness and lowliness of Christ, for we are to follow His example. He [Paul] says, “Ye know from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you in all seasons, serving the Lord in all humility of mind, ... and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you and have taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Acts 20:18-21.]7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 35

    “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men; for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost has made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” “I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” [Verses 26-28, 35.]7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 36

    The Lord Jesus said to Peter, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren;” and after His resurrection, just before His ascension, He said to His disciple, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.” [Luke 22:32; John 21:15.] This was a work in which Peter had but little experience; but he could not be complete in Christian life unless he learned to feed the lambs, those who are young in the faith. It would require great care, much patience and perseverance to give those who were ignorant the suitable teachings, opening up the Scriptures and educating them for usefulness and duty.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 37

    This is the work that must be done in the church at this day, or the advocates of truth will have a dwarf experience and will be exposed to temptation and deception. The charge given to Peter should come home to nearly every minister. Again and again the voice of Christ is heard repeating the charge to His undershepherds, “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” [Verses 15-17.]7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 38

    In the words addressed to Peter the responsibilities of the gospel minister who has charge of the flock of God are laid before him. I have had the matter presented before me that a wrong mold has been given to the work in Australia. Though the Lord does not require that His ministers labor beyond their physical ability; still, if they had every stroke tell for the future, as well as for the present influence of the work there might have been many more believers than there are today.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 39

    It is not wise to open up more fields than can be thoroughly worked. If selfishness, from the first, had been eradicated from the hearts of the laborers, if the love of Jesus and the love of souls for whom Christ died had controlled the workers, what a strong company might have been raised up. Jealousies, evil surmisings, envyings have built up barriers between you and God, making it impossible for the Lord to do His work, His precious work of bringing souls to the knowledge of truth.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 40

    If many had been converted, who would have been able to care for these lambs, these newly come to the faith? What lessons they would have learned of envy, jealousy, and evil surmisings. Wherein would inquiring souls find the right kind of instruction? Who would educate and train them for the work of the Master? The very men who are presenting the truth to them have need to learn the first lessons of what constitutes the work devolving on a gospel minister. It is not sermonizing.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 41

    The minister of the gospel should be far from cherishing an envious spirit, fearing that another may receive too much credit if he shares his labor with him in the office or in more general life. Selfishness has so actuated men that the work of God has been hindered and the message of God has been refused. There have been feelings manifested, a spirit cherished, that the Lord condemns; and the evil has not all been seen and confessed and restitution made. The spirit and power of God has been shut away from those who have cherished envy. The half work done in the ministry was really worse than if nothing had been done, for a mold has been given that will take much time, much hard, earnest labor in order that the impressions may be changed and the education be advanced.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 42

    The churches have been so trained that they feel no special responsibilities resting upon them to visit, to talk the truth, to pray with and for one another, to visit the sick, to encourage them, to give sympathy and love, and make it manifest that in Christ they are members one of another. All revealings of love-sick sentimentalism proves a snare to souls. Some have stood, as it were, upon the very brink of the precipice, and one more step in the wrong direction would prove their eternal ruin.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 43

    Where there has been one laborer in the harvest field, there should have been many; but unless the minister can do thorough work and not think that half work is all that God requires of them, they would better keep out of the cause. Half-hearted workers better not be sent to Australia if the future of the cause and work of God are to be placed upon a firm basis.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 44

    Who stand ready to give themselves to the work of the ministry, not merely to sermonize, but to minister to souls, visiting them at their homes, searching the Scriptures and praying with them, till heart becomes joined to heart in holy endeavor to do for others; till the people go forth to work for others as the minister has worked for them!7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 45

    In all our work let us never forget that the rainbow of promise encircles the throne of mercy. The way is open for all who have sinned to return to Jesus, to humble themselves, to repent, to find pardon, peace and the love of Christ which passeth knowledge. When we have a converted ministry, the work will bear a different mold and be conducted upon higher and holier principles.7LtMs, Lt 3, 1892, par. 46

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