Counsel to a Leading Minister on the Presentation of the Relation of
Faith and Works
PORTION OF A LETTER TO A. T. JONES, APRIL 9, 1893, LETTER 44, 1893. PUBLISHED IN
SELECTED MESSAGES, BOOK ONE, PP. 377-379 .
I was attending a meeting, and a large congregation were present. In my dream you were
presenting the subject of faith and the imputed righteousness of Christ by faith. You
repeated several times that works amounted to nothing, that there were no conditions. The
matter was presented in that light that I knew minds would be confused and would not
receive the correct impression in reference to faith and works, and I decided to write to
you. You state this matter too strongly. There are conditions to our receiving
justification and sanctification, and the righteousness of Christ. I know your meaning,
but you leave a wrong impression upon many minds. While good works will not save even one
soul, yet it is impossible for even one soul to be saved without good works. God saves us
under a law, that we must ask if we would receive, seek if we would find, and knock if we
would have the door opened unto us.
Christ offers Himself as willing to save unto the uttermost all who come unto Him. He
invites all to come to Him. "Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out"
(John 6:37). You look in reality upon these subjects as I do, yet you make these subjects,
through your expressions, confusing to minds. And after you have expressed your mind
radically in regard to works, when questions are asked you upon this very subject, it is
not lying out in so very clear lines in your own mind, and you cannot define the correct
principles to other minds, and you are
yourself unable to make your statements harmonise with your own principles and faith.
The young man came to Jesus with the question, "Good Master, what shall I do that
I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). And Christ saith unto him, "Why
callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter
into life, keep the commandments." He said unto Him, "Which?" Jesus quoted
several, and the young man said unto Him, "All these things have I kept from my youth
up: what lack I yet?" Jesus said unto him, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell
that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and
follow Me." Here are conditions, and the Bible is full of conditions. "But when
the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great
possessions" (Matthew 19:17, 20, 21, 22).
Points to Guard
Then when you say there are no conditions, and some expressions are made quite broad,
you burden the minds, and some cannot see consistency in your expressions. They cannot see
how they can harmonise these expressions with the plain statements of the Word of God.
Please guard these points. These strong assertions in regard to works never make our
position any stronger. The expressions weaken our position, for there are many who will
consider you an extremist and will lose the rich lessons you have for them upon the very
subjects they need to know. . . . My brother, it is hard for the mind to comprehend this
point, and do not confuse any mind with ideas that will not harmonise with the Word.
Please consider that under the teaching of Christ many of the disciples were lamentably
ignorant; but when the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised came upon them and made the
vacillating Peter the champion of faith, what a transformation in his character! But do
not lay one pebble, for a soul that is weak in the faith to stumble over, in overwrought
presentations or expressions. Be
ever consistent, calm, deep, and solid. Do not go to any extreme in anything, but keep
your feet on solid rock. O precious, precious Saviour. "He that hath My commandments,
and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My
Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21).
This is the true test--the doing of the words of Christ. And it is the evidence of the
human agent's love to Jesus, and he that doeth His will giveth to the world the practical
evidence of the fruit he manifests in obedience, in purity, and in holiness of character.
. . .
O my brother, walk carefully with God. But remember that there are some whose eyes are
intently fixed upon you, expecting that you will overreach the mark and stumble and fall.
But if you keep in humility close to Jesus, all is well. . . .
There is no place in the school of Christ where we graduate. We are to work on the plan
of addition, and the Lord will work on the plan of multiplication. It is through constant
diligence that we will, through the grace of Christ, live on the plan of addition, making
our calling and election sure. . . . "For if ye do these things ye shall never fall:
for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" ( 2 Peter 1:10, 11).