Ellen G. White Writings

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Bible Echo and Signs of the Times

January 15, 1889

Christ Our Life

Mrs. E. G. White

“Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29.

This statement was called out by a remark previously made with reference to the salvation of the soul. Jesus was presenting before his hearers, the Pharisees and Sadducees, the great principles of true religion; for they had become corrupt through sin, and were ignorant both of the Scriptures and the power of God. He would impress upon his hearers that all who will finally be heirs of the kingdom of heaven must be satisfied with nothing short of a conversion, a moral change, which is equal to a new creation.

The scribes and Pharisees listened in amazement to such words as these: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.” The conversion of the soul is, as it were, a resurrection from the dead. It is like a re-creation to those, who, through the transforming power of the grace of God, have passed from death unto life. Those who listened to the Saviour's words did not believe them. They said in their hearts, This is an impossibility. Jesus discerned their incredulity, and added: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.”

Now we want to keep in mind these two great facts: the change that takes place at conversion, and that which takes place at the resurrection of the dead. There are but two classes brought to view in the text. They are not divided into many grades, one composed of very great sinners, another of persons not so guilty, and still others of persons a little less guilty; but the two classes stand distinct. They are those who have accepted Christ, and those who have not.

There is no way to reach the city of God but by the cross of Calvary. As we lift this cross, which is covered with shame and reproach in the eyes of men, we may know that Christ will help us; and we need divine aid. The sinner has lived in sin; he must die to sin, and live a new life of holiness to God. Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” The apostle here refers to the death to sin, the death of the carnal mind, and not to the death of the body.

Let me emphasize the importance of making Christ our hope and refuge every day of our lives. It is a pleasing fable that is presented to us in this age, that if we only believe in Christ, that is all that is required; works have nothing to do with our acceptance with God. Many trample the law of God under their feet, cherishing in their hearts the delusive thought that it is not binding on them. This is not the truth. In the resurrection all will come forth, they that have done good and they that have done evil, and the fate of each will be decided according as his works have been. All good works spring from genuine faith, and the fruits in the works show the character of the faith. Hence it is by our works that we shall be judged.

We each have a work to do in character-building. As we advance in this work, Satan stands ready to oppose us, and there are crosses to take up, and obstacles to be overcome; but our efforts may be a success. When we take hold on the merits of Christ, we shall overcome. He has made it possible for every one to gain eternal life. Many, looking forward to the solemn realities of the future, tremble in their hearts as they question. How will it be with me in the Judgment? To what fate shall I awaken, when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live? This is a question for us to decide each for himself. All stand on an equal footing. We are all free moral agents; we may accept God's terms—keep his commandments and believe on Christ—and live; or we may disbelieve, pursue our own course, and perish.

The distance from earth to heaven may seem very great, for sin has fixed a great gulf; it has separated man from God, and has brought woe and misery upon the human race. But Christ throws himself into the gap. He it is that opens communication between man and God. He is the ladder that Jacob saw in his vision, the base resting on the earth, and the top reaching into the highest heaven. When he bowed upon Jordan's bank, the heavens opened before him, and a voice was heard, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him.” The Spirit of God, like a dove of burnished gold, descending, rested upon the divine Mediator, and communication between heaven and earth, broken off because of sin, was resumed, and heaven opened before the transgressor.

The God of the universe has given our cases in the Judgment into the hands of his Son, one who is acquainted with our infirmities, and knows that we are but dust. He has taken our nature upon him, and has himself felt the force of our temptations; he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. When man rebelled, Christ became his surety and substitute. He undertook the combat with the powers of darkness; and when through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, the highest honors were bestowed upon him. He ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and sat down at the right hand of God;—the very Jesus who had borne the curse of sin for us. And there was given him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. To him God has delegated his power; he has the keys of death and the grave.

And they that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth. Jesus shall come, and the angels of God with him; and the glory of his appearing shall flash on human eyes as the vivid lightning or as a consuming fire. He will descend with a shout and with the voice of a great trumpet, and those that hear that vivifying voice will spring rejoicing from the grave. And they will recognize the voice that awakens them to immortal life as that of Him who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It is the voice of Him who stood with tear-dimmed eyes at the grave of Lazarus, and who wept over Jerusalem, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” The last thing that the dying saint recognized as he fell under the power of the destroyer was the pangs of death; but as he springs from his dusty bed he exclaims, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” It is then that Christ is admired of all them that believe.

Now we have opportunity to prepare for the solemn scenes before us. We may be converted to God, and have a change of character; but when Christ shall come there will be no time for this. The change then will be with our bodies. “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” A new year is opening before us, and what shall its record be? You look back upon the past year, and you see many things that you would be glad to have different, that you wish had been better. How will it be with the new year that is just opening? Shall we not at its commencement present ourselves to God, an acceptable offering, to work, to suffer, and to endure according to his will? Shall we not, every one of us, live a life of faith in the Son of God? We cannot afford to live a single day in sin; for “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Then let us so live that when he comes he may crown us with glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life.

More than eighteen hundred years have elapsed since He who spake as never man spake, and could utter only truth, declared: “The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth.” The trump of God has not yet sounded; that voice so full of power has not yet penetrated the sepulchers; that hour so full of promise to the people of God has not yet arrived; but it must come, it is not far in the future. Some of us will doubtless be living when the voice that is heard everywhere, even to ocean depths and the sunless caverns of earth, shall be heard, echoing from sea to sea, from valleys and from mountains, calling to life the sleeping dead. There will be a reappearance of every human being that has gone into the grave. The aged who sank under the hand of death with the burden of years upon them, manhood in its prime, youth in the early bloom of life, and the little child,—all shall awake, and shake off the fetters of the tomb. But not all shall awake to everlasting life. “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”

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