Ellen G. White Writings

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Ms 106, 1897

Ms 106, 1897

Christ and the Law

NP

September 22, 1897

This manuscript is published in entirety in 18MR 70-78.

By the crucifixion of Christ the immutability of the law of God was forever established. He was the Son of God, and had it been possible, God would have changed the law to meet man in his fallen state. But the law of God is unalterable, and the only way that man could be saved was for a Substitute to be provided, who would bear the penalty of transgression, and thus give man an opportunity to return to his loyalty.

Behold the spectators who reviled Christ while He hung on the cross. Were they the abandoned class, the heathen, who knew not God? “And they that passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, himself He cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he will have him; for he said, I am the Son of God.” [Matthew 27:39-43.]

The principalities and powers of darkness were assembled round about the throne, engaged in casting the hellish shadow of unbelief into mind and heart. This was the work in which they were engaged. When the Lord created these beings to stand before His throne, they were beautiful and glorious. Their loveliness and holiness were equal to their exalted station. They were enriched with the wisdom of God, and girded with the panoply of heaven. They were Jehovah’s ministers. But who could recognize in the fallen angels the glorious seraphims that once ministered in the heavenly courts.

The arch apostate, who still retained his lofty stature, led the apostate host, who were leagued with human beings in the strife against God. Satanic agencies confederated with evil men to lead the people to believe that Christ was the chief of sinners, and to make Him an object of detestation. But the priests and rulers failed to realize that in Christ divinity was enthroned in humanity. The humanity of Christ could not be separated from His divinity.

Hanging on the cross, the Son of God bore the insults of Satan and his agencies. Those that Christ had declared were whited sepulchers, who deceived the people by an outward appearance of sanctity, were now reviling One who came from heaven to save a perishing world, and in whose heart a zeal for right and justice and for the glory of God was the highest object. Those who chose Barabbas, thus yoking up with Satan, gave evidence that a profession of piety and of love for God, and a claim to know the Scriptures, neither made them the sons of God nor led them to represent His character. [To] those who had true religion, and there were such among the spectators, it must indeed have appeared as if Satan were linked up with the men triumphantly shouting in blasphemy against One who was Commander of all heaven.

Heavenly angels were not far away. They heard the mocking taunts, and saw the wagging of heads. Gladly would they have broken their ranks and gone to the Son of God in His humiliation and bodily anguish, but this they were not permitted to do. It must be demonstrated before the universe what men will do when under the control of Satan. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” [Hebrews 2:14.]

Obedience to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God is required. Had Christ conceded one jot or tittle of this, the hostility of Satan and his army would not have burst upon Him with irrepressible fury. He was able to perform marvelous works, and had He but allowed some license to sin, had He permitted evil passions to go unrebuked, men would have given Him their homage. But He rebuked all sin and hypocrisy, and they said, He is an imposter. Satan and his angels united with the priests and rulers in mocking and deriding the Son of God. Thus were the words fulfilled, “Thou shalt bruise his heel.” [Genesis 3:15.]

By those who mocked Christ as He hung on the cross, Satan and his angels were personified. He filled them with vile and loathsome speeches. He inspired their taunts. But by all this he gained nothing. He was permitted to bruise Christ’s heel, but Christ was bruising his head. By working through the priests against Christ, Satan was affecting his own discomfiture and downfall.

Could one sin have been found in Christ, the world would have been plunged into blackness and ruin. If Satan could have so bruised Christ’s heel that He would have yielded to the physical torture, his triumph would have been complete. He could have shouted victory. The world would have been his kingdom. But Satan could only cause pain. He could not touch Christ’s head unless Christ proved false to God.

As the prince of darkness inspired the priests to join the rebellion against the will of God, so he will again inspire men. He will persuade them to apostatize from the service of God, and make their religion as a weapon with which to fight against God. They may profess great zeal in God’s service, but, poor souls, they are serving the prince of darkness, and as their general, Satan leads them.

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” [Mark 15:34.] The wrath of God fell upon Christ. This was the hiding of the Father’s countenance. Though innocent, Christ was treated as a sinner, that through His merits sinners, though guilty, might be treated as the loyal and obedient children of God. Christ died with the sins of the world imputed to Him, that His righteousness might be imputed to the sinner. When the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of bitterness.

“Now there was a vessel full of vinegar; and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished.” [John 19:29, 30.] There was a shriek, shrill and agonizing, and the Son of God expired. He died of a broken heart. When the spear was thrust into His side, there flowed forth blood and water. His heart was broken by His mental agony. The hearts of those who seek the Lord and find Him will be broken as they see the result of sin.

What great and wonderful effects have come from the crucifixion of Christ! What a view of the character of God His sacrifice has opened to the universe. His love for man, far surpassing all human love, has lifted the law of God to its own eternal dignity. The attributes of God have been revealed, and the holy requirements of His law have been vindicated. The effects of the sacrifice on the cross are still felt; but all who would be saved must themselves have an interest in the crucified One.

In His great suffering, Christ felt no pang of bitterness against [His Father]. He felt no remorse for His own sins, but for the sins of the fallen race. Those who refuse the gift of Christ will one day feel the sting of remorse. Entire obedience to the law of God is the condition of salvation. Those who refuse this, who refuse to accept Christ will become embittered against God. When punished for transgression, they will feel remorse, despair, and hatred. This will be the experience of all who do not enter into Christ’s sufferings. It is the sure consequence of sin.

We read of chains of darkness for the transgressor of God’s law. We read of the worm that dieth not and of the fire that is not quenched. Thus is represented the experience of everyone that has permitted himself to be grafted into the stalk of Satan, who has cherished sinful attributes. When too late he will see that sin is the transgression of God’s law. He will realize that because of transgression, his soul is cut off from God, and that God’s wrath abides upon him. This is a fire unquenchable. Thus the soul and body of every unrepentant sinner will be destroyed. Satan, the first transgressor, strives constantly to lead men into sin, and he who is willing to be led, who refuses to forsake his sins and receive forgiveness and grace unto salvation, will suffer the result of his course.

Charged with an embassage of mercy, love, and pardon, Christ came to His own, but His own received Him not. He was buffeted by temptation, and bruised and lacerated by the cruel lash. He was crowned with thorns, and His hands and feet were pierced by nails. In His dying agony on the cross He was scorned by the people who claimed to be waiting for the Messiah, but who by their actions showed the value of their spirituality. Surely Christ has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. Surely He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. But did Satan understand that while he was bruising the heel of the Son of God, the Son of God was bruising his head?

By dying on the cross Christ gave His life as an offering for sin, that through His power man might turn from his sins, become converted, and be a laborer together with God. Greater love than this can never be shown. More could not be done than has been done to demonstrate the immutability of the law of God. Christ did not die to abolish the law or to detract in the slightest degree from its influence or power. He died to exalt the law and make it honorable. Full of goodness, compassion, and love, He hated only one thing—sin, “the transgression of the law.” [1 John 3:4.] In the very act of dying to save that which was lost, Christ reached the perfect standard of obedience as our Substitute and Surety. His death exemplified the curse of sin.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” [Psalm 19:7.] Obedience to this law is required, for it is the transcript of the character of God. Obedience is the proof of love. “If ye love me,” Christ said, “keep my commandments.” [John 14:15.] In order to escape from obedience to the moral law, the teachers of today deceive poor bewildered souls by saying that Christ’s commandments and the precepts of the moral law are not the same thing. But this is not so. “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. ... If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings, and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” [Verses 21, 23, 24.] This is the truth in regard to the plan of salvation. No other foundation can be laid than that which is laid.

While enduring the contradiction of sinners against Himself, Christ bore insult, abuse, and mockery. This was part of the great plan. The result of Satan’s working through professedly pious men must be shown. No pang of anguish that Christ endured was in vain. Thus the ransom was paid for all who accept Christ as their personal Saviour. From the Word of God they receive their title to freedom. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fail: 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.]

If we obey the commandments of God, we receive our emancipation from sin. “Whatsoever we ask of Him, we receive, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is his commandment, That we believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another as He gave us commandment. And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and he in Him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us.” [1 John 3:22-24.]

*****

“If Christ be not raised,” wrote the apostle Paul, “then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ; whom He raised not up,if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” [1 Corinthians 15:14-18.] “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” [Acts 4:33.]

The Roman guard saw the resurrection of Christ, and testified to it.

John’s testimony in regard to the life, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ is clear and forcible. After Christ had ascended, John’s testimony concerning Christ disturbed those in power. With power he bore witness that Christ was a risen Saviour. To please the Jews, the Romans had crucified Christ, and now they sought still further to please them by placing John where his voice would not be heard by Jew or Gentile. He was banished to the Isle of Patmos.

Apparently the Lord permitted His enemies to triumph, as far as outward appearance was concerned. But God’s hand was moving unseen in the darkness. God permitted His faithful servant to be placed where Christ could give him a more wonderful revelation of Himself to give to the world. The Lord was preparing John to endure hatred and scorn for the sake of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. He was hidden as it were on a desert island, and here Christ visited him, giving him a most wonderful view of His glory, and making known to him what was to come upon the earth. The man who exiled John was not released from his responsibility. He was the instrument used by Jehovah to carry out His eternal purpose, and the very effort to extinguish the light, placed the truth in bold relief.

John was deprived of the society of his brethren and of the pleasure of association. But no man could deprive him of the light and revelation of Christ. A great light was to shine from Christ to His servant. Richly favored was this beloved disciple. With the other disciples he had traveled with Jesus, learning of Him and feasting on His words. His head had often rested on his Saviour’s bosom. But he must see Him also in Patmos. On the holy Sabbath day, the risen Saviour made His presence known to John; and the testimony then given him is given also to us. God would have us search the Scriptures, that we may know what will be in the last days of this earth’s history.

“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” [Revelation 1:4-7.]

“I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and, What thou seeth write in a book. ... And I turned to see the voice which spake with me. And being turned I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. ... And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” [Verses 10-13, 17, 18.]

This is a most powerful testimony, but its true significance is but dimly discerned. Let the student of Scripture carefully ponder every word in the first chapter of Revelation, for every sentence and every word is of weight and consequence.

The appearance of Christ to John should be to all, believers and unbelievers, an evidence that we have a risen Christ. It should give living power to the church. At times dark clouds surround God’s people. It seems as though oppression and persecution would extinguish them. But at such times the most instructive lessons are given. As in the darkest night the stars shines the brightest, so the most brilliant beams of God’s glory are revealed in the deepest gloom. The darker the sky, the more clear and impressive are the beams of the Sun of Righteousness, the risen Saviour. Christ often enters prisons, and reveals Himself to His chosen ones. He is in the fire with them at the stake.

The Lord has wonderful truth to make known through human instrumentalities. He permits those who turn from light and despise His warnings to show on which side they stand by oppressing His people. This will not destroy God’s servants if they will hold fast to their faith. It will keep them contrite and humble, preventing them from being exalted above measure by the abundance of light given them.

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