Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

July 24, 1888

How Do We Stand?

Mrs. E. G. White

“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” The solemn question should come home to every member of our churches, How are we standing before God, as the professed followers of Jesus Christ? Is our light shining forth to the world in clear, steady rays? Have we, as a people solemnly dedicated to God, preserved our union with the Source of all light? Are not the symptoms of decay and declension painfully visible in the midst of the Christian churches of today? Spiritual death has come upon the people that should be manifesting life and zeal, purity and consecration, by the most earnest devotion to the cause of truth. The facts concerning the real condition of the professed people of God, speak more loudly than their profession, and make it evident that some power has cut the cable that anchored them to the Eternal Rock, and that they are drifting away to sea, without chart or compass.

What is to be done? The True Witness points out the only remedy: “Repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Christ will cease to take your name upon his lips in his intercession with the Father, unless there is a decided change in the life and characters of those who have wandered from the living God, and forsaken his service. Jesus declares, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” And yet the case is not altogether beyond remedy. The Mediator has not left them hopeless. He says, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed.”

Although the oil in the lamps is almost consumed, and they have not been replenished, still you have not yet reached that desperate position described in the parable of the foolish virgins. They slumbered long, until their lamps were gone out, and they had made no provision for the time of need; and when the Bridegroom came, they were seeking, too late, to replenish their lamps: for the door was shut, and they were left to outer darkness and despair. But the counsel of the True Witness is full of encouragement and comfort. The churches may yet obtain the gold of truth, faith, and love, and be rich in heavenly treasure. “Buy of me gold that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” The white raiment is the righteousness of Christ that may be wrought into the character. Purity of heart, purity of motive, will characterize every one who is washing his robe, and making it white in the blood of the Lamb.

Today let the question come home to the heart of every one who professes the name of Christ, “Dost thou believe in the Son of God?” Not, “Do you admit that Jesus is the Redeemer of the world?” Not to soothe your conscience and the consciences of others by saying, “I believe,” and think that is all there is to be done. But do you believe with all your heart that Jesus is your Saviour? Do you bring him into your life, and weave him into your character, until you are one with Christ? Many accept Jesus as an article of belief, but they have no saving faith in him as their sacrifice and Saviour. They have no realization that Christ has died to save them from the penalty of the law which they have transgressed, in order that they may be brought back to loyalty to God. Do you believe that Christ, as your substitute, pays the debt of your transgression? Not, however, that you may continue in sin, but that you may be saved from your sins; that you, through the merits of his righteousness, may be re-instated to the favor of God. Do you know that a holy and just God will accept your efforts to keep his law, through the merits of his own beloved Son who died for your rebellion and sin?

You may say that you believe in Jesus, when you have an appreciation of the cost of salvation. You may make this claim, when you feel that Jesus died for you on the cruel cross of Calvary; when you have an intelligent, understanding faith that his death makes it possible for you to cease from sin, and to perfect a righteous character through the grace of God, bestowed upon you as the purchase of Christ's blood. The eyes of fallen men may be anointed with the eye-salve of spiritual comprehension, and they may see themselves as they really are,—poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked. They may be brought to realize their need of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

The plan of salvation is not appreciated as it should be. It is not discerned or comprehended. It is made altogether a cheap affair; whereas to unite the human with the divine, required an exertion of Omnipotence. It was necessary that a great condescension should be made on the part of God in behalf of fallen man, who had transgressed the unchangeable law of Jehovah. Christ, by clothing his divinity with humanity, elevates humanity in the scale of moral value to an infinite worth. But what a condescension on the part of God, and on the part of his only begotten Son, who was equal with the Father! All this had to be done because God's law had been transgressed.

So great has been the spiritual blindness of men, that they have sought to make of none effect the word of God. They have declared by their traditions, that the great plan of redemption was devised, in order to abolish, and make of none effect, the law of God; when Calvary is the mighty argument that proves the immutability of the precepts of Jehovah. The fact that God had to give his only begotten Son to die for a race condemned by the law, is sufficient to prove that the law could not be altered one jot or tittle. The professed Christian world is indeed in need of eye-salve, that they may see the character of God and his law. Their prayer should be as was David's of old, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Has there been a departure from God? then there must be a returning unto him; there must be a doing of the first works; there must be a close examination of the life. The state of the character must be compared with the great moral standard of righteousness. There must be a searching out of the peculiar sins which have been offensive to God, which have dishonored his name, and quenched the light of his Spirit, and killed the first love from the soul. Whether it has been pride, sensuality, or turning the grace of Christ into lasciviousness, it must be thoroughly repented of, and forsaken.

There are many who profess to be Christians, while they are living a sinful, immoral life; but their profession will not cover them in the day of God. There is a large class who trample upon God's law, who break its precepts, and teach others to do the same, terming it a “yoke of bondage;” while with words they exalt Jesus, and talk of being saved by grace. These are the ones who are turning the grace of Christ into lasciviousness. All such teaching has a tendency to enfeeble the moral tone of the religious world, and accounts for the miserable, heartless, outward form that is taking the place of the genuine piety that God desires in his people. How many come under the condemnation of the words of Christ! “I would that thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”

We are impressed with these words when we hear men who are trampling on the precepts of Heaven, making the claim that they are sanctified and sinless. They make high professions, but they refuse to search the Scriptures, that they may know what is truth. On one occasion a minister was brought to our notice who claimed that he was sinless. He declared that he was inspired by the Holy Ghost; and yet he would not read a word concerning present truth. He said the Lord taught him, and he had no need to depend on the word of life. He affirmed that the agitation of the Sabbath question was bringing men into bondage, rather than into liberty; and that all he wanted was the freedom of Christ,—the blessed faith of Christ. He professed to be filled with Christ. But could we receive the testimony of this man as truth? What is the language of the True Witness? “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Paul asks, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.”

Are not such teachers the pretenders to whom Christ referred when he said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” God's will is expressed in his holy law. This is the only correct standard of righteousness, and if a man's character stands in harmony with the Lord's standard, his testimony may be received and relied upon; but if he stands in opposition to the requirements of God, he measures himself and others by his own finite, fallible standard, and may claim as much as does the pope of Rome. In the light of the royal law, his character may be lacking in every essential qualification of purity and righteousness. He has torn down the true detector of sin, and has trampled it in the dust. He claims great spiritual riches,—wants nothing that he has not, and boasts of the grace of Christ, which he has turned into lasciviousness. These characters will multiply, and by smooth words and deceptive speeches will deceive the unwary and those who do not try the professions of men by the great Tester of character.

The world's Redeemer declares, “I have kept my Father's commandments.” “I counsel thee,” saith the True Witness, “to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” Christ's righteousness will not cover the unrighteousness of any one. “All unrighteousness is sin,” and “sin is the transgression of the law,” therefore, those who are breaking the law of God and teaching others to break it, will not be covered with the garments of Christ's righteousness. He came not to save men in their sins; but from their sins. “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him.” These utterances are weighty, and should be duly considered. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned [transgressed the law], we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” “My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” We need an advocate with the Father, because it is the Father's law that we have broken. We need to repent of our transgression, and return to our allegiance to God. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins: and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” Here it is plainly stated that whosoever abideth in Christ will not be a transgressor of the law of God.

“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness, is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the Devil; for the Devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the Devil.” He was manifested to destroy, not the royal law of God, but “the works of the Devil.” “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” “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.” “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

How bitterly do many of the ministers who stand in the sacred desk denounce the royal law of God, and many of them profess to be wholly sanctified to his service. They are of the class who break the law, and teach others to do the same; but does not Jesus say, “Whosoever shall break one of the least of these commandments and teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven?” The True Witness presents encouragements to all who are seeking to walk in the path of humble obedience, through faith in his name. He declares, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” These are the words of our Substitute and Surety. He who is the divine Head of the church, the mightiest of conquerors, would point his followers to his life, his toils, his self-denials, his struggles, and sufferings, through contempt, through rejection, ridicule, scorn, insult, mockery, falsehood, up the path of Calvary to the scene of the crucifixion, that they might be encouraged to press on toward the mark for the prize and reward of the overcomer. Victory is assured through faith and obedience. Let us make an application of the words of Christ to our own individual cases. Are we poor, and blind, and wretched, and miserable? Then let us seek the gold and white raiment that he offers. The work of overcoming is not restricted to the age of the martyrs. The conflict is for us, in these days of subtle temptation to worldliness, to self-security, to indulgence of pride, covetousness, false doctrines, and immorality of life. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” and every church is to bear the test of God's law. Shall we stand before the proving of God?

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