Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

August 19, 1890

The Righteousness of Christ

By Mrs. E. G. White

[The following letter was written in answer to a letter from a brother minister. As the subject dwelt upon is of general interest, it may be a help to others besides the one specially addressed.]

Dear Brother,

It was with pleasure that I read your letter of inquiry to me, for the thought that the work of the Spirit of God wrought upon your heart at the Kansas meeting has so far not been effaced, is of great satisfaction. You have had a glimpse of the righteousness of Christ which you have not lost, as I am sure some others did when they came in contact with those who did not appreciate this blessed truth. I am glad that Jesus does indeed make his presence manifest when it is eagerly sought for and gratefully acknowledged.

When the third angel's message is preached as it should be, power attends its proclamation, and it becomes an abiding influence. It must be attended with divine power, or it will accomplish nothing. I am often referred to the parable of the ten virgins, five of whom were wise, and five foolish. This parable has been and will be fulfilled to the very letter, for it has a special application to this time, and, like the third angel's message, has been fulfilled and will continue to be present truth till the close of time. In the parable, the ten virgins had lamps, but only five of them had the saving oil with which to keep their lamps burning. This represents the condition of the Church. The wise and the foolish have their Bibles, and are provided with all the means of grace; but many do not appreciate the fact that they must have the heavenly unction. They do not heed the invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus desires to efface the image of the earthly from the minds of his followers, and to impress upon them the image of the heavenly, that they may become one with himself, reflecting his character, and showing forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light. If you have been permitted to stand in the presence of the Sun of Righteousness, it is not that you may absorb and conceal the bright beams of Christ's righteousness, but that you may become a light to others. The enemy has men in our ranks through whom he works, that the light which God has permitted to shine upon the heart and illuminate the chambers of the mind may be darkened. There are persons who have received the precious light of the righteousness of Christ, but they do not act upon it; they are foolish virgins. They prefer the sophistry of the enemy rather than the plain “Thus saith the Lord.” When the blessing of God rested upon them in order that they might become channels of light, they did not go forward from light to a greater light; they permitted doubt and unbelief to come in, so that the truth which they had seen, became an uncertainty to them.

Satan uses those who claim to believe the truth, but whose light has become darkness, as his mediums to utter his falsehoods and transmit his darkness. They are foolish virgins indeed, choosing darkness rather than light, and dishonoring God. The character we cultivate, the attitude we assume today, is fixing our future destiny. We are all making a choice, either to be with the blessed, inside the city of light, or to be with the wicked, outside the city. The principles which govern our actions on earth are known in heaven, and our deeds are faithfully chronicled in the books of record. It is there known whether our characters are after the order of Christ or the order of the arch-deceiver who caused rebellion in heaven. Are we wise virgins, or must we be classed among the foolish? This is the question which we are deciding today by our character and attitude. That which passes with many for the religion of Christ, is made up of ideas and theories, a mixture of truth and error. Some are trying to become good enough to be saved. They continually complain of their sins. The Lord says of them, “And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.” “Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?”

Penances, mortifications of the flesh, constant confession of sin, without sincere repentance; fasts, festivals, and outward observances, unaccompanied by true devotion,—all these are of no value whatever. The sacrifice of Christ is sufficient; he made a whole, efficacious offering to God; and human effort without the merit of Christ, is worthless. We not only dishonor God by taking this course, but we destroy our present and future usefulness. A failure to appreciate the value of the offering of Christ, has a debasing influence; it blights our expectations, and makes us fall short of our privileges; it leads us to receive unsound and perilous theories concerning the salvation that has been purchased for us at infinite cost. The plan of salvation is not understood to be that through which divine power is brought to man in order that his human effort may be wholly successful.

To be pardoned in the way that Christ pardons, is not only to be forgiven, but to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. The Lord says, “A new heart will I give unto thee.” The image of Christ is to be stamped upon the very mind, heart, and soul. The apostle says, “And we have the mind of Christ.” Without the transforming process which can come alone through divine power, the original propensities to sin are left in the heart in all their strength, to forge new chains, to impose a slavery that can never be broken by human power. But men can never enter heaven with their old tastes, inclinations, idols, ideas, and theories. Heaven would be no place of joy to them; for everything would be in collision with their tastes, appetites, and inclinations, and painfully opposed to their natural and cultivated traits of character.

In the parable of the virgins, five are represented as wise and five as foolish. The name “foolish virgins” represents the character of those who have not the genuine heart-work wrought by the Spirit of God. The coming of Christ does not change the foolish virgins into wise ones. When Christ comes, the balances of Heaven will weigh the character, and decide whether it is pure, sanctified, and holy, or whether it is unclean, and unfit for the kingdom of heaven. Those who have despised the divine grace that is at their command, that would have qualified them to be the inhabitants of heaven, will be the foolish virgins. They had all the light, all the knowledge, but they failed to obtain the oil of grace; they did not receive the truth in its sanctifying power.

Happiness is the result of holiness, and conformity to the will of God. Those who would be saints in heaven, must first be saints upon the earth; for when we leave this earth, we shall take our character with us, and this will be simply taking with us some of the elements of heaven imparted to us through the righteousness of Christ.

The state of the Church represented by the foolish virgins, is also spoken of as the Laodicean state. The True Witness declares, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: 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; 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, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in the throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

Half-hearted Christians obscure the glory of God, misinterpret piety, and cause men to receive false ideas as to what constitutes vital godliness. Others think that they, also, can be Christians and yet consult their own tastes and make provision for the flesh, if these false-hearted professors can do so. On many a professed Christian's banner the motto is written, “You can serve God and please self,—you can serve God and mammon.” They profess to be wise virgins, but not having the oil grace in their vessels with their lamps, they shed forth no light to the glory of God and for the salvation of men. They seek to do what the world's Redeemer said was impossible to do; he has declared, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Those who profess to be Christians, but do not follow in the footsteps of Christ, make of none effect his words, and obscure the plan of salvation. By their spirit and deportment they virtually say, “Jesus, in your day you did not understand as well as we do in our day, that man can serve God and mammon.” These professors of religion claim to keep the law of God, but they do not keep it. O, what would the standard of true manhood have become had it been left in the hands of man! God has lifted his own standard,—the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus; and the experience that follows complete surrender to God, is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Everything that man touches with unholy hands and unsanctified intellect, even the gospel of truth, becomes, by the contact, contaminated. Man puts confidence in man, and makes flesh his arm, but all the work of man is of the earth, earthy.

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