Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

August 28, 1894

The Obedient Approved of God

By 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.”

Let the solemn question come home to every one who is a member of our churches, How am I standing before God as a professed follower of Christ? Is my light shining forth to the world in clear, steady rays? Have we as a people who have taken vows of dedication to God, preserved our union with the Source of all light? Are not the symptoms to declension and decay painfully visible among the Christian churches of today? Spiritual death has come upon many who should be examples of zeal, purity, and consecration. Their practices speak more loudly than their professions, and witness to the fact that some power has cut the cable that anchored them to the eternal Rock, and they are drifting without chart or compass.

The True Witness desires to remedy the perilous condition in which his professed people are placed, and he says: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and 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 the names of those who fail to turn to him and do their first works, and will no longer make intercession for them before the Father. He says, “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 spue 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.” Yet the case of those who are rebuked is not a hopeless one; it is not beyond the power of the great Mediator. 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, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.” Though the professed followers of Christ are in a deplorable condition, they are not yet in so desperate a strait as were the foolish virgins whose lamps were going out, and there was no time in which to replenish their vessels with oil. When the bridegroom came, those that were ready went in with him to the wedding; but when the foolish virgins came, the door was shut, and they were too late to obtain an entrance. But the counsel of the True Witness does not represent those who are lukewarm as in a hopeless case. There is yet a chance to remedy their state, and the Laodicean message is full of encouragement; for the backslidden church may yet buy the gold of faith and love, may yet have the white robe of the righteousness of Christ, that the shame of their nakedness need not appear. Purity of heart, purity of motive, may yet characterize those who are half-hearted and who are striving to serve God and Mammon. They may yet wash their robes of character and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Today the question is to come home to every heart, Do you believe in the Son of God? The question is not, Do you admit that Jesus is the Redeemer of the world? and that you should repeat to your soul and to others, “Believe, believe, all you have to do is to believe;” but, Do you have practical faith in the Son of God, so that you bring him into your life and character until you are one with him? Many accept of the theory of Christ, but they make it manifest by their works that they do not know him as the Saviour who died for the sins of men, who bore the penalty of their transgression, in order that they might be brought back to their loyalty to God, and through the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, might find acceptance with God in their obedience to his law. Christ died to make it possible for you to cease to sin, and sin is the transgression of the law.

Jesus counsels you to have your eyes anointed with spiritual eye-salve, in order that you may discern the fact that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, that you may exercise repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The plan of salvation is not half discerned. It is made altogether too cheap a thing, and men do not take in the fact of how great an act of condescension it is on the part of Omnipotence to stoop to unite the divine with the human, to impart the Holy Spirit to the repenting transgressor of his holy law. God became man, clothing his divinity with humanity, and thus humanity has been elevated in the scale of moral value with God. But how great was the condescension of the Father and the Son to consent to the working out of the plan of salvation to save the transgressors of Heaven's exalted law!

How great is the spiritual blindness of men who declare that this great condescension on the part of God in giving his only begotten Son, was to abolish the law of God, and to make its precepts of no effect. Calvary is the unanswerable argument for the immutability of the law of God; for could one of its precepts have been altered to meet man in his fallen condition, the Son of God need not have suffered death for a guilty race. The professed Christian world is indeed in need of eye-salve, that they may see. Like David they should pray, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”

Wherever there has been a departure from God, there must be a returning to him, and a doing of the first works. Jesus says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and repent.” In order to repent, it is necessary to examine the life and character by the great standard of righteousness, that the peculiar sins which have dishonored God and have been an offense to him, may be discovered. That which has quenched the first love must be forsaken, whether it has been pride, sensuality, or the turning of the grace of God into lasciviousness. Those who make a profession of being Christians, that is, Christlike, and who yet live a life of sin, cast dishonor upon the truth of God. Many of this class trample upon the law of God, and teach others that its precepts are not binding, and yet they presume to take the name of Jesus upon their lips, and talk of being saved by his grace. Such teaching tends to enfeeble the moral tone of the church, and true godliness is banished while a miserable, heartless, outward form of godliness remains. Such come under the rebuke of Christ when he says, “I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” “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.”

“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?” and answers, “God forbid.” Again he asks, “Do we then make void the law through faith?” and answers, “God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” God's will is expressed in his holy law, and Jesus says, “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.” The law of God is the standard by which character is to be measured, and he whose life is in harmony with that law is worthy to be trusted, but of what value is the testimony of a man whose life and teaching contradict the law of Jehovah? He then measures himself by his own finite standard, and may claim for himself as much as does the pope of Rome; but in the light of the detector of sin, his character may be wholly wanting. He may claim great spiritual riches, and think that he is in need of nothing, and may boast of the grace of Christ, but at the same time may have turned that precious grace into lasciviousness. This spurious character of religion is on the increase, and many whose hearts are carnal prate of the grace of Christ, while at the same time they openly blaspheme the name of the God of heaven by casting contempt upon the law of God, which rebukes their inconsistent course and detects their unchristlike character.

It is not the grace of Christ that makes void the law of God. Christ declared, “I have kept my father's commandments, and abide in his love.” To those who are making void the commandments of God, the True Witness 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, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” Christ's white robe of righteousness will never cover any soul that is found in sin unrepented of and unforsaken. “Sin is the transgression of the law.” Therefore those who are trampling upon the law of God, and teaching others to disregard its precepts, will not be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. Jesus came not to save people 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.” “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 that we have not sinned [transgressed the law], we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I 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 which we have broken, and we need to repent of our transgression, and return to our allegiance to God. “Whoso 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. 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,” not the royal law that points out what is sin. “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil; whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God.” “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 [overcomers do not unite with the world in transgression of the law of God]; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

“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, the divine Head of the Church, himself the mightiest of conquerors. He points his disciples to his own life, to the tests he bore, to his self-denials and struggles and sufferings, and marks out the path of obedience for their feet through ridicule, contempt, scorn, mockery, rejection, and shameful death. Suffering and humiliation he bore in order to prove obedient to the law of God, to magnify the law and make it honorable; and he lays down the conditions that must be met by those who would inherit eternal life. Victory can come alone through faith and obedience, through following in his footsteps. The work of overcoming is not confined to the martyrs. We, too, are to engage in the conflict in these days of subtle temptation to worldliness, to self-confidence, pride, covetousness, and immorality; and to the overcomers will be given a crown of life and glory.

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