Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

March 9, 1897

Christ Represents the Beneficence of the Law

By Mrs. E. G. White

“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is essential that every subject of the kingdom of God should be obedient to the law of Jehovah, in order that his infinite glory may have a perfect establishment. The professed followers of Christ are tested in this life to see whether or not they will be obedient to God. Obedience will result in happiness, and will insure the reward of eternal life. Failure on the part of Adam on one point resulted in terrible consequences, and sin has grown to such vast proportions that it cannot be measured. But in the midst of rebellion and apostasy, in the midst of those who were disloyal, impenitent, and obstinate, God looks down upon those who love him and keep his commandments, and says, “I love them that love me,” and will cause them to inherit substance. “I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.”

Christ lived in accordance with the principles of God's moral government, and fulfilled the specifications of the law of God. He represented the beneficence of the law in his human life. The fact that the law is holy, just, and good is to be testified before all nations, tongues, and peoples, to worlds unfallen, to angels, seraphim, and cherubim. The principles of the law of God were wrought out in the character of Jesus Christ, and he who co-operates with Christ, becoming a partaker of the divine nature, will develop the divine character, and become an illustration of the divine law. Christ in the heart will bring the whole man, soul, body, and spirit into captivity to the obedience of righteousness. Christ's true followers will be in conformity to the mind and will and character of God, and the far-reaching principles of the law will be demonstrated in humanity.

Pardoning, redeeming love is brought to view in Christ Jesus. Satan had misrepresented the character of God, and it was necessary that a correct representation should be made to worlds unfallen, to angels, and to men. Satan had declared that God knew nothing of self-denial, of mercy and love, but that he was stern, exacting, and unforgiving. Satan never tested the forgiving love of God; for he never exercised genuine repentance. His representations of God were incorrect; he was a false witness, an accuser of Christ, and an accuser of all those who throw off the Satanic yoke, and come back to render willing allegiance to the God of heaven.

Satan charged God with an unforgiving spirit, because he would not receive on terms of favor those who disobeyed his law and therefore misrepresented his character. But forgiveness of sins would be of no avail unless the course of transgression was abandoned, and the grace of Christ imparted to the sinner to renovate, purify, and ennoble him who had fallen by iniquity. This was the only way by which the sinner could be restored to divine favor, and trusted to come into copartnership with Jesus Christ. But in Christ we behold the character of the Father, and see the pitying tenderness which God exercised for fallen man, giving his only begotten Son as a ransom for the transgressors of the law. It is in beholding the love of God that repentance is awakened in the sinner's heart, and an earnest desire is created to become reconciled to God. When the transgressor becomes acquainted with God, and experiences his love, it produces in his heart a hatred for sin and a love for holiness.

The more we study the attributes of the character of God as revealed in Christ, the more we see that justice has been sustained in the sacrifice that met the penalty of the law, and that mercy has been provided in the only begotten Son, who bore the penalty of the law in the sinner's place, in order that man might have another probation, another opportunity to be obedient to the law of God's government, that it might be made manifest who could be trusted to become members of the Lord's family, children of the Heavenly King. Those who are obedient to the law of the government of God while in this brief probation, amid all the counter-influences of Satanic agencies, will be pronounced in heaven loyal children of the Lord of Hosts. They will be declared to be separate from the sinful practises of the world, and to them God gives the promise, “I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

By both creation and redemption we are the Lord's property. We are absolutely his subjects, and amenable to the laws of his kingdom. Let no one foster the delusion that the Lord God of heaven and earth has no law by which to control and govern his subjects. We are dependent upon God for everything we enjoy. The food which we eat, the clothing we wear, the atmosphere we breathe, the life we enjoy from day to day, are received from God. We are under obligation to be governed by his will, to acknowledge him as our supreme ruler. We are under obligation to coincide with all his plans and designs. As all our blessings come from God, we are under the highest obligation to render gratitude to him for his mercies, his goodness and benevolence, and to manifest this gratitude by returning to him his own in gifts and offerings, ever cherishing a sense of our dependence upon him.

Those who have a knowledge of God in Christ Jesus are under obligation to perform his expressed will in doing his commandments, which are a transcript of his character. We are under a debt of gratitude to God for the revelation of his love in Christ Jesus; and as intelligent human agents, we are to reveal to the world the manner of character that will result from obedience to every specification of the law of God's government. In perfect obedience to his holy will, we are to manifest adoration, love, cheerfulness, and praise, and thus honor and glorify God. It is in this way alone that man may reveal the character of God in Christ to the world, and make manifest to men that happiness, peace, assurance, and grace come from obedience to the law of God. Thus glory redounds to God in good and righteous actions through harmony with the laws of Jehovah's government.

It was positively necessary that man should know his Heavenly Father, and discern his paternal attributes of character; for in becoming acquainted with God, men may become partakers of the same virtues and the same glory. In the prayer of Christ for his disciples, the truth embodied is of the deepest significance and interest to all his followers. “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” To render acceptable service to God, it is essential that we should know God, to whom we belong, in order that we may be thankful and obedient, contemplating and adoring him for his wonderful love to men. We could not rejoice in and praise a being of whom we had no certain knowledge; but God has sent Christ to the world to make manifest his paternal character.

It is our privilege to know God experimentally, and in true knowledge of God is life eternal. The only begotten Son of God was God's gift to the world, in whose character was revealed the character of him who gave the law to men and angels. He came to proclaim the fact, “The Lord our God is one Lord,” and him only shalt thou serve. He came to make it manifest that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” That which proceeds from the mind of God is perfect, and needs not to be taken back, corrected, or altered in the least. We may ascribe all perfection to God. He holds in his hand the existence of every human being, and upholds all things by the word of his power.

Unless men shall know God as Christ has revealed him, they will never form a character after the divine similitude, and will therefore never see God. It is a matter for astonishment among the angels in heaven, that any who have once known God should become careless, should permit their minds to be absorbed in any temporal pursuit, and allow their attention to be diverted from the God of heaven, so that they wantonly and willingly forget their Maker, and substitute for him other lords and other gods. The day has come when there are lords many and gods many, and Satan has purposed to interpose himself between God and the human soul, so that men shall not give homage to God in keeping his law. Satan has wrapped about him garments of angelic brightness, and he comes to men as an angel of light. He causes the guilty soul to see things in a perverted way, so that he hates that which he should love, and loves that which he should hate and despise. God is so misrepresented to him that he cares not to retain the true and living Father in his knowledge, but turns to the worship of false gods. He knows not that the love of God is without a parallel, yet Christ has revealed that love to a fallen world. John calls upon the world to behold the wondrous love of God, saying, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”

Jesus said, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” It is not a surprising thing that the world misunderstand and misinterpret the children of God, since they know not God. As the world treated the world's Redeemer, so will they treat his followers. Jesus said: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I have said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.”

If the world knew the principles of the laws of God's government, if they obeyed his commandments, they would discern the character of God in the law, and would no longer be at enmity with God. But turning from the law of God, men have no means of discerning his character, and the attributes of the character of Satan are cherished and cultivated. After Jesus told his disciples what manner of treatment they might expect from the world, he said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.” That is, in receiving persecution from the hands of the world, they were not to feel that God was dealing with them unjustly, in permitting them to be thus treated. Jesus continued: “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” Why is it that men reach this state of deception? Why is it they walk so contrary to all the laws of God? Jesus answers: “And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.”

Turning away from the law of God, trampling the commandments under their feet, men cannot know God; for the law of God is a transcript of his character. Failing to understand the law of God, they also fail to know the human agent who discerns the attributes of the character of God revealed in his law. This is why men are filled with prejudice against the truth of God, why they are inspired with the spirit of the great adversary of God and of his children. This is why they bear false reports, fabricating lies, and loving the lies that are prepared for their using. This is why they make such decided efforts to turn away the people from the law of God; for they have not seen him, neither known him.

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