Ellen G. White Writings

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The Review and Herald

April 23, 1901

The Great Standard of Righteousness

Mrs. E. G. White

The Lord has taken infinite pains to teach men His will. He has given them His law, which is to govern the world. It demands perfect obedience from rich and poor, high and low. Its divine requirements are that we love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves. Its principles are binding upon the angels and upon all human intelligences. Without the law there could be no transgression; for “sin is the transgression of the law.” “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” The standard of righteousness, it is exceeding broad, prohibiting every evil thing.

Satan sees that to call the attention of human beings to the righteousness of the law barricades the soul against his specious devices. His only hope for securing the world is to lead men to ignore the law, to make them believe that the law is null and void, that belief in Christ is all that is necessary. If Satan can so deceive the world that sin will not appear exceeding sinful, he has gained what he desires to gain. And he has succeeded in leading multitudes to believe his falsehoods. Ministers of the gospel preach against the law, and especially against the Fourth Commandment.

We are nearing the close of this earth's history. Satan is making desperate efforts to make himself god, to speak and act like God, to appear as one who has a right to control the consciences of men. He strives with all his power to place a human institution in the position of God's holy rest-day. Under the jurisdiction of the man of sin, men have exalted a false standard in complete opposition to God's enactment. Each Sabbath institution bears the name of its author, an ineffaceable mark showing the authority of each. The first day of the week has not one particle of sanctity. It is the production of the man of sin, who strives in this way to counterwork God's purposes.

God has designated the seventh day as His Sabbath. He declares, “Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.... It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.” “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.”

Thus the distinction is drawn between the loyal and the disloyal. Those who desire to have the seal of God in their foreheads must keep the Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment. Thus they are distinguished from the disloyal, who have accepted a man-made institution in place of the true Sabbath. The observance of God's rest-day is a mark of distinction between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.

When men make the assertion that a change has been made in the law of God's government, they cast a reflection upon God's character. If the law was just when given to Adam, it is just today. “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass,” Christ declared, “than one tittle of the law to fail.”

The substitution of the false for the true is the last act in the drama. When this substitution becomes universal, God will reveal himself. When the laws of men are exalted above the laws of God, when the powers of this earth try to force men to keep the first day of the week, know that the time has come for God to work. He will arise in His majesty, and will shake terribly the earth. He will come out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity. The earth shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

The belief that the law of God is not the standard of righteousness is now almost universal in the Christian world. Professed Christians think that the more contempt they place upon the law, the more commendable they are in God's sight. Each human being exerts an influence upon those with whom he associates. Those who are willing to be led by false theories and unsound doctrines, who build their hopes for eternity on shifting sand, will find that the storm and tempest of trial will sweep away their refuge of lies. Their structure will fall, and they will perish,—lost, lost for all eternity.

Adam listened to the words of the tempter, and yielding to his insinuations, fell into sin. Why was not the death penalty at once enforced in his case?—Because a ransom was found. God's only begotten Son volunteered to take the sin of man upon himself, and to make an atonement for the fallen race. There could have been no pardon for sin had this atonement not been made. Had God pardoned Adam's sin without an atonement, sin would have been immortalized, and would have been perpetuated with a boldness that would have been without restraint. Remember how soon after the transgression of Adam the apostasy of his posterity became so marked that God repented that He had made man. They followed the imaginations of their evil hearts, and the strivings of the Spirit were not heeded. They refused to be admonished. They had an abundance of blessings for their own enjoyment, and they soon forgot that they had forfeited immortality.

God granted them one hundred and twenty years of probation, and during that time preached to them through Methuselah, Noah, and many others of His servants. Had they listened to the testimony of these faithful witnesses, had they repented and returned to their loyalty, God would not have destroyed them. But warnings made an impression on them only for a time. Christ was their atoning sacrifice, their Mediator, but they had no faith in Him, and His intercessions in their behalf were unavailing. As the time of probation drew nearer its close, the service due to God from them passed entirely from their thoughts; and the word went forth, “The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

After the flood the earth was again corrupted under its inhabitants, and the signal judgments of God fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah. But soon this punishment was forgotten, and once more men corrupted their way before God, turning from the worship of the Creator to the worship of idols. God called out the Hebrew people from slavery, and from Sinai gave them His law. But Egypt was desolated by plagues before Pharaoh would consent to listen to the great I AM. He persisted in his stubbornness till Egypt was ruined, and the Egyptians, from the lowest serf to the king upon his throne, looked upon the dead bodies of their firstborn. Then Pharaoh consented to let the children of Israel go, but he followed them immediately with an imposing display of chariots and men of war. Another exhibition of God's power was required. The Red Sea was opened to the Israelites, but the Egyptians who pursued them were drowned in its waters.

The terrible judgments of God which were inflicted upon the idolaters in the lands through which the children of Israel passed, caused fear and dread to fall upon all people living on the earth. But Israel, for whom so much had been done, apostatized in the very sight of Sinai. Aaron, who had been left in charge, was afraid to stand firm against the vast host who were clamoring for gods to lead them back to Egypt.

After entering Canaan, the children of Israel gradually went into idolatry. By His prophets God sent them message after message. But they forgot the instructions of their leader, and followed their own inclinations and the imagination of their own hearts, until the Lord could no longer protect them. He permitted their enemies to overcome them, and to scatter them as captives in strange lands. But still He was willing to pardon them. He promised that if they would return to Him, He would heal all their backslidings, and reinstate them in His favor. He sent them warnings, reproofs, judgments, to save them from ruin. But notwithstanding these efforts, they wandered farther and farther from Him. As represented in the parable given by Christ, God sent His messengers to them, but these were persecuted and put to death. Last of all, He sent His only begotten Son. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ... full of grace and truth.” But the people He came to save refused to receive Him. They rewarded Him evil for good, and in Pilate's judgment hall He was condemned to death by crucifixion. “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat? I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me.”

April 23, 1901

Missionary Work in the Neighborhood

Mrs. E. G. White

Before His ascension to heaven, Jesus, with hands outstretched in blessing His disciples, gave them their commission: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Repentance of sin was to be preached in His name among all nations, but the work was to begin at Jerusalem. Before going out into new fields of labor, the disciples of Christ were to give the message to their own people. Home missions were to receive their first attention.

Wherever the people of God are placed, in the crowded cities, in the villages, or among the country byways, there is a home mission field, for which a responsibility is laid upon them by their Lord's commission. They are to take up the duty that lies nearest. First of all is the work in the family; next they should seek to win their neighbors to Christ, and to bring before them the great truths of this time.

This work places a responsibility upon us to recommend by our daily life the faith which we profess. The piety of its believers is the standard by which worldlings judge the truth. In all your associations with unbelievers, be careful to give them no occasion to misjudge your faith, or to reproach the cause of truth which you advocate. Many hedge up the way by their own course of action. There is some indiscretion on their part. They are easily provoked. Little difficulties arise in trade or in some other temporal matter, which lead them to think themselves misjudged or wronged by their neighbors. These things are allowed to create coldness or ill-feeling, and thus to close the door of access to those who might be reached by the truth. We should never allow matters of temporal interest to quench our love for souls. Brethren, be kind and courteous on all occasions.

Never be sharp, critical, or exacting in your deal. If there is any advantage to be gained, give it to your neighbor, whom you are required to love as you love yourself. With the patience and love of Jesus, watch for opportunities to do him a kindness. Let him see that the religion that you profess does not close up nor freeze over the avenues of the soul, making you unsympathizing and exacting. Let a well-ordered life and a godly conversation testify to your sincerity and piety; and when you have thus gained his confidence, the way is open for you to reach the heart by introducing the truth.

If these matters, which may appear of minor consequence, are neglected, you may present the most convincing arguments in favor of the truth, but they will have no weight. If your family government is not according to the Bible rule, if your children are not brought up with habits of order and industry, if they are selfish, proud, disobedient, unthankful, unholy, be sure that your unbelieving neighbor will see and remark upon your neglect. “They would better spend their labor at home,” he will say, “teaching piety and good behavior to their children, instead of trying to convert me.” Very many have been caused to stumble by the inconsistencies of professed Christians, and have been led to reject the precious truths of the Bible.

April 23, 1901

Items from General Conference

Mrs. E. G. White: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers’ soap.”

Consider what that means. Fuller's soap makes a garment shrink into a much smaller compass. We want to stand in that position of humility where the life is hid with Christ in God. We claim Him; He is our righteousness; therefore, our lives are hid with Christ in God, we shall not shrink into nothingness.

To us has been given the work of preparing ourselves for the mansions. And this we can do through the help that is waiting for us. When God gave His Son to our world. He gave all heaven, all the facilities and powers of heaven. Those who fail to improve the glorious opportunities granted with the gift of God's Son will be without excuse.

Christ declared that all power in heaven and earth has been given to him, and He gives this power to those who truly believe on Him, to His disciples, that they may go forth to proclaim the message of hope and salvation to a fallen race. He takes His position at the head of humanity, covering humanity with divinity. In Him humanity and divinity are combined, and He can accomplish for the human race all that is necessary to enable them to overcome as He overcame, and sit down with Him in His Father's throne.

All the sufferings, all the distress, that came to Him who was equal with the Father, was borne that He might bring people to himself. For this purpose He laid off His royal robe, His royal crown, laid aside His high command, and stepped down to humanity. He who was the majesty of heaven, the King of glory, died for sinners.

We breathe because God takes charge of the human machinery. Day by day He keeps it in working order, and He wants us to think of the infinite sacrifice He has made for us in suffering with One equal with himself—His only begotten Son. He consented to let Him come to a world all seared and marred with the curse of sin, to stand at the head of humanity as a sin-bearing, sin-pardoning Saviour. God has pledged himself to receive sinners; for He “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Everlasting life,—this is what we want. Shall we be satisfied to live in this poor world without a hope of a better life? God forbid. Let us lay hold of the power that has been provided to make it possible for us to gain eternal life. Let us take hold of the blessings heaven has given us that we may fit ourselves for the higher grade, fit ourselves for the mansions which Christ is preparing for us. He said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

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