Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

December 28, 1891

“If My Words Abide in You”

By Mrs. E. G. White

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you,” are the words of Christ, which, abiding in the heart of the believer, transform his character. They are not a dead letter, but they are spirit and life. They are motive power to all action. If they are lightly regarded, nominally received, without working in us, they are useless, and will only condemn us in the judgment. We shall grow no better under their influence, but shall continually become worse in character, more careless, more self-willed, more filled with self-esteem, puffed up in our own conceit; so that we are worse off than if we had no knowledge of them. Christ's words are to a purpose, to lead men to will and to do. They are an impelling power, causing men to resolve and to act. But none are forced against their will. God's grace will not supply the place of man's co-operation. No amount of light, conviction, or grace can transform the character, only as man shall arouse to co-operate with God. The Holy Spirit puts forth its energies to break the power of Satan's attractions and temptations upon the human mind; but the will must yield, human co-operation must be enlisted, for this is the indispensable condition of salvation.

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” What! must man do this work of himself unaided?—No, no. This is his part in the action, but hear the conclusion: “For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good-pleasure.” Your will must blend with the divine will, and you must submit to the divine working. Your energies are required to co-operate with God. Without this, if it were possible to force upon you with a hundred-fold greater intensity the influences of the Spirit of God, it would not make you a Christian, a fit subject for heaven. The stronghold of Satan would not be broken. There must be the willing and the doing on the part of the receiver. There must be an action, represented as coming out from the world and being separate. There must be a doing of the words of Christ. The soul must be emptied of self, that Christ may pour his Spirit into the vacuum. Christ must be chosen as the heavenly guest. The will must be placed on the side of God's will. Then there is a new heart, and new, holy resolves. It is Jesus enthroned in the soul that makes every action easy in his service. He is the fountain of all righteousness, the source of all happiness, the reservoir of all power. There must be a full trust in Christ's words, and Christ must be all in all to the receiver. Grace, truth, and joy will fill the soul.

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Christ abiding in the heart will prompt right desires. Then we may press to the mercy seat, and in the name of Jesus, our Advocate, in the full assurance of faith, claim all that the soul needs. What a hold on heaven has everyone who complies with the conditions Christ has given! He surely is not left comfortless. He need despair of nothing; he may hope for everything; for he has a right, a guarantee from Christ to call at every step of the way for the divine agency to work with his effort, and to bless with that effort all with whom he associates.

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” This is evidence of our being indeed sons and daughters of God, because we do the will of our Heavenly Father, and work the works of Christ. We have the mind of Christ. We do not devote our God-given powers to needless things, and so fill our minds and hearts with worldly cares and activities, that a sense of the great work to be done in connection with the Holy Spirit, is excluded. We realize our dependence on his aid in reaching those who are out of Christ, who know not the saving power of the truth.

The indolent professed Christian may well be startled by the words of Christ, “Why stand ye here all the day idle? Go ye also into the vineyard.” Work while the day lasts, for “the night cometh, when no man can work.” Let not the night find you belated, your work negligently done.

The worker is not to follow inclination, or to live day by day merely to amuse himself. God has intrusted you with talents, to be wholly consecrated to him. If he has given you but one, use that one, and you will certainly have two or even more to render back to the Master.

Active Christian influence Christ expects of us. We are to educate and train ourselves in the service of Christ, by constant activity, becoming efficient in work for the Master. “It is your Father's good-pleasure that ye bear much fruit;” not the least possible amount. Day after day is passing into eternity with its burden of record. What fruit are we bearing?

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in my love.” Here Christ places us in the same position toward himself that he occupies toward the Father. With this intimate connection we should have much power in the work of saving souls. Nothing can be so valuable as this intimate communion with Christ. He identifies his interest with that of the hearers and doers of his word, as the Father identifies his interest with that of the Son, and this union with Christ means everything to us. “Continue ye in my love.”

The True Witness says to the church of Ephesus: “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.” We must continue in the love of Christ. We must keep that love aglow on the altar of the heart, and this love, thus kept burning, will increase our love for one another.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” This is a wonderful requirement, to love one another as Christ has loved us. If we are doers of the words of Christ, we cannot harbor pride or selfishness. The purifying blood of Christ alone can purge away everything of this character,—all envy, all evil surmising, all thinking evil and practicing evil toward one another.

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” Here again the Lord Jesus presents his relationship to the Father as the exact counterpart of our relationship to himself. Let these lessons, so full of instruction, be carefully considered. Nowhere else can be found such large and comforting assurances. Nothing shows so much as this how the Lord Jesus estimates the souls he came to save, and his purpose in exalting them to the closest, most elevated and sacred companionship with himself. He identifies man with himself before the Lord and the whole universe.

What a favor, what mercy, what inexpressible love, is thus revealed! This intimacy of Jesus with man can be brought about only through his taking upon himself our sins and imputing unto us his own righteousness.

“He hath made him to be sin for us, ... that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” If Christ is abiding in the soul, our prayers and works are wholly acceptable to God. Through obedience to all the commandments of God, we are accepted in the Beloved. We enter into the rights and privileges of Jesus, and the victories which he achieves.

All those who say, “I am saved! I am saved!” but do not obey God's commandments, are resting their salvation on a false hope, a false foundation. No one who has an intelligent knowledge of the requirements of God, can be saved in disobedience. Just so far as men have a knowledge of the words of Christ, so plainly laid down in the Bible, they will be held responsible.

In the fourteenth chapter of John much is said about keeping the commandments of God. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.” No one can abide in Christ and treat the law of God with indifference and disrespect; for this would be arraying Christ against Christ. In a heart renewed by the Spirit of truth there will be love for all the commandments of God. Jesus declares, “I have kept my Father's commandments;” and all who love Jesus will live in communion with God and with the Son. Those who make so much show of rejoicing, saying they are in Christ, but do not obey the commandments of God, do not partake of the nourishment of the living vine. All who are grafted into the parent stock will have a vital union with the living vine. They will love that which Christ loves; their taste will be identical with his. Jesus plainly stated that when we treasure up his words and do them, we give evidence that we have that genuine love which makes us one with the Father. We are one in taste and inclination. The Spirit of Jesus fills the Christian with his love, his obedience, his joy. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.”

Man has voluntarily departed from God. Jesus came to do a work which no other could do,—to bring man back to his allegiance to God. How unreasonable it is for fallen man to say that Christ's great work of redemption was for the purpose of making it possible for man to be saved in transgression of the law of God! If one precept of God's law could be changed, then Christ need not have died; but it was because the law of God was unchangeable, and would hold the sinner in its claims, that Jesus came and died, to reconcile man to God. His death shows the immutability of the law. The law of God is as changeless as his own character. Man's only hope was in the death of Christ. And in his death Christ bore testimony to the whole universe that Satan's efforts to change the law were an utter failure. Now it is demonstrated that even for the human beings that have been deceived by Satan and made to transgress the law, there can be no pardon except through the death of the only-begotten Son of the Infinite God himself, who suffered the penalty of man's transgression. And this is the testimony that in the judgment will condemn every transgressor.

Was such an infinite sacrifice made by the Son of God for the purpose of perpetuating sin?—No; it was not possible. There was no possibility that man, who had estranged himself from God, would be able to keep God's holy law. Christ died that he might, by virtue of his own righteousness, elevate humanity. He gave man another trial. Man, weak, sinful, ignorant, must look to Jesus if he would live. “Without me ye can do nothing.” He has learned to be obedient to all the commandments of God, through Jesus Christ, who is made to him wisdom, sanctification, and righteousness.

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