Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

July 28, 1890

God's Infinite Love to Man

[Sermon at Christiania, Norway, November 1, 1885.]

By Mrs. E. G. White

“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. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

The love of the Father is an infinite love; and as John contemplates its fullness, he can find no language in which to express his wonder. He exclaims, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” It is not possible for the human mind to fully comprehend the height, the depth, and the breadth of this love, which passeth knowledge.

Our first parents transgressed the law of God in the garden of Eden, and fell from their high estate, and death was pronounced upon Adam and his posterity; but the human race was not left to hopeless misery. The Son of God consented to become man's substitute and surety; he consented to take the wrath of the Father upon himself. Through the infinite sacrifice of Christ in man's behalf, the star of hope illuminated the dark future of Adam, and another probation was granted him in which to prepare for eternal life. Jesus came to our world to be a man of sorrows, to become acquainted with grief. He did not take his position with the lofty and rich of this world, although he owned the world. Had he done this, there might have been some excuse for the haughty bearing of the rich, as though they thought salvation was only for them. Jesus said that he came to preach the gospel to the poor. With his human arm he reached to the very depths of human woe, in order that he might lift up fallen man, and elevate and ennoble the race, and finally exalt the overcomers to his throne.

Jesus might have remained in heaven, to receive the adoration of the heavenly host, but he did not do this. For man's sake he stepped down from the throne, laid aside his royal robe, clothed his divinity with humanity, and for our sake became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. In assuming humanity, he exalted the fallen race before God, and made it possible for sinful man to become an heir of heaven. Can we wonder that John exclaimed, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God”? Men think that it is a great honor to be connected with an earthly king, but John tells us that by a life of obedience we may become the children of the heavenly King, and have connection with the Majesty on high. When Christ became man's substitute and surety, it was that he might unite finite man with the infinite God, and connect earth with heaven. The Son of God took upon him the nature of man, bore insult, ignominy, shame, and death, in order to save a wicked world. He was tempted in all points like as we are, that he might become acquainted with our temptations; by this experience of suffering and trial, he opened the way that the sons and daughters of Adam may return to allegiance to God, and make their way back to the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. That Jesus has been tempted in all points like as we are, that he is able to succor those who are tempted, has given men confidence to come to him and pour out all their sorrows before him; for he has borne our griefs, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. After he has made an infinite sacrifice for us, will any of us be so ungrateful as to refuse to accept it? He was our example in all things, and we are to study the life and character of our Lord, and learn of him meekness and lowliness of heart.

He received baptism at the hands of John, and in coming up out of the water he bowed upon Jordan's banks, and offered up a prayer to Heaven. Never before had angels listened to such a prayer as came from his lips. The Father heard the petition of his Son in man's behalf, and the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit, like a dove of burnished gold, encircled him, while a voice from the highest glory was heard, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” How many have read over this relation, and have not had their hearts stirred by its significant truths! Many have thought that it did not concern mankind; but it is of the greatest importance to each one of them. Jesus was accepted of Heaven as a representative of the human race. With all our sin and weakness, we are not cast aside as worthless; we are accepted in the Beloved; for heaven has been opened to our petitions through the Son of God. The gates are ajar, and the light of heaven will shine upon all those whom Jesus came to save, if they will but come within the circle of the beams of the Sun of Righteousness; for ample provision has been made for the salvation of every soul.

Man did not, of himself, have moral power to enable him to gain the victory over Satan. From his baptism in Jordan, Jesus went into the wilderness of temptation, and fasted forty days and forty nights. He was assaulted by the fierce temptations of Satan, and, passing over the ground where Adam fell, he resisted every suggestion of the wily foe. He redeemed Adam's disgraceful failure and fall. When he was faint and hungry from his long fast, Satan appeared to him as an angel of light, tempting him to employ his divine power in his own behalf. He urged him to command the stones to become bread; but Jesus met him with the word of God, the only weapon that could defeat him, the weapon that each one of his followers must use if they would obtain the victory. Jesus said to the evil one, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

The lesson here presented to us by our great Exemplar is that it is of far greater consequence to obey the word of God than to sustain our natural life. We are God's property, and we are not to feel it our privilege to use even that which we claim as our own as we please, in eating and drinking and feasting. The favor of God is of far higher value to us than our temporal food. Jesus made it manifest, though assailed with the fiercest pangs of hunger, that he trusted in his heavenly Father with unshaken confidence. He knew that his Father was acquainted with his position of trial, and would strengthen him to endure it. In the unfaltering trust of Jesus there is a lesson for us; we are to have an eye single to the glory of God.

(Concluded next week.)

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