Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

November 24, 1890

“God So Loved the World”

By Mrs. E. G. White

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Who can measure the love of God? Angels cannot comprehend it; it is to them a depth of mystery that they cannot fathom. Angels marvel at the divine love manifested for fallen men; but men themselves remain indifferent and unimpressed. Few respond to the love of God. Few appreciate the marvelous love of Christ in his life of suffering, in his death of shame. Behold him humiliated, mocked, sent from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod to Pilate, condemned, crucified, suspended on the cross, a reproach of men, despised of the people. The sentence of condemnation that was merited by guilty man, angels saw fall upon the innocent Son of God, the loved Commander of their hosts. Well might they be astonished at the love that sustained the Sufferer, who died that we might live. Paul writes, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This should be the language of our hearts also. It is in the cross that our hopes of eternal life are centered; and as we look to Calvary, seeing what sin has done, how can we live any longer therein? It was our sin that caused the Son of God to humble himself unto death, even the death of the cross; and in him dwelt the fullness of the Godhead.

Christ was the Majesty of heaven; and yet behold him dying in man's stead. What love is this! “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Well might the angels forsake heaven when Christ was crucified, and behold the spectacle of the cross with sorrow and astonishment. They looked upon a sight never before seen, never to be forgotten. Beholding him upon the cross revealed to them, as it should to us, the hatefulness of sin. They saw how much it cost to free man from the terrible power of evil. And after this display of divine love, shall man exalt himself? shall man be lifted up? Shall he robe himself in the filthy rags of his own righteousness, and presume to stand before God? Shall he reject the precepts of God, and live in rebellion against the commandments of the Lord?

In the cross is an unanswerable argument as to the immutability of the divine law. Looking to Calvary, we can see how vain are man's efforts when devoid of Christ's merit to give them efficiency. The great acquisition to an impenitent world is the cross of Calvary. Paul gloried in the cross, and well he might; for it was here that he humbled himself that he might be lifted up to true greatness. The price paid for his redemption revealed to him the value of his soul. The Son of God had to die for the sins that Paul had committed; the blood shed on the cross was for him, to save him from eternal ruin. The precious blood of Christ was of such value that a full atonement was made for the guilty soul, and this was to Paul his “glory.” It was through the blood of Christ that he had redemption, even the forgiveness of sins.

Paul realized his weakness, and well he might distrust his own strength. Referring to the law, he says, “The commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.” He had trusted in the deeds of the law. He says, concerning his own outward life, that as “touching the law” he was “blameless;” and he put his trust in his own righteousness. But when the mirror of the law was held up before him, and he saw himself as God saw him, full of mistakes, stained with sin, he cried out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

Paul beheld the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. He heard the voice of Christ saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” He determined to avail himself of the benefits of saving grace, to become dead to trespasses and sins, to have his guilt washed away in the blood of Christ, to be clothed with Christ's righteousness, to become a branch of the Living Vine. He walked with Christ, and Jesus became to him—not a part of salvation, while his own good deeds were another part, but—his all in all, the first and last and best in everything. He had the faith that draws life from Christ, that enabled him to conform his life to that of the divine example. This faith claims nothing for its possessor because of his righteousness, but claims everything because of the righteousness of Christ.

In the gospel the character of Christ is portrayed. As he descended step by step from his throne, his divinity was veiled in humanity; but in his miracles, his doctrines, his sufferings, his betrayal, his mockery, his trial, his death by crucifixion, his grave among the rich, his resurrection, his forty days upon earth, his ascension, his triumph, his priesthood, are inexhaustible treasures of wisdom, recorded for us by inspiration in the word of God. The waters of life still flow in abundant streams of salvation. The mysteries of redemption, the blending of the divine and the human in Christ, his incarnation, sacrifice, mediation, will be sufficient to supply minds, hearts, tongues, and pens with themes for thought and expression for all time; and time will not be sufficient to exhaust the wonders of salvation, but through everlasting ages, Christ will be the science and the song of the redeemed soul. New developments of the perfection and glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, will be forever unfolding. And now there must be perfect reliance upon his merit and grace; there must be distrust of self, and living faith in him.

(To be Continued.)

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