Ellen G. White Writings

<< Back Forward >>

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»

The Signs of the Times

September 5, 1892

Righteousness Through Christ

By Mrs. E. G. White

The holy law of God is both brief and comprehensive; for it is easily understood and remembered; and yet it is an expression of the will of God. Its comprehensiveness is summed up in the following words: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.... Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “This do, and thou shalt live.” “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments; which if a man do, he shall live in them; I am the Lord.” “Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.” “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.”

If the transgressor is to be treated according to the letter of this covenant, then there is no hope for the fallen race; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. The fallen race of Adam can behold nothing else in the letter of this covenant than the ministration of death; and death will be the reward of everyone who is seeking vainly to fashion a righteousness of his own that will fulfill the claims of the law. By his word God has bound himself to execute the penalty of the law on all transgressors. Again and again men commit sin, and yet they do not seem to believe that they must suffer the penalty for breaking the law. They parade their good intentions before the Lord, and soothe their consciences by pleading his mercy; but the only ground of hope for the fallen sons and daughters of Adam is to turn from their sins and accept the righteousness of Christ, giving up all hope of salvation on the ground of self-righteousness. The Lord can save no man because of his good works.

In the gospel of Christ Jesus, proclaimed by the angels as glad tidings of great joy, the terms of salvation were fully revealed. The law stands in all its original force and purity; not one jot or tittle was to be set aside or altered; for the law is the transcript of the character of God. But the Lord made a covenant of grace whereby his mercy is extended to fallen man, and provision is made so ample and powerful that souls ruined by the fall may be uplifted to glory, honor, and immortality. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Encircling the throne of God is the rainbow of the covenant, a symbol of the pledged word of God that he will receive every sinner who gives up all hope of eternal life on the ground of his own righteousness, and accepts the righteousness of the world's Redeemer, believing that Christ is his personal Saviour, able to save him from his sin, and to keep him from falling. Unless Christ is the ground of our hope, we shall not inherit eternal life.

The provision made for the salvation of men through the imputed righteousness of Christ, does not do away with the law, or lessen in the least its holy claims; for Christ came to exalt the law and make it honorable, to reveal its exceeding breadth and changeless character. The glory of the gospel of grace through the imputed righteousness of Christ, provides no other way of salvation than through obedience to the law of God in the person of Jesus Christ, the divine substitute. In the old dispensation believers were saved through the grace of Christ, as presented in the gospel, as we are saved today. The only means of salvation is provided under the Abrahamic covenant.

The condescension of God in extending his mercy to the sinner is described by Zacharias as a salvation come unto us “through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” This salvation comes to us not as a reward for our works, not bestowed because of the merits of sinful man, but it is a gift unto us, having its foundation for bestowal in the spotless righteousness of Christ. It is when the sinner realizes that he is without hope, lost, condemned to eternal death, incapable of doing anything to redeem himself, and believes in Jesus as his righteousness and salvation, that the word of God is fulfilled toward him. The Lord says, “I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”

The Psalmist says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” The apostle declares, “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Then for what reason should the Lord set aside his law to provide an escape for the sinner, or to make it possible for him to transgress with impunity? There is no reason, and the law of the Lord “endureth forever.” In his sermon on the mount Jesus said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Under the covenant of grace God requires from man just what he required in Eden,—perfect obedience. The believing sinner, through his divine Substitute and Surety, renders obedience to the law of God. Christ kept the law perfectly, and through him the believer shall not perish, but have everlasting life. He says, “I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” Mercy granted to man is the reward of the merit of Christ, “who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Through the plan of salvation, God can be just, and yet be the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.

The apostle says: “The kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Now mark what the apostle says of those who cherish this hope. He continues: “Faithful is the saying, and concerning these things I will that thou affirm confidently, to the end that they which have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” (Revised Version.) Good works will follow as the blossoms and fruit of faith. Appropriation of the righteousness of Christ will be manifested in a well-ordered life and godly conversation.

«Back «Prev. Pub. «Article   Article» Next Pub.» Forward»