Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

March 14, 1895

Christ the Impersonation of the Law

By Mrs. E. G. White

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.” Of Christ it was written, “He will magnify the law, and make it honorable.” How did he do this?—He lived out the law in the sight of the heavenly universe, in the sight of unfallen worlds, and in the sight of sinful men. In this earth he performed his mission, and fulfilled his office, and, by obedience to the law of God, he testified to all its immutable character, while at the same time proving that its precepts could be perfectly obeyed through his grace by every son and daughter of Adam.

“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.” “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.”

The Lord Jesus was the only one who could make up the gap, and restore the hedge of the law of God. He came not to abrogate the law, but to carry out every specification. The Lord Jesus had a very different conception of the law from that of the scribes and Pharisees, the rabbis and Sadducees. They had corrupted the truth with traditions and maxims of men. The symbols that pointed to Christ had been perverted. They went through a round of ceremonies which were destitute of virtue because they were destitute of life. Any form, any outward symbol, if it be not prompted by holiness and true goodness, is but mockery. True goodness, true obedience to God, is not in need of outward show and parade. Vital godliness will be revealed without a great effort at display. Spiritual life will be made manifest by transformation of character in him who is possessed of the divine power that works sanctification. A name to live, and no vital activity, is a contradiction, for death is there.

Jesus said of his followers, “Ye are the light of the world.” They are to shine amid the moral darkness. How?—Not by making long prayers to be seen of men, not in laying claim to high position, not in following a long, prescribed, tedious round of ceremonies, but by being imbued with the working principle of love to God. The people of God are to shine by working the works of God with earnest zeal as obedient children, showing earnestness and loyalty to Christ, not being hearers only, but doers of his words. They are to shine by working out their salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God that worketh in them, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure.

The followers of Christ are drawn to him, and the Holy Spirit is imparted to them, so that they are not a mass of corruption, but are as salt. Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden underfoot of men.” The religion of the Pharisees was well described by the term of salt that had lost its savor. The Pharisees, who loved the honor of men, who loved their own maxims and traditions, made idols of their own little specifications, and lost sight of the doctrines of the Bible, and spiritual death was the consequence.

In his sermon on the mount Jesus presented the true principles of the law of God, and divested the precepts of God from the rubbish of man's inventions which had been accumulating for ages, corrupting the true principles of religion, and making them consist in a ceaseless round of ceremonies. Jesus presented the truth in its unadulterated form, and showed that the principles of the law must be planted in the heart. He leaves it to his followers to change all their previous ideas concerning the exacting requirements of men, and for love of him follow after purity of character and conduct. But he does not in any way give license to the idea that the law of God is not binding, for his kingdom is established upon the law of God.

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.” Then in the most solemn manner he takes up the specifications of the law, and shows how far-reaching is every precept which is to be written in their hearts and to be made manifest in their character. And as the people listened to his words, they said, “Never man spake like this Man.”

The Lord Jesus came to our world to represent the character of his Father. He came to live out the law, and his words and character were daily a correct exposition of the law of God. His own personal example testified to the world, to angels, and to men that he was keeping the law of God, and was a standard and pattern to mankind. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” Jesus was a living manifestation of what the law was, and he revealed in his personal character its true significance, and showed it to be the only remedy for the existing evils, when it was set free from the rubbish of men's traditions and maxims. As it was expounded by the scribes and Pharisees, it was misleading because misrepresented, and it perverted the characters of those who received the traditions and commandments of men.

The Lord Jesus gave to men a representation of the character of God in his life and example. The law of God is the transcript of the character of God. And in Christ they had its precepts exemplified, and example was far more effective than the precept had been. Christ founded his kingdom upon the law of God, and those who followed Christ, imitating his life and character, were pronounced loyal and true to all God's commandments. Jesus was a living illustration of the fulfillment of the law, but his fulfilling it did not mean its abolition and annihilation. In fulfilling the law, he carried out every specification of its claims.

Adam fell through disobeying the commandments of the Lord; but Christ took the field of battle to resist the temptations of Satan, and to refuse to transgress a “Thus saith the Lord.” He declares, “I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill”—to do all the requirements of the law. There could be no deviation on his part from one single specification of the law. If there had been the least failure in carrying out any particular of its commands, we should have had in Christ a worthless sacrifice. The Pharisees charged Christ with breaking the Sabbath. Christ had declared himself the Lord of the Sabbath, and he had carried out every principle of the Sabbath commandment, and asked them how it was that they condemned the guiltless. Shall we take the words of Pharisees, who accused Christ of sin, or take the words of Christ, who declared himself guiltless? Shall we take the charge of the Pharisees as true, and have nothing better than a sinner for our Saviour?—No, no; never defile the lips with such guile, and bear false witness against Jesus, as did the Jews.

Jesus is the Light of the world, and those who claim that he broke the law of God are in the darkness of error. Their minds are perverted, their understanding is darkened in the same manner as was the understanding of the Pharisees whom Christ addressed, saying, “Ye are ignorant of the Scriptures and the power of God.” They made void the law of God through their tradition. Professing to be the followers of God, they had turned from the holy commandment, and were as salt that had lost its savor. Impure salt has no saving virtue. If the followers of Christ do not derive their life, their fragrance, and their saving qualities from Jesus Christ, they have no spiritual worth. But all who conform their life, their heart, their mind, fully and ungrudgingly to his service, reflect his image, and shed the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness into the darkness of a world that lieth in wickedness.

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