Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

February 3, 1898

Knowing Christ—No. 2

Today we hear Philip's words of doubt repeated by those who have had evidence upon evidence, weighty and most solemn. Professed believers in Christ are many, but few have an experimental knowledge of Him. To all practical purposes, they are ignorant of Christ. They know Him afar off, but they have no true conception of Him. Many from age to age have been, as it were, in the presence of Christ, have witnessed the manifestation of heavenly light, have seen the deep moving of the Spirit and power of God, and yet have failed to appreciate these gracious tokens of His goodness and love. Show us a sign, they say. If you have the truth, show us a sign. But the character and influence of the truth is a continual sign. Its transforming influence upon humanity testifies to its divine power, and yet the spiritual senses of unbelievers are so dulled that they can not comprehend it. They echo the words, “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” And the Saviour, ever our Priest and King, addresses the unbeliever, “Have I been so long time with you [in your companionship], and yet hast thou not known Me?”

This inability to comprehend divine truth, and to see in Christ the character of God, wounds the Saviour as verily today as when He said to Philip, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?” “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, ... full of grace and truth.” The Son of the infinite God tasted death for every man. He left the royal courts, and clothed His divinity with humanity. For our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. When here He did not rank with kings and nobles, with the wealthy of the earth, but with the poor, those who were obliged to toil for their living. He was misunderstood, falsified, hated, maligned, by His own nation. He was “despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.... He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously; who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.”

The sins of every man were punished in Christ. They were placed on the innocent Sin-bearer as tho they were His own. They were charged to His account. Christ so loved man, fallen tho he is, that He bound up His interest with each sinner. In Him divinity and humanity were united, He linked Himself with every son and daughter of Adam. Having taken the responsibility of dying in the sinner's stead, His interests are identified with those of every member of the human family. And every evil deed, every transgression, every rebellion, whether of thought or action, pierces the heart of Christ, for He has pledged Himself to represent humanity.

In the cross of Calvary mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. By taking human nature Christ fastened each sinner to Himself with threads of sympathy and love that can never be broken until He shall say with awful majesty: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Individually we must accept Christ as our only hope. We must know Him. He is our Days-man, and before Him we must confess and renounce our sins. He made a complete renunciation of Himself for man, and man, through Jesus, must make a complete renunciation of himself to God.

By studying Christ's words we have every opportunity for knowing Him. This we must do would we be saved. “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” He said, “except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that bread which came down from heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.... It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

Do we know Christ, or does His voice come down to us through the ages, saying with sorrowful pathos, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me?” What is the character of our faith? Is it the same as that of the multitudes who thronged and pressed Christ? or is it like that of the woman who was healed by touching Him? She urged her way through the crowd, saying, “If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole.” And how quickly Christ distinguished the touch of faith from the casual touch of the crowd! What is our relation to Christ? Is it illustrated by that of those who thronged and pressed Him, and yet who received no benefit, because they did not touch Him by faith?

Many are lamentably ignorant of Christ, because they take pleasure in unrighteousness. Like the multitude, they continually touch Christ, but they receive no virtue; for it is not their determination to know Him. They desire to follow their own inclinations. When they see that they can profess to follow Christ without practising self-denial, they are on His side; but when they are called upon to deny themselves, they are no longer attracted to Him. By their course of action they say, I want not Thy way, O Lord, but my own way!

Who today are of the number that have had every opportunity to know their Lord, and yet are saying, “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us”? What can we say to those who as far as personal experience is concerned are so ignorant of Christ? The living oracles of God are in your possession. Search the Scriptures; for they testify of Christ. If you really desire to have a knowledge of Him you may obtain it. Search the Scriptures, that you may know Him whom to know aright is life eternal. Behold Him, that by beholding, you may obey His Word. Continue to search as for hidden jewels, that you may be spiritually enriched. Meditate upon Christ's words, and learn what He is to you. As you confess Him, lift Him up, and talk of Him, you will gain faith in Him; and will be imbued with a zeal to become true stewards of His grace.

Do we place an estimate on our Saviour that is according to the light given us? Are we friends or enemies of Christ? This question involves our eternal interests. We must make our calling and our election sure. We can not trust to a fluctuating, haphazard faith. We must be able to say that we have not followed cunningly-devised fables. Christ must be our personal Saviour; and He can not be this unless we have an experimental knowledge of Him. A casual knowledge of Him will not avail. Our knowledge must be practical; it must make us like Him.

Christ waits at the door of the heart, saying, Open to Me; but He will not force Himself upon any one. Are we listening for His voice? Is our pride humbled and subdued by His divine compassion and pitying love? Open the door of the heart; for Christ is waiting to enter. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock,” He says; “if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” Look to Jesus, you who are tempted and tried; for He is near, waiting to help you by His redeeming pity and grace. Keep looking to Him, and you will learn to know Him. His name is the precious birthright of every Christian. His example is to be studied and practised. This will elevate, refine, and purify the daily life. With its divine power it will brighten even the humble, every-day duties. Doubts will vanish before the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness.

Is Christ formed within you, the hope of glory? For some one else to know Christ, and confess Him as His leader, will not avail for you. You must know Him for yourself. You must obtain such a knowledge of Him that you can say with the Samaritans, “Now we believe, not because of thy saying; for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” You must be able to say with Paul, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him.”

Mrs. E. G. White

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