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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 17 (1902) - Contents
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    Ms 8, 1902

    God’s Law


    January 27, 1902 [typed]

    Previously unpublished. +NoteOne or more typed copies of this document contain additional Ellen White handwritten interlineations which may be viewed at the main office of the Ellen G. White Estate.

    God’s Law, The Perpetuity of the Sabbath

    After the Lord had finished His work of creation, “He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.” [Genesis 2:2, 3.] The moral law was given to Adam and Eve in Eden and through them to all their posterity. The Sabbath was instituted in Eden and is a sign of creation by the observance of which all mankind may signify their acknowledgment of God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 1

    In His Word the Lord plainly states that the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, and not the first, the second, or the third. To change the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week is the work of satanic agencies. The man of sin has thought to change times and laws. The Protestant world admits his claim that he has effected a change; but has he? No; the Lord God who gave to the world His law, an expression of His character, has taken care that it shall not be lost sight of through Satan’s artful working. He did not write so important a document upon perishable material.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 2

    Enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, the Lord spake unto Moses: “And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breath thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 3

    “And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 4

    “And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breath thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” [Exodus 25:10-22.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 5

    The tabernacle was a most sacred place. In the holy of holies was the ark of God, made for the express purpose of receiving the tables of stone. It was a symbol of God’s presence with His people. The mercy seat covered the sacred chest that contained the precious tables upon which God engraved the law. The mercy seat was surmounted by golden cherubim, one standing upon each end. The position of the cherubim, with their faces turned toward each other, and looking reverently downward toward the ark, represented the reverential awe with which the heavenly universe looked down upon the ark containing the law that is the foundation of God’s government.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 6


    Christ Enjoined Obedience to the Law

    Christ Himself established the Jewish economy, which was a continual prophecy, “a shadow of good things to come.” [Hebrews 10:1.] Himself the fulfilment of prophecy, Christ came to make for the fallen race the sacrifice that had so long been typified. Through disobedience to God’s law, Adam lost all. By obedience, Christ brought salvation within the reach of every one. By precept and example He taught that the way for all to be saved is to exercise repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 7

    Christ came to our world to magnify and make honorable the law. By His life of suffering and His death He established the law. Assuming humanity, He made ample provisions so to elevate men that they could keep the law—the standard of holiness, the rule of right, for all. To the end of time the law will continue to condemn sin.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 8

    The lessons that the Saviour of the world gave on mount Sinai pertained not merely to the formal worship given in typical services, but to heart-service as well. He taught the Israelites principles that enjoined purity of life and the formation of a right character—the very same principles that, after He came to our world, He taught on the mount to His disciples.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 9

    Those who teach the people to look back with contempt upon the Jewish age as one of great darkness, and age during which God’s people had not the grace of Christ, are dishonoring the Saviour, who, enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, Himself led the armies of Israel. Let them compare the rules for holy living given to ancient Israel with the rules given on the mount to the disciples when Christ, His divinity veiled with humanity, was with them in person. These lessons were given to affect the daily life and to mold the character. He imparted to them knowledge that, if they took heed to His words, would prepare them to fulfil the divine commission with a wisdom and an energy corresponding to the magnitude of the work. At this time and place He explained to them the broad principles of God’s law. Before He ordained them and commissioned them to preach the gospel to the world, He desired them to understand that the gospel was in every way practical.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 10

    Christ knew all things. He knew that the Christian world would be greatly tempted, and that many would be ensnared by claiming to have faith, when, like the Pharisees, they had not corresponding works. The Pharisees did not have the experience that Christ taught is essential for a godly life. Every principle that Christ has taught men to exemplify condemned the Pharisees’ course of action.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 11

    Our Saviour showed that true happiness springs from purity of heart. He taught a religion entirely different from the religion taught by the Pharisees. True religion is not a theory; it affects the heart and is expressed in the life by good works.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 12

    The scribes and the Pharisees were cut to the heart. Dissatisfied, they were saying in their hearts, “He places no importance on the law, but makes it of none effect.” They were indignant; for they imagined that He was displacing their God-given religion by His own teachings. But in unmistakable language He revealed His attitude toward the divine law. Upon their astonished ears fell the words: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” [Matthew 5:17, 18.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 13

    The Jews had placed their own estimate on the law. Some statutes they called the lesser commandments. Other statutes, they taught, were more essential. Meeting the people on their own ground, Christ said, “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.” [Verse 19.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 14

    A professing Christian who misconstrues the Scriptures, teaching that the Word does not emphasize the importance of observing God’s law, encourages disrespect for the law for which Christ has made so infinite a sacrifice. Such a man, however high may be his position in the church, is not esteemed in heaven. Whatever may be his reputation among men, in the books of heaven he is not registered as a Christian. On the other hand, a man who from principle reverences and obeys God’s commandments is honored in heaven.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 15

    The Pharisees had made tradition and formalism the sum and substance of their religion. They were very exact in formally observing the law and instructing others to observe it. But Christ plainly stated to His disciples, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Verse 20.] He taught them that no one can gain heavenly treasures by a mere belief in the commandments and by a merely formal observance of them. God requires true heart-repentance and a reformation in the life.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 16


    Christian Liberty

    In the so-called Christian world today an irreligious recklessness prevails. There is a form of godliness, but a denial of the power thereof. Liberty certainly is desirable. But unless liberty is based on loyalty to God’s commandments, it is illegal and fearfully dangerous; for it gives license to the carnal heart, allows the mind to run wild, and often results in great evil. It is scarcely a step from lawless liberty to licentiousness.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 17

    The ministers who unsettle the faith of others in the binding claims of God’s law are doing a work that they must meet in the judgment. Like the Spiritualists, they promise liberty to those who desire to be disloyal to God. By freeing others from the restraint of the law, they prepare the way for increased licentiousness, throwing wide open the flood-gates of immorality.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 18

    The liberty that is promised to the transgressor of God’s law is rapidly becoming libertinism. Profligacy, murders, suicides, and other crimes are increasing at an appalling rate. On the one hand, God has given necessary laws of restraint. On the other hand, ministers who claim to be Christ’s ambassadors have belittled God’s law, and with a persistent zeal have imitated the father of error and rebellion in boasting of their glorious liberty—liberty to break the law. “Obedience to the claims of Jehovah,” they persistently urge, “is a yoke of bondage.”17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 19

    Concerning such teachers Peter writes: “While they promise liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” [2 Peter 2:19.] What is the freedom promised to those who become transgressors of the law? It is a freedom to commit sin; for John tells us, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” [1 John 3:4.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 20

    It is the ministers whose hearts are in rebellion to God’s law who boast of their freedom. They speak great, swelling words of vanity. Some of these ministers claim to be sanctified and to love Jesus. John has given a test by which we may prove all such men: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.” [1 John 5:2, 3.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 21

    The Spiritualists cry out, “Love, love! all is love!” The First-day Adventists, who break God’s law and teach others to break it, allure souls by the sophistry of so-called love, as do the Spiritualists. They act as if those who keep the law are ignorant of its principles.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 22

    From the beginning to end God’s law is a law of love. John says: “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after His commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” [2 John 4-6.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 23

    “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him.” [1 John 2:3-5.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 24

    That we may make no mistake in this matter, John states explicitly to what commandments he refers: “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.” [Verse 7.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 25

    When law interferes with the inclinations of the carnal mind, it is frowned on and resisted. Society, composed of all classes of people, is influenced in favor of so-called liberty rather than restraint. Men in slavery to sin are heard pouring contempt upon Jehovah’s law and the restraints of morality. “Liberty is glorious,” says the Spiritualists. “Liberty, glorious liberty!” echo the First-day Adventist ministers, and add, “The law of the ten commandments is a yoke of bondage. We are not under this yoke.” Eager for such an assurance from their ministers, the people take up the cry, “Away with the law!”17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 26

    God has revealed to us the character of those who are transgressing His law and teaching others to do so. They are not godlike. Even if they claim sanctification, yet they are sinners and are sustaining the hands of other sinners. In their blind warfare against the law, they will not open their eyes, lest they should see, but keep them closed, and say, “I cannot see.” Their blindness is as hopeless as was that of the Jews who would not recognize Christ as their Redeemer.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 27


    Christ the Propitiation for Our Sins

    After Adam and Eve sinned, they were under bondage to the law. Because of their transgression they were sentenced to suffer death, the penalty of sin. But Jesus Christ, the propitiation for our sins, said: “I will stand in Adam’s place. I will take upon Myself the penalty of his sin. He shall have another trial. I will secure for him a probation. He shall have the privileges and opportunities of a free man and be allowed to exercise his God-given power of choice. I will postpone the day of his arraignment for trial. He shall be bound over to appear at the bar of God in the judgment.”17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 28

    For thirty-three years the Only Begotten of God dwelt among the children of men. He represented the Father, the One full of goodness, mercy, and truth, the One ever touched by human woe. During these years Christ finished the great work He came to accomplish. He became the propitiation for the sins of every one who believes on Him. He who knew no sin condescended to bear the burden of our sin. For our sake the Innocent is pronounced guilty, while through His merits the guilty are pronounced innocent.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 29

    The law has lost none of its force. It is still holy, just, and good. In God’s sight sin is still a hateful thing. Because we have sinned, we must individually bear the condemnation of the law, or else another person, one in whom no taint of sin can be found, must bear the condemnation in our behalf. Without a substitute, we have no hope of pardon and salvation.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 30

    Although the sinner cannot himself in any way meet the charge of disloyalty to God’s law, he may by faith accept Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, his Suretyship, and be pardoned. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” [1 John 1:8, 9; 2:1, 2.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 31

    “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 32

    “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him. For in that He died, He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. ... For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Romans 6:1-14, 23.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 33

    I am sorry that so many are doubtful, and in opposition to the light of justification by faith. Sinners are committed for trial. They must answer the charge of transgressing God’s law. Their only hope is to accept Jesus Christ, their Substitute. He has redeemed the fallen race from the curse of the law, having been made sin—a curse—for mankind. Nothing but the grace of Christ is sufficient to free the transgressor from bondage. And by the grace of Christ all who are obedient to God’s commandments are made free.17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 34

    “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” [Romans 5:1; 3:24, 25; 4:7, 8.]17LtMs, Ms 8, 1902, par. 35

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