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    September 28, 1891

    “An Important Question” The Signs of the Times, 17, 39.

    E. J. Waggoner

    “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up; what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.” Matthew 19:16-22.SITI September 28, 1891, page 291.15

    The question asked by the young ruler is one that has been asked by thousands, and one that should interest every person. Life is a boon of inestimable value; men will spend the earnings of years, and travel to the utmost limits of the globe, in order to prolong their lives for a few years. How eagerly, then, should they grasp anything which will lengthen out their lives to all eternity! It is indeed wonderful that so few manifest an interest in that which pertains to their eternal welfare, while they are so zealous for life and happiness for a short time. In this the majority of mankind manifest only the wisdom of the infant who seizes the glittering toy, and rejects the infinitely more valuable bag of treasure. But there are some who are anxiously inquiring, “What must I do to be saved?” and to such the words of our Lord himself on this subject must be of all-absorbing interest.SITI September 28, 1891, page 291.16

    Having incidentally settled the point of his oneness with God, our Lord immediately answers the question, “What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” He did not say, “You must not do anything,” but said plainly, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” The young man, greatly surprised, asked, “Which?” being a ruler of the Jews, he had, of course, kept the law, and prided himself on the strictness with which he had heeded all its requirements. The strictness of the Pharisees, extending even to the minutest forms of ceremonies, is proverbial. The young man, doubtless, like Paul, lived after the “straitest sect” of the Jews’ religion. We can therefore imagine the astonishment and assurance with which he uttered the word, “Which?” as much as to say: “Why, are there any other commandments? Have you some new ones that are not written in the law? If so, tell me what they are.” Jesus calmly quotes a portion of the ten commandments, as showing the law to which he has reference. The fact that he did not quote all of them is no proof that he did not design that all should be kept. He did not quote the first nor the third, yet no one would argue from this that Christ meant to indicate to the young man that he could worship idols or indulge I profanity and still be saved. He simply quoted enough to show that he referred to that which was regarded by all as the law, and that he had no new commandment to offer.SITI September 28, 1891, page 291.17

    Before commenting further on the observance of the commandments as the condition of eternal life, or the truth of the young man’s reply in verse 20, we wish to briefly notice what this law is. In a matter of life and death it will not do to make a mistake. If the commandments are to be the test of our fitness for eternal life, we must have those commandments so clearly defined that there can be no doubt. Fortunately, this is not a difficult thing to do. In the third month after the children of Israel left Egypt, they came to the wilderness of Sinai. The Lord told them to make certain preparations, for within three days he would come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Exodus 19:10, 11. Nehemiah tells us why he thus came down: “Thou camest down also upon Mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments.” Nehemiah 9:13. His object, then, in coming down was to give the people laws of truth, good statutes. Besides this, Nehemiah says, “And commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant.” Verse 14. If now we can distinguish between the statutes given by the Lord himself and those given through Moses, we shall have discovered that which we seek-the condition of eternal life.SITI September 28, 1891, page 291.18

    Returning to Exodus, we find that when the necessary preparations had been completed, the Lord did come down upon Mount Sinai, with fire and smoke, thunders and lightnings, and an earthquake. Exodus 19:16-18. In the twentieth chapter, verses 3-17, we find the words which the Lord spoke from the mount. In Deuteronomy 4:11-13 Moses rehearses the scenes of Sinai, and plainly says that the words which God spoke are the ten commandments. But may it not be that there is something besides these? Let us see. In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses, in the course of his last charge to the people, repeated in substance these ten commandments as recorded in Exodus 20:3-17. When he had finished the recital, he said: “These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them to me.” Deuteronomy 5:22.SITI September 28, 1891, page 291.19

    Of these commandments, Moses said: “Thou shalt teach them unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” Deuteronomy 6:7, 8. That these are the commandments, the keeping of which is the condition of eternal life, is proved by verse 25: “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.”SITI September 28, 1891, page 291.20

    We have now found the commandments to which our Lord referred. We are not now concerned with the particulars of the laws given through Moses, since the keeping of them is not required. “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” is the question in which we are now interested, and those things not pertaining to this may be passed by. We know what the law is. Next week we will consider the nature of the law, to see why the keeping of it should be able to confer immortality. E. J. W.SITI September 28, 1891, page 307.1

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