Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6 (1889-1890)


Ms 5, 1889

Sermon/Christ and the Law

Rome, New York

June 19, 1889

This manuscript is published in entirety in 1SAT 105-119.

(Matthew 5:14-16): “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 1

We read in the following verse, (verse 17), “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” What made them think that? It was because, notwithstanding they had had Christ represented in the typical offerings and sacrifices, yet they could not get it out of their minds that it was the law, the law, the law, that they must dwell upon as their entrance into heaven. And here Christ comes in with His lesson, not to detract from the law, but to reveal to them the old light in new settings. He comes to reveal that light in the framework of the gospel, that they might understand in regard to this light that it was essential for them to have. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 2

Here He shows the exceeding breadth of the law of Jehovah—its extended character—and He presents it before them in a light they had not comprehended before. And the moment He does that, there arises a resistance against that light. Why should they accept it? It was not as they had taught it, it was in a different setting, and they could not harmonize this with their misconceived ideas. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 3

Christ reads their thoughts, and their thoughts were that He did not make the law as prominent as they had done. He takes up their thoughts and says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. ... 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” vs. 17, 19. And He makes it still more plain: “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” v. 20. Now they had built over that law and around it exactions, and they had burdened it with their own laws and ideas emanating from human, finite beings, until there could no one observe that law, even the letter of it, as they interpreted it; it was impossible. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 4

Now Christ goes on and tells what the principles of the law are, and shows them that it reaches into the inmost parts of the mind. Thus He brings out the purposes of God’s law. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 5

When Christ came into the world He was the origin of truth. The lessons He had given to the prophets had been placed in false settings, and it was His work to place them in the true. He was the foundation and the originator of all truth, and His work was to strip off all traditions of men, for they taught the commandments of men instead of the commandments of God. Those who had been in the school of the prophets, and had been obtaining their education, were considered to know more than all the nations and all other people upon the face of the earth. He turns to them and says, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” Matthew 22:29. They saw trees as men walking. And why was not the truth distinct in their minds? The reason was, they were not connected with the God of all truth. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 6

One part of Christ’s great work to the world was, He came to it as a representative of the Father. But the world did not know God, and it is very much the same at the present time, even among those who claim to be following the truth. I don’t know but you have heard me say it in years past, “I long to introduce you to Jesus Christ, to behold Him as a Christ of love, mercy, sympathy, and tender compassion.” 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 7

There was one who came to me and said, “Sister White, can you tell me how I am to know that Jesus forgives me my sins as I repent of them?” “Yes, I can. I point you to Calvary, to the dying Saviour upon the cross.” There is the evidence that we present to the mind. It is the evidence that you see, that Christ forgives sin. The light reflected from the cross of Calvary speaks to us of the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed for the remission of sins, and it tells us that we may be cleansed and sanctified. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 8

I remember one woman who said, O, if the Lord would only show her in a dream that He would have mercy upon her and save her! Well, He did teach her, and she was taught in a dream, and then the first impression was, “Is that dream any stronger than a ‘Thus saith the Lord’?” I want every one of you to take that, because I have found out that whenever I have been pleading for some special light, some strong evidence, I have found I had to wait a long time before I got it. I have found out that I had to take what the Lord said and believe it as spoken to me. I am one of the daughters of Adam, one for whom Christ died, and have a right to lay hold upon the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour, because I am a sinner. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 9

And when the devil comes and points to your sins and hateful crimes, tell him, “Yes, I am a sinner, but Christ is a Saviour, and He says, ‘I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’” Matthew 9:13. Thus you arm yourself with the whole armor of Christ’s righteousness. How is it you have not on the armor of Christ’s righteousness? What did He come to this world for? Why, if it had been a possible thing for us to have been brought back to keeping God’s commandments, He never would have come to this world; but He came here because it was impossible for man to redeem himself, and bring himself into a position where Adam stood before the fall. Then what was he to do? Christ came, our Substitute and Surety. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 10

Before He came they were under a yoke, but Christ was above law. He was the originator of the law, so there was no yoke upon Him, and the angels were in obedience to Christ, who was not under the yoke. He could come as one equal with the Father, and He could open His breast to the whole woe, grief, sin, and misery, and by an offering of Himself He could bring life and immortality to light through the gospel. This is the only hope of life, and when Christ cried out, “It is finished” [John 19:30], He carried out the devised plan. He had died in behalf of the race, as a freewill offering to God. He was not urged to do it, but He took it upon Himself that He might save the fallen race. He goes down into the grave and comes up out of the grave. As Satan was triumphing in His death, it was not long before he found out he had overstepped the boundary. In seeking to cause the death and crucifixion of the Son of God, what did he do? He claimed in heaven, and he claims today among the Christian world, that in taking away the law of God they could establish one of their own that would be better. All the universe of heaven were looking to see what would come out of it. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 11

Why did not God blot Satan out of existence? Why did He not blot sin out? Satan was permitted to develop his character, and unless he had had this opportunity, he would have laid the whole cause of his disaffection upon Christ and the Father. But he had an opportunity here in this world to develop his new principles, and he did it when he crucified the Lord of glory. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 12

He acted out his principles, and showed what they would lead to, and we see the same acted out in our world today—what these lawless principles will lead to. The enemy has worked, and he is working still. He is come down in great power and the Spirit of God is being withdrawn from the earth. God has withdrawn His hand. We have only to look at Johnstown. He did not prevent the devil from wiping that whole city out of existence. And these very things will increase until the very close of this earth’s history, because he has come down in great power, and he works with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. What is he doing? Going about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. And when he sees those who are resisting the light, and that God does not shelter them, he will exercise his cruel power upon them. This is what we may expect. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 13

What is God going to do for His people—leave them with no new light? “Ye are,” says He, “the light of the world.” [Matthew 5:14.] Then we are to get more light from the throne of God, and have an increase of light. Now we do not tell you in the message that has been given to you here and in other places that it is a grand new light, but it is the old light brought up and placed in new settings. Jesus gave light, the most wonderful light, as He spoke from that cloudy pillar. And just prior to the time when the children of Israel left Egypt, one plague after another was brought upon the Egyptians, because Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go to worship God. Finally, the God of heaven suffered the firstborn of both man and beast to be slain, and when Pharaoh looked upon their dying forms, he began to understand who the great I AM was, that there was a power above whom Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, could not compete with or overcome with all his experience and resistance. Therefore he said to the children of Israel, “Go.” [Exodus 12:31.] 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 14

But what was there to do the last night? They were to kill a lamb and take the blood and mark the lintels and the doorposts. What for? To evidence to the whole of Israel, as they shall see these things, that there was something that connected them with God. And as the angel would pass over the land to slay the firstborn, and would see the blood that marked the lintels and the doorposts, he was to pass over those who had the blood upon the doorposts. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 15

Just prior to the coming of the Son of man there is and has been for years a determination on the part of the enemy to cast his hellish shadow right between man and his Saviour, and why? So that he shall not distinguish that it is a whole Saviour, a complete sacrifice that has been made for him. Then he tells them that they are not to keep the law, for in keeping that law man would be united with the divine power, and Satan would be defeated. But in keeping that law man would be united with the divine power. Notwithstanding man was encompassed with the infirmities of humanity he might become a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Now here is the redemption. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 16

He did not come to destroy the law, for He says, “One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” [Matthew 5:18.] Then they remain today. Yes, there is not a jot or tittle dropped out, and everyone is under law. This is the position that we stand in today; and if any oppose the law they are the ones that God condemns, because we are not left in uncertainty. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 17

I want to keep God’s law and live. But that man of sin has taken it upon himself to change the fourth commandment, and shove in a spurious sabbath, to show his greatness and power to exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 18

Now the test is coming between the sabbath which the man of sin has introduced and the Sabbath of the Lord God Jehovah, the seventh day. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 19

There are to be trying times before us, and what does God mean? He means that we seek to understand what He wants to say to us. We have not understood it; we have been going on here, groaning and groaning. When I tried to do good, evil was present with me and sin is constantly at work to have the supremacy. If you could see what Christ is, One that can save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him, then you would have that faith that works. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 20

But must works come first? No, it is faith first. And how? The cross of Christ is lifted up between heaven and earth. Here comes the Father and the whole train of holy angels; and as they approach that cross, the Father bows to the cross and the sacrifice is accepted. Then comes sinful man, with his burden of sin, to the cross, and he there looks up to Christ on the cross of Calvary, and he rolls his sins at the foot of the cross. Here mercy and truth have met together and righteousness and peace have kissed each other. And Christ says, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.” [John 12:32.] 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 21

“Then,” says one, “you cannot be accepted unless you repent.” Well, who leads us to repentance? Who is drawing us? Here the law of God condemns the sinner. It points out the defects of his character. But you can stand before that law all your lifetime and say, “Cleanse me. Fit me for heaven,” but can it do it? No; there is no power in law to save the transgressor of law in sin. Then what? Christ must appear in that law as our righteousness, and then Christ is lifted up. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 22

Here we look at the cross of Calvary. What has made us look at it? Christ is drawing us. Angels of God are in this world, at work upon human minds, and the man is drawn to the One who uplifts him, and the One who uplifts him draws him to repentance. It is no work of his own; there is nothing that he can do that is of any value at all except to believe. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 23

As he sees Christ hanging upon the cross of Calvary he sees that He loves sinners, those who were at enmity with God. He begins to marvel, and is abased. What is the reason for this? Why, he sees that there is a transgressed law, and that man cannot keep it, but he sees Christ, and with hope and faith he grasps the arm of infinite power and repents at every step. Of what? That he has violated every principle of the law of Jehovah. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 24

Paul says he taught from house to house repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. [Acts 20:20, 21.] What did Christ come to our world for? To attract the mind and bring it to repentance. Here we have the love of the Father in giving His Son to die for fallen man, that he might keep the law of Jehovah. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 25

Now Jesus stands in our world, His divinity clothed with humanity, and man must be clothed with Christ’s righteousness. Then he can, through the righteousness of Christ, stand acquitted before God. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 26

O, I am glad I have a Saviour! We must have the Holy Spirit to combine with man’s human effort. We can do nothing without Christ. “Without Me, ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: 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.” Revelation 3:20. I am so glad that we can be partakers of the divine nature, and that through Jesus Christ we can be conquerors. This is the victory—even your faith, feelings, and good works?—Is that it? No; “This is the victory ..., even your faith.” 1 John 5:4. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 27

What is faith? It “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1.] Then what? “Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” James 2:17. Therefore we lay hold upon the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour. Our lives are hid with Christ in God. There we have the whole of it. We can do nothing of ourselves, but the fire of God’s love is burning on the altar of our hearts. We are not following cunningly devised fables, no indeed; but we have been revealing Christ our righteousness. If you boast in your own good works, you cannot boast in Christ. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 28

Now there has been coming in among us a self-sufficiency, and the message to the Laodicean church is applicable to us. I will read it. “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:14-16. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 29

What is the matter? They have left their first love. “So then because thou art lukewarm, ... I will spue thee out of my mouth.” What does He mean by that? Why, if the people have great light and knowledge and yet they are not striving to give that light and evidence to the world in their works, which are living principles that they shall present to the world, Christ is dishonored, and He becomes so disgusted with them that He will not take their names into His mouth to present them to the Father. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 30

“I know thy works.” “Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” v. 17. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 31

Now what is the difficulty? “Tried in the fire.” [Verse 18.] Christ had such love for us that He could go through all that trying of the crucifixion and come off conqueror. And the white raiment, what is that? Christ’s righteousness. “Anoint thine eyes with eyesalve”—spiritual discernment, that you may discern between true righteousness and self-righteousness. Now here is the work. The heavenly Merchantman is passing up and down before you saying: “Buy of Me. Here are heavenly goods, buy of Me.” Will you do it? It is Me you are to buy of. There is no other source in heaven from which we may receive liberty and life but through Jesus Christ our righteousness. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 32

Then He says, “Be zealous and repent.” [Verse 19.] That message is to us. We want that the brethren and sisters in this conference shall take hold of this message, and see the light that has been brought to us in new settings. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 33

God had opened to us our strength, and we need to know something about it and be prepared for the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation. But here is our strength, Christ our righteousness. Let us ask Isaiah who is to be our strength. Well, he answers, and it comes echoing down along the lines to our time: “For unto us a child is born, and unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. Is not that enough for us? Cannot we cover ourselves all over with it? Do we need any of our own self-esteem? No, we cannot have that. We must hide in Christ, and we can hide in the mighty strength of Israel’s God. Thus we work to meet the powers of darkness. We fight not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places. And it is only in Christ that we can meet them. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 34

Brethren, do not let any of you be thrown off the track. “Well,” you say, “what does Brother Smith’s piece in the Review mean?” He doesn’t know what he is talking about; he sees trees as men walking. Everything depends upon our being obedient to God’s commandments. Therefore he takes those that have been placed in false settings and he binds them in a bundle as though we were discarding the claims of God’s law, when it is no such thing. It is impossible for us to exalt the law of Jehovah unless we take hold of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 35

My husband understood this matter of the law, and we have talked night after night until neither of us would sleep. And it is the very principles the people are striving for. They want to know that Christ accepts them as soon as they come to Him. I want to tell you, brethren, that light is sown for the righteous, and truth for the upright in heart. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 36

Now we want to be a people who carry with us the joy and gladness and we never can do it unless we carry with us Jesus Christ. If we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous. Then I do not need to be mourning all the days of my life, for Christ has risen. He is not in Joseph’s new tomb, He is with the Father. And how is He there? As a Lamb slain, and He bears in His hands the marks of the crucifixion. “I bear them on the palms of my hands.” [Isaiah 49:16.] O, if this does not fill us with hope and gratitude, what will? 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 37

I have had the question asked, What do you think of this light that these men are presenting? Why, I have been presenting it to you for the last forty-five years—the matchless charms of Christ. This is what I have been trying to present before your minds. When Brother Waggoner brought out these ideas in Minneapolis, it was the first clear teaching on this subject from any human lips I had heard, excepting the conversations between myself and my husband. I have said to myself, It is because God has presented it to me in vision that I see it so clearly, and they cannot see it because they have never had it presented to them as I have. And when another presented it, every fiber of my heart said, Amen. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 38

Brethren in New York, we want you to go forward. Advance from light to clearer light. Here are the mines of truth. Work them; dig for the truth as for hidden treasures. As you go to the Scriptures and ask God to help you, He will illuminate your minds, and the Holy Spirit will bring all things to your remembrance and the light of heaven will shine upon you. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 39

I ask you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth to arise and shine, for thy light has come. We do not want the work bound about. As you see men and women who have some ability, encourage them. God doesn’t want novices to do His work. He doesn’t want His work crippled. He wants you to place yourself where you may have a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 40

He wants you to attend the school where Biblical lectures are being given. “Well,” says one, “I will go to the school in Battle Creek.” But they are about full there, and are going to start a school in Kansas. But here is South Lancaster; now why not, you who are so near, patronize South Lancaster? There will be those who will be able to teach and stand at the head in giving Biblical lectures. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 41

No man should go out to teach the truth unless he has had training and knows how to use the ability and capabilities God has given him. You would not think of such a thing as going to a man who never worked at the carpenter trade and asking him to put you up a fine building; and so it is in God’s work. God wants you to learn, and the angels will be right by to impress your mind, and if you will go to the Scriptures as Daniel did, you will understand all God would have you understand. As you learn to practice and learn to teach as God commanded Timothy—that he was to take the things He had given him and commit them to faithful men who would be able to teach others also [2 Timothy 2:2]—now this is the very work to be done in New York. Let the mind be elevated, ennobled, sanctified, and then the ministers will not be worked to death, and you can take them and drill them in the truth, and their hearts [will] be burning with it and they [will] want to tell it to others. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 42

Now, you have had light here, and what are you going to do about it? Are you going home to sit down, or are you going to work to build one another up in the most holy faith? God grant that you may work to the point. O how I long to see the work as we may see it! How I long to see the tidal wave pouring over the people! And I know it can be, for God gave us all heaven in one gift, and every one of us can accept the light, every ray of it, and then we can be the light of the world. “A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” [Matthew 5:14.] 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 43

Now, brethren, go to work. Parents, send your children to these schools. Those near to South Lancaster can go there, and those near the college, go there. God is at work to drill laborers to go forth from there. Now let every one of us arm ourselves and work intelligently, just as the carpenter works intelligently at his trade. He cannot work intelligently unless he learns his trade; no more can you. We want to be growing in every sense of the word. O, I love the truth, and I mean to triumph with it. Not only the ministers but everyone can do something. Taste and see that the Lord is good. May God bless you as you go to your homes. 6LtMs, Ms 5, 1889, par. 44