Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7 (1891-1892)


Ms 21, 1891

Diary. Christ Our Righteousness

Battle Creek, Michigan

February 27, 1891

This manuscript is published in entirety in 9MR 293-302.

I have attended the closing meeting of the ministerial Bible School—a school composed of conference delegates and those who have been attending the ministerial institute. At this meeting several were called upon to say something. Remarks appropriate for the occasion were made by Elders Olsen, Waggoner, Prescott, and Smith; also by Elder Haskell, who has been mercifully preserved during his tour around the world. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 1

I spoke in regard to matters that were deeply impressing my mind. I referred to the fear that had been expressed by some who were not members of the ministerial institute, and who had not been present at all the Bible classes of the school, a fear that there was danger of carrying the subject of justification by faith altogether too far and of not dwelling enough on the law. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 2

Judging from the meetings that I had been privileged to attend, I could see no cause for alarm; and so I felt called upon to say that this fear was cherished by those who had not heard all the precious lessons given, and that therefore they were not warranted in coming to such a conclusion. None of the members of the class who had been studying the Word to learn “What saith the Scriptures?” entertained any such fear. The Bible, and the Bible alone, has been the subject of investigation in this school. Every lesson has been based, not on the ideas and the opinions of men, but on a plain “Thus said the Lord.” 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 3

Many remarks have been made to the effect that in our camp meetings the speakers have dwelt upon the law, the law, and not on Jesus. This statement is not strictly true, but have not the people had some reason for making these remarks? Have not there stood in the desk, as mouthpieces for God, men who had not a genuine experience in heavenly things, men who had not received the righteousness of Christ Jesus? 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 4

Many of our ministers have merely sermonized, presenting subjects in an argumentative way and scarcely mentioning the saving power of the Redeemer. Not having themselves partaken of the living bread from heaven, their testimony was destitute of nourishment, destitute of the saving blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanseth from all sin. Their offering resembled the offering of Cain. He brought to the Lord the fruit of the ground, which, in itself, was acceptable in God’s sight. Very good, indeed, was the fruit; but the virtue of the offering, the blood of Christ, represented by the blood of the slain lamb, was lacking. So it is in Christless sermons. Men are not pricked in the heart; they do not inquire, “What shall I do to be saved?” 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 5

In His sacrificial character, Christ reveals Himself as the Bread of Life. “Whoso eateth My flesh,” He declared to His disciples, “and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life.” [John 6:54.] Why is not He presented to the people as the living Bread?—because He is not abiding in the hearts of many of those who think it their duty to preach the law. Christ is left out of their sermonizing, and from east to west, from north to south, the church has been starving for the Bread of Life. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 6

Of all professed Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting Christ before the world. Our ministers should ever be able to direct men and women to Christ, to the One who Himself declared, “I am the Bread of Life.” [Verse 35.] Let those who minister to the spiritual necessities of the people, read to them the words of Christ: “I am the living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this Bread, he shall live forever: and the Bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” [Verse 51.] 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 7

The Jews, unable to understand this declaration, “strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” [Verses 52, 53.] 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 8

Often there are delivered to the people discourses destitute of the Bread of life, the food essential for spiritual growth. Those who have been appropriating for themselves the Bread of life, will be able to break it to others. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 9

Christ further declares: “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.” [Verses 54-56.] These words are very similar to those He used in representing Himself as the Vine, and His followers as the branches: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine: no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:4, 5.] 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 10

How can our people be better helped than by being given the Bread of life? And this bread is God’s Word; for Christ has said: “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.” [John 6:63.] 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 11

The law and the gospel, revealed in the Word, are to be preached to the people, for the law and the gospel, blended, will convict of sin. God’s law, while condemning sin, points to the gospel, revealing Jesus Christ, in whom “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” [Colossians 2:9.] The glory of the gospel reflects light upon the Jewish age, giving significance to the whole Jewish economy of types and shadows. Thus both the law and the gospel are blended. In no discourse are they to be divorced. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 12

Over the spiritual eyes of altogether too many there has been hanging a veil. Many have been teaching the binding claims of God’s law, but have not been able to see to the end of that which was abolished. They have not seen that Jesus Christ is the glory of the law. The bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness are to be reflected from His messengers upon the minds of sinners, in order that they may be led to say with one of old, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” [Psalm 119:18.] 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 13

Many of our brethren and sisters do not discern the wondrous things that are to be seen in God’s law. They have not beheld that which was revealed to Moses when he prayed, “I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory.” [Exodus 33:18.] To Moses was revealed God’s character. “The Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” [Exodus 34:5-7.] 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 14

The apostle John, in his first epistle, gives the definition of sin. He declares: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” [1 John 3:4.] 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 15

To Moses, the character of God was revealed as His glory. In like manner, we behold the glory of Christ by beholding His character. Paul says: “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory (from character to character), even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” [2 Corinthians 3:18.] 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 16

Why, then, is there manifested in the church so great a lack of love, of true, elevated, sanctified, ennobling sympathy, of tender pity and loving forbearance? It is because Christ is not constantly brought before the people. His attributes of character are not brought into the practical life. Men and women are not eating of the bread that cometh down from heaven. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 17

I have felt very sad as I have seen ministers walking and working in the light of the sparks of their own kindling; ministers who were not obtaining spiritual nourishment from Christ, the Bread of life. Their own souls were as destitute of the heavenly manna as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. In their hearts Christ was not an abiding Presence. How could they speak intelligently of Him whom they had never known by experimental knowledge? 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 18

We must see Christ as He is. By the eye of faith we must discern the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. By failing to cherish the Spirit of Christ, by taking wrong positions in the controversy over the law in Galatians—a question that many have not fully understood before taking a wrong position—the church has sustained a sad loss. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 19

The spiritual condition of the church, generally, is represented by the words of the True Witness: “Nevertheless,” said the One who loves the souls for whom He has died, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” [Revelation 2:4.] The position taken by many during the Minneapolis General Conference testifies to their Christless condition. The admonition to every such an one is: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” [Verse 5.] 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 20

Have not many in this ministerial school seen their mistake of not abiding in Christ? Cannot they have the privilege of repenting and of doing their first works? Who shall condemn this work of repentance, of confession, of baptism? If some conscientiously feel that their first duty is to repent of their sins, confess them, and be baptized, is not this the first works that they must do? 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 21

When precious rays of light from the Sun of Righteousness have shone upon our pathway, some have opened wide the door of the heart, welcoming the heaven-sent light into the chambers of the soul. They receive the words of Christ Jesus gladly. Others have needed the divine anointing to improve their spiritual eyesight, in order that they may distinguish the light of truth from the darkness of error. Because of their blindness, they have lost an experience that would have been more precious to them than silver and gold. Some, I fear, will never recover that which they have lost. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 22

When strong-minded men once set their will against God’s will, it is not easy for them to admit that they have erred in judgment. It is very difficult for such men to come fully into the light by honestly confessing their sins, for Satan has great power over the minds of many to whom God has granted evidence sufficient to encourage faith and inspire confidence. Many will not be convinced, because they are not inclined to confess. To resist and reject even one ray of light from heaven because of pride and stubbornness of heart, makes it easier to refuse light the second time. Thus men form the habit of rejecting light. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 23

So long had the Jews refused to walk in the light of truth that they rejected their Saviour. Jesus said of the Jews: “Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” [John 5:40.] He, the Light of life, came to enlighten every man that comes into the world, so that no man need walk in darkness. The light of truth is constantly shining, but many men and women comprehend it not. And why?—because selfishness, egotism, pride blinds their spiritual eyesight. Standing between them and the true light, is the idol of their own opinion. They can see very readily that which they wish to see. Saith the True Witness: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” [Revelation 2:7.] “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.” [Psalm 25:14.] 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 24

My brethren in the ministry, we need Jesus every moment. To lose His love from our hearts means much. Yet He Himself says: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” [Revelation 2:4.] There is danger of presenting the truth in such a way that the intellect is exalted, leaving the souls of the hearers unsatisfied. A correct theory of the truth may be presented, and yet there may not be manifested the warmth of affection that the God of truth requires every one of His messengers to cherish and manifest. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 25

The religion of many is very much like an icicle—freezingly cold. The hearts of not a few are still unmelted, unsubdued. They cannot touch the hearts of others, because their own hearts are not surcharged with the blessed love that flows from the heart of Christ. There are others who speak of religion as a matter of the will. They dwell upon stern duty as if it were a master ruling with a scepter of iron—a master stern, inflexible, all-powerful, devoid of the sweet, melting love and tender compassion of Christ. Still others go to the opposite extreme, making religious emotions prominent, and on special occasions manifesting intense zeal. Their religion seems to be more of the nature of a stimulus rather than an abiding faith in Christ. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 26

True ministers know the value of the inward working of the Holy Spirit upon human hearts. They are content with simplicity in religious services. Instead of making much of popular singing, they give their principal attention to the study of the Word and render praise to God from the heart. Above the outward adorning they regard the inward adorning, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. In their mouths is found no guile. In the lives of many more ministers there should be revealed the eternal verity of the kingdom of God. Those who practice the truth in daily life are represented as trees of righteousness, bearing the fruits of the Spirit. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 27

Genuine religion is based upon a belief in the Scriptures. God’s Word is to be believed without question. No part of it is to be cut and carved to fit certain theories. Men are not to exalt human wisdom by sitting in judgment upon God’s Word. The Bible was written by holy men of old, as they were moved upon by the Holy Spirit; and this Book contains all that we know for certain and all that we can ever hope to learn in regard to God and Christ, unless, like Paul, we are taken to the third heaven to hear “unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” [2 Corinthians 12:4.] This revelation to the apostle did not spoil his humility. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 28

The life of a Christian is a life regulated by the Word of God just as it reads. All the truths of the Old and the New Testaments form a complete whole. These truths we are to cherish, believe, and obey. To the true disciple, faith in God’s Word is a living, active principle, for “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” [Romans 10:10.] By faith man believes that he receives the righteousness of Christ. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 29

Faith, in itself, is an act of the mind. Jesus Himself is the Author and the Finisher of our faith. He gave His life for us; and His blood speaks in our behalf better things than spoke the blood of Abel, which cried unto God against Cain the murderer. Christ’s blood was shed to remit our sins. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 30

Many commit the error of trying to define minutely the fine points of distinction between justification and sanctification. Into the definitions of these two terms they often bring their own ideas and speculations. Why try to be more minute than is Inspiration on the vital question of righteousness by faith? Why try to work out every minute point, as if the salvation of the soul depended upon all having exactly your understanding of this matter? All cannot see in the same line of vision. You are in danger of making a world of an atom, and an atom of a world. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 31

As the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christ’s atonement in his behalf, and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith. Every believing soul is to conform his will entirely to God’s will, and keep in a state of repentance and contrition, exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer, and advancing from strength to strength, from glory to glory. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 32

Pardon and justification are one and the same thing. Through faith, the believer passes from the position of a rebel, a child of sin and Satan, to the position of a loyal subject of Christ Jesus, not because of an inherent goodness, but because Christ receives him as His child by adoption. The sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins, because these sins are borne by his Substitute and Surety. The Lord speaks to His heavenly Father, saying: “This is My child. I reprieve him from the condemnation of death, giving him My life insurance policy—eternal life—because I have taken his place and have suffered for his sins. He is even My beloved son.” Thus man, pardoned, and clothed with the beautiful garments of Christ’s righteousness, stands faultless before God. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 33

The sinner may err, but he is not cast off without mercy. His only hope, however, is repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Father’s prerogative to forgive our transgressions and sins, because Christ has taken upon Himself our guilt and reprieved us, imputing to us His own righteousness. His sacrifice satisfies fully the demands of justice. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 34

Justification is the opposite of condemnation. God’s boundless mercy is exercised toward those who are wholly undeserving. He forgives transgressions and sins for the sake of Jesus, who has become the propitiation for our sins. Through faith in Christ, the guilty transgressor is brought into favor with God and into the strong hope of life eternal. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 35

David was pardoned of his transgression because he humbled his heart before God in repentance and contrition of soul and believed that God’s promise to forgive would be fulfilled. He confessed his sin, repented, and was reconverted. In the rapture of the assurance of forgiveness, he exclaimed, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” [Psalm 32:1, 2.] The blessing comes because of pardon; pardon comes through faith that the sin, confessed and repented of, is borne by the great Sin-bearer. Thus from Christ cometh all our blessings. His death is an atoning sacrifice for our sins. He is the great Medium through whom we receive the mercy and favor of God. He, then, is indeed the Originator, the Author, as well as the Finisher, of our faith. 7LtMs, Ms 21, 1891, par. 36