Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 28, 1899

Think Not That I Am Come to Destroy the Law


March 19, 1899

Portions of this manuscript are published in TDG 87. +Note

Let us listen to the words of Christ, the divine Teacher, as they fall from His lips upon the ears of the disciples, who press closely round Him, and upon the ears of the scribes and Pharisees, who watch His every movement, and listen to every word, hoping to hear something which they can use to make an accusation against Him. The vast multitude listen also to words full of grace and truth, spoken in a clear, musical voice. Such words they had never heard from the Rabbis. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 1

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets,” Christ says; “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” [Matthew 5:17.] 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 2

Our eternal well-being has not been left in uncertainty. We need not depend on the writings of “the fathers,” or upon commentators for explanations regarding the law of God. When these men have told us all that they in their human intelligence can, we find that they do not agree. We see such a diversity of opinions that were we to follow, in deciding what is truth, we would be left in confusion and uncertainty. The Lord has told us not to follow these human guides, but to take everything claiming to be Bible doctrine to the Scriptures. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 3

“Bind up the testimony; seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon the Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold I, and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion. And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep and that mutter, should not a people seek unto their God, for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” [Isaiah 8:16-20.] 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 4

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” [Isaiah 9:2.] This light was shining forth as Christ in His sermon on the mount gave the true exposition of the law. The traditions, maxims, and false interpretations, which had been brought in, had buried the precious jewels of truth beneath a mass of rubbish. Christ rescued these precious jewels, and placed them in the framework of truth. He bade them stand fast forever, to shine in their natural lustre, commending themselves to the intellect, arousing the slumbering conscience, leading the people away from human tradition, from asking, “What saith the Rabbis? What saith my minister?” 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 5

Christ taught them to ask instead, “What saith the Word of the Lord? I have a soul to save or a soul to lose. I cannot afford to be mystified and befogged when my eternal well-being is at stake. Because my minister refuses to examine the Scriptures with a heart free from cruel prejudice and from stubborn purpose, because he will not understand the binding claims of the Sabbath, shall I do the same? Shall I refuse to lift the cross? Shall I be determined to believe only my preconceived opinions, to continue in rebellion against God, which are not substantiated by sure evidence? Shall I miss my way to heaven because the shepherd cries in my ears, Peace, peace. The Fathers, The Fathers? Shall I turn from the cool snow waters of Lebanon to the turbid streams of the valley?” 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 6

Many in that vast assembly were not seeking for evidence. Of this they had had altogether too much. They wished they had less, for to obey involved a cross. What they desired was not evidence but an excuse to evade truths of eternal importance, which had for their foundation a “Thus saith the Lord.” And today many refuse to put their will on the side of God’s will. They refuse to conform their lives to the great standard of righteousness. They have educated and trained their God-given intellect to make of none effect the law of Jehovah, treating it as a code of moral embarrassment, a yoke of bondage. They see the sum worked out on the characters of all who transgress the law, yet they will not yield. They are not able to reason from cause to effect, because the sophistry of Satan is urging itself upon their minds, confusing everything clear and distinct, and mystifying the truth till it is clothed with a shadow of darkness. Writing to the Galatians, Paul exclaimed, “Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?” [Galatians 3:1.] These words sound down along the ages to our time. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 7

But whether the world or the church, which has joined hands with the world, obey or disobey, the law of God maintains its binding claims upon them, notwithstanding the controversy over it, notwithstanding that men claim to have answered every argument in its behalf. The truth still lives; the light still shines on; it cannot be put out. The Bible was set aside; it was burned. Men tried to banish it from the earth, but it still remains. The law of God may be ignored, despised, rejected, trampled upon, but it is still the great standard of righteousness, for it is immutable, indestructible. It is as eternal as the character of Jehovah. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 8

The keenest intellect may try to the utmost of its capacity to make void the law, but behold, the intellect of the greatest men perishes. Men dare to put “Reverend” before their names—a word once only used in the Bible, and then as applying to God. Men build themselves up, full of a desire for high titles rather than for a growth in grace, but they go down to the grave. Their ambition perishes with them. Their eloquence and genius is gone. But God’s holy law, unchangeable, eternal and immortal, will stand firm forever and ever. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 9

Every human being will be tested as were Adam and Eve, to see whether they will be obedient. Our loyalty or disloyalty decides our future destiny. Since the fall of Adam men in every age have excused themselves, charging God with their sin, saying that they cannot keep His commandments. This is the insinuation Satan cast at God in heaven. But the plea, “I cannot obey the commandment” need never be presented to God, for before Him stands the Saviour, the marks of the crucifixion upon His body, a living witness that the law can be kept. It is not that we cannot keep the law, but we will not yield up our stubborn wills. See John 15:10; 14:15, 21, 23, 24. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 10

Today ministers dare to charge Christ with being a Sabbath-breaker. Those who make this charge, made by the scribes and Pharisees, place themselves on the side of the great accuser, and directly contradict Christ’s teaching. With sacrilegious words the Pharisees charged Him with transgression, and if they could have fastened crime upon Him, as they flattered themselves they could do, they would have been able to prove that He should have been sentenced to death by the very law He had given. But they could not prove in a single instance that His works were not in perfect harmony with the law. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 11

In His human nature, Christ rendered perfect obedience to the law of God, thus proving to all that this law can be kept. He endured the death penalty Himself, not to abolish the law and immortalize sin, but to take away sin. It is because He has borne the punishment in His own body on the cross that man has a second probation. He may, if he will, return to his loyalty. But if he refuses to obey the commands of God, if he rejects the warnings and messages God sends, choosing rather the words of fallacy spoken by those who echo the word of the deceiver, he is willingly ignorant, and the condemnation of God is upon him. He chooses disobedience because obedience means lifting the cross and practicing self-denial, and following Christ and the path of obedience. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 12

The natural mind leans toward pleasure and self-gratification, and it is Satan’s policy to manufacture an abundance of this, that they may be filled with excitement, leaving men and women no time to consider the question, How is it with my soul? The love of pleasure is infectious. Given up to this, the mind hurries from one point to another, ever seeking for some amusement. Obedience to the law of God counteracts this inclination, and builds barriers against ungodliness. Each person, as a rational human being, is under the most sacred obligation to obey the letter of the law. The Spirit has been provided to enable all to do this. Those who transgress the law by resting on the first day of the week instead of on the seventh, bear false testimony to the world by precept and example. God would have His people maintain the dignity of His law by resting on the seventh day, His memorial of creation. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 13

The ability to enjoy the riches of glory will be developed in proportion to the desire we have for these riches. How shall an appreciation of God and heavenly things be developed unless it is in this life? If the claims and cares of the world are allowed to engross all our time and attention, our spiritual powers weaken and die because they are not exercised. In a mind wholly given to earthly things, every inlet through which light from heaven may enter is closed. God’s transforming grace cannot be felt on mind and character. The talents which should be used in active piety are ignored and neglected. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 14

How then can a response be made when the invitation is heard, “Come; for all things are now ready”? [Luke 14:17.] How is it possible for a man to receive the commendation, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” [Matthew 25:21], when he has been disobedient, unthankful, unholy? He has trained the mind to disregard God’s plainest requirements, to dislike religious things. He loves the things of earth more than the things of heaven. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 15

Obedience to God’s commands will enroll our names in the Lamb’s book of life, “for we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.” [Hebrews 3:14; 10:35.] In keeping God’s commandments there is great reward. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” [Psalm 19:7.] By partaking of the divine nature, man is enabled to show to the world an illustration of perfect obedience, thus magnifying the only true and living God by obeying His holy, just, and perfect law. 14LtMs, Ms 28, 1899, par. 16