Faith and Works


Chapter 9—The Quality of Our Faith

Sermon preached by Ellen G. White at Ottawa, Kansas, on Sabbath, May 11, 1889, just a few months after the minneapolis conference, representing her simple, practical presentation of the subject. On file as Manuscript 1, 1889.

Text: John 3:1-16 (read by the speaker) FW 63.1

If there is nothing more in all the Scriptures which point out definitely the way to heaven, we have it here in these words. They tell us what conversion is. They tell us what we must do in order to be saved. And, my friends, I want to tell you that this strikes directly at the root of the surface work in the religious world. It strikes directly against the idea that you can become a child of God without any particular change. There is a decided change wrought in us if the truth of God has found a place in our hearts, for it has a sanctifying power upon life and upon character. When we see the fruits of righteousness in those who claim to have advanced truth, as we claim to have it, then there will be a course of action which testifies that we have learned of Christ. FW 63.2

When Christ, the Hope of Israel, was hung upon the cross and was lifted up as He told Nicodemus He would be, the disciples’ hope died with Jesus. They could not explain the matter. They could not understand all that Christ had told them about it beforehand. FW 63.3

But after the Resurrection their hopes and faith were resurrected, and they went forth proclaiming Christ and Him crucified. They told how by wicked hands the Lord of life and glory had been taken and crucified, but He had risen from the dead. And thus with great boldness they spoke the words of life at which the people were much astonished. FW 63.4

The Pharisees and those who heard the disciples boldly proclaim Jesus as the Messiah interpreted it that they had been with Jesus and learned of Him. They talked just as Jesus talked. This settled it in their minds that they had learned of Jesus. How has it been with His disciples in all ages of the world? Why, they have learned of Jesus; they have been in His school; they have been His students and have learned the lessons of Christ in regard to the living connection that the soul has with God. That living faith is essential for our salvation that we should lay hold upon the merits of the blood of the crucified and risen Saviour, on Christ, our righteousness. FW 64.1

There seems to be a cloudy atmosphere that has gathered about the soul of man and that has shut in the mind. It is next to impossible to break through this atmosphere of doubt and unbelief. It is next to impossible to arouse his vital interests so that he may understand what he must do to be saved. FW 64.2