The Review and Herald

786/1902

August 6, 1895

Christ, the Teacher of Righteousness

EGW

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” RH August 6, 1895, par. 1

The ministers of the gospel of Christ, who are to watch for souls as they that must give account, will diligently study the Scriptures, and will often be found upon their knees asking for heavenly wisdom, in order that they may know how to “strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.” Jesus says, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Jesus was the greatest Teacher the world ever knew. He presented truth in clear, forcible statements, and the illustrations he used were of the purest and highest order. He never mingled cheap symbols and figures with his divine instruction, or sought to pander to curiosity or to gratify the class that will listen simply to be amused. He did not bring sacred truth down the level of the common, and the comical illustrations that some ministers of the gospel use were never uttered by his divine lips. Christ did not employ illustrations that would create amusement and excite laughter. Many writers and ministers keep their hold upon the people by dwelling upon science falsely so-called, and by making much of common side-issues; and they forget the fact that the mind, with all its capacities, is to be used as the talent intrusted of God to glorify and exalt sacred things, and to lift up before the world the holy standard of righteousness. At times ministers who have dwelt upon themes of minor importance, who have lived below the gospel standard, through the grace of Christ grasp the sacred, solemn, elevated truths of God's word, and use illustrations that to a large degree are of an elevating and instructive character; but the hearers remember their former teachings, the shortcomings of their daily life force themselves upon them, and the spell is broken; and the most solemn appeals lose their point, the edge of the sword of truth is blunted, and the heart remains untouched. RH August 6, 1895, par. 2

In the instruction of the divine Teacher, there was no illustration used that would leave the least shadow upon the tablets of the soul. His words were of the purest and most elevated character. He never stooped to utter that which was comical, in order that he might attract an audience. Of him it was written, “Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” Christ is our example in all things. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” He did not humble the truth to meet man in his fallen condition, and lower the standard of righteousness to suit his degradation; but he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, in order that he might save the race that had been degraded by transgression. It was not his purpose to abolish by his death the law of God, but rather to show the immutability of its sacred claims. It was his purpose to “magnify the law, and make it honorable,” so that every one who should look upon the cross of Calvary with its uplifted Victim, should see the unanswerable argument of the perfect truth of the law. RH August 6, 1895, par. 3

In his sermon on the mount, Jesus revealed his attitude to the law in unmistakable language. He said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 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.” There are some who presume to think that they may disregard the plain commandments of God, and yet find an entrance into the kingdom of heaven; but this is not the true interpretation of the Saviour's words, “They shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” If these who have had light in regard to the immutable nature of the law of Jehovah, and who have heard messages of warning from the servants whom God has sent, like the inhabitants of the Old World, choose their own inventions, and refuse to receive the counsels and warnings of God, they will be called the least by the Lord Jesus Christ and by the intelligences of heaven. They may make high professions and may stand as watchmen on the walls of Zion, and yet they are counted in heaven as transgressors of the law of God; and should God permit a transgressor of his law to enter into the portals of bliss, rebellion would be immortalized, and heaven would be no better than the earth. Jesus added to the statement as to how the transgressor would be regarded, and said, “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.” RH August 6, 1895, par. 4

Jesus showed the far-reaching claims of the law of God, and made it evident that though the Jewish nation claimed to be the only nation under heaven that knew the true and living God, and professed to be keeping his law, yet they did not understand its sacred character, and were teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Truth suffered at their hands; for they had mixed with it spurious maxims, human inventions, and the traditions of men. They had loaded down the plainest precepts of God's law with the rubbish of tradition, until minds were confused and were fast losing their comprehension of the character of God, and of the nature of his law, which is holy, just, and good. RH August 6, 1895, par. 5

In his sermon on the mount, Christ gave the true interpretation to the Old Testament Scriptures, expounding the truth that had been perverted by the rulers, the scribes, and the Pharisees. What a vast meaning does he give to the law of God! He himself had given the law when the morning-stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Christ himself was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy, the end of types, symbols, and sacrifices. Enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, he himself had given specific directions to Moses for the Jewish nation, and he was the only one who could disperse the multitude of errors that through the maxims and traditions of men had accumulated about the truth. He only could present the high and infallible standard of the law of God in all its original purity; but through him heaven-born truth was presented to the world, and the misconceptions of men and the false representations of the prince of evil were swept away. He rescued truth, eternal truth, from the base companionship of error, and commanded it to shine forth in all its brightness and heavenly luster. He set the truth on high, in order that like a light it might illuminate the moral darkness of the world. He rescued every gem of truth from the rubbish of men's maxims and traditions, and exalted the truth to the throne of God from whence it had issued. Jesus restored truth that had been cast out, to its royal order, and invested it with its true importance and dignity. Christ himself was the truth and the life. RH August 6, 1895, par. 6

When Christ came into the world, darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people. The living oracles of God were fast becoming a dead letter. The still, small voice of God was heard only at times by the most devout worshiper; for it had become overpowered and silenced by the dogmas, maxims, and traditions of men. The long, intricate explanations of the priests made that which was the plainest and most simple, mysterious, indistinct, and uncertain. The clamors of rival sects confused the understanding, and their doctrines were widely apart from the correct theory of truth. RH August 6, 1895, par. 7

It was at a crisis of this kind that the Word, the Truth, became flesh, and dwelt among us. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.... He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” RH August 6, 1895, par. 8

Truth looked down from heaven upon the children of men, but found no reflection of itself; for darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. If the darkness of error that hid the glory of God from the view of men, was to be dispelled, the light of truth must shine amid the moral darkness of the world. It was decreed in the councils of God that the only begotten Son of God must leave his high command in heaven, and clothe his divinity with humanity, and come to the world. No outward splendor must attend his steps, save that of virtue, mercy, goodness, and truth; for he was to represent to the world the attributes of God's character; but the world, unaccustomed to gaze upon truth, turned from the light to the darkness of error; for error was more to their perverted taste than truth. RH August 6, 1895, par. 9

The Jews were looking for a Messiah who would establish them in their arrogance and pride, and lead them on to victory over their enemies. Christ possessed every qualification of character that should have induced them to accept of him; but his very righteousness stood in the way of their acceptance; for his habits, character, and life were all at variance with the habits and practices of the Jews. He condemned evil wherever he found it, and the untainted purity of his life and character put to shame the wrong-doers. His course was in such marked contrast to the course of the scribes and Pharisees and the religious teachers of that day, that they were made manifest as whited sepulchers, hypocritical pretenders to religion, who sought to exalt themselves by a profession of holiness, while within they were full of ravening and all uncleanness. They could not tolerate true holiness, true zeal for God, which was the distinguishing feature of the character of Christ; for true religion cast a reflection upon their spirit and practices. They could not comprehend a character of such matchless loveliness as that of Christ's. In the heart of Jesus there was hatred of nothing save sin. They could have received him as the Messiah had he simply manifested his miracle-working power, and refrained from denouncing sin, from condemning their corrupt passions, and from pronouncing the curse of God upon their idolatry; but since he would give no license to evil, though he healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, and raised the dead, they had nothing for the divine Teacher but bitter abuse, jealousy, envy, evil-surmising, and hatred. They hunted him from place to place, in order that they might destroy the Son of God. RH August 6, 1895, par. 10

The professed people of God had separated from God, and had lost their wisdom and perverted their understanding. They could not see afar off; for they had forgotten that they had been purged from their old sins. They moved restlessly and uncertainly under darkness, seeking to obliterate from their minds the memory of the freedom, assurance, and happiness of their former estate. They plunged into all kinds of presumptuous, foolhardy madness, placed themselves in opposition to the providences of God, and deepened the guilt that was already upon them. They listened to the charges of Satan against the divine character, and represented God as devoid of mercy and forgiveness. The prophet writes of them, saying: “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.” Yet for the fallen world the Lord Jesus was willing to endure humiliation, reproach, suffering, and death, in order that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Hopeless as the case appeared, the Lord Jesus would undertake the ransom of the human race. RH August 6, 1895, par. 11

O that every soul would consider the fact that there is but one hope of salvation for him, and that is perfect submission and unquestioning obedience to the will of God, who created and who sustains every hour. I would entreat those who have separated from Christ to consider their own eternal welfare. Let them remember the words of Christ, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Will you employ the very talents that God has given you, as weapons to war against God? Will you walk defiantly from the Lord who loves you, and who has died to save you? Will you follow human inventions, and trample underfoot the law of Jehovah? The Lord has borne long with you. He has given you a gift which is beyond all human computation, even the gift of his well-beloved Son. When “he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor,” “his arm brought salvation;... and his righteousness, it sustained him.” RH August 6, 1895, par. 12