The Review and Herald

458/1902

October 9, 1888

God's Provision for a Fallen World

EGW

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” After Adam and Eve had transgressed the law of God, and had fallen from their high estate, the race was plunged into hopeless misery. But the Son of God proposed to take the wrath of his Father upon himself, that he might save the fallen world. It was because of his pity and love for man that he consented to make this marvelous sacrifice. There was the greatest need for his help; for when he came to our world, he found in man very little moral power to resist the temptations of Satan. RH October 9, 1888, par. 1

But although Jesus was the light of the world, the world knew him not. Says the prophet, “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.” He was hunted from place to place; and for what reason? What had he done?—He had healed the sick. He had comforted the desponding. He had lifted up the fallen. He had raised the dead. He had broken the yoke of oppression. He had given rest to the weary and the heavy-laden. He had healed the wounded, and bound up the broken in heart. But he was treated as a malefactor, and suffered reproach and shame. He became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich. He suffered a shameful death upon the cross of Calvary, that we might have everlasting life. And shall we flatter ourselves that he has done it all, and that we have no sacrifices to make; that we may go on in the path of our own choosing, and yet enter into glory, and have part in that kingdom which he has purchased for us at such infinite cost? Shall we think to be fitted for heaven, while indulging in sin? Only obedience to the requirements of God can elevate man to a place with Christ in his kingdom. As transgression caused the fall and degradation of man, so obedience will lift him up, and purify and ennoble his character. RH October 9, 1888, par. 2

As Jesus led his disciples out to Gethsemane, he told them of the union that must exist between himself and them, if they would inherit eternal life. He directed their attention to a flourishing vine, and declared, “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.” “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.” Whenever the disciples should behold the vine, they were to remember the Saviour's words, and to take heed to the lesson he had given them. They were to be grafted into the True Vine, in order to bear fruit to the glory of God. RH October 9, 1888, par. 3

Although Gethsemane and Calvary were before him, the Son of God still sought to instruct and console his disciples, whom he was so soon to leave in the dark, opposing world. Their hearts were filled with sorrow because he had said, “I go unto my Father.” He strove to comfort them, as he said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself: that where I am, there ye may be also.” What a scene is this! Before him is the conflict of Gethsemane and the cross of Calvary, yet he thinks not of himself at such a moment. His whole burden is for those who have followed his steps and shared his toils, and who are to be left in the midst of a world at enmity with God. RH October 9, 1888, par. 4

As he entered the garden, the darkness of the final conflict pressed upon him, and he said to his companions, “Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.” Selecting Peter, James, and John to accompany him, he proceeded farther into the recesses of the garden. Every step that the Saviour now took was with labored effort. He groaned aloud, as though suffering under the pressure of a terrible burden. He felt that he must seek greater solitude, and he said to the three favored ones, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here, and watch with me.” He went still farther into the darkness of the garden, but his disciples were in sound of his anguished prayers, in sight of his prostrate form. He was overpowered by the terrible fear that God was removing his presence from him. He felt himself becoming separated from his Father by a gulf of sin, so broad, so black, so deep, that his spirit shuddered before it. He clung convulsively to the cold, unfeeling ground, as if to prevent himself from being drawn still farther from God. The chilling dews of night fell upon his prostrate form, but the Redeemer heeded it not. From his pale, convulsed lips wailed the bitter cry, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” It was not dread of the physical suffering that he was so soon to endure, that brought this agony upon the Son of God. He was suffering the penalty of man's transgression, and shuddering beneath his Father's frown. He must not call his divinity to his aid, but, as a man, he must bear the consequences of man's sin, and the Creator's displeasure toward a disobedient subject. RH October 9, 1888, par. 5

Feeling the need of human sympathy, Jesus finally sought his disciples. His anguish had forced the drops of bloody sweat upon his brow, and his face was pale and haggard. The suffering Son of God, craving human sympathy, hoped that those who had so lately vowed to go with him, even to prison and to death, would be engaged in prayer; but he found them sleeping—no sympathetic countenance was raised to his. As he roused them from their slumber, he said to him who had given most positive assurances of his fidelity, “Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” As they arouse, they saw his countenance marked with an agony which to them was unaccountable. “His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.” As the superhuman powers of darkness again came upon him, he went away alone to wrestle for the salvation of man. He fell prostrate, and prayed, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” RH October 9, 1888, par. 6

Again he staggered to his feet, his human heart yearning for the sympathy of his companions; and again he found them sleeping. This time he did not address them, but turning away, sought his retreat and fell prostrate, overcome by the horror of great darkness. The awful hour had arrived when the destiny of the world was to be decided. The fate of humanity trembled in the balance. Would the Son of God drink the bitter potion of humiliation and agony? Would the innocent suffer the consequences of God's curse, to save the guilty? The words fell tremblingly from the pale lips of Jesus, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” RH October 9, 1888, par. 7

The history of the human race came up before the Redeemer. He saw the power of sin, and the utter helplessness of man to save himself. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world arose before him. He beheld its impending fate, and his decision was made. He would save man at any cost to himself. He accepted his baptism of blood, that perishing millions through him might gain everlasting life. He had left the courts of heaven, where all was purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep,—the one world that had fallen by transgression,—and he would not turn from the mission he had chosen. He would reach to the very depths of misery to rescue a lost and ruined world. When he fainted upon the scene of his conflict, an angel ministered to him, to strengthen him for the night of mockery, and the hour of crucifixion, while his disciples slept. He sought them at last, and said, “Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” Even while he was speaking, the sound of coming feet fell upon their ears, and he said to his disciples, “Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.” RH October 9, 1888, par. 8

The Saviour was now, after being betrayed by a kiss from one of his own disciples, dragged from place to place by the murderous mob that surrounded him. He was finally taken to the judgment hall. Then they smote the Lord of glory. They crowned him with thorns. Mocking, they bowed to him as if to a king, and cried in derision, “Hail, King of the Jews.” They laid upon him the heavy cross to bear to Calvary. They drove the cruel nails through his hands and his feet; and as he hung between earth and heaven as a malefactor, dying for the sins of the world, the satanic spirit took possession of the murderous throng. The chief priests and rulers mocked and derided his dying agonies, saying, “If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” The bitter cup of suffering was not refused. He drained it to the dregs. As the soldiers were casting lots upon his vesture, darkness covered the face of the sky. Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The earth was rent by a terrible earthquake as the Redeemer of the world died, a sacrifice for guilty man; that the transgressor of God's holy law might be restored to the favor of the Father, and fitted for the society of heaven. He carried out the plan of salvation, and Satan was vanquished by the power of the Conqueror. RH October 9, 1888, par. 9

They took his body down, and laid it in Joseph's new tomb, and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulcher, stating as their reasons for so doing that his disciples would come and steal him away by night. Evil angels exulted around that sepulcher, because they thought that Christ had been overcome. A body of Roman soldiers had been stationed to guard the tomb, and the greatest precautions had been exercised by the Jews to make their triumph complete. But heavenly angels were guarding the place where their beloved Commander slept. At last, one of the most exalted of the hosts of heaven was sent to roll away the stone from the sepulcher. “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake and became as dead men.” An earthquake marked the hour of the death of the Son of God, and an earthquake marked the hour of his resurrection. As he came forth, conqueror over death and the grave, a multitude of the captives who had fallen in death were released from their dark prisons. The resurrection from the dead was made a certainty forever. RH October 9, 1888, par. 10

The Roman guards hastened to make known to the priests and rulers the wonderful events that had taken place; but they were bribed to withhold the truth from the people. The priests framed the false words for their lips, saying, “Say ye, his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.” But although the soldiers would not bear witness to his resurrection, the saints who had been released from the grave, went before him, and appeared unto many, bearing the news of a risen and triumphant Saviour. Jesus himself met with his disciples, and confirmed the glad tidings. As two of his followers journeyed toward Emmaus, talking sadly of the events that had so recently taken place, Jesus walked with them. And as they journeyed together, “he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Their hearts burned within them as they heard the evidences of the divine character and work of their Master, and they urged him to tarry with them through the night. As they sat at meat, he was known of them in the breaking of bread. O, what joy came to their hearts! They rose, and returned to Jerusalem, for they could not think of keeping the knowledge of a risen Saviour to themselves. While they were relating their experience, the Saviour himself stood in the midst of them, and said, “Peace be unto you.” But the disciples were “terrified and affrighted.” “And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.” Then he began to teach them of all that was written in the Old Testament Scriptures concerning himself; and for forty days he instructed them in the way of life. “And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them, and he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” RH October 9, 1888, par. 11

Were there any among that company who had witnessed the humiliation, crucifixion, and ascension of Jesus, who expected to be able to carry their sins to heaven with them, because they believed on the Son of God? Are there any who know what the love of Christ is, who believe they may continue in transgression, and yet be saved in his everlasting kingdom? He gave his life that he might save his people,—not in their sins, but from their sins. If we would be partakers with him of his glory, we must be partakers with him of his sufferings. RH October 9, 1888, par. 12

There is no argument in favor of the unchangeable character of God's law, so forcible as that presented in the cross of Calvary. If God could have altered one precept of his law to meet man in his fallen condition, then Christ need not have died. But the fact that the Son of God must become man's substitute and sacrifice, in order to atone for his transgression, proves the immutable nature of the law of Jehovah. Do you believe in Jesus as the Saviour of the world? Do you believe in him as your Saviour? He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. He came to “save his people from their sins;” and “sin is the transgression of the law.” “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.” “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” RH October 9, 1888, par. 13

If we are obedient children of Christ, we shall show our love to him, and to his children; for all who seek to imitate the lovely Pattern, will reflect the moral image of God. Christ is soon coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Who is getting ready for that grand and awful event? Angels of God are watching the development of human character, and weighing moral worth. It is for our own interest that we put away our sins. The Bible and its principles must be brought into practical contact with the conscience; and where divine truths are accepted and loved, they will develop in man whatever is needful to adorn his character, to dignify his nature, and to fit him for a home among the angels. Piety is power. Sin is weakness and ruin. We are looking for the Saviour. We want to be like him when he shall appear; and “every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” RH October 9, 1888, par. 14