SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW)

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Chapter 3

19 (Matthew 27:21; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Jude 15; Revelation 20:12, 13). The Tattered Shreds of Human Reasoning—The whole world stands condemned before the great moral standard of righteousness. In the great day of judgment every soul that has lived on the earth will receive sentence in accordance as to whether his deeds have been good or evil in the light of the law of God. Every mouth will be stopped as the cross with its dying Victim shall be presented, and its real bearing shall be seen by every mind that has been sin blinded and corrupted. Sinners will stand condemned before the cross, with its mysterious Victim bowing beneath the infinite burden of human transgression. How quickly will be swept away every subterfuge, every lying excuse! Human apostasy will appear in its heinous character. Men will see what their choice has been. They will then understand that they have chosen Barabbas instead of Christ, the Prince of Peace. 6BC 1069.3

The mystery of the incarnation and the crucifixion will be plainly discerned; for it will be presented before the mind's eye, and every condemned soul will read what has been the character of his rejection of truth. All will understand that they have erred from the truth by receiving the misinterpretations and bewitching lies of Satan instead of “every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” They read the announcement, “Thou, O man, hast chosen to stand under the banner of the great rebel, Satan, and in so doing thou hast destroyed thyself.” Whatever may have been the endowment of talent, whatever may have been the supposed wisdom, the rejecter of truth has then no ability to turn unto God. The door is shut, as was the door of the ark in Noah's day. 6BC 1069.4

The great men of earth will then understand that they have surrendered mind and heart to ensnaring philosophy which pleased the carnal heart. Hope and grace and every inducement had been held out by One who loved them, and gave His life for them, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life, but they refused the love of God. Their lofty opinions, their human reasonings, were extolled; they declared themselves sufficient in themselves to understand divine mysteries, and they thought their own powers of discrimination were strong enough to discern truth for themselves. They fell an easy prey to Satan's subtlety, for he presented before them specious errors in human philosophy, which has an infatuation for human minds. They turned from the Source of all wisdom, and worshiped intellect. The message and the messengers of God were criticized and discarded as beneath their human, lofty ideas. The invitations of mercy were made a jest, and they denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and derided the idea of His pre-existence before He assumed human nature. But the tattered shreds of human reasoning will be found to be only as ropes of sand in the great day of God (The Signs of the Times, March 7, 1895). 6BC 1069.5

Wicked Will Feel Agony of Cross—Those who reject the mercy so freely proffered, will yet be made to know the worth of that which they have despised. They will feel the agony which Christ endured upon the cross to purchase redemption for all who would receive it. And they will then realize what they have lost—eternal life and the immortal inheritance (The Review and Herald, September 4, 1883). 6BC 1069.6

(Matthew 7:23; 27:40, 42; Romans 14:11; Jude 15; Revelation 1:7; 6:15-17.) Indescribable Confusion of the Wicked—When sinners are compelled to look upon Him who clothed His divinity with humanity, and who still wears this garb, their confusion is indescribable. The scales fall from their eyes, and they see that which before they would not see. They realize what they might have been had they received Christ, and improved the opportunities granted them. They see the law which they have spurned, exalted even as God's throne is exalted. They see God Himself giving reverence to His law. 6BC 1069.7

What a scene that will be! No pen can describe it! The accumulated guilt of the world will be laid bare, and the voice of the Judge will be heard saying to the wicked, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” 6BC 1070.1

Then those who pierced Christ will remember how they slighted His love and abused His compassion; how they chose in His stead Barabbas, a robber and murderer; how they crowned the Saviour with thorns, and caused Him to be scourged and crucified; how, in the agony of His death on the cross, they taunted Him, saying, “Let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” “He saved others; himself he cannot save.” They will seem to hear again His voice of entreaty. Every tone of solicitude will vibrate as distinctly in their ears as when the Saviour spoke to them. Every act of insult and mockery done to Christ will be as fresh in their memory as when the satanic deeds were done. 6BC 1070.2

They will call on the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb. “The wrath of the Lamb”—One who ever showed Himself full of tenderness, patience, and long-suffering, who, having given Himself up as the sacrificial offering, was led as a lamb to the slaughter, to save sinners from the doom now falling upon them because they would not allow Him to take away their guilt (The Review and Herald, June 18, 1901). 6BC 1070.3

19-28 (Galatians 2:16, 17; 3:10-13, 24). No Saving Properties in the Law—I would call on all who would win heaven, to take warning. Do not devote your precious probationary time to sewing together fig leaves to cover the nakedness which is the result of sin. As you look into the Lord's great moral looking glass, His holy law, His standard of character, do not for a moment suppose that it can cleanse you. There are no saving properties in the law. It cannot pardon the transgressor. The penalty must be exacted. The Lord does not save sinners by abolishing His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and in earth. The punishment has been endured by the sinner's substitute. Not that God is cruel and merciless, and Christ so merciful that He died on Calvary's cross to abolish a law so arbitrary that it needed to be extinguished, crucified between two thieves. The throne of God must not bear one stain of crime, one taint of sin. In the councils of heaven, before the world was created, the Father and the Son covenanted together that if man proved disloyal to God, Christ, one with the Father, would take the place of the transgressor, and suffer the penalty of justice that must fall upon him (Manuscript 145, 1897). 6BC 1070.4

(Ch. 5:1.) “This Is Justification by Faith.”—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. 6BC 1070.5

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. 6BC 1070.6

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. 6BC 1070.7

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 (Manuscript 21, 1891). 6BC 1070.8

A Sign to the World—Justification by faith in Christ will be made manifest in transformation of character. This is the sign to the world of the truth of the doctrines we profess. The daily evidence that we are a living church is seen in the fact that we are practicing the Word. A living testimony goes forth to the world in consistent Christian action. 6BC 1071.1

It declares to a world apostatized that there is a people who believe that our safety is in clinging to the Bible. This testimony is in unmistakable distinction from that of the great apostate church, which adopts human wisdom and authority in place of the wisdom and authority of God (Letter 83, 1896). 6BC 1071.2

20. See EGW on 1 John 3:4. 6BC 1071.3

20-31 (Galatians 6:14; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 7:25; Revelation 22:17). With Humble Hearts Survey the Atonement—Let no one take the limited, narrow position that any of the works of man can help in the least possible way to liquidate the debt of his transgression. This is a fatal deception. If you would understand it, you must cease haggling over your pet ideas, and with humble hearts survey the atonement. 6BC 1071.4

This matter is so dimly comprehended that thousands upon thousands claiming to be sons of God are children of the wicked one, because they will depend on their own works. God always demanded good works, the law demands it, but because man placed himself in sin where his good works were valueless, Jesus’ righteousness alone can avail. Christ is able to save to the uttermost because He ever liveth to make intercession for us. 6BC 1071.5

All that man can possibly do toward his own salvation is to accept the invitation, “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” No sin can be committed by man for which satisfaction has not been met on Calvary. Thus the cross, in earnest appeals, continually proffers to the sinner a thorough expiation (Manuscript 50, 1900). 6BC 1071.6

24-26 (see EGW on ch. 5:11). The Father Abundantly Satisfied—The atonement that has been made for us by Christ is wholly and abundantly satisfactory to the Father. God can be just, and yet the justifier of those who believe (Manuscript 28, 1905). 6BC 1071.7

(Ch. 5:1.) Justification Means Complete Pardon—[Romans 3:24-26 quoted.] Here the truth is laid out in plain lines. This mercy and goodness is wholly undeserved. The grace of Christ is freely to justify the sinner without merit or claim on his part. Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment he is pardoned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him, and he is no more to doubt God's forgiving grace. 6BC 1071.8

There is nothing in faith that makes it our saviour. Faith cannot remove our guilt. Christ is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe. The justification comes through the merits of Jesus Christ. He has paid the price for the sinner's redemption. Yet it is only through faith in His blood that Jesus can justify the believer. 6BC 1071.9

The sinner cannot depend upon his own good works as a means of justification. He must come to the point where he will renounce all his sin, and embrace one degree of light after another as it shines upon his pathway. He simply grasps by faith the free and ample provision made in the blood of Christ. He believes the promises of God, which through Christ are made unto him sanctification and righteousness and redemption. And if he follows Jesus, he will walk humbly in the light, rejoicing in the light and diffusing that light to others. Being justified by faith, he carries cheerfulness with him in his obedience in all his life. Peace with God is the result of what Christ is to him. The souls who are in subordination to God, who honor Him, and are doers of His Word, will receive divine enlightenment. In the precious Word of God there is purity and loftiness as well as beauty that, unless assisted by God, the highest powers of man cannot attain to (The Signs of the Times, May 19, 1898). 6BC 1071.10

(Psalm 18:35; 85:10; 89:14; Revelation 4:3; see EGW on John 3:16.) The Mingling of Judgment and Mercy—As the bow in the cloud is formed by the union of the sunlight and the shower, so the rainbow encircling the throne represents the combined power of mercy and justice. It is not justice alone that is to be maintained; for this would eclipse the glory of the rainbow of promise above the throne; man could see only the penalty of the law. Were there no justice, no penalty, there would be no stability to the government of God. 6BC 1071.11

It is the mingling of judgment and mercy that makes salvation full and complete. It is the blending of the two that leads us, as we view the world's Redeemer and the law of Jehovah, to exclaim, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” We know that the gospel is a perfect and complete system, revealing the immutability of the law of God. It inspires the heart with hope, and with love for God. Mercy invites us to enter through the gates into the city of God, and justice is sacrificed to accord to every obedient soul full privileges as a member of the royal family, a child of the heavenly King. 6BC 1072.1

If we were defective in character, we could not pass the gates that mercy has opened to the obedient; for justice stands at the entrance, and demands holiness, purity, in all who would see God. Were justice extinct, and were it possible for divine mercy to open the gates to the whole race, irrespective of character, there would be a worse condition of disaffection and rebellion in heaven than before Satan was expelled. The peace, happiness, and harmony of heaven would be broken up. The change from earth to heaven will not change men's characters; the happiness of the redeemed in heaven results from the characters formed in this life, after the image of Christ. The saints in heaven will first have been saints on earth. 6BC 1072.2

The salvation that Christ made such a sacrifice to gain for man, is that which is alone of value, that which saves from sin—the cause of all the misery and woe in our world. Mercy extended to the sinner is constantly drawing him to Jesus. If he responds, coming in penitence with confession, in faith laying hold of the hope set before him in the gospel, God will not despise the broken and contrite heart. Thus the law of God is not weakened, but the power of sin is broken, and the scepter of mercy is extended to the penitent sinner (Letter 1f, 1890). 6BC 1072.3

24-28 (see EGW on Galatians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). Speculations About Righteousness by Faith—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 (Manuscript 21, 1891). 6BC 1072.4

25. See EGW on ch. 7:12. 6BC 1072.5

27. See EGW on Ephesians 2:8, 9. 6BC 1072.6

28. See EGW on ch. 4:3, 4. 6BC 1072.7

31 (ch. 6:15; 1 Samuel 15:22; Revelation 22:14; see EGW on 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; Ephesians 2:14-16; Revelation 2:6). God's Standard Has Not Changed—The gospel of good news was not to be interpreted as allowing men to live in continued rebellion against God by transgressing His just and holy law. Why cannot those who claim to understand the Scriptures, see that God's requirement under grace is just the same He made in Eden—perfect obedience to His law. In the judgment, God will ask those who profess to be Christians, Why did you claim to believe in My Son, and continue to transgress My law? Who required this at your hands—to trample upon My rules of righteousness? “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” The gospel of the New Testament is not the Old Testament standard lowered to meet the sinner and save him in his sins. God requires of all His subjects obedience, entire obedience to all His commandments. He demands now as ever perfect righteousness as the only title to heaven. Christ is our hope and our refuge. His righteousness is imputed only to the obedient. Let us accept it through faith, that the Father shall find in us no sin. But those who have trampled on the holy law will have no right to claim that righteousness. O that we might view the immensity of the plan of salvation as obedient children to all God's requirements, believing that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ, our atoning sacrifice (The Review and Herald, September 21, 1886)! 6BC 1072.8

(1 John 2:4.) Faith Manifested by Works of Obedience—God requires at this time just what He required of the holy pair in Eden, perfect obedience to His requirements. His law remains the same in all ages. The great standard of righteousness presented in the Old Testament is not lowered in the New. It is not the work of the gospel to weaken the claims of God's holy law, but to bring men up where they can keep its precepts. 6BC 1073.1

The faith in Christ which saves the soul is not what it is represented to be by many. “Believe, believe,” is their cry; “only believe in Christ, and you will be saved. It is all you have to do.” While true faith trusts wholly in Christ for salvation, it will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God. Faith is manifested by works. And the apostle John declares, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar” (The Review and Herald, October 5, 1886). 6BC 1073.2

Disconnect the Law and the Gospel?—The enemy has ever labored to disconnect the law and the gospel. They go hand in hand (Manuscript 11, 1893). 6BC 1073.3

We honor both the Father and the Son when we talk about the law. The Father gave us the law, and the Son died to magnify it and make it honorable (Manuscript 5, 1885). 6BC 1073.4

It is impossible for us to exalt the law of Jehovah unless we take hold of the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Manuscript 5, 1889). 6BC 1073.5

The law of Jehovah is the tree, the gospel is the fragrant blossoms and fruit which it bears (Letter 119, 1897). 6BC 1073.6