The Signs of the Times


September 23, 1889

The Unchangeable Character of the Law

[Sermon at Chicago, ILL., April 9, 1889.]


When Christ cried out from the cross, “It is finished,” all Heaven triumphed. The controversy between Christ and Satan in regard to the execution of the plan of salvation was ended. The spirit of Satan and his works had taken deep root in the affections of the children of men; but the holy angels were horror-stricken that one of their number could fall so far as to be capable of such cruelty as had been manifested toward the Son of God on Calvary. Every sentiment of pity and sympathy which they had ever felt for Satan in his exile was quenched in their hearts. That his envy should be manifested in such a revenge upon an innocent person was enough to strip him of his assumed robe of celestial light, and to reveal the hideous deformity beneath; but to manifest such malignity toward the divine Son of God, who had with unprecedented self-denial and love for the creatures formed in his image, come from heaven and assumed their fallen nature, was such a heinous crime against Heaven that it caused the angels to shudder with horror, and severed the last tie of sympathy existing between Satan and the heavenly world. ST September 23, 1889, par. 1

When Christ died on Calvary's cross, he exclaimed in his expiring agony, “It is finished;” and Satan knew that he had been defeated in his purpose to overthrow the plan of salvation. When the Son of God came forth from Joseph's sepulcher, a triumphant conqueror over death, and broke the fetters of the tomb, he led forth the captives that Satan had bound in the grave. He presented to the world a sample of the great resurrection day, when all who have fallen asleep in Jesus shall be raised to a glorious immortality. They shall come forth from their graves at the trump of God, and shall ascend to the city of God, and see the King in his beauty. ST September 23, 1889, par. 2

When Christ cried, “It is finished,” the great sacrifice was complete. Satan and his angels were uprooted from the affection of the universe. Satan had taken such a course of deception that the angels of heaven had been in doubt of his real character. God moves in a straightforward course. It was impossible for God to lie; but Satan was as crooked as a serpent. All Heaven rejoiced when Christ rose from the dead. He had power to bind the strong man, and to despoil him of his goods. ST September 23, 1889, par. 3

We should behold Christ and his matchless charms. We should accept him as our righteousness. He came to exalt the law of God. He took upon him our nature that he might reach man in his fallen condition. His death exalts the law of God, and presents to the universe and to the world the law of God as changeless in its character. The transgression of the law could be forgiven only through the sacrifice of the Son of God. There are many who claim to believe that the death of Christ releases men from the obligation of obeying the divine precepts; but this is Satan's masterpiece of falsehood. One time when I was traveling to Oregon on a steamer, a number of persons collected upon the hurricane deck, just outside of my state-room, the door of my room being open. A Baptist minister was talking to them concerning the law. After a while he said: “Mrs. White is on board, and she is a great stickler for the law. She says that no one can be saved except through keeping the law. She places all our salvation on the perfect keeping of the law.” After he had misrepresented me and the Seventh-day Adventists for some time, I went to him and said: “Elder B., Mrs. White is here to speak for herself. I have listened to your words, and will assure you that Mrs. White believes no such thing. There is no quality in law to save the transgressor. It was because the law was broken, and there was nothing but death before the sinner, that He who was equal with the Father, came to earth and took upon him the garb of humanity. It was because of man's sin that Christ stepped down from the royal throne, laid aside his royal robe, and clothed his divinity with humanity. He came to bring to man moral power, to unite the fallen race with himself, that through faith in Jesus Christ we may become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Says the apostle, ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ But Christ was manifested to take away sin, to save his people from their sins. The soul that believes in Christ may be cleansed from all defilement, and, through the grace of Christ, may be restored to divine favor. ST September 23, 1889, par. 4

“The law points to Christ, and every transgression of the law can be atoned for only by the blood of the Son of God. The law is like a mirror, to reveal to man his defects of character, but there is nothing in the law that will remedy the defects it points out. Paul declares: ‘I have kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews and to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Why did he preach repentance toward God?—Because man had broken the law of God, and therefore was not in harmony with God. Why did he preach faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ?—Because Christ had died on Calvary, and had opened a fountain for sin and uncleanness for Judah and Jerusalem to wash in, and be cleansed. ST September 23, 1889, par. 5

“But while Jesus died for the sins of men, he did not abolish one tittle of the law. He said in the sermon on the mount, ‘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 nowise 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.” ST September 23, 1889, par. 6

“We are saved through the merit of the blood of Christ, but Christ's righteousness does not cover the sin of transgressing God's law, without repentance. We must do all in our power to keep the commandments of God, and then he will impute unto us his righteousness, because we believe in Christ and seek to obey the divine law. This is the reason that Christ came to this world, that he might bring his righteousness to man, that man might lay hold of his strength, and make peace with God. God accepts the efforts of man to keep the law, because Christ imputes his righteousness to him. We could not keep the law in our own strength. ST September 23, 1889, par. 7

“The death of Christ is an unanswerable argument that demonstrates the unchangeable character of the law of God. If God could have changed one precept of his law, then Christ need not have died.” ST September 23, 1889, par. 8

I said to the minister, “Did you ever hear me speak?” He answered that he had not. “In the thousands of pages I have written, have you ever read anything to the effect that I believe the law will save us?” He answered, “No.” “Then why have you made the statements which you have? I hope you will not repeat them again.” ST September 23, 1889, par. 9

After this talk, the minister took his party to the other side of the boat, but what I had said did not influence him to discontinue his false statements. ST September 23, 1889, par. 10

The apostle John says, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” We need not expect to be highly esteemed by the world, for the world did not esteem Christ. But the fact that we are not esteemed by the world is no reason why we should drape memory's hall with mourning, and fill it with dark pictures. Let us remember constantly that Christ gave his life for us; that although the world knoweth us not, he loves us with infinite love. We should talk of his matchless love. Let us not have any doleful tales to tell. The Bible is full of the rich promises of God. Let us behold the Saviour; for by beholding, we shall become changed. ST September 23, 1889, par. 11

If we look at the disagreeable side, if we gather up doubts, we shall have doubts, we shall sow doubts, and reap a harvest of darkness. We should lie low at the foot of the cross. Let us not utter one word of unbelief. The enemy may bring about a train of circumstances that will influence our feelings, but we should not let this discourage us; we must live by faith. “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” We are to look away from earth, to breathe in the atmosphere of heaven. If we continually dwell in the atmosphere of earth's cares, we shall find our spiritual life dying out; but if we uplift our thoughts to heaven and heavenly things, we shall realize that our spiritual life is renewing and growing stronger day by day. If we follow on to know the Lord, we shall know that his goings forth are prepared as the morning. ST September 23, 1889, par. 12