The Signs of the Times


February 25, 1897

The Law and the Gospel


The Law and the Gospel can not be separated. In Christ mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. The Gospel has not ignored the obligations due to God by man. The Gospel is the Law unfolded, nothing more nor less. It gives no more latitude to sin than does the Law. The Law points to Christ; Christ points to the Law. The Gospel calls men to repentance. Repentance of what?—Of sin. And what is sin?—It is the transgression of the Law. Therefore the Gospel calls men from their transgression back to obedience to the Law of God. Jesus in his life and death taught the strictest obedience. He died, the just for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, that the honor of God's Law might be preserved, and yet man not utterly perish. ST February 25, 1897, par. 1

The work of salvation in both the Old and the New Testament dispensation is the same. Christ was the foundation of the whole Jewish economy. The types and shadows under which the Jews worshiped, all pointed forward to the world's Redeemer. It was by faith in a coming Saviour that sinners were saved then. It is through faith in Christ that they are justified today. ST February 25, 1897, par. 2

In giving his Son, God gave himself, that man might have another trial. If God could have changed his Law to meet man in his fallen condition, would he not have done this, and retained his only-begotten Son in heaven?—He certainly would. But because his Law was as changeless as his character, he gave his beloved Son, who was above Law, and one with himself, to meet the penalty which his justice demanded. ST February 25, 1897, par. 3

Satan is working with all his deceptive power to ensnare the world. He would have them believe that this great sacrifice was made in order to abolish God's Law. He represents Christ as opposed to the Law of God's government in heaven and in earth. But the Sovereign of the world has a Law by which to govern his heavenly intelligences and his human family, and the death of his Son fixes the immutability of that law beyond any question. God has no intention of doing away with his great standard of righteousness. By this standard he can define what a correct character is. ST February 25, 1897, par. 4

Christ consented to die in the sinner's stead, that man, by a life of obedience, might escape the penalty of the Law of God. His death did not make the Law of God of none effect; it did not slay the law, lessen its claims, or detract from its sacred dignity. The death of Christ proclaimed the justice of his Father's law in punishing the transgressor, in that he consented to suffer the penalty of the law transgressed himself, in order to save fallen man from its curse. The death of God's beloved Son on the cross shows the immutability of the Law of God. His death magnifies the Law and makes it honorable, and gives evidence to man of its changeless character. From his own divine lips are heard the words, “Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” The death of Christ justified the claims of the law. ST February 25, 1897, par. 5

But the doctrine is now largely taught that the Gospel of Christ has made the Law of God of no effect; that by “believing” we are released from the necessity of being doers of the word. But this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which Christ so unsparingly condemned. To the church of Ephesus he says: “I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil; and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” ST February 25, 1897, par. 6

Those who are teaching this doctrine today have much to say in regard to faith and the righteousness of Christ; but they pervert the truth, and make it serve the cause of error. They declare that we have only to believe on Jesus Christ, and that faith is all-sufficient; that the righteousness of Christ is to be the sinner's credentials; that this imputed righteousness fulfils the law for us, and that we are under no obligation to obey the law of God. This class claim that Christ came to save sinners, and that he has saved them. “I am saved,” they will repeat over and over again. But are they saved while transgressing the law of Jehovah?—No; for the garments of Christ's righteousness are not a cloak for iniquity. Such teaching is a gross deception, and Christ becomes to these persons a stumbling-block as he did to the Jews,—to the Jews because they would not receive him as their personal Saviour; to these professed believers in Christ, because they separate Christ and the Law, and regard faith as a substitute for obedience. They separate the Father and the Son, the Saviour of the world. Virtually they teach, both by precept and example, that Christ, by his death, saves men in their transgressions. ST February 25, 1897, par. 7

It is necessary that every intelligent being shall understand the principles of the law of God. Christ through the apostle James declares, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” These words were spoken this side of the death of Christ; therefore the Law was binding upon all at that time. ST February 25, 1897, par. 8

The Saviour raised his voice in protest against those who regard the divine commandments with indifference and carelessness. He said, “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.” And he also declared, “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in nowise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled.” ST February 25, 1897, par. 9

Men may talk of freedom, of Gospel liberty. They may assert that they are not in bondage to the Law. But the influence of a Gospel hope will not lead the sinner to look upon the salvation of Christ as a matter of free grace, while he continues to live in transgression of the Law of God. When the light of truth dawns upon his mind, and he fully understands the requirements of God, and realizes the extent of his transgressions, he will reform his ways, become loyal to God through the strength obtained from his Saviour, and lead a new and purer life. “Whosoever abideth in him,” says John, “sinneth not; whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” ST February 25, 1897, par. 10

Mrs. E. G. White