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. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” [1 John 3:1–3.]
John presents before us the love of the Father toward the children of men. God’s love has been manifested to us in the gift of his beloved Son. The apostle cannot find words to describe the greatness and the tenderness of this love; but he calls upon the world to behold it. This is to be our work. We are to call the attention of our fellow men to the love of God that has been manifested to us by the infinite cost of Calvary. Jesus was one with the Father; he shared his majesty and glory. God made an infinite sacrifice when he gave his beloved Son to die for the world; but few have any appreciation of this great love that has been expressed toward a fallen race. Those who do have an appreciation of it are not looked upon with favor by the world. The apostle says, “Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” He says further: “It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
Those who are sons of God will be constantly purifying themselves, and seeking to fashion their characters after the divine Pattern. Their thoughts will be upon heavenly things. Their conversation will be concerning Jesus, their Saviour. They will be waiting for him to appear in the clouds of heaven, and when he comes escorted by ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of angels, those who have looked for him, and who have loved his appearing, will meet him with joy.
We have a great work before us, not only to form characters ourselves for eternal life, but to labor that others may be fitted for the kingdom of Heaven. We must educate our tastes and our habits of life to simplicity. We cannot afford to place our hands in the hands of the world, and follow its customs and fashions. We must be natural, not artificial. And how beautiful is the natural in contrast with the artificial!
We should have hearts overflowing with sympathy for souls for whom Christ died. We should seek to educate our children in the fear of God, teaching them that Christ died for them, and that they may have salvation without money and without price. It will only be a little while before Jesus will come to save his children and to give them the finishing touch of immortality. “This corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality.” [1 Corinthians 15:53, 54.] The graves will be opened, and the dead will come forth victorious, crying, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” [1 Corinthians 15:55.] Our loved ones who sleep in Jesus will come forth clothed with immortality. And as the redeemed shall ascend to Heaven, the gates of the city of God will swing back, and those who have kept the truth will enter in. A voice, richer than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, will be heard saying, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” [Matthew 25:34.] Then the righteous will receive their reward. Their lives will run parallel with the life of Jehovah. They will cast their crowns at the Redeemer’s feet, touch the golden harps, and fill all Heaven with rich music.
Satan has misrepresented the character of God. He has clothed him with his own attributes. He has represented him as a being of inflexible sternness. He had shut the world away from beholding the true character of God, by casting his shadow between men and the divine One. Christ came to our world to remove that shadow. He came to represent the Father. He said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” [John 14:9.] He prayed that his disciples might be one with him, even as he was one with the Father. Men have declared that this oneness with Christ is an impossibility, but Christ has made it possible by bringing us into harmony with himself, through the merits of his life and sacrifice. Why should we doubt the love and power of God? Why should we not place ourselves on the faith side of the question? Do you behold the charms and attractions of Jesus? Then seek to follow in his footsteps. He came to reveal the Father to the world, and he has committed to us the work of representing his love, purity, goodness, and tender sympathy, to the children of men.
We have eternal life to win, and this is worth the loss of everything besides. We should study the Scriptures diligently. The Bible is like a garden where God has placed rich roses, and lilies, and pinks of promise, and they are for us if we will only pluck them.
When Satan casts his shadow athwart your pathway, grasp the precious promises of God, and go through the shadow by living faith, and you will find only light, mercy, goodness, and truth. When the enemy tells you that you are a sinner, tell him that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Come to the foot of the cross with your burden, and roll it off into the open sepulcher. Our Lord is precious, but we lose sight of his willingness to help and save us, when we dwell in the darkness of unbelief. Lift up the Man of Calvary. There is enough to talk about without talking of the power of the evil one. We have found the field that contains the treasure which is of inestimable value. When God gave his Son he gave us all Heaven in that one gift. Why should we cherish darkness and doubt, and those things that bring despondency and discouragement into our lives?
Why not bring the joy and light and peace of Heaven into our hearts? The religion of Christ never degrades the receiver. The truth of God is the mighty cleaver that has separated us from the world, and now we have been brought into God’s workshop to be hewed and squared and polished for the heavenly building. We are to be living stones in the temple of God. We are not to be dull and lifeless stones; but we are to reflect the rays of light that fall from Heaven, so that men may see that the truth has done something for us that the knowledge and wisdom of this world could not do.
Has the reception of the truth made you more cheerful? Have the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness shone upon your heart in vain? Those who are meeting the conditions on which the promises are based, should be the happiest people in the world, for they have all Heaven at their command. We may have Heaven below. God will put a new song into our hearts, even praise to his name. The enemy may stand ready to cast his shadow upon you, but will you talk of his power, his darkness?
Christians that carry a gloomy countenance are misrepresenting their Lord. They represent the Christian life as one of toil and hardship. They go mourning and groaning as if it were uphill work. Is the gate of Heaven shut? Have they no Father in Heaven? You might think from their attitude that Jesus was in Joseph’s new tomb, and a great stone rolled against the door. But Jesus is risen. He has ascended on high, and has led captivity captive, and has given gifts unto men. He has made manifest what he will do. He will break the fetters of the tomb, and bring forth his people from the land of their captivity. We dwell too near to the lowlands of earth. Let us raise our eyes to the open doors of the heavenly sanctuary, where the light of the glory of God shines in the face of Jesus Christ, who “is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.” [Hebrews 7:25.] Why not talk of the plan of salvation? Why not dig in the mines of truth for the treasures of wisdom, that you may appreciate the promises of God? Why not dwell in the love of Christ, and talk of the plan of redemption? We should study how to overcome appetite, ambition, and the love of the world. Is there not enough for us to do that we have to give so much time to matters of small importance?
When Christ left the world, he committed his work to his followers. He came to represent the character of God to the world, and we are left to represent Christ to the world. We are not to go on in the path of darkness, stumbling on the dark mountains of unbelief. There is a way cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, and this is where we may walk securely every day. Do not grasp the thistles, gather the roses, the lilies, and the pinks. If we are to understand the rich treasures of God’s word, we must separate our souls from all iniquity, that we may not come under its denunciations. As loyal soldiers we are to march under the banner of Prince Immanuel. We are to study the Bible, that we may know how to meet the assaults of the enemy. When Christ was tempted, how did he overcome?—He met the tempter with, “It is written.” He used the words of God, declaring, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” [Matthew 4:4.] This is the way that we are to overcome. We must search the Scriptures, and appropriate the promises of God to our souls.
The Signs of the Times, April 15, 1889.
Ellen G. White (1827–1915) wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. Today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world’s attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ’s second advent.