This book is a simple and powerful affirmation of God’s mercy and beneficence. It offers a reassuring voice, reminding us that, as we humble ourselves at Christ’s door, our trespasses and offenses against God are forgiven and enveloped by divine grace. Written by Ellen G. White, the co-founder and prophetess of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, this is an earnest, compelling and poetic offering, particularly for those who feel themselves to be beyond repair, or too extensively corrupted and defiled to be worthy of an advocate such as Christ. This book is for those who ask; how could one such as I ever be deserving of gentleness or forgiveness?
The book resonates with the very same humility and awe that inform the psalms. The words of psalm 51:17 sprang to mind after reading this: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (KJV). We are reminded by Mrs. White that even as we take responsibility for all wrong action and lament this with a penitent spirit, we make ourselves known to God, and demonstrate thereby that we take an interest in Him. The distance we put between ourselves and our sin is the distance we gain in finding God’s sacred and harbouring embrace. As we grimace at the enormity and grotesqueness of our selfishness, and savour with despondency the bitter return that comes from willfully rejecting Christ, we know that we are utterly and ineluctably in need of rectification through divine grace, through knowledge of Christ, which brings relief and mercy, for, in essence, Christ is mercy. Christ is the mercy we crave.
The message is simple; present yourself to Christ with the willingness to be convicted of all wrongdoing. Agree in your heart to be held accountable for any and all misdeeds and wickedness, as is the invariable demand of God, the searcher of hearts, as you make your presence patent to the Most High. Be prepared to stomach the knowledge of one’s effrontery to God and His creation, and make amends by withdrawing from sin and clinging with all earnestness and determination to the proper and respectful management of one’s behaviour, which unfolds, as always, before the all-seeing vision of the Most High God, the Creator. A broken and contrite heart that endures from day to day, now flooded with sorrow and repentance, now buoyant with joy in Christ; this is the way that pleases God, says E.G. White.
“The sunshine and the rain, that gladden and refresh the earth, the hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of the Creator’s love. It is God who supplies the daily needs of all His creatures.” (p.9)
“God made man perfectly holy and happy; and the fair earth, as it came from the Creator’s hand, bore no blight of decay or shadow of the curse. It is transgression of God’s law -the law of love- that has brought woe and death. Yet even amid the suffering that results from sin, God’s love is revealed.” (p.9)
“In nature itself are messages of hope and comfort. There are flowers upon the thistles, and the thorns are covered with roses. “God is love” is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green – all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy.”(p.10)
“But when the heart yields to the influence of the Spirit of God, the conscience will be quickened, and the sinner will discern something of the depth and sacredness of God’s holy law, the foundation of His government in heaven and on earth. The “Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,”illumines the secret chambers of the soul, and the hidden things of darkness are made manifest. John 1:9. Conviction takes hold upon the mind and heart. The sinner has a sense of the righteousness of Jehovah and feels the terror of appearing, in his own guilt and uncleanness, before the Searcher of hearts. He sees the love of God, the beauty of holiness, the joy of purity; he longs to be cleansed and to be restored to communion with Heaven.”(p.24)
“They think that they cannot come to Christ unless they first repent, and that repentance prepares for the forgiveness of their sins. It is true that repentance does precede the forgiveness of sins; for it is only the broken and contrite heart that will feel the need of a Saviour. But must the sinner wait till he has repented before he can come to Jesus? Is repentance to be made an obstacle between the sinner and the Saviour? The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he can heed the invitation of Christ, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ, that leads to genuine repentance.” (p.26)
“Christ is the source of every right impulse. He is the only one that can implant in the heart enmity against sin. Every desire for truth and purity, every conviction of our own sinfulness, is an evidence that His Spirit is moving upon our hearts.” (p.26)
“Through influences seen and unseen, our Saviour is constantly at work to attract the minds of men from the unsatisfying pleasures of sin to the infinite blessings that may be theirs in Him. To all these souls, who are vainly seeking to drink from the broken cisterns of this world, the divine message is addressed, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17. (p.28)
“…pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give. The poor publican who prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13), regarded himself as a very wicked man, and others looked upon him in the same light; but he felt his need, and with his burden of guilt and shame he came before God, asking for His mercy. His heart was open for the Spirit of God to do its gracious work and set him free from the power of sin.” (p.30)
“Even one wrong trait of character, one sinful desire, persistently cherished, will eventually neutralize all the power of the gospel. Every sinful indulgence strengthens the soul’s aversion to God. The man who manifests an infidel hardihood, or a stolid indifference to divine truth, is but reaping the harvest of that which he has himself sown. In all the Bible there is not a more fearful warning against trifling with evil than the words of the wise man that the sinner “shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” Proverbs 5:22. (p.34)
“Christ is ready to set us free from sin, but He does not force the will; and if by persistent transgression the will itself is wholly bent on evil, and we do not desire to be set free, if we will not accept His grace, what more can He do? We have destroyed ourselves by our determined rejection of His love. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” 2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7, 8. (p.34)
“The examples in God’s word of genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification. Paul did not seek to shield himself; he paints his sin in its darkest hue, not attempting to lessen his guilt. He says, “Many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” Acts 26: 10, 11. He does not hesitate to declare that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15. (p.41)
“There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Said the beloved John, “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. And do not forget the words of Christ, “The Father Himself loveth you.” John 16:27. He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.” (p.64)
Holding aloof from Christ is a damaging act, as the self is in conflict and without anchor; it is thus the universe is kept in conflict. Christ is the keystone that holds the arch of the universe in place. Christ represents our true self, reality at its most elementary. If we refuse to know Christ, we eschew the reality in which we dwell, we reject our very self, and this is true madness. According to the guiding spirit of E.G. White, we do well to: reside in humility and repent of sin, accept Christ and love God (as commandment number one instructs), be honest in facing the ugliness of our sin, and find assurance in the knowledge that, every day, divine hands are knitting together the kingdom of God in us all. Indeed, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance.
Renfield H. Bizarre, 24.06.16