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2 Corinthians 5:14

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For the love of Christ constraineth us - We have the love of God shed abroad in our hearts, and this causes us to love God intensely, and to love and labor for the salvation of men. And it is the effect produced by this love which συνεχει ἡμας, bears us away with itself, which causes us to love after the similitude of that love by which we are influenced; and as God so loved the world as to give his Son for it, and as Christ so loved the world as to pour out his life for it, so we, influenced by the very same love, desire to spend and be spent for the glory of God, and the salvation of immortal souls. By the fear of God the apostles endeavored to persuade and convince men, and the love of Christ constrained them so to act.

If one died for all, then were all dead - The first position the apostle takes for granted; viz. that Jesus Christ died for All mankind. This no apostolic man nor primitive Christian ever did doubt or could doubt.

The second position he infers from the first, and justly too; for if all had not been guilty, and consigned to eternal death because of their sins there could have been no need of his death. Therefore, as he most certainly died for All, then all were dead, and needed his sacrifice, and the quickening power of his Spirit.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For the love of Christ - In this verse, Paul brings into view the principle which actuated him; the reason of his extraordinary and disinterested zeal. That was, that he was influenced by the love which Christ had shown in dying for all people, and by the argument which was furnished by that death respecting the actual character and condition of man (in this verse); and of the obligation of those who professed to be his true friends 2 Corinthians 5:15. The phrase “the love of Christ” ( ἀγάπη τοῦ Χριστοῦ agapē tou Christou) may denote either the love which Christ bears toward us, and which he has manifested, or our love toward him. In the former sense the phrase “the love of God” is used in Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 13:13, and the phrase “love of Christ” in Ephesians 3:14. The phrase is used in the latter sense in John 15:9-10, and Romans 8:35. It is impossible to determine the sense with certainty, and it is only by the view which shall be taken of the connection and of the argument which will in any way determine the meaning. Expositors differ in regard to it. It seems to me that the phrase here means the love which Christ had toward us. Paul speaks of his dying for all as the reason why he was urged on to the course of self-denial which he evinced. Christ died for all. All were dead. Christ evinced his great love for us, and for all, by giving himself to die; and it was this love which Christ had shown that impelled Paul to his own acts of love and self-denial. He gave himself to his great work impelled by that love which Christ had shown; by the view of the ruined condition of man which that work furnished; and by a desire to emulate the Redeemer, and to possess the same spirit which he evinced.

Constraineth us - ( συνέχει sunechei). This word ( συνέχω sunechō) properly means, to hold together, to press together, to shut up; then to press on, urge, impel, or excite. Here it means, that the impelling, or exciting motive in the labors and self-denials of Paul, was the love of Christ - the love which he had showed to the children of men. Christ so loved the world as to give himself for it. His love for the world was a demonstration that people were dead in sins. And we, being urged by the same love, are prompted to like acts of zeal and self-denial to save the world from ruin.

Because we thus judge - Greek “We judging this;” that is, we thus determine in our own minds, or we thus decide; or this is our firm conviction and belief - we come to this conclusion.

That if one died for all - On the supposition that one died for all; or taking it for granted that one died for all, then it follows that all were dead. The “one” who died for all here is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus. The word “for” ( ὑπὲρ huper) means in the place of, instead of; see Philemon 2:13 and 2 Corinthians 5:20. It means that Christ took the place of sinners, and died in their stead; that he endured what was an ample equivalent for all the punishment which would be inflicted if they were to suffer the just penalty of the Law; that he endured so much suffering, and that God by his great substituted sorrows made such an expression of his hatred of sin, as to answer the same end in expressing his sense of the evil of sin, and in restraining others from transgression, as if the guilty were personally to suffer the full penalty of the Law. If this was done, of course, the guilty might be par doned and saved, since all the ends which could be accomplished by their destruction have been accomplished by the substituted sufferings of the Lord Jesus; see the notes on Romans 3:25-26, where this subject is considered at length.

The phrase “for all,” ( ὑπὲρ πάντων huper pantōn) obviously means for all mankind; for every man. This is an exceedingly important expression in regard to the extent of the atonement which the Lord Jesus made, and while it proves that his death was vicarious, that is, in the place of others, and for their sakes, it demonstrates also that the atonement was general, and had, in itself considered, no limitation, and no particular reference to any class or condition of people; and no particular applicability to one class more than to another. There was nothing in the nature of the atonement that limited it to anyone class or condition; there was nothing in the design that made it, in itself, anymore applicable to one portion of mankind than to another. And whatever may be true in regard to the fact as to its actual applicability, or in regard to the purpose of God to apply it, it is demonstrated by this passage that his death had an original applicability to all, and that the merits of that death were sufficient to save all. The argument in favor of the general atonement, from this passage, consists in the following points:

(1) That Paul assumes this as a matter that was well known, indisputable, and universally admitted, that Christ died for all. He did not deem it necessary to enter into the argument to prove it, nor even to state it formally. It was so well known, and so universally admitted, that he made it a first principle - an elementary position - a maxim on which to base another important doctrine - to wit, that all were dead. It was a point which he assumed that no one would call in question; a doctrine which might be laid down as the basis of an argument, like one of the first principles or maxims in science.

(2) it is the plain and obvious meaning of the expression - the sense which strikes all people, unless they have some theory to support to the contrary; and it requires all the ingenuity which people can ever command to make it appear even plausible, that this is consistent with the doctrine of a limited atonement; much more to make it out that it does not mean all. If a man is told that all the human family must die, the obvious interpretation is, that it applies to every individual. If told that all the passengers on board a steamboat were drowned, the obvious interpretation is, that every individual was meant. If told that a ship was wrecked, and that all the crew perished, the obvious interpretation would be that none escaped. If told that all the inmates of an hospital were sick, it would be understood that there was not an individual that was not sick. Such is the view which would be taken by 999 persons out of 1,000, if told that Christ died for all; nor could they conceive how this could be consistent with the statement that he died only for the elect, and that the elect was only a small part of the human family.

(3) this interpretation is in accordance with all the explicit declarations on the design of the death of the Redeemer. Hebrews 2:9, “that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man;” compare John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 1 Timothy 2:6, “who gave himself a ransom for all.” See Matthew 20:28,” The Son of man came to give his life a ransom for many.” 1 John 2:2,” and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

(4) the fact also that on the ground of the atonement made by the Redeemer, salvation is offered to all people by God, is a proof that he died for all. The apostles were directed to go “into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature,” with the assurance that “he that believeth and is baptized shall he saved;” Mark 16:15-16; and everywhere in the Bible the most full and free offers of salvation are made to all mankind; compare Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37; Revelation 22:17. These offers are made on the ground that the Lord Jesus died for people; John 3:16. They are offers of salvation through the gospel, of the pardon of sin, and of eternal life to be made “to every creature.” But if Christ died only for a part, if there is a large portion of the human family for whom he died in no sense whatever; if there is no provision of any kind made for them, then God must know this, and then the offers cannot be made with sincerity, and God is tantalizing them with the offers of that which does not exist, and which he knows does not exist. It is of no use here to say that the preacher does not know who the elect are, and that he is obliged to make the offer to all in order that the elect may be reached. For it is not the preacher only who offers the gospel. It is God who does it, and he knows who the elect are, and yet he offers salvation to all. And if there is no salvation provided for all, and no possibility that all to whom the offer comes should be saved, then God is insincere; and there is no way possible of vindicating his character.

(5) if this interpretation is not correct, and if Christ did not die for all, then the argument of Paul here is a non sequitur, and is worthless. The demonstration that all are dead, according to him is, that Christ died for all. But suppose that he meant, or that he knew, that Christ died only for a part, for the elect, then how would the argument stand, and what would be its force? “Christ died only for a portion of the human race, therefore all are sinners. Medicine is provided only for a part of mankind, therefore all are sick. Pardon is offered to part only, therefore all are guilty.” But Paul never reasoned in this way. He believed that Christ died for all mankind, and on the ground of that he inferred at once that all needed such an atonement; that all were sinners, and that all were exposed to the wrath of God. And the argument is in this way, and in this way only, sound. But still it may be asked, What is the force of this argument? How does the fact that Christ died for all, prove that all were sinners, or dead in sin? I answer:

(a) In the same way that to provide medicine for all, proves that all are sick, or liable to be sick; and to offer pardon to all who are in a prison, proves that all there are guilty. What insult is it to offer medicine to a man in health; or pardon to a man who has violated no law! And there would be the same insult in offering salvation to a man who was not a sinner, and who did not need forgiveness.

(b) The dignity of the sufferer, and the extent of his sufferings, prove that all were under a deep and dreadful load of guilt. Such a being would not have come to die unless the race had been apostate; nor would he have endured so great sorrows unless a deep and dreadful malady had spread over the world. The deep anxiety; the tears; the toils; the sufferings, and the groans of the Redeemer, show what was his sense of the condition of man, and prove that he regarded them as degraded, fallen, and lost. And if the Son of God, who knows all hearts, regarded them as lost, they are lost. He was not mistaken in regard to the character of man, and he did not lay down his life under the influence of delusion and error. If to the view which has been taken of this important passage it be objected that the work of the atonement must have been to a large extent in vain; that it has actually been applied to but comparatively a small portion of the human family, and that it is unreasonable to suppose that God would suffer so great sorrows to be endured for nothing, we may reply:

(1) That it may not have been in vain, though it may have been rejected by a large portion of mankind. There may have been other purposes accomplished by it besides the direct salvation of people. It was doing much when it rendered it consistent for God to offer salvation to all; it is much that God could be seen to be just and yet pardoning the sinner; it was much when his determined hatred of sin, and His purpose to honor His Law, was evinced; and in regard to the benevolence and justice of God to other beings and to other worlds, much, very much was gained, though all the human race had rejected the plan and been lost, and in regard to all these objects, the plan was not in vain, and the sufferings of the Redeemer were not for nothing. But,

(2) It is in accordance with what we see everywhere, when much that God does seems to our eyes, though not to his, to be in vain. How much rain falls on ever sterile sands or on barren rocks, to our eyes in vain! What floods of light are poured each day on barren wastes, or untraversed oceans, to our eyes in vain! How many flowers shed forth their fragrance in the wilderness, and ‹waste their sweetness on the desert air,” to us apparently for nothing! How many pearls lie useless in the ocean; how much gold and silver in the earth; how many diamonds amidst rocks to us unknown, and apparently in vain! How many lofty trees rear their heads in the untraversed wilderness, and after standing for centuries fall on the earth and decay, to our eyes in vain! And how much medicinal virtue is created by God each year in the vegetable world that is unknown to man, and that decays and is lost without removing any disease, and that seems to be created in vain! And how long has it been before the most valuable medicines have been found out, and applied to alleviating pain, or removing disease! Year after year, and age after age, they existed in a suffering world, and people died perhaps within a few yards of the medicine which would have relieved or saved them, but it was unknown, or if known disregarded. But times were coming when their value would he appreciated, and when they would be applied to benefit the sufferer. So with the plan of salvation. It may be rejected, and the sufferings of the Redeemer may seem to have been for nothing. But they will yet be of value to mankind; and when the time shall come for the whole world to embrace the Saviour, there will be found no lack of sufficiency in the plan of redemption, and in the merits of the Redeemer to save all the race.

(A measure of truth is, doubtless, involved in this controversy concerning the universality of atonement; and the discussion of the subject in America, and more recently in this country, cannot fail ultimately to produce the most beneficial results. Yet we must express our conviction, that the seeming difference of opinion among evangelical people, has arisen from mutual misunderstanding, and that misunderstanding from the use of ambiguous phraseology. One says, Christ died for all people. No, says another, for the elect only. The dispute goes on and on, until at last the discovery is made, that while the same words were used by the disputants, each attached his own meaning to them. This ambiguity is painfully felt in the treatise of a distinguished writer, who has recently appeared on the limited side of the question. He does not explain, until he has advanced very far in the discussion, what sense be attaches to the common phraseology of “Christ dying for all men.”

He tells us afterward, however, that he understands it in the highest sense of securing salvation for them; when we are convinced, that much of the argument might have been spared, or at all events better directed, than against a position which few or none maintain. The author is himself sensible of this. “The question,” says he, “might, perhaps, have been settled at the outset by a careful definition of terms; but I have purposely deferred doing so, judging, that it might be done with better effect as the discussion proceeded. In speaking of the Saviour‘s dying for people, or dying for sinners, I have used the expression in what I conceive to be the strict and proper meaning, namely, as signifying his dying with an intention to save them. This, however, is not the only meaning the expression will bear, For all people, for sinners in general, the Saviour died. He died in their nature, he died in their stead, he died doing honor to the Law which they had violated; in other words, he died removing every legal obstruction that lay in the way of their obtaining life.”

The Death of Christ the Redemption of his People, p. 70. Now, it is only in this last sense, that any rational advocate of general aspect in the atonement will maintain that Christ died for all people. Nor could he desire better language in which to express his views, than that which is furnished in the above quotation. That the atonement has certain general aspects is now nearly admitted on all hands. “General it must be in some sense,” says the author already quoted, “if in some sense it be applicable to all, and that this is the case the foregoing statement undeniably proves,” p. 68. The general aspect of the atonement is argued, from those well-known passages in which it is declared to have a reference to people, all people, the world, and the whole world. The reader will find some of these passages quoted above in the commentary. Of this universal phraseology various explanations have been given.

Some have supplied the qualifying adjective “elect” in these places, where the design of atonement is said to embrace the “world.” Modern writers of the highest name, however, and on both sides of the question, have vied with each other in their indignant repudiation of any such expletive. “I have felt myself,” says Dr. Wardlaw, “far from satisfied with a common way of interpreting some of those texts which express the extent of the atonement in universal terms by means of a convenient supplement. According to this method of explanation, the world is, in such occurrences of it, made to signify the ‹elect world,‘ the word ‹elect‘ being inserted as a supplement, conceived to be necessary for the consistency of scripture. An ‹elect world‘ indeed, has become a phrase in common use with a particular class of commentators and divines; being employed with as much matter of course freedom, as if it had actually had the sanction of ordinary usage in the sacred volume; but it is not to be found there.”

And subjoins Dr. Marshall, writing on the limited side of the question, “It certainly is not to be found there, and with every word of this well-deserved censure I cordially agree.” Here then is one principle of interpretation fairly exploded, and few nowadays will have the hardihood to espouse it. Again, the phraseology has been explained of the world of Jews and Gentiles indiscriminately, Gentiles as well as Jews; and those who adopt this view tell us, that the Jewish system was narrow and exclusive, embracing only one people, the progeny of Abraham; that it was the design of God, in the fullness of time, to enlarge his church and to receive within her ample arms people of all nations, Jew and Gentile, Barbarian and Scythian, bond and free; that the death of Christ was at once the fulfillment and abrogation of the typical system with all its special and exclusive rites; that by it the middle wall of partition between the Jew and the rest of the world was thrown down; that, therefore, it was natural to represent it as having a reference to all people and to the world, even when absolute universality was not and could not be intended. Such a vast enlargement of the scale on which spiritual blessings were now to be conferred, in consequence of the death of Christ, could not well have been expressed, it is alleged, in any other or in less universal terms. See this view of the subject well exhibited in Hill‘s System, vol. ii., John 3:16-17, “that the ‹world‘ means Jews and Gentiles, still if it is not any definite number of Jews and Gentiles, it is Jews and Gentiles as together composing the world of mankind.”

That the atonement, indeed, has a certain benign aspect toward all people, appears from its very nature. The exact equivalent view, as it has been not inappropriately termed, is now nearly abandoned. Rarely do we find any one affirming, that Christ endured exactly what the elect would have suffered and deserved, and that, therefore, there can be sufficiency in his death for that favored number and for none besides. What then is the light in which the atonement of Christ ought to be viewed? We think the only rational and scriptural account of it, is that which regards it as a great remedial scheme, which rendered it consistent with the divine honor and all the interests of the divine administration, to extend mercy to guilty people at large, and which would have been equally requisite, had there been an intention to save one only, or a million; numbers indeed not forming any part of the question. Here then is something done, which removes legal obstructions and thereby opens the way to heaven for all. And if any do not enter in, their inability is moral, and lies not in any insufficiency of the divine provision. This view, however, seems to furnish a just foundation for the universality of gospel invitations, while it fastens the guilt of rejecting gospel provision on the sinner himself.

Thus far we feel disposed to agree with our author in his commentary, or rather dissertation on the verse and the subject it involves. We maintain, however, that the atonement has a special as well as a general aspect; that while it is gloriously true that it looks to all people, it has at the same time a special regard to some. We object, therefore, to the statement, “that the atonement in itself considered had no limitation and no particular reference to any class or condition of people, and no particular applicability to one class more than to another.” This is similar to certain rash assertions that have recently been current in our own country; as that “while the atonement opens the door of mercy to all, it secures salvation to none;” that “Christ died as much for those who perish, as for those who are saved.” We cannot envy that reputation for acuteness which may be gained by the free use of such language.

Is it not God‘s design to save his people? Is not the atonement the means by which he does so, the means by which the purpose of electing love is fulfilled? And yet has that atonement no special reference to the elect? Further, if it be the means of saving them, does it not secure their salvation? Certainly, among people, if any effectual means were devised to accomplish a particular end, that end would be said to be secured by such means. The writer is aware of the ingenious evasion, that it is God‘s gracious purpose to apply the atonement, and not the atonement itself, that connects it with the elect, and secures their salvation. We are told, moreover, that we should look on the atonement by itself, and consider it in a philosophical way. The purpose to apply is an after arrangement. But first, a purpose to apply the atonement to a special class, differs in nothing from an original design to save such class by it, for that purpose must have been present to the mind of God in determining on atonement. To say that God saves a certain number by the atonement, and that yet in making it he had no special design in their favor, however it may recommend itself to philosophical refinement, will always be rejected by the common sense of mankind. Second. If we must consider the atonement apart from any special purpose connected with it, why not divest it also of any general purpose, that we may look on it steadily per se, and in this way reduce it to a mere abstraction, about which nothing could be either affirmed or denied?

The advocates of universal atonement, or some of the more forward among them, have recently carried out their views so far, as to deny that God in providing the atonement, or Christ in making it, had any special love to the elect. An eminent writer on that side, however, to whom reference has already been made, while he goes the length of denying special design, maintains the existence of special love, and administers a reproof to those of his own party, who go to this extreme. This is indeed an important concession, for special love is not very different from special design, nor is it easy to see how, in the mind of God, the one could subsist with out the other. “The love of the Father is the same thing as election. Election is nothing but the love of the Father formed into a purpose” - Marshall. Or the point may be put in this way. Had God in providing the atonement special love to the elect? Where is the proof of it? Doubtless in that very provision. But if God in making it had no design to save them by it, the proof is not only weakened but destroyed. Special love, therefore, necessarily involves special design.

To do away with anything like speciality of design, much has been said on the order of the divine decrees, especially as to whether the decree of atonement, or that of election, be first in order of nature. If that of atonement be first, it is asserted speciality is out of the question, as that is secured only by election, which is a posterior arrangement. On this subject it is more easy to darken counsel by words without knowledge, than to speak intelligibly. It may be fairly questioned, if those who have written most on it, fully understand themselves. Nor can we help lamenting, that so great a part of the controversy should have been made to turn on this point, which has hitherto eluded the grasp of the most profound, and drawn the controvertists into regions of thought, too high for the boldest flights of human intellect. After all that can be said on the subject, it must be allowed that the whole arrangement connected with the salvation of man, existed simultaneously in the mind of God, nor will anyone rise much wiser from inquiries into which was first and which last.

The truth on the whole subject, then, seems to be, that while the atonement has a general reference toward all, it has at the same time a special reference to the elect of God, or as it is well expressed in a recent synodical decision, “The Saviour in making the atonement bore special covenant relation to the elect; had a special love to them, and infallibly secured their everlasting salvation, while his obedience unto death, afforded such a satisfaction to the justice of God, as that on the ground of it, in consistency with his character and law, the door of mercy is open to all people, and a full and free salvation is presented for their acceptance.” The special aspect, indeed, ought no more to be denied than the general. It rests on a large number of what may be called special texts; as, “Christ also loved the Church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it,” etc. “For the transgression of my people was he stricken.” “I lay down my life for the sheep,” Ephesians 5:25; Isaiah 53:8; John 10:15.

Nor will it do to say of this numerous class of passages, that they find a sufficient explanation in the purpose of application, which is connected with the remedy for sin, since most of them are of a kind that connect the salvation of the elect directly with the atonement itself, and not with any after design of applying it. This idea seems but an ingenious shift to sustain a favorite theory. How direct, for example, is this connection in the following passage: “who loved me and gave himself for me.” No one who had not a theory to support, would ever think of introducing an after design of application to explain this. Indeed, as an able reviewer in one of our periodicals observes of the scheme that excludes a special design, “it separates too much the atonement from the salvation of man. It does not connect those that are saved, those that are regenerated by divine grace, at all specially with the sacrifice of Christ.” Another important branch of evidence on this point, lies in the special relation which Christ in dying sustained toward his people, as that of shepherd, husband, surety, etc., and which cannot be explained on any other principle than that of special design.

If the question were put, how we preserve our consistency, in thus maintaining both the general and special view, we reply, first, that if both views are found in scripture, it matters not whether we can explain the consistency between them or no. But second, it is not so difficult as some would imagine, to conceive of God appointing a remedy with a general aspect toward the race, but specially intended to secure the salvation of his chosen people.)

Then were all dead - All dead in sin; that is, all were sinners. The fact that he died for all proves that all were transgressors. The word “dead” is not unfrequently used in the scriptures to denote the condition of sinners; see Ephesians 2:1. It means not that sinners are in all senses, and in all respects like a lifeless corpse, for they are not. They are still moral agents, and have a conscience. and are capable of thinking, and speaking, and acting. It does not mean that they have no more power than one in the grave, for they have more power. But it means that there is a striking similarity, in some respects, between one who is dead and a sinner. That similarity does not extend to everything, but in many respects it is very striking.

(1) the sinner is as insensible to the glories of the heavenly world, and the appeals of the gospel, as a corpse is to what is going on around or above it. The body that lies in the grave is insensible to the voice of friendship, and the charms of music, and the hum of business, and the plans of gain and ambition; and so the sinner is insensible to all the glories of the heavenly world, and to all the appeals that are made to him, and to all the warnings of God. He lives as though there were no heaven and no hell; no God and no Saviour.

(2) there is need of the same divine power to convert a sinner which is needful to raise up the dead. The same cause does not exist, making the existence of that power necessary, but it is a fact that a sinner will no more be converted by his own power than a dead man will rise from the grave by his own power. No man ever yet was converted without direct divine agency, anymore than Lazarus was raised without divine agency. And there is no more just or melancholy description which can be given of man, than to say that he is dead in sins. He is insensible to all the appeals that God makes to him; he is insensible to all the sufferings of the Saviour, and to all the glories of heaven; he lives as though these did not exist, or as though he had no concern in them; his eyes see no more beauty in them than the sightless eyeballs of the dead do in the material world; his ear is as inattentive to the calls of God and the gospel as the ear of the dead is to the voice of friendship or the charms of melody; and in a world that is full of God, and that might be full of hope, he is living without God and without hope.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The apostle quickens himself and others to acts of duty. Well-grounded hopes of heaven will not encourage sloth and sinful security. Let all consider the judgment to come, which is called, The terror of the Lord. Knowing what terrible vengeance the Lord would execute upon the workers of iniquity, the apostle and his brethren used every argument and persuasion, to lead men to believe in the Lord Jesus, and to act as his disciples. Their zeal and diligence were for the glory of God and the good of the church. Christ's love to us will have a like effect upon us, if duly considered and rightly judged. All were lost and undone, dead and ruined, slaves to sin, having no power to deliver themselves, and must have remained thus miserable for ever, if Christ had not died. We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions. A Christian's life should be devoted to Christ. Alas, how many show the worthlessness of their professed faith and love, by living to themselves and to the world!
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 396

Some will pronounce this one of the rigorous laws binding upon the Hebrews. But this was not a burden to the willing heart that loved God. It was only when their selfish natures were strengthened by withholding that men lost sight of eternal considerations and valued their earthly treasures above souls. There are even more urgent necessities upon the Israel of God in these last days than were upon ancient Israel. There is a great and important work to be accomplished in a very short time. God never designed that the law of the tithing system should be of no account among His people; but, instead of this, He designed that the spirit of sacrifice should widen and deepen for the closing work. 3T 396.1

Systematic benevolence should not be made systematic compulsion. It is freewill offerings that are acceptable to God. True Christian benevolence springs from the principle of grateful love. Love to Christ cannot exist without corresponding love to those whom He came into the world to redeem. Love to Christ must be the ruling principle of the being, controlling all the emotions and directing all the energies. Redeeming love should awaken all the tender affection and self-sacrificing devotion that can possibly exist in the heart of man. When this is the case, no heart-stirring appeals will be needed to break through their selfishness and awaken their dormant sympathies, to call forth benevolent offerings for the precious cause of truth. 3T 396.2

Jesus has purchased us at an infinite sacrifice. All our capabilities and our influence are indeed our Saviour's, and should be dedicated to His service. By doing this we show our gratitude that we have been ransomed from the slavery of sin by the precious blood of Christ. Our Saviour is ever working for us. He has ascended on high and pleads in behalf of the purchase of His blood. He pleads before His Father the agonies of the crucifixion. He raises His wounded hands and intercedes for His church, that they may be kept from falling under temptation. 3T 396.3

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, 188

*****

Vital godliness is a principle to be cultivated. The power of God can accomplish for us that which all the systems in the world cannot effect. The perfection of Christian character depends wholly upon the grace and strength found alone in God. Without the power of grace upon the heart, assisting our efforts and sanctifying our labors, we shall fail of saving our own souls and of saving the souls of others. System and order are highly essential, but none should receive the impression that these will do the work without the grace and power of God operating upon the mind and heart. Heart and flesh would fail in the round of ceremonies, and in the carrying out of our plans, without the power of God to inspire and give courage to perform. 3T 188.1

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1100-1

Yet Paul comes as near to expressing it as he can, that the imagination may grasp the reality as far as is possible to finite minds. It was a weight of glory, a fullness of God, knowledge that was measureless. It was an eternal weight of glory. And yet Paul feels that his language is tame. It falls short of expressing the reality. He reaches out for words more expressive. The boldest figures of speech would fall far short of the truth. He seeks the broadest terms which human language can supply, that the imagination may grasp in some degree the superlative excellency of the glory to be given the final overcomer. 6BC 1100.1

Holiness, dignity, honor, and felicity in the presence of God are things now unseen except by the eye of faith. But the things which are seen, worldly honor, worldly pleasure, riches, and glory, are eclipsed by the excellency, the beauty, and resplendent glory of the things now unseen. The things of this world are temporal, enduring only for a time, while the things which are not seen are eternal, enduring through endless ages. To secure this infinite treasure is to gain everything and lose nothing (Manuscript 58, 1900). 6BC 1100.2

18 (Colossians 3:2; Hebrews 11:27; see EGW on 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18). Seeing Him Who Is Invisible—Our minds take the level of the things on which our thoughts dwell, and if we think upon earthly things, we shall fail to take the impress of that which is heavenly. We would be greatly benefited by contemplating the mercy, goodness, and love of God; but we sustain great loss by dwelling upon those things which are earthly and temporal. We allow sorrow and care and perplexity to attract our minds to earth, and we magnify a molehill into a mountain.... 6BC 1100.3

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Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 500

Many become inefficient by evading responsibilities for fear of failure. Thus they fail of gaining that education which results from experience, and which reading and study and all the advantages otherwise gained cannot give them. MH 500.1

Man can shape circumstances, but circumstances should not be allowed to shape the man. We should seize upon circumstances as instruments by which to work. We are to master them, but should not permit them to master us. MH 500.2

Men of power are those who have been opposed, baffled, and thwarted. By calling their energies into action, the obstacles they meet prove to them positive blessings. They gain self-reliance. Conflict and perplexity call for the exercise of trust in God and for that firmness which develops power. MH 500.3

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