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Acts 5:31

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Him hath God exalted with his right hand - By a supereminent display of his almighty power, for so the right hand of God often means; he has raised him from the dead, and raised his human nature to the throne of his glory. Instead of δεξιᾳ, the right hand, the Codex Bezae has δοξῃ, to glory.

A Prince - The leader or director in the way. See the notes on Acts 3:15, Acts 3:19.

And a Savior - Σωτηρα, A deliverer or preserver. The word σωτηρ comes from σωω to save, deliver, preserve, escape from death or danger, bring into a state of security or safety. Jesus and Saviour are nearly of the same import. See the note on John 1:17. He alone delivers from sin, death, and hell: by him alone we escape from the snares and dangers to which we are exposed: and it is by and in him, and in connection with him, that we are preserved blameless and harmless, and made the sons of God without rebuke. He alone can save the soul from sin, and preserve it in that state of salvation.

To give repentance - See this explained, Matthew 3:2; (note).

Forgiveness of sins - Αφεσιν των ἁμαρτιων, The taking away of sins. This is not to be restrained to the mere act of justification; it implies the removal of sin, whether its power, guilt, or impurity be considered. Through Jesus we have the destruction of the power, the pardon of the guilt, and the cleansing from the pollution, of sin. And was Jesus Christ exalted a Prince and a Savior to give repentance and remission of sins to Israel? Then none need despair. If such as were now before the apostles could be saved, then the salvation of the very worst of transgressors, of any or all on this side perdition, is gloriously possible. Yes, for he tasted death for every man; and he prayed for his murderers, compared to some of whom Judas himself was a saint.

The two words in Italics, in this text, to be, are impertinently introduced; it reads much better without them.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Him hath God exalted - See the notes on Acts 2:33.

To be a Prince - ἀρχηγὸν archēgonSee the notes on Acts 3:15. In that place he is called the “Prince of life.” Here it means that he is actually in the “exercise” of the office of a prince or a king, at the right hand of his Father. The title “Prince,” or “King,” was one which was well known as applied to the Messiah. It denotes that he has “dominion” and “power,” especially the power which is needful to give repentance and the pardon of sins.

A Saviour - See the notes on Matthew 1:21.

To give repentance - The word “repentance” here is equivalent to “reformation” and “a change of life.” The sentiment does not differ from what is said in Acts 3:26.

To Israel - This word properly denotes the “Jews”; but his office was not to be confined to the Jews. Other passages show that it would be also extended to the “Gentiles.” The reasons why the “Jews” are particularly specified here are, probably:

(1)Because the Messiah was long promised to the Jewish people, and his first work was there; and,

(2)Because Peter was addressing Jews, and was particularly desirous of leading “them” to repentance.

Forgiveness of sins - Pardon of sin; the act which can be performed by God only, Mark 2:7.

If it be asked in what sense the Lord Jesus “gives repentance,” or how his “exaltation” is connected with it, we may answer:

(1) His exaltation is evidence that his work was accepted, and that thus a foundation is laid by which repentance is available, and may be connected with pardon. Unless there was some way of “forgiveness,” sorrow for sin would be of no value, even if exercised. The relentings of a culprit condemned for murder will be of no avail unless the executive can “consistently” pardon him; nor would relentings in hell be of avail, for there is no promise of forgiveness. But Jesus Christ by his death has laid a foundation by which repentance “may be” accepted.

(2) he is entrusted with all power in heaven and earth with “reference” to this, to apply his work to people; or, in other words, to bring them to repentance. See John 17:2; Matthew 28:18.

(3) his exaltation is immediately connected with the bestowment of the Holy Spirit, by whose influence people are brought to repentance, John 16:7-11. The Spirit is represented as being “sent” by him as well as by the Father, John 15:26; John 16:7.

(4) Jesus has power in this state of exaltation over all things that can affect the mind. He sends his ministers; he directs the events of sickness or disappointment, of health or prosperity, that will influence the heart. There is no doubt that he can so recall the sins of the past life, and refresh the memory, as to overwhelm the soul in the consciousness of guilt. Thus also he can appeal to man by his “goodness,” and by a sense of his mercies; and especially he can so present a view of “his own” life and death as to affect the heart, and show the evil of the past life of the sinner. Knowing the heart, he knows all the avenues by which it can be approached, and in an instant he can overwhelm the soul with the remembrance of crime.

It was “proper” that the power of pardon should be lodged with the same being that has the power of producing repentance, because:

1.The one appropriately follows the other.

2.They are parts of the same great work - the work which the Saviour came to do; “to remove sin, with all its effects, from the human soul.” This power of “pardon” Jesus exercised when he was on the earth, and this he can now dispense in the heavens, Mark 2:9-11.

And from this we may learn:

(1) That Christ is “divine.” It is a dictate of natural religion that none can forgive sins against God but God himself. None can pardon but the Being who has been offended. And this is also the dictate of the Bible. The power of “pardoning” sin is one that God claims as “his” prerogative, and it is clear that it can pertain to no other. See Isaiah 43:25; Daniel 9:9; Psalm 130:4. Yet Jesus Christ exercised this power when on earth; gave “evidence” that the exercise of that power was one that was acceptable to God by working a miracle, and removing the “consequences” of sin with which God had visited upon the sinner Matthew 9:6, and exercises it still in heaven. He must, therefore, be divine.

(2) the sinner is dependent on him for the exercise of repentance, and for forgiveness.

(3) the proud sinner must be humbled at his feet. He must be willing to come and receive eternal life at “his” hands. No step is more humiliating than this for proud and hardened people; and there is none which they are more reluctant to do. We always shrink from coming into the presence of one whom we have offended; we are extremely reluctant to confess a fault; but it “must be done,” or the soul must be lost for ever.

(4) Christ has power to pardon the greatest offender. He is exalted for this purpose; and he is suited to his work. Even his murderers he could pardon; and no sinner need fear that he who is “a Prince and a Saviour at the right hand of God” is unable to pardon his sins. To him we may come with confidence; and when pressed with the consciousness of the blackest crimes, and when we feel that we deserve eternal death, we may confidently roll all on his arm.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Many will do an evil thing with daring, yet cannot bear to hear of it afterward, or to have it charged upon them. We cannot expect to be redeemed and healed by Christ, unless we give up ourselves to be ruled by him. Faith takes the Saviour in all his offices, who came, not to save us in our sins, but to save us from our sins. Had Christ been exalted to give dominion to Israel, the chief priests would have welcomed him. But repentance and remission of sins are blessings they neither valued nor saw their need of; therefore they, by no means, admitted his doctrine. Wherever repentance is wrought, remission is granted without fail. None are freed from the guilt and punishment of sin, but those who are freed from the power and dominion of sin; who are turned from it, and turned against it. Christ gives repentance, by his Spirit working with the word, to awaken the conscience, to work sorrow for sin, and an effectual change in the heart and life. The giving of the Holy Ghost, is plain evidence that it is the will of God that Christ should be obeyed. And He will surely destroy those who will not have Him to reign over them.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 77-86

It was the cross, that instrument of shame and torture, which brought hope and salvation to the world. The disciples were but humble men, without wealth, and with no weapon but the word of God; yet in Christ's strength they went forth to tell the wonderful story of the manger and the cross, and to triumph over all opposition. Without earthly honor or recognition, they were heroes of faith. From their lips came words of divine eloquence that shook the world. AA 77.1

In Jerusalem, where the deepest prejudice existed, and where the most confused ideas prevailed in regard to Him who had been crucified as a malefactor, the disciples continued to speak with boldness the words of life, setting before the Jews the work and mission of Christ, His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Priests and rulers heard with amazement the clear, bold testimony of the apostles. The power of the risen Saviour had indeed fallen on the disciples, and their work was accompanied by signs and miracles that daily increased the number of believers. Along the streets where the disciples were to pass, the people laid their sick “on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” Here also were brought those vexed with unclean spirits. The crowds gathered round them, and those who were healed shouted the praises of God and glorified the name of the Redeemer. AA 77.2

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Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 254-8

The apostles continued their work of mercy, in healing the afflicted and in proclaiming a crucified and risen Saviour, with great power. Numbers were continually added to the church by baptism, but none dared join them who were not united heart and mind with the believers in Christ. Multitudes flocked to Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those who were vexed by unclean spirits. Many sufferers were laid in the streets as Peter and John passed by, that their shadows might fall upon and heal them. The power of the risen Saviour had indeed fallen upon the apostles, and they worked signs and miracles that daily increased the number of believers. SR 254.1

These things greatly perplexed the priests and rulers, especially those among them who were Sadducees. They saw that if the apostles were allowed to preach a resurrected Saviour, and to do miracles in His name, their doctrine that there was no resurrection of the dead would be rejected by all, and their sect would soon become extinct. The Pharisees saw that the tendency of their preaching would be to undermine the Jewish ceremonies and make the sacrificial offerings of none effect. Their former efforts to suppress these preachers had been in vain, but they now felt determined to put down the excitement. SR 254.2

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Ellen G. White
Early Writings, 194-6

The people were astonished at the boldness of Peter and John and took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus; for their noble, fearless conduct was like that of Jesus when before His enemies. Jesus, by one look of pity and sorrow, reproved Peter when he had denied Him, and now as he boldly acknowledged his Lord, Peter was approved and blessed. As a token of the approbation of Jesus, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. EW 194.1

The priests dared not manifest the hatred which they felt toward the disciples. They commanded them to go aside out of the council, and then conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.” They were afraid to have the report of this good deed spread among the people. Should it become generally known, the priests felt that their own power would be lost, and they would be looked upon as the murderers of Jesus. Yet all that they dared to do was to threaten the apostles and command them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, lest they die. But Peter declared boldly that they could but speak the things which they had seen and heard. EW 194.2

By the power of Jesus the disciples continued to heal the afflicted and the sick who were brought to them. Hundreds enlisted daily under the banner of a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour. The priests and elders, and those particularly engaged with them, were alarmed. Again they put the apostles in prison, hoping that the excitement would subside. Satan and his angels exulted; but the angels of God opened the prison doors, and, contrary to the command of the high priests and elders, bade the apostles, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” EW 194.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 72

“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood upon us.” (See Matthew 23:34, 35.) “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.” TM 72.1

Then the Holy Spirit moved upon Gamaliel, a Pharisee, “a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people.” His advise was, “Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed.” TM 72.2

Yet the attributes of Satan so controlled their minds that, notwithstanding the wonderful miracles that had been wrought in healing the sick and in releasing God's servants from prison, the priests and rulers were so filled with prejudice and hatred that they could hardly be restrained. “When they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” TM 72.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 268-9

But Peter was converted, and then after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ when before the rulers, he boldly declared for Jesus, and charged the rulers with these words: “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life.” There Peter shows himself entirely a different man after his conversion than the self-confident, boasting Peter prior to his conversion. I presented before them the voice of the world, the enemies of Christ, saying to Christ's messengers, “Ye should not teach in this name” and “bring this Man's blood upon us.” Did this threatening succeed? did it make cowards of the witnesses of Christ? No; they proclaimed the message given them of God; and they were shut up in prison, and God sent His angel to release them. The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors and brought them forth, and said, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” This voice from the heavenly angels was directly opposite to that voice from the authorities, and which should they obey? “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.” Then Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, pleaded in behalf of the apostles, and his words prevailed. Well, this is a little part of the words the Lord gave me to speak to the people. TM 268.1

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 120

Then the glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the uttermost bounds of the inhabited world. The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions. Believers were reconverted. Sinners united with Christians in seeking the pearl of great price. The prophecy was fulfilled, The weak shall be “as David,” and the house of David “as the angel of the Lord.” Zechariah 12:8. Every Christian saw in his brother the divine similitude of benevolence and love. One interest prevailed. One object swallowed up all others. All hearts beat in harmony. The only ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ's character, and to labor for the enlargement of His kingdom. “The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.... With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:32, 33. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:47. The Spirit of Christ animated the whole congregation; for they had found the pearl of great price. COL 120.1

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Ellen G. White
Christ's Object Lessons, 264

The rich man had spent his life in self-pleasing, and too late he saw that he had made no provision for eternity. He realized his folly, and thought of his brothers, who would go on as he had gone, living to please themselves. Then he made the request, “I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him [Lazarus] to my father's house; for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” But “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.” COL 264.1

When the rich man solicited additional evidence for his brothers, he was plainly told that should this evidence be given, they would not be persuaded. His request cast a reflection on God. It was as if the rich man had said, If you had more thoroughly warned me, I should not now be here. Abraham in his answer to this request is represented as saying, Your brothers have been sufficiently warned. Light has been given them, but they would not see; truth has been presented to them, but they would not hear. COL 264.2

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 175

Those who had been bitten by the serpents might have delayed to look. They might have questioned how there could be efficacy in that brazen symbol. They might have demanded a scientific explanation. But no explanation was given. They must accept the word of God to them through Moses. To refuse to look was to perish. DA 175.1

Not through controversy and discussion is the soul enlightened. We must look and live. Nicodemus received the lesson, and carried it with him. He searched the Scriptures in a new way, not for the discussion of a theory, but in order to receive life for the soul. He began to see the kingdom of heaven as he submitted himself to the leading of the Holy Spirit. DA 175.2

There are thousands today who need to learn the same truth that was taught to Nicodemus by the uplifted serpent. They depend on their obedience to the law of God to commend them to His favor. When they are bidden to look to Jesus, and believe that He saves them solely through His grace, they exclaim, “How can these things be?” DA 175.3

Like Nicodemus, we must be willing to enter into life in the same way as the chief of sinners. Than Christ, “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12. Through faith we receive the grace of God; but faith is not our Saviour. It earns nothing. It is the hand by which we lay hold upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And we cannot even repent without the aid of the Spirit of God. The Scripture says of Christ, “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31. Repentance comes from Christ as truly as does pardon. DA 175.4

How, then, are we to be saved? “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ. The heart, the mind, are created anew in the image of Him who works in us to subdue all things to Himself. Then the law of God is written in the mind and heart, and we can say with Christ, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God.” Psalm 40:8. DA 175.5

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Ellen G. White
The Faith I Live By, 110.1

Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:31. FLB 110.1

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Ellen G. White
God's Amazing Grace, 138

Repentance is one of the first fruits of saving grace. Our great Teacher, in His lessons to erring, fallen man, presents the life-giving power of His grace, declaring that through this grace men and women may live the new life of holiness and purity. He who lives this life works out the principles of the kingdom of heaven. Taught of God, he leads others in straight paths. He will not lead the lame into paths of uncertainty. The working of the Holy Spirit in his life shows that he is a partaker of the divine nature. Every soul thus worked by the Spirit of Christ receives so abundant a supply of the rich grace that, beholding his good works, the unbelieving world acknowledges that he is controlled and sustained by divine power, and is led to glorify God.... AG 138.2

Read and study the thirty-fourth chapter of Ezekiel. In it we are given most precious encouragement. “I will save my flock, and they shall be no more a prey,” the Lord declares. “... And I will make with them a covenant of peace....” AG 138.3

The most striking feature of this covenant of peace is the exceeding richness of the pardoning mercy expressed to the sinner if he repents and turns from his sin. The Holy Spirit describes the gospel as salvation through the tender mercies of our God. “I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,” the Lord declares of those who repent, “and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). Does God turn from justice in showing mercy to the sinner? No; God cannot dishonor His law by suffering it to be transgressed with impunity. Under the new covenant, perfect obedience is the condition of life. If the sinner repents and confesses his sins, he will find pardon. By Christ's sacrifice in his behalf, forgiveness is secured for him. Christ has satisfied the demands of the law for every repentant, believing sinner.... AG 138.4

The atonement that has been made for us by Christ is wholly and abundantly satisfactory to the Father. God can be just, and yet the justifier of those who believe. AG 138.5

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 284.5

The confederacy of evil will be stirred with power from beneath, and Satan will cast all the reproach possible upon the chosen ones whom he cannot deceive and delude with his satanic inventions and falsehoods. But exalted “to be a Prince and a Saviour, ...” (Acts 5:31), will Christ, our representative and head, close His heart, or withdraw His hand, or falsify His promise? No; never, never. HP 284.5

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 324

Christ came to reveal to the sinner the justice and love of God, that He might give repentance to Israel and remission of sins. When the sinner beholds Jesus lifted up upon the cross, suffering the guilt of the transgressor, bearing the penalty of sin; when he beholds God's abhorrence of evil in the fearful manifestation of the death of the cross, and His love for fallen man, he is led to repentance toward God because of his transgression of the law which is holy, and just, and good. He exercises faith in Christ, because the divine Saviour has become his substitute, his surety, and advocate, the one in whom his very life is centered. To the repenting sinner God can show His mercy and truth, and bestow upon him His forgiveness and love. 1SM 324.1

But Satan will not permit a soul to escape from the captivity of sin if by any means he can prevent it. Though all heaven has been poured out in one rich gift—for when God gave His Son, He gave the choicest gift of heaven, and the treasures of heaven are at our command—yet to the repenting soul the enemy will seek to represent God as stern and inexorable, unwilling to pardon the transgressor. At different times letters have come to me from persons who were in despair over their sins. One and another have written: “I fear I am past all help. Is there any hope for me?” To these poor souls the message has been given: “Hope in God. The Father has bread enough and to spare. Arise, and go to your Father. He will meet you a great way off. He will give you His love and compassion.” 1SM 324.2

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 391

When before the high priests and Sadducees, Peter clearly presented the fact that repentance is the gift of God. Speaking of Christ, he said, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Repentance is no less the gift of God than are pardon and justification, and it cannot be experienced except as it is given to the soul by Christ. If we are drawn to Christ, it is through His power and virtue. The grace of contrition comes through Him, and from Him comes justification. 1SM 391.1

Paul writes: “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:6-10). 1SM 391.2

The faith that is unto salvation is not a casual faith, it is not the mere consent of the intellect, it is belief rooted in the heart, that embraces Christ as a personal Saviour, assured that He can save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. To believe that He will save others, but will not save you is not genuine faith; but when the soul lays hold upon Christ as the only hope of salvation, then genuine faith is manifested. This faith leads its possessor to place all the affections of the soul upon Christ; his understanding is under the control of the Holy Spirit, and his character is molded after the divine likeness. His faith is not a dead faith, but a faith that works by love, and leads him to behold the beauty of Christ, and to become assimilated to the divine character. [Deuteronomy 30:11-14 quoted.] “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live” (Deuteronomy 30:6). 1SM 391.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1056

Their teaching was a second edition of the teachings of Christ, the utterance of simple, grand truths that flashed light into darkened minds, and converted thousands in a day. The disciples began to understand that Christ was their Advocate in the heavenly courts, and that He was glorified. They could speak because the Holy Spirit gave them utterance (Manuscript 32, 1900). 6BC 1056.1

17, 18. See EGW on Joel 2:28, 29. 6BC 1056.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1068

20-25 (Psalm 19:1-3; Acts 17:22-29; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:3). Nature's Revelation Imperfect—The most difficult and humiliating lesson that man has to learn is his own inefficiency in depending upon human wisdom, and the sure failure of his own efforts to read nature correctly. Sin has obscured his vision, and of himself he cannot interpret nature without placing it above God. He cannot discern in it God, or Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. He is in the same position as were the Athenians, who erected their altars for the worship of nature. Standing in the midst of Mars’ Hill, Paul presented before the people of Athens the majesty of the living God in contrast with their idolatrous worship. [Acts 17:22-29 quoted.] 6BC 1068.1

Those who have a true knowledge of God will not become so infatuated with the laws of matter or the operations of nature as to overlook, or refuse to acknowledge, the continual working of God in nature. Nature is not God, nor was it ever God. The voice of nature testifies of God, but nature is not God. As His created work, it simply bears a testimony to God's power. Deity is the author of nature. The natural world has, in itself, no power but that which God supplies. 6BC 1068.2

There is a personal God, the Father; there is a personal Christ, the Son. [Hebrews 1:1, 2: Psalm 19:1-3 quoted.] ... 6BC 1068.3

The ancient philosophers prided themselves on their superior knowledge. Let us read the inspired apostle's understanding of the matter. “Professing themselves to be wise,” he says, “they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.... Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator.” In its human wisdom the world cannot know God. Its wise men gather an imperfect knowledge of God from His created works, and then in their foolishness they exalt nature and the laws of nature above nature's God. Those who have not a knowledge of God through an acceptance of the revelation He has made of Himself in Christ, will obtain only an imperfect knowledge of Him in nature; and this knowledge, so far from bringing the whole being into conformity to His will, will make men idolaters. Professing themselves to be wise, they will become fools. 6BC 1068.4

Those who think they can obtain a knowledge of God aside from His Representative, whom the Word declares is “the express image of his person,” will need to become fools in their own estimation before they can be wise. It is impossible to gain a perfect knowledge of God from nature alone; for nature itself is imperfect. In its imperfection it cannot represent God, it cannot reveal the character of God in its moral perfection. But Christ came as a personal Saviour to the world. He represented a personal God. As a personal Saviour, He ascended on high; and He will come again as He ascended to heaven—a personal Saviour. He is the express image of the Father's person. “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (The Review and Herald, November 8, 1898). 6BC 1068.5

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Ellen G. White
Steps to Christ, 26

Just here is a point on which many may err, and hence they fail of receiving the help that Christ desires to give them. 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? SC 26.1

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. Peter made the matter clear in his statement to the Israelites when he said, “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31. We can no more repent without the Spirit of Christ to awaken the conscience than we can be pardoned without Christ. SC 26.2

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. SC 26.3

Jesus has said, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” John 12:32. Christ must be revealed to the sinner as the Saviour dying for the sins of the world; and as we behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary, the mystery of redemption begins to unfold to our minds and the goodness of God leads us to repentance. In dying for sinners, Christ manifested a love that is incomprehensible; and as the sinner beholds this love, it softens the heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition in the soul. SC 26.4

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 20

It was in this period that the articles comprising Testimonies for the Church, 5:9-98, were published, first in a pamphlet entitled Testimony for the Battle Creek Church. This pamphlet included not only that which was later republished in volume 5, but also more personal references dealing with individuals and situations in Battle Creek. One needs but to read the titles to sense the atmosphere of the times. The second chapter, “Our College,” carries subheadings, “The Bible as a Textbook,” “Object of the College,” and “Teachers in the College.” Following chapters are entitled: “Parental Training,” “Important Testimony,” “The Testimonies Slighted,” “Workers in our College,” “Jealousy and Faultfinding Condemned.” TM xx.1

These were difficult days, and as Ellen White went the following year into the 1883 General Conference session at Battle Creek, she was divinely led to give a series of morning addresses to Seventh-day Adventist ministers, presenting practical lines of counsel. Significantly, among these was one devoted to “Christ our Righteousness.” (See Selected Messages 1:350-354.) These historic circumstances form part of the background for the E. G. White counsels found in this volume. TM xx.2

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 109

He who has the spotless robe of righteousness, woven in the loom of heaven, in which is not a thread that sinful humanity can claim, is at the right hand of God, to clothe His believing children in the perfect garment of His righteousness. Those who are saved in the kingdom of God will have nothing of which to boast in themselves; the praise and the glory will all flow back to God.... TMK 109.2

It is not now the work of the sinner to make peace with God, but to accept Christ as his peace and righteousness. Thus man becomes one with Christ and one with God. There is no way by which the heart may be made holy, save through faith in Christ. Yet many think that repentance is a kind of preparation which men must originate themselves before they can come to Christ. They must take steps themselves in order to find Christ a mediator in their behalf. It is true that there must be repentance before there is pardon, but the sinner must come to Christ before he can find repentance. It is the virtue of Christ that strengthens and enlightens the soul, so that repentance may be godly and acceptable.... Repentance is as certainly a gift of Jesus Christ as is forgiveness of sins. Repentance cannot be experienced without Christ, for it is the repentance of which He is the author that is the ground upon which we may apply for pardon. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that men are led to repentance. It is from Christ that the grace of contrition comes, as well as the gift of pardon, and repentance as well as forgiveness of sins is procured only through the atoning blood of Christ. Those whom God pardons He first makes penitent.19 TMK 109.3

When the sinner accepts Christ and lives in Him, Jesus takes his sins and weaknesses and then grafts the repentant soul into Himself, so that he sustains the relation to Christ that the branch does to the vine. We have nothing, we are nothing, unless we receive virtue from Jesus Christ.20 TMK 109.4

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 176.3

Jesus alone is to be exalted. Whatever may be the ability or the success of any one of us, it is not because we have manufactured these powers ourselves; they are the sacred trust given us of God, to be wisely employed in His service to His glory. All is the Lord's entrusted capital. Why, then, should we be lifted up? Why should we call attention to our own defective selves? What we do possess in talent and wisdom is received from the Source of wisdom, that we may glorify God.... TMK 176.3

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