Our Sacred Trust
Do people see Christ when they look at His followers?
By Ellen G. White
To be a Christian means to be Christlike, to follow the Saviour. Following implies obedience. No soldier can follow his leader unless he obeys orders. Following means imitation. “Learn of Me,” the great Teacher says to those who have taken the name of Christian. Keep your eyes fixed on the Model. Do all things for His glory and in and thru the love He has for you.
The Christian is the world’s light, and the only Bible that many read. Through Christians men see God. How careful, then, should those be who have taken the name of Christian. But many professing Christians crucify the Son of God afresh and put Him to open shame. He who fails to correct the mistakes shown him in the divine mirror, presents before the world a miserable representation of Christ. Angels veil their faces in sorrow. The world sees that he is not what he professes to be, and they turn from him as a counterfeit. Christians are either under Christ’s rule or under the control of the enemy. Their influence is either a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. They are either doing positive good or incalculable harm.
Living as Overcomers
Christ’s children have been redeemed from Satan’s bondage, and they are to stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel, working with unselfishness and fidelity for the One who owns them. Ever they are to remember the words, “Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” When they took the name of Christian, they pledged themselves to be true to God. They are bound up with Him and the angels in family relation, because Jesus has delivered them from a tyrant’s oppression. In every respect their actions are to be such as become saints. Discarding all that is unbecoming, they are to live a new and holy life. By doing this they show that they are worthy of the sacred trust conferred upon them, that they have been born again, not of the flesh, but of the Spirit, that they no more live to self, but to God, whose they are and whom they serve.
Paul says, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Like brave, true soldiers, Christians are to obey the orders of their Captain; for they have made a sacred pledge to rule themselves well. They are to strive earnestly to overcome everything that hinders them from fulfilling their high and holy resolve. Mind and body are to be treated with the greatest respect; for they are Christ’s. Day by day they are to be improved, that to the earnest gaze of the watching angels it may be revealed that Christ has not died in vain.
A Higher Calling
Christians, when you took this name, you promised to prepare in this life for the higher life in the kingdom of God. Take the Christlife as your pattern. Keep eternity ever in view. Follow righteous principles of action, which with their refining, ennobling influence will restore in man the moral image of God. As by faith we adopt the principles which are an expression of the life of Christ, they are in the soul as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. The soul overflows with the riches of the grace of Christ, and the overflow refreshes other souls. Thus may the human agent show that he is keeping the pledge he has made. Thus he may work in partnership with Christ, showing to the world what it means to be a Christian.
The gospel is the voice of duty and the voice of God. What is meant by a failure to obey its principles is shown in the history of Satan, who for his disobedience was cast out of heaven. The highest gifts that could be bestowed in a created being were given to Lucifer, the covering cherub. Before his fall he was a glorious being, occupying a position next to Christ in the heavenly courts. But in seeking to be equal with God he brought upon himself irretrievable ruin.
With this lesson before us let us hide ourselves in Christ. He is the source of all wisdom and power. Behold in the cross of Calvary the guarantee for our salvation. Behold the Saviour giving His life for us that we might be Christians.
Living as He Lived
Those who live the life of a Christian are battling against the devil’s lie—that man cannot keep God’s law. Can we doubt the result of this conflict? God lives, God reigns; and daily He is working His miracles. “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.” Before the universe they show that they are trying to live out the words: “Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,…think on these things.”
“Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance”—these are the fruit of the Christian tree. The tree that bears only leaves, the life that has only profession, must be withered by the curse of God, even as the fruitless tree which flaunted its abundant foliage before the Saviour.
God help us to be true Christians, consistent today, consistent tomorrow, upright in action, kindly in word, pure in thought. The true Christian lives the Christ-life. In all his transactions he lifts the banner of the cross. If he is misunderstood, he takes no offense, but pursues the even tenor of his way. He is kind, thoughtful, and forbearing. He closely examines himself, lest in word or deed he shall deny his Lord. He chooses God’s way. Each day of his life he unselfishly ministers to others. The light that is in him shines forth, and he stills the strife of tongues. Day by day, though unconsciously to himself, he is working out before men and angels a vast, sublime experiment. He is showing what the gospel can do for fallen human beings.
This article first appeared in the Signs of the Times, July 10, 1901. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry.