Steps to Christ
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 2: The Sinner's Need of Christ
It is not enough to perceive the loving-kindness of God or to discern the wisdom and justice of His law of love. To all, there is but one answer, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
Review and Herald Publ. Assoc.
Man was originally endowed with noble powers
and a well-balanced mind. He was perfect
in his being, and in harmony with God. His
thoughts were pure, his aims holy. But through
disobedience, his powers were perverted, and selfishness
took the place of love. His nature became so weakened
through transgression that it was impossible for him,
in his own strength, to resist the power of evil. He was
made captive by Satan, and would have remained so
forever had not God specially interposed. It was the
tempter's purpose to thwart the divine plan in man's
creation, and fill the earth with woe and desolation.
And he would point to all this evil as the result of God's
work in creating man.
In his sinless state, man held joyful communion
with Him "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom
and knowledge." Colossians 2:3. But after his sin, he
could no longer find joy in holiness, and he sought to
hide from the presence of God. Such is still the condition
of the unrenewed heart. It is not in harmony with
God, and finds no joy in communion with Him. The
sinner could not be happy in God's presence; he would
shrink from the companionship of holy beings. Could
he be permitted to enter heaven, it would have no joy
for him. The spirit of unselfish love that reigns there
—every heart responding to the heart of Infinite Love
—would touch no answering chord in his soul. His
thoughts, his interests, his motives, would be alien to [p. 18] those that actuate the sinless dwellers there. He would
be a discordant note in the melody of heaven. Heaven
would be to him a place of torture; he would long to
be hidden from Him who is its light, and the center
of its joy. It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God
that excludes the wicked from heaven; they are shut
out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The
glory of God would be to them a consuming fire.
They would welcome destruction, that they might
be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem
It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from
the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are
evil, and we cannot change them. "Who can bring a
clean thing out of an unclean? not one." "The carnal
mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the
law of God, neither indeed can be." Job 14:4; Romans
8:7. Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human
effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are
powerless. They may produce an outward correctness
of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they
cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a
power working from within, a new life from above,
before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That
power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the
lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to
The Saviour said, "Except a man be born from
above," unless he shall receive a new heart, new desires,
purposes, and motives, leading to a new life, "he cannot
see the kingdom of God." John 3:3, margin. The idea
that it is necessary only to develop the good that [p. 19] exists in man by nature, is a fatal deception. "The
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of
God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can
he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
"Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born
again." 1 Corinthians 2:14; John 3:7. Of Christ it is
written, "In Him was life; and the life was the light of
men"—the only "name under heaven given among
men, whereby we must be saved." John 1:4; Acts 4:12.
It is not enough to perceive the loving-kindness of
God, to see the benevolence, the fatherly tenderness,
of His character. It is not enough to discern the
wisdom and justice of His law, to see that it is founded
upon the eternal principle of love. Paul the apostle
saw all this when he exclaimed, "I consent unto the
law that it is good." "The law is holy, and the
commandment holy, and just, and good." But he added,
in the bitterness of his soul-anguish and despair, "I
am carnal, sold under sin." Romans 7:16, 12, 14. He
longed for the purity, the righteousness, to which in
himself he was powerless to attain, and cried out, "O
wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from
this body of death?" Romans 7:24, margin. Such is the
cry that has gone up from burdened hearts in all lands
and in all ages. To all, there is but one answer,
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of
the world." John 1:29.
Many are the figures by which the Spirit of God
has sought to illustrate this truth, and make it plain to
souls that long to be freed from the burden of guilt.
When, after his sin in deceiving Esau, Jacob fled from
his father's home, he was weighed down with a sense [p. 20] of guilt. Lonely and outcast as he was, separated
from all that had made life dear, the one thought
that above all others pressed upon his soul, was the
fear that his sin had cut him off from God, that he
was forsaken of Heaven. In sadness he lay down to
rest on the bare earth, around him only the lonely
hills, and above, the heavens bright with stars. As he
slept, a strange light broke upon his vision; and lo,
from the plain on which he lay, vast shadowy stairs
seemed to lead upward to the very gates of heaven,
and upon them angels of God were passing up and
down; while from the glory above, the divine voice
was heard in a message of comfort and hope. Thus
was made known to Jacob that which met the need
and longing of his soul—a Saviour. With joy and
gratitude he saw revealed a way by which he, a sinner,
could be restored to communion with God. The
mystic ladder of his dream represented Jesus, the only
medium of communication between God and man.
This is the same figure to which Christ referred
in His conversation with Nathanael, when He said,
"Ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God
ascending and descending upon the Son of man."
John 1:51. In the apostasy, man alienated himself
from God; earth was cut off from heaven. Across the
gulf that lay between, there could be no communion.
But through Christ, earth is again linked with heaven.
With His own merits, Christ has bridged the gulf
which sin had made, so that the ministering angels
can hold communion with man. Christ connects fallen
man in his weakness and helplessness with the Source
of infinite power. [p. 21]
But in vain are men's dreams of progress, in vain
all efforts for the uplifting of humanity, if they
neglect the one Source of hope and help for the fallen
race. "Every good gift and every perfect gift" (James
1:17) is from God. There is no true excellence of
character apart from Him. And the only way to God
is Christ. He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the
life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."
The heart of God yearns over His earthly children
with a love stronger than death. In giving up His
Son, He has poured out to us all heaven in one gift.
The Saviour's life and death and intercession, the
ministry of angels, the pleading of the Spirit, the
Father working above and through all, the unceasing
interest of heavenly beings,—all are enlisted in
behalf of man's redemption.
Oh, let us contemplate the amazing sacrifice that
has been made for us! Let us try to appreciate the
labor and energy that Heaven is expending to reclaim
the lost, and bring them back to the Father's house.
Motives stronger, and agencies more powerful, could
never be brought into operation; the exceeding
rewards for right-doing, the enjoyment of heaven, the
society of the angels, the communion and love of
God and His Son, the elevation and extension of all
our powers throughout eternal ages—are these not
mighty incentives and encouragements to urge us
to give the heart's loving service to our Creator and
And, on the other hand, the judgments of God
pronounced against sin, the inevitable retribution, the [p. 22] degradation of our character, and the final destruction,
are presented in God's word to warn us against
the service of Satan.
Shall we not regard the mercy of God? What
more could He do? Let us place ourselves in right
relation to Him who has loved us with amazing love.
Let us avail ourselves of the means provided for us
that we may be transformed into His likeness, and be
restored to fellowship with the ministering angels, to
harmony and communion with the Father and the Son.
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