Steps to Christ
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 1: God's Love for Man
The lovely birds with their happy songs and the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy.
Review and Herald Publ. Assoc.
Nature and revelation alike testify of God's
love. Our Father in heaven is the source of
life, of wisdom, and of joy. Look at the wonderful
and beautiful things of nature. Think of their
marvelous adaptation to the needs and happiness, not
only of man, but of all living creatures. The sunshine
and the rain, that gladden and refresh the earth, the
hills and seas and plains, all speak to us of the
Creator's love. It is God who supplies the daily needs
of all His creatures. In the beautiful words of the
"The eyes of all wait upon Thee;
And Thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest Thine hand,
And satisfiest the desire of every living thing."
Psalm 145:15, 16.
God made man perfectly holy and happy; and the
fair earth, as it came from the Creator's hand, bore
no blight of decay or shadow of the curse. It is
transgression of God's law—the law of love—that has
brought woe and death. Yet even amid the suffering
that results from sin, God's love is revealed. It is
written that God cursed the ground for man's sake.
Genesis 3:17. The thorn and the thistle—the difficulties
and trials that make his life one of toil and
care—were appointed for his good as a part of the
training needful in God's plan for his uplifting from
the ruin and degradation that sin has wrought. The [p. 10] world, though fallen, is not all sorrow and misery. In
nature itself are messages of hope and comfort. There
are flowers upon the thistles, and the thorns are
covered with roses.
"God is love" is written upon every opening bud,
upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds
making the air vocal with their happy songs, the
delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming
the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich
foliage of living green—all testify to the tender,
fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make
His children happy.
The word of God reveals His character. He
Himself has declared His infinite love and pity. When
Moses prayed, "Show me Thy glory," the Lord answered,
"I will make all My goodness pass before
thee." Exodus 33:18, 19. This is His glory. The Lord
passed before Moses, and proclaimed, "The Lord, The
Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and
abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for
thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and
sin." Exodus 34:6, 7. He is "slow to anger, and of
great kindness," "because He delighteth in mercy."
Jonah 4:2; Micah 7:18.
God has bound our hearts to Him by unnumbered
tokens in heaven and in earth. Through the things
of nature, and the deepest and tenderest earthly ties
that human hearts can know, He has sought to reveal
Himself to us. Yet these but imperfectly represent
His love. Though all these evidences have been given,
the enemy of good blinded the minds of men, so that
they looked upon God with fear; they thought of [p. 11] Him as severe and unforgiving. Satan led men to
conceive of God as a being whose chief attribute is
stern justice,—one who is a severe judge, a harsh,
exacting creditor. He pictured the Creator as a being
who is watching with jealous eye to discern the errors
and mistakes of men, that He may visit judgments
upon them. It was to remove this dark shadow, by
revealing to the world the infinite love of God, that
Jesus came to live among men.
The Son of God came from heaven to make manifest
the Father. "No man hath seen God at any time;
the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the
Father, He hath declared Him." John 1:18. "Neither
knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to
whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." Matthew 11:27.
When one of the disciples made the request, "Show
us the Father," Jesus answered, "Have I been so long
time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip?
He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how
sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" John 14:8, 9.
In describing His earthly mission, Jesus said, The
Lord "hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the
poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to
preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of
sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are
bruised." Luke 4:18. This was His work. He went
about doing good and healing all that were oppressed
by Satan. There were whole villages where there
was not a moan of sickness in any house, for He had
passed through them and healed all their sick. His
work gave evidence of His divine anointing. Love,
mercy, and compassion were revealed in every act of [p. 12] His life; His heart went out in tender sympathy to
the children of men. He took man's nature, that He
might reach man's wants. The poorest and humblest
were not afraid to approach Him. Even little children
were attracted to Him. They loved to climb
upon His knees and gaze into the pensive face,
benignant with love.
Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He
uttered it always in love. He exercised the greatest
tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse
with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly
spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a
sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness.
He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced
hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in
His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. He
wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, which
refused to receive Him, the way, the truth, and the life.
They had rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded
them with pitying tenderness. His life was one of
self-denial and thoughtful care for others. Every
soul was precious in His eyes. While He ever bore
Himself with divine dignity, He bowed with the
tenderest regard to every member of the family of God.
In all men He saw fallen souls whom it was His
mission to save.
Such is the character of Christ as revealed in His
life. This is the character of God. It is from the
Father's heart that the streams of divine compassion,
manifest in Christ, flow out to the children of men.
Jesus, the tender, pitying Saviour, was God "manifest
in the flesh." 1 Timothy 3:16. [p. 13]
It was to redeem us that Jesus lived and suffered
and died. He became "a Man of Sorrows," that we
might be made partakers of everlasting joy. God
permitted His beloved Son, full of grace and truth, to
come from a world of indescribable glory, to a world
marred and blighted with sin, darkened with the
shadow of death and the curse. He permitted Him
to leave the bosom of His love, the adoration of the
angels, to suffer shame, insult, humiliation, hatred,
and death. "The chastisement of our peace was upon
Him; and with His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5.
Behold Him in the wilderness, in Gethsemane, upon
the cross! The spotless Son of God took upon Himself
the burden of sin. He who had been one with God,
felt in His soul the awful separation that sin makes
between God and man. This wrung from His lips the
anguished cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou
forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46. It was the burden of sin,
the sense of its terrible enormity, of its separation of
the soul from God—it was this that broke the heart
of the Son of God.
But this great sacrifice was not made in order to
create in the Father's heart a love for man, not to
make Him willing to save. No, no! "God so loved the
world, that He gave His only-begotten Son." John
3:16. The Father loves us, not because of the great
propitiation, but He provided the propitiation because
He loves us. Christ was the medium through which
He could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen
world. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto
Himself." 2 Corinthians 5:19. God suffered with His
Son. In the agony of Gethsemane, the death of [p. 14] Calvary, the heart of Infinite Love paid the price of our
Jesus said, "Therefore doth My Father love Me,
because I lay down My life, that I might take it again."
John 10:17. That is, "My Father has so loved you
that He even loves Me more for giving My life to
redeem you. In becoming your Substitute and Surety,
by surrendering My life, by taking your liabilities,
your transgressions, I am endeared to My Father; for
by My sacrifice, God can be just, and yet the Justifier
of him who believeth in Jesus."
None but the Son of God could accomplish our
redemption; for only He who was in the bosom of
the Father could declare Him. Only He who knew
the height and depth of the love of God could make
it manifest. Nothing less than the infinite sacrifice
made by Christ in behalf of fallen man could express
the Father's love to lost humanity.
"God so loved the world, that He gave His
only-begotten Son." He gave Him not only to live among
men, to bear their sins, and die their sacrifice. He
gave Him to the fallen race. Christ was to identify
Himself with the interests and needs of humanity.
He who was one with God has linked Himself with
the children of men by ties that are never to be
broken. Jesus is "not ashamed to call them brethren"
(Hebrews 2:11); He is our Sacrifice, our Advocate, our
Brother, bearing our human form before the Father's
throne, and through eternal ages one with the race
He has redeemed—the Son of man. And all this that
man might be uplifted from the ruin and degradation
of sin that he might reflect the love of God and share
the joy of holiness. [p. 15]
The price paid for our redemption, the infinite
sacrifice of our heavenly Father in giving His Son to
die for us, should give us exalted conceptions of what
we may become through Christ. As the inspired
apostle John beheld the height, the depth, the breadth
of the Father's love toward the perishing race, he was
filled with adoration and reverence; and, failing to
find suitable language in which to express the greatness
and tenderness of this love, he called upon the
world to behold it. "Behold, what manner of love
the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should
be called the sons of God." 1 John 3:1. What a value
this places upon man! Through transgression the sons
of man become subjects of Satan. Through faith in
the atoning sacrifice of Christ the sons of Adam
may become the sons of God. By assuming human
nature, Christ elevates humanity. Fallen men are
placed where, through connection with Christ, they
may indeed become worthy of the name "sons of
Such love is without a parallel. Children of the
heavenly King! Precious promise! Theme for the
most profound meditation! The matchless love of
God for a world that did not love Him! The thought
has a subduing power upon the soul and brings the
mind into captivity to the will of God. The more we
study the divine character in the light of the cross,
the more we see mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness
blended with equity and justice, and the more clearly
we discern innumerable evidences of a love that is
infinite and a tender pity surpassing a mother's yearning
sympathy for her wayward child.
Click here to read the next chapter:
"The Sinner's Need of Christ"