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Christ, the Way of Life

July 5th, 2012 by Oleg Kostyuk

A few weeks ago I was giving a tour to a few of my friends at the Ellen G. White estate in Silver Spring, MD. As some of you probably know Ellen White was a co-founder of Seventh-Day Adventist church. While giving a tour, two pictures caught my attention. They are The Way of Life: From Paradise Lost to Paradise Restored and Christ, the Way of Life.

There is a very interesting story behind them.

Take a look at the first picture: The Way of Life.

From Paradise Lost to Paradise Restored

This picture was created in 1876 by James White, husband of Ellen White, who was another co-founder of the church. It shows the plan of salvation from the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem.  As you look at this picture, what image is the largest? As you probably noted, the picture is dominated by the law tree with ten branches, one for each of the ten commandments. Jesus on the cross is also present but he is under the tree. The message of this picture seems to be that “the way of life” is dominated by the law.

Just a few years after the picture was published Ellen White realized that the preaching only of the law was turning the church strongly towards legalism. She even tried to get her husband to change the emphasis of the church. After James White died in 1882, Ellen White published a revised picture in 1883.

Take a look at this second picture: Christ, the Way of Life. 

What is the dominant theme of this picture? The tree of the commandments is gone. The law is still present and mount Sinai is its symbol, but Jesus is the central motif of this picture! The law is still important, but it is not the dominant theme. Legalism can lead us to wrong thinking; meaning, we can become concerned only with our performance, which will inevitably lead us to hypocrisy (see previous post here). The purpose of Christianity is to do the will of God. What is the dominant motif of your life?

Feel free to share your thoughts and your comments.

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