Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 7: Like Unto Leaven
Based on Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:20, 21
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Many educated and influential men had come to hear
the Prophet of Galilee. Some of these looked with
curious interest upon the multitude that had gathered about
Christ as He taught by the sea. In this great throng all
classes of society were represented. There were the poor,
the illiterate, the ragged beggar, the robber with the seal
of guilt upon his face, the maimed, the dissipated, the
merchant and the man of leisure, high and low, rich and
poor, all crowding upon one another for a place to stand
and hear the words of Christ. As these cultured men
gazed upon the strange assembly, they asked themselves,
Is the kingdom of God composed of such material as this?
Again the Saviour replied by a parable:
|Hidden Leaven.—Davis Collection.|
"The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a
woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the
whole was leavened."
Among the Jews leaven was sometimes used as an
emblem of sin. At the time of the Passover the people [p. 96] were directed to remove all the leaven from their houses as
they were to put away sin from their hearts. Christ warned
His disciples, "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees,
which is hypocrisy." Luke 12:1. And the apostle Paul
speaks of the "leaven of malice and wickedness." I Cor.
5:8. But in the Saviour's parable, leaven is used to
represent the kingdom of heaven. It illustrates the
quickening, assimilating power of the grace of God.
None are so vile, none have fallen so low, as to be
beyond the working of this power. In all who will submit
themselves to the Holy Spirit a new principle of life is to
be implanted; the lost image of God is to be restored in
But man cannot transform himself by the exercise of
his will. He possesses no power by which this change
can be effected. The leaven—something wholly from
without—must be put into the meal before the desired change
can be wrought in it. So the grace of God must be
received by the sinner before he can be fitted for the kingdom
of glory. All the culture and education which the
world can give will fail of making a degraded child of
sin a child of heaven. The renewing energy must come
from God. The change can be made only by the Holy [p. 97] Spirit. All who would be saved, high or low, rich or
poor, must submit to the working of this power.
As the leaven, when mingled with the meal, works from
within outward, so it is by the renewing of the heart
that the grace of God works to transform the life. No
mere external change is sufficient to bring us into
harmony with God. There are many who try to reform by
correcting this or that bad habit, and they hope in this way
to become Christians, but they are beginning in the wrong
place. Our first work is with the heart.
A profession of faith and the possession of truth in
the soul are two different things. The mere knowledge
of truth is not enough. We may possess this, but the
tenor of our thoughts may not be changed. The heart
must be converted and sanctified.
The man who attempts to keep the commandments of
God from a sense of obligation merely—because he is
required to do so—will never enter into the joy of
obedience. He does not obey. When the requirements of God
are accounted a burden because they cut across human
inclination, we may know that the life is not a Christian
life. True obedience is the outworking of a principle
within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the
love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness [p. 98] is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right
because it is right—because right doing is pleasing to God.
The great truth of the conversion of the heart by the
Holy Spirit is presented in Christ's words to Nicodemus:
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born
from above, he can not see the kingdom of God. . . .
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is
born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto
thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it
listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not
tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth. So is every
one that is born of the Spirit." John 3:3-8, margin.
The apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, says,
"God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith
He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened
us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together
in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come
He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His
kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace
are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it
is the gift of God." Eph. 2:4-8.
The leaven hidden in the flour works invisibly to bring
the whole mass under its leavening process; so the leaven
of truth works secretly, silently, steadily, to transform the
soul. The natural inclinations are softened and subdued.
New thoughts, new feelings, new motives, are implanted. [p. 99] A new standard of character is set up—the life of Christ.
The mind is changed; the faculties are roused to action in
new lines. Man is not endowed with new faculties, but
the faculties he has are sanctified. The conscience is
awakened. We are endowed with traits of character that
enable us to do service for God.
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