Grace and/or Law

The 1888 Message Combines Grace and Obedience
Is Salvation Justification Alone, or Does it Include Sanctification
Is the Investigative Judgment Against the Gospel?
Righteous and Holy
The 1888 message: Christ Our Righteousness

In 1888 there came to the Seventh-day Adventist Church a very definite awakening message. They called it the "Message of Righteousness by Faith". Righteousness by faith was not foreign to the understanding of Adventists, yet due to their convictions concerning the downtrodden commandments of God, they had taken the message of Christ's righteousness for granted in many of their discourses. Without centralizing their discourses upon Christ and His righteousness, their witness had lost it's power.

This message, concerning Christ and His Righteousness, if accepted would do the cleansing, regenerating work in the church as people received the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. However, during the meetings, and for all the years since, much controversy has erupted over the message. Various books have been written causing the reader to sometimes wonder if the authors are even speaking of the same message. Both "liberal" and "conservative" sides claim the message vindicates their view and understanding, and the "other side" should "finally accept" the message! Why all the contoversy?

The 1888 message was based on the text:

"Here is the patience of the SAINTS, who KEEP GOD'S COMMANDMENTS AND HAVE THE FAITH OF JESUS". Rev. 14;12

It is the dividing of this text and claiming one part is truth apart from the other, that caused the controversies both in 1888 and today.

The enemy of souls has created two DITCHES alongside this truth. Most of the world fall in one or the other of the ditches, for straight is the gate and narrow the path that leads to salvation and few find it. (Matt. 7:7)

In these two ditches flow two distinct streams of Christianity.
Yet, the true follower of Christ cannot be in either ditch, they need to be upon the path of "Christ's Righteousness" living by faith!

Yes, prior to 1888 the SDA church was slipping down into one of those ditches.

Dedicated and sincere pastors and evangelists, noting the fact that the Protestant churches had rejected the perpetuity of the law and the special significance of the seventh-day Sabbath, preached the law and the Sabbath with great power. They were not wrong in sharing this Biblical concept of the perpetuity of the law. They were addressing the wrongness of being in one of the ditches without realizing they were slipping into the opposite ditch.

While transgressors of God's law will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9) one must also recognize that there is no saving power in the law. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight" (Romans 3:20)

In their zeal to teach the importance of the perpetuity of the law, the faith of Jesus had been largely "overlooked and treated in an indifferent, careless manner. It had not occupied the prominent position in which it was revealed to John. Faith in Christ as the sinner's only hope had been largely left out, not only in the discourse given but of the religious experience of very many who claim to believe the third angel's message." 3SM 168

It was the message presented at the 1888 Conference in Minneapolis, that was to pull the Seventh-day Adventist' understanding back up on the narrow path of truth.

It emphasized the mighty power of the uplifted Christ. "This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Savior, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God" (TM 91-92)

The message of 1888 was a message in which God's greatest truths were combined in total harmony and balance. It combined the Divine side of the covenant of salvation without negating the human side. The two key Biblical words in describing this covenant is GRACE and VICTORY, all in Christ.

"This is the testimony that must go throughout the length and breadth of the world. It presents the law and the gospel, binding up the two in a perfect whole" (TM 94)

To emphasize the law and victorious Christian living while neglecting the saving power of the ONLY SAVIOR Whose grace alone will pardon, cleanse and transform a sinner into a "new creature in Christ", and by whose grace we alone can keep His commandments, results in legalism and the loss of the hope of salvation.

On the other hand, to emphasize grace while down-playing God's commandments leads to antinomianism and the "lawlessness" spoken of in the Bible, which does not necessarily mean being without any law-- BUT it does mean working against God's law and transgressing God's commandments! For many "make void the commandments of God while teaching the commandments of men. (See Matt. 15:9) Yet, sin is defined as the transgression of God's law. (See Romans 7;7 1 John 3:4)

Downplaying the commandments also results in a spiritist form of religion, very much akin to a "new age" type of "love and spirit" within, that sets itself in opposition to the authoritative, eternal, commands of God.

In the 1888 message it combined the two in a perfect blend-- GRACE and GOD'S LAW.

It is the taking of one, and pitting it against the other, that causes the continual controversy!

For a sample of the teachings see Waggoner's thoughts on the book of Romans

Yes, the message was Christ focused. It established our utter helplessness without Christ. He is the One Who took our sins, that we might be pardoned. He covers the repentant sinner with His own spotless robe of righteousness.
He is the One Who sends His Spirit to cleanse and mold us into His own divine pattern.
We are TOTALLY dependant upon HIM for salvation, totally underserving of His marvelous grace.
But now people say this message is teaching that obedience to God is not required for salvation. Only believe. But as you see from the discourse above, that while belief and faith in Christ is everything, that faith and belief involves the death to sin-- the giving up of sin, and the total yielding of self to Christ!

The teachings that place "obedience to God" and "accountablity" in the "legalism" bin, fail to truthfully deal with Biblical understanding of justification and sanctification.

First it needs to be pointed out that the Bible never says the gospel is "JUSTIFICATION ALONE" you won't find that phrase in the apostles writings.

Sanctification is part of the gospel message.

Now let's first look at definitions:

Justification: This is God's perfect work for man through the death and ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that declares the person who believes and accepts Christ, as forgiven-- righteous.

Sanctification-- This is where the problems arise-- for modern thinking seems to say that sanctification is man's imperfect work therefore to place justification and sanctification together in the gospel is destroying the gospel.

Sanctification is God's perfect work IN US, through Christ! It is the cleansing of soul.

2 Thess. 2:13 "God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.

John 17:17 "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Eph. 5:26-27 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

1 Thess 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The first verse above: 2 Thess. 2:13, proves that sanctification is truly an essential qualification for salvation.

The whole ministry of Christ is not only for our justification but also for our sanctification.

Acts 10:32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith.

Romans 15:16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

1 Tim 2:21-22 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee therefore youthful lusts: follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.

The word "justify" means to be forgiven, to be pardoned. To be accounted as if one had not sinned.

The word "sanctify means "holy" cleansed and purified. "hagiazo" which comes from the word "hagios" HOLY.

There are those who claim we are sanctified by our works, but no, we are sanctified by God's Spirit which leads us to obedience. Sanctification is BY FAITH-- a faith that works by love unto obedience. Sanctification is not the "legal" cleansing, but the soul cleansing. The renewing of the mind, the transforming of the character, the making of a new creation in which old things are passed away.

Peter 1:22 Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT."

Is The Investigative Judgment of God's people part of the gospel?

Yes, according to Paul--

Romans 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to what he has done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).

"we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; . . . So each of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom 14:10-12)

When will everyone give an account? Paul does not connect a judgement scene of personal examination of each person who ever lived, with his accounts of the second coming. Read (1 Thess 4:13-18; 2 Thess 1:7-10; 1 Cor 15:51-58), and see that they only mention the outcome of Christ’s coming, namely, destruction for the wicked and rising of the righteous to be with the Lord. These descriptions of the Second Advent make no mention of, nor give anytime for a universal judicial process conducted in conjunction with the Second Advent. The Coming of Christ results, not in a judgment process, but by Christ’s executing upon each His sentence-- resurrects/translates believers and destroys unbelievers. Any process of evaluation has already taken place before the Second Coming.

The judgement takes place before the second coming. It takes place before the resurrection. For the pre-advent judgment determines WHICH RESURRECTION a person will rise in. The resurrection of the just unto life, and the resurrection of damnation and second death (Luke 14:14, John 5:29 Rev. 20:6)

And what is this judgment dealing with? It is dealing with wilful continuation in sin and spurning SANCITIFICATION! Hebrews 10:26-30

Matthew 7:17-20 "Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that does not bring forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."

It may be true that the antinomians seem happier, and celebrate salvation with lots of noise and words. This is generally because they believe they are saved without having to "take up" any "cross", (Matt. 16:24 or having to "cast off the sins that so easily besets" (Romans 13:12, Hebrews 12:1) them. But tragically, at the judgment, those who cling to sin and think it doesn't matter, like the legalists who failed to accept the grace and merits of Christ, are found wanting and will be denied eternal life.

Rev. 3.5
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

1 John 5.4-5
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Transitory pleasures will flee away, but the true joy of salvation comes to every heart fully yielded to Christ.

While it is true that the law cannot save, and there is absolutely no way that we can earn our salvation, and that without faith no one will see God, it is equally true that those who "willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth," will not be benefited by the sacrifice of Christ, they have only "a fearful prospect of judgment" to look forward to. (Heb. 10: 26,27)

God will not force the will.
"If ye be willing and obedient" (Isaiah 1:19) Christ will work for us, in us and through us to His glory.
"But if ye refuse and rebel, (Isaiah 1:20) Christ can't work out His plan for and in us, nor fit us for His kingdom.
We are to seek for God's righteousness (Matt. 7:34, Col. 3:1) , strive to enter the narrow way (Luke 13:24) search diligently for God (Heb.11:26)

For "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE" (Heb. 10:30) and that judgement begins at the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17)

God has called every Christian to a holy life.

Ex. 22.31
And ye shall be holy unto me

Eph. 1:4
we should be holy

Eph. 5:26-27
[Christ] might sanctify and cleanse it [the church] with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy

Romans 12.2
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Hebrews 13.20-21
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ

Other texts like ( 1 Cor. 5:11, 6:9 1 Thess. 4:3-7 1 Peter 1:14-16 Rev. 22:11) show that to live a holy life, is to live a life in conformity to the moral precepts of the Bible and in contrast to the sinful ways of the world. It is a life characterized by "putting of your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires and putting on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" Eph. 4:22,24

Let me suggest three steps as to how this is done:

1. Our attitude to sin--

Is our struggle against sin simply, "success oriented" (wanting to look good to our neighbors etc.-- thus the emphases on pleasing your neighbor?) or do we see sin as a action against God?

W.S. Plumer wrote:
We never see sin aright until we see it as against God...All sin is against God in this sense; that it is His law that is broken, His authority that is despised, His government that is set at naught...Pharaoh and Balaam, Saul and Judas each said, "I have sinned"; BUT the returning prodigal said, "I have sinned against heaven and before thee; and David said "Against Thee Thee only have I sinned."

Do we love God, the one who gave so much that we can have our sins wiped clean, who imparts and imputes His righteousness to us? Do we love HIM? If the answer is YES! then walk with Him in obedience.
Our task is to WALK with HIM in obedience.
Don't worry about absolute victory. Just walk with Him day by day in obedience. Follow His commandments.

This is not to say God doesn't want us to have victory, but rather it means victory is the byproduct of walking with Christ in obedience. When we "claim" victory, we usually let go of Christ-- no, just walk with HIM in obedience and He will give you the victories-- all to HIS glory.

2. Understand the true meaning of Faith

Too many think that FAITH, is nothing more than believing Christ died and rose, and that it has no active practical application. In fact, some go so far as to say to resist sin is not "living in FAITH"?

Yet James places things in the true equation.

James 4.7-8)
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts

That faith in Christ is the root of all holiness no well-instructed Christian will ever deny. But see how James wraps the two concepts together to prove His point that "Faith without works is dead".

A. Submit self to God
----B. Resist the devil
A. Draw close to God
---B. Cleanse your life

Yes, Faith takes hold of the reality of God and what He has done, and is doing for us. Without this firm grasp upon God, all the rest just won't work. But FAITH then motivates and empowers one for action. BY FAITH, one takes responsibility for their actions, and lives for Christ in obedience.

3. Take sin seriously

Are we willing to call sin, sin?
No matter if it's socially "acceptable" or not?

As we stand at the foot of the cross, do we realize IT WAS OUR SINS that wounded and pierced His heart? When we confess our sins, do we realize our ONLY hope is for HIM to have taken those sins upon HIMSELF, and suffered the consequences of OUR SINS.

As we stand at the foot of cross do we see HIS GREAT LOVE for us, that He would do that for ME? That I might escape the fate of the sinner?

Do we take sin seriously?
Yes, sin is transgressing God's law-- Or do we, as so many of the world loving Christians now teach, continue in sin, saying those commandments were only a "building block" to bring us to Christ, now we don't need God's commandments anymore, we can forget about the Sabbath etc. if we so desire, only do that which we are "moved" to do?

Do we realize that our sinning is causing our Lord fresh pain?
If you love Him.........
............yes you will live a life of obedience.

The principle involved in obedience or disobedience is not whether we think something is Ok or not, it is the majesty of the Lawgiver, it is God's who gave those commandments, do we TRUST AND HAVE FAITH in HIM, enough to surrender our own inclinations and desires to HIS WILL?

We must face the fact that we have a personal responsibility for our walk in holiness. Yes, we can put away the sinful habits that plague us if we will accept our personal responsibility for them. Acknowledging that we do have this responsibility and do take sin seriously, allows us to turn it over to God, and yes, claim that we are forgiven, and DEAD to that sin, and alive in Christ, and then BY FAITH walk in OBEDIENCE.

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