Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 15, No. 11 Straight and Narrow November 2006
The Final Generation (Part 2)
By Allen Stump
Last month, we looked at the prophecy that Jesus gave in Luke 21:24 wherein He stated: “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:24).” Jesus taught that after Jerusalem was captured and controlled by the Gentiles (and the captives [Jews] lead away, or dispersed, into all nations), Jerusalem would be trodden down by those nations until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. The context is very clear that Jesus is speaking of literal Jerusalem. Some have argued that, after the cross, all references to Jerusalem must be symbolically interpreted as God’s people; however, it is hard to deny that Jesus spoke of the literal city and its downfall that took place in A.D. 70. Although it was no longer God’s chosen city at that time, Jerusalem was to be a sign to the early Christians and there is no compelling reason to believe that it cannot be a sign to Christians today.
From A.D. 70 until 1967, Jerusalem was in the hands of the gentiles or non-Jewish people. During the Six-Day War, Israel captured the old city and in 1980 reestablished Jerusalem as its capital; thus, for the first time in almost one thousand nine hundred years, Jerusalem was in the hands of the Jews.
What are the implications to this prophecy? As Jesus was concluding his discourse from Luke 21, he stated: Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled (v. 32).” These words must apply to the generation that lives at the time when all the signs have been fulfilled that Jesus gave concerning “the times of the Gentiles”, and the vital point is that this generation will not pass away until all is fulfilled. This is the time of the last generation, the generation that has known about the fulfillment of all the other signs Jesus spoke of (the signs in the sun, moon, and stars, for example), and the generation who now sees the fulfillment of the very last sign. They are the ones who will look up, for their “redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28).”
But what does the expression times of the Gentiles mean? The Greek word for nations is ethnos (eqnoV). It is the same word that is translated Gentiles twice in Luke 21:24. So, the verse could also be translated: Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the nations, until the times of the nations be fulfilled. The relevance of this is found in the fact that God keeps an account of the nations and there is a limit to even His mercy. For example, chapters 18 and 19 of Genesis speak of Sodom and Gomorrahs cup being full and of the destruction that followed. Genesis 15:16 states that Abrahams descendants would, in a future time, come out of a land of oppression (Egypt), but that they would not possess their new land immediately. In the fourth generation they would come out, for the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. Writing in a chapter entitled, The Seal of God, after quoting a portion of Ezekiel 8:1-6, Ellen White makes these insightful comments:
Jesus is about to leave the mercy seat of the heavenly sanctuary to put on garments of vengeance and pour out His wrath in judgments upon those who have not responded to the light God has given them. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Instead of being softened by the patience and long forbearance that the Lord has exercised toward them, those who fear not God and love not the truth strengthen their hearts in their evil course. But there are limits even to the forbearance of God, and many are exceeding these boundaries. They have overrun the limits of grace, and therefore God must interfere and vindicate His own honor (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 207, 208). (All emphasis in this article supplied unless otherwise noted.)
The time that Ellen White is writing about is the close of probation: “Jesus is about to leave the mercy seat of the heavenly sanctuary.” She further states:
Of the Amorites the Lord said: “In the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” Although this nation was conspicuous because of its idolatry and corruption, it had not yet filled up the cup of its iniquity, and God would not give command for its utter destruction. The people were to see the divine power manifested in a marked manner, that they might be left without excuse. The compassionate Creator was willing to bear with their iniquity until the fourth generation. Then, if no change was seen for the better, His judgments were to fall upon them.
With unerring accuracy the Infinite One still keeps an account with all nations. While His mercy is tendered with calls to repentance, this account will remain open; but when the figures reach a certain amount which God has fixed, the ministry of His wrath commences. The account is closed. Divine patience ceases. There is no more pleading of mercy in their behalf.
The prophet, looking down the ages, had this time presented before his vision. The nations of this age have been the recipients of unprecedented mercies. The choicest of heavens blessings have been given them, but increased pride, covetousness, idolatry, contempt of God, and base ingratitude are written against them. They are fast closing up their account with God (Ibid., pp. 208, 209).
This testimony is dated 1882! Almost one hundred twenty-five years ago, God, through His prophet, declared that the nations were then fast closing up their account. I believe that today we have reached that time and though God, in His mercy, begins slowly, His wrath is commencing upon the nations! Today the nations of the world are attempting to create a global community, but their attempts are doomed to failure. Rogue nations, such as Iran and North Korea, are keeping the rest of the world on edge. The conflict between Islam and those who oppose Islam is only going to escalate and become worse. Many leading political and military figures within the United States believe that their country will be in an all-out declared war on radical Islamic nations within a decade or two. There seems to be no way that the United Nations can control the rogue nations and radical Islam. Why is this global upheaval unstoppable? The times of the nations, the corporate bodies, has ended!
Seventh-day Adventist people have the one great key that unlocks a great portion of the Bible and much of Bible prophecy—an understanding of the sanctuary doctrine. In the case of the prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:24, we find the sanctuary to be a key to understanding the meaning of this prophecy. Leviticus chapters 4 and 16 record the events surrounding the sin offering and the Day of Atonement services. Both are helpful and, in fact, are needful in understanding the prophecy of Jesus.
Chapter 4 of Leviticus details four different sin offerings. There was an offering for “the priest that is anointed (vs. 3-12).” This term was used of the high priest. (See Leviticus 8:12, 13; 21:10.) There was an offering for the “whole congregation”—Israel as a corporate body—(vs. 13-21), one for the rulers (vs. 22-26), and, finally, the offering for the common people (vs. 27-35).
In the offerings for the high priest and for the nation, the blood of the sacrifice was taken into the holy place and put upon the horns of the altar of incense (vs. 7, 18). In the case of the rulers and common people, the blood was not taken into the holy place. The offering was administered in the courtyard at the altar of burnt offering (vs. 30, 34). The significance of this is better understood when we see the agenda of the judgment, as given in Leviticus 16.
After officiating at the regular morning service in his high-priestly robes, the high priest bathes and changes into the holy linen garments of a common priest. He then presents the bullock before the Lord and lays his hands on its head. This is followed by the presentation of the two goats, with lots being cast to determine which goat would be for Jehovah and which one for Azazel. Next, the high priest kills the bullock and sets its blood aside. The high priest than takes his censer, along with incense, and gathers coals from the golden altar to take into the most holy place, where he arranges incense on the burning coals in the censer, causing a cloud of sweet smoke to cover the mercy seat.
The high priest then returns to the court for the blood of the bullock. He takes this blood into the most holy place and sprinkles it on, and before, the mercy seat seven times.
The high priest next returns to the court where he kills the Lord’s goat. Then he goes into the most holy place to sprinkle its blood, as he did with the blood of the bullock.
After sprinkling the blood, he returns to the holy place and makes atonement for the holy things, and, then, he returns to the court and makes atonement for the altar. He does this by sprinkling the altar with the blood of both the bullock and the goat seven times, placing the blood on the horns of the altar.
The final part of the service involves the high priest confessing the sins of Israel over the head of the live goat. After this is done, the scapegoat is sent into the wilderness by the hand of a fit man.
As we have seen, atonement was made for three areas: The most holy place, the holy place, and the courtyard. The courtyard represented the earth. The altar of burnt offerings represented the cross where the Lamb of God was to die for the sins of mankind. An atonement was needed there. The holy place was where corporate, or national, sin was dealt with. Interestingly, there was never any sin carried into, or symbolically transferred into, the most holy place. The most holy place is generally understood to symbolize heaven and God’s throne, so why would an atonement, or an at-one-ment, be needed there? Paul explains:
For it pleased the Father that in him [Jesus] should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven (Colossians 1:19, 20).
Paul says that there were things in heaven that needed to be reconciled or brought to an at-one-ment with God. Remember that sin started in heaven. Lucifer, who rebelled against God, persuaded a third of the angels of heaven to join him in his rebellion. Even some of the holy, loyal angels had a shadow cast upon their minds concerning the full justice of God and on their understanding of His reasons and purposes. Things in heaven had to be fully reconciled, and as the records, public and secret, were opened in heaven, the at-one-ment that was provided for at Calvary became a full reality.
The next phase in the judgment was to deal with the sin that was recorded in the holy place, which is the sin of the corporate nation. As Ellen White noted, God keeps a record and track of the nations and He will judge them. This judgment is represented by the cleansing, in type, of the holy place, for this was where the blood of the animal sacrifice was sprinkled, as part of the offering for corporate sin.
Finally, the cases of individuals were atoned for in the courtyard, where their offerings had been ministered throughout the year.
According to Jesus in Luke 21, the time of probation for the nations (or corporate bodies) was to expire when Jerusalem was no longer under the control of, or trodden down by, the Gentiles (nations). This prophecy has great implications for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the timing is remarkable. If the “times of the Gentiles (nations)” came to an end in the period of time between 1967 and 1980, we find remarkable parallels for the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church and our relationship to it that cause us to think deeply.
If probation for the corporate bodies is over, than either the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church has been accepted by God, or it has been finally weighed in the balances and found wanting. Many may deny the possibility exists that the church can be weighed and then be lost, but the evidence is too clear to deny!
In the balances of the sanctuary the Seventh-day Adventist church is to be weighed. She will be judged by the privileges and advantages that she has had. If her spiritual experience does not correspond to the advantages that Christ, at infinite cost, has bestowed on her, if the blessings conferred have not qualified her to do the work entrusted to her, on her will be pronounced the sentence: Found wanting. By the light bestowed, the opportunities given, will she be judged (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 247, section entitled, “Shall We Be Found Wanting?”).
The midnight cry was first given in 1844, but, when Jesus did not come, there was a great disappointment. The small band of believers regrouped and began to search the Scriptures for truth. Coming to a proper understanding of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, they began to carry the three angels messages to the world. As the movement began to expand, growing pains became evident, and many felt the need for organization. To some, this was a call to retreat to Babylon, but the press of the work and the need for gospel order convinced the majority that some type of organization was necessary. In 1863, the General Conference was formed. Twenty-five years later, at the 1888 General Conference, God sent A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner to emphasis the message of righteousness by faith, for as Ellen White stated, As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain (The Review & Herald, March 11, 1890). Yet, this most precious message (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 91) involved more than justification by faith. It also included the message of religious liberty (the church’s and the individual’s relationship to civil government). It additionally carried the message of church government (the relationship of the individual to the church body). While there is a lot of discussion today on the first aspect of this message, very little is said concerning the latter two parts. A review of the preaching of Jones and Waggoner, before and after the Minneapolis Conference, reveals that religious liberty and church organization were an important part of their message.
As the work continued to rapidly expand, more and more organization was called for and sometimes called for without proper biblical guidelines. A. T. Jones and Ellen White were especially blessed of God to see the direction that the church was quickly moving in. They could see that instead of a brotherhood, a hierarchy was developing. Mostly due to their encouragements, the General Conference made some reformatory measures in 1897 and 1901.
In 1897, Ellen White wrote, It is not wise to choose one man as president of the General Conference (Special Testimonies, series A, number 8, p. 29).”
After Ellen White returned from Australia, she attended the 1901 General Conference in Battle Creek, Michigan. At the library, she gave a stirring talk, in which she stated: Now the Lord wants his Spirit to come in. He wants the Holy Ghost king (Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 166).” Instead of a man at the head of the work, she declared that the Holy Spirit was to rule the people of God. Then, from the pulpit, she continued to address the delegates, while the leaders of the General Conference sat behind her, stating:
The men that have long stood in positions of trust while disregarding the light that God has given, are not to be depended upon. God wants them to be removed (General Conference Bulletin, April 3, 1901).
The brethren understood the message from heaven and a change of both leadership and organization was brought about. A new constitution was established, and the office of the president of the General Conference was abolished. Instead, a committee was established to oversee the work.
In 1903, however, the brethren went back to the old ways, instituting a new constitution and reestablishing the office of president of the General Conference. When the new constitution was brought to the floor for discussion, a minority report against the new constitution was also brought forth. The report read:
The minority of your Committee on Plans and Constitution beg leave to submit that the Constitution proposed by the majority of the Committee appears to us to be so subversive of the principles of organization given to us at the General Conferences of 1897 and 1901 that we can not possibly subscribe to it.
The proposed new Constitution reverses the reformatory steps that were taken, and the principles which were given and adopted as the principles of reorganization, in the General Conferences of 1897 and 1901, and embodied in the present Constitution; and this before that Constitution or the organization according to it, has ever had adequate trial.
We therefore recommend that the Constitution of 1901 be given a fair trial before it be annihilated (1903 General Conference Daily Bulletin, No. 10, pp. 146-147).
This report was signed by E. J. Waggoner, David Paulson, and Percy T. Magan. In the floor discussion that followed, Magan stated:
The minority report expresses in a word the feelings which actuated the minority in making the report, because we believe that the constitution proposed by the majority of the committee appears to us to be so subversive of the principles of organization given to us at the General Conferences of 1897 and 1901. Those principles were given to us by the Spirit of God. In my judgment, and in the judgment of the minority of the committee, this constitution is absolutely subversive of those principles.
Further: The proposed new constitution reverses the reformatory steps that were taken, and the principles which were given, and which were adopted as the principles of reorganization, at the General Conferences of 1897 and 1901, and which were incorporated in the constitution of 1901.
Now, I am not here for a moment to state that the constitution of 1901 is a perfect one. To my mind, in many respects, it is very imperfect. To my mind, in many respects it is very clumsily drawn. But I have learned this, that all reforms come gradually; and in that constitution, clumsy though you may call it, defective though you may mark it, there are principles of reformation and reorganization for the head of this work which are right; and those principles are absolutely subverted and swept aside in the proposed new constitution.
It may be stated there is nothing in this new constitution which is not abundantly safeguarded by the provisions of it; but I want to say to you that any man who has ever read Neanders History of the Christian Church, Mosheims, or any of the other of the great church historians, any man who has ever read those histories can come to no other conclusion but that the principles which are to be brought in through this proposed constitution, and in the way in which they are brought in, are the same principles, and introduced in precisely the same way, as they were hundreds of years ago when the Papacy was made Ibid., p. 150).
A. T. Jones also spoke strongly in favor of retaining the 1901 constitution. He stated:
Now I want to say, in all candor and sincerity, this afternoon, that this question will never, and can never be, settled until it is settled right. This whole new constitution may pass this body, I do not know, but that will not settle it. This thing will keep on coming up until the principles of the gospel, approximated and aimed at in the last constitution, are given their full and free place in this church. And any human device that may be adopted to forestall that thing will fail as utterly of forestalling it as did the attempt of the enemy to forestall Christianity by crucifying Jesus Christ.
I do not know that I need to take much more time now, as I, of course, will have the right which every other brother has, as the different items are considered, to state my views on each item as it is considered. I simply wanted to make that point clear and plain in principle, and it will come out in detail as we go along in the consideration of the constitution, —this one point that the adoption of this means the rejection of the principles of organization given us by the Spirit of God two years ago, and the discussion of each provision of this, and of the major provisions of this, will abundantly reveal that that is so, when read in connection with the writings given at that time, and with the discussions of that period.
Now, it makes no difference whether the different things in this are brought in in a different form to what they were previously, it is the same old idea of the world-wide administration of a few men being able to form a quorum, to carry out what they think is the mind of the whole (Ibid., p. 151).
It was in the light of these events that Ellen White left the General Conference and went to her home in St. Helena and wrote the testimony: In the balances of the sanctuary the Seventh-day Adventist church is to be weighed (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 247).” In this same testimony she also noted:
Who can truthfully say: Our gold is tried in the fire; our garments are unspotted by the world? I saw our Instructor pointing to the garments of so-called righteousness. Stripping them off, He laid bare the defilement beneath. Then He said to me: Can you not see how they have pretentiously covered up their defilement and rottenness of character? How is the faithful city become an harlot (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 250)!’ ”
Apostasy had begun in the area of church government. World War I was only a little more than a decade away and the consciences of many of the believers in Germany were to be trampled upon by their government that wished them to bear arms and fight in the Great War. These brethren appealed in vain to the leadership of the church. The government of Germany was told by the brethren in leadership that the church expected its members to be good citizens and refused to stand by them at that difficult time. Although the General Conference says it never endorsed this position, neither did it do anything to correct it. This became the main reason that the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement came into existence. (See http://www.sdarmgc.org/origin.htm.)
Two of the three phases of the message that God gave to His people in 1888 were being rejected and trampled upon and the views have changed little today. Clearly the organization has become more hierarchical, as can be seen from the testimony of the then Vice President of the General Conference, Neal C. Wilson, who stated in an affidavit signed on February 6, 1976, for testimony in the case of EEOC vs. PPPA that “The Seventh-day Adventist Church…maintains…a hierarchical structure of church authority,” and from the testimony of the then manager of the Pacific Press, W. J. Blacker, who asserted in an affidavit signed on December 3, 1974, that “The General Conference has control over all aspects of Pacific Press…through the hierarchy of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” In 1980, the General Conference officially accepted the doctrine of the Trinity. This was the first time that a statement was brought to the conference for official discussion and a vote by the world church at large. In accepting the “strange god (Daniel 11:39)” of the Papacy, the church signaled its final rejection of the God of its fathers.
Prior to this, God had tried to warn the church to repent. The testimonies of Ellen White rang true and strong. Shortly before the SDAEvangelical Conferences of 1955, 1956, God raised up Elders Robert Wieland and Donald Short in an attempt to warn the church that she was veering away from the track of truth. Their book, 1888 Re-Examined, and its message, fell on deaf ears. World events were speaking, clearly showing that God was ready to move. Notice the chart below showing some of the events that parallel church and world history.
There are those who ponder if the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church is still the church called and nurtured of God. If this is so, then we must be willing to accept that military service is acceptable in Gods sight, we must come into submission to the second strongest hierarchy in America, and we must bow down to the strange Trinitarian god! This we cannot do and it is strong evidence that the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church has been weighed in the balances of the heavenly sanctuary and found wanting. That such a time has arrived in the prophetic time table is justified by the prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:24. What does this mean concerning the giving of the three angels messages? (To be continued)
By Onycha Holt
Brother Lynnford Beachy and his family are on an extended missionary journey across the United States, planning many stops between now and next February. Please keep their safety on the road in prayer and that the hearts and lives of those with whom they come in contact will be strengthened by the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
We also need to remember ourselves, our young people, and our family members in prayer that they, and we, will also be strengthened to be part of the final generation and to be used of God in finishing His work on this earth.
We would also appreciate your prayers for our work here at Smyrna. A new edition of Foundation of our Faith is in progress and hopefully will be printed soon.
We have been blessed to help many people through this ministry, and we ask that you remember Brother Aland Ashton in Peru, who is doing a good work distributing literature and sharing the love of God with the Indian population. He works under difficult circumstances and with limited supplies, and we invite your prayers that God will continue to provide for the needs of His people around the world.
Righteousness by Faith - Some Basic Principles
by Allen Stump
“My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172).”
The Greek word translated “faith” means:
Paul calls faith the “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).”
Jesus taught that faith is depending upon the word of God to fulfill what it declares. (See Matthew 8:5-10.)
Therefore, righteousness by faith is the enabling to do right by believing and trusting God to fulfill everything He has promised in His Word. Righteousness by faith is holiness and love as lived out in a life that is expressed in the Ten Commandments, through living faith in God as He is revealed in His Word.
Righteousness by faith is a term, or expression, that seems simple enough by the normal meaning of the words that comprise it, but trying to get a grip on the meaning, both intellectually and experientially, has been difficult for many people. The multitude of various ideas surrounding the concept of righteousness by faith proves that, although God designed this concept to be plain and simple, Satan has been very successful in throwing a cloak of darkness upon it. All the different, various teachings on righteousness by faith cannot be correct!
Virtually everyone who professes Christianity claims to believe in righteousness by faith. In fact, in my twenty-five-plus years of ministry, I have only met one professed Christian who openly stated that he did not believe in righteousness by faith, frankly declaring that man must be justified by his own works. It should be obvious that making a claim of teaching and believing in righteousness by faith guarantees nothing. Just because someone claims to be teaching righteousness by faith does not mean that they are doing so. Yet, it seems that the more frequently and the louder one proclaims that they are teaching righteousness by faith, the more people believe them, regardless of the reality of the matter. How true it is that people are like sheep, easily willing to be led, and, sadly, sometimes led astray. How important it is for those who profess to believe and teach the gospel to carefully consider the eternal results of their work for good or for evil.
During the time of Jesus, the Pharisees, and others, misunderstood the teachings of the Old Testament. They came to believe that their good works, such as Sabbath-keeping, observing ritual sacrifices, strict dietary measures, and other outward acts, enabled them to receive God’s favor and that their righteousness was to be obtained by their outward performance.
The teachings of Jesus shattered this concept of self-produced righteousness. He told the people of His day, For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20). The Pharisees religion was lacking in contrition, tenderness, and love. Instead of helping sinners along the path toward God, it became a stumbling block. Their religion was not sufficient to bring the soul into harmony with God. The Bible says the only faith that is adequate to save the soul is the faith which worketh by love (Galatians 5:6). Ellen White says that this kind of faith works by love and purifies the soul (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 15).”
Yet, the Pharisees’ understanding of God’s requirements needed not to have been so far from the mark. Seven hundred years before, through the prophet Micah, God had shown to the thirsty sinner seeking justification the desire of the soul when He declared, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? . . . He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God (Micah 6:6-8)?”
The Prophet Hosea vividly described the Pharisees’ fundamental nature when he wrote: “Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself (Hosea 10:1).” Isaiah forcibly declared man’s real value and worth outside of God: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6).”
Israel’s so-called righteousness was the fruit of their own efforts to keep the law according to their own faulty ideas and for their own selfish benefit. Their righteousness, therefore, could be no better than they were. Simply put, they were endeavoring to make something holy from something unholy and unclean. The law of God, however, is as holy, righteous, and perfect as God is holy, righteous, and perfect. The law of God presents perfect righteousness to the sinner. David said, “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172).” Isaiah wrote: “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law (Isaiah 51:7).” Yet this law, as high and holy as it is, has no power to save the sinner or to justify him from a single sin. Further, man does not have power of himself to fulfill God’s requirements. Jesus said, “Without me, ye can do nothing (John 15:5).” And even further, if man could somehow pull himself up by his own power, he has a backlog of sin that must be reckoned with. The unregenerate man’s mind is carnal and at enmity against God. Before the outside of the cup (our outward actions) may be clean, Jesus taught that the inside (the heart) must first be cleansed. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also (Matthew 23:25, 26).”
Beloved, we cannot be holy and righteous by our own efforts. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).” The good news, however, is that God has provided something better than our own efforts to be righteous. He has provided something better than our feeble efforts to keep the law. He has offered us perfect righteousness in the One Whose righteousness is equal to the law– Jesus Christ, the only Being in the universe Who is equal, of Himself, to the Father’s law.
Paul stated: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe (Romans 3:20-22).”
If you open your heart fully to receive Christ, then the very life of God and His love, will dwell in you, transforming you into His own likeness; thus, through God’s free gift, you will possess the righteousness which the law requires. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9).” Let us not be like the Pharisees who rejected Christ; because they were “ignorant of God’s righteousness,” and went “about to establish their own righteousness,” not submitting “themselves unto the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3).”
Paul wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12, 13).” Commenting on this, Ellen White noted:
The work of gaining salvation is one of copartnership, a joint operation. There is to be co-operation between God and the repentant sinner. This is necessary for the formation of right principles in the character. Man is to make earnest efforts to overcome that which hinders him from attaining to perfection. But he is wholly dependent upon God for success. Human effort of itself is not sufficient. Without the aid of divine power it avails nothing. God works and man works. Resistance of temptation must come from man, who must draw his power from God. On the one side there is infinite wisdom, compassion, and power; on the other, weakness, sinfulness, absolute helplessness (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 482). (All emphasis in this article supplied unless otherwise noted.)
Unconverted man cannot obey God, but, with the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, man can be made willing to be made willing (Ibid.).’ ” As man chooses to allow Jesus to come into his life, he now has a power working in him that is above every principality and power. Christ now works within man in the divine plan of “copartnership,” whereby through repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ, the believer’s life is now one of victory over sin and the perfect character of Christ is reproduced in the believer. The sinner becomes a saint!
Jesus proceeded to show His hearers what it means to keep the commandments of Godthat it is a reproduction in themselves of the character of Christ. For in Him, God was daily made manifest before them (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 55).
The act of reproducing the holy character of Christ in us can only be accomplished by faith in the promises of God. Paul wrote, Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1). Peter wrote, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:3, 4). Our cooperation in the work of character development is to trust completely in Gods promises, and submit ourselves to the spirit of Christ and the power of His Word working in us. (See 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Colossians 1:29.) This is to be a daily process with a specific promise to meet every temptation and difficulty that arises.
Have you ever considered, “What is God’s goal for the development of man?” Is God simply interested in seeing that man confess his sins so the heavenly slate can be wiped clean and the sinner is then declared a saint even if there is no heart or character change? Of course not! What God wants is a final product, if you please, that has the image of Christ perfectly reproduced in it. The image of Christ and His character, in this sense, is not something that is given or imputed, but rather developed.
The beautiful, well-balanced, symmetrical character is developed by individual acts of duty. The character is formed by the conscientious attention to the little things of life, courteous acts of kindness unselfish deeds of charity. Kind words make the life beautiful and noble; for in them is the spirit that pervades heaven (The Signs of the Times, December 12, 1878).
Two aspects of the truth about God that so beautifully dovetail into the message of righteousness by faith are the truths that Jesus is the literal begotten Son of the Father and that the Comforter is, in reality, Jesus who is able to personally live out His beautiful life in the believer. These two great truths involve both our justification and our sanctification.
God created man capable of responding to love. “We love him, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).” It is this great love that draws the sinner to God and the Bible says this love was manifested, or made known, because “God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him (1 John 4:9).” Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me (John 12:32).” As we behold the wonderful love of God in giving His Son, our hearts melt and we are drawn to God in appreciation and love. If we do not resist, we will submit to the will of God.
And as Christ draws them [sinners] to look upon His cross, to behold Him whom their sins have pierced, the commandment comes home to the conscience. The wickedness of their life, the deep-seated sin of the soul, is revealed to them. They begin to comprehend something of the righteousness of Christ, and exclaim, “What is sin, that it should require such a sacrifice for the redemption of its victim? Was all this love, all this suffering, all this humiliation, demanded, that we might not perish, but have everlasting life?”
The sinner may resist this love, may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus; a knowledge of the plan of salvation will lead him to the foot of the cross in repentance for his sins, which have caused the sufferings of Gods dear Son (Steps to Christ, p. 27).
The love of God in giving His only begotten Son is the great focal point of the plan of salvation, and if we fail to understand God’s love and character in giving His Son, we will fall short of loving God, as it is our privilege to love Him. This love leads to the justification of the believer and it is also a part of God’s plan for the believer’s sanctification. As the believer makes the choice, day-by-day, to continue to serve Christ, he is motivated to make righteous choices because the love of God is in his heart and he would rather die than sin against the One he so dearly loves.
The truth that Jesus promised to come and live within humanity as the Comforter is also a great truth that ties in with righteousness by faith. We have seen clearly that man is depraved of himself and must have a power outside and above himself. To live righteously day-by-day and moment-by-moment, we must continually have the presence of God in our lives. Ellen White noted:
A power above and outside of man is to work upon him, that solid timbers may be brought into his character building. In the inner sanctuary of the soul the presence of God is to abide (The Review and Herald, October 25, 1892).
And in the Scriptures we read:
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (2 Corinthians 6:16).
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17).
What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Ellen White writes further:
Man does not build himself into a habitation for the Spirit, but unless there is a co-operation of mans will with Gods will, the Lord can do nothing for him. The Lord is the great Master worker, and yet the human agent must co-operate with the divine worker, or the heavenly building cannot be completed. All the power is of God, and all the glory is to redound to God, and yet all the responsibility rests with the human agent; for God can do nothing without the co-operation of man. When a man believes in Jesus as his personal Saviour, and accepts of his righteousness by faith, he becomes a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust; and he escapes from corruption through the indwelling of the holy Spirit. Without divine nature, without the influence of the Spirit of God, man cannot work out his own salvation. Said Christ, Without me ye can do nothing. When human effort does not combine with divine agency, how deficient is its influence; but he who is endowed with divine power can present Christ to the world as one who is able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God through him (The Review and Herald, October 25, 1892).
The Trinitarian doctrine makes no such allowance for Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith. If you were to ask most Trinitarians if Jesus is present at their meetings and abiding with them, at first they will say, Yes, of course. But if you ask how Jesus is at their meetings and abiding with them, they will respond, “By the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.” To the Trinitarian, neither Jesus nor the Father are actually present for they are in heaven, but the “third member of the Godhead,” the Holy Spirit, is there to represent Them. This teaching, however, takes Jesus and the Father away from the believer.
In Hebrews 2:17 Paul says, Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people (Hebrews 2:17). The Greek word translated behoved is opheilo (ofeilw). It means to be bound to, under obligation, indebted, owe. Commenting on this, Elder M. L. Andreasen wrote:
If Christ is to be a merciful and faithful high priest, Paul says it behooves Him in all things to be like His brethren. This is obligatory. It is a duty He owes and must not avoid. He cannot make reconciliation for men unless He takes His place with them and in all things becomes like them. It is not a question of choice. He should, He must, He ought to, He is under obligation to, He owes it. Unless He has to struggle with the same temptations men do, He cannot sympathize with them. One who has never been hungry, who has never been weak and sick, who has never struggled with temptations, is unable fully to sympathize with those who are thus afflicted (Letters to the Churches, Series A, #1, p. 6; emphasis in original).
One may ask, Is not God omniscient? Does God have to send His Son to our level to find out what we experience? Why would Christ have to take upon His sinless nature our sinful nature, that He might know how to succor those that are tempted (Medical Ministry, p. 181)? The Bible states that Christ emptied Himself (Philippians 2:7 margin) at the incarnation. To die for the sins of man, Christ must empty Himself and give up His immortality. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8). (See also 1 Corinthians 15:3 and Isaiah 53:12.) But he humbled himself, and took mortality upon him (The Review & Herald, July 5, 1887).” Also, He “emptied Himself” of His omniscience because the Scripture states that “...Jesus increased in wisdom (Luke 2:52).” This could not have been if, in His humanity, He was omniscient.
Understanding this truth that Jesus came to live with our temptations is vital. Unless we struggle with the same temptations, problems, or trials of those we seek to help, we are hampered in understanding their trials. Also, the one in need must know that the sympathizer can relate (by experience) to his or her situation! How difficult it is to help those that look at you with a tear-filled face, saying: You dont understand; youve never been in my situation! The sinner who understands that Jesus has taken upon Himself his sinful nature can gain courage by the fact that his Saviour does know, by experience, the trial he is under and can relate, by experience, to the sinner’s need. Therefore, Jesus can provide the help we must have when we are tempted because He “condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3).” This was not done by the third member of the pagan/papal Trinity! The Trinity gives no such true comforter!
The Scriptures further state that Jesus was touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and was compassed with infirmity (Hebrews 4:15; 5:2). The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting (Isaiah 50:5, 6). He Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses (Matthew 8:17). God did not exempt Jesus, nor did Jesus ask to be exempted. Christs experiences were all necessary if He was to help His brethren. Thus the Scriptures state: Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren (Hebrews 2:17).” Christ, the Son of the eternal God, became Jesus, the Son of man that we might become the “sons of God (1 John 3:1).” Christ became man so that He might redeem man. Jesus was made what man is:
“Man ... is flesh (Genesis 6:3).” “The Word was made flesh (John 1:14).”
Man “is under the law (Romans 3:19).” “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law (Galatians 4:4).”
Man is “under the curse (Galatians 3:10).” “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).”
Man is “sold under sin (Romans 7:14).” “... and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).”
Man is a “body of sin (Romans 6:6).” “Christ has been made....sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).”
We see that “in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren (Hebrews 2:17).”
The need of Jesus accepting our humanity should be very clear. He cannot be our faithful high priest nor comfort us unless He is acquainted with our infirmities and knows by experience our needs. “Historic Adventists” emphasis the need of a proper understanding of the incarnation and they are correct on their emphasis, if not their application. Yet, ironically, most of these brothers and sisters who claim that Jesus had to accept the fallen, sinful flesh of humanity claim that the “third member of the Trinity” is our comforter! They freely acknowledge that one who has never known even unfallen, sinless flesh, let alone fallen, sinful flesh, is our comforter. This makes no sense at all!
It is no wonder that as God was raising up the Advent movement, He needed to give them a correct understanding of Himself, His Son, and their Spirit before they could understand and appreciate righteousness by faith, as He wished them to know. Yet, we must learn a lesson from history. The Advent people understood in 1888 that God was not a Trinity, but many rejected, spurned, and scoffed at the message that was presented by Jones and Waggoner. Just having an intellectual knowledge of the truth about God, or even about justification and sanctification, is no assurance that we will experience the reality of these truths in our hearts.
Man is, by his fallen nature, bent towards selfishness in its most extreme forms. The heart is proud and desires, of itself, to obtain salvation. There is a small section from The Desire of Ages that has spoken to my heart and I pray that it will speak to your heart as well:
The proud heart strives to earn salvation; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all fullness dwells. (The Desire of Ages, p. 300).
Beloved, we want the presence of God abiding in the inner sanctuary of our souls, so that our characters will be built on the solid timbers of His perfect righteousness, and then our faith will be revealed by deeds of love (Galatians 5:6). As Ellen White so aptly wrote one hundred one years ago:
Faith and works are the two oars with which we are to make our way in the Christian life. The Lord calls upon all who think they know what faith is, to be sure that they are not pulling with only one oar, and their little bark going round and round, making no progress at all. Faith without intelligent works is dead. Faith in the healing power of God will not save unless it is combined with good works. (Australasian Union Conference Record, October 15, 1905).
A Lesson from Romans 3
By Allen Stump
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:10-18).”
Many times when we read a section from the Bible a second, third, fourth, or even a fifth time, we see deeper and more abundant truth than we had ever seen before, or a plain truth becomes evident that had laid hidden from our sight. Such was my experience a few weeks ago as I was reading in the book of Romans. I was going through chapter 3, trying to get a better handle on the big picture of what Paul was saying. In verses 21-31, he establishes the doctrine of righteousness by faith alone through the grace of Jesus Christ. Prior to this, he lays the groundwork to establish this vital point. In the first part of chapter 3, Paul speaks of the advantage the Jews had over the Gentiles because they were given the oracles of God, but, aside from having these oracles, he states that both Jews and Gentiles are “under sin (Romans 3:9)” and in need of Christ’s righteousness.
What I found helpful in my study was Pauls proof of his point that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin, or are sinners. As he so often did, Paul used the analogy of Scripture, or the proof-text method of Bible study. He appealed, a little here and a little there, to the Old Testament Scriptures, as verses 10-18 show. However, what really caught my attention were the texts that he appealed to, and what they stated, as well as the texts that he failed to appeal to. One text Paul did not appeal to was Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” This text is frequently used to support the doctrine of original sin in many of its different forms. How easy it would have been for Paul to have simply stated: “Both Jews and Gentiles are under sin; sinners due to their birth. We have inherited sin and are sinners by birth.” But Paul did not do this, and, to the best of my knowledge, Psalm 51:5 is not quoted by any New Testament writer for anything, let alone to prove original sin. Neither did Paul quote from Genesis 3 to establish his point that all are under the power of sin. So, let us see what Paul did quote from to establish his point!
Actually, the Apostle quotes Psalms 14, 5, 140, 10, 36; Proverbs 1; and Isaiah 59 from the Septuagint. The Septuagint was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, which was the working Bible of Paul and the other apostles. Notice the English translation of these verses:
There is none that does goodness, there is not even so much as one (Psalm 14:1 LXXE).
The Lord looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there were any that understood, or sought after god (Psalm 14:2 LXXE).
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become good for nothing, there is none that does good, no not one (Psalm 14:3 LXXE).
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit (Psalm 5:9 LXXE).
The poison of asps is under their lips. (Psalm 140:3 LXXE).
Whose mouth is full of cursing, and bitterness (Psalm 10:7 LXXE).
For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood (Proverbs 1:16 LXXE).
And their feet run to wickedness, swift to shed blood (Isaiah 59:7a LXXE).
Destruction and misery are in their ways (Isaiah 59:7b LXXE).
And the way of peace they know not (Isaiah 59:8a LXXE).
There is no fear of God before his eyes (Psalm 36:1 LXXE).
Paul is detailing the wickedness of man and stating that this is the path of both Jews and Gentiles. However, as the verses Paul quoted show, he is stating this because of the choice of action they have chosen to take, as opposed to being born into a state of sinful existence. He speaks of none being righteous; that all, both Jews and Gentiles have gone out of the way; that none doeth good; that their tongues are used in deceit and their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Paul further states that Their feet are swift to shed blood, and destruction and misery are in their ways.”
The doctrine of original sin, in most variations, teaches that man is born a sinner. Some variations teach that guilt and/or condemnation are passed from father to son. This is understood as the Augustinian view. Historically, early Adventists rejected this view for a modified Arminian view. They believed that Adam passed a fallen nature, but not guilt, to his descendants. Man is born with a sinful nature, a nature that gravitates towards sin, but man is not a sinner until he rebels against God in violation of His will, as perfectly expressed in the Ten Commandments. The Adventists based this view partly upon texts such as:
The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin (Deuteronomy 24:16).
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him (Ezekiel 18:20).
The importance of understanding these concepts is their usefulness in understanding the character of God and righteousness by faith. Does God impute guilt and condemnation to unborn children and to those otherwise innocent of any violation of the Ten Commandments? The Bible defines sin as the “the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).” Ellen White plainly declares:
Our only definition of sin is that given in the word of God; it is the transgression of the law (The Great Controversy, p. 493).”
According to Ellen White, the Bible does not define sin as a state of existence. If people are born sinners, however, then could Jesus have been, as Paul says, in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15)? Was Jesus exempted from the great law of heredity that we are bound by? Was the incarnation just a façade to make God look just and fair when, in reality, He was not willing to abide by the rules and requirements He gives to man? I wish to invite our readers to carefully consider what A. T. Jones, of 1888 fame, had to say about this subject in the following article found. I encourage you to carefully read his Bible-based arguments.
THE LAW OF HEREDITY
By A. T. Jones
(The following article was originally published in The Consecrated Way,
pp. 40-44 Editor)
“The Word was made flesh.”
“When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman.” Gal. 4:4.
“And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isa. 53:6.
We have seen that in His being made of a woman, Christ reached sin at the very fountain head of its entrance into this world and that He must be made of a woman to do this. Also there was laid upon Him the iniquity, in the actual sins, of us all.
Thus all the sin of this world, from its origin in the world to the end of it in the world, was laid upon Him—both sin as it is in itself and sin as it is when committed by us; sin in its tendency and sin in the act: sin as it is hereditary in us, uncommitted by us; and sin as it is committed by us.
Only thus could it be that there should be laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. Only by His subjecting Himself to the law of heredity could He reach sin in full and true measure as sin truly is. Without this there could be laid upon Him our sins which have been actually committed, with the guilt and condemnation that belong to them. But beyond this there is in each person, in many ways, the liability to sin inherited from generations back which has not yet culminated in the act of sinning but which is ever ready, when occasion offers, to blaze forth in the actual committing of sins. David’s great sin is an illustration of this. Ps. 51:5; 2 Sam. 11:2.
In delivering us from sin, it is not enough that we shall be saved from the sins that we have actually committed; we must be saved from committing other sins. And that this may be so, there must be met and subdued this hereditary liability to sin; we must become possessed of power to keep us from sinning—a power to conquer this liability, this hereditary tendency that is in us to sin.
All our sins which we have actually committed were laid upon Him, were imputed to Him, so that His righteousness may be laid upon us, may be imputed to us. Also our liability to sin was laid upon Him, in His being made flesh, in His being born of a woman, of the same flesh and blood as we are, so that His righteousness might be actually manifested in us as our daily life.
Thus He met sin in the flesh which He took and triumphed over it, as it is written: “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” And again: “He is our peace, . . . having abolished in His flesh the enmity.”
And thus, just as our sins actually committed were imputed to Him that His righteousness might be imputed to us, so His meeting and conquering in the flesh the liability to sin and in that same flesh manifesting righteousness, enables us in Him, and Him in us, to meet and conquer in the flesh this same liability to sin and to manifest righteousness in the same flesh.
And thus it is that for the sins which we have actually committed, for the sins that are past, His righteousness is imputed to us, as our sins were imputed to Him. And to keep us from sinning His righteousness is imparted to us in our flesh as our flesh, with its liability to sin, was imparted to Him. Thus He is the complete Saviour. He saves from all the sins that we have actually committed and saves equally from all the sins that we might commit dwelling apart from Him.
If He took not the same flesh and blood that the children of men have with its liability to sin, then where could there be any philosophy or reason of any kind whatever in His genealogy as given in the Scriptures? He was descended from David; He was descended from Abraham; He was descended from Adam and, by being made of a woman, He reached even back of Adam to the beginning of sin in the world.
In that genealogy there are Jehoiakim, who for his wickedness was “buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem” (Jer. 22:19); Manasseh, who caused Judah to do “worse than the heathen;” Ahaz, who “made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord;” Rehoboam, who was born of Solomon after Solomon turned from the Lord; Solomon himself, who was born of David and Bathsheba; there are also Ruth the Moabitess and Rahab; as well as Abraham, Isaac, Jesse, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah: the worst equally with the best. And the evil deeds of even the best are recorded equally with the good. And in this whole genealogy there is hardly one whose life is written upon at all of whom there is not some wrong act recorded.
Now it was at the end of such a genealogy as that that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” It was at the end of such a genealogy as that that He was made of a woman.” It was in such a line of descent as that that God sent “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” And such a descent, such a genealogy, meant something to Him, as it does to every other man, under the great law that the iniquities of the fathers are visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations. It meant everything to Him in the terrible temptations in the wilderness of temptation, as well as all the way through His life in the flesh.
Thus, both by heredity and by imputation, He was “laden with the sins of the world.” And, thus laden, at this immense disadvantage He passed triumphantly over the ground where at no shadow of any disadvantage whatever, the first pair failed.
By His death He paid the penalty of all sins actually committed, and thus can justly bestow His righteousness upon all who choose to receive it. And by condemning sin in the flesh, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, He delivers from the power of the law of heredity and so can, in righteousness, impart His divine nature and power to lift above that law, and hold above it, every soul that receives Him.
And so it is written: “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Gal. 4:4. And “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for [on account of] sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Rom. 8:3,4. And “He is our peace, . . . having abolished in His flesh the enmity, . . . for to make in Himself of twain [God and man] one new man, so making peace.” Eph. 2:14, 15.
Thus, “in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren. . . . For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted.”
Whether temptation be from within or from without, He is the perfect shield against it all; and so saves to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him.
God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, Christ taking our nature as our nature is in its sinfulness and degeneracy, and God dwelling constantly with Him and in Him in that nature—in this God has demonstrated to all people forever that there is no soul in this world so laden with sins or so lost that God will not gladly dwell with him and in him to save him from it all and to lead him in the way of the righteousness of God.
And so certainly is his name Emmanuel, which is, “God with us.”
Youth’s Corner — Fernando and Ana
(This story was presented to the children at Smyrna Chapel on a recent Sabbath and is adapted from Determined to Love, by Kay D. Rizzo. Onycha Holt)
Our story is about a small word with a big meaning, “hope.” In the past, we have had stories about perseverance, faith, persevering faith, and even bravery, but this time we will try to understand what hope is.
Many years ago, Fernando and Ana boarded a big ship in New York City. They were on their way to Peru, because Fernando and Ana wanted to be missionaries to the Inca Indians. They sailed across the ocean for three weeks until they finally reached South America and the coastal country of Peru. In Peru they needed to leave their ship and board a train to take them the rest of the way to Lake Titicaca, high in the Andes Mountains, but getting off the ship and onto the train proved to be quite an adventure! The sea was too rough and choppy, and the waves were too high, for their big ship to pull up safely to the dock.
As Ana gazed across the waters to the dock, she saw a large crane and hanging from the crane was a chair, which was swinging in the wind. Little boats were supposed to ferry the people from the large ship to the dock and then the chair was to be lowered by the crane to the little boats to lift the people out and onto the dock. Ana looked at Fernando and said, “O-h-h no, Fernando! I don’t think I can do that!” She leaned over the railing and watched as the little boats were rowed strongly through the rough seas up to her big ship and she was then told that she needed to jump, yes jump!, into one of the little boats. And Ana said, “I do-o-n’t think I can do that, Fernando,” but that was the only way off the ship. So, over the edge of the ship she went, climbing down the rope ladder. The Captain told her that when the next big wave brought the small boat close to the big boat, she was supposed to jump and the sailor in the small boat would catch her! And Ana said again, “Oh, Fernando, I don’t think I can do this!” This seemed terribly frightening to Ana, but she had to be very brave. She hung onto the bottom of the rope ladder and watched as the crest of the wave brought the little boat up, but she waited too long and the boat slipped back. Then it came up again and this time she let go! She jumped! And, sure enough, the sailor caught her and put her gently down in the little boat, and then Fernando jumped. Then the sailors rowed their little boat as hard as they could, back through the rough water to the dock, where the crane and the chair were. Ana said, “Oh-h-h, isn’t there any other way for me to get up on the dock?” She did not want to sit in the chair because the wind was blowing and the chair was swinging back and forth. The sailors told her that a rope ladder hung from the dock and if they could get the boat close enough to it, she could grab hold of the ladder and climb up onto the dock, and that is just what she did.
This was the beginning of Fernando and Ana’s missionary adventure in Peru. As soon as they were on shore, they made their way to the train station and obtained tickets to ride twelve thousand feet up into the Andes Mountains to Bolivia and Lake Titicaca, for Fernando and Ana had decided to work for Jesus with the Inca Indians.
When Fernando and Ana arrived at Lake Titicaca, they were told that they were wasting their time, for the Indians could never learn anything, that they were stupid and would never be able to comprehend anything about Jesus. But Fernando said, “I am going to try because Jesus loves them!”
When Fernando and Ana crossed Lake Titicaca into Bolivia and went to the little villages where the Indians lived, they found that the Indians were treated very badly. Wherever the Indians walked in the village, they were rudely shoved out of the way by the white men and even policemen kicked at them, because all the people thought that the Indians were bad.
The Indians lived in mud huts with their animals and the droppings of the animals made the air smell very badly. On one side of the hut was a stove, but because it filled the mud hut with smoke, the Indians often had eye problems. Also, the Indians were very dirty. They did not know they were supposed to bathe and wash their clothes! They also did not know how to use forks, spoons, and knives; so, how did they eat? That’s right! With their fingers, but, since they did not wash their hands, their hands and fingers were always dirty.
So, Ana decided that one of the first things she needed to do was to teach the Indians how important it was to stay clean. The way we are going to teach them, she said, is to show them how to wash and then give them the soap and the wash cloth so they can do the same thing. The Indians were so happy to learn they could be clean, that they took the soap and the cloth and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed in the same place, and Ana had to tell them to move the wash cloth all around their arms and their face to get everything clean! They were very happy to be clean!
Ana and Fernando went from village to village and set up little clinics to teach the Incas about cleanliness and to help the Indians who were sick. The Indians did not know how to be healthy, how to stay clean, and how to eat healthfully until Ana and Fernando taught them.
Ana and Fernando tried to help the Indians with the problems they had, but one big problem both they and the Indians faced were the wealthy land owners. The land owners did not want Fernando and Ana helping the Indians because they used the Indians to do all their hard work and then they would cheat them out of the money they had earned and they would also lie to them. Fernando and Ana taught the Indians how to read and how to do simple math, so that nobody could cheat them again, but this made the land owners angry. Fernando and Ana, however, did not give up. They continued to hold meetings about Jesus for the Indians, because they knew that Jesus loved the Indians, but this also angered the priests.
During one of the meetings, a big, muscular Indian man came into the room and walked to the front where Fernando was. Because he had been drinking alcohol, he staggered a little when he walked and his eyes were dull from the coca leaves he was chewing, but he listened carefully to what Fernando was saying about Jesus. Then he interrupted Fernando and asked, Are you saying that Jesus loves me? Now, remember, boys and girls, our story is about hope and hope means that you have an expectation, or a desire, for something. These Indians did not know that Jesus loved them and that He is coming back to take all of His faithful children home to heaven with Him to live with Him forever, so they could have no desire or expectation for such a wonderful thing! Fernando shook his head in answer and said, Yes, Jesus does love you. And the man stood there thinking and blinking and then asked again, He really loves me? Fernando said again, Yes! He does! And then that man started to cry. Nobody loved the Indians. They were always shoved around and made fun of, and their lives were dreary and sad, but here was a hope that he had never heard of before and this hope changed his heart in a way that had never happened to him before! He had a heavenly Father, the God of the whole universe, who loved him and His Son, Jesus, loved him also and They would help him with all of his problems! When the Indians learned this, they stopped chewing coca leaves, they stopped drinking alcohol, and they started to wash their clothes and their bodies. That is how important hope is!
One day, Fernando and Ana set up their clinic at a village and began helping the people who were sick. During the day, Ana quietly walked over to Fernando, who was helping a little boy, and said, “Honey, have you noticed that the Indians seem kind of nervous and jumpy today?” Fernando, who was bending over the little boy’s arm and putting a bandage on his wound, said, “Yes, an Indian told me they are planning on killing us.” Ana said, excitedly, “But that is against the law! They wouldn’t do that!” “That’s what I told him,” said Fernando calmly, and he finished tying off the bandage, then stood up, stretched his back, and said, “Next patient, please.” Fernando and Ana continued to work in the clinic for the rest of the day and nothing happened. They opened the clinic the next day and helped the Indians all day long. Still nothing happened. They opened the clinic on the third day, the people came and waited in line, and everything went smoothly until Ana looked out and noticed a group of men coming down the mountainside, led by two priests.
Ana walked over to Fernando and whispered hurriedly, “Fernando, there is a group of men coming down the mountainside. They are carrying guns and whips and are on horseback and two priests are leading them!” Fernando thought for a minute and said, “They are probably just going to the meeting hall for a special religious ceremony.” And Ana said, “O-h-h, I don’t know about this, Fernando,” but they kept on treating the Indians. As Ana and Fernando watched, they could see the priests talking to the people and the people became stirred up and louder. Then the whole crowd of people began shouting and moving their arms excitedly, but Fernando and Ana kept on quietly working in the clinic. Then, all of a sudden, they heard a rocket go off. A sky-rocket went up into the air, lighting up the whole area. At that instant, most of the Indians in the clinic jumped up and rushed out the door, shouting as they ran away, “That’s the signal to attack! Run! Run!” The angry crowd was going to attack Fernando and Ana, and as both of them watched, another group of men on horseback, carrying weapons, came down another mountainside, and then from a different direction another group of people came galloping down. Fernando and Ana were surrounded!
|Ana and Fernando|
Fernando and Ana knew they had to do something. Fernando said, “I will get the horses because I hear them whinnying. We have to save the horses!” He knew they would not be able to leave the village if they had no horses, but as soon as he got to the corral, he saw a man cutting the horses loose and jabbing them with a stick. Off the horses ran! They were all gone! So, Fernando turned around and came back to the clinic where Ana was, with all the white people, and the priests, gathered in front. The priests began shouting, “Kill them! Kill them!” and the angry mob began throwing rocks at the clinic. Fernando was just able to get inside before the rocks started hitting the door.
Inside, Fernando and Ana, and the few Indians that had stayed with them, began piling up their luggage, all the furniture, and anything else they could find, to bolster the front door, because now the angry men were pushing against it and putting holes in it. There were so many people noisily trying to get through the door that they could not think clearly. All of them were trying to push through at once, but, of course, they couldn’t! And so, they remained stuck outside! Then Ana and Fernando heard one of the priests shout, “Burn the clinic down!” and then they heard someone scramble up on the roof, which was made of dried grass, but then another person on the roof shouted, “No, don’t you dare! You can’t do that!”
While all this was happening, Ana went over to Fernando, held onto his hand, and said, What can we do now? They are all around us. They are even on the roof. Maybe this is where our lives will end. But both Ana and Fernando had hope that even if their lives did end then, they knew it would only be like going to sleep and when they woke up, they would see Jesus. This is a precious hope. It is a hope they had, the Indians now had, and it is the same hope that we can have!
As Ana and Fernando stood in that little clinic room listening to all the sounds around them and above them and not knowing what God would do for them, it became v-e-r-y q-u-i-e-t! Everything was silent outside! Fernando and Ana wondered what was happening! Not a sound was heard for a moment and then they heard someone shout, “Oh no! It can’t be! Run for your lives!” Sure enough, the noises changed. Instead of banging on the door, all those angry people were running away! Before long, it was quiet again and this time Fernando and Ana decided that they could peek outside to see what was happening. So, they peered out through the door and the whole crowd of people was now gone! Fernando and Ana cautiously stepped outside. An Indian or two had remained behind and Fernando asked them, “What has happened?” One Indian answered, “Can’t you see them on the hill!” “See what?” asked Fernando. “Look! Look over there. See those Indians coming down the mountain to defend you?” Fernando looked, but he could see nothing at all. Then the Indian said to Ana, “Can you see them?” Ana looked at all the mountainsides, but nothing was there. Fernando and Ana could see nothing, but the crowd of white people trying to hurt Fernando and Ana saw the band of Indians coming down the mountainside and the Indians in the village saw them!
Even when things look the worst, if you are serving God and doing what God wants you to do, there will be angels about you taking good care of you. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them (Psalm 34:7). You might not ever see them, but they are there.
A kind person rescued Fernando and Ana’s horses, and Fernando said, “We must leave now.” A thunderstorm had begun and this allowed Fernando and Ana to leave without easily being seen. They became soaking wet as they left on horseback. As they climbed the mountain, the rain turned to sleet and they felt very cold, and as they climbed higher the sleet turned to snow. Even though Fernando and Ana were wet and cold, they knew God had delivered them from the angry people who wanted to kill them.
As children, if you obey Mommy and Daddy, if you are sweet and kind to the people around you, and if you are trying to learn all you can about Jesus, sweet angels will be close to you and you can have hope, or the expectation, that one day you will meet not only Jesus, but the wonderful angel that has been by your side taking very good care of you!
The Experience of
Righteousness by Faith Outlined
By Ellen G. White
(This article is from the book, Faith and Works, pp. 99-102.)
Portion of Review and Herald article, November 4, 1890, titled Christ the Way of Life, Published in Selected Messages, Book One, pp. 365-368.
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14, 15).
Repentance is associated with faith and is urged in the gospel as essential to salvation. Paul preached repentance. He said, “I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20, 21). There is no salvation without repentance. No impenitent sinner can believe with his heart unto righteousness, Repentance is described by Paul as a godly sorrow for sin that “worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of” (2 Corinthians 7:10). This repentance has in it nothing of the nature of merit, but it prepares the heart for the acceptance of Christ as the only Saviour, the only hope of the lost sinner.
As the sinner looks to the law, his guilt is made plain to him and pressed home to his conscience, and he is condemned. His only comfort and hope is found in looking to the cross of Calvary. As he ventures upon the promises, taking God at His word, relief and peace come to his soul. He cries, “Lord, Thou hast promised to save all who come unto Thee in the name of Thy Son. I am a lost, helpless, hopeless soul. Lord, save, or I perish.” His faith lays hold on Christ, and he is justified before God.
But while God can be just, and yet justify the sinner through the merits of Christ, no man can cover his soul with the garments of Christ’s righteousness while practicing known sins or neglecting known duties. God requires the entire surrender of the heart, before justification can take place; and in order for man to retain justification, there must be continual obedience, through active, living faith that works by love and purifies the soul.
James writes of Abraham and says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:21-24). In order for man to be justified by faith, faith must reach a point where it will control the affections and impulses of the heart; and it is by obedience that faith itself is made perfect.
Faith the Condition of Promise
Without the grace of Christ, the sinner is in a hopeless condition; nothing can be done for him; but through divine grace, supernatural power is imparted to the man and works in mind and heart and character. It is through the impartation of the grace of Christ that sin is discerned in its hateful nature and finally driven from the soul temple. It is through grace that we are brought into fellowship with Christ, to be associated with Him in the work of salvation. Faith is the condition upon which God has seen fit to promise pardon to sinners; not that there is any virtue in faith whereby salvation is merited, but because faith can lay hold of the merits of Christ, the remedy provided for sin. Faith can present Christ’s perfect obedience instead of the sinner’s transgression and defection. When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin and justifies him freely. The repentant soul realizes that his justification comes because Christ, as his Substitute and Surety, has died for him, is his atonement and righteousness.
“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:3-5). Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account. Christ’s righteousness is accepted in place of man’s failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness; and the pardoned soul goes on from grace to grace, from light to a greater light. He can say with rejoicing, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).
Again: it is written, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12, 13). Jesus declared, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (verse 5). It is not a low standard that is placed before us, for we are to become the children of God. We are to be saved as individuals, and in the day of test and trial we shall be able to discern between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not. We are saved as individual believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many are losing the right way, in consequence of thinking that they must climb to heaven, that they must do something to merit the favor of God. They seek to make themselves better by their own unaided efforts. This they can never accomplish. Christ has made the way by dying our Sacrifice, by living our Example, by becoming our great High Priest. He declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). If by any effort of our own we could advance one step toward the ladder, the words of Christ would not be true. But when we accept Christ, good works will appear as fruitful evidence that we are in the way of life, that Christ is our way, and that we are treading the true path that leads to heaven.
He Becomes Our Righteousness
Christ looks at the spirit, and when He sees us carrying our burden with faith, His perfect holiness atones for our shortcomings. When we do our best, He becomes our righteousness. It takes every ray of light that God sends to us to make us the light of the world—Letter 22, 1889.
Just before going to press, we were saddened to learn of the death of our dear Sister Opal Lanning. Because of her lack of mobility and quiet spirit, many of those at our camp meetings may remember Sister Opal best as being the mother of Sandy McCrillis. Sister Opal, however. was certainly a unique person who loved life and dearly treasured her walk with the Lord. We will all miss her so much and we look forward to seeing her again when Jesus comes! Pastor Allen Stump
Thoughts on the
Current Sabbath School Lesson Guide
By Allen Stump
There are two topics of thought that we would like to address concerning Lessons 8 and 9, which are covered during the month of November of the current Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. The first is from Lesson 8, which deals with Abraham’s faith and experience as it relates to righteousness by faith. The second issue is from Lesson 9 and concerns the command to Abraham to offer Isaac upon Mount Moriah and its relationship to the love of God in giving His only begotten Son.
Abraham was called the father of the faithful (Child Guidance, p. 18).” Yet, we see, in Abraham’s early life, illustrations of his lack of faith. God had promised to make a great nation of him (Genesis 12:2) and to give him and his seed all the territory his eyes could behold (Genesis 12:2; 13:15). Even though Abraham was growing old and had no children, God still continued to promise Abraham that from his “own body,” the promised seed would appear (Genesis 15:4 NIV).
Sometime shortly after Abraham had left Ur, he went to Egypt because of a famine. However, there is no sacred history telling us that God told him to go to Egypt. God had instructed him to go to a place that he would show him. While there is no record that God reprimanded Abraham for going to Egypt, there is evidence that it was not pleasing to God. By not staying where God first directed him, Abraham demonstrated a lack of faith. Further, after arriving in Egypt, his lack of faith caused him to dishonestly present to Pharaoh his wife as only his sister (Genesis 12:13). When his deceit was known, Pharaoh sent Abraham away and Abraham finally returned to Bethel, from where he had come. Abraham’s faith had experienced two serious “meltdowns.” The next lack of faith recorded in inspiration is his experience that came after the promise had been renewed to Abraham, as recounted in Genesis chapter 15.
Ten years had passed since the promise had first been given and Sarah began to lose faith. Her lack of faith, sadly, became contagious to Abraham. Sarah convinced Abraham that the promise could be fulfilled by Abraham having a child by Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar! There is no record of Abraham having a disagreement with Sarah on the matter. Instead of leading out and instructing Sarah that they were to wait on the promise of God, the Bible says that, “Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai (Genesis 16:2).” “Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women (Genesis 18:11).” We might be tempted to believe that Abraham and Sarah were justified for not waiting, but God was going to show them a precious and pure lesson in righteousness by faith and He wanted them to have it untarnished. Though Sarah’s womb was dead, out of it was to come life. Paul gives a spiritual parallel in Ephesians 2:1: “And you hath he quickened [made alive], who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Sadly, they missed this lesson and tried by their own efforts to have a child. This finds its spiritual parallel when we determine to cleanse and purify ourselves by our own works when only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us from our sins (1 John 1:9).
Do you remember where Hagar was from? Egypt! So, we see that Abraham’s first lack of faith in going to Egypt provided the kindling for the fire that was to be his greatest lack of faith. Sarah believed that, by her handmaid, she could have a child, at least one that would fulfill the promise. However, this human remedy only created trouble in the camp, so much so, that Hagar fled from Sarah. All our human efforts to fulfill God’s promises are doomed to failure and will never substitute for the working of God in the believer’s life. After being refreshed by an angel, Hagar was instructed to return to Sarah and submit to her control. Shortly after this, Ishmael was born. The Arab people today are the descendants of Ishmael and the strife between the children of Isaac and the children of Ishmael, as well as the strife between their spiritual descendants (Muslims, Jews, and Christians), has caused the world untold grief!
Until this time, the life of Abraham seems to be mostly highlighted by a military victory over Chedorlaomer and his confederates. God knew, however, what Abraham’s real heart had now become. God was going to use Abraham as an illustration to the world of what His righteousness could do in a person’s life. He knew that Abraham was going to be the “father of the faithful,” therefore, Abraham must be brought to a severe test to show the universe that his faith had become genuine and true. Abraham must be brought to a test so strict that none could afterward doubt his faith. Therefore, God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering upon Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:2). In doing this, God gave to Abraham the greatest test that would ever come upon anyone.
Abrahams test was the most severe that could come to a human being. Had he failed under it, he would never have been registered as the father of the faithful. Had he deviated from Gods command, the world would have lost an inspiring example of unquestioning faith and obedience (The Youths Instructor, June 6, 1901).
James notes, “Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God (James 2:23).” Writing to the Galatians, Paul said, “They which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7).” Abraham’s faith, which was imputed unto him for righteousness, was demonstrated by his works. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect (James 2:21, 22)?” Some have stumbled over what James writes in light of Paul’s statement that the believer is “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” and “that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (Romans 3:24, 28).” Even Martin Luther declared that the book of James was not part of the inspired Word of God, because he could not reconcile what James wrote with what Paul had stated, especially statements like: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).” It need not be so difficult, though. Paul is stating how a believer is justified before God, while James is simply stating how the believer is justified, in the sense of being vindicated, in the eyes of men. A man may say he has faith, but how can we know for sure? Of course, God knows that man’s heart, but how can it be demonstrated in the judgment that God’s declarations of the man’s heart are true? Conversely, how in the judgment will it be shown or demonstrated that the wicked did not have the experience, or fitness, needed for heaven? In physics, a force is measured by the amount of work it does. Faith that works by love is a strong force and it is measured by the work it does. This is why both the righteous and the wicked will be judged by their works. (See Ecclesiastes 12:14 and Revelation 20:12, 13.) Ellen White noted:
There are many who fail to understand the relation of faith and works. They say, Only believe in Christ, and you are safe. You have nothing to do with keeping the law. But genuine faith will be manifest in obedience. Said Christ to the unbelieving Jews, If ye were Abrahams children, ye would do the works of Abraham. John 8:39. And concerning the father of the faithful the Lord declares, Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws. Genesis 26:5. Says the apostle James, Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. James 2:17. And John, who dwells so fully upon love, tells us, This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. 1 John 5:3 (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 153).
Abraham’s faith was finally of such a character that God could showcase it to the universe, and, in so doing, God had a vessel that would also display what He was like!
God’s Love and Experience in Giving His Son is Prefigured in Abraham
Genesis 22 records the story of Abraham being commanded to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. We marvel at Isaac’s willingness to obey his father and submit to having his life taken. Many writers, including Ellen White, have correctly noted that Isaac is a type of Christ, and the willingness of Isaac to die is a symbol of Jesus’ willingness to die for humanity.
As one reads the account in Genesis 22:1-14, however, the central focal point of the story is the internal struggle of Abraham to give up his son. This is a type of, or symbolic of, the experience that God the Father went through in the giving of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Abraham was not to offer Isaac for a sin offering, but for a burnt offering. The burnt offering was wholly consumed upon the altar, symbolizing the total giving of oneself to God. It was to represent that all the giver is and all the giver has, belong to God. In giving up Christ, God could give no more. Romans 8:32 states: He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Paul is stating that if God gave the most cherished thing in heaven for our redemption, He will withhold nothing else. When God gave His Son, He gave all heaven. He could give no more (Temperance, p. 286). Please carefully read about the struggle in Abrahams heart as illustrated in Ellen Whites book, Patriarchs and Prophets:
Side by side the father and the son journeyed in silence. The patriarch, pondering his heavy secret, had no heart for words. ….
That daythe longest that Abraham had ever experienceddragged slowly to its close. While his son and the young men were sleeping, he spent the night in prayer, still hoping that some heavenly messenger might come to say that the trial was enough, that the youth might return unharmed to his mother. But no relief came to his tortured soul. Another long day, another night of humiliation and prayer, while ever the command that was to leave him childless was ringing in his ears. Satan was near to whisper doubts and unbelief, but Abraham resisted his suggestions. As they were about to begin the journey of the third day, the patriarch, looking northward, saw the promised sign, a cloud of glory hovering over Mount Moriah, and he knew that the voice which had spoken to him was from heaven.
Even now he did not murmur against God, but strengthened his soul by dwelling upon the evidences of the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness. This son had been unexpectedly given; and had not He who bestowed the precious gift a right to recall His own? Then faith repeated the promise, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called”—a seed numberless as the grains of sand upon the shore. Isaac was the child of a miracle, and could not the power that gave him life restore it? Looking beyond that which was seen, Abraham grasped the divine word, “accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.” Hebrews 11:19.
Yet none but God could understand how great was the fathers sacrifice in yielding up his son to death; Abraham desired that none but God should witness the parting scene.
At the appointed place they built the altar and laid the wood upon it. Then, with trembling voice, Abraham unfolded to his son the divine message. It was with terror and amazement that Isaac learned his fate, but he offered no resistance. He could have escaped his doom, had he chosen to do so; the grief-stricken old man, exhausted with the struggle of those three terrible days, could not have opposed the will of the vigorous youth. But Isaac had been trained from childhood to ready, trusting obedience, and as the purpose of God was opened before him, he yielded a willing submission. He was a sharer in Abraham’s faith, and he felt that he was honored in being called to give his life as an offering to God. He tenderly seeks to lighten the father’s grief, and encourages his nerveless hands to bind the cords that confine him to the altar.
And now the last words of love are spoken, the last tears are shed, the last embrace is given. The father lifts the knife to slay his son, when suddenly his arm is stayed. An angel of God calls to the patriarch out of heaven, Abraham, Abraham! He quickly answers, Here am I, And again the voice is heard, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me (Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 151, 152).”
Satan’s accusations against Abraham were stifled! Abraham’s love for, and faith in, God had been shown to be far greater than his own life or even the life of the one that Abraham counted most dear. This was truly faith that worked by love! This is the love of God demonstrated and worked out by faith in the heart of humanity. This beautiful type, though, is marred when the truth about God, His identity, and character, is misunderstood. The Trinitarian god has no counterpart to demonstrate this, since the Trinity doctrine has no real father or son, but only assumed roles by co-equals. How thankful we should be to have the privilege of knowing God as He has clearly revealed Himself to us in the giving of His Son (1 John 4:9). This love is the driving force in the faith of the believer’s life and works to purify the soul temple.
In order to be co-workers with God, in order to become like Him and to reveal His character, we must know Him aright. We must know Him as He reveals Himself.
A knowledge of God is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation. It is this alone that can make us like God in character.
This is the knowledge needed by all who are working for the uplifting of their fellow men. Transformation of character, purity of life, efficiency in service, adherence to correct principles, all depend upon a right knowledge of God. This knowledge is the essential preparation both for this life and for the life to come (Ministry of Healing, p. 409).
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.
Editor: Allen Stump -
Assistant to the Editor: Onycha Holt - E-mail Onycha@smyrna.org
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This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013