Old Paths Masthead

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. 25, No.4 Straight and Narrow April 2016


In this issue:

The Big Question

New Telephone Conference Number

Righteousness

Now Abideth Faith

Youth's Corner

2016 West Virginia Camp Meeting

Publisher Information

 

The Big Question

Man is certainly a curious creature, seeking the answers to many questions. Some questions of little importance seem to consume some people. For example, was President Obama born in Kenya or not? Some people think that he is a closet Muslim, and others say he is a Christian. Which is he? Is he neither? Did the United States of America’s NASA program send men to the moon or not?[1] What about the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings? Who really caused this tragedy?

We could continue, but the case is easily made that there are some things that will always be questioned; however, there are factual answers to all of the above questions, whether we know them or not. But nobody’s salvation rests upon a correct answer to these questions. But there is a question in Christendom that demands a correct answer, for it is an issue upon which salvation depends. That question is, When did Jesus become the Son of God?

In asking this question we will assume that all Christians will agree that Jesus is the Son of God. While many will differ as to what kind of son Jesus is, the Bible uses the term Son of God for Jesus too many times to deny it means something. Most professed Christians believe in the doctrine of the trinity. In this model of God, Jesus is the second person of the trinity or godhead but that after the incarnation he is also the Son of God.

There are several theories concerning the Sonship of Jesus. Some say Jesus became the Son at his incarnation. This is based partly on Luke 1:35, “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Another theory says that Jesus became the Son of God at his baptism, when God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Another theory is that Jesus was declared to become the Son of God at his resurrection: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). Some teach that Jesus became the Son of God at his ascension and use Hebrews 1:3, 4 to sustain that position:

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:3, 4)

All of these hypotheses cannot be right and, in fact, as we shall see, none of them are correct. Many people use Psalm 2:7 to say that there was a point in time—“this day”—when Jesus or, to some, the second person of the trinity, became a son.

While most acknowledge that in some way Jesus is the Son of God, when and how varies a lot, depending upon whom you ask, but only what Inspiration declares is important. We shall begin at the second Psalm and by using the analogy of Scripture, we shall be able to find the truth as it is in Jesus on the matter.

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. (Psalm 2:1–3)

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. (Psalm 2:4–6)

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalm 2:7–9)

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psalm 2:10–12)

Psalm 2 is the first of the Messianic psalms. It has been called the Song of the Lord’s Anointed, and this Psalm certainly has a complementary relationship between it and the first Psalm.

As Psalm 1 celebrates the blessedness of the good man’s life of meditation on God’s law and the ultimate failure of the wicked, so Psalm 2 shows the futility of universal rebellion against the Lord and the blessedness of peoples that put their trust in the Son of God. Ps. 1 describes the two ways for individuals; Ps. 2, the two ways for peoples. Ps. 1 begins with a beatitude; Ps. 2 closes with one. “Man proposes, God disposes” may well be given as the theme of Ps. 2. That Ps. 2 has Messianic import is attested in Acts 4:25–27 (see DA 778). (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, pp. 632,633)

Structurally, the second Psalm falls into four portions. Interestingly, all the stanzas contain almost the same number of words. The psalm could be broken down thusly:

The main verse for our study is verse 7. To better understand what verse 7 means, we look for some place where it is quoted in the New Testament. We find that Paul makes direct reference to it in Acts 13:33. Notice this verse in context:

And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. (Acts 13:28–34)

While the resurrection is discussed in these verses, it is not the only or even the main point Paul is making. Paul is proclaiming that Jesus was crucified and then raised from the dead, and the reason this could happen was that a promise had been fulfilled to the children of Israel. The emphasis of verse 33 is not the resurrection, for verse 34 deals with the resurrection, beginning by saying “and as concerning,” which shows a shift of thought.

But what does verse 33 mean? Does the expression “raised up Jesus” mean raised from the grave and the resurrection? If we were to normally speak of Jesus being raised up, the resurrection would naturally come to mind; however, from the progression of Acts 13, it is clear that this cannot be the meaning of verse 13. Furthermore, there is other language in Scripture, like verse 33, that does not deal with the resurrection. Notice the following two verses:

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. (Acts 3:22)

This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. (Acts 7:37)

Both of these verses are making reference to Deuteronomy 18:15:

The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.

The Greek word for raised in Acts 13 is the same word used in 3:22, 7:37; and in the LXX of Deuteronomy 18:15.[2] It means to rise up or be raised up.

We can understand, therefore, Psalm 2 to be the “promise” (Acts 13:32) in the broad sense of all the Old Testament prophecies of Christ as the Savior. This, then, would climax in the resurrection. Therefore, Psalm 2:7 is not speaking of the resurrection, but of the life and ministry of Jesus as a whole, which was crowned by the resurrection.

Psalm 2:7 is complemented by Hebrews 1, where we read:

For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. (Hebrews 1:5–10)

Here we find details of the overall view of Psalm 2. After quoting the first nine verses of Hebrews 1, Ellen White noted:

“He bringeth the firstbegotten into the world.” This is the incarnation of Christ. In and through Him the Father establishes the kingdom of heaven among men. (Ms151–1901, September 7, 1901, par. 9; previously unpublished)

Clearly in this statement there is no ambiguity. In Hebrews 1:6, God speaks of bringing his firstbegotten into the world. Ellen White says, as well as does common sense, that this is the incarnation, but notice that the firstbegotten does not become such by being brought into the world, but was already as such when brought into the world.

Before continuing further we are reminded that one verse usually does not give all the truth on a subject. In fact, sometimes even two, three, or four verses do not give all the light on a subject. For example, many read Revelation 14:11; 20:10; Isaiah 66:24; and Luke 16:23 and come to the wrong conclusion about the fate of the wicked. So when looking at such a critical subject as the Sonship of Jesus, we need to survey many texts. Thankfully, the Bible provides many angles from which to view this great truth.

Now, what about the phrase “this day have I begotten thee” (Psalm 2:7)? When is this day? The Scriptures show that the begetting spoken of in Psalm 2:7 is something that pertains to eternity, rather than to a point of human time. One of the first places to begin this examination is in Proverbs 8:22–25. Before we read these verses, we need to understand that this section of Proverbs is discussing wisdom. However, it cannot be literal wisdom that is being spoken of, but, rather, it is speaking about Jesus Christ, and we will show why this must be true, after we look at the verses.

The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth. (Proverbs 8:22–25)

Here it says that the LORD (Jehovah or Yahweh) brought forth or begot his Son before the creation of anything. The expression brought forth in verses 24 and 25 means to be born or begotten. The same Hebrew word translated brought forth in Proverbs 8 is translated shapen in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.” Shapen here is parallel to being conceived. So before all of creation, before time, Jesus was begotten of God. But how can we be sure that these verses are speaking of Jesus, under the symbol of wisdom? Firstly, we have the testimony of Scripture. Paul states that Christ is the wisdom of God:

But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24)

And in verse 30, we read:

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Secondly, we know that these verses in Proverbs 8 are speaking about Jesus because we have his own testimony through the Spirit of Prophecy:

And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting.... When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.” Proverbs 8:22–30. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34; all emphasis in article supplied unless otherwise noted)

Thirdly, we have common sense to help guide us straightly. If the wisdom of Proverbs 8 were literal wisdom, then we would have to concede that there was a time that God did not have wisdom and had to bring it forth!

Fourthly, we have further evidence from the Old Testament that Jesus was the Son of God before the incarnation. For example, in Proverbs 30:4, we read: “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” This verse speaks of God having a son and that this son has a name.

Also, in Isaiah 9:6, we read: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Here a son is given. All acknowledge that this must be speaking of Jesus, but can God give a son that he does not have? To give a son one must first have a son to give!

This knowledge of God having a son even reached Babylon, where Daniel and his companions shared it with the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were cast into the furnace of fire they were joined by Christ.

To bow down when in prayer to God is the proper attitude to occupy. This act of worship was required of the three Hebrew captives in Babylon.... But such an act was homage to be rendered to God alone—the Sovereign of the world, the Ruler of the universe; and these three Hebrews refused to give such honor to any idol even though composed of pure gold. In doing so, they would, to all intents and purposes, be bowing to the king of Babylon. Refusing to do as the king had commanded, they suffered the penalty, and were cast into the burning fiery furnace. But Christ came in person and walked with them through the fire, and they received no harm. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 312)

When King Nebuchadnezzar saw this, he proclaimed, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25).

And in Psalm 2:12 we are told to “kiss the Son, lest he be angry, And ye perish from the way.”

Therefore, we find the concept of God already having a son before the incarnation in the Old Testament. We find this same truth in the New Testament.

Repeatedly the New Testament teaches that God sent his Son. But again, how can God send a son unless he has a son. The Bible says that Jesus, before his passion, sent ahead two disciples to find an ass and her colt. “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me” (Matthew 21:1, 2). Certainly the sending forth of these two did not make them disciples; they were already disciples. In the same manner, sending forth Jesus did not make him a son. He was already a son. Notice how clearly this is proclaimed.

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law. (Galatians 4:4)

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

Specifically it was the only begotten Son that was sent into the world.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:11)

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17)

This verse is written in a negative way. To restate it positively it would say, God sent his Son into the world that it might be saved.

In sending his Son we have the promise and guarantee that Jesus is just like his Father. The law of like kind assures us of this. In Genesis 5:3, we read:

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.

Adam brought forth a son in his likeness and after his image, as God had brought forth his Son in his likeness and image. In fact, in Hebrews 1:3 Jesus is called the express image of the Father. The Greek word translated express image is χαρακτήρ (charaktēr), from which we have the English word character. When we see Jesus we see the character of the Father. I once saw a sign that said “God condemns, but Jesus saves.” This idea sets the Father and the Son at odds against each other, but this is not the gospel. Jesus is the express image of God’s character. When I read about the woman caught in adultery who was brought before Jesus and read that he said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11), I know that this is exactly what the Father would have said and done.

The Bible is very clear that Jesus came to this earth already being the Son of God, the one who could fully express the true character of God. The Spirit of Prophecy, of course, agrees fully. Notice these statements by Ellen White:

The Son of God came down to this earth that in Him men and women might have a representation of the perfect characters which alone God could accept. (Ellen White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 60)

With profound and reverent interest the elders of Israel should have been studying the place, the time, the circumstances, of the greatest event in the world’s history—the coming of the Son of God to accomplish the redemption of man. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 313)

Christ in the courts of heaven had known that the time would come when the power of Satan must be met and conquered if the human race was ever to be saved from his dominion. And when that time came, the Son of God laid off His kingly crown and royal robe, and clothing His divinity with humanity, came to the earth to meet the prince of evil, and to conquer him. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 223)

It was as the Son of God that Jesus, in heaven, “laid off His kingly crown and royal robe” and came to the earth.

When Jesus came to this earth, he came to deal with sin. John writes:

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)

The lemma form of the Greek verb translated manifested is φανερόω (phaneroō), and it means to make visible or to make clear.

. . . to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden or unknown, to manifest, whether by words, or deeds, or in any other way. (Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 648)

Son of God in a new sense

It should be noted that in the incarnation (Christ’s coming to the earth), Inspiration says that he became the Son of God in a new sense:

In His incarnation He gained in a new sense the title of the Son of God. Said the angel to Mary, “The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” ( Luke 1:35). While the Son of a human being, He became the Son of God in a new sense. Thus He stood in our world—the Son of God, yet allied by birth to the human race. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 226, 227; The Signs of the Times, August 2, 1905)

Thus Jesus could be said to be begotten or given life from God in the incarnation, as well as in eternity past.[3] But here is the tricky part for trinitarians or tritheists. Ellen White quoted Luke 1:35 above and this relates to Matthew 1:20: “But while he [Joseph] thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” For either trinitarianism or tritheism to be believed, Jesus cannot be the Son of God the Father, but must instead be the Son of the Spirit! The only way to avoid this is for trinitarianism or tritheism to acknowledge that the Father-Son relationship to be merely one of role-playing or acting.

Henry Grew was born in England in 1781 but moved to the United States when he was 13. In his study of the Bible, he came to some unorthodox conclusions, such as the idea that the soul of man was not naturally immortal and that an eternally burning hell was not biblical. He also rejected the doctrine of the trinity. His writings had a strong effect upon George Storrs, one of the early Millerites.[4] Grew’s writings also had an influence upon J. M. Stephenson, who then influenced J. H. Waggoner. In writing about Jesus being the Son of God, Grew concisely wrote about the highest nature of Jesus Christ:

1. It is in the character of the SON OF GOD, that the Savior is presented to a lost world, as the great object of faith, and with the belief of this truth salvation is connected.

2. It is in this character, he is an object of worship.

3. Jesus Christ during his ministry on earth never claimed a higher title.

4. The highest title ever given him in the scriptures of truth, even that of God, is given to him as the Son of God. (Henry Grew, AN EXAMINATION OF THE DIVINE TESTIMONY ON THE NATURE AND CHARACTER OF THE SON OF GOD, pp. 25, 26; published in 1824; emphasis in original)

Also, if Jesus were not the Son of God before the incarnation, then God the Father was not the Father of the Old Testament, as spoken of in Malachi 1:6; 2:10.

The crux of the matter

Praying to his Father, Jesus declared: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). To know the Father and the Son is life eternal. This cannot mean that we may only have a casual knowledge or an incorrect knowledge. Over one billion Muslims believe in Jesus; he is even spoken of in the Koran. While he is believed to be a prophet, even a great prophet, he is not believed to be the Son of God. Others believe that Jesus was a great philosopher but, again, not the Son of God. Satan does not care what you believe about Jesus, as long as it is not the truth. But Satan knows that the truth about the Father and the Son helps to set one free from his grasp. Satan’s central doctrine, the trinity, aims to distort the true relationship between the Father and the Son. John writes:

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. (1 John 2:18–23)

The main doctrine of antichrist is a denial of the Father and the Son. John could have written God and Christ or God and Jesus, but he is emphasizing the relationship that exists between the Father and the Son. John later records the result of knowing the Father and the Son:

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:10–13)

Again, John could have written, He that hath Jesus hath life, but he did not do that. Jesus is the person around which salvation centers, and this is so in his true person as the Son of God and not as a prophet, a philosopher, or a good person.

John also says that it is in understanding the love of God in giving his Son that we are drawn to God.

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9, 10)

God’s love was revealed not in a carnal gift but in the gift of his only begotten Son. God did not give a sheep, bull, or goat for us. He did not even give an angel, as great as that might be. No, God gave of himself, his only Son, for our redemption. All of heaven was emptied in that great gift. And that gift is to strike a cord of love in our hearts. We are told, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The price paid by the Son of God was a terrible price paid for our sins, but anything less could not have drawn love from us and could not have been sufficient for the atonement. What a wonderful God we have. The following jewel of Ellen White is worthy of continued contemplation:

There is but one way of escape for the sinner. There is but one agency whereby he may be cleansed from sin. He must accept the propitiation that has been made by the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. The shed blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” A complete offering has been made; for “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,”—not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father’s person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, May 30, 1895)

Allen Stump

[1]. Some polls suggest that over ¼ of the citizens of the United States do not believe that the Apollo program was real.

[2]. The lemma is ἀναστήσει (hanastesei).

[3]. A text many times used to prove that Jesus could not have been the Son of God before Bethlehem is Micah 5:2, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” This text says that Christ’s “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” or eternity. But what is not considered is the expression goings forth. The Hebrew word means origin and is so translated in other versions. “His origin is from antiquity, from eternity” (Holman Christian Study Bible). Thus, there is a point before Christ is begotten of the Father, and, therefore, he does have an origin or a point before time and eternity.

[4]. After the 1844 disappointment, Storrs rejected the movement.


New Phone Conference Number

For those who have been accessing our services by telephone, we have had to change the number due to technical issues. The new phone number is 605-475-6720. The same access code number—755896—can be used with it. We are sorry for the disturbance we recently have had and pray that this will solve the issues.


 Righteousness

Some pieces of information are more complex than others. If I asked you to explain how the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics can be reconciled, you might need some help. But what about these questions from a fourth grade science book?

That was not too hard, right? But what about righteousness? Are the basics supposed to be hard, too hard, for the average student of the Bible? Jesus said:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

Jesus says that righteousness, with the kingdom of God, is the first thing we are to seek. That means that it is very important. Furthermore, because we have to seek after it, it is not something that we naturally have. Jeremiah 23:6 says:

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

The only true righteousness that we will ever have is from Christ.

Ellen White noted:

One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,—Christ our righteousness. (The Review and Herald, December 23, 1890, par. 19)

If this one interest is so important, then we must understand its basics principles.

Righteousness

The dictionary says that righteousness is called “the quality of being morally right” (New Oxford American Dictionary). Inspiration says: “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172). This corresponds to what Ellen White wrote in Christ’s Object Lessons on page 312 that “righteousness is right doing . . .” She also writes:

By His perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God’s commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks upon us He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah. (Ibid. p. 311)

Here we are told that having Christ’s robe of righteousness is the same as perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah. The manner in which this happens involves submitting ourselves to Christ so that our minds and hearts become one. As the mind and heart are one with God and Christ, we have their righteousness. We are also told that:

Righteousness is holiness, likeness to God, and “God is love.” 1 John 4:16. It is conformity to the law of God, for “all Thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172), and “love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). Righteousness is love, and love is the light and the life of God. The righteousness of God is embodied in Christ. We receive righteousness by receiving Him. (Ellen White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 18)

While the expression righteousness by faith is popular to use and found in one biblical reference (Galatians 5:5), love is essential for the transformation of the individual from sinner to saint. It is love that motivates and empowers the believer to want to live according to the perfect law of righteousness. Without love a person will always cave in under great pressure but with love, men and women have endured burning stakes, torture, and deprivation. Love can make the hardest things endurable and even a privilege to endure. Ellen White also notes:

Not by painful struggles or wearisome toil, not by gift or sacrifice, is righteousness obtained; but it is freely given to every soul who hungers and thirsts to receive it. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat, ... without money and without price.” “Their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord,” and, “This is His name whereby He shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.” Isaiah 55:1; 54:17; Jeremiah 23:6. (Ibid.)

Faith

Galatians 5:5 says, “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” If the righteousness of Christ comes by faith, then we must have a clear understanding of faith.

The Greek word translated faith is πίστις (pistis). The verb form of the word is πιστόω (pistoō), which is translated believe. Pistoō means to believe, to have confidence in, to trust or depend upon. In one of her more sublime statements, Ellen White says that “faith is the clasping of the hand of Christ in every emergency” (Gospel Workers, p. 262).

Paul calls faith “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The Greek word translated substance is ὑπόστασις (hypostasis). The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains notes that it means “that which provides the basis for trust and reliance” (Vol. 1, p. 375). The ESV of Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Biblical faith does not wonder or guess about the realities of God and his love for us. It is the assurance and basis for the trust the Christian has in his life. This trust is inseparable from God’s Word. In the eighth chapter of Matthew, we have an important lesson on faith:

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (Matthew 8:5–10)

The centurion wanted his servant healed and asked Jesus to heal the servant. Jesus agreed that he would go to where the servant was and heal him, but the centurion understood it was not necessary for Jesus to be in the servant’s presence to heal him. The word of Jesus was powerful and when Jesus would speak, the servant would be healed. Jesus declared that the centurion’s belief was great faith. The centurion was depending upon the word of God, and upon that only did he depend and trust.

Righteousness + Faith

Putting the two parts of the equation together, we understand that 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.

Does God ever lie, or does he always tell the truth? Numbers 23:19 declares:

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

In fact, Titus 1:2 says: “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” So God does not, cannot lie. His very word has creative power and if he says something, it has to come to pass. But even beyond this, it is not within God’s character to lie and pervert truth. This is important because if God, through his word, declares a man or woman righteous, they must truly be righteous. It is no facade but a reality. God does not call a wicked person righteous. That person actually becomes righteous through the indwelling of Christ and lives the born-again life that Jesus lived.

Remember the statement we quoted at the beginning of this study:

One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,—Christ our righteousness. (Ellen White, Review and Herald, December 23, 1890)

In the same Review and Herald article, we find this statement:

The road to paradise is not one of self-exaltation, but of repentance, confession, humiliation, of faith and obedience. (Ibid.)

Certainly righteousness by faith must include “repentance, confession, humiliation, . . . faith and obedience.” Those who claim to believe and teach righteousness by faith without including the denying of self and the obedience to the commandments of God are not teaching the real thing. Paul says:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

To be crucified with Christ means to be dead to self. Being dead to self gives the believer the life of Christ, whose faith and perfect obedience can be lived out by the one surrendered to God.

Confusion on the issue

Righteousness by faith as a term or expression should be simple enough to understand by the normal meaning of the words that comprise it; however, understanding it intellectually and experiencing it in the life have been difficult for many people. Although God designed this concept to be plain and simple, the fact is the multitude of various ideas surrounding the concept of righteousness by faith proves that Satan has been very successful in throwing a cloak of darkness upon it. Thus, instead of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5), we have many faiths and, in reality, many lords who are not true lords at all but are false christs, representing false gospels!

Virtually everyone who professes Christianity claims to believe in righteousness by faith. In fact, in my thirty-plus years of ministry, I have only met two professed Christians who openly stated that they did not believe in righteousness by faith, frankly declaring that man must be justified by his own works for salvation.

The candidates campaigning for president of the United States of America have all made some extreme statements about how to fix the economy, destroy Isis, and deal with the various issues facing the country. It should be obvious that all of them cannot be correct. In fact, none of them may be correct. Likewise, it should be clear that claiming to teach and believe in righteousness by faith is no guarantee the teacher is correct. Just because someone claims to be teaching righteousness by faith does not mean that he or she is doing so.

During the time of Jesus, the Pharisees and others misunderstood the teachings of the Old Testament. They came to believe that 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.

Jesus shattered their 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 religion of the Pharisees was lacking in the practical matters of faith. They had no contrition, tenderness, or love. Instead of helping sinners along the path toward God, these religious leaders became a stumbling block. Their religion was not sufficient to bring the soul into harmony with God. The Bible says we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), and 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 “purifies the soul” (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 15).

Just as God has always provided the needed instruction in one form or another, God had given to his people an understanding of the principles of righteousness by faith in the Old Testament. Seven hundred years before the time of Jesus, 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 Pharisee’s fundamental nature was vividly described, when Hosea wrote: “Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself” (Hosea 10:1). This was the results of their separation from God. Jesus would later proclaim man’s helplessness outside of divine help, when he said, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5), and, therefore, the truth of Isaiah’s forceful statement of 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).

Laying the ax at the root

Because 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 could be no better than they were. Simply put, they were endeavoring to make something holy from something unholy and unclean.

The unregenerate heart of man is carnal and at enmity against God:

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Romans 8:7)

Jesus declared to the scribes and the Pharisees:

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)

Before the outside of the cup (our outward actions) can be right, Jesus taught that the inside (the heart) must first be cleansed. Outward actions can never cleanse the heart. The heart must be cleansed first, and then the outward actions will come into line. We have been told:

There are many who try to correct the life of others by attacking what they consider are wrong habits. They go to those whom they think are in error, and point out their defects. They say, “You don’t dress as you should.” They try to pick off the ornaments, or whatever seems offensive, but they do not seek to fasten the mind to the truth. Those who seek to correct others should present the attractions of Jesus. They should talk of his love and compassion, present his example and sacrifice, reveal his Spirit, and they need not touch the subject of dress at all. There is no need to make the dress question the main point of your religion. There is something richer to speak of. Talk of Christ, and when the heart is converted, everything that is out of harmony with the word of God will drop off. It is only labor in vain to pick leaves off a living tree. The leaves will reappear. The ax must be laid at the root of the tree, and then the leaves will fall off, never to return. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, July 1, 1889)

Beloved, we cannot be holy and righteous by our own efforts. The Bible is emphatic upon this point. “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).

However, the gospel does not leave us where it finds us. Remember that the Greek word translated gospel means good news or glad tidings. The best good news we will ever hear is the good news about God; a God who loves us so much that he gave his only begotten Son so that we may not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The good news is that God 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)

The only thing that can keep you from God, from being saved, is your own perverse selfish heart and will. Jesus has promised us that if we open our hearts to him, nothing can take us from the hand of his Father:

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:28, 29)

This is a wonderful promise. If you open your heart fully to receive Christ, then you can be secure forever.

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).

While this seems very clear, some are confused on the statement of Paul to the Philippians:

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. (White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 482)

Unconverted man cannot obey God; he must have “a power above and outside of” himself (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, October 25, 1892). But, with the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, man can be made “willing to be made willing” (Ibid.).

Romans 8:5 says: “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” We can either focus upon the things of the flesh or the things of the mind. We are told to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). The simple truth is that if we dwell upon the things of the world or the flesh, we cannot dwell upon the things of the spirit and will finally be lost. Salvation comes down to the power of choice.

As man chooses to allow Jesus to come into his life, he 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 (Acts 20:21), the believer’s life becomes 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 God—that it is a reproduction in themselves of the character of Christ. For in Him, God was daily made manifest before them. (White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 55)

How is this act of character reproduction accomplished? It can only happen 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 God’s promises, and choose to submit ourselves to the Spirit of Christ and the power of his word working in us.

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. (Colossians 1:29)

This is to be a daily process, a continual process. Paul noted, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). As we continually surrender to the divine plan, we will find specific promises to meet every temptation and difficulty that arise each day.

The real goal

Have you ever wondered why time has continued so long? Peter states, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God wants salvation for every man, woman, and child. True salvation is not simply salvation from the penalty of sin, but it must also be from the power of sin, as well, and then when that is achieved, God will at last save us from the presence of sin. But to live eternally in heaven with him in a harmonious manner, the character must be one that will fit into the heavenly mold. God is not just looking for a people who have a clean slate of confessed sins, but he must have changed hearts and, with them, changed characters that are safe to save for eternity. 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 (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, December 12, 1878).

God created man, even in a fallen state, capable of responding to love. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It is the great love of God giving his Son that draws the sinner to God. “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 God’s dear Son. (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 27)

The love of God in giving his only begotten Son is the great foundation of the plan of salvation. It is essential, for as we understand God’s love and character in giving his Son, we shall met the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

This love of God leads to the justification and to the sanctification of the believer. 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 because he would rather die than sin against the one he so dearly loves.

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 (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, October 25, 1892).

And in the Scriptures we read:

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).

Ellen White writes further:

Man does not build himself into a habitation for the Spirit, but unless there is a co-operation of man’s will with God’s 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)

Struggling with temptations

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.” The Greek word translated “behoved” is ὤφειλε (ophelie) from ὀφείλω (opheilo). Opheilo 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 (M. L. Andreasen, Letters to the Churches, Series A, #1, p. 6; emphasis in original).

Furthermore, Ellen White notes that Jesus:

. . . took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature, that He might know how to succor those that are tempted. (Ellen White, Medical Ministry, p. 181)

What is involved?

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).[1]

Mortality means being subject to death. Jesus also 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. Furthermore, in John 5:30, Jesus said he could do nothing of himself. He depended upon the power of the Father. This way he could truly live as we live, with the liabilities wherewith we live.

Understanding this truth that Jesus came to live with our temptations is vital. Unless Jesus struggled with the same temptations, problems, and trials of those with which we struggle, he cannot be a help to us. Also, we must know that Jesus can (by experience) relate to our situation! How difficult it is to help those that look at you with a tear-filled face, saying: “You don’t understand; you’ve never been in my situation!” The sinner who understands that Jesus has taken upon himself sinful human nature can gain courage with the fact that his Saviour does know, by experience, the trial he or she is under and can relate, by experience, to his or her need. Therefore, Jesus can provide the help we must have when we are tempted because he “condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3).

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. A sweet section from The Desire of Ages that has spoken to my heart and which I pray will speak to your heart is:

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. (Ellen White, 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 eleven 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. (Ellen White, Australasian Union Conference Record, October 15, 1905).

Allen Stump

[1]. See also 1 Corinthians 15:3 and Isaiah 53:12. “But he humbled himself, and took mortality upon him” (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, July 5, 1887).


Now Abideth Faith

Ian Thorson was thin and delirious. He had been in his cave for months, seeking enlightenment, and he refused to leave the area until he found it. His companion in this quest was sure he was close to greatness. No one knew where he and Christie were. They were Tibetan Buddhists, and their cave was in the mountains of the Arizona desert. The cave was barely tall enough for him to stand in and allowed a sliver of light from a hole in the roof, but water was scarce. They had brought supplies with them, but the water, even water they had collected on tarps, was nearly gone. It wasn’t long after delirium set in that Ian began to feel very sick. He cramped and began to shiver and was still shivering after donning three sweaters and wrapping himself in his blanket. His face went from a pale white to a deep shade of purple, but he had three things to help him. Prayer was one. Tibetan words carved in a rock were in the cave to sanctify it and to purify his spiritual path, and repeating certain syllables from that rock was supposed to strongly connect him to his guru which, as the supposedly holy text he depended upon said, would restore his body, speech, and mind. Next was a sacred book devoted to Kali, and third was a Satellite Personal Tracker, which, if engaged, would send out a location beacon and a distress signal. He and his companion were in their cave as a test of faith.[1] The Bible says:

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)

Faith is connected with pleasing God. Most of us want to please God, and many want to be translated, as Enoch was, but without faith it is impossible to do either. (Hebrews 11:6); therefore, it behooves us to understand what faith really is. Is faith holding on to implausible ideas, even to the point of death, as Ian and his companion were doing? The classic definition of faith is given by Paul in Hebrews:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

Substance

The substance of things hoped for is an abstract idea and is often not understood, the actuality of which can wax and wane, according to our feelings. We want our faith, however, to be strong and steadfast through thick and thin, so let us consider a few Greek words in verse 11.

The Greek word translated substance is ὑπόστασις (hupostasis) and means a support or steadiness,[2] a setting under, or a foundation. Faith is the foundation of the spiritual things for which we hope. It is the basis for all things spiritual, but it is a foundation that can underlie truth, as well as error:

Faith is the medium through which truth or error finds a lodging place in the mind. It is by the same act of mind that truth or error is received. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, June 5, 1893; all emphasis in this article added unless otherwise noted)

Faith being the foundation continues to be abstract, however, for it is a foundation to something we cannot see, hold, touch, or measure, and this is why we need evidence.

Evidence

Faith is also the evidence of things not seen. The Greek word translated evidence is ἔλεγχος (elénchos) and means a persuasion, proof, or conviction which is usually accomplished by argument or discussion. A form of this word is used in John 8:46, where Jesus asks, “Which of you convinceth (elénchō) me of sin?” In other words, who was able to give evidence or proof of any sin of Christ? Elénchō is also used in John 16:8, where Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit and is translated as reprove: “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” Elénchō is the evidence that convinces us of a truth or the evidence that brings about a conviction, often through the power of argument or discussion.

This evidence of our faith “stands on the revelation, word, and promise of God.”[3] The evidence of faith takes away the abstraction and becomes “a settled assurance, based on confidence that God will fulfill His promises. We may never have seen the generator that produces the electricity we use in our homes, but we rightly consider the presence of the electricity sufficient evidence of the existence of the generator.”[4] Our physical eyes may now be closed to viewing the realities of heavenly things—angels, Jesus, our heavenly Father, the New Jerusalem, the heavenly sanctuary, etc.—but a life that has been changed from selfishness to selflessness, from rebellion to obedience, is sufficient proof of the reality of heavenly things. With this very real evidence in our own lives, we can have faith in the things promised by God for our future and for our present temporal life, the most important of which today are the promises of a victorious life. The righteousness of a victorious life is always by faith, but:

There is no such thing as blind faith. Genuine faith always rests upon the firm, underlying “substance” of sufficient evidence to warrant confidence in what is not yet seen. Hupostasis is used in the ancient papyri of the legal documents by which a person proved his ownership of property. The documents were not the property, but they provided evidence of its existence and of his right to it.” (Ibid.)

Just as legal documents prove the ownership of property, so a life of sin changed to a life of righteousness proves the reality of our relationship to Christ and of the unseen heavenly things.

Both the substance (the foundation) and the evidence (the convincing proof) of our faith are based on the word of God, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

True faith rests on the promises contained in the word of God, and those only who obey that word can claim its glorious promises. “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7. “Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” 1 John 3:22. (Ellen White, Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, p. 126)

The words and promises of God are the only foundation of our faith. (Ellen White, Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 72)

General Krulak

General Charles Krulak had faith. In 1991, days before the Gulf War, General Norman Schwarzkopf ordered American troops to flank the Iraqi army, which meant sixty thousand Marines had to relocate from an old airport that could supply their need of 100,000 gallons of water a day to a place called Gravel Plains which had no water. For fourteen days engineers drilled desperately for water. Officers went to the Saudi government and asked if they knew of any water in Gravel Plains. Their answer was no. Krulak brought the exiled Kuwaiti government down to the command post. Together they pored over maps, but they found no water in Gravel Plains. Krulak contacted the Bedouin tribes and the nomads in the area. They also knew of no water on Gravel Plains. Krulak continues his story, as reported at a prayer breakfast:

In 1976 I had become a Christian, and every morning at 7:15 since that day I’ve held devotions. During this 14-day period, I obviously asked the Lord to help us with this need for water.

Finally on the Sunday before we were to go into Kuwait I was in a tent where we were holding a chapel service and were praying for water when a colonel came to the tent and asked to see me. I went outside and he said, “General, I need to show you something.”

We got in his vehicle and drove down a road we had built through the desert from the Gravel Plains to the border of Kuwait. I had driven down that road at least 70 times. Over sixty thousand Marines had passed down that road. We drove about a mile down that road, and the officer said, “Look over there.” About 20 yards off the road was a tower that reached 15 feet into the air. It was a white tower, and at the top of the tower was a cross. Coming off the ends of the cross were canvas sleeves—sleeves used in old train stations to put water into train engines. At the base of the cross was an eight-foot-high pump newly painted red. Beside that pump was a diesel engine. Beside the diesel engine were four batteries still in their plastic. It was a diesel engine. The United States military in Desert Storm did not use diesel fuel. We had no diesel fuel. But beside this engine was a 500-gallon tank filled with diesel fuel.

On the engine was an “on” button and an “off” button, and between those two buttons was a keyhole. I asked the officer, “Has anybody seen the key?” He said, “Sir, there is no key.”

I pushed the “on” button, and the engine kicked over immediately. I called one of my engineers and said, “I want you to test the flow coming out of these pipes.” In my heart I knew what his answer was going to be. An hour later he said, “Sir, it is putting out one hundred thousand gallons a day.”

I went back to the well five days later. The wind and sand had sand-blasted the new paint off.”[5]

This is an amazing experience and an obviously supernatural one. Krulak is convinced God answered his prayer of faith, and I am sure every person on Gravel Plains, religiously inclined or no, was impressed by this supernatural event.

Pastor Miller

Pastor Duane Miller had faith. He was the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, in 1990 when he became ill. What started as the flu, with aching body, sore throat, head congestion, and a voice that gradually lost its altitude, ended up with a constant feeling of constriction in his throat and the loss of his voice altogether, except for a raspy whisper and even that was sometimes not present. All his symptoms cleared except this one, and his inability to speak continued for years. He lost his job as a pastor because of it. He tried other work but eventually was terminated because his voice, at best, was a raspy whisper that left out syllables and was always hard to understand. Financial stress was high. The virus from the flu had penetrated the myelin sheaths around the nerves in his vocal cords, destroying his voice, and there was nothing the doctors could do. With a special microphone held closely to his lips, Miller was able to teach a Sunday School class. It took great effort and even with the microphone, his raspy voice was often difficult to hear and to understand, but something happened one Sunday, three years after his struggles began. The lesson was on Psalm 104. He reports:

My throat hurt very badly at this point. I had been teaching for over twenty minutes, and I had to strain especially hard to make even the raspy sound come out. I wondered if I’d be able to finish the class. After reading verse four, I began saying, “I have had and you have had in times past pit experiences.”

As soon as the word “pit” escaped from my mouth, the hands that had been choking my throat for over three years suddenly let go. I was stunned. Just seconds before, I felt like I as suffocating under the pressure of those unrelenting hands. Now, for the first time in three years, I could breathe.

I heard a gasp in the crowd, and that’s when I too, realized my voice had come back. I could hear myself! Still not quite believing what was taking place, I said a few more words. My speech was halting at this point—out of shock more than anything else—but my resonance was clear. At first, I was afraid that maybe this would be another false alarm, but the incredibly free sensation in my throat told me this was about more than hearing a voice—I had a new throat!

“We’ve all had times when our lives have seemed to be in a pit, a grave,” I went on, speaking with an absolutely, positively normal voice. My voice was there, it was clearly there! I stopped again, too stunned to go on, then spoke once more, and my voice was still there!

Still, I asked myself, Is that what I think it is? It sounded like my voice, it felt like my voice, it was coming from my mouth, but the best doctors in the world had told me I’d never have a voice again.

As I spoke, I could feel sensations around my Adam’s apple that I hadn’t felt for three long years! What was dead had literally and stunningly come back to life….

The class reacted with cheers and shouts and laughter and tears . . .[6]

When you read his entire story about the hard years of struggle for him and his family and about his loneliness and doubt but of never giving up on God, you might very well be touched with the emotion of the moment when his voice returned, BUT we can never be swayed by emotion in spiritual matters. We must measure everything by the word of God. Had God honored this man’s faith and healed him?

Faith and miracles

We can never judge a person’s heart or the quality of his or her spiritual faith. Only God can do this, but we know that deception in the last days will be of such a magnitude that, if possible, it will deceive the very elect (Matthew 24:24). So we must be able to discern between a true miracle and a false one, if we do not want to be deceived, and the criteria cannot be if the person healed knows the truth about God, the truth about the Sabbath, and/or any other truth of the Bible because people were healed in biblical times who were not of the Jewish faith. The father of Publius, the chief man of Melita, where Paul had been shipwrecked, was ill, and he was healed after Paul prayed for him (Acts 28:8). The servant of a Roman centurion was healed (Matthew 8:5–13). God supplied water for the armies of the king of Israel and of the king of Edom (2 Kings 3:12, 17), even though the kings and their troops were not following God’s ways.

Here is a key for discernment: The test of authenticity of a miracle was not based on the obedience to God by the person or persons who received the benefit of the miracle. The decision about whether or not the miracle was of God was based upon the obedience of the person praying for the miracle. In other words, it mattered not if Publius’s father was a believer in God and walking in his ways. Paul was, and he was the one asking for the healing. God could honor Paul’s request because he asked it with a faith that was unfeigned and unsullied. It mattered not if the king of Israel or if the king of Edom was walking in God’s ways. Elisha was, and God could answer his faithful servant’s prayer for water. Adventist missionaries have prayed for the life and/or the health of unbelieving people so that faith in the God of heaven could be kindled or strengthened, and God has honored such prayers.

Applying this to miracles today, we look, first of all, at the person praying for the miracle and not at the person receiving the benefits of it. When we learn of a miracle anywhere in the religious world, we can rightly ask ourselves if the person praying for the miracle was walking in the paths of righteousness and if he or she was claiming the promises of God because God will always honor his word, but only for those obeying his word. If the one praying, and this can include the sick one as he mentally prays for himself, is not praying according to God’s promises and is not obeying his commandments, God cannot honor that prayer, and that is when Satan steps in with his lying wonders.

True faith rests on the promises contained in the word of God, and those only who obey that word can claim its glorious promises. (Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 72)

Genuine faith has its foundation in the promises and provisions of the Scriptures. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 126)

Praying for a miracle of any kind has a significant responsibility. In 1853, Ellen White answered a brother’s question about praying for healing:

You inquire if we should pray for none that are sick except those in the third angel’s message, or pray for all that shall make application, etc. (James 5:14, 15) is our rule to follow. “Is any sick among you? Let them call,” etc. It is those that are among us. God has shown me those who keep God’s commandments [are] to have nothing to do in praying for the sick of those who are daily trampling them underfoot, unless it is in some special case where souls are convicted of the truth and are decided to move out upon it. The partition wall between commandment keepers and those who trample them underfoot should be kept up. (Ellen White, Lt11–1853, December 3, 1853, par. 8; parentheses and brackets in original)

Here we see a second key for discernment: Today the sick and the person praying for healing have the same responsibility to walk in God’s ways, for we live in a day of widespread biblical knowledge, and we cannot ask for a miracle if either party is trampling on God’s word. Today no Protestant pastor and no Catholic priest can say he or she does not know God’s moral law, for God’s word is available everywhere they are or have been, and no excuse can be claimed by most individuals of the Christian world, for God’s word is freely available to them also. In certain parts of the world, where the Bible is strictly condemned and unavailable, we must allow leeway, but certainly in most of the world we can safely judge who is behind a miracle. Any miracle performed in answer to a prayer of faith made by and/or for any Christian not keeping all of God’s commandments is not accomplished by God. We say that with surety because Christianity has free access to God’s word, with the exception mentioned above of those few living in highly controlled societies.

Many of us, however, allow the lines of godly faith to blur concerning miracles and prayers of faith because we love to hear of good things happening, such as the experiences of Pastor Miller and of General Krulak, and we do not want to deny the working of God, so we allow for the possibility that the person praying for and the person receiving the miracle were living up to all the light they had, and, therefore, God could honor their faith. Such a philosophy might have been true in times past when knowledge of God’s word was limited and growing, but we are living when the end of all things is at hand, when knowledge has been increased, and when truth is available to everyone, except for the very few. God will only honor the prayers of those who obey his commandments and who also ask according to his promises. It is that simple. We need not be deceived.[7] A wonderful promise of protection is:

Those who are watching unto prayer and are searching the Scriptures daily with an earnest desire to know and do the will of God will not be led astray by any of the deceptions of Satan. (Ellen White, Faith and Works, p. 45)

We must remember, though, that all of “God’s promises are made upon conditions. If we do His will, if we walk in truth, then we may ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us” (Ibid., p. 47).

We may ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us! Is not that a wonderful promise? God, however, reserves the right to decide when he provides the answer.

Faith, like a beautifully faceted diamond, reflects light in all directions. It is made perfect by works; it grasps the hand of Christ in every emergency; it is of heavenly origin; it trusts God; it prevails against Satan; it works by love; it purifies the soul; it is strengthened by exercise; it has as its foundation, author, and finisher Jesus; and the prayer of faith is the great strength of the Christian. But faith has counterfeits, too. It is not a happy flight of feeling, it is not presumption, it is not an intellectual assent to truth, it is not what we can see, and it is not the certainty we gain with knowledge.

Andreasen and faith

M. L. Andreasen speaks of negative and of positive faith in this way:

To many, faith is intangible. They have heard it used by Christians in such a way as to give the impression that faith requires us to believe the unbelievable, that it is opposed to reason, that it is something to be swallowed and no questions asked. But this is not the biblical or the true view. Yet many believe it to be, and whenever they are confused with a question which they do not understand, they answer unthinkingly, “We will have to take that by faith.” This expression generally stops all investigation, all research, all reasoning. Instead of applying their minds to the problem, as God intended they should, they substitute blind faith for thinking and are prone to judge those who investigate a little further as impious souls who are prying into the secrets of God.

I need an operation, and find a skillful and reliable surgeon. I inquire of those upon whom he has operated, and am satisfied as to his competence. I am ready to let him do my work. I have faith in him, faith based on evidence, on fact, on performance.

This is the kind of faith of which Hebrews says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb. 11:1. For “substance” the margin has “ground, or confidence”; that is, faith grounded in confidence; and this confidence is what I build on. The Greek word here means “that which stands under, as a foundation, that which may be built on.” This faith is not an unreasoned belief but one grounded in past accomplishment, something on which one may safely build. (M. L. Andreasen, The Faith of Jesus, pp. 142, 143)

The faith of Jesus

Hebrews 11 gives us encouragement with the many examples of persons of faith, for many of the people made great mistakes, just like we have, but by faith they conquered. Faith truly is the victory. By faith we are justified, and by faith we are sanctified. By faith we claim the promises of God, and by faith we can accept a martyr’s death. By faith we maintain the patience of the saints, and by faith we keep the commandments of God and keep the faith of Jesus.

What, however, is the faith of Jesus and how do we keep it? The faith of Jesus is all the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, and the Greek word translated keep means to guard, to watch over, to preserve, as well as to obey. So, the 144,000 will have patience, and they will preserve and obey the commandments of God, as well as preserve and obey all the teachings of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

Again you inquire what the faith of Jesus is. I have seen that the brethren and sisters have not understood the faith of Jesus in its true light. They have taught that it is healing the sick, etc. It is not healing the sick, merely, but it is all the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” I saw that it was the whole New Testament which relates to Jesus. (Ellen White, Lt11–1853, December 3, 1853, par. 6; to Brother Pierce)

Faith is a gift

What more can we say of spiritual faith? One very important thing. No man obtains it by his own effort. We are required to develop it, yes, but it is not something we can originate of ourselves. Faith is given as a gift to every human being:

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)

After Jesus, life, and possibly freedom of choice, this is the greatest universal gift God has given to man. Many inherent things are common to us, regardless of race or nationality—happiness, fear, humor, stress, the ability to reproduce, etc.; but faith is a treasure above them all.

Faith is also a fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22, 23)

And it is the first rung, so to speak, in Peter’s ladder of godly living:

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (2 Peter 1:5–7)

The development of faith is a part of Christian growth:

Only by a constant exercise of intelligent faith, a faith that grows continually, can we properly develop in Christian experience. If we will encourage that faith that grasps the promises of God, these promises will be fulfilled in our behalf. (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, December 16, 1909)

Faith that enables us to receive God’s gifts is itself a gift, of which some measure is imparted to every human being. It grows as exercised in appropriating the word of God. In order to strengthen faith, we must often bring it in contact with the word. (Ellen White, Education, p. 253)

Conclusion

Ian Thorson died because he clung to a godless faith and thought that by works and by self denial he could gain enlightenment. It is with great sorrow that we learn of misplaced faith—of people forced by their priests to walk on their knees up to the altar in order to receive communion at Mass because they had no money to pay for it, of the great masses who mourned Stalin[8] at his death and of the hundreds who were trampled to death trying to gain the privilege of viewing him as he lay in state at his funeral, and of the deceptions fully believed to be truths laid in the path of nominal Christians, but we are blessed. We know the sweet Jesus, who tenderly said:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:3–12)

All these blessings are ours to claim by faith.

What a beautiful life is that of a Christian!

Onycha Holt

[1] See Scott Carney, A Death on Diamond Mountain, locations 135–167 of Kindle edition

[2]. Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries

[3]. Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, p. 222

[4]. Francis D. Nichol, ed., The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 471. Comments for the book of Hebrews in this commentary were written by M. L. Andreasen. (See Herbert E. Douglass, “The QOD Earthquake—Attempted Merger of Two Theological Tectonic Plates”, p. 14)

[5]. More Perfect Illustrations for Every Topic and Occasion, compiled by PreachingToday.com, pp. 182, 183

[6]. Duane Miller, Out of the Silence, pp. 125, 126; emphasis in original

[7]. We do not pass judgment on anyone’s spirituality but only on what we see—obedience to all of God’s commandments—and on what we hear—the claiming of the promises of God.

[8] Joseph Stalin, former communist leader of the USSR


Youth Corner — Escape from Siberia

(This installment is the first part of Chapter 9 of Escape from Siberian Exile by John Godfrey Jacques, published by Pacific Press in 1921.)

A Penal Island

By the pressure of the water from the south, the ice was carried away from the point on the Ob where our settlement was located; but as it did not find an outlet at the still frozen mouth of the river, it formed a dam, and the water gradually spread out beyond the banks. The village became completely surrounded by water, and the country was soon flooded as far as we could see.

The fish found more bountiful fare outside the river channel than they had had inside, and became almost too fat to move, whereas they had been very lean before. Men sometimes waded out into the water and caught them in their hands.

With the warm weather came wild ducks in vast flocks. Hunters sold ducks for little more than the traditional price of sparrows.

When, later in the summer, the water receded from the land, there arose from the wet ground clouds of mosquitoes. The air was full of them. They were in eyes, ears, and nostrils.

We obtained permission from our guard to go by boat to a place on the river where we could get some birch saplings, to make a frame over which we could stretch netting to cover our beds at night. In the forest, a worse enemy than the mosquitoes attacked us —myriads of gnats, which actually dimmed the sunlight; We had thought we were insured against their onslaughts, as we wore netting over our faces, and had bound our clothing securely at wrists and ankles. But in spite of these precautions, many of the tiny pests penetrated to our flesh; and such torture did they inflict, that we were ill for days.

The mosquitoes and the gnats rob the people of Siberia of much of the enjoyment of their brief summer. But before the summer is over, relief is likely to come in the form of another calamity. Camp fires left burning by careless hunters and fishermen, often spread to surrounding brush and timber, causing forest fires that burn over hundreds of acres. The smoke is suffocating; but it is not whollv an evil, for it does away with the mosquitoes and the gnats.

When the weather permitted, Gorelic and I spent a portion of the Sabbath in a sequestered place a little distance from the village—a depression in the river bank, with natural seats of earth. Among the few who met with us there for Bible study and worship was the young Polish military prisoner. He expressed the hope that when the war was over, he might return to his own country, and there tell the good tidings of salvation.

One evening, we were called to appear before the chief of our guard. He had not been unfriendly to us up to this time, but now he was quite changed. He read to us a communication from the lieutenant governor of the district, directing that in order to stop our “propaganda,” we be transferred to Kolguyak. The chief ordered that we be ready to start for that place the next morning.

Reluctantly we put together our “seven possessions”; and at the hour specified, we were at the river’s edge. The question came to me as to why we should not have refrained from speaking of religion, and thus have been spared this new trial that had come upon us. The thought of banishment to a still more northerly station was most depressing. But soon I could rejoice again in fellowship with my Master, even in suffering.

In a large canoe, with two guards in charge, we pushed off from the bank, and glided out upon the “back” of the Ob.

As we passed out between the great forests that bordered the river, the silence seemed almost holy. So profound was it that even the sound of a drop of water falling from one of our oars was audible.

That scene of the far north was as if nature would concentrate the charm of an entire year in the short summer. And the mirror-like water, reflecting the beauties of the shore, made them more than twofold. In delight at the romantic view, guards and prisoners united, appearing to forget their relationship.

From the water, there came to us a sound of the dip of oars, although we could see no boat other than our own, nor did the sound of any reach us through the air. Not till about an hour later did we meet the boat of which the river had given us tidings—so far does water transmit sound. The occupants were fishermen, and half drunk.

Before night, we were at Narym, the seat of administration for a large though little inhabited territory. Our guards delivered their papers to the chief of police of the district; and as there was no possibility of our escaping from that isolated spot, we were left to our selves for the night.


West Virginia Camp Meeting

The Final Atonement: June 14–18

As we have noted the last few months, the West Virginia camp meeting will be held at Smyrna Tuesday, June 14, through Sabbath, June 18.

Through the years we have focused on some very important topics, but I do not think that we have ever had a more important one than this coming year’s theme: “The Final Atonement.”

The concept of a final atonement has been a pillar of Adventism from early on. The Battle Creek Church, in 1890, proclaimed this truth in a list of its published fundamentals:

That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom he created all things, and by whom they consist; that he took on him the nature of man, for the redemption of our fallen race; that he dwelt among men, full of grace and truth, lived our example, died our sacrifice, was raised for our justification, ascended on high to be our only mediator in the sanctuary in heaven, where, through the atoning merits of his blood, he secures the pardon and forgiveness of all who penitently come to God through him; and as the closing portion of his work as priest before he comes again as King of kings, he will make the final atonement for the sins of all believers, and blot them out, as foreshadowed and prefigured by the Levitical priesthood. (1890 Church Directory of the Membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Battle Creek)

We certainly encourage you to come and to share the blessing with us. We want this to be an interactive camp meeting, so we are planning for lots of time for questions and discussion after the meetings. Some of the speakers currently scheduled are Michael Brown, Ed Cyrus, Onycha Holt, S. T. Lewis, Morgan Polsky, Dennis Robertson, Allen Stump, Andy Whitehurst, and Michael Woodward.

The afternoons (Wednesday–Friday) will be devoted to three seminars on health and to the youth meetings. The health seminars will be conducted by Raquel Akens, Elaine Nailing, and Christy Whitehurst. The seminars will include principles of healthy meal planning and demonstrations of healthful food preparations, with the benefit of electricity and without, and one seminar will be devoted to useful natural treatments.

We are very pleased that Three Rivers Avian Center will again visit us, presenting another interesting exhibit of some of their beautiful birds.

Camping is free to all, but each camper will be responsible for his or her own meals, except on Sabbath, when a fellowship meal will be provided. Kitchen facilities will not be available, but camp stoves can be used in the camping area, and ice for ice chests can be obtained one mile away. 

This is a camp meeting. We do not have cabins or rooms available. Smyrna has a few tents and other camping supplies for those who do not have their own and who cannot afford to purchase them. The supply is limited, so if you need to use a tent, camp stove, sleeping bag, or other items, please request early. We have four shower units with hot and cold water. Remember to bring items such as bedding, flashlights, food, toiletries, and insect repellent. Let our dress and deportment be such as becomes Christians. 

While there is room for RV’s, we do not have hook-ups. RV’s will need to be self-contained. For those who wish, there are motels in the area. The nearest motels are: The Pocahontas Motel (304) 436–2250, The Cow Shed (304) 732–7000, and Twin Falls State Park Resort (304) 294–4000. If you need a room, please call early, as the better motels fill up quickly due to a large influx of tourists at this time of year.

Please check our website (smyrna.org) for detailed driving directions.

Editors


Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, 750 Smyrna Road, Welch, WV 24801–9606 U. S. A. 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 website. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732–9204. Fax: (304) 732–7322.

Editor Allen Stump—editor@smyrna.org
Associate Editor Onycha Holt—onycha@smyrna.org