Hmmm… so put your money where your mouth is, perhaps? Cuz you can’t have it both ways as you’re attempting to do here with statements that go both ways.
My hope is that you will find time to review the Ellen White quotes I gleaned from an article by an Adventist pastor/author who disagrees, who uses them to buttress his argument that both faith and works of obedience to the law are required for salvation.
They are included in comment #267.
My question is: How can one reconcile these EGW statements to those of Paul stating that salvation is a gift and righteousness is ours by faith?
“. . . cover.” ?
“Cover” is a misrepresentation, both, of what the Bible says and at least what the 1888 messenger, A.T. Jones, pointed out and taught from that Bible. And from what I can tell, neither the so-called ‘LGT’-ers, nor those who oppose them, are fully focusing on the whole, unique truth of the Gospel presented in the Bible.
While going through Isaiah 59, Jones once pointed out directly to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists that our own righteousness simply does NOT ‘cover’ us, at all. (Not even if our own robes are “white”, gray, pink or bloody red and showing clear evidence of a failed ‘life’.) Jones proved the perpetual lack of any ‘covering’ ability of any version of our own righteousness, by referring to Isaiah 59:6:
“Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.”
When caught hiding from God’s face in Eden, the vulnerable, or ‘naked’, Adam and Eve were not ‘covered’ by the ‘leaky’ leaves they had gathered to hide behind, AND the skins from sacrificed animals that Adam had once named and otherwise cared for. No, the skins replaced – not ‘covered’ – their own sloppy attempts at partially ‘righting’ their embarrassing condition. The skins, alone, covered them completely enough for their safety. Christ’s righteousness is not a disguise for hiding our own un-righteous righteousness behind, but a complete replacement for our own.
Right now, the best reason for “re-litigating the works and faith battles of yesteryear” is apparently because neither side of this modern partisan Seventh-day Adventist debate over what is being called ‘LGT’ is pointing the accusing finger at the other side from 100% solid ground on their own side. Truth that is solid enough to be trusted is not even debatable, nor would it make good sense to even try to attack or debate such trustworthy truth from any ‘side’. (Try debating against ‘gravity’ and see where it gets you. Lost in space !)
So, clearly, re-litigating the ‘1888’ works and faith battles of the past is the only way to break out of the ongoing current SDA battles that can only continue to recur as long as the‘1888’ ‘beginning’ of the Latter Rain ‘teacher of righteousness, according to’ God’s own idea of ‘righteousness’ (Jones’ chosen interpretation of Joel 2:23.) is not most clearly understood as it can and must be.
Until it is understood most clearly, the SDA religion cannot move forward from that beginning of the ‘Latter Rain’ message, in a greater understanding of that Everlasting Gospel unique to its God-given mission in the world, and must instead borrow ideas from every other Christian religion’s ‘gospel understanding’, from which it claims to have ‘come out’. NOT.
Apparently this idea-borrowing now includes the Catholic human-‘merit’-system for salvation, that was supposed to have ended just as the Advent Movement was meant to replace it, and its lack of success in removing ‘dark’ guilt from human hearts, by human merit, alone. Clearly that human-‘merit’-system is now regaining influence – even among Adventists – instead of losing it as God intended, especially, since 1844.
The healing of erring human hearts is accomplished by trusting in the merits and the fidelity of the Divine-human Christ, alone. Observe and worship those merits and the ‘faith of Jesus’ in action, and live. Any other ‘way’ of being ‘saved’ is in competition with the way of ‘Christ, our Righteousness’ for healing hearts – not our own unrighteous righteousness, merely veiled – just as Satan is in competition with Christ.
These principles of the Plan of Salvation were expanded upon by the SDA 1888-era ‘Latter Rain’ messengers, Ellen White, Alonzo Jones, Ellet Waggoner and William Prescott, for far too little time, before being silenced by the SDA General Conference leadership’s ‘Laodicean’ lack of interest and enthusiasm. Meanwhile, anyone among the SDA ‘little people’ who was fortunate enough to hear such great news, ate it up. But far too many SDAs either could not, or would not hear it, and there lies the beginnings of the SDA disunity and partisanship which the SDA church is reaping and enjoying ‘eating up’, today.
Sadly, just as in the U.S. Gov’t., the ‘little people’ simply do not get to run the hierarchical SDA church’s real business, day-by-day, no matter what their occasional ‘vote’ may try to do to steer it in a better way. SDA ministry is therefore a very secure career choice. SDA leaders live long, healthy, and untouchable SDA lives, giving them long success in slowing down any real SDA Gospel-learning progress by their long, paid ‘compliance’ with a unique, but long-uncompleted, ‘partial’ Laodicean, but General Conference-approved ‘gospel’ message. (I know of an SDA church where members of its own local congregation were forbidden to discuss ‘1888’ matters on their own church property, and they had to meet in one of their own private homes to do so, instead.)
Any sincere attempt to make sense of any true, trustworthy ‘LGT’, must allow for the comparison of Ellen’s statement regarding ‘perfectly reflecting the character of Christ’ with the statement of Jesus to Nicodemus, ‘You must be born again.’
I have compared them, along with the teachings of the 1888 ‘Latter Rain’ messenger to the SDA General Conference, A.T. Jones, and I can see no difference between Jones’ teachings, and Ellen’s and Christ’s statements. Especially since all of those teachings and statements lead to a focus on the Cross of Christ for the fulfillment of the Gospel promise. (‘Look and live.’ Don’t look there, and die.) And, I’m quite sure that all ‘sides’ of the current SDA debate over ‘LGT’ are not meeting together at the ‘foot’ of that Cross, or the century-old ‘1888’ SDA debates would have cooled and ended in real Gospel peace-making on very solid trustworthy ground, long ago, instead of more and more heatedly increasing, and repeatedly so.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try . . . again, and again.
The only way out is through, in this case.
Revisiting what went wrong in SDA history, that has caused such heated partisan debating for so long, now, is ironically the only way forward. Merely confirming and reinforcing those past ‘mistakes’ sprung from long-uncompleted teachings, while still describing them as being part of a short list of ‘fundamental doctrines’, and then enforcing ‘compliance’ to their incomplete state, is NOT forward progress. That is extremely backward and destructive, because,
A church divided against itself cannot stand.
And this is a problem why? Is God limited by whether the church stands or falls? If we find this problematic then maybe “the church” has become an idol?
Or the SDA church will not stay forever in its present condition. Either way it happens…God is still in control.
There is no attempt to have it both ways here, Johnny, and I’m sorry if I haven’t been clear enough in previous posts. Let me try again.
My contention is that when one’s main focus is on one’s sin, trying to overcome, trying to overcome, trying to overcome, ad nauseam, life is terrible. As I think you would agree, there is no freedom in a life focused in this way.
But when a Christian’s main focus is on Christ–knowing Him, learning of Him, being with Him, etc.–then life is good! AND, one of the inevitable by-products of that union is fruitfulness, including progressive victory over known, willful sin (as distinguished from one’s sinful nature, tendencies, etc., to which one is often blind and even completely unaware of). In my opinion, anything less than this makes a mockery of texts like John 8:11, John 15:1-5, Galatians 5:22 & 23, etc.
Again, this victory over willful sin strongly tends to be progressive, as Christ reveals to us more over time of who we really are and who we can become in Him: people who are more just, more loving, more kind, etc, etc.
But please note: In my opinion, these victories over sin have absolutely zero merit attached to them–that is, these victories do not get us into the kingdom or “earn” us our salvation in any way. Good works are the fruit, not the root, of salvation (see Great Controversy, p. 256). We thus don’t do good things to be saved, but because we have already been saved. “Truly, truly, I tell you,” said Jesus, “whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I am doing…” (Jn. 14:12). Saved in Christ, we now have both the inclination (II Cor. 5:17, Heb. 8:10) and the ability (through the Spirit of Christ–Romans 8:13) of learning to live the kingdom kind of life, free from the pressures of legalistic righteousness.
There is more I could say, but perhaps this is sufficient. Does this help explain my position better?
I very much agree with the thrust of what you are saying.
However, here are a couple of points I hope you consider.
In virtually all cases, faith produces a changed life and different behaviours. Our works flow from and reflect our deepening relationship with Christ. (I see it as the divine Seed planted within by the gospel growing to maturity.)
But this is not a certainty.
In 1Corinthians Paul wrote that he was very upset with lack of progress on the path of sanctification by this congregation. In 3:10-15 he relates the hypothetical case of a believer (one whose foundation is Christ) who builds on his faith with faulty materials. Come judgment day his deficient works are revealed and found wanting. They are burned up. He gets no reward, but instead suffers loss. ‘But he himself will be saved, still going through the fire.’
I agree that our works are not salvific - as you say, we cannot earn our way by works into the kingdom. But in the example I cited above Paul says, ‘If anyone’s work which he has built on the foundation remains, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss.’ (1Cor 3:14). So there is some merit, some reward associated with good works (and some sort of penalty for bad ones).
The Bible is clear that there will be a judgment of believers at the end of this age and we will be judged and rewarded or chastened for our works. This is stated in many verses (Matt 16:27; Rom 2:5-6; 14:10-12; 1Cor 3:8; 2Cor 5:10; 11:15; Jude 15; Rev 20:12; 22;12).
The Bible is also clear that there will be varying punishments depending on each person’s works and what s/he had the opportunity to know. (Matt 10:15; 11:21-24; 12:41; Luke 10:13-15; 12:47). Interesting that Jesus said Tyre, Sidon and Sodom will make out better in the judgment than some of the cities of Israel he preached in.
‘That servant who knew His master’s will, but did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who unknowingly committed acts worthy of punishment shall be beaten with few stripes. For to whom much is given, of him much shall be required. And from him to whom much was entrusted, much will be asked.’ (Luke 12:47-48). This is an example, a parable Jesus took from life at that time. I believe that whatever action God decides will be both just and loving, and restorative in nature.
Adventists are correct in believing in this coming judgment of all based on our works (Adventism’s IJ). I think the mistake comes in assuming our salvation is the issue in this judgment. I believe that Paul’s explanation of the gospel shows that we are saved by grace through faith, not works, so this judgment can’t be to determine who is saved. Rather, I believe it is to legally decide and declare the degree and type of reward or corrective, restorative chastisement each of us is to receive.
I see it this way: I think Paul wanted to be more than merely a citizen of Christ’s coming kingdom. His faith in Christ ensured that. I think that this ‘prize of the upward call of God’ he sensed and said he had not yet attained but was pressing on ‘to lay hold of’ (Phil 3:9-14) was a position of authority in the next age, the age when the kingdom becomes more fully manifested on earth.
The Bible tells us of some of these rewards, these positions of kingdom authority in the age to come I think Paul had in mind (under Christ of course): priests (Rev 5:10; 20:6), rulers (Dan 7:22; 2Tim 2:12; Luke 19:15-19; Rev 20:4,6), and judges (Matt 19:28; 1Cor 6:2-3). I believe that Paul’s hope was that how he lived his life (his works, his degree of sanctification) will qualify him for a position of trust, responsibility and service in the kingdom.
It’s puzzling seeing how much talk a mere heresy can trigger among the members of the Remnant Church…
It appears that the heresy of perfectionism is gradually becoming “present truth”… This time, for the first time, with the full support of a GC President.
"I believe that Paul’s explanation of the gospel shows that we are saved by grace through faith, not works, so this judgment can’t be to determine who is saved. Rather, I believe it is to legally decide and declare the degree and type of reward or corrective, restorative chastisement each of us is to receive."
" I believe that Paul’s hope was that how he lived his life (his works, his degree of sanctification) will qualify him for a position of trust, responsibility and service in the kingdom."
A theology that I have never heard of, but seems rather the ‘works’ idea just put into different words. I reckon Christs deciples forgot all about ‘first being last and last being first’, in other words, all are equal. Humans want positions, or my achievments are better thatn yours so I get a higher rank. Christ taught against that attitude.
All are saved, but we are still going to hand out punishment of some sort based on quality of life. Paganism is the best I can label such thought or idea.
John – Does a Church [Denomination] “Fall”? OR, does it just change. And in
proper changing, become more “true church”?
I think that depends on who you ask.
For myself I refuse to invest emotional energy in being overly concerned about the fate of a denomination. I don’t believe it is an appropriate use of God’s gifts to each of his children.
He asks us to live in His grace and share our story with with others who find themselves in the same valley we’ve been in. Sometimes this is done corporately but more often it’s done one on one while breaking bread with others.
Jaray, I’d like to try to explain more fully my comment you addressed.
I think one problem is we have trouble thinking past our own salvation and don’t pick up on Christ’s plans for us after He comes back and on how the kingdom is to be more fully manifested on earth.
Mt 25: 14-30/Lk 19:11-27 tell of a nobleman going to a distant country to receive a kingdom and then returning. He left three servants behind, each with resources ‘according to his ability’. When he returned he rewarded each according to what each had gained for the kingdom. The first two were made rulers ‘over many things’; one over five cities, the other over two. The third servant gained nothing and so was punished. But nowhere does it say the master sold or disowned this servant. Thus, to me the story is saying that there will be varying rewards for what we have done with our opportunities and abilities.
The last word in my comment was ‘service’ because I believe that will be the reward of those the judgment indicates are worthy. Public officials are elected or appointed to serve and those we most respect put the interests of their constituents above their own. Christ ‘did not come to be served but to serve’, and I believe that the people who will be chosen for positions of authority must have ‘the mind of Christ’. I think that means the Seed of Christ implanted within by the gospel has now fully matured in them and this agapé love of God for others (which we can get in no other way) has become the foundation of life.
Mt 20:20-28/Mark 10:35-45 tell of the sons of Zebedee wanting to sit on either side of Christ when He is to rule in the future kingdom. I think Christ saw that their motive for this request was their own glory. As you said, our human nature pushes us to want the higher rank, the position at the head of the table. Jesus said to them, ‘You know that those who are appointed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. (I see this as the pagan, or worldly, concept of rulership you mentioned.) It shall not be so among you. Whoever would be great among you let him serve you, and whoever among you would be greatest must be servant of all.’
In other words, greatness in the kingdom (and some will be greater than others) is about selflessness, about service.
You said all are equal in the kingdom. Yes, we are all sons and daughters of God and thus all citizens in the coming kingdom. Our faith in what Christ has done for us ensures that.
But beyond that level, the passages I quoted in this comment and my previous one speak of differing positions and levels of authority, and I believe only some will be chosen for those roles. Every kingdom needs to be governed.
Thank for your reply! I still have issues with believing that the ‘rewards’ of heaven are related to what has been done or not in our lives on this earth. So we will have to agree to disagree on that. We have hierarchies here on earth, I see no need for them in heaven. If Chris/God has been able to ‘run’ things all these millennia without us, then why later in heaven. I see a continuation of the earthly ideas, after the fall, that were necessary for that time and place.
It is something we will just have to wait and see! For now, I see too many parallels with catholicism and yes paganism, that I can’t accept. We will continue to learn so…….no harm no foul!
Jaray, just a note of explanation:
I understand your skepticism at what I am proposing about rewards, penalties and future roles in the kingdom. If I believed that at Christ’s return the living unbelievers die, the believers go to heaven for a time, and the earth is void until the final judgment when the books are closed, then what I am saying would make no sense to me either.
My current understanding is quite different as I believe there are ages to come (Eph 2:7) and the kingdom will be progressively unfolded on earth in stages - even to many who have not known the Lord. Hence the need for some sort of structure and people to be chosen for roles in this earthly kingdom administration.
I realize this is not a popular view as it is very unusual but it’s how I see things at this point.
Thanks for the conversation.
According to Bible descriptions, there aren’t very many.
Jesus says, There are “ROOMS” in my Father’s house." KJV says “mansions”.
Another translation says, “there is plenty of room in My Father’s house.”
Old Testament says we will “Build”, we will “plant”.
Revelation gives us small description of the New Jerusalem, but that is only
going to cover a tiny portion of the earth’s surface. [And actually HEAVEN is
NOT our home. The New Earth, this earth, will be our home.]
A LOT of what is discussed is EXTRA-Biblical info.
Ellen writes a lot of descriptions that aren’t necessarily in the Bible record.
So Biblical Record of “rewards” are VERY limited in description.
…and this “heresy” in all it’s many beautiful permutations…as evidenced here.
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…it must be a DUCK! lol
Are we talking the spaciousness of infinity in which we could build numerous homes on infinite planets, plant infinite gardens in the ever expanding universe?
Better be careful Kim! Here where we are that’s blasphemy. Everyone knows it’s not Ducks! Go Beavers!!!
But I digress… Carry on…
Indeed, good question.
Or is this simply a metaphor signifying wherever we are, we are home?
That we “belong”? That we are never strangers, sojourners, squatters again in a foreign land?
To constrain it as an archirtectural prison, as a “house” in the physical sense alone does tremendous disservice to what I sense is the larger message of an illimitable Divinity.
Haha…it was at the illustrious School of the Ducks that my father recieved his Phd!