"O Sweet Exchange"

“O Sweet Exchange”[1]

I first became aware of the debate over the significance of a prepositional phrase relative to the death of Jesus when, as a student, I wrote to Professor C. S. Lewis to ask him a series of questions designed to ascertain his evangelical orthodoxy. One of my queries was whether he believed in the penal substitutionary view of the atonement, a view that some Adventists are questioning today.[2] Lewis kindly replied in his hardly legible script just weeks prior to his death as follows:

When Scripture says that Christ died “for” us, I think the word is usually u(pe/r [hyper] (on behalf of), not a)nti/ [anti] (instead of). I think the ideas of sacrifice, ransom, championship (over death), substitution etc. are all images to suggest the reality (not otherwise comprehensible to us) of the Atonement. To fix on any one of them as if it contained and limited the truth like a scientific definition w[oul]d in my opinion be a mistake.[3]

I consider his response sage advice, whatever my views were as a young student who had the audacity to write to C. S. Lewis and interrogate him about his beliefs. As Lewis indicated, much of the debate over the nature of Christ’s atoning death hinges on the meaning of the Greek preposition hyper (for the sake of) when it is followed by a pronoun or a noun (or an adjective as a noun) in the genitive case. Why should a simple prepositional phrase lead to debate; and it is frequently an intense debate?

In any language prepositions are very flexible in their meanings. Hyper, when followed by a genitive, can mean, for, for the sake of, on behalf of, for the benefit of, because of, in the place of, instead of, about, concerning, with reference to.[4] This is quite a bewildering array, but the sense is often indicated by the meaning of the verb with which hyper is associated. When it comes to ideas about the death of Christ, those who favor substitution will prefer the meaning “instead of,” whereas those who are repelled by the idea of substitution will argue for the meaning “for the benefit of” or some such translation.[5] In other words, our choice of translation is not always governed so much by the context of the passage, as externally by one’s preferred theory of the atonement.

In the texts that follow I shall translate hyper followed by a genitive consistently as for the sake of. The first text I wish to consider is 2 Corinthians 8:9, though in fact it does not use hyper but another preposition (dia) with a similar meaning.

For you know the generous act [literally, grace] of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes (di’ humas) he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (NRSV adapted).

The language of movement from plenty to penury is clearly metaphorical. The text, of course, is referring to Jesus’ coming from heavenly splendor to earthly shame (Hebrews 12:2). Two things should be noted. First, Jesus’ descent into poverty somehow procures our ascent out of privation into spiritual abundance, with the implication that we should share our material wellbeing with others who are destitute (vv. 13–14; 9:7, 13).

Second, that Jesus’ action was entirely altruistic is expressed with the prepositional phrase for your sakes (di’ humas). The preposition dia with the accusative, as used here, has the same force as hyper with the genitive. The concessive contrast (“though he was rich…. he became poor”) cannot be limited to the incarnation, for the climax of his becoming poor is the cross. The language of Philippians comes readily to mind (emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, humbled himself, became obedient to the point of death — even death on a cross). The balanced chiastic contrast (rich → poor + poverty → rich) of 2 Corinthians 8:9 does imply some form of exchange: Jesus’ sequence from being rich to becoming poor provides the basis for the believer’s movement from poverty (a sinner) to riches (restoration). However, there is no hint in the context that Jesus bore our punishment. The idea of divine punishment is also absent from the next text.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the sake of the ungodly [hyper asebōn]” (Romans 5:6 NRSV adapted).

Asebōn is a plural adjective and thus refers to the ungodly ones or the impious ones; in other words, sinners, a word with which it is sometimes conjoined (see 1 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 4:18; Jude 1:15), and this would indicate that ungodly, as used in this passage, is general and not specific to Gentiles. The word weak (asthenōn) is also a plural adjective, and although often used for the sick (for example Matthew 25:43; Luke 10:9; Acts 4:9; 5:16), it is clearly used here with the same negative moral meaning as ungodly, which is confirmed in the related text of Romans 5:8 that uses sinners (hamartōlōn).

In Exodus 23:7 we read the commandment, “You shall not justify the ungodly person (asebē) for a bribe.” Nevertheless in Romans 4:5 God does just that himself, though not for a bribe:[6] “But to the one who does not work, but trusts him who justifies the ungodly person (asebē), his faith is reckoned for righteousness” (author’s translation). Clearly God’s action in Christ crucified justifies the ungodly (Romans 5:6); his death and not a bribe is the catalyst that precipitates the change. To this passage may now be added the parallel verse of Romans 5:8 (NRSV adapted).

But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for our sakes (hyper hēmōn).

Any notion of meritorious human action in redemption is immediately excluded in that the initiative is God’s; his saving righteous action, “the righteousness of God,” occurs while we were impious, helpless, and sinners — to put into sequence Paul’s three plural adjectives, as in Romans 4:5; 5:6 and 5:8. There is no reference to punishment in these verses, yet by some profound means the death of Jesus reverses the state of the impious, the helpless, and the sinners.

The fourth text to examine is Galatians 3:13–14a (NRSV adapted).

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for our sakes (hyper hēmōn) — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” — in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles.

The word redeemed (exagorazō, used also in 4:4) literally means to buy back, which conveys the idea of deliverance for a price, but not a payment to the devil or any such thing; it is more an intransitive cost borne by God than a transitive payment made by him to the devil or to his own justice. There are two things to note about Paul’s quotation of Deuteronomy 21:23 (“anyone hanging on a tree is cursed by God,” NETS). First, he drops the phrase “by God.” Second, Christ’s “becoming a curse for our sakes” refers to the horror of his death and not God’s wrath against his Son.[7] Both Jews and Christians applied “hanging on a tree,” to crucifixion (See 1 Peter 2:24).

Paul’s opponents accuse him of being a transgressor (Galatians 2:18) and of being under the law’s curse (3:10) because he had purposefully refused to circumcise his Gentile converts. In reply he affirms that Christ, through his accursed death on the cross (v. 13), had nullified the law’s power to curse (v.10) him for incorporating Gentiles as Gentiles into the covenantal community of God. Thus the outcome of Christ’s brutal death was so “that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles” (v. 14). Through the gospel, the promise to Abraham that all the Gentiles were to be blessed in him (Genesis 12:2–3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14) had come to pass (Galatians 3:8, 14, 26–29).

And that brings us to the fifth text, 2 Corinthians 5:21.

For our sake (hyper hēmōn) he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (NRSV italics added).

Who or what is the subject of the verb “he made” (epoiēsen)? One would surely suppose “God,” but wait let’s not be so fast. Raymund Schwager argues that in 2 Corinthians 5:21 “God was not the direct actor, but he sent his Son into the world ruled by sin, and thus, through the excess of sin making use of the law, he became sin and a curse.”[8] The problem is that Schwager’s interpretation has more to do with his atonement theory than Paul’s script. His paraphrase seems to say that the subject of the verb “made” is “it,” that is, “sin made him to be sin,” but Paul is not given to tautology.

Besides v. 21, Paul refers to “God” eight times in chapter 5, but outside of v. 21 “sin” is never mentioned in that chapter. The immediately preceding verses seem to indicate the subject of the verb “made” that Paul intended is “God:” “in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (vv.19–20). That God, for our sakes, could treat his Son as sin might be unpalatable to our sensibilities yet it is hard to avoid this conclusion unless we abandon the text entirely.

That the text refers to the cross is unavoidable, and the New Testament rather frequently attributes this tragic event to God. “Whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood” (Romans 3:25); “who was handed over [by God] to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25); “He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us” (Romans 8:32); “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3:16). “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son” (Galatians 4:4). Thus “he made him to be sin” belongs to this body of texts that affirm that God was present and active in the death of Jesus. There is, however, no reference in any of these passages, including 2 Corinthians 5:21, to God punishing Jesus.

As with 2 Corinthians 8:9, there is a clear idea in 5:21 of an exchange. God treated (epoiēsen) him who knew no sin, as if he knew sin, so that [purpose clause] we, who know sin, might, in Jesus, be treated as if we did not know sin (the righteousness of God). The righteousness of God here does not mean a habit or a quality but refers to a relationship. “We are acquitted in his court, justified, reconciled… no longer his judicial enemies, but his friends.” If God’s making Jesus to be sin for our sake involves his punitive action against Jesus, his inflicting his wrath upon our crucified Lord, then we are in danger of ascribing something reprehensible to the deity. Indeed, some may conclude from such a view “that Jesus came to save us from God.”[9]

Yet mysteriously through Christ’s being sin for our sake we are brought into fellowship with God. The exchange language is there, yet the emphasis is not on God’s wrath but on his reconciling grace “for God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19 NLT). Paul’s concern is that God’s grace be not in vain (6:1–2). This exchange motif is found even more clearly in our sixth text, 1 Peter 3:18.

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous One for the sake of the unrighteous ones [hyper adikōn], in order to bring you to God (NRSV adapted).

The reference to Christ’s once for all [hapax] suffering is clearly alluding to the cross, as the verb “to suffer” often does. For examples see Luke 9:22; 22:15; Acts 1:3; Philippians 3:10; Hebrews 2:9 (“suffering of death”); 9:26; 13:12; and 1 Peter 2:23–24. The “righteous” is obviously Christ and is equivalent to “he who knew no sin” in 2 Corinthians 5:21, and “he who was rich” in 2 Corinthians 8:9. It is quite reasonable to see the idea of exchange in this passage, but there is no compelling reason for understanding the suffering as Christ’s enduring the Father’s wrath. The unrighteous are the beneficiaries of the suffering of the “righteous One,” and through it they are brought (reconciled) to God.

The shift from a singular adjective (“righteous One”) to a plural (“righteous ones”) conveys the idea of the one dying for the many (that is, all others), which idea is also very present in Mark 10:45 and the parallel Matthew 20:28 (“For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom in exchange for many” [lutron anti pollōn]) and Mark 14:24 (“He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many’[hyper pollōn]). What is interesting about Mark 10:45 is that it uses the very preposition (anti) that C. S. Lewis took to infer the idea of substitution. That “the many” refers to all others finds some support in 1 Timothy 2:6 (NRSV adapted), “Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for the sake of all” (antilutron hyper pantōn).[10] Not surprisingly Evangelical scholarship finds support in Mark 10:45 and Matthew 20:28 for a penal substitutionary view of the atonement, but again there is no reference to punishment in the context of Mark 10:45.[11]

The idea that deliverance involves cost is common enough in the New Testament and the context indicates the metaphor derives from the slave-market: “For you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23); “you know that you were ransomed… not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18–19); “they will even deny the Master who bought them” (2 Peter 2:1); “you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). However, “cost” refers to the expense that the Lord endures; not a payment to the devil or even to some abstract concept, such as “justice.”

Our final text is Galatians 2:19b–20 (NRSV, adapted):

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for the sake of me (hyper emou).

The couplet “gave himself” always refers to the death of Jesus (Galatians 1:14; Ephesians 5:2, 25; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14) and the introductory perfect tense, “I have been crucified with Christ,” confirms that. The combining of the verbs “love” and “gave” takes us back to John 3:16 and both center Christ’s death in God’s prodigious love. The idea here is identification with (or participation in) Christ’s humiliation, but certainly no concept of punishment is present.

Over my years as a Christian I’ve heard or read many stories that attempt to clarify the meaning of the cross. But my favorite story (apart from the Gospels) of the death of Jesus is chapter fourteen in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lewis combines ideas of ransom, substitution, and the triumph of good over evil in recounting Aslan’s subdued journey with Susan and Lucy to fulfill his pact with the white witch, that is, to die on the Stone Table instead of Edmund. Yet despite the story’s rich imagery, Lewis makes no mention of Aslan’s death appeasing the wrath “of the great Emperor-beyond-the-sea.” These are just stories, but then the terms that the New Testament uses are just metaphors — redemption, atonement, justification, sanctification, ransom, purchase, deliverance, and rescue etcetera. As Lewis wrote to me fifty-five years ago, these “are all images to suggest the reality (not otherwise comprehensible to us) of the Atonement. To fix on any one of them as if it contained and limited the truth like a scientific definition w[oul]d in my opinion be a mistake.”

The New Testament’s various metaphors for the atonement give independent yet united pictures just as the similes for the Kingdom of Heaven do — the Kingdom is like a mustard seed, yeast, treasure, a merchant, a fishing net, a sower, a landowner, ten bridesmaids, and a banquet. Like multiple guy ropes pulling against each other to keep the TV tower upright, so the truth of the Kingdom and of the Cross needs many images in tension to keep it upright (orthodox). We Adventists have a penchant for turning poetry into prose, hyperbole into history, and symbols into science. I think the New Testament does have the idea of exchange, or perhaps interchange, in imaging the death of Christ, but that does not imply any punitive action of the Father against his Son. Hence, I agree in part with Scriven and Weiss (see footnote 2).

Notes & References:

[1] God “gave His own Son as a ransom for us — the Holy for the wicked [lawless], the Sinless for sinners, the Just for the unjust, the Incorrupt for the corrupt, the Immortal for the mortal… O sweet exchange!” The Epistle to Diognetus (2nd century) (translated by Maxwell Stanforth).

[2] Charles Scriven, “God’s Justice, Yes; Penal Substitution, No,” Spectrum 44/3 (2016) 32–38; Herold Weiss, “Paul Did not Teach Righteousness by Faith,” Adventist Today 25/2 (2017) 15–17; Herold Weiss, “The Apocalyptic Imagination: Challenges and Opportunities,” Spectrum 46/2 (2018) 22.

[5] For example, Scriven says, “Christ on the cross acts for us and on our behalf, not instead of us,” “God’s Justice, Yes; Penal Substitution, No,” 37. Scriven advocates a Christus Victor (triumph of God over the evil forces) model of the atonement. His major concern is to affirm justice and to deny any idea of an angry Father pouring out his wrath on an innocent Son.

[6] “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe” (Deuteronomy 10:17).

[10] The parallel between Mark 10:45 and 14:24 could give hyper in the latter a similar meaning to anti in the former, that is, some idea of exchange.

Norman H. Young is a Seventh-day Adventist Christian theologian and New Testament scholar. He recently retired as senior lecturer at Avondale College in New South Wales, Australia.

Photo by Hugo Fergusson on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9908
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It could be a mistake but if it were a mistake someone, after all these years, would have come up with a correction but the issue remains unresolved which begs the question, “Could there be an alternative to just mistakes?” Has anyone considered the strong possibility of obsessions and compulsions and its effects on mental health?

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A perceptive, thoughtful essay on a subject that fleshes itself out in our experience. Well done Dr. Young~~

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An aphorism for the ages.

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The typical criticism of atheists against the Christian dogma is that it structures a narrative in which God sacrificed himself to himself in order to save humanity from himself. And there’s certain level of validity to that criticism given the typical atonement dogma.

The broader problem is that when we talk about these things in context of some ontological reality that we can’t derive apart from the Biblical narrative that structures it. Existentialists pointed this out centuries ago, since there’s a range of arguably inconsequential theological arguments that only have bearing on our reality when these narratives are expressed in action.

If we have to be absolutely honest about what we actually know apart from conjecture, then most (if not all) Christianity falls into agnostic spectrum that’s patched by orthodox narratives and dogma to appear as though there’s some certainty or guarantee. But there isn’t.

There’s no guarantee that any of the Christian claims are viable in their literal sense. But, these would still be viable in the existential claims about moral consequences.

So, it’s rather strange that adamant literalism seems to rule the church as opposed to a more humble existentialism that both recognizes the limits of knowledge, and paints the advantage of belief with a disclaimer of uncertainty.

Much of the dissonance that older generation has with younger is precisely with this insisting on belligerent certainty that has no underlying method for deriving such certainty than pluralism or circular reasoning driven by preferences.

If Christianity is to survive the shift in semantic paradigm, existentialism is the likely path to cultural relevance. I’m not talking about existentialism as strict adherence to that philosophy, but more generally the idea that beliefs are imaginary and actions are real.

So, a billion Christians kneeling and asking for God to resolve global problems of hunger and poverty is as effective as their actions beyond their prayer life.

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Thanks Dr. Young for your thoughtful and thorough commentary. I was blessed at RTS seminary to take a course on the Atonement by Dr. Roger Nicole. Roger was seen by some to be as informed on the atonement as any 20th century theologian. Especially in reformed circles. Leon Morris references Roger in his books on the cross and atonement. Roger pointed out mainly language of six types when speaking of atonement.
Court of law, sacrifice, reconciliation, propitiation, purchase and battlefield. Indeed all 6 are necessary to give us a fuller understanding of our saviors death for us.
Often it is what is avoided or not said that is as much an error as what is said. Perhaps a bit like the blind man grabbing parts of an elephant and then describing. However, even a child who sees standing by may laugh as the inadequate representation takes place. Even the blind might be correct yet miss the entire picture of the elephant. So many handicap the atonement by such words as mere justification, etc.
It seems that many get heartburn over the fact of propitionary (hilasterion) or substitutionary atonement. It seems like the blind man “one default” view comes up. “God didn’t punish Christ”…their main focus of “penal substitution.” Propitiation, as you know, has to do with the “turning away of wrath.” In the OT by the blood of the sacrifice of the “lamb” and in the NT by the “lamb of God”/Christ himself.
God was offended by sin which is a lack of faith in Himself the Righteous King. Christ willingly departed heaven and emptied Himself in our behalf. God was not angry at Christ but the sin of the whole world he bore. Was God angry at the OT lamb or was it simply the vehicle God chose to turn away His wrath against sin and unrighteousness.
Nicole puts it this way. "Propitiation is the gracious provision made by God Himself, whereby the effects of His righteous anger against sin may be averted and the sinner may receive the blessings of His eternal love without infringement on His holiness and moral government.“Standing Forth”, p.251.
Substitution indeed so that we sinners may have the promise of hope through faith in Christ, our atoning savior. Amen.
Regards,
Pat

‘Then the terms that the New Testament uses are just metaphors — redemption, atonement, justification, sanctification, ransom, purchase, deliverance, and rescue etcetera . As Lewis wrote to me fifty-five years ago, these “are all images to suggest the reality (not otherwise comprehensible to us) of the Atonement. To fix on any one of them as if it contained and limited the truth like a scientific definition w[oul]d in my opinion be a mistake.’

Metaphors are what we have to help us understand the ineffable in terms we can understand, so we can’t ever call them mere metaphors. Also, some are more important than others, such as justification, which comes third in Norman’s list. And I can’t help but think this is part of Norm’s purpose here to make justification just one of the metaphors. I won’t go into the technical side, but I believe justification/righteousness occurs much more than the others for a reason. It’s the only metaphor that tells us how God achieved our salvation.

Des suggested to George Knight in a letter in 1996 that the Bible teaches an objective justification at Calvary as well as a subjective justification when we believe. We tend to get the two mixed up. Adventists of all stripes tend to see justification as an experience, which adds sanctification to it—meritorious or not. The problem with that position is that you can never have assurance that you are right with God because part of your works (this justification experience) intrudes into the way you are saved.

When you read Romans 3, you are looking at what scholars called a cosmic, eschatological drama, where Paul—using scholarly and literary methods of his time—sees God bringing the whole world into judgment. He writes it this way to make us look up into the heavens (metaphorically speaking) and see HOW GOD SAVED US at the Cross.

He first shows the pagans are lost and then the Jews. And he concludes: “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (3:24)”. And in Romans 3, he has a law court scene where the whole world comes into judgment. All mouths are stopped, a reference to a real Jewish court scene where when witnesses had finished their testimony put their hands over their mouths. So we are looking at salvation on a global level.

Paul tells us that God used not the righteousness of law to save us, but a new righteousness provided by Christ—ours by faith.

Romans 3:20—24

20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Righteousness Through Faith

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.

Romans 1:16-17 (NIV)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[a] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”[b]

This gospel that tells us how God saves us is poorly understood within Adventism by people of various stripes of belief; and because of it, many Adventists, especially in earlier generations, had no assurance. Wesley believed it. I am sure C. S. Lewis understood it. Wesley had an error of sanctification, and Adventists inherited it.

Many keep trying to put sanctification in there somewhere, even though the chapters that focus on it begin in earnest in Romans 6.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who wer baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism ito death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we TOO MAY LIVE A NEW LIFE.

The gospel is a bit like liquid mercury. It’s the best of news, and people find it hard to believe it and so it drops on the ground and scatters in tiny balls (metaphorically speaking). To stick justification in a list, intentional or not, is pretty sad.

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The gospel is a bit like liquid mercury. It’s the best of news, and people find it hard to believe it and so it drops on the ground and scatters in tiny balls
A stunning analogy. Thank you for sharing and for pointing us back to the assurance we can rest in.

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How very well explained. You remind me of someone :smile:
I couldn’t pick a better explanation of the core issue I have with Adventism and the cognitive dissonance between their unique pillar belief of IJ and the power, grace and atonement in the gospel of Christ. Thank you for that.

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Paul,
Gill’s husband Des was like a tremendous breath of fresh air in a suffocating chamber of never assurance adventism back in the middle 70’s. He is greatly missed by many grateful Christian’s. Blessings to Gill.
Pat
@gford1

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Gillian Ford: I should add, you rarely hear in Adventism the vibrant message of Paul that we DIED with Christ; we were BURIED with him through baptism; we were raised with Christ, and we were SEATED at the right hand of God with Christ (in the heavenly realms). With Christ as substitute and representative, this status is OURS right now. We have arrived. And, note, because of this we too may walk in newness of life, and are urged to set our hearts on things above, where Christ is.

Nothing muddied about it; the mystery has been revealed. We are to take and eat. Read the verses and rejoice. There are plenty of similar verses to the one below.

Romans 6:8: Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Romans 6:4: We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Col. 3:1: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Ephesians 2:6: And God rai sed us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

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No, there is nothing muddied, it so very clear! Sadly, it was very muddied by EGW.

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Unfortunately, she was “just human”, and had good/excellent, bad and muddy ones comments. And, because she could do no wrong in the minds of most hierarchy to legitimize control and her they have to manipulate statements as needed. After all, her interpretations are the churches ultimate authority, not sola scriptura. A bit like ex cathedra of the pope unfortunately.

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Just a P.S. Posted today, as clear as a bell:

Jesus Only: What’s Christ’s Living and Dying Mean for You, pp. 96–97:

Justification always meaning a declaring righteous, not a making righteous internally. It is not just for the sins of the past, but it is a perpetual covering. Romans 5:1 speaks of “being justified…” It is not just for past sins, but for the sins of the present and the future. It is not just for probationary time, but gives us acceptance in the Last Judgment.

Justification is the anticipated verdict of the final Judgment Day, and it is bestowed immediately on faith along with eternal life. Justification is not inconsistent with sanctification, and it does not destroy the Law. The Law remains a perfect standard, but it is helpless to give us a perfect standing. Justification is by means of faith, not because of faith. Thus justification and sanctification are distinct but never separate. We are always needing a perfect standing with God, and simultaneously we always need to keep growing in Christ.

The righteousness of justification is one hundred per cent, but it is not found inside us. The righteousness of sanctification is inside us, but it’s never 100 one hundred per cent. So believers must keep trusting only in imputed righteousness, which is theirs at the moment of faith. Having possession by faith of the righteousness of justification in the final Judgment is “the good, glad, and merry tidings which make the heart to sing and the feet to dance.”

Such wonderful grace will not encourage sin. On the contrary, the power of sin is only broken when the guilt of sin is taken away. You don’t have to be good to be saved, but you do have to be saved to be good. It is not a matter of who you are but whose. Salvation is free. Only God is given away; only heaven can be had for the asking.

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She was “just human”, but…she made extraordinary claims about herself. Her work involved more than a prophet, angels visiting her many, many times, the thousands of visions, etc. The list could go on, but I know you get what I’m sayin’. :wink:

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Yes, Carol I think she falsely made assertions. My point in the end she was just human. Excellent on some things, good on others and sadly very humanly wrong on others.

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Yep, just as we all are. And, of course, she copied some good things, and some ridiculous things. But, if you set yourself up as “more than a prophet” with heavenly visions and angelic visitations, I think you set yourself up for far more scrutiny than the average human.

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Agreed Carol. In fact it demands more scrutiny!

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