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by Arnold Valentin Wallenkampf
Men and women in sin suffer from a fractured or broken relationship with God. As a result, they often run away from Him. Adam and Eve, in Gods own garden, were the first to do this. Ever since, men and women have been running away from God, because they are uncomfortable in His presence.
The message of the Bible aims to mend the broken relationship between God and man. We speak of it as "putting a person right with God" or justification, or simply as redemption through Jesus Christ.
The Old Testament points forward to Christs first coming and His sacrificial death for all mankind on Calvary, so that the chasm between God and man might be bridged and the friendship restored. The New Testament presents the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies about Christs bridging the gap between God and man by dying on Calvary. It also presents Him as our intercessor, seated now in glory at the right hand of God. Soon He will return to this earth, accompanied by His angels, to gather all those who have chosen to he brought back into a lasting friendship with Him. These have experienced the atonement, or atonement with God, and are the redeemed.
The Bible has no one concept, or model, of the atonement, nor does present it only one way the beginning of Christian life in Christ and remaining in Him. It presents both under many different models, or symbols. Each of the different theories, both of the atonement and the beginning of Christian life, usually employs but one symbol—or illustration and makes that symbol or illustration determinative. But biblical theology uses many symbols. These different symbols are necessary to present "the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3:10) displayed in the many-faceted plan of restoration and salvation.
Jesus usually presents the way of salvation by the use of parables: the lost coin, the lost sheep, the prodigal son, the wedding garment, the branches abiding in the vine, the childlike condition of a believer, and the new birth, to mention hut a few. John teaches that through faith sinners become children of God. Paul uses the symbols of graftage and adoption, among others.
But Pauls best-known method of showing how a sinner becomes a child of God is with the model of justification and justification by faith. More specifically, justification is the model he employs in his epistles to the Galatians and Romans to explain how a sinner is granted time to he put into a harmonious relationship with God. Paul drew the illustration of justification from the court of law. As such, it is a forensic illustration. But this illustration by itself, cannot, any more than any other New Testament metaphoric illustration, adequately portray the total range of New Testament teachings on the beginning of Christian Life and the plan of salvation.
Ever since Martin Luther brought the teaching of justification by faith to the attention of men and women, its ramifications have been eagerly discussed and even heatedly debated. This has been true also during the comparatively short history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
This short hook reexamines some of the facets of justification so that we, as believers in the manifold mercy of God, may come into and remain in a friendly relationship with God and finally he with Him in His kingdom. But in order to understand how a sinner—as everyone is—can be put right with God, or justified, we must first understand what sin is. We ought also to have a clear concept of Christian perfection. With that as its purpose, this book begins with a discussion of sin and ends with a fathoming of Christian perfection.
It is the authors hope and prayer that the words of this book may be not only intellectually enlightening, but that also they may help and enable men and women to know Jesus better, love Him more devotedly, and follow Him more gladly. In this way they can experience both temporal and eternal salvation.
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