Christ Mediates for the Believer
to Present Him
As an Individual Person
Perfectly Righteous to the Father
In this chapter we examine the first basic reason
that Ellen White considers the mediatorial ministry
of Christ so essential to the plan of salvation. We
begin by establishing why the believer must depend on
Christ as his personal mediator and representative
with the Father. Then we see exactly what, according
to our source, Jesus is doing to present the believer
perfectly acceptable to God. In the third section we
discuss the relationship between the believer's
lifelong process of sanctification and his dependence
on Christ's mediation for a right standing with God.
Finally we examine a few relevant scriptural passages.
1. Why the
Believer Depends on Christ's Mediation
for a Right Standing With God
The condition of eternal life is now just what
it always has beenjust what it was in Paradise
before the fall of our first parents perfect
obedience to the law of God, perfect
righteousness (Steps to Christ, p. 62).
Apart from Christ we have no merit, no
righteousness. Our sinfulness, our weakness, our
human imperfection make it impossible that we
should appear before God unless we are clothed in
Christ's spotless righteousness (Selected
Messages, book 1, p. 333).
Righteousness without blemish can be obtained
only through the imputed righteousness of Christ
(Ellen G. White, in Review and Herald, Sept.
3, 1901). The guests at the marriage feast were
inspected by the king. Only those were accepted
who had obeyed his requirements and put on the
wedding garment. So it is with the guests at the
gospel feast. All must pass the scrutiny of the
great King, and only those are received who have
put on the robe of Christ's righteousness (Christ's
Object Lessons, p. 312).
The only way in which [the sinner]
can attain to righteousness is through faith. By
faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ,
and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to
the sinner's account. Christ's righteousness is
accepted in place of man's failure, and God
receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant,
believing soul, treats him as though he were
righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son.
This is how faith is accounted righteousness (Selected
Messages, book 1, p. 367).
One can hardly read such statements without being
impressed by the definite, almost radical nature of
both the concepts they contain and the language she
used to express them. Notice these important points
1. God requires perfect righteousness of
those who will inherit eternal lifenothing less will
2. Apart from Christ we have no righteousness,
no merit, on which to provide God a basis to
3. Our sinfulness, our human imperfection, makes
it impossible for us to appear before God unless
we are clothed in Christ's righteousness.
4. We can obtain righteousness
without blemishthe only righteousness
God can approveonly through the imputed
righteousness of Christ.
5. The king checks all the guests of the gospel
feastthose who respond to the invitation and cometo make sure they meet the requirements. Only
those who have put on the robe of Christ's
righteousness can participate. All the othersregardless of any personal qualifications or moral virtues they might possessfind themselves cast out.
6. God regards Christ's perfect righteousness in
place of man's failure. "This is how faith
is accounted righteousness."
Such considerations lead us to conclude that the
Christian depends on Christ's mediation because
God requires perfect righteousnesssomething
the believer cannot produce. He is a sinner, and
nothing a sinner is, has, or does is acceptable to
God in its own merit. The sinner becomes
worthy only when Christ makes him so by imputing His
own righteousness to him.
The believer has responded to the gospel
invitation, has come to the wedding feast.
Now he must make sure he will pass the King's
inspectiona symbol of the
wearing the only garment in the universe available to
fallen beings that will cover their sinfulness. That
is, he must wear the spiritual garment of
the saving righteousness of Christ. Only as he
satisfies this requirement will the believer have the
right to participate in the gospel feast.
2. What Jesus Is
Doing to Secure the Believer's Acceptance
With the Father
Jesus stands in the holy of holies, now to
appear in the presence of God for us. There He
ceases not to present His people moment by
moment, complete in Himself. ... We are complete
in Him, accepted in the Beloved, only as we abide
in Him by faith (Faith and Works, p. 107).
The provision made is complete, and the eternal
righteousness of Christ is placed to the account
of every believing soul. The costly, spotless
robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has been
provided for the repenting, believing sinner. . .
. In ourselves we are sinners; but in Christ we
are righteous. Having made us righteous through
the imputed righteousness of Christ, God
pronounces us just, and treats us as just. He
looks upon us as His dear children (Selected
Messages, book 1, p. 394).
Only the covering which Christ Himself has
provided can make us meet to appear in God's
presence. This covering, the robe of His own
righteousness, Christ will put upon every
repenting, believing soul (Christ's Object
Lessons, p. 311). Christ was treated as we
deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves.
He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no
share, that we might be justified by His
righteousness, in which we had no share. He
suffered the death which was ours, that we might
receive the life which was His (The Desire of
Ages, p. 25).
By His spotless life, His obedience, His death
on the cross of Calvary, Christ interceded for
the lost race. And now, not as a mere petitioner
does the Captain of our salvation intercede for
us, but as a Conqueror claiming His victory. His
offering is complete, and as our Intercessor He
executes His self-appointed work, holding before
God the censer containing His own spotless merits
and the prayers, confessions, and thanksgiving of
His people. Perfumed with the fragrance of His
righteousness, these ascend to God as a sweet
savor. The offering is wholly acceptable, and
pardon covers all transgression (Christ's
Object Lessons, p. 156).
I will be your representative in heaven. The
Father beholds not your faulty character, but He
sees you as clothed in My perfection (The
Desire of Ages, p. 357). Christ will clothe
His faithful ones with His own righteousness,
that He may present them to His Father "a
glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or
any such thing" (Eph. 5:27) (The Great
Controversy, p. 484).
These statements indicate quite persuasively that
Christ's mediation in man's behalf is as essential as
His death on the cross, because through His
mediation He applies the benefits of His
redemptive activity to all who respond to the gospel
in repentance and faith. Not as a mere petitioner,
but as a conqueror claiming His victory, does the
Captain of our salvation credit His atoning death,
His redemptive victory, and His perfect righteousness
to us and thus presents us totally acceptable to the
Notice the following concepts contained in the
1. As our representative and substitute, Christ
presents His people moment by moment complete in
Himself. So we partake of two different
realities at the same time: in ourselves, by
nature, we are sinful; yet in Christ, by faith, we
are righteous. If God were to judge and reward
us on the basis of what we are, what we have, and
what we do, He would have to let us perish in our
fallen condition. However, because God evaluates us
on the basis of our faith participation in Christ's
merits, He pronounces us just and treats us as His
dear children, in spite of the fact that in ourselves
we still are sinful, imperfect, and unworthy.
2. Only the covering that Christ Himself has
provided can qualify us to appear in God's presence.
This garment, a robe woven in the loom of heaven,
Christ places upon every repentant, believing
individual. And the believer's standing with Godhis right to participate in the
gospel feastrests, not on
the basis of his own faulty character, but on the
fact that he wears Christ's perfection.
3. A transaction takes place between the believer
and Christ. The Saviour assumes man's sin, suffers
his condemnation, and dies his death. In turn the
believer receives access to Christ's righteousness,
is fully justified before God, and participates in
the life that rightly belongs to Christ alone.
4. The last passage quoted above does not say that
Jesus provides the power the church needs in order to
make herself presentable. Instead, it says that He
will clothe her so that He may present her a glorious
and flawless body. Clothing is never an integral part
of those wearing it. It is something that is put upon
someone, an outward cover intended to make a person
look appropriate. So the passage does not describe
the actual reality of the church's true spiritual
conditionit does not speak of a real accomplishment
of the church. Instead, the passage describes
what Jesus does for the church in order to present
her to the Father. Jesus clothes His people with
the robe He Himself providesthe spiritual robe of
His own personal righteousnessand thus brings them
to the Father as a glorious and flawless church.
Note that Ellen White establishes a direct and
necessary relationship between what Christ did for us
yesterday as our substitute on the cross and what He
is doing for us today as our representative on the
throne. Thus, while He completed His redemptive work
on our behalf when He gave His life as an atoning
sacrifice on the cross, its application to
individual believers is a present, ongoing reality
that will continue until human probation ceases.
By His atoning sacrifice on the cross the Saviour
earned the right to share His personal
victory, His personal righteousness, and His personal
inheritance with those who become the adopted sons
and daughters of God through faith in Him. As our
mediator, He now exercises that right by effectually
applying to individual believers what He accomplished
in principle for all mankind through His vicarious
3. The Believer's
Sanctification and His Dependence on Christ's
Mediation for a Right Standing With God
Ellen White's writings express the idea that
sanctification is a lifelong process that, because of
its very nature, is never fully completed in the
present life. The believer never outgrows his
personal sinfulness nor transcends his lost condition.
He also never reaches a state of perfect spiritual
wholeness nor measures up to the standard of flawless
perfection that God requires in a sinless universe.
As a result, he remains in a state of constant
dependence on Christ's mediation for a right standing
with God for as long as he lives.
Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an
hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained
by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result
of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living
for Christ.... So long as Satan reigns, we shall
have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome;
so long as life shall last, there will be no
stopping place, no point which we can reach and
say, I have fully attained (The Acts of the
Apostles, pp. 560, 561). There are
hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil that
must be overcome. Appetite and passion must be
brought under the control of the Holy Spirit.
There is no end to the warfare this side of
eternity (Counsels to Parents and Teachers, p.
Man may grow up into Christ, his living head.
It is not the work of a moment, but that of a
lifetime. By growing daily in the divine life, he
will not attain to the full stature of a perfect
man in Christ until his probation ceases. The
growing is a continuous work (Testimonies, vol.
4, p. 367).
There are those who have known the pardoning
love of Christ and who really desire to be
children of God, yet they realize that their
character is imperfect, their life faulty, and
they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have
been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would
say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often
have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus
because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we
are not to be discouraged. Even if we are
overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not
forsaken and rejected of God. No; Christ is at
the right hand of God, who also maketh
intercession for us. . . . And if you will but
yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good
work in you will carry it forward to the day of
Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more
fully (Steps to Christ, p. 64).
Such statements lead to at least three significant
1. Sanctification as a process of change,
growth, and maturation, is a genuine reality in the
believer's experience. As he advances in his
Christian walk, the disciple of Christ does indeed
overcome sinful tendencies, attitudes, and
dispositions. He modifies character traits and life
habits not consistent with his high calling as a
child of God in Christ. Increasingly he reflects the
righteous virtues of Christ's holy character in his
personal life. And he progressively patterns his life
after all that is true and right and loving.
2. Although the believer really grows, develops,
and matures as a Christian, he never reaches the
stature of a perfect man or fully attains a state of
complete sanctification during his present life.
His battle with both sin and self goes on for as long
as he lives. "There is no end to the warfare
this side of eternity."
3. Only at "the day of Jesus Christ"at
that point in time when the eternal replaces the
historical, when the kingdom of glory supersedes the
kingdom of grace, and the believer experiences
the transformation of nature that takes place at the
the work that began at conversion reach its total and
permanent "completion" (Phil. 1:6).
Scripture promises that those who "are
children of God" now, during their present
existence, will be like Jesus "when he appears,"
not before (1 John 3:2). When we "see him as he
is" (verse 2), "we will be changed.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the
imperishable, and the mortal with immortality" (1
Cor. 15:52, 53). When God totally and permanently
removes all the effects of sin from the redeemed
and restores them to the original spiritual wholeness
Adam and Eve enjoyed before the Fall, then will the
process of their sanctification be complete. That is
when all of them "together" will "be
made perfect" (Heb. 11:40). As a result of His
re-creative/restorative act, the redeemed will for
the first time ever be by nature what they
now can be only. in Christ, by faith.
The battle with sin is only one aspect of
sanctification not yet completed in this life. An
unending growth, development, and maturation must
also go on for as long as life shall last.
Every believing soul is to conform his will
entirely to God's will and keep in a state of
repentance and contrition, exercising faith in
the atoning merits of the Redeemer and advancing
from strength to strength, from glory to glory (Faith
and Works, p. 103). Sanctification is the
work of a lifetime. As our opportunities
multiply, our experience will enlarge, and our
knowledge increase. We shall become strong to
bear responsibility, and our maturity will be in
proportion to our privileges (Christ's Object
Lessons, pp. 65, 66).
We need constantly a fresh revelation of
Christ, a daily experience that harmonizes with
His teachings. High and holy attainments are
within our reach. Continual progress in knowledge
and virtue is God's purpose for us. His law is
the echo of His own voice, giving to all the
invitation, "Come up higher. Be holy, holier
still." Every day we may advance in
perfection of Christian character (The
Ministry of Healing, p. 503). There should
be continual striving and constant progress
onward and upward toward perfection of character (Counsels
to Parents and Teachers, p. 365).
At every advance step in Christian experience
our repentance will deepen. It is to those whom
the Lord has forgiven, to those whom He
acknowledges as His people, that He says, "Then
shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your
doings that were not good, and shall loathe
yourselves in your own sight" (Eze. 36:3 1).
.. .Then our lips will not be opened in self-glorification.
We shall know that our sufficiency is in Christ
alone. We shall make the apostle's confession our
own. "I know that in me (that is, in my
flesh) dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18) (Christ's
Object Lessons, pp. 160, 161).
These passages clearly indicate that, besides
never quite transcending the state of personal
sinfulness in which he finds himself, the believer
never finishes acquiring the positive virtues of a
mature Christian character in this life. His growth
is both real and significant, but it is never
complete. He always falls short of the glory of God
and therefore must live in a state of continual
repentance and faith, fully aware that his
sufficiency is in Christ alone.
Those who are really seeking to perfect
Christian character will never indulge the
thought that they are sinless. Their lives may be
irreproachable, they may be living
representatives of the truth which they have
accepted; but the more they discipline their
minds to dwell upon the character of Christ, and
the nearer they approach to His divine image, the
more clearly will they discern its spotless
perfection, and the more deeply will they
feel their own defects (The Sanctified Life, p.
7; italics supplied).
Perfection through our own good works we can
never attain. The soul who sees Jesus by faith,
repudiates his own righteousness. He sees himself
as incomplete, his repentance insufficient, his
strongest faith but feebleness, his most costly
sacrifice as meager, and he sinks in humility at
the foot of the cross. But a voice speaks to him
from the oracles of God's Word. In amazement he
hears the message, "Ye are complete in him"
(Col. 2:10). Now all is at rest in his soul. No
longer must he strive to find some worthiness in
himself, some meritorious deed by which to gain
the favor of God (Faith and Works, pp.
The individual who sees Jesus by faith does not
downgrade himself because he is still an open and
rebellious sinner. His problem is not that he is
entirely without either positive qualities or good
works, but that they are all imperfect. He admittedly
has a degree of righteousness, repentance, faith,
sacrifice. But because he has had a view of the
perfection of Christ, he has both the point of
reference and the spiritual perception needed to
realize that he falls short of God's standard of
perfect righteousness, and therefore deserves, not
God's approval, but His condemnation. His
perception of Christ enables him to see the
imperfection of what he is, the inadequacy of what he
has, and the insufficiency of what he does. It leads
him to realize his total dependence on Christ, and
moves him to sink in humility at the foot of the
But then, when he perceives his real predicament
as a lost sinner, realizes his total dependence on
Christ for any standing with God, and in humility
bows down at the foot of the cross, he hears the good
news of the gospelall the
good news the gospel can give him today, during his
present historical life. That is, the news that all
is well: he is complete in Christ, accepted in the
Beloved, and therefore does not have to "strive
to find some worthiness in himself, some meritorious
deed by which to gain the favor of God."
At the second coming of Jesus, when God restores
the believer to the original perfection with which He
created man in the beginning, he will be righteous by
nature, just as our first parents were before the
Fall. In the meantime he can be righteous,
holy, worthy, a son of God, only in Christ. He
totally depends on Christ's mediation for acceptance
with the Father, and consequently must live by faith
in Him to the very end of his life.
It is therefore logicaleven
that the first reason Ellen White's writings consider
the mediatorial ministry of Christ essential to the
plan of salvation is that this ministry constitutes
the only way for a sinner to secure a right standing
with God. Jesus mediates for the believer to present
himas an individual
before the Father. The Saviour imputes His
atoning death, His redemptive victory, and His saving
righteousness to the believer so that he may by faith
stand before God faultless in Christ in spite of the
fact that by nature he is still sinful, imperfect,
and unworthy in himself
4. Some Scriptural
As I indicated in the introduction, this book is
not a doctrinal statement based on an exhaustive
investigation of Scripture, but a study attempting to
systematize and articulate Ellen White's writings on
the mediation of Christ. Therefore I bring in the
scriptural evidence only to show that her
concepts are consistent with the Bible and therefore
reliable. That is, they have doctrinal value because
they harmonize with Scripture.
The first passage we will examine is Hebrews 7:25:
"Therefore he is able to save
completely those who come to God through him, because
he always lives to intercede for them."
This verse contains at least three significant
1. Jesus is "able to save" by living
"to intercede" for us. Thus the text
establishes a direct cause-effect relationship
between Christ's mediation and our salvation. As the
living mediator, Jesus does something now that is
essential to salvationtoday He makes salvation a
reality for us. This justifies the Ellen White
passage that states that the mediation of Christ is
as vital to the plan of salvation as was His death on
the cross (The Great Controversy, p. 489).
2. By mediating on their behalf, Jesus saves
"those who come to God through him."
Clearly He does not save everyone, but only a
specific group. His mediation does not include those
who want to find a different way to the Father, who
attempt to achieve a proper standing with Him on the
basis of their own achievementstheir personal
righteousness and "perfect" obedience.
"Access . . . into this grace" (Rom. 5:2)
is possible only through faith in Jesus and granted
only to those who seek to be right with God on the
basis of His redemptive work. But when someone wants
to achieve the same objective through his personal
spiritual accomplishments, he creates a different way
of salvation and consequently loses what is available
to those who come by Christ. That is what Paul
teaches when he states, "You are severed from
Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you
have fallen away from grace" (Gal. 5:4, RSV).
In other words, the resources available to those
who participate in God's covenant of grace are not
accessible to those who endeavor to find another way
to approach God. If they do not center their
assurance of salvation on Christ's redemptive work,
then they stand completely on their own. (They have
rejected God's provision, thus He cannot cancel their
condemnation or give them Christ's merits to make up
for their spiritual destitution.) Ellen White
expresses the same principle when she says that
"in ourselves we are sinners; but in Christ we
are righteous" (Selected Messages, book
1, p. 394), that "we are complete in Him,
accepted in the Beloved, only as we abide in Him by
faith" (Faith and Works, p. 107;
3. Jesus "is able to save completely""to
the uttermost" (KJV), "fully and completely"
(Phillips), "absolutely" (NEB), "for
all time" (RSV)"those who come to God
through him." As "the author and perfecter
of our faith" (Heb. 12:2), He saves not
partially, but completely.
The following passage speaks of those who want to
win salvation by good works as part of the basis of
Jesus, they think, will do some of the saving;
they must do the rest. They need to see by faith
the righteousness of Christ as their only hope
for time and for eternity (Faith and Works, p.
Paul says that Jesus will "present you holy
and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided
that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast,
not shifting from the hope of the gospel" (Col.
1:22, 23, RSV). Notice that the text does not state
that Jesus will enable the believers to develop
perfect righteousness or attain spiritual wholeness,
but that He will present them as being holy,
blameless, and irreproachable before God. As in
Hebrews 7:25, Jude 24, Ephesians 5:27, etc., this is
a reference, not to something the believers actually
achieve in their personal historical lives, but to
what Christ does for them.
The second scriptural passage we want to
study briefly is Matthew 22:1-14. It records Christ's
parable of the wedding feast, or the parable of the
man without a wedding garment, which provides
much of the symbolism used in Ellen White's writings.
And since we are examining several scriptural
passages to find the sources of some of her concepts,
we will discuss the parable together with the
When the king came in to view the guests, the
real character of all was revealed. For every
guest at the feast there had been provided a
wedding garment. This garment was a gift from the
king. By wearing it the guests
showed their respect for the giver of the feast.
But one man was clothed in his common citizen
dress. He had refused to make the preparation
required by the king. The garment provided for
him at great cost he disdained to wear. Thus he
insulted his lord (Christ's Object Lessons, p.
At least six points catch our attention here:
1. The king urged the servants in charge of
bringing the guests to the wedding feast to "go
to the Street corners and invite to the banquet
anyone you find. So the servants gathered all the
people they could find, both good and bad, and the
wedding hail was filled with guests" (verses 9,
10). Anyone, whether good or bad, who accepted the
invitation could enter the wedding hail.
2. The king's inspection of the guestsan act of judgmentdetermined who would and who
would not be received as guests and allowed to
actually participate in the wedding feast. The
criterion used did not center on the moral character
of those who camewhether
they were good or bad. Instead, it involved their
relationship to the wedding garment he personally
provided for themwhether they wore it or not. So the
outcome of this inspection disclosed, not the
goodness and worthiness of the guests, but the
generosity of the king. Anyone who dressed in the
king's garment could be a guest and join in the
wedding feast. On the other hand, anyone who, by the
very act, failed to put on the king's garment
disqualified himself as a guest.
3. Through this unique requirement of wearing the
wedding garment, the king placed everyone on the same
level. No one could attribute his acceptance either
to his superior moral goodness or to the higher
quality of the garment he personally chose
to wear before coming to the banquet. Whether a
particular guest was a little better than his
neighbors, or was dressed in more expensive clothes
than what others could afford, played no role here.
They were all equally dependent on something the king
provided as a gifta
unique garment that they could neither secure
anywhere else nor produce themselves by any means
whatsoever. Because the garment was the king's free
gift, they all had the same opportunity to possess
it, and no one had a valid excuse for not wearing it.
4. As it turned out, only one man refused the
preparation required by the king. The king did not
cast him out of the hall because he was the worst
among the "bad" people that had come. As
far as the parable is concerned, he could have been
the best among the "good." Nor did he get
rejected because his own garment was ugly, defective,
or unclean. The would-be guest had to go
into darkness because he wore the wrong garment.
Instead of being clothed in what the king had
provided, he wore something he had either produced
himself or acquired by his own means somewhere else.
5. By wearing his own clothing instead of the
king's wedding garment, he insulted his lord. As a
result, he not only got excluded from the weddingas did those who refused the
invitation and did not comebut
also was punished for refusing to comply with the
specific conditions established by the king. He
either ignored or attempted to violate the king's
order, an order according to which "only those
are received who have put on the robe of Christ's
righteousness" (ibid., p. 312).
6. Verse 14 states that "many are invited,
but few are chosen." Actually God calls
everyone, since Christ's redemptive work embraces all
mankindthe gospel leaves out absolutely no one. Who,
then, are the few "chosen"?
According to the parable, the chosen were those who
did three basic things: (1) they all accepted the
king's invitation to the wedding feast, (2) they all
came to the wedding hail, and (3) they all dressed
themselves in the wedding garment. By putting on the
garment, and thus making the preparation required by
the king, they demonstrated, first, that they were
the truly obedient, and second, that they had genuine
faith. They based their assurance of acceptance with
the king, not on who they were, what they
had, or what they did on their own, but on the
wedding garment, which symbolizes the saving
righteousness of Christ freely imputed to every one
who repents and believes.
The third and last passage we want to discuss is
Galatians 3:26-4:7. Two concepts particularly
interest us at this point. First: "You are all
sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal.
3:26). Adoption, by definition the granting of
sonship to someone who is not a natural son, is one
of the first benefits believers receive through faith
in Jesus Christ. The Saviour bestows "the
right to become children of God"..."to
all who received him, to those who believed in his
name" (John 1:12). The believers are thus "adopted
as [God's] sons through Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:5).
Sonship, then, is not something believers earn, but a
gift of God's grace to those who accept Jesus Christ
as their personal Saviour.
Second: "If you belong to Christ, then you
are . . . heirs according to the promise" (Gal.
3:29). "So you are no longer a slave, but a son;
and since you are a son, God has made you also an
heir" (Gal. 4:7). We observe a clear cause-effect
relationship here, a chain reaction, if you please. 1.
The believer becomes an adopted son of God on the
basis of his faith relationship to Jesus Christhis
faith in Jesus entitles him to sonship. 2. And he
becomes an heir because he is an adopted child of Godhis
sonship entitles him to the inheritance. In
other words, sonship belongs to those who have faith
in Jesus Christ, and the inheritanceeternal
life with all that it entailsbelongs
to those who are sons of God in Christ.
This direct cause-effect relationship between
faith and sonship, on the one hand, and
sonship and heir-ship, on the other, must remain
intact. The Scriptures teach that the children
of God grow in all aspects of their lives. But the
Bible never establishes a cause-effect relationship
between the degree of a Christian's
spiritual development and his right to the eternal
inheritance. Human parents divide their estate among
all their children irrespective of their
relative ages, sizes, and degrees of maturity. Even
our imperfect sense of justice tells us it would be
extremely unfair to disinherit a child because he
was still a youngster and consequently had not
yet reached full maturity.
As a result of his long life with God, Methuselah
experienced a relatively high degree of maturation.
But that by no means renders him better qualified to
receive the eternal inheritance than the thief on the
cross who, because of his adoption at the eleventh
hour, died as a babe in Christ. Both cases illustrate
the fact that the eternal inheritance
belongs to the sons and daughters of God in Christ
regardless of their degree of spiritual growth. The
babes in Christ who must face the final
judgmenteither at death
or at the end of probationshortly
after their birth into God's spiritual family have
exactly the same right, granted by grace, to be heirs
as do those who are old and seasoned "adults."
The mature child of God, who has experienced a
real and significant amount of spiritual growth,
never becomes anything other than what he was
initially. He always remains an adopted son whose
right to the inheritance rests on the fact that he is
a child of God in Christ, and not on the degree of
growth he experiences during his life as a
Christian. Whether he dies as a newly born
babe in Christ or lives a long life of growth and
development makes no difference as far as his right
to the inheritance is concerned. He is an heir
strictly because he is a son, and a son only because
This explains from a different angle the same
concept we saw earlier: namely, that although we will
never attain a state of total sanctification in this
life, we can have full assurance of salvation.
Although we are sinful in ourselves by nature, we are
righteous in Christ by faith. Because of the imputation
of Christ's righteousness to us, God declares us
righteous and treats us as His children in spite of
the fact that we are still sinful,
imperfect, and unworthy. So God, does not judge and
reward us on the basis of our relative progress in
character development and behavior modification, but
rather on our acceptance of the Saviour's redemptive