At Issue Index   Salvation Index   Perfect in Christ Index   Previous   Next

Perfect In Christ

Helmut Ott

Chapter I

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 been—just 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 in them:

1. God requires perfect righteousness of those who will inherit eternal life—nothing less will do.

2. Apart from Christ we have no righteousness, no merit, on which to provide God a basis to accept us.

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 blemish—the only righteousness God can approve—only through the imputed righteousness of Christ.

5. The king checks all the guests of the gospel feast—those who respond to the invitation and come—to make sure they meet the requirements. Only those who have put on the robe of Christ's righteousness can participate. All the others—regardless of any personal qualifications or moral virtues they might possess—find 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 pre-Advent judgmentby 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 Father.

Notice the following concepts contained in the preceding quotations:

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 condition—it 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 provides—the spiritual robe of His own personal righteousness—and 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 death.

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. 20).

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 insights:

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 resurrection/glorification eventwill 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. 107, 108).

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 cross.

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 imperativeto conclude 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 personperfectly righteous 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 Considerations

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 concepts:

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 salvation—today 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 achievements—their 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; italics supplied).

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 their salvation:

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. 26).

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 following statement:

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. 309).

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 them—whether 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 mankind—the 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 Christ—his faith in Jesus entitles him to sonship. 2. And he becomes an heir because he is an adopted child of God—his 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 of adoption.

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 work.

At Issue Index   Salvation Index   Perfect in Christ Index   Previous   Next