One who truly understands and accepts the teachings of the Seventh-day
Adventist Church can assuredly know that he is born again, and that he is fully
accepted by the Lord. He has in his soul the assurance of present salvation,
and need be in no uncertainty whatsoever. In fact, he may know this so fully
that he can truly "rejoice in the Lord" (Phil. 4:4) and in "the
God of his salvation" (Ps. 24:5). As the foregoing questions touch the
whole plan of God's salvation for man, we would call attention to the following
I. God's Plan and Provision of Redemption
1. The Initiative in the Plan of Salvation Is From
God, Not From Man.—"All things," we read, are of [Gr.
ek, "out of"]
God" (2 Cor. 5:18). We
know that He "hath reconciled us" (verse 18); that "God was in
Christ, reconciling the world unto himself" (verse 19); that it was not we
who first loved God, but He loved us (1 John 4:9, 10); that Christ is the
"propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:2); and that, "we were
reconciled to God by the death of his Son" (Rom. 5:10). All this comes to
us "according to the gift of the grace of God" (Eph. 3:7). And
inasmuch as the writings of Ellen G. White have been mentioned, we shall quote
a number of her statements that are clear and consistent on the fundamental
principles of personal salvation and Christian experience. For example, on this
Grace is an attribute of God exercised toward undeserving human beings. We did
not seek for it. but it was sent in search of us. God rejoices to bestow His
grace upon us, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly
unworthy. Our only claim to His mercy is our great need.—The Ministry of
Healing, p. 161.
2. Christ Is the Only Saviour of Lost Mankind.—There is, and can be, no other
Saviour. This thought was long ago brought home to God's ancient people. Said
Jehovah, "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour"
(Isa. 43:11); "There is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour. .
. . Look unto me, and be ye saved" (Isa. 45:21, 22). (See also Isa. 60:16; Hosea 13:4.)
Jesus Christ our Lord is the only foundation (1 Cor. 3:11); His name is the
only name "whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). This thought—that
there is salvation in no other—was highlighted in the statement made to
Joseph concerning the work of Jesus, "He shall save his people from their
sins" (Matt. 1:21).
The literal rendering of the Greek text is,
"He himself shall save his people." "Christ Jesus came into the
world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15); He alone "is able also to save
them to the uttermost" (Heb. 7:25). That understanding is basic. Only in
and through Christ can we be saved.
3. Man Cannot Save Himself, in and of Himself He Is Hopelessly Lost.—(a)
There is no salvation in man for man. No man can "redeem his brother"
(Ps. 49:7). (b) Without the salvation provided in Christ Jesus our Lord, man
would be hopelessly lost. "There is none righteous, no, not one"
(Rom. 3:10); "There is none that doeth good, no, not one" (verse 12);
"All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (verse 23).
There is therefore no hope outside of Jesus the Saviour. Isaiah graphically
describes the natural condition of man: "The whole head is sick, and the
whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no
soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores" (Isa. 1:5,
Jeremiah adds, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately
wicked" (Jer. 17:9). The apostle Paul declares that the man who is
"without God" has "no hope" (Eph. 2:12). He is even
"dead in trespasses and sins" (verse 1). Consequently, if man is to
be saved, help—divine help—must come to his aid.
4. Since Man Is Dead in Sin, Even the Initial Promptings to a Better Life
Must Come From God.—Christ is the true light, who "lighteth every man that
cometh into the world" (John 1:9). This light, in some way known only to
Divine Providence, penetrates the darkness of human hearts and kindles the first spark
of desire after God. If the soul begins to seek for God, then "the Father
which hath sent me [Christ]" will "draw him [the seeker]" (John
6:44). Again, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men
unto me" (John 12:32). So even the desire to repent comes from above, for
Jesus our Saviour gives "repentance" and grants "forgiveness of
sins" (Acts 5:31).
The complete change thus wrought in the human heart is not by an act of our own
wills, certainly not by ethical uplift or social reform endeavor, but wholly by
the new birth. We are to be "born again ["from above,"
margin]" (John 3:3); "born of God" (1 John 3:9); born of the
Holy Spirit (John 3:5, 6); born through the Word of God (1 Peter 1:23, R.S.V.).
Truly then, this is a work of divine grace. In a very real sense we are
"his workmanship" (Eph. 2:10). In the act of "regeneration"
God saves us; it is He who sheds on us the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5, 6).
5. Nothing We Can Ever Do Will Meet the Favor of God.—Salvation is of grace.
It is grace that "bringeth salvation" (Titus 2:11). It is
"through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved" (Acts
15:11). We are not saved by "works" (Rom. 4:6; Eph. 2:9; 2 Tim. 1:9),
even though they be good works (Titus 3:5), or even "wonderful works"
(Matt. 7:22). Neither can we be saved by "law" (Rom. 8:3), nor by the
"deeds" or the "works" of the law (Rom. 3:20, 28; Gal. 3:2,
5, 10). And neither the "law of Moses," nor the Decalogue can save us
(Acts 13:39; Rom. 7: 7-10). The law of God was never designed to save men. It
is a looking glass, in which, when we gaze, we see our sinfulness. That is as
far as the law of God can go with
a sinful man. It can reveal his sin, but is powerless to remove it, or to save
him from its guilt and penalty and power.
But, thank God, "what the law could not do, in that it was weak through
the flesh" (Rom. 8:3), God did—in the person of His Son. In Him a
fountain is open "for sin and for uncleanness" (Zech. 13:1). And into
this fount all may plunge and be "washed" from their sins by Christ's
own blood (Rev. 1:5). Wonderful as it may seem, the redeemed can rejoice now
that they "have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of
the Lamb" (Rev. 7:14). True it is that by His grace (Eph. 2:5, 8),
mercy (Titus 3:5), His gift (Eph. 2:8), His gospel (Rom. 1:16), and according
to His purpose (Rom. 8:28), we are saved.
6. While Salvation Is of God, a Surrender of the Will Is Called For.—After
the primary promptings of the Spirit of God, and the magnetic drawings of the
love of God, the soul must accept, and must yield to, its great Deliverer. This
act of surrender, prompted by divine grace, makes it possible for God to extend
to the soul all the wonderful provisions of His bounty. This act, or attitude,
of the soul is expressed in various ways in Holy Scripture:
We are to believe—whosoever believeth in him" (John 3:16); to
yield—"yield yourselves unto God" (Rom. 6:13); to
submit—"submit yourselves therefore to God" (James 4:7);
the deeds of the body" (Rom. 8:13)—literally this means "put to
death"; to present our bodies to God—"present your bodies a living
sacrifice" (Rom. 12:1); to reckon ourselves dead to sin—"reckon ye
also yourselves to be
dead indeed unto sin" (Rom. 6:11); and to die unto sin—"if Christ
be in you, the body is dead because of sin" (Rom. 8:10).
Whatever is represented by these acts of the will is certainly not in the
nature of "works," and does not in the least degree add to the
efficacy of salvation. No! It rather denotes the attitude of the soul,
responding to the overtures of God's free grace in making possible the
application, to our hearts, of the boundless bestowal of the grace of God.
7. Christian Life and Experience Is a Growth in Grace.—The Christian life is
more than the initial act of faith, or that act of surrender in accepting Jesus
Christ as Lord. By that act we pass "from death unto life" (John
5:24) and are "born again" (John 3:3); but from there on we must
grow. It is the same in physical human life. Birth is one thing. It is the
beginning of life. But none would find satisfaction in a child that did not
grow. It is similarly God's purpose that we should "grow in grace, and in
the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). As
spiritual babes we are to partake of "the sincere milk of the word"
(1 Peter 2:2), but there must be growth so that we may partake of needful
"strong meat" (Heb. 5:12, 14).
II. Believing in Jesus
Our Christian life is to be a constant attitude of believing in Jesus. We begin
by believing, and by grace we are to keep on believing. We are not only to
"yield," but to keep on yielding. We are to "submit," and
keep on submitting. We are not only to "die" to sin, but
we are to "reckon" ourselves dead unto sin, and keep on reckoning. We
are to "present" our bodies to God, and keep on presenting them to
God. All this is a work of grace.
The Christian life calls for constant surrender, constant consecration,
constant yielding of the heart and life to God. We, who were dead in sin (Eph.
2:1), are now dead to sin (Rom. 6:11). We have identified ourselves with Jesus
in His death, and so have died with Him (Col. 2:20); in fact, our "life is
hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3).
This thought is beautifully expressed through the Greek tenses in the New
Testament. In John 3:18, 36, where we read "he that believeth," the
Greek form is the participle in the present tense, the idea being that
"the one believing on Him who continues to believe" and who
"makes it a life habit" will be saved. The present tense with the
idea of continuance is also seen in the phrase "mortify the deeds of the
body" (Rom. 8:13). The idea is that of a continuous attitude of putting to
death the lusts of the flesh.
Ellen G. White stated it this way:
It is not safe to be occasional Christians. We must be Christ-like in our
actions all the time. Then, through grace, we are safe for time and for
eternity.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 487
Divine grace is needed at the beginning, divine grace at every step of advance,
and divine grace alone can complete the work. . . . We may have had a measure
of the Spirit of God, but by prayer and faith we are continually to seek more
of the Spirit.—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 508.
III. Have No Confidence in the Flesh
In the Christian life there is a constant warfare. "For the flesh lusteth
against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary
the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Gal.
5:17). One who lives after the flesh cannot please God (Rom. 8:8), for he who
sows to the flesh will reap corruption (Gal. 6:8). Living according to the
flesh means death (Rom. 8:13). The fact is, that in our flesh is no good thing
(Rom. 7:18) .
So we are to "have no confidence in the flesh" (Phil. 3:3). While
here in this vale of tears our hope lies solely in Christ our Lord. If we
"walk in the Spirit" we shall not "fulfill the lust of the
flesh" (Gal. 5:16). And even here and now, victory may be ours if we enter
into the experience of the apostle Paul: "I live; yet not I, but Christ
liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of
the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).
IV. Growth in the Christian Life
Growth in the Christian life means intimate fellowship with Jesus Christ our
Lord. It means joy and assurance; and it means constant gratitude to God for
the wonderful deliverance He has wrought for us. But there is a serious side to
this experience. Observe:
It calls for daily self-denial—"If any man will come after me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
It calls for daily sacrifice—"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the
mercies of God, that ye present your
bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your
reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1).
It calls for daily surrender—"Yield your members servants to
righteousness unto holiness" (Rom. 6:19). "Yield yourselves unto
God" (verse 13).
And again Mrs. White attests:
It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of
self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed. All
our good works are dependent on a power outside of ourselves. Therefore there
needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a continual,
earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him.
Only by constant renunciation of self and dependence on Christ can we walk
safely.—Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 159, 160.
V. Complete Distrust of Self Imperative
There is no place for pride in the Christian life. We have nothing of which to
boast (Eph. 2:9). Well might we all learn the lesson of humility seen in the
life of Paul: "I am the least of the apostles" (1 Cor. 15:9);
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace
given" (Eph. 3:8).
After all, we can do nothing of ourselves. Jesus said, "Without me ye can
do nothing" (John 15:5). We know nothing of ourselves (1 Cor. 4:4; 2 Cor.
3:5). Well might we cry out, "Who is sufficient for these things?" (2
Cor. 2:16). But in the Scripture we are assured that "our sufficiency is
of God" (2 Cor. 3:5). And this sufficiency is all-sufficient. Our faith is
to "rest . . . in the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:5, R.S.V.). The power
in our life and ministry is to be "of God, and not of us" (2 Cor.
4:7). We live "by the power of God" (2 Cor. 13:4), for it is His
"power that worketh in us"
(Eph. 3:20). "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his
good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13), "working in you that which is well
pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ" (Heb. 13:21).
Once more Mrs. White attests:
None of the apostles or prophets ever claimed to be without sin. Men who have
lived nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly
commit a wrong act, men whom God had honored with divine light and power, have
confessed the sinfulness of their own nature. They have put no confidence in
the flesh, have claimed no righteousness of their own, but have trusted wholly
in the righteousness of Christ. So will it be with all who behold Christ.—Ibid., p. 160.
VI. Hungering and Thirsting After God
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness"
(Matt. 5:6). This will be the mark of the true child of God. Having none of his
own, he longs for the righteousness of God. Thank God for the assurance,
"Ye shall be filled" (Luke 6:21). Christ was here emphasizing the
experience of David of old: "My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth
for thee" (Ps. 63:1); "My soul thirsteth for God" (Ps. 42:2);
"My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God" (Ps. 84:2).
This is the true hunger of spirit, the longing of the human heart to be made
like unto Christ. It is under such conditions that God "satisfieth the
longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness" (Ps. 107:9).
1. There Will Be Genuine Fruitage in the Lives of God's Faithful Children.—There will be genuine progress in the bearing of fruit in the
Christian life. And this will develop as we go on from faith to faith. In
John's Gospel we read of "fruit" (John 15:2),
"more fruit" (verse 2), then "much fruit" (verse 5), and
finally that "your fruit should remain" (verse 16). So we are to go
on "from strength to strength" (Ps. 84:7) and from victory to
victory, because it is God who "giveth us the victory through our Lord
Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57). "Thanks be unto God, which always
causeth us to triumph in Christ" (2 Cor. 2:14).
Then there are the "fruits of righteousness" (Phil. 1:11; compare
James 3:18). "The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness
and truth" (Eph. 5:9). The fuller outline appears in the epistle to the
Galatians—"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no
law" (Gal. 5:22, 23).
What a wonderful portrayal! The paramount fruit of the Spirit is love. All that
follow are but aspects of this divine quality. Just as various colors make up
sunlight, so these graces together constitute love. Thus, joy is love exulting;
peace is love in repose; long-suffering is love untiring; gentleness is love
enduring; goodness is love in action; faith is love in confidence; meekness is
love under discipline; while temperance is love in self-control.
This fruitage is to be seen in the life of the Christian. These graces do not
grow by any effort of our own, but they are manifested in our lives because
Christ dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3:17). These graces are in Christ;
and when Christ dwells in us, He lives out in its the wonderful qualities of
His own perfect character
Works as a means of salvation have no place in the plan of God. We cannot be justified at all by any kind of works. Justification
is wholly an act of God, and we are but the recipients of His unbounded grace.
But works as the fruitage of salvation do have a definite place in the plan of
God. This is seen in the spiritual graces to be manifested in the children of
God, as already noted. We are to "work the works of God" (John 6:28).
There is the "work of faith" (1 Thess. 1:3); and every one that is
"born of him" "doeth righteousness" (1 John 2:29).
"Good works" are referred to many times in the New Testament (see
Eph. 2:10), but it is to be borne in mind that in all our work of faith (2
Thess. 1:11), our faith must be activated by the love of God (Gal. 5:6). So, in
all things "the love of Christ" is to constrain us (2 Cor. 5:14).
Ellen G. White writes:
No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire
renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent
for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Save
me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Lord, take my heart; for I
cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for
Thee. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the
rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul.—Ibid., p. 159
It will be noted that the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22, 23) is in
full harmony with the law of God, for against the manifestation of these graces
in the life "there is no law" (verse 23). In other words, the person
in whose life these graces are seen, will fulfill the commandments of God. He
cannot do this of himself; he is not expected to. But with Christ dwelling in
the life, Christ's own righteous life (John 15:10) is both
imputed and imparted to the child of God. Thus David exclaimed, "Great
peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them" (Ps.
119:165). Hence the beloved apostle could write: "And hereby we do know
that we know him, if we keep his commandments." "But whoso keepeth
his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we
are in him" (1 John 2:3, 5). And, "by this we know that we love the
children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments" (1 John
We are to keep a balanced view of the plan of God. His purpose is that His
people be righteous. They are not naturally righteous. But in the gospel of the
grace of God there is provision "that the righteousness of the law might
be fullfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit"
(Rom. 8:4). So, "circumcision is nothing; and want of it is nothing; but
to keep the commandments of God is everything" (1 Cor. 7:19, Twentieth
2. The Child of God May Have Confidence and Assurance.—It is our privilege,
and really our heritage as the blood-bought children of God, to have "full
assurance" (Col. 2:2), to enjoy "full assurance of faith" (Heb.
10:22), and to know the "full assurance of hope unto the end" (Heb.
6:11). We have confidence in Him (1 John 5:14), "confidence toward
God" (1 John 3:21).
To the true children of God, this experience is not hearsay; it is not veneer
or make-believe; it is a real, genuine experience. They can say with all
confidence, yet with humility, "We know that we have passed from death
unto life" (1 John 3:14); We know "that we are in him" (1 John 2:5);
We know that he abideth in us (1 John 3:24).
VII. Three Tenses in Salvation
Salvation from sin is set forth in three "tenses"—past, present,
and future. It is a progressive work. The child of God may properly say,
"I have been saved from the penalty of sin"; also, "I am being
saved from the power of sin." And he can also say, with truth, "I
shall be saved from the very presence and possibility of sin."
Concerning the first expression, "I am saved," Paul wrote to Titus,
"According to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5); likewise, "We
are saved by hope" (Rom. 8:24). In both instances the Greek verb is in the
aorist form. For example, this last text could more accurately read, "We
were saved" (R.S.V.), or "We have been saved" (Weymouth). This
stresses an aspect of salvation that is an accomplished fact.
But it is also true that as sincere believers in Christ we are being saved.
This is something in process of being accomplished day by day. We read,
"Unto us which are saved" (1 Cor. 1:18). But again the better
rendering of the Greek is "to us who are being saved" (R.S.V.). This
same thought is seen in Acts 2:47 where the correct translation is "those
who were being saved" (R.S.V.).
Then there is the expression, "I shall be saved." We also read,
"We shall be saved" (Acts 15:11; Rom. 5:9).
This is the threefold way in which
the work of salvation touches human hearts. Thus we have been saved—justification;
we are being saved—sanctification; and we shall be saved—glorification.
VIII. God's People Delight to Rejoice in the Lord
When God forgives our sins and gives us the assurance in His Word that they are
forgiven (Eph. 4:32), we have no need to worry and concern ourselves about the
future. It is true that there will be a judgment where the sins of men will be
dealt with. But that need cause no concern to the child of God, for as a
Christian he now abides in God, and God abides in him (John 14:20). "Your
sins are forgiven you for his name's sake" (1 John 2:12). Faith lays hold
of His word and rejoices in the knowledge of sins forgiven.
The one who has truly passed from death unto life, and maintains an attitude of
constant surrender, does not live his life in uncertainty. Having placed his
case in the hands of his mighty Advocate, he has no fear for the future. Christ
is his surety, and he lives his life in an atmosphere of complete trust in God,
rejoicing that "perfect love casteth out fear."
In the light of such great salvation, ought not the lives of God's people to be
lives of rejoicing? Even the Israelites long ago in Old Testament times knew
what this meant. Note their expressions of joy and gladness: "Rejoice in
the Lord, O ye righteous" (Ps. 33:1); "Be glad then, ye children of
Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God" (Joel 2:23). And the psalmist
said, "Let thy saints shout for joy" (Ps. 132:9); "Let them ever
shout for joy" (Ps. 5:11).
Over and over again came the refrain, "Praise ye the Lord," and the
people took this to heart, for we
read, "I will be glad and rejoice in thee" (Ps. 9:2); "My soul
shall be joyful in the Lord" (Ps. 35:9); "I will greatly rejoice in
the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God" (Isa. 61:10); "I will
declare what he hath done for my soul" (Ps. 66:16).
In the New Testament there is the same note of rejoicing. "Joy" is
one of the great words of the New Testament. Indeed, the gospel itself is
declared to be "tidings of great joy" (Luke 2:10). And Jesus, the
author of eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9), wished His disciples to partake of His
joy, that in and through Him their joy might be full (John 15:11; 16:24). The
great apostle to the Gentiles expressed the same thought, when he exhorted the
saints to "rejoice in the Lord" (Phil. 3:1); to "rejoice in the
Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4). Thus we may unite our
voices with the celestial choirs, "saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the
Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and
honour, and glory, and blessing" (Rev. 5:12).