January 1, 2000 – January 7, 2000
Satan’s work is to make the truth of God of none effect. Cast out of heaven because of his transgression, his aim has ever been to defeat God’s purpose for man. He seeks to make it appear that the law is imperfect, unjust, tyrannical. He declares that it is impossible for man to keep the law. And in his own power man cannot keep the law. Without a Savior, he is without hope.
“Christ saw the helpless condition of the race, and He came to redeem them by living the life of obedience the law requires, and by paying in His death the penalty of disobedience. He came to bring us the message and means of deliverance, an assurance of salvation, not through the abrogation of the law, but through obedience made possible by His merits….
“Christ’s death shows God’s great love for man. It is the pledge of our salvation. To remove the cross from the Christian would be like blotting out the sun. The cross brings us near to God, reconciling us to Him. Jehovah looks upon it with the relenting compassion of a Father’s love. He looks upon the suffering His Son endured in order to save the race from eternal death, and He accepts us in the Beloved.
“Without the cross, man could have no connection with the Father. On it hangs our every hope. In view of it the Christian may advance with the steps of a conqueror; for from it streams the light of the Savior’s love. When the sinner reaches the cross, and looks up to the One who died to save him, he may rejoice with fullness of joy; for his sins are pardoned. Kneeling at the cross, he has reached the highest place to which man can attain. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ; and the words of pardon are spoken: Live, O ye guilty sinners live. Your repentance is accepted; for I have found a ransom.
“Through the cross we learn that our Heavenly Father loves us with an infinite and everlasting love, and draws us to Him with more than a mother’s yearning sympathy for a wayward child. Can we wonder that Paul exclaimed, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’? It is our privilege also to glory in the cross of Calvary, our privilege to give ourselves wholly to Him who gave Himself for us. Then with the light of love that shines from His face on ours, we shall go forth to reflect it to those in darkness.
Review and Herald, April 29, 1902.
The doctrine of the assurance of salvation is of Calvinistic origin and is based on the five points of the Synod of Dort, 1618, which attempted to answer the objections made by Jacob Hermann (Arminius), to the way in which the Dutch Reformed Church had developed the teaching of John Calvin. The five essential points of Calvinism, proposed by the synod and advocated by Reformed churches of the Calvinistic persuasion today, are as follows:
- Total depravity. Man can do nothing at all to bring about his salvation, not even to believe.
- Unconditional election. The decision that determines man’s salvation is entirely God’s, and not man’s in the slightest degree.
- Limited atonement. Jesus died on Calvary only for the elect.
- Irresistible grace. God’s grace, when presented to the sinner, cannot be resisted or refused.
- Perseverance of the saints. The elect are assured of salvation and can never be lost, no matter what they may do. (“Once saved, always saved.”)
Jacob Hermann, in contrast, had proposed that:
- Man is endowed by God with free will. He can choose to respond to, or reject, Christ’s call.
- Our election to eternal life is based on God’s foreknowledge as to who would choose to believe.
- Because God loves everyone, Christ died for the world and the Father is not willing that any should perish.
- Man, through exercise of his free will, may resist God’s grace.
- Man may, through exercise of his free will, choose to fall from grace.
When the Calvinists speak of the assurance of salvation, they refer to their belief that those chosen by God to eternal life can never be lost, no matter what sins they may commit. This teaching of the assurance of salvation is commonly described as “once saved, always saved.” Seventh-day Adventists have always held that “once saved, always saved” is unscriptural and a dangerous and misleading error. The term “assurance of salvation” is never found in Scripture. Ellen White employs the term only once in the following quotation: “Christ saw the helpless condition of the race, and He came to redeem them by living the life of obedience the law requires, and by paying in His death the penalty of disobedience. He came to bring us the message and means of deliverance, an assurance of salvation, not through the abrogation of the law, but through obedience made possible by His merits.” Review and Herald, April 29, 1902.
Here we are shown that the assurance of salvation that Christ brings is dependent on the Christian’s obedience to the Law of God, made possible through the merits of Christ.
“And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21.
Study Help: Steps to Christ, 17–22.
“The Christian must represent Jesus by both being good and doing good. Then there will be a fragrance about the life, a loveliness of character, which will reveal the fact that he is a child of God, an heir of heaven. Brethren, be no longer slothful servants. Every soul must battle against inclination. Christ came not to save men in their sins, but from their sins. He has made it possible for us to possess a holy character; do not, then, be content with defects and deformities. But while we are to seek earnestly for perfection of character, we must remember that sanctification is not the work of a moment, but of a lifetime. Said Paul, ‘I die daily.’ (1 Corinthians 15:31.) Day by day the work of overcoming must go forward. Every day we are to resist temptation, and gain the victory over selfishness in all its forms.” Ye Shall Receive Power, 353.
“All Have Sinned”
1 What is the human problem from which we all need to be saved? Romans 3:23.
note: “The only definition we find in the Bible for sin is that ‘sin is the transgression of the law.’ (1 John 3:4.) The Word of God declares, ‘All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.’ (Romans 3:23.) ‘There is none that doeth good, no, not one.’ (Romans 3:12.) Many are deceived concerning the condition of their hearts. They do not realize that the natural heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. They wrap themselves about with their own righteousness, and are satisfied in reaching their own human standard of character; but how fatally they fail when they do not reach the divine standard, and of themselves they cannot meet the requirements of God.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 320.
2 What is the inevitable consequence of man’s sin? Romans 5:12.
note See The Great Controversy, 532, 533.
“Your Father the Devil”
3 What does sinful behavior reveal? John 8:44.
note: “The enmity to God has struck its roots deep in human hearts. It has become widespread, both in the world and in the professed churches of Christ. The world and the professed people of God are united by the all-pervading principle of aversion to God’s government. Their opposition to the law of God is sufficient to bind them together, to bear together the burden of their accumulated guilt. Any indication of returning to loyalty and obedience to God is denounced as treachery against the confederacy of disloyalty. A wakeful impiety is quickened into an instinctive vigilance, and rouses to demonstration of hatred against the testing truth for this time. Wherever the truth shall be proclaimed, it will be opposed in a decided manner, for men possess the attributes which Jesus charged upon the Jews when He said, ‘Ye are of your father the devil,’ and ‘ye do the deeds of your father.’” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 57.
4 How does Paul describe the activities of those who follow their sinful inclinations? Galatians 5:19–21.
note: “The greatest detriment to our churches, that which brings them into weakness and disfavor with God, is unhappy jealousies and differences. ‘Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.’ Then let every soul examine himself, and see if he is approaching the committal of any such sins. ‘This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.’ Unsanctified hearts will be revealed in unsanctified actions.” Review and Herald, June 28, 1887.
5 What does Paul say about the consequences of sinful conduct? Galatians 5:21, last part.
note: “The old nature, born of blood and the will of the flesh, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The old ways, the hereditary tendencies, the former habits, must be given up; for grace is not inherited. The new birth consists in having new motives, new tastes, new tendencies. Those who are begotten unto a new life by the Holy Spirit, have become partakers of the divine nature, and in all their habits and practices they will give evidence of their relationship to Christ. When men who claim to be Christians retain all their natural defects of character and disposition, in what does their position differ from that of the worldling? They do not appreciate the truth as a sanctifier, a refiner. They have not been born again.” Maranatha, 237.
6 How does Paul describe the situation of those who have not been born again? Ephesians 2:1–3.
note: “By nature we are alienated from God. The Holy Spirit describes our condition in such words as these: ‘Dead in trespasses and sins;’ ‘the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint’; ‘no soundness in it.’ We are held fast in the snare of Satan; ‘taken captive by him at his will.’ Ephesians 2:1; Isaiah 1:5, 6; 2 Timothy 2:26. God desires to heal us, to set us free. But since this requires an entire transformation, a renewing of our whole nature, we must yield ourselves wholly to Him.” The Faith I Live By, 87. (See also Testimonies, vol. 6, 426, 427.)
7 What difference is accomplished in the life by the power of God? Ephesians 2:4–6.
note: “The warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought. The yielding of self, surrendering all to the will of God, requires a struggle; but the soul must submit to God before it can be renewed in holiness. Many realize their helplessness; they are longing for that spiritual life which will bring them into harmony with God, and are striving to obtain it. But in vain.…Let those desponding, struggling ones look up. When sin struggles for the mastery.…look to the Savior. His grace is sufficient to subdue sin. Let your grateful heart, trembling with uncertainty, turn to Him. Lay hold on the hope set before you.…His strength will help your weakness; He will lead you step by step. Place your hand in His, and let Him guide you. He will set free the captive that is held by weakness and misfortune and the chains of sin. He is always near. His loving presence surrounds you. Seek Him as One who desires to be found of you. God’s promise is, ‘Ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.’” The Faith I Live By, 87.
“Repent and be Converted”
8 In order to receive forgiveness for the sins he has committed, what must the sinner do? 1 John 1:9.
note: “The conditions of obtaining mercy from God are simple and reasonable. The Lord does not require us to do some grievous thing in order to gain forgiveness. We need not make long and wearisome pilgrimages, or perform painful penances, to commend our souls to the God of heaven or to expiate our transgression. He that ‘confesseth and forsaketh’ his sin ‘shall have mercy.’ Proverbs 28:13.” Acts of the Apostles, 552.
9 How does David describe this experience? Psalm 32:5.
note: “How anxious are you to remove the record of the past, to have your wrong-doings blotted out? What depths of iniquity are open to God’s sight, that are hidden from all mortal view! Every secret thing shall be brought into judgement, whether it be good or evil. Past sins, unrepented of and unforgiven, will be brought up then, only to condemn us, and appoint our portion with the lost. But the promises of God are full of encouragement for us.” Review and Herald, January 13, 1891.
10 What other elements are essential parts of repentance? Ezekiel 33:15; Isaiah 55:7.
note: “Zacchaeus had heard of Jesus.…In this chief of the publicans was awakened a longing for a better life.…He felt that he was a sinner in the sight of God. Yet what he had heard of Jesus kindled hope in his heart. Repentance, reformation of life, was possible, even to him.…Zacchaeus began at once to follow the conviction that had taken hold upon him, and to make restitution to those whom he had wronged.” Conflict and Courage, 301. (See also Patriarchs and Prophets, 203.)
“I Will Receive You”
11 Can a sinner make himself righteous? Jeremiah 13:23.
note: “If you see your sinfulness, do not wait to make yourself better. How many there are who think they are not good enough to come to Christ. Do you expect to become better through your own efforts?…There is help for us only in God. We must not wait for stronger persuasions, for better opportunities, or for holier tempers. We can do nothing for ourselves. We must come to Christ just as we are. Yield yourself to Christ without delay; He alone, by the power of His grace, can redeem you from ruin. He alone can bring your moral and mental powers into a state of health.” The Faith I Live By, 133.
12 What precious promise is given to those who choose to turn their backs on their former lives of sin? 2 Corinthians 6:17.
note: “God has given men faculties and capabilities. God works and cooperates with the gifts He has imparted to man, and man, by being a partaker of the divine nature and doing the work of Christ, may be an overcomer and win eternal life. The Lord does not propose to do the work He has given man powers to do. Man’s part must be done. He must be a laborer together with God, yoking up with Christ, learning His meekness, His lowliness. God is the all-controlling power. He bestows the gifts; man receives them and acts with the power of the grace of Christ as a living agent. ‘Ye are God’s husbandry.’ (1 Corinthians 3:9.) The heart is to be worked, subdued, ploughed, harrowed, seeded, to bring forth its harvest to God in good works. ‘Ye are God’s building.’ You cannot build yourself. There is a Power outside of yourself that must do the building of the church, putting brick upon brick, always cooperating with the faculties and powers given of God to man. The Redeemer must find a home in His building. God works and man works.” Faith and Works, 26.