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Friday: Further Thought ~ The Good News of the Judgment — 11 Comments

  1. You sometimes get the idea when you spend a lot of time with Seventh-day Adventists that being saved is about knowing a lot of stuff and doing a lot of things. I wonder how many of us could pass a test on what we know about God in history, the symbolism of the sanctuary service, the creationist explanation of geology, and so on. And then there are all the things we have to do: pay tithe, and a bit extra, observe Sabbath on Saturday vs Sunday, be a vegetarian, or, vegan if you want to be really perfect, don't participate in competitive sports and ... I am sure I have missed a whole lot out.

    And I know of Seventh-day Adventists who still worry about whether they are believing everything right and doing everything right. I heard one person say that he was just about perfect, but he still had to overcome the desire to eat an ice cream every now and then. (Confession: I ate an ice cream last week in Mudgee. My first for the year!)

    I get admonition to seek out sin in my life so that I will be found ready for the judgment.

    There is a story in the Old Testament that we are all familiar with. The Israelites had sinned and the camp was full of snakes. Moses made a brazen snake and told them that they would be saved if they looked at the brazen snake.

    We need to learn that when the snakes are biting we must look to Jesus.

    I am not saying that some of the things that I mentioned in the introduction are not important. But when we focus on Jesus, they fall into place. It is not so much about eliminating sin from our lives but filling our lives with the light and love of Jesus.

    When the snakes are biting look to Jesus. That is how we are saved now.

    • When the snakes are biting look to Jesus. That is all! (rather than trying to get human/self treatment-trying to be perfect on our own or killing the snakes-eradicating sins-though that is important, but God's part).

  2. Hi, Maurice. I have observed, in many Seventh-day Adventist churches, that this attitude you mention in your post prevails.
    But, is this an attitude of born Adventists? I don‘t know.

    I grew up with a Muslim dad, a Catholic mom, and went to a Quaker private school in Jerusalem. Later, after having completed my postgraduate studies, I gave my life to Jesus, and by that I was ostracized and disinherited. I consider my conversion, up to now, a real miracle (my 4 siblings remained Muslims), rendering me humble and grateful to the one who declared me righteous through His blood.

    Perhaps the truth about justification and sanctification has not been fully understood by some, which places them in a state of worry, whether they are doing everything right.

    I‘m quoting from E. Raymond for easy understanding:

    Justification happens outside of you, you are declared righteous. Romans 3:24, 2 Cor. 5:21
    Sanctification happens inside of you, you are made righteous. 1 Thess. 4:35, Hebr. 12:14

    Justification is a one-time event, and sanctification is a continual process. When we are justified, we are declared righteous positionally (that is, before God we are righteous). However, while we are positionally righteous, we are practically not perfectly righteous. While doubtless growing in grace, we are still, when compared to Christ, unrighteous. Sanctification then is the gradual conformity to the likeness of Christ. In other words, sanctification is the gradual process of becoming practically what we are positionally (righteous).

    Would that somehow help us deal better with the judgment theme?

    • Thank you for sharing your experience Amina. Focusing on sin is a trap that we all fall into at times and I don't know that it is associated with any particular background. Reading the Davidian Psalms we find that David had the same battle.

      Personally, I do not particularly like the terms "justification" and "sanctification" because we get too bound up in their definitions and when they happen and why. It is also very hard to talk to atheists about them. I am reminded that we can fall in love without knowing the definitions. It's a shared experience and that is what matters. Salvation likewise is a shared experience that goes beyond the semantics of definitions amd descriptions.

      I think that if we have that experience we have little to fear from judgment talk.

    • Concerning justification is a one-time event.

      We had a lesson a few weeks ago that described the past, present, and future picture of what our lives should be like when we confess our sins and accept the righteousness of Jesus Christ as our only hope for salvation.

      It reminded me of one Seventh-Day Adventist pastor who used to say. "In Christ, all past, present, and future sins are forgiven." I asked him to explain that to me, but he couldn't (or wouldn't). It caused me to not want to attend his services.

      If justification, which some say means, "just as if we never sinned", we need to be careful not to get the misled idea of "once saved, always saved". 1 John 1:9 says. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us for our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". We need to truly repent of our sins. It is and should be a humbling experience to be sorry for what our sins cost our Saviour, Jesus Christ, on the cross. Otherwise, we do not understand the price He paid for our sins or what Peter means by "the precious blood of Jesus".

      I believe this might cause controversy.

    • Hi, Amina.

      Depending on what we may have been missing, concerning justification and sanctification, I personally think that you might be on to something. When we have come to faith in Jesus, humbly confessing our sins, and making Him our Lord and Saviour, our sins are immediately pardoned, and our standing before God is "just as if we had never sinned." (Sorry, Tom. I'll get to you in a minute.) This righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, is absolutely critical to our hopes in the judgment. Without it, we are lost.

      What about sanctification as a "gradual conformity to the likeness of Christ"? Of course, it means that the defects we see in our own character are not to discourage us, nor destroy our hope. We are to look to Jesus and His perfection. We also have some strong assurances, in the Scriptures, that He will complete the job. Philippians 1:6 especially comes to mind here.

      He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (NKJV)

      Romans 8:29 is another.

      Whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (NKJV)

      In my view, taking God at His naked word can go a long way in giving us assurance.

      Yes, Tom, "once saved, always saved" is clearly an extreme to be avoided. I'd say that, if our confidence is in Jesus, not in ourselves, we can rest assured without the need for that extreme. I love your observation that our repentance needs to be deep, heartfelt, and ongoing. By God's grace, it certainly can be.

      Blessings to all!

    • Dear Amina – thank you - your post with its findings resonates with me and I support what you stated. I also found that defining ‘justification’ and ‘sanctification’ can become a battleground of ruminations when not being comfortable with understanding that our position in Jesus Christ keeps us save. For some, the understanding of the Scripture verses you shared is clear, for others there is still an ‘unsettled’ sense of uncertainty and therefore appreciation.

      Related to this, I think that you will benefit greatly from reading an article which was provided as a link in Jim William’s post on Tuesday. It sheds great insight into the controversy between good and evil, and where we are placed/found as judgement takes place in the bigger picture of our Salvation by Grace through Faith.
      I do not know if copying this link will work - but here it is:

      Ministry Magazine Article: https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1961/07/the-hour-of-gods-judgment-is-come.

  3. When I think about the judgment, I may feel a little anxious. On the other hand, I must realize I can present nothing of my own that will plead me innocent. The only thing that can save me from the salary of 'imperfection' is the blood of my Redeemer. Today is the day I face the Judge. Today, I claim Jesus' intercession for me. I plead guilty so that He can save me.

  4. I grew up in a very conservative Adventist home. In a very conservative little church in Brownsville California, in the 1950's. it seemed that everybody was focused on the Beanos. Let me explain, there will "be no" more fun, especially on the Sabbath day. We were vegetarians that ate eggs and dairy products at home and obeyed all the rules that Maurice mentioned and more.

    When you're in your early years of grade school, it's hard to understand why there will "be no" riding your bicycle unless you're going to church. There will "be no" swimming but it's OK to wade up to your ankles. I think, like the Pharisees in Jesus' time, we made more rules about what you couldn't do on the Sabbath day than we ever thought about good things we could do.

    Why is it wrong to eat ice cream, when the greatest trip ever taken was to a land that flowed with milk and honey?

    Should not our message for today be that we are saved by faith through grace?! We are not saved by focusing on the rules. I'm not saying obedience is a bad thing. Obedience is a gift from God! When we are focused on the Lord then the benefits of obedience just fall into place.

    Is it possible that the judgment, as the angel said, is HIS judgment? In other words, that's when we get together as the saved and say, Lord you definitely got it right! The scene in Revelation looks a lot more like a coronation to me than a court room.

    Have a blessed, enjoyable Sabbath day…Royce

    • I hear you, Royce. The legalism was bad when I was growing up, in the 1960s. I can only imagine how the 1950s must have been! I like your observation:

      "I think, like the Pharisees in Jesus' time, we made more rules about what you couldn't do on the Sabbath day than we ever thought about good things we could do."

      What is religion worth, without positive joy in the Lord, and being a blessing to others?

      As for the first angel's message, seeing it announced a judgment now already begun, it seems we can be there only by faith. So, are we eventually going to get together, as the saved, and let the Lord hear just how right we feel He got it? As far as I'm concerned, absolutely!

      Many blessings to you as well!

  5. Jim Williams in his comment on April 25th said:
    ‘The Judgement spoken of in Revelation is primarily about the Judgement of God's Government. When Lucifer was thrown out of heaven, it was God's Government that was called into question and it culminates in total vindication in the book of Revelation. It is God that has been on trial.’
    Ministry Magazine Article: https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1961/07/the-hour-of-gods-judgment-is-come

    Since reading Jim Williams’ comment, and after reading the article he provided through this link, I have gained a much deeper appreciation of what is at stake during the work of our Salvation by our heavenly Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. By faith, I have chosen God's Side and so stand with Him against His adversary!

    The scenario described by Ellen G. White in today’s lesson goes to this very issue at the heart of the ‘great controversy’ between God and satan. She envisions a scene at the time of judgement in which Lucifer states: “’Will God banish me and my angels from His presence, and yet reward those who have been guilty of the same sins? Thou canst not do this, O Lord, in justice. Thy throne will not stand in righteousness and judgement. Justice demands that sentence be pronounced against them.’“

    Lucifer’s form of righteousness is found in ‘justice without love and mercy’. We can memorize all the ‘words’ found in the Scriptures, but this is not enough to establish ‘righteousness’ in our heart; we need to love God with all our heart in spirit and truth. I believe that this battle always was and still is over who’s 'righteousness' reigns supreme.
    Do we think it is God’s spiritual authority over all life vested in His Righteousness through Grace because He loves us, or is it Lucifer’s form of righteousness which he offers to all wo try to establish their own righteousness through good 'works' bound to this material world?

    The ’Good News of the Judgement’ is that God’s Righteousness has been vindicated through the Faith of Jesus Chris as manifested by His resurrection from death to life. God's Righteousness is unto life, Lucifer’s form of 'righteousness' leads to death and decay.
    Therefore, the believer's judgement is found in Christ’s Righteousness. Ellen G. White concludes with Jesus speaking: ‘The Lord rebuke thee, O satan. I gave my life for these souls. They are graven upon the palms of My hands.’

    Because the believer's 'righteousness' is really Jesus’ Righteousness, and He overcame this world ‘and was found worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals’ – Rev.5:1, we are now save in Him. In Jesus, God’s victory becomes our victory, confirming that it is His Righteousness which leads to Life.
    He ”and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His Grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus– Eph.2:4-9.


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