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Justification and Beyond! — 21 Comments

  1. It bothers me when people say that justification is our ticket to heaven and sanctification is our fitness for heaven as I most often hear. I am grateful that this author has not done so. He seems to understand it is a journey and not a destination. That sanctification is a work of a lifetime demonstrates that we never arrive or it could be described as the work of six hours or sixty years. The evidence of sanctification is how bad we feel about our success as believers. The more clearly we see the Ideal, the farther we will see ourselves from it. Both Paul and the thief on the cross died on the path.

    • William, thank you for writing a very beautiful description of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Your shared a remarkable experience from the eyes of a child who learned the beauty of forgiveness from parents who understood and lived the love of Jesus Christ. It appears that the owner of the car also knew the love of forgiveness and forgiving, and likely was led of the Holy Spirit to have you call your Mom, apparently not in a scary and angry way.

      Chris is right in observing that you did not claim grace as yours, but that you shared grace as a gift that is pure and marvelous.

      I appreciated your choice of quotes from Scripture and EGW writings to aptly support your presentation. Of significance is your first EGW quote where she exorts that we do not define righteousness by faith "more minute" "than inspiration". We do often fall into the trap of over defining and over categorizing justification and sanctification, when they both work as an integrated team in the process of our redemption transformation.

      May our Father in Heaven continue to bless your ministry.

    • " The evidence of sanctification is how bad we feel about our success as believers."
      Not likely. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, not guilt and self-condemnation.

      • Jorden I do believe that you misinterpreted Chris. I do believe Chris was talking about: Galatians 6:14. Epheasians 2:9. “When Christ dwells in the heart, the soul will be so filled with His LOVE, with the JOY of communion with Him, that it will cleave to Him; and in the contemplation of Him, self will be forgotten. Love to Christ will be the spring of action. Those who feel the constraining love of God, do not ask how little may be given to meet the requirements of God; they do not ask for the lowest standard, but aim at perfect conformity to the will of their Redeemer. With earnest desire they yield all and manifest an interest proportionate to the value of the object which they seek. A profession of Christ without this deep love is mere talk, dry formality, and heavy drudgery.” SC 44.2
        “Self will be forgotten”. To me, self will be forgotten, is about the same as, “the evidence of sanctification is how bad we feel about our success as believers. The closer we come to the Cross the more inadequate we feel. But that does not mean we are to live in a cloud of dispare. You are right a connection with the Holy Spirit brings forth love, joy, peace. Those three words brings rejoicing in the Lord to my mind. Philippians 4:4. Revelation 19:7.

  2. My worry is about the end time when we will have to live without sin because we won't have Jesus anymore as mediator. Can you expand about that time?

    • Hi Emil,

      If we now focus on developing our relationship with Jesus, we will never have to live without Him or His Holy Spirit. Jesus will no longer work as Mediator, because all decisions for or against Him have been made. He is quite able to keep us from falling. (Jude 1:24) If we make a habit of following Him, we are His sheep, and He said quite clearly that no one is able to snatch His sheep out of His Father's hand.

      So rather than worrying about the end of time, spend time now with Jesus. Then you will always be close to Him.

      • Thanks sister, I tend to worry about myself but mostly about my children. They are young adults and their walk with Jesus is not as it should be. I will try to live by example and as you said I will concentrate on my daily walk with Jesus rather then trying to figure out the future.

    • Emil, I think the advice Inge gives is excellent. Just in case I would like to add that just because we are righteous by faith doesn’t mean that we won’t have trouble. All we have to do is to look at Jesus in Gethsemane and the problems he had on the cross to realize that and He was as perfect as perfect gets.

      • Thanks brother Tyler, when I look at Jesus I tend to be discouraged by the fact that I'm not what I should be. He promised the power for living the life He wants me to live but I'm not at that point of total surrender and total dependency on He's leading. I'm joining Paul on his lamentation "O wretched man that I am!" and pray that by the grace of God I will be able to stand in the night of trouble together with my family.

    • Christ "ever lives as intercessor". There is no Bible evidence that we will live without a mediator some time in the future. On the cross, Christ earned the right to be the go-between humanity and divinity, and that role will be his forever. The idea that there is some time of "no mediator" is a literalistic misinterpretation of the OT sanctuary services.

      "But because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest truly befits us—One who is holy, innocent, undefiled, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.…" Heb 7:25-26

  3. Emil, when close of probation takes place it is impossible for anyone to change their stance. When Jesus declares " let him who is righteous be righteous still and him who is filthy be filthy still and so On" If we say that we can fall after that it means Jesus made a mistake in His Judgement. After the close of probation we can no more fall than a wicked man can be saved.
    We want to be amongst the ones that He declares Righteous at the close of probation, to be there we need to be on His side now, and as He said" no one will be able to snatch us out of HIs Hand!!!"

    • Thomas, when we say that when probation closes then we cannot change it is the same as saying that after all the decisions are made in Heaven there will be no more freedom. As far as I am concerned that is advocating pure dictatorship and to me there are few ideas that are so at odds with the revealed will of God in scripture. The whole great controversy happened because God wanted free moral agents to choose to love Him, not because of fear or political pressure but because they would see that God is love and that His government was all for us and not against us (Rom 8:31-39).

      “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor 3:17 NKJV).

      I think that verse above is one of the reasons why the majority of translations render Rev 22:11 as “let him be” rather than “must continue” like the NET Bible does. (But that is only one of the theological mistakes the NET Bible makes in their translation because of their philosophical bias.)

      The point of Rev 22:11 is that when probation closes everyone will have made up their minds and that nothing that can be presented to them will ever convince them enough to cause them to change the direction they have chosen. That is what the unpardonable sin is all about.

    • In reference to the words of Rev 22:11, they are most often read as though they were being said prescriptively. What if they are a description (of how human nature actually works) rather than a prescription? That would mean that 'probation' closes at the point where everyone has reached a point where they will not change because they no longer want to. Therefore, its not that they would have changed if they'd had another opportunity but rather that no matter how many opportunities they would have, they would choose the same way. To put it another way, their hearts are set or "hardened" to the point where change is not going to happen. More specifically, their character is set.

      What I am proposing is consistent with the phenomenon that Ellen White describes and to which William referred: "The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts". (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p. 57).

      I would propose that we have a similar scenario in Genesis 3:14 and 16 where God is describing the natural sequence of events that will occur rather than prescribing that He will cause something to happen...

  4. Tyler, what you are saying is that sin can rise again the second time in heaven? because we do have the spirit of liberty, and we know that that will not happen. Simply, when Jesus pronounces that the Judgement is finished the verdicts cannot be changed.

    WE still have freedom of choice in heaven but because we know what Jesus did for us, our relationship with Him and with every other Being in Heaven will be one of love, same as every relationship in heaven is based on now. Jesus knows the heart of every man and when He decides that probation is closed there is no more changing, He will not make any mistakes in His Judgement.
    We Must trust HIM as we are told that His Judgments are righteous.

    Now is the time when we should be seeking HIM while He is mediating for us, so that our names will be found written in the Lamb's book of life. Our freewill is used to make decisions to accept Jesus and His salvation now, as it's going to be difficult to access the throne of grace without a mediator. It is our freewill now and It will be our freewill after the close of probation and throughout eternity to worship our Saviour and live in harmony with the principles of His Kingdom.

    When the door of the ark was closed no one could go in and no one could go out, however they had all exercised freewill to be in that position, when the flood started many would have been at the door willing to hitch a ride, But it was too late. Lets get in the ark while the door is still open because when it closes is too late to Jump ship.

    • So you say, Thomas, that we will have freedom in everything else except to rebel against God’s government. There was a statement by one well-known Chinese scientist some time ago that those in the US can criticize our government but not Darwin while in China they can criticize Darwin but not their government. In communist countries they have quite a bit of freedom but when it comes to the authority over them they are not allowed to say anything. Do we really want to equate God’s government to that kind of thing?

      This business of free choice goes well beyond the topic of perfectionism. It hits at the very roots of God’s character. In my opinion the thinking that God "will not allow" is very much the same as I have observed in other religious groups. For instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses use texts such as, “Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Rev 19:15 NKJV) in their understanding of God as one who rules with strictness. To them God is a stern and judgmental dictator and other Christian groups also follow suit and use the cleansing of the temple along with what happened to Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1-2), and Uzzah (2 Sam 6:6-7) to demonstrate their concept of God. I have even heard a few hymns in our own churches that essentially say the same thing, and we think they are great.

      Freedom to choose to disobey is the cornerstone of God’s government. It is vastly different than Satan’s government that rules by intimidation, threat, and all the other brutal tactics used to control the conscious.

      To be specific, my thoughts on the subject are that freedom to choose against God will always exists, but after 7000 painfully long years, no one will for one second entertain the idea of rebellion. Perhaps a very fine line exists between “will not” and “cannot” but to me there is a definite difference between the two. One says that God will not allow, the other says that we will not allow. If it were a matter of God not allowing, then there was no reason in allowing sin to happen in the first place, and we would have been made to be merely automatons -- nothing more than glorified robots.

      So, no, I don’t think God will take away the possibility to sin. We will simply choose not to sin because we have seen what sin does.

  5. Hurford, personally I think it is unfortunate that the quote from Ellen White has been used in the article without consideration of the context that it was originally given in. You even use it to criticize William’s use of certain words.

    The referenced source of the quote in the article, “Christ Triumphant” is one of several compilations that have that quote. While compilations have their place, they very rarely involve context and sometimes don’t even reference the original source. Therefore they suffer from the same problems that proof texting suffers from.

    The original was from a diary entry Ellen White made in 1891, just three years after the 1888 Minneapolis Convention that stirred up more division than anything else and concerned a talk she gave during the last meeting of the Ministerial Bible School that was attended by conference officials in the year of the diary entry. In that entry she said:

    I spoke in regard to matters that were deeply impressing my mind. I referred to the fear that had been expressed by some who were not members of the ministerial institute, and who had not been present at all the Bible classes of the school—a fear that there was danger of carrying the subject of justification by faith altogether too far, and of not dwelling enough on the law.
    Judging from the meetings that I had been privileged to attend, I could see no cause for alarm; and so I felt called upon to say that this fear was cherished by those who had not heard all the precious lessons given, and that therefore they were not warranted in coming to such a conclusion. (The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p 890.2)

    Her concern that she voiced mostly centered around the problem that she felt that Christ was not given center stage in sermons (ref. paragraph 4 on the same page). That was the same issue that came up at the 1888 convention in which Waggoner and Jones presented Jesus as the center in everything but particularly in our salvation commonly referred to as righteousness by faith. She said, “Of all professed Christians, Seventh-day Adventists should be foremost in uplifting Christ before the world. Our ministers should ever be able to direct men and women to Christ, to the One who Himself declared, “I am the Bread of Life” (John 6:35)” (ibid. p 891.2).

    “I have felt very sad as I have seen ministers walking and working in the light of the sparks of their own kindling; ministers who were not obtaining spiritual nourishment from Christ, the Bread of Life. Their own souls were as destitute of the heavenly manna as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. In their hearts Christ was not an abiding presence. How could they speak intelligently of Him whom they had never known by experimental knowledge?” (ibid. p. 894.2}
    “Genuine religion is based upon a belief in the Scriptures. God’s Word is to be believed without question. No part of it is to be cut and carved to fit certain theories. Men are not to exalt human wisdom by sitting in judgment upon God’s Word. The Bible was written by holy men of old, as they were moved upon by the Holy Spirit, and this Book contains all that we know for certain and all that we can ever hope to learn in regard to God and Christ, unless, like Paul, we are taken to the third heaven to hear “unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4) . . . Christ’s blood was shed to remit our sins.” (ibid. p. 897.1-3)

    The next paragraph begins the quote we are discussing. Such is the context of that quote. It would be of benefit to read the entire entry but particularly what she says after the quotation which is her explanation of how we are saved. It should also be noted that Ellen White wrote some 50 pages in 1 Selected Messages in a section, “Christ Our Righteousness” devoted to the subject. So while it is simple we need to remember the context, especially in the shadow of the 1888 convention.

  6. The only comments about defining predestination, and sanctification, that I have is, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are responsible for the means of how these characteristics are obtained in our lives. That does not mean we have no active part, It means what is called "being in Christ", or being part of all that He has given us. We have options to choose, but our choices will hopefully be the wisest. Some have likened sanctification, to a journey.

  7. How did this discussion move so far from William’s beautiful exposition on “me in Christ” and “Christ in me”? Isn’t that all we need now and in the future at the “close of probation”, death, and even in the New heavens and earth? Jesus is all and in all! If we stay there (and quit looking at ourselves with our imperfections!), we will be just fine!

    • How? William’s beautiful exposition rests on the fundamental of whom we worship.

      In the beginning, God made man in his image. The fundamental of the Great Deceiver’s lie is that a created being can make God in his image—a make-believe pretend God (that is, an idol) that fits any way that being wants to think. The danger in our existence is that the reality we perceive is filtered by our preconceptions (what is in our hearts), and our hearts are deceptively wicked. That is why we must carefully test our ideas of who God is with respect to the Word and the Spirit to determine whether they are from the true God or not.

      Knowing God—that is, what is really like as a person—is vital to our eternal life. We must know that the “Jesus” in “me in Jesus” and “Jesus in me” is in reality the Way, the Truth and the Life, and not some idol we have been deceived into making with our minds and theology. We must be sure that our thoughts, words and actions are in accord with the fundamental premise of life: God is love. Otherwise, all our religiosity will be in vain come God’s judgement day.

      I am glad that in our community of faith there is a forum like this that allows us gather together for dialogue in a safe place where we can encourage and help one another in our walk with our Lord and Saviour.


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