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Salvation is Not a “Zero Down” Deal — 72 Comments

  1. Saved by grace and grace alone is peace of mind and rest of spirit. God loves us so much that He prepared this gift before the world begin. It is so hard to imagine that salvation is really FREE with no strings attached. This gift is not like little a gift we recieve from others. This gift is free for the asking. Nothing and noone can seperate us from this gift that is given to us by God.

    • I loooooved the way, You said that, it gives me the wording to say those whom have not yet, simply, accepted LORD GOD'S GIFT OF JESUS-CHRIST. It allows ne to say--just what the article writer of the article said--all You do is say yes to this gift of JESUS-CHRIST, NO "if(s)" "and(s)" or "but(s)" about it.

    • I think we have to be careful here as this argument is premised on one verse. It would be beneficial to us to have a broader look at salvation. Yes it is a free gift as no one of us did anything to earn it. However Titus 2:11-14 says "for the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us to say no to all godliness ...."

  2. Thank You so much,

    I am so happy that u shared. Your testimony helps others thru their tests.

    And then God can say, well done good and faithful servant.

    Yeshua be praised:)

  3. The Bible and the Bible alone should be our guide concerning Salvation and the Law. Please read the following excerpt from Romans 3

    God’s Righteousness Through Faith

    "21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law wand the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

    Boasting Excluded

    27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law."

    It is clear that we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. However, Paul also indicates to the Romans that we do not make void the law through faith but On the contrary, we establish the law.

    The Law of God therefore remains to be kept Holy even with Grace and faith abounding.

    • Daniel, I appreciate what you are saying. I think many others would like to state similar concerns as well.

      It is true that we cannot hope of salvation while we are in active rebellion. What I mean by that is that we cannot be openly fighting against the principles of Heaven. Now that being said we need to keep in mind one thing, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23 NKJV) and "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us" (1 Jn. 1:10 NKJV). That brings up a problem because even if we were able to keep the law perfectly from this point on (which we can't by ourselves anyway) we still have past sins that would sink us into hell. Somehow those past sins have to be taken care of and that is where the free gift of justification comes in.

      To me it is a mistake to mix justification and sanctification together in one lump. They are two entirely different ministries dealing with the sin problem. Right now we need to focus on how God takes care of past sins, that is, those sins up to this very moment, as in one second ago. Tomorrow will be just like today, we will need to be justified again because we are all far from perfect and constantly fall but there is more than sufficient grace to cover those sins (Rom 5:20). Because of that God is always pouring out His gifts and one of them is justification that says that we are perfect even as the Father in Heaven is perfect (Mat 5:48).

    • well said my friend, well said. Matthew 5:17 think not that I come to destroy the Law, or the prophet: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.

  4. Correct me if I'm wrong but this very much sounds like the "ticket".

    "you don’t have to do anything in order to be saved or stay saved."

    Once saved forever saved?

    • As Seventh-day Adventists we don't believe in "once saved always saved" at least not in the sense that many other Christians believe it. We do believe in having an assurance of salvation with the realization that we can choose against that at any time and through that choice be lost. Neither can we accept salvation and then go on a wild ride through sin - salvation is for those that really want it and part of that is wanting to be like Jesus.

      • Tyler, upholding the law is not lumping Justification and Sanctification together. first we are justified then Sanctified then glorified. the bible says that when Christ comes we will be Gloried in him and him in us. But until then he is only gloried in us. Only through us that his light shine, that is why as we uphold his law we become a light that shines through the universe. I'm not sure what you understand by upholding the law of God, but to me, it's as simple as living according to his will. I would like to invite you to read colossians1:20-23. we have to continue to live by faith, according to his will.

      • Our deeds are confirmation to others that we are saved because faith is not something that you see.
        saved by grace through faith + faith with works= salvation.

  5. The idea of saving by grace alone is incomplete by itself .you need to study the sanctuary diligently to understand how you would be save.For our complete salvation or the business plan of salvation has been laid on the sanctuary.AS you know the sanctuary point to Jesus Christ from the start to the end.

  6. 1 Corinthians 6:11

    And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. "you were sanctified, you were justified" Past tense. Amen brother. Thank you for this post.

  7. Hi Marcos,

    Thanks for sharing with us the wonderful news of how God can justify rebellious sinners and change them into his image.

    In your opinion, can a true Christian that has experienced the new birth ever be lost? If yes, what must a Christian do to keep abiding in Christ? What must he/she avoid doing?

    Can a Christian be saved even if he/she is refusing to let the grace of God take away a cherished sin? I am not talking about the power to stop sinning (we are all helpless without God), but rather the willingness to give up a cherished sin, one that he/she knows perfectly well that it's against God's will?

    Can the robe of Christ's righteousness cover unconfessed and unrepented sins in a person's life?

    Thanks, and may God bless you abundantly!

    • Cristain, you have ask several questions that have crossed many minds before. Can a Christian be saved if they "REFUSE" to accept Gods grace
      and refuse to relinquish a pet sin? My answer to that question would be, God is the judge. The word (refuse) is the issue. That indicates to me that the individual has made a conscious decision to continue indulging in a sinful activity with full knowledge that it was not acceptable to God. If we look at the history of the Israelites, Idol worship was a continuing problem for hundreds of years. They were still His chosen people. He wanted to destroy them but Moses interceded, and God relented. We cannot determine someone else' salvation. We need Christ robe of righteousness because our righteousness is as filthy rags. 2 Peter 3:9 says, The Lord is not willing that any should parish, but that all should come to repentance. EGW says that repentance is a gift of God also. "That I May Know Him", page 109. She also says, He Jesus, is the author of repentance, the means where by we can ask for pardon. "Repentance is certainly as much a gift of Jesus Christ as is the forgiveness of sins". Many of us struggle with repeat sins and wonder is there any hope. Sin is an insidious foe that we cannot defeat by ourselves. As troubling as sin is, Ps 46:1 and Deut 31:8 is our hope and promise.

    • Great question Cristian! I do not believe in once saved always saved. This will become clearer when the next post is published which will deal with sanctification. If your questions are not answered there, feel free to comment there and I will be happy to chat 🙂

      • Dios te bendiga Marcos I am in complete accord with you. That experience in Christ can better be understood once we live it, and knowing Christ is what our soul realy needs. Recuerdos de new jersey, may the Lord bless you and family always.

  8. Thank you, Marcos, for this expose on justification by faith. I think it is important for us to realize that justification is not just a New Testament concept but is in the Old Testament as well. It is found 15 times in texts such as:

    Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked. (Exod. 23:7 NKJV)

    then hear in heaven, and act, and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked, bringing his way on his head, and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness (1 Ki. 8:32 NKJV)

    He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD (Prov. 17:15 NKJV)

    Then there is the age old question raised in Deut 25, "If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked" (Deut. 25:1 NKJV) where we can rightly ask how can someone justify a person that is already righteous? And then there is Job who, "justified himself rather than God" (Job 32:2 NKJV) which raises the question about whether God can be justified. That is the study of theodicy which looks at the justification of God's character in relation to a world of sin. That apparently is what the people that heard Christ were doing (Lk 7:29).

    To me the biggest problem we have is in understanding what justification really is. To Paul it didn't involve works even though he had a lot to say about the works that Christians are to manifest. He wasn't against law at all but simply put it in its rightful place and counseled us how we are to act as saved people. I know that there will be some who will try at this point to jamb works into the whole thing in some way because they feel this topic is presenting a loose Gospel where anything goes but you have clearly stated that sanctification will be handled next week. It is that topic that deals with works, not justification for justification never changes us, it only declares us righteous as a divine proclamation.

    Justification and sanctification work together but this week the topic is justification which Paul spends the vast amount of his time on rather than sanctification. He does so for a reason because sanctification can't handle past sins, it only deals with the present.

  9. Hello Marcus...Thank you for sharing this wonderful message.Though I have accepted Christ as my Savior I always felt that I was not good enough...that I had not done enough to get me into heaven. I remember sitting in church listening and worrying that though I had accepted Christ I still needed to do works to qualify for heaven. You have removed a huge burden off my heart. Thank you so much. God bless

  10. Hi,
    Grace is twofold, it forgives and it empowers by God's Spirit. This goes beyond the teaching of "forensic" (legal, on paper only) righteousness by faith which in the beginning of the reformation great men like Martin Luther taught. The idea that salvation is a free gift we must believe to receive, producing legal justification was most clearly taught by Luther. He spent his whole life emphasizing this important doctrine in a time when the sale of "indulgences" by the Catholic heirarchy was fresh in the minds of those who witnessed it. Now more than 400 years later we have the blessed duty of coupling that teaching with the beautiful truth that the Ten Commandments are Ten Promises to the Christian: "Thou shalt not commit adultery, I love you too much" says the Lord. It is the same creative word of God that said "Let there be light" and there was light. Do we believe his promises? He says "He which has begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ." Don't get discouraged. Keep confessing, keep believing. The new covenant promise to the believer is that He will write His law in our hearts

  11. Credit to the author for bringing up this topic. I beleive much of the reason why there is some disagreement and maybe also confusion among christians and adventists on the topics of grace and salvation is that we do not have a clear understanding of what these words mean. When we talk about topics such as grace and salvation we tend to focus on "how we receive/get" grace and salvation, and rarely do we focus on what grace and salvation really mean.

    What IS salvation? Is it justification and forgiveness, a relationship, an internal miracle by the Holy Spirit, or the entering through the gates of Heaven? The Bible seems to suggest all.

    The verses in Eph 2 (and the context: 2:1-10) referred to in the beginning of the article describe salvation as a change of mind and conduct.
    The same thoughts and view on salvation is found in a parallel text, Tit 3:3-7. Here we learn that salvation is redemption from our sinful conduct through the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit and justification through Jesus Christ.

    Some christians and even adventists seem to beleive that any type of salvation which includes something happening inside us is salvation by works. However Paul clearly states in Tit 3:5 that salvation is NOT by works, even though it includes the new birth/sanctification experience, the work of the Holy Spirit.

    When we have different views on what the core words of the gospel mean (sin, grace, salvation, etc) it is easy to speak past each other and create unecessary confusion.

  12. Thanks so much for the article above and all the wonderful comments but what about addictions? Are they considered cherished sins? Does a smoker chain smoke and in between puffs ask for forgiveness or a glutton ask for forgiveness between each bite? There are many sufferers out there begging for release from addictions and they spend thousands of dollars and go to church each week feeling guilty because of these "cherished sins" knowing the forgiveness will run out because eventually I guess their hearts will be hardened. I don't know - I want to believe in the love of God, forgiveness and justification but . . . does God really answer an addicts prayers? Please don't judge me I am just asking.

    • Hi Shalby,

      Not all repeated sin is cherished sin. God does not ask "are you ABLE to give it up?", because He knows for most sin, especially sins of the heart (anger, impatience, resentment, selfishness), we just can't give it up in our own strength. What He asks is "are you WILLING to give it up?", "will you let Me separate that sin from you?", "will you let me create a new heart, a new mind in you, one that hates sin and loves righteousness?".

      I had an addiction of my own, and I remember exactly how discouraging it was when I fell again and again. I thought "How could God receive me back now?", when it was precisely His help that I needed. When we are sick, should we wait to get better before we go to the doctor? What I needed to be transformed was to know God, to know that He is "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin" (Exodus 34:7). "Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:18-19).
      By God's grace, I am now free from that addiction.
      And I need to constantly keep in mind that sin crucified Christ and it hurts Him every time I do it.

      I still have a lot to learn, but I know complete cleansing is promised to us by our merciful, gracious, and loving Lord:
      "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24)

      He is able and willing to remove our sins from us: "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21)
      The gospel is not a theory, it is God's active, working power:
      "I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16)
      God WILL work in us, if we only allow Him, and do not resist: "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

      Spent much time every day getting to know Jesus and what He has done for us. That's how God changes us. Read your Bible, read Ellen White (especially Desire of ages), spend time in prayer and in thinking of what Jesus has done for us and continues to do.
      "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9)
      The creator and upholder of all things, of every atom in this universe, the One whom angels love to worship and obey - He loved us so much that He became a servant, and even suffered and died for us. He "emptied Himself of His privileges, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:7-8 NKJV margin).

      Look to Jesus - this is how we receive strength:
      "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [talking about the faithful people in Hebrews 11], let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." (Hebrews 12:1-3)

      "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-15)

      Mercy for sins that are past and grace to overcome present sins and to keep us from sinning in the future. All through Christ and His power. This is the everlasting gospel.

    • Hello Shalby,
      I can testify that God is with one through all the terrible trials of addiction. I was addicted to prescription drugs for many years and through that lost everything I owned and loved that being my children. God sent a very special Christian into my life to guide me and help me and together we prayed not only for a healing from addiction but that I would be reunited with my family. It took 8 years but God not only healed me of the drug abuse but also reunited me with my children and family. Shortly after, this dear Christian was killed but I had been led to the Lord and rescued. Two years later after smoking cigarettes for 40 years I actually felt God was calling me to stop smoking so I prayed and asked him to help me then threw my 2 cartons of cigarettes away. To my amazement it really was not difficult at all and today 13 years later I still do not smoke and find it difficult to believe that I once smoked 30 cigarettes a day. My honest advice for Christians battling addiction is to pray for a healing and continue praying and don't beat yourself up by saying I'm not worthy of Gods love because you are. Not one of us are perfect. Too many times Christians cast dark looks on those that smoke never mind the other addictions. If they only knew the heartache they cause by being so judgemental. So to all those battling addictions the answer is prayer and God will himself in his own time lead you out of the addictions. God bless.

  13. I appreciate this article. Yes I qualify for salvation. Yes I accept the invitation and the wedding garment. I repent, believe in Jesus, and follow Him. Henceforth is laid up for me a crown. No I don't deserve eternal life. Just the same I am into accepting The Gift of Salvation walking humbly with my God.

  14. We must realize there is a difference between how to be save and how we are saved. We are saved by Jesus Christ by His grace through faith taking hold of the hem of His garment. Zechariah 8:23. Lay hold upon Christ and appropriate His merits,the remedy for sin. DA 175.

  15. Initially I wondered whether Torres article was just a rehashed version of the ticket salvation. So it is with bated breath l await the sanctification part of the article before arriving at a conclusion.
    Let us not forget that justification and sanctification are simultaneous processes. They happen at the same time. Justification - the work of grace - is for past sins (Romans 3:23-26) Not for present or future sins. Sanctification - again soley the work of grace - CHRIST in me through the HOLY SPIRIT working out salvation for me by changing my sinful nature into His glorious likeness (Philippians 1:10, 11; 2 Corinthians 3:18)

    • I resonate with you Marcia! When I finally discovered that I did not retain salvation by my works it was a struggle to accept it. To me it came across like the ticket version as well. But the alternative, that my works enable me to keep my salvation is just a rehashed version of the performance version of salvation. There is a difference between ticket and only which will become clearer in the following post. If you still have questions then, Id be happy to engage. 🙂

  16. I believe grace is a two-sided coin. It is forgiveness (justification) and power to live a godly life - transforming power (sanctification) Please read Titus 2:11-13: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lists, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify into Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

  17. Thanks for all the comments guys! Unfortunately, I am too busy to reply to each individual comment but I have enjoyed reading them (ans skimming though some of the longer ones 😉 I look forward to dialoguing a bit more when the final article on sanctification is published. But if there is on thing I want to stress it is this - celebrate justification. Right now, if you believe in Jesus Christ, you can look to heaven with full assurance and say the words "I am saved". Isnt that amazing? Praise the Lord for his wonderful gift of salvation!

    • This is a very difficult task for many people to do.
      As you described in the article, there is an immediate unease--panic even--about talking about justification alone. It's almost like an unsupervised baby--a certain uneasiness that it cannot be left to stand alone in its own right.

  18. I may be wrong but I don't believe it is so cut and dried as some suggest that when we come to Jesus we are justified for past sins and then sanctification is in operation.
    I believe justification - forgiveness for our sins is always available to us. This is the wonder of the Good News, when others would have written us off, Jesus keeps loving us and drawing us to Him, keeps inviting us to be like Him because He knows that is what will make us truly happy. Praise the LORD.

    • Shirley, I can see your point of view. Actually justification and sanctification are parallel operations rather than serial. I also think you are right about how God justifies. The point here though is the difference between justification and sanctification not the time they are applied. I think we also need to realize that they are both gifts that do different things.

      To me the hinge point is the heart. If it is pliable even to some degree God doesn't leave us but keeps on working on us and continually justifies us.

    • How wonderfully said Shirley. It truly is His love, compassion and endless forgiveness that makes us want to stop doing the things He hates.

      If you look at the entomology of the word Sanctification it's very simple. It comes from the Latin word "Santificare" which in turn comes from the two words "Sanctus" (Holy) and "facere" (to make).

      Sanctification just means He makes you holy.

      Because you are so grateful to Him for his grace and because you really really want to do better, you ask for His help. And then He helps you - and that is Sanctification, you and Him working together to make a better, happier you.

      Just a big confusing word really for what you said so simply and so well - "Jesus keeps loving us and drawing us to Him, keeps inviting us to be like Him". When we respond to the love you describe - that's Sanctification 🙂

  19. Amen, Brother Marcos! I remember the peace of mind that this truth brought me after 25 years of trying hard to be good enough. Then an AMAZING thing happened. Instead of opening the floodgates of sin those gates began to slowly close. And as I drew nearer to Christ 'cherished sins' no longer had a grip on me. I finally became free from the power of sin that I had struggled against for so many years. Today I am enjoying my freedom in Christ and the victory over sin that it brings. Today I no longer struggle with sin. I struggle with keeping my connection with Christ strong by guarding my prayer life and the time I spend in his word (apart from studying the Sabbath School quarterly). I know that as long as I stay close to God He will do the work of sanctification in me. Amen again. And thanks so much for sharing.

    • This is something that I have recently experienced myself.

      I have only been serious about my relationship with GOD for the past couple of years. I was born an adventist but I think we all know, being born into something is shallow roots. It didn't help that I studied abroad and left my dad, who was probably the only thing anchoring me in the faith back then.

      I struggled with cherished sins and have always felt that Christ no longer wants me or that I simply cannot adhere to Christ's laws & example that there is no point in trying anymore. I never stopped going to Church, but it became nothing more than a habitual act. I went, I left, I didn't forge any relationship with the church family let alone GOD.

      My life was in a complete mess, I hated myself, I gratified my own desires at the cost of my relationship with GOD. But through what I now know is GOD's providential workings, He surrounded me with people that made me want to return to GOD.

      I graduated and moved back home and somehow (GOD's providential workings) I became active with a youth group that is active in literature evangelism and social work. Deep inside there was always a niggling feeling that I can't be doing this(evangelism), how could I? I'm a terrible person, I'm a sinner, What do I have to offer for others, when I too am still seeking GOD?

      But I kept going, I did the work, I helped where I could and to my surprise I felt better. I was happy in doing service for GOD and in the process GOD enabled me. I did things that I could have never imagined before, I spoke in Church, I preached! in more than one occasion! I led Sabbath School Lessons! and most precious to me was the knowledge that He is still with me, that He wants to use me, in my weaknesses He is enabling me to be a blessing to others, ME! in that knowledge all my insecurities faded, I had bouts of feeling unworthy and incompetent, but I know that If I do it in sincerity for Him and through Him then I have nothing to worry about, that GOD is at work in me "to will and to do according to His good pleasure".

      I experienced Grace. It was not of my own doing. I was not worthy. The works and good deeds did not justify me, it was GOD's way of showing me that "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."

      • This is a very inspiring and instructive story.
        I've heard others say the same things: that accepting true justification takes away all anxiety about sanctification. Put another way, a true appreciation for what Christ has done on the cross, brings about gratitude in the heart and this gratitude opens the way for a response that brings sanctification along in it wake.

        Also sanctification is not something that you pursue by adopting ever more pious habits. Rather it comes about when we get busy doing the work of God--seeking to restore the image of God in man (others).
        I'm glad you pointed that out.

    • Albert, if you will excuse me at times I get a big nose and your question got it growing again. I think what you are actually asking is how does Jesus' statement to the rich young ruler relate to Paul's presentation of justification through faith alone. Was Jesus teaching a works based salvation? To that question I would say yes and no!

      There are places in Paul's writings that seem to suggest works such as,
      "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law" (Rom. 3:31 NKJV) and "for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified" (Rom. 2:13 NKJV). Does that not suggest that Paul was teaching salvation by works? Then there are statements of Jesus such as, "Not everyone who says to Me,`Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matt. 7:21 NKJV) and "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (Jn. 14:15 NKJV). Wasn't Jesus doing the same?

      So, is one of the conditions of salvation a matter of law keeping? Yes, absolutely! But the question has to do with how that is accomplished? To me that is what Marcos is dealing with in his series of articles.

      Now as to the rich young ruler, I think context and similar question/answer dialogs that Christ entered into answers the question of what Jesus was teaching in His dealing with that person. For instance some similar circumstances:

      Show Me the tax money." So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" (Matt. 22:19-20 NKJV).

      Go, call your husband, and come here (Jn. 4:16 NKJV)

      Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" (Gen. 3:9 NKJV)

      Didn't the Lord know the answers to these questions and situations? If so then why did he raise the questions? To me there are times when Jesus draws us out and gets us to see our problem through our own answers just as He did with Job. The problem with the ruler is that he had a works based faith where he justified himself outwardly in his doing some things. In a certain sense he was straining a gnat while swallowing a camel by ignoring the weightier matters of the law which are, "justice and mercy and faith" (Matt. 23:23 NKJV).

      When presented the commandments he said, "All these things I have kept from my youth" (Matt. 19:20 NKJV). But that answer was a Pharisaical one that considered the letter of the law only rather than the spirit of the law. He missed the principles God was teaching and when Jesus told him about his selfish money hording he found himself in trouble but never took it from there to ask how do I comply? It was basically the same situation with Judas when he discovered how wrong he was - he never questioned how he was to become righteous and that to me is what Jesus was trying to get to with that person. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30 NKJV)

    • Hi Albert,
      Until Marcos can provide you his response please consider this. Keep in mind that Jesus made the statement you quoted (Mt. 19: 17) to an individual within the context of a specific conversation (Mt 19: 16-22).
      1) The young man is drawn to Christ because he feels a "lack" (Mt 19: 16, 20).
      2) Jesus provides him His 1st prescription (Mt 19: 17).
      3) THINKING he had kept ALL the commandments, he asks Jesus which commandments and Jesus points him again to the Ten Commandments.
      4) The young man's response to Jesus' 1st prescription is essentially, if I've done all these commandments from my childhood why do I still feel a lack?
      5) In order to help him understand the "lack" he feels, Jesus provides him His 2nd prescription (Mt. 19: 21).
      The young man's response to this 2nd prescription should be instructive to every reader of Scripture. Jesus reveals His TRUTH that being religious, including (gasp!) keeping the commandments is not stand-alone proof of right standing with God (Philippians 3:5-6).
      Like Israel, who had just received the Ten Commandments from Moses and swore that they would "hear and do it" but didn't understand God's TRUTH about the deceptive nature of their fallen human minds (Deut 5: 27, 29). Israel was in bondage to the erroneous beliefs from their collective fallen minds, as was Cain (Gen 4:3, 5), Peter (Lk 22: 31-34) and unfortunately many others (Mt 7:22-24) including this young man. Jesus' 2nd prescription to him is still applicable to all of us, "if you want to be perfect, go, sell (Mt 16: 24: Mt 13: 44) what you have.."(Rom 8: 7-8). The prognosis, although critical, is still good (Mt 19: 23, 26)!

      • Lynrol, I think your answer to Albert is a good one, probably better than mine. However, I do have a little problem with one sentence at the end. I think I know what you were getting at in saying, "Jesus' 2nd prescription to him is still applicable to all of us, 'if you want to be perfect, go, sell (Mt 16: 24: Mt 13: 44) what you have..'(Rom 8: 7-8)" but I wonder if other people won't see in this a suggestion that a prerequisite to salvation is physical poverty which I don't see the Bible teaching.

        Perhaps a clarification should be added that the "sell" part of it is a matter of commitment to the Lord that is more general than specific. What I am saying here is that while Jesus was telling the rich young ruler to physically sell what he had because money to him was a bigger God than Jesus was to most other people other things have become a larger God. So to the rest of us that don't have a problem with money there are other things in our lives that we need to sell, "For all that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Father but is of the world" (1 Jn. 2:16 NKJV). Many of those other things may not be physical at all but mental or spiritual. We may have an addiction to something that is taking preeminence and interfering with our relationship to Jesus and it is those things that Jesus is asking us to get rid of, to sell.

        • Hi Tyler,
          Thanks for the clarification! While Jesus was indeed directing the rich young man to part with his actual wealth by distributing it to the poor, I wanted to highlight how Jesus' specific statement could have a more general application. The problem of sin is a problem of the mind. The Scripture does not record the thoughts in the young man's mind during his discourse with Jesus, it only records his action. It is clear, however, that something he believed, with respect to his wealth, made him disobey his Creator's (Heb 1: 8-10) commandment in that moment. Jesus wanted to show him that the Ten Commandments from God that he claimed to have kept from his youth wasn't the entirety of his Creator's claim on him (Ps 24: 1).

          That is really quite typical of all the rest of us. We (religious individuals like him) want to "serve" God but on our terms. Sort of like returning the tithe but denying God any claim to the remaining 90%. I've seen it in myself and others over time. That is why I quoted both texts after "sell" (Mt 16: 24: Mt 13: 44). True service of God involves relinquishing our "right" to rule ourselves, and just like that young man, that's scary and bewildering because we know it will impact finances, friends, food, fellowship etc! It is also why I quoted (Rom 8: 7-8) after "what you have.." because those thoughts flow from all our fallen minds, locked in a fight with its Creator (2 Cor 10: 4-5). Thank God for His amazing GRACE that takes the fight out of us (Isaiah 1: 24-26)!! I hope I won't be alone in my desire to lose the fight.

    • Hi Albert! Excellent question. I wont go into a detailed answer because I feel the previous answers got it right. there is really nothing for me to add to the discussion. As you know, we cannot develop a theology from one verse. So in the study of salvation we have to study the story the Bible tells about it rather than isolated verses here and there. When we do it becomes clear that we do not enter life by keeping the commandments but by grace through faith. Then why did Jesus tell the rich young ruler, "If you will enter into life keep the commandments"? Apart from the wonderful answers already given, I believe Jesus was employing irony in this sense in order to spur the young man to be honest with himself. An honest response to "keep the commandments and you'll go to heaven" would be "but I cant! please help me!" And yet, the young mans response was "I've been doing that since I was a kid!" While time does not permit me, I encourage you to study that story and identify all of the clues in it that tells the reader there was something deeper going on than a theological discourse on salvation. Notice the discussion over the word "good", notice the implications of the young mans answer, notice the question he began the whole discussion with and compare it to his answer. Notice Jesus' response and how that relates to the salvation story. Notice the young mans reaction. Notice Jesus' conclusion on the whole matter. It really is a fascinating story that carries a lot of weight - too much to elaborate on here. But I hope my response and the ones already given are enough to get you back in your bible studying more.


  20. I believe that the Plan of Salvation is the LORD's desire to restore us to a state of mind like Adam & Eve before the fall. Where they perfectly understood the character of the LORD and were perfectly in accord with that character. All was peace and harmony, everything was good and the LORD gave them the responsibility to be in charge, to serve and protect. I believe Jesus wants to restore the perfect harmony between himself and us, between human and human and between humans and animals. Any changes He wishes to make in our character are in order to restore this harmony and should be welcomed with open hearts by us.
    I like the picture that this quote from EGW creates of the state of mind of Adam before the fall.

    Before the fall of Adam, not a cloud rested on the minds of our first parents to obscure their clear perception of the divine character of God. They were perfectly conformed to the will of God. A beautiful light, the light of God, surrounded them. Healthful Living 288

  21. Good day, Tyler. Thank you for taking the time to pen such an extensive and intelligent response to my question. We all know or should know that when salvation as a gift was planned, we had not yet even been born. So obviously we could do nothing to bring it about. Now that we have it given to us we simply need to be grateful to the LORD JESUS for having shed His blood and died in our place to put this great gift in our hands.

    I thank GOD for the gift of salvation every day. I also thank Him for allowing JESUS to come down here and give His life to save me from eternal damnation. And in my gratitude I don't want to give the slightest reason to the synagogue of Satan to accuse Him about my conduct. I really hate to offer even the slightest insult to my Savior by disobeying Him.

  22. I believe that Paul answers a lot of questions in the first two verses of Romans 12.

    The LORD is the Creator, we belong to Him, we have the privilege of serving Him by submitting our will to His will. How is this possible?
    He does a miracle, we are transformed, (metamorphosis - a caterpillar turning into a butterfly) and we now operate in harmony with the will of the LORD.

    Rom 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.

    What is the will of the LORD? Jesus tells us "love me and keep my commandments"! I was astonished to learn that Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament, in fact Ex 20:6, the middle of the 10 commandments! Jesus further explained the essence of the whole of the OT (the Law and the Prophets):

    Mat 22:36-40 Master, which is the great commandment in the Law? (37) Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. (40) On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

    I believe that the LORD's commandments/rules/instructions reveal to us the character of the LORD. Because He loves us we learn to love Him and want to be like Him. He does a miracle for us and transforms us and we become like Him, living in harmony with His will which is His commandment to love Him and our fellow man.

  23. Marcos. Just wondering when you are going to post the next instalment of your compelling, timely and indeed critical blog regarding salvation? Thanks in anticipation. May you continue to grow and abound in the love of JESUS as you minister of GOD's grace.

  24. Hi Marcus, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my question.

    Some years ago a number of us were studying with a young couple who had just accepted JESUS and decided to make the SDA church their church.

    Much of the discussion had taken place at my then home, where we often met for Sabbath lunch. The young man who was the half of this couple was exceedingly disappointed that there were Qualifications for Entry into the kingdom of GOD.

    No one had told him that he had to obey the commandments to be saved, though we all explained to him that obedience to the will of GOD was enjoined upon him as a result of his new position.

    Prior to meeting us, he had been told that all he had to do was to accept JESUS in his life and then he could do anything that he wished no matter what that was - alcohol intake, womanizing, whatever. To say it another way he could buy a car insurance policy and go out and drive as recklessly as he wanted to. The insurance company would pay for any and all accidents no sweat and he would still be able to keep his insurance policy.

    I am of the opinion that you may just be stirring the pot a bit to provoke conversation. My hope is that you are, or will meet the Qualifications for Entry as JESUS taught us in the Sermon on the Mount.

    • I would have to agree and disagree with you here. The Sermon on the Mount was not meant to show the qualifications that we must meet in order to enter heaven. It was meant to show that the qualifications are so high we can never attain them. But Jesus met the qualifications and when we believe on him he covers us with his righteous life. The moment we do so we are saved, no ifs, ands, or buts. While it is true that Jesus makes us what he declares us to be we need to be careful when speaking of qualifications for heaven. While it is true that without holiness no man shall see the Lord we must also remember that it is not the righteousness that comes from the law that saves us but that which comes by faith in jesus. In other words without His Holiness no one will see the Lord. its his holiness, never our own. We receive that holiness as a gift. and the result of that gift is a transformation of the life (which will be covered in part 3 of this series). There are only 3 conditions for salvation: repentance, confession, and faith. It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance, it is the holy spirit that convicts the world of sin, and God has given to every man a measure of faith. Thus, the 3 conditions are also 3 gifts. God does everything needed for our salvation. The only thing he doesnt do is say yes or no on our behalf. Thats up to us. Check out part 3 when it gets published and see if you still have any questions then. in the meantime, rejoice!

      • Hi Marcos, Albert here. I suppose you are answering me because I was the one who mentioned the Sermon on the Mount. The truth is that the term Qualifications for Entry was actually coined by Ellen G. White. I will take her writings over yours because I believe that she was inspired.

        At the same time your post has generated a lot of discussion and that is good. We who have read it will indeed have much heart searching to do - thanks to you.

        Take care, and may GOD bless.

        • Hi Albert,

          I can see a disagreement between what Marcos wrote and what Ellen White wrote only if you understand her to say that we, as humans, can actually meet the entrance requirements of heaven without Christ. If we need Christ in order to enter heaven, then there is no disagreement.

          Please read his comment again in its completeness, thoughtfully. And then read the next post, "Stop Hating on Sanctification." As I see it, Marcos applies Ellen White's explanation of how we are saved in the context of contemporary life.

          • Hi Inge, Thanks for the note. I am fully aware that of our own self we can do nothing that will give us credit for the kingdom of GOD. JESUS tells us "He who abides in Me and I in him the same bringeth forth much fruit for without Me you can do nothing"

            I've had the experience that by abiding in JESUS I am enabled to bring out in my life that which He requires of me. I need to keep doing that so He can enable me to endure to His coming.

        • Hi Albert, I think I need to clarify something so we are both on the same page. You are 100% correct. The sermon on the mount gives us the qualifications for entry to heaven. The Bible is clear that without holiness no man shall see the lord. God demands absolute perfection. We cannot qualify for heaven without it. In this sense we agree as does EGW. The point I was making however is that no man can meet those qualifications. Thus to day we need to keep the law to be saved is not true. Ellen White certainly did not teach that and neither does the Bible. The qualifications necessary for heaven - the holiness that God demands - he offers to us as a gift in the person of his son Jesus. By believing on him his qualification becomes mine and I am welcomed into the family of God based on Jesus merits not my own. This we attain, not by works or effort, but by faith. and it is by that same faith that we retain the gift, not by works or effort. Ellen White put is so strongly I was shocked when I read the following quote: "When men learn they cannot earn righteousness by their own merit of works, and they look with firm and entire reliance upon Jesus Christ as their only hope, there will not be so much of self and so little of Jesus. Souls and bodies are defiled and polluted by sin, the heart is estranged from God, yet many are struggling in their own finite strength to win salvation by good works. 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" {FW 25.3}.

          So Albert, we are in agreement. God demands holiness as the qualification for heaven. And unless I misunderstood you, I truly hope you come to see that that holiness he demands he also provides in his son Jesus. We receive it by faith. Never by effort, works, or striving.


          • Thanks for your reply, Marcus. Indeed by believing on JESUS His qualifications become ours. JESUS told us in the Gospel of John 6.29 that the "works of GOD is to believe on JESUS whom He(GOD)has sent".

            When we truly believe on JESUS and accept Him into our lives, we are enabled by His grace, and His grace alone to live for Him.

    • I've heard people say that some people believe that after being saved one can go live any old how.

      But I have found it difficult to believe that anyone really thinks that salvation requires accepting Jesus and then being allowed to kill, murder, lie and steal as well as cheat on one's spouse.
      I really always thought that this was just a rhetorical flourish used to argue in favour of justification not being "enough".

      That, in my certainly limited experience, I have never come across. Is this a normal or common view? Are there people who really believe that salvation erases the concept of sin?

  25. Thanks for your answer, Lynrol. I know that JESUS wanted that young man to have a heart relationship with Him, and that there were also other implications to what the Master said.

    Had he been really "keeping" he commandments he needed not to have been told to show kindness and empathy to those around him who had needs and burdens of poverty. He would have made an effort to help them.

  26. Sin is the problem, and justification is the cure.

    But it seems from many comments we don't actually know what sin is. To put it simply, we are sin. It is part of our being, we are born in sin, we are born with sin, and we are sinful even from the moment of our conception, before we have even developed a brain.

    Why? Because our father, Adam, let sin into the world. Through his choice we became a sinful race, separated from God, unable even to look at him without dying instantly. So, in order to be a sinner, in order to be condemned, we simply have to be born.

    When we are born we have no connection with God. The law is not written on our hearts, we have no innate desire to obey God, instead we have inherited a natural tendency towards sin. Our purest, holiest, kindest, most loving and most godlike efforts simply result in the equivalent of a dirty bloody menstrual rag! That is how lost we are. The deck is stacked against us, our fate decided, and we have not the smallest, slightest, faintest hope of ever changing that.

    That is why we need Jesus. That is why we *always* need Him, both now and even through eternity. And also why good works never have even the slightest relationship with our justification. Our good works never have and never will ever do a single iota for us, because even our best is nowhere near good enough.

    So to understand Justification you must properly understand that the root cause of sin is separation from God. It is why Satan sins, it is why we sin. Because Satan has 'gone it alone', claiming that he does not need God. Because of Adam we are born without a relationship with God, and so we are born into sin.

    With this correct understanding of what sin really is, and why we are powerless to make even the slightest difference to our state and realising that we are born at 'emnity with the law', you can properly appreciate Justification.

    And once you properly appreciate what God has done for you through Jesus, then like Mary at the feast in Simons house, you will love him greatly. Remember the words of Jesus? "Do you see this woman? Her sins, which are many, are forgiven BECAUSE SHE LOVED MUCH" (emphasis mine).

    And that is where sanctification comes in. You may be Simon, you may have Him sitting at your right hand, He may have healed you of leprosy, He may be 'eating with you, and you with Him'. But unless you love Him because of His loving kindness, because He always forgives your sins and *never* condemns you, because He understands your condition, because He knows that like a sheep you are powerless to help yourself and must have a shepherd or else the wolves will tear you to pieces or you will die of thirst right next to a running stream of water, powerless to do anything to save yourself. When you appreciate Him, then you will love Him like Mary did.

    If you love your wife, your husband, your parents, your girlfriend or boyfriend or brother or sister, do you do things that hurt them? Of course not. When you really love somebody then you try your best to do the things that will make them happy. And the more and the better your love is, the better you are at doing the things they ask you to do.

    So God has said "If you LOVE me, you will keep my commandments".

    See the key? It's love! The commandments have nothing to do with it. Only, always and ever, it is love. That is why He didn't say "Keep my commandments, and this will make you love me", but the other way round. You keep his commandments ONLY because you love Him. And if you do not love him, then even if you think you are keeping the commandments, you are not! You cannot!

    But if you wake up every morning, and eat the manna, the bread from Heaven, the words of Jesus, and spend some quiet personal time with him each day, then you will learn to love Jesus. Because it is as Jesus said "When I am lifted up I will *draw* all men to me". Just spend time getting to know Jesus, and everything else will come from that. That is the one and only thing you can ever do. Seek Jesus. And seek Him with all your soul, your body and your heart and your mind. Seek Him as if your life depended on it, because it does!

    You might ask how to get to know Him better? The same way you get to know any person better. You spend time talking to them, listening to them, go places together and do things together.

    So spend time talking to Jesus (Prayer), listening to Him (Read your Bible), go places together (talk to Him about where you are going and what you're going to do there and ask Him to come with you) and doing things together (visit the sick, visit those in prison, help clothe the naked, feed the hungry).

    But then isn't that always the same solution for just about everything in the Bible? Isn't Jesus always the solution, and isn't Jesus always the focus? Without Jesus, I can do nothing. With Jesus, I can do anything! With Jesus, I can overcome anything! I am weak, unable to keep His commandments, but He is strong! With Him at my side, because I love Him, His commandments are no longer something I *have* to keep, they are something I *want* to keep. Always and only because I love Him.

    Another way of putting it is like this. I'll give you a choice. Let us say your are a child, and you can only choose one of two things. Either you can choose to grow big and strong, or you can choose to eat. So which one do you choose? Of course, you choose to eat, because by eating you become big and strong. If you tried to concentrate on growing big and strong, and neglected to eat you will die!

    It's the same with Jesus and His commandments. We don't keep the commandments so that we can love Jesus, we love Jesus and that way, just like eating keeps your body going, so having Jesus brings with it all the other things, one of which is keeping His commandments and living a life according to His will.

    And that is how Justification just automatically flows into Sanctification. Just like we can never Justify ourselves, neither can we Sanctify ourselves. It is only, ever, always Jesus who does these things for us because we have learnt to love Him. So focus on what Jesus said, "Only one thing is needful". And that is to sit at Jesus feet and hear his words, everything else comes from that one and only one thing that we can do. Come to Jesus just as we are, right now, and He will both Justify and Sanctify us, "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" - or as the New Living Translation reads in modern English: "For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him."

    • Ian, your very long comment is to me a bit troubling, but I will deal with two things, only.

      YOUR DEFINITION OF SIN: "To put it simply, we are sin." I disagree. We indeed have sinful tendencies that we inherited from Adam but that is not sin. In fact, the reason why the Seventh-day Adventist church does not baptize infants is because one must make a decision in order to sin and choosing to accept Jesus also requires a conscious decision which an infant cannot make, let alone an unborn fetus still in the womb.

      When the Bible says that, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Co. 5:21 NKJV) it doesn't say that Jesus sinned; He did not become sin in a physical sense. Our sin was imputed to Him in much the same way that righteous is imputed to us. We are cleansed through justification, a proclamation, while Jesus was made unclean through the exact opposite process, also a proclamation. If this were not so then the Bible could not say that He, "was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15 NKJV). To me he will always be the sinless Son of God, the perfect lamb without blemish.

      THE COMMANDMENTS AND LOVE: "See the key? It's love! The commandments have nothing to do with it. Only, always and ever, it is love. That is why He didn't say "Keep my commandments, and this will make you love me", but the other way round. You keep his commandments ONLY because you love Him."

      The problem here is that, "Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law" (Rom. 13:10 NKJV) and, "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Gal. 5:14 NKJV). In other words the commandments define love.

      "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "`You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it:`You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matt. 22:36-40 NKJV)

      So if you say that love must be present before you can keep the commandants you are going in circles and produce the classic chicken or the egg conundrum. To my knowledge the closest you can come to what you say is, "We love Him because He first loved us" (1 Jn. 4:19 NKJV).

      If we love it is because God has put it into our hearts by way of the everlasting covenant (new covenant) which is the same as God saying, "I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts" (Heb. 8:10 NKJV). Love is not a perquisite of love! Such a thing makes no sense.

      Now you may insist that Jn 14:15 says that we must love first but we need to keep everything in context and understand what Jesus was getting at. He was not giving a discourse in theology on the commandments or love for that matter but about believing and abiding in Him and what that would produce.

      • Hi Tyler.

        Baptism isn't there to take away sin. It serves the purpose of publicly making a statement of repentance and an intention to die to the previous way of sin and to start a new life of faith. Hence infant baptism is not relevant to the discussion because it deals with a different facet, one that requires a believer. An infant cannot be a believer.

        The problem with the original sin of Adam is that it created in all his descendants bar One, a propensity towards sin. It is part of our fibre, part of our being, an inseparable part of our composite selves.

        Besides the clarity of Psalm 51:5 we also find this in Education (p29) "There is in his nature a bent to evil, a force which, unaided, he cannot resist." Also in our fundamental beliefs in reference to 1 Cor. 15:22, Rom. 5:12, Job. 14:4, Rom. 8:7, 8, Eph. 2:3 is the statement:

        "Although as children we acquire sinful behaviour through imitation, the above texts affirm that we inherit our basic sinfulness. The universal sinfulness of humanity is evidence that by nature we tend toward evil, not good."

        Probably the clearest indication that everyone is a sinner, can be found in Rom 3:23, 1 John 1:8, 1 Kings 8:46. Every single human being, bar One, is a sinner. Everyone obviously must include even infants.

        This is why Jesus said to Nicodemus that we must be born again. Because there is an innate fault with our first birth, separation from God, lack of His Spirit. In order to correct that problem, to restore a relationship with God, we need to be born the second time with the missing part restored, our connection and allegiance to God - we must have a birth that includes the Spirit or else we cannot enter the kingdom.

        Now I do believe however that Jesus atoning sacrifice can and will cover those infants who die in innocence. But because of their sinful nature, His atoning sacrifice is still needed, even for them.

        It is a complex issue, that is for sure.

        I don't quite understand the section you wrote on the nature of Christ, as nowhere am I saying that Jesus sinned?

        On the matter of love, I don't see a chicken and egg problem because God first loved us, and when we appreciate that love, it awakens in us a response of firstly, love towards Him, and then secondly, love towards our fellow man.

        Until we love Him, we have no desire to keep the commandments. That is why love has to come first. Love is the underpinning element and the source.

        Love comes first, and as we respond to His love, we suddenly find that if we love God, we are automatically keeping the commandments - because we love Him. And then because we truly love Him, we also love His children, our fellow man. And if we love them, we don't lie to them, steal from them, cheat them, covet their goods, etc.

        Love your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Love your neighbour as yourself.

        On these two things hangs everything.

        • Ian, I am getting the impression that I need to clarify things.

          Baptism is not the issue, neither was the nature of Christ. I used both to illustrate something. You said, "we are sin" and I disagreed and still do. Why do I disagree with that? Because that idea is very much like pantheism that says that God is in everything. Most people will write it off as just a nit-picky minor little argument for the sake of argument but to me it has the potential of doing as much damage to our understanding of salvation as pantheism does to the concepts of God and our relation to Him.

          Saying that we ARE sin is vastly different than saying that we sin because we have a propensity to do so. If we are sin then when sin is removed from the universe there won't be any humans around because sin would have been eradicated which we were. Furthermore if we are sin itself then we are the problem, not the sin we get involved in. Can you see the difference?

          When Christ died on the cross He didn't even die to clear out sin as such, Forensically speaking, He died in order to pay our penalty of death which is the consequence of sinning. So legally He became our ransom even though Paul says, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us" (2 Cor. 5:21 NKJV). When he said that, in a way, he was personifying sin but was still speaking in terms of forensics without making it literally a person.

          In other words sin is not an object - it is an intangible concept that if acted upon results in undesired consequences.

          • Hi Tyler.

            I don't see any similarity to pantheism or sin in everything. Sin is in Satan and his following, and sin is in us humans, nowhere else.

            Sin at it's root is not a behaviour problem, it is a relationship problem.

            When did Eve sin? When she ate the apple, or before she ate the apple?

            It was before. It was when she doubted God. It was her lack of faith in God, doubting that He was really choosing for her best interest. She lost faith in God when she thought that God was holding back on something.

            What is Satan's sin?

            He lacked faith in God who said that the law applied to all of creation, even angels, and that it was necessary. God knows that the law of love is the foundation of all happiness for all of creation, and when Satan wanted to go it alone, be his own god, he lost faith in God, doubting that He was choosing what was best for both him and the other angels.

            We children of Adam are born sinners. It is in every part of our being simply because our inherited flesh is born without a relationship with God.

            Note that I am talking original sin, not original guilt. Nor am I saying that Jesus was sinful, because different from us, Jesus was born both of the flesh and of the spirit. He did have a relationship with God from his conception. He did not need to be born again because there was nothing wrong with His birth, there was no missing relationship that needed a second birth. I thought I should just make that plain.

            The "act of sin" (1 John 3:4) arises from the "lack of faith" (Romans 14:23) which stems from the lack of "God's Spirit" (John 3:5).

            Focusing on the "act of sin" makes us behaviourists. If that is all there is, then simply obeying the law would make us righteous.

            Sin is inside of us, an inseparable part of our flesh. That is why I wrote: "We are sin. It is part of our being, we are born in sin, we are born with sin, and we are sinful even from the moment of our conception".

            One must understand that critical factor, that every single thing that comes from us from our personal efforts, is sin.

            We, ourselves, personally, internally are impure. That is why I say that "we are sin" (Job 14:4). It is also why I say that it is an inseparable part of us.

            It will take the creative power of God to separate us from sin. We need to be re-created - born again. We do not have to be destroyed because we will be separated from sin by God, initially with our re-birth, secondarily for some when He closes probation and commands it with "Let him who is righteous be righteous still, and let him who is holy be holy still" and finally and completely when we are changed in the twinkling of an eye.

            I am not saying that Jesus died to clear out sin. He did die to meet the absolute requirements of the law, to pay our penalty so that we do not have to die the second death.

            In summary, I am saying that sin is what we do, what we are steeped in because quite simply, whatever is not of God is sin. It requires no action on our part to be sinful - literally "sin full" or "full of sin".

            It simply requires the children of Adam to be born in order to be sinful. Otherwise we are trying to negate Psalms 51:5 if we say that it is an intangible concept that requires us to act upon.

          • Hi Tyler.

            I have been mulling over this discussion of ours as to what sin is,and so I have just gone over our whole conversation again and then also studied some of our literature that studies and discuses what sin really is. A few things stand out to me from that study so I thought I would reiterate them here as they may bring some clarity to how sin is not purely a behaviour problem but is actually a relationship problem that we are born with.

            Original original sin started with Lucifer, which we can summarise simply like a mathematical equation. Sin = Lucifer minus God. Likewise Adam's sin resulted in him loosing his relationship with God so that for mankind we can also write Sin equals Man minus God.

            There is a wonderful study by the Adventist Biblical Research Institute, which you can get at this link: https://adventistbiblicalresearch.org/materials/theology-salvation/some-thoughts-original-sin, in particular if you jump to the section at the bottom of page 17 titled "Our present position".

            From there are some definitive statements such as this one discussing our 27/28 fundamental beliefs: "Thus the general consensus of Adventist scholars, as expressed in this book, defines sin as an act (1 John 3:4) as well as a state (Ps 51:5; Eph 2:3). We inherit a sinful nature (SIN) which, unless checked by the Holy Spirit, entices us to commit individual acts of transgression (sins)."

            Further on they quote from DA p114 where Ellen White says "Satan conformed to his own nature the father and mother of our race." That is really important to grasp because we need to understand that our race is now conformed to Satan's nature. That our nature is now sinful from birth, even from conception.

            A really perceptive statement from Heppenstall is: "Original sin is not per se wrong doing, but wrong being. So there is a causal connection between the first sin of the first man and the self-centredness of his posterity. The consequence of Adam’s sin was total. Accordingly, original sin is a state of the whole self in relation to God."

            And that accords perfectly with what I am trying to point out. Original sin is not per se wrong doing, but wrong being.

            We must understand that sin comes naturally from inside of us because we are now conformed to Satan's nature.

            When we grasp this we can grasp the awesome grace that grants us Justification and Sanctification the very instant when we earnestly turn to God and repent of our sins.

            I'm going to leave this discussion as is now. I don't think it is necessary to continue as I believe I've covered it in too much detail already. Perhaps you may wish to follow up if you believe differently and feel that it is important to present a different view or perhaps just to clarify where you believe I have said it badly.

            I will most certainly read what you write if you do, but will not reply because it would too easily descend into an argument and that would destroy more than uplift. If you believe differently it should suffice to have both points of view laid out simply and leave it to the good reader to decide for themselves.

          • Ian, the concept of original sin has been debated almost from the beginning of the Christian church and apparently is still an ongoing issue. I place myself between you and Robert who I believe are at the extreme ends of the debate. You say we have absolutely no control at all even through Christ and he says we have all control through Christ. I am in the middle saying that we have a bent to sin that trips us up constantly but I am not about to say that we have to sin for to do so is to excuse sin.

            Satan didn't sin until he chose to do so. Adam and Even didn't sin until they chose to do so. After they sinned it became easier for them until the habit became fixed in their genetic makeup which was passed down through the generations. Today biologists would call that epigenetics. That is one reason God said of Himself, "forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation" (Exod. 34:7 NKJV). It was the bent to sin that was passed on not the sin itself and today we all have that inclination to do evil but the inclination is not sin any more than temptation is sin.

            It is true that sin is an attitude that pits itself against law and the authority of it but it is still a choice we make. To say that we ARE sin is to say that we are predestined to sin with no freedom of choice whatsoever but the SDA church doesn't believe in predestination neither do we believe in cast societies. Even though it is for all intents and purposes impossible for us not to sin it is nonetheless a matter of choice that we freely make. Scripture states, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor. 3:17 NKJV). We are free moral agents with the power to choose and that is something that will not be taken from us.

            From the book "Seventh-day Adventists Believe" (1988 edition) page 89, "2. The character of sin. Many Scriptural passages, including particularly the account of the fall, make it clear that sin is a moral evil--the result of a free moral agent's choosing to violate the revealed will of God (Gen 3:1-6; Rom 1:18-22)." Or as it says several paragraphs later, "Sin is absolute in its character because it is rebellion against God and His will" (abid.)

            There are several definitions of sin in the Bible:
            Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (Jas. 4:17 NKJV)
            for whatever is not from faith is sin (Rom. 14:23 NKJ)
            And of course my favorite, "sin is lawlessness" (1 Jn. 3:4 NKJV). Literally, sin is without law, that is, the principles of law aren't even considered in the mind of the sinner.
            None of these classic definitions say that humans are sin. What the Bible does say is that we all sin (Rom 3:23) that we all have a bent to it. There is a big, big difference between us being sin and us sinning.

            Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD!
            15 "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD (Jos. 24:14-15 NKJV)

    • If we are truly saved, having God's law written in the tablets of our hearts (Proverbs 3verse3) realising and understanding what God requires from us. Living according to the spirit not after our flesh and desires. we will be surely saved because it wont be us but the Christ in us doing everything, therefore we won't boast not even of what we have for we will understand who owns everything. Our cries in trials will be vigilant knowing that its not our battle.

      I have came to understand that Christ came to set an example for us to follow and live as He did, to be a model for us. Unless we pray like He did, live faithfully as He did, commune with Our Father in heaven like He did we can not profess being saved by grace. Pray without ceasing and quenching not the Holy spirit.(1Thess 5;17 &19)

      • Hi Nomie.

        I largely agree with what you wrote, though I'm not all that clear on what particular part of my comment you are talking about?

        The only issue is the part where you say "Unless .... like He did we can not profess being saved by grace".

        We get saved by grace whatever the circumstances whenever He strikes a chord in our hearts, not because of our deeds or actions. Else where would the thief on the cross be? All he had was a tremendous sense of guilt and a realisation that he was lost. Then all he had to do was turn to Jesus and say "Help!" - not "Help, get me down from this cross" but "Help, I am a sinner and I need saving!"

        Jesus always accepts anyone who earnestly confesses their sin and asks for forgiveness. His answer to them is always instant and clear, "You will be in paradise with me". No if's, but's or maybe's about it.

        That is grace. Amazing, awesome grace.

    • Hi Ian,

      You said "Because of Adam we are born without a relationship with God, and so we are born into sin."

      I cannot agree with that.
      Firstly, the broken relationship is not the sin. Rather sin CAUSED the broken relationship: "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:2).
      Adam's sin was disobedience to God's expressed will (S.D.A. Bible Commentary, page 1083, paragraph 8).

      Secondly, God does not hold children guilty for parents' sin.
      "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." (Ezekiel 18:20)
      "What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? As I live, says the Lord GOD, you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel." (Ezekiel 18:2).
      Let's not say "Adam ate sour grapes and our teeth are set on edge".

      Read the entire 18th chapter of Ezekiel and see how God feels about us casting the guilt upon our parents.

      "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin" (Deuteronomy 24:16)

      What is sin then?

      "Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4:17 RSV)
      Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4) - failure to love God supreme and my neighbor as myself.
      "The only definition for sin that we have in the Bible is that it is the transgression of the law." (The Signs of the Times, March 3, 1980)

      If you understand 1 John 3:4 and the spirituality of the law as explained by our Lord in the sermon on the mount, then you know what sin is.

      We have tendencies for sin - inherited and cultivated. These are not sin. Satan uses them when he tempts us, but our will must first consent before the temptation becomes sin:
      "The strongest temptation is no excuse for sin. However great the pressure brought to bear upon the soul, transgression is our own act. It is not in the power of earth or hell to compel any one to sin. The will must consent, the heart must yield, or passion cannot overbear reason, nor iniquity triumph over righteousness." (Maranatha page 225, paragraph 5)

      There is no power in us to keep us from sinning. Apart from Christ we can do NOTHING (John 15:5). We can only choose, but we are too weak to act out that choice.
      But praise God, we can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13)!

      "Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. By yielding up your will to Christ, you ally yourself with the power that is above all principalities and powers. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith." (Steps to Christ, page 48)

      May God bless you abundantly and make you a tool for His glory!

      • Hi Cristian.

        In the case of Adam, he deliberately chose to sin because of his love for Eve, because he could not bear the thought of being separated from her.

        The vast gist of your message is talking about original guilt, about sharing in Adams guilt. But I am *not* talking about Adam's sin. Nor am I saying that we share in Adam's guilt. In fact, I very very specifically said above that I am *not* talking about original guilt.

        But I *am* saying that we are born sinful, that we are born sinners, that we are born apart from God. And this is borne out 100% by scripture, simply read Psalm 51:5, Romans 5:12, Romans 3:23, Genesis 8:21, Jeremiah 17:9, 1 John 1:10.

        However, let us look at 1 John 3:4.

        Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness. Here John is saying that *first* you sin, *then* you commit lawlessness. Unfortunately, almost everyone ignores that part of the verse and just focuses on the second part of the verse. Deal with the first thing first.

        But even if you still struggle with this verse, realise the following Biblical statements:

        All good comes from God, never from man.
        The conviction of sin comes from God, never from man.
        Repentance comes from God, never from man.
        The desire to obey God comes from God, never from man.
        Justification is from God, not man.
        Sanctification is also from God, not man.
        Even Faith comes from God, not from ourselves.
        Jesus could do nothing himself, he relied on God for everything.

        If Jesus said that, then what else can we do? Every good and godly thing comes from God, because He is the one who creates a new heart in us, He is the one who reconciles us to Himself. Of ourselves we can do nothing, we do not seek Him, He seeks us. We have no righteousness, it is a gift of God, we have no faith, faith is a gift of God.

        As soon as you focus on doing, then you are wearing behaviour glasses. To obey God, to come back into a relationship with God, you need to wear relationship glasses. The only single thing you ever need to do is to focus on your relationship with God, because everything comes from that.

        As your last quotation says, you need to surrender your will, not exercise your will. It is only through constant surrender to God that you will be granted righteousness, faith and sanctification.

  27. so how does your classified true salvation differ from the ticket? i still want to say salvation=what jesus did and what i do. the only problem i find is your intepretation of what i do. what i do does not reflect my works of perfection but as stated in Romans 10:9 it reflects my acceptance and belief in the finished work of calvary and the saving grace of God. I want to disagree that since grace is free this step is out otherwise every one is saved

    • Hello Favour! To answer your question I will share the article that I wrote as a follow up to this one: https://ssnet.org/blog/stop-hating-sanctification/

      Read that one and if you still have questions Ill be happy to respond.



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