I Want to Give My Heart to Jesus #12:
Larry Kirkpatrick ++ Mentone Church of Seventh-day Adventists ++ 10 November 2001, last modified 2 May 2002.
It's 1979 Again
The message for today is an intense one, particularly its last half. We are finishing a 13 part series (next week is our synthesis and close). You have been warned that some of these messages are on the unusual side. In a way I am looking forward very much to the material that will follow this series, and be spiritually helpful but not potentially so controversial. For today then, our disclaimer is in. Our series is about giving our hearts to Jesus in the last days. We have combined basic Bible teaching with some historical material to walk through thousands of years of the history of God's people. We are coming up to speed, up to date, finding ourselves on the map. And we've almost finished. Today will be the most startling material of all. But there is a purpose; there is a method to all this, and we'll tie it all together next Sabbath.
Today, let's make our first point a look at the Bible's teaching about salvation, going back again to Genesis but now with some of the points of discovery we've shared. Let's see what the rich veins of truth hold this day!
Salvation in the Therapeutic Mode
Being Saved According to Genesis 3:15
From the first the Bible presents no mere legal paradigm, but a wholistic one. Genesis three itself introduces the fact that heaven shall deal with sin under the head of both legal and healing perspectives. Have you ever noticed that the legal judgment handed out by God in Genesis three is put in therapeutic terminology? There is mention of crushing the serpent's head, wounding and bruising. The effects of the fall are manifest in actual environmental changes. Plants grow thorns, Eve and Adam have changes in their experience. All these points are listed in Genesis 3:14-19. But the greatest point is that God promises to put enmity between Satan and the woman, and between her offspring and Satan's offspring (Genesis 3:15).
Now, is His promise but to "count" man and Satan as enemies, or is it to truly introduce into the heart of willing, fallen humans an effective, real spiritual antagonism between ourselves and Satan? In her Great Controversy, p. 506, Ellen G. White answers plainly:
It is the grace that Christ implants in the soul which creates in man enmity against Satan. Without this converting grace and renewing power, man would continue the captive of Satan, a servant ever ready to do his bidding. But the new principle in the soul creates conflict where hitherto had been peace. The power which Christ imparts enables man to resist the tyrant and usurper.
The initial comment in Scripture about what happened at the fall is not primarily legal, but therapeutic. The result of the fall is manifest in brokenness that needs to be healed. If you'll pardon me for doing this to make a point, let me share Ellen White's statement with you again, but I will strip-out the words implant, create, converting, renewing, and power, and replace them with words like count, account, impute and the like:
It is the grace that Christ pretends is in the soul which counts in man enmity against Satan. Without this accounting grace and pretend power, man would continue the captive of Satan, a servant ever ready to do his bidding. But the new accounting system in the soul imputes conflict where hitherto had been peace.
And yes, I left off the last sentence because I could not even bend it at all this way to make my point. How, after all, can you even make sense of this line if it is so changed? "The power which Christ imparts enables man to resist the tyrant and usurper." You can't do it.
Remember, salvation includes both one's title and one's fitness for heaven: "The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven" (Ellen G. White, The Faith I Live By, p. 116). In Genesis two and three then, Jesus taking my second death makes possible my acquiring a title for heaven. He has paid the penalty of second death for me and in my place.
Beyond this, the merciful introduction by my Savior of the first death makes possible my acquiring a fitness for heaven. Jesus' offer to die in our place opened the door and gave us a second probation. The life we now live grants us opportunity to let God's external declaration in regard to what He would have us to be joined by His internal declaration of what He would have us to be. Remember, the argument of Jesus in the investigative judgment is not that the devil's assertions about us are wrong, but that the situation is changed, that we have given our hearts to Jesus, that He has been permitted to do an internal work, changing us on the inside.
God puts -- really, truly puts -- enmity between Satan and me. He really restores in to my nature the element of antagonism forsaken when Adam sinned. God re-implants in broken man, recreates, an enemy status and attitude between us and the devil. Remember, "Without this converting grace and renewing power," we would all remain helpless captives of the adversary. God puts, more than just a book-mark for a future antagonism between man and Satan, but real and present conflict "where hitherto there had been peace." Without conversion, we are at peace with sin and Satan. Jesus takes away this peace when we permit Him to; it is a gift of the gospel.
Being Saved According to Isaiah 53 and Jeremiah 17
Jesus' salvation is spoken of over and over again as a healing more than an accounting. Turn with me to the classic Isaiah 53:5, and consider: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed."
He pays the legal penalty, and the result of His paying the legal penalty is our being healed, not our being counted clear only. Peter argues from this very reality that Christians are to live differently than they had before their commitment to Christ. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." Even Peter doesn't put it all into the past. The objective event He puts into the past -- Jesus dying on the cross ("by whose stripes ye were healed"), but he speaks with equal plainness to the fact of how one shall live in the present: "we, being dead unto sins, should live unto righteousness." People want to turn Isaiah 53 into legal salvation only -- I've seen it done. But please be fair to the text. It contains both, legal and experiential aspects, both objective (what Jesus did outside of me) and subjective elements (what He also does now inside of me).
Jeremiah 17:14 has the prophet saying, "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for Thou art my praise." The first word ("heal") is best translated in the Hebrew as in fact, "heal." The second word, ("save") comes out more precisely in the Hebrew as "deliver." All this points again, to a God who's salvation is rich and therapeutic, having larger than but legal sense. A few verses before that Jeremiah speaks of the believer as one who is as a tree planted by the water, spreading out one's roots by the river, who's leaves remain always green, who never ceases from bearing fruit (Jeremiah 17:8). That is anything but a dry and legal kind of salvation.
Being Saved According to Romans Three and Sixteen
Now a journey to Romans 3:22. And here we find that even while God's righteousness is manifested apart from the law (verse 21), even so that "the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe" is for everyone, both Jews and Greeks. Of interest here to us however, is that where this verse says "unto all" we have the greek preposition eis, which translates "into all." So the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ is both "into all and upon all them that believe." That is, God's righteousness in righteousness by faith, is "upon" us (counted or imputed) and "into" us (actual or imparted). Salvation includes the judicial act of imputation, and overflows with the delivering act of inward healing.
Romans brings us back to the text we started with in Genesis three at its close. Look at Romans 16:20: "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen."
We forget, I am afraid, that Paul never meant for Romans to be thought of as it has so much come to be thought of. We forget that He wrote in Romans 12:2, "be not conformed to the world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." We forget that this same Paul wrote in Romans 8:3-4, "for what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit." God fulfills the righteous requirement of the law in us. How? Because Jesus was manifest to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), and He came and defeated him while bearing the same flesh as ours. Jesus became as human as we are.
Jesus came, perhaps not to exalt the law, but certainly to exalt obedience. He may not have come to exalt the law, but he did come to magnify it. Isaiah 42:21 says, "The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness' sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honourable." Literally, He will cause the law to be "made glorious." God's law as a means of salvation in itself is not uplifted (Galatians 3:21), but as a delineation of God's moral beauty, as that to which man may by God's grace attain to, as that which condemns Satan's charges that God is unfair in expecting obedience of man, He came to uphold the truth that believing and doing are blended, that the truth sanctifies, changes people, and that in the end of time heaven produces a people who follow Jesus into all obedience (Revelation 14:4).
Romans teaches that God, who crushed Satan under Christ's feet in His life and at the cross, lives also in His people, and at the end they too crush Satan under their feet through Christ in them, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). So that the Great Controversy reads, on p. 477, that "We may go to Jesus and be cleansed, and stand before the law without shame or remorse." Now there are those anxious to replace Great Controversy with Steps to Christ. If you are trying to thus get rid of this statement it won't work. She put the same thing in Steps to Christ, p. 51. This can be a living reality for us only as we let Jesus apply His healing to us -- the very thing that He longs to do.
And on we could go, and spend the next several hours enumerating like passages to these. But we are here today to look at something else very deep too. Because I say to you today, it is 1979 again.
Revival Attempt in 1973-1974
I wonder whether you remember our reference last meeting to the 1973-1974 Annual Council Appeals put out then by the General Conference? Those were fantastic appeals. They could have and should have brought on the last great revival. They have borne considerable fruit, but we must admit that they and the attempt to bring revival were thwarted along the way. Already there was complaint from those in whom the legal-salvation-only theology was strengthening. Some have called this the "new theology."
After the appeal in 1974, a special issue of the Review was published, entirely themed to righteousness by faith. It was firmly opposed by some even back then, including Desmond Ford. But before we turn to Ford, let's hear a few excerpts from this special publication. I want you to see for yourself what you think of it.
This issue was published in 1974 and called the "righteousness by faith special," and is formally numbered as vol. 151, no. 20. On the fifth page, George Vandeman wrote of Jesus that, "He came to share man's lot so that He could change man's lot" (my emphasis). On page eight Don F. Neufeld wrote, "When righteousness is by faith . . . that is, by a full commitment to the Messiah and by a personal relationship with Him, then there is power over sin, power available through the mighty agency of the third Person of the Godhead."
On pages 10, Charles E. Bradford wrote, "The Seventh-day Adventist Church has always taught salvation by grace through faith. What we have refused to teach, as a people, is that God's grace is not some mysterious, irresistible power that saves man against his will and apart from his conscious cooperation. Neither have we proclaimed that Jesus came to save man from the penalty of sin but not from its power. The abundant evidence of the Scriptures testifies that man must be respondent, he must yield, have faith, believe, trust -- take hold of the rope -- and having taken hold, hold fast! 'It is by continual surrender of the will, by continual obedience, that the blessing of justification is retained.' Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 397. On page 11 and referring to Revelation 14:6 and 12 he said, "As in the first century, so in the last there is a people on earth to whom God can point as His laboratory for demonstration of the power of the gospel."
On page 13 H.M.S. Richards added that we are saved by "faith only -- plus nothing and minus nothing." What he had in mind was a working faith, a faith that works. So when he said we are saved by a faith that is inclusive of all that faith has in it, "minus nothing" that is supposed to be there, he was echoing the right thoughts.
On page 17, C. Mervyn Maxwell quoted E. J. Waggoner, saying that God "does not furnish a cloak for sin, but takes the sin away. . . . Forgiveness of sins is something more than a mere form, something more than a mere entry in the books of record in heaven. . . . Forgiveness of sin is a reality; it is something tangible, something that vitally affects the individual" (From Waggoner's Christ Our Righteousness, p. 66).
The same issue carried a careful article by Jonathan Butler about whether we ever should say we are saved or not. Excellent material, very sound and balanced. There was a wonderful article also by the incomparable Herbert Douglass, who gave the church these thoughts concerning the final generation:
"In a very special sense, the harvest for which Jesus waits will separate the end products of sin, and of faith. The goals of the kingdom of God and of the field of grain are the same: neither is ready for harvest unless the seed is matured. . . . They [the last generation] will be a sample of what the gospel is all about, and to this sample will many, many truth-seeking people join themselves as they too hear the invitation: 'As He who has called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct.' (1 Peter 1:15)."
Kenneth Wood finished on page 24 saying "This is righteousness by faith. It is a supernatural change wrought by God as man cooperates with Him. This trusting, cooperating commitment of thought, feeling, and act is called faith." At the end of the issue on page 26 the editors gave the following summary: "Righteousness by faith is a dynamic experience of character development resulting from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." And that is a wonderful summary!
As we said though, there was immediate opposition. Asked if he accepted that issue of the Review, one replied, "Not at all. Not at all. You ought to have shame if you knew the background of it. Our brethren at the General Conference were most upset when this came out." The objector, even then, was Desmond Ford. And the truth was that the General Conference was pleased with the issue and was fully aware of it, and that the issue had been very carefully worked out and its articles circulated among the GC brethren before ever it was published. (You can get this all from Colin and Russell Standish's The Gathering Storm, pp. 159-169.)
The Desmond Ford Crisis
We introduced Desmond Ford briefly in our last message. Again let us note his brilliance. But all of our brilliance is really just darkness and dust. Ford raised serious questions about the sanctuary teaching. Since by the end of the decade he was no longer teaching at Australia's Avondale but now in America's Pacific Union College, he was influencing an ever-increasing army of young ministers in an unfortunate direction.
In particular, Ford raised certain questions about the investigative judgment teaching and our interpretation of prophecy. He was firmly opposed to the day-for-a-year aspect of apocalyptic interpretation for time prophecies. He was insistent that Jesus had not entered directly into the most holy place in 1844, b ut rather in 31 A.D., and expressed considerable objection to the idea of any literal sanctuary in heaven operating as Adventists had derived it from the Scriptures. He had other objections as well. But now here is something very interesting. . .
What was the actual basis of Ford's rejection of this teaching? Was it really problems with our prophetic interpretations and our understanding of Bible apocalyptic, or did his baseline salvation-understanding drive those problems and feed them? In essence, were Ford's deepest concerns eschatological, or soteriological?
In a few minutes we'll see from his own lips that it was his understanding of how one is saved that he never could reconcile with the unique SDA perspectives. That is, his attack on the sanctuary was a result of his concern elsewhere. Thus, when the brethren sat down to defend the sanctuary teaching, they were battling merely the non-negotiable result of something else. They were facing a manifestation of the false-salvation understanding's antagonism against our church's teachings.
It is at the core of the problem that you need to really go to work. If the problem of Ford is his view of the gospel, then that is where you need to work. The problems will never be solved at the other end, because they can't be; the basic presuppositions will not allow it to. Complaints about the sanctuary teaching no matter how scholarly their presentation, or even apparently compelling in themselves, are really only superficial. They exist because what the Bible teaches about the investigative judgment is -- and we may as well admit this without qualification -- irreconcilable with the salvation understanding of the Magisterial Reformers.
In 1979 Desmond Ford announced publically that he didn't believe the investigative judgment teaching and hadn't for 20 years (we mentioned this in the last meeting). As we noted, a general crisis ensued and after Ford had prepared a document of nearly 1000 pages in length to defend his views, his credentials were removed and his ordination finally annulled. The church has never really put the fullness of that behind itself. You might have thought so, but what now, even twenty years later?
Is This Adventism?
Amazingly, what was counted error two decades ago is today openly presented in some of our publications. In the Review, one of our editors in summer of 1999 wrote, "After years of wandering in a wasteland of legalism, which has left untold thousands of souls spiritually shipwrecked on the shoals of guilt and hopelessness, the Adventist Church is finally understanding the gospel, understanding that redemption is not something that happens in us but something that happened for us in Jesus" (Adventist Review, July 22, 1999, p. 30).
Oh? Now that is news to me. Has not that person understood principles such as we considered in sermons three, four, and five in this series? Or the evidence given in the first part of today's message? Or in any Ellen G. White book, just pull one off the shelf -- any Ellen G. White book -- look and see if it doesn't agree with the first part of today's message.
But the same person in another editorial wrote a test for readers just a few months later in the Review, where among the questions given were these options:
1. Our right standing with God is based solely on what Christ has done for us. True or false?
2. Our right standing with God is based on what Christ has done for us and in us. True or False?
5. We are justified through the merits of Jesus Christ alone. True or false?
6. We are justified by God through the merits of Christ, and through the work of His Holy Spirit in our lives. True or false?
7. God gives us right standing with Him by accounting us righteous in His sight. True or false?
8. God gives us right standing with Him by actually making us righteous in His sight. True or false?
Well, what do you think? Before we answer, let me remind us of one Bible verse and one Ellen G. White statement, OK? For the Bible verse, turn with me to Titus 3:5: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." Now, from Ellen G. White's Steps to Christ, p. 63: "So we have nothing in ourselves of which to boast. We have no ground for self-exaltation. Our only ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and in that wrought by His Spirit working in and through us."
I'll take all the even numbered answers. (We must point out that even some of these are poorly expressed though. For example, number six separates the merits of Christ from the work of the Holy Spirit -- an unscriptural idea. Also, God does both seven and eight together, He accounts us righteous and He makes us righteous. Together.) Here then is that article writer's analysis of our responses:
"If you answered 'true' to all the odd-numbered questions and 'false' to all the even-numbered ones, then you line up with what has classically been the Protestant point of view. On the other hand, if you had placed 'true' after any or all of the even-numbered ones [as you and I did here this morning!] then, to some degree at least, you are inclined toward the teaching that Roman Catholicism has embraced since the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century."
In other words -- because he misunderstood both history (limiting the Reformation and Protestantism to the Magisterial Reform and ignoring the Radical Reform, remember our sixth message, Salvation After the New Testament. http://www.greatcontroversy.org/documents/sermons/sermons-kir/kir-h2j6.html)-- and the Bible (Titus 3:5 for example), and the Spirit of Prophecy (Steps to Christ, p. 63 for example), he is misstating the real facts.
In other words, today the classic Ford-compatible teachings are being promoted in places we have not expected.
(My intention here is not to open any controversy with this author. If anyone really wants to know where these statements are and have the references, email me and ask for them. I will send you the author and references without comment.)
Fragmenting Belief Statements
If we thought that that author's work was troubling, consider another ominous development: conference churches with statements of faith independent and differing in considerable ways from those of the world church.
One of these churches goes so far as to incorporate original sin into its teachings, even if they don't call it that. In their footnote 19 they give ten verses to support this, but not one of them teaches it. The same statement of faith limits salvation purely to forensic justification, and refuses to even teach the investigative judgment.
In this statement is this remark: "The Scriptures are the testimony of Jesus," along with the statement that the Scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice. Well, the Scriptures are the testimony of Jesus, but this statement appears to be meant as a slap against the Spirit of Prophecy writings, which in Adventist short-hand are known as "the Spirit of prophecy." And the statement that the Scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice is false. Our fundamental beliefs state plainly that in regard to Ellen G. White, "her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth . . ." Everything is brought to the test and measure of Scripture, but the Bible is not the only rule of faith and practice. Everything that God has said is authoritative.
Another conference church divides its beliefs into what it calls "essential beliefs," and "other beliefs." They list eight "essentials" and nine "others." Interestingly, their view of salvation is similar to that held by the first church I mentioned. I might add that this church has no authoritative place in any form for Ellen G. White's writings, and refuses to teach the investigative judgment, among other doctrines.
(My intention here is not to open any controversy with these churches that from their own statements of faith appear to have departed from the commonly held faith of the world church. If anyone really wants to know where these statements are and read them for yourself on the web, email me and ask for them. I will send you the URLs without comment.)
Now, to put the finish on this difficult and troubling message today, we have to take one more step. Let's go back to Desmond Ford.
Desmond Ford's Analysis
Just a few years ago, one of the quasi-Adventist websites interviewed Desmond Ford. The whole interview is online at Desmond Ford's site (http://goodnewsunlimited.org/library/atodayinterview/part1.cfm#q2). In that interview he complains about the historic prophetic viewpoints of our church, but then he says this:
"Also [in addition to his disagreement about prophesy], and more importantly, I realized that the SDA church had failed to make Christ and the gospel central in its exposition of the prophecies . . .
My theology is not controversial for most SDA scholars, but it is such to dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists whose time for study and research is limited by inclination and skills. Since Glacier View, concession after concession has been made by Church spokesmen in the areas once regarded as heretical in 1980. For example, the Church now officially teaches the "sinlessness" of Christ's human nature; the impossibility of perfection for sinners in this life; the fact that the Antichrist is central in the judgment prophecies of Daniel 7 and 8; that "cleansed" is a mistranslation in Daniel 8:14; that the word "days" is also not to be found in the Hebrew original of that same verse; that the atonement DID take place at the cross; that Christ DID enter the equivalent of "the most holy place" at His ascension and not in 1844; that the Lisbon earthquake, the Dark Day, and the falling of the stars in 1833 are not the fulfillment of Bible prophecy; that Ellen White was not a theologian, never claimed infallibility and relied on faulty sources for her doctrinal formulations; that Ellen White upheld the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice; that she refused to be an arbiter in the interpretation of prophecy, etc, etc. etc."
But of special interest (and some of what he has just said is not accurate!), was his very next sentence. Listen: "However, I must say that most pleasing of all these quiet changes has been an increasing emphasis on justification, which is the legal metaphor for the gospel."
Again, did you hear him? The first sentence we read said, "Also, and more importantly, I realized that the SDA church had failed to make Christ and the gospel central in its exposition of the prophecies." Well, history shows that there have been times when we didn't make Christ so central as we ought to have. But Ford said what? "Also, and more importantly." As I said, his views on salvation loomed more influentially to him than the prophetic issues.
And did you notice what he said at the end of that quotation? "However, I must say that most pleasing of all these quiet changes has been an increasing emphasis on justification, which is the legal metaphor for the gospel." For Desmond Ford, the most pleasing of all the changes "has been an increasing emphasis on justification." The thing that makes him the most happy is when we separate justification and sanctification, and take sanctification out of the gospel. That is, we should talk mostly about how God counts us and that that alone is salvation, objective and outside of us. Anything else is just a following fruit only. But this isn't all. Maybe you missed it. Listen again:
"However, I must say that most pleasing of all these quiet changes has been an increasing emphasis on justification, which is the legal metaphor for the gospel."
Did you catch it? Yes, this is the most pleasing to him -- the strong emphasis on justification. But he said "the most pleasing of all these quiet changes." Ford says that the shift to justification has been a most pleasing quiet change. He recognizes that subtly, certain have been anxious serreptitiously to introduce this change in direction, and have been doing so.
And may I point out that he saw this back then (this interview was four years ago)? There is no question; were he to survey the scene today, he would see the changes coming with ever more vigorous openness. It is all over the place in our publications, from Gracelink for our kids on up to virtually everything that is published for the adults. Some in leadership know about this and are for it. Others know about it and are against it. Some are unaware. It is the "boil a frog" dilemma. It sneaks up on you and surrounds you and it happens so gradually that you don't notice. But a new reality has arrived. So that in the same interview Ford asks, in light of what is taught today, "In what sense can I be classified [in Adventism today as opposed to Adventism 20 years ago] as heretical?"
Perhaps then we may well say, in an important sense, it is 1979 again.
Today, as we are now at the end of this series (just one last talk to go in which we will summarize and seek practical answers for how we as Seventh-day Adventists can proceed), let's revisit what we've seen today.
First, the Bible sustains yet again, a gospel that is so very practical, one which has in it both legal salvation and healing salvation. We've looked a bit closer at the Desmond Ford crisis that rocked this church two decades ago, and how those false teachings were then rejected. We looked at more recent materials and discovered to our amazement that all around us, those same teachings are being advanced and acted upon. We've seen that even Desmond Ford sees what is quietly happening -- and calls it "most pleasing."
We Americans identify with the underdog. We don't mind being rebels one bit, it comes natural to us. But may we remind ourselves that there is more than one direction to rebel. Its OK to be a rebel -- let's just be wise about it. If you are rebelling against truth, it is bad. If you are rebelling against error, that is good. Let's be good rebels, that's all. It may have been the rage to throw in with Desmond Ford those years ago, especially since he was and is a most convincing orator. But can we see some of the issues with a broader vision now than then? Can we see with greater clarity the wholistic, incontrovertible, Bible-based message that says God's forgiveness is more than we thought, that His salvation is more than an accounting, that being saved means being healed, and that all of that is part and parcel of grace and the gospel?
During the years of the Ford crisis, did you hear about the Radical Reformation? Did these strong biblical truths that reach out and grip us with hope -- did those come before you? I say again, there has been some clarification along the way, and time has given opportunity to think, to view the broader context, to grow, and to reevaluate. I hope that if you choose to be a rebel, you will join me in being a rebel for truth -- Bible truth, firm and sound and life-changing and victory-giving! And it is fitting this day to end with a text in Romans 10:4: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
The law does not exist at random or as a divine fancy or a divine whim. The law has a purpose, a goal. The law has a real role in showing us our sin, but it also shows us what is right. Just as the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin He convicts us also of righteousness (John 16:8). Sin may not have originally existed on the earth -- in fact, we know it did not. But God's righteousness did. When God finished creating, behold, everything was evaluated as being "very good." No flaw of any sort marred the creation of God. But then, as we saw in the very first presentation of this series (What is My Heart That I Would Give?"), the fall intervened, sin intervened, and the purpose of God for humankind was delayed.
How well do you recall back to that first talk? What was God's purpose for us? It was that we were made for His pleasure -- the pleasure of a moral being, even the moral Being, the Ground of all morality in the universe. And we were made not only to make Him happy, but we were brought onto the scene in His image. We too were meant to take pleasure in righteousness; we were to be holy and happy. Now God has a goal for us. While His purpose in that has been delayed, still He purposes to secure the whole of the created universe for righteousness and against sin. He is sin-proofing it. And so we consider Romans 10:4: "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
Jesus is not the end of the law, its ending or removal. His coming has put the end of sin in sight, but it has never put the end of righteousness into sight. Our return to Jesus has always been heaven's goal. The end of the law -- the goal of the law -- is to develop a righteous people. But even the law can't do that and it has never been contemplated by heaven that the law ought to do that. Jesus is the one who can do that. He can make us righteous but only as we cling to Him. He alone carries the righteousness that we need. Never, never, never apart from Him do we envision a separate righteousness that we would own.
There is a statement of Ellen White despised by many. You probably already know which one I have reference to. It is found in her book Christ's Object Lessons, p. 69: "Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own." She goes on to say plainly, "It is the privilege of every Christian not only to look for but to hasten the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
God's goal is to create a group who according to Revelation 14:4, follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth."
Come now. Is there really anything wrong with that?
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