I came to believe that salvation can be merited through good works. Of course, I believed that righteousness comes by faith, BUT my attitude toward God was structured in terms of do's and don'ts.
Now you have to understand that I am very loyal. So over the years I tried hard to become perfect. I strived to be exactly like Jesus. I plodded along hoping that someday my efforts would bring this about. Each time I slipped I got discouraged and wondered if I was saved or lost.
Deep inside I realized that I was not achieving absolute holiness yet. There were days that I felt saved. But other times I felt lost for sure.
Several years ago while reading my Bible through again I saw some things I had never noticed before. It changed my whole life. Now I have the assurance of Salvation on good days and on bad days.
Now my efforts seem to reflect more of God s character more than ever. My life abounds in more works today than when I was working to have more works. Let me share with you what happened.
I thought my job description was to try to become exactly like Jesus. I believed that His makeup was identical to mine, and mine must be identical to His.
Is Jesus like us? Yes, in some ways and NO in other ways. Can I ever be exactly like Jesus?
1. Jesus did NOT possess the passions of our human fallen natures; see - (EG White - Testimonies for the Church, vol 2 p. 509). Jesus did not possess the same fallen passions that I have. Passion means yearning, appetite, desire, obsession or craving. Not the same as me!
2. Jesus' very nature RECOILED from Evil. (EG White - Steps to Christ p. 93-94) My nature loves sin. Jesus' nature shuddered at the thought of sin. Babies are born with a fallen nature. I've watched two babies struggle over the possession of one pacifier. We are born selfish.
We humans are attracted to sin. Jesus cringed at the sight of evil. Even though He was tempted in all points as we are, yet His nature recoiled from evil. We are allured to vice like flies to garbage.
3. Jesus had NO PROPENSITIES to Sin. Listen to this statement: "Do not set Him before the people as a man with the propensities of sin. He (Jesus) is the second Adam. The first Adam was created a pure, sinless being, without a taint of sin upon him; he was in the image of God. ... Because of sin (Adam's) posterity was born with inherent propensities of disobedience. Jesus Christ...could have fallen----- but not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity." Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1128. Jesus had zero propensity to sin.
Definition of "Propensity": Inclination to sin (He did not have it. But I do), liking for sin, bent towards evil. predisposition, tendency ---Jesus had no tendency to sin. (I do).
"Let every human being be warned from the ground of making Christ altogether human, SUCH AN ONE AS OURSELVES, FOR IT CANNOT BE." - Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129 Jesus was not like us. Not at all. It cannot be.
So if Jesus is not like us how can we ever be like him? The answer is that (this side of heaven) I can't be absolutely like Jesus. He was different than I am. Let me show you more of the differences.
---Jesus was both God and Man. John 10:30, John 1:14. I know several things. I am not God. And you are not God. That is New Age philosophy.
The bottom line is this: Jesus was UNIQUE.
If Jesus was not like me then in what way can He ever be my example? Is Jesus our example, then? Yes! How????
Jesus is my example, not in impeccable sinless performance, but Jesus is my example in SUBMISSION and TRUST, to the will of the heavenly Father.
For years I was caught up in striving to be spotlessly, legalistically, perfect which I now know that I can never be this side of heaven.
"We can never EQUAL the pattern but we may IMITATE and RESEMBLE it according to our ability." - Review and Herald February 5, 1895. So, I want to be as close to Jesus as I possibly can as a human being.
I Corinthians 15:54 (speaking about resurrection morning)- "When this corruptible shall put on incorruption...." Until Jesus' coming, we are corruptible, Contaminate-able. Till then we are subject to stain, sin, and corruption.
I John 3:2 Notice when we will be like Him... "When he appears we shall be like Him."
Also Jude 24 "To Him who is able to keep you from Falling and present you FAULTLESS (where??) Before the throne!" There we will be faultless.
If I can be perfect then why did Jesus have to die? Did Jesus die just for my past sins? Many early Adventist pioneers believed that Jesus died for our past sins only! And that we are responsible from the point of conversion for our own salvation.
They were wrong. That is "New Theology". What I am preaching today is the old old story of Jesus and His saving love... Righteousness by faith.
If they were right then, most Bible Characters will be lost. Take David: He sinned badly several times and was forgiven. Did David have willful sin after his conversion? Yes! Time and time again David fell. In fact just before David died he fell into sin.
I Chronicles 21:1 - "Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel." This was heavy sin. So here David is being tempted just shortly before his death. Did he fall? Yes.
I Chronicles 21:8 - "Then David said to God, 'I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.'"
God considered it a major transgression because eventually 70,000 died because of David's sin.
No one can stand up an claim to be sinless. I John 1:8 - "If we claim to be without sin (sinless perfection), we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."
Forgiven David will be in heaven. All his sins were covered by the Righteousness of Jesus. David was saved (not by his works) but by Jesus' perfect life.
We all need a Savior from the moment we are born until the day we die. David did. We do. Romans 3:23,24 - "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
All have sinned and CONTINUE sinning and continue FALLING SHORT of God's perfect character. Romans 3:23 The Greek word is in the continuous tense. It means to continue coming short. We will fall short up till the day we die or the day Jesus comes. Then we will be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye. - I Corinthians 15:51-52.
As I saw the beautiful truth here that I cannot make myself righteous....Not in a lifetime of trying....It changed my whole life. The only way any of us will walk on the streets of gold is courtesy of the righteousness of Jesus. I came to totally trust Him. My love for Jesus increased dramatically.
EG White - Steps to Christ p. 62 - "It was possible for Adam before the fall, to form a righteous character by obedience to God's law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen, and WE CANNOT MAKE OURSELVES RIGHTEOUS. Since we are sinful, WE CANNOT PERFECTLY OBEY THE HOLY LAW. ...But Christ lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness!" = the gospel!
"If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Savior, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are ACCOUNTED righteous. Christ's character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned." - EG White - Steps to Christ p. 62. Instant Salvation!
If you can once understand this, it will change your life! It changed mine. And what is my response to the beautiful gospel? I have more works in my life than I ever dreamed of having.
Now, Verses like Galatians 2:16 are perfectly clear: "Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."
The lost person sins and is not sorry for it. He does not ask for pardon. Sin does not wound his soul. He does not hate sin.
The saved person occasionally could slip and fall but he hates it. He asks forgiveness. He asks for power to keep from sinning.
A Legalist sees all this like a ladder to be climbed one step at a time. He says: with God's power I am going to climb clear to the top of this ladder.
The gospel is not like a stairway to be climbed. It is more like an ELEVATOR. I chose to get in .... I surrender myself to it's power. Once inside I choose to go up. God provides all the power at all times. Every day I get closer to Him. The choice is always mine to get off or to stop advancing. I could even step out of it and jump out a window to my eternal death.
But as long as I stay connected to Jesus I will become more and more like Him. That elevator keeps going up through eternity. I eternally grow more and more like Jesus. Jesus is my elevator.
A Christian becomes more and more like Jesus. But he never ceases to need a Savior. There will never come a time in this life when we do not need to repeat the Lord's prayer - Forgive us our debts (sins).
"If we claim to be sinless, we are self-deceived and strangers to the truth." - I John 1:8-10 NEB
Romans 3:28 - "We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law."
Romans 4:5 - "However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."
When Paul says that God justifies the wicked, the corrupt and the evil, he is saying that God treats the ungodly person as if he were flawlessly perfect. This shocked the poor Jews to death! The Jew in Jesus day thought to treat a bad man as if he were a good moral man was the sign of a bad judge.
Proverbs 17:15 - "He who justifies the wicked .. is an abomination to the Lord." Yet Paul is saying that is exactly what God does.
When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and efforts as man's best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit. (1 SM p.382)
We are corporately linked with Adam by birth. We are corporately linked with Christ by new birth. What Adam did affected the entire human race. What Christ did affects every person who is born again. Christ's History becomes ours! The perfect life He lived is freely accounted to our record as if we had lived it ourselves. This is the mechanics of salvation.
Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, described his personal experience with the battle of sin: Romans 7:14-17 - "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me."
Paul admits he did not achieve perfect works: Philippians 3:12 - "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect..."
EG White, in her Steps To Christ p. 64 describes this: "We shall OFTEN have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes... Even if we are overcome by (Satan) we are not cast off or forsaken... We do not lose our salvation by an occasional misdeed.
Christ is our SUBSTITUTE. You are accepted right now, not because of your works but because of Jesus' perfect life. When our heavenly Father looks down at you He sees a perfectly forgiven saint. He sees the righteous robe of Jesus covering your life.
Salvation does not come by willpower but by Jesus. Justification technically is not to be Made Worthy but to be Accounted Worthy. So despite our sins of yesteryear and despite our continuing sins God credits us with the perfect life that Jesus lived. This good news is the heart of Adventism.
We are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus and nothing else. I Peter 1:18-19
We are not flawless. What human has ever had perfect patience. What human has an absolutely perfect attitude. How many of you have totally perfect thoughts 24 hours a day? --Not until this corruptible puts on incorruption.
Jesus is my role model and I try to live as close to it as I can. Am I always successful? NO. We live in an imperfect world. I am an imperfect man.... (Except in Jesus' sight).
A legalist has a hard time maintaining the assurance of salvation because it is based on his daily works. Only the Gospel gives real assurance.
Righteousness by Faith does not mean that the Christian no longer observes God's requirements. NO. He lives to please God in thankfulness for the salvation he has freely received.
Some churches teach salvation by personal effort. Other churches teach that because of Faith the law of God has been done away with and anything goes! The beautiful balance is what Adventists teach and what you are hearing today which is the true gospel.
Adventists have the balance. There are two truths that the devil hates most. The arch-deceiver hates the great truths that bring to view an Atoning sacrifice and an all powerful Mediator. (See EG White, Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan p.488)
Jesus has the ability to both forgive sin and to empower the Christian to be more like Him.
Misunderstand these and you fall into cheap grace, predestination, universalism, and once saved always saved and a host of other falsehoods.
As Savior Jesus provides forgiveness of all sin. As Heavenly High Priest He gives power over sin.
My goal is to overcome sin and to model the life of my Savior Jesus Christ. If you want assurance of salvation, Center your hope of heaven not on your efforts but on Christ alone as your substitute and assurance. (1 SM 363.)
Accept Jesus as your Divine Elevator and stay on board. You will soon be in heaven.
Opening Song: #1 "Praise to the Lord" Scripture: #762 - Responsive reading Closing Song: #303 "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" 980404Gettys434
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last updated 5/10/98 by Bob Beckett.