Let The Dead Speak
August 2011 Issue
By ITH Ministries
God has given me light regarding our periodicals. What is it?--He has said that the dead are to
speak. How?--Their works shall follow them. We are to repeat the words of the pioneers in our work, who knew what
it cost to search for the truth as for hidden treasure, and who labored to lay the foundation of our work. They
moved forward step by step under the influence of the Spirit of God. One by one these pioneers are passing away.
The word given me is, Let that which these men have written in the past be reproduced. Review and Herald - May 25,
This month's articles.
E.J. Waggoner - Christ and His Righteousness - Pt 2
A.G. Daniells - Christ Our Righteousness - Pt 2
Christ and His Righteousness
Part 2 of 3
Important Practical Lessons
It is not merely as a beautiful theory, a mere
dogma, that we should consider Christ as God and Creator. Every doctrine of the Bible is for our practical
benefit and should be studied for that purpose. Let us first see what relation this doctrine sustains to the
central commandment of the law of God. In Genesis 2:1-3 we find these words closing the record of creation,
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his
work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed
the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all His work which God created and
made. The Jewish translation renders the text more literally thus,
Thus were finished the heavens
and the earth and all their host. And God had finished on the seventh day His work which He had
made, etc. This is the same that we find in the fourth commandment, Ex. 20:8- 11.
In this we find, what is most natural, that the same Being who created, rested.
He who worked six days in creating the earth, rested on the seventh and blessed and sanctified it. But we have
already learned that God the Father created the worlds by his son Jesus Christ and that Christ created
everything that has an existence. Therefore the conclusion is inevitable that Christ rested on that first
seventh day at the close of the six days of creation and that he blessed and sanctified it. Thus the seventh
day--the Sabbath--is most emphatically the Lord's day. When Jesus said to the carping Pharisees,
For the Son
of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day (Matt. 12:8), He declared His lordship of the identical day
which they had so scrupulously observed in form, and He did this in words which show that He regarded it as His
badge of authority, as demonstrating the fact that He was greater than the temple. Thus the seventh day is the
Divinely appointed memorial of creation. It is the most honored of all days, since its especial mission is to
bring to mind the creative power of God, which is the one proof to man of His Divinity. And so when Christ said
that the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day, He claimed a high distinction--nothing less than being the
Creator, of whose Divinity that day stands as a memorial.
What shall we say, then, to the suggestion often made, that Christ changed the
day of the Sabbath from a day which commemorates completed creation to one which has no such significance?
Simply this, that for Christ to change or abolish the Sabbath would be to destroy that which calls to mind His
Divinity. If Christ had abolished the Sabbath, He would have undone the work of His own hands and thus have
worked against Himself, and a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. But Christ
Himself, and therefore He did not change one jot of that which He Himself appointed and which, by
testifying to His Divinity, shows Him to be worthy of honor above all the gods of the heathen. It would have
been as impossible for Christ to change the Sabbath as it would have been to change the fact that He created all
things in six days and rested on the seventh.
Again, the oft-repeated declarations that the Lord is Creator are intended as a
source of strength. Notice how creation and redemption are connected in the first chapter of Colossians. To get
the point fully before us, we will read verses 9-19:
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you,
and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in
the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and
longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the
inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us
into the kingdom of His dear Son; in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins;
who is the image of the invisible God, the First-born of every creature; for by him were all things created,
that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or
principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him; and he is before all things, and in him
all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first-born from the
dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all
It is not an accident that the wonderful declaration concerning Christ as
Creator is connected with the statement that in Him we have redemption. No. When the apostle makes known his
desire that we should be
strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, he lets us
know what that glorious power is. When he tells us about being delivered from the power of darkness, he lets us
know something of the power of the Deliverer. It is for our comfort that we are told that the head of the church
is the Creator of all things. We are told that he upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3), in
order that we may rest in the assurance that
The Hand which bears all nature up/Shall guard His children
Note the connection of Isa. 40:26. The chapter presents the wonderful wisdom and
power of Christ, in calling all the host of heaven by names and in keeping them all in their places, by the
greatness of His might and the strength of His power, and then inquires,
Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and
speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not
known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth
not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding. On the contrary,
He giveth power
to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. His power is, in fact, the ability
to create everything from nothing; therefore, He can work wonders through those who have no strength. He can
bring strength out of weakness. Surely, then, anything which serves to keep before the mind the creative power
of Christ must tend to renew our spiritual strength and courage.
And this is just the design of the Sabbath. Read the ninety-second psalm, which
is entitled a psalm of the Sabbath-day. The first four verses are these:
It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy
name, O Most High; to show forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an
instrument of ten strings and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, Lord, hast made me
glad through thy work; I will triumph in the works of thy hands.
What has this to do with the Sabbath? Just this: The Sabbath is the memorial of
creation. Says the Lord:
Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they
might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. Eze. 20:12. The Psalmist kept the Sabbath as God
designed that it should be kept--in meditating upon creation and the wondrous power and goodness of God
displayed therein. And then, thinking of that, he realized that the God who clothes the lilies with a glory
surpassing that of Solomon cares far more for His intelligent creatures, and as he looked at the heavens, which
show the power and glory of God, and realized that they were brought into existence from nothing, the
encouraging thought would come to him that this same power would work in him to deliver him from human
infirmity. Therefore he was glad, and he triumphed in the work of God's hands. The knowledge of God's power
which came to him through a contemplation of creation, filled him with courage, as he realized that the same
power was at his disposal, and, grasping that power by faith, he gained victories through it. And this is the
design of the sabbath; it is to bring man to a saving knowledge of God.
The argument, concisely stated, is this: 1. Faith in God is begotten by a
knowledge of His power; to distrust Him implies ignorance of His ability to perform His promises; our faith in
Him must be in proportion to our real knowledge of His power. 2. An intelligent contemplation of God's creation
gives us a true conception of His power, for His eternal power and Godhead are understood by the things which He
has made. Rom. 1:20. 3. It is faith that gives victory (1 John 5:4); therefore, since faith comes by learning
the power of God from His word and from the things that He has made, we gain the victory or triumph through the
works of His hands. The Sabbath, therefore, which is the memorial of creation, is, if properly observed, a
source of the Christian's greatest reinforcement in battle.
This is the import of Ezekiel 20:12.
Moreover, also I gave them My Sabbaths,
to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. That is,
knowing that our sanctification is the will of God (1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23, 24), we learn, by means of the Sabbath,
properly used, what the power of God is that is exerted for our sanctification. The same power that was put
forth to create the worlds is put forth for the sanctification of those who yield themselves to the will of God.
Surely this thought, when fully grasped, must bring joy and comfort in God to the earnest soul. In the light of
this, we can appreciate the force of Isaiah 58:13, 14:
If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy
day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor Him, not doing thine own
ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord;
and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy
father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
That is, if the Sabbath is kept according to God's plan, as a memorial of His
creative power, as bringing to mind the Divine power that is put forth for the salvation of His people, the
soul, triumphing in the work of His hands, must delight itself in the Lord. And so the Sabbath is the grand
fulcrum for the lever of faith, which lifts the soul to the heights of God's throne, to hold communion with
To put the matter in few words, it may be stated thus: The eternal power and
Godhead of the Lord are revealed in creation. Rom. 1:20. It is the ability to create that measures the power of
God. But the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Rom. 1:16. Therefore the Gospel simply reveals to us the
power which was used to bring the worlds into existence, now exerted for the salvation of men. It is the same
power in each case.
In the light of this great truth, there is no room for the controversy about
redemption being greater than creation, because redemption is creation. See 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:24. The power of
redemption is the power of creation; the power of God unto salvation is the power which can take human
nothingness and make of it that which shall be throughout eternal ages to the praise of the glory of the grace
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him
in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 1 Peter 4:19.
Christ the Lawgiver
For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he
will save us. Isaiah 33:22.
We have now to consider Christ in another
character, yet not another. It is one that naturally results from His position as Creator, for the One who
creates must certainly have authority to guide and control. We read in John 5:22, 23 the words of Christ, that
the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son; that all men should honor the Son
even as they honor the Father. As Christ is the manifestation of the Father in creation, so is He the
manifestation of the Father in giving and executing the law. A few texts of Scripture will suffice to prove
In Numbers 21:4-6 we have the partial record of an incident that took place
while the children of Israel were in the wilderness. Let us read it.
And they journeyed from Mount Hor by the
way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom; and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the
way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in
the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And
the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel
died. The people spoke against God and against Moses, saying, Why have ye brought us up into the
wilderness? They found fault with their Leader. This is why they were destroyed by serpents. Now read the words
of the apostle Paul concerning this same event:
Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed
of serpents. 1 Cor. 10:9.
What does this prove? That the Leader against whom they were murmuring was
Christ. This is further proved by the fact that when Moses cast in his lot with Israel, refusing to be called
the son of Pharaoh's daughter, he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.
Heb. 11:26. Read also 1 Cor. 10:4, where Paul says that the fathers
did all drink the same spiritual drink:
for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them; and that Rock was Christ. So, then, Christ
was the Leader of Israel from Egypt.
The third chapter of Hebrews makes clear this same fact. Here we are told to
consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful in all His house, not as
a servant, but as a Son over His own house. Verses 1-6. Then we are told that we are His house if we hold fast
our confidence to the end. Wherefore we are exhorted by the Holy Ghost to hear His voice and not to harden our
hearts, as the fathers did in the wilderness.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning
of our confidence steadfast unto the end; while it is said, Today if ye will hear His [Christ's] voice, harden
not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke; howbeit not all that came
out of Egypt by Moses.
But with whom was he [Christ] grieved forty years? was it not with them that had
sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? Verses 14-17. Here again Christ is set forth as the Leader and
Commander of Israel in their forty years' sojourn in the wilderness.
The same thing is shown in Josh. 5:13-15, where we are told that the man whom
Joshua saw by Jericho, having a sword drawn in his hand, in response to Joshua's question,
Art thou for us,
or for our adversaries? said,
Nay; but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now
come. Indeed, no one will be found to dispute that Christ was the real Leader of Israel, although
Moses, the visible leader of Israel,
endured as seeing Him who is
invisible. It was Christ who commissioned Moses to go and deliver His people. Now read Ex. 20:1-3:
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have
brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before
Me. Who spoke these words? The One who brought them from Egypt. And who was the Leader of Israel from
Egypt? It was Christ. Then who spoke the law from Mt. Sinai? It was Christ, the brightness of the Father's glory
and the express image of His Person, who is the manifestation of God to man. It was the Creator of all created
things and the One to whom all judgment has been committed.
This point may be proved in another way. When the Lord comes, it will be with a
shout (1 Thess. 4:16), which will pierce the tombs and arouse the dead (John 5:28, 29).
The Lord shall roar
from on high and utter His voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall
give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even
to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations; he will plead with all flesh; he
will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord. Jer. 25:30, 3. Comparing this with Rev.
19:11-21, where Christ as the Leader of the armies of heaven, the Word of God, King of kings, and Lord of lords,
goes forth to tread the wine- press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, destroying all the wicked, we
find that it is Christ who roars from His habitation against all the inhabitants of the earth, when He has His
controversy with the nations. Joel adds another point, when he says,
The Lord also shall roar out of Zion,
and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake. Joel 3:16.
From these texts, to which others might be added, we learn that in connection
with the coming of the Lord to deliver His people, He speaks with a voice that shakes the earth and the
the earth shall reel to and from like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage (Isa.
the heavens shall pass away with a great noise (2 Peter 3:10). Now read Heb.
See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused
Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven;
whose voice then shook the earth; but now He hath promised, saying,
Yet once more I shake not the earth only,
but also heaven.
The time when the Voice speaking on earth shook the earth was when the law was
spoken from Sinai (Ex. 19:18-20; Heb. 12:18- 20), an event that for awfulness has never had a parallel and never
will have until the Lord comes with all the angels of heaven to save His people. But note: The same voice that
then shook the earth will, in the coming time, shake not only earth, but heaven also, and we have seen that it
is the voice of Christ that will sound with such volume as to shake heaven and earth when He has His controversy
with the nations. Therefore it is demonstrated that it was the voice of Christ that was heard from Sinai,
proclaiming the ten commandments. This is no more than would naturally be concluded from what we have learned
concerning Christ as Creator and the Maker of the Sabbath. Indeed, the fact that Christ is a part of the
Godhead, possessing all the attributes of Divinity, being the equal of the Father in all respects, as Creator
and Lawgiver, is the only force there is in the atonement. It is this alone which makes redemption a
possibility. Christ died
that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18), but if He lacked one iota of
being equal to God, He could not bring us to Him. Divinity means having the attributes of Deity. If Christ were
not Divine, then we should have only a human sacrifice. It matters not, even if it be granted that Christ was
the highest created intelligence in the universe; in that case He would be a subject, owing allegiance to the
law, without ability to do any more than His own duty. He could have no righteousness to impart to others. There
is an infinite distance between the highest angel ever created and God; therefore, the highest angel could not
lift fallen man up and make him partaker of the Divine nature. Angels can minister; God only can redeem. Thanks
be to God that we are saved
through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the
fullness of the Godhead bodily and who is, therefore, able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by
This truth helps to a more perfect understanding of the reason why Christ is
called the Word of God. He is the One through whom the Divine will and the Divine power are made known to men.
He is, so to speak, the mouth-piece of Divinity, the manifestation of the Godhead. He declares or makes God
known to man. It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; and therefore the Father is not
relegated to a secondary position, as some imagine, when Christ is exalted as Creator and Lawgiver, for the
glory of the Father shines through the Son. Since God is known only through Christ, it is evident that the
Father cannot be honored as He ought to be honored, by those who do not exalt Christ. As Christ Himself said,
He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him. John 5:23. Is it asked how
Christ could be the Mediator between God and man and also the Lawgiver? We have not to explain how it can be but
only to accept the Scripture record that it is so. And the fact that it is so is that which gives strength to
the doctrine of the atonement. The sinner's surety of full and free pardon lies in the fact that the Lawgiver
Himself, the One against whom he has rebelled and whom he has defied, is the One who gave Himself for us. How is
it possible for anyone to doubt the honesty of God's purpose or His perfect good-will to men, when He gave
Himself for their redemption? for let it not be imagined that the Father and the Son were separated in this
transaction. They were one in this, as in everything else. The counsel of peace was between them both (Zech.
6:12, 13), and even while here on earth the only-begotten Son was in the bosom of the Father.
What a wonderful manifestation of love! The Innocent suffered for the guilty;
the Just for the unjust; the Creator for the creature; the Maker of the law for the transgressor against the
law; the King for his rebellious subjects. Since God spared not His own Son but freely delivered Him up for us
all--Since Christ voluntarily gave Himself for us--how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?
Infinite Love could find no greater manifestation of itself. Well may the Lord
What could have been done more to My vineyard that I have not done in it?
The Righteousness of God
But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these
things shall be added unto you. Matt. 6:33.
The righteousness of God, says Jesus, is the
one thing to be sought in this life. Food and clothing are minor matters in comparison with it. God will supply
them, as a matter of course, so that anxious care and worriment need not be expended on them; but to secure
God's kingdom and His righteousness should be the only object of life.
In 1 Cor. 1:30 we are told that Christ is made unto us righteousness as well
as wisdom, and since Christ is the wisdom of God and in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, it
is evident that the righteousness which He is made to us is the righteousness of God. Let us see what this
In Ps. 119:172 the Psalmist thus addresses the Lord,
My tongue shall
speak of Thy word, for all Thy commandments are righteousness. The commandments are righteousness, not
simply in the abstract, but they are the righteousness of God. For proof read the following:
Lift up your eyes to the heavens and look upon the earth beneath, for the
heavens shall vanish away like smoke and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein
shall die in like manner; but my salvation shall be forever and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of
men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. Isa. 51:6,7.
What do we learn from this? That they who know the righteousness of God are
those in whose heart is His law, and therefore that the law of God is the righteousness of God.
This may be proved again, as follows:
All unrighteousness is
sin. 1 John 5:17.
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression
of the law. 1 John 3:4. Sin is the transgression of the law, and it is also unrighteousness; therefore
sin and unrighteousness are identical. But if unrighteousness is transgression of the law, righteousness must
be obedience to the law. Or, to put the proposition into mathematical form:
Unrighteousness = sin. 1 John 5:17. Transgression of the law = sin. 1 John
Therefore, according to the axiom that two things that are equal to the same
thing are equal to each other, we have: Unrighteousness = transgression of the law
...which is a negative equation. The same thing, stated in positive terms,
would be: Righteousness = obedience to the law.
Now what law is it obedience to which is righteousness and disobedience to
which is sin? It is that law which says,
Thou shalt not covet, for the apostle Paul tells us that
this law convinced him of sin. Rom. 7:7. The law of ten commandments, then, is the measure of the righteousness
of God. Since it is the law of God and is righteousness, it must be the righteousness of God. There is, indeed,
no other righteousness.
Since the law is the righteousness of God-- a transcript of His
character--it is easy to see that to fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man. Eccl. 12:13.
Let no one think that his duty will be circumscribed if confined to the ten commandments, for they are
The law is spiritual, and comprehends a great deal more than can be
discerned by an ordinary reader.
The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are
foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:14.
The exceeding breadth of the law of God can be realized only by those who have prayerfully meditated upon it. A
few texts of Scripture will suffice to show us something of its breadth.
In the sermon on the mount Christ said,
Ye have heard that it was said
by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment; but I
say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and
whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou
fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matt. 5:21, 22. And again,
Ye have heard that it was said by
them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery, but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust
after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Verses 27, 28.
This does not mean that the commandments,
Thou shalt not
Thou shalt not commit adultery are imperfect or that God now requires a greater
degree of morality from Christians than He did from His people who were called Jews. He requires the same from
all men in all ages. The Saviour simply explained these commandments and showed their spirituality. To the
unspoken charge of the Pharisees that He was ignoring and undermining the moral law, He replied by saying that
He came for the purpose of establishing the law and that it could not be abolished, and then He expounded the
true meaning of the law in a way that convicted them of ignoring and disobeying it. He showed that even a look
or a thought may be a violation of the law and that it is indeed a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the
In this Christ did not reveal a new truth but only brought to light and
unfolded an old one. The law meant just as much when He proclaimed it from Sinai as when He expounded it on the
mountain in Judea. When, in tones that shook the earth, He said,
Thou shalt not kill, He meant,
Thou shalt not cherish anger in the heart; thou shalt not indulge in envy, nor strife, nor anything which is
in the remotest degree akin to murder. All this and much more is contained in the words,
not kill. And this was taught by the inspired words of the Old Testament, for Solomon showed that the
law deals with things unseen as well as things seen, when he wrote:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His
commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment with every secret
thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. Eccl. 12:13, 14.
The argument is this: The judgment passes upon every secret thing; the law
of God is the standard in the judgment--it determines the quality of every act, whether good or evil;
therefore, the law of God forbids evil in thought as well as in deed. So the conclusion of the whole matter is
that the commandments of God contain the whole duty of man.
Take the first commandment,
Thou shalt have no other gods before
me. The apostle tells us of some
whose god is their belly. Phil. 3:19. But gluttony and
intemperance are self-murder, and so we find that the first commandment runs through to the sixth. This is not
all, however, for he also tells us that covetousness is idolatry. Col. 3:5. The tenth commandment cannot be
violated without violating the first and second. In other words, the tenth commandment coincides with the
first, and we find that the decalogue is a circle having a circumference as great as the universe and
containing within it the moral duty of every creature. In short, it is the measure of the righteousness of God,
who inhabits eternity.
This being the case, the correctness of the statement that
the doers of
the law shall be justified, is obvious. To justify means to make righteous or to show one to be
righteous. Now it is evident that perfect obedience to a perfectly righteous law would constitute one a
righteous person. It was God's design that such obedience should be rendered to the law by all His creatures,
and in this way the law was ordained unto life. Rom. 7:10.
But for one to be judged
a doer of the law it would be
necessary that he had kept the law in its fullest measure every moment of his life. If he had come short of
this, he could not be said to have done the law. He could not be a doer of the law if he had done it only in
part. It is a sad fact, therefore, that there are in all the human race no doers of the law, for both Jews and
all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that
understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become
unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Rom. 3:9-12. The law speaks to all who are
within its sphere, and in all the world there is not one who can open his mouth to clear himself from the
charge of sin which it brings against him. Every mouth is stopped and all the world stands guilty before God
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (verse 23).
the doers of the law shall be justified, it
is just as evident that
by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight, for by the
law is the knowledge of sin. Verse 20. The law, being
holy, and just, and good, cannot
justify a sinner. In other words, a just law cannot declare that the one who violates it is innocent. A law
that would justify a wicked man would be a wicked law. The law should not be reviled because it cannot justify
sinners. On the contrary, it should be extolled on that account. The fact that the law will not declare sinners
to be righteous--that it will not say that men have kept it when they have violated it--is in itself sufficient
evidence that it is good. Men applaud an incorruptible earthly judge, one who cannot be bribed and who will not
declare a guilty man innocent. Surely, they ought to magnify the law of God, which will not bear false witness.
It is the perfection of righteousness and therefore it is forced to declare the sad fact that not one of Adam's
race has fulfilled its requirements.
Moreover, the fact that to do the law is simply man's duty shows that when
he has come short in single particular he can never make it up. The requirements of each precept of the law are
so broad--the whole law is so spiritual-- that an angel could render no more than simple obedience. Yea, more,
the law is the righteousness of God--a transcript of His character--and since His character cannot be different
from what it is, it follows that even God Himself cannot be better than the measure of goodness demanded by His
law. He cannot be better than He is and the law declares what He is. What hope, then, that one who has failed,
in even one precept, can add enough extra goodness to make up the full measure? He who attempts to do that sets
before himself the impossible task of being better than God requires, yea, even better than God Himself.
But it is not simply in one particular that men have failed. They have come
short in every particular.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is
none that doeth good, no, not one. Not only so, but it is impossible for fallen man, with his weakened
power, to do even a single act that is up to the perfect standard. This proposition needs no further proof than
a restatement of the fact that the law is the measure of God's righteousness. Surely there are none so
presumptuous as to claim that any act of their lives has been or could be as good as if done by the Lord
Himself. Everyone must say with the Psalmist,
My goodness extendeth not to Thee. Ps. 16:2.
This fact is contained in direct statements of Scripture. Christ, who
needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man (John 2:25), said,
from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts,
covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil
things come from within and defile the man. Mark 7:21-23. In other words, it is easier to do wrong
than it is to do right, and the things which a person naturally does are evil. Evil dwells within, and is a
part of the being. Therefore, the apostle says,
The carnal [fleshly, natural] mind is enmity against God,
for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot
please God. Rom. 8:7, 8. And again,
The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against
the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye
would. Gal. 5:17. Since evil is a part of man's very nature, being inherited by each individual from a
long line of sinful ancestors, it is very evident that whatever righteousness springs from him must be only
filthy rags (Isa. 64:6), compared with the spotless robe of the righteousness of God.
The impossibility of good deeds proceeding from a sinful heart is thus
forcibly illustrated by the Saviour,
For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not
gather figs, nor of a bramble-bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart
bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that
which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:44,45. That is to say, a
man cannot do good until he first becomes good. Therefore, deeds done by a sinful person have no effect
whatever to make him righteous, but, on the contrary, coming from an evil heart, they are evil and so add to
the sum of his sinfulness. Only evil can come from an evil heart, and multiplied evil cannot make one good
deed; therefore, it is useless for an evil person to think to become righteous by his own efforts. He must
first be made righteous before he can do the good that is required of him and which he wants to do.
The case, then, stands thus: 1) The law of God is perfect righteousness,
and perfect conformity to it is demanded of everyone who shall enter the kingdom of heaven. 2) But the law has
not a particle of righteousness to bestow upon any man, for all are sinners and are unable to comply with its
requirements. No matter how diligently nor how zealously a man works, nothing that he can do will meet the full
measure of the law's demands. It is too high for him to attain to; he cannot obtain righteousness by the law.
By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified [made righteous] in His sight. What a
deplorable condition! We must have the righteousness of the law or we cannot enter heaven, and yet the law has
no righteousness for one of us. It will not yield to our most persistent and energetic efforts the smallest
portion of that holiness without which no man can see the Lord.
Who, then, can be saved? Can there, then, be such a thing as a righteous
person? Yes, for the Bible often speaks of them. It speaks of Lot as
that righteous man. It says,
Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him, for they shall eat the fruit of their
doings (Isa. 3:10), thus indicating that there will be righteous persons to receive the reward, and it
plainly declares that there will be a righteous nation at the last, saying,
In that day shall this song be
sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye
the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Isa. 26:1,2. David says,
Thy law is the truth. Ps. 119:142. It is not only truth, but it is the sum of all truth;
consequently, the nation that keeps the truth will be a nation that keeps the law of God. Such will be doers of
His will, and they shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matt. 7:21.
The Lord Our Righteousness
The question, then, is, How may the
righteousness that is necessary in order that one may enter that city, be obtained? To answer this question
is the great work of the gospel. Let us first have an object lesson on justification or the imparting of
righteousness. The fact may help us to a better understanding of the theory. The example is given in Luke
18:9-14 in these words:
And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they
were righteous, and despised others; Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee and the
other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other
men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes
of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto
heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to
his house justified rather than the other; for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that
humbleth himself shall be exalted.
This was given to show how we may not, and how we may, attain to
righteousness. The Pharisees are not extinct; there are many in these days who expect to gain righteousness
by their own good deeds. They trust in themselves that they are righteous. They do not always so openly
boast of their goodness, but they show in other ways that they are trusting to their own righteousness.
Perhaps the spirit of the Pharisee--the spirit which would recount to God one's own good deeds as a reason
for favor--is found as frequently as anywhere else among those professed Christians who feel the most bowed
down on account of their sins. They know that they have sinned, and they feel condemned. They mourn over
their sinful state and deplore their weakness. Their testimonies never rise above this level. Often they
refrain for very shame from speaking in the social meeting, and often they do not dare approach God in
prayer. After having sinned to a greater degree than usual, they refrain from prayer for some time, until
the vivid sense of their failure has passed away or until they imagine that they have made up for it by
special good behavior. Of what is this a manifestation? Of that Pharisaic spirit that would flaunt its own
righteousness in the face of God; that will not come before Him unless it can lean on the false prop of its
own fancied goodness. They want to be able to say to the Lord,
See how good I have been for the past few
days; you surely will accept me now.
But what is the result? The man who trusted in his own righteousness had
none, while the man who prayed, in heart-felt contrition,
God be merciful to me, a sinner, went
down to his house a righteous man. Christ says that he went justified; that is, made righteous.
Notice that the publican did something more than bewail his sinfulness; he
asked for mercy. What is mercy? It is unmerited favor. It is the disposition to treat a man better than he
deserves. Now the Word of Inspiration says of God,
as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His
mercy toward them that fear Him. Ps. 103:11. That is, the measure by which God treats us better
than we deserve when we humbly come to Him, is the distance between earth and the highest heaven. And in
what respect does He treat us better than we deserve? In taking our sins away from us, for the next verse
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from
us. With this agree the words of the beloved disciple,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful
and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.
For a further statement of the mercy of God, and of how it is manifested,
read Micah 7:18,19,
Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity and passeth by the transgression
of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will
turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast their sins
into the depths of the sea. Let us now read the direct Scripture statement of how righteousness is
The apostle Paul, having proved that all have sinned and come short of the
glory of God, so that by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified in His sight, proceeds to say that
justified [made righteous] freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;
whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for
the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his
righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Rom.
Being made righteous freely. How else could it be? Since the
best efforts of a sinful man have not the least effect toward producing righteousness, it is evident that
the only way it can come to him is as a gift. That righteousness is a gift is plainly stated by Paul in Rom.
For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace
and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ. It is because
righteousness is a gift that eternal life, which is the reward of righteousness, is the gift of God, through
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Christ has been set forth by God as the One through whom forgiveness of sins
is to be obtained; and this forgiveness consists simply in the declaration of His righteousness (which is
the righteousness of God) for their remission. God,
who is rich in mercy (Eph. 2:4) and who
delights in it, puts His own righteousness on the sinner who believes in Jesus, as a substitute for his
sins. Surely, this is a profitable exchange for the sinner, and it is no loss to God, for He is infinite in
holiness and the supply can never be diminished.
The scripture that we have just been considering (Rom. 3:24- 26) is but
another statement of verses 21, 22, following the declaration that by the deeds of the law there shall no
flesh be made righteous. The apostle adds,
But now the righteousness of God without the law is
manifested, being witnesssed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of
Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe. God puts His righteousness upon the believer.
He covers him with it, so that his sin no more appears. Then the forgiven one can exclaim with the
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for
he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a
bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
Isa. 61:10. But what about
the righteousness of God without the law?
How does that accord with the statement that the law is the righteousness of God, and that outside of its
requirements there is no righteousness? There is no contradiction here. The law is not ignored by this
process. Note carefully: Who gave the law? Christ. How did He speak it?
As one having
authority, even as God. The law sprang from Him the same as from the Father and is simply a
declaration of the righteousness of His character. Therefore the righteousness which comes by the faith of
Jesus Christ is the same righteousness that is epitomized in the law, and this is further proved by the fact
that it is
witnessed by the law.
Let the reader try to picture the scene. Here stands the law as the swift
witness against the sinner. It cannot change, and it will not call a sinner a righteous man. The convicted
sinner tries again and again to obtain righteousness from the law, but it resists all his advances. It
cannot be bribed by any amount of penance or professedly good deeds. But here stands Christ,
grace as well as of truth, calling the sinner to Him. At last the sinner, weary of the vain
struggle to get righteousness from the law, listens to the voice of Christ and flees to His outstretched
arms. Hiding in Christ, he is covered with His righteousness, and now behold! he has obtained, through faith
in Christ, that for which he has been vainly striving. He has the righteousness which the law requires, and
it is the genuine article, because he obtained it from the Source of Righteousness, from the very place
whence the law came. And the law witnesses to the genuineness of this righteousness. It says that so long as
the man retains that, it will go into court and defend him against all accusers. It will witness to the fact
that he is a righteous man. With the righteousness which is
through the faith of Christ, the
righteousness which is of God by faith (Phil. 3:9), Paul was sure that he would stand secure in the
day of Christ.
There is in the transaction no ground for finding fault. God is just and at
the same time the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. In Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead.
He is equal with the Father in every attribute. Consequently the redemption that is in Him--the ability to
buy back lost man--is infinite. Man's rebellion is against the Son as much as against the Father, since both
are one. Therefore, when Christ
gave Himself for our sins, it was the King suffering for the
rebellious subjects--the One injured passing by, overlooking, the offense of the offender. No skeptic will
deny that any man has the right and privilege of pardoning any offense committed against himself; then why
cavil when God exercises the same right? Surely if He wishes to pardon the injury done Himself, He has the
right, and more because He vindicates the integrity of His law by submitting in His own Person to the
penalty which was due the sinner.
But the innocent suffered for the guilty. True, but the
gave himself voluntarily, in order that He might in justice to His government
do what His love prompted, namely, pass by the injury done to Himself as the Ruler of the universe.
Now read God's own statement of His own Name--a statement given in the face
of one of the worst cases of contempt ever shown Him:
And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and
proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God,
merciful and gracious, long- suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty. Ex. 34:5-7.
This is God's name. It is the character in which He reveals Himself to man,
the light in which He wishes men to regard Him. But what of the declaration that He
will by no means
clear the guilty? That is perfectly in keeping with His longsuffering, abundant goodness and His passing
by the transgression of His people. It is true that God will by no means clear the guilty. He could not do
that and still be a just God. But He does something which is far better. He removes the guilt, so that the
one formerly guilty does not need to be cleared--he is justified and counted as though he never had
Let no one cavil over the expression,
righteousness, as though such a thing were hypocrisy. Some, with a singular lack of appreciation of
the value of the gift of righteousness, have said that they did not want righteousness that was
on, but that they wanted only that righteousness which comes from the life, thus depreciating the
righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all that believe. We agree with
their idea insofar as it is a protest against hypocrisy, a form of godliness without the power, but we would
have the reader bear this thought in mind: It makes a vast deal of difference who puts the righteousness on.
If we attempt to put it on ourselves, then we really get on nothing but a filthy garment, no matter how
beautiful it may look to us, but when Christ clothes us with it, it is not to be despised nor rejected. Mark
the expression in Isaiah:
He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness. The righteousness
with which Christ covers us is righteousness that meets the approval of God, and if God is satisfied with
it, surely men ought not to try to find anything better.
But we will carry the figure a step further and that will relieve the
matter of all difficulty. Zech. 3:1-5 furnishes the solution. It reads thus:
And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the
Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke
thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the
fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the Angel. And he answered and spake
unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said,
Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I
said, Let them set a fair miter upon his head. So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with
garments. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.
Notice in the above account that the taking away of the filthy garments is
the same as causing the iniquity to pass from the person. And so we find that when Christ covers us with the
robe of His own righteousness, He does not furnish a cloak for sin but takes the sin away. And this shows
that the forgiveness of sins is something more than a mere form, something more than a mere entry in the
books of record in heaven, to the effect that the sin has been canceled. The forgiveness of sins is a
reality; it is something tangible, something that vitally affects the individual. It actually clears him
from guilt, and if he is cleared from guilt, is justified, made righteous, he has certainly undergone a
radical change. He is, indeed, another person, for he obtained this righteousness for the remission of sins,
in Christ. It was obtained only by putting on Christ. But
if any man be in Christ, he is a new
creature. 2 Cor. 5:17. And so the full and free forgiveness of sins carries with it that wonderful
and miraculous change known as the new birth, for a man cannot become a new creature except by a new birth.
This is the same as having a new, or a clean, heart.
The new heart is a heart that loves righteousness and hates sin. It is a
heart of willingness to be led into the paths of righteousness. It is such a heart as the Lord wished Israel
to have when he said,
O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my
commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever! Deut. 5:29.
In short, it is a heart free from the love of sin as well as from the guilt of sin. But what makes a man
sincerely desire the forgiveness of his sins? It is simply his hatred of them and his desire for
righteousness, which hatred and desire have been enkindled by the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit strives with all men. It comes as a reprover. When its voice of
reproof is regarded, then it at once assumes the office of comforter. The same submissive, yielding
disposition that leads the person to accept the reproof of the Spirit, will also lead him to follow the
teachings of the Spirit, and Paul says that
as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of
God. Rom. 8:14.
Again, what brings justification or the forgiveness of sins? It is faith,
for Paul says,
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ. Rom. 5:1. The righteousness of God is given unto and put upon everyone that believeth. Rom.
3:22. But this same exercise of faith makes the person a child of God; for, says the apostle Paul again,
Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:26.
The fact that everyone whose sins are forgiven is at once a child of God is
shown in Paul's letter to Titus. He first brings to view the wicked condition in which we once were and then
says (Titus 3:4-7):
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward men
appeared, 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; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ
our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal
Note that it is by being justified by His grace that we are made heirs. We
have already learned from Rom. 3:24, 25 that this justification by His grace is through our faith in Christ,
but Gal. 3:26 tells us that faith in Christ Jesus makes us children of God; therefore, we know that whoever
has been justified by God's grace-- has been forgiven--is a child and an heir of God.
This shows that there is no ground for the idea that a person must go
through a sort of probation and attain to a certain degree of holiness before God will accept him as His
child. He receives us just as we are. It is not for our goodness that He loves us but because of our need.
He receives us, not for the sake of anything that He sees in us but for His own sake and for what He knows
that His Divine power can make of us. It is only when we realize the wonderful exaltation and holiness of
God and the fact that He comes to us in our sinful and degraded condition to adopt us into His family that
we can appreciate the force of the apostle's exclamation,
Behold what manner of love the Father hath
bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. 1 John 3:1. Everyone upon whom this
honor has been bestowed will purify himself, even as He is pure.
God does not adopt us as His children because we are good but in order that
He may make us good. Says Paul,
God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loves us, even
when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ (by grace ye are saved),
and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the
ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ
Jesus. Eph. 2:4-7. And then he adds,
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of
yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in
them. Verses 8-10. This passage shows that God loved us while we were yet dead in sins. He gives us
His Spirit to make us alive in Christ, and the same Spirit marks our adoption into the Divine family, and He
thus adopts us that, as new creatures in Christ, we may do the good works which God has ordained.
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Christ Our Righteousness
Part 2 of
Message Set Forth at the Minneapolis Conference
The message of
Righteousness by Faith came clearly and fully into the open at the General Conference held at Minneapolis,
Minn., in November, 1888. It was made the one great subject of study in the devotional part of the
Conference. It would seem that the presentation of the subject had been anticipated, and that there was an
understanding that it would receive a thorough discussion in the Conference. At any rate, that was what took
The message was not received alike by all who
attended the Conference; in fact, there was serious difference of opinion concerning it among the leaders. This
division of opinion may be classified as follows:
Those who saw great light in it and gladly accepted it; who believed it to be a most essential phase of the gospel,
and felt that it should be given great emphasis in all efforts to save the lost. To this class the message appeared
to be the real secret of a victorious life in the conflict with sin, and that the great truth of being made
righteous by faith in the Son of God was the most pressing need of the remnant church in preparing for translation
at the second advent.
There were some, however, who felt uncertain about the "new teaching," as they termed it. They seemed unable to
grasp it. They could not reach a conclusion. As a result, their minds were thrown into a state of perplexity and
confusion. They neither accepted nor rejected the message at the time.
But there were others who were decidedly opposed to the presentation of the message. They claimed that the truth of
righteousness by faith had been recognized by our people from the very first, and this was true theoretically. For
this reason they saw no occasion for placing such great stress and emphasis upon the subject as was being done by
its advocates. Furthermore, they feared that the emphasis placed upon this theme of righteousness by faith would
cast a shadow upon the doctrines that had been given such prominence from the beginning of our denominational
history; and since they looked upon the preaching of those distinctive doctrines as the secret of the power and
growth of our movement, they were fearful that if these doctrines were overshadowed by any teaching or message
whatsoever, our cause would lose its distinctive character and force. Because of these fears, they felt in duty
bound to safeguard both cause and people by decided opposition.
This difference of views among the leaders led
to serious results. It created controversy, and a degree of estrangement which was most unfortunate. But through
the intervening years there has been steadily developing the desire and hope - yes, the belief - that someday the
message of Righteousness by Faith would shine forth in all its inherent worth, glory, and power, and receive full
recognition. And during this same time, misapprehension and opposition have been disappearing. With many, there is
now a pressing conviction that this message of Righteousness by Faith should be studied, taught, and stressed to
the fullest extent that its importance demands.
No complete report of the presentation and
discussion of the message of Righteousness by Faith at the Minneapolis Conference was published. Oral reports were
given by those in attendance. But through subsequent writings of the Spirit of prophecy, information is furnished
regarding the developments in
connection with the giving of the message and
its reception and also its rejection, and it is quite necessary to become familiar with this inspired information
in order to understand better our present situation. It would be far more agreeable to eliminate some of the
statements given by the Spirit of prophecy regarding the attitude of some of the leaders toward the message and the
messengers. But this cannot be done without giving only a partial presentation of the situation which developed at
the Conference, thus leaving the question in more or less of mystery.
The Source From Which the Message Came
It became necessary
for positive assurance to be given that the message of Righteousness and Justification by Faith that came at
that time was by the direct leading of God, because of the confusion that had resulted by the opposition
raised against it. The statements which follow should remove all question of doubt regarding the source of
the message set forth at the Minneapolis Conference:
"The present message - Justification by
Faith - is a message from God; it bears the divine credentials, for its fruit is unto holiness."
– Review and
Herald, Sept. 3, 1889.
"Messages bearing the divine credentials
have been sent to God's people; the glory, the majesty, the righteousness of Christ, full of goodness and
truth, have been presented; the fullness of the Godhead in Jesus Christ has been set forth among us with beauty
and loveliness, to charm all whose hearts are not closed with prejudice. We know that God has wrought among us.
We have seen souls turned from sin to righteousness; we have seen faith revived in the hearts of the contrite
ones." – Review
and Herald, May 27,1890.
Its Varied Reception
As previously stated,
some who attended the Minneapolis Conference received the message of Righteousness by Faith with great
satisfaction. It was to them a message of life. It gave them a new appreciation of Christ, a new vision of
His great sacrifice on the cross. It brought to their hearts peace and joy and hope. It was the supreme
element needed to prepare a people to meet God.
These individuals returned to their churches
with a new unction to preach the gospel of salvation from sin, and to help their brethren to accept by faith the
righteousness of Christ as revealed in the gospel. Sister White herself took a very active, earnest part in this
work, and reported through the Review some of her experiences. For example:
We thank the Lord with all the heart that we
have precious light to present before the people, and we rejoice that we have a message for this time which is
present truth. The tidings that Christ is our righteousness has brought relief to many, many souls, and God says to
His people, 'Go forward.' The message to the Laodicean church is applicable to our condition. How plainly is
pictured the position of those who think they have all the truth, who take pride in their knowledge of the word of
God, while its sanctifying power has not been felt in their lives. The fervor of the love of God is wanting in
their hearts, but it is this very fervor of love that makes God's people the light of the
"In every meeting since the General
Conference, souls have eagerly accepted the precious message of the righteousness of Christ. We thank God that
there are souls who realize that they are in need of something which they do not possess, - gold of faith and
love, white raiment of Christ's righteousness, eye salve of spiritual discernment. If you possess these
precious gifts, the
temple of the human soul will not be like a
desecrated shrine. Brethren and. sisters, I call upon you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to work
where God works. Now is the day of gracious opportunity and privilege. " – Review and Herald, July 23,
Eight months later
this word from her pen appeared:
I have travelled from place to place,
attending meetings where the message of the righteousness of Christ was preached. I considered it a privilege
to stand by the side of my brethren, and give my testimony with the message for the time; and I saw that the
power of God attended the message wherever it was spoken." – Review and Herald, March
Of a meeting in
South Lancaster she stated:
"I have never seen a revival work go
forward with such thoroughness, and yet remain so free from all undue excitement. There was no urging or
inviting. The people were not called forward, but there was a solemn realization that Christ came not to call
the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. The honest in heart were ready to confess their sins, and to bring
forth fruit to God by repentance and restoration, as far as it lay in their power. We seemed to breathe in the
very atmosphere of heaven. Angels were indeed hovering around. Friday evening, the social service began at
five, and it was not dosed until nine.... There were many who testified that as the searching truths had been
presented, they had been convicted in the light of the law as transgressors. They had been trusting their own
righteousness. Now they saw it as filthy rags, in comparison with the righteousness of Christ, which is alone
acceptable to God. While they had not been open transgressors, they saw themselves depraved and degraded in
heart. They had substituted other gods in the place of their heavenly Father. They had struggled to refrain
from sin, but had trusted in their own strength. We should go to Jesus just as we are, confessing our sins, and
cast our helpless souls upon our compassionate Redeemer. This subdues the pride of the heart, and is a
crucifixion of self." – Review and Herald, March 5, 1889.
What a mighty revival of true godliness, what a restoration of
spiritual life, what a cleansing from sin, what a baptism of the Spirit, and what a manifestation of divine
power for the finishing of the work in our own lives and in the world, might have come to the people of God
if all our ministers had gone forth from that Conference as did this loyal, obedient servant of the
How sad, how deeply
regrettable, it is that this message of righteousness in Christ should, at the time of its coming, have met
with opposition on the part of earnest, well-meaning men in the cause of God! The message has never been
received, nor proclaimed, nor given free course as it should have been in order to convey to the church the
measureless blessings that were wrapped within it. The seriousness of exerting such an influence is indicated
through the reproofs that were given. These words of reproof and admonition should receive most thoughtful
consideration at this time:
"God has raised up men to meet the
necessity of this time who will 'cry aloud and spare not,' who will lift up their 'voice like a trumpet, and
show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.' Their work is not only to proclaim the
law, but to preach the truth for this time, - the Lord our righteousness....
"But there are those who see no necessity
for a special work at this time. While God is working to arouse the people, they seek to turn aside the message
of warning, reproof, and entreaty. Their influence tends to quiet the fears of the people, and to prevent them
from awaking to the solemnity of this time. Those who are doing this, are giving the trumpet an uncertain
sound. They ought to be awake to the situation, but they have become ensnared by the enemy." –
Review and Herald, Aug. 13,
Mark the serious indictment which
"You will meet with those who will say,
'You are too much excited over the matter. You are too much in earnest. You should not be reaching for the
righteousness of Christ, and making so much of that. You should preach the law.' As a people we have preached
the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa, that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the
law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God.
We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth." –
Review and Herald, March
Note also the serious implication in the
"Some of our brethren are not receiving the
message of God upon this subject. They appear to be anxious that none of our ministers shall depart from their
former manner of teaching the good old doctrines. We inquire, Is it not time that fresh light should come to
the people of God, to awaken them to greater earnestness and zeal? The exceeding great and precious promises
given us in the Holy Scriptures have been lost sight of to a great extent, just as the enemy of all
righteousness designed that they should be. He has cast his own dark shadow between us and our God, that we may
not see the true character of God." – Review and Herald, April 1,
"God has sent to His people testimonies of
truth and righteousness, and they are called to lift up Jesus, and to exalt His righteousness. Those whom God
has sent with a message are only men, but what is the character of the message which they bear? Will you dare
to turn from, or make light of, the warnings, because God did not consult you as to what would be preferred?
God calls men who will speak, who will cry aloud and spare not. God has raised up His messengers to do His work
for this time. Some have turned from the message of the righteousness of Christ to criticize the men. –
Herald, Dec. 27, 1890.
"The Lord has
sent a message to arouse His people to repent, and do their first works; but how has His message been received?
While some have heeded it, others have cast contempt and reproach on the message and the messenger.
Spirituality deadened, humility and childlike simplicity gone, a mechanical, formal profession of faith has
taken the place of love and devotion. Is this mournful condition of things to continue? Is the lamp of God's
love to go out in darkness?" – Review and Herald, Extra, Dec. 23,
Lest we miss the force of these heart-searching
messages, let us recount the salient points:
1. God raised up men to meet the necessity
of the time.
2. Some sought to turn aside the message,
and to prevent an awakening among the people.
3. Such persons were ensnared by the enemy,
and gave the trumpet an uncertain sound.
4. These men declared that the law should
be preached, - not the righteousness of Christ.
5. The exhortation is to preach Christ in
6. Some were fearful of a departure from
the former manner of preaching the good old doctrines.
7. God raised up men to herald the message
of Righteousness by Faith.
8. The challenge: "Will you dare to turn
from, or make light of, the warnings?"
9. The twofold result of rejecting the
a. Deadening of
b. Influx of a mechanical, formal
profession of faith.
10. The climactic question: "Is this
mournful condition of things to continue?"
Verily it is a sobering
The Results of Division of Opinion
The division and
conflict which arose among the leaders because of the opposition to the message of righteousness in Christ,
produced a very unfavorable reaction. The rank and file of the people were confused, and did not know what to
do. Concerning this reaction, we read:
"If our brethren were all laborers together
with God, they would not doubt but that the message, he has sent us during these last two years is from heaven.
Our young men look to our older brethren, and as they see that they do not accept the message, but treat it as
though it were of no consequence, it influences those who are ignorant of the Scriptures to reject the light.
These men who refuse to receive truth, interpose themselves between the people and the light. But there is no
excuse for anyone's refusing the light, for it has been plainly revealed. There is no need of anyone's being in
ignorance. . . . Instead of pressing your weight against the chariot of truth that is being pulled up an
inclined road, you should work with all the energy you can summon to push it on." –
Review and Herald,
two years, we have been urging the people to come up and accept the light and the truth concerning the
righteousness of Christ, and they do not know whether to come and take hold of this precious truth or not. They
are bound about with their own ideas. They do not let the Saviour in." –
Review and Herald, March 11,
"Some have turned from the message of the
righteousness of Christ to criticize the men. . . . The third angel's message will not be comprehended, the
light which will lighten the earth with its glory will be called a false light, by those who refuse to walk in
its advancing glory. The work that might have been done, will be left undone by the rejectors of truth, because
of their unbelief. We entreat of you who oppose the light of truth, to stand out of the way of God's people.
Let Heaven sent light shine forth upon them in clear and steady rays." – Review and Herald, May 27,
sadness in heaven over the spiritual blindness of many of our brethren. . . . The Lord has raised up messengers
and endued them with His Spirit, and has said, 'Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and
show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.' Let no one run the risk of interposing
himself between the people and the message of
Heaven. The message of God will come to the
people; and if there were no voice among men to give it, the very stones would cry out. I call upon every
minister to seek the Lord, to put away pride, to put away strife after supremacy, and humble the heart before
God. It is the coldness of heart, the unbelief of those who ought to have faith, that keeps the churches in
feebleness." – Review and Herald, July 26,1892.
The solemn import
of these Heaven-indited words should not be missed. Mark well these crystal-clear
1. The message of 1888-90 was from
2. Its rejection by some of the more
experienced brethren led the younger men into uncertainty and confusion.
3. Those who rejected the message,
interposed themselves between the people and the light.
4. There is no excuse; the light has been
5. The reason men are slow to take hold of
this precious truth is that they are bound about with their own ideas.
6. The course of some has been to turn from
the message to criticise the messengers.
7. Those who refuse to walk in this
advancing light, will be unable to comprehend the third angel's message.
8. Those who refuse to walk in this
heavenly light, that is to lighten the earth with its glory, will call it a "false light."
9. As a result of their unbelief, important
work will be left undone.
10. Solemn entreaty to those who oppose the
light to "stand
out of the way" of the people.
11. Such spiritual blindness causes
"sadness in heaven."
12. The positive assurance that God "raised
up messengers and endued them with His Spirit."
13. If there had been no human voice lifted
to give the message, the very stones would have cried out.
14. The call to every minister to humble
the heart before God in order that spiritual strength may come to the church.
Surely comment on such solemn warnings and
entreaties would be superfluous.
Fundamental Principles Involved
Back of the
opposition is revealed the shrewd plotting of that master mind of evil, the enemy of all righteousness. The
very fact of his determination to neutralize the message and its inevitable effects, is evidence of its great
value and importance; and how terrible must be the results of any victory of his in defeating it! Concerning
Satan's shrewd planning, we are given plain warning:
"The enemy of man and God is not willing
that this truth [justification by faith] should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive
it fully, his power will be broken. If he can control minds so that doubt and unbelief and darkness shall
compose the experience of those who claim to be the children of God, he can overcome them with temptation."
– Review and
Herald, Sept. 3,1889.
"Our present position is interesting and
perilous. The danger of refusing light from heaven should make us watchful unto prayer, lest we should any of
us have an evil heart of unbelief. When the Lamb of God was crucified on Calvary, the death knell of Satan was
sounded; and if the enemy of truth and righteousness can obliterate from the mind the thought that it is
necessary to depend upon the righteousness of Christ for salvation, he will do it. If Satan can succeed in
leading man to place value upon his own works as works of merit and righteousness, he knows that he can
overcome him by his temptations, and make him his victim and prey. Lift up Jesus before the people. Strike the
doorposts with the blood of Calvary's Lamb, and you are safe." – Review and Herald, Sept. 3,
Once more let us summarize these statements,
because of their far-reaching importance:
1. It is Satan who is unwilling that the
truth of Righteousness by Faith shall be presented.
2. The reason is that, if this truth is
fully received by the people, his power will be broken.
3. If Satan can throw about the people
doubt and unbelief, he can overcome them through temptation.
4. It is Satan's endeavor to obliterate
from the mind that it is necessary to depend upon the righteousness of Christ for salvation.
5. Satan knows that if he can lead men to
depend upon their own works for righteousness, they will be his victims.
6. Therefore the call is sounded: Lift up
the crucified Saviour, and place your trust in His blood.
What a challenge to prayer is here presented!
How we should seek God in humility for the anointing of the heavenly eyesalve! Only by the full acceptance and
appropriation of these glorious provisions can a people be prepared to stand without spot or wrinkle before a holy
God at His coming. Only thus may His commandments be truly kept, and only by this divine power can the church
finish its great commission.
The Message Of 1888 Marks A New Era In The Proclamation Of The Third Angel's Message
Careful study of the
instruction given by the Spirit of prophecy leads to the deep conviction that the coming of the message of
Righteousness by Faith at the Minneapolis Conference, was a signal providence of God - a providence designed
to initiate the beginning of a new era in the finishing of His work. The following statement, written just
four years after the Minneapolis Conference in 1888, affords basis for this
"The time of test is just upon us, for the
loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin
pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth."
– Review and
Herald, Nov. 22,1892.
in character are the statements in the foregoing paragraph. They have a very important bearing on the work which
Seventh-day Adventists are carrying forward, and therefore are of the greatest interest to all who are connected
with the work of proclaiming the third angel's message. Let us reread the paragraph from an analytical
1. The time of test is just upon
2. The loud cry
of the third
angel has already
3. It began in the revelation of the
righteousness of Christ (the message of 1888).
4. This marks the
beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole
The events mentioned in this paragraph are the
same as those brought to view in Revelation 18:1, 2: "After these things I saw another angel come down from heaven,
having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying,
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit,
and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."
The explanation of this scripture, as given by
the Spirit of prophecy, should be carefully noted:
"I saw angels hurrying to and fro in
heaven, descending to the earth, and again ascending to heaven, preparing for the fulfillment of some important
event. Then I saw another mighty angel commissioned to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third
angel, and give power and force to his message. Great power and glory were imparted to the angel, and as he
descended, the earth was lightened with his glory. The light which attended this angel penetrated everywhere,
as he cried mightily, with a strong voice.... The work of this angel comes in at the right time to join in the
last great work of the third angel's message, as it swells to a loud cry. And the people of God are thus
prepared to stand in the hour of temptation, which they are soon to meet. I saw a great light resting upon
them, and they united to fearlessly proclaim the third angel's message." – "Early Writings," p.
The panorama of events presented in the
foregoing paragraph is so extensive and so full of meaning that it may be helpful to note each event
1. A mighty angel comes down from heaven to
2. The work of this angel
a. To unite his voice with the third
b. To give power and force to the third
3. Great power and glory were imparted to
a. The earth was lightened with his
b. The light penetrated
4. The work of this mighty angel comes in
at just the right time to join in the last great work of the third angel's message.
5. As a result of the coming of this mighty
angel, the message swells into a loud cry.
6. The power attending this mighty angel
prepares the people of God to stand in the hour of trial.
7. This preparation is recognized by heaven
in the bestowal of "a great light" to rest upon God's people.
8. The culmination of all these events is
people, fearlessly proclaiming the third angel's message.
Inseparably connected with this program of
great events is the visitation of the "latter rain" upon the remnant church. Note the following
"While the work of salvation is closing,
trouble will be coming on the earth, and the nations will be angry, yet held in check so as not to prevent the
work of the third angel. At that time the 'latter rain,' or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, will
come, to give power to the loud voice of the third angel, and prepare the saints to stand in the period when
the seven last plagues shall be poured out." – "Early Writings," pp. 85,
This places the latter rain visitation with the
loud cry, the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, and the flooding of the earth with the light of the third
This is a program of truly thrilling events. It
was outlined by the Spirit of prophecy at the very beginning of our movement. And then, to awaken and arouse us to
its serious import, a most solemn and impressive message regarding the same events was given us following the
memorable Conference of 1888. The following vital statements taken from that message will give emphasis to the
subject under consideration:
1. An Eventful Period of
"The days in which we live are eventful and full of
peril. The signs of the coming of the end are thickening around us, and events are to come to
pass that will be of a more terrible character than any the world has yet
2. The "Loud Cry"
"The time of test
is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of
the righteousness of Christ, the sin pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of
angel whose glory shall fill the whole
3. The Essential Preparation to Stand in the
Time of Trouble.
"If you would
stand through the time of trouble, you must know Christ and appropriate the gift of His
righteousness, which He imputes to the repentant sinner."
4. The Message to Be
"A work is to be
accomplished in the earth similar to that which took place at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the days of the
early disciples, when they preached Jesus and Him crucified. Many will be converted in a day; for the message will
go with power."
"The theme that attracts the heart of the
sinner is Christ, and Him crucified. On the cross of Calvary, Jesus stands revealed to the world
in unparalleled love. Present Him thus to the hungering multitudes, and the light of His love will win men
from darkness to light, from transgression to obedience and true holiness. Beholding Jesus upon the cross of
Calvary arouses the conscience to the heinous character of sin as nothing else can
"Christ has not been presented in connection
with a law as a faithful and merciful high priest, who was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
He has not been lifted up before the sinner as the divine sacrifice. His work as sacrifice, substitute, and surety,
has been only coldly and casually dwelt upon; but this is what the sinner needs to know.
It is Christ in His fullness as a
sin-pardoning Saviour, that the sinner must see; for the unparalleled love of Christ,
through the agency of the Holy Spirit, will bring conviction and conversion to the hardened
5. The Power That Gives Efficiency to the
"The work of
the Holy Spirit is immeasurably great. It is from this source that power and efficiency come
to the worker for God; and the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, as the personal presence of Christ to the
When the earth is lightened with the glory of
God, we shall see a work similar to that which was wrought when the disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit,
proclaimed the power of a risen Saviour."
"The revelation of Christ by the Holy
Spirit brought to them [the disciples] a realizing sense of His power and majesty, and they
stretched forth their hands unto Him by faith, saying, 'I believe.' Thus it was in the time of the early
rain; but the latter rain will be more abundant. The Saviour of men will be glorified, and the earth will be
lightened with the bright shining of the beams of His righteousness." – The foregoing five quotations are from the Review and
Herald, Nov. 22, and 29, 1892; article entitled, "The Perils and Privileges of the Last
* See Appendix,
It will be seen that all these events are
associated together to be in operation at the same time. Placed in their natural order, they stand as
1. The revelation and appropriation by
faith of the righteousness of Christ.
2. The bestowal of the latter
3. The impartation of great power to the
4. The swelling of the third angel's
message into the "loud cry."
5. The enlightening of the earth with the
"bright shining of the beams of righteousness."
It is evident that the beginning, or opening,
of all these events is at the same time. The appearance of one is a signal for all to appear.
And now mark the positive
"The loud cry of the third angel has
already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the
beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth." –
Review and Herald, Nov.
This was declared
in 1892. What marked the fresh, or new, revelation of the righteousness of Christ and the beginning of the loud
cry? As the statement itself points out, it was "the revelation of the righteousness of Christ" as set forth at the
Now these important manifestations are ordained
of God for the finishing of His work in the earth. When they began, they marked the starting point for that closing
work. That place, that hour, was reached in 1888.
This is a tremendous conclusion, but what other
conclusion can be reached with all the statements before us? Why should this conclusion be thought incredible? We
believe the statements to be true. We have looked for their fulfillment. Our waiting for the fulfillment has been
anxious and long. The fulfillment will be witnessed by someone. Why may we not see it and be in
Should we not seek most seriously and earnestly
to know what may be hindering the fulfillment in all its power? And why should we not pray for a yearning desire to
co-operate fully with the Lord in hastening His work to its close?
The Third Angel's Message in Verity
A Serious question
arose in the minds of some who heard the message of Righteousness by Faith presented at the Minneapolis
Conference, as to the relation that message bore to the third angel's message. In their perplexity, a number
wrote to Mrs. E. G. White for an expression of her views on this question.
Regarding this inquiry and her reply, we have
her published statement, as follows:
"Several have written to me, inquiring if
the message of justification by faith is the third angel's message, and I have answered, 'It is the third
angel's message in verity." – Review and Herald, April 1, 1890.
There is more in
this statement than a brief, clear, positive answer to a question. It has a deep, vital meaning. It sounds a
serious warning, and makes an intelligent, earnest appeal to every believer in the third angel's message. Let us
give the statement careful study.
Justification by faith, it is affirmed, is "the
third angel's message in verity." The words "in verity" mean, in fact, in reality, in very
truth. That means that the message of justification by faith and the third angel's message are the same in
purpose, in scope, and in results.
Justification by faith is God's way of saving
sinners; His way of convicting sinners of their guilt, their condemnation, and their utterly undone and lost
condition. It is also God's way of canceling their guilt, delivering them from the condemnation of His divine law,
and giving them a new and right standing before Him and His holy law. Justification by faith is God's way of
changing weak, sinful, defeated men and women into strong, righteous, victorious Christians.
Now if it be true that justification by faith
is "the third angel's message in verity," – in fact, in reality, - it must be that the genuine understanding and
appropriation of the third angel's message is designed to do for and in those who receive it, the full work of
justification by faith. That this is its purpose, is evident from the following considerations:
1. The great threefold message of
Revelation 14, which we designate by the term "the third angel's message," is declared to be "the everlasting
gospel." Rev. 14:6.
2. The message makes the solemn
announcement that the "hour of His judgment is come."
3. It admonishes all who are to meet God at
His great tribunal, to be judged by His righteous law, to "fear God, and give glory to Him," - and to "worship
Him that made heaven, and earth." Verse 7.
4. The result, or fruitage, of this message
of warning and admonition is the development of a people of whom it is declared: "Here is the patience of the
saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Verse 12.
In all this we have the facts of justification
by faith. The message is the gospel of salvation from sin, condemnation, and death. The judgment brings men and
women face to face with the law of righteousness, by which they are to be tried. Because of their guilt and
condemnation, they are warned to fear and worship God. This involves conviction of guilt, repentance, confession,
and renunciation. This is the ground of forgiveness, cleansing, and justification. Those who enter into this
experience have had wrought into their characters the sweet, beautiful grace of patience, in an age of
all-pervading irritability and fiery temper, which is destroying the peace, happiness, and safety of the human
race. What is that but justification by faith? The word declares that, "being justified by faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Rom. 5: 1.
But more still, these believers "keep the
commandments of God." They have experienced the marvelous change from hating and transgressing the law of God, to
loving and keeping its righteous precepts. Their standing before the law has been changed. Their guilt has been
canceled; their condemnation has been removed, and the death sentence has been annulled. Having accepted Christ as
Saviour, they have received His righteousness and His life.
This wondrous transformation can be wrought
only by the grace and power of God, and it is wrought for those only who lay hold of Christ as their substitute,
their surety, their Redeemer. Therefore, it is said that they "keep the faith of Jesus." This reveals the secret of
their rich, deep experience. They laid hold of the faith of Jesus, – that faith by which He triumphed over the
powers of darkness.
"When the sinner believes that Christ is
his personal Saviour, then, according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin, and justifies him freely.
The repentant soul realizes that his justification comes because Christ, as his substitute and surety, has died
for him, as his atonement and righteousness. " – Review and Herald, Nov. 4,
As already pointed out, we find in the
experiences of those who triumph in the third angel's message all the facts of justification by faith. For this
reason, it is quite true that justification by faith is "the third angel's message in verity."
And here it may be well to call attention to
the fact that both justification by faith and the third angel's message are the gospel of Christ in verity. This is
made apparent by a statement from the apostle Paul, who declares that the "gospel of Christ ... is the power of God
unto salvation to everyone that believeth. . . . For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to
faith." Rom. 1: 16, 17.
The facts here presented are
1. The gospel is a manifestation of God's
power at work, delivering sinners from their sins and planting in them His own righteousness.
2. But this is done for those only who
3. This is being made just, or righteous,
4. And this is the purpose of both the
message of justification by faith and the third angel's message.
What, then, is the important lesson to be
gained from the statement we have had under examination? What is the warning it sounds? Plainly the
That all who accept the third angel's message
should enter into the experience of justification by faith. They should have Christ revealed to and in them. They
should know by personal experience the work of regeneration. They should have the fullest assurance that they have
been born anew, from above, and that they have passed from death unto life. They should know that their guilt has
been canceled, that they have been delivered from the condemnation of the law, and are thus ready to appear before
the judgment seat of Christ. They should know by victorious experience that they have laid hold of, and are being
kept by, "the faith of Jesus," and that by this faith they are empowered to keep the commandments of
To fail to enter into this experience, will be
to miss the real, vital, redeeming virtue of the third angel's message. Unless this experience is gained, the
believer will have only the theory, the doctrines, the forms and activities, of the message. That will prove a
fatal and awful mistake. The theory, the doctrines, even the most earnest activities of the message, cannot save
from sin, nor prepare the heart to meet God in judgment.
It is regarding the danger of making this fatal
mistake that we are warned. Formalism -having "the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law," without having a
living experience in Christ - is the hidden rock that has wrecked untold thousands of professed followers of
Christ. It is against this danger that we are seriously warned.
But there is more than warning in this
statement. There is appeal also - an earnest, winsome appeal to enter into fellowship with Christ Jesus our Lord.
There is a call to the highest tablelands of Christian experience. There is assurance that when justified by faith,
we shall have peace with God, and shall be able continually to rejoice in hope of the glory of God. There is
promise that we shall not be put to shame by defeat in our conflict with sin, because the love of God has been shed
abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given unto us. Rom. 5:1-5.
O that we had all listened as we should to both
warning and appeal as they came to us in that seemingly strange, yet impressive, way at the Conference of 1888!
What uncertainty would have been removed, what wanderings and defeats and losses would have been prevented! What
light and blessing and triumph and progress would have come to us! But thanks be unto Him who loves us with an
everlasting love, it is not too late even now to respond with the whole heart to both warning and appeal, and
receive the great benefits provided.
A Fundamental, All-Embracing Truth
In preceding chapters
the subject of Righteousness by Faith has been dealt with largely in its historical aspect, – the time, the
place, and the manner in which the Lord chose to bring His people face to face with this vital, fundamental
truth of the gospel for the purpose of adding strength, power, and expansion to the proclamation of the third
angel's message which had been so signally entrusted to them. We now come to an analysis of the subject in
its broad aspect, as it is presented in the writings of the Spirit of
The Minneapolis Conference adjourned with the
minds of the delegates in more or less uncertainty and confusion regarding the message of Righteousness by Faith
that had been set forth. But the presentation of this vital truth, with all the agitation, discussion, and
perplexity it occasioned, was not in vain by any means. It started new thought and study regarding the great theme
of justification by faith, and led many into a better, richer appreciation of the Saviour as their substitute and
surety. Among the greatest of all the blessings that have followed that meeting has been the abundant instruction
which the Lord has sent to His people through the Spirit of prophecy regarding our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
and how to live His life by faith. This instruction is truly illuminating.
It is worthy of note that since the Minneapolis
Conference there have come to us, through the Spirit of prophecy, the following volumes of
"Steps to Christ," in 1892.
"Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing," in
"The Desire of Ages," in
"Christ's Object Lessons," in
"Ministry of Healing," in
"Acts of the Apostles," in
It is well known to all who have read these
books that the great dominant theme is Christ, – His victorious life in humanity, His atoning sacrifice on the
cross, and how He now may be made unto us poor mortals, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and
Besides these intensely spiritual books, scores
and scores of messages have been sent to us through the Review and
Herald, which contain the clearest and most helpful instruction regarding the subject of
righteousness by faith. All this is of priceless value to the church. It throws a flood of light upon the
great problem of redemption in all its phases.
In studying further into the subject of
Righteousness by Faith, as set forth in the Spirit of prophecy, it is important that there should be a clear
understanding of its scope. This is not a doctrine of limited intent or of minor consequence. It is not a subject
with which one may or may not be familiar and fare as well. Righteousness by Faith, in its larger meaning, embraces
every vital, fundamental truth of the gospel. It begins with man's moral standing when created, and deals with
1. The law by which man is to
2. Transgression of that
3. Penalty for
4. Problem of redemption.
5. Love of Father and Son which made
6. Justice in accepting a
7. Nature of the
9. Sinless life of
10. Vicarious death of the Son of
11. Burial, resurrection, and
12. The Father's assurance of a
13. The coming of the Holy
14. Ministry of Jesus in the heavenly
15. The part required of the sinner in
order to be redeemed.
16. Nature of faith, repentance,
17. Meaning and experience of regeneration,
justification, and sanctification.
18. Need and place of the Holy Spirit and
word of God in making real to men what was made possible on the cross.
19. Victory over sin through the indwelling
20. Place of works in the life of the
21. Place of prayer in receiving and
holding the righteousness of Christ.
22. The culmination and deliverance in the
return of the Redeemer.
This is the great sweep of truth embraced in
the short phrase "Righteousness by Faith." "A small key," says Pierson, "may open a very complex lock and a very
large door, and that door itself may lead into a vast building with priceless stores of wealth and beauty." The
brief phrase, "Righteousness by Faith," opens the door to all the priceless stores of the wealth and glory of the
gospel in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It is worth while to note at this point some of
the expressions found in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy which serve to introduce or provide appropriate
framework for this beautiful truth.
It Bears the Divine Credentials
"The present message - justification
by faith - is a message from God; it bears the divine credentials, for its fruit is unto holiness. "
– Review and Herald, Sept. 3,
A Precious Thought
"The thought that the righteousness
of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, seemed a
precious thought." – Review and Herald, Sept. 3,
It Is Sweetest Melodies
"The sweetest melodies that come
from human lips, - justification by faith, and the righteousness of Christ. " –
Review and Herald, April 4,
It Is a Pure White Pearl
righteousness of Christ, as a pure white pearl, has no defect, no stain, no guilt. This righteousness may
be ours." – Review and Herald, Aug. 8, 1899.
In its truest
sense, righteousness by faith is not a theory; it is an experience, a vital change which takes place in the
believer in Christ. It gives the sinner a new standing before God. It is the essence of Christianity, for we
"The sum and substance of the whole matter
of Christian grace and experience is contained in believing on Christ, in knowing God and His Son whom He hath
sent." "Religion means the abiding of Christ in the heart, and where He is, the soul goes on in spiritual
activity, ever growing in grace, ever going on to perfection." – Review and Herald, May 24,
To lose sight of this wonderful, fundamental, all-embracing truth
is to miss that which is vital in the plan of redemption.
The Deadly Peril of Formalism
through the instruction given by the Spirit of prophecy regarding the great importance of receiving,
experiencing, and proclaiming the gracious truth of Righteousness by Faith, we find impressive warnings
concerning the great peril of formalism.
Righteousness by Faith is not formalism. The
two are direct opposites. Righteousness by Faith is an experience, a reality. It involves a complete transformation
of the life. He who has entered into this new life has experienced deep contrition, and has made sincere, heartfelt
confession and repudiation of sin. With his divine Lord, he has come to love righteousness and hate iniquity. And
being justified, - accounted righteous by faith, - he has peace with God. He is a new creature; old things have
passed away; all things have become new.
Formalism is vastly different. It is of the
head, and deals with externals. It stops with the theory of religion. It goes no deeper than the form and the
pretense. Hence it is like salt without savor. It is a joyless, loveless religion, for it does not bring peace,
assurance, and victory. Formalism springs from and thrives in the natural heart, where it has its root. It is one
of those subtle, all-pervading evils which the Redeemer came to uproot and eliminate from the human
Formalism has always been a real peril to the
church. A Christian writer of modern times has referred to this subtle peril as follows:
"The gospel of externalism is dear to the
human heart. It may take the form of culture and moralities; or of 'services' and sacraments and churchly
order; or of orthodoxy and philanthropy. These and such things make themselves our idols; and trust in them
takes the place of faith in the living Christ. It is not enough that the eyes of our heart should have once
seen the Lord, that we should in other days have experienced 'the renewing of the Holy Ghost.' It is possible
to forget, possible to 'remove from Him that called us in the grace of Christ.' With little change in the form
of our religious life, its inward reality of joy in God, of conscious sonship, of fellowship in the Spirit, may
be utterly departed. The gospel of formalism will spring up and flourish on the most evangelical soil, and in
the most strictly Pauline churches. Let it be banned and barred out never so completely; it knows how to find
entrance, under the simplest modes of worship and the soundest doctrine. The serried defense of Articles and
Confessions constructed against it will not prevent its entrance, and may even prove its cover and
intrenchment. Nothing avails, as the apostle says, but a constant 'new creation.' The life of God in human
souls is sustained by the energy of His Spirit, perpetually renewed, ever proceeding from the Father and the
Son. 'The life that I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself
for me.' This is the true orthodoxy. The vitality of his personal faith in Christ kept Paul safe from error,
faithful in will and intellect to the one gospel." – G. G. Findlay, in his exposition of "The Epistle to
the Galatians" (Expositor's Bible), pp. 42, 43.
The warnings of the Spirit of prophecy deal with this peril in its
many phases, as the following extracts clearly indicate:
Formalism in Preaching
"Scores of men
have preached the word when they themselves had not faith in it, and did not obey its teachings. They
were unconverted, unsanctified, unholy. But if we would stand the test, piety must be brought into the
life. What we want is inspiration from the cross of Calvary. Then God will open eyes to see that we are
not to expect to do any work for the Master successfully, unless we connect with Christ. If we are indeed
laborers together with God, we shall not have a dead, scientific religion, but our hearts will be infused
with a living power, even the Spirit of Jesus." – Review and Herald, Jan. 31,
the doctrines and theories of our faith; but their presentation is as salt without savor; for the Holy Spirit
is not working through their faithless ministry. They have not opened the heart to receive the grace of Christ;
they know not the operation of the Spirit; they are as meal without leaven; for there is no working principle
in all their labor, and they fail to win souls to Christ. They do not appropriate the righteousness
of Christ; it is a robe unworn by them, a fullness unknown, a fountain
untouched." – Review and Herald, Nov. 29, 1892.
are wanted who feel the necessity of being laborers together with God, who will go forth to bring the people up
in spiritual knowledge to the full measure of Christ. Ministers are wanted who will educate themselves by
solemn, reverential communion with God in the closet, so that they shall be men of power in prayer. Piety is
degenerating into a dead form, and it is necessary to strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die."
– Review and Herald, May 24, 1892.
"A man may
preach pleasing, entertaining sermons, yet be far from Christ as regards religious experience. He may be
exalted to the pinnacle of human greatness, yet never have experienced the inward work of grace that transforms
the character. Such a one is deceived by his connection and familiarity with the sacred truths of the gospel,
which have reached the intellect, but have not been brought into the inner sanctuary of the
soul. We must have more than an intellectual belief in the truth." –
Review and Herald, Feb. 14,
"Could we now
leave the cold, traditional sentiments which hinder our advancement, we would view the work of saving souls in
an altogether different light." – Review and Herald, May 6,
Theory of Truth Not Sufficient
may be correct; we may hate false doctrine, and may not receive those who are not true to principle; we
may labor with untiring energy; but even this is not sufficient.... A belief in the theory of the truth
is not enough. To present this theory to unbelievers does not constitute you a
witness for Christ." – Review and Herald, Feb. 3, 1891.
with our work has been that we have been content to present a cold theory of the truth."
– Review and Herald, May 28, 1889.
more power would attend the preaching of the word today, if men dwelt less upon the theories and arguments of
men, and far more upon the lessons of Christ, and upon practical
Review and Herald, Jan.
The Only Way Truth Becomes of Value to the Soul
"The truth is of
no value to any soul unless it is brought into the inner sanctuary, and sanctifies the
soul. Piety will degenerate, and religion become a shallow sentimentalism, unless the
plow-share of truth is made to go deep into the fallow ground of the heart." –
Review and Herald, May 14,
theoretical knowledge of the truth is essential. But the knowledge of the greatest truth will not save us; our
knowledge must be practical.... . The truth must be brought into their
hearts, sanctifying and cleansing them from all earthliness and sensuality in the most
private life. The soul temple must be cleansed. – Review and Herald, May 24, 1887.
The greatest deception of the human mind in
Christ's day was, that a mere assent to the truth constitutes righteousness. In all human experience a
theoretical knowledge of the truth has been proved to be insufficient for the saving of the soul. It does not
bring forth the fruits of righteousness. A jealous regard for what is termed theological truth, often
accompanies a hatred of genuine truth as made manifest in life. The darkest chapters of history are burdened
with the record of crimes committed by bigoted religionists. The Pharisees claimed to be children of Abraham,
and boasted of their possession of the oracles of God; yet these advantages did not preserve them from
selfishness, malignity, greed for gain, and the basest hypocrisy. They thought themselves the greatest
religionists of the world, but their so-called orthodoxy led them to crucify the Lord of
"The same danger still exists. Many take it
for granted that they are Christians, simply because they subscribe to certain theological tenets. But they
have not brought the truth into practical life. They have not believed and loved it, therefore they have not
received the power and grace that come through sanctification of the truth. Men may profess faith in the truth;
but if it does not make them sincere, kind, patient, forbearing, heavenly-minded, it is a curse to its
possessors, and through their influence it is a curse to the world." – "The Desire of Ages," pp. 309,
"The tremendous issues of eternity demand
of us something besides an imaginary religion, - a religion of words and forms, where the truth is kept in the
outer court, to be admired as we admire a beautiful flower; they demand something more than a religion of
feeling, which distrusts God when trials and difficulties come. Holiness does not consist in profession, but in
lifting the cross, doing the will of God." – Review and Herald, May 21, 1908.
"In the lives
of many of those whose names are on the church books there has been no genuine change. The truth has been kept
in the outer court. There has been no genuine conversion, no positive work of grace done in the heart. Their
desire to do God's will is based upon their own inclination, not upon the deep conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Their conduct is not brought into harmony with the law of God. They profess to accept Christ as their Saviour,
but they do not believe that He will give them power to overcome their sins. They have not a personal
acquaintance with a living Saviour, and their characters reveal many blemishes. "–
Review and Herald, July 7,
"Our hope is
to be constantly strengthened by the knowledge that Christ is our righteousness.... The meager views which so
many have had of the exalted character and office of Christ have narrowed their religious experience, and have
greatly hindered their progress in the divine life. Personal religion among us as a people is at a low ebb.
There is much form, much machinery, much tongue religion; but something deeper and more solid must be brought
into our religious experience.... What we need is to know God and the power of His love, as revealed in Christ,
by an experimental knowledge.... Through the merits of Christ, through His
righteousness, which by faith is imputed unto us, we are to attain to the perfection of Christian
character." – "Testimonies," Vol. V, pp. 742-744 (written in
Cold, Legal Religion – A Christless Religion
"A cold, legal
religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion."
– Review and Herald, March 20, 1894.
"The saving salt is the pure first love,
the love of Jesus, the gold tried in the fire. When this is left out of the religious experience, Jesus is not
there; the light, the sunshine of His presence, is not there. What, then, is the religion worth? – Just as much
as the salt that has lost its savor. It is a loveless religion. Then there is an effort to supply the
lack by busy activity, a
zeal that is Christless" – Review and Herald, Feb. 9,1892.
Formal Religion Devoid of Saving Faith
pretensions, forms, and ceremonies, however imposing, do not make the heart good and the character pure.
True love for God is an active principle, a purifying agency.... The Jewish nation had occupied the
highest position; they had built walls great and high to enclose themselves from association with the
heathen world; they had represented themselves as the special, loyal people who were favored of God. But
Christ presented their religion as devoid of saving faith." – Review and Herald, April
"It is possible to be a formal, partial
believer, and yet be found wanting, and lose eternal life. It is possible to practice some of the Bible
injunctions, and be regarded as a Christian, and yet perish because you are lacking in essential qualifications
that constitute Christian character. " – Review and Herald, Jan. 11, 1887.
the name to a church creed is not of the least value to anyone if the heart is not truly changed. . . . Men may
be church members, and may apparently work earnestly, performing a round of duties from year to year, and yet
be unconverted." – Review and Herald, Feb. 14,
"There is a
form of religion which is nothing more than selfishness. It takes pleasure in worldly enjoyment. It is
satisfied with contemplating the religion of Christ, and knows nothing of its saving power. Those who possess
this religion regard sin lightly because they do not know Jesus. While in this condition they estimate duty
very lightly." – Review and Herald, May 21,
painful to see the unbelief that exists in the hearts of many of God's professed followers. We have the most
precious truths ever committed to mortals, and the faith of those who have received these truths should
correspond to their greatness and value." – Review and Herald, March 5,
many who do not feel averse to suffering, but they do not exercise simple, living faith. They say they do not
know what it means to take God at His word. They have a religion of outward forms and
observances." – Review and Herald, March
assume the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ's righteousness, will appear in the
shame of their own nakedness." – "Testimonies," Vol. V, p. 81.
foolish virgins had lamps (this means a knowledge of the Scripture truth), but they had not the grace of
Christ. Day by day they went through a round of ceremonies and external duties, but their service was lifeless,
devoid of the righteousness of Christ. The Sun of Righteousness did not shine in their hearts and minds, and
they had not the love of the truth which conforms to the life and character, the image and superscription, of
Christ. The oil of grace was not mingled with their endeavors. Their religion was a dry husk without the true
kernel. They held fast to forms of doctrines, but they were deceived in their Christian life, full of
self-righteousness, and failing to learn lessons in the school of Christ, which, if practiced, would have made
them wise unto salvation." – Review and Herald, March 27,1894.
Danger in Depending Upon Human Plans and Methods
"While we are
incased in self-righteousness, and trust in ceremonies, and depend on rigid
rules, we cannot do the work for this time." – Review and Herald, May
observance of external forms will never meet the great want of the human soul. A mere profession of Christ is
not enough to prepare one to stand the test of the judgment." – Review and Herald, Jan.
"Let us not
forget that as activity increases, and we become successful in doing the work that must be accomplished, there
is danger of our trusting in human plans and methods. There will be a tendency to pray less, and to have less
faith." – Review and Herald, July 4, 1893.
things have not been discerned. Appearance and machinery have been exalted as of power, while the virtues of
true goodness, noble piety, and heart holiness, have been made a secondary consideration. That which should
have been made first has been made last and of least importance. "
– Review and Herald,
Feb. 27, 1894.
fastings and prayers are practiced in a self-justifying spirit, they are abominable to God. The solemn assembly
for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposed sacrifice, - all proclaim
to the world the testimony that the doer of these things considers himself righteous. These things call
attention to the observer of rigorous duties, saying, This man is entitled to heaven. But it is all a
deception. Works will not buy for us an entrance into heaven. . . . Faith in Christ will be the means whereby
the right spirit and motive will actuate the believer, and all goodness and heavenly-mindedness will proceed
from him who
looks unto Jesus, the author and finisher
of his faith." – Review and Herald, March 20, 1894.
"There are many who seem to imagine that
outside observances are sufficient for salvation; but formalism, rigorous attendance on religious exercises,
will fail to bring the peace of God which passeth understanding. It is Jesus alone who can give us
and Herald. Nov. 18, 1890.
"Those who have not a daily
experience in the things of God will not move wisely. They may have a legal religion, a form of godliness, there
may be an appearance of light in the church; all the machinery - much of it human invention - may appear to be
working well, and yet the church may be as destitute of the grace of God as were the hills of Gilboa of dew and
rain." – Review and Herald, Jan.31,1893.