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Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

–From the book “The Saviour of the Word”, by WW Prescott, 1929, pp. 58-62.

I have tried to make it clear that at the place which is called Calvary a work was done which set the human family-you and me-free from the penalty incurred by the sin of Adam; that Jesus of Nazareth assumed all the liabilities which were the result of that sin, and met them; and that no one ever has been or ever will be punished for that sin. I wish now to consider the cross as the way of reconciliation between man and God.

First let us note the wide difference between Christianity and heathenism in this matter of reconciliation. In Christianity it is man who is reconciled to God, and reconciliation is an act of God; but in heathenism it is the gods who are reconciled to man, and an attempted reconciliation is an act of man. In saying this I do not forget that some who profess to represent Christianity have presented the sacrifice of Christ as a means of appeasing the anger of God, but this does not seem to me to be the teaching of the Scriptures.

I do not mean to proclaim a soft gospel. There is such a thing as God’s anger. The wrath of God is a terrible reality, and must be recognized. The willful transgressors of the law of holiness will be punished with “eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His might.” 2 Thess. 1:9. But this wrath is love burning against sin, the result of love rejected and reconciliation refused. It still remains true that “God is love,” and that He has done all that infinite love could suggest and infinite wisdom could devise for saving men.

When a heathen philosophy is deliberately chosen in place of the gospel of God, and when a sinner attempts to do the work of reconciliation himself instead of accepting the work of reconciliation which has already been accomplished, God cannot be held responsible for the failure. The eternal principles of justice and righteousness are not subject to revision by a merely human philosophy, and God cannot imperil the stability of His government by accepting a pseudo-holiness as a satisfactory atonement for the willful transgression of the law of holiness. When God justifies, He Himself must still remain just.

The classic passage which deals with reconciliation presents the matter thus: “All things are of God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses.” 2 Cor. 5:18, 19. A brief analysis of this teaching will show:

1. That reconciliation is an act of God: it was “God who reconciled.”
2. That we are by God’s act reconciled to Him, rather than that He is reconciled to us: “God who reconciled us to Himself.”
3. That this act of reconciliation was accomplished “through Christ.”
4. That it was not God apart from Christ, or Christ apart from God, who accomplished this act, but “God was in Christ reconciling.”
5. That the act which was effective in reconciling “us” who are Christians, was effective for the world: “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.”
6. That although the world is still in sin, and may refuse to recognize the fact, it is nevertheless a reconciled world. God has reconciled it to Himself.
7. That in accomplishing this work of reconciliation, the trespasses of the world were not reckoned to them.

Putting it rather briefly, but I hope correctly, I may say that reconciliation is not a process, but an act performed at a definite time; that this act was not performed in order to induce a change of feeling on the part of God toward us, but as an expression of an existing feeling; that as the result of this act God could maintain His righteous character, and yet not reckon their trespasses to a race of sinners. I have here stated what appear to me to be some of the fundamental facts of the gospel-facts which ought to be proclaimed everywhere, and which ought to be more clearly understood than they are at present. In the face of the blasphemous utterances of atheism, in defiance of the evolutionary philosophy of modernism, and regardless of the lack of appreciation of the grace of God on the part of many nominal Christians, the message that God by His own act has reconciled the world to Himself should be proclaimed in every land, heathen and Christian, in the power of the Spirit. Christ came to a world not reconciled in fact; He left it a reconciled world. This is the good news.

But I must now ask, How was this reconciliation effected? The answer is simple and clear: Reconciliation rests upon the atoning sacrifice made upon Calvary. Jesus bore our sins.

“We were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” Rom. 5:10. Because sin was reckoned to Christ, although He knew no sin, and was judged upon Him, sin is not reckoned to those who have sinned, but they are reckoned righteous, if they are willing to be identified with Christ, their representative.

And here I must make the distinction between being reconciled and being saved. While I maintain that the world is a reconciled world, I do not maintain that it is a saved world. Universal salvation is not the same as universal reconciliation. The inspired teaching makes this plain: “If, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life; and not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Rom. 5:10, 11. The death of Christ reconciles; the life of Christ saves; the reconciliation made through the death of Christ must be received through faith in the living Christ who died and rose again and ever liveth. The reconciliation is universal, unlimited; but the salvation is limited to those who personally appropriate the reconciliation.

The great announcement is that God has reconciled the world to Himself; the great exhortation is, “Be ye reconciled to God.” 2 Cor. 5:20. Every reconciled sinner is urged to accept the reconciliation provided by confessing that he is a sinner and in need of reconciliation, by recognizing the fact that through the death of Christ reconciliation has already been made, and by accepting the risen and triumphant Christ as his life. The final result of the whole transaction is thus stated; “Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:21.
“Guilt rests on God’s charging up sin; reconciliation rests upon God’s non-imputation of sin; God’s non-imputation of sin rests upon Christ’s being made sin for us. . . . God made Christ sin in this sense, that God as it were took Him in the place of sin, rather than of the sinner, and judged the sin upon Him. . . . God made Him to be sin in treatment though not in feeling, so that holiness might be perfected in judgment, and we might become the righteousness of God in Him, so that we might have in God’s sight righteousness by our living union with Christ, righteousness which did not belong to us actually, naturally, and finally. Our righteousness is as little ours individually as the sin on Christ was His.”

I hope that the reality of this good news has not been hidden under too many or too large words. I greatly desire that the simplicity of the gospel should plainly appear, and that all my readers might be moved to accept the reconciliation made through the death of Christ. Again I emphasize the atoning value of the cross. Again I lift up the crucified and risen Jesus as our only and our all sufficient hope. “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:31.

“In the matchless gift of His Son, God has encircled the whole world with an atmosphere of grace as real as the air which circulates around the globe. All who choose to breathe this life giving atmosphere will live, and grow up to the stature of men and women in Christ Jesus. . . . Our growth in grace, our joy, our usefulness,-all depend upon our union with Christ.” (SC pp. 68,69)

I testify the gospel of reconciliation. I testify the gospel of reconciliation received and salvation assured. Will you receive my testimony?

–WW Prescott, “The Saviour of the Word”, 1929, pp. 58-62.

 

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“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29, 30)

A lot of discussion over the years has been generated over these verses. Who does God predestine? If he predestines a person, then is that person necessarily free to choose Him? And if some are predestined for salvation, does that mean others are not? Let’s have a look at these verses and see what they are teaching us about God and predestination.

To answer the first question, who does God predestine, we need to look at the context of the Bible chapter in which these verses occur, Romans 8. In this chapter, the apostle Paul is discussing those who “walk after the Spirit”. He declares them to be “the sons of God”.

Romans 8:14-17: “(14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.”

The Spirit of God dwells in the sons and daughters of God. If we do not have the Spirit of God, we are not Christs.

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (v9).

We know that the work of Spirit of God is to bring the gift of salvation to us through “regeneration” (Titus 3:5). To be “regenerated” by the Spirit, is to be “born again” (John 3:5). So that it may be said that, those who are Christ’s are those “born of the Spirit” or “born of God”. And what do those that are born of God do?

“…love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1John 4:7).

They love God. Paul refers to them as “children of God” and “joints heirs with Christ”, “saints” (v27) who will be glorified together with Christ. These are those “who are called according to his purpose”. The “born again”, “regenerated” “saints” are the subjects of the verses that follow.

Now look at Romans 8:28:

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God….”

“Them that love God”, the “born again” children of God, are the ones that all things work together for good. But what is meant by “good” here? We have often heard this verse quoted to us as a source of encouragement, particularly when some trouble or calamity comes our way and for which we have no explanation. But it is not often that we hear the full verse quoted. The second half of the verse suggests that there is an explanation for the “all things” that happen to those that love God. “All things work together for good…to them that are called according to his purpose.” When we understand God’s purpose for those who love Him, we will understand what the “good” is that God is working together in us. Understanding this purpose, will also provide a solace in answer to the question “why” when troubles come. So let’s consider the purpose of God, and how it relates to His predestining.

Looking again at verse 28, when it says “called ACCORDING TO his purpose” it means the calling is in harmony with the purpose. The Purpose therefore would precede the Calling.

Purpose -> Calling

Now verse 29 brings God’s foreknowledge into the discussion. Here is where many stumble. People read “foreknowledge” as God’s predetermined will. But this is not the case. Paul introduces God’s “foreknowledge” using the conjunction “for” or “because”, implying that the phrase, “whom he did foreknow” is an explanatory remark related to the previous phrase, “those who are called according to His purpose”.

God foreknows those who are “called according to His purpose”. Paul then says of those ones that God “foreknew”, He “also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son”.

Foreknowledge = Predestined ->To be Conformed to the Image of the Son

The reason for this predestination is “that he [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many brethren” (v29), by the many being conformed to His image. To conform them, they first must be “born again” in Christ. Those who are “born again” have been called in accord with this purpose.

Now we know that the calling of God includes the invitation: “Whosever will let Him take of the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17). This is an invitation to “whosoever will”. Any one that wants to, let him or her drink. This is a universal invitation.

Paul then says, those whom He called, are also justified (v.30). Does that mean that everyone called is automatically justified? No. Jesus has said that He will “draw all men” unto Himself through the power of the Cross (John 12:32). However, in accordance with Romans 3:26, God “is the justifier of Him which believeth in Jesus”. Those whom God justifies are only those that exercise belief in Jesus. That the drawing of God is universal, is further supported by the fact that that drawing includes an unwillingness on God’s part “that any should perish”. God is willing rather “that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

God’s purpose then includes a willingness for all to be conformed to the image of His Son. But in between the willingness for all to come and the conforming, is the harmonic:

Only the “whosoevers” that will come and “believe” on Jesus are permitted to take “freely” of the water of life and thus be ultimately conformed to the image of His Son. This freedom to believe or not to believe is the harmonic undergirding all that God does within those whom he calls. In the word picture below, this Harmonic sits between Calling and Conforming:

Calling<=>Harmonic (freely believe)<=>Conforming

The Calling of God does not compromise this harmonic at any step in the process, else it becomes discordant with God’s Purpose.

Purpose = Calling =>Harmonic (freely believe ) =>Conforming If those called do not continue to drink “freely” of the “water of life” by “believing” on the Son, they will not be conformed to His image.

Understanding this harmonic within God’s Purpose, divine foreknowledge then is God foreseeing those who will respond willingly to the call to believe and drink. They will be “born again” in Christ. And those that God did foreknow, Paul goes on to say, He also did “predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son”.

Predestination then is God’s pre-determination that all those whom He foresees responding willingly to the invitation to come and believe, will be permitted to drink. They will be justified by faith in Jesus.

And those whom He has justified, according to Paul, He will also glorify. They are the ones that God will ultimately conform to the image of His Son. As they drink from the water of life freely, God works together all things, in order that they may go on to full conformity to the image of His Son, and thus constitute the many brethren. That is the work of the Holy Spirit within each one who believes. The Spirit that regenerates those who believe, is the Spirit that also transforms them day by day into the same image, “from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

What this means for one who is yet to believe is that God’s invitation, “whosever will let him drink”, is an invitation to freely receive the gift of salvation. “Let him drink”. If you are one of those souls, this invitation is for you. Sister White explains,

“The same divine mind that is working upon the things of nature is speaking to the hearts of men and creating an inexpressible craving for something they have not. The things of the world cannot satisfy their longing. The Spirit of God is pleading with them to seek for those things that alone can give peace and rest—the grace of Christ, the joy of holiness.” Steps to Christ, p. 28.

But God will not force you to accept Him nor will He deny you if you are willing to believe in Jesus and accept His forgiveness for your sin. He will pardon you, and justify you freely “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).

What this means for those who do believe in Jesus is that God will accomplish His purpose in you. He will conform you to the image of Jesus. All He asks is that you freely exercise your faith in Him constantly. Don’t let the present difficulties discourage you in the Christian life. Take up the battle in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Remember, Paul recognised that the sufferings of the present, are to be expected of those who are children of God and joint heirs with Christ (v17). If Christ suffered, then so shall we. But note, Paul’s attitude to sufferings in view of God’s ultimate purpose:

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (v18).

So no matter what happens to you, no matter what trials or tribulations come your way, no matter what sufferings you may be called to endure, you can have confidence, founded in God’s determined purpose, that He is working ALL things together for your ultimate good—His predetermined purpose—that your life will be conformed to the image of Jesus.

–Paul Chapman

 

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by Ellet J Waggoner

(First published in “The Signs of the Times”,  May 19, 1887)

This petition cannot well be considered apart from that which immediately follows it: “but deliver us from evil.” Both together form a fitting climax to this wonderful prayer, for they indicate, if used understandingly, the soul’s desire for purity of heart.
There are two senses in which the word tempted is used in the Bible. The apostle says: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” James 1:2. Again he says: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” Verse 14. Now it is evident that the apostle would not exhort men to count it a joyful thing to be drawn away of their own lust, and enticed into sin; therefore the temptation of the second verse is different from that of the fourteenth.

The temptation of the second verse is that which is successfully met, and which leaves the individual stronger than ever. It is the trying of faith. In Eph. 6:16 we learn that faith is the shield by which the darts of the wicked may be quenched. The office of a shield is to protect the person. If a missle is received upon the shield, the person at whom it was aimed receives no injury; he does not feel it. The temptations, then, which work patience, and which strengthen, are those which meet with no response in our own hearts, but which are instantly repelled.

The other temptations are those which are entertained in the heart. The sin presents itself, and the mind goes out towards it, and longs for it. It may be that the overt act is never committed, but since “the thought of foolishness is sin” (Prov. 24:9), the one who only in imagination does the sinful act is in the sight of God accounted guilty. Such temptations as those are natural to every human being, “for from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts.”

The petition “lead us not into temptation,” must be understood as meaning, “suffer us not to fall into temptation;” and it must also be understood as referring to the second class of temptations,—those which proceed from within. The reason is (1) that we are not to ask freedom from trials, but rather to count them a blessing, and (2) that God cannot and does not lead people into sin. The prayer, then, is “suffer us not to fall into foolish and hurtful lust, but deliver us (keep us back) from evil.”

This cannot mean that God will not allow a man to act out the evil that is in him, for that would be impossible; if evil is in the heart, it must show itself, and we are expressly told that at one time God left a man to do what his heart prompted him to do. The man was Hezekiah. After he had been healed, the Babylonian ambassadors came to congratulate, and he showed them all the treasures of his kingdom. 2 Kings 20:12, 13. This action was prompted by pride. 2 Chron. 32:24, 25. The historian, speaking of this, says: “Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” 2 Chron. 32:31. We must therefore conclude that the petition “lead us not into temptation” does not mean that God is to interpose his mighty power to miraculously preserve us from the wickedness that is in our own hearts.

There can be, then, but one conclusion, and that is that the prayer implies a renunciation and hatred of sin, and a desire to have the heart cleansed from it, and to be strengthened against allowing it to pass the shield of faith, and gain access to the heart. This is the only way that temptations can be instantly repelled, since, as we have read, evil thoughts are natural to the human heart.
It was to effect this that Christ came into the earth. It is not enough that we be freed from the guilt of sin,—from past transgressions,—but we must be freed from the love of sin. Paul says that Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Gal. 1:1. This “present evil world” does not mean the physical creation, but “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” 1 John 2:16. Again we read that he “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:14.

This is what God wants to do for us; it is what we are to ask him to do for us, for he will not do it against our will. What is there to hinder his doing it? Nothing, if we offer the prayer in all sincerity, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We cannot cleanse ourselves from the defilement of sin, however much we may desire to be freed from it (Prov. 20:9); but if we do earnestly desire to be kept from sin, God will work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Phil 2:13), and that will be to make us perfect in every good work to do his will, working in us that which is good. Heb. 13:21.

But while this is in one sense a passive state, in that it is an entire yielding of self to God, it is by no means a state of inactivity. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.” Luke 13:24. There is to be a constant watchfulness against the insidious assaults of the enemy. A reaching out after God implies a drawing away from sin.

This part of the Lord’s prayer cannot be uttered from the heart, except of him who with the psalmist can say, “I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love.” And this cannot be done until the individual realizes that fellowship with God is the only thing to be desired,-that the loving-kindness of God is better than life. Every man in the world will have just what he wants. If he loves the pleasures of sin, he will be left to its lusting enjoyment; but if his heart and his soul cry out after God, the promise is that he shall be filled. W.

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by Paul Chapman

Beecher wrote, “Temptations are enemies outside the castle, seeking entrance.  If there be no false retainer within who holds treacherous parley, there can scarcely be even an offer.  No one would make overtures to a bolted door or a dead wall.  It is some face at the window that invites proffer.  The violence of temptation addressed to us is only another way of expressing the violence of the desire within us.  It costs nothing to reject what we do not wish; and the struggle required to overcome temptation measures the strength in us of the temptable element.  Men ought not to say, “How powerfully the Devil tempts!” but, “How strongly I am tempted!” (more…)

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