Calvary At Sinai

Paul Penno, Jr.

This book is an excellent history of the events surrounding the 1888 General Conference held in Minneapolis during which A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner presented a message of Christ and His righteousness that has been referred to as "the beginning of the Later Rain" and "the third angels' message in verity." Pastor Paul Penno's history will be beneficial for anyone who wants to understand why we're still here in this world, and why the church is having a hard time accepting the "1888 message" of Christ and His righteousness, particularly the issue of the "two covenants."

Edmund Burke famously stated: "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."

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Calvary At Sinai


Chapter 5

Waggoner on Galatians

The Sabbath School lessons were published in The Youth’s Instructor. From April-July, 1886, the topic was on the law. These lessons were authored by E. J. Waggoner. Elder Butler wrote to E. G. White about them:

. . . . Elder Underwood and others have told me about the effect of the articles in the SIGNS and Sabbath School lessons, in various localities, and the Law in Galatians. The positions taken are causing great debate, and stirring up a spirit of discussion and controversy and making trouble.1

The Sabbath School lessons were set up on a question and answer format with a Bible text providing the answer. Waggoner asked:

  1. From what has Christ redeemed us? Gal. 3:13, first part.
  2. What is the keeping of the commandments? 1 John 5:3.
  3. If keeping the commandments is love, can it be also the curse of which Paul speaks?
  4. Upon whom does the curse of the law fall? Gal. 3:10. . . .2

Through this line of questioning, Waggoner identified the law in Galatians 3 as the Ten Commandments. Because these lessons were studied by the whole church it received a wider audience beyond the readership of the Signs. Thus, it provoked a lot of discussion. It put Elder Butler in a position where he felt he had to do something.

If anything cemented Waggoner’s appointment with controversy, it was a nine-part series of articles on the law in Galatians 3 which he wrote for the Signs.3 This was the first comprehensive exposition he had published on that chapter. He believed that the law in Galatians 3 was the moral law. “There is probably no portion of Scripture which is more commonly supposed to give ‘aid and comfort’  to  the  enemies  of  the  law  of  God, than  the   third  chapter  of  Galatians.”4 But he reassured his readers if they would hear him out, they would discover it to be a strong bulwark in defense of God’s law.

Abraham was the father of all faithful believers in Christ. The apostle Paul wrote:

Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.5

In his own words Waggoner explained these verses:

Having shown that even Abraham was not justified before God by his own works, Paul shows that the promise is to none but the children of Abraham; and since the children of Abraham are those only who have the same faith that he had, only those that are of faith can receive the promise.6

Then Waggoner quoted Galatians 3:10 which Elders Butler, Canright, and Smith applied to the ceremonial law: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” He put his finger on biblical support for identifying the law here in this verse. Waggoner explained: “These words are quoted from Deut. 27:26, and Jer. 11:2-4, in both of which places they have unmistakable reference to the ten commandments.”7

The apostle Paul explained the curse of the law: “For Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree; that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13, 14). The curse of the law was upon sin and disobedience resulting in death. Christ was made a curse for us so that through faith we might receive the blessing of Abraham.

1. Galatians  3:7-9. [back]

 2. E. J. Waggoner, “Comments on Galatians 3. No. 1.” ST (July 8, 1886), p. 406. [back]

 3. Ibid. [back]

 4. G. I. Butler, Letter to Ellen G. White, August 23, 1886, Mount Vernon, Ohio. Emphasis his. [back]

 5. E. J. Waggoner, “The Sabbath-School. Third Sabbath in July. Lesson 13.—Redeemed from the Curse of the Law,” The Youth’s Instructor 34, 26 (June 30, 1886), p. 103. [back]

 6. This series ran from July 8-September  2, 1886. [back]

 7. E. J. Waggoner, “Comments on Galatians 3. No. 1.” ST (July 8, 1886), p. 406. [back]