The Gospel Herald -- Promoting the fundamentals of the 1888 message.

 

BIBLE STUDY EIGHT

A Gospel That Transcends Both
Calvinism and Arminianism

A. INTRODUCTION

The Jones and Waggoner message o f the atonement captures what is true in Calvinism and what is true in Arminianism, but rejects what is error in both. They broke through the spiritual fog of centuries to recapture the bright sunlit truth of justification by faith as taught in the New Testament. The "Fog" was caused by the great falling away ó the teachings of "the little horn" of Daniel 7, 8 which obscured the gospel for many centuries. The 16th Century Protestant Reformers carried with them from Romanism less than adequate, or immature, views of justification by faith along with Sunday-sacredness and natural immortality. The latter makes it virtually impossible for them to appreciate the nature of Chrisís sacrifice. In Ellen Whiteís view, the 1888 message focuses the message of justification by faith for these last days.


B. THE BIBLE EVIDENCE

John 3:16. God took, has taken, and still continues to take, the initiative in manís salvation. In this respect Calvinism is true.

John 3:18, 19. Those who are lost at last have taken, and continued to take, the initiative in their own damnation. In this respect, Calvinism is wrong.

John 4:42. Christ is actually the Saviour of the world, not just of those who believe.

Luke 19:14. Although Christ is their Saviour and King, unbelievers choose to refuse to let Him be what He is.

Luke 20:17. They actually, willfully, determinedly, "reject" Him.

Lev. 25:10. The sacrifice of Christ has given "liberty" of choice to "all the inhabitants of the land." In this respect Arminianism is right.

John 6:32, 33, 53. Jesus says that His sacrifice has been effective in that it does for all men, believers or unbelievers, all the good they have ever enjoyed, that every blessing that believers or unbelievers enjoy is already the purchase of His sacrifice. 1 Arminianism supporters understand that the sacrifice of Christ does no one any good unless he first believes, accepts, and obeys.

1 Timothy 4:10. Thus Arminianism adherents deny that Christ is actually the Saviour of all men, saying that He is the Saviour only of those who believe. 2

Romans 3:23, 24. The "all [who] have sinned" are "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Arminianism supporters say that the "all" are in no sense justified "freely" until they first take an initiative to accept and obey.

Romans 5:15-18. The same "all men" upon whom has come "condemnation" in Adam have been given the "gift" that "grace" gives ó justification in the One who is now the second Adam of the human race. 3 Our common version of Arminianism has difficulty with this, denying that "all men" is all men.

Deuteronomy 25:1. The Bible definition of "justification" is neither a mere legal declaration nor a "making" righteous. The Hebrew judge on his own could do neither. He had to examine the evidence and then "pronounce" the accused accordingly.

Galatians 2:16-21; 1 Corinthians 15:3. The "evidence" for justification in our case is not our own obedience, but Christís total identity with us as our second Adam and our sacrifice. He died for all men, accepts all men, and treats them generously as though they were forgiven. God is already reconciled to us. 4

2 Corinthians 5:14-21. Therefore God "imputed" the sins of the whole world to Christ, and instead imputed to the world (in a legal sense) justification in Christ. 5

Luke 15:1, 2. Christ "receives" or treats every person as though he had never sinned. This is grace; it is "much more abounding" than we have understood and proclaimed it. But such grace does not give license to sin; it is the only bulwark against sin.

2 Corinthians 5:20. Justification by faith is the experiential reconciliation of the sinnerís believing heart to God. The result: the life is changed.

Galatians 5:6: 6:15; 1 Corinthians 7:19. As soon as the believing sinner is reconciled to God, he is at the same time reconciled to Godís holy Law. Thus he is made obedient to all the commandments of God. 6

Galatians 5:6; 1 Peter 2:22. This faith of the believing sinner "works by love" and purifies his soul. 7 The purification is accomplished in the experience of justification by faith.

Revelation 7:1-4; 14:1-15. The result will be a people who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, that is, "they are without fault." 8

Leviticus 16:30, 31; Daniel 8:14; 12:10. This ministry of justification by faith is accomplished through Christís work in the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. Neither Calvinism nor Arminianism understands the full implications of that truth.


C. SUMMARY

The teachings of the Bible support the view of justification by faith as understood by Jones and Waggoner. 9


D. CONCLUSION

The Bible presents a message that must lighten the earth with glory and which completes the work of the Protestant Reformation. It meets and complements the heart-longings of all who "hunger and thirst after righteousness" who are now scattered throughout "Babylon" awaiting the final call, "Come out of her, My people." Righteousness by faith in this time of the cleansing of the sanctuary does more than prepare people to die "in the Lord." It makes possible a ripening of "the harvest" that prepares them for "the sickle" when the divine Farmer is told to "thrust in Thy sickle, and reap" (Revelation 14:13-16).

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Notes

  1. Cf. DA 660. [return to study]
  2. The idea is that the word malista does not mean "especially," but "that is." The Saviourís sacrifice has not only purchased physical life for humans as for animals, but has also bought and has given all the joy and "abundant life" that those who reject Him have always enjoyed. They should say "Thank You" to the Giver. If uttered by the heart, that is the beginning of faith. [return to study]
  3. The NEB correctly renders it "a judicial ... verdict of acquittal." [return to study]
  4. God being already reconciled to the sinner does not mean that He is reconciled to the sinnerís sin. [return to study]
  5. No one has as yet (except Christ) died the second death. By virtue of His sacrifice, God treats every person with grace. [return to study]
  6. Because of the false accusation of "perfectionism" leveled against the 1888 message, some ridicule the possibility of anyone being truly "obedient to all the commandments of God." But it was this that rejoiced Ellen Whiteís heart when she first heard the message (TM 91, 92). [return to study]
  7. Waggoner taught that true justification by faith prepares one for translation. But if we deny that a legal justification took place at the cross for all men, we are then forced to regard justification by faith as faulty and incomplete, requiring a second work of grace which we commonly speak of as sanctification. Jones and Waggoner saw more light than Wesley could see in his day. [return to study]
  8. They become prepared for translation at the second coming of Christ. Those who oppose the 1888 message see these 144,000 as described after the second coming (cf. Uriah Smith, Daniel and the Revelation, p. 627). [return to study]
  9. When Waggoner declared that all that a person needs to be ready for heaven is justification, he did not derogate what we understand as sanctification; his view of the effectiveness of the sacrifice of Christ lifted his vision of what justification by faith accomplishes. Sanctification is therefore a settling into the truth so that believers cannot be moved. [return to study]

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