Saviour of the World
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira


Chapter 1
Salvation Defined

Sad to say, the Seventh-day Adventist Church today is polarized over the issue of the human nature of Christ. One camp affirms that Jesus came in a “sinless” nature — the spiritual nature Adam possessed before the Fall. Another group, what the present editor of the Adventist Review correctly referred to as a “more insistent group” (July 22, 1993), maintains that Jesus came in the “fallen” nature humanity assumed after sin entered Eden. One thing is clear: whatever consensus the church may reach on this vital issue will affect the gospel it proclaims to the world. William Johnsson, editor of the Adventist Review, has written, “The stakes in this debate are high. This isn’t some abstract theological discussion; it’s about our salvation. It’s about the very gospel God calls us to proclaim.” (Ibid.)

Because the issue of Christ’s human nature is so closely intertwined with implications for our salvation, it is imperative that we study one in the light of the other. That is the only way we will ever come to a correct biblical consensus on the human nature of Christ. When we deal with this subject as a separate topic, we miss the whole point of why He became a man, and we come to all kinds of false conclusions. That is why this book will attempt to analyze carefully what constitutes the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and how that gospel is linked with the nature of our Saviour’s humanity.

I believe that Satan is fully aware that “the humanity of the Son of God is everything to us” (Ellen White, Selected Messages: 1, 244).  He knows that a correct understanding of Jesus’ humanity will play a vital part in the proclamation of the everlasting gospel in these last days.  That is why he has produced a counterfeit teaching within Adventism on this topic of Christ’s humanity.  He has done this in order to blind the eyes of God’s people and turn them against the matchless charms of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, thus preventing the world from being lightened with God’s glory.

What is Satan’s counterfeit teaching on this subject? It is not the “sinless nature” view of Jesus’ humanity — the view that teaches He took on the spiritual human nature of Adam before the Fall. Although I believe this view presents major problems when considered in the light of the full and complete gospel, I do not believe it is Satan’s counterfeit. Rather, I believe, the “sinless nature” view of Jesus’ humanity is a reaction to Satan’s counterfeit. I believe Satan’s counterfeit on this topic is the view of that “more insistent” group mentioned above — the view that Jesus assumed the “fallen” human nature of Adam after sin entered our world.

As taught by some of the major independent ministries in Adventism today, the post-Fall view of Jesus’ human nature is placed in the setting of Christian living, rather than in the context of the good news of the gospel. It is this emphasis, I believe, that makes a satanic counterfeit out of the teaching that Jesus assumed fallen human nature. You see, when the emphasis of Christ’s humanity is focused primarily on Jesus as our Example, rather than as our Saviour, legalism becomes the inevitable result. The reasoning runs this way: “Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, lived a sinless life in our sinful humanity. Therefore, God expects us, especially the last generation of Christians, to do the same in order to make it to heaven.” Such a teaching of perfectionism has led many into despair and robbed them of the joy and peace Christ brought to the human race through His gospel.

Further, the legalism resulting from this wrong emphasis on the post-Fall view of Christ’s humanity has produced wrong motivations for Christian living — fear of punishment or desire for reward. “Such religion,” says Ellen White, “is worth nothing” (Steps to Christ, 44).

At the same time, this wrong emphasis has also turned many against the post-Fall view of the human nature of Christ. They see the fruits this view can produce when the emphasis is on Jesus as our Example — how it has robbed many sincere Adventists of the joy and peace of salvation — and consequently, they want nothing to do with it.

The legalism produced by this emphasis has also resulted in Pharisaism: a critical spirit that is unwilling to tolerate or respect anyone who does not see things in the same way I do. The result is fragmentation of the church, the very thing Satan delights in.

Yet, it is true, I believe, that Jesus took on our fallen human nature when He came to be one with us. According to the clear teaching of the New Testament, the primary reason Christ assumed our human nature was so that He could be the Saviour of the world (see Hebrews 2:14-17). Only after we have received Him as our Saviour, only after we have experienced the “peace with God” (Romans 5:1), that comes through justification by faith alone, does Christ present Himself to us as our Example (see 1 Peter 2:21; Philippians 2:5). His role as our Saviour must always precede His role as our Example. That is why this book will present the post-Fall view of the humanity of our Saviour in the light of the gospel, the truth as it is in Christ.

The experience of salvation is based on a foundation that has already been laid: the holy history of Christ our righteousness (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-13). Therefore, all truth pertaining to our salvation must be studied within the context of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is an extremely important point to keep in mind if we are to come to a correct understanding of the humanity of our Saviour or, indeed, of any biblical truth. Unless this approach to studying any doctrine of the church is kept in the forefront, the doctrine loses its significance.

When Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (see Mark 16:15), what message did He expect them to carry? What was the gospel they were to preach? The answer can be summed up in one sentence: Christ and Him crucified. This is what constitutes the good news of the gospel and the central message of the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18; 2:1, 2). Unfortunately, there is a great deal of confusion within Adventism today as to what constitutes the gospel. So we must first deal with this problem — what the gospel actually is — before we can discuss why it was necessary for Christ to assume our sinful nature at the incarnation.

As a church, we have given the word gospel a very broad meaning. As a result, many Adventists are confused regarding the relationship between justification, which is the imputed righteousness of Christ, and sanctification, which is the imparted righteousness of Christ. The Bible describes three phases of salvation that are related yet distinct. These three phases of salvation are:
I believe it is the failure to see the relationship and distinction between these three aspects of salvation that has produced the confusion in our midst regarding what the gospel actually is. As a result, for many Adventists, the gospel is not “good news,” but good advice. The following is a brief description of these three phases of salvation, showing the relationships between them, as well as the distinctions.

The Gospel

This is the unconditional good news of the salvation Christ obtained for all humanity by virtue of His holy history — His birth, life, death, and resurrection. It is referred to as the objective fact of salvation and is a finished or completed work to which we have made, and can make, no contribution whatsoever (see Romans 3:28, 5:18; Ephesians 2:8, 9). It is, therefore, entirely the work of God. That is why the apostle Paul describes it as “the righteousness of God” (Romans 1:17; 3:21). It is this holy history of Christ — His birth, life, death, and resurrection — that constitutes the good news of the gospel and saves sinful human beings from sin now and in the judgment. When received by faith, the gospel becomes justification by faith or righteousness by faith.

Each of the above four facts constituting the gospel message — the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ — is vital to our salvation. By Christ’s birth, God united the sinless, divine nature of His Son to our corporate, sinful human nature that needed redeeming. This not only qualified Christ to be mankind’s legal substitute and representative, but it also made our sinful human nature, which was spiritually dead, alive spiritually, in Christ (see Ephesians 2:5).

By His life, which He lived for thirty-three years in our corporate humanity, Christ fully and perfectly met the positive demands of the law on behalf of the human race He came to redeem. But because the human nature He assumed in the incarnation was our corporate, sinful humanity that stood condemned and needed redeeming, His perfect obedience was not enough to save fallen humanity. Consequently, having satisfied the positive demands of the law by His obedience, Jesus took our corporate humanity to the cross and surrendered it to the wages of sin. In doing this, His death met the justice of the law on behalf of all mankind.

On the cross, the collective, or corporate, life of the fallen human race died forever in Christ. This death was the second death, the death that comes as a result of the just demands of the law. But the incredible good news of the gospel is that God so loved the world that He gave the eternal life of His only begotten Son to the human race. As a result, the human race was resurrected in Christ as a redeemed humanity (see John 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:10; 1 John 5:11, 12). That is why Paul declared to the Corinthian Christians, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This, in a nutshell, is what constitutes the fantastic good news of the gospel.

Every subjective experience in the believer’s life is based on this finished work of Christ. So it is important, at this point, to note what Christ actually accomplished in this gospel. The Bible clearly teaches that the reason God sent His Son into this world was to save mankind from sin (see Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; 3:17). But sin, as we will discuss in more detail in the next chapter, is a multiphased problem. All Adventists are aware that sin is “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4, KJV) and that transgression of the law results in guilt and punishment. But the Scriptures also define sin as a state of being: a force or law or principle that resides in the flesh, our sinful human nature (see Romans 7:17, 20, 23). Furthermore, the corruption and physical infirmities of our humanity are also part and parcel of our sin problem from which we need to be redeemed as well (see Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:53-57).

By His birth, life, death, and resurrection, Christ redeemed fallen humanity from every aspect of our sin problem. Thus justification, sanctification, as well as glorification have already been accomplished in Christ for all mankind (see 1 Corinthians 6:11). The good news of the gospel is that Christ has obtained salvation full and complete for every human being! Through the incarnation, we who were spiritually dead were made spiritually alive in Christ (see Ephesians 2:5). Based on this fact, believers can experience the new birth (see Titus 3:5).

(continued)


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