His perfect life and sacrificial death, Christ rewrote mankinds history
and changed our status from one of condemnation to one of justification
to life (see Romans 5:18). Then, having reconciled the sinful human race
to God on the cross (see Romans 5:10), Christ took this redeemed and glorified
humanity to heaven, in His own self, to intercede for us at Gods right
hand as our great High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary (see Romans 8:34;
Ephesians 2:6; 1 John 2:1, 2).
But since this holy history of Christ is Gods
supreme gift to mankind, and in view of the fact that God created man with
a free will, the objective gospel Christ obtained for each person demands
a human response (see John 3:16-18). Those who respond and accept the gospel
message by faith, stand perfect in Christ perfect in performance, in
justice, as well as in nature. This is what justification by faith is all
about Gods looking at the believer as he or she is in Christ.
This is what entitles all believers to eternal life and heaven, both now
and in the judgment. So while the gospel itself is unconditional good news
to all human beings, experiencing that salvation is conditional and will
be enjoyed only by those who believe (see Mark 16:15, 16).
When we understand what the objective gospel
actually is and what it has accomplished, it becomes clear that unless Christ
totally assumed our sinful human nature that needed redeeming, none of this
could be realized. As the church fathers in the first five centuries of
the Christian era often stated: That which was not assumed by Christ
could not be redeemed or healed. Those who teach that Christs
human nature was like the spiritual nature of Adam before the Fall, must
present a Saviour who redeemed humanity only from the guilt and punishment
of sin, since, in this view, that is what He bore vicariously on the cross.
Such a Saviour may satisfy our egocentric desires to be saved and give us
assurance, but He gives no hope to Christians who sincerely desire to live
the victorious life and who are struggling with the law of sin in their
If Christ in His earthly mission did not save
humanity from every aspect of sin, He ceases to be our complete Saviour.
The gospel is robbed of its full power of salvation. Here is where the 1888
message of righteousness by faith, that most precious message God gave this
church over a hundred years ago, parts company with the evangelical gospel,
the so called new theology.
Of course, some Adventists who take the pre-Fall
view of the human nature of Christ do believe and teach that the flesh and
its cravings for sin can be totally overcome through the power of the indwelling
Spirit. But if the Holy Spirit does this in the believer, apart from the
finished work of Christ the gospel then we are making the Spirit
a coredeemer with Christ. Scripture nowhere presents such an idea; the Holy
Spirits part in the plan of salvation is to communicate to us the
good news of the gospel, that is, to make real in our experience what Christ
has already obtained for us through His birth, life, death, and resurrection
(see John 16:8-11; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
We must also keep in mind that Christ had to
fully identify Himself with the human race He came to redeem in order for
Him to lawfully be our substitute and representative in His work of redemption,
as well as to be our faithful and merciful High Priest. By uniting, in Marys
womb, His own divine life with our corporate sinful human life that needed
redeeming through the operation of the Holy Spirit Christ became
the second Adam (in Hebrew, adam means mankind) and earned the
right to be the Saviour of the world. Then by His life, death, and resurrection,
He totally and completely redeemed mankind from every aspect of sin. This
is the full and glorious gospel that I believe God raised up the Advent
movement to proclaim to the whole world before the end can come.
The Fruits of the Gospel
The second phase of salvation is known as the
fruits of the gospel. This is a subjective experience produced by
the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer who has accepted the gospel
by faith, experienced the new birth, and who is walking in the Spirit (see
Galatians 5:16, 22, 23). In saving us from sin, Christ not only saved us
from death to life, from condemnation to justification, but He also saved
us from sinful living to a life of good works (see Titus 2:11-14; 3:8; John
14:12). The gospel is not only the means of our justification and acceptance
into heaven; it is also the basis of holy living and good works here and
now (see Ephesians 2:8-10). Scripture refers to this holy living, or fruit
bearing, as sanctification.
Sanctification, like justification, also comes
to us by faith. These fruits do not contribute one iota towards our justification,
or entitlement to heaven. Instead, they witness to the salvation we already
possess in Christ by faith and, therefore, indicate that we are fit for
heaven. Although sanctification is certainly good news, we must never equate
it with the gospel. Sanctification is the fruit of the gospel. Failure to
distinguish justification from sanctification has produced the spiritual
insecurity common among so many Adventists. We need to keep in mind that
the believers justification is based on a finished work, the gospel,
but sanctification, as a subjective experience, is an ongoing process that
will continue as long as life will last. Through the gospel, the believer
stands perfect in Christ; this is the basis of his or her assurance. Good
works sanctification are not the basis of assurance, but they
prove that the believers faith is genuine and not a sham (see James
2:14-26). A genuine justification by faith must express itself in behavior.
Therefore, it will always produce good works (see Matthew 13:23) even though
these works may not be apparent to the believer himself (see Matthew 25:37-39).
That is why the New Testament teaches that we
are justified by faith alone (see Romans 3:28; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians
2:8, 9), but that we will be judged and rewarded by our works (see Matthew
7:21; 25:34-40; John 5:28-30; Romans 2:5-8; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The works
are not the means, but the evidence, of justification by faith (see James
2:20-22). Justification is entirely Gods doing. It is a finished work
which we receive by faith alone. Sanctification, on the other hand, involves
our human cooperation; it is an on-going process of walking in the
Spirit, that continues throughout the lifetime. According to the New
Testament, faith is more than a mental assent to truth. It involves a heartfelt
obedience to the gospel, that is, the good news of what God did for our
corporate humanity in Christ (see Romans 6:17; 1:5; Galatians 5:7; 2 Thessalonians
1:3-8; 1 Peter 4:17).
Such obedience of faith means a total surrender
of the will to the truth as it is in Christ. Thus, in justification by faith,
we acknowledge and identify with Christs holy life as well as with
His death to sin. This is the true meaning of baptism (see Romans 6:3-11).
Without this faith obedience, justification by faith becomes merely a sham
(see James 2:14-26). Christianity, unlike any other religion, involves more
than just following a set of dos and donts; it involves
actually participating in Christ (see 1 Corinthians 10:16-18). All Christians
must confess, with Paul, I have been crucified with Christ; it is
no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live
in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself
for me (Galatians 2:20).
The Hope of the Gospel
This third phase of salvation refers to the
ultimate reality of the gospel in our lives the reality which will
be experienced by all believers at the second coming of Christ when this
corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality
(1 Corinthians 15:53). The Bible calls this experience glorification. The
experience of conversion and the process of sanctification do bring about
a change to the Christians character, but not one iota of change to
the flesh, the believers nature. The nature remains sinful throughout
the Christians earthly existence or until the second advent whichever
occurs first. That is why Paul can speak about Christians groaning and waiting
patiently for the redemption of their bodies (see Romans 8:22-24; Philippians
We said earlier that the experience of sanctification
must not be equated with the gospel, rather it is the fruit of the gospel.
Likewise, the glorification believers will experience at the second advent
must not be equated with the gospel, rather it is the hope of the gospel.
The gospel is the good news of salvation for all mankind, but the second
advent is not good news for everyone. It is the blessed hope only for believers
who are rejoicing in the gospel and who will be glorified when Jesus appears
(see Titus 2:13). For unbelievers, it is the great day of Gods wrath
(see Revelation 6:12-17).
That is why we have to make a distinction between
the gospel as an objective truth for all humanity and salvation as a subjective
experience for those only who respond in faith. The gospel is the unconditional
good news of salvation for every person; salvation, as an actual experience
is conditional, limited to those who respond in faith. In fact, the New
Testament makes it clear that all three experiences of salvation justification,
sanctification, and glorification are conditional. Faith (see John
3:16) is the condition for experiencing the justification to life
that Christ obtained for all by His obedience (see Romans 5:18). The
just shall live by faith (Hebrews 10:38). Walking in the Spirit (see
Galatians 5:16; Romans 13:14) is the condition for experiencing the sanctified
life Christ accomplished for sinful humanity in His holy history (see 1
Corinthians 1:2; 6:11).
And finally, our faith must endure unto the
end (see Matthew 10:22; Hebrews 10:38, 39). This is the condition for receiving
a glorified body like that with which Christ was resurrected and which He
took to heaven. As long as we stand under the umbrella of justification
by faith, we have full assurance of salvation. But the experience of salvation
is subject to these conditions. That is why the Bible nowhere teaches once
saved means always saved. This is a heresy resulting from the false
doctrine of double predestination the idea that God has predetermined
some to be saved and others to be lost. If so, this false doctrine teaches
that those whom He has predestined to be saved cannot be lost because God
is sovereign; what He chooses will happen. When we look at these three phases
of salvation that the Holy Spirit communicates, we can rejoice in the fact
that God left no stone unturned when He sent His beloved Son to redeem all
humanity from sin. Viewing this perfect and complete salvation, Christ could
cry on the cross, It is finished (John 19:30). This is the context
in which we must examine the question of the human nature Christ assumed
at the incarnation in order to be the Saviour of the world.
Key Points in Chapter 1
The issue of Christs human nature is closely intertwined with
implications for our salvation. Whatever view we take on the human nature
of Christ will affect the gospel we proclaim to the world.
Because Satan knows the importance of understanding Christs human
nature, he has produced a counterfeit teaching on this topic within Adventism.
This counterfeit is not the teaching that Christ took on sinless human
nature the nature Adam had before the fall, although such a view poses
serious problems in terms of the full gospel.
Satans counterfeit teaching on this issue is to place the correct
view of Christs humanity the idea that He assumed fallen human
nature within the context of Christ as our Example, rather than in
the context of Christ as our Saviour.
The New Testament clearly teaches that 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 does
Christ present Himself to us as our Example.
Emphasizing the humanity of Christ as our Example leads to legalism,
perfectionism, and despair. Emphasizing the humanity of Christ as our Saviour
leads to peace, joy, assurance of salvation, and victory.
The Bible describes three related, but distinct, phases of salvation:
(1) the gospel; (2) the fruits of the gospel; and (3) the hope of the gospel.
The failure to understand the relationship and distinction between these
three phases of salvation has produced confusion regarding what the gospel
The gospel 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 a finished or completed work to which we have made,
and can make, no contribution whatsoever (see Romans 3:28, 5:18; Ephesians
The fruits of the gospel, or sanctification, is a subjective
experience produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer who
has accepted the gospel by faith, experienced the new birth, and who is
walking in the Spirit (see Galatians 5:16, 22, 23). Good works are not
the basis of assurance, but they prove that the believers faith is
genuine (see James 2:14-26). A genuine justification by faith must express
itself in behavior.
The hope of the gospel refers to glorification, the ultimate reality
of the gospel in our lives, which will be experienced by all believers
at the second coming of Christ.
As an experience, all three phases of salvation justification,
sanctification, and glorification are conditional.
Faith (see John 3:16) is the condition for experiencing the justification
to life that Christ obtained for all by His obedience (see Romans
Walking in the Spirit (see Galatians 5:16; Romans 13:14) is the condition
for experiencing the sanctified life Christ accomplished for sinful humanity
in His holy history (see 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:11).
Our faith must endure unto the end (see Matthew 10:22; Hebrews 10:38,39).
This is the condition for receiving a glorified body like that with which
Christ was resurrected and which He took to heaven.
Unless Christ totally assumed our sinful human nature that needed redeeming,
He could not completely redeem mankind from every aspect of sin.
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of Saviour of the World (a publication of Pacific Press), contact your local
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