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


Chapter 1
Salvation Defined
(continued)

By His perfect life and sacrificial death, Christ rewrote mankind’s 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 God’s 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 God’s 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 — God’s 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 Christ’s 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 bodies.

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 Spirit’s 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 Mary’s 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 believer’s 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 believer’s 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 God’s 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 Christ’s 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 do’s and don’t’s; 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 Christian’s character, but not one iota of change to the flesh, the believer’s nature. The nature remains sinful throughout the Christian’s 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 3:20, 21).

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 God’s 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

  1. The issue of Christ’s 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.
  2. Because Satan knows the importance of understanding Christ’s human nature, he has produced a counterfeit teaching on this topic within Adventism.
  3. 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.
  4. Satan’s counterfeit teaching on this issue is to place the correct view of Christ’s 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 actually is.
    • 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 2:8, 9).
    • 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 believer’s 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.
  8. 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 5:18).
    • 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.
  9. Unless Christ totally assumed our sinful human nature that needed redeeming, He could not completely redeem mankind from every aspect of sin.

Sorry! At the moment, only chapter one appears on this website. To order a copy of Saviour of the World (a publication of Pacific Press), contact your local Adventist Book Center by phone at 1.800.765.6955 (in the U.S.A. only).
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