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Understanding the 1888 Message Part 2

So what does this all mean? In short, all Christianity has the wrong idea, or concept of what Godís character and his grace is all about. When Christ died on the cross, blotting out all sin for mankind Ė past, present, and future sins that any person may commit, that person is already forgiven and pardoned from God by his sonís blood on the cross, even before that person asks for forgiveness from God! Remember itís your unbelief that gets you lost from heaven, not your own personal sins that you havenít confess to Him yet! Please understand, your personal sins do not keep you out of heaven!!!! Christ has died for those sins. You can openly say that you can sin all you want and God can not hold those sins against you, because of what Christ has done on the cross! But God forbid! Donít you know that every time you openly sin is like a very hard slap on Jesus face! You are putting the nails back into his hands and feet every time you openly sin! You are hurting God and Jesus every time you sin. Christians have preached that sinners are going to hell! We should be telling sinners that they are going to heaven, because of what Christ has done for them, even while they are still in their sinful state and havenít change yet! This is a very hard concept for most Christians to accept. Are you saying that Christ saves you in your sins? Like Paul says, God Forbid! God saves us from our sins!

The world has heard and seen the outside shell of the gospel, but has not fully experience the full power of the gospel itself. When that does happen, the world will know the power that is in gospel. If you hold a stick of dynamite in your fist without the blasting cap inside, you know that it wonít do anything! But put it inside (the blasting cap) and you wonít go near it because you know what it can do! The world has not seen the full power behind the gospel yet. They have only seen a small black cat firecracker compared to a regular stick of dynamite, and what comparison is that!

Christians also have the wrong concept of God love towards mankind. We use the word, ďLoveĒ a lot in best describing the character of God. But the word, ďLoveĒ falls far short in how God feels towards us! The apostles used a word [Greek] "Agape" in describing his love and kindness toward us. We as a human race know the word love from a sinful selfish motive! Godís love does not have a sinful, selfish, self-centered motive behind it and makes it hard for a self-centered, selfish person to understand it. As discussed above in Agape. We humans have a love, which the Greeks called Eros.

Eros loves things that are beautiful, sweet, attractive, and pleasant to the eye. It loves good things, happy times, and a warm fussy feeling! But it hates ugly looking things, bad people, and non-attractive personalities. That is the way we view love and human love can change to non-love. But Godís love is Agape love—it never changes, and itís unconditional love! But we canít say Godís love is like unconditional human love, because human love is CONDITIONAL! And we donít understand unconditional from conditional love because we havenít experienced that kind of love from anyone! And if we did, Godís love is a thousand times greater than the unconditional love that we get from a sinful human being!

God has a beautiful message and a answer to our dying world out there that is seeking answers to life's questions. A message of hope, mercy, full forgiveness, and 100% plus power over sin in our lives, is the message of God that we can have NOW!

The last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love (Agape). That supreme revelation is at the cross. But what is the meaning of the cross? Here is the continental divide between past differences of conviction. If "the third angel's message in verity" is Christ and Him crucified, this focus must be clarified. The true gospel message of Christ righteousness joined two unique truths: (1) the final atonement in the most holly place of the heavenly sanctuary, and (2) a clearer understanding of Christ's sacrificed on the cross. There are lots of our own people and evangelical's who have expressed a radically different idea of what really happened on the cross than what we see in the true gospel message. They maintained that the sacrifice of Christ "merely deferred" for humanity the second death that is the wages of sin. In their words: "Under Heaven's plan to redeem man punishment or wages of sin — eternal death — was not waived, but was deferred. . . . [It] was not annulled, but was merely deferred. . . . delayed." Great consequences follow from this view of the atonement.

If this is true, every human soul is born into the world with that sentence of eternal death still hanging over his head. The fatal sentence has been "merely deferred," temporary delayed, logic demands that a debt has been "merely deferred" can not have been paid. According to this view, if the sinner does not take the initiative (the first step towards) in his salvation, the "deferred" punishment will fall on him as if Christ had not died for him, because his debt was never truly paid. The corollary of this view is that the sinner's faith and obedience is what imitates the process of the atonement.

In contrast, the true gospel message sees Christ's sacrificed on the cross as accomplishing infinitely more than "merely deferring" the original punishment for sin. "The punishment or wages of sin — eternal death" was neither "waived," "deferred," nor "delayed," but was inflicted totally on Christ. This is the only foundation on which grace can rest. Grace that does not rest on Christ complete sacrifice must be "cheap grace." He actually and truly paid the debt of every man's sin, and therefore fully died the second death of "every man." Thus there is no reason for any human soul to die that second death except for his own personal unbelief, his refusal to appreciate what Christ has actually (not provisionally) accomplished for him on the cross (John 3:17-19). This view of the cross may take one's breath away, but it's stark Bible truth, the "objective gospel."

The truth of the cross clearly defines the gospel: (1) "We see Jesus. . . . crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste the death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). This "death" could not be the first death which the Bible calls a "sleep." It had to be the second, the total "un-deferred", "un-delayed" punishment for our sin.

(2) "Our Savior Jesus Christ. . . .Hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim.1:10). Again, this "death" cannot be the first which has obviously not been "abolished." The lake of fire was never intended for human beings, only for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). Another truth follows:

(3) "God. . . . gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish" (John 3:16). Thus His "sacrifice" was not only His incarnation in assuming human nature forever, but a giving-for that involved dying the second-death punishment for every man's sin. This is the foundation that makes grace possible, the death which the broken law requires.

(4) "Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3). If this was the equivalent of the second death, then He made the commitment of all He had, to give Himself to death and hell forever, withholding nothing. This is the measure of His agape.

(5) Adam and Eve would have died the second death (Instantly, Immediately) right after eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden IF (and that is the main point!) if Christ had not given Himself as "the Lamb slain from the foundation all the world" (Gen 2:7; Rev. 13:8). He did it before they could do anything good to deserve it. Adam in the garden was the entire human race, for we were all "in him" as surely as Levi was "in the lions" of Abraham when the latter paid tithe to Melchisedek (Heb. 7:9,10). Thus "in Adam" the entire human race corporately shares his condemnation, but "even so" "in Christ" they share that "verdict of acquittal" which the lamb achieved as He was "slain from the foundation of the world" (Rom. 5:16,18, NEB; Rev. 13:8).

(6) Christ "was wounded for our transgression. . . . The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . For the transgression of my people was he stricken" (Isa. 53:4-12). He was not "stricken" only for that of righteous, but for that "of us all."

(7) Therefore, the glorious conclusion follows: if the "iniquity of us all" was laid on Christ; if He died for our sins; if He "abolished death" by His sacrifice; if He "was wounded for our transgressions" and was "bruised for our iniquities," it follows that He paid the "un-waived," "un-deferred," and "un-delayed" penalty of every man's sin! This is the ABC of salvation.

(8) We prefer not to say that Christ died the second death; He died its equivalent. In other words, He corporately identified Himself with "every man" in that "anguish of the lost," the indescribable alienation from life or joy or light which Christ "tasted" for "every man." The guilt of every descendent of Adam was pressing upon his heart. Thus He was "made to be sin for us, who knew no sin" (2 Cor. 5:21). This verb "made" is no conditional. This is shocking to many of our people, but it is true that Christ has actually accomplished something for every human being. He has identified Himself intimately with the deepest recess of every person's secret soul — the ever-present yet buried fear of eternal death. He has lifted that condemnation, making present life and it's happiness possible. Thus He "lightest every man that come into the world" (John 1:9).

(9) Christ's sacrifice explains why there is no need for any human soul to die that second death--except for his unbelief. What will make the anguish of the lost so totally complete will be the full realization at last He did die for their sin, He did pay their debt! They will see their own second death as totally unnecessary except for their hard-hearted unbelief: "In the day of final judgment, every lost soul will understand the nature of his own rejection of truth. The cross will be presented, and its real bearing will be seen by every mind that has been blinded by transgression. Before the vision of Calvary with its mysterious Victim, sinners will stand condemned." (DA 58, CG 668) — Desire of Ages, Great Controversy from Ellen G. White books

The cross defines unbelief as far more than a passive neutrality, a sitting on a fence, or a human oversight which we define as "neglect." The lost will see that their unbelief was active dis-belief, a deliberate choice to cast contempt upon the sacrificial love of the Son of God. It seems that it is easy to misunderstand the profound nature of unbelief. Many of us seem to see it as merely passive do nothingness.

Christ atonement is infinitely more than we have been ready to understand. Every human being is involved: "Jesus, the world's Redeemer, stands between Satan and every soul. . . . The sins of everyone who has lived upon the earth were laid upon Christ, testifying to the conflict with Satan." (RH, May 23, 1899) What Good News! And now the world hungers to hear it! — RH (Review and Herald)

This is not to deny that the lost will indeed die the second death (the burning lake of fire or IN HELL!). In despising, rejecting, dis-believing what Christ did, they "counted the blood of the covenant. . . . an unholy thing, and. . . .[did] despite unto the Spirit of grace" (Heb. 10:29). This is the true dimension of their unbelief or disbelief. They will suffer the "wages of sin" because by repeated choice they have taken back upon themselves the sin Christ died for, and retrieved the condemnation and punishment that He has already bore for them! God does not put them in double jeopardy. If people could only see this truth now, what a difference it would make with many! The true gospel message of the cross is "the third angel's message in verity." The "loud cry" message, "Be ye reconciled to God," will make this clear to the hungering world that is darkened by a false concept of God's character.

The fundamental error which produces confusion. Some who differ with us insist that unconditional love is not unconditional pardon, which is very true. But by their "not waived but deferred. . . . delayed" doctrine, they logically take a further step — they want a conditional sacrifice. If by His death Christ did not pay the full penalty for the sins of "all men," the logical conclusion has to be that He died only provisionally, conditionally, tentatively, and the sinner's punishment was only "deferred," the divine sacrifice itself being conditional on man's faith and obedience first. Our Sabbath School Quarterly has several times in recent years said the same thing in essence — that the sacrifice of Christ is only provisional, is in vain, it does no one any good unless he takes the initiative to believe and obey. But we see the divine sacrifice as unconditional, not provisional, and "finished." Grace is given to all, totally unmerited. Christ truly, actually, died for "all men."

This fundamental "merely deferred" doctrine (doubtless sincerely held by those who teach it) naturally colors their understanding of justification by faith. The confusion stems from a subtle idea lurking in the shadows — the popular "limited atonement." In other words, God's foresight saw the eventual damnation of the lost and thus He held in abeyance, "deferred. . . . delayed" the punishment for their sin, to inflict it on them later.

In contrast, the gospel insists that the punishment which Christ bore was total for "every man." And "every man" has already enjoyed relief from the life crushing condemnation of the second death. How could those "saints or sinners eat their daily food" and even live, if a conscious "haunting fear of death [held] them in bondage though out the whole course of their lives"? (Heb. 2:15, Amplified). Christ has lifted it! He has done something for "all men," and it is far more than "a second probation or conditional "grace." Paul says grace has given, not merely offered, a "gift" — justification (Rom. 5:15).

The "merely deferred" doctrine would logically rewrite John 3:16 to make it read like this: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son for those (only) who believe." And of course, that would be very true, but it is only a small part of the awe-inspiring truth. He also gave Himself fully as much for those who do not believe. This divinely extravagant gift of justifying love was illustrated in Mary Magdalene's "wasteful" offering of her precious perfume on Jesus' feet — which Judas and the disciples did not appreciate.

Are we still back where they were then? Is it right to re-guard as a "myth" the teaching that God effected for the entire human race "a verdict of acquittal" "in Christ"? And do we in any sense merit justification by our conversion and our obedience? Must we personally develop "a new character" before justification at the cross can take place? We must now appeal to what Christ accomplished on His cross in order to understand justification, the heart of the third angel's message.

The "most precious message" the Lord sent to us (in the year 1888) was centered in Galatians and Romans. It made sense of Revelation 14:12 — that true keeping of the commandments is by faith of Jesus. It was like a shaft of sunlight in a dark cave. It clearly presented the great sacrifice made by the Father and the Son in man's behalf. What was that "sacrifice"?

If Christ died every man's "death" (the second), then it follows that He reversed the condemnation that came on "all men" in Adam. It is the broken law which demands our death; therefore the "condemnation" has to be legal. Likewise the reverse -- a "verdict of acquittal" — has to be legal. (It is common knowledge that the opposite of a "condemnation" of the accused has to be "a verdict of acquittal".) Paul explains it:

"The free gift is not like the offense. For if by one man's offense [the] many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to [the] many [that is, all men]. And the gift is not like the that which came through the one who sinned. For judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification." (Rom 5:15, 16, NKJV; the NEB says. "a verdict of acquittal").

Thus the Greek vividly spells out the parallel: Adam's sin = condemnation for all men. Christ's "gift by grace" = justification for all men.

How? Because He truly died their second death, paid in full the penalty for their sin, nothing being "waived" or "deferred" or "delayed." With His blood, as our "second Adam," He redeemed, purchase, reclaimed, restored to favor, emancipated, delivered, release from death, liberated, the entire corporate human race (but individuals can reject Him!). The more closely the original language is examined, the more clearly shines this truth:

"Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life." (vs. 18, NKJV).

Thus Paul explains what he meant in Romans chapter 3:

"All alike have sinned, and are deprived of the divine splendor, and all are justified by God's free grace alone, through his act of liberation [redemption, KJV] in the person of Christ Jesus" (vss 23, 24, NEB).

Nothing is said in verse 24 about our personal experience of justification by faith. This "act of liberation" was accomplished on the cross solely by His grace, before we were even born, with no participation on our part, so we couldn't have done anything or even believed anything in order to merit it or to precede it. This was "the gift" that grace gave us. It is the objective gospel (the so-called "myth").

Confusion seems to come by attaching a restrictive non-biblical definition to the word "justification." When the apostle says that "all are justified" he does not say that "all were made righteous." In a commendable zeal to oppose the "new theology," those who differ with us maintain that "to justify" always means "to make righteous," that is, to effect an actual change of character. Thus they represent that when the true gospel 1888 Message Study Committee (headed by Robert J. Wieland and Donald K. Short) maintain that the cross of Christ made "all men" to be righteous and must logically therefore take "all men" to heaven, even against their will. Thus is not true.

The Bible definition of "justify" clarified the confusion: "If there be a controversy among men, . . . the judges. . . shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked" (Deut. 25:1). The meaning is clear: no Hebrew judge could make an accused person righteous. All he could do was to declare him so. But neither could he declare a guilty one righteous. The "new theology" definition of "justify" as only "declare" also come short of the Biblical reality. Rather, the judge must examine the evidence and then recognize when the accused must be declared righteous.

Thus the justification for "all men" accomplished by Christ's sacrifice does not "make" them righteous; neither does it unjustly "declare" the guiltily to be righteous. It recognizes that Christ has become their second Adam, their Substitute, incorporating in Himself the entire human race, dying their second death as them as well as instead of them. The Father accepts the Son, and through the atoning sacrifice of His Son accepts the sinner. When He redeemed us He lifted from us our legal verdict of condemnation "in Adam." He restored the whole race of men to favor with God," and became "the substitute and surety for the human race." Again, this does not mean that "all men" will be saved eternally. The Lord wants them to be saved, but they can choose not to be, and thus be lost.

Is Christ's "acquittal" only offered, as some say, or is it actually given?

The Greek of Romans 5 is clear:

"The judicial action. . . issued in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace. . .issued in a verdict of acquittal. . .It follows, then, that the issue of one misdeed was condemnation for all men, so the issue of one just act is acquittal and life for all men" (NEB; see also KJV, NKJV, and other translations).

Is this "acquittal" only for those who take the initiative to accept the gift? Is it only offered, as some say, or is it actually given?

Paul answers: it is "for all men" as surely as the "verdict of condemnation" applied to "all men," in full harmony with his statement that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespassed unto them" (2 Cor. 5:19). Note Waggoner's grasp of this truth:

(a) Christ is given to every man. . . . The life of Christ lights every man that comes into the world. . . . "Do you mean to teach universal salvation?" We mean to teach just what the word of God teaches — that "the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men." Titus 2:11, RV. God has wrought out salvation for every man, and has given it to him; but the majority spurn it and throw it away. . . It is true that all men are redeemed, but not all have accepted redemption." Glad Tidings, pp. 11-14, 61 by E. J. Waggoner

(b) "There is no exception here. As the condemnation came upon all, so the justification comes upon all. Christ has tasted death (the second eternal death) for every man. He has given himself for all. Nay, he has given himself to all. The free gift has come upon all. The fact that it is a free gift is evidence that there is no exception. . . There is not the slightest reason why every man that has ever lived should not be saved unto eternal life, except that they would not have it. So many spurn the gift offered so freely." Waggoner on Romans, p. 101 by E. J. Waggoner

Waggoner sees the practical godliness import of this insight when he says:

"How often we hear someone say, 'I am so sinful that I'm afraid the Lord will not accept me!' Even some who have long professed to be Christians often mournfully wish that they could be sure of their acceptance with God. But the Lord has given no reason for any such doubts. Our acceptance is forever settled. Christ has bought us and has paid the price." Glad Tidings, p. 12. by E. J. Waggoner

The "price" which He paid includes that "verdict of acquittal" which is a judicial justification for "all men." Then Romans 5:17 goes a step further: when the sinner believes and "receives" this justification achieved at the cross, then by faith he is made righteous and will "reign through Christ" eternally.

Many are stunned, asking how can this gospel of justification be "satanic deception," "blasphemy," "Satan's masterpiece of deception"? Those who label it such insist that Christ's sacrifice provides only "Grace" for "all men," but definitely not a legal justification or "verdict of acquittal." It is true that grace is extended to all. But that would be "cheap grace" unless the demand of the broken law has first been met by death in behalf of all those to whom the grace is extended. This grace has to be exceedingly expensive.

Paul clearly says that "grace" gives a "gift" : "The gift by grace is of many offenses unto justification." And "the gift by grace [justification]. . . hath abounded unto [the] many," that is, to "all men." The "all men" are identified as those that "be dead," those included in Adam's condemnation (Rom. 5:15, 16, KJV). This may be a startling thought to some, but the Bible is clear, and so is the Spirit of Prophecy. Christ has "restored the whole human race of men to favor with God." God "was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2 Cor. 5:19). To whom did He impute those trespasses? Unto Christ, thus setting the sinners free. But the logic of the opposing position sees it backwards, requiring that God legally impute the world's trespasses unto them -- the opposite of the legal justification which is condemned so strenuously. This turns the gospel of Christ upside down, and defines why the two views are poles apart.

The sanctuary teaching of the atonement illustrates the cross. In the Levitical service, the daily morning and the evening sacrifice prefigured this universal offering of Christ for "all men." While there were individual sacrifices for individual sinners who reprinted, the "daily" offerings of the two lambs were an unconditional sacrifice for the corporate whole of the nation, including the strangers and sojourners in the land. These lambs were offered whether or not all individuals believed and repented. John the Baptist's name for Christ was "the Lamb of God which taken away the sin of the world," an illusion to this daily unconditional ministry. This is what John means by "the propitiation. . . for the sins of the whole world." (John 2:2).

But the sacrifice of Christ for "the sins of the world" does not function as a license to sin. Opposer's fear that proclaiming this good news is dangerous and will lead to law-breaking. The brethren in 1888 also feared that the message of Jones and Waggoner would weaken the Sabbath doctrine and lower the "standards." Spirit of Prophecy warns how their attitude will reappear among us in these last days:

"In the manifestation of the power that lightens the earth with its glory, they will see only something which in their blindness they think dangerous, something which will arouse their fears and they will brace themselves against it. Because the Lord does not work according to their expectations and ideas, they will oppose the work." Review & Herald Extra, December 23, 1890.

This thread permeates Scripture. Christ declares that "my flesh, . . . I will give for the life of the world." Thus we "have known life" except what is purchased by His "flesh" and "blood" (John 6:33, 51, 53). In other words, even the wicked enjoy the blessings of this present life solely because of His sacrifice. "Never one, saint or sinner, eats his daily food, but he is nourishment by the body and the blood of Christ." (Desire of Ages, p.633) Paul tells the pagan Athenians that "in him we live, and move, and have are being" (Acts 17: 28). God "imputed" unto Him "the world's trespasses," making Him "to be sin for us," that is, for "all men" (2 Cor. 5:19, 21). This "life of the world" that Jesus speaks of is far greater than the life the animal creation enjoys. It is a "life" wherein there is relief from our death-dealing "condemnation", "in Adam." Animals do not sense that! "All men" already have enjoyed that "life," thanks to Christ, although few may realized it, due either to their ignorance of the gospel or to their hard-hardened unbelief against it.

Go to 1888 Message Part 3