Understanding the 1888 Message Part 3

In this sense Scripture represents Christ as already "the Saviour of all men" (1 Tim. 4:10), for He "abolished" their second death, saved them from its condemnation, and delivered from its all-encompassing fear which otherwise would have crushed out all their present life (2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:14, 15). He is not only "the propitiation for our sins, . . . but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). But again, Christ forces no souls to be eternally saved against there will, "whether they like it or not." They can choose to reject "the gift" already given them.

The choice to believe makes the legal justification at the cross become effective in the human heart. "All are justified by God's free grace alone, through his act of liberation in the person of Christ Jesus. For God designed him to be that means of expiating sin by his sacrificial death, effective through faith" (Rom. 3:24, 25, NEB). This explains how true justification by faith makes the believer obedience to all the commandments of God (the 10 commandments including the Sabbath!). The sinner experiences a corporate oneness identity with Christ.

Is this view the same as the so-called "liberal theology"? Only superficially can it appear so. It is the opposite of the "new theology" idea of a "strictly legal justification by faith" because it is rooted in the Adventist view of the cleansing of the sanctuary. And it makes possible genuine obedience to the law. "Error often appears to lie closed to the path of truth." But it is too late to again mistake truth for error. We don't have another century to sort out confusion.

To say that justification by faith is only a legal declaration with no relation to wholly, obedient living would indeed be heresy. While the justification accomplished at the cross legally applies to the entire human race "in Christ," its gospel proclamation arouses in the receptive human heart a response, an appreciation of what it cost the Son of God to redeem us. This faith reconciles the alienated heart to Christ. It was this that rejoiced Mrs. White when she contemplated Waggoner's message, years after Minneapolis. She sensed that this deeper insight would prepare a believing people for translation.

The "new theology" does not except these principal elements of the true gospel message! It sometimes now concedes that a legal justification for all men took place at the cross, but it does not recognize that justification by faith makes the believer fully obedience, more that this ultimate experience prepares for translation. It denies the Day of Atonement ministry of Christ in the most holy apartments in distinction to His ministry in the first apartment prior to 1844. It generally sees a preparation for death as the same as preparation for translation, failing to see the corporate as well as individual nature of the final atonement. It considers justification by faith to be merely a "declaration" of individual acquittal apart from a true change of heart. It does not except the possibility of complete overcoming in preparation for the return of Jesus, affirming instead continued sinning until glorification at the return of Christ.

It also rejects the true gospel message view of the nearness of the Saviour, insisting that Christ could not have taken our fallen, sinful nature without Himself becoming a sinner. The "new theology" has been logically (though probably not consistently) sympathetic to the Roman Catholic doctrine which teaches that so long as humans retained fallen, sinful flesh, total victory over sin is impossible (the basis for the doctrine of purgatory);and it follows, if Christ had taken our fallen, sinful nature with a self to deny as we must deny self, He could not have been sinless in character. These basic principles are as different as night and day. Yet some contenders have collected superficially similar-by- appearance quotations in an effort to establish the charge of "guilty by association." The supposed similarity has now been analyzed by Leroy Moore in a recent book. He claims with both categories of readers to think carefully, to distinguish the fine line between truth and error:

"The true gospel message principal (1888) [is] that justification must perceive true obedience. We truly obeying only when we are justified (reconciled) and are in Him [Christ]. But strictly legal justification by faith [as taught by 'new theology'] is as contrary to the Bible and the writings of the spirit of prophecy as is holly flesh. . . ." Wieland answers Desmond Ford's legal, effective justification at the cross by a 'universal, legal justification at the cross that is effective only as claimed by faith' (Gold Tried in the Fire, p. 21, [23]). Knowing it would be confused with Ford's view, several years ago I wrestled with Robert Wieland over the term he used. Far from being from forensic-only doctrine, the concept he attributes to Waggoner does correct Ford's error, while it retains truth that the Plymouth Brethren abandoned in their doctrine of justification at the cross--which claims a complete and final atonement in A.D. 31. In distinguishing legal justification at the cross from justification by faith, Wieland retains an ongoing priestly atonement based upon the complete sacrificial atonement.

"His 'universal, legal justification' refers to the Lawgiver's declaration at the cross that He paid in full the debt for all stand of every person for all time (Heb. 2:9). However this complete sacrificial atonement is mediated to believers only as they claim it by personal exercise of faith." (Adventism in Conflict, RH, 1995 pp. 131, 133, 134). — RH (Review and Herald)

Waggoner's 1895-96 verse-by-verse studies in Romans affirmed a legal justification effected at the cross for "all men," and that the experience of justification by faith makes the believer obedient to all the commands of God. Waggoner's insight is the answer to the "Reformationist" contention, not a repetition of it. Even Dr. Arnold Wallenkampf of the Biblical Research Committee of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference concluded (after reading our little pamphlet on this subject) that the idea is taught in Scripture and is supported in the Spirit of Prophecy, and immediately recognized it to be the effective answer to the Evangelical views, not a new version of them.

So where do we go from here? Some people say that Jones and Waggoner had no more new light than Wesley, Hess, or Luther about the understanding of righteousness by faith. And some say that Jones and Waggoner did have a far outstanding grasp of understanding the righteousness by faith, than Wesley, Hess, or Luther ever dreamed about, or ever knew! But one question does arise in the Adventist church, if there was no new light on this very important subject, why did the Spirit of Prophecy fully back these two men and wrote extensively about shedding new light and again new light on a old subject. Yes, righteousness by faith is an old subject that has been around for over seven centuries. Wesley, Hess, and Luther are the pioneers of this subject. But they only had seen a small glimpse, a limited understanding about this subject.

Martin Luther received some more light and understanding on the subject, but not 100% percent knowledge in full understanding. Luther had about a good 50% percent knowledge and if the reformers had still studied into this subject after Luther's death, God would have revealed the other 50% percent to them as years went by. But the reformers took the attitude that Luther had all 100% percent, full understanding about the subject and no more could be added to it. It was all there for them to preach unto the world, and they never gave it a second thought of studying further into the subject because Luther received all the light from God, so why study it further?

Which brings us back to the question, of whether Luther had received all the light, 100% percent understanding and knowledge about this subject, and nothing more could be added to it. Why then did the Spirit of Prophecy tell us that God, (Jesus) had given these two men new light on this subject? Why would God be wasting his time giving new light on a subject that he had already given to Luther in the 16th century? If there was no new light to be given, why wouldn't the Spirit of Prophecy say so in the first place? Why not say that Jones and Waggoner had no new light to present and that they were just reinstating what Luther had to say on the subject is calling the Spirit of Prophecy (Ellen G. Whiite) a liar? Yes, you are calling Ellen White the biggest liar because she had more light and more understanding about this subject from God BY VISIONS--HELLO! If Ellen White had visions from God about brothers Jones and Waggoner receiving more light on this old subject, more than what Luther understood and comprehend, then why say that they (brothers Jones and Waggoner) had no new light to give on this subject? Another point is this, if it was true, that Jones and Waggoner really had no new light on the subject and when the Spirit of Prophecy said that they did, that makes everything she said up to the 1888 conference and beyond a total lie, and she is a total fake (as a prophet)!

If you're going to believe everything said by the Spirit of Prophecy in her many books are true and that she was led by God, (Jesus) why wouldn't you believe when she said that this message, was more light from Jones and Waggoner on righteousness by faith--it is the latter rain, the third Angels message, the Loud Cry, and that this message is to be given to a dying world before Christ Second Coming? Luther had the first 50% percent of this wonderful message and God gave the last 50% percent to Jones and Waggoner for a group of people that God was hoping to be receptive to this message. The people were, but our leaders were dead set against it.

A.G. Daniells in his book, "Christ our righteousness" which came out in 1926 said that they (the Adventist) had lost the message given to them in 1888, and that it was never completely recovered. "Nearly forty years ago (in 1888) there came to the Seventh-day Adventist church a very definite awakening message. It was designated at the time as 'The Message of Righteousness by Faith.'. . .To this day, many of those who heard the message when it came are deeply interested in it and concerned regarding it. All these long years they have held a firm conviction, and cherished a fond hope, that someday this message would be given great prominence among us. . . p. 23 Christ our Righteousness. He also said that it was the main leaders of the Adventist church that had pushed away the message never to be heard by or fully taken to the people. In a large sense, our own church (the Seventh-day Adventist) leaders were shutting up the light away from our own people preventing them from hearing and understanding. And sadly enough today our own leaders are still doing the same. In the book 1888 Re-Examined by Robert J. Wieland & Donald K. Short, a whole chapter is written to explain the problem of why the (Seventh-day Adventist) church has a problem of dealing with this message click here to read which brings us to the question, what is the point of this Web Site?

#1. The Lord "in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people" in 1888 and a few years following. No one now denies that "in a great degree" and "in a great measure" that this message was "kept away" both from our own people and from the world itself. Ellen White says that prominent brethren a century ago stood up against the window where light was streaming through and block the way so that the light could not reach our people unopposed or undistorted. No one now denies that the 1901 General Conference Session failed to recover the message; in fact, the keynote speaker for the 1990 General Conference Session frankly declared it as much. The published records are clear: No General Conference Session since has ever recovered it.

#2. Fortunately, the message was not lost. Ellen White's 370 plus endorsements continued in the present tense for about a decade following 1888. Musty archival copies of books, pamphlets, Signs of the Times, Review and Herald, and Bible Echo articles written by the two messengers whom Ellen White recognized as the Lord's agents, A.T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner, can now be seen. Those who study them are often impressed by the freshness, vitality, and clarity with which they articulated biblical practical godliness.

#3. Ellen White claimed that she knew about the Righteousness by Faith message that the Lord sent to Jones and Waggoner was the beginning of the loud cry or the latter rain. Quote I have had the question asked, What do you think of this light that these men (Jones and Waggoner) are presenting? Why, I have been presenting it to you for the last forty-five years -- the matchless charms of Christ. This is what I have been trying to present before your minds. When Brother Waggoner brought out these ideas in Minneapolis, it was the first clear teaching on this subject from any human lips I had heard, excepting the conversations between myself and my husband. I have said to myself, It is because God has presented it to me in vision that I see it so clearly, and they cannot see it because they have never had it presented to them as I have. And when another persented it, ever fiber of my heart said, Amen. (Manuscript Releases, Vol 5 p.219.). She stood up for them - Jones and Waggoner. She urged that we listen to their message. There is no conflict between what they said and what she said; but there is a complementary relationship. In recent years, it is refreshing that more and more church leaders and pastors and scholars are beginning to re-study the Bible to understand just what is the message of justification by faith as the Bible teaches it. The Lutheran Church and the Roman Catholic Church have come to a virtual agreement in understanding justification by faith; we as a denomination have long claimed that our understanding of justification by faith is identical with that of the Lutherans; now theirs, with some fine-tuning, is identical with the Roman Catholic's; does that now mean that Ellen White declared "the third angel's message in verity" is the same as the message of the Roman Catholic Church? If our message is the same as that of the Sunday-keeping Evangelicals, and theirs is the same as the Roman Catholic Church's, where does that leave us?

We are convicted that there is a distinct difference in the message of justification by faith that God has given to us Surely it is vitally important that we understand it. Are we to surrender the "most precious message" the Lord sent to us? Can we think of anything more important to understand?

Some may say, "Oh, it makes no difference as long as we keep on observing Saturday as the Sabbath." But wait a moment. You won't be able to hold to Sabbath-keeping when the mark of the beast is enforced unless you all rooted and grounded in the truth of justification by faith. Why? Because Ellen White said that the third angel's message in verity is justification by faith; and it's not true because she said it, but because the Bible makes it clear. See Revelation 18:1-4. Which leads us to an answer from a song by a contemporary Christian artist named, Michael Card; the song lyrics goes like this: "Their words and their doctrine, they all sound so true, the problem is Lord, they're all wrong about You!" The song is called, "Job Suite(His Story, His Lament, His God, His Response)" on The Way of Wisdom album. Click here if you want to listen to the song!

So, what IS this message?

1. Coming to the front as the most significant contribution of the 1888 message is: The motivation for serving Christ. Why do we keep the Sabbath, pay our tithe, worked as missionaries, etc.? Because we want to be saved. We don't want to be lost; we want to go to heaven. Very good idea, indeed; BUT IF IT NEVER GOES BEYOND THAT, it is the root of LEGALISM! All self-centered motivation is "under the law," old covenant, and it will surely fail in the final crisis. Much of our public evangelism is based on this egocentric appealed, which is good for a childish understanding.

But the Bible speaks often of a process of growing up Ephesians 4 says we must "hence forth be no more children, . . . but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things." In fact, we are to come "unto a mature person, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (verses 14, 15, 13). The 1888 message points us to a new self-forgetful motivation: a concern for Jesus, that He received His reward, that He be crowned King of Kings (not that we "wear a crown in our Father's house," as the ditty goes), that we honor Him, that this burden of sorrow He feels for a world reeling in woe may be lifted, that He see the travail of His soul and be satisfied.

2. This new motivation is created in our worldly, self-centered, sinful hearts by the introduction of something the Bible calls agape (Rom. 5:8). This also is a fundamental motif of the 1888 message. It is a concept of love far different (very far different) than human beings normally understand, or what Protestant and Roman Catholic churches in general can understand. It is a concept of love consistent with the biblical idea of the non-immortality of the soul.

3. Those who believe in natural immortality find it impossible to grasp the length, and breath, and depth, and height of this the biblical idea of agape. Ellen White makes clear in her own simple language that this concept of agape is today understood solely from the Most Holy Apartment of the heavenly sanctuary. Thus, it is a refreshingly different idea of the gospel than is possible for people to proclaim who do not understand the nature of man or the ministry of the High Priest in the second apartment since 1844 (Early Writings, pp. 55, 56). It involves the proclamation of the Lamb of God on His cross in high-fidelity realism never clearly grasped by Seventh-day Adventist and by the world itself. Therefore the third important element of the 1888 message that deserves our careful study is the relationship between the final atonement work of Christ in cleansing the heavenly sanctuary, and the biblical truth of justification by faith.

4. The biblical view of justification by faith is refreshingly different from the all-too-common view. The 1888 message sees justification by faith as experiential; that is, it is itself a change of heart. When a person is justified by faith, he is reconciled to God, and at the same time he is in fact reconciled to God's holy law. Joyfully Ellen White said that this message of justification by faith "is made manifest in obedience to all the commands of God" (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 92). This is what made Ellen White happy to hear it, why she said she had heard nothing like it presented publicly in the previous 45 years. Note: this is justification by faith—it does not in the least down play sanctification. Bear in mind that she declares this to be "the third angel's message in verity." This is a serious call for us to study, to learn, to comprehend. What we have often said is sanctification is in reality the experience of justification by faith.

5. There is a beautifully logical progression of truth in this 1888 message. It follows next that this experience of justification by faith must rest on some foundation stronger than the believer's feelings or works. Ephesians 2 clearly says that we are saved "by grace, through faith." Where was that grace manifested? Titus 2:11-14 says when Christ "gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us. . .," it was at the cross that His grace was manifested and His blood was shed for the world. This is why Jones and Waggoner saw that in the purely legal or objective sense, the whole world was justified at the cross. Justification by faith cannot be a personal reality without appreciating what Christ accomplished by His sacrifice. Ellen White saw this truth as an element of the light that is yet to lighten the earth with glory.

6. Another vital element in the 1888 message is the reality of Christ coming close to us, as our Saviour. This means each understands that he took on His sinless nature our sinful nature; that He "in all points was tempted like as we are, yet with sin," not tempted unlike we are. He was tempted from within as we are, "yet without sin," as well as from without. The world (yes, and the church) desperately needs to understand the most precious Good News that is in this truth. Many are confused. (Read Jean Zurcher's book, Touched With Our Feelings. It is a significant breakthrough that encourages all thoughtful Seventh-day Adventists to recognize that revival and reformation will yet take place within the organized church.)--See Jean Zurcher's book in our book selection.

7. Undreamed of joy awaits all who understand and believe the biblical view of the two covenants. It was probably the most contested truth that the Lord "sent" us a century ago, and is only now beginning to come into its own as people study the difference between the 1888 view and the popular view held by most today. Again, it is precious Good News that non of the Evangelicals or Roman Catholic Churches as yet can comprehend; and many of us have only dim views of it.

There are other treasures that Jesus said are "new and old" awaiting us. When you understand that message that will lighten the earth with glory, you will in spite of yourself share it. Jeremiah said that God's truth was something he couldn't keep inside: "Your message is like a fire burning deep within me. I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back. (20:9). So, it won't be you that wins souls during the loud cry; it will be the Holy Spirit using you to share Good News that is better than most Christians have ever dreamed of.

The 1888 message was "the beginning" of what must become the greatest work of soul-winning the world has ever seen in 6,000 years. When it was "in a great degree" rejected, that "efficiency" (as Ellen White described it) was likewise "in a great degree" curtailed. The Good News is that the message will yet triumph, and "the efficiency" will be recovered.

Is the SDA General Conference Studying this message — 1888 Message?

We cannot speak for the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference, but it is common knowledge that in 1994 they appointed a special committee of scholars to meet with five or six representatives of the 1888 Message Study Committee. Their assignment was to study the essential, unique elements of the message to determine whether or not they are biblically authentic. The final meeting was in February 2000.

Yes, there has been some resistance to certain aspects of the 1888 message. There have even been published objections to the truth of the message; there also has been some definite support. It can be said accurately that no essential element of the 1888 message published during the past decades have been refuted. On the contrary, the more these topics are closely examined, the greater is the support that develops.

Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will help us to sense the special reality of why is it the latter rain has been so long delayed. It is good for us to pray for the latter rain each morning, but should we not validate our own prayers by learning what is that message which the Lord sent to us as its beginning? How can we ask Heaven to give us something when we don't receive or even understand what was the "beginning" of what we are asking for?

What the future may hold, we leave in God's hands.