Posts Tagged ‘righteousness by faith’

Can Ellen White predict the future? There are many today, both in and out of the church, who say she cannot. Many of those inside the SDA church say she is inspiring but not inspired. We cannot depend upon her prophetic statements. Do we have the Spirit of Prophecy among us, as Rev. 12:17 and 19:10 seem to indicate, or do we not? Today I thought we could begin a series in which we ask, Is Ellen White inspired enough that her prophetic statements are reliable for us today? One of the statements she made is as follows:

A new light is coming from heaven and taking possession of all God’s people. But divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed (Ms. 32, 1896).

Note the date of this statement—1896. We live more than a hundred years beyond this date—enough time to assess the statement’s reliability. Within contemporary Adventism we find two parties forming out of four, as follows:

True Legalism. These members trust their church membership to save them. They think their obedience is good enough. Emphatic in right doing and busy with church activities, they seldom think about how they are doing in the obedience department.  Historic Adventists frequently fall within this category. They are the “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” and they don’t know it.

Legalist. These individuals try to obey, render a surface obedience, but are often troubled in their efforts. They know that God requires perfect obedience of them, and they know they haven’t it to give. They are powerless to know what to do about it, and are often vulnerable to counterfeit righteousness.

Counterfeit Righteousness by Faith: These people have given up. They have developed a theory that since perfect righteousness is required and they know they haven’t it to give, they assume that means Christ’s righteousness is lived out on their behalf. They don’t worry or even think about it any more. They purport to have the “assurance of salvation” but, unbeknownst to them, it is a sliding slippery slope.

True Righteousness by Faith: Among the doctrines of the church, righteousness by faith may be the most important. Righteousness is a person—the Lord Jesus Christ. We get his righteousness by getting Him to walk with us through our days. The folk who have found true righteousness by faith have discovered how to abide in Him. They have fellowship with Him through praise and thanksgiving. He has become to them, not a theory, but a living, daily reality.

Oftentimes we hear statements coming from leaders in the church, and we say w-h-a-t? Then maybe we go along with them because we are so confused. If only we had a number affixed over our  head or embroidered on a vest in order that people always know what category we are in. If we are obliged to be in a church with such an array of beliefs, perhaps it is the only way we can avoid soul-destroying confusion. But God requires that we give the trumpet a certain sound.

Remember, in the final analysis, there are only two categories when the end comes. Divisions will come, then two parties will be developed. The unique thing about Ellen’s pronouncement is that both parties are in the church. In the weeks ahead I will discuss each category more fully and perhaps suggest some helpful insights for each. And we will continue to probe the question: Is Ellen White inspired enough that her prophetic statements are reliable for us today?
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Last week I spoke of my conversion—for a purpose. I wanted to establish the vital necessity of really knowing God, the outgrowth of which is obedience. Satan has engineered an attitude where any time we speak of obedience, confusion breaks out, and someone is sure to raise the specter of legalism. I wanted to fully establish that, when I speak of obedience I am not speaking of legalism. I do know the difference and practice righteousness by faith. We’ll talk more about that in another blog.

However, whether we practice rxf or legalism there is still something about obeying God that needs to be emphasized, and we so seldom hear about it any more. But it is of vital importance to our life today.

If we, knowing truth from error, do not obey God, the time will come when He will have to let us go. If the character of God message teaches anything, it teaches this. Brothers and sisters, we must put our sins away. We know what they are. The sin of having anything in our life ahead of God. The sin of ignoring our neighbor’s best interest. If we wish to break these commandments down further, the first four commandments support the first item, and the second six support the second. In all the Bible has He made anything more clear? Yet who speaks about it today? Is it not the most loving thing we can do to warn the world of the catastrophe that awaits somewhere down the line, if we continue with our indifferent attitude toward sin? How often did Jesus say, “Go and sin no more, lest a worst thing come upon you”?

No message has ever been given that spells out the future in such alarming terms as this message. Yes, it is a wonderful, heartwarming message. God doesn’t “steal, kill . . . [or] destroy.” He will never, never, never, never hurt us.

But there is a great controversy going on. God has committed Himself to the terms of the conflict. If man’s behavior aligns him on the side of Satan, the time will come when God will have to back off and let him go. This brings unbearable sorrow to the heart of God. We cannot measure nor plumb the depths of this sorrow. It is a sorrow we can but faintly understand. But God will be true to His word. He will honor our free will. He will release us into the hand of our chosen master. Humans get the master they choose to obey.

For this reason I believe Satan has intimidated us about speaking of the need for obedience. He likes–looks forward to—the release.

Oh, I know the difference, so don’t email me about it. I know that when Jesus comes into our heart, the heart changes. Suddenly, what use to attract us attracts us no more. Jesus lives out His righteous ways in us.

But there is a progression in our Christian walk. God reads the heart. He knows if we have committed to obedience or not. Whether our growth toward God is through legalism or true rxf, the character of God message tells us that we need to devote some thought and energy to this question: Have I put my sins away?

 Anything else going on in the church today must take a sobering second place to this question.

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