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Archives / 1972 / April

 

The Sanctuary and the Blotting Out of Sins (Conclusion)

Robert G. Burton

 

IN VIEW of the fact that Ellen G. White approved the message of righteousness by faith as preached by Jones and Wag goner in 1888 and also that they traveled to the West Coast preaching this message at camp meetings, it seems imperative that we take a close look at their understanding of righteousness by faith as it applies to this present study.

In 18S9 E. J. Waggoner wrote on justification. He saw sins of ignorance that had to be repented of and overcome rather than to require a special work to blot them from the mind.

Every one must admit that we are absolutely saved from sin just as far as we have light on the truth of God's word in regard to our duty, . . . and no farther. To say that we are absolutely and completely saved from sin because we have no consciousness of sin would be to deny the existence of sins of ignorance, of which the Scriptures so largely speak. See Lev. 4, entire, and Num. 15:22-29. Sins of ignorance are not so heinous in the sight of the Lord as sins of presumption; but they are sins, of which the Lord requires repentance and of which we need forgiveness.1

In the above passage, sins of ignorance are those sins that one commits because of lack of light and understanding. The victory over these sins does not come by a blotting out, but by the process of further understanding, repentance, and confession, as he states further:

But, as before noticed, they may sin ignorantly, and do things which are offensive to God because they are not fully instructed in the right. When these sins come to their knowledge they must repent; and if they refuse or neglect to repent of them, they stand as endorsing them, and then their relation is changed and they must be counted sins of presumption.2

In this year 1900 he wrote about the process of victorious living. As with the new-birth experience, he could not explain how the Lord performs the work of the Spirit in man, but the reality of it was certain.

On account of the weakness of our flesh, we are unable to do the righteousness of the law; therefore Christ, who is come in the flesh, . . . strengthens us with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. We cannot tell how He does it; He alone knows how it is done, because He alone has the power; but we may know the reality of it.3

Even though Waggoner could not give a scientific explanation of the process of righteousness by faith, the following statements show that he had a rather good understanding of righteousness by faith. Further, it is evident that he did not look forward to a time when some special work had to be done for the individual so that he could be an overcomer. The process was one of complete submission to the working of the Holy Spirit in the mind of man.4

Even so it will be when God is allowed His rightful place in the bodies of men. His Spirit will be their spirit, and His mind and thought will be their mind and thought. When God thinks for a man it is not like one man's thinking for and imposing his will on another. There is perfect freedom. The man chooses God's thoughts because they are better than his own, and then God thinks in him, the man's brain being the organ of the Holy Spirit.5

Just as the water of life constantly flows from God's throne, so the blood of Christ constantly flows through the hearts of believers, cleansing them moment by moment.6

The Lord wants all to understand that the new birth puts men in the same position that Christ occupied on this earth, and He will demonstrate this life before the world. The life of Jesus is to be perfectly reproduced in His followers, not for a day merely, but for all time and for eternity7

At last the sinner, weary of the vain struggle to get righteousness from the law, listens to the voice of Christ, and flees to His outstretched arms. Hiding in Christ, he is covered with His righteousness; and now behold! he has obtained, through faith in Christ, that for which he has been vainly striving.8

The whole secret of overcoming, then, lies in first wholly yielding to God, with a sincere desire to do His will; next, in knowing that in our yielding He accepts us as His servants; and then, in retaining that submission to Him, and leaving ourselves in His hands.9

E. J. Waggoner is emphatic that man must be an instrument in the hands of God if he is to be kept from evil. Because of man's confidence in salvation, he can have real gladness and thanksgiving, and at this stage the enemy—Satan—leaves defeated. The joy of righteousness far out weighs any joy that can be had through sin. Of course this is accomplished through faith, but through faith the impossible is done— being righteous—and this is all God re quires us to do. Waggoner states repeatedly that man cannot be righteous on his own, just as Peter could not walk on the water on his own; it is achieved by Christ coming to dwell in the heart by faith.10

Another of the 1888 preachers of righteousness by faith was A. T. Jones. Here again it is necessary to take a look at his teachings on the subject of righteousness by faith as it pertains to our topic and to look at what he had to say in several places. In that it is recognized that his sermons of the 1893 General Conference reveal his message of righteousness by faith as he taught it,11 we will check on the first. He gave a lengthy series of sermons en- titled "The Third Angel's Message" in which he covered his position, as well as overemphasizing the importance of faith to the point of near antinomianism, as well as being critical of the brethren who had not accepted the message of 1888.12

In message number 10 he dealt with the putting on of the robe of Christ's righteousness, and attaining to the perfect man —the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. He described how this is done:

It is the co-operation of the divine and the human —the mystery of God in you and me—the same mystery that was in the gospel and that is the third angel's message.13

How tall are we to be in character before we leave this world? As tall as Christ. What is to be our stature? That of Christ.14

He continues with an illustration of God as the weaver who weaves the robe of Christ's righteousness for us, emphasizing that God is the weaver. And as we look at the weaving we may not see the beauty, in fact, it may seem spoiled and shapeless, but we can be confident in the work of the Weaver. Then he concludes:

Brethren, let Him weave away. Let Him carry on His blessed plan of weaving through all our life and experience the precious pattern of Jesus Christ. The day is coming, and is not far off, when the last shuttle will be shot through, the last thread will be laid on, the last point in the figure will be met completely, and sealed with the seal of the living God.15

In message number 11 he describes how this is done.

We receive the promise of the Spirit through faith; but who brings it? The Spirit of God, and when we have that, Christ dwells in the heart. Then it is the Holy Spirit that brings the personal presence of Jesus Christ; and in bringing His personal presence to us, He brings Himself. Then it is the mind of Christ, by which we may comprehend, investigate, and revel in, the deep things of God which He reaches down and brings forth to our understanding and sets them before us in their plainness. That is what we must have, in order to have the presence of Christ, in order to have the righteousness of Christ, in order that we may have the latter rain, in order that we may give the loud cry.16

This he carries further in the next two messages.

When the individual believes in Jesus Christ, and obtains the righteousness which is by faith, then the Holy Spirit, which is the circumcision of the heart, is received by him. And when the whole people, as a church, receive the righteousness of faith, the blessing of Abraham, then what is to hinder the church from receiving the Spirit of God?17

If the Lord has brought up sins to us that we never thought of before, that only shows that .He is going down to the depths, and He will reach the bottom at last; and when He finds the last thing that is unclean or impure, that is out of harmony with His will, and brings that up, and shows that to us, and we say, "I would rather have the Lord than that"— then the work is complete, and the seal of the living God can be fixed upon that character. . . . Let the surrender be complete.18

This work of developing what Jones calls complete perfection is through full and absolute confidence, trust, and dependence in the life and priestly work and merits of Jesus Christ, a work accomplished through the processes of justification and sanctification.

It is most rewarding to study the subject of the blotting out of sins, true conversion, and Christian growth as taught by God's servant Ellen G. White and found in such books as Steps to Christ, Christ's Object Les sons, and Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing. These books were published close to the time of the General Conference of 1888.

We must all agree that there is yet a great work to be done in the Adventist Church for the individual believer. This work can be accomplished only as we accept fully the wonderful message of righteousness by faith as proclaimed in 1888 and onward. We need an experience in righteousness by faith that will go to the very depths of our souls. This is the message that is to be proclaimed with a loud cry, and this is the message that is to prepare us for translation.

 

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1. E. J. Waggoner, Justification by Faith (Oakland, California: Pacific Press Publishing Assn., 1900), pp. 5, 6.

2 Ibid., p. 6.

3 ————, The Glad Tidings (Oakland, California: Pacific Press Publishing Assn., 1900), p. 199.

4. Ibid., p. 223.

5. ————, The Everlasting Covenant (59 Paternoster Row, E. C.: International Tract Society, 1900), pp. 361, 362.

6. lbid., p. 365.

7. Ibid., p. 367.

8. E. J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness (Melbourne, Australia: Echo Publishing Company Ltd.), p. 62.

9. lbid., p. 94.

10. Ibid., p. 96.

11. Norval F. Pease, By Faith Alone (Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Assn., 1962), p. 157.

12. Ibid., pp. 157, 158.

13. A. T. Jones, "The Third Angel's Message, No. 10," General Conference Bulletin, 1893, p. 207.

14. Ibid., pp. 207, 208.

15.Ibid., p. 208.'

16. lbid., No. 11, p. 246.

17. Ibid., No. 16, p. 383.

18. Ibid., No. 17, p. 404.

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