Grace for Obedience

THE FUNDAMENTAL doctrines of Scripture that guard against Satan's delusive last-day deceptions, including the standards that make the true Christian different from the worldling, are set forth in our Church Manual and appear on the certificates given to new converts at the time of their baptism. These are all founded on Scripture. Added emphasis given to them through the counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy is designed to help keep the remnant church on the right path to the kingdom. . .

-an executive editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

THE FUNDAMENTAL doctrines of Scripture that guard against Satan's delusive last-day deceptions, including the standards that make the true Christian different from the worldling, are set forth in our Church Manual and appear on the certificates given to new converts at the time of their baptism. These are all founded on Scripture. Added emphasis given to them through the counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy is designed to help keep the remnant church on the right path to the kingdom.

Rather than minimizing these affirmations by a limited "grace alone" theology that seeks only the grace of forgiveness, these doctrines of truth and principles of Christian conduct need a new emphasis that includes the grace of obedience. To present only the former, and in such way as to minimize or even detract from the latter, is a great injustice. It misleads and confuses. Thus presented it is not the everlasting gospel in its fullness. It is not the full message that will "make ready a people prepared for the Lord." It is not a message that will protect and exalt the high standards that are to characterize the remnant, holy people.

"Holiness," of course, is always the holiness of the Lord. And "righteousness," of course, is His righteousness, not ours. Both are ours only through faith in Christ. It was of this complete experience that Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20. He claimed, "I am crucified with Christ." That is, his old carnal nature was slain. There was only one place for it, and that was at the foot of the cross. This was not a case of "once slain, always slain." Paul had to die daily.

This initial death to sin and the old nature is the experience of repentance and conversion. This is justification by faith. And it is by grace, through faith. But Paul doesn't stop with the crucifixion and burial of his past sins. He continued, "Nevertheless I live." This is the new life, the spiritual life. He has become "a new creature" in Christ Jesus. Notice that this is "in Christ." He explains: "Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." The good works that resulted from his conversion experience, repeated daily, were attributable only to Christ, who now controlled his actions.

How was this accomplished? He says: "And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God." His was indeed a life of faith. It was obedience by faith, a changed life by faith. To the Ephesians he wrote, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Eph. 3:17).

Check-list Christians? Never! Disregard God's rules that help us to understand God's will for our lives? Never! It is, in fact, most appropriate that we check our relationship with God's will daily to make sure that we are not slipping away from His counsels.

When the Temple was being renovated in the days of Josiah the book of the law was found. Upon reading it the king was shocked to discover how far they had wandered from its teachings.

So the Laodicean Adventist may feel that everything is going along quite well with himself until he takes the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy books down from the shelf. As he reads again the divine warnings and reproofs, he recognizes how appropriate they are to his own experience. He sees the need for a new conversion, for a reformation in the life on this point and that. He recognizes more fully the importance of the clear statements of doctrine and Christian standards that have been set forth to distinguish the remnant as a peculiar and holy people. He discovers how easily one, though sincere, may slip into a state of carelessness by looking only to a past experience. He sees anew the need of pressing on in a life of obedience, of searching to understand more fully the will of God, of seeking that complete conformity to His divine image. He realizes he can never reach these ideals on his own, but he claims by faith the enabling power of Christ, which can accomplish for him that which he can never accomplish for himself.

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-an executive editor of Ministry at the time this article was written

December 1975

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