Friday, January 2, 2009

"And The Winner Is...?

Joseph and James have been arguing since the mid 1840's.
Joseph emphasizes "...keeping the seventh-day Sabbath..." brings salvation in its train but James points to "...the righteousness of Christ as the only means of salvation. The interesting thing is that in every Seventh-day Adventist church and on any given morning during Bible study the argument is still heard; and I think the answer is so obvious and so simple that the whole discussion is a waste of Holy energy.
Apart from Jesus Christ, Sabbath keeping is a waste of time. One might just as well stay home or go shopping. (Yes, I did say, "go shopping"!
During his long and very fruitful life Joseph Bates was in turn; a health reformer, our first theologian, our first historian, one of the first (if not the first) sabbatarian), the first to understand the larger picture of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, our first missionary...there are other firsts as well.
But Joseph had a problem: He kept falling into legalism throughout his life.
James White emphasized righteousness by faith all the while understanding that one's works came as fruit of the Holy Spirit. Borrowing a tone from George Knight; one can keep the Sabbath and be meaner than sin; one can be a vegan and love nothing but their piety. "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples; if you have love one for another." [John 13:35].
One member of Bible study class says, just about every week, "you have to qualify for heaven." And every week I ask him (and myself) "What in the world does that mean?" I love this man and have known him for decades but one Sabbath the "switch" flipped in my brain and I said, Bro. S. there is only one thing I need to do to qualify for salvation and that is to be a sinner, and that I am (most assuredly!).
Zechariah's illustration of Joshua the high priest and the work of the Angel of the Lord [Chapter 3] perfectly illustrates what Jesus has done for us. The Angel of the Lord says, "Take away the filthy garments (covered with excrement [look it up in Strong's Concordance]) from him. 'And He said. "See, I have removed your iniquity from you and will clothe you with rich robes." What robe is richer than the Righteousness of Jesus Christ? Nothing!
So, every Sabbath, in every Adventist church Joseph and James still fight it out; mostly because about half the people lack a full understanding of the message of righteousness by faith in Revelation chapter 14 verses 6-12. Undoubtedly the most significant "righteousness by faith" verse is the last; verse 12. It reads like this [NKJV] "Here is the patience of the saints; here [are; and added word] those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
According (again) to George Knight, the Greek translation for the word, "of", could be just as faithfully rendered as, "in".
Wrapping this up, those whose faith abides in Christ as their Saviour also (just so happen to ) keep His commandments. So which is it that "qualifies" them for heaven? their faith or their commandment keeping?
My church needs to figure this out. Those who do can look forward to the coming of Christ in the clouds [verse 14]. And those who don't figure it out...well...they have on the wrong wedding garment; one of their own weaving.
As a footnote (Thank you George); When Joseph Bates first presented the sabbatarian message (which he got from Seventh-day Baptists) to James White and his girlfriend Ellen Harmon, they rejected it. (Bates sometimes preached as though there were no other commandments [ibidem]).This "Ellen" lady makes the statement; "...the law, the law, the law; we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa."
Think on these things and read John chapter 15.
God Bless. e.c.

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