Monday, May 5, 2008

Follow-Up on Salvation

I just wanted to share a quote from Ellen White that I happened to stumble upon this morning. It speaks beautifully to my previous post on "Defining Terms" and how a person is "saved." Regarding the idea that there are "conditions" for salvation, notice what she writes (all emphasis mine):
The question will come up, How is it? Is it by conditions that we receive salvation? Never by conditions do we come to Christ. And if we come to Christ, then what is the condition? The condition is that by living faith we lay hold wholly and entirely upon the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour. When we do that, then we work the works of righteousness. But when God is calling the sinner in our world, and inviting him, there is no condition there; he is drawn by the invitation of Christ and it is not, "Now you have got to respond in order to come to God." The sinner comes, and as he comes and views Christ elevated upon that cross of Calvary, which God impresses upon his mind, there is a love beyond anything that is imagined that he has taken hold of. (1888 Materials, p. 537)
She seems to be unequivocally clear that the only "condition" for salvation is that we come to Christ by faith. The idea, as some have proposed, that faith and works are a condition for salvation, does not jive with the biblical witness, or Spirit of Prophecy.

I was accused by a well-meaning brother this last week of buying into "the popular line in contemporary Adventism" (proposed by Morris Venden and Jack Sequiera, they claim) that "first we get saved, then we become obedient." Besides the fact that I don't say we "get saved" (an evangelical straw-man phrase which implies that I believe once a person "gets" saved, then they cannot lose that salvation), it seems evident to me that obedience does follow salvation. As Ellen White says, "When we do that [ie., come to Christ by faith], then we work the works of righteousness." Those works of righteousness do not precede faith. On the contrary, they accompany it and are the result of a true and living faith - which is what James has said all along.

Where these well-meaning brethren come up short is that they all-too-often point away from Calvary, when the Bible and Ellen White keep pointing us back to it. For some reason, we cannot get it through our thick skulls that the cross of Christ is powerful enough, in and of itself. We do not need to say that we are "saved by faith and works." We do not need to say that "obedience is a condition for salvation." Understanding Christ and Him crucified is what "saves" us, and contemplating Christ's infinite sacrifice is powerful enough to compel a person into an obedient and mature walk with God. "For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor 2:2). "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor 5:14, 15).

Why is that idea so scary to some people?


holamickey said...

Shawn - read your blog "Can't we all just get along" - This concerns me right now in that I am in the process of hiring teachers for our school and in the interviews I feel like I have to wade through a very mushy take on the idea of truth. The search continues.

Bulworth said...

It seems to me that one is either a Christian for, what I would call, either legalistic or intellectual reasons (such as to "be saved"), or one considers himself or herself to be a Christian because of their life experiences. While both factors have played roles in my life, my Christianity today is based much more on the latter.