Through sin, man was separated from God, the Source of life; and, unless he avails himself of the provision that was made for his restoration, he must die the eternal death (extinction). Isaiah 59:2 (cf John 1:4); Romans 5:12; 6:23 (first part). But he does not have to perish, unless he chooses to. He can find his way back to God, and enjoy eternal life, through Christ (John 6:35, 40, 47, 48; 14:6. By dying on the cross for our sins, Christ redeemed us from the death sentence pronounced by the holy Law of God, which we have transgressed. More than that. Christ imparts to us divine power to unite with human effort. Thus, by faith in Christ (as we accept His life and death for us, and place ourselves under the guidance of His Spirit), and by repentance and regeneration, we regain that which was lost by our first parents.
The plan of redemption was motivated by the love of God for the fallen race. Full provision has been made for our salvation. Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 12:2; 45:22. The accusation that the Pharisees hurled against Christ, "This man receiveth sinners," is our great hope. Luke 15:1; John 3:15; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10; Titus 3:3-8.
"Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth 'the fruits of the Spirit.' Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 372.
"The proud heart strives to earn salvation; but both our title to heaven and our fitness for it are found in the righteousness of Christ. The Lord can do nothing toward the recovery of man until, convinced of his own weakness, and stripped of all self-sufficiency, he yields himself to the control of God. Then he can receive the gift that God is waiting to bestow. From the soul that feels his need, nothing is withheld. He has unrestricted access to Him in whom all the fullness dwells."—The Desire of Ages, p. 300.
A. GRACE, FAITH, AND WORKS
Grace is "a gift of God"—an "unmerited favor." Ephesians 2:8; Romans 5:20, 21; 6:23.
Grace is not a licence for man to continue in sin (Romans 6:1, 2; Galatians 2:17, 18; John 8:11; Hebrews 10:26-29; 1 John 3:3-10), but a provision, a power, for him to render obedience to God. Those who obey the Lord are no longer "under [the penalty or sentence of] the law." Romans 6:14, 15. They are under the grace of Christ, that enables them to obey the commandments of the Almighty. 1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Timothy 2:1 (cf Ephesians 6:10); Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:13; 4:13; Titus 2:11, 12; 1 John 3:22; 5:3.
"It is the grace that Christ implants in the soul which creates in man enmity against Satan. Without this converting grace and renewing power, man would continue the captive of Satan, a servant ever ready to do his bidding. But the new principle in the soul creates conflict where hitherto had been peace. The power which Christ imparts enables man to resist the tyrant and usurper. Whoever is seen to abhor sin instead of loving it, whoever resists and conquers those passions that have held sway within, displays the operation of a principle wholly from above."—The Great Controversy, p. 506.
"The greatest manifestation that men and women can make of the grace and power of Christ is made when the natural man becomes a partaker of the divine nature, and through the power that the grace of Christ imparts, overcomes the corruption that is in the world through lust."—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 251-252.
"The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension."—The Desire of Ages, p. 305.
"Without the grace of Christ, the sinner is in a hopeless condition; nothing can be done for him; but through divine grace, supernatural power is imparted to the man, and works in mind and heart and character. It is through the impartation of the grace of Christ that sin is discerned in its hateful nature, and finally driven from the soul temple. It is through grace that we are brought into fellowship with Christ, to be associated with Him in the work of salvation." —Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 366-367.
Man is saved by grace through faith. John 3:14-16; Acts 15:11; Ephesians 2:8, 9; 2 Timothy 3:15.
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1.
"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17.
"Through faith we receive the grace of God; but faith is not our Saviour. It earns nothing. It is the hand by which we lay hold upon Christ, and appropriate His merits, the remedy for sin. And we cannot even repent without the aid of the Spirit of God. The Scripture says of Christ, 'Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.' Acts 5:31. Repentance comes from Christ as truly as does pardon. How, then, are we to be saved? 'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,' so the Son of man has been lifted up, and everyone who has been deceived and bitten by the serpent may look and live. 'Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.' John 1:29. The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul. The thoughts and desires are brought into obedience to the will of Christ."—The Desire of Ages, pp. 175-176.
One of the purposes of the plan of redemption is to cause us to cease trusting in our own works of righteousness. Luke 16:15; 2 Timothy 1:9; Galatians 2:16; Titus 3:4-7; Romans 3:27, 28; Hebrews 4:10. The reason is that the only works of righteousness that we can do ourselves without Christ are sin. Isaiah 64:6; Romans 14:23; Luke 18:11, 12; Mark 7:6-13. God intends to daily change our sinful hearts, then Christ produces His works in us. Our faith will be full of good works for "faith without works is dead." Isaiah 26:12; 1 Corinthians 15:31; Galatians 2:20; 5:22, 23; James 2:20-22. Christ's work of righteousness in our hearts renewed by the Holy Spirit becomes our righteousness. Revelation 19:8.
B. RIGHTEOUSNESS IMPUTED AND RIGHTEOUSNESS IMPARTED
When, by faith, the sinner comes to Christ as he is and confesses his sins, then the merits of Christ's life are credited in his behalf, and he is freely pardoned through the merits of the blood of Christ. 1 John 1:9; Romans 3:23-26, 31; 5:1, 9, 10, 16-19; Galatians 2:16; 3:24; 2 Corinthians 5:19, 21.
"All that man can possibly do toward his own salvation is to accept the invitation, 'Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.' No sin can be committed by man for which satisfaction has not been met on Calvary. Thus the cross, in earnest appeals, continually proffers to the sinner a thorough expiation (MS 50, 1900)." The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1071.
"When God pardons the sinner, remits the punishment he deserves, and treats him as though he had not sinned, He receives him into divine favor, and justifies him through the merits of Christ's righteousness. The sinner can be justified only through faith in the atonement made through God's dear Son, who became a sacrifice for the sins of the guilty world. No one can be justified by any works of his own. He can be delivered from the guilt of sin, from the condemnation of the law, from the penalty of transgression, only by virtue of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. Faith is the only condition upon which justification can be obtained, and faith includes not only belief but trust." —Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 389.
"Faith is the condition upon which God has seen fit to promise pardon to sinners; not that there is any virtue in faith whereby salvation is merited, but because faith can lay hold of the merits of Christ, the remedy provided for sin. Faith can present Christ's perfect obedience instead of the sinner's transgression and defection. When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then, according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin, and justifies him freely. The repentant soul realizes that his justification comes because Christ, as his substitute and surety, has died for him, is his atonement and righteousness."—Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 366-367.
"True faith and true prayer—how strong they are! They are as two arms by which the human suppliant lays hold upon the power of Infinite Love."—Gospel Workers, p. 259.
"Through the same faith we may receive spiritual healing. By sin we have been severed from the life of God. Our souls are palsied. Of ourselves we are no more capable of living a holy life than was the impotent man capable of walking. There are many who realize their helplessness, and who long for that spiritual life which will bring them into harmony with God; they are vainly striving to obtain it. In despair they cry, 'O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?' Rom. 7:24, margin. Let these desponding, struggling ones look up. The Saviour is bending over the purchase of His blood, saying with inexpressible tenderness and pity, 'Wilt thou be made whole?' He bids you arise in health and peace. Do not wait to feel that you are made whole. Believe His word, and it will be fulfilled. Put your will on the side of Christ. Will to serve Him, and in acting upon His word you will receive strength. Whatever may be the evil practice, the master passion which through long indulgence binds both soul and body, Christ is able and longs to deliver. He will impart life to the soul that is 'dead in trespasses.' Eph. 2:1. He will set free the captive that is held by weakness and misfortune and the chains of sin."—The Desire of Ages, p. 203.
"This mercy and goodness is wholly undeserved. The grace of Christ is freely to justify the sinner without merit or claim on his part. Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment he is pardoned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him, and he is no more to doubt God's forgiving grace."—Reflecting Christ, p. 78.
"What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself."—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 456.
"Justification means the saving of a soul from perdition, that he may obtain sanctification, and through sanctification, the life of heaven. Justification means that the conscience, purged from dead works, is placed where it can receive the blessings of sanctification."—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 908.
"Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. Christ's character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned."—Steps to Christ, p. 62.
"By living faith, by earnest prayer to God, and depending upon Jesus' merits, we are clothed with His righteousness, and we are saved."—Faith and Works, p. 71.
While justification is available as long as Christ is ministering in the sanctuary, it is only when a person is justified that the work of sanctification, a work of a lifetime, begins. With his consent and cooperation, the believer is sanctified by the Holy Spirit, through the truth, as he is led into all truth. 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; John 16:13; 17:17 (cf Psalm 119:142); John 8:32; 1 Corinthians 15:31 (cf Romans 6:6); Romans 6:18, 22. It is God's plan through sanctification to give man perfect victory over sin in his life. 1 John 1:9; Romans 6:14; Ephesians 4:23, 24; Hebrews 12:14.
"The sanctification of the soul is accomplished through steadfastly beholding Him [Christ] by faith as the only-begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth. The power of truth is to transform heart and character."—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1117.
"Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, or a day. It is a continual growth in grace. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. Satan lives, and is active, and every day we need to earnestly cry to God for help and strength to resist him. As long as Satan reigns we shall have self to subdue, besetments to overcome, and there is no stopping place. There is no point to which we can come and say we have fully attained (RH May 6, 1862)." —SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 947.
"There is no Bible sanctification for those who cast a part of the truth behind them."—Ibid.
"'And hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in him.' Here is the only genuine Bible sanctification."—Signs of the Times, July 22, 1875.
"Sanctification is obtained only in obedience to the will of God."—Faith and Works, p. 29.
"Thank God that we are not dealing with impossibilities. We may claim sanctification. We may enjoy the favor of God. We are not to be anxious about what Christ and God think of us, but about what God thinks of Christ, our Substitute. Ye are accepted in the Beloved."—Selected Messages, vol. 2, pp. 32, 33.
"Sanctification means habitual communion with God (RH March 15, 1906)."—SDA Bible Commentary (EGW), vol. 7, p. 908.
"This is true sanctification; for sanctification consists in the cheerful performance of daily duties in perfect obedience to the will of God."—Christ's Object Lessons, p. 360.
"Our sanctification is the work of the Father, he Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is the fulfillment of the covenant God has made with those who bind themselves up with Him, to stand with Him, His Son, and His Spirit in holy fellowship. Have you been born again? Have you become a new being in Christ Jesus? Then cooperate with the three great powers of heaven who are working in your behalf (MS 11, 1901)."—SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 908.
"True sanctification unites believers to Christ and to one another in the bonds of tender sympathy. This union causes to flow continually into the heart rich currents of Christlike love, which flows forth again in love for one another." —SDA Bible Commentary (EGW), vol. 5, p. 1141.
"Sanctification is the fruit of faith, whose renewing power transforms the soul into the image of Christ."—Signs of the Times, June 7, 1883.
Man has no power to regenerate himself. Job 14:4. It is only through his belief in the merits and sacrifice of Christ that he can be justified (pardoned), and it is only through the work of the Holy Spirit in him that he can be sanctified (made holy, or free from sin) (Titus 3:5), as the mind or character of Christ is implanted in him. Justification and sanctification, working together, may be called regeneration or conversion—a process through which Christ saves us from sin. Matthew 1:21 (cf John 8:11); 1 Peter 1:22, 23; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-25; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14.
We become sons and daughters of our heavenly Father (1 John 3:1)—
(a) by adoption: Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:4-6; Ephesians 1:3-5, and
(b) by spiritual birth (regeneration): John 1:12, 13; Hebrews 2:11; John 3:3, 6, 7; James 1:18; 1 John 3:9; 5:18; Romans 8:14.
C. MAN'S PART
The sinner's part is to respond to the call of God to repentance. Matthew 4:17; Revelation 3:20; Hebrews 3:15 (cf Matthew 22:14); Mark 2:17; Acts 2:37, 38. It is God who leads him to repent, and he yields to the influence of the Holy Spirit when the call comes to him. Acts 5:31; Romans 2:4. He confesses his sins to God, accepts Christ as his personal Saviour, and receives by faith that which Christ did for him (for his justification) and that which Christ wants to do in him through the work of the Holy Spirit (for his sanctification). 1 John 1:9; Acts 16:31; Hebrews 12:2; Ephesians 4:22-24. He does the will of God by obeying His commandments, not in his own power, but in the power received from on High, which is the grace of God. Matthew 5:19, 20; 7:21; 19:17; 2 Peter 1:3-11. Having in view his own salvation, he is baptized, he watches, he prays, he meditates, he studies the Bible, he works for the salvation of others. Mark 16:16; 13:33-37; 2 Timothy 2:15; Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Timothy 4:12-16; Colossians 1:28, 29. He resists the devil in the name of Christ and by His grace (power). Philippians 2:12, 13; James 4:7, 8; 1 Peter 5:6-9. He strives to be an overcomer. 1 John 3:6; Luke 13:23, 24; Revelation 21:7.
Our prayers to the Father are heard and answered provided we have a proper relationship with Him through the Son and the Holy Spirit. John 14:13; 15:14-16; 16:23; 1 John 3:21-24; 5:14, 15; Revelation 5:8; 8:4.
"Righteousness within is testified to by righteousness without. He who is righteous within is not hard-hearted and unsympathetic, but day by day he grows into the image of Christ, going on from strength to strength. He who is being sanctified by the truth will be self-controlled, and will follow in the footsteps of Christ until grace is lost in glory. The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven.—(Review and Herald, June 4, 1895.)"—Messages to Young People, p. 35.
"Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own."—Christ's Object Lessons, p. 69.
The Power of the Will
"When Christ took human nature upon Him, He bound humanity to Himself by a tie of love that can never be broken by any power save the choice of man himself. Satan will constantly present allurements to induce us to break this tie—to choose to separate ourselves from Christ. Here is where we need to watch, to strive, to pray, that nothing may entice us to choose another master; for we are always free to do this. But let us keep our eyes fixed upon Christ, and He will preserve us. Looking unto Jesus, we are safe. Nothing can pluck us out of His hand. In constantly beholding Him, we 'are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.' 2 Corinthians 3:18."—Steps to Christ, p. 72.
"Pure religion has to do with the will. The will is the governing power in the nature of man, bringing all the other faculties under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the deciding power which works in the children of men unto obedience to God or unto disobedience."—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 513.
"Every living Christian will advance daily in the divine life. As he advances toward perfection, he experiences a conversion to God every day; and this conversion is not completed until he attains to perfection of Christian character, a full preparation for the finishing touch of immortality." —Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 505.
"Not only man but the earth had by sin come under the power of the wicked one, and was to be restored by the plan of redemption."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 67.
" There is a work for us to do to fit ourselves for the society of angels. We must be like Jesus, free from the defilement of sin. He was all that he requires us to be; he was a perfect pattern for childhood, for youth, for manhood. We must study the pattern more closely."—Review and Herald, November 17, 1885.
D. CHRISTIAN PERFECTION
The redeemed will stand without fault before the throne of God. Psalm 37:37; Matthew 5:48; Luke 6:40; Philippians 3:15; 1 Peter 5:10; Jude 24. Before the close of probation, all of God's people will be cleansed from every defilement. At His coming, Christ will not make them, but "find" them, blameless. Revelation 7:13, 14; 14:5; 1 Corinthians 1:7, 8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Peter 3:12, 14; 1 John 3:2, 3.
"We stand in favor before God, not because of any merit in ourselves, but because of our faith in 'the Lord our righteousness.' Jesus stands in the holy of holies, now to appear in the presence of God for us. There He ceases not to present His people moment by moment, complete in Himself. But because we are thus represented before the Father, we are not to imagine that we are to presume upon His mercy and become careless, indifferent, and self-indulgent. Christ is not the minister of sin. We are complete in Him, accepted in the Beloved, only as we abide in Him by faith. Perfection through our own good works we can never attain. The soul who sees Jesus by faith, repudiates his own righteousness. He sees himself as incomplete, his repentance insufficient, his strongest faith but feebleness, his most costly sacrifice as meager, and he sinks in humility at the foot of the cross. But a voice speaks to him from the oracles of God's Word. In amazement he hears the message, 'Ye are complete in Him.' Now all is at rest in his soul."—Faith and Works, pp. 107-108.
E. NO SECOND CHANCE
The Bible teaches that the door of mercy—the time in which sinners are given an opportunity to obtain salvation—will not remain open forever. The time of probation will come to an end shortly before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. There will be no second chance after the close of probation. Luke 13:23-27; Matthew 7:22, 23; 25:10-13; Isaiah 55:6; 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2; Jeremiah 8:20; Revelation 22:11.
"Should God save men in disobedience, after granting them a second probation, putting them to the test in this life, they would fail to regard his authority in the future life. Those who are disloyal to Christ in this world would be disloyal to him in the world to come, and would create a second rebellion in heaven. Men have the history of Adam's disobedience and fall before them, and because of this they should be warned against venturing to transgress the law of God. Jesus Christ has died in order that all men may have a chance to make their calling and election sure; but the standard of righteousness in this gospel age is no less than it was in the days of Adam, and heaven will be the reward of obedience."—Review and Herald, September 28, 1897.