Chapter 10: THE EXPERIENCE

OF SALVATION


Seventh-day Adventists Believe...

In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no

sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the

righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our

need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our

transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Lord and

Christ, as Substitute and Example. This faith which receives

salvation comes through the divine power of the Word and is

the gift of God's grace. Through Christ we are justified,

adopted as God's sons and daughters, and delivered from the

lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and

sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God's law of

love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a

holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine

nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the

judgement.--Fundamental Beliefs,10

 

THE EXPERIENCE OF SALVATION

Centuries ago, the Shepherd of Hermas dreamed of a

wrinkled old lady who had lived long. In his dream, as time

passed, she began to change: while her body was still old

and her hair white, her face looked younger. Eventually, she

was restored to her youth.

T.F. Torrance likened the woman to the church.(*1)

Christians cannot be static. If the Spirit of Christ reigns

within (Rom. 8:9) they are in the process of change.

Paul said, "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up

for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by

the washing of water with the word, that he might present

the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle

or any such thing, that she might be holy and without

blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27, RSV). Such a cleansing is the goal

of the church. Hence, the believers comprising the church

can testify that "though our outer nature is wasting away,

our inner nature is being renewed every day" (2 Cor. 4:16,

RSV). "We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror

the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same

image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the

Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18). This transformation is the ultimate

internal Pentecost.

Throughout Scripture the descriptions of the believer's

experience--salvation, justification, sanctification,

purification, and redemption--are spoken of as (1) already

accomplished, (2) presently being realized, and (3) to be

realized in the future. An understanding of these three

perspectives helps to solve the seeming tensions in emphasis

relative to justification and sanctification. This chapter,

therefore, is divided into three major sections, dealing

with salvation in the believer's past, present, and future.

The Experience of Salvation and the Past

A factual knowledge about God and His love and

benevolence is insufficient. Trying, apart from Christ, to

develop the good in oneself is counterproductive. The

experience of salvation that reaches deep into the soul

comes from God alone. Speaking of this experience, Christ

said, "`Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom

of God....Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, He

cannot enter the kingdom of God'" (John 3:3,5).

Only through Jesus Christ can one experience salvation,

"`for there is no other name under heaven given among men by

which we must be saved'" (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, "`I am the

way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father

except through Me'" (John 14:6).

The experience of salvation involves repentance,

confession, forgiveness, justification, and sanctification.

Repentance

Not long before His crucifixion, Jesus promised His

disciples the Holy Spirit, who would reveal Him by

convicting "`the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of

judgment'" (John 16:8). When at Pentecost the Holy Spirit

did convict the people of their need of a Saviour, and they

asked how they should respond, Peter replied, "Repent!"

(Acts 2:37,38; cf. 3:19).

1. What is repentance?

The word repentance is a translation of the Hebrew

nacham, "to be sorry," "to repent." The Greek equivalent,

metanoeo, means "to change one's mind," "to feel remorse,"

"to repent." Genuine repentance results in a radical change

in attitude toward God and sin. God's Spirit convicts those

who receive Him of the seriousness of sin by bringing them

to a sense of God's righteousness and of their own lost

condition. They experience sorrow and guilt. Recognizing the

truth that "he who covers his sins will not prosper, but

whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy" (Prov.

28:13), they confess specific sins. Through the decided

exercise of their wills, they surrender totally to the

Saviour and renounce their sinful behavior. Thus repentance

reaches its climax in conversion--a turning of the sinner

toward God (from the Greek epistrophe, "a turning toward,"

cf. Acts 15:3).(*2)

David's repentance of his sins of adultery and murder

vividly exemplifies how this experience prepares the way for

victory over sin. Convicted by the Spirit, he despised and

mourned his sin and pleaded for purity: "I acknowledge my

transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You,

You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight."

"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your

lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender

mercies, blot out my transgressions." "Create in me a clean

heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me" (Ps.

51:l,3,10). David's subsequent experience domonstrates that

God's pardon not only provides forgiveness for sin but it

reclaims them from sin.

Although repentance precedes forgiveness, the sinner

cannot, by repentance, fit himself to secure the blessing of

God. In fact, the sinner cannot even produce from within

himself repentance--it is the gift of God (Acts 5:31; cf.

Rom. 2:4). The Holy Spirit draws the sinner to Christ in

order that he may find repentance, this heartfelt sorrow for

sin.

2. Motivation for repentance.

Christ said: "`And I, if I am lifted up from the earth,

will draw all peoples to Myself'" (John 12:32). The heart is

melted and subdued when we sense that Christ's death

justifies us and delivers us from the penalty of death.

Imagine the feelings of the prisoner in death row awaiting

execution when suddenly a pardon is handed him.

In Christ the repentant sinner is not only pardoned but

acquitted--declared righteous! He does not deserve and

cannot earn such treatment. As Paul points out, Christ died

for our justification while we were weak, sinful, ungodly,

and enemies of God (Rom. 5:6-10). Nothing so touches the

depths of the soul as a sense of Christ's pardoning love.

When sinners contemplate this unfathomable divine love,

displayed on the cross, they receive the most powerful

motivation possible to repent. This is the goodness of God

that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

Justification

In His infinite love and mercy God made Christ "who knew

no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the

righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). Through faith in

Jesus, the heart is filled by His Spirit. Through this same

faith, which is a gift of God's grace (Rom. 12:3; Eph. 2:8),

repentant sinners are justified (Rom. 3:28).

The term "justification" is a translation of the Greek

dikaioma, meaning "righteous requirement, deed,"

"regulation," "judicial sentence," "act of righteousness,"

and dikaiosis signifying, "justification," "vindication,"

"acquittal." The related verb dikaioo, meaning "be

pronounced and treated as righteous," "be acquitted," "be

justified," "be set free, made pure," "justify,"

"vindicate," "do justice," gives additional insights into

the term's meaning.(*3)

In general, justification, as used theologically, is "the

divine act by which God declares a penitent sinner

righteous, or regards him as righteous. Justification is the

opposite of condemnation (Rom. 5:16)."(*4) The basis for

this justification is, not our obedience, but Christ's, for

"through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all

men, resulting in justification of life....By one Man's

obedience many will be made righteous" (Rom. 5:18,19). He

gives this obedience to those believers who are "justified

freely by His grace" (Rom. 3:24). "Not by works of

righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy

He saved us" (Titus 3:5).

1. The role of faith and works.

Many wrongly believe that their standing before God

depends on their good or bad deeds. Addressing the question

of how persons are justified before God, Paul unequivocally

stated that he "suffered the loss of all things,...that I

may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own

righteousness,...but that which is through faith in Christ,

the righteousness which is from God by faith" (Phil. 3:8,9).

He pointed to Abraham, who "believed God, and it was

accounted [credited, NIV] to him for righteousness" (Rom.

4:3; Gen. 15:6). He was justified before he underwent

circumcision, not on account of it (Rom. 4:9,10).

What kind of faith did Abraham have? The Scriptures

reveal that "by faith Abraham obeyed" when God called him,

leaving his homeland and traveling "not knowing where he was

going" (Heb. 11:8-10; cf. Gen. 12:4; 13:18). That he had a

genuine, living faith in God was demonstrated by his

obedience. It was on the basis of this dynamic faith that he

was justified.

The apostle James warned about another incorrect

understanding of justification by faith: that one can be

justified by faith without manifesting corresponding works.

He showed that genuine faith cannot exist without works.

Like Paul, James illustrated his point from Abraham's

experience. Abraham's offering of Isaac his son (James 2:21)

demonstrated his faith. "Do you see," James asked, "that

faith was working together with his works, and by works

faith was made perfect?" (James 2:22). "Faith by itself, if

it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:17).

Abraham's experience revealed that works are the evidence

of a true relationship with God. The faith that leads to

justification is, therefore, a living faith that works

(James 2:24).

Paul and James agreed on justification by faith. While

Paul addressed the fallacy of obtaining justification

through works, James dealt with the equally dangerous

concept of claiming justification without corresponding

works. Neither works nor a dead faith lead to justification.

It can be realized only by a genuine faith that works by

love (Gal. 5:6) and purifies the soul.

2. The experience of justification.

Through justification by faith in Christ, His

righteousness is imputed to us. We are right with God

because of Christ our Substitute. God, Paul said, "made Him

who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the

righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). As repentant

sinners, we experience full and complete pardon. We are

reconciled to God!

Zechariah's vision about Joshua the high priest

beautifully illustrates justification. Joshua stands before

the angel of the Lord clothed in filthy garments, which

represent sin's defilement. As he stands there, Satan calls

for his condemnation. Satan's accusations are

correct--Joshua does not deserve acquittal. But God, in

divine mercy, rebukes Satan: "`Is this not a brand plucked

from the fire?'" (Zech. 3:2). Is this not my precious one

whom I am preserving in a special way?

The Lord orders the soiled attire to be removed speedily

and declares: "`See, I have removed your iniquity from you,

and I will clothe you with rich robes'" (Zech. 3:4). Our

loving, all-merciful God sweeps Satan's charges aside,

justifying the trembling sinner, covering him with robes of

Christ's righteousness. As Joshua's dirty robes represented

sin, so the new robe represented the believer's new

experience in Christ. In the process of justification,

confessed and forgiven sin is transferred to the pure and

holy Son of God, the sin-bearing Lamb. "The undeserving

repentant believer, however, is dressed with the imputed

righteousness of Christ. This exchange of clothes, this

divine, saving transaction, is the Biblical doctrine of

justification."(*5) The justified believer has experienced

forgiveness and been purified of his sins.

The Results

What are the results of repentance and justification?

1. Sanctification.

The word "sanctification" is a translation of the Greek

hagiasmos, meaning "holiness," "consecration,"

"sanctification," from hagiazo, "to make holy," "to

consecrate," "to sanctify," "to set apart." The Hebrew

equivalent is qadash, "to separate from common use."(*6)

True repentance and justification lead to sanctification.

Justification and sanctification are closely related,(*7)

distinct but never separate. They designate two phases of

salvation: Justification is what God does for us, while

sanctification is what God does in us.

Neither justification nor sanctification is the result of

meritorious works. Both are soley due to Christ's grace and

righteousness. "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."(*8)

The three phases of sanctification the Bible presents

are: (1) an accomplished act in the believer's past; (2) a

process in the believer's present experience; (3) and the

final result that the believer experiences at Christ's

return.

As to the believer's past, at the moment of justification

the believer is also sanctified "in the name of the Lord

Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11). He or she

becomes a "saint." At that point the new believer is

redeemed, and belongs fully to God.

As a result of God's call (Rom. 1:7), believers are

called "saints" for they are "in Christ" (Phil. 1:1; see

also John 15:1-7), not because they have achieved a state of

sinlessness. Salvation is a present experience. "His mercy,"

Paul said, has "saved us, through the washing of

regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5),

setting us apart and consecrating us to a holy purpose and

walk with Christ.

2. Adopting into God's family.

At the same time new believers have received the "Spirit

of adoption." God has adopted them as His children, which

means that believers are sons and daughters of the King! He

has made them His heirs, "joint heirs of Christ"

(Rom. 8:15-17). What a privilege, honor, and joy!

3. Assurance of salvation.

Justification brings also the assurance of the believer's

acceptance. It brings the joy of being reunited with God

now. No matter how sinful one's past life, God pardons all

sins and we are no longer under the condemnation and curse

of the law. Redemption has become a reality: "In Him we have

redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,

according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:7).

4. The beginning of a new and victorious life.

The realization that the Saviour's blood covers our

sinful past brings healing to body, soul, and mind. Feelings

of guilt may be dispensed with, for in Christ all is

forgiven, all is new. By daily bestowing His grace, Christ

begins transforming us into the image of God.

As our faith in Him grows, our healing and transformation

progress, and He gives us increasing victories over the

powers of darkness. His overcoming of the world guarantees

our deliverance from the slavery of sin (John 16:33).

5. The gift of eternal life.

Our new relationship with Christ brings with it the gift

of eternal life. John affirmed, "He who has the Son has

life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have

life" (1 John 5:12). Our sinful past has been cared for;

through the indwelling Spirit we can enjoy the blessings of

salvation.

The Experience of Salvation and the Present

Through Christ's blood bringing purification,

justification, and sanctification, the believer is "a new

creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all

things have become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).

A Call to a Life of Sanctification

Salvation includes living a sanctified life on the basis

of what Christ accomplished at Calvary. Paul appealed to

believers to live a life consecrated to ethical holiness and

moral conduct (1 Thess. 4:7). To enable them to experience

sanctification, God gives believers the "Spirit of holiness"

(Rom. 1:4). "According to the riches of his glory," Paul

said, God "may grant you to be strengthened with might

through His Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may

dwell in your hearts through faith" (Eph. 3:16,17, RSV).

As a new creation, believers have new responsibilities.

"Just as you presented your members as slaves of

uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more

lawlessness," Paul said, "so now present your members as

slaves of righteousness for holiness" (Rom. 6:19). Now they

are to live "in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25).

Spirit-filled believers "do not walk according to the

flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8:1, cf. 8:4).

They are transformed, since "to be carnally minded is death,

but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6).

Through the indwelling of the Spirit of God they "are not in

the flesh but in the Spirit" (Rom. 8:9).

The highest goal of the Spirit-filled life is to please

God (1 Thess. 4:1). Sanctification is God's will, Paul said.

Therefore "you should abstain from sexual immorality" and

"no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in

this matter....For God did not call us to uncleanness, but

in holiness" (1 Thess. 4:3,6,7).

The Internal Change

At the Second Advent we will be changed physically. This

corruptible mortal body will put on immortality (1 Cor. 15:

51-54). However, our characters must undergo transformation

in preparation for the Second Advent.

Character transformation involves the mental and

spiritual aspects of the image of God, that "inner nature"

that is to be renewed daily (2 Cor. 4:16, RSV; cf. Rom.

12:2). Thus, like the old lady in the Shepherd of Hermas

story, the church is growing younger within--each fully

surrendered Christian is being changed from glory to glory,

until, at the Second Advent, his or her transformation into

the image of God will be completed.

1. The involvement of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Only the Creator can accomplish the creative work of

transforming our lives (1 Thess. 5:23). However, He does not

do so without our participation. We must place ourselves in

the channel of the Spirit's working, which we can do by

beholding Christ. As we meditate on Christ's life, the Holy

Spirit restores the physical, mental, and spiritual

faculties (cf. Titus 3:5). The Holy Spirit's work involves

revealing Christ and restoring us into Christ's image

(cf. Rom. 8:1-10).

God desires to live within His people. It was because He

had promised "I will dwell in them" (2 Cor. 6:16; cf. 1 John

3:24; 4:12) that Paul could say: "Christ lives in me" (Gal.

2:20; cf. John 14:23). The Creator's indwelling daily

revives the believers inwardly (2 Cor. 4:16), renewing their

minds (Rom. 12:2; see also Phil. 2:5).

2. Partaking of the divine nature.

Christ's "exceeding great and precious promises" pledge

His divine power to complete the transformation of our

characters (2 Peter 1:4). This access to divine power allows

us diligently to "add to your faith virtue, to virtue

knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control

perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness

brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love" (2 Peter

1:5-7). "If these things be in you, and abound," Peter says,

"they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor

unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he

that lacketh these things is blind" (2 Peter 1:8,9, KJV).

a. Only through Christ.

What transforms humans into the image of their Creator is

the putting on or partaking of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom.

13:14; Heb. 3:14), the "renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus

3:5). It is the perfecting of God's love in us (1 John

4:12). Here is a mystery akin to that of the incarnation of

the Son of God. As the Holy Spirit enabled the divine Christ

to partake of human nature, so that Spirit enables us to

partake of the divine character traits. This appropriation

of the divine nature renews the inner person, making us

Christlike, though on a different level: Whereas Christ

became human, believers do not become divine. Rather, they

become Godlike in character.

b. A dynamic process.

Sanctification is progressive. By prayer and study of the

Word we constantly grow in fellowship with God.

A mere intellectual understanding of the plan of

salvation will not suffice. "`Unless you eat the flesh of

the Son of Man and drink His blood,'" Christ revealed, "`you

have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My

blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last

day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink

indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in

Me, and I in him'" (John 6:53-56).

His imagery vividly conveys that believers are to

assimilate Christ's words. Jesus said, "`The words that I

speak to you are spirit, and they are life'" (John 6:63; see

also Matt. 4:4).

Character is composed of what the mind "eats and drinks."

When we digest the bread of life, we become transformed into

the likeness of Christ.

3. The two transformations.

In 1517, the same year in which Luther nailed his 95

theses to the castle-church door in Wittenberg, Germany,

Rafael began painting his famous Transfiguration picture in

Rome. These two events had something in common. Luther's act

marked the birth of Protestantism, and Rafael's painting,

albeit unintentionally, epitomized the spirit of the

Reformation.

The painting shows Christ standing on the mountain with

the demoniac looking hopefully to Him from the valley (cf.

Mark 9:2-29). The two groups of disciples--one on the

mountain, the other in the valley--depict two types of

Christian.

The disciples on the mountain wanted to remain with

Christ, seemingly unconcerned about the needs in the valley

below. Through the centuries many have built on "mountains"

far removed from the needs of the world. Their experience is

prayer without works.

On the other hand, the disciples in the valley worked

without prayer--and their efforts to cast out the demon were

unsuccessful. Multitudes have been imprisoned either in the

trap of working for others without power or in that of

praying much without working for others. Both of these kinds

of Christian need to have the image of God restored in them.

a. The true transformation.

God hopes to change fallen beings into His image by

transforming their wills, minds, desires, and characters.

The Holy Spirit brings to believers a decided change of

outlook. His fruits, "Love, joy, peace, longsuffering,

kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control"

(Gal. 5:22,23), now constitute their lifestyle--even though

they remain corruptible mortals till Christ's return.

If we do not resist Him, Christ "will so identify Himself

with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds

into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall

be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and

sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His

service."(*9)

b. The two destinations.

Christ's transfiguration reveals another striking

contrast. Christ was transfigured, but, in a sense, so was

the boy in the valley. The boy was transfigured into a

demonic image (see Mark 9:1-29). Here we see illuminated two

contrasting plans--God's plan to restore us and Satan's to

ruin us. Scripture says God is able to keep us "from

falling" (Jude 24, KJV). Satan, on the other hand, does his

utmost to keep us in a fallen state.

Life involves constant change. There is no neutral

ground. We are either being ennobled or degraded. We are

either "slaves of sin" or "slaves of righteousness" (Rom.

6:17,18). Whoever occupies our minds occupies us. If,

through the Holy Spirit, Christ occupies our minds, we will

become Christlike people--a Spirit-filled life brings "every

thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor.

10:5). But to be without Christ cuts us off from the source

of life and change and makes our ultimate destruction

inevitable.

The Perfection of Christ

What is Biblical perfection? How can it be received?

1. Biblical perfection.

The words "perfect" and "perfection" are translations of

the Hebrew tam or tamim, which mean "complete," "right,"

"peaceful," "sound," "wholesome," or "blameless." Generally

the Greek teleios means "complete," "perfect," "full-grown,"

"mature," "fully developed," and "having attained its

purpose."(*10)

In the Old Testament, when used of humans, the word has a

relative sense. Noah, Abraham, and Job were each described

as perfect or blameless (Gen. 6:9; 17:1; 22:18: Job 1:1,18),

though each had imperfections (Gen. 9:21; 20; Job 40:2-5).

In the New Testament perfect often describes mature

persons who have lived up to the best available light and

attained the potential of their spiritual, mental, and

physical powers (cf. 1 Cor. 14:20; Phil. 3:15; Heb. 5:14).

Believers are to be perfect in their finite sphere, Christ

said, as God is perfect in His infinite and absolute sphere

(cf. Matt. 5:48). In God's sight, a perfect person is one

whose heart and life are wholly surrendered to the worship

and service of God, who is constantly growing in divine

knowledge, and who is, through God's grace, living up to all

the light he has received while rejoicing in a life of

victory (cf. Col. 4:12; James 3:2).

2. Full perfection in Christ.

How may we become perfect? The Holy Spirit brings to us

the perfection of Christ. By faith Christ's perfect

character becomes ours. People can never claim that

perfection independently, as if it were their innate

possession, or theirs by right. Perfection is a gift of God.

Apart from Christ human beings cannot obtain

righteousness. "`He who abides in Me, and I in him,'" He

said, "`bears much fruit; for without Me you can do

nothing'" (John 15:5). It is Christ "who became for us

wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and

redemption" (1 Cor. 1:30).

In Christ these qualities constitute our perfection. He

completed, once for all, our sanctification and redemption.

No one can add to what He has done. Our wedding garment, or

robe of righteousness, was wrought out by Christ's life,

death, and resurrection. The Holy Spirit now takes the

finished product and works it out in the Christian's life.

In this way we can "be filled with all the fullness of God"

(Eph. 3:19).

3. Move on to perfection.

What role do we, as believers, play in all of this?

Through the indwelling Christ we grow up to spiritual

maturity. Through God's gifts to His church we can develop

"to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the

fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). We need to grow beyond our

spiritual childhood experience (Eph. 4:14), beyond the basic

truths of Christian experience, moving on to the "solid

food" prepared for mature believers (Heb. 5:14).

"Therefore," Paul said, "leaving the discussion of the

elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection"

(Heb. 6:1). "This is my prayer," he said, "that your love

may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,

so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be

pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the

fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to

the glory and praise of God" (Phil. 1:9-11, NIV).

The sanctified life is not a life without severe

difficulties and obstacles. Paul admonished believers to

"work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." But

he added the encouraging words, "For it is God who works in

you both to will and to do for His good pleasure"

(Phil. 2:12,13).

"Exhort one another daily," he said, "lest any of you be

hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have

become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our

confidence steadfast to the end" (Heb. 3:13,14; cf.

Matt. 24:13).

But, Scripture warns, "If we deliberately keep on sinning

after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no

sacrifice for sin is left, but only a fearful expectation of

judgment" (Heb. 10:26,27, NIV).

These exhortations make it evident that Christians "need

more than a purely legal justification or sanctification.

They need holiness of character even though salvation is

always by faith. The title to heaven rests on the

righteousness of Christ only. In addition to justification,

God's plan of salvation provides through this title a

fitness for heaven by the indwelling Christ. This fitness

must be revealed in man's moral character as evidence that

salvation `has happened.'" (*11)

What does this mean in human terms? Continual prayer is

indispensable for living a sanctified life that is perfect

at every stage of its development. "For this reason we...do

not cease to pray for you,...that you may have a walk worthy

of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every

good work and increasing in the knowledge of God"

(Col. 1:9,10).

Daily Justification

All believers who are living the Spirit-filled sanctified

life (Christ-possessed) have a continuing need for daily

justification (Christ-be-stowed). We need this because of

conscious transgressions and because of errors we may commit

unwillingly. Realizing the sinfulness of the human heart,

David requested forgiveness for his "hidden faults" (Ps.

19:12, RSV; cf. Jer. 17:9). Speaking specifically of the

sins of believers, God assures us that "if anyone sins, we

have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the

righteous" (1 John 2:1).

The Experience of Salvation and the Future

Our salvation is finally and fully accomplished when we

are either glorified in the resurrection or translated to

heaven. Through glorification God shares with the redeemed

His own radiant glory. This is the hope that all of us, as

God's children, anticipate. Said Paul, "And we rejoice in

our hope of sharing the glory of God" (Rom. 5:2, RSV).

It is fulfilled at the Second Advent when Christ appears

"to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him"

(Heb. 9:28, NIV).

Glorification and Sanctification

The indwelling of Christ in our hearts is one of the

conditions for future salvation--the glorification of our

mortal bodies. "Christ in you," Paul said, is "the hope of

glory" (Col. 1:27), explaining in another place, "If the

Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,

He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to

your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you"

(Rom. 8:11). Paul assures us, God "chose you for salvation

through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the

truth...for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus

Christ" (2 Thess. 2:13,14).

In Him, we are already in the throne room of heaven (Col.

3:1-4). Those who are "partakers of the Holy Spirit" have in

actuality tasted "the powers of the age to come" (Heb.

6:4,5). By contemplating the Lord's glory and fixing our

eyes on the attractive loveliness of Christ's character, we

"are being transformed into his likeness with

ever-increasing glory" (2 Cor. 3:18, NIV)--we are being

prepared for the transformation we will experience at the

Second Advent.

Our final redemption and adoption as a child of God takes

place in the future. Paul says, "The creation eagerly waits

for the revealing of the sons of God," adding that "even we

ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the

adoption, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:19,23; cf.

Eph. 4:30).

This climactic event takes place at "the times of

restoration of all things" (Acts 3:21). Christ calls it

"`the regeneration'" (Matt. 19:28; "renewal of all things,"

NIV). Then "the creation itself also will be delivered from

the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the

children of God" (Rom. 8:21).

The scriptural view that in one sense adoption and

redemption--or salvation--have "already" been accomplished

and that in another sense they have not yet been

accomplished has confused some. A study of the full scope of

Christ's work as Saviour provides the answer. "Paul related

our present salvation to the first coming of Christ. In the

historic cross, resurrection, and heavenly ministry of

Christ our justification and sanctification are secured once

and for all. Our future salvation, the glorification of our

bodies, Paul related, however, to the second coming of

Christ.

"For this reason Paul can say simultaneously: `We are

saved,' in view of the cross and resurrection of Christ in

the past; and `we are not yet saved,' in view of the future

return of Christ to redeem our bodies."(*12)

To emphasize our present salvation to the exclusion of

our future salvation creates an incorrect, unfortunate

understanding of Christ's complete salvation.

Glorification and Perfection

Some incorrectly believe that the ultimate perfection

that glorification will bring is already available to

humans. But of himself, Paul, that dedicated man of God,

wrote near the end of his life, "Not that I have already

attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I

may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid

hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have

apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things

which are behind and reaching forward to those things which

are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the

upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:12-14).

Sanctification is a lifelong process. Perfection now is

ours only in Christ, but the ultimate, all-comprehensive

transformation of our lives into the image of God will take

place at the Second Advent. Paul cautions: "Let him who

thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12). The

history of Israel and the lives of David, Solomon, and Peter

are serious warnings for all. "As long as life shall last,

there is need of guarding the affections and the passions

with a firm purpose. There is inward corruption, there are

outward temptations, and wherever the work of God shall be

advanced, Satan plans so to arrange circumstances that

temptation shall come with overpowering force upon the soul.

Not one moment can we be secure only as we are relying upon

God, the life hid with Christ in God."(*13)

Our final creative transformation is accomplished when

incorruptibility and immortality become ours, when the Holy

Spirit completely restores the original creation.

The Ground of Our Acceptance With God

Neither Christlike character traits nor faultless

behavior is the ground of our acceptance with God. Saving

righteousness comes from the one righteous Man, Jesus, and

is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. We can contribute

nothing to Christ's gift of righteousness; we can only

receive it. No one other than Christ is righteous (Rom.

3:10); independent human righteousness is only filthy rags

(Isa. 64:6; see also Dan. 9:7,11,20; 1 Cor. 1:30).(*14)

Even what we do in response to Christ's saving love

cannot form the basis of our acceptance with God. That

acceptance is identified with the work of Christ. In

bringing Christ to us, the Holy Spirit brings that

acceptance.

Is our acceptance based on Christ's justifying

righteousness or His sanctifying righteousness or both? John

Calvin pointed out that as "Christ cannot be divided into

parts, so the two things, justification and sanctification,

which we perceive to be united together in him, are

inseparable."(*15) Christ's ministry has to be seen in its

totality. This makes it paramount to avoid speculation about

these two terms by "trying to define minutely the fine

points of distinction between justification and

sanctification....Why try to be more minute than is

Inspiration on the vital questions of righteousness by

faith?"(*16)

Just as the sun has light and heat--inseparable, yet with

unique functions--so Christ has become to us righteousness

as well as sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30). Not only are we

fully justified but also fully sanctified in Him.

The Holy Spirit brings the "It is finished" of Calvary

within, applying the only experience of God's acceptance of

humanity to us. This "It is finished" of the cross calls in

question all other human attempts to gain acceptance. In

bringing the Crucified within, the Spirit brings the only

ground of our acceptance with God, providing the only

genuine title to and fitness for salvation available to us.

References

1. T.F. Torrance, Royal Priesthood, Scottish Journal of

Theology Occasional Papers, No. 3 (Edinburgh: Oliver and

Boyd, l963), p. 48.

2. See "Conversion" and "Repent, Repentance," SDA Bible

Dictionary, rev. ed., pp. 235, 933.

3. W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of the New Testament

Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, l966), pp. 284-86;

William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek English

Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian

Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, l973),

p. 196.

4. "Justification," SDA Bible Dictionary, rev. ed., p. 635.

5. LaRondelle, p. 47.

6. "Sanctification," SDA Bible Dictionary, rev. ed., p.

979.

7. Ibid.

8. White, Messages to Young People (Nashville, TN: Southern

Publishing Assn., 1930), p. 35.

9. White, Desire of Ages, p. 668.

10."Perfect, Perfection," SDA Bible Dictionary, rev. ed.,

p. 864.

ll.LaRondelle, p. 77.

12.Ibid., p. 89.

13.White in SDA Bible Commentary, rev. ed., vol. 2, p.

1032.

14.Commenting on Christ, our High Priest, White said, "The

religious services, the prayers, the praise, the penitent

confession of sin ascend from true believers as incense to

the heavenly sanctuary, but passing through the corrupt

channels of humanity, they are so defiled that unless

purified by blood, they can never be of value with God. They

ascend not in spotless purity, and unless the Intercessor,

who is at God's right hand, presents and purifies all by His

righteousness, it is not acceptable of God. All incense from

earthly tabernacles must be moist with the cleansing drops

of the blood of Christ" (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 344).

15.J. Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Grand

Rapids: Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc. n.d.),

III, 11, 6.

16.White in SDA Bible Commentary, rev. ed., vol. 6, p.

1072.