Is justification by faith the third angel’s message in verity?

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Biblical Numerology: NUMBER THREE- Part XXXIII

Is justification by faith the third angel’s message in verity?

YES, verity meaning “that which is true; a truth; a reality.” Remember what God’s messengers taught and wrote about Biblical justification? Paul declared: “We are justified by faith” (Rom. 3: 28; 5:1; Gal. 2: 16), “by His blood” (Rom. 5: 9) and “by His grace” (Rom. 3: 24); but we are “saved by His life” (Rom. 5: 9). All true believers will “be justified by faith and judged by their works.”(4T 386). “For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.” Rom. 2: 13.

YES, when included, not singled out from other equally important references on the third angel’s most unique message and work, righteousness by faith, and justification by faith cited last week and the ones we are quoting now. Thus God’s pen woman wrote:

      “Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, ‘It is the third angel’s message in verity.’”- Ellen G. White, Evangelism, p. 190.

    “No one who truly loves and fears God will continue to transgress the law in any particular. When man transgress he is under the condemnation of the law, and it becomes to him a yoke of bondage. Whatever his profession may be, he is not justified, which means pardoned. . . . When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man’s best service, and makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit.” – Ibid, My Life Today, p. 250. This is Christ’s imputed righteousness, our title to heaven, justification by faith in action.

Justification means pardon full and complete. – “[Rom. 3: 24-26 quoted]. Here the truth is laid out in plain lines. This mercy and goodness is wholly undeserved. The grace of Chris is to freely justify the sinner without merit or claim on his part. Justification is a full, complete pardon for sin. The moment a Christian 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.

     “There is nothing in faith that makes it our savior. Faith cannot remove our guilt. Christ is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe [Rom. 1: 16]. The justification comes through the merits of Jesus Christ. He has paid the price for the sinner’s redemption. Yet it is only through faith in His blood that Jesus can justify the believer. [The Roman Church’s Mass and Eucharist is a bloodless sacrifice.]

     “The sinner cannot depend upon his good works as a means of justification. He must come to the point where he will renounce all his sin, and embrace one degree of light after another as it shines upon his pathway. He simply grasps by faith the free and ample provision made in the blood of Christ. He believes the promises of God, which through Christ are made unto him sanctification and righteousness and redemption [1 Cor. 1: 30].

And if he follows Jesus, he will walk humbly in the light, rejoicing in the light and diffusing that light to others. Being justified by faith he carries cheerfulness with him in his obedience in all his life. Peace is the result of what Christ is to him.  The souls who are in subordination to God, who honor Him, and are doers of His Word, will receive divine enlightenment. In the precious Word of God there is purity and loftiness as well as beauty that, unless assisted by God, the highest powers of man cannot assist to.” – E. G. White, Signs of the Times, May 19, 1898/7BC p. 1071.

God’s work of laying man’s glory in the dust. –  “None but God can subdue the pride of man’s heart. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot regenerate ourselves. In the heavenly courts there will be no song sung, ‘To me that loved myself, and washed myself, redeemed myself, unto me be glory and honor, blessing and praise. But this is the keynote of the song that is sung by many here in this world. They do not know what it means to be meek and lowly in heart [Matt.11: 28-30]; and they do not mean to know this, if they can avoid it. The whole gospel is comprised in learning of Christ, His meekness and lowliness.

     “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 is not in his power to do for himself.”- Ibid, Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, Series A, No. 9, 1897, pp. 61, 62/TM p. 45.

Man is placed by justification where he can receive the blessings of sanctification. –      

     “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.”- Ibid, MS 113, 1902/7BC p. 908.

The relation of justification and God’s law. –  “There are grand truths, long hidden under the rubbish of error, that are to be revealed to the people. The doctrine of justification by faith has been lost sight of by many who have professed to believe the third angel’s message. [Are we one of them?]. The Holiness people [most of mainstream Christianity] have gone to great extremes on this point. With great zeal they have taught, ‘Only believe in Christ, and be saved; but away with the law of God.’

This is not the teaching of the Word of God. There is no foundation for such a faith. This is not the precious gem of truth that God has given to His people for this time. This doctrine misleads honest souls. The light from the Word of God reveals the fact that the law must be proclaimed. Christ [the Law giver] must be lifted up, because He is a Savior who forgives transgression, iniquity, and sin, but will by no means clear the guilty and unrepentant soul [Exo. 43: 7].”- Ibid, Vol. 1 Selected Messages, pp. 360-1.

Speculations about righteousness by faith. – “(See E.G. W on Gal. 2: 16; 1 Thess. 4: 3). Many commit the error of trying to define minutely the fine points of distinction between justification and sanctification. Into the definitions of these two they often bring their own ideas and speculations. Why try to be more minute than is Inspiration on the vital question of righteousness by faith? Why try to work out every minute point, as if the salvation of the soul depended upon all having exactly your understanding of this matter? All cannot see in the same line of vision.”- Ibid, MS 21, 1891/E.G.W Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 1072.

It is a foolish believer and a false Bible teacher who will persist, when shown the light, in asserting that we are justified by faith yet intentionally leave out of the gospel conversation works of righteousness—the opposite of “works of the flesh.” Seventeen are listed plus “such like” (Galatians 5: 19-21, K.J.V) in contrast to only nine listed as “fruit of the Spirit” (verses 22, 23).

Works of righteousness were embodied and exemplified in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, our Example and Bishop of our souls (1 Peter 2: 21-25), in contradistinction to the Bishop of Rome. They are the fruit or evidence of genuine faith and love for God and His law. To David, “the man after God’s own heart,” God’s law was “more to be desired than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Ps. 19: 10. How about you?

The apostle James, church leader at Jerusalem, head of the board of elders and moderator of the Jerusalem Council, c. 49, wasn’t “legalistic” for sure.  He was prevailed upon by the Holy Spirit to clarify matters for all and for all time. He wrote:   

     “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness’ [Gen. 15: 6]. And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” James 2: 20-24, N.K.J.V. Do you also want to be called “a friend of God”? I certainly do!  How about you?

Abraham’s working faith in offering his only son Isaac as a sacrifice in complete surrender to God’s command—the ultimate test of faith and loyalty—is the premier type of the Father offering His only begotten Son “by whom He created all things” (Col. 1: 16-19; John 1: 1-4, 10) to die and shed His blood at Calvary as “the Lamb of God” as our substitute and surety that we might have justification. It is by His blood, His perfect merits, His righteousness that the pardon of sins repented of and confessed to Him and nobody else, are imputed to the contrite soul. Imparted righteousness is another thing.

Beware of man-made tests. –  “There are those who need in their hearts the touch of the divine Spirit [that will never manifest itself in “speaking-in-tongues” gibberish!] Then the message for this time will be their burden. They will not search for human tests, for something new and strange. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment is the test for this time.

     “The commandments of God that has been almost universally made void, is the testing truth for this time. The time is coming when all those who worship God will be distinguished by this sign. They will be known as servants of God, by this mark of their allegiance to Heaven. But all man-made tests will divert the mind from the great and important doctrines that constitute present truth. [Do you know what doctrines comprise present truth? If not, it is high time we did! Rom. 13: 11-14; 23 Pet. 1: 4-12.]

     “It is the desire and plan of Satan to bring in among us those who will go to great extremes—a people of narrow minds [on the two extreme ends of the fringes]—who are critical and sharp, and very tenacious in holding their own conceptions on what truth means. They will be exacting, and will seek to enforce rigorous duties, and go to great lengths in matters of minor importance, while they neglect the weightier matters of the law [Pharisee-like]—judgment and mercy and the love of God. Through the work of a few of this class of persons, the whole body of Sabbath keepers will be designated as bigoted . . and fanatical.”- Ibid, Maranatha (Devotional), p. 147.

Moreover, there are those who, still young in the faith and in the things of God, and in “zeal not based on knowledge” (Rom. 10) mistakenly condemn even the few who are “striving to enter the straight gate and narrow way” (Matt. 7: 13, 14) by obeying all the commandments of God and denying self simply because they are “constrained by the love of God” (2 Cor. 5: 14) and love His law as David did (Psalms 119: 1-126), not because they are “trying to earn their forgiveness and salvation by their “good works.” Such are accusing Jesus in the person of His commandment-keeping saints. Rev. 14: 12. 1 John 2: 4. Faith is manifested by works of righteousness!

Whether aware or not, these persons are functioning as Satan’s agents as “the accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12: 10) by using them to cause doubt, intrigue, and confusion, and finally, discouragement in those whose only hearts’ desire is to “please God as did Enoch before his translation” (Heb. 11: 5; Gen. 5: 22-24) by implicitly following Christ’s command to the lukewarm members of the seventh and last stage of the church “to overcome even as I overcame.” Rev. 3: 21. Dare we entertain doubts on this?     

Even good and honest people confuse works of faith for righteousness by works and vice versa. No, such aren’t “dumb dogs that do not bark” which the gospel prophet soundly rebukes and exposes–false teachers, prophets, ministers, and hypocritical man of the cloth who prey on the vulnerabilities and helplessness of those they have first deceived. Isaiah 56: 10, 11. But they are “pups as it were barking at the wrong people,” wronging the innocent and harming themselves and the cause of God in the process.

Such should be prayerfully encouraged to train their spiritual weapons, zeal, and energies towards those faiths and religions who still teach their votaries to purchase  pardon for their sins or develop their “innate” goodness by self-atonement, meditation, pilgrimages, penances, bloody and painful rituals, payment of money, etc. Such abound in these last days in addition to Spiritualism, the antitype of ancient witchcraft and sorcery which is taking the whole world captive.

They appear to be the antidote to worldliness yet are one of the leading causes since the Dark Ages to cause awakened, thinking people to turn away in disgust from hypocritical, self-contradicting, and discordant organized religion, turning into agnostics and atheists, seeking other “isms” to fill the aching void in their hearts. What they woke up to was the corrupted and perverted concepts of religion, God, Christ, and the plan of redemption, “another gospel”—not the religion of Christ and the Bible. Christ has been crucified afresh over and over again. But alas! the day of final reckoning is rapidly approaching!

(Continued next week)