The fifth installment of our Proof-texts in Context series will focus on SDA Fundamental #10—The Experience of Salvation. For those who would like a more detailed synopsis of why we are publishing this series, please refer to the introduction to the first installment. Without further ado, let’s proceed to our study.
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Genesis 15:6—“Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” I referenced this verse in my article on Romans 8. It’s safe to presume that Abraham believed in righteousness by faith—to the extent that he knew it—but this is not explicitly a salvific exchange. God credited the forefather with righteousness because he believed he would have his own, biological son, though he was hesitant at first. The Lord was patient as Abraham suggested making his servant his heir, then assured him of the promise.
Proverbs 28:13—“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” Repentance is a precursor to redemption. John the Baptist and Peter emphasized this in their preaching, but they didn’t corner the market. Solomon knew it too. Contextual analysis in Proverbs requires an alternative perspective because David’s son used an approach that was more pointed than linear, compared to someone like Paul. Nevertheless, one of the threads that run through the chapter and its numerous counsels is a contrast between the righteous and wicked.
Isaiah 45:22—“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.” Immediately beforehand, God addressed those who engaged in idolatry, then proclaimed his uniqueness and superiority. The chapter actually begins with the prediction of Cyrus, the Persian emperor who would play a significant role in the Jews’ deliverance from captivity. In general, the phrases “I am the Lord,” “there is no other,” and variants and combinations thereof are prominently recurrent.
Jeremiah 31:33—“‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’” In verse 32, God indicated that this new covenant would differ from the one He made with Israel after their rescue from Egyptian bondage. The shift doesn’t seem to be triggered by an inherent flaw in the previous covenant, but rather the people’s breach of it. The establishment of this new covenant is at the foot of His promises of restoration after their exile in Babylon.
Habakkuk 2:4—“But the righteous will live by his faith.” Habakkuk is my favorite book in the Old Testament. I plan to write about it in more detail in the near future. Paul quoted this verse, more accurately this clause, three times, in Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. Habakkuk expected some reproof for his boldness in questioning God’s justice. God confirmed that the prophecy of Babylon’s takeover was a sure thing, then declared woes that applied to them primarily, but Israel too, considering their evils were similar.
John 3:16—“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” If this verse is going to be at football games, it has to be in is article. Much of the chapter is the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. The latter was quite flustered by the concept of needing to be born again. Christ didn’t unpack this abstract, spiritual prerequisite as such, but instead directed the Pharisee’s imagination back to Moses and the bronze serpent.
Romans 3:23–24—“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” The demonstration of righteousness is of unmistakable import in this passage. Paul referred to God as gracious and forbearing, but also just. Jesus, in His death on the cross, showcased every divine attribute, not one of them lacking. The Lord could pass over our sins, not because they’re trivial, but because His Son became our substitute, thus affecting the benevolent exchange that Ellen White so eloquently articulated in The Desire of Ages (p. 25).
Galatians 4:4–5—“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” It would be worthwhile to compare the slave/child dichotomy in this passage to the equivalents in Romans 6 and 8. Timing is global in Galatians (while more apparently personal in Romans) in that the pivot in the switch from slave to child is the incarnation and death of Christ historically. Nevertheless, there is still an individual pivot, as each of us must actively accept Him as Savior and Lord.
Colossians 1:13–14—“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” There seems to be an interesting pattern in Colossians 1. I’ll suggest there are three sections: future hope (vs. 1–12), foundational hope (vs. 13–23), and internal hope (vs. 24–29). With the passage of focus being within the middle, our redemption is connected to Jesus’ creatorship, sustainability, incarnation, etc.
Hebrews 9:28—“So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” This is the last verse in chapter 9, and chapter 10 transitions the discourse to the shortcomings of the animal sacrifices and the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. Beforehand, Paul juxtaposed the old and new covenants and, in parallel terms, the earthly and heavenly sanctuaries. In keeping with the letter-wide motif of Jesus’ preeminence over everything and everybody, the apostle stresses the advantages of His ministry as High Priest, and this partially overlaps the content of chapter 7.
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As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we are charged to deliver the three angels’ messages to every nook and cranny of the globe. These messages are specific, much like Noah’s was (It’s going to rain like crazy! Get on the boat!). Nevertheless, the underpinning of these and other episodes of present truth is the timeless truth that God yearns to wash away and eradicate our iniquities and reconcile us back to Himself.
Something I have shared with conviction through the course of numerous conversations, as well as infused, in so many words, into previous writings, is that there is a tragic incompleteness that can occur in our mission in either direction, and avoidance of both ditches is a matter of life and death. It is useless to give people the good news that Jesus can forgive them of their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness if we then leave them in ignorance of the torrents of deception that Satan will unleash upon the earth from his Babylonian cloud, washing many away from the pearly gates.
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However, it is equally useless to warn them of the antichrist without connecting them to the living Christ. Only through the relational cords that keep us closely knit to our Savior will we enjoy freedom from sin’s penalty (justification), power (sanctification), and presence (glorification) and become increasingly prepared for both the momentary misery and permanent paradise.
The experience of salvation is a process of growth. As such, we will seamlessly segue to the upcoming chapter of our series—SDA Fundamental #11.