1888-2013: 125 Years Later

1888-2013: 125 Years Later

It is not likely that any of you reading this weekly was around 125 years ago. Nevertheless, history tells us that 125 years ago the people of France gave the United States a gift of friendship, The Statue of Liberty, 'Liberty Enlightening the World,’ which was dedicated on October 28, 1886. Additionally, 125 years ago “a sudden, fierce blizzard slashed across Nebraska. . . . The temperature fell to between 30 and 40 degrees below. The storm raged for 12 to 18 hours.”
However, for Seventh-day Adventists 125 years ago (in 1888) in Minneapolis, a major breakthrough came about in the church’s understanding of righteousness by faith. According to noted Church Historian George Knight, it marked “The most important teaching to flow out of posterity from those sessions [GC} . . . .” Adds Knight, “That teaching and its implications for the end-time message of the third angel is what gives the Minneapolis meetings their ongoing significance.”

Was This Teaching New to the Church?
The following remarks by Ellen White in 1889 clearly show that the presentation was not altogether new. “I have had the question asked, ‘What do you think of this light that these men [Waggoner and Jones] are presenting? Why, I have been presenting it to you for the last 45 years –the matchless charms of Christ. This is what I have been trying to present before your minds. When Brother Waggoner brought out these ideas in Minneapolis, it was the first clear teaching on this subject from any human lips I had heard, excepting the conversations between myself and my husband” (Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, pp.116, 117).

Implication of the 1888 Message of Righteous by Faith
Such an emphasis of Righteous by Faith, when rightly understood, tends to keep us focused on Christ, the only Source of our righteousness. This is critical, as in some pockets of our church it is easy to feel that the strictest we obey God’s law inclusive of the Sabbath, we are guaranteed salvation. However, the Apostle Paul clearly states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Additionally, argues Paul in Romans 3:21-23, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Righteousness by Faith Does Not Negate the Law
God is calling for His church to have a greater trust or reliance on Him. In fact, following Monday’s Sabbath School Lesson of the week, a short conversation between Denise (my wife) and I resulted in the question, “What does it mean to be fully surrendered?” Is it not a total reliance on God, especially in the area of salvation? However, I need to clarify that dependence on God and His righteousness does not mitigate or diminish the law. In Romans 3:31 Paul clearly states, “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” Therefore, I encourage you to “throw your all on God for He knows how to care for us.”