Adventists "Under the Law"?

by Thomas Cusack

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From: Thomas R Cusack To: Subject: [AI] "Under the Law" Date: December 2, 1999 9:09 AM Dear Friends, I have heard a great deal recently that people view Seventh-day Adventists as being "under the law", or being under a system by which they must earn their way to heaven, through their obedience to law. Let us see if that is true:

1) Galatians 4:4-5. These texts say that Christ was born "under the law", to redeem those who were "under the law", that we might have the adoption of sons. What does this mean?

a) If the term means under a system of legalism, specifically related to the Ten Commandments and other OT principles, then Christ only redeemed those who attempt to earn their salvation by keeping the law. That would negate him redeeming anyone else. That obviously is not true. Jesus redeemed the human race at the cross.

b) If the term means, in general terms, legalism, it could possibly be true, for all sin, in a way, is legalism, or rejecting God's way to live life our way, with the thought of going to heaven in spite of our lifestyle and heart condition. However, this is not what the term means, Biblically.

c) Romans 3:19 defines the term "under the law", to mean being guilty before God. The whole world has sinned, and stands under the condemnation of the law. Christ came to redeem us from the "curse of the law" , Galatians 3:13. The world was redeemed, justified, saved, pardoned by Christ's work. We all have been reconciled to God through the death of His Son. Romans 5:8, 10.

d) Seventh-day Adventists believe that salvation is an act of grace in Christ Jesus, a gift to be received by faith. They clearly understand John 14:15 and other verses to point to the fact that all obedience is love motivated, and a heart response of gratitude and praise for the unspeakable gift in Christ Jesus. They are not, at least theologically, attempting to earn their salvation through works. Individuals, in their heart condition, may do so, but that is true of any denomination or faith. The human nature, unconverted, is legalistic, proud, and self righteous. No one will be justified by the works of the law. Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:16 et al are quite clear on salvation, and the Gospel is clearly defined in I Corinthians 15:1-4.

But, what does it mean that Christ was born 'under the law?' Was He guilty and under condemnation? Well, first of all, Christ never sinned. We all agree on that. His character was Holy, undefiled, separate from sinners. But, what about the human nature that He assumed in the Incarnation?

Hebrews 2 says He was born in the "seed of Abraham", a reference to His genetic material and makeup.

Romans 8:3 says He came in the "likeness" of sinful flesh, and likeness does not mean 'unlikeness'. The Greek word carries the idea of similarity, but also difference. Why? Simply because, while Christ came in our fallen human nature, degraded by 4000 years of sin, His mind was always totally controlled by the Holy spirit, from birth, and He was divinity, which took upon His divine nature, our fallen human nature. He was not, inherently, human, but assumed corporate humanity, to redeem that sinful nature at the cross, and thus redeem all mankind from the curse of the law.

Jesus had to assume the nature that needed redeeming. This did not make Him, the Son of God, a sinner. His divine nature is Holy. This simply means that He assumed upon His divine nature the human race, represented in that fallen nature, and redeemed corporate humanity at the cross. As Hebrews 10 says, "a body hast thou prepared for me."

Is this important? It is the essence of the Gospel. It is how Jesus saved us. He did so, not simply by being our substitute. It is legally unethical for an innocent person to die in place of a guilty person. Jesus redeemed us, by becoming us. "He was made to be sin, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God, in HIm." He took all of humanity into himself, and accomplished a legal salvation or justification for the whole human race. A gift to be received by faith alone.

I John 4:2-3 says that the spirit of antichrist is to think that Christ did not come in the "flesh." The Greek word is "sarx." The word is used throughout the NT to refer to a sinful human nature. To say that Christ came in a sinless, prefall nature is the spirit of antichrist. The antichrist system is the champion of the idea that Christ came through an "Immaculate Conception", with a sinless mother. This is not doctrinally true, for Mary was a sinner as we are. It is a denial of the Gospel. Jesus came to redeem us, and He came down entirely to our level, without sinning, so that we might be redeemed, and see the righteousness of the law justifying us, and fulfilled in us, as well, who walk according to the Spirit of God. Romans 8:4.

Praise God for His unspeakable gift in Christ Jesus. God bless you today. Tom C.