The Contest Between Confession and Repentance Re: Justification

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Dear Friend,

The purpose of this study is to try to discover why professing Christians become and remain in a Laodicean (lukewarm) state, forgetting their first love.

A professing Seventh-day Adventist recently wrote to me as follows:

We are saved by grace. Those that believe in grace asks for forgiveness of their sins...a humbling act and not done by those that do not believe. Those that do not ask for forgiveness are not forgiven and therefore not able to be saved by grace. It is all joined in the believer.

Many professing Christians are confusing confession and asking forgiveness without true repentance. This could be because they want to be saved without true repentance. But let's not fool ourselves and play at religion. Let's not come-up short in the end, losing salvation because of being self-deceived.

There is more to salvation than asking forgiveness or making confession of sin. That Catholics are most devout in making confession although to men. The element many are leaving out is true repentance. True repentance according to Scripture and Ellen White is a turning away from sin with the aid of the Holy Spirit. At the same time true repentance occurs by accepting the gift of grace via power for overcoming, one is justified.

ALL of the following factors must be brought into the life before one considers him/herself saved:

"The moment true faith in the merits of the costly atoning sacrifice is exercised, claiming Christ as a personal Saviour, THAT MOMENT the sinner is justified before God, because he is pardoned." Manuscript Releases Volume Eight 357.

The all qualifying words in the above statement--TRUE FAITH, must be remembered when reading the word faith in the following statements. What is true faith? True faith works, for faith without works is dead faith. Abraham proved his TRUE FAITH by His obedience in being willing to offer-up his beloved son Isaac. He was justified by that work of faith:

Rom 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath [whereof] to glory; but not before God.

Jam 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Friend, how would you resolve this apparent contradiction (above)? The only possible resolution without making scripture contradict itself is that Paul meant that we are not justified by works of our own that are not inspired by true faith in and love for God. James had to mean works of obedience done by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and motivated by true faith in and love for God.

"The grace of Christ is freely to justify the sinner without merit or claim on his part. Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. THE MOMENT A SINNER 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." Bible Commentary Vol 6 1071

"God has made every provision for our justification AND sanctification. He has given Christ to us, THAT THROUGH HIM WE MAY BE MADE COMPLETE." Review and Herald February 18 1904

"Obedience to the Law of God is Sanctification....Sanctification is not an instantaneous but a progressive work...Just as long as Satan urges his temptations upon us, the battle for self-conquest will have to be fought over and over again; but by obedience, the truth will sanctify the soul." Faith and Works 85

"THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS INSTANTANEOUS SANCTIFICATION. True sanctification is a daily work, continuing as long as life shall last." Sanctified Life 10

"The sanctification now gaining prominence in the religious world carries with it a spirit of self-exaltation and a disregard for the Law of God that mark it as foreign to the religion of the Bible. Its advocates teach that Sanctification is an instantaneous work, by which, through faith alone, they attain to perfect holiness. 'ONLY BELIEVE,' say they, 'AND THE BLESSING IS YOURS.' NO FURTHER EFFORT ON THE PART OF THE RECEIVER IS SUPPOSED TO BE REQUIRED...The desire for an easy religion that requires no striving, no self-denial, no divorce from the follies of the world, has made the doctrine of faith, and faith only, a popular doctrine....THE TESTIMONY OF THE WORD OF GOD IS AGAINST THIS ENSNARING DOCTRINE OF FAITH WITHOUT WORKS. Let none deceive themselves with the belief that they can become holy while willfully violating one of God's requirements. The commission of a known sin silences the witnessing voice of the Spirit and separates the soul from God." Great Controversy 471,472

"Those who desire to find pardon for past transgressions [justification] must come to Christ just as they are, saying, 'Lord...Take me as I am, a poor, sinful creature, and cleanse and purify me from all sin by taking my sin upon Thine own dear self. I do not deserve this, but Thou art the only one who can save me. Take away my sin and give me Thy righteousness. I do not want to remain in sin one more day [one more hour, one more moment]. Impart to me Thy righteousness, and keep me from all transgression of Thy holy Law.'" This Day with God 153

"Jesus will receive us, all polluted as we are, and will wash us in His blood, and cleanse us from all pollution, and make us fit for the society of heavenly angels, in a pure, harmonious heaven." Maranatha 57

"We have nothing to recommend us to God; but the plea that we may urge now and ever is our utterly helpless condition that makes His redeeming power a necessity. Renouncing all self-dependence, we may look to the Cross of Calvary and say - 'In my hand no price I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling.'" Desire of Ages 316,317

Now the Catcher in the Rye--the Catch 22!

"No one can believe with the heart unto righteousness, and obtain justification by faith, while continuing the practice of those things which the Word of God forbids, or while neglecting any known duty....As God works in the heart, and man surrenders his will to God, and co-operates with God, he works out in the life what God WORKS IN by the Holy Spirit, and there is harmony between the purpose of the heart and the practice of the life. Every sin must be renounced as the hateful thing that crucified the Lord of life and glory....It is by continual surrender of the will, by continual obedience, that the blessing of justification is retained." E.G. White, Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 396-397.

Like it or not, the above statement accords with James of Scripture, as follows:

Jam 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

The only honest interpretation we can make of the above "apparently contradictory" statements of Scripture, is to conclude that both James and Paul meant that we are not justified by works of our own selfish motivation.

All the above statements including the following Biblical injunctions, must be interpreted so that nothing contradicts.

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

So we have come full-circle. We must truly repent and not merely confess sin. We are not Catholics! We must buy gold tried in the fire in order to be saved. We must receive the Oil of Grace, which is the Holy Spirit into the life. Then will we sin? Nay! Are these conditions for being saved? Yea!

1Jo 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

So those who are going around saying they are saved had better take heed lest they fall. They THINK they stand, but they are standing on sinking sand--the Laodicean sand dunes!

Why Laodicea Remains Laodicean

Have you ever wondered why the professing Seventh-day Adventist church has remained Laodicean (lukewarm) since 1852? Satan derailed God's people by getting them to imbibe two extremes. At the beginning, he got them to feel self-righteous because of their legalistic Sabbath keeping. Currently, he has them believing that salvation is all grace (pardon) plus nothing, that there is not one thing we can do to effect our salvation, even by receiving the Holy Spirit to crucify self, die daily, and surrender our will to Christ's. This was the process by which Christ overcame sin. This is the only process by which anyone can overcome known sin in the life.

Laodicea really embraces the grace plus nothing without the operation of the Holy Spirit in the life. That is the state of not buying gold tried in the fire.

"The state of the Church represented by the foolish virgins, is also spoken of as the Laodicean state." E. G. White, Review and Herald Articles, Vol. 2, 420.

According to the foolish presumption of grace plus nothing as grace is interpreted as pardon ONLY, Laodicea, the foolish virgins should ALL be saved, because that is what they believe.

Convince me that I do not need gold tried in the fire in order to be saved, and I will believe the grace as pardon plus nothing--not even buying gold tried in the fire--theology. Grace as pardon only--plus nothing theology is pure presumption--better labeled presumption plus nothing! Foolish virgins presume upon one aspect of grace--the pardon part, to the complete exclusion of the power part as far as justification is concerned and grace given for obedience, Rom. 1:5.

The following excerpt from the original 1858 Great Controversy, is most instructive as to why professing Christians become and remain Laodicean:

What follows is a chapter excerpted from the original 1858 Great Controversy by Ellen White:


The Church and World United

Satan then consulted with his angels, and they there considered what they had gained. It was true that they had kept some timid souls through fear of death, from embracing the truth; but many, even of the most timid, received the truth, and immediately their fears and timidity left them, and as they witnessed the death of their brethren, and saw their firmness and patience, they knew that God and angels assisted them to endure such sufferings, and they grew bold and fearless. And when called to yield their own lives, they maintained their faith with such patience and firmness as caused even their murderers to tremble. Satan and his angels decided that there was a more successful way to destroy souls, and more certain in the end. They saw that although they caused Christians to suffer, their steadfastness, and the bright hope that cheered them, caused the weakest to grow strong, and that the rack and the flames could not daunt them. They imitated the noble bearing of Christ when before his murderers, and many were convinced of the truth by witnessing their constancy, and the glory of God which rested upon them. Satan decided that he must come in a milder form. He had corrupted the doctrines of the Bible; and traditions which were to ruin millions were taking deep root. He restrained his hate, and decided not to urge on his subjects to such bitter persecution; but lead on the church to contend, not for the faith once delivered to the saints, but, for various traditions. As he led on the church to receive favors and honors of the world, under the false pretense of benefiting them, she began to lose favor with God. Gradually the church lost her power, as she shunned to declare the straight truths which shut out the lovers of pleasure and friends of the world.

The church is not the separate and peculiar people she was when the fires of persecution were kindled against her. How is the gold become dim? How is the most fine gold changed?

I saw that if the church had always retained her holy and peculiar character, the power of the Holy Spirit which was imparted to the disciples would be with her. The sick would be healed, devils would be rebuked and cast out, and she would be mighty, and a terror to her enemies.

I saw that a very large company professed the name of Christ, but God does not recognize them as his. He has no pleasure in them. Satan seemed to assume a religious character, and was very willing that the people should think they were Christians. He was very willing that they should believe in Jesus, his crucifixion, and his resurrection. Satan and his angels fully believed all this themselves, and trembled. But if this faith does not provoke to good works, and lead those who profess it to imitate the self-denying life of Christ, he is not disturbed; for they merely assume the Christian name, while their hearts are still carnal; and he can use them in his service better than if they made no profession. Under the name of Christian they hide their deformity. They pass along with their unsanctified natures, and their evil passions unsubdued. This gives occasion for the unbeliever to throw their imperfections in the face of Jesus Christ, to reproach him, and to cause those who do possess pure and undefiled religion to be brought into disrepute.

The ministers preach smooth things to suit carnal professors. This is just as Satan would have it. They dare not preach Jesus and the cutting truths of the Bible; for if they should, these carnal professors would not hear them. Many of them are wealthy and must be retained in the church, although they are no more fit to be there than Satan and his angels. The religion of Jesus is made to appear popular and honorable in the eyes of the world. The people are told that those who profess religion will be more honored by the world. Very widely do such teachings differ from the teachings of Christ. His doctrine and the world could not be at peace. Those who followed him had to renounce the world. These smooth things originated with Satan and his angels. They formed the plan, and nominal professors have carried it out. Hypocrites and sinners unite with the church. Pleasing fables are taught, and readily received. But if the truth should be preached in its purity, it would soon shut out hypocrites and sinners. But there is no difference between the professed followers of Christ and the world. I saw that if the false covering could be torn off from the members of the churches, there would be revealed such iniquity, vileness and corruption, that the most diffident child of God would have no hesitancy in calling them by their right name, children of their father, the Devil; for his works they do. Jesus and all the heavenly host looked with disgust upon the scene; yet God had a message for the church that was sacred and important. If received, it would make a thorough reformation in the church, revive the living testimony that would purge out hypocrites and sinners, and bring the church again into favor with God. See Revelation 3:14-22.

In Conclusion

It is obvious to this writer that true repentance must accompany confession of sin in order to receive justification. True, sanctification is a progressive work, but the first work in that progression is true repentance and an effort, aided by the Holy Spirit, to determine to die to self daily, and to surrender the will to Christ. We do have an advocate with the Father if we at times fail and fall, but we are not justified while willfully ignoring known duty. James says that we are justified by faith and works. Paul says that we are not justified by works. We are to interpret Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy so that nothing contradicts, and only then can we know that we are not in error:

Weight of Evidence Formula: "1. Every word must have its proper bearing on the subject presented in the Bible; 2. All Scripture is necessary, and may be understood by diligent application and study; 3. Nothing revealed in Scripture can or will be hid from those who ask in faith, not wavering; 4. To understand doctrine, bring all the scriptures together on the subject you wish to know, then let every word have its proper influence; and if you can form your theory without a contradiction, you cannot be in error; 5. Scripture must be its own expositor, [interpreter] since it is a rule of itself. If I depend on a teacher to expound to me, and he should guess at its meaning, or desire to have it so on account of his sectarian creed, or to be thought wise, then his guessing, desire, creed, or wisdom is my rule, and not the Bible." E.G. White, Second Advent Review and Herald, 11-25-34, pr. 24.

Many are interpreting according to proof texts, picking and choosing whatever supports their particular theology that is pleasing to self. That is pure self-deceit. The only way we can know that we are not in error is to interpret so that nothing contradicts. Thus, in interpreting Paul and James on justification, we can only conclude that Paul meant works of our own generation; works not inspired by the Holy Spirit and faith in and love for God. The Laodicean is counseled to buy gold tried in the fire which is faith and love tried in the fire of obedience. Obedience performed by the grace aid of the Holy Spirit and thus motivated by "bought" gold tried in the fire--faith and love tried (proven) by works thereby inspired, is the only basis for true justification. So it is all of grace, but not of grace that is of pardon ONLY. It is all grace plus nothing, if one considers that grace by way of power is also given for obedience, Rom. 1:5.

Satan's lullaby, that he sang so well to Eve, is that one can be saved, justified, without obeying God. He has perverted the fact that we are pardoned for past sins, to mean we are pardoned for all sin. But we are not even pardoned for past sins if our belief (faith) is not accompanied by true repentance. And true repentance is a turning away from sin, however progressive that might be. The progression point begins at (accompanies) justification--with true repentance of and for known sin.

Without true repentance, we are not justified.

The grace plus nothing theory, which is rampant among current SDA teachings, is deceptive and contributes to a state of lukewarm Christian experience. Ellen White and Revelation 3:14-19, teach that one is in the foolish virgin state until he/she has bought gold tried in the fire, which is true faith and love tried in the crucible of obedience. True repentance is true obedience and Revelation 3:19 says:

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and REPENT.

Laodicea is representative of foolish, lukewarm virgins, because they do not realize that they are not in a saved relationship until they REPENT--UNTIL A TRUE SORROW AND TURNING AWAY FROM KNOWN SIN IS BEGUN IN THE LIFE. That is when real justification takes place and the progressive life of overcoming sin begins. They accrue and begin at the same time. But Laodiceans are being convinced that they are justified (saved) without true repentance; without efforts to cease known sin and fulfilling known duty, and that is why they are lukewarm do-nothings! They are being told that they will sometime obey because they are saved--God will finish what He has begun, but that obedience has nothing to do with being saved. That is the same old lie Satan told Eve. He is alive and well in the SDA church today! This is why Laodiceanism is alive and well today in the professing Seventh-day Adventist church.

Another variation on the theme of Satan's old theology lie is that confession of sin is all that is required. Confess, believe and God will work out the rest. No true REPENTANCE required at justification! That is the most insidious lie being taught to Adventists today! This brings us back to what a young lady SDA said to me this morning:

We are saved by grace. Those that believe in grace asks for forgiveness of their sins...a humbling act and not done by those that do not believe. Those that do not ask for forgiveness are not forgiven and therefore not able to be saved by grace. It is all joined in the believer.

No buying gold (faith and love) tried in the fire! No zealous REPENTANCE. Just ask forgiveness! The new jargon is ask forgiveness--confess! This is Catholic teaching! This theology is being referred to as GRACE PLUS NOTHING--NOT EVEN WORKS OF REPENTANCE INSPIRED AND ENABLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. When you hear this false gospel, run away from it as fast as you can AFTER YOU HAVE WARNED ITS PROPONENTS! That gospel is as insidious as Satan, its originator in the garden of Eden. Professing SDA are even teaching that this was the righteousness by faith taught by Jones, Waggoner and Ellen White in 1888. Satan has thus perverted the most precious message of righteousness by faith to the SDA church. Both sides on this issue are accusing one another of teaching Catholic doctrine. But it will be clear to the discerning soul just which side is really Catholic.

The true message of Righteousness by Faith delivered to SDA's in 1888, taught that we can overcome by TRUE FAITH that works. The same TRUE FAITH that Abraham demonstrated. The same TRUE FAITH that Christ demonstrated! Faith that believes Christ can empower to do anything! With Christ, all things are possible!

God bless,