The True Basis of Salvation--Part IV (Includes On-going Dialogue With Karl Wagner

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The closest I have come to any agreement with Karl Wagner, is when he recently told me that he could probably live with concept that faith and works ACCOMPANY ONE ANOTHER at the time one is subjectively justified. We both agree that all one has to do to become forensically justified (or Objectively justified) is to come to Christ just as you are. I have not received any response from Karl, as of yet, to the following document:

Karl et all,

I would much appreciate it if you would read this post with care and prayer. I believe this represents my most complete understanding of the correct tension between faith, works and salvation in as abbreviated a form as I can state it. If you find what you consider flaws in this view, I would appreciate your input.

When I say: "I believe in works of colabor with Christ and that only such works done out of a motive of love for and faith in Him count toward salvation which involves our (subjective justification."

I mean that faith and works is all a gift of grace. I do not mean to imply that ANY WORK of our own is efficacious toward being saved or justified, but if we are surrendered to the will of Christ, we will be working His works, and those works of His through and in us count toward salvation just as much as the works of iniquity (disobedience) discount salvation. So how could any man boast of such works (as count toward salvation) when they are the works of Christ's grace in and through us? In this sense, I am a "FULL GRACER." I don't believe that we are subjectively justified until we are fully surrendered to Christ. Then our sanctification and ACCOMPANYING justification are on-going and progressive.

Are justification and sanctification indeed both on-going? I believe that they are, unless one believes "once saved, always saved," and the Bible does a number against that belief. That is why I say that faith and works (justification, sanctification and salvation,) ACCOMPANY one another.

Christ's act of Atonement is the ground, the basis of salvation, and our faith and works, demonstrating our belief in that act, warrant the extending of the crowing free gift resulting from that act--the life and soul of Christ, His Holy Spirit, which is given for the purpose of regenerating the soul back into the image of God.

There is a very important and crucial reason why I believe this scenario of justification and ACCOMPANYING sanctification. My reason is based on the thesis of the following statements by Ellen White, which find their basis in Scripture. In the following statement, the greatest purpose of the cross was not to redeem man (save him), but to provide a power that takes away sin when man should be redeemed, because to redeem man without that accompanying gift of power, would be to redeem him to sin forevermore. That is what Ellen White means when she says: "The Spirit was given as a regenerating agency, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail...."

This is why the works of Christ in our lives are so important. Without empowerment for those works via His Holy Spirit, His very sacrifice on the cross, the basis of salvation, would have been to no avail. That makes regeneration of the soul back into the image of God, the prime objective of justification and sanctification, and any justification without this power, would serve only to justify the sinner in his sins forever. This is why Christ's works in and through us are so important, but it seems that they are minimized by most accounts of persons describing salvation. Ellen White maximizes the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit as the Crowning Gift--the highest good that heaven can bestow.

Abraham and Phinehas were accounted righteous for their obedience to God. Their acts of obedience proved that they had surrendered their wills to Christ, otherwise their works would not have been counted righteous, because our own works are as filthy rags.

"Christ declared that after his ascension, he would send to his church, as his crowning gift, the Comforter, who was to take his place. This Comforter is the Holy Spirit,--the soul of his life, the efficacy of his church, the light and life of the world. With his Spirit Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power that takes away sin.

In the gift of the Spirit [HIS LIFE--THE SOUL OF HIS LIFE], Jesus gave to man the highest good that heaven could bestow....

The Spirit was given as a regenerating agency, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail....

It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given his Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress his own character upon the church." E.G. White, Review and Herald Articles, May 19, 1904, vol. 5, p. 42.

"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.

Justification may be lost by disobedience--by unsurrendering of the will to Christ.

"Christ actually bore the punishment of the sins of the world, that His righteousness might be imputed to sinners, and through repentance and faith they might become like Him in holiness of character. He says, 'I bear the guilt of that man's sins. Let Me take the punishment, and the repenting sinner stand before Thee innocent.' THE MOMENT THE SINNER BELIEVES IN CHRIST, HE STANDS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD UNCONDEMNED; FOR THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST IS HIS; CHRIST'S PERFECT OBEDIENCE IS IMPUTED TO HIM. BUT HE MUST CO-OPERATE WITH DIVINE POWER, [by receiving it] AND PUT FORTH HIS HUMAN EFFORT TO SUBDUE SIN, AND STAND COMPLETE IN CHRIST." Series A, No 7, page 25.

"Many think that repentance is a work which wholly devolves upon man as a preparation to come to Christ., his mediator; but this is an error and deception. Repentance must precede FORGIVENESS [subjective justification] but the sinner does not repent until he has faith in Christ as his mediator. The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he comes to Christ. Our Saviour has been lifted up upon the cross of Calvary, and the love of Christ shining from the cross speaks constantly to the sinner of the sufferings of Jesus for fallen man. His love for the fallen race constantly draws sinners to him. The transgressor may resist this love, may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist, he will be drawn to Jesus, and a knowledge of the plan of salvation will lead him to the foot of the cross in repentance for his sins, which have caused the sufferings of God's dear Son." E.G. White, The Signs of the Times, 08-11-90.

From the above statement, I conclude that the sinner does not have to repent in order to receive forensic justification but he/she must repent before receiving subjective justification.

"The atonement of Christ is not a mere skillful way to have our sins pardoned [justification]; it is a divine remedy for the cure of transgression and the restoration of spiritual health [sanctification]. It is the heaven-ordained means by which the righteousness of Christ may be not only upon us, but in our hearts and CHARACTERS.--Ellen White, Letter 406, 1906. SDA Bible Commentary, Vol., 7a, p. 668.

Ron Beaulieu