A Critique of Faith and Works
(Continued--Page2)



Faith & Works by Ellen G. White:  A critique of Her Position.

Ellen G. White, as founder of the Seventh Day Adventism, has written a number of volumes on a variety of subjects.  Here she has written on the issues of Faith and Works.  Our comments are in Blue, while her writings are in "Black".


Belief and Unbelief

How much do we believe from the heart? Draw nigh to God, and God will draw nigh to you. This means to be much with the Lord in prayer. When those who have educated themselves in skepticism and have cherished unbelief, weaving questioning doubts into their experience, are under conviction of the Spirit of God, they see it to be their personal duty to confess their unbelief. They open their hearts to accept the light sent them and throw themselves by faith over the line from sin to righteousness, from doubt to faith. They consecrate themselves unreservedly to God, to follow His light in the place of the sparks of their own kindling. As they maintain their consecration, they will see increased light and the light will continue to grow brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. {FW 17.1}

The unbelief which is cherished in the soul has a bewitching power. The seeds of doubt that they have been sowing will produce their harvest but they must continue to dig up every root of unbelief. When these poisonous plants are pulled up, they cease to grow for want of nourishment in word and action. The soul must have the precious plants of faith and love put in the soil of the heart and enthroned there. {FW 17.2}

Confused Ideas of Salvation

Can we not understand that the most costly thing in the world is sin? It is at the expense of purity of conscience, at the cost of losing the favor of God and separating the soul from Him, and at last losing heaven. The sin of grieving the Holy Spirit of God and walking contrary to Him has cost many a one the loss of his soul. {FW 17.3}

Who can measure the responsibilities of the influence of every human agent whom our Redeemer has purchased at the sacrifice of His own life? What a scene will be presented when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened to testify [BEGIN P.18] the salvation or the loss of all souls! It will require the unerring decision of One who has lived in humanity, loved humanity, given His life for humanity, to make the final appropriation of the rewards to the loyal righteous, and the punishment of the disobedient, the disloyal, and unrighteous. The Son of God is entrusted with the complete measurement of every individual’s action and responsibility. To those who have been partakers of other men’s sins and have acted against God’s decision, it will be a most awfully solemn scene. {FW 17.4}

While Ellen White talks about the doctrine of “imputed righteousness”, what she is really advocating is “induced righteousness”, which states that if one has the righteousness of Christ, that one will be evidencing it by keeping the law of God.   Induced Righteousness doctrine is in fact the enemy of “imputed righteousness” because it focuses on the manifestation and visible evidence of righteousness, which is to say “walking by sight, and not by faith”. It is also a form of seeking a sign, which Jesus warns that this is sought by an evil and adulterous generation.  This position is the same position as the Roman Catholic Church, which rejects “imputed righteousness”.  It is the same spirit which told the Galatian believers that “unless you are circumcised according to the law of Moses, you cannot be saved!”   Heretics, advocating this, who need to see righteous manifestations, are no different than a generation which seeks after a sign.  God’s way is to manifest the righteous, which He has imputed to men of faith, according to His time table and plan.  In the case of Abraham, there are at least 14 years between the time that Abraham “believed, and it was imputed to him for righteousness” and the “outward sign of circumcision”.

 

 

The danger has been presented to me again and again of entertaining, as a people, false ideas of justification by faith. I have been shown for years that Satan would work in a special manner to confuse the mind on this point. The law of God has been largely dwelt upon and has been presented to congregations, almost as destitute of the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His relation to the law as was the offering of Cain. I have been shown that many have been kept from the faith because of the mixed, confused ideas of salvation, because the ministers have worked in a wrong manner to reach hearts. The point that has been urged upon my mind for years is the imputed righteousness of Christ. I have wondered that this matter was not made the subject of discourses in our churches throughout the land, when the matter has been kept so constantly urged upon me, and I have made it the subject of nearly every discourse and talk that I have given to the people. {FW 18.1}

 

In examining my writings fifteen and twenty years old [I find that they] present the matter in this same light--that those who enter upon the solemn, sacred work of the ministry should first be given a preparation in lessons upon the teachings of Christ and the apostles in living principles of practical godliness. They are to be educated in regard to what constitutes earnest, living faith. {FW 18.2}

 

 

Through Faith Alone

Many young men are sent forth to labor who do not [BEGIN P.19] understand the plan of salvation and what true conversion is; in fact, they need to be converted. We need to be enlightened on this point, and the ministers need to be educated to dwell more particularly upon the subjects which explain true conversion. All who are baptized are to give evidence that they have been converted. There is not a point that needs to be dwelt upon more earnestly, repeated more frequently, or established more firmly in the minds of all than the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone. {FW 18.1}

 

Here, we hear the correct words given by Ellen White, but the reality is that she does not mean what she says here.   She says that, “Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone” and “the impossibility of fallen man meriting anything by his own best good works.”  She will contradict this concept later, as we shall later see.

 

When this question is investigated we are pained to the heart to see how trivial are the remarks of those who ought to understand the mystery of godliness. They speak so unguardedly of the true ideas of our brethren who profess to believe the truth and teach the truth. They come far short of the real facts as they have been laid open before me. The enemy has so entangled their minds in the mist and fog of earthliness and it seems so ingrained into their understanding that it has become a part of their faith and character. It is only a new conversion that can change them and cause them to give up these false ideas--for this is just what they are shown to me to be. They cling to them as a drowning man clings to a life preserver, to keep them from sinking and making shipwreck of faith. {FW 19.1}

Christ has given me words to speak: "Ye must be born again, else you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Therefore all who have the right understanding of this matter should put away their controversial spirit and seek the Lord with all their hearts. Then they will find Christ and can give distinctive character to their religious experience. They should keep this matter--the simplicity of true godliness--distinctly before the people in every discourse. This will come home to the heart of every hungering, thirsting soul who is longing to come into the assurance of hope and faith and perfect trust in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. {FW 19.2}

Let the subject be made distinct and plain that it is not [BEGIN P.20] possible to effect anything in our standing before God or in the gift of God to us through creature merit. Should faith and works purchase the gift of salvation for anyone, then the Creator is under obligation to the creature. Here is an opportunity for falsehood to be accepted as truth. If any man can merit salvation by anything he may do, then he is in the same position as the Catholic to do penance for his sins. Salvation, then, is partly of debt, that may be earned as wages. If man cannot, by any of his good works, merit salvation, then it must be wholly of grace, received by man as a sinner because he receives and believes in Jesus. It is wholly a free gift. Justification by faith is placed beyond controversy. And all this controversy is ended, as soon as the matter is settled that the merits of fallen man in his good works can never procure eternal life for him. {FW 19.3}

Wholly of Grace

The light given me of God places this important subject above any question in my mind. Justification is wholly of grace and not procured by any works that fallen man can do. The matter has been presented before me in clear lines that if the rich man has money and possessions, and he makes an offering of the same to the Lord, false ideas come in to spoil the offering by the thought he has merited the favor of God, that the Lord is under obligation to him to regard him with special favor because of this gift. {FW 20.1}

There has been too little educating in clear lines upon this point. The Lord has lent man His own goods in trust--means which He requires be handed back to Him when His providence signifies and the upbuilding of His cause demands it. The Lord gave the intellect. He gave the health and the ability to gather earthly gain. He created the things of earth. He manifests His divine power to develop all its riches. They are His fruits from His own husbandry. He gave the sun, the clouds, the showers of rain, to cause vegetation to flourish. As [BEGIN P.21] God’s employed servants you gathered in His harvest to use what your wants required in an economical way and hold the balance for the call of God. You can say with David, "For all things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee" (1 Chronicles 29:14). So the satisfaction of creature merit cannot be in returning to the Lord His own, for it was always His own property to be used as He in His providence should direct. {FW 20.2}

God’s Favor Forfeited

By rebellion and apostasy man forfeited the favor of God; not his rights, for he could have no value except as it was invested in God’s dear Son. This point must be understood. He forfeited those privileges which God in His mercy presented him as a free gift, a treasure in trust to be used to advance His cause and His glory, to benefit the beings He had made. The moment the workmanship of God refused obedience to the laws of God’s kingdom, that moment he became disloyal to the government of God and he made himself entirely unworthy of all the blessings wherewith God had favored him. {FW 21.1}

This was the position of the human race after man divorced himself from God by transgression. Then he was no longer entitled to a breath of air, a ray of sunshine, or a particle of food. And the reason why man was not annihilated was because God so loved him that He made the gift of His dear Son that He should suffer the penalty of his transgression. Christ proposed to become man’s surety and substitute, that man, through matchless grace, should have another trial--a second probation--having the experience of Adam and Eve as a warning not to transgress God’s law as they did. And inasmuch as man enjoys the blessings of God in the gift of the sunshine and the gift of food, there must be on the part of man a bowing before God in thankful acknowledgment that all things come of God. Whatever is rendered back to Him is only His [BEGIN P.22] own who has given it. {FW 21.2}


Here, Ellen White makes the assertion that man is now in probation, a term not used in the Bible, nor is conceptually expressed.  Also, is the idea that Adam and Eve were in probation in the Garden, which is not true since they had not transgressed anything.  And since there was no transgression, why would God put them on probation?


Man broke God’s law, and through the Redeemer new and fresh promises were made on a different basis. All blessings must come through a Mediator. Now every member of the human family is given wholly into the hands of Christ, and whatever we possess--whether it is the gift of money, of houses, of lands, of reasoning powers, of physical strength, of intellectual talents--in this present life, and the blessings of the future life, are placed in our possession as God’s treasures to be faithfully expended for the benefit of man. Every gift is stamped with the cross and bears the image and superscription of Jesus Christ. All things come of God. From the smallest benefits up to the largest blessing, all flow through the one Channel--a superhuman mediation sprinkled with the blood that is of value beyond estimate because it was the life of God in His Son. {FW 22.1}

Now not a soul can give God anything that is not already His. Bear this in mind: "All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee" (1 Chronicles 29:14). This must be kept before the people wherever we go--that we possess nothing.


All Is of God

The creation belongs to God. The Lord could, by neglecting man, stop his breath at once. All that he is and all that he has pertains to God. The entire world is God’s. Man’s houses, his personal acquirements, whatever is valuable or brilliant, is God’s own endowment. It is all His gift to be returned back to God in helping to cultivate the heart of man. The most splendid offerings may be laid upon the altar of God, and men will praise, exalt, and laud the giver because of His liberality. In [BEGIN P.23] what? "All things come of Thee, and of Thine own have we given Thee" (1 Chronicles 29:14). No work of man can merit for him the pardoning love of God, but the love of God pervading the soul will lead him to do those things which were always required of God and that he should do with pleasure. He has done only that which duty ever required of him. {FW 22.3}

The angels of God in heaven that have never fallen do His will continually. In all that they do upon their busy errands of mercy to our world, shielding, guiding, and guarding the workmanship of God for ages--both the just and the unjust-- they can truthfully say, "All is Thine. Of Thine own do we give Thee." Would that the human eye could catch glimpses of the service of the angels! Would that the imagination could grasp and dwell upon the rich, the glorious service of the angels of God and the conflicts in which they engage in behalf of men to protect, to lead, to win, and to draw them from Satan’s snares. How different would be the conduct, the religious sentiment! {FW 23.1}

Creature Merit

Discussions may be entered into by mortals strenuously advocating creature merit, and each man striving for the supremacy, but they simply do not know that all the time, in principle and character, they are misrepresenting the truth as it is in Jesus. They are in a fog of bewilderment. They need the divine love of God which is represented by gold tried in the fire; they need the white raiment of Christ’s pure character; and they need the heavenly eyesalve that they might discern with astonishment the utter worthlessness of creature merit to earn the wages of eternal life. There may be a fervor of labor and an intense affection, high and noble achievement of intellect, a breadth of understanding, and the humblest self-abasement, laid at the feet of our Redeemer; but there is not one jot more than the grace and talent first given of God. There must be nothing less given than duty prescribes, and there [BEGIN P.24] cannot be one jot more given than they have first received; and all must be laid upon the fire of Christ’s righteousness to cleanse it from its earthly odor before it rises in a cloud of fragrant incense to the great Jehovah and is accepted as a sweet savor. {FW 23.2}

I ask, How can I present this matter as it is? The Lord Jesus imparts all the powers, all the grace, all the penitence, all the inclination, all the pardon of sins, in presenting His righteousness for man to grasp by living faith--which is also the gift of God. If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason. Standing in the presence of their Creator and looking upon the unsurpassed glory which enshrouds His person, they are looking upon the Lamb of God given from the foundation of the world to a life of humiliation, to be rejected of sinful men, to be despised, to be crucified. Who can measure the infinity of the sacrifice! {FW 24.1}

Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end. "Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling." {FW 24.2}


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