A Critique of Faith and Works
(Continued--Page5)



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".


Jesus Makes Up for Our Deficiency

There is no excuse for sin or for indolence. Jesus has led the way, and He wishes us to follow in His steps. He has [BEGIN P.50] suffered, He has sacrificed as none of us can, that He might bring salvation within our reach. We need not be discouraged. Jesus came to our world to bring divine power to man, that through His grace, we might be transformed into His likeness. {FW 49.4}

When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this disposition and effort as man’s best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit. But He will not accept those who claim to have faith in Him and yet are disloyal to His Father’s commandment. We hear a great deal about faith, but we need to hear a great deal more about works. Many are deceiving their own souls by living an easy-going, accommodating, crossless religion. {FW 50.1}

However, Ellen is clearly contradicting the Scripture which says, "it therefore does not depend upon the man who runs, or the man who wills, but upon God who has mercy" (Rom.9:16).  You see God does not need our works nor want our works to supplement the work of the Cross, because the work of the Cross, is God's work and it is perfect, and does not lack in any way.  But for the Pelegian Ellen, the cross is not enough, man must exert his effort (the man who runs), and he must want God's (the man who wills) favor and strive for His blessing.  But also at the end of Romans 9, what do we find?


 30 What shall we say then? – that the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness obtained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith, 31 but Israel even though pursuing a law of righteousness did not attain it. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but (as if it were possible) by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 just as it is written,
       “Look, I am laying in Zion a stone that will cause people to stumble
       and a rock that will make them fall,
       yet the one who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 


She is advocating the same trap that the Jewish people and Paul before his conversion fell into, namely,  trying to obtain righteousnesss by direct pursuit of the Law through works (i.e. human effort!!).  This same Law Paul calls "a ministry of death and condemnation" (2Cor3:7, 9) )and "the power of sin" (1Cor15:56 )

And finally as Paul tells the Galatians:

21 I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law (i.e. works), then Christ died for nothing!   (Gal.2:21)


But Jesus says, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24). {FW 50.2}

[5]

 

What God Requires

God requires at this time just what He required of the holy pair in Eden--perfect obedience to His requirements. His law remains the same in all ages. The great standard of righteousness presented in the Old Testament is not lowered in the New. It is not the work of the gospel to weaken the claims of God’s holy law but to bring men up where they can keep its precepts. {FW 52.1}

[6]

 

Again here, Ellen is mandating that the Gospel must result in men keeping the precepts of the Law.   This sounds nice and stirring, but is wholly opposed to the Scripture again.  Paul, taught in Rom.8:3, “that what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending his own Son in the likeness of human flesh, and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us…”

 

If it stirs up the enmity of the human heart when the Lord, the great Jehovah, is mentioned, you may know the person has no connection with God. People may claim that they have great faith in Jesus and that there is nothing you can do but that Christ will do for you. Now, when Christ shall call forth the dead, it depends wholly upon your course of action whether you have a resurrection to life eternal or a resurrection to damnation. Thus they get these truths all mixed with error, and they cannot tell what is truth; and if asked to sit down and search the Scriptures with you to see what saith the Lord, I never knew a case but the answer was that they had no need to search the Scriptures, for the Lord told them what to do. {FW 55.2}[7]

 

Now, we want to understand what sin is--that it is the transgression of God’s law. This is the only definition given in the Scriptures. Therefore we see that those who claim to be led of God, and go right away from Him and His law, do not search the Scriptures. But the Lord will lead His people; for He says that His sheep will follow if they hear His voice, but a stranger will they not follow. Then it becomes us to thoroughly understand the Scriptures. And we will not have to inquire whether others have the truth, for it will be seen in their characters. {FW 56.1}[8]

 This again is a false statement about the definition of sin.  The Bible gives us several different angles on what is sin.  What she has defined here is transgression.  In James, he says that to him who knows what he ought to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.  And Paul in Romans 14:21 says that all that is not of faith is sin.  The writer of Hebrews says that unbelief is sin.   The definition that she gives here is a classic Arminian/Probationist definition, which does not include sins committed in ignorance or out of unbelief.  But the Bible gives us several clear examples of men who thought they were innocent, but God sees them as guilty (Gen.20:1-7, Num:15:22-36, Mt.7:21-23).

 

We have received the rich blessing of God, but we must not stop here. We are to catch more and more the divine rays of light from heaven. We are to stand just where we can receive the light and reflect it, in its glory, upon the pathway of others. There has never been a time when we could feel more courage and confidence in the work than at the present time. There are many in our world who do not keep the commandments of God or make any profession of so doing, and yet they claim all His blessings. They are willing to accept and appropriate His promises without heeding the conditions upon which they are based. They have no right to the blessings they claim. {FW 59.2}[9]

 

 

 

Chap. 17 - Counsel to a Leading Minister on the Presentation of the Relation of Faith and Works

PORTION OF A LETTER TO A. T. JONES, APRIL 9, 1893, LETTER 44, 1893. PUBLISHED IN SELECTED MESSAGES, BOOK ONE, PP. 377-379.

I was attending a meeting, and a large congregation were present. In my dream you were presenting the subject of faith and the imputed righteousness of Christ by faith. You repeated several times that works amounted to nothing, that there were no conditions. The matter was presented in that light that I knew minds would be confused and would not receive the correct impression in reference to faith and works, and I decided to write to you. You state this matter too strongly. There are conditions to our receiving justification and sanctification, and the righteousness of Christ. I know your meaning, but you leave a wrong impression upon many minds. While good works will not save even one soul, yet it is impossible for even one soul to be saved without good works. God saves us under a law, that we must ask if we would receive, seek if we would find, and knock if we would have the door opened unto us. {FW 111.1}

[10]

 

Unfortunately, for Ellen White, the only good work that counts before God, is the work of the Cross. As John says,

 

28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:28,29)

 

 Nothing man does counts before God, if it did, then man would have something to boast about, and God would owe man.  “But who has first given to Him, that it might recompensed to him again?” asks the Scripture.  This is where she drives the train again off the tracts.  She is contradicting Scripture and herself.   And she makes it plan that we are under the Law, and that there are conditions for receiving justification, sanctification, and righteousness.  She states that we must ask, and seek, and knock, which is just another way of saying that we must exert all of our effort and energy to obtain these things.   Yet Paul states that,

 

What shall we say then? – that the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness obtained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith, 31 but Israel even though pursuing a law of righteousness did not attain it. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but (as if it were possible) by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone… (Rom.9:30-32)

 

"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:3-5). Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account. Christ’s righteousness is accepted in place of man’s failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness; and the pardoned soul goes on from grace to grace, from light to a greater light. He can say with rejoicing, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5-7). {FW 101.1}[11]

 

Surprisingly, this section above is the closest thing, so far, that Ellen White ever says to Scripture, this is because most of this above section is largely a quote from Scripture.  Where I would depart from her statement above, which says, “By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account”, is that this statement has two incorrect ideas: 1) man is bringing the merits of Christ to God (rather, it is God who imputes His righteousness to man), and 2) the idea here is that the believer is not in union (seated with Christ, made alive together with Christ), but rather she views the believer as separate, and autonomous from Christ. 

However, as nice sounding these statements of hers may be, and close to the Scriptural ideals, she none the less, invalidates them all by her other statements and teachings (i.e. investigative judgment, Satan as the “Scape Goat” offering, no eternal punishment, etc.)

 

I can say this, because this is what Paul said, in essence, about those who were advocating circumcision for salvation:  he said, “if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you, you have fallen from grace”, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes by the works of the law, then Christ died in vain”, and “For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised” (1 Cor.15:16)   

You see, God has commanded us to love him with our mind, and if Paul could deduce from the argument that “not even Christ has been raised”, “if the dead are not raised” then you need to deduce that Ellen White is contradicting herself and the Scripture, which cannot be broken.  You need to throw her under the bus, and burn your idol. 


[1]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 47 [2]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 48     [3]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 47 [4]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 49 [5]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 49 [6]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 52 [7]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 55 [8]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 56 [9]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 59 [10]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 109 [11]White, Ellen Gould: Faith and Works. Southern Publishing Association, 1979; 2002, S. 101






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