Justification By Faith
Justification by Faith and Righteousness By Faith are two terms that refer to the same event: the imputation of Christ’s righteousness into the account of the believer. Man’s justification, or ability to stand righteous before the Father, is a work that man’s tainted obedience cannot accomplish. Sanctification and Justification exist in two separate yet co-existing spheres. Justification is the work of God. Sanctification is the work of God in man and the outworking of man’s will to choose the good. No matter how deeply our lives may be surrendered to Christ, sanctification will never be able to equal the righteousness needed to stand before God. Our human nature is tainted. Our good deeds travel through corrupted channels and none by the righteousness of God can gain us the title to heaven.
In the bible, the terms “Justification by Faith” and “Righteousness By Faith” all refer to the righteousness of God, which we attain to, not by impartation, but by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. It is a work that is apart from our own works.
Adventists often confuse the term “Justification by Faith” and “Righteousness By Faith” with the sanctified life. They equate it with the working out of one’s personal righteousness, which they say is accomplished by faith. However, this is not how the bible or Ellen White uses either of those terms. Although sanctification and justification go together, they are never mingled. Although we are called to overcome sin, which we can and must, the righteousness in which we stand before the Father justified on the Last Day will be the imputed righteousness of Christ.
Justification by Faith is the fundamental cornerstone to any protestant theology and Adventism is no exception. In fact, justification by faith is the main ingredient in Adventist theology. The imminent reality of imputed righteousness is the reason why they believe that:
- The Soul Is not Immortal
- When You Die You Rest in The Grave Until The Resurrection When Christ Calls Us Forth With His Life
- Hell Is Not Eternal Because The Soul CAN Die
- The Seventh Day Is The Sabbath And Resting In Christ Is A Memorial of Imputed Righteousness Since We Do Not Depend On Our Works
- There Is A Heavenly Sanctuary
- The Investigative Judgment
Imputed righteousness is the core theme throughout all of these basic tenets of Adventism and as a result, Adventists should be the great heralds of justification by faith, and their knowledge of the breadth and height of imputed righteousness should be vastly superior to their protestant counterparts. Unfortunately, however, many 7th Day Adventists have failed to grasp its importance. Yet if Adventists could become well versed on this topic they would become the heavy hitters of Protestantism, with a theology that is so streamline and fundamentally settled dependent upon the great reality of Imputed Righteousness that it would be hard to refute their position.
For example, Seventh-Day Adventist views on hell are central to the belief that immortality is alone in Jesus Christ, “who alone has immortality”. 1 Timothy 6:16. The reason why the “soul” does not burn forever and ever in eternal torment is because the bible says that eternal life must be imputed to the believer. Man does not innate possess immortality. Eternal Life is the consequence of justification by faith! Therefore, mortals, who are have not received Christ’s life through the process of imputation cannot stand in fiery presence of God and thus wicked men are consumed at some point. Since “He who has the Son has life and he who has not the Son of God has not life,” Adventist theology is based on the biblical understanding that the wicked can not exist on their own innate strength.1 John 5:12. Rather eternal life is the consequence of the imputation of righteousness or justification by faith.
Therefore, Adventist doctrine advocates that everyone who is not bound in covenant with Christ, will ultimately perish as in John 3:16. The wicked are justly punished and then destroyed. Adventist doctrine is contrary to mainline protestants who contend that the wicked live on forever in eternal torment. Adventists believe that eternal torture is not only contrary to the nature of God, but contrary to the nature of man since the soul can be destroyed as Jesus says, “rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28.
The controversial topic of their observance of the Seventh-Day Sabbath is also based on the fundamental gospel reality of justification by faith and imputed righteousness. The Seventh-Day Sabbath is reverenced not in order to earn the righteousness that qualifies us before heaven, but as a memorial of Christ’s salvation and in honor of justification by faith. On the Sabbath man is called to “cease from his labors” and this is a parallel to justification by faith in which man can do no works to add to Christ’s perfect work of atonement on man’s behalf. It is recognizing that the title to heaven has been gained for us in Christ. Resting on the Sabbath is the memorial of resting in what God has done on behalf of the believer, completing a work that man can add nothing to.
Justification by Faith is the central theme of Seventh-Day Adventism and embodied the tenor of Ellen G. White’s work.
Below are some links that discuss the distinguishing doctrines of Seventh-Day Adventism in more detail but in no way is it exhaustive. The Omega of Apostasy Documentary is great place to start becoming familiar with these distinctions and preparing your mind for the end times. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or our “discussion” page.
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” Romans 3:21-22.
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” Romans 10:3
“For He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
“For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.” Galatians 5:5.
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.'” Romans 1:17.
“And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which [is] from the law, but that which [is] through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” Philippians 3:9.
“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” Hebrews 11:7
“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:1
The righteousness of God that the New Testament refers to is the righteousness by which man is accounted righteousness in the courts of heaven. It is righteousness that is imputed. It is the exaltation of another’s man’s righteousness, the righteousness of Christ. It is likewise a low estimate of our own righteousness and a clinging in dependency upon Christ our salvation.