If the Seventh-day Adventist church is truly the remnant church of Bible prophesy, as we claim to believe, then we need to start asking ourselves some serious questions. The most fundamental of which I addressed in my last blog post: Is there congruency in what we say we believe and what we do?
There is an interesting test that Jesus puts forth in his Sermon on the Mount that I wonder how often the church applies to itself.
“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:18–20 NKJV)
If we have a sign on our churches that says “Good Fruit For Sale” and then people come in looking for good fruit but instead find a briar patch, what would you call that in business language? False Advertising.
In no way am I trying to demean the church by that statement. I think we can all relate to the ups and downs of the Christian experience: Short periods of revival followed by longer periods of outwardly faking it while internally feeling empty and unsatisfied. If this applies to us individually then there is no doubt that it also applies to us collectively as a movement
So how do we become the remnant we claim to be?
The deeper question is, what in fact is salvation and how is it supposed to be experienced?
You would think that of all doctrines in the Bible, the Seventh-day Adventist Church would agree on the doctrine of salvation – but in fact it is the opposite that is true. The most important doctrine is the one we are most confused about.
At this time there are basically two entrenched camps on this topic within our church.
One camp emphasizes transformation without the need of demonstration (Salvation by Presumption). “I’m a good tree no matter what kind of fruit I’m producing”
The second camp emphasizes demonstration without the need of transformation (Salvation by Works). “I’m a bad tree that can produce good fruit if I just try harder”
Chances are that you tend to identify with one of these camps over the other. However neither camp satisfyingly leads the church to become the remnant we claim to be.
What the Advent Movement needs more than anything else is a third camp to speak up and become the dominant voice on this topic today. It needs a camp that balances both the importance of transformation and demonstration in the salvation experience of the remnant people of God.
Where do we find that balance? I believe we find the balance in the well-known text of 2 Corinthians 5:17,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)
According to the text – the miracle of transformation takes place the moment we experience salvation– and this transformation is so complete that it makes “all things” new.
Now “all things” would have to entail the whole nature of man. In other words the experience of salvation automatically entails becoming a good tree. And according to Jesus, if we are a good tree we will automatically produce good fruit (it’s not optional), and by definition become the remnant we claim to be.
Fundamentally then, in order for us to understand how to become the remnant we claim to be (good trees producing good fruit), we need to first understand where the obstacle to achieving that goal lies. Are we sinners because we sin (Bad fruit makes a bad tree) or do we sin because we are sinners (A bad tree makes bad fruit).
Thus as you can see, any study of salvation has to be rooted in an understanding of the nature of man and of course along with it the nature of Christ. We need to understand the problem before we can sucessfully apply the solution.
If 2 Corinthians 5:17 is the key biblical passage to this study then 1 Selected Messages, page 251 is the key Spirit of Prophecy quote. Notice what it says;
“By His obedience to all the commandments of God, Christ wrought out a redemption for men. This was not done by going out of Himself to another, but by taking humanity into Himself. Thus Christ gave to humanity an existence out of Himself. To bring humanity into Christ, to bring the fallen race into oneness with divinity, is the work of redemption. Christ took human nature that men might be one with Him as He is one with the Father, that God may love man as He loves His only-begotten Son, that men may be partakers of the divine nature, and be complete in Him.” (1 Selected Messages, 251)
The answer to our question, “How do we become the remnant we claim to be?” is found here in that statement. It is my hope that you will prayerfully join me on the journey to unpack it so we can experience it for ourselves.