September 18, 2014
On Closer Examination
Regarding “Radical Grace” (Sept. 18, 2014): The use of “the” in the phrase “the three main points” that Mark Finley identifies in Romans 3:24-26 means that he believes the points he lists are the only main points to be found in the passage, to the exclusion of all others. This, despite the fact that more than half of the text focuses on Christ’s death as a demonstration of God’s own righteousness, which had to be demonstrated because “God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.”
God had warned Adam and Eve that if they sinned, they would die, whereas Satan said that they would not die, which they didn’t (at least not right away, and then it was only the first death). So God’s own truthfulness was called into question. God could have allowed them to die, which would have shown God to be just (i.e., right), in that He was telling the truth about His warning. But Adam and Eve would have been dead, so that God could not be their Justifier.
But the universe, thinking God had caused their deaths, would have served Him from fear. Instead, God forgave Adam and Even (as their Justifier), veiled the glory of His presence, and preserved their lives (and ours), that we might have time to consider the truth: It is only by the death of Christ that “God can be just, and yet the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus” (Steps to Christ, p. 14), where Ellen White’s addition of the words “and yet” indicates the tension that exists between God’s being able to be both just and the Justifier.
The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary is helpful in clarifying the meaning of this passage, which seems to be not well understood, even by Adventists. Yet in the setting of the Great Controversy, it is the scriptural passage that explains, in real terms, not in symbols or metaphors, why Jesus had to die. It presents a paradigm shift in our understanding of the reason for Christ’s death. Christ’s death as a demonstration of God’s own righteousness definitely qualifies as a “main point” (Rom. 3:4) in this passage.
Thanks for the reality check in “Ready to Be Real” (Sept. 11, 2014). It seems that humanity has become one big cadaver, and that churches and charities just swat the flies nearest the odor.
Let’s be honest and add a good bit of real love.
A Heart for Service
The cover story “Silent Victims” by Celeste Ryan Blyden (Aug. 28, 2014) was an outstanding blessing. Being involved in prison ministry ourselves, our hearts were touched.
We plan to see that this article is copied and given to key people in our church. We hope and pray that a special issue of our church letter will take it to all our members.
If we have a heart, everyone will wish to be involved, from prayers to action, in small or large ways. When it comes to prison ministry, “You did it to me” (Matt. 25:36).
Thanks for the news article, “Adventists Tell of Faith in Conflict-Hit Ukraine” (Aug. 21,2014). It is inspiring to read that even though they are dealing with horrific circumstances, prayer meetings are being held, sometimes daily, and “even on the darkest Sabbath” people manage to make their way to church.
The last paragraph brought tears to my eyes as I read of their fervor: “We felt the power of prayer, understood the importance of repentance, and prayed everyday with our brothers and sisters, as well as with our neighbors in the basement during the shelling.”
Somehow it brought to mind our early pioneers as they awaited Jesus’ return fasting and praying. Ellen White saw little groups meeting and praying earnestly with and for each other.
Is this what it will take to confirm Jesus’ prayer to His Father: “That they all may be one”? How meaningless it would seem in such circumstances to be arguing over issues and policies that fade into insignificance compared to our relationships with our fellow believers and our Lord.
This article was a wake-up call. Troublesome times are ahead. We need each other, and we will need each other even more as the end approaches.