The Seventh-day Adventist Christians I know spend so much time debating ‘faith and works’, and it annoys me because it seems to me that most often they are saying the same thing with a slightly different emphasis and pretending they are diametrically opposed. So as part of a discussion in a forum I tried to formulate the common ground as simply as I could. Thought I’d share that here – any comments are very welcome.
OK, here it is:
- We are all sinners – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
- None of us has the power to save ourselves.
- None of our actions have any power to save us – even our good actions are marred by self-interest.
- We are saved wholly, solely and entirely because God ascribes Jesus’ salvation to us. This is a legal contract founded in grace and mercy.
- Jesus’ sacrifice is 100% effective to offer salvation to every person on earth who chooses to accept it. Nothing more is required for salvation. It is heresy to claim that more is required.
- We must accept Jesus’ sacrifice in order for his salvation to be ascribed to us.
OK, big pause, big breath, big think, prayer of praise – because a huge amount of the confusion on this topic arises through not taking an appropriate pause at this point. But the 6 points above are the heart of the gospel, and the parts on which all Christians agree.
- Once we receive salvation, we are new people with a new desire to live the abundant lives God has planned for us.
- Those abundant lives arise from the assurance of our salvation, which is absolute, and from obedience to the laws God has set in place for our benefit.
- The greatest commandment is to love God and love others – all else is derived from that.
- That great commandment has been ‘unpacked’ as the Ten Commandments and throughout the whole Bible in some detail.
- God does not require evidence for our salvation, beyond our acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice. That sacrifice completely fulfills the demands of the law and makes us free.
- God desires us to keep His laws because He understands that they are the recipe for the abundant life, and because He loves us and wants us to enjoy that life.
- Our works also constitute evidence of our salvation for those around us – the fruits of the spirit – and are the most eloquent testimony for bringing the joy of salvation to others.
In reading this set of 13 statements, I hope you will read the whole set and try to understand the logic, rather than try to pick it apart line by line: some of the statements, taken out of context, will be too extreme and incorrect. The full set of statements is needed to provide a balanced perspective.