The 1888 message was to "lighten the earth with glory," a light that would penetrate honest hearts worldwide. A "voice from heaven" would speak to every human soul, "Come out of Babylon, My people!" (Rev.18:2).
But His message was not a terrifying demand, "Do the impossible!" Instead of a do-it-yourself works trip, it was a faith-experience. Like dew falling on parched crops, the message was a gentle shower of grace which "abounded much more" than all the abounding sin the devil could invent. God was not trying to find a way to keep you out of heaven, but to get you ready to go in.
Ellen White saw that the 1888 message was "the third angel's message in verity," "new light." It was not only that Jesus pardons sin; He saves from its power and slavery. There is hope even for addicts.
It was a new look at the cross of Christ. When Christ gave His blood for the sins of the world, He redeemed the lost human race: "He, by the grace of God, [tasted] death for everyone" (Heb. 2:9). In other words, He died every person's second death, His final punishment for sin. And He did all this before we had any chance to say yes or no. Christ's sacrifice has already "delivered" him from that fear which has enslaved him through "all [his] lifetime" (vss. 14, 15).
Christ's sacrifice has reversed for all men the "condemnation" which came upon us all "in Adam." He literally saved the world from the premature suicide that sin would have brought upon us. (Rom. 5:15-18, NEB).
Here is power to motivate! We experience justification by faith, which is a change of heart. So, says Paul, "present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead." From now on, no sacrifice is too difficult to make for the One who you know has already saved you from hell itself (Rom. 6:12-14; 5:1). Such love constrains one to live for Him.
Coming into sharp focus, justification by faith is seen as much more than a legal declaration of acquittal. No one can be reconciled to God and not at the same time be reconciled to His holy law. Justification by faith makes the believing sinner become obedient to all the commandments of God (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 91-93). This is the secret of overcoming those many addictions that plague the sinful human race. It becomes impossible for anyone who truly believes the gospel to go on living in sin, which is transgression of the law of God.
The 1888 message revealed a new and higher motivation--a concern for the honor and vindication of Christ. Faith becomes a heart-appreciation of the great love revealed at the cross, irrespective of a desire for reward or a fear of hell. Such "faith ... worketh by love" (Gal. 5:6).
More Good News. All of us are sick spiritually and need a physician for our souls. Jesus had to undergo special training to qualify as our great High Priest. (Heb. 2:14-18).
Christ as a High Priest has come so close to us in His taking our human nature that He knows the full force of all our temptations. Whatever your temptation, however low you have fallen into sin, however terrible is your feeling of despair, however poisoned your guilt, "He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him." He is on duty 24 hours a day, and never sleeps (Heb. 12:4; 7:25). You are like the only patient this Physician has; He gives you His full-time attention.
--Robert J. Wieland