Tuesday, August 31, 2010

“Redemption for Jew and Gentile”

“Redemption for Jew and Gentile”

In Romans 9:1-3 Paul displays the explosive power of the gospel. He who held the garments of the men who stoned Stephen, now cries out in anguish, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.” 
As a chosen instrument to proclaim the gospel to the nations Israel corporately failed. Self became the focus of their national mindset. They sought to appropriate to themselves alone the promised blessings. Like Jonah they ran from their evangelistic mission. Like the Egyptians under Pharaoh, they rejected God’s gracious design for them. They were chosen by God to be His people, but they were not choosing to be God’s servants.
Could we, who rejoice in this most precious message of the gospel, share in their guilt?   God has given every believer a commission. Every one who believes and receives Jesus as Savior and Lord is born again to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ by a life of loving service, as well as by words of grace. This is the fruit of the gospel.
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteous-ness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:6-9).
Then Isaiah affirms that only such holy ones can effectively repair the breach in God’s law. Only these can truly cherish and exalt the Sabbath as their delight. The good news is that all have been redeemed from sin’s slavery through the blood of Jesus Christ. God has placed our feet on vantage ground. All have sinned. All miss the mark from time to time. But, praise God, all may be justified by faith – fully reconciled by the redemption that is in Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (Romans 3:24-26; 2 Corinthians 5:14-19).
Salvation operates in the past, the present, and the future. All have been saved (past tense) at the cross. All who believe from the heart and receive Jesus as Savior and Lord are being saved (present tense). All who endure unto the end will be saved (future tense) by a faith that works. God guarantees our salvation unless we interpose a perverse will (see Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing page 76). “He that has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
God’s ultimate purpose will prevail, with or without us. Neither Jew or Gentile, Christian or Atheist can frustrate the purposes of God. The history of Israel and the surrounding nations clearly demonstrates this fact. God has a specific plan for your life and mine. Like Pharaoh we may refuse His plan. God manifested His power to Pharaoh in the plagues, and through Pharaoh in the deliverance of His chosen people. God would have preferred to manifest His power through a repentant Pharaoh. God hoped that Pharaoh would recognize His gracious purpose and surrender long before Egypt lay in ruins. But Pharaoh decided to interpose a perverse will. Therefore, God’s gracious purpose had to be carried out through the destruction of Egypt instead of through its exaltation to the status of servants of the Most High God. 
Paul also resisted until confronted with Jesus on the Damascus road. Compelled by the love of Christ, he counted no sacrifice too great, no suffering too intense, if only he could fulfill his mission as the apostle to the Gentiles.
Self is the stumbling stone that blinds our eyes to the freedom, power, and victory that is ours in Christ. A friend once said to me, “We all do what is good.” That is, whenever we choose our way instead of God’s way we believe we will receive some personal benefit. Eve “saw the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of the fruit and did eat” (Genesis 3:6).
A few years ago I was in Irkustk, Siberia as a member of Wilbur and Dorothy Nelson’s evangelistic team. During a Health Expo, a lady approached me for a blessing on her healing ministry. I talked with her about how we can know for sure which master empowers our ministry. “One way is to examine our motives and attitudes,” I told her. “Jesus said ‘Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.’” 
“But that is so difficult!” the lady protested. “No,” I said “It is impossible. But if we have been transformed by the Lord Jesus, all things become possible to us.”
All humans have all been elected to be “kings and priests.” Jesus invites us to live up to our high calling by faith. Paul tells how He was empowered to declare this message with explosive power, “I have made myself a servant of all, that I might win the more…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means win some” (Romans 9:19-23).
“The love of Christ compels us,” he exclaimed, “Because we judge thus: that if one died for all, then all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15).
“Now … where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:17, 18).
--Lloyd Knecht


Note: We invite you to read a verse-by-verse study of Romans 9 from the 1888 message perspective by Paul E. Penno. You will find it on the Internet at: http://www.1888mpm.org/articles/redemption-jew-and-gentile

Or, you may request that it be sent to you via e-mail. Just reply to this e-mail and ask for “Romans 9 study.”

For an excellent companion book to these studies, please see Waggoner on Romans: the Gospel in Paul’s Great Letter, by E. J. Waggoner. You may access the complete book at: http://www.1888mpm.org/book/waggoner-romans

For Jack Sequeira sermons on Romans click here: MP3; Windows Media; Real Audio
 For the written version click here
 For a paraphrase on Romans click here

Raul Diaz

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

“Freedom In Christ”

Third Quarter 2010 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Freedom In Christ”
For the week of August 22 - 28, 2010
Romans chapter eight begins with no condemnation in Christ and ends with no separation from Him. Condemnation is a legal sentence from a judge in court. Justification, or acquittal, is the opposite of condemnation. E.J. Waggoner wrote of this in 1891:
“[L]et us have some definitions to keep in our mind. Justification is ‘a showing to be just, or conformable to law, rectitude, or propriety.’ Condemnation is ‘the judicial act of declaring guilty, and dooming to punishment.’ The two words are directly opposite in meaning; and we have the inspired declaration that all the world are guilty (condemned) before God, and that by the deeds of the law none can be justified” (E.J. Waggoner, Signs of the Times, November 23, 1891. He used these legal definitions in articles in this magazine on March 25, 1886 and September 11, 1884).
Ellen White wrote earlier in that same year concerning the difference between justification and condemnation. She stated: “Justification is the opposite of condemnation” (Ellen White, Manuscript 21, 1891, pp. 1-11).
Following is a Biblical Dictionary definition justification:
“As regards its nature [justification], it is the judicial act of God… . It is the act of a judge and not of a sovereign. The law is not relaxed or set aside…” (Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible Dictionary).
In order to lift the sentence of condemnation that rightfully belongs to us, because of our transgressions of the law, Jesus had to die for us, as us. He is both our Substitute and our Representative. Instead of condemnation, our sentence of acquittal was declared at Calvary in Christ.
Justification is both a judicial term – a word from the courts of law – and an experiential term. Justification becomes experiential when a person believes. It effects a change in the mind and heart. When we accept Christ “by faith” a change, even the new birth, occurs.
In judgment, justification is the gracious act of God, who sits as Judge in the high court of Heaven. By this act He pronounced, concerning the fallen human race, a decree of restoration to divine favor. This was because Christ, the Representative of humanity, exhausted the penalty for man’s transgressions of the law on Calvary. God’s justice was satisfied in the death penalty contained in the sentence of condemnation imposed on the fallen human race in its Representative.
 “Justice moved from its high and awful position, and the heavenly hosts, the armies of holiness, drew near to the cross, bowing with reverence; for at the cross justice was satisfied” (Ellen White, “The Signs of the Times,” June 5, 1893).

The freedom from condemnation, in Christ, comes because of what God did in Christ. This is stated plainly in Romans 8:3 –
“For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (The NET Bible, First Edition).
Because of our sinful nature, the law cannot free us from condemnation. It can never justify. It can only condemn us. In order for us to become free from condemnation, God sent Jesus and “made Him to be sin for us.” Therefore we may be not only legally justified, but also justified experientially through faith in Him. Jesus was born “under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4–5). He took our condemnation “under the law.” Jesus was sent in sinful human flesh like ours in order to condemn sin in our fallen flesh. 
How did He do this? First of all, He never gave in to the clamoring tendencies to sin inherent within our nature. By conquering these tendencies He condemned them where they reside – in our fallen nature. Secondly, He took our committed sins upon Himself, along with our fallen human nature. In His death He condemned our sins forever. The completeness of Christ’s condemnation is found in the fact that He condemned sin in its tendency, as well as taking the condemnation that resulted from our committed sins. If Jesus had failed to condemn sin on a single point, He could not be a complete Savior. A.T. Jones commented regarding this:
“O, He is a complete Saviour. He is a Saviour from sins committed and the Conqueror of the tendencies to commit sins. In Him we have the victory. We are no more responsible for these tendencies being in us than we are responsible for the sun shining, but every man on earth is responsible for these things appearing in open action in Him, because Jesus Christ has made provision against their ever appearing in open action. Before we learned of Christ, many of them had appeared in open action. The Lord hath laid upon Him all these and He has taken them away. Since we learned of Christ, these tendencies which have not appeared He condemned as sin in the flesh” (A.T. Jones, General Conference Bulletin, February 21, 1895, p. 267)
Christ was condemned as we deserve, that we might be justified as He deserves. He was condemned as us, that we might be free in Him. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him” (Isaiah 53:5). He suffered the condemnation which was ours, that we might receive the freedom which was His. “With His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Are you free in Christ?
--Jerry Finneman
For an excellent companion book to these studies, please see Waggoner on Romans: the Gospel in Paul’s Great Letter, by E. J. Waggoner. You may access the complete book at: http://www.1888mpm.org/book/waggoner-romans

For Jack Sequeira sermons on Romans click here: MP3; Windows Media; Real Audio
 For the written version click here
 For a paraphrase on Romans click herePurchase the Audio version of the Bible Studies on the Book of Romans from Advent Pioneer Books

Monday, August 23, 2010

An Invitation to Study the Book of Hebrews!

An Invitation to Study the Book of Hebrews!

 You Are Cordially Invited
To Continue the Journey
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Through the 1888 Message Perspective
(Part 2)
AUGUST 28, 2010
Sabbath morning, 2:15 p.m., and Saturday Night
An 1888 message oriented sermon will be delivered during the regular
Worship Service at 11:00 a.m.
(Off Interstate 40 westbound from Nashville, exit 192–turn right, then left on HWY 70,
1-1/2 miles to Cave Springs Road, two rights and follow the signs.)
Speaker & Bible Study Leader
Chaplain Craig Barnes
• Special class for children during Sabbath School
• Separate programs during the afternoon meetings
Plant-based meals will be served at Cave Springs Home
on a donation basis. Please E-mail or call to reserve a meal ticket.
BOOK SALE (After Sunset)
• Available on Site
• Commercial lodging available in the nearby town of Belleview
• Phone: (615) 646-6962 (if no answer, please leave a message)
• E-mail: cjmb@comcast.net 
-- Next meeting: November 13, 2010 --

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

“The Man of Romans 7”

Insights No. 08
Third Quarter 2010 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
The Man of Romans 7
For the week of August 15-21, 2010
(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

Paul approaches his teaching with what we call building blocks. The idea is that one block, or teaching, supports the next one. We see this concept demonstrated in mathematics. Each concept in math supports the one to follow. For example, misunderstanding division leads to not understanding fractions, and therefore not understanding decimal points and percentages. Thus, the basic building blocks support the more complex ones.

Paul starts with the simplest concepts to build to the more complex ones. This explains why he elaborates so much on his points. It is to say, "Do not miss this. If you do, you will not understand what I say after this." Therefore, to really understand the dilemma and struggle of "the man of Romans 7" – “O wretched man” -- you must first understand the dilemma and struggle of the woman in the opening verses of Romans 7.

The Woman of Romans 7
In our passage of Scripture, Paul has been writing to the Jewish Christians in Rome about an essential truth. They know the law (Torah) – they can recite it from heart, both individually and collectively, but they do not understand its true meaning. They know that they are under the jurisdiction of the law, and that it has dominion over them as long as they live, much as a country’s laws have jurisdiction over both its citizens and visitors. Yet Paul is telling these Jewish Christians that God has not only given them freedom to choose to obey, but that He has put an end to the law’s dominion in their lives. To illustrate this, Paul makes a statement in Romans 7 verse 1, and then provides an analogy in verses 2-3.

The woman in the first three verses of Romans 7 is in a similar situation as Paul’s readers. Let us look at the passage in Romans 7:1-3.

Vs. 1 Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
Vs. 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he
liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
Vs. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

In the above passage, a married woman finds herself attracted to a single man. She wants to leave her husband and marry him, but knows she cannot for she is already married. Perhaps we can infer from the verses that follow Romans 7:3 that her current husband is a cruel man whose intent is to kill her. But no, that would not be accurate, for in fact, he is a loving husband. It is just that he cannot sympathize with her weakness in not carrying out his commands; neither can he help her carry them out.

In contrast, her new love interest is a sweet, kind and loving man who not only wants her to be His, but also sympathizes with all of her weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). This man is also able to help her to do what she is incapable of doing on her own (Hebrews 2:17, 18). Thus, our woman of Romans 7 has a dilemma.  She cannot leave her current husband and marry her new found love without committing one of two crimes: 1) breaking the law of marriage which says „until death do you part or 2) killing her spouse.

She cannot leave her husband, and she cannot stay. Daily she is suffering a cruel existence. What can she do? The only way out is through a death. However, it cannot be through murder. She cannot murder her husband, for that is illegal. If he kills her, she will not be free to marry, as she would be dead.

So she goes to her new love interest and presents her dilemma to Him. It’s true that neither He nor she can do away with her husband, which represents the law, for it is „just and holy and good(Romans 7:12).  He can not nail her spouse (the law) to the cross. But He and she can die together, thus freeing her from her first marriage. In effect, He tells her He will nail her (us) to the cross in Himself, and thus when He dies, she will die and when He is resurrected, she will be resurrected in Him. This solution fills her with hope. In gratitude, she consents.  As Paul has said, “Therefore my brethren, you (the wife) also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ.” It is not the law (former spouse) that dies on the cross. It is us (the entire human race) that died in the second Adam, Jesus Christ (cf. I Corinthians 15: 21, 22; 44-47).

Let us deal with the first issue. We (mankind) are represented both individually and corporately in Romans 5. Accordingly, we had no say in what Adam did to plunge us into sin. We also had no say in what Christ, our divine lover, did to rescue us from sin. We do, however, have a choice. We may agree to individually receive that gift by grace through faith.  Consequently, the woman in Romans 7, who makes the choice to die in Christ and be resurrected in Him, becomes part of the corporate bride of Christ. She is a part, but not the whole. It is she (both individually and corporately) whom our divine Lover has been waiting for all of His life.

You see, love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10). Christ as the divine lover has fulfilled all of that law. Thus, when our woman of Romans 7 dies and is resurrected with Him (Christ), she also fulfills the law in Him. The Law has been described as the supreme love to God, and love to man as He has loved us (John 13:34, 35). Therefore, while we can not obey the law in our weakness, nor can the law help us obey, we have become obedient through Christ.

In sum, when by faith we accept our death in Christ, recognized through the symbol of baptism, we are liberated from the „dominion and jurisdiction of the law. It is not abolished, but is placed in the mind and on the heart as promised by God (Jeremiah 31: 33; Ezekiel 11:19; Hebrews 8:10). This is what it means to be under grace, in Christ. We can now bear the fruit of our union together. Glory be to God!

--Raul Diaz

For an excellent companion book to these studies, please see Waggoner on Romans: the Gospel in Paul’s Great Letter, by E. J. Waggoner. You may access the complete book at: http://www.1888mpm.org/book/waggoner-romans

For Jack Sequeira sermons on Romans click here: MP3; Windows Media; Real Audio
 For the written version click here
 For a paraphrase on Romans click here
Purchase the Audio version of the Bible Studies on the Book of Romans from Advent Pioneer Books

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

“Victory Over Sin”

 “Victory Over Sin”

One of the most beautiful things in nature is the morning sunrise. The steady rising of the sun illuminating the sky with its soft colors of orange, yellow and red against the backdrop of the white clouds and blue sky brings joy to the soul. The birds chirp, the flowers open and life awakens. It is in this context that one learns about gaining victory over sin.

Darkness and Light
In the natural realm, light from the sun dispels darkness. It is the same in the spiritual realm. Only light from Christ can rid us of the darkness of sin. Two points are clearly seen here: darkness does not dispel darkness, and darkness cannot exist in the presence of light.

Potential for Life
For several thousand years, people the world over have been planting seeds in the soil.
Though darkness seems unpromising, the soil actually contains powerful nutrients that help sustain the life inside the seed. And that which takes place in the natural, also takes place in the spiritual. Since all have been planted in darkness and sin, a powerful nutrient called grace has been freely given to all. “As the plant takes root in the soil, so we are to take root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, so are we to receive the Holy Spirit” (Ellen White, Education, p.106).

Exercising Faith in the Physical Realm
It takes faith to believe that planting seeds in the soil will produce a harvest, but the process is so commonplace that many do not think of it in such terms. Nevertheless, faith must be exercised in the form of planting the seed in the soil in order to get a harvest. 

Evidence of seed planting can clearly be seen in the form of trees, bushes, grasses, and vegetation. These yield fruit which, in turn, bears seeds that fall back into the earth to repeat the cycle. This principle is taught to all students around the world at all levels of education, from pre-school to high school; from undergraduate education to post graduate research. There is a deeper lesson for us as we now consider exercising faith in the spiritual realm.

Exercising Faith in the Spiritual Realm
The physical result of exercising faith by planting seeds is clearly understood by all cultures throughout the world. Let us now consider the effects of exercising faith in the spiritual realm. Even though spiritual matters deal with the intangible and the earthly, while physical matters deal with the tangible and visible, they both produce tangible and visible effects. This is illustrated in a well known account in the gospels.

Jesus had just returned to Capernaum from his Galilean journey (Matthew 9:1; Mark 5:1).
Word traveled quickly that Jesus was in town. Soon there was no room inside the “house of Peter” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 267). Jesus was preaching the Word when the roof above suddenly opened up and four men lowered their friend who was sick with the palsy. Having failed to get in at the crowded door, they persisted until they found a way.

“When Jesus saw their faith,” He forgave and healed the paralytic. Faith is visible. It works in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm. Here, in my estimation, stands the strongest statement in all of Scripture of the visible evidence that results from faith.

The friends of the paralytic believed on the name Jesus Christ. The evidence of their faith was seen in their actions. They showed that true faith works by love. This act moved the heart of Jesus. Just as a seed planted in soil will eventually bear visible and tangible fruit, an individual who by faith in Jesus Christ accepts salvation through grace will also bear visible and tangible fruit of the Spirit.

Victory Over Sin
The Bible is very clear that an individual who by faith accepts salvation through grace becomes light (Ephesians 5:8). He will not continue in sin (Romans 6:1-4). Darkness cannot co-exist with light.

There is no promise that the mature fruit of holiness appears over night. Even fruit grown in the natural world takes time to develop. A tree takes time to bear fruit, but during that time of growth it is still a fruit tree. Different fruit trees may yield different amounts of fruit, yet each tree is still a fruit tree. Spiritual growth, like fruit bearing, takes time. And the apparent quantity of fruit will not be the same for all people. Some will bear “a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23). This principle of growth-over-time actually strengthens the relational bond between Christ and His followers.

So what is the victory? The answer is quite simple…faith, faith in Christ! And the very faith Jesus exhibited will be found in His followers. Jesus demonstrated this faith in the beginning of His ministry while in the wilderness. It was seen all throughout His earthly life and public ministry. It was seen even while He was upon the cross. The faith of Jesus was seen in complete dependence upon the words of Scripture. “It is written” was His testimony. Herein is righteousness by faith! Christ demonstrated that “obedience is the fruit of faith” (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p.61).

We also have a cloud of witnesses who lived by faith in God’s promises. The Biblical book of Hebrews records fifteen people by name, and many nameless others who “obtained a good testimony through faith” (Hebrews 11:39). The Scripture does not record the individuals alone, but also includes their actions. This serves as evidence that faith works. But let none forget that “before faith and obedience became acts of man, they were gifts of God” (R.B. Kuyper).

The abundant life of victory over sin is encapsulated in faith. It is faith that works by love and is empowered by grace. May the Morning Star arise in your heart to dispel the darkness of sin.

--Michael Jones

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To subscribe send an e-mail message with "subscribe" in the body of the message to sabbathschooltoday@1888message.org
For an excellent companion book to these studies, please see Waggoner on Romans: the Gospel in Paul’s Great Letter, by E. J. Waggoner. You may access the complete book at: http://www.1888mpm.org/book/waggoner-romans

For Jack Sequeira sermons on Romans click here: MP3; Windows Media; Real Audio
 For the written version click here
 For a paraphrase on Romans click here

Monday, August 02, 2010

“Expounding the Faith”

“Expounding the Faith”

Let us start with a parable. A woman goes to buy a new dress. She goes first into a high end store. She sees a dress she really likes and it fits her very well, but it costs more than what she wants to pay. So she goes into a store with more affordable prices. She sees what seems to be the exact dress; in fact it is the same brand. But it is not quite as attractive nor does it fit as well as the first dress. How can this be? Is it all in her mind?

She is puzzled by this so she decides before buying that she will investigate. She contacts the company. They tell her that on the label, there is a number; the lower the number the better the quality of the dress. There were details that went into the production of the lower number dresses that were not considered for the higher number dresses. Sometimes it was the kind and color of thread used, and the kind of stitch. Other times it was how they cut the fabric, etc. Two things that seem identical were not. Our works, as the dress, may seem similar. But works of faith are different from works done in our own strength.

First we will deal with the theology behind this point, and then we will bring it together. Paul opens Romans 5 with this declaration.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

The word “therefore” tells us that this statement is referring to what was said before in chapter 4. Paul’s style is to make a statement, elaborate on it, then conclude with a firm declaration. Often he goes back to elaborate further on his declaration. In chapter 4, Paul was using Abraham as an example of how justification by faith works. The way it worked for Abraham is the same way it works for us. Paul makes a declaration in Romans 4:3, then spends the rest of chapter 4 elaborating on it. He then concludes with Romans 5:1. Paul says of Abraham in chapter 4 verse 3,

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Paul used the Greek word “episteusen,” which comes from the word “pistis” for faith or belief. In essence it is saying that Abraham had faith. We know that faith comes through hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Abraham heard God’s Word and believed it. When we replace "believe" with other definitions of faith we get a better feel of what this means. Abraham heard God’s word and felt appreciation in his heart. He heard God’s word and trusted the word to do what it said it would; he waited and depended on the Word alone. God’s word to Abraham was “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” As a result of his belief in God's Word, Abraham was one of the elders that obtained a good report, and he pleased God (Hebrews 11:1,2,6).

The second part of Hebrews 4:3 says that His belief “was counted unto him for righteousness.” What is righteousness? Ellen White defines it as “obedience to the law” (1 Selected Messages, p. 367). We replace the word righteousness with the definition Ellen White provides and it reads, “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for obedience to the law.” In believing God’s word, Abraham obeyed the law. Abraham’s righteousness (obedience to the law) came from exercising faith in God’s word.

This is the sense that we get from Romans 5:1, where Paul reiterates what he explained in chapter 4. Translators have interpreted it as “Therefore being justified by faith…” But, the transliterated Greek rendering of Romans 5: 1 seems to say, “Being-justified then out of-belief.” We know that the word justified means “made righteous.” So we could interpret it as, “Being made righteous out of faith” -- thus there is a kind of faith that makes us righteous or obedient to the law. Ellen White expresses the same thought in the following quote,

Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account. Christ’s righteousness is accepted in place of man’s failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. –Ellen G. White, 1 Selected Messages, p. 367

In summarizing Romans 4, Waggoner gives context to his explanation about Romans 5.

Faith Works Real Righteousness. The first verse of the fifth chapter begins with "therefore." The word indicates that what follows is a natural conclusion of what goes before. What has gone before? The story of what Abraham gained by faith. He gained righteousness by faith, but it was by faith in the promise that he should have a son. That son was the child of faith. But the same faith that resulted in the birth of Isaac, also brought righteousness to Abraham. And the same will also be imputed to us, if we have the same faith. Therefore, we are taught that the righteousness of faith is as real as was the son that was born to Abraham through faith. Righteousness by faith is not a myth. –Waggoner on Romans, page 85

The prophet Isaiah tells us that, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Our righteousness falls short of the law’s requirement. We need a righteousness that is perfect since the law requires perfection. Sister White states that Christ’s righteousness is what we are given to satisfy the law’s demand of perfection. We have stated thus far that the only way to get this righteousness is by faith. Can our filthy faith produce a perfect righteousness? The answer is obviously, “No, it cannot.” Therefore we must obtain a faith that is perfect. That faith is the faith of Jesus. When we accept His faith it produces in us His righteousness. This is the faith that characterized Abraham. It is the faith that those who overcome and endure until the end will have (Revelation 14:12).

Abraham, when living by faith, is the high quality dress. Jesus is the fabric and thread used to make Abraham. When Abraham is trying on his own strength he is the low quality garment. The fabric and thread used is sinful flesh. Which one would you rather be?

--Raul Diaz

For an excellent companion book to these studies, please see Waggoner on Romans: the Gospel in Paul’s Great Letter, by E. J. Waggoner. You may access the complete book at: http://www.1888mpm.org/book/waggoner-romans

For Jack Sequeira sermons on Romans click here: MP3; Windows Media; Real Audio
 For the written version click here
 For a paraphrase on Romans click here