THEOLOGIANS ON CORPORATE SALVATION IN CHRIST
& UNIVERSAL LEGAL JUSTIFICATION
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki
The “in Christ motif” plays the most important role in Paul’s writings. According to Michael Parsons, “Any thoughtful reader of the Pauline epistles will be struck by a dominant idea which runs through the apostle’s teaching: the recurrent theme of the believer’s close and indissoluble union with the Lord Jesus Christ. For Paul, union with Christ is summed up in the short phrase in Christ and its various equivalents. It is supposed by many to be original with Paul, and the idea appears in different ways about two hundred and sixteen times in his writing!”
BLESSINGS YOU HAVE IN CHRIST
In Christ you become the righteousness of God 2Cor 5:21
Christ died for all, then all (you) died (in Him) 2Cor 5:14
You died to the Law through the body of Christ Rom 7:4
There is no condemnation for you in Christ Rom 8:1
For of Him (of God) you are in Christ Jesus 1Cor 1:30
Your old self was crucified with Christ Rom 6:6
God made you alive together with Christ Ephes 2:5
You were baptised into Christ’s death Rom 6:3
You are in heavenly places in Christ Ephes 2:6
In Christ you are a new creation 2Cor 5:17
You have been raised with Christ Col 1:1
You are complete in Christ Col 2:10
In the book “Beyond Belief”, Jack Sequeira describes the meaning of this phrase in the following way: “If we do not understand what the New Testament means by the term ‘in Christ,’ we will never be able to fully understand the message of the gospel. There is nothing we have as Christians except we have it ‘in Christ.’ Everything we have, enjoy, and hope for as believers is ours always ‘in Christ.’ Apart from Him we have nothing but sin, condemnation, and death. What does Scripture mean when it tells us that we were together with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection? What did Paul mean when he tells us that we are already ‘sitting in heavenly places in Christ’ (Ephesians 2:6)? The ‘in Christ’ motif is based on the Biblical teaching of solidarity or corporate oneness, a concept that is unfortunately to a large degree foreign to the Western mind. According to the plain teaching of the Bible, the whole of mankind is linked together by a common life and therefore is considered a unit or corporately one. This is because God created all men in one man – Adam (Genesis 2:7; Acts 17:26). By a divine act initiated and carried out by God alone, the corporate life of the whole human race in its fallen condition was incorporated into Christ at His incarnation when by a divine miracle the divinity of Christ and our corporate humanity that needed redeeming were united into one person—Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). It is through this mystery that God qualified Christ legally to be the second or last Adam (Adam in Hebrew means mankind), our representative and substitute. Then, by His life and death, which fully met the positive demands of God’s holy law as well as its justice, Christ became forever our righteousness and surety. This, in a nutshell, is the ‘in Christ’ motif, and is what constitutes the good news of the gospel (Ephesians 1:3-12; 2:4-7). It is for this reason that the humanity of Christ is said to be ‘everything to us’.”
For the inspired Apostle Paul this idea is so important for proper understanding of the Gospel that in Romans 5:12-19 he repeats the very same great truth of universality of condemnation in Adam and universality of salvation in Christ (Last Adam) over and over again at least six times! Never in the entire Bible can we find another important principle or idea repeated so many times in one chapter. It means that this “in Christ motif” must had been regarded by the Apostle as the foundation of the Gospel and our salvation.
Unfortunately, almost all our members and pastors either do not understand this great truth of universal salvation in Christ or reject it and keep on believing and sharing the provisional salvation theory.
According to Jack Sequeira, “For four hundred years, Protestant Christianity has been divided into two camps regarding salvation. The first, Calvinism, confesses that Christ actually saved human beings on the cross but that this salvation is limited only to the elect–those whom God has predetermined to be saved. The second view, Arminianism, holds that on the cross Christ obtained salvation for all humanity, but that this salvation is only a provision; a person must believe and repent for the provision to become a reality. Both these views are only conditional good news. I believe that neither camp presents the full truth about salvation. The Bible teaches that God actually and unconditionally saved all humanity at the cross so that we are justified and reconciled to God by that act… Within Arminian theology, no one is deemed saved or justified unless they first do ‘something’ like believe, and repent… Historically we (Adventists) belong to the Arminian camp. As a result, most, if not all, Adventists have been raised up to believe that Christ did not actually save anyone on the cross, but simply made provision for the salvation of all mankind; that unless we take the initiative and believe, repent (i.e., turn away from sin), and confess all our sins, we stand as lost or condemned sinners before God. In practice, this concept of the gospel has done two things to our people. Since we are still struggling with the sin problem, no matter how hard we try, many Adventists question whether their repentance has been genuine. This, in turn, has robbed our people of the assurance of salvation. Hence, most Adventists are very insecure about their salvation. Value Genesis confirmed this fact, when the majority of our youth admitted they had no assurance of salvation because their conduct was not meeting God’s high standard. Added to this problem is the fact that every time one sins one becomes unjustified until confession of that sin has been made. This has added to the problem of having no assurance of salvation. Because of this twofold problem, we have produced a people who are experiencing no joy of salvation and who are trying to live the Christian life, either out of fear of the judgment, or a desire to make it to heaven. But the greatest tragedy of all is that this Arminian mindset has become a real stumbling block to many Adventists. When they hear the true good news of the gospel, to them it sounds like heresy, or it is too good to be true… According to the clear teaching of the Bible, the entire human race was placed into Christ, the second Adam, at the incarnation. Thus by His obedience, the entire human race was objectively justified unto life at the cross (Romand 5:18). But this actual or objective salvation does not become ours personally or subjectively until we accept it with a genuine faith, experiencing the new birth (read Jn. 3:3)”. (read the full article >)
NON-ADVENTIST THEOLOGIANS SUPPORTING THE TRUTH ABOUT CORPORATE SALVATION IN CHRIST
There have been many theologians and popular preachers whose writings prove that they accepted and proclaimed the truth about the Biblical “In Christ” Motif and the Corporate Salvation in Christ.
Charles E. B. Cranfield (1915 – 2015), a leading British New Testament scholar, in his Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (which is part of the International Critical Commentary), wrote the following words in his comment on Romans 5:18:
“The fact that this reconciliation is a reality in the case of believers does not stand by itself: it means that something has been accomplished by Christ which is as universal in its effectiveness as was the sin of the first man. Paul is no longer speaking just about the Church: his vision now includes the whole of humanity.”
The renowned Swedish theologian Anders Nygren (1890-1978), author of the popular book “Eros and Agape”, in his excellent commentary to the book of Romans (5:12-21) expressed his understanding of Paul’s “in Christ motif” in the following way:
“If we would understand the benefaction which God, through Christ, has spread abroad to all mankind, we do well, according to Paul, to take note of the condemnation which has passed from Adam to all men. That comparison helps us to see the universal scope of the work of Christ. But we cannot grasp Paul’s thought unless we observe that his view of man is quite different from the present individualistic concept. Paul does not think of humanity as a gathering of individuals. He sees mankind as an organic unity, a single body under a single head (Christ).”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer – one of the 20th century’s greatest theologians, member of the German Resistance and true German patriot, who smuggled himself back into Nazi Germany as everyone else was fleeing it. Just before the end of World War Two, he was imprisoned and eventually hanged by Gestapo for the failed plot against Hitler. The following beautiful quote comes from his book Life Together:
“When God calls you, he calls you to die… God’s Son took on our nature, ourselves. Now we are in him. Where he is, there we are too, in the incarnation, on the Cross, and in His resurrection. We belong to him because we are in him. That is why the Scriptures call us the Body of Christ.”
Read more about Dietrich Bonhoeffer >
The same amazing truth about our corporate union with Christ and our death in Him is also found in the writings of famous Chinese preacher and martyr – Watchman Nee, who because of his faith in Jesus was kept by the communists in prison for 20 years, where he finally died in 1972. In the book Dying With the Lord, he wrote:
“In Romans 6:1-11 it is made clear that the death of the Lord Jesus is representative and inclusive. In His death we all died. None of us can progress spiritually without seeing this. Just as we can not have justification if we have not seen Him bearing our sins on the Cross, so we can not have sanctification if we have not seen Christ bearing us on the Cross. Not only have our sins been laid on Him but we ourselves have been put into Him… Christ died in my stead, but He bore me with Him to the Cross, so that when He died I died. Let me tell you, you have died! You are done with! You are ruled out! The self you loathe was on the Cross in Christ! And ‘he that is dead is freed from sin’ (Romans 6:7). This is the Gospel for Christians.”
Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899 – 1981) – a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who for almost 30 years was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London. He was famous for his expository preaching, and his Bible studies drew crowds of several thousand, attracting many students from universities and colleges in London. I have transcribed the following quote from his sermon on Romans 5:18, which is also included in audio form at the end of this article:
“The way to get the assurance of salvation is not through feelings but through grasping this truth. See yourself in Adam; though you had done nothing you are declared a sinner. See yourself in Christ; though you had done nothing you are declared righteous. That is the parallel. So, we get rid of all our actions. There is no boasting. We do nothing at all. It is all the obedience of One… We must get hold of this idea that our salvation is entirely in Christ and what saves us is that we were put into Him. We must not think that God is dealing with us one by one in this matter, and that there is a separate act of salvation of each one. Not at all. It was all done there once and forever. And if I was put into Christ I was crucified with Him, I died with Him, I am raised with Him, and now I am in the heavenly places in Him! I am in Christ. And as we look at it in this way our assurance will never be shaken.”
JAMIESON, FAUSSETT AND BROWN COMMENTARY
In 2Corinthians 5:21 Apostle Paul wrote that God “made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” And here is what the popular „Jamieson, Faussett and Brown Commentary” says what inspired Paul really meant in this famous and glories verse:
“Christ was made ‘sin‘, that is, the representative Sin-bearer of the aggregate sin of all men past, present, and future. The sin of the world is one, therefore the singular, not the plural, is used.”
William Barclay (1907 – 1978) – Scottish theologian, Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Glasgow, author of the popular Bible Commentary. In his comment to Romans 5:12-21 (“The Daily Study Bible Series”), he wrote:
“No passage of the New Testament has had such an influence on theology as this (Romans 5:12-21); and no passage is more difficult for a modern mind to understand… If we were to put the thought of this passage into one sentence, it would be this: ‘By the sin of Adam all men became sinners and were alienated from God; by the righteousness of Jesus Christ all men became righteous and are restored to a right relationship with God.’ Paul, in fact, said this very much more clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:21: ‘As by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.’ The Jew never really thought of himself as an individual but always thought as part of a clan, a family, or a nation apart from which he had no real existence. To this day it is said that if an Australian aboriginal is asked his name, he gives the name of his tribe or clan. He does not think of himself as a person, but as a member of a society… In the Old Testament there is one vivid instance of this. It is the case of Achan as related in Joshua 7:1-26. Because Achan had sinned, and, as a result, the whole nation was branded as sinner and punished by God. Achan’s sin was not one man’s sin but the nation’s. That is how Paul sees Adam. Adam was not an individual. He was one of mankind, and because he was one of mankind, his sin was the sin of all men. Paul says that all men sinned in Adam. If we are ever to understand Paul’s thought here, we must be quite sure what he means. All through the history of Christian thinking, there have been efforts to interpret in different ways this conception of the connection between Adam’s sin and that of mankind… There is what has been called the legal interpretation. There is the interpretation that what we inherit from Adam is the tendency to sin. That is true enough, but that is not what Paul meant. It would not, in fact, suit his argument at all. The passage ought to be given what is called the realistic interpretation, namely that, because of the solidarity of the human race, all mankind actually sinned in Adam. This idea was not strange to a Jew; it was the actual belief of the Jewish thinkers… So, then, we have extracted the essence of Paul’s thought. Because of this idea of the complete solidarity of mankind, all men literally sinned in Adam; and because it is the consequence of sin, death reigned over all men. But this very same conception, which can be used to produce so desperate a view of the human situation, can be used in reverse to fill it with a blaze of glory. And, just as all men were involved in Adam’s sin, all men are involved in Jesus’ perfect goodness; and, just as Adam’s sin was the cause of death, so Jesus’ perfect goodness conquers death and gives men life eternal. Paul’s triumphant argument is that, as mankind was solid with Adam and was therefore condemned to death, so mankind is solid with Christ and is therefore acquitted to life. On the other hand, our connection with Christ is voluntary. Union with Christ is something a man can accept or reject.”
British scholar, Harry Johnson, author of an excellent study on Christ’s incarnation wrote: “In Christ we become linked with the second Adam and His victory and His benefits become ours… It could appear, therefore, that, for this Representative theory of the cross to be fully adequate to meet the sinful human situation, there needs to be incorporated within its structure a Christological position similar to the one that is the object of our present study (i.e., Christ assumed our fallen nature at the Incarnation).” (p 212).
BROOKE FOSS WESTCOTT
Brooke Foss Westcott, the renowned 19th century New Testament British scholar, expressed this truth in the following way: “If Christ took our nature upon Him, as we believe, by an act of love, it was not that of one but of all. He was not one man only among many men, but in Him all humanity was gathered up. And thus now, as at all time, mankind are, so to speak, organically united with Him. His acts are in a true sense our acts, so far as we realize the union, His death is our death, His resurrection our resurrection.” (The Gospel of the Resurrection, Chap. 2, p. 39).
Great Swiss Reformed Protestant theologian, Karl Barth (1886-1968), is well-known in theology for his landmark commentary, The Epistle to the Romans, in which he expressed his understanding of corporate sinfulness in Adam and corporate salvation in Christ (Second Adam) presented by apostle Paul in Romans 5:12-21:
“Here, in Adam, are also the many, all men… There, in Christ, is, for the first time in the true sense, the One who stands, as such, for all the others. He also is the Inaugurator, Representative, and Revealer of what through Him and with Him the many, all men shall also be, do, and receive… As in the existence of the one, here in Adam, the result for the many, all men, is the lordship of sin, and, with it, the destiny of death; so again, in the existence of the One, there in Christ, the result for all men is the lordship of grace exercised in the divine righteous decision and promise of eternal life.”
In his Dogmatics, Karl Barth, after affirming that Jesus Christ is “truly God,” skilfully articulated the extent to which Christ’s human nature is like ours, affected by the fall of Adam:
“He [Jesus] was not a sinful man. But inwardly and outwardly His situation was that of a sinful man. He did not commit the sin of Adam. But He lived the human life in the very condition to which it had been limited by the sin of Adam. Remaining guiltless, He took on the consequences of the guilt of Adam and the consequences of the guilt of us all. Freely He entered into solidarity and necessary association with our fallen and lost existence… One fact remains, that must be neither weakened nor obscured: that is that the [human] nature taken on by God in Christ is identical to our nature, that of men placed under the banner of the fall. If this were not the case, then how could Christ be like one of us? And in what way would He have been of interest to us? Therefore, the Son of God, not only took our nature, but He entered into the condition of our distress as men condemned, fallen and separated from God. The only way He differed from us all: is that He did not take part in the revolt against God; He was scarred by our guilt, but did not participate in the sin that caused it; and He was made sin, without having committed sin. All this, however, should in no way prevent us from recognising, without restriction or reservation of any kind, that He was completely made one with us, and nothing that is human was foreign to Him.”
ADVENTIST THEOLOGIANS SUPPORTING THE TRUTH ABOUT CORPORATE SALVATION IN CHRIST
WILLIAM WARREN PRESCOTT
Professor William Warren Prescott (1855–1944), a highly influential educator, writer, scholar and administrator among Seventh-day Adventism’s second generation of leaders, served the church for a total of fifty-two years, holding numerous senior leadership roles in education and publishing and at the General Conference. He was a member of the General Conference Executive Committee for forty-two years.
Prescott was probably the first theologian through whom God restored to us the glorious truth about corporate salvation of the entire sinful human race in Christ (2Cor 5:14,19; Rom 5:18; 1Cor 15:22). The following quote comes from the most beautiful sermon delivered by Professor Prescott in 1895 in Armadale (Australia):
“Jesus Christ had exactly the same flesh that we bear, — flesh of sin, flesh in which we sin, flesh, however, in which He did not sin… We were all in Jesus Christ… He was our representative; He became flesh; He became we… All humanity was brought together in Jesus Christ. He suffered on the cross, then, it was the whole family in Jesus Christ that was crucified“. (read full sermon >)
According to WW Prescott, the truth about salvation of sinful humanity in Christ constitutes the very heart of the Christian message: “Jesus Christ was the representative of humanity, and all humanity centered in him, and when he took flesh, he took humanity. He took humanity and he became the father of this divine-human family, and he became the father by joining himself in this way to humanity, and the flesh which he took and in which he dwelt was our flesh, and we were there in him, just as what Levi did in Abraham, so what Jesus Christ in the flesh did, we did in him. And this is the most glorious truth in Christianity. It is Christianity itself, it is the very core and life and heart of Christianity. He took our flesh, and our humanity was found in him, and what he did, humanity did in him.” (WW Prescott, “The Divine-Human Family,” 1895 General Conference Bulletin, pp. 8-9).
Adventist prominent theologian – Francis Nichol, the co-author of The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, in the following beautiful and clear way expressed his belief in the corporate redemption of the entire world in Christ:
“In taking Adam’s place Christ became the head of the human race, and died on the cross as its representative. Thus, in a sense, when He died the entire race died with Him. As He represented all men, so His death stood for the death of all. In Him, all men died. This does not, however, mean universal salvation, for each individual sinner must accept the atonement provided by the Saviour in order to make it effective” (Francis Nichol, The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, comment to 2Cor 5. 14).
In this statement, we can almost sense the presence and inspiration of the same Spirit of Truth which unfortunately can’t be found in the articles by BRI (Manuel Angel Rodriguez) or Hartland (Standish brothers) dealing with the same subject.
There are reasons to believe the most able and zealous advocate of the truth about the cross of Christ and our corporate salvation in Him in the SDA Church has been the pastor and popular preacher E. H. “Jack” Sequeira (1932 -). I believe that the main purpose God sent me from Poland to America in 1989 was to participate in a Bible seminar during which for 7 days I could enjoy listening to the heartfelt exposition of the Book of Romans presented twice a day by Pastor Sequeira. While listening I was impressed by Holy Spirit so much that I could understand what John Wesley meant when he wrote “my heart felt strangely warm” when he himself was listening to the commentary to the book of Romans written by Martin Luther.
In the book Beyond Belief (>) Jack Sequeira explains why God had to include all of us in the cross of Christ:
“We have to remember that although our sinful acts may be forgiven and blotted out through the blood of Christ, but sinfulness (sinful nature) cannot be forgiven, it must die. God, for example, is able to forgive us our selfish acts; but He cannot forgive selfishness. It must be crucified, and this is why God included you and me in the cross of Christ. And just as we cannot obtain forgiveness from our sins unless we see Christ bearing all our sins on the cross, so likewise we cannot know deliverance from the power of sin unless we see Christ bearing us on the cross” (E. H. “Jack” Sequeira, Beyond Belief).
In the same book, Sequeira states as follows: “The biblical concept of corporate oneness leads us to the important doctrine of substitution. This doctrine was at the very heart of the theological controversy between the Reformers and the Roman Catholic scholars during the Reformation. The central issue under dispute had to do with the ethical problem raised by the truth of justification by faith. The issue is real, and it still concerns us today: How can God justify believing sinners and at the same time maintain His integrity to the divine law that justly condemns them to eternal death? [see Romans 4:5, Galatians 3:10]. The Catholic scholars insisted that before God could declare the individual believer justified, He first had to make him righteous through an infused grace. Otherwise, God is testifying to a lie: declaring a sinner justified who is still a sinner. The Reformers rejected this solution to the problem and came up with the biblical doctrine of substitution. ‘God declares a believer justified,’ they said, ‘on the basis of the life and death of Christ, which fully met the law’s requirements.’ In other words, the righteousness of Christ substitutes for the believer’s lack of righteousness. The Catholic scholars would not accept this answer. They argued that such a substitution would be unethical and illegal. No law allows one person to assume the guilt or punishment of another. Righteousness cannot be passed from one person to another. Accordingly, they accused the Reformers of teaching ‘legal fiction’. Both parties were correct to a point, yet both taught error as well. The Catholic theologians were ethically right. God does need to make sinners righteous before He can legally declare them righteous. They were wrong, however, in their solution and rightly deserved the Reformers’ accusation of legalism. The Reformers, on the other hand, were correct in their solution; the Bible clearly teaches that believing sinners are justified on the basis of the life and death of Jesus substituting for their own sinful life [see Romans 10:4; Acts 13:39]. The Reformers, nevertheless, were ethically wrong in the definition of substitution: that the doing and dying of Christ was accepted instead of our doing and dying. As the Catholic theologians pointed out, it is a fundamental principle of all law, God’s or man’s, that guilt or punishment cannot be transferred from the guilty to the innocent, nor can the righteousness of one person be legally transferred to another [see Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6; Ezekiel 18:1-20]. What, then, are we to make of the biblical teaching of substitution? How are we to define it? Biblically, the doctrine of substitution is based on the concept of solidarity or corporate oneness. As we saw earlier, all humanity stands legally condemned because all sinned in one man, Adam. Likewise, God can legally justify sinners because all humanity corporately obeyed the law in one Man, Jesus Christ — the second Adam. God made this possible by uniting His Son with the corporate life of the human race at the incarnation. This qualified Christ to be the second Adam and to be the legal Substitute for fallen humanity. The Reformers failed to solve the ethical problem of the gospel for the simple reason that they, like the Roman Catholic Church, made a distinction between the humanity of Christ and the humanity He came to redeem. Only when we identify the humanity of Christ with the corporate fallen humanity that He came to redeem can we preach an ethical gospel that is unconditional good news. In other words, humanity that Christ did not assume, He could not save” (E. H. “Jack” Sequeira, Beyond Belief >).
Sequeira seems to agree that in a sense our salvation in Christ can be described as a provision or an offer that is made effective by faith alone (1 Cor. 3:11-13) but the word “provision” must not be confused with the word “provisional” as taught by Arminianism, that on the cross Christ did not actually secure salvation for anyone but only made it possible for all humankind to be saved. According to the true gospel, in Christ the entire humankind was already actually saved 2000 years ago. The only thing that is needed for this supreme gift of God to be effective is our wholehearted acceptance of this already accomplished historic fact through authentic faith which always bears fruit in the form of the new birth. Sequeira’s understanding of justification can be illustrated using the analogy of money deposited into our bank account. The “money” (salvation) was already transferred to our account 2000 years ago but it does not benefit us if we refuse to accept it, just as money deposited into our bank account, though legally ours, does not benefit us unless we lay claim to it. On the other hand, according to the provisional gospel preached by most Adventists and Evangelical Christians, what happened 2000 years ago was not the actual salvation of humankind but only a provision that had been made to make salvation possible. Therefore, salvation requires a true faith in order to make it effective but in this case, our faith contributes to our salvation making such gospel a subtle form of legalism. We are not saved because of our faith but through faith. According to this gospel, we must first sign a document (accept the provision) and only then the money can be transferred to our account. Bible, however, teaches that the salvation of all sinners has been already accomplished and secured (money already transferred) and the only thing we need to do to enjoy it is accepting it through genuine faith.
According to Sequeira, “Adventists traditionally belong to the Wesleyan Arminian school of theology. Unlike the Calvinists, who believe that Christ saved only the elect on the cross, hence “limited atonement,” the Arminians believe that Christ only “potentially” or “provisionally” saved all of mankind on the cross. For this provisional salvation to become a reality, one must repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Only then will God place that person into Christ and the provision will become a reality. Thus, traditionally, we Adventists have limited the in Christ motif only to believers. The main argument that has often been used to prove that the in Christ motif applies only to believers is Romans 16:7. In this chapter of greetings, Paul makes this statement: “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison on with me…. They were in Christ before I was”. Clearly, what Paul is implying is that these two men accepted the truth as it is in Christ and were converted before Paul himself. To build a whole theology on this one text while ignoring all the other in Christ texts Paul uses (some 64 times) is very poor exegesis, to say the least. Further, this conclusion is a subtle form of legalism, salvation by works, since repentance and faith contribute towards ones salvation. Whereas, according to Paul, it is the goodness of God (the reality phase or objective facts of the gospel) that leads one to faith and repentance (Romans 2:4). Hence, faith is not allowing God or giving Him permission to put us into Christ but accepting with grateful hearts what God has already accomplished for mankind in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 1:3-4). It is here where I disagree with the teachings of the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) of the GC, as well as some of the Independent Ministries. I believe that the true everlasting gospel, which God raised the Advent Movement to proclaim to the world in its global mission, is neither the limited atonement of Calvinism nor the provisional salvation of Arminianism. Rather, it is the incredible good news that on the cross the entire human race was actually or objectively redeemed, justified, and reconciled to God by the death of His Son (John 3:17; 17:4; 19:30; Romans 5:5-10,18; Ephesians 2:5, 6, 8, 9; 2 Corinthians 5:19). This is God’s supreme gift to the entire human race, made effective by faith (John 3:16; Romans 3:21-28). I firmly believe when we Adventists fulfill this global mission we will have truly proclaimed the everlasting gospel of the three angels of Revelation 14 with the power of the fourth angel of Revelation 18. When this is realized, it will become inexcusable for anyone to be lost. The end will then come (Matthew 24:4). But when we limit the in Christ motif only to its third phase, the subjective experience of salvation, we make the experience of salvation the gospel itself, rather than its application or fruits. But since this experience is an ongoing process, until the Second Advent (Romans 5:19b, note future tense; Ephesians 2:7), it turns the gospel into good advice, rather than good news, thus robbing our people of the joy, peace, and assurance of salvation, as demonstrated by the Value-Genesis survey conducted some years ago.” (>)
There are many excellent articles by elder Sequeira in which he deals with the biblical concept of our corporate salvation in Jesus Christ. You can read them using the following link >
JAMES RAFFERTY & TY GIBSON (THE LIGHT BEARERS)
Popular SD Adventist revivalists James Rafferty & Ty Gibson (The Light Bearers) seem to have the same understanding of our corporate salvation in Christ. To prove it let me quote the statement I found in their Epistle to the Hebrews, Study Outlines 08 – Once For All, Salvation In Christ:
“What this means, in the context of the gospel, is that we have appropriated to us everything that Jesus did… And, just like Levi, all that Jesus has done is accounted to us as though we actually did it ourselves. The biblical truth that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek in Abraham directs us to an even greater truth that humanity paid the wages of sin and lived the life of obedience in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 1:29-30). There is no biblical truth that needs to be repeated more frequently, dwelt upon more earnestly, or established more firmly in our minds than this. Everything Christ accomplished in His life, death and resurrection is accounted to us in Him. It is only ‘in Him‘ that the entire world exists (Acts 17:28; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). As we accept our position in Him, we are assured that His death and life of obedience are ours. Our obedience springs forth as the fruit of His life and reveals that we abide in Him. Our salvation is not in the fruit; our salvation is entirely in Jesus Christ. If there is no fruit, then there is no faith in Christ. However, we are not saved by the fruit, but rather by accepting our position in Christ. Since this one truth is so vital for our understanding, we will repeat the matter again from the beginning—What Christ did as head of this new family, we do in Him. He is our representative; He became flesh; He became us. He did not become simply a man, He became flesh, and everyone that should be born into His family was represented in Jesus Christ when He lived here in that flesh. Because of this, everything Christ did we are given credit for just as if we did it ourselves.”
A substantial portion of the quoted above article by Light Bearers contains passages taken or copied from quoted below sermon by WW Prescott. It is therefore very strange that Gibson and Rafferty were able to recognize and vindicate this adorned by Sister White truth of our corporate oneness with Jesus while A. M. Rodriguez (BRI), Colin and Russell Standish (Hartland) not only seem to be unable to see this great truth but even dare to oppose it!
MUST READ: Can Christ Return in 2027
Dr. Arnold Wallenkampf who has served as a member of the Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference taught the truth about the corporate salvation of the world in Christ. Below quote is derived from his book, Justified (chapter 5):
“Because of Christ’s death on the cross, God temporarily treats all as if they were just and righteous. By virtue of the cross, all enjoy life through temporary universal (temporal and forensic) justification. All sins are covered temporarily by the blood of Jesus. ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Rom. 5:8). This divine mercy is manifested to unworthy creatures because Jesus “is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2)… In the ancient sanctuary service, the high priest carried the names of every tribe on his breastplate. Symbolically, he carried on his heart the name of every individual into the very presence of God. In the same way, Jesus carries on His heart every person born into this world, whether or not he has accepted Him as his Saviour… On the cross, He temporarily atoned for all sins—known as well as unknown, confessed as well as unconfessed. And “as our Mediator, Christ works incessantly. Whether men receive or reject Him, He works earnestly for them. In this way, temporary universal justification … only means that God temporarily deals with sinners as if they were just, or righteous, in spite of their rebellious attitude toward Him. In His temporary universal justification, God grants all a reprieve from death by not executing them immediately despite their sin. This reprieve is designed to break the sinner’s stubborn heart and draw him to His Saviour in repentance. To the woman taken in adultery, Jesus said: ‘Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more’ (John 8:11). God deals in the same gracious way with all sinners. He condemns no one today. Today is still ‘the day of salvation’ (2Cor. 6:2). By virtue of temporary universal justification, God ordinarily chooses not to exact the wages for sin during a person’s life on earth. Rather, He treats him—and that embraces every person born into the world—as if he merited life… I have spent most of my life in the classroom, either studying or teaching. Some of my students were good, others not so good. But during the weeks or months of the course, there was no difference in my treatment of them. They were all equally accepted. The difference did not appear until the final examination. Some passed the exams, while some failed. The distinct difference between the righteous and the wicked, between the saved and the unsaved, between those who are only forensically justified and those who are justified by faith, will not become evident until the course of life has ended—at the final judgment.” (>)
Elder Neal Wilson (1920 – 2010), while General Conference president, took the same position on universal legal justification of entire humanity in Christ in his Week of Prayer reading for 1988.
Walter Veith (born 1949) – professor of the zoology department at the University of Cape Town, Seventh-day Adventist author and speaker known for his work in nutrition, creationism and Biblical exegesis, in his sermon “Corporate Identity” expressed his belief in the legal justification and salvation of the entire humanity in Christ in the following way:
“What can the Bible teach us about our corporate identity in Christ? Typologically, as Levi and all Israel were corporately in Abraham, so all of humanity was corporately in Christ. To bring the fallen race into oneness with Divinity is the work of redemption. Having paid the price for every sin, Jesus could corporately give unfallen stature to the whole of humanity. That’s the plan of salvation. In Christ, our repentance, conversion and faith are perfect and immaculate. Corporately in Christ, humanity has paid the wages of sin as verily as Levi paid tithe in Abraham… Let no one tell you you’re not good enough, because in Christ you are perfect, absolutely immaculate.”
Watch sermon “Corporate Identity” by Prof. Walter Veith >
ERIKA F. PUNI
Dr. Erika F. Puni (Director of Stewardship Ministries of the General Conference), at the 2014 Camp Meeting hosted by North England Conference of Seventh-day Adventists said that “when Christ died the whole world was in Him and died in Him”.
The below quote comes from the 2015 dissertation titled “Jesus Christ’s Substitutionary Death: An Attempt to Reconcile Two Divergent Seventh-Day Adventist Teachings” (>) written by Emmanuel Mwale (PhD). It is a remarkably interesting summary of the dissertation and his final conclusion based on the careful review of various non-Adventist and Adventist salvation theories:
“Having lived a life of perfect obedience in the fallen human flesh that Christ assumed at the incarnation, He voluntarily and willingly bore the sins of the entire human race and died the second death for, and in our place; thereby paying the penalty for sin. Jesus Christ bore our sins (acts or behaviors) vicariously (instead of us), while sin as nature or a law residing in the fallen human flesh that He assumed was condemned in that flesh (in the fallen representative human flesh Christ took) and received eternal destruction on the cross. Thus, on the cross, in Christ, God saved the entire humanity. On the cross, the condemnation that the entire humanity had received by being genetically linked to Adam was reversed in Christ. Thus, the entire human race stands legally justified. But this is a gift, which can either be received or rejected. Therefore, salvation is not automatic.” (>)
It basically means that according to the author’s understanding, Christ saved us vicariously (instead of us, or in our place) from our sins (transgressions of the law). At the same time, He saved us corporately, actually (as us) from our singular sin (sinful nature including the indwelling law of sin and selfishness). He took that representative “sin of the world” (fallen human nature) at the incarnation, perfectly overcame it in His life as Second Adam (second representative of entire sinful humankind), and carried it to the cross, where that representative sin was condemned by God (Rom 8:3) and punished with eternal death.
The above conclusion seems to correspond also with the understanding of the same subject by Jack Sequeira who wrote that “Christ, in His humanity, saved men and women in actuality-not vicariously… It may be possible for Christ to bear our many sins vicariously on His cross-although that would be illegal-but, it is impossible for Him vicariously to overcome and condemn the principle of sin that resides in our sinful flesh… Christ’s life and death actually changed humanity’s past; Christ’s life and death became our life and death. In Him we lived a perfect life; in Him we died the penalty for sin (2Corinthians 5:15)… As the Second Adam (humankind) Christ took our place and died our death in order that we might be identified with Him, both in death and resurrection… This is where vicarious substitution and actual substitution part company. The former teaches an exchanged experience; while the latter teaches a shared experience… Yes, we accept salvation as individuals, but humanity was condemned corporately in Adam and redeemed corporately in Christ.”
According to Mwale, Sequeira differs from other theologians because he dichotomizes Christ’s substitutionary death. On one hand, Christ died vicariously (instead of us). On the other hand, Christ died in actuality (He died as us and all humanity was obedient and punished with eternal death in Him). This is the way he solves the problem of how Christ dealt with our sins (what we do) and sin (our nature). He argues that since Christ himself never committed any sin (in thought, word, or deed), we can say that He vicariously took the sins of all of us and vicariously redeemed all sinners from their sins (sinful behavior). On the other hand, Christ dealt with sin as nature by identifying Himself personally with the sin problem by assuming our representative, corporate sinful human nature, was perfectly obedient as us and carried that “sin of the world” onto the cross where it was condemned by God in Christ’s flesh with eternal death (Rom 8:3)” (>).
Sequeira agrees that the term “vicarious” is also a form of substitution but it refers only to salvation from sins as acts and not from sin as nature (the core of the sin problem). He also believes that Ellen G. White used the term “vicarious” only to refer to how Christ redeemed humanity from sins as acts but she never used it with reference to sin as nature. She also never used the term to refer to the human nature that Christ assumed. (>)
JEAN R. ZURCHER
The negative attitude of many Adventist pastors, writers, and theologians toward the Biblical “in Christ motif” and the universal legal justification, as taught by Jack Sequeira, has been inspired by the denial of Christ’s true humanity presented in the unfortunate book Questions on Doctrine. The new false teaching according to which Jesus took sinless human nature, made it impossible for Christ to identify Himself with sinful humankind and accomplish salvation as our representative. In his book, Touched With Our Feelings, Prof. Jean R. Zurcher (1918–2003), an Adventist scholar, revealed how the change took place and that it was associated with replacing the actual salvation of fallen humanity in Christ with vicarious substitution theory:
“It was not denied (in the book Questions on Doctrine) that Christ was the second Adam, coming in the ‘likeness’ of sinful human flesh. No one argues that ‘Jesus experienced the frailties to which our fallen human nature is heir. But could it not be that He bore this vicariously also, just as He bore the sins of the whole world? These weaknesses, frailties, infirmities, failings are things which we, with our sinful, fallen natures, have to bear. To us they are natural, inherent, but when He bore them, He took them not as something innately His, but He bore them as our substitute. He bore them in His perfect, sinless nature. Again we remark, Christ bore all this vicariously, just as vicariously He bore the iniquities of us all. In brief ‘whatever Jesus took was not His intrinsically or innately… All that Jesus took, all that He bore, whether the burden and penalty of our iniquities, or the diseases and frailties of our human nature—all was taken and borne vicariously‘. This expression is indeed the magic formula contained in ‘the new milestone of Adventism‘. According to the authors of Questions on Doctrine, ‘it is in this sense that all should understand the writings of Ellen G. White when she refers occasionally to sinful, fallen, and deteriorated human nature’.”
ROBERT J. WIELAND
Robert J. Wieland (1916-2011) was a popular speaker, author, missionary in Africa, and ordained minister. At the Washington Missionary College, he discovered the beauty of the gospel by reading The Glad Tidings, by E. J. Waggoner. His love for these truths met with opposition, and he was told that there was no place “in the work” for him. The General Conference publishing director helped him eventually find a position pastoring a small church. From there, he went on to become a missionary in Africa. In the 1950s, he, along with Donald K. Short, first started to raise the General Conference’s consciousness about the church’s rejection of the message of Righteousness by Faith, as proclaimed by E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones at the 1888 General Conference in Minneapolis. The following quote expresses Wieland’s belief in the corporate salvation of the entire humanity in Christ:
“All degrees of transgression have been cancelled in a legal, judicial sense for the whole world, and God can treat every man as though he has not sinned. This is a legal justification, for the judicial verdict of acquittal has been pronounced for the whole human race in Christ (See Romans 5:14-18, NEB). But this judicial verdict of acquittal is transformed by the faith of the believer into a change of heart which becomes the personal experience of justification by faith. Christ has opened a door to a new standing in relation to God, and the believer’s faith grasps this truth and appreciates it. Again, the proper name for this work is justification by faith wherein the believer repents of and confesses and forsakes all sin. And even though it can be said that the death of Jesus in one sense made a corporate reconciliation of all men to God, it is only in a “judicial” sense. It is only through personal faith and heart appreciation of the sacrifice of Christ that anyone can experience in his own soul a personal reconciliation with God—which again, is justification by faith.”
Find more on the same subject in the article “The 1888 Message and Legal Justification” by Robert Wieland >
Jack Sequeira wrote the following words regarding Rober Wieland:
“Across from the home where I was living was a Seventh-day Adventist missionary, Robert Wieland and his family. He was the president of the Central Kenya Field. Since public transportation was not very reliable in those days, one of his burdens was to help the African pastors with reliable means of transportation. Many pastors were in charge of eight to ten churches. Elder Wieland would buy wrecked motorcycles from insurance companies and fix them for the workers. One of my hobbies at that time was racing motorcycles. It was this that led Elder Wieland to come to me for help in the above project. We became good friends, but not once did he bring up the subject of religion. In 1957, the Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nairobi planned an evangelistic effort. My landlady, a Presbyterian, wanted to attend these meetings, at the request of her SDA daughter who had moved to the UK for graduate studies. She went to Elder Wieland, requesting that he take her to the meetings. Being wise, Elder Wieland came to me with the request that I take her. He knew that, as a staunch Roman Catholic, I would not attend these meetings on my own. As a result, I sat at the back of the church and listened to Elder Dale Ringering, the evangelist, for some three weeks. It was the first time in my life I was exposed to the prophecies and truths of the Bible. As a Catholic, I had not even seen a Bible, let alone read one. The Holy Spirit convicted me, and, as a result, I decided to join the Adventist church. This required that I go through a series of baptismal classes before I could be baptized. The missionary who gave me these baptismal studies was the late Elder Joe Hunt. Twice a week I rode two miles to his home on my motorcycle. I could not understand, at that time, why Elder Wieland was unable to give me these studies, since he lived right across the road from where I lived. However, on the day Elder Wieland was baptizing his son Bob, Elder Joe Hunt requested him to baptize me at the same time, since my baptism studies were completed and Elder Wieland was already in the baptistry. Many years later I learned why Elder Wieland was unable to study with me. His manuscript on 1888 Re-examined, co-authored by Elder Don Short, was rejected by the GC [General Conference] Committee and, as a result, Wieland was black-listed by the missionaries of the East African Union. Consequently, Elder Wieland was not allowed to study with me, lest he influenced me with his ‘strange beliefs on 1888’. So the accusation often made that my theology was influenced by Wieland on the 1888 message is entirely false, even though we both came to the same conclusion regarding the 1888 message independently.” (>)
Well, as you can see, it is very clear in the writings of many popular Adventist and none-Adventist theologians and preachers such as William Warren Prescott, Anders Nygren, Martyn Lloyd Jones, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Francis Nichol, Watchman Nee, Jack Sequeira or James Rafferty and Ty Gibson, who accepted the same idea of universal legal justification in Christ, that it has nothing to do with the heresy of universalism.
Ellen White herself believed in our corporate oneness with Jesus as she wrote about Christ that “by His obedience to all the commandments of God, Christ wrought out a redemption for man. 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” (The Review and Herald, April 5, 1906).
It is true that although Ellen White doesn’t say a lot about this subject yet when she heard Professor Prescott saying, “We were all in Jesus Christ… He was our representative; He became flesh; He became we… All humanity was brought together in Jesus Christ; He suffered on the cross, then, it was the whole family in Jesus Christ that was crucified“, she was very excited and repeatedly stated in her letters it was Jesus who was speaking through Professor Prescott.
But there is also strong evidence that before Ellen White heard Prescott preaching on this subject she already understood it in the very same way as she applied the “in Christ motif” to Lord’s baptism, about which she wrote the following words:
“How often we have read over the description of Christ’s baptism with no thought that there was any particular significance in it for us. But it means everything to us” (ST June 17, 1889, par. 11).
We know Christ’s incarnation and death are everything to us but why she wrote also His baptism is so important? The following statement from her book Desire of Ages proves that in her understanding Christ’s baptism is everything to us because we were actually baptized with and in Jesus, we were accepted by God and cleansed in Christ when we were baptized in Him. According to her, the words “This is my beloved Son” embraced the entire sinful world because all past, present and future sinful human beings were in Christ when He was baptized:
„John shrank from granting the request of Jesus. How could he, a sinner, baptize the Sinless One? And why should He who needed no repentance to submit to a rite that was a confession of guilt to be washed away? Jesus did not receive baptism as a confession of guilt on His own account. He identified Himself with sinners. He must bear the burden of our guilt and woe. The Sinless One must feel the shame of sin. Never before have the angels listened to such a prayer. They are eager to bear to their loved Commander a message of assurance and comfort. But no; the Father Himself will answer the petition of His Son. Direct from the throne issue the beams of His glory. The heavens are opened, and upon the Saviour’s head descends a dovelike form of purest light. From the open heavens a voice was heard saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased‘. The word that was spoken to Jesus at the Jordan, This is My beloved Son, embraces humanity. God spoke to Jesus as our representative… The Saviour’s glance seems to penetrate heaven as He pours out His soul in prayer. He asks for the witness that God accepts humanity in the person of His Son. With all our sins and weaknesses, we are not cast aside as worthless. He hath made us accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6). Notwithstanding that the sins of a guilty world were laid upon Christ, notwithstanding the humiliation of taking upon Himself our fallen nature, the voice from heaven declared Him to be the Son of the Eternal” (DA. 110-113).
In this passage, she also gives evidence that Jesus could represent all of us – all sinners because He took not our sinless human nature but our representative sinful human nature.
But apart from the fact that Christ’s baptism points to the truth about our presence in Him the Bible makes it clear that also the meaning of our baptism is closely linked to the very same great idea. In many places Apostle Paul wrote that when Christ died we also died in and with Him (Rom 6:6,8; Rom 7:4; 2Cor 5:14; Gal 2:20) and theologians make it clear that he didn’t have in mind our daily dying to sin (sanctification) but he was dealing with the history of our salvation in Jesus: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6:3-4)
The conclusion, therefore, is obvious and can be only one: Through our baptism, we demonstrate that we accepted the historic truth according to which when Christ died (two thousand years ago) on the cross then we died with Him as well: “Knowing this, that our old man (self) was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” (Romans 6:6-8)
And if someone dies, the next step is always the funeral, and this is exactly what baptism represents. It is the funeral of our old sinful and condemned life that was crucified in Christ in the form of the representative corporate sinful human nature (including our law of sin and self we are born with) Christ assumed at His incarnation. And for this very reason, we are also no longer under the condemnation of the law (Rom 7:6).
Unfortunately, since our leaders and pastors do not seem to understand and accept this great truth or some even dare to openly oppose it, our members are spiritually buried alive as they are baptized without the knowledge and acceptance of the truth according to which they already died in Jesus when He was dying on the cross. And since burying people who are still physically alive is a great crime likewise burying Christians who didn’t accept their death in Christ is also a horrible (spiritual) crime!
ADVENTIST OPPONENTS OF THE UNIVERSAL LEGAL JUSTIFICATION AND THE “IN CHRIST” MOTIF
Taking into consideration all the above facts, the simple conclusion is that anyone who opposes this fundamental truth of the Gospel (like Standish brothers and BRI, still represented by M Rodriguez, although retired) can’t be led by Holy Spirit but must be rather inspired by the enemy of Christ’s Gospel of which the biblical “in Christ motif” is the most vital part.
Unfortunately, and strangely, BRI, Manuel Rodriguez, Colin and Russell Standish (Hartland), Raoul Dederen, Norman Galey, Ron Spear, Ralph Larson and some other Adventist writers pretend to not see biblical teaching about corporate salvation in Christ and they constantly kept on creating the false impression that Jack Sequeira and other proponents of this great biblical truth are promoting heresy of universalism! In order to confuse the minds of SD Adventists even more they sometimes call it federalism, although it is not the same as universalism.
Another enemy of the true Gospel and salvation in Christ was Norman Gulley who in the Adult Sabbath School Lessons (Jul Aug Sept 1996) in his comment to Rom. 5:17 wrote: “Just as we were not in Adam when he sinned, so we were not in Christ when He died. Christ died for us. His death was on our behalf. We did not die when Christ died; we die to sin when we accept His suffering and death as the punishment for our sins.” (Wednesday, September 18). Norman Galey was also promoting the false teaching according to which Christ took our sinless nature.
Raoul Dederen, professor of theology at Andrews University, during one of his lectures on Christ’s incarnation in Podkowa Lesna (Poland) said: „Some claim that we were in Adam when he sinned and therefore when he did it we also sinned in him… We do not believe that we sinned in Adam. We believe that we become sinners when we commit our own sins. We do not have to be punished for Adam’s sin but for our own sins.” During the same seminar, Dederen was brainwashing Polish pastors with the false idea according to which Christ took our sinless nature. Dederen was also known as a proponent of the ecumenical movement.
CLIFFORD GOLDSTEIN (1955 -)
I greatly appreciate Clifford Goldstein’s writings and sermons referring especially to the Biblical truth on the Heavenly Sanctuary. Unfortunately, to my surprise, some time ago I have discovered that he expressed his belief that Christ’s salvation didn’t embrace the entire world but only believers. In his article, “1888 and All that …” which appeared in the Adventist Review on 25th of April 2002, Clifford Goldstein wrote: “Nothing in Ellen G. White writings teaches universal legal justification … Why in all of Ellen White’s writings does no book, no chapter, no article, or even a simple full paragraph, spell out in unambiguous terms the idea of universal legal justification prior to personal faith?” (>)
Goldstein’s claim, however, is simply false because inspired apostle Paul clearly wrote that “God was in Christ reconciling the WORLD (all sinners) to Himself” (2Corinthians 5:19) and that Christ didn’t wait until we believe in order to save us but He saved us when “we were yet sinners” and “God’s enemies” (Romans 5:8-10). It means that God saved us before we believed and accepted the gift. There are many universal Bible statements that give undeniable evidence that God already and actually saved in Christ the entire world (all past, present and future sinners) two thousand years ago without asking any of us for our approval or faith. He first unconditionally saved all sinners and the only thing He expects from us after saving us is to accept His supreme gift of love. Unfortunately, Goldstein, like other antiuniversalists, believes that salvation was only provisional and sinners must first believe, and only then they can be saved.
Goldstein was also wrong concerning Ellen White as she does teach universal legal justification and this truth even permeates her writings. In The Desire of Ages alone, in the chapter “Calvary,” she often uses phrases such as: “saved the sinful race”; “embraced the world”; “took in every sinner that had lived or should live, from the beginning of the world to the end of time”. “Salvation is like the sunshine. It belongs to the whole world” (DA 307). “The blessings of salvation are for every soul. Nothing but his own choice can prevent any man from becoming a partaker of the promise in Christ by the gospel” (DA 403). “He restored the whole race of men to favor with God. … All that man can possibly do toward his own salvation is to accept the invitation… No sin can be committed by man for which satisfaction has not been met on Calvary” (1SM 343). “All men have been bought with this infinite price… God has purchased the will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human being. Whether believers or unbelievers, all men are the Lord’s property” (COL 326). “With His own blood, He has signed the emancipation papers of the race” (MH 90). “He redeemed Adam’s disgraceful fall, and saved the world” (God’s Amazing Grace, 43). “Christ wrought out a redemption for men… 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” (1SM 250, 251). “The atonement for a lost world was to be full, abundant, and complete. Christ’s offering was exceedingly abundant, reaching every soul that God had created” (YI, July 19, 1900).
I have repeatedly emailed Adventist Review and requested from Clifford Goldstein a Biblical justification for his claim. Unfortunately, I have never received an answer neither from him nor other authors representing Adventist Review.
LARRY J. KANE
Dr. Larry J. Kane, a Seventh-day Adventist lawyer and church elder in Indiana, published his Analysis of the Doctrine of Universal Legal Justification in which he claims the following:
– It is not taught in Scripture.
– The “all men” of Romans 5:18 and the “all” of Romans 3:23,24 are only those who believe, not the entire human race.
– Paul’s parallels between the “all men” in condemnation “in Adam” and the “all men” acquitted by Christ are not to be taken literally.
– “Legal justification” comes only “at the point of conversion,” not at the cross.
The response to the above arguments is found in the article “The 1888 Message and Legal Justification” by Robert Wieland >
Kwabena Donkor, in the Sabbath School Lesson ‘Growing in Christ’ (October 27-November 2012), expressed his disapproval of the so common in Paul’s epistles “in Christ” motif and the true substitutionary aspect of salvation in Christ in the following way:
“From the New Testament’s point of view, Christ’s redemptive death is substitutionary. He took our place… Though some reject this idea because they don’t like the notion of someone suffering in place of another (especially in the place of someone who is guilty), that’s the heart and soul of the gospel message“.
In response to this unfortunate statement I have repeatedly sent the following message to the GC of the SDA Church, BRI, Ministry Magazine, and obviously the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide of the General Conference >
COLIN & RUSSELL STANDISH (HARTLAND)
The most crucial and magnificent component of the holy Gospel truth, the “in Christ motif”, is not only forgotten in our Churches but even attacked, especially by some independent ministries such as Hartland represented by Colin and Russell Standish. Below I included the link to their short and very poorly reasoned article opposing the biblical truth of the corporate salvation of all of us in Christ. They try to deny this message, originally presented by inspired Apostle Paul, and at the present time promoted in our Church especially by Pastor Jack Sequeira >, using a few primitive arguments which are based on taken out of context Bible verses: >
Here is, for example, what Colin and Russell Standish (Our Firm Foundation) wrote in the article “The Dilemma of the In Christ Motif”: “To imply that we were in Christ mystically when He died so that in that sense we paid the penalty for our own sins is surely an abomination and blasphemy.”
When I read that statement I couldn’t understand how someone who must had noticed the very frequently present in Paul’s epistles “in Christ universal motif” and who must be acquainted with the previously mentioned and adorned by Ellen White sermon by Professor Prescott, could write that the idea according to which we were in Christ and were saved in Him is a blasphemy!
This very hostile attitude toward this truth is an unexplainable mystery to me all the more since there is no reason to oppose it, unless this enmity is inspired by the most dogged enemy of Jesus and His Gospel. This opposition expressed by BRI and Hartland is unexplainable and unjustified because it is very clear in the inspired Paul’s writings that we all were in Christ, and that we were punished and died in Him (Rom 6:6,8; Rom 7:4; 2Cor 5:14; Gal 2:20).
Here is the link to the unfortunate video in which the enemies of the true and fully restored gospel, Ron Spear, Colin Standish and Ralph Larson attack the great biblical truth of corporate salvation in Christ presented in the book “Beyond Belief” by Jack Sequeira >
Pastor Sequeira was once invited by Hartland leaders for a public discussion. As a result of that debate, ten young pastors changed their views and couldn’t identify themselves anymore with Hartland teachings as they realised that their leaders were opposing the truth of the gospel using Bible verses and Ellen White quotes out of context instead of proving their point in a systematic biblical way. The above video is the best example of how they manipulate the Bible and writings of Ellen White. Read or watch Sequeira’s seminars on Romans and you will see a huge difference.
Responding to one of the articles I have shared on FB, certain Brother wrote the following words: “My pastor, E.H. (Jack) Sequeira coined the phrase ‘in Christ motif’ years ago. And he has met resistance from every quarter, from the G.C. to Independents. Some have even blatantly sinned against the 9th Commandment, without repentance in several false accusations against his book, Beyond Belief (>). Others in leadership roles wanted to burn it. A cruel slanderous spirit rules these men. They will meet their Maker one day and regret their wicked hearts. By then it will be too late. I have met others who condemned his works. And when asked if they had read his writing, they said, ‘no;’ they heard it from someone else. Thus, we see the chain of sin.”
ANGEL MANUEL RODRIGUEZ (BRI)
Much more deceptive, however, and complex arguments against the truth of corporate salvation of sinful humanity in Jesus are presented in articles written by, mentioned before, Angel Manuel Rodriguez and available on the website of the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church. >
Apart from his pro-ecumenical tendencies, an attempt to change the meaning of the number 666 from papacy to the alienation from God (>), and the fact that he seems to be one of the Vatican’s favourite Adventist theologians, there is another possible reason to assume Rodrigues has a potential to follow the example of Froom and Anderson. It is the fact that no other Adventist theologian opposes the most vital truth of the in Christ motif and fully restored gospel as strongly as he does.
I was astonished when years ago after reading these articles I discovered they are in open opposition to the most beautiful and holy truth according to which on the cross in Jesus God “reconciled the world to Himself” (2Cor 5:19) and that when Jesus died on the cross then “all died” (2Cor 5:14).
In the 2008 Adult Sabbath School Lessons (Atonement and the Cross of Christ) Manuel Rodrigues wrote: “No one is automatically in Christ apart from a personal faith commitment to Him. Our incorporation by faith into Christ expresses itself in baptism. The importance of this rite is vast. First, it is a public declaration that the death of Christ was our death and that through His resurrection we are part of a new creation, new humanity. Second, we did not die ‘in Christ,’ but we were ‘baptized into his death.’ Through baptism we joined Him in His sacrificial death, thus establishing a permanent relationship with Him. Third, the phrase “baptized into Christ” is interpreted by Paul to mean that we died “with Christ” (Rom. 6:3,8) and that we were made alive “with Christ” (Col. 2:13). This is participatory language, indicating that our death to sin and our new life take place only and exclusively in union with Christ and never apart from Him. In other words, the full benefits of Christ’s death are appropriated by us only when we by faith join Him in His death and resurrection. Dying with Him means recognizing Him as our Savior.”
Evaluating the in Christ concept as taught by the 1888 Message Study Committee, which is also taught by Jack Sequeira, Rodriguez (2011) argues that such understanding of the phrase in Christ is not biblical. He observes that not everybody was at the same time in Christ at the cross. In his opinion, if we were in Christ when He died for our sins, paying the penalty for our sins, then we died in Him; He did not die for me, I actually died for my own sins; I was not saved through Jesus; I saved myself through Him; since I was in Jesus, He was not my Substitute, my sin was not transferred to Him; I took my own sin to the cross in Jesus.
According to Sequeira, it can be asserted that just as individual human beings did not consciously sin when Adam sinned, but were implicated in his fall, in the same way, individual human beings did not consciously obey God when Christ obeyed, but were implicated in Christ’s obedience. Individual human beings did not consciously die on the cross when Christ died, but were implicated in Christ’s death.
Rodriguez claims that there is no text in the New Testament where we read about believers dying in Christ, that is to say, in union with Him. Christ died alone on the cross abandoned by all, including the Father. Our union with Christ designates the experience of the new creature and presupposes the death of the old self. The phrase in Adam does not refer to the presence of every human being in Adam-a type of corporate or mystical presence. in him-but to the spiritual condition in which human beings find themselves as a result of the first Adam’s fall.
Let me give you an example to prove articles by Rodriguez contain false and confusing arguments as he often accuses the biblical truth about corporate salvation of humankind in Christ of certain assumptions that actually don’t even exist in this concept!
For instance, in his article “Some Problems with Legal Universal Justification” Rodriguez claims that, “Legal universal justification separates God’s justifying act from the reception of the gift of the Spirit, or the new birth.”
This assertion is a complete nonsense and only someone who either doesn’t know this truth or is dishonest and intentionally wants to discredit it could write something like that.
According to the Word of God, it is true this legal universal justification, as some call it, means Jesus on the cross actually and legally saved the entire sinful humankind (2Cor 5:19; Rom 5:18; Rom 8:1-3; 2Cor 5:14). However, since God is love this historic fact of legal salvation of all sinners in Christ is not imposed on any sinner but it is offered by God in the form of a supreme free gift. And as it is with any gift, in order to enjoy this gift of already accomplished salvation it must be also accepted. It means that the salvation of a sinner, although already accomplished by our Lord two thousand years ago, is not a compulsory or an automatic process. In order to make this salvation, effective sinners must accept this gift of salvation in Christ with genuine faith. And if this reception of the gift of salvation in Christ is truly accepted through a sincere faith the immediate result is always the new birth!
Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is therefore not I who lives but Christ lives in me.” According to Paul, the entire sinful humankind was in Christ and we all were crucified with or in Him and if we only accept this wonderful good news by faith we always experience the new birth, which means now Holy Spirit and Lord Jesus start dwelling in us enabling us to live a truly sanctified life.
Therefore, the gospel message popularised by mentioned above theologians and in the SDA Church especially by Pastor Jack Sequeira (attacked by M Rodriguez) does not “separate God’s justifying act from the reception of the gift of the Spirit, or the new birth”!
Some time ago I wrote to Angel Manuel Rodriguez proving his arguments didn’t have biblical ground and demanding from him to remove his full of misleading errors articles from the BRI website, but unfortunately, and as expected, he refused using arguments that couldn’t be sustained by the Word of God. So finally I had to direct him to the most beautiful but unknown in our Churches sermon “The Word Became Flesh” which was presented in 1895, in the presence of Ellen White, by the leading Adventist theologian – Professor William Warren Prescott.
According to the concept of the gospel presented by him, Jesus didn’t take human sinless nature, He didn’t take the holy nature Adam had before he sinned, but He took the same sinful nature we all possess. And this act gave Him the right to become us, to be our representative. Then, in our flesh, as us and as our great representative Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s law, and finally, He took this our representative flesh of sin to the cross, where it was condemned by God and destroyed forever in Him (in the “flesh“ He took) (Romans 8:3).
According to the clear teaching presented by Professor Prescott, we were in Jesus when He perfectly obeyed the law as us, and we also were in Him when He died experiencing the second death. Thus we actually were obedient in Him and were punished (with the second death) in Him! And that, by the way, is the only way God was able to save us legally (according to the demands of His holy and changeless law). When we accept this true gospel message, then also Romans 3:26, according to which God remains righteous while justifying sinners, is not deprived of its meaning anymore because this way of salvation, unlike the vicarious one, vindicates the law (Romans 3:26). It uplifts the law because instead of changing it or bypassing its demands God saved us respecting all of them in spite of the fact that it involved unimaginable sufferings of His beloved Son.
This most beautiful sermon was delivered by Professor Prescott in 1895 in Armadale (Australia). According to Ellen White, who listened to the sermon, it was inspired by Holy Spirit. The following quote from that most beautiful message, which was later published in the Bible Echo, proves Professor Prescott accepted and preached the very same glories truth of the everlasting Gospel which has been now rejected and attacked by M Rodriguez and the BRI:
“Jesus Christ had exactly the same flesh that we bear, — flesh of sin, flesh in which we sin, flesh, however, in which He did not sin… We were all in Jesus Christ… He was our representative; He became flesh; He became we… All humanity was brought together in Jesus Christ. He suffered on the cross, then, it was the whole family in Jesus Christ that was crucified“.
Below I included the link which will give you the opportunity to read the entire most beautiful and inspired message presented by Professor Prescott including some extremely enthusiastic follow-up comments by Sister White: THE WORD BECAME FLESH >
Unfortunately, Rodriguez didn’t get the message and responded that Professor Prescott in his sermon didn’t mean that the entire world was included in Jesus but only believers.
First of all, it was a very hypocritical answer because in his articles Rodriguez never promotes the truth according to which believers were in Jesus but gives the strong impression that nobody was in Him, neither unbelievers nor believers. If he agrees believers were in Christ why then he does not clearly vindicate this great truth in his articles in which he opposed the universal legal justification?
Secondly, the claim made by him that Professor Prescott in his sermon didn’t mean that the entire world was included in Jesus but only believers, is false, and the above quote from Prescott’s sermon proves it as he said, “All humanity was brought together in Jesus Christ. He suffered on the cross, then, it was the whole family in Jesus Christ that was crucified”. Also in another passage taken from the same sermon, Professor Prescott wrote that Jesus, “gathered all humanity unto Himself, embraced it in His own infinite mind, and stood as the representative of the whole human family.”
Like Apostle Paul, Prescott sometimes suggests in his sermon that the entire world was included in Christ and sometimes he states that only believers were present in Him simply because although it is true all sinners (including unbelievers) were in Christ when He lived a holy life and died on the cross yet in reality only those who accept this gift can enjoy it and will be actually saved.
Following Paul’s inspired example, Prescott interchangeably places all sinners or only believers in Christ because although all sinners were included in the holy life and death of Christ and were saved by Him yet in reality only believers can enjoy the gift because the historic fact of the salvation of the world in Christ requires acceptance through faith: “What we want in our experience” says Professor Prescott, “is to enter into the fact that we did die in Him. But while it is true that Jesus Christ paid the whole price, bore every grief, was humanity itself, yet it is also true that no man receives benefit from that except he receives Christ, except he is born again.”
Let me repeat it again, the Bible makes it clear that the salvation of the entire world (including all sinners past, present and future) was already accomplished once and for all on the cross over two thousand years ago! (2Cor 5:19) This salvation of the sinful world is complete, perfect and finished and nothing can be added to it! But it is also true that this already accomplished redemption also needs to be “activated” and it is made active and real in our lives only when we truly accept it through genuine faith.
Is it so difficult to understand this truth? No, it is not! But somehow our theologians from BRI still keep the articles opposing the great truth of universal legal salvation in Christ accusing those who try to share this great message of universalism or federalism, although to be honest, almost nobody seems to know what this federalism is all about. Elder Sequeira was accused of preaching this idea of federalism so often that he finally decided to write an article on it. >
So, it is clear professor Prescott, following inspired Apostle Paul, meant all sinners were in Christ and were redeemed in Him but they also must accept it to receive the benefit of the fact. That is also why Apostle Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:10 that Jesus is the “Savior of all people”, and then he immediately adds, “especially of those who believe.” All sinful human beings were in Jesus when He lived a perfectly holy life and when he died on the cross which means He saved all but because it is a supreme gift of God it must be also accepted by faith in order for this salvation to become effective.
I think elder Sequeira was right suggesting that another prove that also unbelievers were redeemed in Christ is the fact that, like believers, they also will resurrect (in the second resurrection), but since they didn’t accept that gift by faith to make their salvation effective they will resurrect only to eternal death instead of eternal life. Without being included in Christ’s death they would never resurrect after their own death.
Since articles by Angel M. Rodriguez and other authors, opposing the biblical “in Christ motif” and corporate salvation of the sinful world in Christ (known also as the “Universal Legal Justification”), are full of false accusations and lies, they should be removed from the BIR website as it represents the Seventh Day Adventist Church which was brought into existence by God, and God’s Church is not supposed to promote lies but pure truth!
In order to achieve this goal please read this article again, study the subject, pray over it and if you are convinced do not keep quiet but inspire others to do the same, as God expects us to remove this sin from His Church.
We may not have much influence on Hartland as they are kind of separated from the Church (that is why they are a part of the ”independent miniseries”) but if we are true followers of Jesus and if we love His Truth and His wounded Church it should be our solemn duty to impose on GC and BRI, to finally acknowledge this obvious and glorious biblical fact of the corporate salvation of all sinners in Christ (as presented in the writings of Apostle Paul and mentioned above prominent theologians and preachers) and remove the misguiding, confusing and deceptive articles by Angel M. Rodriguez and others from BRI website, as they prevent honest believers from accepting the most beautiful and fully restored truth of the Gospel and thus delay the worldwide spiritual revival, outpouring of Holy Spirit in the latter rain and the return of our Lord.
In order to express your will please share the above article in your local churches, through Facebook, WhatsApp, and other mediums, send repeated messages to the GC, BRI, Ellen White Estate, Ministry Magazine, your local Ministers, as well as other Church institutions demanding prayers, investigation, and urgent right action.
The more of us study this most holy truth, understand its value, share with others, and fervently and continuously pray, asking the Lord to convince the leaders about the most vital importance of these three glories aspects of the Gospel the sooner they will make right decisions and the closer our Church will be to the final fulfilment of its mission.
“My message to you is this: No longer consent to listen without protest to the perversion of truth.” Special Testimonies” (Series B, No. 2, p. 15)
“Light will come to God’s people, and those who have sought to close the door will either repent or be removed out of the way.” (The Signs of the Times 05-26-90)