February 5, 2019

Righteousness by Faith and the Third Angel's Message

Early Adventists were great doers of the commandments — sometimes for good reasons and sometimes for not so good.

The doing aspect of the Adventist belief system would play heavily into pre-1888 understandings of Revelation 14:12. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

The Adventist interpretation of that verse had been quite consistent before 1888. James White provided a model for that understanding in April 1850. He indicated that the verse had three major points of identification.

It indicated (1) a people who were to be patient, despite the disappointment of the 1840s, in waiting for the coming of Jesus; (2) a people who had got the victory over the beast, and his image, and over his mark and are sealed with the seal of the living God by keeping the commandments of God; and (3) a people who “kept the ‘faith’” as a body of beliefs in such doings as “repentance, faith, baptism, Lord’s supper, washing the saints’ feet,” and so on. A part of keeping the faith, he emphasized, was keeping the commandments of God. Note that White managed to squeeze obedience to God’s law into two of the three parts of the verse.

Two years later he was even more precise: “The faith of Jesus is to be kept, as well as the commandments of God. . . . This not only shows the distinction between the commandments of the Father and the faith of the Son, but also shows that the faith of Jesus to be kept necessarily embraces the sayings of Christ and the apostles. It embraces all the requirements and doctrines of the New Testament.”

J.N. Andrews was of the same mind, claiming that “the faith of Jesus. . . is spoken of as being kept in the same manner that the commandments of God are kept.”

And R.F. Cottrell wrote that the faith of Jesus “is something that can be obeyed or kept. Therefore we conclude that all that we are required to do in order to be saved from sin belongs to the faith of Jesus.”

As we noted earlier, doing is important. But, is it true that “all that we are required to do in order to be saved from sin belongs to the faith of Jesus”?

Think about it. Discuss it. Pray about it.