The idea that we are godly, that we have righteousness, that we are pleasing God because we keep the Sabbath, have a health message, supposedly don’t eat meat (not in public anyway) and don’t drink coffee or tea (once were abstainers) is as ludicrous as it is misinformed. These things no more make us holy than they make us a marrow.
Righteousness comes to us neither by rule-keeping or by rite. It is ours because Christ is our life. Righteousness, wholeness and Godliness are ours not from an attachment to set of abstractions but because Jesus Christ is our life. We are graced with His life and imbued with His life because God is incarnated in our being.
The notion that one is whole and alive because one keeps the Sabbath is demonstrably untrue. There is nothing restful about going to meetings all day because being in church is defined as Sabbath-keeping. Rest that is contrived is never genuine rest because real rest is a state of being. Let’s be clear. Righteousness is a person. Thus Christ is our righteousness. These behaviours are a threadbare righteousness that is denominationally defined as Adventism’s version of the knowledge of good and evil.
We are alive when our spirit is alive because it has been ignited by the Spirit of Life. We are at rest and peace when Jesus is our rest and peace - not because we set aside a day to be Sabbath-keepers. In Christ we are at rest and creative all at once.
It’s not uncommon for us to have a contradictory view of God and then live out these contradictions as religion. We talk of grace and then say ‘but.’ Then we go on about the things we think we must do to be Christian. What we mean is that we think these are the things we should do to earn points with God; to work up some worthiness whereby we may hopefully deserve His grace and love. But we already have it. We are already accepted and received. We have an inheritance that is real and eternal: Now we are the sons and daughters of God. Why? Not because we have done a bunch of stuff but because we are loved.
Adventism would have to be one of the silliest caricatures of the gospel of the Kingdom ever to be foisted on the ignorant and unsuspecting masses. Firstly it undoes the life in the Spirit that Jesus won for us and takes us back to the law from which we have been liberated. Secondly it talks of hope but offers hope deferred with its mean and mistaken ‘soul sleep’ version of life following the death of the body. Thirdly it is a spiritless religion of the head and the flesh where human beings earn the right to intimacy with God by mechanical acts of the head and the will. But God is a spirit and human beings as sons and daughters are embodied spirits that are dead when marinated in the law but alive in Christ.
At times we might shun the grossness of legalism, yet embrace a performance mentality. Then again we might define ourselves as non-legalistic yet live from a matrix of our personal version of good and evil. Then again we may involve ourselves in service in a bid to pay Jesus back for what He has done and so attempt to earn our salvation in reverse. Service is big with Ellen White. But rather than the overflow of a limitless life within that is Christ our life, the service of Adventism has more to do with cold love, duty and earing the salvation that is already ours. One cannot rest if one is earning ones’ salvation - not even on Sabbath. There is a need to demonstrate self-worth by being busy. But not in a way that multiplies spirit and life. Service-works is always contrived and mostly the result of seeking to win approval and avoid judgment.
All of this places us back where we were before there was a Jesus, before there was a cross, a Pentecost and an incarnation. But our life is Christ. He is our grace. He is our Spirit of life and our righteousness. The law leeches people of life. Christ in you makes you overflow with it.
God has secured us with Himself, our freedom with grace and our glory with the impartation of His Son. Now we live in the Spirit of Sonship that engulfs us in Father’s love and life. The freedom we have been given is the freedom to be ourselves, without artifice or contrivance. No need to be a cardboard cut-out of someone else. No need to imagine we are holy because we do the Adventist verities. We are holy because God is holy and He lives in us and graces us with His life.
I am free to be me in good conscience and authority because Christ Himself is my life and I in my individuality am the expression of Jesus. All authority is given to me in Christ who is lives in me and expresses Himself through me and all who receive Him.
As myself I am rest at ease. But not in self-sufficiency. I rest in He who is my life and all that I am not, as far as conformity to any ideal is concerned. A simply am. I am myself in the greater I AM. Here I am as a son/daughter of God, doing what I was designed to do, born and re-created anew to minister with new creation life. Each day I can just be. In ‘being’ I am myself and a representation of the diversity of Jesus in the world of the new creation kingdom of God.
We can go on about the law as much as we like. But in the law we are never part of the new creation. We are new creation agents of the Kingdom because Christ is completely our life.
The beauty of grace is that it is not an abstraction. It is a person. Grace is the person of Jesus and the fullness of God – an expression of the trinity in its one for all and all for one excellence. Grace is Jesus manifest for me and in me. Thus as the church Jesus builds we are able to be ourselves, not ciphers or constructs of significant others or clones of bossy types. We are truly ourselves as apostolic representatives of our Father. We are unique and creative daughters and sons advancing the Kingdom simply by being who we were designed to be. Thus we are delivered from the misery of religion and melee of ‘service.’ Thank God for that!
Thomas F Torrance speaking on the vicarious humanity of Jesus writes,
“To preach the gospel of the unconditional grace of God in that unconditional way is to set before people the astonishingly good news of what God has freely provided for us in the vicarious humanity of Jesus.
To repent and believe in Jesus Christ and commit myself to him on that basis, means that I do not need to look over my shoulder all the time to see whether I have really given myself personally to him, whether I really believe and trust him, whether my faith is at all adequate.
For in faith, it is not upon my faith, my believing, or my personal commitment that I rely, but solely upon what Jesus Christ has done for me, in my place and on my behalf, and what he is and always will be as he stands in for me before the face of the Father.
That means that I am completely liberated from all ulterior motives in believing or following Jesus Christ, for on the ground of his vicarious human response for me, I am free for spontaneous joyful response and worship and service as I could not otherwise be.” (Quoted in Trinitarian Conversations.)