Righteousness By Faith

In 1888 there came to the Seventh-day Adventist Church a very definite awakening message. It was designated at the time as “the message of Righteousness by Faith”. Both the message itself and the manner of its coming made a deep and lasting impression upon the minds of ministers and people, and the lapse of time has not erased that impression from memory. To this day, many of those who heard the message when it came are deeply interested in it and concerned regarding it.  All these long years they have held a firm conviction, and cherished a fond hope, that someday this message would be given great prominence among us, and that it would do the cleansing, regenerating work in the church which they believed it was sent by the Lord to accomplish.

Among the influences which have led to this conviction is the divine witness borne to the proclamation of the message of Righteousness by Faith as it was set forth at the time of the General Conference held in the city of Minneapolis, Minn., in the year 1888. From the very first, the Spirit of prophecy placed the seal of approval upon the message and its presentation at that time. In the plainest and most positive language we were told that the Lord was leading and impelling men to proclaim this definite message of Righteousness by Faith. Of that epochal Conference, and the men who gave the specific message, it is declared:

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people.... This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure." – " Testimonies to Ministers," pp. 91, 92.

Every sentence in this comprehensive statement is worthy of most careful study. Let us briefly analyse it:

1. A Most Precious Message. – "The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people."

2. The Object. – "This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world."

3. The Scope.

a. "It presented justification through faith in the Surety."

b. "It invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God."

4. The Need. –

a. “Many had lost sight of Jesus”

b. "They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His

changeless love for the human family."

5. The Resources. –

a. "All power is given into His hands,"

b. “That He may dispense rich gifts unto men,”

c. "Imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent."

1. Extent. – "This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world."

2. What It Really Is. – "It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud cry, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure."

It is difficult to conceive how there could be any misunderstanding or uncertainty regarding the heavenly endorsement of this message. It clearly stated that the Lord sent the message, and that He led the minds of the men who were so deeply engrossed by it and who proclaimed it with such earnestness.

It should be borne in mind at this time that the course taken by the messengers in subsequent years has nothing to do with the positive statement, oft repeated, that they were led by the Lord to declare this fundamental truth of the gospel to His people at that particular time.

Not only was it in the purpose of God to set this message to Righteousness by Faith before His church; it was to be given to the world. And finally, it is declared to be the "third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure." It is evident that the application of this message was not limited to the time of the Minneapolis Conference, but that its application extends to the close of time; and consequently it is of greater significance to the church at the present time than it could have been in 1888. The nearer we approach the great day of God, the more imperative will be the need of the soul-cleansing work which that message was sent to do. Surely we have every reason for a new, more whole- hearted study and proclamation of that message.

God's messages and providences are always great with meaning. They are always necessary for the accomplishment of the particular work with which they are connected. He orders them for the fulfilment of His purposes. They cannot be set aside. They cannot fail. Sooner or later they will be understood, accepted, and given their proper place. Therefore it must be expected that the message of Righteousness by Faith, which came so definitely to the church in 1888, will be accorded a dominant place in the closing period of the great movement with which we are connected.