The Minneapolis Conference adjourned with the minds of the delegates in more or less uncertainty and confusion regarding the message of Righteousness by Faith that had been set forth. But the presentation of this vital truth, with all the agitation, discussion, and perplexity it occasioned, was not in vain by any means. It started new thought and study regarding the great theme of justification by faith, and led many into a better, richer appreciation of the Saviour as their substitute and surety. Among the greatest of all the blessings that have followed that meeting has been the abundant instruction which the Lord has sent to His people through the Spirit of prophecy regarding our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and how to live His life by faith. This instruction is truly illuminating.
It is worthy of note that since the Minneapolis Conference there have come to us, through the Spirit of
prophecy, the following volumes of instruction:
“Steps to Christ,” in 1892.
"Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing," in 1896.
"The Desire of Ages," in 1898.
"Christ's Object Lessons," in 1900.
"Ministry of Healing," in 1905.
“Acts of the Apostles,” in 1911.
It is well known to all who have read these books that the great dominant theme is Christ, – His victorious life in humanity, His atoning sacrifice on the cross, and how He now may be made unto us poor mortals, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Besides these intensely spiritual books, scores and scores of messages have been sent to us through the Review and Herald, which contain the clearest and most helpful instruction regarding the subject of righteousness by faith. All this is of priceless value to the church. It throws a flood of light upon the great problem of redemption in all its phases.
In studying further into the subject of Righteousness by Faith, as set forth in the Spirit of prophecy, it is important that there should be a clear understanding of its scope. This is not a doctrine of limited intent or of minor consequence. It is not a subject with which one may or may not be familiar and fare as well. Righteousness by Faith, in its larger meaning, embraces every vital, fundamental truth of the gospel. It begins with man's moral standing when created, and deals with –
1. The law by which man is to live.
2. Transgression of that law.
3. Penalty for transgression.
4. Problem of redemption.
5. Love of Father and Son which made redemption possible.
6. Justice in accepting a substitute.
7. Nature of the atonement.
9. Sinless life of Christ.
10. Vicarious death of the Son of God.
11. Burial, resurrection, and ascension.
12. The Father's assurance of a satisfactory substitution.
13. The coming of the Holy Spirit.
14. Ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary.
15. The part required of the sinner in order to be redeemed.
16. Nature of faith, repentance, confession, obedience.
17. Meaning and experience of regeneration, justification, and sanctification.
18. Need and place of the Holy Spirit and word of God in making real to men what was made possible on the cross.
19. Victory over sin through the indwelling Christ.
20. Place of works in the life of the believer.
21. Place of prayer in receiving and holding the righteousness of Christ.
22. The culmination and deliverance in the return of the Redeemer.
This is the great sweep of truth embraced in the short phrase "Righteousness by Faith." “A small key,” says Pierson, "may open a very complex lock and a very large door, and that door itself may lead into a vast building with priceless stores of wealth and beauty." The brief phrase, “Righteousness by Faith,” opens the door to all the priceless stores of the wealth and glory of the gospel in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It is worth while to note at this point some of the expressions found in the writings of the Spirit of prophecy which serve to introduce or provide appropriate framework for this beautiful truth.
It Bears the Divine Credentials
"The present message - justification by faith - is a message from God; it bears the divine credentials, for its fruit is unto holiness. " – Review and Herald, Sept. 3, 1889.
A Precious Thought
"The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, seemed a precious thought." – Review and Herald, Sept. 3, 1889
It Is Sweetest Melodies
"The sweetest melodies that come from human lips, - justification by faith, and the righteousness of Christ. " – Review and Herald, April 4, 1895.
It Is a Pure White Pearl
“The righteousness of Christ, as a pure white pearl, has no defect, no stain, no guilt. This righteousness may be ours.” – Review and Herald, Aug. 8, 1899.
In its truest sense, righteousness by faith is not a theory; it is an experience, a vital change which takes place in the believer in Christ. It gives the sinner a new standing before God. It is the essence of Christianity, for we read:
"The sum and substance of the whole matter of Christian grace and experience is contained in believing on Christ, in knowing God and His Son whom He hath sent." "Religion means the abiding of Christ in the heart, and where He is, the soul goes on in spiritual activity, ever growing in grace, ever going on to perfection." –Review and Herald, May 24, 1892.
To lose sight of this wonderful, fundamental, all-embracing truth is to miss that which is vital in the plan of redemption.