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DID JESUS COMPLETE OR DID NOT COMPLETE THE ATONEMENT ON THE CROSS?


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DID JESUS COMPLETE OR DID NOT COMPLETE THE ATONEMENT ON THE CROSS?

The evangelical Churches furiously attack Adventist doctrine about Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary because they believe it denies the fact that the atonement was complete at the cross. To prove their point they quote the following scripture:

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:9LibronixLink_dark.png 11LibronixLink_dark.png).

Also even among Seventh-day Adventists, there are two groups that oppose each other with regards to the understanding of Christ’s atonement (reconciliation). Some of them claim the atonement was finished at the cross while others oppose this idea because they believe it contradicts the truth about Christ’s atoning work in the heavenly sanctuary which hasn’t finished yet.

This lack of unity has been also contributed by the fact that in both, the Bible and Ellen White’s writings, we can find two groups of statements that seem to contradict each other, as they state that the atonement was complete and at the same time suggest it wasn’t complete.

ELLEN WHITE QUOTES SUGGESTING THAT THE ATONEMENT WAS COMPLETED AT THE CROSS

“[Christ] planted the cross between heaven and earth, and when the Father beheld the sacrifice of His Son, He bowed before it in recognition of its perfection. ‘It is enough,’ He said. ‘The atonement is complete’” RH September 24, 1901, par. 11.

“Our great High Priest completed the sacrificial offering of Himself when He suffered without the gate. Then a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the people” 7BC 913.3.

“Christ’s sacrifice in behalf of man was full and complete. The condition of the atonement had been fulfilled. The work for which He had come to this world had been accomplished” AA 29.2.

“When Christ on the cross cried out, ‘It is finished,’ He addressed the Father. The agreement had been fully carried out. Now He declared, ‘Father, I have completed the work of redemption.’ ‘I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am’.” (John 17:24LibronixLink_dark.png). Desire of Ages (498)

“The Lord would have His people sound in the faith—not ignorant of the great salvation so abundantly provided for them. They are not to look forward, thinking that at some future time a great work is to be done for them; for the work is now complete” 1SM 394.3.

ELLEN WHITE QUOTES SUGGESTING THAT THE ATONEMENT WAS NOT COMPLE AT THE CROSS

“Instead of … Daniel 8:14LibronixLink_dark.png referring to the purifying of the earth, it was now plain that it pointed to the closing work of our High Priest in heaven, the finishing of the atonement, and the preparing of the people to abide the day of His coming” (Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 58).

“Jesus entered the most holy of the heavenly (sanctuary), at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8, in 1844, to make a final atonement for all who could be benefited by His mediation” (Early Writings, p. 253).

“Our Saviour is in the Sanctuary pleading in our behalf. He is our interceding High Priest, making an atoning sacrifice for us, pleading in our behalf the efficacy of His blood.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 370.

Today He [Christ] is making an atonement for us before the Father. ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’” Manuscript 21, 1895.

“As in the typical service, there was a work of atonement at the close of the year, so before Christ’s work for the redemption of man is completed there is a work of atonement for the removal of sin from the Sanctuary. This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended.” Great Controversy, 421.

IS THERE A CONTRADICTION BETWEEN THESE TWO GROUPS OF STATEMENTS?

Well, the answer to the question lies in the fact that those two groups of statements appear as if they contradict each other only because they deal with different aspects of Christ’s atoning ministry. The word “atonement” (or reconciliation) in those two groups of statements refers to different aspects of salvation from sin.

In a similar way, the Word of God uses three different tenses (past, present and future) with regards to our salvation. It states that believers are already saved or were saved in the past tense, it says they are being now saved in the present continuous tense, and it also states they will be saved in the future. Does it prove the Bible contradicts itself? No, it only points to the fact that it refers to different aspects of salvation from sin.

We have been already saved (past tense) from punishment and condemnation of sin (justification) because we are in Christ and not under the law but under grace; We are being delivered from the power of sin (from sinning) now in the present continuous tense (which is our continuous process sanctification); And finally, in the future we will be saved, delivered from the presence of sin (from our sinful nature and the indwelling law of sin and selfishness) at the second coming of Christ (glorification).

And it is exactly the same when we deal with the subject of atonement, which is synonymous with salvation from sin, and involves different aspects of the sin problem.

MEANNING OF THE WORD “ATONEMENT”

SDA theology places a significantly broader definition on the word “atonement” than do other denominations. For most Christians the word atonement means the work of Christ on the cross. For most of Adventists, the word atonement means two things: the atonement of the cross, and the final atonement.

The atonement of the cross refers to the fact that at the cross “God was in Christ reconciling (atoning) the world to Himself” (2Cor 5:19LibronixLink_dark.png). It means that at the cross God actually saved all sinners (entire world) in Jesus from condemnation, and therefore, in this sense the atonement was finished at the cross. That is why Lord Jesus cried out, “it is finished”.

However, this salvation (atonement) is not automatically enforced upon anyone, because it is a gift and as it is with any gift, in order to enjoy it and make this salvation effective, it must be accepted with true faith which makes such believer spiritually alive (born from the Spirit).

On the other hand, the atonement that was accomplished at the cross didn’t completely solved the problem of the power of sin and believer’s slavery to sin, the still ongoing presence of the sinful nature (including the “law of sin”) in the believers.

The cross didn’t also solved the issue of responsibility for introducing sin in the perfect and holy universe and previously sinless planet earth, and responsibility for leading born again Christians to sin. It is the final atonement that is going to deal with these aspects of sin. And that is the very reason why both the Bible as well as Spirit of Prophecy (Ellen White) clearly suggest that the atonement in this sense is not complete yet.

The final atonement refers to the time when God will clean us and entire universe from every aspect, effect and trace of sin, bringing the entire universe into perfect harmony as it was before sin appeared.

Since Jesus’ death on the cross did not bring the universe into perfect harmony we can say that in a sense the atonement is not complete, and therefore, the same Savior continues His atoning work now in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary until it is finished in due time.

However, speaking of the atonement in the sense of salvation from the condemnation and punishment for sin (from eternal death) which brings the sinner assurance of salvation, it is perfect, fully complete, and nothing can be added to it. The only thing we can do is to make sure we are born from the Spirit (spiritually alive) by accepting Christ’s cross and righteousness as our only ticket to heaven by true faith, and according to the Bible, we also must maintain the true faith till the end.

Therefore, since there are certain aspects of sin the atonement which our Savior accomplished at the cross didn’t deal with it is not a denial of the cross to teach that Jesus continues His work of atonement in heaven.
 

[I have  removed the URL posted here.  It takes one to a website that in one section proclaims that the SDA Church has been infiltrated by a large number of people who are actually Roman Catholic Jesuits.  It also names a number of those people., both dead and alive today.  This goes well beyond that we will allow in this forum.  For now I am not commenting on this  post as I am short on time.  That may come later.  But, be aware your beliefs about the SDA Church are, in part, well beyond what are both true and therefore allowed her.  If we need to do so, we will remove material posted here that violates our boundaries--
Gregory Matthews.]

 

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Gregory Matthews

Slawek, has raised in his opening post an important issue.  That issue is that the word atonement has been understood with one meaning by traditional Protestant Christianity and it has bee understood with a somewhat different meaning as used traditional by SDAs.  This has confused people.

In traditional, Protestant Christianity the word atonement has been used to mean that with the death and resurrection of Christ God accomplished everything that was needed to effect the salvation of all humans.  IOW, nothing more was needed for  humans to be saved and to spend an eternity with God.

That is the position that I hold and support.  This position is supported by:

*  The statement of Christ on the Cross that his work of effecting the salvation of humanity was now finished.  John 19:30

*  The statement that salvation has now come to all humans, see Romans 5:19.

In our historical past, SDAs have commonly used the word atonement  to represent  the period of time that began with the cross and ended after sin had been totally removed from the Earth and those who had chosen to spend eternity with God were now doing so.

This difference in the use of the word atonement has been confusing to both SDAs and to non-SDAs alike.  It is the basis for the misunderstanding that results is some saying that SDAs teach that Christ at Calvary did not do all that is required to effect the salvation of humanity.

Speaking as SDA clergy, I will say:  With the death and resurrection of Christ, Christ accomplished all that was needed to effect the salvation of every person, who has ever lived and all who will live in the future.  All who chose to spend eternity with Christ will be able to do so.  Their salvation is sure.  It is accomplished.  The work of Christ to effect our salvation is finished.  It was finished on the cross.

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In my studies, I have found two sure-fire ways to be saved:

1. Keep the whole Law perfectly for your entire life.  There are several Bible passages that say this has never been done by anyone but Jesus.  So IMHO, He is the only human being to ever be saved this way.  Best that I not try this alternative; since it is doomed to failure. I'm not bragging here; but at 70 years old, I can think of a few times today already that I have broken this covenant.

2. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. Belief in the Bible is much more than simply mental consent. Belief is total trust, reliance, and depending on Jesus to save me, because otherwise I am DOOMED! I have to depend that Jesus is who He says He is and has done (or will do) the things prophesied about Him. 

I am saved independently of my behavior.  There is nothing I can do to make God love me more; nor is there anything I can do to make Him love me less. To quote a favorite Casting Crowns" song - "It's not because of who I am; it's because of what You've done. It's not because of what I've done, it's because of who You are!"

So is this a believer's license to sin? Of course not!  Do I purposely defy and insult and offend people who are very kind to me and lavish great gifts on me? NO!! Why would I do that to God, who is infinitely kind to me and has already given me the greatest gifts of all?  I love Him; why would I purposely insult Him or offend Him?  I am imperfect.  I need Him; and I need the assurance that I am saved; and whenever I think things are out of control, that God IS in control.

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Hi Gregory and thanks for your comment.

I agree with you but you refer only to the aspect of salvation (atonement) from the condemnation and eternal death that was finished at the cross on behalf of the entire humanity: “God was in Christ reconciling (atoning) the world to Himself” (2Cor 5:19). It means that at the cross God actually saved all sinners (entire world) in Jesus from condemnation, and therefore, in this sense the atonement was finished at the cross. That is why Lord Jesus cried out, “it is finished”.

However, you don't comment on the fact that the atonement that was accomplished at the cross didn’t completely solved the problem of the power of sin and believer’s slavery to sin, the still ongoing presence of the sinful nature (including the “law of sin”) in the believers. The cross didn’t also solved the issue of responsibility for introducing sin in the perfect and holy universe and previously sinless planet earth, and responsibility for leading born again Christians to sin. It is the final atonement that is going to deal with these aspects of sin. And that is the very reason why the atonement in this sense is not complete yet.

Since Jesus’ death on the cross did not bring the universe into perfect harmony we can say that in a sense the atonement is not complete, and therefore, the same Savior continues His atoning work now in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary until it is finished in due time.

However, speaking of the atonement in the sense of salvation from the condemnation and punishment for sin (from eternal death) which brings the sinner assurance of salvation, it is perfect, fully complete, and nothing can be added to it. The only thing we can do is to make sure we are born from the Spirit (spiritually alive) by accepting Christ’s cross and righteousness as our only ticket to heaven by true faith, and according to the Bible, we also must maintain the true faith till the end.


 

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JoeMo, I completely agree with you, but the subject of salvation and atonement is much more complex. Could you read the entire article and let me know if you agree with the idea that the salvation is finished and not finished, please.

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Gregory Matthews

Slawek, I have more agreement with what you have posted here in this forum in the area of Christian belief than you probably think and more agreement than I have of disagreement.  As SDA clergy, I have preached for many decades certain aspects of what you have posted here.

However, I have followed you to your website, as you once posted in this forum and I have devoted some time to reading your posts on that website.  As you would probably expect, I do not agree with certain beliefs that you propose.  As a website with some relationship to the SDA church, we cannot allow certain beliefs of yours to be posted here.

We allow a good level of discussion and disagreement in this forum.  People do post here who do not agree with SDA thinking.  But, there is a line that we have to draw.  We simply can not allow certain beliefs that you hold to be posted here.

Post within those boundaries and you are welcome to post here.

 

 

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Gregory Matthews

Slawak, as a Moderator on this forum,  I do not have a need to post  either my agreement or my disagreement with every item that is posted here.  We allow a considerable range in belief here.  

There is one section of this forum where we have allowed an individual to post material that we would not normally have allowed to be posted in the main body of this forum.  However, as we have given that person freedom, we have also allowed others to post responses that we would not have allowed elsewhere.  I have been quite frank in my responses to that person.  Probably most reading here know exactly who my comment is about.

I think that you have posed some good material here.  I do have some concern about some material that I have read on a website of yours.  but, you have not posted it in this forum.

So, welcome.  I do not haver any intention of supervising every word that you post here.  You and I do not have to agree on everything.  That is O.K.

There are other people who post here material with which I do not agree.  We get along.  People do not have to agree on everything to get along.

 

 

 

 

 

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On 2/6/2021 at 8:55 AM, Slawek G said:

DID JESUS COMPLETE OR DID NOT COMPLETE THE ATONEMENT ON THE CROSS?

The evangelical Churches furiously attack Adventist doctrine about Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary because they believe it denies the fact that the atonement was complete at the cross. To prove their point they quote the following scripture:

Therefore, since there are certain aspects of sin the atonement which our Savior accomplished at the cross didn’t deal with it is not a denial of the cross to teach that Jesus continues His work of atonement in heaven.

They have reason to. 

2nd Corinthians 5,16: From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.  Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation;  the old has passed away, behold, the new has come All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin  who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

The world was reconciled to God The Father though Christ. This reconciliation happened prior to St. Paul's conversion. As the Apostles Creed clearly state:

I believe in God,
the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
He descended into hell;
on the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting
.

This concept can't be missed.

Hebrews 1,3: God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on highBeing made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

As Gregory Matthews stated Jesus did everything pertaining to the atonement - the question for us is do we cooperate with the Grace we've been given and stay "in Christ" so that our faith isn't dead. 

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Slawek, Herbert Douglas (is described as a leading SDA Theologian) went on the record by asserting that;

"The Cross was only a means to an end, it was NOT THE END OF ANYTHING". 

The idiom "means to an end" is defined as a thing that is not valued or important in of itself but is useful in achieving an aim. 

Source: @ 54 minute mark of the following video

Herbert Douglas Discusses the book 'Questions on Doctrine' - YouTube

My question to you is if you share Herbert's belief that someone can't really understand the Atonement WITHOUT having knowledge of "The Great Controversy Theme" (a book written by Ellen White)?

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Gregory Matthews

I have not yet had the time to view the video tha Gustave has posted.  But, I will make a few comments;

*  Dr. Herbert Douglas, now dead, was a SDA theologian.

*  If my memory is correct, he did his doctoral work on Karl Barth.

*  As might be expected, both the Sacramento Central SDA church and Dr. Douglas are on the conservative side of Adventism.

*  I personally knew Dr. Douglas, at one time.

*  I am a firm and committed supporter of Questions on Doctrine.

*  I reject any idea that. the Atonement can only be understood in the context of  The Great Controversy.

 

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Gregory Matthews

I have not yet had the time to view the video.  but, I will make a few more comments:

*  Dr. Douglas spent the last years of his life here in Northern California.  I have spoken with people who knew him in those years and they tell me that he was failing in his old age.

*  The image of his giving his presentation sitting in a chair, is not the image that he presented when I knew him.

*  In seems that he was also failing intellectually in his later years,  to perhaps include memory.  He stated that he had once  received a Bachelor of Divinity degree, and suggested that it was equivalent to a doctoral degree.  That is false.  Many years ago, B.Div. degrees were awarded to theological students.  This degree typically took from 24 to 36 months to complete.  I received one myself, after 30 months of schooling.  With the passage of time, the Association of Theological Schools determined that the B.Div. degree should no longer be awarded.  At that time the standard degree became the Master of Divinity (M.Div.), and the requirement for many professional positions in ministry.  With that change, a process was established by which  a Bachelor of Divinity degree could be evaluated and if found to meet the requirements, be  awarded a Master of Divinity degree, and the previous Bachelor of Divinity degree revoked.  I applied for that process.  My degree was evaluated and found to meet the requirements and I was awarded the  Master of Divinity degree.  The statement of Dr. Douglas that the Bachelor of Divinity degree equaled a doctoral degree is simply false.  His memory had failed him on that point.  He went on to obtain a very valid doctoral degree.  That degree should not be discounted.

 

NOTE: Both the B.Divin. and M.Div. degrees were advanced degrees that required a previous college Bachelors degree.

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Gregory Matthews

As an interesting comment on the book Questions on Doctrine:  There is a subset of people who complain about it who believe that the SDAs who produced it were actually Roman Catholic priests who were guiding the SDA Church to accept Roman Catholic theology.   

Frankly, I do not believe that Rome considers the SDA denomination to be that important.

 

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On 2/7/2021 at 1:20 PM, Slawek G said:

Could you read the entire article and let me know if you agree with the idea that the salvation is finished and not finished, please.

If by the "article" you are referring to all of the EGW quotes you referenced, no,I won't read them - I have no access to all those EGW books; and I consider EGW to be a source quite inferior to scripture.  From my study of scripture, I am convinced that salvation was finished at the cross if we choose to accept it through faith in Christ.  It's kind of like Christ offering you a "golden ticket" to heaven. You can either accept it by faith or refuse it and do it yourself (an impossible task).

The best and clearest references are Galatians 3:1-6 and 5:2-4.

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I'd be interested in knowing roughly what the percentage of SDA's are that agree with what Herbert Douglas said about not being able to understand the atonement without 1st understanding the "Great Controversy Theme".

Basically "The Theme" is that Satan put God into a pickle immediately after Adam & Eve's 1st sin. Lucifer made a legal charge against God to all the angels and aliens on other planet systems that God's law was too difficult and He was being to ham-handed with Adam & Eve. This formal charge against God by Lucifer put God into a real pickle and something needed to be done. 

The following is a summary of the pickle in the Signs of the Times / ST19751101-V102-11.pdf (adventistarchives.org)

"Ever since sin entered God's perfect universe, God's redemptive acts have been focused on the final and complete eradication of this terrible plague and on the salvation of all who accept His solution to the problem. Annihilation of the rebels on the spot would not have accomplished this result. Why? Because of the pending judgment, as we shall see. From the beginning of Lucifer's insurrection in Paradise, the issue had been, Who's right—God or Lucifer? Lucifer had charged God with injustice in His way of governing the universe, and he succeeded in getting a third of the angels to agree with him. This sizable minority started a revolution to overthrow the government of God and to set up a new one, which they declared would liberate them from God's tyrannical law and bring greater happiness to all created beings. So the situation as it developed amounted to a hearing in court—a vast celestial tribunal. Lucifer had filed suit against God on trumped-up charges, demanding from the universe a vote of no confidence in God's government. God Himself was thus put on trial. He was to be judged by the universe."

So, as you can see God was really in the soup now! Hauled into court on "trumped-up charges" - something needed to be done, someone needed to prove to all the angels and aliens on other planetary systems that God's law WASN'T TOO DIFFICULT to keep - God desperately needed to have His law VINDICATED - all heaven and all the "unfallen" Aliens on countless planets were watching. 

What happens next is essentially "The Little Engine that Could" & did but MIGHT NOT HAVE!

See the source image

Ellen White
To be redeemed means to cease from sin. No heart that is stirred to rebellion against the law of God has any union with Christ, who died to vindicate the law and exalt it before all nations, tongues, and peoples.

Ellen White R&H August 13, 1895, paragraph 6
Representing the law of God in its true character arouses the enmity of Satan. Those who love God with all the heart, will love the law of his kingdom. They will not only profess to be guided by its principles, but they will actually live them out, even in a world that is no more favorable to the development of Christian principles than were the inhabitants of the world before the flood, of whom it is written that the thoughts and imaginations of their hearts were evil, and only evil continually. A similar condition of society exists in our world today, and if those who claim to be God's commandment-keeping people do not put in practice the principles of the law which Christ came to our world to vindicate, pronouncing it holy, just, and good, they misrepresent the character and mission of their professed Master.

 

Ellen White
Satan will continue to bring in his erroneous theories and to claim that his sentiments are true. Seducing spirits are at work. I am to meet the danger positively, denying the right of anyone to use my writings to serve the devil's purpose to allure and deceive the people of God. God has spared my life that I may present the testimonies given me, to vindicate that which God vindicates, and to denounce every sophistry [intended] to deceive if possible the very elect.--Ms 126, 1905, pp. 3, 7. ("A Warning Against Present Dangers," typed December 29, 1905.) {5MR 144.1}

There are many other quotes but this basically explains "The Great Controversy Theme" that Hebert Douglas was talking about in that packed Church - it appeared by the reaction of attendants in that Church that they were in full agreement with what Douglas was saying. 

I fully believe that both Gregory and JoeMoe were telling me the truth that they don't believe someone needs to know about The Great Controversy Theme to understand the atonement but it would seem there are a significant number of SDA's who would not agree with that - I'm wondering if Slawek is one of those folks?

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