what of the night?”
hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you,
the hour and the end!" Eze. 7:6 (Moffatt
Eternal Verities - 3
Let’s Talk It Over
With this issue we begin a two part study of the Biblical texts relating to the Incarnation. Since Special Issue #1 of this year covered the historical data of the doctrine as it relates to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we will not summarize the similar data that was presented at the 1997 Seminar.
The second article - "Some Assessments" - takes a good hard look and an in-depth evaluation of the current activities and teachings of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement. With the decision of Venneta Marcussen, wife of Jan Marcussen, to unite with this Movement, and the revelation that Marcussen has been using the Reform Movement's Senior Sabbath School Lesson Quarterlies, with only cosmetic alterations, and without their permission, has propelled this movement's profile to the front page in the community of Adventism. It is evident also that the leaders of the Reform Church are making capital of Venneta Marcussen's defection to the Movement. We noted previously in an editorial (XXX-12 (97), pp. 6-7) of the "new look" they are giving to their services and life style. In this article, we have given a more detailed discussion of their teachings, especially in regard to their perceptions of salvation. In a packet of material sent out from their headquarters to anyone making contact with Venneta Marcussen, is to be found a booklet summarizing their objectives, teaching, and history, written by their apologist, Peter Lausevic. Seeking to associate themselves with the 1888 Message of Righteousness by Faith, they attempt to cover the teachings of their Gotha Statement which reflect Roman Catholic overtones.
Both in the article assessing the Reform Movement, and in the editorial, we have given documentation of the distinct difference between the Biblical teachings of Paul, as revived in the Reformation, and the Roman teaching of a dual grace, and "means of grace" by which one obtains salvation. We are acutely aware of the desire of those Seventh-day Adventists, who find the trends in the Church so abhorrent, for fellowship with humble and sincere people, but we also realize that real fellowship can be based only in truth pure and unadulterated.
Eternal Verities - 3
The Incarnation – I
The first promise after man sinned involved the incarnation. This Protevangelium reads:
And I [the Lord God] will put enmity between thee the serpent and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heal. (Gen. 3:15, Heb)
All the Biblical revelation that follows merely enlarges and confirms the basic elements of this first promise. Observe that it states - "the seed of the woman" - not "the seed of the man." Further, the head of the serpent would be bruised, while it would also cost the Seed, His heel would be bruised. The first element - "the seed of the woman" - has two factors: 1) It was the seed after the Fall. The only nature the woman could give would be the fallen nature resultant from sin. It could not be otherwise, as there was no need of a Saviour until after the fall. The unfallen nature needed no Redeemer. And 2) No human father would be involved. It was not the seed of Adam. This introduces the basic mystery - how can a woman not impregnated by a man have a child? This is the very question that Mary asked of Gabriel - "How shall this thing be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:34)
Both the serpent and the Seed would be "bruised." Does it matter where a venomous serpent bites you? "The sting of death is sin" (I Cor. 15:56). This promise indicates the extent of the condescension. He would be made "sin for us who knew no sin" (II Cor. 5:21). To destroy the power of sin at its head - would cost God; His heel would be bruised.
Before leaving this original promise, we need to note how it was perceived by the one whose mind had been influenced to sin. Upon the birth of Cain, Eve declared - "I have gotten a man, the Lord" (Gen. 4:1, Heb.). Some translations read - "I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord," thus translating the sign of the direct object (eth) which precedes "Lord" as "with His help." The text plainly states - "Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived." There is no question as to who the father of Cain was. This is simply the evidence of the difficulty of the human mind, perverted by sin, to understand divine revelation. It also indicates the human attitude toward God's promises; man can accomplish them. The element of faith is lacking; is there anything too hard for the Lord?
Further it says in essence that man can create God. This blasphemy is still with us, and is basic in the Eucharistic contentions. Thus from the very beginning we find the seeds of a misconception of the Incarnation, a salvation by works mentality, and base presumption. Well might we tremble as we seek to understand truth with six thousand years of warped thinking behind us. We need to tremble at His Word.
There is in the book of Genesis another revelation of the coming incarnation. Through the dream given to Jacob, the first night of his being away from home in his sixty years of life, God reveals to him where his consolation can be. Pause in your reading and take time to review the experience as recorded in Genesis 28:10-13. The first thing Jacob saw was "a ladder set up on the earth." Its base was on the earth, not dangling a rung or two above the earth. The redemption of man was not to be a "chopper" rescue mission, something let down from heaven; but it was to be a mission beginning where sin began, and which would bridge the gulf - the top of it "reached to heaven." Communication was restored; he saw "angels of God ascending and descending on it."
That ladder was declared by Jesus to be Himself (John 1:51). Nathaniel saw in Him "the Son of God ... the King of Israel" (v.49). Jesus identified Himself as "the Son man" who would create the ladder. Clearly He was God manifest in the flesh of man - the Word made flesh. Further, Jesus did not set up "three ladders" to heaven - just ONE! There are not three ways to understand the Incarnation; just one.
Various revelations of the Incarnation come from the record of the Exodus movement. First the "burning bush" which inaugurated it (Exodus 3:2-3.8). Moses was doing his menial task of tending for his father-in-law's flock which he had taken to the vicinity of Horeb, described as "the mountain of God." Here he saw a bush glowing with fire but not consumed. Turning aside to see this unusual sight, God spoke to him, telling him that having seen the bondage of Israel, He was "come down to deliver them." Again the emphasis is that human redemption would not be accomplished from a remote distance, but God would dwell even in a form represented by a desert shrine. However, His glory as a burning fire would not consume the form of man but would draw man unto it, even as Moses was attracted to the manifestation of God. It would be God manifest in the flesh, which had become as a thorny desert shrub. He revealed his name to Moses as I AM THAT I AM (3:14). Gesenius, the Hebrew lexicographer, translates the Hebrew as reading, "I shall be what I am," in other words, the Unchangeable, the Eternal One.
The sanctuary, built by Israel in the desert of Sinai, very near to the place where God had revealed Himself to Moses, was but an enlargement of the revelation of the burning bush. It was to be a place in which God would dwell among them (Ex. 25:8). Its outward appearance contrasted with its interior glory. Covered with "rams' skins dyed red, and a covering above of badger's skins" (26:14), its interior appointments - furniture, and walls - were overlaid with gold (25:10-11; 23-24, 31; 26:29). John catches the significance of the sanctuary and declares that "the Word came to be (egeneto) flesh and tabernacled (eskhnwsen) among us, and we beheld His glory, the
glory of the unique one (monogenouV) of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John l:14). To all outward appearances, Jesus was only a man, "a desert shrub," but that form veiled an inward glory of God - the fullness of grace and truth.
The final revelation of the exodus from Egypt, came as they neared the end of the forty years of wilderness wanderings. "The soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way" (Numbers 21:4). They spoke against both God and Moses. God responded with "fiery serpents" and "much people of Israel died" (v.6). In response to Moses' intercession, God said:
Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. (ver. 8)
All the elements of the extent of the condescension and resulting redemption are found in this one symbolism. He "who knew no sin" was "made to be sin for us" (II Cor. 5:21). He was lifted "upon a pole" that all who would look might live. The New Testament is clear as to the significance of this symbolism. Jesus told Nicodemus that as Moses lifted up the serpent, so must He be lifted up (John 3:14). The book of Revelation translates the very language into the Greek, and applies it to Satan. It Is the puroV drakwn (fiery dragon), or serpent (Rev. 12:3, 9), who contends with Michael, but Michael entering into the strong man's house (Matt. 12:29), and binding the strong man by condemning sin in the flesh, brings "salvation" (12:10). It is ours to look, believe, and live. No understanding of the Incarnation which destroys this symbolism has any validity.
Isaiah, the gospel prophet, emphasizing the first gospel promise, wrote:
Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. (7:14-15 KJV)
Three points should be noted: 1) "a virgin;" 2) "His name;" and 3) the freedom to choose.
While the KJV uses the word, "virgin," other translations simply state, "woman" (REV & RSV). The Hebrew word is alma, which is used to describe a woman of marriageable age. The Hebrew word for virgin is bethulah and is used five times by Isaiah, but he chose not to use it here. The promised one is to be "the seed of the woman." Paul also makes this emphasis - "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman" (Gal. 4:4).
His name was to be Immanuel, "God with us" (Matt. 1:23). The child of the woman was God who came to be as us with us. He was "as us" through the woman; He was with us because He was God manifest in the flesh.
The third point needs clarification. Literally this part of the text reads - "Butter and honey he doth eat, when he knoweth to refuse evil, and to fix on good." (Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible) The concept of "when" would indicate that there would be a time when as all normal earth children, he would not know to choose - he would develop. He learned obedience (Heb. 5:8). He would be endowed with the power of choice - He would be a free moral agent.
Isaiah prophesies further that He would not only be "a tender plant" but He would also be "as a root out of a dry ground." What a contrast is herein expressed! Then to emphasize the conflicting contrast he added - "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isa. 53:2). Well would His life represent the "tabernacle" of the wilderness. His would be a life whose glory of the fullness of grace and truth would be veiled to the eyes of men and only perceived by those who would come to believe on and in Him.
In the New Testament
In the fullness of time, God was manifest in the flesh. In Bethlehem, a name which means "house of bread," the Bread of Life was born and cradled in a feeding trough for cattle. The contrasts prophesied by Isaiah were seen from God's first entry into flesh. The first invitation to behold Him was to shepherds, and His humiliation was emphasized as a signature of His Divine Identity. The angels proclaimed over the hills of Bethlehem - "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:11-12).
This detailed description of the birth of Jesus dare not be overlooked. Paul wrote that when this uniquely begotten One was brought into the world, God declared - "Let all the angels of God worship Him" (Heb. 1:6). The baby Jesus was God in the flesh. The contrast widens as we perceive the significance of Isaiah's prophecy. This child is "the Father of eternity" (Isa. 9:6 Heb. KJV- "the everlasting Father"). Well did Paul write - "Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness" (I Tim. 3:16). We need to remove our shoes, for the ground whereon we walk is holy ground.
The Gospels reveal Jesus as the Son of man experiencing all the feelings of our humanity. "He hungered" (Matt. 21:18). He who as the God of Israel neither slumbered nor slept (Ps. 121:3-4), as a man became so wearied that he slept "in the hinder part of a boat...on a pillow" in the midst of "a great storm" until awakened by His thoroughly frightened disciples (Mark 4:37-38). He manifested "anger" due to the hardness of human hearts because they refused to make judgments based in truth (Mark 3:1-5). "Jesus wept" as He saw disbelief mingled with human
sorrow (John 11:35). He saw talent covered with selfish desire, yet "loved" the individual and offered him the way to true success (Mark 10:21). He "suffered" being tempted with the temptations common to man (Heb. 2:18; 4:15). He was in "agony" as He wrestled to accept the penalty of sins which were not His, even sweating "as it were great drops of blood" (Luke 22:44).
Before considering the Incarnation as set forth in the Epistles, we need to take another look at the announcement of Gabriel to Mary. It reads - "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy [thing] which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). The word, "thing" (KJV) is supplied by the translators. The preceding word, "holy" ('agion) is an adjective and requires an object. The supplied word would be more accurate if it read - "spirit." The Holy Spirit could only beget Itself. "A divine Spirit dwelt in a temple of flesh" (YI, Dec.20, 1900). This uniqueness, in contrast to every other human being, dare not be overlooked. Our identity is the result of father and mother; Jesus' Identity was pre-existent of the Eternal Spirit. It was the Logos who was with God (proV ton qeon), and who became flesh ('o logoV sarx egeneto). In this there is both difference and likeness. He was different - He was God; yet likeness - He became flesh, even our flesh through Mary. This is why He was and is monogenhV, the One of a Kind (John 1:18).
To Be Continued
As 1997 closed, events were taking place in the Community of Adventism both within and without the regular Church which need to be carefully considered by every concerned Adventist. Inasmuch as the data on events outside the regular Church is more complete, we shall assess this data, and leave to another issue an assessment of the events within the Church. But first some background:
Since the SDA-Evangelical Conferences in 1995-1956, there have been schisms within the Church. The proliferation accelerated following the 1980 Dallas General Conference Session, with the adoption of a new Statement of Beliefs. "Independent" Ministries seemed to be the order of the day. One, through the use of television and theatrical showmanship, became very prominent and received millions of dollars in support. This ministry, through invitation, gave name recognition to men who under ordinary circumstances wouldn't have been given a second hearing. Through over extension and ego gratification, this ministry has ended in oblivion. Another ministry is seeking to take its place and dominate the field. However, splintering continues within the splinters. All of this has left many a sincere and concerned Adventist bewildered.
On the sidelines is another "break away" movement resultant from administrative decisions of leaders of the European section of the Adventist Church during World War I - the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement. Due to the discontent within Adventism, this church group has sought to move into the gap and fill the need of the concerned Adventist for fellowship. It has been unusually successful. To do so, it has given its outward image a face-lifting. Noticeable changes have been made in its services, and the emphasis shifted from almost total use of the Writings, to presentations from the Bible plus the Writings. Sabbath School lesson quarterlies have been programmed to resemble closely the Senior Quarterlies used by the Church prior to the SDA-Evangelical Conferences. A multicolor folder advertises lesson quarterlies for each division of the Sabbath School. Prior to the present, they had not been able to do so. What has made the change? One factor is the increased tithe and offerings received from former members of the Adventist Church, as well as those who had been supporting various "independent" ministries.
For "several years" the Amazing Truth ministry, headed by Jan Marcussen, has printed "the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement Sabbath school quarterlies, changing only the cover, dates, and titles," without giving recognition to the source, or securing permission from the publishers. It is our understanding that this unethical plagiarism has ended and Marcussen is seeking to write his own quarterlies. However, last year, on May 25, Venneta Marcussen, Jan's wife, united with the Reform Movement. Then on November 17, 1997, she wrote a letter telling of her experience, sending the letter to everyone on the Amazing Truth's mailing list. (The letter is a fact; the use of the mailing list has not been confirmed) The letter carried an invitation for those who wished to call her at an 888 number on two Fridays in December between 8:30 and 12 noon. This we did. We found her very friendly and well schooled in how to reply to questions. Those questions to which she either did not know the answer, or did not wish to respond, she suggested that we call their General Conference headquarters in Roanoke, Virginia, on their 800 number. There was no question but that Venneta Marcussen was being used to make contacts and create an interest in the Reform Movement.
In closing the conversation, Venneta Marcussen asked for one's name and address to which she sent a packet of material. This material is most revealing. Included was a Literature Order form. Apart from reprints from SDA authors such as Jones, Waggoner, Ellen G. White, and health publications by the Drs. Thrash, the key writer for the Reform Movement was Peter D. Lausevic with 25 listings. The packet contained one of his booklets - What is the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement? - with comments on its teaching and history. Based on what we read, we are led to believe that Lausevic has become the apologist for the Reform Movement even as Dr. Leroy E. Froom was for the "new look" in Adventism following the SDA-Evangelical Conferences, and as Dr. George R. Knight is now. What is an apologist? Let us explain first by definition and then by illustration.
The dictionary definition of an apologist indicates that he is
"one who speaks or writes in defence of a faith, a cause, or an institution." This in itself is good and many times needful. The problem that has arisen in current apologetics is that this form of defence has become propaganda, and its use has not evidenced strict integrity to fact or to truth.
Following the publication of Questions on Doctrine, of which L. E. Froom was the principal writer, he wrote - Movement of Destiny. Basically, it was a reiteration of the compromised positions taken in the SDA-Evangelical Conferences, with an enlarged defence of these positions, even if documents and evidence had to be altered to establish his thesis. We cite two examples:
1) He summarized what he called "E. J. Waggoner's Actual Message at Minneapolis." (Chapter Eleven) Froom wrote that Waggoner taught that Christ existed "from the days of eternity" (Micah 5:2, margin) --- so "far back in the days of eternity as to be far beyond the grasp of the mind of man" (p. 193). What Waggoner actually wrote after quoting Micah 5:2 in full was - "We know that Christ 'proceeded forth and came from God' (John 8:42), but it was so far back in the ages of eternity as to be far beyond the grasp of the mind of man." (Christ and His Righteousness, p.9)
2) On page 428, Froom indicates that the statement in the 1914 edition of Bible Readings for the Home Circle, teaching that Christ "partook of our sinful, fallen nature" was an "erroneous minority position." This is stated in the light of evidence to the contrary.*
Dr. George R. Knight, of Andrews University, has taken up the mantle left by Froom, and has sought to rewrite the history of the Church starting with 1888. In his book, From 1888 to Apostasy, he sought to denigrate A. T. Jones, and continued the same line of attack on the doctrine of the Incarnation as Froom has done. (See Chapter 10)**
What Froom and Knight have tried to do for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Peter Lausevic is attempting to do for the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement. Back in 1925, when the Movement was first organized, they adopted what is known as the Gotha Statement. This Statement does not reflect, and bears little resemblance, if any, to the Statements of Belief which had been published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church up to that time. Yet this Movement claims to be the successor to the Church, to restore by "reform" the original teachings and practices of the Church. A decade or more ago, this discrepancy between the Gotha-Statement and the original Statements of the Church was pointed out to the leaders of the Reform Movement. They admitted to me that changes needed to be made but that it would have to be done through committees. It still has not been done. This may be the reason why one of their former ministers circulated a card which reads - "God so loved the world that He did not send a committee." In the Gotha Statement, there is so much Roman Catholic doctrine and rhetoric involved that for the teachings of the Reform Movement to appeal to the unsuspecting target group, something had to be done. Lausevic has supplied that need in his booklet - What is the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement. What is his take off point? After listing all of the reforms - referenced by him as "every divine institution" - he writes:
As the great reformation carried on by Luther in the 16th Century had actually had its beginning two centuries earlier, so the prophesied Reform Movement among SDA's, in existence today, had its embryonic beginning in 1888, when the Lord sent the message of Christ's Righteousness to the General Conference delegation assembled in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (p.11; emphasis supplied)
There is not a shred of documentary evidence given that those assembled at Gotha, Germany, in 1925, knew what 1888 was all about, or had even heard about it. Now we are informed that the 1888 message was the "embryonic beginning" of the Reform Movement for which Lausevic is writing. This makes good rhetoric and is calculated to deceive, coated as it is in falsehood.
The packet of material sent by the Reform Movement on behalf of Venneta Marcussen, and which contained Lausevic's booklet, did not contain, however, a copy of the Gotha Statement. Lausevic only referred to it (p.16). This for good reason. It does not teach the righteousness by faith message of 1888. Under a heading captioned, "Grace and the Means of Grace," the Gotha Statement reads:
We believe that grace means the covering of our sins through Christ He is the founder of the kingdom of grace. ... We can only have the benefits of redeeming grace if we shun sin through the power of Christ, united with our will (pp.6, 7)
This is nothing more than the Roman teaching of "infused righteousness" so as to be worthy of God's grace. To emphasize the point, the Statement continues - "We believe that God has provided several means to draw sinners to Himself and give them the promised redemption through the grace of Christ." These are listed as: a) The Word of God; b) The Church of God; c) The Washing of Feet; and d) The Lord's Supper (p.7).
The overtones of Romanism cannot be missed. There are means of grace, and these "graces" are dispensed through the Church via its ordinances. It is further stated that while "Baptism is administered only once," "other means of grace like feet-washing, the Lord's Supper, and prayer are repeated in the life of faith" (p.8). Strict guidelines are set forth as to who can minister these "means of grace" and by what authority they do so (pp. 15, 19, 21-22).
Tragically, many Adventists who have become concerned with the events and changes taking place within the main body were not taught how to study the Word of God, and to think for themselves. Thus they become gullible to the outward display of humility and good works. Merely adopting the message of the Reform Movement will not cure their defective experience while in the Adventist Church, because
the same hierarchical structure meets them in that Movement The Gotha statement reads - "Principles of truth" are not determined from the Word, but by "the General Conference" as "the appointed agency" (p.29).
A careful study of the Gotha Statement reveals no clear cut statement on the Incarnation which harmonizes with the Word of God (p.3). Key texts, which define the human nature Christ assumed in humanity, are not even noted. What advantage then is gained by rejecting the main body because of its heresy, and then adopting another heresy?
Another interesting teaching set forth in the Gotha Statement is how they view the clergy of the Movement. Under "The Offices in the Church" (p.14) are listed three "main officers:" Minister, Elder, and Deacon. These are to be ordained and can officiate in baptism and administer "the Holy Ordinances." The Statement does declare that by ordination, "no capability or rank" is "imparted, since these have to be proven to be in existence by prior service" (p.15).
The problem arises as to how they view the ordained minister. The Gotha Statement reads - "also named apostle." Reduced to simple terms, this means that every ordained minister of the Reform Movement has demonstrated that he has received the gift of an apostle, for in the New Testament Church this is listed as a gift along with "prophets," "evangelists," and "pastor-teachers" (Eph. 4:11). This compounds the problem, and no solution is noted in the Gotha Statement. Is this listing to be considered on a horizontal plain, or is it to be considered vertical? If horizontal, all these gifts are of equal import, except that the "apostle" would be first among equals (I Cor. 12:28). If vertical, as the listing in Corinthians suggests, then the ministers of the Reform Movement, as apostles, are of higher authority than the prophetic gift to the Church through the ministry of Ellen G. White.
In the editorial of the December, 1997 issue of WWN, we reported our "observer" visit to the Reform Campmeeting in northwest Arkansas in September, at which "apostle" Peter Lausevic was the speaker at the Hour of Worship. We noted the challenge which he presented to the well attended worship service. For our part, we had a conversation with Elder Lausevic and accepted his challenge to meet with him and discuss the points of the Reform faith as indicated in the Gotha Statement. Present at the time were Elders Benjamin Burek, head of their General Conference Sabbath School Department, and Francisco DiVai, former General Conference president of the Reform Movement. We met all of the requests asked and conditions set by Peter Lausevic, but to this date (January 1, 1998), he has not arranged a time for a first meeting. Rather, he has found one excuse after another so as not to keep his word. In this there is a common thread which weaves its way through these major break-a-ways from the main body. Several years back an invitation was given to leaders of "independent" ministries to meet in Iowa for a frank and open discussion of issues current in Adventism. This invitation was given twice to meet objections given the first time. But Grosboll, Marcussen, Spear, and Standish found multiple excuses a second time, so as to absent themselves or a representative.
Did not the Messenger of the Lord to the Remnant write - "Truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation" (Review & Herald, Dec.20, 1892). Can the laity not see that continued reluctance to face an investigation of "truth," sounds a warning call of alarm, and failure to heed such a call places their own souls in jeopardy?
*For documentation of the position taken by the Church in its history up to 1930, see An Interpretative History of the Doctrine of the Incarnation as Taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It was anything but a "minority position."
**When Dr. George R. Knight's book was first released, we published a series of four articles in WWN captioned - "Knight Descends on Jones" - which critiqued the book and showed some of the fallacies it contained. His conclusions were based on assumptions. He was not forthright as the man he was condemning for his forthrightness.
LET'S TALK IT OVER
We concluded the Special Issue #1 for 1998 with the earnest admonition of Dr. E. J. Waggoner, as he focused his message toward the teaching of the Holy Flesh Movement on the Incarnation. These words bear repeating:
We need to settle it, every one of us, whether we are out of the church of Rome or not. There are a great many that have got the marks yet (1901 GC Bulletin, p.404)
He was speaking in regard to the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, but his words apply equally to other areas of doctrine which have Romish overtones. We need to take a perceptive look at the Roman Catholic understanding of salvation. Its stark contrast with the Protestant view can be readily seen in an anathema issued by the Council of Trent. Canon XII of Justification reads:
If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.
Justification by faith alone is anathema to Rome. Too many professing to believe and teach the Everlasting Gospel, teach a Gospel bearing the marks of Rome.
Rome proclaims two kinds of grace - an "actual grace" and a "sanctifying grace." Actual grace is defined as "an impulse" given to the soul so as to "keep us from sinning and to practice virtue" (Chats with Prospective Converts, P.96). A Catechism explains that "man disposes himself
for the grace of God by observing the Law of God as far as he knows it." In the same catechism the "actual grace" bestowed is defined as "a transient help of God which enlightens the mind, and moves the will to perform virtuous actions" (A Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, pp. 65, 66). Still another book of Roman instruction verbalizes the work of "actual grace" as "a supernatural assistance which God gives to our minds and wills," so that we by this "passing assistance" can "perform good or avoid evil acts," explaining that that is why it is called "actual" grace. This "gift of grace must precede the conferring of sanctifying grace, since the Bible [?] assures us that we cannot even begin the work of our salvation without the impulse resulting from actual grace" (Father Smith Instructs Jackson, p.130). This Romish duality of "grace" is resonated in the Gotha Statement which, as we have noted above, reads - "that grace means the covering of our sins through Christ," but "we can only have the benefits of redeeming grace if we shun sin through the power of Christ, united with our wills." However, the Reform Movement is not alone in projecting this Roman teaching. Another ''voice among the "independent" ministries states, that unless one is keeping the commandments of God, he cannot be born again of the Spirit.
The Roman Church teaches further that Christ has "instituted" divine helps "to make the way of salvation easy." These helps are termed, "The Means of Grace" (ibid., p.119). In fact the teaching holds that "sanctifying grace" is given through one of these "means" which is called the "sacrament of baptism." While the Roman Church lists seven sacraments, the Reform teaching states there are four "means of grace," one of which is baptism. Of baptism, the statement reads - "Baptism is administered only once, while the other means of grace like feet-washing, Lord's Supper, and prayer are repeated in the life of faith" (p.8).
Again, the warning of Waggoner is so apropos: - "We need to settle it, every one of us, whether we are out of the church of Rome or not."
The former mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, while visiting in Rome, had an audience with Pope John Paul II. Describing the visit, Kollek said that "it was a very nice, short visit." The Pope greeted him saying - "Welcome honored guest from the spiritual capital of the world." Kollek responded indicating that he "thought Rome takes preference." "No," replied John Paul, "Jerusalem is first, Rome is only No.2." (The Jerusalem Post, Dec.13, 1997, p.4)
The Pope Speaks - The first special issue of WWN for 1997 reported the planned 46th International Eucharistic Congress that was held in Wroclaw, Poland. During this congress, Pope John Paul II addressed an ecumenical prayer service on May 31,1997, attended by representatives of the Polish Ecumenical Council, Orthodox Churches, and "other Christian Churches and communities." The burden of his remarks concerned his "burning desire for full unity." He stated:
"The Lord of history is bringing us to a third millennium of Christianity. A great hour is striking. Our reply should be equal to the great moment of this special kairos of God. Here in this place I wish to say: Tolerance is not enough. Mutual acceptance is not enough. Jesus Christ, He who is and who is to come, expects from us a visible sign of unity, a joint witness. ...
"That unity will be perfect when it becomes possible for everyone to join in the celebration around the same chalice." (pp.344, 346)