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What Do Adventists Believe About the Experience of Salvation?

Adventists believe that salvation is a gift that anyone can receive through belief and commitment to Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death.

This post goes over what comes after making a decision for Christ, after we become “saved.” It talks of how God will help us grow and mature in faith through the Holy Spirit in this life, so that we “may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV).

We’ll also take a deeper look at:

This statement from the Adventist church explains just how foundational salvation in Christ is:

“In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God.

Led by the Holy Spirit, we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, Substitute and Example. This saving faith comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God’s grace.

Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God’s sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God’s law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life.

Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment.”

Because of the gift of salvation, we have everything to look forward to. But let’s look at the details: what is the experience of salvation, why do we need it, and how we can obtain it.

Why Do We Need Salvation?

We need salvation because we’re all sinners who cannot redeem ourselves from the clutches of sin. That means we need a Savior.

And in our predicament with sin, we also realize that if we don’t have salvation, we are doomed for eternal destruction. Therefore our stakes are high. It’s a life and death situation with eternal proportions.

It’s like being in a school where you can only get one of two grades—either a pass or a fail.

Only one problem, though.Student in exam as we prepare to stand in the judgement clothe with God's righteousness without which no one is able to stand

In order to pass, you must have a perfect score.

That is, you must get every question right on every exam—without exception. You might take ten tests and get a perfect score on the first nine but on the last exam you get the last question wrong. Guess what? You fail. You fail just as surely as the kid next to you who had gotten almost all the questions wrong on all the tests.

In fact, because you need a perfect score, it is mathematically impossible to get that perfect 100 percent after you miss even one question.

While dramatically simplified to make the point, this analogy helps reveal our situation as sinners.

We have all sinned and done wrong. We all have a tendency toward selfishness that we aren’t strong enough to fight 100 percent of the time.

As Paul puts it, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:9, NKJV). No matter how good we want to be, no matter how much we value the law.

As sinners, we all face the condemnation of God because we have all broken His law.

If we’re all sinners, how can we be saved?

Every human being has a tendency toward sin (selfishness).

The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, CSB).

Yet, because God loves us, and wants to see us saved into His eternal kingdom, He has offered us a way out—one at a great expense to Himself.

It is known as the plan of salvation.

To understand it, let’s go back to the school analogy.

There is only one student who gets a perfect score. One student who gets every question right on every exam.

And instead of failing the rest of the class, the teacher offers them the perfect score of the one student.

So, instead of failing, they could choose to accept the kindness of the teacher and the student’s perfect score. Free of charge.

Wouldn’t that be good news?

Of course!

And that is what we see in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus—the only human who never sinned—is the only human being to have a “perfect score.”

And at the heart of the plan of salvation is the offer for us to have His life in place of ours—His life of perfect righteousness and obedience.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV, emphasis added).

Yet even as helpful as that analogy is in explaining this, it still leaves out a crucial component in the plan of salvation.

And that is the death of Jesus on our behalf.

Why did Jesus have to die in order for us to be saved?

Jesus Christ, praying to His Father in Gethsemane, bearing the sins of the worldJesus had to die in order to fulfil the requirements of God’s just law. He died in our place since we deserved to die for breaking God’s law, because the penalty for sinning is death (1 John 3:4; Romans 6:23).

He is the only One who has ever lived a perfectly righteous life—the only One who didn’t deserve death. Yet He suffered the penalty of death for the rest of us who deserved death because of our countless sins.

He showed the whole of humanity what the ultimate true love looks like (John 15:13).

To better understand, let’s take the school analogy one step further.

Supposing the penalty of not getting a passing grade was death.

What if the one student with the passing grade—and therefore the only one who didn’t earn the death penalty—offered to pay the death penalty for all the students who failed…by dying himself?

And that through this, not only do all the other students get their death sentence removed, but they also receive his perfect score?

Pretty good deal, huh? Well in essence, that’s the Gospel.

Jesus Christ suffered death so that whoever wants salvation can claim it. Anyone can claim His righteousness and have it credited to them as though they have never sinned.

And all this wasn’t by accident. It had long been predicted and planned for.

About 600 years before Jesus’ death, before His ministry, and even before He was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote this about Him, saying:

“Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. . . .
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities. . . .
And He was numbered with the transgressors
And He bore the sin of many” (Isaiah 53:4–12, NKJV).

Notice the idea of substitution.

  • He bore “our griefs” and “our sorrows.”
  • He was “wounded for our transgressions.”
  • The Lord put on Him “the iniquity of us all.”
  • He was “bruised for our iniquities.”
  • He will “bear our iniquities.”
  • He “bore the sin of many.”

Read these verses again in Isaiah and put your own name in there.

  • He bore [your name’s] sins.
  • He carried [your name’s] iniquities.
  • The Lord laid on Him [your name’s] transgressions.

You can do that because it is true.

Christ has already died for you, as He has died for all of us.

The only question, and the most important one is—Will you accept it for yourself?

To learn more about what Christ has done for you, sign up for Bible studies!

What do we need to do to experience this promise of Salvation?

Woman in white, claiming in faith the righteousness of God as described in Romand 3:21 as the Holy Spirit points her to JesusAll you need to do is claim it by faith. And in terms of good deeds, you don’t need to “do” anything.

To understand this question further let’s return yet again to the school analogy.

As we have seen, once you get one question wrong, no matter how many more tests you take, you cannot earn that passing grade.

Instead, all you can do is accept what the student with the perfect score offers you.

It’s the same with salvation.

We cannot do anything in the sense of good works to earn salvation in Christ.

Instead, all we can do is claim Jesus’ sacrifice for ourselves by faith.

In fact, this is the famous Protestant idea of “Salvation by Faith,” or what is called sola fide (faith alone).

Some of the key texts that teach this idea are:

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1, NKJV).

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NKJV).

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16, NKJV).

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law [is] the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20, NKJV)

And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9, NKJV).

Jesus Christ is the Lord and the Creator (John 1:13). Yet He left the throne of heaven and became a human being (Philippians 2: 5-8). Then He lived a perfect life, bore in Himself the penalty for all our sins and died as our Substitute (Isaiah 5:3).

This was the Creator God who did this for us!

What more could we as humans possibly add to that?

Paul continues to explain this idea by referring to the Old Testament man named Abraham:

“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?
For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’

Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:1-5, NASB).

The fact is, we cannot work hard enough or do enough good to earn salvation. If we could, God would owe us salvation because it would be a debt we paid off.

But because we can neither afford nor pay it off, Christ stepped in and paid it off for us.

And that’s the plan of salvation.

Are there steps to accepting Christ’s sacrifice? What does it really mean to believe in Him?

Jesus Himself said that belief in Him is where it all begins.

This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent,” (John 6:29, NKJV).

Yet the kind of belief that takes hold of salvation is no mere intellectual assent. After all, even the demons believe in God.

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19, NKJV).

Instead, the kind of faith and belief that the Bible talks about in this context is a gift from God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, NKJV).

Gift of salvation offered to anyone who receives, justified freely by God's Grace through redemption in Christ JesusThe gift is offered to everyone (1 Timothy 2: 4-6). We are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24, NKJV).

Our justification comes from our acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice.

When someone makes the choice to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, they will begin to experience what salvation is all about.

To truly believe that God is good, and that He loves us enough to die in our place—that kind of belief is life-changing.

And the effect it has on us can be called “sanctification.” This involves:

Repentance

Man in repentance as he feels true remorse for his sins & receives forgiveness for his sins as he confesses them to GodThis is not work that brings salvation. Instead, repentance happens when a person who has accepted Christ feels true remorse for their sins.

The Greek word for “repentance” is metanoeo, which means “to feel remorse,” “to change one’s mind,” “to repent.” True repentance involves an intentional change in one’s attitude toward God and toward sin.

Confession

Directly linked to repentance is confession.

Once people become aware of the sin in their lives, they confess those sins to God who forgives them.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).

And repentance and confession are not a one-time deal. They are consistently involved in the process of sanctification.

Christians must accept God’s gift of Jesus’ sacrifice and daily confess and recommit their lives. (This is because God neither forces you to believe in Him, nor does He force you to keep believing in Him).

A new believer is a new person in Christ, but the battle with sin and self remains. We are still living out what humanity asked for through Adam and Eve—to have the knowledge of both good and evil.

The Apostle Paul struggled with this battle and tells us about his experience:

“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want” (Romans 7:19, NASB).

It’s daily repentance and confession that helps us experience this gift of salvation. It also helps us grow and mature overall.

Do Adventists teach that we should keep the Law of God even if we’re already saved by faith?

Police car pulls over a speeding driver, as he pleads for mercy & grace, in analogy on how law & grace apply in our livesJust because we aren’t saved by the Law does not mean we should no longer keep it, as some might wonder.

A simple analogy:

A cop pulls you over for speeding.

You are guilty. You have done it. The police officer, however, offers you grace. He lets you go with just a warning.

Though guilty of violating the speed limit, you are not going to face the punishment for it. You are set free.

Does that mean that as soon as the cop leaves, you will take off again, violating the speed limit law because you have been given grace?

Of course not.

It’s the same thing with God’s law, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 1-17).

The fact that we are not saved by the law does not mean we should disregard it. After all, God’s Law is a reflection of who He is. It reveals to humanity what it looks like to love God and to love our fellow humans.

Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law” (Roman 3:31, NKJV).

First, the law is how we know sin to begin with.

Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20, NKJV).

The law is what points out sins, points out our faults, and pinpoints our need for Christ.

Think about a mirror, and of someone getting older.

The mirror can point out the wrinkles and gray hair. But the mirror, or staring in the mirror all day, will do nothing to reverse the aging.

That was never the purpose of the mirror to begin with.

It’s the same with God’s law. It was established to point out sin, but not to solve the problem of sin.

This is why Paul wrote:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16, NKJV).

Not being saved by the law is something radically different from not being called by God to keep it.

And, yes, by the power of God we can keep God’s law; we just can’t keep it well enough to be saved by it.

That’s why Jesus died for us instead.

What should life be like after we become “saved”?

When a person receives Christ, the person is changed in Christ and has a new life that reveals this change.

When Jesus was on the cross, He promised one of the thieves eternal life.

This was a man who had absolutely nothing to offer Him in terms of works, obedience, or anything good.

Yet Jesus didn’t reject him.

Jesus did not bring up this criminal’s sinful past. Jesus did not point out to him all the reasons he did not deserve salvation. Instead, Jesus looked at this sinful man and said, “You will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43, NKJV).

That is Isaiah 53 in a nutshell.

Man receives joy of salvation & new birth as he decides to publically show his faith in Jesus by being baptized by immersionBecause Jesus was bearing the man’s sins, transgressions and iniquities by paying for them Himself, the thief—certainly without the works of the law—was given the promise of eternal life.

Now, people have written what have been called “alternative histories.” So, let’s do an alternative history with the thief on the cross.

Suppose after Jesus promised salvation to the thief on the cross, the thief had been pardoned, brought down from the cross, his wounds tended to, and he survived.

What kind of life would he have lived?

One thing is for sure, he would not have continued to be a thief. He would have lived a new life in Christ that had already been given him, no matter how short-lived, on the cross.

As Paul wrote:

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4, NKJV).

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV).

Talk about a new existence!

This is what is sometimes referred to as the “new birth” (John 3:3).

“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3, NKJV).

This is what the experience of having salvation or having a new life in Christ is. It’s having Christ work in you to make you a new man or woman in Jesus, but only after you have already received salvation. It’s what happens after you have been saved; it is not what saves you.

Does this mean that, once we become Christians, we no longer sin?

Man with open arms as he accepts God's promises to “put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts” in Hebrews 8:10If only. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Christians still have a daily struggle with sin and self.

Yes, if the thief had come down from the cross, he likely wouldn’t have been a thief any longer. But it’s hard to imagine that he would not have, at some point, sinned or struggled with sin.

Look at the words of Paul here.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Hebrews 3:13–14, NKJV).

These words sound as if sin is a real presence even for believers. And so do these:

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1, NKJV).

Nevertheless, Christians are given wonderful promises about the power of Christ to change their lives and give them victory over sin and self.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV).

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).
(See also Romans 6:14; Ephesians 6:10-18; Romans 6:22.)

Christ will radically remake those who have given their hearts to Him; no question about it.

Christianity is filled with powerful stories of those whose lives have been radically changed and altered by the power of God.

But ultimately, it’s until Christ returns that the weakness of our fallen flesh will be finally eradicated.

Even the apostle Paul, one of the godliest men who ever lived, wrote as he neared the end of his life:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:12, NKJV).

And in essence, that’s the experience of salvation. We press on in faith, and claim for ourselves what Christ has done for us.

Christ offers us His perfect life—His perfect score. All we must do is accept His gift, then we can live our lives for Him.

Would you like to learn more about the gift God is offering you? Sign up for Bible studies today!

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