You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth. Psalm 31:5
Spiritually speaking, each of us is born into this world already kidnapped, a prisoner of the enemy, separated from God. Our way out of this spiritual dilemma is to act on the instructions God left for us in His Ransom Note, Scripture.
Imagine the implications of being kidnapped and your family receiving a ransom note riddled with error so they cannot ascertain how to rescue you. Compare that scenario to the implications of receiving an erroneous version of God's Ransom Note.
Contradiction has gone unnoticed
I came dangerously close to betting away my eternal life by relying on authority figures to accurately present God's Ransom Note to me. Since I had no desire to do the research myself, I gratefully allowed others to do that work for me. I felt confident that those I viewed as smarter than myself must also be right.
It was shocking, therefore, to discover that the ransom note I received and accepted as authentic had actually lulled me into a false sense of security, causing me to believe I had found the real saving Jesus when indeed I had not. I'd literally been worshipping a god of someone else's making—a god who looked nothing like the saving Jesus in Scripture.
The Jesus my authority figures led me to and on whom I had been relying had not even completed atonement for our sins yet. He is still working His way through a second phase of atonement, an investigative judgment.1 In fact, the ransom note given to me says that the investigative judgment is "as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross."2
Imagine, then, how perplexing it was to discover Hebrews teaching something entirely different! Hebrews could not make it more clear that Christ's work of atonement was completely finished at the cross and is never to be taken up, ever again!3
Realizing I had been falsely taught a two-phase atonement was shocking indeed, but what sky-rocketed my alarm to a new level was discovering Ellen White boldly revealing the following demonic scheme as a warning to us. In her chapter on the investigative judgment, she says this, "The archdeceiver hates the great truths that bring to view an atoning sacrifice and an all-powerful Mediator. He knows that with him everything depends on his diverting minds from Jesus and His truth."4
How could she be so aware of Satan's scheme and then go on to publish a book that does exactly what she warned us about, detailing an unbiblical two-phase atonement—a process that completely negates Jesus' one time, all-sufficient atoning sacrifice? How is it possible for that contradiction to go unnoticed?
The Jesus to whom my ransom note led cannot offer eternal life until after everyone's name has passed through his investigative judgment.5 In fact, the completion of that process is necessary to determine who the actual citizens of heaven will be.6
Scripture, however, repeatedly teaches otherwise. John 5:24 makes it clear that Jesus gives eternal life at the moment we believe. Think about that profound truth! John could not call it eternal life at the moment of our belief IF we can later reject or lose it. Scripture also describes us as heavenly citizens at the moment of conversion.7
I am saved
My ransom note also incorrectly taught me, "Those who accept the Savior, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or feel that they are saved."8 Imagine my ecstatic relief to discover 1 John 5:13 teaching that God literally wants believers to know they are saved.
Further, my ransom note incorrectly stated, "Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them." 9 The whole of Scripture says otherwise. Ephesians 1-2 teaches we are sealed at the moment of belief while we are still dead in our sins. Moreover, it goes on to teach that God even seats us beside Christ immediately. Colossians 2:12-14 adds to these rich promises by revealing God forgave all our sins at Christ's death, nailing them to the cross.
That was a most shocking revelation—God forgave all my past, present and future sins at the cross! It was especially shocking because the Jesus I'd been taught is still reviewing detailed records of our sins, making decisions about who can actually be forgiven,10 pleading for us while Satan stands there making accusations against us.11 Why does Ellen White portray Christ this way? Colossians 2:15 says Christ defeated Satan at the cross.
My ransom note also mistakenly taught me that the scapegoat used in the Day of Atonement represents Satan.12 Imagine my horror to discover Leviticus 16 teaches that atonement for Israel was made using this scapegoat, and that the high priest laid his hands on the scapegoat's head to confess the sins of Israel over it. Neither of those descriptions fit Satan! How was it possible for another appalling teaching to go so unnoticed—a teaching that again plays directly into Satan's scheme to undermine Christ's atonement, thereby diverting our minds from the truth?
I also incorrectly learned from my ransom note that Moses had been raised from the dead and taken to heaven,13 even though Scripture never hints at such an event. In fact, such an event blatantly contradicts 1 Corinthians 15:23. This passage states that there is a specific order in which the dead are raised and taken to heaven, and Christ is clearly named as being the first to fulfill that role.
My ransom note also mistakenly taught me Jesus and Michael the Archangel were the same being,14 even though Hebrews 1:5 says God never called His Son an angel.
When I discovered that errors such as these—Moses' resurrection, the scapegoat's representing Satan, and Michael's being Jesus—are unabashedly written right into the passages of the Adventist-produced Clear Word as though they are truths, I was grief stricken. The Adventist apologetics used to support these aberrant teachings, however, are even more appalling to me than are the teachings themselves. Such apologetics only serve to bind people deeply to unscriptural lies.
It didn't take long for a very distinct and disturbing pattern to emerge. I soon realized my version of the ransom note repeatedly bumped Christ from the picture, diminished His role as Savior, and portrayed an entirely different plan of salvation than the glorious plan outlined in Scripture. As I came to those realizations, I suddenly understood why Paul calls any other gospel "cursed."15 Such a gospel holds no power to change me. Suddenly my entire life began to make sense.
Those who knew me would have never pegged me as an unbeliever. In fact, my life was so enshrined with religious performance, I didn't even notice I wasn't. I was too busy manufacturing my perfect Pollyanna appearance. That facade kept me so busy I never realized I had no longing for Jesus. I longed to be righteous; I longed for Sabbath; I even longed to go to heaven, but I had no longing for Jesus. How could I? I had never been introduced to the saving Jesus. Nearly everything I believed about Him as taught to me in my ransom note actually negated who He was.
No wonder I fell away after many years of sincerely trying to become righteous. I had been pursuing a god who had not yet completed atonement for me—a god who had no power or authority to keep me saved. I believed in a god who could not yet consider me a citizen of heaven—a god whose prophetess was allowed to contradict Scripture.
How could God rain down on me in abundant relationship when my beliefs so dramatically altered who His Son is? Jesus is the only way into heaven. What does it mean when everything you believe about Jesus negates who He is?
I know what it meant when Israel called the golden calf the god that brought them out of Egypt. It was unnerving to discover I had actually been close to being the person who could one day stand before Christ only to hear Him say, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" 16
I diligently tried for many years to attain the type of Christ-like righteousness Ellen White taught I must attain.17 I genuinely believed her when she said Christ came in the flesh to prove this attainment of righteousness could be done.18 Those beliefs are costing many people dearly! All know they have never attained Christ-like righteousness for a minute, let alone an entire day. No wonder so many people grow weary of trying and fall away with no remorse. Requiring Christ-like perfection sets the stage for hopelessness and is counter-intuitive to Christ's substitutionary atonement. This requirement completely negates what He accomplished for us on the cross, "... for if righteousness comes though the Law, then Christ died needlessly."19
Imagine my welcomed relief to discover Christ's sole purpose for coming was to be my Substitute because of my own inability ever to attain perfection.20 Now I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me, for God's way of making me right with Him depends on faith.21
Thankfully I soon discovered my ransom note also incorrectly taught that right before the time of trouble begins, Jesus will cease interceding for me. During this fearful time, I had learned, I would be expected to stand before God based on my own righteousness.22 What a relief to discover instead that Hebrews 7:25 promises Jesus will always live to intercede for me, thus erasing any fear that I will ever have to stand on my own righteousness.
Recently my daughter asked how my view of salvation now differs from what I believed as an Adventist. I led her to those radically life-changing, life-giving promises found in Ephesians 1 and 2. Together we read how believers are immediately sealed with the Holy Spirit at the moment they place their trust in Jesus and thus are guaranteed eternal life and are spiritually seated beside Christ at that moment. We read how those promises are not based on our works but are solely a gift from God—that even our faith to believe is His gift to us.
I then asked her where Ephesians even remotely suggested she must first pass an investigative judgment before any of those promises could actually be hers to claim. Suddenly she slammed her Bible shut and fled from the room.
Later I sat, heartbroken, as she wept, describing a horrible feeling of panic that overcame her when she realized how deeply rooted her false beliefs about salvation were. She said that when those beliefs rose up within her, they completely overrode everything she had just clearly seen Ephesians teaching to be true.
How well I know the feeling she described—the truth feels wrong, and the lies feel right. Deeply ingrained error has the power to maintain a claw-like grip on its victims. We simply cannot wait until Scripture "feels" right to act upon it. Truth really matters! Every sliver of truth as well as any sliver of a lie directly impacts our ability to understand essential doctrines and to experience the reality of Jesus.
There is a biblical principal we must apply, especially when, because of deep indoctrination, truth feels so wrong. God is under no obligation to give us more clarity when we are not willing to respond to the truth He has already revealed. In fact we can lose the light of truth if we won't act upon it. The enemy is just waiting to snatch truth away from us.23
Revelation through truth
God reveals Himself to us through truth. Truth leads us into the deepest, most passionate, radically life-changing relationship possible. "The LORD is near...to all who call upon Him in truth."24 "...true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."25
Truth is a Person! Truth is our Ransom! Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life."26 Truth sets us free from the kidnapped condition into which we are born.
If spiritual things bore you or make you cringe, or if you are not living a life pleasing unto God, please seriously evaluate whether or not you received the correct Ransom Note. Make sure you are worshipping the real, saving Jesus of Scripture! Apart from knowing Him, no radical, life-changing power can ever occur in your life. Instead, you will spend your entire life trying to manufacture a righteousness only He can credit to your account.
In Him you will be ransomed by truth! †
Copyright 2010 Life Assurance Ministries, Inc., Glendale, Arizona, USA. All rights reserved. Revised September 27, 2010. Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ane (Jones) Edwards is a stay-at-home mom/freelance graphic artist residing in Nebraska. She was raised in a very traditional Adventist home. About six years ago Ane and her husband dropped their nets and joined the body of Christ, only to discover truth abounds in His body in a much greater degree than ever presented as possible outside of Adventism. Ane is committed to helping others find the Jesus who radically changes lives.
July August September 2010
VOLUME 11, ISSUE 3
D E P A R T M E N T S
STORIES of Faith
Ransomed by Truth