N. R. Dower, former Ministerial Secretary of the Genera! Conference, lives in Ooltewah, Tennessee.

One of the most pathetic conditions that we find in the church today, and one for which there should be no real excuse, is the continual fog of uncertainty that surrounds so many of our dear people regarding their present personal relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of our church members, for fear of being misunderstood, hesitate even to claim that they are Christians, that they have been saved, and that they now possess the rich endowments of the righteousness of Christ. It seems to me that we as ministers are largely responsible for this.

In our endeavor to steer away from the well known and widely accepted theory of "once saved, always saved" we many times fail to accept and to emphasize the very plain and positive statements of the Word of God relative to our salvation.

We are either saved or lost today. We are either carrying the burden of sin upon us today, or we have been freed from it by the Lord Jesus Christ today. If we confess and forsake our sins, and if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have forgiveness for our sins and cleansing from all unrighteousness. There is, therefore, now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. These are facts which give certainty to the knowledge of our present favorable standing before God.

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5-7).

There are three very impressive texts in this connection which I should like to consider briefly:

"This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

"Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life" (John 6:54).

"And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (1 John 5:11-13).

To realize that eternal life is my present personal possession, that it will continue to be mine as long as Christ dwells within, is a revelation which brings peace, and light, and hope to my troubled heart. Here is something which removes the fog and gives me the sweet clear atmosphere of heavenly certainty. Here is something upon which I can build the entire structure of my faith. Here is something upon which my soul can fully rely.

Living as we do in this world of sin and death, with sorrow and decay on every side, we are now privileged in this present life to be partakers of eternal, heavenly things. My life is hid with God in Christ. I need no longer fear what men may do unto me. They may be able to destroy my body; but my life, eternal life, which is in Christ, cannot be destroyed, either by man or devil. It is a possession of my divine Lord and cannot be separated from Him─and He is mine. He dwells within, and in Him I have life and have it more abundantly. This is not theory; it is fact. It is based on the unchangeable Word of God. It is as sure and certain as the existence of God, and my heart claims by faith that this is my present personal standing before Him.

Although this is true, we should not fail to distinguish between eternal life and immortality. Immortality is a divine attribute belonging only to God, and is given to man not upon his acceptance of Christ Jesus, but upon his enduring to the end. It is bestowed when Christ comes the second time without sin unto salvation. The living are changed in a moment, in the twinkling of the eye, at the last trump. The dead are raised incorruptible. Immortality is then bestowed upon the saved of God. We should bear in mind, however, that only those who have eternal life will put on immortality at the coming of Jesus.

It is true that there are certain statements which caution us to refrain from boasting, or claiming that we are unchangeably saved this side of the kingdom. There are depictions of God's people during the time of trouble filled with anxiety over their spiritual condition and the certainty of their acceptance with Christ, yet there are many more which point out to us in no uncertain way that when Christ dwells in the heart we have as a present experince, as a certainty, the wonderful attributes of His divine character. He becomes to us "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30).

In speaking of the message of righteousness by faith and other kindred truths the Lord's messenger sets forth the following impressive statements which God's servants today would do well to heed.

"Our churches are dying for the want of teaching on the subject of righteousness by faith in Christ, and on kindred truths" (Gospel Workers, page 301).

"The only way in which he (the sinner) can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner's account. Christ's righteousness is accepted in place of man's failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness; and the pardoned soul goes on from grace to grace, from light to a greater light. He can say with rejoicing, 'Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life'" (Review and Herald, November 4,1890).

"If you would stand through the time of trouble, you must know Christ, and appropriate the gift of His righteousness, which He imputes to the repentant sinner. Human wisdom will not avail to devise a plan of salvation. Human philosophy is vain, the fruits of the loftiest powers of man are worthless aside from the great plan of the divine Teacher. No glory is to redound to man; all human help and glory lies in the dust; for the truth as it is in Jesus is the only available agent by which man may be saved. Man is privileged to connect with Christ, and then the divine and the human combine; and in this union the hope of man must rest alone; for it is as the Spirit of God touches the soul that the powers of the soul are quickened, and man becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus" (Ibid., November 22,1892).

If it is for the want of these precious truths that the church is dying, if it is for these that our people are in such desperate need, if it is man's only hope, and if it is the one means whereby we shall be enabled to stand through the time of trouble, then, fellow workers let us search deeply into the riches of the love of God and come forth with these messages of certainty and hope for the church, so that it will be prepared for the closing scenes of earth's history and for the coming of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us remember that it is not in the fact of personal salvation that Adventists contend with other bodies, but it is in the interpretation of the impossibility of falling from grace that we differ. Let us then hold out to our dear people that which will clear away the fog of uncertainty. Let us present to them the glorious assurances that when Christ lives in our hearts by faith we have life, eternal life, as a personal possession just as surely as we have Christ as a personal Saviour.

"Our hope is to be constantly strengthened by the knowledge that Christ is our righteousness.... The meager views which so many have had of the exalted character and office of Christ have narrowed their religious experience, and have greatly hindered their progress in the divine life. Personal religion among us as a people is at a low ebb. There is much form, much machinery, much tongue religion; but something deeper and more solid must be brought into our religious experience.... What we need is to know God and the power of His love, as revealed in Christ, by an experimental knowledge .... Through the merits of Christ, through His righteousness, which by faith is imputed unto us, we are to attain to the perfection of Christian character" (Testimonies, Vol. 5, pp. 742-744).

N. R. Dower served the Adventist Church as pastor, administrator and Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference. Presently he lives in Ooltwah, Tennessee.