Gwydyr Rd, Crieff, UK, PH7 4BS

Dear Friends,

Rev 14:12 – a definition of who an Adventist is.

Jan Barna, systematic theology lecturer at Newbold College, spoke over the weekend of 22-23 September at Crieff church. His subject was the origins of Adventist thought and included a survey of the issues at the 1888 Minneapolis conference. [The quotations below are taken from Jan Barna’s website –]

Of particular interest to me was his discussion on the meaning of the phrase in Rev 14:12 ‘the faith of Jesus’ [KJV]. James White, early Adventist Church leader, following the tenor of the preceding clause [‘keep the commandments’] interpreted the faith of Jesus to mean a reference to a group of people who hold a body of beliefs in such things as baptism, the Lord’s supper, washing the saints feet, and so on.

E J Waggoner and A T Jones and, subsequently, E G White disagreed. They saw the phrase as referring to a righteousness given by faith in Jesus. [See versions or translations of the text such as the New Jerusalem, New Living and New American Bibles below]

While the establishment represented by such as Uriah Smith {Review & Herald Editor] and George Butler [GC President], as well as James White saw this quintessential text as describing a group who while patiently awaiting the coming of Jesus saw their duty as obediently keeping the commandments and being faithful to the truths Jesus held; the others understood the text to describe a group who while patiently waiting for the coming of Jesus sought to keep the commandments all the while placing their faith or trust in the Lord Jesus.

At first glance there may not seem a big difference until careful investigation of the stances separates the positions. Note the following quotations representing the two sides

Uriah Smith, writes (January 3 1888 in an editorial: Conditions of Everlasting Life) ‚In the question of the rich young ruler to Jesus: ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ The Bible answer, could be summed up in one proposition: ‘repent, believe, obey, and live’. That was Jesus’ answer. After all didn’t he say to young ruler -‘If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments?’”

Ellet J Waggoner is to reply as follows: “Human righteousness is of no worth after a man is justified than it was before” (Signs of the Times, February 24 1888, p. 119.) Back comes Smith – “Perfect obedience to the law will develop perfect righteousness and …. this is the only way one can attain to righteousness…. Our righteousness comes from being in harmony with the law of God. And our righteousness cannot in this case be filthy rags. There is a righteousness that is to be secured by doing and teaching the commandments.” (U Smith, R&H, June 11, 1889, p. 376) Along the line Ellen White is to get involved. In there fray she refers to those who think that Waggoner and Jones’ preoccupation with faith righteousness is extreme – She writes ”

men will say, “You are too excited; you are making too much of this matter, and you do not think enough of the law; now, you must think more of the law; don’t be all the time reaching for this righteousness of Christ, but build up the law.” {1888 p. 557}

To them she replies – “Let the law take care of itself. We have been at work on the law until we get as dry as the hills of Gilboa, without dew or rain. Let us trust in the merits of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” (ibid.)

She writes further “The Lord is not pleased to have man trusting in his own ability or good deeds or in a legal religion, but in God, the living God. The present message that God has made it the duty of His servants to give to the people is no new or novel thing. It is an old truth that has been lost sight of, just as Satan made his masterly efforts that it should be. The Lord has a work for every one of His loyal people to do to bring the faith of Jesus into the right place where it belongs–in the third angel’s message. The law has its important position but is powerless unless the righteousness of Christ is placed beside the law to give its glory to the whole royal standard of righteousness. (Rom. 7:12)”. {1888 375.2}

…A thorough and complete trust in Jesus will give the right quality to religious experience. Aside from this the experience is nothing. The service is like the offering of Cain–Christless.”

“The faith of Jesus.” It is talked of, but not understood. What constitutes the faith of Jesus, that belongs, to the third angel’s message? Jesus becoming our sin-bearer that He might become our sin-pardoning Saviour. He was treated as we deserve to be treated. He came to our world and took our sins that we might take His righteousness. Faith in the ability of Christ to save us amply and fully and entirely is the faith of Jesus.”

“The faith of Jesus has been overlooked and treated in an indifferent, careless manner. It has not occupied the prominent position in which it was revealed to John. Faith in Christ as the sinner’s only hope has been largely left out, not only of the discourses given but of the religious experience of very many who claim to believe the third angel’s message.”

Let us patiently await that glorious day, seeking to be obedient to the commandments of God while placing our full trust in the righteousness, mercy and beauty of our Lord Jesus.

NAB Revelation 14:12 Here is what sustains the holy ones who keep God’s commandments and their faith in Jesus.

NLT Revelation 14:12 Let this encourage God’s holy people to endure persecution patiently and remain firm to the end, obeying his commands and trusting in Jesus.”

NJB Revelation 14:12 This is why there must be perseverance in the saints who keep the commandments of God and faith in Jesus.

Llewellyn Edwards