September 30, 2015

Introducing the Why

On May 5, 1945, conscientious objector Desmond Doss saved 75 wounded soldiers at the Maeda Escarpment. He did this while engulfed in a barrage of enemy fire and with no physical weapon of his own.

His focus during the relentless combat was simple: “Dear God,” he prayed, “help me get just one more.”

One by one, he got them all.

There are incredible parallels between Doss’s story and the illustrations of the lost sheep, lost coin, and prodigal son in Luke 15. The context and settings have devastating similarities.

Doss was at war; so was our Savior. As Jesus greeted people, the Pharisees murmured about His willingness to accept the lowest of the low.

Ellen White observed, “It was taught by the Jews that before God’s love is extended to the sinner, he must first repent. In their view, repentance is a work by which [men and women] earn the favor of Heaven.”1

These words—this warped view of God’s love—led Jesus to share the aforementioned string of parables. His desire was to emphasize, in the words of Ellen White, “that salvation does not come through our seeking after God but through God’s seeking after us.”2

Here and Now

You probably have a familiarity with Seventh-day Adventist core beliefs: the Sabbath, Second Coming, heavenly sanctuary, mortality, and Ellen White’s prophetic role, to name a few. These truths have been revealed for a specific purpose: to draw sinners to the abundant grace of Christ that offers forgiveness for sins and victory over temptations.

Yet I sometimes wonder if we, in an effort to resist cheap grace and highlight the immutability of the law, subconsciously elevate truth above the Truth. Ellen White apparently worried about this too. “On the one hand, religionists generally have divorced the law and the gospel, while we have, on the other hand, almost done the same from another standpoint. We have not held up before the people the righteousness of Christ and the full significance of His great plan of redemption. We have left out Christ and His matchless love, brought in theories and reasonings, and preached argumentative discourses.”3

We have subtly—and mostly accidentally—failed proclaim the greatest truth: that salvation does not come through our seeking after God, but through God’s seeking after us.

You might know someone who has caved to the pressures of legalistic religion and exacting requirements. Perhaps that’s been your own experience. Today the Great Shepherd is searching for you. He’s hunting to restore you. And though you’ve squandered your earthly inheritance, He promises acceptance in the Father’s house.

This must be our message to a dying world. Like Doss, our purpose must never waver.: “One more. Help me get just one more.”

  1. Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1900), p. 189.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ellen G. White, Faith and Works (Nashville: Southern Pub. Assn., 1979), p. 15.