There are two "guilts." The "original sin" of Adam's guilt is cancelled out by the cross. The corporate guilt of our sin of unbelief in murdering Christ can be healed by corporate repentance.
"God's act of grace" in the cross of Christ has cancelled the guilt of Adam's sin for the entire human race. In other words, the cross "is out of all proportion to Adam's wrongdoing" (Rom. 5:15, The Revised English Bible).
"The effect with that one man's sin" was devastating for his posterity, "for the judicial action, following on the one offence, resulted in a verdict of condemnation" (vs. 16). "The result of one misdeed was condemnation for all people" (vs. 18). Even though there was no written law of ten commandments, the natural consequence of sin was a lethal, self-condemnation which would eliminate the race. God's moral principles were written in the brain cells of Adam, and the guilt following his rebellion would have been catastrophic.
The guilt of Adam's sin ("original sin"), was imputed to Christ. The cross which is "the act of grace," "resulted in a verdict of acquittal" (vs. 16). "... The result of one righteous act is acquittal and life for all" (vs. 18). Thus the "one righteous act" eliminated the condemnation of Adam's sin and gave "acquittal and life for all" his children.
The 1888 view is that the cross has stamped "original sin" "void." The temporal life all enjoy is free from the lethal guilt of Adam's sin by virtue of the cross. The gift of life and acquittal far exceed a probationary life. It is a probationary life without ancestral guilt. It is a temporary life in which the gift of life eternal has been placed in the hands of every probationer for them to "receive" with a grateful heart, otherwise known as faith (John 1:12).
But at what cost was this freedom purchased? It was purchased by the precious blood of Christ. And it is just here that we need to understand our corporate guilt for our unknown sin of crucifying Him. It is imperative that "the earth" be "lightened with His glory" (Rev. 18:1). For this to occur "every mouth" must "be stopped," and "all the world" must "become guilty before God" (Rom. 3:19).
The cross was God's condemnation of sin. Referring to His cross, Jesus said, "now is the judgment of this world" (John 12:31). Jesus bore the devastating weight of the world's sin. "It pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin" (Isa. 53:10). "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13).
We put Him in that position. Our corporate sin and consequent guilt filled Jesus' soul with self-condemnation. "Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father's wrath upon Him as man's substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God" (The Desire of Ages [DA], p. 753).
It is now in our day, at this momentous hour of earth's history, that Christ is to "be lifted up from the earth" in order to "draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32). Heretofore, the cross has not been rightly perceived as the judgment of the world. Unknown to us all is the guilt for perpetrating the death of the Son of God who bore our just, lethal condemnation for sin.
Our guilt for the crucifixion of Christ must be distinguished from our bearing the condemnation for this sin of all sins. "God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world" (John 3:17). This is exactly what Paul writes in Romans 5, where our corporate guilt with Adam's sin was cancelled out by "the act of grace" (Rom. 5:16).
However, it is absolutely essential for our hitherto unknown participation in the crucifixion of Christ to be revealed to our consciousness so that we may be healed of our guilt. The Holy Spirit "will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me" (John 16:8, 9). The greatest sin is unbelief. The great sin is personal denial of responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ.
The crucifixion of Christ was not "their" sin, that of the Jews and the Romans,--it is "our" sin (The Desire of Ages745; Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 38). The sin that took place in 1888 is not "their" sin, it is "our" sin; we partake of a common humanity.
Paul understood how we all share the guilt of "all the world," how "all have sinned." "Death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Rom. 5:12). "No one of us is innately better than anyone else. As all lions are by nature man-eaters, so all humans are by nature at 'enmity with God,' and since 'whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer' automatically, we are all 'alike' by nature guilty of the crucifixion of the Son of God" (Robert J. Wieland, Grace on Trial, pp. 69, 70; 2001 ed.).
For this reason we must not condemn or criticize the brethren of 1888; and we must never in self-righteousness withdraw ourselves from this one true remnant church. To do so is to fall for the snare of Satan; and may you have the good sense to get yourself out of that snare, or you will indeed lose your soul.
This truth of corporate guilt and corporate repentance is implicit in the message of Christ's righteousness, whether it's the 1888 model or Paul's of long ago. "In me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18). Unrighteousness dwells in the flesh. That's why Paul says we are to put no "confidence" in it.
How much unrighteousness? Charles Wesley answers, "I am all unrighteousness" (maybe he saw a glimmer of corporate guilt when he wrote "Jesus, Lover of My Soul").
And E. J. Waggoner must have seen it, at least embryonically, in the "vision" he had in 1882 that became the taproot of the entire 1888 message. He saw Christ crucified for him, and in consequence realized, that he was the whole world and its sin (The Everlasting Covenant, p. 9; 2002 ed.).
But does prophecy indicate that the corporate SDA church which rejected the tender appeal of her Divine Lover in 1888, as presented at a General Conference Session of the organized, corporate, denominated church, will at last reject the truth after her detour and disillusionment has been completed? If the character of the denominated Body, to become some day the Bride, is basically dishonest, would not God have cast her off after 1888?
On the other hand, if her sin is one of foolishness and misapprehension as prefigured in the prophecy of Song of Solomon 5, and not basic dishonesty, does it not follow that given a complete disillusionment she will reassert her honesty of character which led her in the beginning to accept the doctrinal forms of the three angel's messages, and humble her heart in repentance and contrition.
--Paul E. Penno
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