Crucial Question 26:  Did Christ die as our substitute, or did He basically die to give us another chance?




Ellen White’s perfectionism colored her understanding of Christ’s substitution, causing her to interpret His death as more of a second chance than a complete and full atonement for all sins.


From the Pen of Ellen White (thanks to Herbert Douglass for the compilation):


“Christ came to pay that debt for the sinner which it was impossible for him to pay for himself. Thus, through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, sinful man was granted another trial” (FW 30).


Christ died that the transgressor of the law of God might be brought back to His [sic] loyalty, that He [sic] might keep the commandments of God, and His law as the apple of His eye, and live. God cannot take rebels into His kingdom; therefore He makes obedience to His requirements a special requirement” (1MR 112).


He died to make it possible for us to keep the law” (YI, March 20, 1902).


“God and the holy angels have an intense desire that human beings shall reach the standard of perfection which Christ died to make it possible for them to reach (HP 286).


Christ has died that we might keep God's commandments. Will you have your names registered in the Lamb's book of life? Then be careful and zealous to repent of every sin” (9MR 264).


“Do not disappoint the One who gave His life that you might be an overcomer. He was tempted on every point that you and I can be tempted on, and in order to resist He spent whole nights in prayer and communion with His Father. Christ did not leave this world until He had made it possible for every soul to live a life of perfect faith and obedience, to have a perfect character” (TDG 204).


The Son of God consented to die in the sinner's stead, that man might, by a life of obedience, escape the penalty of the law of God” (ST, August 7, 1879).




During the period when the New Testament was being written, false teachers were denying that Christ had come in the flesh (I John 4:2).  Ellen White doesn’t deny that Christ came in the flesh, but if her Christology is faulty, is she in violation with the principle behind I John 4:2?  The modern application of this text is that genuine prophets must uphold biblical teachings regarding the nature and ministry of Christ; Ellen White does not, as evidenced by her emphasis on Christ’s death as a means of giving sinners another chance to obey the law.


Thought Questions:


  1. Is Christ’s death basically a second chance for the sinner to obey the law?
  2. What does the Bible say about the role of law in the New Covenant?


Bible Texts:


“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Rom. 10:4).


“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.  Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Rom. 4:4-7).


“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4).


“[F]or if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21).


“But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Gal. 5:18).


“Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (I John 4:2).


“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (II Pe. 2:1)


“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-26).



For Further Study:


  • Herbert E. Douglass, A Fork in the Road, Coldwater, MI: Remnant Publications, 2008
  • Biblical evidence for Christ as sinners' Substitute


Continue on to Crucial Question #27:  "Historic Adventism"

Go back to Crucial Question #25:  Humanity of Christ