Chapter 5

Life, Original, Unborrowed, Underived

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Jesus declared, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life.’ In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. ‘He that hath the Son hath life.’ The divinity of Christ is the believer's assurance of eternal life.”  (DA 530 [1898]; Ev 616)    

Based on the above quotation in Ellen White’s 1898 publication The Desire of Ages, some scholars claim that though Ellen White was initially non-trinitarian, she later became a Trinitarian. They say, “Here is evidence. Christ’s life is original; therefore, He has always been and, therefore, He is co-eternal with the Father. Also, His life is unborrowed and underived. Therefore, He could not have been begotten of the Father in eternity. Rather, He is self-existent and has always existed.”

The problem with their reasoning is this: Trinitarians have read statements such as the one above and immediately formed opinions and reached conclusions that can be proven wrong by other inspired statements related to the topic—sometimes statements from the very same article or book. Their conclusions are both hasty and incorrect, which readily-available documentation can show. The Spirit of prophecy will explain itself very clearly. So what does that statement above from Desire of Ages really tell us? It’s always wise to read a quotation in question in its original context.

“‘In him was life; and the life was the light of men’ (John 1:4). It is not physical life that is here specified, but immortality, the life which is exclusively the property of God. The Word, who was with God, and who was God, had this life. Physical life is something which each individual receives. It is not eternal or immortal; for God, the Life-giver, takes it again. Man has no control over his life. But the life of Christ was unborrowed. No one can take this life from Him. ‘I lay it down of myself’(John 10: 18), He said. In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived. This life is not inherent in man. He can possess it only through Christ. He cannot earn it; it is given him as a free gift if he will believe in Christ as His personal Saviour. ‘This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent’ (John 17:3). This is the open fountain of life for the world.” (ST April 8, 1897; 1SM 296-297)

From the full context we plainly learn that “original, unborrowed, underived” life can be GIVEN. It will be given to all those who believe. This is in harmony with the words of Christ, when He said that God the Father had given Him life: “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” (John 5:26) What life would the Son have been given? The life which was the Father’s own original, unborrowed, underived life.

We know that in the above Scripture, Christ is talking about eternal life. To ascertain this fact, all we need to do is ask ourselves the question, “What kind of life does God the Father have in Himself?” Reason tell us it certainly cannot be mortal life; it can only be immortal life. Scripture states as much about the Father in 1 Timothy 6:16: “…Who only hath immortality.…”  

As human offspring receive mortal life from their parents, so this immortal life was given to Christ by virtue of His divine birth (having been begotten with that life). Thus the Father’s life is also the Son’s life, through inheritance. God the Father is the “source of all life” (MH 397; 9T 44; 21MR 272), “of whom are all things.” (1 Cor 8:6) Christ inherited the Father’s life by birth: “I came forth from the Father….” (John 16:28) The one true God is both the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Being the Father’s only begotten Son, Christ naturally is the only one who has the same life as God His Father, whose life is rightly described as “original, unborrowed, underived.” Christ inherited that same “original, unborrowed, underived” life that the Source of all life possessed to give Him.

Indeed, Christ received all things from the Father. He received the Father’s life as His own, and it is the Father’s life that flows through Christ to all those who believe in the Son. It is the Father’s life that we receive through Christ. “All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all.” (DA 21)

“‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, Christ declares; ‘no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.’ Christ is invested with power to give life to all creatures.” (RH April 5, 1906) So what kind of life does He have the authority to give to all of His redeemed ones?  The Father’s “original, unborrowed, underived,” which flows from the Father to us—a life which is immortal. Wonderful reality!

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” (John 17:2)

 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 5:13)

The true explanation of that quotation from Desire of Ages does not cast doubt or confusion on other passages in the writings of Ellen White or the Bible, but, instead, each one clarifies and complements the other to lead to an understanding that inspires faith, that we may “believe on the name of the Son of God,” and have the assurance that we have eternal life. Nothing on earth can compare to the riches of that promise to us.

The Word of God contains our life insurance policy. To eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of God means to study the Word and to carry that Word into the life in obedience to all its precepts. Those who thus partake of the Son of God become partakers of the divine nature, one with Christ. They breathe a holy atmosphere, in which only the soul can truly live. They carry in their lives an assurance of the holy principles received from the Word—their lives are worked by the power of the Holy Spirit, and they have an earnest of the immortality that will be theirs through the death and resurrection of Christ. Should the earthly body decay, the principles of their faith sustain them, for they are partakers of the divine nature. Because Christ was raised from the dead, they grasp the pledge of their resurrection, and eternal life is their reward.

“This truth is an eternal truth, because Christ Himself taught it. He has engaged to raise the righteous dead, for He gave His life for the life of the world. ‘As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me’ (John 6:57)….” (UL 78) 

Key to Abbreviations

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