Defending Last Generation Theology

(jeremy) #41

my favourite egw text is:

“Christ looks at the spirit, and when He sees us carrying our burden with faith, His perfect holiness atones for our shortcomings. When we do our best, He becomes our righteousness.” Letter 22, 1889.

this text, as well as a number of others, shows the clear relationship between justification and sanctification…justification doesn’t happen apart from sanctification, and it doesn’t happen only initially…the purpose of justification isn’t to circumvent or do away with the law of god, but to enable our necessarily faulty sanctification to meet the perfection required by that law…because our sanctification is always tainted with the defilement of our inherited sinfulness that is with us until glorification, justification must necessarily be an ongoing process…

it is true that justification is based on what jesus did, and that this is ultimately the element that saves us…but it is also true that justification is linked to sanctification, and that sanctification is based partially on what we do…i think it’s convenient for discussion purposes to separate justification from sanctification, but in the process of salvation they always operate together…they’re never active alone…

if the mormons believe all of this, more power to them…mormons believe other things that we believe, such as the importance of keeping our health optimal, and being a positive influence in the community…i think we have to conclude that mormonism, like other religions, is partial truth…adventism is more complete, not because we’re better than them, but because we have the advantage of egw, and therefore a record of direct communication from heaven…

(Cfowler) #42

Well said, Ray.

The new birth, born again, new creation…this is what happens to us as we accept Christ’s finished work on the cross. In that new birth we are more drawn to the things of the Spirit and less of the flesh.

(Phillip Brantley) #43

Neo-subordinationism has its origins in Lucifer, who was the very first one, long before Arius, and long before neo-subordinationism was first articulated in 1977, to hierarchically order the immanent Trinity and subordinate the Son to the Father. This heresy is packaged with Last Generation Theology, male headship theory, church purificationism, legalism, perfectionism, fanaticism, and other imbecilities we Seventh-day Adventists know all too well. They all share one commonality, which is the desire, witting and more often unwitting, to exalt self relative to others.

The best way to spotlight how far out to sea these troubled souls are, I think, is to quote some nice observations recently posted by Matthew L. Tinkham, Jr.:


Isaiah 64:6b, NIV, says, “and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” The Hebrew phrase translated here as “like filthy rags” is וּכְבֶ֥גֶד עִדִּ֖ים, and it literally means “like a garment of menstruation.” This is how utterly appalling even our best attempts to perform holy deeds are! Our good works aren’t that good after all but are thoroughly tainted by our sinfulness. This is the extreme depths of our human depravity, the severity of our situation. We are so corrupted by sin, that even our righteous acts constitute sin!

The Protestant reformer, Philip Melanchthon wrote in 1519, “Therefore it is true that even good works are sins” (Baccalaureate Thesis 11).

In 1521, he similarly wrote, “But the works that follow justification, although they proceed from the Spirit of God who fills the hearts of the justified, are still impure themselves, since they are done in flesh that is still impure. … Moreover, since there is a certain impurity even in these works, they do not merit the name ‘righteousness.’ No matter where you turn, whether to the works that come before justification or to those that follow justification, there is no place for our merit. Therefore, justification must be the work of God’s mercy alone” (Loci communes rerum theologicarum, 134).

No amount of the purest of human deeds in this life will merit us anything because they are still dirty menstrual rags, utterly stained with sin. Even our good works need to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus!

Ellen G. White said, “Man’s obedience can be made perfect only by the incense of Christ’s righteousness, which fills with divine fragrance every act of obedience” (AA 531).

“He keeps his eye upon [his children], and when they do their best, calling upon God for his help, be assured the service will be accepted, although imperfect. Jesus is perfect. Christ’s righteousness is imputed unto them, and he will say, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him and clothe him with change of raiment.’ Jesus makes up for our unavoidable deficiencies” (3SM 195–196).

“If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason. … Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end” (FW 23–24).

OUR ONLY HOPE IS JESUS! We can only be saved from sin by the imputation of all our sin to Christ on the cross and by the perfectly meritorious righteousness of Jesus’s active and passive obedience graciously imputed to us by faith through Jesus (i.e., justifying grace) and graciously imparted to us by faith through the Holy Spirit (i.e., sanctifying grace). We can only be perfect in the eyes of the Father, as we stand by faith in union with Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And, even then, as another Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, once said beautifully, simul justus et peccator (i.e., “simultaneously justified and sinner”). Sinless perfection will only come in the eschaton at the parousia, when, through Jesus’s gracious act, we receive our new immortal, incorruptible bodies by faith (i.e., glorifying grace).

Sola fide (“by faith alone”),
Sola gratia (“by grace alone”),
Solo Christo (“through Christ alone”),
Solo Spirito Sancto (“through the Holy Spirit alone”)
Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”)!

(Kevin Seidel) #44

Any perfection in God’s people happens because God decides to make it happen. Imperfect cannot create perfect. We have to be in grace to grow in grace.

(Cfowler) #45

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:20-24.

Any belief system, or prophet, that teaches that our good works play a part in our salvation is not biblical. Yes, we have good works because the HS works in and through us, as we grow in the Spirit. But salvation comes only through Christ’s shed blood.

(jeremy) #46

actually it isn’t gone by god’s power…paul recognizes the continuance of his inherited sinful nature after conversion when he said:

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” 1 Corinthians 9:27…

the continual presence of our inherited sinfulness and its antagonism towards god after conversion is the reason our sanctification will always be faulty, which in turn is the reason we will always need ongoing justification…if our inherited sinful nature were truly put to death at conversion, we’d be able to keep the law of god through our own efforts, as was the case of adam before the fall…we wouldn’t need christ, or especially his ongoing high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary…

what conversion does bring is the new element of antagonism to our inherited sinful nature, which for the rest of our lives here on earth motivates us to harness the power of the holy spirit to effectively war against that nature, and also whatever external temptation satan brings (although i think it can be argued that satan doesn’t waste his times bringing temptations to us that he knows we don’t have inherited weaknesses for)…what we can rest assured in is that if we continue cultivating this new, externally generated element of antagonism to our inherited sinful nature, we will certainly overcome…this victory is as certain as the history of christ on earth shows, which is that his power can overcome the power of satan in every phase and circumstance…

paul teaches that our inherited sinfulness is with us until glorification:

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Philppians 3:20-21…

by thinking that our inherited sinfulness is fully destroyed at conversion, you are unwittingly making the mistake that LGTers make, which is to deny its existence altogether…nothing in the NT or egw makes sense if we don’t understand first of all our inherited sinfulness, i.e., original sin, and especially its continuance after conversion…in the case of egw’s teachings on christ’s high priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, in particular, the notion that our inherited sinfulness ceases to exist after conversion does away with what christ does for those he is vindicating in IJ…he might as well not be our high priest or our ongoing sinless sacrifice…this central teaching of evangelicalism is as hopeless as LGTism…it presents far more problems with actual biblical texts than it solves…

(jeremy) #47

you’re not understanding this famous passage from Romans 3…you’re not seeing what paul teaches elsewhere, which is that the reason no-one can be justified in keeping the law is because the defilement of sin from our inherited sinfulness taints all our efforts…far from teaching that christ somehow justifies us apart from the law, he concludes his argument in Romans 3 by saying:

“Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31.

keep in mind that paul was partially confused on the perpetuity of the ceremonial law when he returned to jerusalem after the jerusalem council and agreed to james’ ludicrous counsel to shave his head to prove to the jews that he was walking “orderly”, and not doing away with the law, Acts 21:18-26…this low point in an otherwise exemplary life should give us some pause…it should help us realize that paul was limited in his understanding by his time and cultural sensibilities…he can’t be expected to be the authority that egw obviously was, and is…

(Steve Mga) #48

Jeremy said , “Paul cannot be expected to be the authority that Ellen G.
White obviously was, and is…”

What about his Letters From Prison that we have?
Doesn’t seem like one mistake [remember Agabus told Paul he would be
put in chains if he went to Jerusalem. He went anyway.]

(Cfowler) #49

We will have to part ways here. When you put EGW above Paul (which doesn’t surprise me), there really is no point in going further.

(jeremy) #50

it isn’t that egw is above paul…it’s the fact that, due to time and place, god was able to show egw more than he was able to show paul…in the same way that paul knew more than isaiah, egw knew more than paul…it’s the advantage of time and place…a future prophet will know more than egw…

(Elmer Cupino) #51

What are the chances that the organized SDA church would acknowledge or even “allow” a prophet after EGW?

(Peter) #52

I’m no longer interested in lengthy arguments about LGT! I find nothing in Scripture that teaches that concept, and I don’t take what EGW said as doctrine. Nor do I believe Christ meant for salvation to be so complicated. He told us clearly who will be saved - Matthew 25:34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

There is nothing there about LGT perfection! I don’t believe Christ is pleased or honored about our lengthy parsing of such things as LGT. Say what you will, but it is not my kind of Adventism or Christianity!

(jeremy) #53

the people of israel always recognized a true prophet, whether their leaders acknowledged that reality or not…the same thing will happen today…the rank and file will certainly feel the power behind any true prophet, whether the leadership elite have shut themselves to themselves, or whether they’re open to something beyond themselves…

of course any true prophet will be highly controversial…the sword of truth always cuts to the core and lays things bare, which is an identifying mark of real inspiration…a future prophet will certainly be more polarizing than egw, because his or her words will be immediate, and will be impossible to sweep under the carpet of any possible historical ambiguity, as has happened to some extent with both egw and the prophets of the bible…

(Cfowler) #54

We have two different authorities…yours is EGW. I don’t view her as an authority or prophet, so that makes conversation difficult.

I don’t think anybody in this conversation thinks this. Of course we still have our fallen nature and flesh. We are justified the moment we accept Christ’s as our Savior, then the HS works in us to sanctify us. We are no longer slaves to sin as our sinful desires and actions become less and less.

(jeremy) #55

ray said this:

twenty characters…

(Kim Green) #56

I think that you should give up when someone declares that EGW was “shown” more than the Apostle Paul. I mean, really…where can you possibly go with this type of adoration? :wink:

(Cfowler) #57

It would seem that Scripture really isn’t needed. She offers so much more. :roll_eyes: :wink: :thinking:

(Ray Smith) #58

Jeremy, in the brevity of these discussions you have missed my references to the flesh. The conflict we have is a conflict between our new born again spiritual nature and the flesh. It’s easy to be very selective in the texts we quote in these discussions. I wrestled for many months with this truth. Change is not easy but we have to face up to what Paul teaches.

Too often we think of the flesh as all the vile sides of life. In Philippians 3 Paul gives an interesting twist on another aspect of the flesh. In verse 3 he starts with those who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus. I believe that includes those of us who are born again.

Then comes the clincher. Paul puts no confidence in the flesh. Then he gives a list of reasons why he was entitled to put confidence in the flesh from a worldly point of view - circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, as to the Law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to the righteousness in the law, blameless. Yes, blameless!

This defines the flesh as all our old human coping mechanisms, habits, and positions in relation to the law and society. It’s how we cope as normal human beings as well as the evil intents of the flesh. However, in the light of knowing Jesus Christ he counted all this as rubbish.

He continues in a way that he repeats so often. He claimed no righteousness of his own derived from the law, even though he was blameless. His conclusion is that righteousness can only come through faith in Christ. It is righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith, not on our attempts to keep the law and to attempt to do what is right.

Let’s take a few highlights from Romans 6. Verse 6 - “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with.” We are no longer slaves of sin, for he who has died is freed from sin. Verse 11 - “consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ.” I’m just skimming the surface.

Verse 12 is crucial. “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.” This is the flesh in Paul’s understanding, not the born again heart. We are not under law but under grace.

Verse 17 - we are now obedient from the heart. How can we be obedient from a sinful carnal fallen human heart? Sin lurks in the flesh. An obedient heart must be a new creation which I believe was given to us when we were born again. We are freed from sin and enslaved to God. The benefit for us is sanctification and the outcome is eternal life. It’s God’s free gift in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6 leaves me in no doubt about the new heart. Add to this Ephesians 4:23,24 and other passages and what do we have? In Ephesians we put off the old self. Romans 6 explains how this is done. Then we put on the new self but note carefully every word that speaks strongly of a new creation to replace what Adam and Eve lost in the garden. They died spiritually the day they ate the fruit. They lost the heart made in the likeness of God when the Spirit of God left them. So to Ephesians -

“… be renewed in the spirit of your mind…” What does Paul mean if it is not a new heart?
“… put on the new self.” He then explains how this is done and it’s not by any works of ours.
the new self is “in the likeness of God.” Echoes of how Adam and Eve were created.
the new self “has been created.” Is this the new creation of the new birth or is it it just words?
“…created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” This is nothing short of a new heart as I see it.

We can trace this understanding through the whole of the new covenant writings once we see it.

Yes, we continue to struggle with the flesh and sin in the flesh but we have a completely new relationship with God because of our conversion when we were justified, cleansed, sanctified and by grace stripped of our old heart of stone and recreated spiritually with a new heart. Let me say it again, “a new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” I’m still trying to come to grips with the magnitude of what this means.

This understanding of what God does in us through the love and sacrifice of His beloved Son has been the greatest motivation for daily living, for living a sanctified life, that I have experienced in almost 80 years. And yet I’ve hardly scratched the surface of this amazing grace.

Let me conclude with this. This belief is poles apart from last generation theology. It’s a theology that meets our every need no matter what generation we live in because it’s all of Christ.

(reliquum) #59

Indeed, It is notable it does NOT say “come all you right doers and right doctrine definers, and receive your A+ grade and your due wage…”

It is purely relational. Jesus uttered undeniable ratification of our adoptions by his blood. We are his kin-and ought be kin to each other, too-instead of dividing by deed and doctrine.

Its not what you do, or what you know, its who and whose you are.

(Cfowler) #60

I think in the context of all that Ray has posted about the old/new self, you probably should have understood what he was and has been saying. But, that’s okay…I get it.