Defending Last Generation Theology

(jeremy) #121

dave, i think you’ve clarified what you yourself, and possibly ray, believe, but there’s no chance that your comments are going to be accepted by any serious student of the bible and egw…in particular, you don’t appear to understand that christ was “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world”, Rev 13:8, meaning that his sacrifice was operational in an imputed, justification-oriented sense before even the old covenant was operational…as egw says so well:

“Under the new covenant, the conditions by which eternal life may be gained are the same as under the old—perfect obedience.” Lt 276, 1904.

what changed under the new covenant wasn’t the way in which fallen humanity is redeemed…what changed was fallen humanity’s opportunity to understand that redemption - something intimated as early as the days of jeremiah:

“I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts”, Jer 31:33;

of isaiah:

“Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law”, Is 51:7;

of david:

“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart”, Ps 40:8;

and in fact moses:

“And thou shalt love the LORD they God with all thine heart, and with all they soul, and with all they might”, Deut 6:5…

as christ himself has timelessly said:

“If ye love me, keep my commandments”, Jn 14:15…

what we can logically conclude from a full reading of both testaments, and even more clearly from egw, is that enoch was saved through a combination of his spirit-directed heart efforts and the imputed perfection of christ just like we stand to be saved…at no point since even before the creation of the world has god been limited by events in linear time, so that the merits of jesus could only be applied once they physically happened, as you appear to suggest…jesus’ directive to the rich young ruler wasn’t tailored to an old covenant form of redemption that no longer applies…instead it was just the counsel he would give to us today were he physically with us now…the notion that people under the old covenant were saved through their own obedience, without christ’s obedience, and that since the new covenant we’re save through christ’s obedience, without our own obedience, is an example of the singularly superficial reading of scripture we find in evangelicalism today…

i would say that what you’re presenting, which is a variation of fordian passive sanctification, is possibly even more insidious than LGT…that is, while LGT fails to recognize the ongoing operation of justification beyond an initial conversion experience, you are failing to recognize the foundational operation of sanctification - of the importance of active obedience in the justification process - called for in john the baptist’s message…love and a heart experience in christ are in no way antithetical to obedience…in fact they are two sides of the same coin (see Hebrews 11)…while i would agree that it is possible to render outward obedience without a true heart experience, i disagree completely that it is possible to receive and retain a true heart experience without all-out obedience:

“And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But who’s keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected; hereby know we that we are in Him.” 1Jn 2:3-5.

(George Tichy) #122

Jeremy, can you please explain this in a succinct way? What did Des teach about it?

But please, don’t just “say it;” this needs reall corroboration using some kind of source directly from Des Ford. Now that he is no longer with us, we have to be careful because people are already putting way too many words in his mouth, especially his passionate detractors.

(Kim Green) #123

And we should care…why? :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Very well put. Adventists have to read most of the bible as allegorical to allow for their eisegesis to be perceived as exegesis.


Des Ford did not teach “passive sanctification.” As he clearly explained, “works” are the loving response to Christ for his justification by faith, which is the hallmark of a Christian with assurance of salvation. “Works are the fruit” that come after as our response to His loving us first.

I’ve heard him preach this in person. It is the key, the crux, to our perfection, not by works, but by faith.

(Steve Mga) #126

Harrpa –
Instead of “WORKS” I would suggest the word “BEHAVIORS”.
If you read Paul’s letters it is changing Pagan “Behaviors” for NEW Behaviors.
And these eventually allow the Fruits of the Spirit to shine through one’s Character.
As the AA “Big Book” says, “God removes…”

Harrpa – much of the time it is Semantics and Words used to describe effects
where we get hung up on, and find we are fighting over.
SDAs need to read Paul, James, Peter, John’s letter to the churches. But most
group studies by SDA church members on these books usually by-pass the

I would say Des Ford’s promotion is more clear than the Average SDA promotion.
If it was based on what I described above.
In an earlier post Jeremy seemed to say Old Testament living person did not have the
Sanctification information that we have in the New Testament.
I would differ with that. There are LOTS of calls to BEHAVIOR. “To Obey is better
than sacrifice” – Samuel, Psalms, other places. The Torah was about Behavior.
The minor prophets and major prophets called to “Behavior”. Give up the Check List,
they called, make it a behavior of LOVE – God, Self-respect, all who are Neighbors including
widows, orphans, poor, strangers in the gates.

QUESTION – Would THIS take the place of the FEAR of the IJ. Or actually do away
with the “NEED” for an Investigative Judgment as promoted by the Church in
sermons and Artist Picture Renditions over the decades?


You are exactly right, @niteguy.

The “Fruits of the Spirit” are the response, reaction, and natural result of daily giving our lives to Christ. The Holy Spirit flows through us.

Right on!

Yes. The “record” would be immediate and clear–This individual received Christ’s gift of eternal life. No need for centuries of research on each individual. “Are you covered by Christ’s righteousness?”


I agree that there is only one way of salvation, only I believe it is solely in what Christ has done for us, not that in some combination with some unknowable level of obedience you call ‘doing your best’.

In thinking about your view, I can understand why you think one’s success at obedience or lawkeeping will determine whether or not one is saved. You are a follower of Ellen White and have told us that she wrote that 95% of Adventists will not be ready for the judgment. Since you maintain that Adventism is the truth, I guess that means that only a fraction of one percent of humanity will be saved. For that to be so, salvation cannot solely depend upon what Christ did for humanity on the cross but must hinge on an ‘arduous struggle’ (as she said) for salvation each of us must successfully navigate.
I see God quite differently. I don’t think He is looking for a tiny group of pure people, I think He wants to save as many as possible. I see a Christ whom the religious leaders of His day scorned because He embraced all kinds of, shall we say, unsavoury types.

I also understand why you don’t like Paul. He received a gospel from Christ which says that God has provided another way of salvation apart from the law, that this righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all and upon all who believe, that one can be freely justified by His grace, that we have died to the law through the body of Christ, that we have been saved by grace through faith and it is not of ourselves but a gift of God and not of works. You cannot accept the Pauline gospel because it’s not hard enough. Ellen White would be proven wrong as there would be too many people saved.

Yes, the merits of the blood of Christ will be applied to those before and after the cross. That is the only way anyone can be saved.
Those living in OT times did not have a clear picture of this. Hence Jesus said it would be more tolerable in the day of judgment for Sodom, Tyre and Sidon than for Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum (Luke 10:13-15).

I agree God is not limited by time and space. The shed blood of Christ covers all. If one died all died. It is the overarching, eternal covenant.

Yet God wants to teach us things and one of them is not to rely on ourselves. We often learn more by our failures than our successes. In order to show them, and us, the impossibility of saving ourselves through following the law, God gave the Israelites a chance to show Him if their obedience could save them. ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’(Ex 19:8) was their OC vow to be obedient.
Before you knew it they were worshipping a golden calf.

You quote David but he wrote many imprecatory prayers asking God to destroy his enemies. Is that God’s way? David had an incomplete understanding of salvation, yet he had an idea of what RBF meant because Paul said in Rom 4:6, ‘Even David describes the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness without works…’ David had insight into the coming way of salvation in Christ that few in OT times had.
Your quote of Jer 31:33 ignores the context of it, the future - ‘Surely the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…’ it is repeated in Heb 8:7-12. Notice this NC is not conditional on obedience and God can certainly apply it retroactively.
You quote Moses but in the same speech he said, ‘you shall not go after other gods, the gods of the people around you.’ How did that work out? In Deut 29 Moses predicts their forsaking of the covenant and the resulting anger and curses of the Lord.
I’m not going to comment on Is 51 because your idea of the future kingdom (vs 6 gives the setting of v7) is completely different from mine.
To me these quotes show that obedience to the law was man’s attempt at contributing to salvation. It never worked in OT times and is not God’s plan now.

You quote John 14:15, but how can we keep His commandments? The next verse tells us that Christ will pray to the Father and the Holy Spirit will live come to live with us and in us. Of course He was alluding to the divine seed planted by faith in what Christ did for us - the gospel. It is God’s doing we accept by faith. He is ‘to will and to work in us for His good pleasure.’
You quote 1John 2:3-5 but you ignore 1John 1:8, ‘If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us’. You also ignore the way we can keep the commandments. ‘No one who is begotten of God practices sin, because His seed abides in Him; and he [the divine seed of Christ implanted by the gospel] cannot sin, because he is begotten of God’.(1John 3:9). But then you don’t agree with the Pauline gospel, the new creation life begotten within us which we accept by faith in Christ.

(jeremy) #129

dave, just because i disagree with your take on paul, which to me comes across as mindless evangelicalism, which i reject, doesn’t mean i “don’t like” paul…i probably rely more on paul than any other NT writer…i go through at least one of his epistles on most days…in fact i’ve memorized two of his epistles and am working on my third…it’s quite clear to me that in the apostolic age, paul would have been a relatively knowledgeable source, which means he was likely the most knowledgeable source of that time…i don’t hold it against him, at all, that he was misogynist…like everyone else, he was a product of his culture…i think we should be impressed that he called for monogamy, that he preferred and demonstrated a relatively progressive single status view, and that in theory, at least, he was gender neutral…

i’m simply pointing out that your position on grace, the covenants and the law isn’t supportable outside of certain assumptions you are making with respect to the writings of paul…you are conflating counsel directed towards a legalistic community with counsel directed toward those outside that community, even though you have evidence that paul varied his counsel depending on his audience, I Cor 9:19-23…that is, you cannot make the case that paul diminished the importance of sanctification and law keeping just because he stressed justification because he was dealing with people who directly or indirectly held salvation to be contingent on ritualistic obedience…for one thing, he stressed right living and law keeping to those same audiences…

but what’s more, you cannot make the case that christ’s words need to be seen through the lens of a skewed take on paul’s words…if anything, paul’s words need to be seen through the lens of christ’s words…after-all, we believe that paul received his message from christ…and are you going to interpret the other apostles through the lens of what you think paul says, when paul consulted with these same apostles for legitimacy with his jewish audiences…

in fact i think we need to see the writings of paul through the lens of the entire stream of recorded inspiration, certainly as it exists in the bible, at the very least…that is, the bible is not to be interpreted through the narrow prism of what we want to believe paul is saying…this is the principle error of evangelicals, many of whom are at a point where they are ready to throw out the entire OT, much of the NT, and even the portions of paul that talk about law-keeping…in some ways, i think your approach is reminiscent of the approach of evolutionists, where a pre-determined outcome is use to screen and interpret any and all evidence…there is much in the bible that shows the connection between justification and sanctification in the process of salvation, but none of this can be evident when, at the outset, we insist, through a narrow reading of paul, that the only determinant for salvation is forensic justification, which we don’t really believe was operational before jesus’ death on the cross in linear time until we are called out on it…you are even bending over backwards to say that jesus’ words to the RYR aren’t applicable because jesus was operating under your view of OC terms, when clearly, jesus didn’t have your view in mind, at all…will you go on to say that jesus’ words to nicodemus were a call to disregard the decalogue because his born again rhetoric connects us to paul’s counsel that righteousness comes to us apart from the law…

no-one disputes the new creation life begotten within us which we receive and accept by faith in christ…the issue is whether this new life absolves us from any obedience initiative on our part, as called for in the message of john the baptist that jesus approved, or whether it enables us to render obedience because it calls the imputed righteousness of christ to our side…my point definitely isn’t that we aren’t still sinners after our conversion…i think i’ve been quite clear that paul’s explanation of original sin in Romans 5, not to mention his explicit allusion in Philippians 3:20-21, means we’re sinners up until glorification, which is in fact why we need the imputed righteousness of christ in the first place (I believe 1 John 1:8 is a clear reference to the apostolic teaching of original sin)…i categorically reject LGT theory that sanctification places us where we no longer need justification…but i also categorically reject evangelical theory that justification can stand apart from sanctification…in fact what i’m saying, and what i believe the inspired record shows, especially in egw, is that our necessarily faulty sanctification is just what jesus justifies, and why he ministers for us as our high priest in the heavenly sanctuary…there is no other purpose for justification that can be consistent with god’s changeless character…

the bottom line is that accepting your view of the new covenant means we must accept that god instituted a spurious covenant we call the old covenant, and that he saved people before christ’s death on the cross differently than he has since…in short, we must believe that god has done a complete 180 degree turn because, well, we’re special, and people living in OT times weren’t…a more cartoonish, escapist caricature of the eternal holiness of an omnipotent god can scarcely be imagined…

(George Tichy) #130

As if Ford’s position on Justification/Sanctification/Glorification was something he invented and that was wrong.

When I was in college, in the School of Theology, I had a very bright teacher who was just a rocket on this issue. In this sense, nothing that Ford taught was new to me because I heard it all as a student some 50 years ago.

I am not sure I understand what some people are questioning on Ford’s position on the J/S/G process, and why? Maybe only because it’s Ford talking about it, and this name, Des Ford, panics them in their theological weakness and doubts?

(Ray Smith) #131

Christ’s perfect obedience!

(Frankmer7) #132

Almost all the comments on the relationship of the law and the gospel and justification vs. sanctification in the experience of salvation in this discussion focus on our individual experience. I would like to suggest, once again, that while this concern for our individual standing before God can be found in Paul’s major letters where he speaks of JBF, this was not his main concern. I would also suggest that we could better apply what Paul was saying regarding these issues, if we would pay more attention to what he meant in the real life context of his letters.

First, Paul never preached a gospel that did not call for obedience. However, he never preached a gospel that called for obedience to the Law/Torah. This is what got him into so much trouble, and caused, and continues to cause so much misunderstanding of his gospel. Paul said at the beginning of Romans: “Through him, and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience of faith.” (Rom. 1:5) This could be translated, the obedience which is faith.

The gospel that Paul proclaimed was simply that Jesus, the Messiah, was Lord. This called for a response of obedience. And, that obedience is what Paul called faith…a turning from one master and one realm, to another. It was a call to join up with Jesus and become part of his people, a belonging that transcended all former reliance on status and divisions, whether religious, social, ethnic, racial, or gender, everything that characterized a broken and estranged humanity, to become part of the one people of the one God through Christ.

Within the life of this one people, the Torah/Law as covenant identity no longer played a role. Nor was the Law and all its commands any longer what guided and shaped the life of the community. It was the Spirit. The Spirit who called forth and elicited faith in a crucified and risen Messiah for those entering the community, and the Spirit who brought forth the fruit of love, joy, peace, kindness, etc… a loving unity that what was to characterize the ongoing life of the faith community.

The idea of trying to impose the Law upon believers through the entrance sign of circumcision actually worked against this unity, by reinforcing religious, ethnic, and gender status markers. This is why Paul argued so vociferously against imposing it upon Gentiles, because he saw that it was toxic to the life that the Spirit had brought through the preaching of Christ, and the unifying faith and love that this brought.

In Galatians, he tied JBF to the division in Antioch over food and eating together, saying that Jews and Gentiles were justified in the same way, without the law added as a condition for belonging. He spoke of the Law as coming 430 years after the promised blessing to Abraham, and went on to use the image of the Law as a child custodian whose time of authority was over, because the child had grown up and received the inheritance. This is what he said happened when the faith/Messiah came, human beings had no further need of the custodian. The promised blessing of the Spirit had been received, the downpayment of the full inheritance had been given, and the Law had nothing to do with this. It was all through the response of faith to the preaching of the gospel.

In fact, trying to add/enforce life under the Law through circumcision, food laws, or observance of Jewish holy times, all there in Galatians, would lead to just the opposite. Paul said that they would be obligated to keep the whole law, all 613 commands, and they would fall from grace, Christ being of no use to them. And, taking this path was actually causing strife in the Galatian churches, as can be seen in the letter. What all this was saying is that Paul considered the Sinai covenant part of the old age, aligned with and coopted by sin and the flesh. With Christ and his Spirit, the new age had come, the new way of being human, in unity with God and with one another in love. This had been opened wide equally to all, regardless of all the old identity markers that divided people inside or outside the Law. Trying to add the Law to the gospel in this way, was like trying to pour new wine into old wineskins. It didn’t work…then or now.

With that said, Paul still saw a deep congruence of the gospel with the Law. The Law, in its essence, pointed forward to this faith that he preached, that included Jews as Jews and Gentiles as Gentiles. The example of Abraham reveals this. This is how faith established the law, as he stated in Romans. It is no coincidence that the story of Abraham follows this statement.

Secondly, the deepest ethic of the Law, self giving love for others, is what he saw embodied in Christ, and what was to shape the entire faith community. The freedom that Christ and his Spirit gave to people as a gift, was to be used in service and love to others, in the way that Christ loved, and in the way that Paul conducted himself, too. This is why he could sum up the law in the one command of love for ones neighbor, and why he could also say, "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

This is simply how the saints, those who had already been set apart/sanctified by God, were and are called to live in this world. This is to be the continual pursuit of all who belong and name the name of Christ. A love that cares for and looks out for the good of others…without having to worry about how perfect is perfect, or how well one is keeping the law, etc. The grace and belonging freely bestowed by Christ to all who believe is enough to take care of all those concerns.

Adventism introduces these preoccupations over such concerns to the detriment of Christian freedom, love, and unity. It has made and continues to make an obsession with perfection a toxic influence on personal faith and community because of its tendency to lead people into a continual, morbid introspection, as opposed to an outward looking to the needs of others. And, it causes a division from the wider Christian world over its own cherry picked points of law, holy time and food laws, that it says defines the faithful remnant. Finally, it tries to shape Christian life and community around holy time as the end time defining mark, when the NT is clear that Christian community is shaped around the crucified and risen Christ, and his self sacrificing love for others. It is this that he says defines his disciples:

"They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another."




Yes. I have always believed this is true.

In fact I used to hear critics who said, “Be careful. Des Ford is so highly educated in rhetoric and communication, he is too persuasive. He will ‘fool’ anyone because of his smooth speech.”

Other critics also could not confront him on the issues, so the went by “hearsay” that he was a heretic and dangerous. A denominational worker could be fired for attending a meeting where he spoke, studying his work and discussing it, etc. I personally know at least three highly respected pastors who were fired for such. It was a dangerous thing to be open minded and listen to both sides.

(George Tichy) #134

In this case, Jeremy, nobody but the LGTarians will possibly be saved.
Are you now endorsing LGT? Just curious.

(jeremy) #135

what i mean by passive sanctification is that for ford, sanctification is always and only a mere by-product of faith in christ - it’s great if it’s there, but it’s no big deal if it isn’t…and because it’s always imperfect, it cannot in any way be functional in terms of our salvation…here are a couple of snippets that i think illustrate ford’s approach:

in general, ford correctly identifies the original sin in our fallen nature as the cause of our necessarily faulty sanctification…but he doesn’t see that this faulty sanctification is what jesus justifies…he doesn’t see that because justification perfects our faulty sanctification, we are accounted perfect in god’s eyes, and don’t have to worry about the faulty quality of our sanctification…

for ford, while he believes that god justifies whom he sanctifies, and sanctifies whom he justifies, justification is a separate transaction from sanctification…in his mind there is no real nexus between justification and sanctification…as a result, he necessarily implies, without exactly saying it, that we can be negligent or even open sinners and still be justified because our sanctification has nothing to do with our salvation…

this separation of justification from sanctification contrasts sharply with what paul teaches in Rom 8:28-30, where we see conformity to the image of christ being placed in the same continuous stream of the purpose of god for us as our justification…it contrasts with what paul teaches in Eph 2:10, where we see that we are god’s creation for the purpose of good works…it contrasts with what paul teaches in passages like 1 Thes 4:3, that the will of god in terms of our sanctification is to abstain from sins like fornication - in fact in 1 Cor 6:18, paul tells us to “flee” from fornication…and it contrasts with what paul teaches in 1 Cor 9:24-27, where he advocates a mindset that resists the cravings of the body…he even tells us to “mortify” the cravings of our bodies in Col 3:5…in Heb 12:4, paul’s whole connotation is that “striving against sin” will cost us something…he doesn’t present, as desmond ford does, a blithe, free-ticket justification that side-steps the cross of self-denial implied by life-long sanctification…paul prayed constantly for perfection in his followers so that they could “in every good work to do his will”, Heb 13:21…he didn’t consign sanctification to an unimportant sphere and tell his followers not to worry about it…

in short, paul’s version of sanctification is much more active and functional, in terms of our salvation, than desmond ford’s…he advocates constant vigilance against sin and satan, Eph 4:26-27…he even threatens the “wrath of god” on people who sin, Eph 5:6; Col 3:6, which is something desmond ford does not generally do…

the following illustrates what i think is ford’s essentially flippant attitude towards sanctification…that is, he doesn’t pray about it because he accepts that it’s “a mess”:

“Justification has to do with your status. Sanctification with your state…Your status is always the same in Christ—perfect. Your state is up and down, in and out, a mess… One is based on what Christ did for me. The other is based on what Christ does in me. The first is perfect, complete and 100 percent. The second isn’t, because God is doing it in me… The Christian message is Christ for me—what Christ has already done. The Christian life is Christ in me—what happens after conversion.” Right With God Right Now, pp.21-22.

(jeremy) #136

i agree that christ’s imputed perfection is what justifies our necessarily faulty sanctification…

(jeremy) #137

george, i encourage you to actually read egw - at least the thousands upon thousands of pages on justification and sanctification that have already been published…you will see that she doesn’t teach LGT…even before 1888, egw’s whole message was that we are necessarily imperfect, due to the original sin we’ve all inherited, but that we’re accounted fully perfect in god’s eyes because jesus imputes his perfection to our account in the sanctuary in heaven and fully overcomes our imperfection…he has paid the price on calvary that gives him the standing to do this without contravening the perfect justice of an infinitely holy god…

(Ray Smith) #138

Thank you Frank. Beautifully put.


Jeremy, thank you for your response.(I am behind and responding to comment #129.)
It’s clear that we disagree about the many statements made by Paul in which he stressed that salvation can be ours by faith in what Christ has done for us and apart from our lawkeeping.

I feel it necessary to try to clarify my position on the process of sanctification. I do not want to leave the impression that it is not important both for this life and beyond.

Des Ford said that Christ saves us where we are be never leaves us where we are. We are to become ‘bond servants’ of Christ our kinsman-redeemer. As such our duty is to abandon the ways of sin, our old master and adopt those of Christ, our new master. We are called to ‘starve’ the remaining sin in ‘the flesh’ as well as ‘feed’ the seed of Christ within.

As the law of God is written on our hearts our lives will change. We will live more abundantly, and become better ambassadors for Christ as we become more like Him. We will become a blessing as we learn to put the welfare of others ahead of our own.

A small subset of believers, who have progressed furthest on this path to holiness are called overcomers in the Bible. Their most Christlike trait is that they have learned forgiveness and how to love even their enemies. The book of Revelation says they will be given authority over the nations. They shall be priests of God and reign with Him during the thousand years as the kingdom unfolds in the next age. If your calling is to a such position of authority under Christ then your sanctification is especially crucial.

Our salvation lies entirely in what Christ has done for us but our sanctification is very important also.

(William Pritchard) #140

Fortunately, great, brilliant minds are not required to enter into the kingdom of God. The Good News is that Christ died for me and my sins. For me, LGT is contrary to Christ’s promise that He made for us, Matthew 28:20 “… Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” That is his promise to all of us who believe.