Embedding Last Generation Theology in Sabbath School Lessons

(Thomas J Zwemer) #201

We still speak of the four corners as stupided as it is to astronomy.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #202

Yes there is a judgment day. on that day for me I have asked Jesus to take my case. The Father sees His Son and accepts His plea on my behalf. That is true for all generations from first to last. It is the wounded head, hands feet and side that saves me. Thanks be to God in all three personalities. I take their word over the quarterly or their sources.

(Johnny Carson) #203

LGT, in its entirety, is the authoritarian’s way of legitimizing one’s own interpretation of every egw jot and tittle. It is not a scriptural doctrine by any stretch.

(Kim Green) #204

And it is entirely emotionally and mentally exhausting…

The easiest groups of people to control are those who, for whatever reason, are continually exhausted (preoccupied). They lack the ability to cogitate deeply (or at all) or even have the strength to uprise against those in power. It has worked very well for despots, dictators, and cult leaders, for millennia. Abject anything is not meant for optimal living.

(Johnny Carson) #205

To the point of leading some to contemplate or to attempt suicide. I know from firsthand experience. I had an uncle who was an LGTarian long before it became a thing. He convinced me of theses things, very much to my detriment.

(Tim Teichman) #206

All right, I’ll take the bait.

First, based on how Christians in general behave, I’d say most Christians don’t even make any sort of feeble attempt to be like Jesus.

Second, for likely different reasons, sign me up. I’ll be the first to respond to you and state unequivocally that I am not on any sort of track to try to emulate Jesus. Doing so is not the point. We are taught that Jesus is the only human who has ever lived and who will ever live a sinless life. Since sinlessness is not attainable, then how should we respond to Jesus? Is it to live the exemplary life he lived? It seems not, since that aspect of his life cannot be duplicated. If it could, any one of us could be the Messiah. Instead, he was the only redeemer, the one to cover us by grace - by living a sinless life - so that we could be seen as blameless - since law following is not a path to salvation. Our task to is accept that grace.

Is it good to live a good life, to treat others well, to treat ourselves well? Sure. Is it required? No.

(Johnny Carson) #207

Tim, even Jesus himself would agree with you:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

(Steve Mga) #208

Shane –
It is good having working “men of the cloth” as participants here in the conversation.
No need to apologize or feel a sense of uneasiness.
Pastors I know [Sda and others] all sense they don’t know everything. The Bible is
such that many times one suddenly becomes AWARE of a thought, concept that
has been read over many times and MISSED until a “light” suddenly comes on.
Pastors and Laity are ALL at the same “study table” when it comes to gaining
INSIGHT into what IS REALLY being said by a Scripture contributor.
It is just that Pastors are allowed to say what they want to say for 45 minutes
each week-end, and the Laity DO NOT.
And Pastors get to “CHOOSE” what will be the topic. So when they end their
time, they don’t HAVE to say, “I need more study on this topic.” LOL

(Shane Anderson) #209

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Tim! You bring up a ton of intriguing points. In the interest of preserving interest, I’ll just point out one thing for now.

You finish your comments with this:

Wonderful point! And this is why my version of LGT is so much more desirable (well, at least to me :wink:) than Andreasen’s version. Andreasen in essence sincerely asked, “How good do I have to be to be saved?” Sincerity notwithstanding, his was precisely the wrong question. The right question is, “How good do I get to be?”

The difference between these two questions is vast. The first question is the legalist’s mantra, mistress, and curse. But the second question expresses the freedom that can only be found in Christ. In a real sense, no one will ever be saved by what they did or did not do (Eph.2:8 & 9); they will instead only be saved because they know Christ (John 17:3; Matthew 7:23 & 25:12; etc.). In other words, when we are in Christ, we are no longer under the law of God (Romans 6:14) and can therefore cease to try to earn our salvation by keeping that law (amen!). Instead, we are set free to live with Jesus, growing in Him, learning of Him, daily be set free from the chains of sin and oppression that used to hold us so tightly.

And one of the natural fruits of this relationship is that, well, yes: we end up keeping God’s law better and better–again, not because we have to, but because we get to. And thus, I have no problem believing that there will be a group of believers at the end of time who know and love Christ so well, that in the eyes of heaven, they will not sin, and will thus not need a Mediator…and again, because the infinite glory and love Christ easily eclipses their own, they will be the last to claim or even recognize that sinlessness.

Okay, so that went long. Sorry about that! To atone for this, I’ll finish by pointing out something you said that made me smile ear to ear:

LOL, Tim! A new version of LGT: “There will be a final generation on earth that is senseless–conform or face the consequences!” People have been telling me for years I’m senseless, so perhaps there’s hope for me in the end-times.

Okay, so I know you meant “sinlessness,” Tim, but I’m still chuckling from the typo. :grin: Thanks!

(Tim Teichman) #210

I categorically disagree. Being a Christian is fundamentally about accepting Jesus. That’s it. - not about how good you get to be. You may want to be good, and you may be, according to you. But by and large being “good” is subjective and in my experience competitive goodness ends up being basically a pissing match.

Yes, free to live in Jesus. OK. But something that mystical and personal is not something anyone else can evaluate in another. So I don’t see the point in focusing on it.

Rhetoric like “chains of sin and oppression” may work for you but leaves me cold and slightly revolted. It is not something I’ve ever experienced - nor do I think it actually exists.

Sorry, yes that was a typo. Auto-correct got me again.

It should have stated:

(Kim Green) #211

Or, develop mental illness…which generally isn’t as lethal or permanent as suicide. None of it good.

(Johnny Carson) #212

Yes, that was the track my Uncle eventually took some years after convincing me as a young teen of his “new light”. The guy was raving crazy by the age of 70 and lived into his nineties. Puttered around the house and grounds muttering egw phrases about being sealed with the Seal of God, of being a part of God’s final generation of sinless humans. Repeating himself over and over again to anyone he could corner to “benefit” from his lifetime of study.

(Kim Green) #213

Adventist Apocalyptic beliefs lend themselves to “interpretation” and therefore one can be a “celebrity” by virtue of “New Light”. I have mentioned before, one relative that has created a “ministry” doing just this. He now is flummoxed as to why Isis has not been more active as the relative’s “study” has shown. But, of course, time is still on his side as God will eventually reveal more to him. :slight_smile:

(Frankmer7) #214

Mt. 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your Father in heaven is perfect,” calls people to completeness/perfection in light of loving ones enemies, in the way God blesses all, regardless of whether they love him or not. Luke 6:36, the only parallel NT text says, “Be merciful, as your Father in heave is merciful.” This sheds a bit more light upon what the text means in Matthew’s gospel.

First, this doesn’t refer to some type of perfect sinlessness. Rather, it points to a mature spiritual life, that prizes mercy and peace over retaliation and retribution. While this is a universal call, Jesus addressed this to a Jewish audience that sought retribution against the Roman occupiers of their land. This would have been very relevant to their attitudes and situation.

Applying this to a final sinless generation is beyond what this text is saying. This is a goal that was meant for Jesus’s first disciples, and for all of us who have followed since then.

The exhortation for patient endurance on the part of those who obey God’s commands/his will and remain faithful to Jesus, in Rev. 14:12, was addressed by John to the seven churches in Asia Minor. The entirety of Revelation was addressed to them. The introduction and final portion of the book refers to the churches, the seven being the only ones identified in the letter. It was read aloud to them in their assemblies.

To apply this call to an unidentified generation post 1844, indicating their sinless perfection, is also not in the scope of the text. It is a call that applies to the churches of John’s day, in light of the good news of God’s judgement on the oppressive powers pressing upon them and their commitment to God and the Lamb. This applies to all Christians, of all ages, who are challenged in their commitment to God and Christ, by beastly powers.

The idea of judgement revolving around the sinless perfection of a final generation based on these texts, seems beyond what they are saying in their context.



(Shane Anderson) #215

Interesting thoughts, Frank. Some responses to your responses:

There is no exegetical basis on which to limit the applicability of verse 48 to merely the topic of verses 43-47 (loving one’s enemies). It can just as easily apply–and in my opinion, more aptly so–to the totality of Jesus’ instruction in all of chapter 5, since all of chapter 5 presents revolutionary principles of the character of God that Christ wished His followers to advance and exemplify in the world. This would preclude the narrow application you give to only v.48, and instead opens the door for a far more expansive interpretation of the perfection Christ speaks of there.

That said, you are undoubtedly correct that the Greek word for “perfection” used here (Gr teleioi) does not generally carry the connotation of “sinlessness,” but much more favors the notion of “completeness” and “maturity.” I find this to be a very helpful linguistic nuance. Christ’s goal is that we be “perfect,” i.e., “complete” and “mature” in Him. This maturing process is done by focusing on Him and our relationship with Him rather than focusing on our sin (John 15:1-5). But this hardly precludes the phenomenon of the Christian seeing sin overcome by God’s power working in his or her life–something that Jesus Himself clearly allows for and even expects (see Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28)! Such growth in Christ, far from being a liability, is instead a valuable part of the perfection/completeness/maturity that Christ desires His followers to receive.

Hmmm, perhaps I’m not understanding you, but this seems to be a distinction without a difference (at least if intended to be a corrective to my posted comments). Would your logic here not point to a broader application of perfection rather than a narrower one? In other words, would you words here not make Christ’s words in v. 48 a call to every generation–including the final one on earth–to “be ye therefore perfect”? And therefore, the issue would not be one regarding timing (when v. 48 is to be applied), but rather interpretation (as in, what does “perfect” mean)? I am open to further explanation on your point, here.

We may simply need to agree to disagree on this. By the standard you seem to express here, most (all?) of scripture would be merely commentary in place and time and not directly applicable in any meaningful way to the present time except as helpful suggestion or aspirational ideal. No, I grant that you do not explicitly say this. But it is nonetheless the natural conclusion of the reasoning you seemed to express earlier, express now here, and express again in the remainder of your comments. If I have misjudged your hermeneutical stance, I ask forbearance and for additional instruction. But if this is indeed your stance, I would simply ask that you be consistent: The same isolation in (first century) time and place that you seem to assign to “be ye perfect” ought to be applied to “love your neighbor as yourself,” as well.

It may be that you’ve not been able to read my comments elsewhere on this thread. If so, I do not blame you (it’s certainly hard for me to read all 200+ comments, and my personal comments may not be sufficiently gripping reading to warrant attention!). However, in those comments, I share briefly my re-appropriation of the term “Last Generation Theology.” Your comment does not appear to me to address my comments, but rather classic LGT. Let me know if I’m incorrect.

Thanks again for your response, Frank, I appreciate it!

(Johnny Carson) #216

So to take that statement to its logical conclusion, Christ just uttered Lots of unassociated sentences end to end. That doesn’t make sense unless one desires to take his words out of context. But I guess that is traditionally one of Adventism’s strong points. :blush:

(Ray Smith) #217

Shane, I find your comments challenging. I have quoted several excerpts above that interest me even though space here does not allow a full reply. In your paragraph where you said we are not under law I started to get excited by where you were going but then you lost me when you went on to conclude, " they will not sin, and will thus not need a Mediator." We will never come to the place where we have finished with the shed blood of our Lord.

LGT of your variety or Andreason’s variety misses the whole point of the gospel. Too many Christians I believe from every denomination are way too focused on sin and by extension becoming sinless. Our attention is on self even if we think we are focused on Christ.

The gospel is not about how good I get, it’s about the perfect sacrifice and perfect righteousness of Christ and His work in the human heart.

There’s nothing new in this but there is the confusing concept that sanctification is the work of a lifetime. Add to this the fact that some believe that in their lifetime they will become sinless while others in their lifetime have a way to go to reach that point and the gospel becomes a state of uncertainty and confusion. Some can make it by becoming sinless, while others struggle to overcome till the day they die, never reaching a life without sin. How does that work?

We seem to be so involved with our battle with sin and reaching the perfect standard as the last generation that we miss the point of Christ’s finished work of the gospel on the cross and in His resurrection.

John 5:24. "Truly, truly I say to you,he who hears my word, and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life , and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Profound? Absolutely. This is how it is now in Christ.

The consequence of this and related verses is that when we are born again, born of the Holy Spirit, we are righteous because we have been crucified with Christ, We live, but its not us, it’s Christ living in us.

If the Holy Spirit created a new heart in us when we were born again and if Christ lives in that new heart, how righteous is our heart? It’s as righteous as Christ is righteous because it’s His creation and His dwelling place in us. How much closer can we get to God if He lives in us and we live in Him? We are forgiven. We are cleansed. We are accepted in the Beloved. How can we be more forgiven? How can we be more cleansed? God is faithful and just in this work in our hearts.

Every born again Christian in the generation of the Apostles was as ready for heaven at any moment of their lives as any born again Christian living in the last generation before Christ returns. Christ’s perfection which is ours by grace is the same for everybody in all generations.

I need to draw attention to a verse in Ephesians that I for one overlooked for most of my life - sadly. It’s Ephesians 4:24 read in context. For me this describes the new birth experience. We’ve laid aside the old self (crucified with Christ in Romans 6 and Galatians 2:20) and we’ve put on the new self. This verse is truly mind-blowing.

  1. We are renewed in the spirit of our mind (a new spiritual nature - not a lifelong modification and self-improvement program of our sinful human heart)
  2. we have put on the new self
  3. which in the likeness of God (sounds like the creation story - in God’s image/likeness)
  4. has been created (the new creation - the old has gone the new has come.)
  5. has been created in righteousness
  6. and holiness
  7. of the truth (verse 21 … just as truth is in Jesus.)

We have a new heart in the likeness of God created in righteousness and holiness of the truth, Jesus. That’s amazing grace and the reality for all who believe in Jesus.

Paul reminds us that sin still lurks in the flesh but we are not slaves to it. It’s a foreign virus that we battle in this life. Besides, Christ came to take away the sin of the world. He became sin for us on the cross and yet we obsess about sin rather than focusing on and believing in Jesus.

We are reconciled and God does not count our sins against us. They are all forgiven. Christ finished His work for us while were all still sinners. That’s why His work in us at conversion is such a dramatic change - a new birth - a whole new life in Christ’s resurrected life.

This for me is the greatest motivation of all to believe and to let Christ do to perfection what He promised to do in this once sinful human heart. Sin does still does get the better of us in the flesh but God has our back as they say. We hate the sin (sooner or later) even when we choose it. Sin no longer defines who we are. We have become the righteousness of God in Christ. We spend a lifetime, be it a month or 100 years, learning to live in harmony with the new heart God has put within us and in harmony with Father, Son and Holy Spirit who live within us.

I know this raises many questions and I still have much to learn. As I see it, the righteousness of Christ is much more than a robe. Christ doesn’t hide my sin from the Father They together dealt with sin on the cross where the blood was shed. God removes the old sinful nature and creates a new heart in everyone who believes in Him and accepts Jesus.

God dealt with sin on the cross and we should never forget it. All this is life-changing because it’s truth that sets us free. It’s all of grace, God’s grace in and through Jesus and the Holy Spirit who work and dwell within us, promising never to leave us. Their words, not mine.

This is perfection - Christ’s perfection in us. This is righteousness - God’s righteousness in us. The time is coming when the weaknesses of the flesh and these mortal bodies will be replaced with heavenly bodies and perfect minds that sync with our new heart that we received when we were born into God’s family.

That’s love. That’s grace. First or last generation makes no difference - and all generations between.

(Johnny Carson) #218

And this, of course, is not only wrong, it is extra-scriptural and heresy of the worst order. “And I will be like the most High.”

(Cfowler) #219

Is this biblical? If so, how?

Do you think this is a true statement?

Christ’s Object Lessons , page 69: ‘‘Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”

(Frankmer7) #220

I would disagree with you here, Shane. I think that the statement is to first be understood in its most immediate context, and that is in the pericope on loving ones enemies. The parallel passage in Luke, which says, “Be merciful, as your father in heaven is merciful,” is embedded in the same instruction. To me, this shows that the gospel writers seem to have a common understanding of the connection between perfection/completeness and mercy because they both write these statements by Jesus in the context of love of ones enemies. They indicate that same connection in Jesus’s thought, as well.

All Scripture is rooted in place, time, and culture, as I think you would agree, Shane. It was written by inspired people in specific times, places, and cultures, not in an ahistorical or acultural vacuum. There is no getting around it. But, to assume that this means that I was saying that it has no direct applicability to us, specifically Revelation, is to misunderstand what I was saying.

We would never dream of interpreting Galatians without regard for trying to ascertain, as much as possible, the issues that Paul was confronting in the churches there, how they intersected with the Judaism of his day and its relation to the early Christian movement, etc. If we did, we would simply be dealing with a distortion of the text, and a distorted application to our present life situations. No one should question that this is all part of the process of sound interpretation and application.

All I’m saying is that we need to do the same with Revelation. Outside of the first three chapters, Adventism, along with prior Protestant interpreters, has overlaid a historicist framework onto the book, that makes most of it past Chapter 4 to be almost incomprehensible and irrelevant to John’s original audience, and reads the most recent interpreters situation into the text. This is what Luther, Miller, and SDAism have all done. (In line with this, a historicist view is even overlaid onto the seven churches, even though they were literal congregations in 1st c. Asia Minor.) It is more eisegetical than exegetical to me.

I’m proposing that all of the book had meaning to John’s original audience, on the ground in the 1st c, not just the oracles in the first three chapters. The opening and closing of the book, which is structured like a letter, reveals that all of it was written to and meant initially for them.

This tells us that Revelation, as all biblical books, was not written to us first. Thus, as we would with interpreting any other biblical book, we should approach it as if we are listening in, trying to find what John intended for his original audience first, before we apply it to ourselves today. In fact, I think that this would lead to more cogent and possibly more powerful applications for our present situations in which we are seeking to follow Jesus faithfully…the very opposite of what you think I’m saying.