" 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.”
It just sounds like a movie script from Star Trek or even Scientology books.
It just completely escapes me why this “perfection” would be required from God. In essence, we are becoming “Gods” in our own right…so blasphemous.
Agreed, Kim. It’s such a bizarre statement, and has probably produced a lot of angst in some people. Also, it always gets me when I see or hear “His church” or (“God’s church”), which always means the SDA church, of course.
No Paul. I dont judge regarding that. Do I believe Sabbath is correct, yes. Do I love to keep it. Yes. Do I believe prophecy support Sunday laws for the world. No!
Mark of the Beast appears to be any compromise with the powers that be regarding any breaking of any commandment. Church members who expelled Jews to the SS in Germany for example - followed the beast - and not Christ.
I don’t think that it implies all of the qualities of God. I think there is a good motive behind a rather terrible execution.
The problem with all of it is the Mickey Mouse effect. There are millions of people who come to adore a mouse with all of the myths surrounding it, but it doesn’t stop them from coming back home and keep breaking the neck of mice with a trap and trash them in the garbage. That imaginary reality is very different from the everyday one. So, the “mouse” in the Disneyland means something very different than “mouse” at home.
It becomes easy to flip the effect and turn any proverbial mouse, including oneself, into a “hero of faith” by means of constructing a narrative that lives in Disneyland and not everyday reality.
GC environment is that proverbial Disneyland. In that environment, LGT becomes inevitable. Any hierarchy of moral leadership will suffer from some version of that ideology.
But. I don’t think that we should trash the ideals along with expectations. Ideals are necessary.
Great summary of legalism and the dangers associated with it! It seems leadership is more interested in preserving their “club status” than growing the church. Who can possible keep “their standards”?? The answer is obvious, but their exclusive club membership is safe and secure.
Thanks for the response, Ray, but I fear both of us are too long-winded for anyone else to care sufficiently to read! Oh, well, perhaps we can at least read each other’s comments, and perhaps others will eavesdrop. Here are some thoughts on your thoughts on my thoughts:
I completely agree this can become a toxic focus. I used to be there myself–it’s a miserable way to live. That said, I don’t know that I share your assessment of the extent this is a concern for so many Christians. I don’t have a survey to back me up, but I sense libertinism is far more prevalent than the opposite (and equally deadly) evil of legalism.
Precisely! And, the former is inevitably, unstoppably, the result of the latter. In Christ, fruit cannot help but grow (John 15:1-5).
Sanctification, biblically speaking, is both the work of a moment and the work of a lifetime. At the point of accepting Christ as our Substitute and Lord, we are perfect in heaven’s eyes; Christ’s record stands in place of ours. And, we will then grow in grace. (For what it’s worth, I think this is what EGW had in mind when she said that, “At every stage of development our life may be perfect [wow! think of the implications!]; yet if God’s purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement” - Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 65.)
This conundrum is possible, but certainly not inevitable, and definitely not required. Perhaps this illustrates what may be a common misunderstanding of many on this thread regarding what I’m advocating. I am not advocating being obsessed–nor am I personally obsessed–with overcoming sin (again, been there, done that, got the headache to prove it, not going back!). But I am increasingly obsessed with Christ. And He–not my ability to personally neutralize the power of sin in my life–is my security and assurance and peace. Which, by the way, is way cool.
Amen and amen! And it is in this “I already am saved” context of that I can now grow and become more and more like Jesus! --again, not to be saved, but because I already have been saved; not for merit’s sake, but for Christ’s sake! To be clear: I will never be Jesus. I will never be equal to Him in character or wisdom or an endless list of other attributes. AND, I can and will, inevitably, now that I am saved by His grace, grow in the new space of being in Jesus. Again, very cool.
Yes, right on!
Ah, words are important, here, so I want to be sure I’m understanding your terminology. We certainly cannot be more forgiven. Forgiveness with God is like being pregnant: you are or you aren’t. So I think we agree on this point. More cleansed? Possibly not–but it depends on your meaning. If by “more cleansed” you mean “more acceptable to God,” than I would again concur with you: such a thing is an impossibility (see note on pregnancy above). But if by “more cleansed” you mean “more Christ-like,” then I would have to disagree. An example: A friend of mine, years ago, gave his life to God. At the time, he was a heavy drinker and had the all the morality of Hugh Hefner at a singles club. When he accepted the Lord, it was dramatic! He was ecstatic (and so was my friend)! And…my friend began to be what we all are when we first accept the Lord: a work in progress! But gradually, the drinking and the drugging went away. The philandering went away. Etc., etc. In other words, if I can put it this way, his life became more and more “clean,” even though all along the path, he was (as I think EGW would put it) “perfect” at each stage of his development. My friend had the freedom to overcome sin, because his salvation was not dependent on him overcoming sin.
Actually, in one key sense, this is emphatically incorrect. The Greek word for “new” in v. 23 (as in “…to be made new in the attitude of your minds…”) is a present tense infinitive. That means the being made new is indeed an ongoing, daily–and yes, lifetime–activity.
This comports well with Paul’s counsel in Romans 12 (and elsewhere, for that matter). In 12:2, for instance, he counsel us to be “transformed by the renewing of your minds…”, and again, the Greek word for “transform” means ongoing, continuous transformation. And I guess that’s one of my overriding points in this whole discussion thread: Growth in grace–not growth in order to obtain God’s grace, but growth in God’s grace–is a biblical reality. (And for what it’s worth, Adventism is one of the few denominations left that still believes this–a handful of legalists here or there notwithstanding.)
Precisely, yes. And in Christ, He can overcome this in us–else what does I Cor. 10:13 mean?
Some do, and yes, it is sad and terribly destructive. I praise God, Ray, that we both celebrate that Jesus is the much better focus!
You are making my case for me. Well said.
We are not far apart, Ray. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, I appreciate it!
Just a thought…some “ideals” can cause great sorrow, pain, suffering, and even death. When the “ideals” are not required by God, they are man- made. When they are man-made, they are not necessary for salvation.
When we pretend to be something that we should not be- we dishonor God…no matter what the environment or circumstances. At this point, our “motivation” ceases to matter at all.
So many posts, so little time. I have a brief break between meetings, so I’ll do my best to respond to some:
Thanks for demanding a high view of scripture, Johnny–truly, no joke, I appreciate it. And my response would be that, yes, the cohesiveness of scripture is of the utmost importance. But that is precisely my point. Matthew 5:48, in context, definitely does apply to Christ’s counsel in vs. 43, onward. But to limit it to those few verses is a contention that I don’t think the wider context supports. To say that “Be ye therefore perfect” includes only loving one’s enemies, and does not also include being humble (v. 5), merciful (v. 7), a peacemaker (v. 9), pure (vs. 27-30), faithful (vs. 31 & 32), etc., seems unlikely and unwarranted. (For what it’s worth, it may be interesting to check out a few scholarly commentaries written by Christians–as opposed to those written by agnostics or atheists, which yes, do exist–and see what they say about v. 48. I think you’ll find I am not alone in my interpretation.)
Aha! Not surprised that this drew a few objections. Such statements by me are surely signs I’m an incorrigible legalist who bathes seven times after merely walking by a delicatessen that serves pork, are they not?
I stand by my statements. But I will offer some clarifications that may make them more understandable (if not more palatable).
First, in context, my statement refers specifically to Christ’s mediatorial work in the heavenly sanctuary and NOT to a supposed time when we will cease to need Christ. Christ mediatorial work is crucial! And, it is hardly His only function. So my statement is simply one that (to me, at least) is logical: If there is someone at the end of time who does not (for instance) break one of the Big Ten, that person would not require mediation–period. Need Christ? Yes! Need mediation? No.
Second, the sentiments expressed in COB 69 are, in my opinion, true and biblical. AND, to be properly understood, they need to be read in the context of other EGW statements. There are a number of them that would be germane to our discussion, but I know there is an aversion to excessive EGW quoting on this forum. So I will simply point to one:
“At every stage of development our life may be perfect; yet if God’s purpose for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime. As our opportunities multiply, our experience will enlarge, and our knowledge increase. We shall become strong to bear responsibility, and our maturity will be in proportion to our privileges.” --COB 65
This, to me, is an astonishing statement: “At every stage of development…”, she believes God can consider us “perfect”! Wow! And let’s be clear: That means that at least part of COL 69 can be fulfilled in a person’s life now, not merely at some indefinite point in the future.
EGW generally used the word “perfect” in the biblical sense: It meant (and means) “mature,” “complete.” The Bible does not directly attach the connotation of “sinless behavior” to the term (though to be fair, linguistically-speaking, it would not by that fact exclude it, either). My 13-and-18-year-old daughters are therefore (to this daddy’s eye, at least) “perfect,” just as they are, today. But that doesn’t mean they have no further growth ahead of them (at least, I hope not ).
All of which is to say, COL 69, in my opinion, is simply not addressing the method of your or my personal salvation. It just does not address that issue. What it does address is some point in the future when an inevitable development in the Christian church–and yes, to my way of thinking, even in the Adventist Church–will occur. In other words, COL 69 is descriptive, not prescriptive. It describes what will be, rather than how to make what will happen, happen.
Gotta run. But hope that at least gives a start on better understanding my thoughts.
If those people were already perfect as Christ is, what could possibly be the role of God’s GRACE? This idea completely debunks the necessity for God’s GRACE. The theology of grace would be actually considered as a heresy!!!
Also, if a certain group could become perfect, why just that certain group? Are they the only ones chosen by God for eternity?
And, if they worked on becoming perfect, then they actually must have some special power, to become perfect and therefore “saints” by themselves. Which would completely annul the necessity of any “sacrifice on the Cross.” Jesus’ ministry and salvific journey on Earth would have been a mere unnecessary waste of time.
Can we see how LGTariansm is a dangerous* and deceiving HERESY? One needs to be completely nuts to believe in such nonsense!
It is the most nonsensical notion ever. And, yes, it completely negates Grace.
When I think of the biblical story of the Tree of Good and Evil…what was it that Satan told Adam and Eve? To be like God…or rather BE a God is so very ego satisfying and to attain this goal means that we WOULD be Gods. So, what is the difference between Eastern Religion and Adventism at this point…not much at all.
Yes, Carol…in 1st c. Judaism the belief was floating around that if the Torah was kept perfectly (whatever the criteria for that was) for one Sabbath (some said two consecutive Sabbaths), then Messiah would come. Meanwhile, he was already there, not contingent upon their Law observance. Jesus himself said this: “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observance, but the kingdom is already in your midst.” Preoccupation with Torah observance and signs of the times, kept them from recognizing what God was doing in the world right in front of their noses, in the person of his Son. Is there anything new under the sun?
While Adventism goes around in circles with these inbred arguments about perfection, and how the seven trumpets fit made up time periods in Revelation, God is at work in the real world…in many ways and places, even outside of Adventism. Surprise! I think that Jesus will come apart from human performance, just as he did the first time.
“When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son…” God knew the time then, apart from human doing. I think it may work that way again!
As has been happening for thousands of years…but, of course, nothing before Adventism really counts. Like the persecuted Christians around the world. Well, it’s not about the Sabbath, so it doesn’t really count.
I’m quite sure the quote from COL is misapplied by far too many people. Are we supposed to strive to have the character of Christ? Or are we to live the life Christ’s grace and righteousness provides us and do the things Jesus did. According to Matthew 25 those who enter into the kingdom (the sheep) will be unaware of the character they have attained. They will have been too busy taking care of the needy to realize that Christ’s character has been reproduced in them. I think that’s what is meant by the passage/sentence. Taking it out of context and striving (on our own!) to have Christ’s character just isn’t what is intended by God or EGW. The more we admire Christ, the more we will be like Him and do what he did. The more we think we have to be perfect and strive to be so, the more we act like the goats.
Can you spell this out in more specificity? I looked back up through the discussion a ways and see nebulous referencing of ideals but no specificity on what those are by yourself or by Kim (maybe I failed to follow it back far enough?). To what ideals do you refer?