The statement in Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69 is a beautiful and most inspiring passage. But the notion that Last Generation Theology is primarily based upon it is a serious exaggeration.
First and foremost, a number of Bible verses establish the fact that God is waiting in a special way for a victorious, commandment-keeping remnant at the close of human history (Zeph. 3:13; I Thess. 5:23; II Peter 3:10-14; I John 3:2-3; Rev. 3:21; 12:17; 14:5,12). Second Peter 3:14 is especially clear that those who meet Christ at His coming must be “found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”
Notice the saints are to be “found” in this condition. They won’t get that way when Jesus appears. And the condition in which they must be found is described in the same language as Christ Himself (I Peter 1:19).
First John 3:2-3 affirms the same truth. Some have mistakenly quoted verse 2 by itself, which says that “when He shall appear, we shall be like Him,” thus wrongly concluding that the saints will become like Him when He comes. But verse 3 shatters that illusion when it states, “And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.”
In other words, we are to become pure “even as He is pure” while we still have the HOPE of His coming, not when He appears in the clouds.
A host of other Ellen White statements, besides Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69, affirm the Biblical truth that God is waiting for a people perfected by sanctifying grace before Jesus can return. What follows is but a small sample:
"Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above, are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon the earth. . . .
“When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing” (GC 425).
“Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. . . . He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to His advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble” (GC 623).
“I also saw that many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully. . . . I saw that none could share the ‘refreshing’ (latter rain) unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action” (EW 71).
“Those who come up to every point and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation” (1T 187).
“[From a chapter titled, “Pray for the Latter Rain”] By the power of the Holy Spirit the moral image of God is to be perfected in the character. We are to be wholly transformed into the likeness of Christ . . . Every individual must realize his own necessity. The heart must be emptied of every defilement, and cleansed for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit” (TM 506-507).
“Only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming it (the third angel’s message) when it shall have swelled into the loud cry” (RH Nov. 19, 1908).
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us, as the early rain fell upon the disciples upon the day of Pentecost” (5T 214).
“Now is the time to prepare. The seal of God will never be placed upon the forehead of an impure man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of the ambitious, world-loving man or woman. It will never be placed upon the forehead of men or women of false tongues or deceitful hearts. All who receive the seal must be without spot before God—candidates for heaven” (5T 216).
“The latter rain will come, and the blessing of God will fill every soul that is purified from every defilement. It is our work today to yield our souls to Christ, that we may be fitted for the time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord—fitted for the baptism of the Holy Spirit” (Ev 702).
“May the Lord help His people to cleanse the soul temple from every defilement, and to maintain such a close connection with Him that they may be partakers of the latter rain when it shall be poured out” (6BC 1055).
“The refreshing or power of God comes only on those who have prepared themselves for it by doing the work which God bids them, namely, cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (1T 619).
“Are we seeking for His fullness, ever pressing toward the mark set before us—the perfection of His character? When the Lord’s people reach this mark, they will be sealed in their foreheads. Filled with His Spirit, they will be complete in Christ, and the recording angel will declare, “It is finished”” (6BC 1118).
“‘As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.’ God will have a people zealous of good works, standing firm amid the pollutions of this degenerate age. There will be a people who will hold so fast to the divine strength that they will be proof against every temptation" (3T 472).
“No impurity can enter the pearly gates of the golden city of God. And the question for us to settle is whether we will turn from all sin and comply with the conditions God has given us, that we may become His sons and daughters. . . .
When you are all ready, having overcome your sins, having put away all your iniquity from you, you are in a condition to receive the finishing touch of immortality” (FH 44).
“Every living Christian will advance daily in the divine life. As he advances toward perfection, he experiences a conversion to God every day; and this conversion is not complete until he attains to perfection of Christian character, a full preparation for the finishing touch of immortality” (2T 505).
“Jesus sits as a refiner and purifier of His people; and when His image is perfectly reflected in them, they are perfect and holy, and prepared for translation. A great work is required of the Christian. We are exhorted to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (1T 340).
“When He comes, He is not to cleanse us of our sins, to remove from us the defects in our characters, or to cure us of the infirmities of our tempers and dispositions. If wrought for us at all, this work will be accomplished before that time. When the Lord comes, those who are holy will be holy still. . . . The Refiner does not then sit to pursue His refining process and remove their sins and their corruption. This is all to be done in these hours of probation” (2T 355).
Reading these statements, I am reminded of the statement made by the late U.S. Senator Sam Ervin when he chaired the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973. At one point, Nixon aide John Ehrlichmann asked why Ervin was so dogmatic in his interpretation of a certain federal statute. Ervin replied, “Because I understand the English language; it’s my mother tongue” (Karl Campbell, Senator Sam Ervin: Last of the Founding Fathers (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), p. 292).
For perhaps a majority of those involved in this controversy, English is our mother tongue also. And that’s the language Ellen White wrote in. Which helps explain why the vast majority of those opposed to Last Generation Theology hold a very limited perspective on Ellen White’s prophetic role.
The fact is that Last Generation Theology is deeply embedded in the DNA of classic Adventism, and can in no way be attributed merely to one or several authors, such as A.T. Jones, E.J. Waggoner, or M. L. Andreasen. Magnificent though the contributions of these men truly were, they represent but the tip of the iceberg so far as Adventist advocacy of Last Generation Theology is concerned.
Let me again direct our readers to an article I wrote a year ago on this subject:
Finally, I would beware of any book titled, “In All Humility.” Humility is a lot like Christian perfection—the moment you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it. One thinks of the monks in the monastery who boasted, “We lack many things around here, but one thing we don’t lack is humility.” Being proud of one’s humility seems a common trait among the doubting and the skeptical. I am reminded of another Ellen White statement in which she writes, “Skepticism and unbelief are not humility. Implicit belief in Christ’s word is true humility, true self-surrender” (DA 535).