Posts tagged Ellen White
Ellen G. White and Conspiracy Narratives

I recently shared an article titled The End Times and Conspiracy Narratives. In it I shared some thoughts regarding the relationship between Christians in general and the ever increasing popularity of conspiracy narratives. In this post, I would like to focus more on Seventh-day Adventists and their relationship to conspiracy narratives/theories by sharing some thoughts from the life of church co-founder and prophetess Ellen G. White.

The first thing to point out is that Ellen White didn’t really deal with the issue of conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories, while growing in her day, where not as widespread as they are today. However, she certainly lived in a time when indulgence in conspiracy theories was growing. The Illuminati and Free Masons were already on the scene, and strange narratives regarding their agenda, power, and political control were spreading. In an article in Publiceye.org titled “The Illuminati Freemason Conspiracy” the author states that “[t]he idea of a widespread freemason conspiracy originated in the late 1700's and flourished in the US in the 1800's.”[i] Nevertheless, Ellen White herself never engaged in such activity. 

For example, the Illuminati was founded in 1776, just fifty-one years before Ellen White was born. If knowledge of the Illuminati and their inner workings were necessary then apparently God didn’t see fit to tell Ellen White about it. In all of her writings there is not one syllable devoted to the Illuminati. The Free Masons were also born late in the 16th or early 17th century. During Ellen Whites day, Free Mason conspiracy theories abounded. Yet once again, Ellen Whites writings are void of such conspiracy theories.

Ellen White did talk about the Free Masons. Nevertheless, when dealing with the Free Masons it’s important to note what she said and what she didn’t say. Ellen White counseled, under Gods direction, that Christians stay away from the Free Mason society for practical and obvious reasons. She even worked personally with an Adventist who was involved in the fraternity and God gave her special knowledge of their inner workings in order to impress upon the mind of this man that he was indeed speaking through her. However, not only did Ellen White never go on to share the inside knowledge God gave her in any of her work, but even the reasons she gave in opposition to joining the fraternity were simply practical and void of any promulgation of conspiracy narratives.

So far we have seen that Ellen White, though certainly having had opportunities, never engaged in conspiracy theory talk. This should in and of itself cause those of us who value her prophetic example and are nevertheless fascinated with such things to wonder if perhaps we are wasting our time with pointless investigations. However, I would also like to point out some quotations from Ellen White (with personal comments in brackets) that give us principles to keep in mind when dealing with this issue.

“We need far less controversy [a characteristic of conspiracy theories], and far more presentation of Christ. Our Redeemer is the center of all our faith and hope” (EV, 172).

“Our work is not to make a raid on the Government but to prepare a people to stand in the great day of the Lord. The fewer attacks we make on authorities and powers, the more work will we do for God....[Conspiracy theories do exactly what we are told not to do in this quote] Do all in your power to reflect the light, but do not speak words that will irritate or provoke” (EV, 173).

“You should have a clear apprehension of the gospel. The religious life is not one of gloom and of sadness but of peace and joy coupled with Christlike dignity and holy solemnity [Those fascinated with conspiracy theories often exemplify a doom and gloom version of Christianity and not the peace and joy that should be had]. We are not encouraged by our Saviour to cherish doubts and fears and distressing forebodings; these bring no relief to the soul and should be rebuked rather than praised [Conspiracy theories nourish doubts, fears, and distressing forebodings. Rather than praise these things by our focus on them we should rebuke them by ignoring them]. We may have joy unspeakable and full of glory. Let us put away our indolence and study God’s Word more constantly” (EV, 180).

“I have been shown that it is the device of the enemy to divert men’s minds to some obscure or unimportant point, something that is not fully revealed or is not essential to salvation [a classic description of conspiracy theories]. This is made the absorbing theme, the “present truth,” when all the investigations and suppositions only serve to make matters more obscure and to confuse the minds of some who ought to be seeking for oneness through sanctification of the truth” (EV, 182).

“A noble, devoted, spiritual worker will see in the great testing truths that constitute the solemn message to be given to the world, sufficient reason for keeping all minor differences concealed, rather than to bring them forth to become subjects of contention. Let the mind dwell upon the great work of redemption, the soon coming of Christ, and the commandments of God; and it will be found that there is enough food for thought in these subjects to take up the entire attention [If we spent more time getting to know Jesus we wouldn’t have time for speculations. Conspiracy theorists often have much knowledge of many things but they are lacking in the preciousness of Jesus. Rather than allure they repel those around them]” (EV, 183).

“Satan is pleased when we magnify his power [This is the nature of conspiracy theories]. Why not talk of Jesus? Why not magnify His power and His love” (MHH, 43)?

While these statements may not be directly dealing with the issue of conspiracy theories I don’t see how one can engage in entertaining such things without violating the principles they advocate. With this in mind, it is clear that Ellen White did not see conspiracy theorizing as a necessary element of preparing for last day deceptions.

However, Ellen White is not our example – Jesus Christ is. In Jesus we find our pattern, one that focused on showing mercy, love, and empathy to the suffering and whom wasted no time engaging in such fruitless things as conspiracy narratives. Ellen White wrote,

Millions upon millions of human beings, in sickness and ignorance and sin, have never so much as heard of Christ’s love for them. If our condition and theirs were to be reversed, what would we want them to do for us? All this, so far as lies in our power, we are to do for them. Christ’s rule of life by which every one of us must stand or fall in the judgment is, “‘Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.’” Matthew 7:12[ii]

In conclusion I ask, what would you want a Christian to do for you if you were lost? Would you want him/her to share with you how the shirt you are wearing has masonic symbols, a DVD on how the Bush administration plotted 911, or how the music you like has satanic lyrics recorded backwards? Or would you like her to tell you of Jesus love for you? What would you want him to say? When your heart is bleeding, when your debt is overwhelming, when your marriage is ending, when your guilt is so strong its crushing you, sitting there in your living room with your world falling to pieces around you – what would you want to hear? I don’t know about you, but I would want to hear that there is a Savior who “regards with infinite tenderness the souls whom He has purchased with His own blood. They are the claim of His love. He looks upon them with unutterable longing.”[iii] I would want to know that there is one whose name is Jesus who can save the worst of the worst. When my heart is broken, speak to me of His love! When sin has me bound in iron chains, tell me of His power! When I am lost, nowhere left to go, talk to me of the “One who can calm the raging seas, give sight to the blind, pull the lame up to their feet”.[iv] Tell me “God loves you Marcos," "[w]ith a love so strong he'll never let you go... you [are] not alone”.[v]

Seventh-day Adventist, I appeal to you – speak of Jesus. Tell of His love. Tell of His grace. Tell of His power. Tell of His soon return! Talk of how He longs for us to be with Him. Talk of how He can save the worst of sinners. Let Him be your theme and song. Let Him be your every breath. If you and I would do this, if we would choose daily to lift Him up we would never go wrong. Never.

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[i] http://www.publiceye.org/tooclose/masons.html
[ii] White, Ellen G. The Ministry of Health and Healing, p 48.
[iii] ibid, p 20.
[iv] Wickham, Phil. Safe. http://www.elyricsworld.com/safe_lyrics_phil_wickham.html
[v] ibid.
Q & A: What Does "Without a Mediator" Mean?


Q: One thing that I've been struggling with is reconciling a quote from EW like the above- We cannot say, “I am sinless,” till this vile body is changed and fashioned like unto His glorious body [the second coming]. {ST March 23, 1888, par. 13} with this one from GC "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" The Great Controversy, p. 425. That's obviously sinless perfection, right? How would it ever be possible to stand before God without Jesus' righteousness applied to us? Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.
A: The statement you are reffing to says, "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."
Some people misconstrue this statement to be referring to absolute sinless perfectionism. Its as if, unless we reach this state of sinlessness we will, at last, be rejected by God. This conclusion must, nevertheless, be rejected for two major reasons. 
1) It contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ* 
2) It contradicts the very writings of EGW herself**
Thus, a different interpretation must exist. One that harmonizes this statement with both the Bible and the full picture of EGWs soteriology. A closer more thoughtful reading of the passage does just that.
1) First of all Ellen White is referring to something that happens after the close of probation, not before. This means that standing without a mediator takes place when the judgment is over and no one else can be saved or lost. The irrevocable decision has been made. Thus, to be worrying about whether you are good enough after probation has closed is a waste of time because, er..., probation has closed. At this point you have either been declared righteous or wanting and nothing can change that decision. Thus you are, at this point in human history, either eternally lost or eternally saved.
2) This then raises the question, how can we be sure to be declared righteous? The answer is simple for the perfection which we have before God is no different in this instance as it has been all throughout history. Notice that Ellen says we must stand before God with spotless robes and purified characters. However, how is it that we attain these? Ellen answers the question when she adds, "by the blood of sprinkling". It is through Jesus blood that we stand spotless and purified before God. Not our works or performance.
3) The statement is simply saying that before Jesus comes we need to have our minds made up. Will we trust in him alone? Or like the Hebrews Paul wrote to in the NT, will we - in the midst of persecution - turn our backs on Jesus? Once the judgment is over no more changes will be made to the verdict. We are either covered by his blood or not. So now is the time to come sincerely before God and surrender our lives in full trust of his saving grace.
The late Adventist theologian Edward Heppenstal put it best when he wrote,
"To live without a Mediator does not mean to live without the righteousness of Christ, or without the Holy Spirit, or the saving grace of our Lord. Since all cases are decided for weal or for woe, the work of our divine Advocate is concluded. No further charges by Satan can be brought against the saints, for Christ has answered them all. The cases of the saints have all been called to the bar of heaven. Christ has successfully pleaded our cause and secured a judgment in our favor. Nothing can now reverse that verdict. There is nothing more to say. Excepting Satan and his host, there is perfect agreement throughout the universe as to Christ's verdict in favor of the saints. All questions have been answered regarding the future of the saints. No member of the Godhead needs to make any further defense on their behalf. All that remains is for Christ to return and for the saints to live and reign with Christ a thousand years (Rev 20:4-6). Because of their unchangeable irrevocable standing before God, there is no further need for Christ to intercede with God for their salvation or for their redemption. The saints have been declared the legal heirs to the new earth. Their standing from henceforth is one of final justification and vindication before the bar of God and before a sinless universe. The fact that they have chosen without qualification, the righteousness of Christ, leaves only the actual conferring of that sinless nature and entrance into their eternal inheritance at the second coming of Christ, when this mortal shall put on immortality and this corruption shall have put on incorruption (1 Cor 15:52-54). 
"As we have clearer views of Christ's spotless and infinite purity, we shall feel as did Daniel, when he beheld the glory of the Lord, and said, "My comeliness was turned in me into corruption." We cannot say "I am sinless," till this vile body is changed and fashioned like unto His glorious body. But if we constantly seek to follow Jesus, the blessed hope is ours of standing before the throne of God spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, complete in Christ, robed in His righteousness and perfection." (Signs of the Times, March 23, 1888)[1]
In his article, "Without a Mediator" Mike Manea explains a further implication of this statement when he writes:
"Although it is always dangerous to resist God’s call, the average individual usually has repeated opportunities to come to Christ. However, there have been times throughout history when those opportunities were cut short: the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the destruction of Jerusalem, etc. Whether young or old, those events brought probation to a close early for the people involved.
The second coming of Christ will have a similar impact, not just on a city or nation, but on the planet as a whole. People will no longer have the same opportunities to come to Christ that they would have had if history continued. Adventists call this event, the close of probation, and we believe God has placed us on this earth to prepare humanity for this solemn event. We believe Christ will come when every individual has had sufficient warning that probation is closing and their opportunities are running out.
Thus, the warning that we will soon be living without a mediator means several things:
1) It means that the people who have not yet accepted Christ are running out of time to make a decision.
2) It means that people who have accepted Christ but then went back to the world, are running out of time to return.
3) It means that Christians who have been holding on to willful/known sin, are running out of time to give it up.
What the statement does not mean however is that there will ever be a time when we will no longer need Christ. Nor does it mean that we will need to reach a state of complete sinlessness after which we will no longer be covered by Jesus’ blood. Salvation has always been and will always be by grace through faith. Even after the close of probation, we will be safe only because we are covered by the blood of Jesus."[2]
So in conclusion, the above statement cannot possibly mean that each person must reach a certain performance level which - if failed - will doom the person to condemnation. Such a belief is in direct contradiction to the gospel and the writings of EGW herself. What the statement does mean is that we are to trust in Jesus and not turn back. In truth, this statement is simply a natural outflow of Classical Arminianism which rejects the concept of once saved always saved. For a more thorough exploration of Ellen Whites foundation in Classical Arminianism I recommend you read "Facing Lifes Record: An Analysis of the Great Controversies 'Scariest' Chapter"[3]
Hope this helps! 
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*To being an exploration of the SDA understanding of the gospel, I recommend the following article: http://www.pomopastor.com/2013/04/the-sda-gospel-is-legalistic-isnt-it.html
**To begin an exploration of the relationship between EGW and the gospel I recommend the following article: http://www.pomopastor.com/2012/10/ellen-g-white-on-legalism.html#more
[1]https://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/sites/default/files/pdf/perfection%20Heppenstall.pdf
[2]http://mikemanea.com/conversations/without-a-mediator/
[3] http://www.pomopastor.com/2013/08/facing-lifes-record-analysis-of-great.html 
City Dwelling VS Country Living? A Brief Analysis of Ellen White's Views


About a year ago I was sitting in my last Personal Evangelism class at Southern Adventist University. The professor, a traditional Hispanic evangelism-guru, surprised the entire class with a paradigm shift on city evangelism. "People must live in the cities in order to evangelize them" he proposed. No sooner had the proposition hit the air than one of the students pulled out his phone, loaded the Ellen White app, and read the following quote:
He [Enoch] did not make his abode with the wicked. ... He placed himself and his family where the atmosphere would be as pure as possible. Then at times he went forth to the inhabitants of the world with his God- given message. ... After proclaiming his message, he always took back with him to his place of retirement some who had received the warning. —Manuscript 42, 1900
When the student was done he looked up and added, "that's how we should do it." The professor did not skip a beat. "Every time?" he asked, and without waiting for an answer he added, "It doesn't work!" He then proceeded to explain that with the size of cities today working from a country outpost can, at times, mean one would have to drive for hours and hours in heavy traffic just to get to the area where one wants to do ministry. And when the day is done one would have to endure the same torture in order to get back to the "outpost." Such a strategy is extremely unpractical he argued. And I would have to agree. But the question is, Why is the outpost method seen as the only method to do city evangelism? The easiest answer is “because Ellen White said so.” However, our professor argued that she did not. Was he right?

Before I dig into that question allow me say right off the bat that there is absolutely no doubt that Ellen White favored the outpost method. Having grown up in the city I can see why. I would never want to raise my kids in the environment I was raised in. The crime, gangs, drugs, violence, and corruption were intense. I know kids I went to school with who turned out to be drug dealers, drug addicts, and gangsters. I hated living in an environment where I always had to be paranoid about getting mugged (I was mugged twice and nearly mugged two other times) or assaulted (I was nearly assaulted by a gang of 20+ one night). My high school was harder to get into than an airport. Metal detectors, pat downs, wands, and book-bag inspections were all part of my morning routine. Drugs were sold right outside the front entrance, shoot outs and stabbings were common, and God forbid if you wore the wrong colors to school. Since certain gangs laid claim to certain colors I would always be anxious when getting my clothes ready in the morning. Am I wearing too much blue and grey?[1] I would wonder. Is there too much red in this outfit?[2] This was my life year after year.

In contrast, my country friends tell me of how they spent their teenage years – mud hoping, horse riding, camping, and taking care of the farm. They enjoyed the benefits of an outdoors life while I and my non-criminal friends hid in our apartments from all the garbage outside. I envy them.

Ellen White recognized that this was city life and as such, the consistent pattern of her counsel was anti-city living. She recommended the outpost method, a method in which city workers set up camp outside the city and then enter the city for ministry and exit when done. The idea was to minister to the people living in the city without becoming “city dwellers.”

So was my professor wrong in saying that the outpost method doesn’t always work? Just to be fair, he did not say it never works or that it should be abandoned. His contention was that it is not always the best method and it should not be viewed as the only method to do city evangelism. But again I ask, was he wrong? Rather than answer the barrage of questions being hurled at him he directed us to a newly published book called Ministry to the Cities – a compilation of Ellen Whites views on how to do this whole “city thing.” Just last week I finally got my hands on the book and devoured it within a few days. When I was done it was clear to me that Ellen White was a lot more sensible and rational than many of us make her out to be. She was, as Leroy Moore says, “a paradoxical thinker.” And while there is no mistaking her preference for the outpost method she in no way advocated that it was the only way.

For example, in page 17 of Ministry to the Cities we read, “The example of the followers of Christ at Antioch should be an inspiration to every believer living in the great cities of the world today. While it is in the order of God that chosen workers of consecration and talent should be stationed in important centers of population to lead out in public efforts, it is also His purpose that the church members living in these cities shall use their God-given talents in working for souls.” Here Ellen White clearly states that it is God's will that chosen workers be stationed in the cities (important centers of population) and that the lay-men living in those same cities work for souls as well. In page 95 we read, “The Lord has presented before me the work that must be done in our cities. The believers in these cities can work for God in the neighborhood of their homes.” In page 95 she speaks directly to Adventist “city dwellers” when she writes, “I address Christians who live in our large cities: God has made you depositaries of truth, not that you may retain it, but that you may impart it to others. You should visit from house to house as faithful stewards of the grace of Christ.” Interestingly enough, in none of these statements does she tell the “city dwellers” that they are wrong for living in the city and neither does she instruct them to leave but to remain and reach their neighbors for Christ.

In page 112 we read that “Some must remain in the cities to give the last note of warning…” and while this statement is followed by the admonition that this will become more dangerous, it nevertheless captures her paradoxical thinking on the matter. The fact that “some must remain” is clear evidence that she did not view the outpost method as the only viable method and in fact, viewed it as limited. If “some must remain” in the cities to give the final warning, it is clear that the final warning cannot be adequately given via the outpost method. Instead, it must be given by “city dwellers.” The most shocking statement comes in page 113 where she actually encourages Adventists to move to the city. She writes, “Close around us are cities and towns in which no efforts are made to save souls. Why should not families who know the present truth settle in these cities and villages, to set up there the standard of Christ, working in humility, not in their own way, but in God’s way, to bring the light before those who have no knowledge of it? ... There will be laymen who will move into towns and cities, and into apparently out-of-the-way places, that they may let the light which God has given them shine forth to others.”

Her paradoxical thinking is also seen in her counsel for building schools in relation to the cities. In page 117 she says, “Especially should our schools… be located outside of the cities…” and yet in page 115 she writes, “Church schools are to be established for the children in the cities…” This she says even though she maintained that "'Out of the cities' is my message for the education of our children.” Thus the paradox seems clear. When it came to boarding schools Ellen White maintained that they should not be established in the cities but that did not mean that standard schools such as the church school could not. This demonstrates her practical thinking on the matter. Not everyone living in the city can afford to send their kids to a boarding school in the country. In order to minister to the city kids then, church schools should be established in the city. We see this balanced approach most clearly in Testimonies Vol. 9 page 221 which says,

So far as possible these schools should be established outside the cities. But in the cities there are many children who could not attend schools away from the cities; and for the benefit of these, schools should be opened in the cities as well as in the country.
Ellen White was also clear that churches should be established in the city. In page 114 we read that “In every city there should be a city mission that should be a training school for workers.” And in the same page she clearly states that “in every city where the truth is proclaimed, churches are to be raised up. In some large cities there must be churches in various parts of the city.” If there are churches in the city, clearly there is a demand for people to live in the city as well – especially if the church fits into her vision of a vibrant training center as opposed to just a Sabbath morning club. In addition, locating churches in the city means that the city will not be reached exclusively by outposts but by established churches within the cities themselves.

Ellen White was also consistently clear that sanitariums should never be established in the cities. This makes perfect sense since Sanitariums are intended to be a type of health retreat. However, in page 120 she also said “God would have restaurants established in the cities. If properly managed, these will become missionary centers.” Again she emphasized that “Our restaurants must be in the cities; for otherwise the workers in these restaurants could not reach the people and teach them the principles of right living.” In page 121 she adds, “I have been instructed that one of the principal reasons why hygienic restaurants and treatment rooms should be established in the centers of large cities is that by this means the attention of leading men will be called to the third angel’s message.” She continues this chain of thought in regards to assisting the addicts when she says, “In every city a place should be provided where the slaves of evil habit may receive help to break the chains that bind them” (134).

So what are we to make of all this? Is Ellen White contradicting herself? How can she say that we should leave the cities and then say “Some must remain in the cities…”? How can she praise the outpost method and then encourage “families who know the present truth [to] settle in these cities”? With the size of modern cities, was she not aware that establishing churches, vegetarian restaurants, and church schools would demand that many people live in the city in order to practically operate these entities? Sure she was, and this is why she never maintained that the outpost method was the only method that God would bless. Ellen White was a paradoxical thinker. She was balanced. She was sensible. She recognized the ideal was to work from outposts and to avoid living in the cities altogether, but she also recognized the real – that it was not always practical to use the outpost method.

So if Ellen White had such a balanced approach to city evangelism, why then have Adventist’s traditionally frowned upon “city dwelling”? The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia provides a helpful answer:

…we find in Ellen White’s writings two sets of parallel counsel—one related to institutions, advocating outpost ministry; and a second dealing with local church work, advocating missionary work from within the city. Unfortunately, only one set of counsel has received much publicity. The reason for that imbalance is that statements from the one perspective have been collected and repeatedly published in compilations, while the other even though equally valid and important, has been neglected. Thus Adventist’s have traditionally highlighted only one half of Ellen White’s perspective on city mission (716).
With all of this said there is one other thing I would like to highlight and that is that while Ellen White was not against city dwelling we need to be aware of our motivation when we do in fact decide to live in the city. As I mentioned before, I hated living in the city. However, I must also admit that I absolutely love the city. I am a city boy at heart and there’s nothing I enjoy more than cruising through the city at night with my wife while listening to Michael Buble. I love the café’s, the liveliness, and the vibe of Manhattan, Boston, downtown Chattanooga, Honolulu, Pearl City, and Waikiki, and currently – Perth, Western Australia where I live. And in some ways I think this type of city living is why I haven’t always liked Ellen Whites outpost method. I don’t want to be told to leave the cities because I love the city. But that’s not entirely true. I don’t actually love the city. I just love the nice parts of it – the skyscrapers glimmering against the night sky, the elegant restaurants and shopping centers, and the hustle and bustle of a busy street. If this is what a city was then I don’t think Ellen White would have ever recommended an outpost method, but that’s not all a city is. The city is also the part I hate – the gangs, the prostitution, the drugs and violence. City is the slums and the ghettos, the rough neighborhoods and the hoodlums. Anyone who lives in the city - enjoying its cafes and skyscraper while never noticing the decadence and brokenness around them - is living in a self-deluded bubble. The city is not simply the beautiful; it is also the ugly reality of poverty and crime. And for those who want to live in the city and do ministry there – don’t think you’re just there to have interesting Bible studies at Star Bucks with university students. That’s part of it yes, but you are also there for the addicts, the convicts, and the perverted who linger on its streets night after night searching for satisfaction. City ministry is dangerous, scandalous, and wild. Not everyone is designed for it. It is missionary work in every form and demands that those who engage in it not become comfortable with the pretty side of city life, but that they confront the dreadfulness of the degenerate side as well.

So is the outpost method the only viable method for city evangelism? Not according to Ellen White. In her paradoxical view God’s people should leave the cities, and God’s people should move to the cities. The church should not launch establishments within the city and the church should launch establishments within the city. Both are true at the same time and it is the context of the situation, be it corporate or personal, that determines what the best course of action is. However, Ellen White also warned that the time will come when we will have to leave the cities and those called to incarnational city ministry must always be prepared to do so. But no need to worry city lovers! The Lord has promised us a city as our eternal home.

To read the book Ministry to the Cities in PDF format click here.

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[1] Blue and Grey are the colors used by the Crips, "one of the largest and most violent associations of street gangs in the United States" (Wiki, read more).
[2] Red is one of the main colors worn by the Bloods, a gang "widely known for its rivalry with the Crips" (Wiki, read more).
Overcoming the LGT Formula


I love the gospel. There is so much power and beauty in it — it is the one biblical theme I never get tired of. I preach about it constantly, write about it tirelessly, and talk about it passionately. And while I have much to learn about the grace of God I am thankful for what he has already taught me.
But such love and appreciation for the gospel does not come without a few scars. For years I have had to fight, struggle, and wrestle for a clearer view of what Jesus did for me. And even now I continue to grapple with the many voices both inside and outside my head that try to pull me away. There are Pharisees, misconceptions, and ignorances that live inside of me. There are biases, counter-biases, and selfish ideologies that are in there as well. Then there are the voices of fanatics, conservatives, liberals, and emergents — all of whom want me to believe their version of the gospel.

But at the end of the day, I love the gospel. I love it because it’s unassuming. I love it because it’s experientially life-altering. And I love it because it fills my troubled, hypersensitive mind with a stillness otherwise unattainable.

While I have been a Seventh-day Adventist all of my life, my love for the gospel did not begin until around five years ago. Years of hypocrisy and self-induced obliviousness led me to a crux in the journey that demanded resolution. I was in Babylon even though I was Adventist — confused and bewildered by an eclectic view of the cross that failed to sustain me during some of the most challenging years of my life. Confronted for the first time with my sin-problem, I plunged into a state of depression and anxiety that would last for years. During that time, my mind attempted to juggle the gospel of grace I had learned as a teenager from Hispanic preacher
Felipe Andino and the gospel of perfectionism that I had now been exposed to – a gospel known as Last Generation Theology. In my gospel illiteracy, I assumed both were the same gospel and then attempted, rather unsuccessfully, to syndicate the two. What I ended up with was subverting the gospel of grace by subordinating it to the gospel of perfectionism and emerging from the iron and clay mixture with a subconscious formula that was not so sure to get me to heaven: The grace of God + Your efforts and obedience = Salvation.I tried to soften the impact by adding “by God’s grace of course” to the second part of the formula, but it didn’t make a difference. I had very little peace. And while this skewed version of the gospel was not to blame for my emotional instability, it certainly did not help to foster healing.

Time went on. I continued to study the gospel and listened to almost every
Alejandro Bullon sermon on the face of the earth. His explanation of the gospel was impeccable — my problem was not his explanation but my own amalgamation of cross and beast. While Bullon’s sermons did much to point me in the right direction I still was not making a distinction between the true gospel and the one that continued to insist that I would be lost if I did not perform well enough. While none of these thoughts were clear in my mind, they were lodged deep in my subconscious and emerged from their cavernous lair in the form of knots in my stomach.

I arrived at Southern Adventist University and ran into a book that beckoned me from the shelves of the library: My Tortured Conscience by Martin Weber. I devoured the book, and though the road ahead was long and arduous, that book, with the horrible 90s cover, was a fork in the road for me. Then came Conquering the Dragon Within by Marvin Moore and there I discovered that I did not lose my salvation every time I sinned unless I confessed right away. Oh, the relief! But true freedom did not come until my wife walked into our tiny living room one evening and said, “I finally get it! I finally feel free! I finally get the gospel!” I read the chapter from the book that had revolutionized her life, Seeing With New Eyes by Ty Gibson. It was then that my subconscious formula of What Jesus did + What I do = Salvation was exposed in all of its soul-destroying light. For the first time in many years, I felt relief. I felt free. The formula was wrong. I had had it wrong all along. “What Jesus Did. Period.” That was the formula. All I had to do was say yes, but even the act of saying yes was an act made possible by grace, prevenient grace as Jacobus Arminius (and yes, the Jesuits) had taught it.

Excited with my new found joy I prepared a sermon — and then I ran into a wall. It was too good to be true. There just had to be something I had to do. Jesus-only was way too good. So I put my sermon aside and went to the official SDA website to check our belief on the gospel. I had to make sure I had it right, and after reading it I was blown away. We did have it right. I preached my sermon and moved on with my newfound joy. But one nagging question remained: What about Last Generation Theology?

During my time in the LGT camp I had come to believe that the SDA church — Ellen White included — taught LGT up until the 1950s when, during the "Questions on Doctrine" crisis, Adventist leaders compromised on the gospel in order to gain evangelical approval. If this was true, then my new understanding of the gospel was actually false, for it reflected the SDA compromise in the 1950s. This meant that LGT was true after all and that I had been hoodwinked into embracing this “new theology.” I lived with this fear for some time until Leroy Moore settled all of my doubts in his bookQuestions on Doctrine Revisited. I did tons of research and study (too much to summarize here) and came to discover that while QOD was not perfect, LGT as constructed by its founder M.L. Andreasenwas further from the truth than QOD ever was. The history regarding this topic is long and complex, so I won’t reconstruct it here, but suffice to say that not only had I come to love the gospel more than ever but I emerged from my studies on LGT and QOD with a greater love for Ellen White and Adventism as a whole.

Last Generation Theology was helpful to me in the sense that it assured me that victory over sin was possible – and believe me, I needed some victory. In this sense I am thankful for LGT. But I lived with a constant sense of having to add something to what Jesus did. While there are some LGT preachers and believers who have a more cross-centered approach, the general result of this theology is subordinating the cross to works. Not only that, but LGT relies heavily on a presupposition which cannot be supported by the Bible or Ellen White: the human nature of Christ as post-fall. And while many LGT proponents continue to insist this is not the case, modern scholars and historians such as Edward Heppensal, Woodrow Whidden, Leroy Moore, and George Knight have effectively demonstrated that LGT proponents do not own the market on the human nature of Christ or any of the other issues raised by LGT founder Andreasen.

So what about perfection? I still believe in it. Every time I walk into a church where no one says hello, every time I read a story about Christian intolerance and insensitivity, every time I interact with leaders who are more concerned with themselves than with the broken, and every time I am exposed to a church that is more concerned with drums and cheese than loving the hurt, the dispossessed, and the addicted, I am reminded of Ellen White's words, “When the character of Christ is perfectly reproduced in his people…” You know the rest.

However, while I still believe in perfection, I differentiate it from the perfectionism inherent in LGT. For now, here are 3 ways in which I differ:

  1. Victory over sin is possible but anytime you tell someone they must overcome or else they won’t go to heaven you rob the joy of victory and where there is no joy there is no hope and where there is no hope there can be no victory. LGT preachers were very clear that we had to be absolutely perfect in order to go to heaven, and while I am all for some victory preaching the lack of balance led me to feel that no matter how much victory I had, I would never be good enough. In order for us to be truly victorious in this life, we need to feel safe in the arms of God. If we don’t feel safe, we will never truly overcome. The truth that God sees us as perfect in Christ during the process of making us perfect is a liberating thought that makes the believer feel safe and thus able to grow in their walk with Christ. In short, God does perfect his children, but never as the basis or as an additional merit for their salvation.
  2. LGT preachers had a knack for making it seem as though the final generation would be holier than any other generation that ever lived. I no longer believe this. The idea that I could possibly be holier than Paul or John is ridiculous. The main problem with this idea is that it made it seem as though being a part of the last generation was more of a curse than a blessing. For some reason, everyone else got to go to heaven if they were almost perfect. But not the last generation! Unless they exceed everyone else’s holiness and match the perfection of Christ perfectly then, they can’t go! Such an idea made me wish I had been born in the past with no possibility of being a part of the final generation. The pressure was too much! I have now come to realize that the last generation will be no holier than older generations were. The only difference is that we will have the privilege of living for God during a time when Satan will have full control of mankind. Thus, our holiness will be more contrasted with the earth's wickedness than it has ever been, but that doesn’t mean we will be holier.
  3. True biblical perfection is about love. This is how Jesus taught it. This is how John Wesley taught it. This is how Ellen White taught it. And this is how I have come to understand it. True perfection is not about your behavior, but about your love. If we are meant to be Christ-like, we must realize that Christ is not remembered for what he did not do but for what he did do: love fervently. No one remembers Christ because he didn’t eat pork – they remember him because he fed the hungry. No one remembers Christ because he didn’t sleep around – they remember him because he honored women. No one remembers Christ because he didn’t steal – they remember him because he gave. No one remembers Christ because he didn’t do anything on the Sabbath – they remember him because he did good on the Sabbath. Unfortunately, in LGT the focus is on what you don’t do in order to avoid staining your perfect character. But true perfection is about being like Jesus, which means we should love fervently, serve selflessly, and live abundantly.
Jesus-only has revolutionized my life. It has given me a new passion for living and for ministry. It hurts me every time I run into people who still live as though their diet, dress, or behavior can get them into eternity. But I thank God for the ride he has led me on and the opportunity I now have to share it with others.

If you would like to read more about my story and how I have come to make sense of all of these issues I invite you to explore this website and purchase my newly published eBook “Making Sense of Adventism: Faith-Journey of an Adventist Blogger”. You can also follow me at thehaystack.tv where I will be writing exclusively on the gospel from an Adventist perspective.

This article was originally published on
Spectrummagazine.org
Making Sense of Adventism: Faith-Journey of an Adventist Blogger

Do you have to be absolutely perfect in order to be saved? Is it wrong to have fun on the Sabbath? How can we say we are saved by grace and also say that those who don’t keep the Sabbath in the last days will be lost? Was Ellen White obsessed with obedience? How do we reconcile the cross of Christ with the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment? What does it mean to be “perfect”? How should Christians relate to Conspiracy Theories? Are Adventists even Christians? What do former or non-Adventists think about God and our church? What exactly is wrong with going to the theater? And what is the right way to worship?

These questions and many others are the subject of Making Sense of Adventism. Having grown up Adventist I acquired lots of different ideas and beliefs that I assumed were part of our identity. In fact, the confusion was so great that had I left Adventism during those years and written a book against the church it would have been entirely inaccurate – that’s how skewed my picture of Adventism was. All of that began to change when I arrived at Southern Adventist University (SAU) for what would be four years of theology school. Those four years were some of the most significant years of my life and it was during that time that I wrote more than 200 blogs and articles that reflected the epiphanies, discoveries, and paradigm shifts that were allowing me, for the first time, to discover the beauty of Adventism and its relevance for the world today. In Making Sense of Adventism I share the most relevant blogs, some of which began to be written long ago as I sat on the cushioned pews of Newark Spanish Seventh-day Adventist church in Newark, NJ. Others began to be written during my time in Hawaii and Iraq as a US Army soldier. And still others began to be written during my time in Australia where I was first exposed to concepts and theologies that would later demand explanations. It wasn’t until years later that they would find themselves onto paper, whether during my personal time or as an assignment for one of my classes at SAU. This is my journey and I share it with you with the hope that the answers I have discovered will help the struggling Adventist make a little more sense out of it all.




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10 Things I Am Glad Ellen White Did not Say
Courtesy of the Ellen G. White Esate, Inc.
This year I had the privilege of studying under professor Jud Lake, Adventist historian, Ellen White apologist, and author of Ellen White Under Fire. Part of the class was learning how to respond to criticisms leveled against Ellen White. Although I was already aware of this, I was able to see that nearly every single Ellen White criticism rests on a denial, and or violation, of the literary and historical context of her statements. As I read many of these criticisms I was reminded of the fact that the same arguments and insults can be made agains the Bible writers - and I am not refering to the Old Testament here but to the New. As a result I have created a small list of Bible verses I am glad did not originate with Ellen White, for if she had, the critics would have a hay day. Here is the list along with what the critics would say if Ellen White had been the first to say these things. Enjoy!





10 Things I Am Glad Ellen White Did Not Say


1) Women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. - 1 Tim. 2:15 

What the critics would say: Here Mrs. White clearly shows she has no knowledge of the true gospel. According to Mrs. White a woman can be saved through having children. However, the Bible is clear that we are saved only through Jesus. This "salvation through child-bearing" heresy is just another example of how legalistic this woman was. I feel sorry for all of those Adventist women who havent had children for according to Mrs. White, they will not be saved.

2) For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. - Romans 2:13 

What the critics would say: If you ever had any doubt if Ellen White was a legalist, doubt no more! We are clearly told from her own writings that in order to be declared righteous we must obey the law! However, the Bible says that all of our righteouesness is as filthy rags and that in order to be declared righteous we must be covered by the blood of Jesus. Seventh-day Adventists do not know the freedom of the gospel because they follow the teachings of Ellen White who says in order to be saved they must keep the law. Mrs. White must have never heard of the book of Romans which clearly teaches that we cannot be saved by keeping the law. She contradicts the gospel and is thus a false prophet!

3) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ... - 2 Cor. 5:10 

What the Critics would say: This statement plays perfectly well into the anti-gospel Adventist teaching of the investigative judgment. Ellen White writes to believers that "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ" This heresy robs the Christian of the assurance of salvation and is the reason why Adventists care so much about the law. They have no assurance! And how can they if they believe that they will be judged? The bible is clear that believers are not judged! How can Ellen White and the entire Adventist church contradict such a plain teaching of holy scripture? It is simple: They don't follow scripture, they follow the false prophet Ellen White.

4) If your hand causes you to sin cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched… - Mark 9:43-47 

What the critics would say: Here we see a perfect example of how fanatical Ellen White was. Adventists try to say she was balanced, but would a balanced person ever tell you to cut off your hand so you wont sin? This is clearly extremism and legalism at its worst! Not only that, but it is clear from this statement that Ellen White does not have an accurate understanding of temptation and victory over sin. We do not cut our hand off so we wont be tempted to steal because the problem is not the hand but the heart. The only solution then is to be born again and receive a new heart. Of course, Ellen White did not teach this because the Adventist church is her own cult and she used fear tactics like this one to keep Adventists under her thumb.

5) A person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. - James 2:24

What the critics would say: Blasphemy! Doesnt the bible plainly teach that we are saved by grace through faith? Has this false prophet ever read Ephesians 2:8-10 which plainly teaches that we are saved by grace through faith alone and not of our works so that no man can boast? The teachings of Ellen White are pure legalism. We must pray for those under her bondage!

6) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left... - Hebrews 10:6 

What the critics would say: Adventism is a black hole of hopelessness that fills one with anxiety and fear and makes it impossible for believers to have assurance of salvation. Here Ellen White clearly says that if you are not perfect once you have been saved and you sin again then you are cast out for good and can never return to favor with God. But doesnt the Bible say that we can never be separated from the love of God? This is pure heresy.

7) Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed... continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling... - Philippians 2:12 

What the critics would say: Here is more evidence that Mrs. White was a legalist. Salvation, rather than the gift of Gods grace, is something we have to workout and figure out on our own. But not only that! It must also be done "in fear and trembling"! What a terrible way to live the Christian life!

8) And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. - Rev. 22:19 

What the critics would say: According to Ellen White a believer can lose his/her salvation. This is a false teaching of Mrs. Whites used to gain control over her naiive followers. So long as she could keep them from having assurance of salvation she could control them into living the ultra-strict life she advocated.

9) Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 1 Corinthians 7:27 NASB 

What the critics would say: Notice the way Mrs. White describes marriage. Rather than a joy she speaks of being "bound" to a wife as though marriage was some sort of prison. She even goes so far as to suggest that single men should not seek a wife! What is this? Some Adventist version of celibacy? Does the SDA church have an order of male nuns? This negative view on marriage clearly reflects her own dysfunctional marriage to James White.

10) So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Luke 14:33 

What the critics would say: Here we see evidence that Ellen White sympathized with the communist/ socialist movement and even advocated a communal type of living arrangement for Adventist believers. This idea of surrendering ones personal property is a clear identifying marker of cults. Beware!

Bonus: As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. - Timothy 5:11-12 

What the critics would say: Ha! Can you believe this statement? According to the Adventist prophet, if a widow remarries she isforfeiting her dedication to Christ and bringing judgment on herself! Adventist wives had better pray their husbands never die on them or they will be forced into a lonely and celibate life lest they enter into judgment!


I suppose I could go on and on but by now I think you get the idea. All of you are reading my criticisms of these Bible texts and thinking "thats such an unfair criticism because it misrepresents what the Bible is actually saying!" That is true, and yet I have done it on purpose to demonstrate how the same exact method is used to attack Ellen White. It is not only unethical and unfair but speaks volumes to the lack of genuine scholarly work done by the critics of Ellen White.

For a great source on Ellen White apologetics visit ellenwhiteanswers.org
What the...? (Ellen White & The Golden Card)
photo credit: CollegeDegrees360 via photopin cc











All the angels that are commissioned to visit the earth hold a golden card, which they present to the angels at the gates of the city as they pass in and out. Heaven is a good place. {CET 97.2}

Then my attending angel directed me to the city again, where I saw four angels winging their way to the gate of the city. They were just presenting the golden card to the angel at the gate, when I saw another angel… {CET 101.2}
More than once I have heard people inquire, some with a sense of innocent nosy awe, and others with a sense of theological suspicion, about this so called golden card that Ellen White says the angels have. While I am not an Ellen White apologist I have, for some time, been really interested in looking into this myself and seeing what all the fuss is about.

The golden card can be found in 11 different places in Ellen Whites writings. However, those can be boiled down to just 2 since the others are simply times in which the original statements were republished in different books. Therefore, the first thing we must notice is that this golden card issue was not something that impressed Ellen White as much as it impresses some of us. During her lifetime, Ellen White wrote approximately 10,000 pages worth of material and the golden card shows up, in original format, only twice. She never wrote about it or expanded on it again. This is an important point to note because one critic has asked why God would “withhold this important piece of information from Christians” for so long. The answer is, it isn’t important.

However, it is still a topic that skeptics like to hone in on. Many are quick to point out that God is omniscient and all-knowing. Why would the angels need to present a golden card to get through the gates of heaven if God knows who his angels are and who they aren’t? In order to answer I would like to present some biblical scenarios that raise the same questions.


Scene 1: Sodom and Gomorrah

Sodom and Gomorrah were notorious for their wickedness. If these two cities were around today they would make Las Vegas look like Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show. The cities became so bad that God had to destroy them. However, before He judged the cities He investigated first. The Bible says in Genesis 18: 20-21, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know."

Here we read that God has heard the cries of people who are fed up with the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah. Now instead of saying, "I know that already and now I'm going to judge them" God essentially says I'm going to go down there and check it out for myself to see if its as bad as they say it is. He then sends two angels into the city and after the men of Sodom tried to rape them He judged the cities and destroyed them.

In the spirit of the "golden card critics" I then ask, Why did God need to send angels to check out Sodom? Didn't He already know everything?


Scene 2: The Passover

God told Israel that He was about to judge Egypt. The Israelite’s were to put blood on the door posts and that when He passed by a home He would look to see if the blood was there. If it was He would pass over and if it wasn't He would judge that household. 

Doesn't God know men's hearts? Didn't He already know who was His and who wasn't? Then why the blood? And further, once the blood was there why did He have to look to see if it was? Didn't He already know who put the blood on the door frame and who didn't?


Scene 3: The Fall of Jerusalem

The Fall of Jerusalem also serves as an example of this. Even though Israel had become so wicked that it was impossible to hide it God investigated before He judged them through the Babylonians. God said in Zephaniah 1:12, "At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent..." 

Search Jerusalem with lamps? Why? Isn't it obvious that they are evil? Don't you know all things Lord? Then why "investigate" to see who is wicked and who isn't? Why does God need to investigate? Doesn't He already know everything?


Scene 4: The Mark/Seal

In Ezekiel chapter 9 God executes judgment on idolaters in Jerusalem. Before he does the story says, “Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary” (Ezekiel 9: 3-6).

Why would God put a mark on the foreheads of his faithful? Doesn’t he know who they are? In addition, this scenario repeats itself in Revelation 7 where judgment cannot be executed until the faithful receive a mark on their forehead. What’s the use of a mark if God already knows who his faithful are? He is after all, all-knowing isn’t he?

I suppose I could go on and on but I think it’s good to stop there. Each of us can give a good answer as to why God acted the way he did in each of these scenarios even though the Bible clearly teaches that he is omniscient. And likewise, a very good answer can be given as to why angels use a golden card to enter heaven even though God already knows who his true angels are. However, before I give my final answer let’s look at the two quotations in their entirety. 
Then my attending angel directed me to the city again, where I saw four angels winging their way to the gate of the city. They were just presenting the golden card to the angel at the gate, when I saw another angel flying swiftly from the direction of the most excellent glory, and crying with a loud voice to the other angels, and waving something up and down in his hand. I asked my attending angel for an explanation of what I saw. He told me that I could see no more then, but he would shortly show me what those things that I then saw meant. {CET 101.2}
There is perfect order and harmony in the holy city. All the angels that are commissioned to visit the earth hold a golden card, which they present to the angels at the gates of the city as they pass in and out. Heaven is a good place. I long to be there, and behold my lovely Jesus, who gave His life for me, and be changed into His glorious image. Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come! I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God. {CET 97.2}
Notice something very important in the first quotation: Ellen White makes it very clear that the angels present the golden card “to the angel at the gate” not to God. Even though God is all knowing the angels are not. The beauty of this is that it shows us that in all his power and omniscience God is not a dictator or a control freak. He entrusts his created angels with the administration of heaven. In my estimation, this paints a beautiful picture of Gods character.

Nevertheless, one critic has asked, Is it possible for “evil angels to deceive good angels to get into heaven?” At this point it is important to note that Ellen White does not actually tell us what the golden card is for. Most people automatically assume it is an access card to enter heaven. However, according to the second quotation, the angels present the card “as they pass in and out.” In addition, in the first quote Ellen White says, "...I saw four angels winging their way to the gate of the city. They were just presenting the golden card to the angel at the gate, when I saw another angel flying swiftly from the direction of the most excellent glory". Notice that in this statement Ellen White sees four angels at the gate, but only one card. The group of angels, rather than producing multiple cards only produces one. If the golden card were an access card or an ID then all of the angels would have had to present their individual ID's. Instead, only one card is shown in behalf of the four angels. Whatever the function of the card is then, it cannot be said with certainty that it is and ID that is meant to prove you are a good angel. Perhaps the card is used to keep a perfect record of angelic activities kind of like a log book. The Bible itself speaks of a book of remembrance that is used to keep a record of individual human works and experiences (Malachi 3:16; Psalm 56:8; Revelation 20:12). However, I am not suggesting what the card is really meant to do for, as I already stated, we are not told what its function is and apparently neither was Ellen White.

The main point of this whole golden card thing is really quite simple. Ellen White tells us what it is when she says, “There is perfect order and harmony in the holy city.” Whatever the golden card is, and whatever function it has, the main point is that heaven is a place of order. That is all. Any further speculation misses that simple point. So what is the golden card? It’s a golden card, that’s what it is. What is its function? We have no idea. But whatever it is this we do know, heaven is a place of order. 

Ellen White then goes on to say, “Heaven is a good place.” I don’t know about you, but the simplicity of that sentence hits me hard. Here we have an articulate woman who also has editors and friends who are skilled in writing and can help her, if need be, to express the goodness of heaven in eloquent words and yet the awe of its beauty was so grand that all she could muster was a childlike phrase, “Heaven is a good place.” Unfortunately, in their attempt to discredit and challenge what seems to be odd about this statement the critics miss that which is clearly breath taking.

The final point I would like to make is this. The golden card is such a minute issue that Ellen White herself did not seem to care much for it. This is not only true with regard to her writings at large, but it is also true with the immediate context of the statement. While she mentions the golden card, Ellen White appears to quickly lose interest in it and instead focuses her attention on something, which in her estimation, was much more impressive. Ellen White says, “Heaven is a good place. I long to be there, and behold my lovely Jesus, who gave His life for me, and be changed into His glorious image. Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come! I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God.”

As I said, Ellen White didn’t seem to care much for the golden card. Her heart was captured by something far more riveting. Was it heaven? Not really. Read again and you will see that it was her “lovely Jesus” that she was captivated by. That “lovely Jesus” who “gave His life for [her]”. She longed to see him face to face so that she could be “changed into His glorious image.” Then with a cry of passionate desire she declares, “Oh, for language to express the glory of the bright world to come!” She was at a loss for words. No human verbiage could describe the world she had just seen. And with solemn yet romantic words she concludes, “I thirst for the living streams that make glad the city of our God.”

With such beautiful themes to focus on no wonder she cared little for the golden card.




__________
Note: Some of the scenes and their comments were originally posted in the blog Why Does God Need to "Investigate?" You can read it by clicking here.
Q&A: Why 1844 Is Perfectly Logical

Q: I would like to see the following statement proved from the Bible only: "Jesus moved from the Holy to the Holy of Holies on Oct. 22, 1844" Please don't refer to any other writings besides the Bible to explain this. I believe that it is cults that use other writings besides the Bible to prove their doctrines (heresies).


A: Great question. First of all let me start out by saying that I can't prove that statement to you. While I am willing to share with you why I believe what I believe there is no way I can prove those beliefs. So I hope that even if we disagree we can at least appreciate one another's faith.

Now I also want to tackle another statement you made.

"Please don't refer to any other writings besides the Bible to explain this. I believe that it is cults that use other writings besides the Bible to prove their doctrines (heresies)."

If this is true then all churches are cults that teach heresy. The reason why is because when we are dealing with apocalyptic literature such as Daniel and Revelation, there is just no way of fully understanding it without using extra-biblical historical resources. Adventists are Historicists in their interpretation of scripture and as such we use extra-biblical historical resources to help us understand the events that the prophecies are delineating. If this approach makes the SDA church a heretical cult then Victorinus, Arnuf of Orleans, Eberhard II (all Catholic) and Martin Luther, John Calvin, Isaac Newton (all protestant) are also heretics for they all followed the Historicists method of interpreting prophecy. In addition, even if you are not a Historicist but are instead a Futurist or a Prederist (the majority of Christendom) you still have to use extra-biblical historical sources to explain the prophecies. So I conclude that when the SDA church uses historical writings and calendars that are extra-biblical in order to arrive at their understanding of 1844 they are simply doing what every body else does and are thus not a cult and not heretical.

What would make us a cult is if, like the Mormons, we relied only on Ellen White or other pioneers such as Uriah Smith in order to teach the 1844 doctrine. But this is not the case. 1844 was understood by William Miller and many others without the help of Ellen White (she hadn't even begun her ministry yet) and the consequent revelations of the sanctuary being in heaven do not necessitate EGW to be understood. In short, SDA's don't need EGW for any of our doctrines. They stand on the Bible alone. In addition, the SDA church does not put EGW next to James, Paul, Peter or any other Biblical writer. We place her beneath them. She did the same when she was alive. While there are some SDA's who treat her as though she was scripture this goes against the church's stance and even against EGW's own position. We consider her writings to be authoritative and inspired but they do not interpret scripture for us, they do not replace scripture for us, and they sure don't have an equal standing with scripture.

Now onto your question. Like I said, I cant prove it but I will simply explain to you why I believe it is true.

Most Christians teach that the judgment took place on the cross. Others teach that it will take place at the second coming. There are numerous NT verses that show the apostles were looking forward to a future judgment. This was after the cross, therefore, biblicaly speaking the judgment did not take place at the cross. Then there are the passages that say that when Jesus comes he comes to award both the righteous and the wicked including those who have not seen death (others teach the judgment happens at death). This shows us that a decision was reached before the second coming. Then there is Revelation 14:6, a message that is pronounced before the second coming and says that the judgment has already begun. Thus, the judgment did not happen at the cross and it will not happen at the second coming but since Jesus comes with rewards it cant happen after the second coming either. So the message is clear, the judgment happens sometime between the cross and the second coming. 1844 happens to between those two events. (see below)

Now that doesnt prove the date per se, in order to come to the actual date October 22, 1844 we would have to interpret Daniels prophecies using the Historicist method of interpretation. To do that would take so long that Im not going to do it here. But at this point Adventists establish the start time of the prophecy which Gabriel gives to Daniel and we count the 2300 years and we arrive at 1844. Using more complex historical sources such as calendars etc. we arrive at the October 22 date. None of this necessitates EGW or any other Adventist pioneer. If you are really interested in reading about the evidence for this then I recommend Clifford Goldsteins "1844 Made Simple" and Marvin Moores "The Case for the Investigative Judgment." Not that they can prove it either, but at least you will be able to see two very well written books on the topic that do not use EGW at all.
Anyways, understanding that the sanctuary of Daniel is the sanctuary in heaven (of course we are not suggesting that there is some building in heaven that looks just like the OT sanctuary)we then conclude through a systematic study of the sanctuary, its type and anti-type etc. that Jesus began his final work of cleansing the sanctuary in 1844. If you want to read my views on the theology of the Investigative Judgment then I recommend my paper (The Investigative Judgment)...

Honestly K, I am not a stickler on October 22, 1844. While I agree its the best interpretation of the time line I don't get hung up on it. The judgment could have begun in 1922 for all I care. The date doesn't change the theology of the judgment at all. The point is that God is now doing his final work on behalf of man, he is trying to get as many people into heaven before time runs out for us, and Jesus is coming soon.
Did Jesus Complete the Atonement on the Cross?
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Some have charged the SDA church with teaching that the atonement was not finished at the cross. Below is an edited excerpt from the article REclaiming Adventism (A Response to the Testimony of former Adventist Eliana Matthews) that briefly deals with this issue:

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 
On the cross the penalty for human sin was fully paid. Divine justice was satisfied. From a legal perspective the world was restored to favor with God (Rom. 5:18). The atonement, or reconciliation, was completed on the cross as foreshadowed by the sacrifices, and the penitent believer can trust in this finished work of our Lord. – 350
From Ellen White
[Christ] planted the cross between heaven and earth, and when the Father beheld the sacrifice of His Son, He bowed before it in recognition of its perfection. “It is enough,” He said. “The atonement is complete” {RH September 24, 1901, par. 11}.
Our great High Priest completed the sacrificial offering of Himself when He suffered without the gate. Then a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the people {7BC 913.3}.
Christ’s sacrifice in behalf of man was full and complete. The condition of the atonement had been fulfilled. The work for which He had come to this world had been accomplished {AA 29.2}.
The Lord would have His people sound in the faith—not ignorant of the great salvation so abundantly provided for them. They are not to look forward, thinking that at some future time a great work is to be done for them; for the work is now complete {1SM 394.3}.
Comment:

Clearly, the charge that Adventists teach an unfinished atonement at the cross is false. But aren't there other quotes and sources that suggest that Adventists believe the atonement was not completed on the cross? Yes. Then are we contradicting ourselves? No. Allow me to explain.


The real issue here is one of semantics. SDA theology places a wider definition on the word atonement than do other Christians. For most Christians the word atonement means the work of Christ on the cross. For Adventists, the word atonement means two things: the atonement of the cross, and the final atonement. The atonement of the cross is what Jesus did for us in offering salvation. That is complete. But the final atonement involves, among many things, the second coming of Jesus, the final destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of the New Jerusalem. Thus by final atonement, we mean that God is going to bring the entire universe into perfect harmony as it was before sin began. Since Jesus' death on the cross did not bring the universe into perfect harmony we can say that the atonement is not complete. However, when speaking of the atonement in the sense of salvation it is 100% complete. Therefore, it is not a denial of the cross to say that Jesus is doing a work of atonement in heaven. The best way to summarize the SDA understanding is this way: The sacrificial atonement was provided in full on the cross of Calvary. Nothing needs to be added to it. It was perfect. The atonement taking place in heaven is simply Christ applying the benefits of the cross to our individual lives. He is not adding to it. It is perfect and complete and when we come to him we can rest assured that everything needed for our salvation is found, not in ourselves, but in Christ. Then, at the end of time God will complete the other phase of the atonement which has nothing to do with the death of Christ, but with the complete restoration of the universe.

From:  REclaiming Adventism (A Response to the Testimony of former Adventist Eliana Matthews), edited.
How I Handle Anti-SDA Assaults
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I get emails and comments every month that range from friendly to hostile. Adventists often write and thank me for this blog. Members of other denominations write and engage me in friendly debates. And of course, others (sometimes former Adventists sometimes not) write with aggressive tones, angry accusations, and hostile inquiries. I have had people email me to tell me ever so kindly that I am in a cult, that the church I love teaches heresy, that Ellen White was a false prophet, and that the SDA church has roots in freemasonry. I have had people tell me that the teachings of our church are unbiblical and built upon "the leaven of Ellen White," that I am in a "works-based religion," and countless other statements that I cannot even remember.

So how do I respond? With grace. At times this has helped turn the attacker into a friend, but there are other instances in which no amount of kindness has helped. Some people write with one goal in mind: to argue with me. They are not interested in common ground. They are not interested in appreciating my faith and having a respectful conversation. They just want to fight. But I made up my mind a long time ago that fighting about religion is immature and downright ridiculous. What's funny is when I refuse to argue but instead open an invitation to respectful and friendly dialogue these would be defenders of the truth never write back. I am left wondering, if I really was in a cult how in the world do these people expect to help me by bombarding me with hostile accusations from every possible angle? To those who like to attack my church, allow me to share with you a response I gave to one of my many assailants: "Is it possible that I am misled? Of course! But if you know the truth, you certainly are not doing a great job of wooing me toward it."

I am not surprised when people are hostile toward the SDA church. First of all, the SDA church is still relatively new in the world of Protestantism. Study the history of protestant denominations and you will see that every time a new denomination popped up the old ones were hostile toward them. As a matter of fact, SDA's are lucky when we are called a cult. Historically speaking many members of new protestant denominations were fatally persecuted by members of the older protestant denominations. "Because of the belief of opposing infant baptism and refusing to fight in wars, Anabaptists were persecuted by Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Calvinists. Hundreds to thousands of them were tortured and executed for their beliefs."* This trend continued as late as the arrival of the Methodists and Seventh Day Baptists. John Wesley encountered fierce persecution during his life, even to the point of being dragged out of his home by an angry mob that wanted to kill him. John James, a Seventh Day Baptist preacher, was martyred in 1661 for his political views. So when people call the SDA church a cult, as much as it hurts, I am thankful. I bet John James would have preferred such treatment.

At the end of the day the aggressors will always be there. There is nothing I can do about that, but as we begin this new year I would like to thank everyone who has ever dialogued with me in this blog and has done so with kindness and respect. Even when we disagree entirely it is always refreshing to talk about our differences with love. If that is you, don't stop writing me. I love to hear from you even if our faiths are polar opposites.

Wishing you all a happy new year.

Blessings,
Marcos


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*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians#Early_Modern_period_.281500_to_1815.29
John Wesley on Christian Perfection


I recently read John Wesley: A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. As a Seventh-day Adventist the doctrine of Christian perfection (not to be confused with the heresy of sinless perfectionism) is one that is near and dear to my heart. Ellen White spoke much on Christian perfection and, knowing that she was a Methodist, it was pretty cool to read about the doctrine of perfection from the man she learned it from - John Wesley. Not only did this experience help me appreciate the doctrine more but it also helped me gain a greater understanding and appreciation for Ellen Whites approach to perfection. Below are some of my favorite quotes from Wesley's book. I am sharing most them as answers to 3 basic questions: Did Wesley believe in perfection, how did he define it, and were did he stand regarding the concept of absolute, or sinless, perfectionism.




Did John Wesley believe in Christian perfection?
"Yes, we do believe that He will in this world so 'cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit, the we shall perfectly love Him, and worthily magnify His holy name."
"Why should devout men be afraid of devoting all their soul, body, and substance to God? Why should those who love Christ count it a damnable error to think we may have all the mind that was in Him? We allow, we contend, that we are justified freely though the righteousness and the blood of Christ. And why are you so hot against us, because we expect likewise to be sanctified wholly through His spirit?"
"[T]his we do confess... we do expect to love God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves."
How did Wesley define perfection? 
"[R]ejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks... this is all that I mean by perfection..."
"By perfection I mean the humble, gentle, patient love of God and our neighbour, ruling our tempers, words, and actions."
[Perfection] is purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God. It is the giving to God all our hearts: it is one desire and design ruling all our tempers. It is the devoting, not a part, but all our soil, body, and substance to God... it is all the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked. It is the circumcision of the heart from all filthiness, all inward as well as outward pollution it is a renewal of the heart in the whole image of God, the full likeness of him that created it... it is the loving God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves."
Did Wesley believe in absolute perfection? 
"Absolute perfection belongs not to man, nor to angels, but to God alone."
"Sinless perfection is a phrase I never use."
"Is [perfection] sinless? It is not worth while to contend for a term. It is 'salvation from sin.'"
"[Perfection] is perfect love. This is the essence of it..."
"I do not contend for the term sinless, though I do not object against it." 
My thoughts:

While Ellen White was a firm believer in the doctrine of Christian perfection, she parts ways with Wesley in two senses. The first is that Wesley maintained that we could know in this life if we had attained perfection. Ellen White never suggests that we can reach a point in our lives where we can know we are perfect. In fact she consistently taught otherwise as can be seen in the following statement:
So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience {AA 560.3}.
The second point of departure is in clarity. Wesley seems to almost beat around the bush when it comes to the concept of sinless perfection. He never explicitly taught it, but as can be seen above, he never explicitly denied it. This is made most evident in his final quote "I do not contend for the term sinless, though I do not object against it." Ellen White did not beat around the bush when it came to sinless perfection. She denied it consistently throughout her ministry as in the following quote:
We cannot say, “I am sinless,” till this vile body is changed and fashioned like unto His glorious body [the second coming]. {ST March 23, 1888, par. 13}.

Some other cool Wesley quotes:
"As a very little dust will disorder a clock, and the least sand will obscure our sight, so the least grain of sin which is upon the heart will hinder its right motion towards God." 
"[T]he devil fills whatever God does not fill."
"Indeed it has been my opinion for many years, that one great cause why men make so little improvement in the divine life is their own coldness, negligence, and unbelief."
"In the greatest temptations, a single look to Christ and the barely pronouncing His name, suffices to overcome the wicked one..." 

Note: I read this book in a Kindle so there were no page numbers. If there is a specific quote you would like to trace feel free to message me and ask for the location number if you'd like. 


Further Reading:

Never Good Enough: The Close of Probation and Sinless Perfectionism
Guest Post: Why I Gave Away My Entire Library of Ellen White Books
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Until recently, I possessed a fairly extensive library of books, the majority being classic Adventist books written by Ellen White. Among that prized collection was a flawless set of the Testimonies donated to me in, 2007.  When I was in college, I read the entire Spirit of Prophecy  books including the manuscript releases on my computer while waiting for opponents to move on chess games and listening to music on Napster!   Since that time, I think I have read most of her books at least 5 or 6 times and have been blessed by new insights each time I’ve read them.
God has blessed me with very good recall abilities.  I can remember whole passages from the Spirit of Prophecy and I also remember what position the quotation or passage is on the page in the book.  This allows me to quickly find the appropriate quotation and use it in a discussion.  This wonderful skill has some definite drawbacks as well.
I’ve noticed in my discussions with people of other faiths (especially Christians) my mind brings up quotations of the Spirit of Prophecy faster than it does the Bible.  I find myself arguing from an Adventist position rather than from the Bible.
Let me pause here to explain what I mean.
Some of you might wonder, isn’t being biblical distinctly adventist? Yes, and no.  Every ‘faith community’ has its own frame of reference.  For example, when discussing the heavenly sanctuary in Hebrews, I remember Hiram Edison’s view of Christ in the Sanctuary in heaven. Or when talking about the antediluvians I cannot but help remember passages about Enoch’s life that are very dear to me but are not in the Bible.  I find that my reading of the Spirit of Prophecy sometimes becomes a convenient crutch for me.  Worse, my evangelical friends are unable to understand my line of reasoning because it is intermixed with the Spirit of Prophecy.  Now some hardliners among us will insist that I should introduce Ellen White to my friends so that they can see ‘light’ and understand the Bible more fully.  I firmly believe that we sometimes (at least me for sure) forget that Mrs. White is the lesser light and the Bible is the Greater Light.  The Bible informs us of God’s Supreme Will and His workings on our behalf.  Mrs. White always pointed to the Bible.  Later in her life she deplored the use of her writings when discussing Biblical points of view.  I resolved to rid myself of this self-made crutch and rely on the Bible alone for my knowledge of God.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Mrs. White’s writings.  When I compare her work to the Bible, I find her emphasis, and use of the Bible, to not only be masterful but inspired. I still hold them in the highest regard and believe everything written in them.  But my reliance should always be on the Word of God in times of need.  My existence should depend solely on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
So I gave away my entire Spirit of Prophecy collection to a friend.
Since then I’ve read the Bible by itself.
One of the things, I resolved to take up after chemotherapy was learning how to write clearly.  I am painfully aware that my writing is not as precise and clear as it should be. I enjoy reading the Bible all the more now, because I can see the literary resonance of the passages.  I have newfound appreciation for the rhythm in biblical sentences such as these:
And Samuel said, As thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal (1 Sam. 15:33). 
But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Amos 5:8
And he shall judge between the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Is. 2:4
I find my reasoning has become sharper.  I have resolved to memorize the entire New Testament in the next three years using trained memory techniques that I’ve used to great success in college and business. I hope someday to memorize the entire Bible like Pastor Randy Skeete.  I dream of being able to effortlessly recall text upon text and understand the context of whole passages in the Old Testament and their proper bearing in the New.
Now, when I discuss biblical topics with my evangelical friends, I find myself arguing from the text rather than from Adventist tradition and in the highest sense I know that I’m fulfilling our high calling to be people of the Book.

- This post was originally written by Adrian Zahid on his website www.adrianzahid.com
Was Ellen White Against Anything New?


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I once read a book that lamented the good ol' days when Christians rejected anything that was new. As you can imagine, the book was anti-new. This is a common view held in every denomination by what many have dubbed the traditionalists. Traditionalists are known by their fear, dislike, or suspicion of anything and everything that is new. In one sense, their fears are well founded. Jude wrote:
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. - Jude 1:3
For Jude, it was "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" that was the true faith. Anything new was to be discarded. In the same way, modern attempts to reinterpret Genesis 1 - 11 as allegorical, merge Christianity with other religions, or undermine the central pillars of biblical Christianity should be rejected.*

However, not everything that is new is bad. It was in the name of "the old ways" that many of the Pharisees refused to come to Jesus or accept Christianity. Likewise, 1888 taught the Adventist church the danger of rejecting new light simply because it is new. Many in those years patronized themselves and one another with "sticking to the old ways." Such an attitude made many feel as though they were standing for the truth though the heavens fall. But the reality was that they rejected the Holy Spirit who was trying to bring them to a new experience and traded Gods will for their lives for their allegiance to "the old ways."


However, history shows that the Adventist church is riddled with the new. A new understanding of the Sabbath, a new view of the state of the dead and hell, a new revelation of the sanctuary doctrine, a new emphasis on health and education. We were on the cutting edge with sanitariums and Christian education, have a new prophet, a new style of evangelism, and a new message. Adventism, it seems, was all about the new. In keeping with the flow Ellen White made the following comments on outreach, evangelism, and the need of the new:

In the cities of today, where there is so much to attract and please, the people can be interested by no ordinary efforts.... put forth extraordinary efforts in order to arrest the attention of the multitudes.... make use of every means that can possibly be devised for causing the truth to stand out clearly and distinctly. {Ev 40.3}
The methods and means by which we reach certain ends are not always the same. The missionary must use reason and judgment. Changes for the better must be made... {GW 468.3}
Let us not forget that different methods are to be employed to save different ones.  {Ev 106.2}
Different methods of labor are really essential in sowing the seeds of truth and gathering in the harvest. {TM 251.1}
New methods must be introduced. God’s people must awake to the necessities of the time in which they are living. God has men whom He will call into His service,—men who will not carry forward the work in the lifeless way in which it has been carried forward in the past.... {Ev 70.1}
Whatever may have been your former practice, it is not necessary to repeat it again and again in the same way. God would have new and untried methods followed. Break in upon the people—surprise them. {Ev 125.4}
Let every worker in the Master’s vineyard, study, plan, devise methods, to reach the people where they are. We must do something out of the common course of things. We must arrest the attention. {Ev 122.4}
As field after field is entered, new methods and new plans will spring from new circumstances. New thoughts will come with the new workers who give themselves to the work. As they seek the Lord for help, He will communicate with them. They will receive plans devised by the Lord Himself. {6T 476.2}
We fully believe in church organization; but this is not to prescribe the exact way in which we should work, for not all minds are to be reached by the same methods. {6T 116.1}
There must be no fixed rules; our work is a progressive work, and there must be room left for methods to be improved upon. {Ev 105.1}
Some of the methods used in this work will be different from the methods used in the work in the past; but let no one, because of this, block the way by criticism. {Ev 105.2}
There is to be no unkind criticism, no pulling to pieces of another’s work... {AA 275.2}
The leaders among God's people are to guard against the danger of condemning the methods of individual workers who are led by the Lord to do a special work that but few are fitted to do. Let brethren in responsibility be slow to criticize movements that are not in perfect harmony with their methods of labor. Let them never suppose that every plan should reflect their own personality. {9T 259}
With history, the insights of Ellen White, and the need of the hour I propose that it is time we stopped giving innovation the cold shoulder. We should not be so naive as to embrace every new thing but neither should we flip the "auto-pilot of rejection to anything new" switch. We need new. We need innovation. If we embrace this reality and seek God for those new ideas and methods of evangelism and outreach the results, I'm sure, will be stunning.



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* While any new anti-biblical teachings should be rejected we must always do so intelligently and graciously not dogmatically. Behind every teaching is a soul for whom Christ died and they must never be mistreated for their faith regardless of how much it differs from our own.

Thanks to Russel Burril's How to Grow an Adventist Church for the compilation of Ellen White quotes.
Is it OK for Seventh-day Adventists To Go to the Theater?
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Should Seventh-day Adventists, or Christians for that matter, attend a movie theater? Growing up in a conservative Hispanic Adventist church the answer was an emphatic "NO!" You could even be placed on church discipline if it was revealed that you had indeed attended this most vile and ghastly of entertainment centers. Young people, rebellious and inquisitive as they are, began to ask the inevitable "why" question. Here are some of the answers we received (and some I have heard recently):
"The theater is an evil place and your guardian angel wont go in there with you."
"If you die while you are at a theater you will lose your salvation."
"Ellen White said we should not attend movie theaters because the environment is evil."
"It is a waste of money."
As you can imagine, many of us were disappointed with these answers and those of us who were not (myself included) did not give them enough thought to realize how silly they were. For example, what is it that made the movie theater evil? Why would going to the movies to watch Pocahontas place my salvation in jeopardy? Why would the angels watch a movie with me at home and yet refuse to go into a theater with a similar movie? How is renting a movie for 3 dollars, or buying one for 20 dollars not a waste of money but going to the 1 dollar theater is? As you can imagine, the mental motors of logic where burning the oil of rationality faster than an old run down Buick. The youth were stumped.

So what is the answer? Allow me to share two reasons why I have struggled with this whole "no theater" concept. First of all, the standard cannot be found in scripture. Are there principles there that assist us in proper movie selection? Yes. But there is no principle for avoiding the building itself.

Second of all, theaters in Ellen Whites day were immoral places where drinking, smoking, and prostitution were allowed. Today theaters are family friendly and it is very common to see parents with their children there. Smoking, drinking, and prostitution are definitely not allowed. So while the environment was evil in Ellen Whites day it is certainly not evil today.

But those are not the reasons why I dislike this standard. The main reason why I don't like it is because the standard is too weak. Notice, I didn't say it is too strong, legalistic, or rigid. I said it is too weak. The weakness lies in the fact that when you tell someone "don't go to the theater" you automatically make the building an evil place, not the content. Theaters today are not evil places. However, they are certainly filled with their share of evil movies. But when you tell a young person that the theater is evil and that he should just rent a movie the young person goes to Red Box and picks up a copy of the latest Zombie movie replete with mindless killing and filth. This is exactly what happened to us growing up. Stay away from the theater! We were told. And the same people who told us this would let us come over to enjoy all of the carnal garbage that Holy-Wood had to offer. We got in trouble for going to the theater to watch The Passion of the Christ, but it was OK to go to the elders house to take in the disturbing scenes in SAW and Resident Evil.

The problem will soon become worse if Netflix gets its wish. A recent article in the Huffinton Post reported Netflix's intent "to replace the movie theater."[1] If Netflix gets its way we will soon be able to stream brand new movies right away instead of having to go to a theater. Give it a few years and theaters will become a thing of the past much like the drive in theaters so popular in the 50's. A new generation of Adventists will grow up with no regard to the content they are seeing because, after all, theaters no longer exist.

So is it OK for a Christian to go to the movie theater? I believe so. But it is not OK for a Christian to watch movies that are contrary to Biblical principles. That holds true whether you are at home, at a theater, or anywhere else. If we as adults would, instead of telling our young people that theaters are bad, teach them how to select good, uplifting, and positive movies then they would be able to make those choices no matter where they go or where the movie is shown.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. - Philippians 4:8

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[1] Kelinman, Alexis. The Huffington Post, "Netflix Wants To Replace The Movie Theater" Web: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/28/netflix-movies_n_4169752.html
Stop Quoting Ellen White!
 

Imagine spending time with someone who was always quoting Shakespeare. I mean like always. Every day. Non stop. Seriously, how annoying would that be? Every time a situation came up in everyday life this person would look at you and say, "Well, you know Shakespeare once said..." Or you are watching the news and the person constantly kept referring to how Shakespeare would react to what the journalists are reporting. Or you share an idea and the person quickly shuts you down because, after all, Shakespeare had a better idea. I guarantee you, a few weeks of that and your previous appreciation to Shakespeare would mutate into vehement hatred for the man who never did you wrong. The very sound of his name would make you cringe.

This is exactly what many Adventists do with Ellen White. I love Ellen White. Her books are awesome. Her insights are remarkable. Her life was epic. But please for the love of Ellen, Stop quoting her all the time! 

Perhaps I am being too emotional. Allow me then to step back for a moment and share some objective reasons why I find this so irritating. However, before I do I want to make some qualifications. Number one, I am glad people are still reading Ellen White. While more and more Adventists are missing out there are still those who are enjoying the wisdom and insights of "Adventisms grandmother."[1] Number two, I am glad people are blessed by what they are reading. So for those of you who quote her fifty times a day I commend you for valuing her ministry and for finding encouragement in what you read. I am the first to admit that almost everything the lady wrote is quotable. Her prose was excellent and it makes for a multitude of thought provoking passages. Number three, thank you so much for being willing to share what has blessed you. So many of us learn things about God that we then stuff into our back pocket. Not you. You share what you have learned from Ellen White with the hopes that others will be blessed by it as well. Again, for that I am thankful. And lastly, while myriads are filling their minds with useless novels and derisory materials I commend you for instead filling your mind with Christ-centered, uplifting, and wisdom filled literature.

Nevertheless, I would like to share some reasons why I find the quoting of Ellen White from dusk till dawn irritating. Number one, those who quote Ellen White for anything and everything demonstrate a lack of true spiritual wisdom. The picture they portray is that all of their wisdom needs to be filtered through the mind of one person. "I cant think for myself" is the message. I remember being a part of a Bible study at church. Part of the program was to answer some Bible questions at home. Sadly, some of the participants would simply go home and copy Ellen White statements about the Bible passage onto their answers and leave it at that. This is a terrible misuse of the gift of prophecy. And while this article is about quoting Ellen White a little less, allow me to share her own views on the matter:
Lay Sister White to one side. Do not quote my words again as long as you live until you can obey the Bible.... When you make the Bible your food, your meat, and your drink, when you make its principles the elements of your character, you will know better how to receive counsel from God. I exalt the precious word before you today. Do not repeat what I have said, saying, “Sister White said this,” and “Sister White said that.” Find out what the Lord God of Israel says, and then do what He commands.—Manuscript 43, 1901. (From an address to church leaders the night before the opening of the General Conference session of 1901.) {3SM 33.1}[2]
Number two, the act sends a cultish message to the world. Cults are characterized by the idea that all truth must come from the leader or founder of the cult. No one else is allowed to have a say. Whatever the leader says goes and you are forced to submit. People who quote Ellen White incessantly give this cultish impression. "I'm not allowed to think for myself" is the message. 

Number three, the practice is simply obsessive. Anyone who quotes Shakespeare, Elvis Presley, John Calvin, or even the Bible itself over and over again would be easily classified as obsessed. Obsession is defined as: [to] preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.[3]

Number four, quoting Ellen White all day does not actually breed a greater appreciation of her. In fact, the opposite is true. People begin to despise the very name of Ellen White when she is constantly brought up. This is true of anything or anyone. I still remember talking about my friend Luis as a kid. I would mention him for just about everything. One day my father got so tired of it he lost his cool. He never even met Luis and he was already fed up with him. Do you want your friends, family, and co-workers to get sick and tired of Ellen White? Quote her like a parrot and you will be well on your way.

In conclusion, when Adventists quote Ellen White incessantly we are misusing the gift of prophecy. The purpose of the gift is to point us to the Bible so that we can learn, base, and quote our truth from it. However, many Adventists are happy to read Ellen White and stop there. They learn, base, and prove all of their ideas from a "thus saith sister White." They quote her fifty times a day for just about everything and then wonder why people can't stand her anymore. Lets not misuse the gift we have in the ministry of Ellen White. Read her. Learn from her. Be blessed by her. Share her insights and concepts. But please, for the love of Ellen, go easy on the "sister Whites."

_____

[1] I must give credit to my friend Cherie Lynn Milliron for this phrase.

[2] Ellen White is not saying that we should never quote her here. The context of this quote was related to people misusing Ellen Whites writings. Likewise, those who cannot go through a day without quoting her are misusing the gift. The statement encapsulates Ellen Whites desire that all would build their faith on the Bible, not her writings.

[3] From Google Dictionary, emphasis mine.
Why Do People Leave the SDA Church? (Revisited)
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The following paragraphs are from an article featured in the latest edition of GLEANER. The article is a response to the article "Beyond Belief"  which deals with why people leave the SDA church. I am quoting the start of the article here and share some thoughts below.

Its Beyond Belief Revisited 
...His article, first published in the Adventist Review (March 21, 2013) and reprinted in the North Pacific Union Conference GLEANER(June 2013), is in large part predicated on a study conducted by Southern Adventist University’s School of Business and directed by Lisa Goolsby.
While the responses of those surveyed in their study are forthright and heartfelt about how they relate to Adventist theology, based on how this study was conducted,* it does not establish a new leading reason for why people leave the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Relational and personal issues are still the primary reasons why people leave the church according to every other North American Division (NAD) retention study conducted across Bermuda, Canada, Guam/Micronesia and the United States.
Through the years, leaving because of doctrinal reasons has hovered around 9 percent. Recent data shows an uptick to 14 percent. This is data we can rely on that represents the trends over more than three decades collected from stratified random samples of people identified by third parties (pastors, church clerks, etc.) as former or nonattending members. Read More
14 GLEANER • September 2013
*The “Former Seventh-day Adventist Perceptions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church” study used a nonprobability sampling method, which means one cannot scientifically make generalizations about the total NAD population from this sample because it would not be representative enough.
So here's the deal. Good article. Thought provoking. Balanced. Healing-based. Charitable. The whole schmear. However, the article does unintentionally present yet another thing to argue about - retention studies. This one is valid that one isn't. This one is scientifically sound, the other isn't. The one saying "A" is false, but the study that says "B" is true. Pretty soon someone will print an article about how this article got it all wrong and the first one was the one that had it right. Then some new guy or gal will pitch in with a "they are both wrong" article that presents yet another study which supposedly reveals the "truth." And so on and so forth. As far as I am concerned, we have enough things to debate. We don't need another.

Lets keep it simple. Do people leave church because they are changing beliefs or because they have had a bad experience? My answer is: Who cares? The point is they are leaving and those are the reasons why. Regardless of which is more prevalent people leave for one of three primary reasons: Bad experience, change of beliefs, or both and we need to respond appropriately especially when the issues are doctrinal. Richardson stated it well when he said that we should "not ignore their legitimate questions but accelerate our responses to them in reasoned and redemptive ways." 

Unfortunately, ignoring questions, giving cliche answers, quoting Ellen White, and proof texting has been the way in which we have historically approached honest questions. Perhaps the real problem is most Adventists don't really know their Bibles. What they know is the Bible according to Amazing Facts. Or they have purchased one of our wonderful Ellen White study Bibles and have built their faith on that.* Then when someone comes with a real question that requires real answers we're bankrupt. Feeling threatened we respond with a cultish "don't question the truth" and walk away with a renewed sense of self-righteousness (or with a nagging feeling of hopelessness that we choose to ignore). 

The solution? We need to get into our Bibles and dig deep. We need to get rid of the proof texts and build our faith on the rock Jesus Christ not on the ministry of a modern prophet. We need real answers that satisfy modern minds, not stuff from the 50's. We need to realize that no amount of "niceness" or "friendliness" is going to make up for unanswered questions. While we may never be able to convince and satisfy everyone we need to be intentional in being truthful and biblical. And ultimately we need to exercise charity toward everyone regardless of whether they agree with us or not. It is this conviction that has enabled me to form good relationships with many former Adventists. And by relationships I don't mean an inauthentic gimmick to get them back into our church but a relationship that embraces their spiritual journey and honors it even where it differs from our own.

One of the greatest experiences I have had on this blog is the opportunity to connect with and talk to former Adventists. Many are not apostates. They are not "rejecters of the Spirit" And no, they are not heretics who are lost unless they return to the "true remnant." Instead, I have found many of them to be honest, brilliant people who are wrestling with faith and truth. They love Jesus. They love the gospel. And we have failed them. Some have been hurt by our attitudes, yes. But many others have had real questions that we failed to answer or, as in the case of Eliana Matthews, have been raised with such a distorted and perverted version of Adventism that the only way to heal would be to start over from scratch.

But there is no need to despair. The reality is that people leaving a church because of bad experiences or changes in belief system is not unique to Adventism. Ask anyone who left the Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, or Presbyterian church and 9 out of 10 will most likely tell you they left because of a bad experience of a change in belief system. Books like Crazy Love by Francis Chan and The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley reveal that Adventism is far from alone in its legalism and lukewarmness. In addition, lost in this debate is the amazing work that Adventism is doing all over the world and gained is the misconception that all of Adventism is beset by these issues. The issues are real and need attention but the church, while in need of a spiritual reboot, is daily moving in the right direction. Of that I am truly happy.

___________

* Adventists should not be ashamed of Ellen White study Bibles. After all, there are C.S Lewis study Bibles so why not Ellen White? The problem is when we think Ellen White was an inspired commentary of scripture and that if we read her comments we have no further need of study. This is a misuse of the prophetic gift and breeds less, not more, biblical knowledge and spiritual growth. We must always remember Ellen Whites own words, quoted in the above article, which state:
“There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error... 
“[A]s real spiritual life declines, it has ever been the tendency to cease to advance in the knowledge of the truth. Men [and women] rest satisfied with the light already received from God’s word, and discourage any further investigation of the Scriptures. They become conservative, and seek to avoid discussion. 
“When God’s people are at ease, and satisfied with their present enlightenment, we may be sure that God will not favor them. It is God’s will that they should be ever moving forward, to receive the increased and ever-increasing light which is shining for them” (Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 35, 38–41).
Facing Life's Record (An Analysis of the Great Controversy's Scariest Chapter)
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Have you ever read the chapter "Facing Life's Record" in The Great Controversy and walked away feeling anxious and hopeless? Has anyone ever quoted that chapter to you in a way that promotes legalism and perfectionism? If you have ever experienced this then you are not alone. Because of this common occurrence I decided to do a paragraph by paragraph analysis of this most dreadful chapter to see whether or not it really is as scary as some people make it out to be. What I discovered was both simple and amazing. Rather than promoting legalism this chapter makes it impossible to do so. But don't take my word for it. Read along and you will see for yourself.

Now before I begin allow me to make a disclaimer of sorts. This post is intended for Seventh-day Adventists who already understand and believe the doctrine of the investigative judgment, therefore, this post is not apologetic in nature. There are many questions that are often raised when studying the investigative judgment that I will not answer here. My only burden in this post is to discover whether or not the chapter "Facing Life's Record", found in Ellen Whites signature book The Great Controversy, is antithetical to the gospel. However, at the end of this post I will attach some links which contain resources that will help answer those other questions. And of course, if there are any more questions feel free to contact me.


Facing Life's Record

“I beheld,” says the prophet Daniel, “till thrones were placed, and One that was Ancient of Days did sit: His raiment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool; His throne was fiery flames, and the wheels thereof burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9, 10, R.V.


There is not much to be said about this paragraph. It is simply setting the apocalyptic stage for the judgment as SDA's understand it.

Thus was presented to the prophet’s vision the great and solemn day when the characters and the lives of men should pass in review before the Judge of all the earth, and to every man should be rendered “according to his works.” The Ancient of Days is God the Father. Says the psalmist: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” Psalm 90:2. It is He, the source of all being, and the fountain of all law, that is to preside in the judgment. And holy angels as ministers and witnesses, in number “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,” attend this great tribunal.


Again, not much to be said. The judgment is described as a "great and solemn (serious) day," which I don't think anyone would debate, and the judge is God himself. Not much to comment on there.


“And, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away.” Daniel 7:13, 14. The coming of Christ here described is not His second coming to the earth. He comes to the Ancient of Days in heaven to receive dominion and glory and a kingdom, which will be given Him at the close of His work as a mediator. It is this coming, and not His second advent to the earth, that was foretold in prophecy to take place at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844. Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies and there appears in the presence of God to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man—to perform the work of investigative judgment and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits.


Yet another descriptive paragraph. God the son enters the picture as mans "mediator" and "great High Priest" who minsters "in behalf of man" and make an "atonement" for us. Each of those titles (mediator etc.) reveals the work of Jesus on behalf of mankind. Nothing scary here. The only phrase that is suspect is that he will "make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits." The question then is, What does it mean to be "entitled"? Are we "entitled" to the benefits of the atonement Christ made at the cross by our works? Or are we "entitled" to those benefits by faith in his finished atonement on Calvary? Hold on to that question. It will soon be answered.


In the typical service only those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the blood of the sin offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service of the Day of Atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period. “Judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?” 1 Peter 4:17.


So, according to this paragraph, the investigative judgment only considers the cases of those who have professed faith in Jesus. Now the picture is starting to get a bit scarier isn't it? At this point many begin to stumble. Why are Christians judged? Does this not remove the assurance of our salvation?


First of all, we need to remember that "the Lord knows those who are his" (2 Tim. 2:19). Therefore, the judgment is not for his information at all. Throughout the Bible we see examples of God "investigating" even though it is clear that he knows all things. For example, when Adam and Eve sinned God entered the garden and asked, "where are you" (Gen. 3:9)? Why did God ask that question? Didn't he already know? Also, in the final judgment of the wicked the Bible says that "Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15). Why does God need to look into a book in order to determine who goes into the lake of fire and who doesn't? Doesn't he already know who the saved are? Then why the "investigation"? The only logical conclusion is that these "investigations" are not for God's benefit but for the benefit of his creation. Therefore, as will soon become clear, the investigative judgment is not for Gods benefit or enlightenment. It is for the benefit of his creation. Lets move on and it will soon come together.


The books of record in heaven, in which the names and the deeds of men are registered, are to determine the decisions of the judgment. Says the prophet Daniel: “The judgment was set, and the books were opened.” The revelator, describing the same scene, adds: “Another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Revelation 20:12.


So the names of those who have placed their faith in Jesus are written in the book of life. That means my name is there! However, something interesting is happening here. Both Ellen White and the Bible say we are judged "according to our works". Ellen says that the "the deeds of men... are to determine the decisions of the judgment" and John says, "the dead were judged... according to their works". So does this mean that we pass the judgment by our works? 


It is important to point out that Ellen White mentions two distinct judgments in this paragraph. The judgment Daniel describes is the investigative judgement which takes place before the second coming of Christ and only considers the cases of those who have confessed Christ as Lord and savior. The judgment John describes is the one that will take place after the millennium. It is known as the Great White Throne judgment and it only considers the cases of the lost. In the investigative judgment the righteous are the ones that are judged and they are judged according to their works. In the judgment of the wicked (Great White Throne judgment of Revelation 20) it is only the wicked that are judged and they too are judged according to their works. The difference however, as we will soon see, is that the works of the righteous are covered by the blood of Jesus whereas the works of the wicked are not. In addition, the works of the wicked testify that sin is their god for their works are sinful. However, the works of the righteous testify that they are children of God for their works are the fruit of the spirit (Mat. 7:16; Gal. 5:22-23). However, the question remains - do we pass the judgment by our works? Let's keep reading.


The book of life contains the names of all who have ever entered the service of God. Jesus bade His disciples: “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20. Paul speaks of his faithful fellow workers, “whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4:3. Daniel, looking down to “a time of trouble, such as never was,” declares that God’s people shall be delivered, “everyone that shall be found written in the book.” And the revelator says that those only shall enter the city of God whose names “are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Daniel 12:1; Revelation 21:27.

Amen! Good news! Lets keep going.


“A book of remembrance” is written before God, in which are recorded the good deeds of “them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name.” Malachi 3:16. Their words of faith, their acts of love, are registered in heaven. Nehemiah refers to this when he says: “Remember me, O my God, ... and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God.” Nehemiah 13:14. In the book of God’s remembrance every deed of righteousness is immortalized. There every temptation resisted, every evil overcome, every word of tender pity expressed, is faithfully chronicled. And every act of sacrifice, every suffering and sorrow endured for Christ’s sake, is recorded. Says the psalmist: “Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?” Psalm 56:8.


Again, good news! Notice: This paragraph says nothing about our good works earning us salvation, but what it does say is that God notices our faithfulness. Isn't that awesome?


There is a record also of the sins of men. “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Says the Saviour: “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36, 37. The secret purposes and motives appear in the unerring register; for God “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” 1 Corinthians 4:5. “Behold, it is written before Me, ... your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 65:6, 7.


Anyone shaking in their boots? Ellen White is not saying anything new here. All of our sins are noticed by God, not only our good works. But the question is, what does this mean for the believer? This question will soon be answered.


Every man’s work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel.


Again, this is a clear biblical teaching in both the Old and New Testaments.


The law of God is the standard by which the characters and the lives of men will be tested in the judgment. Says the wise man: “Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14. The apostle James admonishes his brethren: “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:12.


This paragraph is just painting a clearer picture. Lets keep going.


Those who in the judgment are “accounted worthy” will have a part in the resurrection of the just. Jesus said: “They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, ... are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:35, 36. And again He declares that “they that have done good” shall come forth “unto the resurrection of life.” John 5:29. The righteous dead will not be raised until after the judgment at which they are accounted worthy of “the resurrection of life.” Hence they will not be present in person at the tribunal when their records are examined and their cases decided.


Taken alone this paragraph (and John 5:29 as well), seem to teach salvation by works. But is this what they are teaching? And what does Ellen White mean by those who are "accounted worthy"? How are we "accounted worthy?" Is it by our good works? Or is it by something else? And while we are asking these questions, what did Jesus mean when he said that “they that have done good” will receive eternal life? Is he too teaching salvation by works? This paragraph does not answer these questions, but the answer is coming up. 


Jesus will appear as their advocate, to plead in their behalf before God. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 9:24; 7:25.


Aha! So far Ellen White has only presented the problem. We are sinners and all of our sins are recorded with "terrible exactness". Now she presents the solution. And what is that solution? Jesus is our "advocate (lawyer)," who appears "in the presence of God for us (mediator) and is able to "save (savior) to the uttermost them that have good works!" Is that what it says? No! It says he is able to "save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him (faith in the substitutionary sacrifice)" because he lives with one purpose and that is to make "intercession for [us] (High Priest, redeemer)". Therefore, while our sins are many we need not fear if we are covered by the righteousness of Christ.


As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance. The Lord declared to Moses: “Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.” Exodus 32:33. And says the prophet Ezekiel: “When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, ... all his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned.” Ezekiel 18:24.


It is at this most critical paragraph that many Adventists freak out. Salvation, they think, is based on repenting of every little sin (so they become paranoid about repentance and are constantly trying to remember some sin they have not repented of so that they can secure their salvation by their repentance). Salvation also seems to be based on absolute perfection. Therefore, in order to secure my salvation I had better overcome every sin. The result is a naval-gazing experience where they are constantly looking to self in order to secure salvation instead of to Christ. Others assume an equally dangerous error, that they must look, not to self, but to Jesus in order to obtain the victory which will then make them "worthy" of eternal life. The error is that "worthiness" is still determined by human performance and not by the righteousness of Christ. In other words, the believer sees Jesus as the way by which he "might" obtain eternal life and not the way by which he "will". This view does not present Jesus as the promise of salvation but as the possibility of salvation. The person constantly worries if they are abiding in Christ, if they are allowing his grace to work through them, if they are surrendering enough, and if they are obeying the will of God well enough to "retain" their justification. This is a Christ + Me centered religion that turns the "obedience out of love" concept into a legalistic experience where the believer is constantly worrying whether or not they are "obeying out of love" enough or not. In addition, many continue to struggle with sin and eventually give up thinking that Jesus has failed them, that they cannot be saved, and that they might as well quit trying. But the problem was never with Ellen White or with Jesus. The problem was with surface reading, listening to legalistic teachers who themselves misunderstand these issues, and never having grasped the true gospel. So lets analyze this paragraph.


In order to properly understand this paragraph it is important to remember that Adventists, like Pentecostals, Lutherans, and Methodists, do not believe in "once saved, always saved." That is all this paragraph is about. It has nothing to do with "absolute perfection" or being worthy of heaven by my good works. It simply has to do with the fact that many who profess Christ do in fact turn their backs on him. During the judgment those who turned their backs on Jesus are given what they want - an eternity without him - while those who loved Jesus to the end are given what they want (though they don't deserve it) - an eternity with Jesus. Ellen White says that it is "our Advocate" who "presents the cases of each successive generation." What do you think that means? If an advocate, someone who speaks on your behalf, presents your case - Is he looking for any excuse to remove your name from the book of life? Or is he defending you and doing everything he can to keep your name there? Please don't ignore that powerful word "Advocate". That single noun forms the interpretive framework for this entire paragraph. Each name is "closely investigated" by the "Advocate" or the "one who pleads another's cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant..." So again I ask, What does this scenario look like? Is it one of God looking for every excuse to keep you out of heaven? Not at all. 


Then what does Ellen White mean when she says, "When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life"? Again, Adventists do not believe in "once saved always saved." This statement does not mean that you have to confess and repent of every tiny little sin you have ever committed "or else", nor does it mean that you have to be absolutely perfect. It simply means that anyone who professed Christ, was covered by his blood, and then rebelled against him again without ever repenting of that rebellion will be removed from the book of life. This is exactly what Paul means in the book of Hebrews when he said, 

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God (Heb. 10:26).  
Again, this paragraph is not in opposition to salvation by grace through faith. it is simply rejecting the heresy of "once saved always saved." In this investigation God is not looking for any excuses to keep us out of heaven, He is looking for one thing only. What is that? We will see it in the next paragraph. 

All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life. The Lord declares, by the prophet Isaiah: “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Isaiah 43:25. Said Jesus: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.” Revelation 3:5; Matthew 10:32, 33.


So what is God searching for? What is the Advocate doing as he "presents the cases of each successive generation"? The first sentence makes it very clear. He is looking for the blood. If you have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ, you have pardon entered against your name. That's it. No hypersensitive repentance of every little sin, no ultra-perfectionistic goal to be reached. The test is simple. Are you covered by the blood, or are you one of those who accepts Christ only to reject him when life gets rough or temptation attractive? The verdict of the judgment is determined, not by your performance or obedience, but by your faith in the blood of Jesus. Here is an illustration:

Suppose you are drowning in the ocean. A helicopter comes by and drops a rescue line to you. All you have to do is take hold of the rescue line. You take hold of it and you are elevated to safety in the helicopter. Your salvation from the watery grave is now secure. But what if you decided, for some awkward reason, that you liked things better in the ocean? What if you then leapt out of the chopper back into the ocean and then refused to get back on when the chopper returned to you? Can you logically say that you are still secure in your salvation from the watery grave? Obviously not.
That is all Ellen White is saying in this paragraph. While we are safe in the arms of Jesus we are ever free to turn our backs on him (this is what the book of Hebrews is all about). If we do, he will give us what we ask for. He will leave us, not without much pleading, to the fate we chose. "He that overcomes" then is not "he who reaches a state of sinless perfection" but he who clings to the righteousness of Christ by faith (both of which are gifts of God) for dear life and never lets go.

The deepest interest manifested among men in the decisions of earthly tribunals but faintly represents the interest evinced in the heavenly courts when the names entered in the book of life come up in review before the Judge of all the earth. The divine Intercessor presents the plea that all who have overcome through faith in His blood be forgiven their transgressions, that they be restored to their Eden home, and crowned as joint heirs with Himself to “the first dominion.” Micah 4:8. Satan in his efforts to deceive and tempt our race had thought to frustrate the divine plan in man’s creation; but Christ now asks that this plan be carried into effect as if man had never fallen. He asks for His people not only pardon and justification, full and complete, but a share in His glory and a seat upon His throne.


Wow! This is the most beautiful paragraph yet. It is absolutely amazing. It begins by saying that "earthly tribunals but faintly represents the interest evinced in the heavenly courts when the names entered in the book of life come up in review." Why? Is it because God is looking for every excuse possible to reject us? Never! Such a belief is a soul crushing heresy! The intense interest is because the judgment is an opportunity to defend us against the sophisticated accusations of Satan. When the cases "come up in review" Ellen says that "[t]he divine Intercessor presents the plea..." In other words, we have absolutely nothing to fear. The record of sins so perfectly maintained does not testify against us in the judgment because the blood of Jesus covers each and every sin written there. The purpose of the investigative judgment is thus to demonstrate who "have overcome through faith in His blood" that they may be forgiven, restored to their Eden home, and crowned as joint heirs with Jesus. I don't know about you, but this judgment sounds exciting!


This is also a good point to revisit the question, If God knows everything why does he need to investigate? Remember I concluded earlier that God never investigates for his own benefit but for the benefit of his creatures. While God knows who his true children are, the angels in heaven do not. Satan presents powerful accusations against each of us before God and the angels. Now remember, every human being has a guardian angel. Since those angels have also seen our sins they cannot argue with Satan. His charges against us, as far as they are concerned, are correct. Therefore, God opens up the books of our life's record and the investigative judgment begins - not for Gods benefit, but for the angels benefit. Of course, God could say, "Just trust me guys. Don't ask any questions. I am God and I know what I am doing." But the amazing thing is that the judgment reveals to us just how transparent God is. He has nothing to hide. This scenario is repeated in Revelation 20 during the Great White Throne judgment of the wicked. Only here, it is the redeemed who investigate what is written in the books. Not only is God transparent with his loyal angels, but he is transparent with us! He shows us why certain people we expected to see in heaven are not there and he answers all of our questions. Many people say they have tons of questions to ask God. Do you think that will go away once we get to heaven? No. God will answer everything and the investigative judgment is the beginning of that process. What a beautiful God we serve!


While Jesus is pleading for the subjects of His grace, Satan accuses them before God as transgressors. The great deceiver has sought to lead them into skepticism, to cause them to lose confidence in God, to separate themselves from His love, and to break His law. Now he points to the record of their lives, to the defects of character, the unlikeness to Christ, which has dishonored their Redeemer, to all the sins that he has tempted them to commit, and because of these he claims them as his subjects.


According to this paragraph, Who is it that "points to the record of [our] lives ...the defects of [our] character... [our]unlikeness to Christ, which has dishonored [our] Redeemer [and] to all the sins that [we have been] tempted... to commit..."? Is it Jesus our Advocate who is doing this? Not at all! It is Satan. How ironic is it that so many Adventist teachers portray the judgment in a way that makes it appear as though it is God who is pointing out these things. However, while Ellen White says he reviews the record of our lives that review is always done in the context of an Advocate (defender) and it is Satan (accuser) who points out, accuses, and claims us as "unworthy" not God! How sad is it that many well meaning Adventists have unwittingly switched the role of Jesus with the role of Satan by making God out to be against us in the judgment. How much damage has been caused by this heresy! But notice, it did not come from Ellen White but from those who have misinterpreted her writings.


Jesus does not excuse their sins, but shows their penitence and faith, and, claiming for them forgiveness, He lifts His wounded hands before the Father and the holy angels, saying: I know them by name. I have graven them on the palms of My hands. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17. And to the accuser of His people He declares: “The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” Zechariah 3:2. Christ will clothe His faithful ones with His own righteousness, that He may present them to His Father “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Ephesians 5:27. Their names stand enrolled in the book of life, and concerning them it is written: “They shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4.


If anyone still thinks that "Facing Life's Record" is scary after reading this paragraph then I don't know what to say to you. Here Ellen White makes it very clear that Christians are not judged, but Christ is judged in their place. Therefore, while we each come up for judgment those who are covered in the blood need not fear because Jesus 1) claims for us forgiveness, 2) rebukes our accuser Satan, 3) clothes his faithful with His own righteousness 4) presents them to the Father without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing (perfect), and 5) He dresses them in white (his righteousness). It is after all of this is said that Ellen White closes the paragraph with Revelation 3:4 "for they are worthy." How are they worthy? Is it because they kept the 10 commandments so well? Is it because they were absolutely sinlessly perfect? Is it because they repented of every little sin they ever committed? Is it because they were perfectly obedient? Not at all. Their "worthiness" relates only to the fact that they are covered with the perfect life of Jesus. Therefore, Christians have nothing to fear in the judgment because while they face the record of their own sinful life, it is covered by the record of Jesus perfect life, and are thus accounted worthy of salvation. Thus, the only ones who have anything to fear in the judgment are the apostates who have turned away from Christ and the hypocrites who claim Jesus with their lips yet do not truly embrace him as their Lord and Savior. However, those who sincerely believe in Jesus, though far from perfect, have the assurance that they are covered by his blood. Praise the Lord!


Thus will be realized the complete fulfillment of the new-covenant promise: “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” “In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found.” Jeremiah 31:34; 50:20. “In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 4:2, 3.


Ellen White has a way of emphasizing that follows the pattern of repeat and expand. Thus, so far we have seen 1) an introduction to the judgment (7 paragraphs), 2) a picture of the problem we face in judgment as sinners (4 paragraphs), and 3) the solution to the problem (6 paragraphs so far). This last paragraph is another example of repeat and expand. Ellen White is repeating and expanding on the truth that in Christ, and in Christ alone, all of our sins are blotted out. Therefore, while it is possible to make this a "scary" chapter by surface reading or by focusing more on section 2 "a picture of the problem" than on the chapter as a whole. In the end, it is not possible to view this chapter as scary when read in its gospel context.


The work of the investigative judgment and the blotting out of sins is to be accomplished before the second advent of the Lord. Since the dead are to be judged out of the things written in the books, it is impossible that the sins of men should be blotted out until after the judgment at which their cases are to be investigated. But the apostle Peter distinctly states that the sins of believers will be blotted out “when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ.” Acts 3:19, 20. When the investigative judgment closes, Christ will come, and His reward will be with Him to give to every man as his work shall be.


Does this mean that we are not forgiven? Of course not! The moment we come to Christ by faith we are forgiven of our sins and have no more need to ever worry about them rising up against us ever again. Remember Ellen White stated that, "All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven..." Therefore, we are forgiven. The issue here is not forgiveness but blotting out. Why do our sins remain in the record-books of heaven if they have already been forgiven? The next paragraph answers the question.


In the typical service the high priest, having made the atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the congregation. So Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear, “without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28), to bless His waiting people with eternal life. As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away “unto a land not inhabited” (Leviticus 16:22); so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God’s people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked. Thus the great plan of redemption will reach its accomplishment in the final eradication of sin and the deliverance of all who have been willing to renounce evil.


Why do our sins remain in the record books of heaven if we have already been forgiven? This paragraph answers the question. Now, before I analyze this paragraph allow me to give you an illustration that will simplify this topic.

Amy is failing one of her classes in university. She asks the professor for help and he refuses unless she sleeps with him. Desperate to pass the class, Amy concedes to the demand and passes the class. However, the secret is soon exposed and Amy faces expulsion from the school for her actions. She explains her situation and the faculty has mercy on her so they decide to forgive her and re-institute her into the school. To show just how forgiving they are they take every single document containing any information on Amy's escapade and burn it. Amy is happy. However, there is a problem. In the process of destroying all of the information about Amy's sin they have unwittingly destroyed all of the evidence needed to prosecute the teacher who took advantage of her. 
Now suppose instead of destroying the evidence they put it to the side until a future "day of judgment" in which case they would bring out the charges against Amy as evidence against the professor? Amy wouldn't have to worry about the information being there. She is already forgiven. But now the professor has to face the fact that it was he that took advantage of her and led her into sin. He know bears the ultimate responsibility for his actions and is fired from the university.
This is the only reason why our sins are not blotted out when we are forgiven. They are not kept to bear witness against us because we are already forgiven and covered by the blood of Jesus. But they are there to bear witness against Satan who is ultimately responsible for all of sin. This in no way means that Satan is a sin bearer or a sacrifice for our sins. No way! Christ alone is our sacrifice. What this means is that God will bring closure to the sin problem by holding Satan ultimately responsible for the sin and misery he has caused on this earth. Our sins are not blotted out until that final day, not to testify against us, but to be placed on Satan as the one ultimately responsible for the rebellion. 

At the time appointed for the judgment—the close of the 2300 days, in 1844—began the work of investigation and blotting out of sins. All who have ever taken upon themselves the name of Christ must pass its searching scrutiny. Both the living and the dead are to be judged “out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”


Ellen White now repeats the introduction to the work of judgment that has been taking place since 1844. There is nothing in this paragraph she has not already stated before. This paragraph and the next are in direct opposition to the heresy of "once saved always saved." This is why Ellen White says that "[a]ll who have ever taken upon themselves the name of Christ must pass its searching scrutiny..." 


Why do believers pass through a "searching scrutiny"? Its really quite simple. I already explained why in the section dealing with the accusations of Satan before God and the angels, but allow me to illustrate it differently. Take for example this paragraph by paragraph analysis of this chapter. Why am I doing it? Why am I "scrutinizing" this chapter so carefully? It is because many have "accused" it of being anti-gospel. That accusation leads me to engage in a judgment of this chapter. In the end, my "searching scrutiny" will allow me to know for sure whether or not this chapter is legalistic or gospel centered. If it fails the test then I know that it is a false teaching. However, if it is covered by the message of the cross then it passes the test. This is exactly why believers undergo a "searching scrutiny". Satan has accused us relentlessly before God. He sinned and got kicked out of heaven. We sinned and get welcomed in. How come? I can already hear Satan crying out "unjust!" God therefore performs a work of judgment on us, not to find excuses to kick us out of heaven, but to see whether or not we are covered by the blood of Jesus (remember this is for the benefit of the angels for God already knows). If we are the accusations of Satan are worthless. But if we have been hypocrites from the beginning, or if we have apostatized (turned away from Christ) then our names are removed from the records of heaven. 


So, how do we pass this "searching scrutiny"? We have already discovered that it is through faith in the righteousness of Christ. In the judgment we are not judged based on our performance, but based on whether or not we were "faithful to the end." How are we faithful to the end? It is only by placing all of our trust in Jesus and never turning back. How do we know if we have placed all of our trust in Jesus? The answer of scripture is that we have accepted Christ and our lives are now in harmony with Gods revealed will. Is your life in harmony with Gods will? Or are you still living in rebellion while claiming to be a Christian? This is the question we all must answer and its answer is the determining factor in the judgment. Again, this is not saying that we must be absolutely perfect. It is a call to sincerity.
 


Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner in the day of God. He may have committed his evil deeds in the light of day or in the darkness of night; but they were open and manifest before Him with whom we have to do. Angels of God witnessed each sin and registered it in the unerring records. Sin may be concealed, denied, covered up from father, mother, wife, children, and associates; no one but the guilty actors may cherish the least suspicion of the wrong; but it is laid bare before the intelligences of heaven. The darkness of the darkest night, the secrecy of all deceptive arts, is not sufficient to veil one thought from the knowledge of the Eternal. God has an exact record of every unjust account and every unfair dealing. He is not deceived by appearances of piety. He makes no mistakes in His estimation of character. Men may be deceived by those who are corrupt in heart, but God pierces all disguises and reads the inner life.


Once again, do not remove this paragraph from its context and thus place an undue yoke of bondage on yourself or other faithful Christians. The message here is not that we should be paranoid about whether or not we have repented and confessed every little sin. God is not going to kick you out of heaven for not having repented of the bubble gum you stole when you were twelve. To properly understand Ellen Whites statement we must understand what sin is. It is not merely a wrong act but a way of being. I can repent of my love of lying and forsake it without ever having repented of every little lie I have ever told. Likewise, I can repent of my love of lust without having to call to mind every instance in which I have lusted. God is not interested in plucking the fruit (individual sins) from the tree of sin, he wants to uproot the tree (sin as a way of being).


Ellen Whites message in this passage is clear. We cannot go to heaven where there is no sin if we love to sin and refuse to let it go. Do not confuse this with absolute perfection. This is not referring to adding to what Jesus did by overcoming all of your sins and then becoming worthy on account of that victory. Our victories add nothing to the already finished work of Christ. This is referring, once again, to sincerity. Are you truly a follower of Jesus? Or are you self-deceived into thinking you are? The answer is found in where your heart lies. Only those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus are saved. Saying a prayer, going through the church motions, being raised in a Christian family, or having a doctorate in theology does not mean you are saved. It is a personal experience with Jesus, a falling at the foot of the cross in complete dependence upon his grace, a grasping by faith the only merits by which we can be saved that can secure us salvation. So long as we depend on self, on our accomplishments, or on anything else but Jesus we cannot be saved. And we cannot claim his forgiveness while refusing his power to cleanse us from sin. This is like marrying a woman while refusing to be faithful to her. Its silly isn't it? And that is all Ellen White is referring to in this paragraph. Sincerity is the key, not absolute perfection. 


How solemn is the thought! Day after day, passing into eternity, bears its burden of records for the books of heaven. Words once spoken, deeds once done, can never be recalled. Angels have registered both the good and the evil. The mightiest conqueror upon the earth cannot call back the record of even a single day. Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their weight in deciding our destiny for weal or woe. Though they may be forgotten by us, they will bear their testimony to justify or condemn.


Once again, Ellen White is repeating the condition, or the problem we all face in judgment. In case you have not noticed, the last 3 paragraphs have been a repetition of the entire chapter so far. Ellen White has gone back to the introduction and the problem. This last paragraph is a repetition and expansion on the problem we face in the judgment as human beings. It is not meant to cause us to look within for our salvation, but to realize how utterly hopeless we are and how much we need Christ.


As the features of the countenance are reproduced with unerring accuracy on the polished plate of the artist, so the character is faithfully delineated in the books above. Yet how little solicitude is felt concerning that record which is to meet the gaze of heavenly beings. Could the veil which separates the visible from the invisible world be swept back, and the children of men behold an angel recording every word and deed, which they must meet again in the judgment, how many words that are daily uttered would remain unspoken, how many deeds would remain undone.


Once again we see repetition and expansion of the problem and a strong Lutheran/Wesleyan (Ellen White was a Methodist) rejection of once saved always saved. The next paragraph explains it more. 


In the judgment the use made of every talent will be scrutinized. How have we employed the capital lent us of Heaven? Will the Lord at His coming receive His own with usury? Have we improved the powers entrusted us, in hand and heart and brain, to the glory of God and the blessing of the world? How have we used our time, our pen, our voice, our money, our influence? What have we done for Christ, in the person of the poor, the afflicted, the orphan, or the widow? God has made us the depositaries of His holy word; what have we done with the light and truth given us to make men wise unto salvation? No value is attached to a mere profession of faith in Christ; only the love which is shown by works is counted genuine. Yet it is love alone which in the sight of Heaven makes any act of value. Whatever is done from love, however small it may appear in the estimation of men, is accepted and rewarded of God.


The interpretation of this paragraph hinges on this statement: "No value is attached to a mere profession of faith in Christ; only the love which is shown by works is counted genuine." If this is legalistic, then I suppose James was the biggest legalist of all because this sentence is simply repeating the message of the epistle of James. Likewise, men like Luther, Wesley, Moody, Graham, and Chan would also be considered legalists because they all taught(and teach) the same truths. There are myriads of Christians who live with a false sense of security. They think because they go to church they are saved, but they are deluded because their faith is nothing more than an intellectual or cultural ascent to a set of Bible facts. How do I know if I am saved? Not by how perfect we are but by what kind of life we live. Is your life one of love to God and man or one of love to self? Do we feed the poor? Clothe the naked? Visit the lonely? Do we defend the widows and the orphans? Or do we exploit the poor, ignore the naked, avoid the lonely and  despise the widows and orphans? Are we indifferent to the pain of others? Are we unmoved by the sufferings of the raped, the abused, the starving, the bullied? Doing these things (or others) will never save us, but works of love show that we are saved. The message of both James and Ellen White is simple: Don't think you are eternally secure just because you "believe" in God when you live like a devil for as James said, "even the demons believe and they tremble" (James 2:19). You may not be perfect, but are you sincere? Are you a lover of God? Or are you a selfish, self-centered, indifferent human being who is deluded into thinking you are actually saved? If I could summarize this entire chapter it would be in the form of this question: Are you sincere?


The hidden selfishness of men stands revealed in the books of heaven. There is the record of unfulfilled duties to their fellow men, of forgetfulness of the Saviour’s claims. There they will see how often were given to Satan the time, thought, and strength that belonged to Christ. Sad is the record which angels bear to heaven. Intelligent beings, professed followers of Christ, are absorbed in the acquirement of worldly possessions or the enjoyment of earthly pleasures. Money, time, and strength are sacrificed for display and self-indulgence; but few are the moments devoted to prayer, to the searching of the Scriptures, to humiliation of soul and confession of sin.


Once again, Ellen White paints a picture of the problem. While every Christian can learn from the words of this paragraph and apply them to their life, do not over-apply them to the sincere. These words are meant to arouse the minds of licentious Christians who claim Jesus with their lips but are 1) "absorbed in the acquirement of worldly possessions or the enjoyment of earthly pleasures," 2) sacrificing "[m]oney, time, and strength... for display and self-indulgence," and 3) all but neglecting Bible study, prayer, and the "humiliation of soul and confession of sin (another way of saying 'learning to depend entirely on the merits of Christ')." 


The key word in this passage is "absorbed." Its OK to have worldly possessions (nice car, house, clothes) and enjoy earthly pleasures (weddings, theme parks, innocent parties) but it is not OK for the Christian to be "absorbed" with these things. Likewise, we should not be "absorbed" with church, religion, theology, or ministry for the result would be the same. We need Christ to be the center of our lives and that is all this paragraph is saying.


Satan invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds, that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we ought to be best acquainted. The archdeceiver hates the great truths that bring to view an atoning sacrifice and an all-powerful mediator. He knows that with him everything depends on his diverting minds from Jesus and His truth.

There it is! The last few paragraphs culminate in the unveiling of Satan's masterful plan. And what is it? It is in "diverting minds from Jesus and His truth." The judgment is meant to arouse Christians to the reality that while they can enjoy assurance of salvation they must never entertain carnal security, or better said, self-confidence. Those who, like Peter, are self confident have no idea that Satan is plotting for their downfall. Peter learned that he was not as spiritual as he thought when he betrayed Christ. Even though he swore he never would (self-confidence) he discovered he was wrong. However, had Peter admitted his weaknesses and asked Christ for grace he would never have betrayed him. It was his self-confidence that led him to betray Christ. Likewise, false doctrines like "once saved always saved" have millions living in self-confidence. They do not pray, study, or grow in their relationship with Christ. They could care less about human trafficking,  the murder of unborn and born children alike, the needs of the hungry and the addicted, and even the needs of their own family and friends and yet, they call themselves Christians. I once met a young man who smoked, drank, did drugs, and slept with different women all the time. He spent money on himself and cared little for others and yet he thought he was saved because he prayed a prayer at a youth rally 4 years before. This is self-confidence masquerading as faith in the atonement. The investigative judgment demolishes this false security by showing us two things: number one, Christ is our only hope before conversion and, number two, he remains our only hope after conversion. This truth alone protects us from legalism and licentiousness at the same time.


Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God. The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the word of truth. The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God. Each must meet the great Judge face to face. How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at the end of the days.


We are now entering the close of this chapter. At this close Ellen White once again presents the solution to the problem she has delineated above. Once again she declares that our only hope is in "the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation" and not in ourselves. However, what about the scary phrase that we should "permit nothing to interfere with [our] duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God"? Is Ellen White saying that we are saved by our faith and our works? Again, allow me to remind you that Ellen White has already made it amply clear that we can only be saved by the blood of Jesus. No extra ingredients. Period. So do not commit the fallacy of interpreting this paragraph (and the remaining paragraphs) outside of their gospel context. To do so would be doing violence to the text. Since Ellen White has been consistently challenging the heresy of "once saved always saved" while simultaneously affirming our desperate need of Jesus only we must, out of intellectual honesty, continue to interpret her statements in that light.


First of all, while Ellen White believed in perfection (as do the Bible authors and as did John Wesley) she never teaches that a certain level of absolute sinless perfectionism must be reached in order to be saved at last. Many Adventists stumble over this point. There is a huge difference between a professed Christian who cherishes hidden sin and an honest Christian who, by looking to Jesus is daily gaining victories, yet always struggling with sin. Every honest and sincere Christian finds themselves in the latter category. I don't know of any sincere Christian that loves to sin and wants it to stay that way. But all of us will, until the return of Christ, have sins to overcome. Ellen White herself said,


So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience {AA 560.3}.
Therefore, it would be disingenuous to say that Ellen White is teaching perfectionism in this paragraph. All Ellen White is doing is repeating and expanding what she said before: You cannot claim Christs righteousness if you are a hypocrite. That's what this entire chapter is about! And yet people who are not hypocrites read it on the surface and walk away thinking they are never going to be good enough to pass the judgment. Away with such a thought! It is not the intent of this chapter at all! So when Ellen White says that, "Those who would share the benefits of the Saviour’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God" she is not saying that you need to reach a level of perfection before God can finally accept you into his family. All she is saying is that we should be committed and faithful Christians who have Jesus at the center of our lives and not self, the world, or anything else. Those who take their eyes off of Jesus because he seems to be taking long (the foolish virgins Matt. 25) and begin to settle down in this world are playing a dangerous game. We should never take our eyes off of Jesus. And what about, "The precious hours, instead of being given to pleasure, to display, or to gain seeking, should be devoted to an earnest, prayerful study of the word of truth"? Does this mean we should be like the desert fathers and go live in a monastery somewhere? Of course not. Ellen Whites own life testifies to a woman who enjoyed pleasure, laughter, and success. The key is in her phrase "instead of being given to" which is another way of saying "absorbed" or "obsessed". Ellen White is simply repeating the same thing she said before in different ways.

The paragraph then challenges us with an admonition to understand the work of investigative judgment happening now. This is imperative in a time when people are losing faith because Jesus seems to be taking forever to come back. Its also important because we are so close to the second coming that Satan is doubling his efforts to distract us from what really matters - a relationship with God. Just look at the world around you. We are faced with myriads of distractions. The investigative judgment is a wonderful teaching that reminds us that while we can enjoy the innocent pleasures of this world we must not become consumed with any of those things. Jesus is coming soon. Its all going to be burned up. And in a time when Satan is trying harder than ever to deceive and destroy (Matt. 24) the truth of the investigative judgment keeps us focused on our relationship with Jesus. In other words: Enjoy Facebook, iPads, and good times but don't forget about Jesus. Don't make him a second class citizen in your life. Its Jesus that is going to get you through the final crisis, not Facebook. So stay connected to him. Is that legalistic? Is that scary? Is that "bad news"? I don't think so.


How about: "How important, then, that every mind contemplate often the solemn scene when the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, when, with Daniel, every individual must stand in his lot, at the end of the days"? That's a scary statement isn't it? Remember the context. If there is anything I can ever stress to anyone is that "context is everything." This context is soon going to be repeated very forcefully -  we are not "once saved always saved". Many Adventists join the church with a good grasp on the gospel, and then like the Galatians, they are swept away by some offshoot ministry that claims they have to be absolutely perfect to be saved. They become legalistic and loose sight of Jesus. Like the Galatians, when they take their eyes off of Jesus and place them on themselves, their commandment keeping, their diet, and their performance they have "fallen away from grace." It is only by total dependence on Jesus that we can be safe. Contemplating the "solemn scene" of the judgment reminds us that we can never take our eyes off of Jesus. Sabbath keeping, health reform, etc. all have their proper place, but none should replace Christ. The solemn judgment reminds us that "not eating pork" will not save us in a judgment where all of our sins are laid bare. Only one thing can save us - the blood of Jesus - and the judgment reminds us, as we are bombarded by legalism from the conservatives and licentiousness from the liberals, to keep our eyes fixed on him. Nothing else! 


All who have received the light upon these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects and be able to give an answer to everyone that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them.


This paragraph simply applies to those who believe the teaching of the investigative judgment. We should not just know it, but be able to share it. How sad that the majority of Adventists can't even begin to explain the investigative judgment.


The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, “whither the forerunner is for us entered.” Hebrews 6:20. There the light from the cross of Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight into the mysteries of redemption. The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to heaven; the sacrifice made is equal to the broadest demands of the broken law of God. Jesus has opened the way to the Father’s throne, and through His mediation the sincere desire of all who come to Him in faith may be presented before God.


Many people misunderstand this statement to say that the atonement was not completed on the cross. However, that is not what this statement is saying at all. What it is saying is that his work on our behalf has not yet been completed. So while the atonement on the cross is finished, his ministry is not. This is not only clear in scripture but even the great evangelist Billy Graham wrote, 
"Quite clearly Jesus did not say that His death on the cross would mark the cessation of His ministry. The night before His death He repeatedly told the disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit."*
It is obvious to anyone who reads scripture that while the death of Jesus is complete and perfect and provides everything needed for the salvation of man his ministry was not completed at the cross. The day of Pentecost  the mediation and intercession in the sanctuary, the building of our mansions in heaven, the day of judgment, the second coming, and the eradication of sin and recreation of the earth are all part of the ministry of Christ on behalf of man. Thus Ellen White could say,
[Christ] planted the cross between heaven and earth, and when the Father beheld the sacrifice of His Son, He bowed before it in recognition of its perfection. “It is enough,” He said. “The atonement is complete” {RH September 24, 1901, par. 11}.
And yet say, "By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven." The atonement that guarantees our salvation is complete, but in the heavenly sanctuary Christ appropriates the benefits of his death to our individual lives in "real time."** Do you realize what this means? Christianity is not only about what happened 2,000 years ago (death of Christ) or about what will happen some day in the future (second coming) but it is about what is happening in the here and now! What a beautiful message this is that right now, at this moment in "real time," God is working on behalf of man. The final phase of his ministry began in 1844 and in the sanctuary service this phase of judgment is known as the "Day of Atonement" and is the final phase of ministry before the year ended. The implications are awesome! Many people ask, "Why hasn't Jesus come yet? You Christians have been saying he would return since the first century A.D. and its 2014! Where is he? Our answer is straight forward, "since 1844 he began his final phase of ministry on behalf of man. No one knows when it will end, but it is the last thing he will do before the movie ends. How awesome is the thought that prophetically speaking Jesus is now engaged in the final work and when it is over he will come! We are totally living in the last days.

Notice how Ellen White closes this paragraph: "Jesus has opened the way to the Father’s throne..." While Ellen White spent the last few paragraphs repeating and expanding "the problem" she now, once again, presents the "solution" and it is not our works, our performance, or our obedience. It is Jesus!


“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13. If those who hide and excuse their faults could see how Satan exults over them, how he taunts Christ and holy angels with their course, they would make haste to confess their sins and to put them away. Through defects in the character, Satan works to gain control of the whole mind, and he knows that if these defects are cherished, he will succeed. Therefore he is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ with his fatal sophistry that it is impossible for them to overcome. But Jesus pleads in their behalf His wounded hands, His bruised body; and He declares to all who would follow Him: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” 2 Corinthians 12:9. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:29, 30. Let none, then, regard their defects as incurable. God will give faith and grace to overcome them.


Again, Ellen White is dealing with sincerity here. What Christian wants to live in rebellion to God? If you want Jesus and want your sin as well then there is a problem with your relationship with God. You are still in rebellion to him. Ellen White is once again appealing to sincerity. She is not teaching absolute perfection here. Notice she does not say that defects in the character will prove our ruin. She says that "if these defects are cherished, [Satan] will succeed." The key word is "cherished." Do you love your sin? Then you cannot go to heaven. You cannot love both God and sin. As one of my professors once said, "You cannot love someone and hurt them at the same time. Eventually, you will either stop hurting them or you will stop loving them." Jesus also taught this when he said "you cannot love both God and money." This does not mean you will be absolutely perfect and that you have to constantly live in fear of not going to heaven because you have defects of character. Remember, Ellen White said that said, "So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained." Satan will reign until the second coming, and therefore, we will have defects of character to overcome and when Jesus comes we will still be sinful! But Jesus is with us every step of the way. He is holding onto us. He is giving us his love, and his grace, and his power to live for him. As we fall deeper in love with him we learn to hate sin. While we may still fall, we are no longer slaves to sin. We are free to love as God created us to love. However, we must never assume that overcoming is the ground of our acceptance with God, for Ellen White was clear that, 
We may enjoy the favor of God. We are not to be anxious about what Christ and God think of us, but about what God thinks of Christ, our Substitute. Ye are accepted in the Beloved {2SM 32}. 
We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.

Here we have yet another paragraph which, if torn out of its context, will breed insecurity and legalism. But kept within its context this paragraph poses no problem to our assurance of salvation. Here Ellen White appeals to all of us for we are all prone to take our eyes off of Jesus, but especially to those who live in carnal security. So lets follow her line of thought. In the day of atonement those who did not want to repent and search their hearts were cut off from Israel. In other words, those who wanted nothing to do with God, or who wanted both the benefits of God plus their sins, were given what they wanted - separation from Gods people. Our churches are filled with people who are living in carnal security. They think they are saved because they go to church but they live like the world. What do I mean by world? Uncaring, unloving, proud, boasters, money hungry, selfish etc. Ellen White is once again appealing to us that we should be sincere. Therefore, if you gave your life to Christ but have 
been swept away by legalistic doctrines or by the temptations of this world and yet you still think you are in Gods grace you are deceiving yourself. Thus, even Calvinist website gotquestions.org (which supports once saved always saved) could write,
For the truly converted, then, continuing to live sinfully is not an option. Because our conversion resulted in a completely new nature, our desire is to no longer live in sin. Yes, we still sin, but instead of wallowing in it as we once did, we now hate it and wish to be delivered from it. The idea of “taking advantage” of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf by continuing to live sinfully is unthinkable. If a person believes himself to be a Christian and still desires to live the old, sinful life, he has reason to doubt his salvation. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
This paragraph, and the quoted text, are exactly what Ellen White is saying. When she says that "[t]he light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away" she is not saying that Christians should be gloomy, unhappy, naval gazing people who are always fretting about how sinful they are. She is appealing to those who are self-deceived into thinking that they can spend hours on the internet watching pornography, waste money on fancy cars and clothes while ignoring the poor and afflicted, mistreat illegal immigrants by exploiting them, and cheat on their spouses and still think that they are saved and going to heaven. Such people live with a "light and frivolous" spirit. They don't take their selfishness and lovelessness seriously. They laugh it off as unimportant. They shrug their shoulders and say "if I believe I am saved" while they cheat on their taxes and underpay their employees. So do not rip this paragraph out of its context to say that Christians should always be anxious and worried and unhappy. Ellen White herself was a happy, light-hearted woman who named her pet dog Tiglath Peleser (after the evil Assyrian king in 2 Kings - humor anyone?) and once fell off a rock because she was laughing so hard. She also wrote that,
We should never give to the world the false impression that Christians are a gloomy, unhappy people. If our eyes are fixed on Jesus, we shall see a compassionate Redeemer, and shall catch light from His countenance. Wherever His Spirit reigns, there peace abides. And there will be joy also, for there is a calm, holy trust in God. {DA 152.5}
What about that scary closing thought in which Ellen White says, "Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing"? Well, the question is, How are we to be "found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing"? She already answered it a few paragraphs above when she said, "Christ will clothe His faithful ones with His own righteousness, that He may present them to His Father “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” So the real question is, are you trusting in Jesus and clinging to him by faith or 1) are you trusting in your own works or 2) turning your back on Jesus by living for the things of this world? Our only hope is in placing our entire trust on Jesus and allowing his love to keep us there.

Solemn are the scenes connected with the closing work of the atonement. Momentous are the interests involved therein. The judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. For many years this work has been in progress. Soon—none know how soon—it will pass to the cases of the living. In the awful presence of God our lives are to come up in review. At this time above all others it behooves every soul to heed the Saviour’s admonition: “Watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” Mark 13:33. “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” Revelation 3:3.

Again, this is in the context of the reality that "[Satan] is constantly seeking to deceive the followers of Christ". He wants to deceive us with either licentiousness or legalism. Either way he can take us away from Christ and place us in his realm of influence. This is solemn (serious) stuff! So while we are invited to enjoy life, go to the beach, wear nice clothes, love friends and family, enjoy success and entertainment, have fun with our kids, and experience all that is good and joyful in this world we are never to allow anything to get in the way of our love for and connection to Jesus. As Jesus himself said,
"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.… (John 15:6-8)
When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death. Probation is ended a short time before the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. Christ in the Revelation, looking forward to that time, declares: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:11, 12.

How is the destiny of all decided for life or death? The answer is simple: Are you covered by the blood of Jesus? Or are you not? 

The righteous and the wicked will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state—men will be planting and building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has been pronounced in the sanctuary above. Before the Flood, after Noah entered the ark, God shut him in and shut the ungodly out; but for seven days the people, knowing not that their doom was fixed, continued their careless, pleasure-loving life and mocked the warnings of impending judgment. “So,” says the Saviour, “shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:39. Silently, unnoticed as the midnight thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man’s destiny, the final withdrawal of mercy’s offer to guilty men.


This paragraph actually demonstrates just how beautiful the message of the investigative judgment is. Notice that Ellen White is here speaking of those who have rejected the message of Christs mercy. There are two groups. The righteous and the wicked. The righteous have passed through the investigative judgment and have been found worthy because they are covered in the blood of Jesus, while the wicked have not passed through this judgment at all (except for those who once were believers and turned away though legalism or licentiousness)! Now pay close attention. Probation closes and with it goes "the final withdrawal of mercy’s offer to guilty men." Notice: Gods offer is one of mercy. Those who accept this offer are written in the book of life and their life comes up for judgment. They are found covered by the blood and are thus worthy. When we heed Gods offer of mercy we come up in the investigative judgment. The wicked who reject this offer never come up in the investigative judgment because that judgment is for the righteous and the (pseudo-disciples). Remember how Ellen White said that "[t]he judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period"? The Bible calls this the Great White Throne judgment. Just as in the investigative judgment only those who have professed Christ are judged, in the Great White Throne judgment, only those who have rejected Christ are judged. The investigative judgment is no fear for those who are covered by the blood of Jesus - but the Great White Throne judgment presents no promise of redemption, no offer of mercy, and no chance of acquittal  Those who pass through this judgment are there because they are lost. Do you catch the implications of this? If your name does not come up in the investigative judgment it will automatically come up in the Great White Throne judgment. This means, you want your name to come up in the investigative judgment! Because if it does it is because your name is written in the book of life! And you are judged and found innocent on the basis of the blood of Jesus.

“Watch ye therefore: ... lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping.” Mark 13:35, 36. Perilous is the condition of those who, growing weary of their watch, turn to the attractions of the world. While the man of business is absorbed in the pursuit of gain, while the pleasure lover is seeking indulgence, while the daughter of fashion is arranging her adornments—it may be in that hour the Judge of all the earth will pronounce the sentence: “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” Daniel 5:27.


 Is the investigative judgment scary? It is for the hypocrites. Those who take their eyes off of Jesus and place them on their own works and performance are in danger of being "found wanting." And those who take their eyes off of Jesus having "grown weary of their watch" and "turn to the attractions of this word" are also in danger of being "found wanting." Our only hope is to be hidden in Jesus Christ. 

None of us are perfect. None of us are righteous. We can never in one lifetime, or even a thousand, think to live in perfect obedience to all of Gods requirements. Some try. But while they focus all of their attention to obey every health law possible they fail to obey in a thousand other areas. While some do well in helping the poor they may fail in their prayer life and while some do well in all of these they may fail in their use of time. None of us can ever be good enough to pass through the judgment and be found "not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." And the message of the investigative judgment is a powerful deterrent from legalism. It reminds me that no matter how much I may succeed in my obedience in one area, I will always fail in another. And even if I did not, there is a terrible record of every wrong deed I have ever done, every thought, every impulse - wasted time and opportunities - they are all there. What hope do I have then of being declared innocent just because I keep the Sabbath? Or follow the health message to utmost perfection? None, for it is written, "Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins." (Ecc. 7:20). There is no hope for me except in one thing and that is to "be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith" (Phil. 3:9). 


None of us are perfect. None of us are righteous. We can never in one lifetime, or even a thousand, think to live in perfect obedience to all of Gods requirements. Some give up. But while they wallow in their sins thinking it is impossible to overcome they take their eyes off of Christ and begin to live for pleasure. Sin is selfishness, and the life of such a Christian soon loses sight of the love of God and becomes a selfish life. Prayer, Bible study, worship - all are sacrificed for the sake of entertainment, wealth, and popularity. Life becomes all about me. I no longer see the savior. I no longer depend on him. And yet, I pretend everything is OK because I believe that Jesus died for me. But the judgment reminds me that I cannot afford to live without the blood of Jesus. There is a terrible record of every wrong deed I have ever done, every thought, every impulse - wasted time and opportunities - they are all there. What hope do I have then of being declared innocent just because I intellectually agree with Bible facts? None, for it is written, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luk. 9:62). There is no hope for me except in one thing and that is to "be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith" (Phil. 3:9)


In light of all of this, I conclude: The chapter "Facing Life's Record," which describes the implications of the investigative judgment, stands in complete harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The believer faces the judgment with joy and confidence for he/she knows that they are covered by the blood of Jesus and that it is through faith and not works. Ellen White summarized it well when she wrote:
Through the imputed righteousness of Christ, the sinner may feel that he is pardoned, and may know that the law no more condemns him, because he is in harmony with all its precepts. It is his privilege to count himself innocent when he reads and thinks of the retribution that will fall upon the unbelieving and sinful. By faith he lays hold of the righteousness of Christ. . . . Knowing himself to be a sinner, a transgressor of the holy law of God, he looks to the perfect obedience of Christ, to His death upon Calvary for the sins of the world; and he has the assurance that he is justified by faith in the merit and sacrifice of Christ. He realizes that the law was obeyed in his behalf by the Son of God, and that the penalty of transgression cannot fall upon the believing sinner. The active obedience of Christ clothes the believing sinner with the righteousness that meets the demands of the law {SD 240.4}.

Further Reading:

The Investigative Judgment - Is it Biblical?

REclaiming Adventism

The Urgent Implications of the Pre-Advent Judgment

Never Good Enough - The Close of Probation and Sinless Perfectionism

The SDA Gospel is Legalistic - Isn't It?

Is A Christian Once Saved Always Saved? (A Lutheran View)

Is A Christian Once Saved Always Saved? (A Methodist View)

Is A Christian Once Saved Always Saved? (An Adventist View)

Resources:

http://1844madesimple.org/


_______________

Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit: Activating God’s Power in Your Life [W Publishing Group, 1988], 71.

** To avoid confusion it is also important to realize that Adventists place a wider definition on the word "atonement" than do other Christians. We believe that the sacrificial atonement was full and complete on Calvary  but we also refer to the rest of Christs ministry (intercession, second coming, punishment of the wicked etc.) as atonement. Thus we can say that the atonement was completed and is not yet complete. The sacrificial atonement is 100% complete and nothing needs to be added to it, but the rest of the atonement (ministry of Christ on behalf of man) will not be completed until the new earth. 
REclaiming Adventism (A Response to the Testimony of former Adventist Eliana Matthews)

Note: This article is now available for download as a PDF eBook here.

Most of you are probably wondering why I would be sharing a video that basically denounces Seventh-day Adventism (by the way, if you haven't watched the video then stop right now and do so. Ms. Matthews testimony is crucial to grasping the issues I deal with in this article). Perhaps this is an attempt at defending my church and I am now going to embark on an apologetic vindication of Adventism. However, while I am going to clarify many things I am not interested in debating Ms. Matthews. Frankly, I am not even attempting to get her to reconsider leaving Adventism. In my opinion, her spiritual life has suffered enough in Adventism and I think it is best if she remains where she is and just follows Jesus.

Likewise, strange as it may sound, I am actually on her side. Everything stated in this video is true. Everything she was taught is true. She did not make it up or “misunderstand” the true teachings of the church. In order for her to “misunderstand” our true teachings she would first have to be exposed to them. Her summary of beliefs as stated in this video leads me to believe that Ms. Matthews never was exposed to true Adventism.

Adventism has more than one school of thought. Some of these schools of thought are actually fringe groups such as the Anti-Trinitarians, the Historic Seventh-day Adventists, the Branch Davidians/ Shepherds Rod, and the Reformed Seventh-day Adventists. Each of these groups is characterized by their separation from the mainstream SDA church and by marked differences in our theology. However, there are other schools of thought in the SDA church that are not always considered “fringe” and are found within the mainstream SDA church. These are known as the 1888er's (a nick name for those who subscribe to the theology of the 1888 Message Study Committee), the Last Generation Theology camp (the Andreasens), the Maxwellians, the Sequerians, and several others. These theological camps are alive and well within the SDA church and their influence can be felt in our academic world as well as in our churches.

While all of these groups teach wonderful truths (even the fringe groups) none of them teach true Seventh-day Adventism (although some come closer than others). In my experience I have found that of all of these camps the most influential and widespread in the mainstream church is the Last Generation Theology Camp (the Andreasens). This theological camp is one whose primary focus tend to be topics such as the human nature of Christ, perfectionism at the close of probation, victory over sin and the 144,000. It is these camps that are most common in the conservative wing of the church. Because of this, it comes as no surprise to me that Ms. Matthews could go to church school, get A’s in all of her Bible classes, and have her own pastor commend her theological knowledge while simultaneously never understanding true Adventism.


Just last summer I spoke to two young men. One raised in SDA school all of his life. The other raised in an SDA home and currently a student in an SDA university. Neither one of them understood the gospel. The one raised in SDA schools told me that heaven is attained by doing the best you can and hoping it was good enough and the other confided that he lived with a perpetual state of anxiety over whether or not he was good enough to go to heaven. It is because of this that I am not surprised by Ms. Matthew’s version of SDA theology even though she went to SDA schools all her life. Quite possibly her teachers, parents, and spiritual leaders were heavily influenced by the theological camps I mentioned above. As a matter of fact, Ms. Matthews’s description of SDA theology shows her to have been more of a Seventh-day Andreasen (more on this later) than a Seventh-day Adventist – a common phenomenon.[i]

I will not here seek to denounce these groups I have mentioned. There are wonderful, godly, loving people in each of these camps. Quite often, many of them do not experience anxiety over their salvation and many are not necessarily “legalistic.” This is often because many of them do not understand the true implications of their own theology. However, when they communicate this theology to others who carry it to its logical conclusions the damage done can be immeasurable. In his book I Used to be Perfect, Adventist historian George R. Knight tells how, after his conversion, he was approached by a zealous group of Adventists (quite possibly from one of these camps) who shared an Ellen White quote with him which he understood to mean he had to be perfect or else Jesus wouldn’t return. He made an oath to be the first perfect Christian since Christ and failed so miserably he turned his back on God for years. Martin Webber, retired SDA pastor, shares a similar story in his auto-biography My Tortured Conscience. I too share these experiences. There was a time when I feared the investigative judgment, had no assurance of salvation, and thought that I lost my salvation every time I sinned, no matter how small, until I confessed and repented. My wife Candice nearly ended up in a mental institution after reading the Ellen White book Messages to Young People through the eyes of a false gospel. So understand that as I respond to Ms. Matthew’s video I do so from a position of one who wholeheartedly understands the struggle, the pain, the anxiety, the depression, and the dark cloud of hopelessness that overwhelms you when you realize "I’m never going to be good enough." I have lived those days of anger at God for placing such “heavy burdens” on me that I couldn’t carry. Those were days of sheer exhaustion, of crushing guilt and shame and I have come within inches of leaving this church behind. Even today I must daily fight against the tendency toward legalism. There is a pharisee alive within me and only the constant reminder of the grace of God can keep him under control. So as I write, I do not do so as a theologian or as a patriotic Adventist eager to defend the “remnant church.” As I write, I do so as one who has "been there and done that."



A Bit of SDA History

When Adventism was born a large portion of North Americans were already Christians. Because of this, Adventist evangelists focused almost exclusively on the unique doctrinal teachings of the church. Since most of their audience were Christians who already understood the gospel, the gospel was left out of many Adventist discourses. Over time the church came to lose sight of the gospel completely and plunged into legalism. In 1888 the message of grace was re-introduced to Adventists. This re-introduction was supported by Ellen White but rejected by many, including some SDA leaders. In short, it was the saddest chapter in SDA history. The legalism continued. In the 1950's a series of discussions began between Adventist leaders and evangelicals who wanted to know, from the horse’s mouth, what Adventists really believed. The discussion was published in a book known as Questions on Doctrine (QOD). At this point an influential SDA theologian named M.L. Andreasen reacted against the SDA leadership (as any in his position would have done). According to Andreasen, the book Questions on Doctrine was a departure from orthodox SDA theology. Andreasen especially combated two aspects of the book, 1) how it dealt with the human nature of Christ and, 2) how it dealt with the atonement. Although Andreasen also attacked other points put forth in the book these were his main contentions. Due to lack of space and time I cannot enter into the specifics of this controversy here, but for those who would like to know more I recommend the books Questions On Doctrine Revisited! by Leroy Moore and the annotated edition of Questions on Doctrine. Suffice to say that Andreasens charges, with exception to the human nature of Christ (which I will not deal with here), were mostly misunderstandings that led to confusion (the QOD authors weren't innocent either). During this time Andreasen came to develop what would become one of the most influential theological schools of thought in Adventism - “Last Generation Theology (LGT).” So what is LGT? Here is a summary:
1. We are born with tendencies to evil.
2. We are lost because of our own choice to rebel.
3. God takes the initiative to save us. We cannot earn salvation.
4. Christ reproduces his character in us (sanctification).
5. Obedience is both a condition for salvation and an ongoing requirement of salvation.
6. Jesus came in the fallen nature of Adam and was like fallen man in every way.
7. Jesus was tempted from without and from within.
8. The atonement was not completed at the cross, it is being completed now in the investigative judgment.
9. The sanctuary cannot be cleansed until Gods people have become sinlessly perfect.
10. Jesus cannot return until we arrive at a state of sinless perfection.
11. The Last Generation will defeat Satan (he was not fully defeated on the cross) and exonerate Gods character by becoming sinlessly perfect thus proving once and for all that Gods law can be kept and that it is possible to live without sinning.
12. We must ultimately reach a point of sinless perfection in order to stand in the sight of God without an intercessor after probation closes. (for more on Last Generation Theology you can visit 
http://www.lastgenerationtheology.org)
At this point I must say that analyzing anyone's theology is a horrendous game. I have read debates between theologians who constantly accuse the opponent of misrepresenting and misunderstanding what they really teach. No doubt, as faulty humans that is a possibility. Thus, "exposing" LGT is not my main burden. My main burden is in demonstrating the differences between LGT and mainstream Adventism. In the meantime I will show how, at least in my estimation (and the estimation of numerous other SDA theologians), LGT does in fact lend itself toward legalism. While many LGT proponents attempt to reconcile LGT with the gospel by restating it in grace language at the end of the day such a theology inevitably breeds a focus on ones own performance. I once believed in LGT. While I was blessed by much of what I heard and learned there was an ever present sensation that something was missing. The best way I can explain the way I understood salvation is with the following formula.

What Jesus did + What I Do = Salvation

And of course, I would make myself feel better by adding the following element:


What Jesus did + What I Do (by Gods grace of course) = Salvation

In my blog post "Jesus Only" I shared that adding the "by his grace" element really does not make much of a difference for "[e]ither way.... [t]he basic idea remains the same: 'I must add something to what Jesus did in order to either be or remain saved.'" The only difference is that the adding is now done in his power instead of mine. However, this version of the gospel is more Catholic and Mormon than it is Adventist.

Now, please understand, not everything taught in LGT is necessarily false, but taken as a whole LGT culminates in a self-focused experience that breeds insecurity, legalism, and anxiety for many who adopt its teachings. This is the case even though LGT maintains that works are non-meritorious. Those who do not experience this seem to be the exception and not the norm. Such an experience may not be the intention of its teachers, who are sincerely longing to lead others to a closer walk with Jesus and out of the Laodecian lukewarmness so prevalent in Adventism today. However, such an experience certainly seems to be the logical outworking of this system of theology. The SDA church does not accept LGT, however, LGT seems to be the most popular lens through which the majority of conservative Adventists view the gospel. This is due to the fact that Andreasen was one of the most influential SDA theologians in the 1940's. Because Adventists already tended toward legalism his views came to be embraced by everyone who believed his claims of conspiracy among the church leadership to undermine true SDA theology. Thus, from that moment on a huge divide took place in the SDA church. Many followed Andreasen as though his teachings represented the true, orthodox, historic theology of the pioneers while others rejected his teachings. To this day, I would say that the mainstream SDA church is primarily split into two camps: 1) the Andreasens and 2) everybody else.

Ms. Matthews was an Andreasen she just didn’t know it. Indeed, a large portion of Andreasens have no idea that they are.[ii] This is partly due to Andreasens influence over conservative Adventism, partly due to other influential conservative SDA teachers perpetuating his theology (an in many instances exaggerating and or misrepresenting it), and partly due to their heavy use of select Ellen White quotes that seem to support their cause. Because many SDA’s believe whatever Ellen White believed without investigating for themselves LGT goes uncontested by many who assume the theology originated with her.



Responding to Ms. Matthews

Now that I have established a bit of background I can move forward with my response to Ms. Matthews’s video. From this point on I will numerate each of Ms. Matthews’s points and comment on them. Keep in mind that these are not all necessarily points she made verbatim but they are all points she mentioned in one way or another. I will respond by using the Bible, official SDA statements of faith, statements made by SDA theologians, the writings of Ellen White and others. While SDA theology is not built upon Ellen White but upon the Bible, she is still considered an authoritative source of truth and her theological insights will help shed much light on true Adventism. During the process I will help distinguish, whenever necessary, between true Adventism and Andreasenism. All italics are supplied for emphasis.

1. Ms. Matthews states she had no assurance of salvation.

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Many wrongly believe that their standing before God depends on their good or bad deeds. – 136
Through justification by faith in Christ, His righteousness is imputed to us. We are right with God because of Christ our substitute…. As repentant sinners, we experience full and complete pardon. We are reconciled with God! – 137
Justification also brings the assurance of the believer’s acceptance. It brings the joy of being reunited with God now. – 138
From Ellen White
We stand in favor before God, not because of any merit in ourselves, but because of our faith in "the Lord our righteousness" {ST 2:497}.
We may enjoy the favor of God. We are not to be anxious about what Christ and God think of us, but about what God thinks of Christ, our Substitute. Ye are accepted in the Beloved {2SM 32}.  
The soul who sees Jesus by faith, repudiates his own righteousness. He sees himself as incomplete, his repentance insufficient, his strongest faith but feebleness, his most costly sacrifice as meager, and he sinks in humility at the foot of the cross. But a voice speaks to him from the oracles of God's word. In amazement he hears the message, "Ye are complete in him." Now all is at rest in the soul. No longer must he strive to find some worthiness in himself, some meritorious deed by which to gain the favor of God {ST, 2:497; 7/04/92}.
Notes: Lack of assurance seems to be a classic symptom of LGT. Again, not every LGT proponent experiences this, but those who carry the theology to its logical conclusion do. While LGT proponents will never say that we are saved by works and would just as readily denounce legalism the experience of many in this camp proves that the theology is inherently legalistic. If this is not the case then the only other assumption I can arrive at is that the teachers of LGT are not emphasizing the righteousness of Christ enough and unwittingly pointing many of their adherents in a direction they themselves do not intend to go. 

Allow me to deal with another issue. There is one statement in which Ellen White says that Christians should "never be taught to say that they are saved." However, this is not in the context of assurance of salvation but in the context of self-confidence. Ellen White was warning that we should never come to a place in our Christian experience where we feel like we are so “saved” that we no longer need Christ. Sadly, although Andreasen himself may never have gone this far, some LGT proponents have come to believe that there will be a last generation that will essentially be holy enough to stand without the interceding, saving grace of Christ.

2. Jesus is not finished with the atonement.

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

On the cross the penalty for human sin was fully paid. Divine justice was satisfied. From a legal perspective the world was restored to favor with God (Rom. 5:18). The atonement, or reconciliation, was completed on the cross as foreshadowed by the sacrifices, and the penitent believer can trust in this finished work of our Lord. – 350
From the Bible
We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all – Heb.10:10
From Ellen White
[Christ] planted the cross between heaven and earth, and when the Father beheld the sacrifice of His Son, He bowed before it in recognition of its perfection. “It is enough,” He said. “The atonement is complete” {RH September 24, 1901, par. 11}.
Our great High Priest completed the sacrificial offering of Himself when He suffered without the gate. Then a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the people {7BC 913.3}.
Christ’s sacrifice in behalf of man was full and complete. The condition of the atonement had been fulfilled. The work for which He had come to this world had been accomplished {AA 29.2}.
The Lord would have His people sound in the faith—not ignorant of the great salvation so abundantly provided for them. They are not to look forward, thinking that at some future time a great work is to be done for them; for the work is now complete {1SM 394.3}.
Notes:

The idea that Jesus is not finished with the atonement is a classic Andreasen charge against QOD. This concept plays a big role in Andreasens LGT. Strangely enough, Andreasen also believed in a finished atonement at the cross. It seems that either his theology evolved to some degree during the QOD conflict or this was the time in which he fully unveiled his theological views. However, doesn’t the investigative judgment teach that Jesus is making atonement for us in heaven right now? Yes. However, the issue here is one of semantics. SDA theology places a wider definition on the word atonement than do other Christians (I wont go into that here). Therefore, it is not a denial of the cross to say that Jesus is doing a work of atonement in heaven. The best way to summarize the SDA understanding is this way: The sacrificial atonement was provided in full on the cross of Calvary. Nothing needs to be added to it. It was perfect. The atonement taking place in heaven is simply Christ applying the benefits of the cross to our individual lives. He is not adding to it. It is perfect and complete and when we come to him we can rest assured that everything needed for our salvation is found, not in ourselves, but in Christ.

3. Seventh-day Adventists' claim to be the “remnant” church is tantamount to elitism.

From the official doctrinal statement of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Fundamental Belief #13 – Remnant and its Mission: The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
God has his children in all churches, but through the remnant church He proclaims a message that is to restore His true worship by calling His people out of the apostasy and preparing them for Christs return. - ?
From the Bible
And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. - Revelation 18:4
From Ellen White
Our ministers should seek to come near to the ministers of other denominations. Pray for and with these men, for whom Christ is interceding. A solemn responsibility is theirs. As Christ’s messengers, we should manifest a deep, earnest interest in these shepherds of the flock {6TM 78}.
The spirit has been entertained which presumes to limit the Holy One in the judicial working of His grace. In the place of coming close to those for whom the Lord has seen fit to work, men have stood apart, saying, “I am holier than thou. I cannot connect with you in religious service. Your ways and my ways do not agree” {RH January 7, 1902, Art. A, par. 17}.
It should ever be manifest that we are reformers, but not bigots. When our laborers enter a new field, they should seek to become acquainted with the pastors of the several churches in the place. Much has been lost by neglecting to do this. If our ministers show themselves friendly and sociable, and do not act as if they were ashamed of the message they bear, it will have an excellent effect, and may give these pastors and their congregations favorable impressions of the truth....
Our laborers should be very careful not to give the impression that they are wolves stealing in to get the sheep, but should let the ministers understand their position and the object of their mission—to call the attention of the people to the truths of God’s Word. There are many of these which are dear to all Christians. Here is common ground, upon which we can meet people of other denominations; and in becoming acquainted with them we should dwell mostly upon topics in which all feel an interest, and which will not lead directly and pointedly to the subjects of disagreement.—The Review and Herald, June 13, 1912 {Ev 143.5}.

From Martin Webbers article "How Adventists are blessed by other Christians".
…in the 1880s Ellen White joined forces with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, a group of Protestant prohibitionists. She spoke at their rallies and even recommended that some of our best Adventist talent should work for that organization. 
In 1892, she braved much criticism from narrow-minded Adventist brethren when she entrusted her signature book, Steps to Christ, to non-Seventh-day Adventists for initial publication. Few today are aware that she contracted with Dwight Moody’s [the leading Sunday preacher of the day] brother-in-law, Fleming Revel, to print that treasured book.

Even her controversial “borrowing” from non-Adventist authors, in writing her later books, is a form of collaboration with Christians outside our denomination. The enemies of Ellen White allege plagiarism, while her friends point out that copyright standards back then were much more relaxed than they are today. Lost amid this arguing is the undeniable reality that Ellen White thought so highly of non-Adventist theologians and historians that she incorporated their insights—not just their language—into her own books. This amazing fact is highly instructive for Adventists today who wish to quarantine themselves from Christians outside our denomination…. 
If you remain unconvinced that fellow Christians have anything good to offer Seventh-day Adventists, I’ll let you borrow my scissors so you can get to work on the official SDA Hymnal. And while you’re clipping away, maybe you can explain why Ellen White collaborated with non-Seventh-day Adventists whose descendants some of us feel we must shun. www.sdaforme.com
Notes: The SDA church does not claim to be the only church in which Gods spirit dwells. It does not claim that non-SDA’s are false Christians who will not be saved. Neither does it claim that non-SDA's don't know anything as Ms. Matthews expressed. The SDA church affirms that God's people are everywhere and in every denomination. By Remnant church the SDA church teaches that it carries God's last day message to this world and that it is his visible remnant church. Some would respond saying that this is nothing but denominational arrogance, however, if that were the case then every denomination would be guilty of arrogance. While not all denominations claim to be the remnant church no denomination claims to be a false church. Because theological pluralism is un-biblical every denomination then, whether actively or passively, claims to be the true church. For the SDA church to claim actively what every other church claims passively is not arrogance, it is conviction.

In addition, SDA's affirm, support, and embrace all denominations. We read, quote, share and even sell books written by a variety of non-Adventist authors. As an SDA many of my favorite preachers are not even Adventist but evangelical (Billy Graham, Francis Chan, Greg Laurie, Kyle Idleman, Ravi Zacharias, and Louie Gigglio). While I do not agree with everything they say, I still value their authentic spirituality and wisdom. Were the SDA church a cult any outside influence, especially from theologians, would be rejected by the organization. However, the opposite is true.

The purpose of the remnant then is not to be an exclusivistic organization of elite Christians that alone comprise Gods church but to be the church which proclaims Gods special message to His people and the world in the last days. The true and final remnant will not be seen until the very end of time when decisions for or against Christ have been finalized, but the SDA church affirms that in a time of widespread apostasy within Christendom it has, as a movement and visible organization, been entrusted with the remnant message. It is the visible remnant. (Ellen White used the terms "church militant" to describe the visible remnant, and "church triumphant" to describe the invisible remnant).


Part of the QOD conflict was a conspiracy theory by Andreasen that the church leaders were purposely undermining Adventist theology in order to gain evangelical approval. Thus, a strong anti-evangelical (or anti-anything-that-is-not-Adventist) sentiment exists among many (though not all) LGT proponents. But this is not the sentiment of the mainstream SDA church.

4. We need to reach a state of sinless perfection before the close of probation when we will have to stand in the sight of God without a mediator.

There are no statements regarding this issue in the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe or in the doctrinal statements of the Seventh-day Adventist church. That is because sinless perfection before the close of probation is not a doctrine of the SDA church. However, the following statements on the topic of perfection from the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe show that the doctrine of sinless perfectionism is not compatible with true SDA theology.

How may we become perfect? The Holy Spirit brings us to the perfection of Christ. By faith, Christ’s perfect character becomes ours. People can never claim that perfection independently, as if it were their innate possession of theirs by right. Perfection is a gift of God. – 143
Apart from Christ human beings cannot obtain righteousness. – 143
In Christ these qualities constitute our perfection. He completed, once and for all, our sanctification and redemption. No one can add to what He has done. Our wedding garment, or robe of righteousness, was wrought out by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. – 143
Neither Christlike character traits nor faultless behavior is the ground of our acceptance with God. Saving righteousness comes from the one righteous Man, Jesus, and is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. We can contribute nothing to Christ’s gift of righteousness – we can only receive it. No one other than Christ is righteous (Rom. 3:10); independent human righteousness is only filthy rags. – 146
From Ellen White
So long as Satan reigns, we shall have self to subdue, besetting sins to overcome; so long as life shall last, there will be no stopping place, no point which we can reach and say, I have fully attained. Sanctification is the result of lifelong obedience {AA 560.3}.
As we have clearer views of Christ’s spotless and infinite purity, we shall feel as did Daniel, when he beheld the glory of the Lord, and said, “My comeliness was turned in me into corruption.” We cannot say, “I am sinless,” till this vile body is changed and fashioned like unto His glorious body. But if we constantly seek to follow Jesus, the blessed hope is ours of standing before the throne of God without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; complete in Christ, robed in his righteousness and perfection {ST March 23, 1888, par. 13}.
Every case is decided either for salvation or destruction {EW, 36}.
The destiny of all will have been decided for life or death {GC, 490}.
Notes: The last two Ellen White quotes make it clear that when probation closes those who are saved are saved and those who are lost are lost. Those who are in Christ when probation closes don’t need to worry if they will be “perfect” enough after probation because they are already saved and at this point in human history no one else can be saved or lost. It’s done. If that’s the case, then why entertain anxiety over what my behavior will be like after the close of probation? 

This close of probation sinless perfectionism is actually a classic teaching of LGT. M. L. Andreasen taught it in the chapter “The Last Generation” in his book The Sanctuary Service (although some LGT proponents take it much further then Andreasen himself did). He arrived at this conclusion by affirming two teachings that Adventism denies 1) that Jesus had a fallen nature like all the sons of Adam and 2) that the atonement was not completed at the cross. While Adventists believe that Jesus had a fallen physical nature we do not believe he had a fallen moral nature and as stated above, we believe that the atonement was finished on the cross and that the atonement taking place now is an application of the benefits of the cross – not an “improvement plan” upon the work of Calvary. While Ellen White speaks of “standing before a holy God without a mediator” after the close of probation the context shows that without a mediator or intercessor means that God will no longer intercede to restrain the wicked. Therefore, Gods people will have to live through a time when Satan has full control of the wicked human race. But this idea that after probation we need to be good enough to stand without the grace and mercy of God is heresy and certainly not Adventist theology. It is with this context in mind that Adventist lay evangelist Keavin Hayden could write,
The heresy that we must become absolutely perfect, matching the perfection of Christs character, is a soul-destroying device. It will either lead us to give up on the work of sanctification from discouragement, or cause us ultimately to deceive ourselves in believing the lie that we can become perfectly sinless in this lifetime (Surviving the Shaking p. 58).
However, it would be disingenuous to assert that Ellen White did not believe in perfection. She most certainly did as do Seventh-day Adventists. However, we must distinguish between perfection and sinless perfectionism. At first the difference seems non-existent, however, it will soon be clear where the line of demarcation lies. Perfection, according to Ellen White, is not "sinless perfectionism" but perfection in love (referred to as character perfection). This concept of perfection in love is not only scriptural (Mat. 5:48; Jas. 1:4; 1Joh. 2:5, 4:12, 4:18; Phil. 2:15; Col. 3:14 etc.) but it forms the basis of John Wesley's doctrine of perfection which influenced Ellen White (she was a Methodist). Below is a quote from Wikipedia on the doctrine of Christian perfection as taught by John Wesley:
Christian perfection, according to Wesley, is “purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God” and “the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked.” It is "loving God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves".[3] It is “a restoration not only to the favor, but likewise to the image of God,” our “being filled with the fullness of God.”[4] 
Wesley was clear that Christian perfection did not imply perfection of bodily health or an infallibility of judgment. It also does not mean one no longer violates the will of God, for involuntary transgressions remain. Perfected Christians remain subject to temptation, and have continued need to pray for forgiveness and holiness. It is not an absolute perfection but a perfection in love. Furthermore, Wesley did not teach a salvation by perfection, but rather says that, “Even perfect holiness is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ.”[5] 
Wesley did not use perfection to describe sinlessness. Similarly, perfection is not the state of being unable to sin, but rather the state of choosing not to sin. Wesley's perfection represents a change of life, a freedom from willful rebellion against God, impure intentions, and pride. [Rest of the article and bibliography]. - Wikipedia
Not only are Ellen White and the Seventh-day Adventist church in good company when it comes to the doctrine of Christian perfection, but Ellen Whites writings also reveal that the core of that perfection is not a self-focus on overcoming sin in order to be worthy of heaven but a complete surrender to Christ that allows his love to be perfected in us and through us.[iii] Indeed, if all of Christendom strove for that kind of perfection, the one received only by beholding Jesus and letting go of self, Christianity would have enveloped the world long ago. It is our claim of allegiance to Jesus contrasted by our perpetual state of selfishness and lovelessness that has the world mocking us. 

However, once again, while we are to strive for perfection in love and not simply claim it we must never assume that gaining that perfection is the basis for our salvation. Here is where LGT differs from Wesley, White, and the SDA church. Thus, in his book Questions on Doctrine Revisited! Leroy Moore could write,
While final generation perfection is present truth, failure to grasp its paradoxical principles creates very serious problems. Many assume they must become perfect to be saved - at least in the very end, when we must stand without an intercessor. Indeed, some think we must be perfect enough to live without the Spirit in the time of trouble. Both ideas fly in the face of the entire Scripture. Such serious misconceptions suggest a false basis for salvation (263).
And in his article "How Perfect Is "Perfect" or Is Christian Perfection Possible?" the late Adventist minister Edward Heppenstall,  could state,
Salvation by grace alone means that absolute perfection and sinlessness cannot be realized here and now. Righteousness by faith means that we look continually and exclusively to Christ; that we look away from ourselves and any hope in ourselves altogether in order to live out of Him alone. Genuine salvation directs us at once to Christ, to the only perfect life lived here on the earth, and to His redemption through the Cross. What is absolutely central is Jesus Christ. Man's victory over sin is exclusively the work of God in Christ, the continual control of the life by the Holy Spirit; that through daily union with Christ we actually participate in Christ's holy life (Biblical Research Institute, adventistbiblicalresearch.org [Click here for article]).
5. I must remember and confess every sin or else God will bring it against me in the judgment.

This is yet another doctrine not found anywhere in official SDA statements of beliefs. However the following statements from the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe show that such a belief is not compatible with true SDA theology.

Only through Jesus Christ can one experience salvation, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – 134
Through justification by faith in Christ, His righteousness is imputed to us. We are right with God because of Christ our substitute…. As repentant sinners, we experience full and complete pardon. We are reconciled with God! – 137
Justification also brings the assurance of the believer’s acceptance. It brings the joy of being reunited with God now. – 138
Even what we do in response to Christ’s saving love cannot form the basis of our acceptance with God. That acceptance is identified with the work of Christ. In bringing Christ to us, the Holy Spirit brings that acceptance. – 146
From Ellen White
The soul who sees Jesus by faith, repudiates his own righteousness. He sees himself as incomplete, his repentance insufficient, his strongest faith but feebleness, his most costly sacrifice as meager, and he sinks in humility at the foot of the cross. But a voice speaks to him from the oracles of God's word. In amazement he hears the message, "Ye are complete in him." Now all is at rest in the soul. No longer must he strive to find some worthiness in himself, some meritorious deed by which to gain the favor of God {ST, 2:497; 7/04/92}.
Notes: I cannot say with certainty that the “confess every sin or else” theology is a teaching of LGT, however, I do believe that it fits perfectly into the LGT paradigm. If I am to be perfect before probation closes and Jesus returns then I better confess and repent of all of my sins! This teaching removes Christ as savior and places me and my ability to remember and confess every known sin as the real savior. Anxiety is the result. Assurance is removed from the soul and an agonizing darkness takes over. The believer now finds no rest. The mind works to alleviate the stress and begins, almost without conscious effort, to explore the memory banks for any sin that has not been confessed. Then follows the logical conclusion to such a belief. It is called the "light switch version of the gospel" and it basically means this: Every time you sin you lose your salvation until you confess, then you get it back until you sin again and so on and so forth. It’s as if God is standing in heaven with his hand on a light switch. Every time you sin, off goes the light and when you confess, on it goes. I used to believe this teaching and as a result I developed Generalized Anxiety Disorder and experienced damage to my emotional health (thankfully the Lord has brought healing to my life although I still experience the effects from time to time. In this sense I relate to Ms. Matthews comment on "Adventist chains"). Does that sound like the fruit of the gospel of peace to you? No way. Any teaching that contradicts "Jesus only" is heresy, plain and simple.

6. If I don’t keep the Sabbath I will lose my salvation.

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Neither Christlike character traits nor faultless behavior is the ground of our acceptance with God. Saving righteousness comes from the one righteous Man, Jesus, and is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. We can contribute nothing to Christ’s gift of righteousness – we can only receive it. No one other than Christ is righteous (Rom. 3:10); independent human righteousness is only filthy rags. – 146
Even what we do in response to Christ’s saving love cannot form the basis of our acceptance with God. That acceptance is identified with the work of Christ. In bringing Christ to us, the Holy Spirit brings that acceptance. – 146
From the Bible
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:21-24
From Ellen White
A legal religion has been thought quite the correct religion for this time. But it is a mistake. The rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees is applicable to those who have lost from the heart their first love. A cold, legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion… Works will not buy for us an entrance into heaven. The one great Offering that has been made is ample for all who will believe {1SM 388.1}.
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. “Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling” {FW 24.2}.
When men learn they cannot earn righteousness by their own merit of works, and they look with firm and entire reliance upon Jesus Christ as their only hope, there will not be so much of self and so little of Jesus. Souls and bodies are defiled and polluted by sin, the heart is estranged from God, yet many are struggling in their own finite strength to win salvation by good works. Jesus, they think, will do some of the saving; they must do the rest. They need to see by faith the righteousness of Christ as their only hope for time and for eternity {FW 25.3}.
You will meet with those who will say, “You are too much excited over this matter. You are too much in earnest. You should not be reaching for the righteousness of Christ, and making so much of that. You should preach the law.” As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God. We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth {1888M 560.5}.
Notes: The “I must be obedient or else I will lose my salvation” is a What Jesus did + What I do = Salvation theology. While an LGT proponent would never make such a statement they most certainly believe it. When I believed in LGT I was never truly at rest. There was always something to do. However, the truth is no one has to keep the Sabbath in order to stay saved. We keep it because we are saved. We are Gods people and as such we live according to his will. If it is his will that we keep the Sabbath we do so, not out of fear of losing salvation, but out of love. As Jesus said, “if you love me keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Imagine if I told my wife that the only reason why I am faithful to her is because I am afraid she will divorce me if I’m not. Would she be happy? Not at all. I am faithful, not from fear of divorce, but because I love her. The same goes with obedience to God. It doesn’t give us any extra kudos with God but we do it because we are born again from above and have a new desire to obey God in whatever he asks us to do. That is far from legalism. Thus, in his book Surviving the Shaking Keavin Hayden could state, 
Israel had so focused on obeying the law that they missed Christ, the one whom the schoolmaster (the law) was trying to lead them to. That is why they were in such a hurry that crucifixion Friday to kill the Lord of the Sabbath. They needed to make sure they were home in time to avoid breaking the Sabbath commandment. Their observance of the law was of more importance to them than their total reliance on the substitutionary record of the only One who could keep the law perfectly in their behalf (30). 
I have no burden to argue for the validity of the Sabbath under the new covenant in this post, but suffice to say that keeping it today is no more legalistic than keeping any of the other commandments (which every Christian does with exception to the 3rd).

7. Romans and Galatians contradict Adventist theology.

From the official doctrinal statement of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

In infinite love and mercy God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might be made the righteousness of God. Led by the Holy Spirit we sense our need, acknowledge our sinfulness, repent of our transgressions, and exercise faith in Jesus as Lord and Christ, as Substitute and Example. This faith which receives salvation comes through the divine power of the Word and is the gift of God's grace. Through Christ we are justified, adopted as God's sons and daughters, and delivered from the lordship of sin. Through the Spirit we are born again and sanctified; the Spirit renews our minds, writes God's law of love in our hearts, and we are given the power to live a holy life. Abiding in Him we become partakers of the divine nature and have the assurance of salvation now and in the judgment.
From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
God’s ministry of reconciliation reveals the futility of human endeavors to obtain salvation through works of the law. Insight into divine grace leads to the acceptance of the justifying righteousness available through faith in Christ. The gratitude of those who have experienced forgiveness makes obedience a joy; works, then, are not the ground of salvation but its fruitage. – 131
Through justification by faith in Christ, His righteousness is imputed to us. We are right with God because of Christ our substitute…. As repentant sinners, we experience full and complete pardon. We are reconciled with God! – 137
From Ellen White
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 {FW 24.1}.
Notes: The books of Romans and Galatians are certainly in contradiction of the perfectionism inherent in LGT but they are not in contradiction to the official SDA understanding of the gospel. These books were also in contradiction of the commonly accepted view of the gospel within Adventism prior to the 1888 General Conference in which God brought the message of Christ’s righteousness back to the Adventist church. The message was rejected by many and to this day has not been fully accepted by every Seventh-day Adventist as can be witnessed by Ms. Matthews experience. However the SDA church fully embraces the gospel of Jesus Christ as did Ellen White.

8. Adventism’s sketchy history with the divinity of Christ.

From the official doctrinal statement of the Seventh-day Adventist church.

God the eternal Son became incarnate in Jesus Christ. Through Him all things were created…. Forever truly God, He became also truly man, Jesus the Christ.
From Ellen White
…the life of Christ was unborrowed. No one can take this life from Him. "I lay it down of Myself." (John 10:18), He said. In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived {1SM 296}.
He is the eternal self-existent Son {Ev 615}.
But while God‘s Word speaks of the humanity of Christ when upon this earth, it also speaks decidedly regarding His pre-existence. The Word existed as a divine being, even as the eternal Son of God, in union and oneness with His Father {1SM 247}.
Christ is the pre-existent, self-existent Son of God. . . . In speaking of his pre-existence, Christ carries the mind back through dateless ages. He assures us that there never was a time when he was not in close fellowship with the eternal God {Ev 615}.
Notes: The above Ellen White quotes show beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was anything but silent on this topic. For Ellen White the divinity of Christ was very important and, unlike Ms. Matthews assertion, she was very clear about where she stood. What about the other pioneers that rejected the divinity of Christ? When the SDA church was born it was comprised of Christians from many different backgrounds. Some were Arians, of that there is no doubt. However, the views of SDA pioneers on the divinity of Christ is irrelevant because the church does not share their views. What about the whole “Jesus is Michael the Archangel” theology? Frankly, I have no burden to defend this concept here. If you are interested in reading why we believe this and how we can reconcile such a belief while simultaneously believing that Jesus is the uncreated, eternal God I recommend the following article I authored (footnotes and all): Who Is Michael The Archangel?

I must also add that the issue of Christ’s divinity has nothing to do with LGT or Andreasen. The LGT camp believes and teaches the eternal pre-existence of Christ as fully as does the whole of Protestantism. The only aspect of Christology in which LGT differs from the SDA church and Ellen White is in regards to the human nature of Christ.

9. Scapegoat as Satan or Jesus?

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

In no way can it be said that Satan atones for the sins of the believers – Chris has fully done that. - 406
From the book A Response to the Video: Seventh-day Adventism – The Spirit Behind the Church
Though the term “sin-bearer” appears in Mrs. White’s published and released writings at least 186 times, she not once said that Satan is our “sin-bearer.” She consistently taught that Christ is our “only sin-bearer.” – 125
Placing sins upon the scapegoat after the atonement is over has nothing to do with our salvation. It has everything to do with the punishment of the great rebel who has caused so much misery on planet earth. - 127
From the Bible
When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness. – Leviticus 16:20-22 [Note: Notice that the goat for Azazel is sent out after the high priest “has finished making the atonement.” In addition, the goat for Azazel is not a sacrifice. Its blood is not spilled and “without the shedding of blood there can be no atonement for sin (Heb. 9:22).” Thus, the goat for Azazel has nothing to do with forgiveness, reconciliation, pardon, or substitution.]
From Ellen White
In His intercession as our advocate, Christ needs no man’s virtue, no man’s intercession. He is the only sin-bearer, the only sin-offering. {ST June 28, 1899, par. 3}
How hard poor mortals strive to be sin-bearers for themselves and for others! but the only sin-bearer is Jesus Christ. He alone can be my substitute and sin-bearer. The forerunner of Christ exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” {RH June 9, 1896, par. 2}.
Proclaim remission of sins through Christ, the only sin-bearer, the only sin-pardoner. Proclaim the remission of sins through repentance toward God and faith in Christ, and God will ratify your testimony {10MR 290.3}.
Notes: Seventh-day Adventists do not believe that Satan has anything to do with our salvation at all. The concept of the scapegoat can be summarized in this paragraph: At the end of time Christ removes the confessed sins of his people from the sanctuary. The work of salvation is already complete. The saved are already in heaven at this time. There is no further sacrifice needed. Now Christ looks upon Satan as the one who is ultimately responsible for all of the rapes, genocides, and murders in the world and says, “I am holding you accountable for all of this.” Satan is punished under Gods judgment not only for his rebellion but for the sins that the redeemed committed. This has nothing to do with salvation. It has everything to do with closure. God will bring closure for us. He will make an utter end of sin and hold Satan ultimately responsible for it. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s just, fair, and awesome.

I must also add that the issue of scapegoat as savior has nothing to do with LGT or Andreasen. To my knowledge, there is not a single Adventist fringe group that teaches that either. It is a complete misunderstanding by critics of Adventist theology.


10. Sabbath is not the Seal. The seal is the Holy Spirit.

There is no need for me to share official SDA comments on this statement because it is well attested that we in fact do believe that the Sabbath is Gods seal. This is clear in both SDA theology and Ellen White. However, an oversimplification of this theology is what leads to the misconception Ms. Matthews shared. Therefore, allow me to elaborate:


From Ellen White:

Love is expressed in obedience, and perfect love casteth out all fear. Those who love God, have the seal of God in their foreheads, and work the works of God {LDE 221.4}.
Notes: The above Ellen White quote demonstrates that she understood the seal of God to be more than just going to church on Saturday. It has to do with having a heart that loves God supremely – a love which according to scripture is always expressed by obedience (John 14:15). So, far from receiving the seal of God due to our ability to read the calendar correctly or to keep the law well, the seal of God is given to those who love God. Thus, the seal of God must not be understood as simply a "law" issue, but as a love issue.

In addition, the seal of God as the Sabbath must be understood in its apocalyptic setting in contrast to the mark of the beast. If we separate the seal of God from that context we end up with a “you must start keeping the Sabbath to be saved” theology that does nothing but undermine the truth about Jesus only. If such a theology were true then Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley will all be lost because none of them kept the Sabbath and thus none of them received the seal of God. This is salvation by works and it is heresy. So how can we say that the seal of God is his Sabbath? Once again, this concept must be understood in its apocalyptic context.

Scripture is clear that in the final days there will be a crisis over loyalty. All of mankind will be compelled by force and threat to worship the beast but those who are faithful to God will refuse on pain of death. The faithful are described in Revelation as "those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus" (Rev. 14:12). There are myriads of Gods faithful children today who are not honoring the Lords day of rest but are instead (though unwittingly) bowing to the authority of Papal Rome. Today there is much debate over the validity of the Sabbath. Faithful Christians find themselves on both sides of the debate. But in the final crisis there will no longer be a debate. Every person will know for sure whether or not they are following God or following the beast. Thus, it is within this apocalyptic context that Ellen White could say:
... when Sunday observance shall be enforced by law, and the world shall be enlightened concerning the obligation of the true Sabbath, then whoever shall transgress the command of God, to obey a precept which has no higher authority than that of Rome, will thereby honor popery above God {GC, 449}.
Those who would have the seal of God in their foreheads must keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. This is what distinguishes them from the disloyal, who have accepted a man-made institution in the place of the true Sabbath. The observance of God’s rest day is the mark of distinction between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not (Manuscript 27, 1899) {7BC 970.2}.
Understood within the apocalyptic context the seal of God poses no contradiction to Jesus Only. Those who decide to follow the beast will turn their backs on Christ and those who choose to be faithful to God will evidence their faithfulness by obedience. So the seal of God in Revelation is set against the backdrop of the mark of the beast. In the final crisis everyone will have either the mark or the seal. Unless one is willing to go as far as to develop a theology that teaches that it’s OK to be disobedient and receive the mark of the beast and still be saved then you have to come to terms with the apocalyptic seal (Note: Adventists, like Methodists and Lutherans, do not accept "once saved always saved" as a biblical doctrine). However, never make the mistake of thinking that we earn Gods apocalyptic seal and thus earn salvation. The issue here has nothing to do with faith vs works. It simply has to do with sincerity. Are we going to be faithful to God and worship him or are we going to ally ourselves with the religio-political Antichrist system of Revelation and worship it? When you dig deep it becomes obvious that the real issue is not about 7th day VS. 1st day but about who your Lord is, man or God? It’s really that simple.

Therefore, it seems to me that the only way to turn the seal of God into a legalistic doctrine is to remove it from its apocalyptic context. Once you do that, yes it very much sounds like we are sealed based on our performance instead of Gods grace. But within the apocalyptic context it becomes clear that it is primarily and issue of sincerity/loyalty not faith/works (even though it is by faith that we honor God in the midst of this conflict). 

A perfect example of this is the book of Hebrews. The book was written with one purpose in mind - to convince persecuted Christians, who were considering returning to Judaism in order to escape the persecution, to remain faithful to God. Hebrews is clear that turning your back on Jesus means forfeiting the salvation he so freely offers. Paul is encouraging the believers to be faithful to Christ because he is the only way to heaven. Judaism and its many ceremonies was worthless, Christ and his righteousness was of true value.

Likewise, in the apocalyptic context the Christian church will suffer intense persecution. The beast will offer his mark and say that anyone who receives it will escape the persecution. Since the beast is Papal Rome and his mark of authority is Sunday observance then we conclude that a Sunday law will be enforced. Those who honor it will give allegiance to Papal Rome. But those who refuse and instead honor Gods Sabbath (a sign of his creation, salvation, and redemption) will evidence their allegiance to Him and thus be sealed. Is it possible for a sincere Christian during this time to say, "Well I'm not saved by works so I'm just gonna get the mark of the beast and go to heaven anyways"? No way! Such a thought is nonsensical. 

The way I see it, the final test has nothing to do with revealing to God who his faithful ones are. He already knows. But the final test will help us see if we really love God and would be happy to spend eternity with him. God never tests us to discover something about us he doesn't know. He tests us to reveal something to us that we don't know. I think at this time many who thought they wanted to go to heaven and be with God forever will discover that they find no joy in honoring him in the midst of a temporary conflict and will thus make their decision to walk away from him forever. Again, sincerity is the issue.

However, the NT does say "do not grieve the Holy Spirit by whom you "were" sealed." Not "by whom you are going to be sealed." This concept, when combined with Revelation, paints a picture of a two dimensional sealing. One in the here and now. It gives us assurance of our salvation. The other is in the apocalyptic context, protects us from the plagues, and reveals to us how much we truly love God. I believe that at this time many self-confident Adventists will be surprised to discover that they don't really love God enough to risk everything for him, while many self-doubting Christians will be surprised to discover that there lies within them an unmovable love for God. To this some will ask, How can we have full assurance of salvation if there is a possibility that we will turn our backs on God in the future? To this the Bible responds:
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. - Phi. 1:6
Just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and rest in the promise of his word.

11. Saved from sin not in sin.

This statement simply needs clarification. The way it is used does not mean that we have to become sinless to either be or remain saved. That is not its intended use. This statement simply says that we cannot be hypocrites and go to heaven. Everybody hates hypocrites. God did not die in order to spawn a movement of forgiven hypocrites. He died in order to save us from sin so that we could be new creatures in Christ Jesus. This statement simply teaches what the book of Jude teaches (and the rest of the Bible for that matter). We cannot claim Jesus and cling to cherished sin at the same time. It’s one or the other. This is not just an SDA teaching. With exception to the antinomianists this is a commonly accepted view in Protestantism. The danger of course is to assume that we must overcome sin in order to be accepted by God and then be absolutely perfect, but I have already dealt with that above. In short, sincerity is all this quote is appealing for. Below is a quotation from a non-denominational Christian website (gotquestions.org) that expresses the exact view we as a church uphold:

For the truly converted, then, continuing to live sinfully is not an option. Because our conversion resulted in a completely new nature, our desire is to no longer live in sin. Yes, we still sin, but instead of wallowing in it as we once did, we now hate it and wish to be delivered from it. The idea of “taking advantage” of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf by continuing to live sinfully is unthinkable. If a person believes himself to be a Christian and still desires to live the old, sinful life, he has reason to doubt his salvation. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). [Read More]
12. Faith is a gift.

From the Bible

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. – Romans 12:3
From Ellen White
Faith that enables us to receive God’s gifts is itself a gift, of which some measure is imparted to every human being {Ed 253.4}.
Notes: It is not only faith that is a gift. Repentance is also a gift of God (Romans 2:4). Thus, Ellen White could also say:
The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he can heed the invitation of Christ, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. It is the virtue that goes forth from Christ, that leads to genuine repentance {SC 26}.
The Bible also teaches that we must confess to be forgiven (1 John 11:9). However, we cannot confess unless the Holy Spirit convicts (John 16:8). With this in mind, the three conditions for salvation (faith, confession, and repentance) are all gifts from God. They do not come from within, they come from Him. We can no more repent, confess, and believe in Him than we can save ourselves. God provides everything for our salvation. The only thing he does not do is say “yes” on our behalf. This truth is also seen in the OT sanctuary which Adventists love so much. When a person sinned they had to come to the sanctuary with a sacrifice. Without the sacrifice it was pointless to come to the sanctuary. The sanctuary represents the plan of salvation yet no one was allowed to enter in unless the savior (sacrifice) was with them. This illustrates that no one can enter salvation of his own volition. God must provide every detail with the exception of a free response. Ellen White wrote:
Repentance, as well as forgiveness, is the gift of God through Christ. It is through the influence of the Holy Spirit that we are convicted of sin and feel our need of pardon. None but the contrite are forgiven; but it is the grace of God that makes the heart penitent. He is acquainted with all our weaknesses and infirmities, and He will help us {FW 38.2}.
The teaching summarized here is known in theological circles as the doctrine of previnient grace. Ellen White clearly believed in previnient grace. For her confession, repentance, and faith were all a gift of God to bring the sinner toward salvation. This is most clearly summarized in her following statement:
Separate humanity from divinity, and you can try to work out your own righteousness from now till Christ comes, and it will be nothing but a failure... All heaven is laboring to elevate the human race from the degradation of sin. All heaven is open to the inhabitants of earth... if there is a man on the face of the earth who has any inclination toward God, it is because of the many influences that are set to work to bear upon his mind and heart {FW 71, 73}.
13. Jesus only!

From the book Seventh-Day Adventists Believe, put forth by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Neither Christlike character traits nor faultless behavior is the ground of our acceptance with God. Saving righteousness comes from the one righteous Man, Jesus, and is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. We can contribute nothing to Christ’s gift of righteousness – we can only receive it. No one other than Christ is righteous (Rom. 3:10); independent human righteousness is only filthy rags. – 146
Personal quotes of how I, as a Seventh-day Adventist, understand salvation:
...there are three popular versions of salvation. The most common is that you are saved by works. This means you have to be good and if you are good enough you are allowed into heaven. The second is that you are saved as a free gift apart from works. This means that you don’t have to do anything in order to be saved. You just have to receive the gift. The third is that you are saved by grace, but in order to stay saved you have to work. For many years I fell into the third version of salvation. However, this version is simply a baptized version of salvation by works. Even though I was saved by grace I always felt I hadn’t done enough to stay saved and that I had to do more. I had to be a vegetarian or else I would lose my salvation. I had to keep the Sabbath perfectly and be nice to people and do everything right or else I would lose the free gift of salvation. And I was miserable. But according to Paul, it’s the second version that’s the right one. We are saved by grace through faith. Period. Look at it here in Ephesians. It says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Guys, it’s not about what we do; it’s about what He did. We can’t do anything to be saved. We can’t do anything to stay saved. It’s all a gift of God. And the crazy thing is that God gives this gift to evil people, not to good people. Grace is for the sinner not the saint. [Do You Qualify For Salvation? Click here for the full article]
Adventist authors have emphasized over the years again and again that our standing in the judgment is not based on our works but Christ’s perfect work. Unfortunately many Seventh-day Adventist’s have had their faith damaged by the errors of their parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders who have taken a legalistic stance on the judgment. Leslie Hardinge, author of With Jesus In His Sanctuary tells us that “[i]n preparing for the judgment the important thing is not to think of what we have done wrong, or anything we might contribute, but on Whom we know.” And in his little book The Great Judgment Day Adventist author John L. Shuler writes: “Our only hope in the judgment is to be hid in Christ (Col. 3: 3), clothed with His righteousness. His life alone will meet the requirements of the law by which we shall be judged…. Thus through the work of Christ in our hearts… we shall be accounted worthy in the judgment….” Shuler goes on to say that “[i]f we are abiding in Jesus Christ, it is our privilege to face the judgment with perfect confidence.” [The Investigative Judgment and Righteousness by Faith, Click here for the full article and references]
Suppose you have been a faithful Christian for 40 years. You have led countless people to God, have preached over 4,000 sermons, have lived a life of exceptional obedience, and have impacted the world through your humanitarian efforts. You have placed all of your faith in Jesus. Are not a legalist. Have never been hypocritical and have a tender and loving heart like Jesus'. In short - you are a model Christian on your way to heaven. Suddenly, the strangest thing happens. Somehow Jesus ceases to exist and the cross is erased from history. What does that mean for you? Will you be able to go to God and present the last 40 years of your obedience as an argument for him to let you into heaven? The straight up answer is no. None of it will count. That's because none of that obedience played any meritorious role in your salvation. It was simply the result. Never the basis. [Jesus Only! Click here for the full article]
Satan is constantly accusing us before God day and night. His charge? You are not good enough to go to heaven. Every time you sin Satan is there to accuse you of not being good enough for the kingdom of heaven. And the only way that you and I can pass Satan's test and escape his accusations is if we were absolutely perfect. Did you catch it? Satan is the original perfectionist! The doctrine of salvation by perfection is an ancient heresy invented by the enemy of God. [Salvation According to Satan, Click here for the full article]
From Ellen White
We must not permit Satan to cast his hellish shadow athwart our pathway, and accomplish his purpose of eclipsing the bright views of our future reward. Let us not look upon his shadow of darkness. We gain heaven not through our own merits, but through the merits of Jesus Christ. We cannot find salvation in our own individual selves; we are to look unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith, and as we look, we live. Satan would point us to ourselves, and seek to make us feel that we must bear our own sins. How hard poor mortals strive to be sin-bearers for themselves and for others! but the only sin-bearer is Jesus Christ. He alone can be my substitute and sin-bearer. The forerunner of Christ exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Shall we not give up our sins, and let them go? Shall we not turn from them and hate them, and still remember that Christ regards his human agents as of great value? We cannot calculate the estimate placed upon the soul. Then take your eyes off yourself, and encourage hope and confidence in Christ. Let your hope not be centered in yourself, but in him who has entered within the vail. Talk of the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ {RH June 9, 1896, par. 2}.
You will meet with those who will say, “You are too much excited over this matter. You are too much in earnest. You should not be reaching for the righteousness of Christ, and making so much of that. You should preach the law.” As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain. We must preach Christ in the law, and there will be sap and nourishment in the preaching that will be as food to the famishing flock of God. We must not trust in our own merits at all, but in the merits of Jesus of Nazareth {1888M 560.5}.
When men learn they cannot earn righteousness by their own merit of works, and they look with firm and entire reliance upon Jesus Christ as their only hope, there will not be so much of self and so little of Jesus. Souls and bodies are defiled and polluted by sin, the heart is estranged from God, yet many are struggling in their own finite strength to win salvation by good works. Jesus, they think, will do some of the saving; they must do the rest. They need to see by faith the righteousness of Christ as their only hope for time and for eternity {FW 25.3}.
A legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. Fasting or prayer that is actuated by a self-justifying spirit is an abomination in the sight of God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposing sacrifice, proclaim that the doer of these things regards himself as righteous, and as entitled to heaven; but it is all a deception. Our own works can never purchase salvation {DA 280.2}.
The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit {DA 172.1}.

Concluding Remarks 

This is without a doubt the longest article I have ever posted on this site. I did it all on the same page because I wanted the article to be with the video. However, once again, my purpose in writing this article is not to combat Ms. Matthews. There are plenty of more sophisticated books, ministries, websites, and documentaries attacking the SDA church. I have no desire to debate with any of them and although I welcome friendly dialogue with Ms. Matthews to argue over these issues will only open the door to what I consider to be, to a large degree, a colossal waste of time. I think Ms. Matthews would agree.[iIii]

My reason for writing this is thus, not in an attempt to defend the SDA church from its critics but from its very own members – some of which are zealous for the faith we hold. I hope stories like Ms. Matthews can help us see how damaging an unbalanced presentation of the gospel can be. The painful results of adopting views that remove Christ from the center of it all haunt many current and former Adventists. To my fellow Adventists, whom I love so much, I appeal – make Christ your all. Study to show yourself approved. Let us be, as we once were, a people of the book. And yet, let us not only be a people of the book, but a people of the author as well. And whenever someone tells you anything that seems to remove Christ from his rightful place as the all sufficient savior do not believe it, no matter who it comes from, even if they have Ellen White quotes to “prove” it.

And what about Ms. Matthews? I truly hope she can someday heal from the damage we as a church caused (I still have not fully healed but it’s getting better). Not only her, but all of those whom we have been hurt with false Adventism. There is a battle ahead of all who want to reclaim Adventism from the cold grip of legalism. I truly wish Ms. Matthews would return so that she can help us fight the fight, but I also have but one desire for her: That she would love Jesus supremely, follow Him unreservedly, and enjoy her journey of faith for once. As for me, I’ll be here with the many who are fighting the fight to reclaim Adventism as a movement intended to portray the supremacy of Christ and his atoning blood unlike any other. 
This is true Adventism, and if Ms. Matthews had known it, Oh! What a difference it would have made.


How to Heal

A good question to ask is, if Adventism is beset by such division why even be a part of the church? It seems as though being an Adventist is too dramatic, too controversial, and too distracting. While other Christians enjoy a simple walk with Jesus, Adventists seem to be engaged in a perpetual and complex battle over theology. Discovering true Adventism, working through the arguments and nuances of LGT with their never ending refutations and clarifications, and weeding out the false perceptions in order to arrive at the genuine seems like too much of a hassle. Even now I can promise that many LGT proponents will attempt to refute what I have stated in this article in which case I will respond, in which case they will respond, in which case I will quote the experts, in which case they will quote the experts, in which case I will appeal to the Bible to which they will respond by doing likewise. Then we will get into Ellen White, Adventist history, and the development of Catholic and Evangelical theology. Soon we will be arguing over the Greek and Hebrew (we might even pull out a dictionary from the 1800's to see what Ellen White really meant when she used certain words). Such a scenario could go on forever and ever. LGT proponents will claim the positions taken against them are straw-man arguments, while those opposed to LGT will maintain that they are not. Countless hours will then be devoted to pouring over Andreasens writings in order to determine his exact position on certain issues. The dictionaries will be brought back out and the fight will seem to be back at square one. This is not, in my estimation, an effective avenue by which to find healing and unity. 

First of all, allow me to state that I know countless Adventists who know nothing of these debates and enjoy a simple walk with Jesus like any other Christian (I envy them). Likewise, many other protestant denominations are beset with their own theological divisions. Indeed, Christianity has been divided even from its infancy in New Testament times. Adventists are certainly not alone in such drama and it is possible to be an Adventist without ever getting involved in these debates. But in the context of Adventism, the question is "how do we heal?" Is the solution to marginalize those whose theological views we disagree with? Or is the solution to launch an all out war against one another as Andreasen did with the authors of QOD? No. Such an approach will never work. It will only foster greater division, pride, and hatred of the opposite camp. A quick glance at the history of theological division within Gods people demonstrates that debates such as these do nothing but dig each proponent deeper into their own views - a phenomenon that continues decade after decade, generation after generation, and millennium after millennium. Again, such an approach will never work.

While I will not spend much time on this issue (I will do so in the book REclaiming Adventism) I will say this: Without love we will never heal. Indeed, love is the essence of perfection. If Adventists and Andreasens would, by faith, take hold of the love of Jesus and in turn pour that love out on one another the only possible result would be healing and unity. It is our tendency to hate those we disagree with that will keep us in a constant state of brokenness. We must come to terms with our differences and unite in love. Only then can we effectively engage in dialogue that will produce good fruit. Must we wait to "love like Jesus" before we can come together for this purpose? No. If we do we will be waiting forever. But we can make the choice to love, and to keep on loving no matter what. If and when we do we can move forward in faith that God will make it all work out.

Whether you are a proponent of LGT or not, none of us want to see more Eliana Matthews leaving our church. Neither do we want to see more young Adventists living under the burden of hopelessness. On this we can unite. While I do not believe that it is logically possible to believe in LGT and the true gospel I am not willing to begin a war to marginalize the myriads of wonderful, committed  and loyal Adventists who have found LGT to be true. There must be a coming together in love and a renewed emphasis on the righteousness of Christ. Those who refuse to be a part of this healing are not our responsibility. Ellen White spoke of a shaking that would shake many out of the Adventist church. When that shaking takes place those who are impure will be removed from our fellowship. As sad as this may be, it gives me hope for the Adventist church because it assures me that the day is coming in which God will remove all those who are standing in the way of the gospel. Until then, all I can do is wait on Jesus, teach the gospel, and pray for God to reboot my own spiritual life. 

The issues are deep, the divisions are wide, and the emotions are raw. In and of ourselves we will never fix this, but there is One who is capable of doing the impossible without our help. He created man without mans help. He redeemed man without mans help. And he will ultimately restore man without mans help. While he calls for our cooperation, he does not need our help and of that I am truly thankful. So let us heed the call. Let us cooperate with the healer so that we can have our eyes opened, our leprosy cured, and our spiritual paralysis replaced by the power of the unutterable love of God.[iiiii]


Further Reading

The Pre-Advent Judgment and Righteousness by Faith


Troubling Statements of Ellen White on the Investigative Judgment

What Does It Mean to be Judged?

Ellen G. White on Legalism

John Wesley on Christian Perfection

Some Thoughts on the Human Nature of Christ

Do You Qualify for Salvation?

James VS Paul

Who Is Michael the Archangel?

Why Does God Need to Investigate?

How Adventists are Blessed by Other Christians

What Ellen White Said About Non-SDA Pastors

Salvation According to The Bible: A Greek Word Study

Are Adventists Christians?

Salvation According to Satan

Look and Live

My Understanding of Salvation

The SDA Gospel is Legalistic - Isn't It?

Troubling Statements of Ellen White [Updated]

Seventh-day Adventists and Other Christians

Why Am I an Adventist?

Another Look at Babylon (George R. Knight)

Never Good Enough: The Close of Probation and Sinless Perfectionism

Ellen Whites Clearest and Most Concise Explanation of the Gospel

Jesus Only!


Is A Christian Once Saved Always Saved? (A Lutheran View)

Is A Christian Once Saved Always Saved? (A Methodist View)


Is A Christian Once Saved Always Saved? (An Adventist View)

Facing Life's Record (An Analysis of the Great Controversies Scariest Chapter)



Recommended Books

I Used to Be Perfect by George R. Knight

The Case for the Investigative Judgment by Marvin Moore

Questions on Doctrine Revisited! by Leroy Moore

The Gospel VS. Legalism by Marvin Moore

Blinded by the Light by Philip W. Dunham

Seventh-Day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine -(annotated edition)

Seventh-day Adventists Believe (put forth by the General Conference)

My Tortured Conscience by Martin Weber

Ellen White Under Fire by Jud Lake

Sin and Salvation by George R. Knight

Reading Ellen White by George R. Knight

An Endless Falling in Love by Ty Gibson

Who's Got the Truth? by Martin Weber

Faith and Works by Ellen G. White

Steps to Jesus by Ellen G. White

The Apocalyptic Vision and the Neutering of Adventism by George R. Knight

Surviving the Shaking by Keavin Hayden

Lifestyles of the Remnant by Keavin Hayden

Never Without an Intercessor by Morris Venden

Adventist Cultures in Conflict by Leroy Moore

The Power of Humility: What to do When You Are "Right" by Leroy Moore

Videos

Does the Sabbath Still Matter?

Just As I Am Without One Plea: The Truth About the Investigative Judgment

Jesus Practical Guide to Perfection

A New Beginning

Resting in Gods Finished Work

No Hope. No Victory. (Perfection VS Perfectionism)
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[i] I do not like using the contrast Seventh-day Adventists VS. Seventh-day Andreasens because it implies that Andreasens are not true Adventists. While there are differences in our theology, such a dichotomy is still, to a certain degree, false. There are many Andreasens who are better Christians than I am and it would be nothing short of arrogance to suggest that those of the LGT persuasion are false Adventists. However, I make use of the phrase because it is imperative, for the sake of clarity, to establish the theological differences between mainstream Adventist theology and LGT. I hope none would take offence at this faulty attempt to maintain such clarity.

[ii] I am not suggesting that Andreasen was not a wonderful SDA who loved the Lord. He was certainly a faithful man whom God used in mighty ways. So when I refer to Andreasen in this article I am not referring to the man but to the theology. It is his theology I refute, not his person. In addition, I have my doubts as to whether Andreasen is fully responsible for the legalism inherent in LGT. While LGT is logically consistent with legalism I don't think that was Andreasens intention. However, later teachers of the doctrine have certainly proposed it that way and why wouldn't they? The theology logically demands it. With that said, I am not entirely uncomfortable or at enmity with LGT. I believe that much of what it teaches is true, however, if it will ever produce the results it proposes it needs to replace its heavy emphasis on victory over sin with a more balanced emphasis on both grace and power. A proper understanding of the gospel always leads a believer to feel inspired not required to change.

[iii] The following comparison of Wesley and White is not to be mistaken as saying that they both agreed on every minute point when it came to perfection. In fact, there are many aspects of Wesley's soteriology that White never promoted. This includes Wesley's belief in instantaneous perfection, the possibility of knowing one has reached a state of perfection, and his overbearing emphasis on works as noted in the published Methodist Conference minutes of 1770. For more on the differences between Wesley and White check out the article John Wesley on Christian Perfection. I also recommend John Wesley, A Biography by Stephen Tomkins

[iiii] This post serves as a skeleton for a book I am working on titled REclaiming Adventism. The book will go into more depth and offer a fuller picture of these issues, their evolution, and how we can heal. To be honest, while I want to write the book I also do not want to write it. I fear such a project would place me at the center of debates I quite honestly do not want to be a part of. I am also fully aware of the reactions I may receive from my own brethren (some of which are relatives) who are LGT proponents. However, stories like Ms. Matthews' prompt me to speak up and not be silent. As Martin Luther once said, "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me."

[iiiii] The following books, by Leroy Moore, are excellent resources for those seeking to foster healing within the SDA community: Adventist Cultures in Conflict and The Power of Humility: What to do When You Are "Right"

Ellen White's Clearest and Most Concise Explanation of the Gospel
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Courtesy of the Ellen G. White Estate, Inc
I have, in the past, shared a variety of Ellen White quotes regarding her understanding of the gospel. Because her writings are often misused by legalists and often misquoted by both supporters and critics many have come to view her as "the scary lady of Adventism" - a Victorian prude who had an unhealthy obsession with rules. However, when one reads her broadly instead of selectively it becomes rapidly clear that she was a balanced, Christ centered, average human being whose only desire was to lift Jesus up in her life and ministry. As a Seventh-day Adventist I find it heart breaking that many of my fellow believers have successfully managed to turn a fun-loving, kindhearted, Jesus lover into what many people today consider the most legalistic protestant religious thinker to have ever lived. I guess this is why I have, on older blog posts, attempted to paint an accurate picture of Ellen White by sharing her views on the gospel. I do this, not in order to defend her against her critics but in order to defend her, in many instances, from her most zealous supporters (of which I am among). I have found that it is us, not the critics, who have done the greatest harm in this respect. So as can be imagined, I am always excited to discover Ellen White statements that help form that balanced picture that many of us have so effectively maligned.

Which brings me to the reason why I am writing this blog post in the first place. I had the privilege today of listening to Seventh-day Adventist pastor Dwight Nelson do a series of presentations on Ellen White. Toward the end of one of his presentations, pastor Nelson read an unpublished letter that Ellen White wrote to her sister Elizabeth just before she died. The letter was so breath taking that I had to listen to it twice and then share it with my wife when I got home. Each time I heard it I had to hold back the tears that wanted to flow. This personal letter from Ellen to Elizabeth constitutes what I consider to be the clearest and most concise explanation of the Gospel I have come across in any of her writings. Knowing that time was short, Ellen White wrote this letter as an appeal for her sister to accept Christ into her life. It reads:
I love to speak of Jesus Lizzy, and His matchless love. My whole soul is in this work. I have not one doubt of the love of God and His care and His mercy and His ability to save to the utmost all who come to Him. Don't you believe in Jesus Lizzy? Do you not believe He is your savior? That He has evidenced His love for you in giving His own precious life that you might be saved? Oh, I pray most earnestly that the Lord Jesus shall reveal Himself to you and Reuben [her husband]. Dear sister, it's no wonderful thing that you have to do. There is one Lizzy, who died that you might live through eternal ages. Just believe that Jesus will hear your confession, receive your repentance, and He will forgive every sin and make you and Reuben children of God. Oh, I long to take you in my arms and lay you on the bosom of Jesus Christ. With Jesus as your blessed friend Lizzy, you need not fear to die, for it will be to you like closing your eyes here and opening them in heaven. Then we shall meet never more to part.*
Wow. That's all I can say as I read this amazing letter. She never brings up the Sabbath. She never brings up vegetarianism. She never mentions the Adventist church or even demands that Lizzy believe she is a prophet. She does none of it. Instead, Ellen White says, "it's no wonderful thing that you have to do..... Just believe." I don't know about you but that doesn't sound like a legalist to me. I truly, truly pray that those of us who value and embrace the prophetic ministry of Ellen White would be faithful to present her as she really was - a Christ centered, grace focused, God loving woman who ever lived to share Jesus with the world.

Further Reading:

Troubling Statements of Ellen White

The SDA Gospel Is Legalistic - Isn't It?


Ellen G. White on Legalism



* Since this letter is unpublished at the time of writing I cannot reference it. However, if you would like to hear the letter as I heard it in pastors Dwight's presentation click here and skip forward in the presentation to 36:20. If you would like to inquire as to the letter itself you can contact the Ellen White Estate here.
Unutterable
Weird. That was the word that flashed through my mind as I ordered my Veggie Burger from a local restaurant last Sunday. My wife and I were at the Chattanooga Market enjoying the peach festival and I was hungry. So I did the only logical thing one should do in such a scenario. I went and got a burger. A good burger I might add.

The guy who served me was odd and so was everyone else working at his booth. They were hippie, and while I have had many hippie-like friends I have never actually interacted with an all-out hippie. The experience was, well, interesting. Or should I simply say - weird. There was an aura of peculiarity that surrounded not only the vendors hair-due and fashion but also his social link. By social link I mean that connection you automatically establish with everyone you interact with. The connection is always there silently building a bridge between yourself and the other person. Sometimes the connection is good. You know straight away that you click with this person. At other times its terrible and you know straight away that its best to walk away. And then there are the times when its just plain weird.


As I stood there waiting for my sandwich a quote from the book Ministry of Health and Healing by SDA pioneer Ellen White entered my mind. It says:

The savior regards with infinite tenderness the souls whom He has purchased with His blood…. He looks upon them with unutterable longing.
I had just spoken with a weird guy. I looked to my right and saw an old short lady who was out of style. A man in his 50's with a mustache. Then another older gentleman wearing a bikers shirt. I looked at them, and others, and asked myself, "do I long for each of them with unutterable longing?" The answer was no. Truth be told, I would be perfectly content with never having a relationship with any of those people. And yet, Jesus longs for each of them. He longs for the weird hippie guy, the old out-of-style lady, the homeless, the poor, the addicts, the criminals and every other human being on planet earth. But not only does he long for them, he actually does so with a longing that is unutterable. In other words, it cannot be described, expressed, or defined. The longing that Jesus has for all of us is beyond human poetry and prose. That longing doesn't change depending on who you are and what you are like. It doesn't change if you sin a lot or of you sin a little. The love of Jesus doesn't depend on you. He doesn't love us if we love him. He loves us regardless. Genuinely.  Without condition. So while society may ignore you, you friends may betray you, and the world may seem against you there is always one who is for you, who loves you, and who longs for you with "unutterable longing." Jesus.