Posts tagged perfection
For Those Who Don't "Measure Up"


Sometime ago I saw a video on YouTube that blew my mind. This guys was doing the craziest Calisthenic push-ups I had ever seen. One particular push-up consisted of him literally launching his body into the air from a prone lying position using only his arms. Being a guy that likes fitness I wrote him a comment and asked him how in the world he got to that level because I wanted to get there too. What do I have to do? I asked. I read his response with disappointment when he basically told me he didn’t really know what to say.

The way I felt when I saw him doing those push-ups is the way I feel when I read 1 John 3:9. Turn there with me. It reads:

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

When I read this verse my question is, John, how in the world do you get to that level? Will John, like my YouTube friend give us the answer? Or will he leave us hanging? Let’s find out.

Go back with me to the beginning of the chapter. Verse one opens up with a very powerful concept. John says,

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

Everyone here knows that God loves them. Almost every person in the west has seen a billboard with the words “God loves you” on it. But notice, John does not say “listen.” He does not say, “study.” He doesn’t even say “read”. John says, “behold.” To behold means to see. Let me ask you a question. What was the last time you actually saw Gods love for you?

There is an old story about a woman who asked her husband, Why don’t you ever tell me that you love me? And the husband replied, “I told you I love you when I married you and if I ever change my mind I will let you know.” Funny as that story might be, do you realize it actually describes the relationship many of us have with God? Many of us have not heard God tell us how much he loves us since we got baptized. But John says God lavishes his love on us. You don’t lavish someone with something once. The idea of lavishing connotes a continual action. God is always lavishing his love on us and John is saying, “You have got to see this love God lavishes on you every day.”

Is it possible then that for John the first step to overcoming sin is in seeing how much God loves us on a daily basis despite the fact that we are far from where he wants us to be?
John goes on to say that God lavishes his love on us by calling us his children. But notice something interesting. In verse 2 he adds, “now we are children of God.” Notice, John did not say that you have to reach a certain level of holiness before God considers you his child. He did not say you had to grow spiritually first before you could be considered his child. He said “now” we are his children. Today. Not tomorrow. You see, I have two boys. One is a toddler and he is wild. But as wild as he is he is my son. I will not consider him a son when he grows up and learns to behave better. He is my son now even though he is far from being the man I hope he someday becomes. In other words, you are a part of Gods family today, right now, even if you are a spiritual toddler. You may be far from the person God wants you to be. You may still have things in your life you need to get right and yet even so you are Gods child right now.

Could John be telling us that the secret to being an over-comer is to recognize that we are Gods children right now despite our imperfections?

But john goes on in the rest of verse 2 and says something very challenging. Look at what he says:

it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

John is saying two things here. Number 1, there is something I don’t know. Number two, there is something I do know. It has not yet been revealed what we will be. I don’t know that. But this I do know. Jesus is coming and when he does we will be like him because we will see him as he is. In other words we will not be like him before we see him. We will be like him after we see him. But why does that even matter? Allow me to read a letter to you I received a few weeks ago:

I have been miserable for years being a SDA. I love the Death and Hell message and mostly… the fundamentals of the Church but If I have to be perfect before God in the Flesh, then What DID JESUS come and do for me? I find myself being in fear all the time because I don't measure up.

You see, this guy thinks in order for Jesus to come and take him to heaven he has to become absolutely perfect. But John says, even though we wont be like him until we see him, guess what! We are going to see him. He is coming and when he does we will be transformed into his image.

Perhaps the third secret to being an over-comer is in recognizing that you don’t have to be absolutely perfect in order to go to heaven.

So lets put this all together. John goes on and notice what he says in verse 3:

And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Notice John does not say “all purify themselves.” John says, “whoever has this hope in him purifies himself.” Here is the answer to the question, “How can I be sinless?” There is only one way: All who have this hope in him. But what is the hope? The message that God loves us, calls us his children, and is coming to take us to heaven despite our flaws forms a foundation of hope that purifies the one who believes it.

Perhaps John is telling us that the fourth secret to overcoming lies in feeling safe in the arms of God (having the hope of salvation) despite your imperfections.

But what exactly does it mean to be sinless? Notice John says, “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Later on John tells us that God is love. Here he tells us that God is pure. So according to John God is pure love. If I pour salt into a glass of water is it pure? What about lemon? No. Pure water is H2O plus nothing else. According to John God is love plus nothing else. That’s not me. I have a bit of love mixed with selfishness, anger, and pride. But God is pure love. So to purify myself just as God is pure is to love like God loves. And while it is possible to correct behavior by focusing on behavior, you cannot love like God by trying harder.

But lets ask another question. What does John mean by love? Read verse 16 with me:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Being sinless is not about perfect behavior. It’s about perfect love. And perfect love is manifested in laying our lives down for one another the same way that Jesus laid his life down for us. But let me make this a little more practical. Perfect love is about laying down your time for someone else. Your wallet. Your reputation. Your comfort. John himself adds:
"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."

Perfect love. That is what John means by living without sin. And there is only one way for you and I to ever get to this level. And that is to have the hope of Jesus within. What is that hope? The message that God loves us, calls us his children, and is coming to take us to heaven despite our flaws forms a foundation of hope by which we purify ourselves from selfishness until we love like God loves. You cannot live with this hope within you and go on sinning (living a lifestyle of selfishness). Hence John could say:

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.

I don’t know about you but I want to love like Jesus loves. That would be awesome. It begins by daily seeing his love for me. Not just reading about it. Talking about it. Or hearing about it. But experiencing it in our hearts. It begins by believing that you are a child of God, a member of his family, despite your imperfections. It begins by recognizing that you don’t have to be absolutely perfect in order for Jesus to come and take you to heaven. When you have this hope in you, you can go forth to purify yourself just as God is pure. You can learn to love like Jesus. The search for sinlessness is ultimately a search - not for perfect behavior or flawless obedience to the letter of the law - but for the love of God to make its home within us more and more. And so long as you are anxious and worried about your behavior you will never discover this love. It is when you recognize that its not about you at all, it is when you let go of your supposed "qualifications" and trust entirely on the sacrifice of Jesus for your salvation that you can then, in hope and joy, go forward to grow in love.
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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Why I No Longer Believe in Last Generation Theology


Why I No Longer Believe in Last Generation Theology 
by Sam Millen

Growing up in the Adventist church, I was exposed to a brand of Adventism promoting what has been identified as Last Generation Theology (LGT).  We were taught that those in the church who disagreed with LGT were in apostasy.  It was much later, while studying in the seminary, that I discovered LGT didn’t enter Adventism until the 1930s.  It was introduced by Adventism's premier theologian during that period, M.L. Andreasen.  The concept is not new, however.  I have also learned that the Pharisees had their version of LGT.  They firmly believed that if Israel kept one Sabbath perfectly, the Messiah would come immediately.  That is why they wanted to get rid of Jesus when he broke their Sabbath rules.


LGT proponents like to cling to one particular quote by Ellen White.  She writes, “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church.  When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69).  When I view this quote now, without an LGT bias, it becomes clearer that Ellen White is not necessarily talking about sinlessness, but setting aside our differences and being loving, just like the disciples in the upper room before the Holy Spirit was poured out.  Jesus says the end will come when the gospel reaches everyone (Matthew 24:14).  He also says that everyone will know we are his disciples when we love each other (John 13:35).


The focus of LGT is character perfection.  From an LGT point of view, Jesus hasn’t returned because he is waiting for a generation that is sinless in order for God to prove that his law can be kept perfectly.  LGT teaches that God is depending on us to vindicate his character.  If we could demonstrate to the watching universe that God’s law can be obeyed, nobody would have an excuse.  We would prove Satan wrong!  God would be reasonable in his expectations.  I now see this as blasphemy.  Jesus fully vindicated God’s character on the cross.  God is love.  We cannot take Jesus' place and fulfil that role.


Instead of partying with my peers, I spent most of my teenage years trying to be perfect.  I tried to have only pure thoughts, and to conquer my temper and other character flaws.  After all, God was relying on me to overcome sin!  I didn’t want to delay his coming any longer.  I also knew that the time was coming when “probation" would close and we would be without a mediator.  I had to be sinless by then.  Much later, I was relieved when someone pointed out to me that we will always have a Savior.  At that point, there may be no more switching of sides (requiring a mediator, see Revelation 22:11), but our sins are covered by Christ’s blood until the end when we are on God’s side.  


Although this theology did spare me from the consequences of a typical teenage rebellion, LGT can be just as (if not more) harmful emotionally and spiritually.  Even though we were told that we could overcome sin through Christ’s power, the focus was not on Jesus.  I focused on my behavior.  How was I performing?  Isn’t that what the whole universe was supposedly focused on?    Every time I messed up, I knew I would be lost unless I repented and started again from scratch.  That was not a joyful Christian experience.  It was miserable!  I desperately wanted to be perfect so that I could be a part of the Last Generation.


I now see Christianity as a relationship.  Because God is love, he created us for a relationship with him.  That is our purpose.  It is why we exist.  Since we are born on a rebellious planet, God's primary objective is to win our hearts.  He wants us to trust him.  However, when we give God our hearts, we still have the weaknesses of the flesh.  Even though our hearts are in the right place, we still mess up.  When we fail because of the flesh, we do not lose our salvation.  We haven’t turned our back on God.  We love God.  We want to do what is right, and when we get a new body at the resurrection (without any weaknesses), we will not be rebelling in heaven.  It’s because God has won our hearts.  We trust him.  We love him.


It’s like a marriage (a biblical metaphor for our relationship with God).  I am not a perfect husband.  I make mistakes that hurt my wife (not physically).  However, because I love my wife, I am sorry when I mess up.  I don’t want to hurt her.  When I mess up, I am still married to her.  I haven’t turned my back and walked away.  We are still in a relationship.


The only way to lose your salvation is to deliberately turn your back on God and walk away from him.  He will never leave you.  Even if you reject him completely, he will try to win your heart again.


I am convinced that we will never be perfect.  We don’t have to be.  When we are in a relationship with God, our sins are covered by Christ’s blood until the end.  If God has won our hearts, we will get a flawless new body when Jesus comes.  That is when our new hearts will finally be compatible with our bodies because our bodies will also be new.


Am I trying to make excuses for sin?  Not at all.  In fact, the harder I tried to overcome sin, the more I failed and became discouraged.  Now I find that when I focus on my relationship with Jesus, the sins that seemed so appealing before, start to lose their power in his presence.  It’s miraculous.



_________

Sam Millen pastors the Luray Seventh-day Adventist Church in Virginia, in the Potomac Conference. He grew up in Australia, moving to the US to study for the ministry at Andrews University. He and his wife Angie have a six-year-old and two-year-old twins.

This article was originally published on Spectrum Magazine. Used by permission.



Further Reading:

REclaiming Adventism (A Response to the Testimony of Former Adventist Eliana Matthews)
For other posts related to Last Generation Theology click here.

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
Link Post: Never Good Enough (The Close of Probation and Sinless Perfectionism)
 photo credit: Toni Blay via photopin cc
The concept of sinless perfectionism is one that many Adventists are, at one time or another, exposed to. The right combination of selected Bible verses and Ellen White quotes can leave many wondering if they will ever be good enough to be saved.

I too struggled with this concept for many years and found it impossible to reconcile the gospel of Jesus Christ with the Adventist teaching of sinless perfectionism. Then one day I discovered that it wasn't an Adventist teaching at all. The more I have studied this within the context of Adventism the clearer the gospel and the all suffiency of the righteousness of Christ has become. To this, many sinless perfectionists would respond that I am just looking for an excuse to sin and still go to heaven. However, nothing could be further from the truth. I hate sinning. I long to be perfect in the love of Jesus and love as he loved and continues to love. This is my desire. Not for one moment do I want to, as Peter Gregory once quipped, take a souvenir (of sin) to heaven with me. However, with that said, I still reject the teaching of last generation sinless perfectionism. While I could share my own views on the matter, lack of time prompts me to share two wonderful articles that delineate my exact sentiments (and those of Seventh-day Adventism) on this topic. The articles were written by Seventh-day Adventist scholar and theologian Edward Heppenstall and can be found on adventistbiblicalresearch.org

1. How Perfect Is "Perfect" or Is Christian Perfection Possible?

2. Some Theological Considerations of Perfection