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)
______________


[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"

Comments

  1. Hello Marcos,

    Well written article! George Knight is one of my favorites, and I really like they way you explained the Sabbath as God's seal. From what I understand, LGT has an issue with teaching justification only salvation, meaning justification is the legal act only of being declared righteous,then sanctification comes later. Personally I used to think this, until I studied it, and have come to the conclusion that justification/sanctification is one act, justification is more than just a legal declaration of righteousness on God's part, it is the born again experience (much more than a legal declaration). Just wondering what you think?

    Also I'd like to know what you think of "final atonement", meaning the cross released the sinner from condemnation of the law, it did not cancel the sin from the sanctuary. This is the work that God is doing right now.

    Thanks in advance-Arik

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    1. Hello Arik! Thank you for your comment. Excellent questions.

      I don't believe you can separate justification from sanctification. I believe God declares us legally righteous but at the same time he gives us a new heart. Many times the NT describes sanctification as something past tense and also as something that is currently happening. I also believe that sanctification requires our cooperation and that at times it is a huge struggle. I believe God wants to perfect our characters in love so that we love like he loves and I believe we can be perfect in that sense. What I deny is sinless perfectionism and the concept that our salvation depends on how well we do during the sanctification process. This is what I refer to as the "what Jesus did + what I do = salvation" heresy. So while I believe that salvation is much more than a legal declaration, I do not believe that obedience after justification is necessary in order to be saved at last. Obedience is the fruit of salvation, never the basis. Those who refuse to obey where either never saved to begin with or enter into a state of rebellion in which they forsake their salvation. This is not only an Adventist teaching, it is also a Lutheran, Methodist, and Pentecostal understanding of salvation.

      As far as final atonement, I talked about that in point number 2. You can re-read it but allow me to share a point from another article that will clarify this:

      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.

      The article I pasted this from is here: http://www.jesusadventismandi.com/2013/08/facing-lifes-record-analysis-of-great.html

      Hope that helps a bit!

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    2. It helps a lot, I thank you for clarifying your position, I will read your second post and comment there if needed. Thankyou, Marcos

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    3. No problem Arik!

      Glad to share :)

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  2. Hello Marcos, I have been thinking very much of your article, and I would like to comment.

    In your article, regarding the nature of Christ, you state that "While Adventists believe that Jesus had a fallen physical nature we do not believe he had a fallen moral nature and as stated above…"

    I am not sure that this is an accurate statement. It may be accurate for some Adventist, but I do not believe it agrees with EGW at all. What I see most of the time with those that promote the nature of Christ not being like ours morally but merely physically are confusing the effects of sin with sin itself. Sin is not human nature.

    Anyway I could continue by bombarding you with many quotations of hers on the matter, but even George Knight writing about the heading that QOD used "Took Sinless Human Nature." As Knight wrote, "that heading is problematic in that it implies that that was Ellen White's idea when in fact she was quite emphatic in repeatedly stating that Christ took our 'sinful nature.'" Any way, a great article on QOD written by Herb Douglass can be found here: http://gospel-herald.com/qod/questions_on_doctrine.htm as well as an his excellent article on Christ's nature in June 1985 issue of Ministry magazine, https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/1985/06/what-human-nature-did-jesus-take-fallen, he states that "The primary Issue The salvation issue is not primarily how God became man, but why." Meaning understanding why Christ came is essential to understanding how He came. Please read and get back to me. I think this issue is important because it is linked to what sin is, what the solution to sin is, and also the final atonement.

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    1. Hello Arik!

      Another great question. As you already know this is a topic that is hotly debated in Adventism. I am too busy right now to get into specifics but I have in the past read and heard a lot on the topic. I used to believe that Christ was entirely like us in every way shape and form like Dennis Priebe teaches, but the more I studied the issue the more I leaned in the opposite direction. I too can provide my own list of evidence for this and we can play a game of Nature of Christ ping-pong but obviously that wont be beneficial.

      I honestly think the entire debate is unnecessary. For example, suppose Christ came in a fallen nature like you and me. Is it possible for him to sin? Of course. Suppose he came in an unfallen nature like Adam. Would it be possible for him to sin? Of course, Adam sinned. Suppose he came in the nature of angels, could he still sin? Absolutely, angels sinned. So no matter what nature Christ took he would have been fully capable of experiencing temptation and falling to sin. So then how did he overcome? This is the real question, not his nature. Christ nature is really not important when it comes to his victory over sin because he never relied on his nature. His victory on our behalf had nothing to do with whether he came in the nature of Adam or Abraham. His victory depended entirely on his submission to God. Likewise, we too can be overcomers when we submit ourselves to God regardless of our nature.

      Those who argue he was like us want to protect the fact that we can overcome as he overcame, those who argue he was unlike us want to protect the fact that he came to gain a victory on our behalf not to establish a standard we must meet in order to enter heaven. But the reality is his nature had nothing to do with his victory and it has nothing to do with mine. It was his submission to the father that gave him victory and it is my submission to Christ that has given me victory.

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    2. So when it comes to the human nature of Christ I believe he was enough like me to understand my temptations, and enough unlike me to be my savior. While QOD certainly got the human nature of Christ wrong (I don't agree with QOD on that issue), the SDA church does not adopt to the views espoused by Andreasens on the topic (also taught by the 1888 message study committee which the SDA church rejects). It was in response to the 1888 message study committee that the GC responded:

      "We accept the admonitions of Ellen White to "avoid every question in relation to the humanity of Christ which is liable to be misunderstood" and that "the incarnation of Christ has ever been, and will ever remain a mystery" (5BC 1129). Here every human being must tread softly. It is important to treat fairly everything that the Bible and Ellen White have to say on this topic, realizing that neither of those sources necessarily gives the human nature of Christ the same prominence as did the post-Minneapolis Jones and Waggoner. The interpretation that Jones and Waggoner gave to the biblical materials on the human nature of Christ is not necessarily supported by Ellen White's full understanding of Christ's human nature."

      At the end of the day regardless of whether you take a pre or post fall nature view makes no difference so long as the gospel interprets what that means. The problem is that many post fall proponents reinterpret the gospel in light of post fall and end u creating a theology that says "you cannot go to heaven unless you reach a point of sinless perfection like Jesus had." That is ultimately what I and the SDA church reject. If you are post fall and yet allow that to be interpreted by the gospel and continue to affirm salvation is Jesus only then I have no burden to enter into controversy over the specifics.

      In truth, however, I am not as so concerned with how much Christ was like me, but with how much I am like him. We can disagree of the specifics but we are all called to reflect the love of Jesus in everything that we do.

      I know that doesn't settle the debate, but I hope it helps a bit.

      Blessings,
      Marcos

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  3. Hello Marcos! I would like to respond to you by first clarifying my position on LGT, more will come later.

    To me it is undeniable that final generation character-development is plainly taught and oft repeated truth of the New Testament. Words like "spotless", "without spot", "wholly sanctified", "no guile", "blameless", "without blame", "unblameable","without wrinkle", "perfect ascertaining to the conscience", "shall do no iniquity","shall be like Him", "ripe","perfect holiness", "faultless", "without fault", "a perfect man","the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ","without rebuke", "irreprovable", "unrebukable", "mystery of God shall be finished" are all terms used in conjunction with references to Christ's coming. These realities show that the last generation experience the completion of the mystery of godliness. A better way to understand this is in the context of the harvest which Scripture uses as an analogy of the coming of Christ. According to Mark 4:29, and Revelation 14:15 the harvest is timed when the fruit is ripened, but jump back to Mark 4:28 "For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." Every step of the way it can be said that the seed is perfect, the blade is perfect, the baby ear is perfect, but only when the corn is ripe is when the sickle is thrust into the harvest. The finishing of the process, the mystery of God being brought to completion, is dependent on the latter rain for it's completion. While I have simplified my position I think it agrees with Scripture and EGW who speaking specifically about the "time of trouble, such as never was" (last generation), says "Satan could find nothing the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. …there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage….This is the condition in which those must be found in the time of trouble." GC 622



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  4. By now I think that perfection should be clarified. In the word's of Nick Miller, who is Associate Director of church history at Andrews University he says "Perfection is concerned primarily with theodicy. It is something that God does at the time of the end for the glorification of His character, and the culmination of the Great Controversy. To show God is capable of saving people fully from sin. The focus is not salvation. Yes all those saved at the end will have overcome sin, because they have gone through this experience. They are saved like everyone else down through history, by faith in Christ and his righteousness. Not soteriology but theodicy."

    He goes on "It is a perfection of love and not legalism. Perfection is concerned with motives, not legalistically defined external conduct. Note the two are not completely separated, if we have perfect motives, external conduct will show. The two are connected yet different. "

    He goes on to explain that we have freedom in Christ, and it would not be freedom to live a constant life of trying to live up to the 10 commandments, all the injunctions in Scripture, every thing EGW says, and finally all that the Holy Spirit may be impressing us to do. Do we want to do all these things? of course, but Christianity is about freedom, freedom to follow the desires of our renewed mind. Of course within the parameters of His law, but focussing on perfection as defined by following all these commands, and if we are not we are falling away and not meeting the standards of perfection, only exchanges one form of bondage (law of sin) to another form of bondage (legalism).

    So you see Marcos while I appreciate you combating the treacherous false gospel of legalism, I think it is important not to go too far by equating sinless perfection as defined by Scripture and EGW, especially regarding the last generation as a form of it. Thank's for your time. My response is largely taken from Eugene Prewitt's document "Character in the Last Generation" www.bibledoc.org and Nick Miller's sermon found on Audioverse.org entitled "Last Generation Theology: A Different Salvation?"

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    1. Hello Arik!

      Once again, thank you so much for your comment! Theres is much to be said here but I will attempt to be brief. As I mentioned in the article and in the above comments, I believe in perfection. When I go to church after church where no one says hello, no invites you home for lunch, no one cares about the poor and needy in the community, no one brings visitors to Christ etc. I am reminded of the words of Ellen White "when the character of Christ is perfectly reproduced in his church then he will come..." Why? Because even though Christ was sinless, the character of Christ is exalted by his love. People dont remember Jesus because of what he didnt do, they remember him because of what he did: love. This love is what God sets out to perfect in and through us. The way you describe perfection above is very close to how John Wesley described perfection. I recommend you read his book "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection" where he defines the doctrine of perfection. You can also check out the following post I wrote:

      http://www.jesusadventismandi.com/2013/12/john-wesley-on-christian-perfection.html

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    2. John Wesley, like Ellen White (she was a Methodist of course) believed that God could fully sanctify us in the same way that he fully justifies us. What they never believed is that we need to reach a point of sinless perfection before we can have assurance of salvation. This is the legalism that you speak of. Whatever perfection God has in mind for us, it does not form the basis of our salvation and it does not come by focusing on ourselves and our sins either. It comes from being covered by the righteousness of Jesus and walking with him in love.

      Some excellent articles on absolute perfection or sinless perfectionism are found here:

      http://www.jesusadventismandi.com/2013/07/never-good-enough-close-of-probation.html

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    3. As I said above, I am not fully at odds with LGT. I think it has theological problems but what I am most concerned with is its logical conclusion. Read Martin Webers book "My Tortured Conscience" and George Knights "I Used to be Perfect" and you will see the results of taking LGT to its logical conclusions. I have also received emails and comments from miserable Adventists, some who have suffered severe psychological trauma, and even one who attempted suicide all because they were taught that if they wanted to go to heaven it wasn't enough to have faith in Jesus but they had to overcome all of their sins. Does God want us to overcome our sins? Of course, but to say a person must or else they will not go to heaven is to say "You are saved but not really. There is still something you must do." And the problem with that is that you will never do enough. Kevin Hayden got it best when he said,

      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).

      This statement is in harmony with the words of Ellen White:

      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}.

      And the official position of the SDA church

      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. – Seventh-day Adventists Believe p. 143

      I highly recommend you get your hands on two books that you will find fascinating (if you haven't read them already). The first is "An Examination of M.L. Andreasens Objections to the Book Questions on Doctrine" by A.V. Olson (printed in 1960) and Questions on Doctrine Revisited! by Leroy Moore (without a doubt the BEST book on the topic).

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    4. So while I believe in perfection I do not view as the LGT camp does. Some of the LGT camp may do a better job than others at balancing the concept with the gospel but this is not the norm. I do hope, however, that men like Eugene Prewitt continue to balance LGT out because it has much good to offer if interpreted through the lens of the cross.

      But lets also remember that this article is not so much about LGT as it is about what the SDA church believes. And the SDA church does not believe in LGT and, in fact, it rejects one of its foundational tenets - that Christ human nature was identical to ours. Without this presupposition, LGT is redefined from the ground up. George Knight does a great job at explaining the official SDA position in his footnotes on the annotated edition of QOD also expounded on in the 1988 edition of Seventh-day Adventists Believe.

      We need to be very careful as well on how we explain the concept of final generation perfection. I one thought that if final generation perfection was true then being a Christian in the final generation was more of a curse then a blessing because more was required of us than was required of those who lived in the past. It wasnt fair! They got to be saved apart from reaching a state of perfection, but I dont get to. Thankfully the whole idea is false.

      The final generation will be no holier than was Paul and John. The issue is not one of being holier than the Christians of old but of loving like Jesus does at a time in earths history when Jesus stops interceding on behalf of mankind and the devil takes full control of humanity. So the final generation wont be holier, and more is not "required" of them than was required of the saints of old. The only difference is that they will, in contrast to their love, live in a time when hatred has taken full control of mankind. When we fail to explain it in these terms being a part of the final generation appears to be more of a burden than a blessing. But when we realize that God is calling us to love like Jesus loves in the same way he called Peter to in an age when people hate more than ever, being a part of that final generation becomes an honor.

      And lastly, we need to present perfection in the positive not the negative. Tell someone they need to overcome all of their sins and you will have an anxious Christian. Tell someone that through faith in Christ they can love like Jesus loves and you will have a Christian longing for more of that love in their lives. Of course, a person who loves like Jesus certainly has no desire to sin, but it is also here that we need to differentiate between sins of rebellion and natural human shortfalls. I believe we can have complete victory over sins of rebellion, but to say "you must overcome even the natural human shortfalls" is to set a person up for "shipwreck (to borrow EGWs phrase) of their faith."

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    5. Arik, it has been a pleasure chatting with you. Take some time to check out the writers tab on the menu bar. I am always looking for guest posts to publish on this blog. If you are interested it would be awesome.

      Happy Sabbath!
      Marcos

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  5. Well Marcos, I have enjoyed our conversation more than you know! So I took some time to check out the material you suggested, and quite frankly I was not impressed. However in my searching I came accross Woodrow Whidden's book "Ellen White on the humanity of Christ." I believe this is the most comprehensive discussion on the subject. Afer I read it I was reminded of your position "So when it comes to the human nature of Christ I believe he was enough like me to understand my temptations, and enough unlike me to be my savior." I think that this is a well balanced view, and the author prety much shares this view. Maybe those that find themselves on one side or the other of this topic (pre-fall, post fall) would do better to not stress the position with this language. Whidden proposes that we recognize the "intricate balance or tension between pre-Fall sinless uniqueness and post-Fall identity with our "sinful nature."

    So anyway I must thank you Marcos for our dialog and your patience. Since I have spoken with you last I have re-evaluated my position (it was leaning more toward post-fall, if you hadn't guessed), and think I have a more Biblically balanced position. I love it when I learn something new that reveals Christ in a better light! Have a good day!

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    1. Arik! Yes, I noticed Edward Heppenstall was not too convincing for you, lol. But thats OK. We wont always agree on everything this side of heaven. Someday all of those fine intricate concepts will be made clear. I responded to the comment you left on that blog post with Hepenstalls articles even though you deleted it (after spending an hour typing them up I figured, why not?)

      Blessings!
      Marcos

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  6. Marcos you were being very kind in pointing out just a few errors of this theology view. I have also have studied this at length and have made 10 concise "silver" bullet points which exposes this view even more.

    1.) It has always been Gods will for believers to have victory over sin.
    2.)There is no clear precedent that exist in scriptures to show that God's plan of salvation was ever dependent on believers.
    This can be proven by asking advocates of this doctrine 4 simple questions.
    A. What did believers accomplish or do to aid Christ in His arrival during His 1st advent? Nothing, scriptures tell us He came in the fullness of time.
    B. What did believers accomplish or do to aid Christ to be our sacrificial lamb? Nothing, Prophecy
    C. What did believers accomplish or do to aid Christ in becoming our High Priest? Nothing, based on a divine time-line as shown in the shadows (Spring feasts)
    D. What did believers accomplish or do to aid in Christ beginning the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary? Nothing, Prophecy
    3.) Last generation advocates have assume that the entire pre-advent judgment's validity is based on their spiritual growth. (Please note that the LGT has two main purposes: The vindication of God and to prove to the angels and un-fallen created beings that believers can be trusted.)
    4.) The idea that the righteous work or character of a few believers will be use in the place of other fellow believers to account for their faithfulness (i.e..prove to the angel and un-fallen creation) is exact opposite of what is taught in scriptures that everyone with by judged by their own works.
    5.) This its theology purposes by definition makes humanity the savior of Divinity. Webster states one that saves, rescue or delivers is define as a savior.
    6.)LGT marginalizes the efficiency of the Cross.
    7.)LGT marginalizes the efficiency of Christ's Priestly ministry.
    8.)The belief that God never had a people ignores Hebrews chapter 11 and makes 6 out of the 7 churches found in Revelation irrelevant.
    9.)If we believe that God has always had representation then we must acknowledge that there has always been a demonstration. One cannot exist without the other. Matt. 5:16
    10.) The test of salvation happens BEFORE the close of probation the test afterward is only a test to strengthen our resolve to trust in Christ to save. It is through this test that the Holy Spirit will complete His work in us. Phil. 1:6

    It should be noted that bullet point number 10 indirectly negates the Harvest principle theory of LGT as well.

    God Bless.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Anonymous! Some very relevant points here. As you already know I did not, in this particular article, seek to attack or "expose" LGT. While I do consider LGT to be problematic I think more is accomplished by pointing to the truth than by exposing error. So while I did disagree with LGT throughout this whole post, I didn't attempt to make that my main objective. Nevertheless, it is heart breaking to listen to Eliana Matthews testimony. She is a prime example of someone who has been born and bred in LGT. My only thanks is that she has not walked away from Christ.

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  7. Great article Marcos. You seem to be my theological Doppelganger. Was in the process of writing an article on LGT but came across your article so I'm not going to bother. Thanks for saving me the time. I think I will add you on Facebook since you might want to contribute to some of the conversations I have there. When you have some time stop by my blog and take a look at my articles on the nature of Christ and the atonement. If you do, let me know what you think:

    My blog: mikemanea.com/conversations
    Nature of Christ: http://mikemanea.com/conversations/how-evangelicals-neutered-adventism/
    The Atonement: http://mikemanea.com/conversations/how-adventism-ended-the-gospel-wars/

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    1. Hi Mike! I had a scan of your article on How evangelicals neutered Adventism. That was brilliant dude! I didnt have the time to read it in its entirety but was blown away by what i saw. great work! Perhaps we can do some article sharing? Feel free to share mine and Ill share yours as well :D

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  8. Thanks Marcos. I posted your article both on my blog and on Facebook. When I have a chance, I will go through the rest of your blog as well. Ya, if you do get a chance to read through these articles, I can definitely use the feedback since there are still kinks to be worked out. God bless.

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    1. Sounds awesome dude! I cant promise to do so quickly (super busy atm) but its certainly going to happen, lol.

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  9. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7

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  10. Marcos. Thank you for all the wonderful articles you posted. We are here to learn from each other. I learnt a lot from reading your material. There is a blog ADVindicate.com where good articles are posted. I have this to say to the people who left the truth for a lie. My heart burns for these people. If these people have any idea what others had to go through to find this truth, they will never leave it. If one is born in the Adventist church, they have no clue what the devil is doing to God's children. I went to churches for 60 years and I was an atheist. I did not believe in God because all I heard is Gospel and nothing else. I had a million questions about the teachings of the Bible. Law is the knowledge of sin Romans 7:7. Law says I am a sinner and I need grace. If they preach grace alone without the Law, the whole world will enter the Kingdom of God. For if there is no law no sin Romans 4:15. The truth has set me free John 8:32. May God bless us all to be faithful to our Lord of Sabbath till He comes to take us home. One more thing, people are leaving the church because, as Marcos said, they have not learnt the truth, they only heard it. We need to post more testimonies of people who came to the truth than those who left the truth. Listen to the testimonies of Shahbaz (From Muslim to Adventism) and also of Walter Veith. We need powerful testimonies like that for people to understand what the devil is doing to destroy us and what the Lord is doing to save us. I am forever grateful to God, for searching for me and finding me. I can never ever keep quiet about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I owe Him so much! So I pray Lord, use me in any way you can. This should be our prayer to ask the Lord to use whatever gift God has given to us.

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  11. "I did not believe in God because all I heard is Gospel and nothing else."
    Hmm...this is a strange comment given Jesus' last words to us...
    "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned..." (Mark 16:15-17)

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    1. I don't think Moni is using the word "gospel" here in the same sense you are. It seems to me that what she means is all she heard was an oversimplified gospel that did not take into account the full narrative of scripture which left her with many unanswered questions that troubled her.

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  12. wow this poor girl has no idea at all. Completely ignorant of Adventism and the bible. Any wonder that she left the church. I listened to all of her testimony and was disturbed that what she had been brought up to believe.

    EGW clearly taught that Jesus was God in the highest sense and that Michael is NOT a created being but just the name of Jesus prior to his incarnation.
    The Jews believe that the scapegoat typifies Satan as do many other christians. It was also the belief of the early christian church who largely comprised of Jews.
    No one ever said that the sabbath is your salvation, but is just as manditory as the other 9 commandements.

    3-angels.net
    read my testimony and my bible studies. I am not confused and i KNOW that the SDA is the true church.

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    1. Has no idea of what? I listened to the whole thing as well and couldn't agree more with her. The problem is not with her...it's the church she went to. Something is desperately wrong if people are so confused by a churches/person's(EGW) teaching. Good to know that you know the true church though.

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    2. I think both of u r right. The church she went to was def the problem as I identify in the above article. There are more than one type of adventist. Unfortunately, the more conservative wing of the church has groups that tend toward the exact theology she explains in the video. it is a perversion of adventism and i think the church needs to be more clear that such heresy wont be tolerated. I get that we are a non-creedal church but we shouldnt allow damaging lies to be taught by any church, pastor, or whomever, esp when they do it in our name.

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