Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Rev 14:12).
In an endtime period dominated by progressive ideology, theology, and “Born this way” culture it seems that many in our church are forgetting the core component in the third angels message. Some have even declared movements such as Generation of Youth for Christ (GYC), Amazing Facts, Secrets Unsealed, Fulcrum7 and many other classic Adventist supportive ministries as “fringe” for teaching the importance of obedience.
Yet, faith in Christ and commandment-keeping is what sets the saints apart from sinners in the last generation. What philosophy has destroyed or impacted our belief in demonstrating our love to Christ by obeying his law and the concept of an obedient last generation who's probation closes while they are yet alive?
Centuries ago, the progressives in Greece began shaping our understanding of the spiritual world through their views of the natural world. Homer first used the Greek word for nature in describing the physical characteristics of a plant. Socrates, Pythagoras, and Anixamander rejected theological causality and looked for natural explanations in the world. Democritus himself stated that nothing occurs by random, but everything for a reason and by necessity (Leucippus, Fragment 569 from FR.2 Actium I, 25, 4).
In developing determinism that all events including human action are determined by causes external to the will, Greek philosophy set the stage for the concept of human action lacking moral responsibility due to natural causes outside of human will.
Aristotle in his Lecture 13 stated that
“It is agreed that things are either the result of coincidence or for an end, and these cannot be the result of coincidence or spontaneity, it follows that they must be for an end; and that such things are all due to nature even the champions of the theory which is before us would agree”.
How similar to the theologians of today who reject the possibility of humanity (in its fallen nature) reaching perfect obedience to God’s law, through Christ!
Brothers and Sisters, I believe we serve a God capable of altering physics itself. The God who parted the Red Sea, who turned back time in Hezekiah, and who commanded the wind and waves to stand still, has power over our fallen nature and can empower obedience.
It seems that many in our church hold to the Greek notion of nature controlling mankind instead of the Creator. Desmond Ford’s theology was centered on the concept of Christ overcoming sin because he took Christ’s pre-fall nature. Ironically, we then have a Savior relying on self and his own nature to overcome instead of “It is written.”
The Word lacks its transforming power spoken of in the 1888 message and Ford rejects EGW where she states
“It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the son of God to take man’s nature even when Adam stood in his innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin (DOA pg 48). “Having taken our fallen nature, he [Christ] showed what it might become, by accepting the ample provision he has made for it, and by becoming partaker of the divine nature (3SM 134.2).
Another Greek philosopher in our Church has stated
“Some believe that a sinner can live a sinless life by properly using the power of the Holy Spirit. Apparently they fail to see that the idea of a sinful being living a sinless life is in itself a contradiction of terms” (Helmut Ott Perfect in Christ).
To Helmut, the wedding garment is only imputed righteousness.
“Clothing is never an integral part of those wearing it. It is something that is put upon someone, an outward cover intended to make a person look appropriate. “The believer’s obedience has no value with God” (PIC pg. 159).
Notice his conclusions, even God through the holy spirit has not the ability to help the individual live perfectly and overcome, but one must wear the garments of Christ as a heavenly cloak covering their sins. Nature determines behavior only. Christ cannot change the sinful human being. Victory is hopeless this side of Christ’s Second Coming.
Greek philosophy has also infected Morris Vendon who stated,
“Now, I don’t believe that praying when temptations come will give me victory over them. “I’ve tried it and it doesn't work. Nor will verses of Scripture or singing hymns” (SBF pg 102).
He goes on to suggest that Christ took the un-fallen nature of Adam and he negates even attempting to obey:
“God never intended that our sin, our mistakes, or our problems should obsess us. Have you ever tried so hard to go to sleep at night that you have kept yourself awake? It’s possible to fight Satan so strongly that you become more like him” (SBF 109). To Venden, resisting sin could make you more like Satan!
Even George Knight appears to be infected with similar Greek theology and suggests that perfection is merely attained by love of Christ irrespective of behavior. He suggests that,
“We can be perfect or sinless in attitude without being perfect or sinless in action” (IUTBP 7). “Eating rats, snakes, and snails or even hogs is not sin. Sabbath breaking is not sin. Murder is not sin. Theft is not sin . . . They may be sins maybe but they are not sin. Sin is [the absence of] love (IUTBP 9).
He goes on to further reject EGW
“I know the Bible says that sin is the transgression of the law and that Ellen White said that “the only definition of sin is the transgression of the law”. . . . It is important to recognize that the most comprehensive definition of sin is not sin as transgression of the law (pharisee 45, 53).
To Knight, man’s nature is sinful and thus while one’s heart can change, his behavior will not perfectly change because like the Greeks before him, nature determines behavior. In rejecting the Spirit of Prophecy already, is it any surprise of his further recent rejection of the GC decision regarding WO and the subsequent banning of his books by some of our conferences?
Desmond Ford’s theology affected many in Australia, Andrews university, and many who openly supported him in the Evangelica paper at Andrews and PUC were fired as a result. However, Australia and Andrews were not purged entirely of the infection.
Ranko Stefanovic of the BRI has recently been rejecting last generation theology on social media stating that there is nothing in the description of God’s people after the close of probation that points to absolute sinlessness.
Angel Rodriquez, also of the BRI, suggested that Christ’s followers will always need to rely on the forgiving power of the cross (Adventist Review, Oct 20, 2013). While the cross of Christ is a beautiful reality, by this logic he believes Christ will continue mediating even after the close of probation. Moving away from the daily sin car-wash and into Christ having a hand on the steering wheel and assisting in driving the vehicle on the straight and narrow road seems to be forgotten.
In a Facebook discussion on Spectrum, Andre Reis from the Australia, Avondale theology department recently commented on Enoch’s example stating, “Enoch indeed can be an ideal to pursue. But nowhere does it say that he reached sinless perfection! Anywhere! This is pie-in-the-sky, wishful thinking, confirmation-bias theology!”. Meanwhile Spirit of Prophecy quietly states (very clearly) that “Through perfect obedience Enoch walked with God (ST June 16, 1898 Par. 8).
Brothers and sisters, are we living in Romans 7 or does God change our behavior to act contrary to our fallen nature in Romans 8? What response do these modern theologians have to church issues like the LGBT “Born this way” crowd?
They already believe that man cannot act contrary to his nature, even through Christ. They teach that even through the power of Christ, its impossible to completely overcome. What hope is there for the alcoholic to quit drinking? What hope is there for the homosexual of a moral life? We will have that fallen nature until Christ’s return but if the only definition of sin is transgression of the law as EGW suggests, are these theologians really suggesting that thieves and adulterers who claim Christ yet continue in sinful acts post close of probation will enter the kingdom of Heaven? Of whom does the Scripture speak “Not all who say Lord, Lord shall enter but only he who does the will of my Father?” (Matthew 7:21
Great controversy chapter 39 talks about the last generation having no unconfessed sins and no concealed wrongs to reveal.
Contrary to the easy going peace and love self-confident sermons of many today, they point to their past sins with the keenest anxiety, terror, and distress but rely on Christ to keep them faithful. Not by a thought did our Savior sin and so it must be with us (FHWL 75).
They live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor and through the grace of God and their own diligent effort (GC 425.1) they are counted worthy. Spirit of Prophecy states
“As finite sinful man works out his own salvation with fear and trembling, it is God who works in him, to will and to do of his own good pleasure. But God will not work without the cooperation of man. (CE chapter 14)”.
Brethren, “Jesus will not be found in the company of those who are careless in his presence . . .Jesus shuns the company of such (5BC1118.5). Are you and I preparing for that fearful time when we must stand without a Mediator and walk as Enoch walked in perfect obedience?
Are we Greeks who live by our fallen nature or are we Christians walking by the Spirit in obedience with a new heart from Christ—who purchased our “right to once more work in harmony with its requirements “(RH sep 27th, 1881)? What is greater, nature, or the God who created nature?
James Bowen is a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church and graduated from Southern Adventist University in 2016 with a masters degree in nursing and hails from the state of Tennessee.