Q: What do you think of “last generation theology”? It’s becoming more common.
A: It depends on how you define that term. I certainly believe and would like to hope that we are living in the last generation before Christ’s soon second coming (Matt 24; Mark 13; Rev. 3:11; Rev. 13; Rev. 22:7, 12, 20). The closer you get to Christ, the more you see your need of Him — the more you understand your need of Christ’s righteousness, His grace, His love and His power to live the Christian life.
I don’t think we need another big discussion about perfection that took place a few decades ago. The Spirit of Prophecy is very clear that no one should claim perfection.
“No one who claims holiness is really holy,” wrote Ellen White. “Those who are registered as holy in the books of Heaven are not aware of the fact, and are the last ones to boast of their own goodness. None of the prophets and apostles ever professed holiness, not even Daniel, Paul, or John. The righteous never make such a claim. The more nearly they resemble Christ, the more they lament their unlikeness to Him; for their consciences are sensitive, and they regard sin more as God regards it” (“True Revival,” p. 62).
Christ has the power to work in our lives so we live the Christian life (John 1:12). He asks us to humble ourselves and place ourselves daily in His hands so He can work out His saving power in our lives (Philippians 2:12, 13). This is only possible as we are one with Him — as we submit our lives daily to His leading and power (James 4:7-10). We owe everything to Him and His love for us and the eternal life He promises (Ephesians 1:3-17; Acts 17:26-28).
He wants us to be a prepared people for the last days of this earth’s history as we stand for truth and will be called to present the pure Word to neighbors, friends and even rulers (Matt. 6:25-34; Matt. 10:16-20; Mark 13:3-13; Luke 12:8-12). As we allow Christ to control our lives, we become more and more like Him. We’ll reflect His character because He is working in and through us as we accept His justifying robe of righteousness each day and allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify us each day (Matt. 11:25-30; Matt. 22:2-14; Rev. 3:14-22).
Leaning completely upon Christ and His righteousness, we need to believe that Christ will give us victory over sin through His power and not our own power (Philippians 4:13; Romans 12:1,2). Otherwise, Christianity has no power. Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
In “The Desire of Ages” we read, “The righteousness which Christ taught is conformity of heart and life to the revealed will of God. Sinful man can become righteous only as they have faith in God and maintain a vital connection with Him. Then true godliness will elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life. Then the external forms of religion accord with the Christian’s internal purity” (p. 310).
As we consecrate ourselves to Christ and allow Him to work in us to stay close to Him and His Word, we can then realize that beautiful quotation from “Christ’s Object Lessons”: “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own” (p. 69).
The character of Christ can only be perfectly reproduced in our lives when we lean completely on Christ alone. It is not in ourselves to accomplish this. We must daily allow the Holy Spirit to change us more and more into the likeness of Christ. This is the work of a lifetime. We are to ask for Christ’s character in our lives as we learn practical obedience to His Word through His power.
This is a matter of humbling ourselves before the One who can change our lives, thoughts, motives and influence in order to show what He can do in a revived, reformed, transformed and restored life — all through our humble submission to Him and His mighty power to renew us (2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Peter 5:6-11).
We are not to work towards what may be termed “perfectionism” reflecting a legalistic checklist or pulling ourselves up by our own power. Let no one in the Seventh-day Adventist Church think of themselves as better than anyone else or accuse others of not being holy or perfect. We are all sinners at the foot of the cross in need of a Savior who provides for us His righteousness in justification and sanctification.
We are to be unified in Christ in word and action. “The secret of unity is found in the equality of believers in Christ. The reason for all division, discord, and difference is found in separation from Christ. Christ is the center to which all should be attracted; for the nearer we approach the center, the closer we shall come together in feeling, in sympathy, in love, growing into the character and image of Jesus” (“Selected Messages,” Book 1, p. 259).
I believe that we don’t have a lot of time. I know our parents, and perhaps our grandparents, thought that we were close to the Lord’s coming, but I really believe we are nearing the end of time as I’m looking around and seeing what’s happening in the world today.
Just look at what happened at the end of September 2015 in Washington right in the U.S. capitol building, at the United Nations in New York, and in the city of Philadelphia — and the way that the press and everyone was so enthralled and positive with the events surrounding one religious leader.
If that isn’t a fulfillment of Revelation 13, I don’t know what is. The Lord has given us plenty of information to know we’re living in the end of time.
What a privilege in these last days of earth’s history to live for Jesus and allow Him to demonstrate in each of us the power that He offers to live victorious lives in Him — demonstrating to the world that He is all-powerful and that He is love.
Through His grace, love and heavenly intervention by the Holy Spirit, we can have divine power and His character as we are made more and more like Him. Christ came to this earth. He lived a sinless life, died for us, rose for us, intercedes right now for us in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary as our High Priest, and will soon return at His second coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Luke 2; John 20; Acts 1:9-11; Heb. 4:14-16; Rev. 22:12-14).
In “True Revival” we read, “There is no excuse for sin, or for indolence. Jesus has led the way, and He wishes us to follow in His steps. He has suffered, He has sacrificed as none of us can, that He might bring salvation within our reach. We need not be discouraged. Jesus came to our world to bring divine power to man, that through His grace, we might be transformed into His likeness” (p. 45).
Let’s lift up Christ and His righteousness and allow Him to demonstrate to the world His power in changing our lives and those who completely submit to Him.
For more on this very important subject, I encourage you to read some marvelous counsel in the Spirit of Prophecy specifically in “Steps to Christ,” chapters 7 and 8 (https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_SC.57¶=108.217); “Christ’s Object Lessons,” chapter 24 (https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_COL.308.1¶=15.1356); Faith and Works pages 17-28 (https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_FW.17¶=31.41); and “Testimonies for the Church,” vol. 4, page 594 (https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_4T.594.1¶=114.2936).