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Perfection

Perfection

Colin D. Standish

he Bible teaches perfection of character,


not perfection of flesh or nature.
Perfection is significant to every aspect
of the saving acts of God. It took a perfect sacrifice
to purchase the salvation of the human race. It takes
a perfect High Priest to complete the atonement
for humanity. It takes the perfect character of Gods
chosen to give the answer to Satans lie that Christ
cannot secure victory in the lives of fallen humanity
(Signs of the Times, January 16, 1896). It takes the
perfect character of Gods faithful to assure the
angels that they are safe to save. It takes the perfect
character of Gods people to fulfill the promises of
God (2 Peter 1:4). It takes the perfect character of
Gods remnant to fulfill the purposes of the gospel.
It takes the perfect character of Gods saints to fulfill
the law. It takes the perfect character of Gods elect
to be freed from guilt. It takes the perfect character
of Gods obedient ones to prepare for the judgment.
It takes the perfect character of Gods anointed to
receive their acceptance and our assurance. It takes
the perfect character of Gods sanctified ones to bring
unity amongst Gods people (John 17:17; Sanctified
Life, p. 85). It takes the perfect character of Gods
surrendered ones to fit us for the Second Coming of
Christ. It takes the perfect character of Gods loyal
ones to safeguard the harmony of the Universe.
PERF2

Colin D. Standish

Perfection

Colin D. Standish

Rapidan VA

Copyright 2009
Colin D. Standish
Printed in the USA
Published by
Hartland Publications
Rapidan VA 22733
Cover and text design by
AltamontGraphics.com

Table of Contents
Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
1. What Perfection is Not. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2. Perfection and Maturity. . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
3. Perfection and the Reformation. . . . . . 13
4. The High and Low View of Sin. . . . . . . 16
5. Perfection and Sins of Ignorance. . . . . 20
6. The Gospel and Perfection . . . . . . . . . . 23
7. Perfection a Condition of Salvation. . . 28
8. Perfection and the Judgment. . . . . . . . . 32
9. Perfection and Justification. . . . . . . . . . 39
10. Perfection and Sanctification . . . . . . . . 42
11. Perfection and Gods Character . . . . . . 47
12. Perfection and Gods Law . . . . . . . . . . . 49
13. Perfection and the Will . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51
14. Perfection and Romans 7 & 8. . . . . . . . 53
15. Perfection and Acceptance . . . . . . . . . . 58
16. Perfection and Assurance . . . . . . . . . . . 62
17. Gods Versus Mans Evaluation
of Perfection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
18. Perfection and the Second Coming
of Jesus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
19. Perfection and Unity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
20. Perfection in the Church. . . . . . . . . . . . 78

Preface

he Bible teaches perfection of


character not perfection of flesh
or nature. Perfection is significant
to every aspect of the saving acts of God. It
took a perfect sacrifice to purchase the salvation of the human race. It takes a perfect High
Priest to complete the atonement for humanity. It takes the perfect character of Gods
chosen to give the answer to Satans lie that
Christ cannot secure victory in the lives of
fallen humanity (Signs of the Times, January
16, 1896). It takes the perfect character of
Gods faithful to assure the angels that they
are safe to save. It takes the perfect character of Gods people to fulfill the promises of
God (2 Peter 1:4). It takes the perfect character of Gods remnant to fulfill the purposes
of the gospel. It takes the perfect character of
Gods saints to fulfill the law. It takes the perfect character of Gods elect to be freed from
guilt. It takes the perfect character of Gods
obedient ones to prepare for the judgment. It
takes the perfect character of Gods anointed

Perfection

to receive their acceptance and our assurance.


It takes the perfect character of Gods sanctified ones to bring unity amongst Gods people
(John 17:17; Sanctified Life, p. 85). It takes the
perfect character of Gods surrendered ones
to fit us for the Second Coming of Christ. It
takes the perfect character of Gods loyal ones
to safeguard the harmony of the Universe.

What Perfection Is Not

erfection is not holy flesh. Our


sinful, fallen nature will not be
changed until this mortal puts
on immortality, and this corruptible puts
on incorruption at the return of Jesus Christ
(1 Corinthians 15:42, 51-53). This change is
termed glorification. But Gods children will
gain victory over every Satanic temptation,
not through human power, but through the
power of Christ.
Now unto him that is able to keep you
from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory
with exceeding joy (Jude 24).
Perfection is not perfectionism. Often
perfection and perfectionism are confounded. Scores of times Sister White uses the word
perfect. She consistently upholds it as a
God-given gift to every submitted Christian.
Further, she states that God not only imputes
perfection but He also imparts it.

Perfection

[The righteousness of Christ] presented justification through faith in


the Surety; it invited the people to
receive the righteousness of Christ,
which is made manifest in obedience
to all the commandments of God.
All power is given into His hands,
that He may dispense rich gifts unto
men, imparting the priceless gift of
His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. Testimonies to
Ministers, pp. 91, 92
Only on one occasion does Sister White
use the word perfectionism.
God will not entrust the care of His
precious flock to men whose mind
and judgment have been weakened
by former errors that they have cherished, such as so-called perfectionism and Spiritualism, and who,
by their course while in these errors, have disgraced themselves and
brought reproach upon the cause of
truth. Early Writings, p. 101

What Perfection Is Not

In more recent editions of Early Writings


is recorded the Divine understanding to
which Sister White is referring.
Some of the early Adventists, shortly after
the 1844 experience, lost their hold on God
and drifted into fanaticism. Ellen White met
these extremists with a Thus saith the Lord.
She rebuked those who taught that they had
holy flesh and therefore could not sin. Of such
Mrs. White later wrote:
They held that those who are sanctified cannot sin. And this naturally led
to the belief that the affections and
desires of the sanctified ones were
always right, and never in danger of
leading them into sin. In harmony
with these sophistries, they were
practicing the worst sins under the
garb of sanctification, and through
their deceptive, mesmeric influence
were gaining a strange power over
some of their associates, who did not
see the evil of these apparently beautiful but seductive theories.
Clearly the deceptions of these false
teachers were laid open before me,

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Perfection

and I saw the fearful account that


stood against them in the book of records, and the terrible guilt that rested
upon them for professing complete
holiness while their daily acts were
offensive in the sight of God. Early
Writings, p. 301
The movement described in the 1850s to
which Sister White referred was very similar
to the holy flesh movement of 1900 in which
people claimed perfection of the flesh while
practicing great abominations.
Perfection does not ensure immunity
from future sin. Victory today is no guarantee of victory for tomorrow. We are to become
converted daily so that we may possess the
power of the indwelling Christ. It is possible
to fall, as all of us can sadly testify. But how
wonderful it is to know that if we sin we have
an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the
righteous (1 John 2:1). Yet the same text calls
us to cease from sin.

11

Perfection and Maturity

number of Greek words are translated perfection in the Authorized


Version of the Bible. Each Greek
word has its shade of meaning, sometimes indicating maturity or full development. Some
have claimed that the idea of sinless perfection is a biblical myth. However, contextually, frequently an interpretation of maturity
would not be appropriate. For example,
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your
Father which is in heaven is perfect
(Matthew 5:48).
If we were to substitute the word maturity for perfect in this text we would
face problems.
When Adam and Eve were created they
were prefect. But all their faculties were capable of development. Thus they were perfect but immature. So it is when we receive
Christ. We are perfect but almost certainly
we are very immature. Gods perfection is
established upon infinite knowledge. We can

12

Perfection

never achieve to the maturity of Gods perfection even in eternity. Not even the angels have
such perfection. But the Lord has promised
His power to give us victory over temptation.
Ours is a dependent perfection, depending
upon the power of Christ moment by moment for victory over temptation.

13

Perfection and the Reformation

he sixteenth century reformers had grave difficulty dealing


with the concept of perfection.
This resulted from their theological inheritance. Luther was trained in an Augustinian
Monastery. He studied the writings of
Augustine before he had set eyes on the
Scriptures. While Luther was able to perceive
most of the post-Augustinian heresy, he retained many of the Augustinian errors, e.g.
predestination, once saved always saved, the
unfallen human nature of Christ, original sin,
and infant baptism. He accepted the impossibility of total Christian obedience to the law.
Thus the Protestant Reformers retained much
Roman Catholic influence.
Many Augustinian doctrines have now become more pervasive in the Protestant movement than in Catholicism itself. Luther passed
on his Augustinian concepts to John Calvin,
and through Calvin to Beza, John Knox, and
many others. European emigrants brought
these errors to the New World. In the four and

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Perfection

one-half centuries since the establishment of


the Evangelical and Reform movements, there
has been no major willingness to rediscover
the biblical principles of victorious Christian
living. This results from their adherence to
the Roman Catholic concept of sanctification,
built partly upon the doings of God and partly
upon the doings of man. Thus it is normally
held by Evangelicals that the principles of sanctification have no place alongside justification
in mans qualification for heaven. It was not
until the eighteenth century that John Wesley
was to lead a strong movement, sometimes
referred to as the Holiness Movement, which
brought to the forefront the gospels power to
provide victory over temptation. It was Wesley
who strongly influenced the early Seventh-day
Adventists in their understanding of character
perfection. John Wesley met much opposition. One of his greatest opponents was Count
von Zindendorf. In commenting upon von
Zindendorf s views, Wesley wrote:
There is scarcely an expression in
Holy Writ which has given more
offense than this. The word perfect is what many cannot bear. The
very sound of it is an abomination

Perfection and the Reformation

15

to them, and whosoever preaches


perfection that it is obtainable in
this life, runs great hazard of being
counted by them, worse than a heathen man or a Publican. The Works
of Wesley, vol. 6, p. 1
Still speaking of Count von Zindendorf,
Wesley continued,
No, says the great man. This is an
error of errors. I hate it from my heart.
I pursue it through all the world with
fire and sword this idea that you can
overcome sin. Ibid.
In response Wesley said:
I say, why so vehement? Why are
those who oppose salvation from
sin, few excepted, so eager? In Gods
name, why are you so fond of sin?
What has it ever done for you? What
good is it ever likely to do for you in
this world, or in the world to come?
And why are you so violent against
those who hope for a deliverance
from it? Ibid.

16

The High and Low View of Sin

ne of the strongest arguments


against perfection comes
from those who propose the
high view of sin. This view sees sin as any
departure from the infinite will of God and
thus perfection is obedience to the Infinite
will. This comes close to forcing the conclusion that no created being is or can be perfect, including the angels and the redeemed
saints. The high view of sin suggests that any
weakness, limitation, or inadequacy is sin.
Thus forgetfulness, misstatements, or imperfect actions are considered sin. Texts such as:
For all have sinned, and come short of the
glory of God (Romans 3:23), have been used
to support this concept. But if we examine the
text this way, then there is a separation between the word sinned and coming short
of the glory of God. Indeed, the text would
better be understood as all have sinned and
thus come short of the glory of God. What is
called the low definition of sin, on the other
hand, provides an adequate understanding

The High and Low View of Sin

17

of the possibility of victorious Christian


living. There are three elements riveted in
Holy Scripture that support the low definition of sin: A. The Bible definition of sin; B.
Knowledge; C. Volition.
A. The Bible definition of sin is explicit. The servant of Lord states it is the
only definition.
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the
transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).
Sin involves the violation of Gods law.
Sin does not include human limitations.
B. Without knowledge neither the Bible
nor the Spirit of Prophecy define violations of
Gods law as accountable sin as the following
Bible texts confirm:
Therefore to him that knoweth to do
good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin
(James 4:17).
Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind,
ye should have no sin: but now ye say,
We see; therefore your sin remaineth
(John 9:41).

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Perfection

If I had not come and spoken unto


them, they had not had sin: but
now they have no cloak for their sin
(John 15:22).
And the times of this ignorance
God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent
(Acts 17:30).
Said the angel: If light come, and
that light is set aside or rejected, then
comes condemnation and the frown of
God; but before the light comes, there
is no sin, for there is no light for them
to reject. 1 Testimonies, p. 116
Among the heathen are those who
worship God ignorantly, those to
whom the light is never brought by
human instrumentality, yet they will
not perish. Though ignorant of the
written law of God, they have heard
His voice speaking to them in nature
and have done the things that the law
required. Desire of Ages, p. 638
Sometimes unknowing violations are referred to in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy

The High and Low View of Sin

19

as not being sin but elsewhere they are called


sins of ignorance.
It is this low concept of sin that allows the
servant of the Lord to say:
There is no excuse for sinning.
Desire of Ages, p. 311
Such a statement is incomprehensible if
we accept the high view of sin.
C. Volition. The servant of the Lord
states:
No man can be forced to transgress. His own consent must
first be gained: the soul must purpose
the sinful act, before passion can
dominate over reason or iniquity triumph over conscience. Temptation,
however strong, is never an excuse
for sin. 5 Testimonies, p. 177
Since knowledge and volition are qualities
of culpable sin, the concepts of the high view
of sin and original sin become untenable.

20

Perfection and the Sins of Ignorance

n Old Testament times, God


provided sacrifices for sins of
ignorance.

Speak unto the children of Israel,


saying, If a soul shall sin through
ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning
things which ought not to be done,
and shall do against any of them: if
the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then
let him bring for his sin, which he
hath sinned, a young bullock without
blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering (Leviticus 4:2,3).
Only when the penitent recognized he
had sinned ignorantly, could he make such a
sacrifice. So too, when we learn that we have
sinned ignorantly during our past life, we
must acknowledge, confess, repent and forsake that sin.

Perfection and the Sins of Ignorance

21

But what about those who never discover


their sins of ignorance? Are they, though sincere, lost? Or do they still have the assurance
of salvation? While no one is lost because of
sins of ignorance, sins of ignorance are not
ignored in the judgment. Jesus makes atonement for the sins of ignorance of His dedicated children.
This atonement is made for the righteous dead as well as for the righteous
living. It includes all who died trusting in Christ, but who, not having
received the light upon Gods commandments, had sinned ignorantly
in transgressing its precepts. Early
Writings, p. 254
It will be noted in the above passage that
atonement for ignorant sins is made only for
the righteous dead at His coming. For easily
understood reasons, there is no atonement
made for the sins of ignorance of the living after the close of probation, because our
Mediator will have ceased His High Priestly
ministry. Therefore, it is essential that every
human being receive a thorough knowledge
of the everlasting gospel before the close of

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Perfection

human probation, for no lawbreaker could be


saved after probations close, even if his was a
sin of ignorance.
God in His love will not allow one sincere soul to be lost because of ignorance.
Therefore all are presented with the full gospel
of Christ and knowledge of His law. Thus the
gospel must be preached to every creature
(Mark 16:15) before Christ completes His
atoning ministry in the Holy of Holies. For all
to have an authentic opportunity to accept the
gospel, Gods witnesses must be holy people.
Should these witnesses be morally marred or
spiritually defective, many would reject the
divine invitation, not because of the message,
but because of the unconverted messengers.

23

The G ospel and Perfection

entral to the message of Righteousness by Faith presented at


the 1888 General Conference
session, was the understanding of the gospel
in the light of Calvary. This message was designed to remove the legalism by which mans
efforts were presented, albeit unwittingly, as
dominant to his salvation. Rather in the light
of Calvary, it was evident that our justification and our sanctification could be understood only in the context of what God had
done for us through His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus was upheld as the only basis and merit
of salvation, the all-sufficient Saviour of the
world. The message of Christ Our Righteousness did nothing to alter the importance of
the law or of the great pillar doctrines of our
faith. Rather, it placed them fully in the context of the centrality of the grace of Christ. It
did nothing to minimize the imputed or the
imparted righteousness of Christ, but it focused upon the reality that of our own selves

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Perfection

we can do nothing, but with Christ all things


are possible.
The Lord in His great mercy sent a
most precious message to His people
through Elders Waggoner and Jones.
This message was to bring more
prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins
of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it
invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made
manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Testimonies to
Ministers, p. 91, 92
The faith of Jesus. It is talked of, but
not understood. What constitutes
the faith of Jesus, that belongs to the
third angels message? Jesus becoming our sin-bearer that He might
become our sin-pardoning Saviour.
He was treated as we deserve to be
treated. He came to our world and
took our sins that we might take His
righteousness. And faith in the ability of Christ to save us amply and

The G ospel and Perfection

25

fully and entirely is the faith of Jesus.


3 Selected Messages, p. 172
The commandments of God and the
faith of Jesus are both important,
immensely important, and must be
given with equal force and power.
3 Selected Messages, p. 184
These principles are riveted upon Pauls
understanding of the gospel.
Casting down imaginations, and
every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God,
and bringing into captivity every
thought to the obedience of Christ
(2 Corinthians 10:5).
Having therefore these promises,
dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh
and spirit, perfecting holiness in the
fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are
found sinners, is therefore Christ
the minister of sin? God forbid. For
if I build again the things which I

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Perfection

destroyed, I make myself a transgressor (Galatians 2:17,18).


Paul believed in the deliverance of the
gospel:
And the Lord shall deliver me from
every evil work, and will preserve me
unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom
be glory for ever and ever. Amen
(2 Timothy 4:18).
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ,
and maketh manifest the savour of
his knowledge by us in every place
(2 Corinthians 2:14).
I can do all things through Christ
which strengtheneth me (Philippians
4:13).
Awake to righteousness, and sin not;
for some have not the knowledge
of God: I speak this to your shame
(1 Corinthians 15:34).
Paul saw that Christ would provide the
victory:

The G ospel and Perfection

27

There hath no temptation taken you


but such as is common to man: but
God is faithful, who will not suffer
you to be tempted above that ye are
able; but will with the temptation also
make a way to escape, that ye may be
able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Character perfection is not the basis or
merit of salvation. Salvation alone comes
through Jesus Christ. But it is the prime basis of our fitness for heaven, evidencing that
Christ truly is reigning in our lives.

28

Perfection a Condition of Salvation

he gospel does not sustain a conditionalless salvation. While good


works contribute nothing to the
basis or merit of mans salvation, good works
provide the condition of salvation. Good
works are the fruit of a holy life. Sister White
made this clear to A. T. Jones in 1893 when he
presented an unbalanced gospel:
You repeated several times that
works amounted to nothing, that
there were no conditions. The matter was presented in that light that I
knew minds would be confused, and
would not receive the correct impression in reference to faith and works
You state this matter too strongly.
There are conditions to our receiving
justification and sanctification, and
the righteousness of Christ. I know
your meaning, but you leave a wrong
impression upon many minds. While
good works will not save even one
soul, yet it is impossible for even one

Perfection a Condition of Salvation

29

soul to be saved without good works.


1 Selected Messages, p. 377
The Bible presents numerous characteristics of perfection which are conditions
of salvation.
Love
Blessed is the man that endureth
temptation: for when he is tried, he
shall receive the crown of life, which
the Lord hath promised to them that
love him (James 1:12).
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath
not God chosen the poor of this
world rich in faith, and heirs of the
kingdom which he hath promised to
them that love him? (James 2:5).
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen,
nor ear heard, neither have entered
into the heart of man, the things
which God hath prepared for them
that love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

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Perfection

Walking as Christ Walked


But if we walk in the light, as he is
in the light, we have fellowship one
with another, and the blood of Jesus
Christ his Son cleanseth us from all
sin (1 John 1:7).
Serving Jesus with the Whole Heart.
And Samuel said unto the people,
Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord
with all your heart (1 Samuel 12:20).
Obedience to the Commandments.
And, behold, one came and said unto
him, Good Master, what good thing
shall I do, that I may have eternal
life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good
but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt
enter into life, keep the commandments (Matthew 19:16,17).

Perfection a Condition of Salvation

And shewing mercy unto thousands


of them that love me, and keep my
commandments (Exodus 20:6).
Fearing God
But the mercy of the Lord is from
everlasting to everlasting upon them
that fear him, and his righteousness
unto childrens children; to such as
keep his covenant, and to those that
remember his commandments to do
them (Psalms 103:17,18).
The servant of the Lord confirms this
Those who do not practice the truth
in true piety and godliness, who shun
the reproach that always comes to the
true believer, will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Signs of the Times,
June 2, 1898

31

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Perfection and the Judgment

he investigative judgment does


not decide the eternal destiny of
the human race. It seals the destiny of each individual. In a real sense God
does not determine mans destiny. Each individual determines his destiny. God would
have everyone saved.
The Lord is not slack concerning his
promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward,
not willing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
The gospel of salvation reaches out
through the grace of God to every seeking
human being, but those who will be saved
will be perfect people.
A character formed according to the
divine likeness is the only treasure
that we can take from this world to the
next. Christs Object Lessons, p. 332

Perfection and the Judgment

33

The condition of eternal life is now


just what it always has beenjust
what it was in Paradise before the fall
of our first parentsperfect obedience to the law of God, perfect righteousness. Steps to Christ, p. 62
The division in the judgment is between
the righteous and the wicked.
I said in mine heart, God shall judge
the righteous and the wicked: for there
is a time there for every purpose and
for every work (Ecclesiastes 3:17).
For we must all appear before the
judgment seat of Christ; that every
one may receive the things done in
his body, according to that he hath
done, whether it be good or bad
(2 Corinthians 5:10).
He that is unjust, let him be unjust
still: and he which is filthy, let him
be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and
he that is holy, let him be holy still
(Revelation 22:11).

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Perfection

In the Garden of Eden, Adams faulty judgment led to sin and all its attendant miseries.
And not as it was by one that sinned,
so is the gift: for the judgment was
by one to condemnation, but the free
gift is of many offences unto justification. Therefore as by the offence of
one judgment came upon all men to
condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came
upon all men unto justification of life
(Romans 5:16,18).
God is restoring the universe by four
restorative judgments: A.The Judgment of
Reconciliation; B.The Investigative Judgment;
C.The Millennial Judgment; D.The Executive
Judgment.
A. The Judgment of Reconciliation
Now is the judgment of this world;
now shall the prince of this world be
cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from
the earth, will draw all men unto me
(John 12:31, 32).
At the cross, Jesus brought reconciliation
between man and God.

Perfection and the Judgment

35

For if, when we were enemies, we


were reconciled to God by the death
of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life
(Romans 5:10).
And all things are of God, who
hath reconciled us to himself by
Jesus Christ, and hath given to
us the ministry of reconciliation
(2 Corinthians 5:18).
Without this restorative judgment the
human race could not be saved.
B. The Investigative Judgment
In Gods infinite love and wisdom, during the investigative judgment, He allows the
angels to review the records of the saints.
I beheld till the thrones were cast
down, and the Ancient of days did
sit, whose garment was white as
snow, and the hair of his head like
the pure wool: his throne was like the
fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and
came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him,

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Perfection

and ten thousand times ten thousand


stood before him: the judgment
was set, and the books were opened
(Daniel 7:9,10).
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of
many angels round about the throne
and the beasts and the elders: and the
number of them was ten thousand
times ten thousand, and thousands
of thousands (Revelation 5:11).
Not one saint is saved for eternity until
the investigative judgment has been completed, for God is securing the Universe against
even the remotest chance that rebellion will
ever occur again. No saint is redeemed until
the final test of his loyalty is confirmed in the
time of trouble such as never was since there
was a nation (Matthew 24:21). None of Gods
faithful people defect from their loyalty, assuring the angels that the saints are safe to
save. Then and only then are the saints taken
home to be with Christ.
C. The Millennial Judgment
But we might ask, Why are the wicked
not then destroyed? The redeemed saints
must also have the opportunity to know for

Perfection and the Judgment

37

themselves that God has been a God of infinite love, mercy, and long-suffering; a God
of justice Who has made no mistakes. Thus,
during the millennium, the saints review the
records of the lives of men and angels.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon
them, and judgment was given unto
them: and I saw the souls of them
that were beheaded for the witness of
Jesus, and for the word of God, and
which had not worshipped the beast,
neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads,
or in their hands; and they lived and
reigned with Christ a thousand years
(Revelation 20:4).
Do ye not know that the saints shall
judge the world? and if the world shall
be judged by you, are ye unworthy to
judge the smallest matters? Know ye
not that we shall judge angels? how
much more things that pertain to this
life? (1 Corinthians 6:2,3).
Like the angels they will find no mistakes
in the judgment acts of God.

38

Perfection

D. The Executive Judgment


That harmony and unity might be reestablished in the Universe, all sin and sinners
must be destroyed. The Bible records this final disposition of sin.
And the angels which kept not their
first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting
chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day (Jude 6).
For if God spared not the angels that
sinned, but cast them down to hell,
and delivered them into chains of
darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; The Lord knoweth how
to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto
the day of judgment to be punished
(2 Peter 2:4,9).
The judgment acts of God are part of the
restoration of perfection to the Universe.
Affliction shall not rise up the second
time (Nahum 1:9).

39

Perfection and Justification

erfection of character demands


that the sins of humanity be expiated by the justification purchased by Christ on Calvary. Christ does
not justify those who do not renounce their
ungodliness. The use of Romans 4:5 to claim
a status of justification for ungodly people is
wholly invalid.
But to him that worketh not, but
believeth on him that justifieth the
ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness (Romans 4:5).
This text does not offer an understanding of whether these ungodly people remain ungodly. But the Scriptures do answer
this question.
Keep thee far from a false matter; and
the innocent and righteous slay thou
not; for I will not justify the wicked
(Exodus 23:7).

40

Perfection

But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice; for I am not come to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance
(Matthew 9:13).
Because salvation is not unconditional,
neither is justification unconditional.
For not the hearers of the law are just
before God, but the doers of the law
shall be justified (Romans 2:13).
He that justifieth the wicked, and he
that condemneth the just, even they
both are abomination to the Lord
(Proverbs 17:15).
Let the wicked forsake his way, and
the unrighteous man his thoughts:
and let him return unto the Lord, and
he will have mercy upon him; and to
our God, for he will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7).
God requires the entire surrender of
the heart before justification can take
place. 1 Selected Messages, p. 366

Perfection and the Judgment

41

No one who truly loves and fears


God will continue to transgress the
law in any particular. When man
transgresses he is under the condemnation of the law, and it becomes to
him a yoke of bondage. Whatever his
profession may be he is not justified,
which means pardoned. My Life
Today, p. 250
God cannot declare righteous those who
are unwilling to allow Him to make them
righteous. Justification is obtained by grace
through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus.
That being justified by his grace, we
should be made heirs according to
the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7).
Therefore being justified by faith, we
have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).
Much more then, being now justified
by his blood, we shall be saved from
wrath through him (Romans 5:9).

10

42

Perfection and Sanctification

anctification, like justification,


must be understood as wholly the
merits of Jesus Christ. Those who
claim that sanctification is part of Christ and
part of man have not understood that sanctification, like justification, is by grace through
faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
For the grace of God that bringeth
salvation hath appeared to all men,
Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should
live soberly, righteously, and godly,
in this present world; Looking for
that blessed hope, and the glorious
appearing of the great God and our
Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-13).
To open their eyes, and to turn them
from darkness to light, and from
the power of Satan unto God, that
they may receive forgiveness of sins,
and inheritance among them which

Perfection and Sanctification

43

are sanctified by faith that is in me


(Acts 26:18).
By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the
body of Jesus Christ once for all
(Hebrews 10:10).
Our salvation was purchased on Calvary.
There is no merit in meeting the conditions
of justification nor the conditions of sanctification. While Christ died for all humanity,
God is not a manipulator. He has given man
the power of choice and decision making, by
which he can choose or reject the free gift of
salvation. The servant of the Lord defines that
the same surrender necessary for justification, is necessary for sanctification:
Entire conformity to the will of our
Father which is in heaven is alone
sanctification. Review and Herald,
March 25, 1902
Unfortunately, many holding to the Roman Catholic concepts of a works-based
sanctification, have rejected sanctification as
part of the gospel of salvation. But when it is
recognized that sanctification, like justifica-

44

Perfection

tion, was purchased on the cross of Calvary,


there can be no such misunderstanding.
Sanctification is not less and less imperfection in the life, it is holiness
that matures during our Christian
pilgrimage. Sanctification is the
result of life long obedience. Acts
of the Apostles, p. 561
At every stage of development our life
may be perfect; yet if Gods purpose
for us is fulfilled, there will be continual advancement. Sanctification is
the work of a lifetime. As our opportunities multiply, our experience will
enlarge, and our knowledge increase.
Christs Object Lessons, p. 65, 66
This sanctification is a progressive
work, and an advance from one stage
of perfection to another. My Life
Today, p. 250
Paul puts it so well, explaining that in reality, sanctification is the work of God
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have
always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my

Perfection and Sanctification

45

absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it
is God which worketh in you both
to will and to do of his good pleasure
(Philippians 2:12, 13).
Make you perfect in every good work
to do his will, working in you that
which is well pleasing in his sight,
through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever (Hebrews 13:21).
Can we understand then what the servant
of the Lord meant when she said:
This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not one thread of human
devising. Christs Object Lessons,
p. 311
Surely Christ included sanctification in
the gospel of salvation.
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath
from the beginning chosen you to
salvation through sanctification
of the Spirit and belief of the truth
(2 Thessalonians 2:13).

46

Perfection

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who


of God is made unto us wisdom, and
righteousness, and sanctification, and
redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).
How much more shall the blood
of Christ, who through the eternal
Spirit offered himself without spot
to God, purge your conscience from
dead works to serve the living God
(Hebrews 9:14).

11

47

,
Perfection and G od s Character

n the Garden of Eden, Satan perverted truth and Eve lost confidence in the Word of God. Thus
for the second time the character of God was
held in question. The final generation of saints
will reflect the character of Christ, not for human glorification, but for the glorification of
their Lord. This is part of the everlasting gospel, give glory to him (Revelation 14:7). Any
claims which deny that Christ has the power
to give victory in the life of the wholly surrendered soul is an attack upon His character, His
sacrifice, and His High Priestly ministry. The
love of God is truly bound up in the salvation
of His people. But when mans salvation is
made central to the gospel, self-centeredness
seems to dominate the thinking, and Christ
and His glory tends to become secondary. It
is Satan who challenges Gods character on
the basis of his claims to provide perfection
of character.
Satan declared that it was impossible
for the sons and daughters of Adam to

48

Perfection

keep the law of God, and thus charged


upon God a lack of wisdom and love.
If they could not keep the law, then
there was fault with the Law-giver.
Men who are under the control of
Satan repeat these accusation against
God, in asserting that men can not
keep the law of God. Signs of the
Times, January 16, 1896

12

49

,
Perfection and G od s Law

avid declared,

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the


testimony of the Lord is sure, making
wise the simple (Psalms 19:7).
Paul declares,
For we know that the law is spiritual
(Romans 7:14).
But the law cannot save us.
For what the law could not do, in that
it was weak through the flesh, God
sending his own Son in the likeness of
sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned
sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in
us, who walk not after the flesh, but
after the Spirit (Romans 8:3,4).

There is no redemption in the law. Rather,


it is a broken law that leads us to the footstool

50

Perfection

of Jesus. Only through Christ can that law be


fulfilled in our daily lives.
Who gave himself for us, that he
might redeem us from all iniquity,
and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works
(Titus 2:14).
The law provides the standard of Gods
righteousness; Christ provides the power to
keep the law.

13

51

Perfection and the Will

hile every human being is


born with a developing will
by which he decides and
chooses, nevertheless, his human decision
for salvation independent of divine strength
would avail nothing.
I am the vine, ye are the branches;
He that abideth in me, and I in him,
the same bringeth forth much fruit;
for without me ye can do nothing
(John 15:5).
But that human decision must be made.
Paul certainly sees the role of the will as central to obedience and righteousness
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield
yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience
unto righteousness? (Romans 6:16).
If we are not fully yielded to the power of
the indwelling Christ, we automatically have

52

Perfection

surrendered our wills to Satan. No decision is


a decision for Satan. There must be a deliberate decision for Christ. We must accept His
salvation. We must give Him permission to
work His will in our lives. Through the power
of the indwelling Christ we can fulfill the law
of God. Thus Paul could say:
I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth
in me: and the life which I now live
in the flesh I live by the faith of the
Son of God, who loved me, and gave
himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
Let this mind be in you, which was
also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).
Without His power, the claims of the
law would be forever beyond the reach of
fallen man. Our will must be united with the
will of Christ for perfection of character to
be achieved.

14

53

Perfection and Romans 7 & 8

he man of Romans 7 is not a hypocrite. He is sincere and earnest,


but he is not a converted man.
Romans 7 describes the classic legalist. This
man sincerely desires victory. He strives with
all his human effort for victory, but meets
with frequent failure.
For that which I do I allow not: for
what I would, that do I not; but what
I hate, that do I. For I know that
in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth
no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform
that which is good I find not. For
the good that I would I do not: but
the evil which I would not, that I do
(Romans 7:15,18,19).
He cannot at this point be converted. Let
us compare Romans 7 with Galatians 2.

54

Perfection

Now then it is no more I that do it, but


sin that dwelleth in me (Romans 7:17,
emphasis added).
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth
in me: and the life which I now live
in the flesh I live by the faith of the
Son of God, who loved me, and
gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20,
emphasis added).
It is not I but sin that dwelleth within me.
It is not I but Christ that liveth in me. These
are two entirely different experiences. The former is the experience of the unconverted man,
the latter of the converted man. Some have suggested that Romans 7 is man at his best. How
impotent the gospel of salvation would be if
that were true! Some have said that Romans 7
is dealing with the inner SIN, not with sins.
But verse 18 deals with performance, not with
some inner deep abiding SIN problem.
For I know that in me (that is, in my
flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to
will is present with me; but how to
perform that which is good I find not
(Romans 7:18).

Perfection and Romans 7 & 8

55

Many Christians go through this process


of legalistic effort, not recognizing that only
total dependence upon Jesus can bring perfection of character.
The legalist suffers with conflict, frustration, and neuroticism. But ultimately all
must come to a deciding point. Some give
up altogether and choose the pleasures of
this world. Others continue with the false
hope that some day in the far future they
will reach perfection. Still others become
victims of antinomianism. I am convinced
that this is one reason why many Seventh-day
Adventists have become easy prey to the new
theology concepts of sin and live. But the
man of Romans 7 asked the correct question
when he cried out for help, Who shall deliver
me? The answer comes quickly in verse 25,
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 8 is a statement of victory. The
man of Romans 7 declares himself to be
carnal, sold under sin (Romans 7:14). Paul
notes that, to be carnally minded is death
(Romans 8:6). This cannot be the converted
man ready for the kingdom of heaven. But
 The view that Christians are released by
grace from the obligation of observing the
moral law.

56

Perfection

in Romans 8 there is transformation because


Christ has become the center of this mans
life, and so we see the eradication of condemnation and guilt.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ
Jesus, who walk not after the flesh,
but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1).
Paul then goes on to declare that there are
two laws
For the law of the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus hath made me free
from the law of sin and death
(Romans 8:2).
Either we are under the law of sin and
death, or we are under the law of the Spirit
of life in Christ Jesus. The former are carnally minded, the latter are spiritually
minded. Nowhere in Scripture is the contrast between human effort alone on the one
hand, and human submission to the power
of Christ on the other, more strongly contrasted. That is why Romans 8 ends in such a
triumphant proclamation.

Perfection and Romans 7 & 8

Who shall separate us from the love


of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or
nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it
is written, For thy sake we are killed
all the day long; we are accounted as
sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all
these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither
death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height,
nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the
love of God, which is in Christ Jesus
our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).

57

15

58

Perfection and Acceptance

ome have confused the unwavering love of God with acceptance,


and therefore they hold that what
God does through Christ for us brings complete acceptance, and thus there is no relationship between acceptance and the work
that God does in us. But certainly Peter did
not accept this
But in every nation he that feareth
him, and worketh righteousness, is
accepted with him (Acts 10:35).
God, in questioning Cain, confirmed this:
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be
accepted? and if thou doest not well,
sin lieth at the door. And unto thee
shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule
over him (Genesis 4:7).
This is confirmed by the servant of the
Lord:

Perfection and Acceptance

59

That which makes a man acceptable


to God is the imparted grace through
faith in His name. No dependence
can be placed in works or in happy
flights of feelings as evidence that
men are chosen of God: for the elect
are chosen through Christ. Signs of
the Times, January 2, 1893
Paul also saw service to Christ as necessary for acceptance by Him:
For he that in these things serveth
Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men (Romans 14:18).
In the same epistle Paul has this to say:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by
the mercies of God, that ye present
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy,
acceptable unto God, which is your
reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
He uses similar inferences to the
Corinthian believers:
Wherefore we labour, that, whether
present or absent, we may be accepted of him (2 Corinthians 5:9).

60

Perfection

We cannot wonder then that Sister White


exclaims:
To obey the commandments of God
is the only way to obtain His favor.
4 Testimonies, p. 28
John declared to the Jews that their
standing before God was to be decided by their character and life.
Profession was worthless. If their life
and character were not in harmony
with Gods law, they were not His
people. Desire of Ages, p. 107
Thus resolutely the servant of the Lord
says:
It is the inner worth, the excellency
of the heart, that determines our acceptance with the Lord of hosts.
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 638
It is important to recognize that our acceptance by the Beloved at conversion is just
as complete as at the end of our Christian
pilgrimage. When justified, we are accepted
by God because of Christ, and in covenantial relationship with Him, we pledge our
allegiance to His will. Thus our continued

Perfection and Acceptance

61

acceptance is dependant upon our constant


growth in Him:
The worlds Redeemer accepts men as
they are, with all their wants, imperfections, and weaknesses: and He will
not only cleanse from the defilement
of sin, and grant redemption through
His blood, but will satisfy the heartlongings of all who consent to wear
His yoke, to bear His burden. It is His
purpose to impart peace and rest to
all who come to Him for the bread of
life. He only requires of men to perform those duties which will lead his
steps to heights of bliss to which the
disobedient can never attain. Signs
of the Times, October 21, 1880

62

16

Perfection and Assurance

ne of the greatest fears about


the doctrine of perfection is
that it concentrates on behavior and does not provide assurance for
Gods people. In the focus upon assurance in
theological circles today, we need to contemplate two issues:
1. Why is there on the one hand a lack of
assurance? and
2. Why on the other hand is there so
much confidence of salvation?
The Evangelical concept of predestination, of once saved always saved, rather than
providing men and women with authentic assurance in Christ, actually provides them with
a false assurance that deprives them of true
assurance. Our assurance is not in anything
that we can do; it is in what God has done
and is doing for us. For every true-hearted
Christian the promises of assurance are rich
and abiding.

Perfection and Assurance

Wherefore he is able also to save


them to the uttermost that come
unto God by him, seeing he ever
liveth to make intercession for them
(Hebrews 7:25).
The Lord is not slack concerning his
promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward,
not willing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
There hath no temptation taken you
but such as is common to man: but
God is faithful, who will not suffer
you to be tempted above that ye are
able; but will with the temptation also
make a way to escape, that ye may be
able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
And the Spirit and the bride say,
Come. And let him that heareth
say, Come. And let him that is
athirst come. And whosoever will,
let him take the water of life freely
(Revelation 22:17).

63

64

Perfection

Those who have not wholly surrendered


their lives to Jesus have no basis for assurance;
whereas those whose lives are hid in Him have
no reason to doubt His saving grace.
Let us draw near with a true heart
in full assurance of faith, having our
hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with
pure water (Hebrews 10:22).
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give
diligence to make your calling and
election sure: for if ye do these things,
ye shall never fall: For so an entrance
shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
(2 Peter 1:10, 11).
Certainly Paul, at the end of his earthly
pilgrimage, had sweet assurance
For I am now ready to be offered, and
the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a
crown of righteousness, which the

Perfection and Assurance

65

Lord, the righteous judge, shall give


me at that day: and not to me only,
but unto all them also that love his
appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Gods loyal people, who have known sin
and abomination in their lives, but have received of the power of the gospel and have
washed their robes and made them white in
the blood of the Lamb, all in His strength and
His courage, face every crisis, every difficulty,
every test, every trial and every barrier, with
full assurance of the strength of Christ.

17

66

,
,
G od s Versus Man s
Evaluation of Perfection

he story of Job gives a stunning


example of the difference between Gods and mans evaluation
of perfection. God declared that Job was a
perfect man.
And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast
thou considered my servant Job, that
there is none like him in the earth, a
perfect and an upright man, one that
feareth God, and escheweth evil?
(Job 1:8). (See also Job 1:1, 22.)
But Job had an altogether different response to his perfection.
If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong:
and if of judgment, who shall set me
a time to plead? If I justify myself,
mine own mouth shall condemn me:
if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove
me perverse. Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I
would despise my life (Job 9:19-21).

G od,s Versus Man,s Evaluation of Perfection 67

In this passage (A) Job acknowledges that


his strength is of God; (B) he acknowledges
the judgment is of God; (C) if he were to declare himself to be perfect he would be perverse; (D) even if he were perfect he would
despise his life. This is the sincere response of
every converted man or woman. It is wholly
inappropriate to ask someone if he is perfect.
It is wholly inappropriate to ask someone
whether he knows someone who is perfect.
This evaluation is of God alone. That is why
the angels had a different evaluation of Pauls
life from that of his own. Paul said:
Not as though I had already attained,
either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that
for which also I am apprehended of
Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12).
In commenting upon this, the servant of
the Lord said:
Let the angels of heaven write of Pauls
victories in fighting the good fight of
faith. Let heaven rejoice in his steadfast tread heavenward, and that, keeping the prize in view, he counts every
other consideration dross. Angels

68

Perfection

rejoice to tell his triumphs, but Paul


makes no boast of his attainments.
The attitude of Paul is the attitude
that every follower of Christ should
take as he urges his way onward in
the strife for the immortal crown.
Acts of the Apostles, p. 562
say:

Thus also the servant of the Lord could


There are Enochs in this our day.
Christs Object Lessons, p. 332

The saints will be the last to boast of their


worthiness for heaven. They will ever sense
their utter unworthiness. Thus, when redeemed they will not sing, Worthy, worthy is
me but Worthy, worthy is the Lamb. They
will cast their crowns at the feet of Jesus, acknowledging that He alone is worthy.

18

69

Perfection and the


Second Coming of Jesus

od could never entrust the giving of the final invitation to the


world to a people of flawed and
defective character. Many listeners would
turn away from the message, not because they
disbelieve the message, but because of the inconsistency in the lives of the messengers.
Gods final invitation to the world will not be
degraded before the inhabitants of the world
by its presentation from the lips of those who
are living sinful lives. All inhabitants of the
earth must receive an authentic invitation to
make their decision for eternity.
Indeed, the return of Jesus is contingent
upon the perfection of His people. We have
often concentrated on the wrong issues. We
have feverishly designed programs to encourage our members to witness to their faith, but
with tragic Laodicean complacency, few are
interested in sharing the wonderful salvation
that God has provided for us. Rather, our efforts need to be directed towards reformation,
conversion, and the total surrender of the will

70

Perfection

to Christ. When this is accomplished in the


hearts of Gods people, they will present His
truth to the world. No designed program will
then be required to urge them to duty. The infilling of the Holy Spirit will be the supreme
motivation and empowerment that is necessary for the miraculous work of taking the
everlasting gospel to every nation, kindred,
tongue and people. Such character qualities
are demanded by the epistles of John:
And ye know that he was manifested
to take away our sins; and in him is
no sin (1 John 3:5).
Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath
not seen him, neither known him
(1 John 3:6).
He that committeth sin is of the
devil; for the devil sinneth from
the beginning. For this purpose the
Son of God was manifested, that he
might destroy the works of the devil.
Whosoever is born of God doth not
commit sin; for his seed remaineth in
him: and he cannot sin, because he
is born of God. In this the children

Perfection and the Second Coming of Jesus

71

of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth
not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother
(1 John 3:8-10).
And so it is too that the servant of the
Lord sees the preparation of his people as absolutely essential for the return of Jesus:
When the character of Christ shall
be perfectly reproduced in His
people, then He will come to claim
them as His own. Christs Object
Lessons, p. 69
Not one of us will ever receive the
seal of God while our characters have
one spot or stain upon them. It is left
with us to remedy the defects in our
characters, to cleanse the soul temple
of every defilement. Then the latter
rain will fall upon us as the early rain
fell upon the disciples on the Day of
Pentecost. 5 Testimonies, p. 214

72

19

Perfection and Unity

n recent times, with the doctrinal and lifestyle dissonance within our Church, there has been
strong cries for unity. Unity is essential before Gods servants can give the loud cry of
Revelation 18:1-5. This gospel reaches to every nook and cranny of the world. Then our
Lord and Saviour will appear to redeem His
waiting saints.
We know that Jesus will not come until the gospel commission has been taken
to every nation, kindred, tongue and people (Matthew 24:14). Though there have
been remarkable efforts by the Seventh-day
Adventist Church to share this message
around the world, we must acknowledge the
reality that the overwhelming majority of the
inhabitants of this world have never heard
the name Seventh-day Adventists, much less
the thrilling gospel that God has entrusted
to this Church as the depository of His truth
at the end of time. Yet we know that Christs
invitation will not be given to all the world

Perfection and Unity

73

until Gods people are empowered by the


Holy Spirit. We have been promised a power
greater than Pentecost. So dramatic was the
presentation of the message under the power
of Pentecost, that Paul was able to report before the fall of Jerusalem that the gospel was
preached to every creature which is under
heaven (Colossians 1:23). Unity preceded
Pentecost:
And when the day of Pentecost was
fully come, they were all with one accord in one place (Acts 2:1).
That same unity is necessary at the end
of time before God can entrust His people
with the Holy Spirit. I have listened to many
sermons on unity, and have witnessed the
efforts to make unity the central theme of
the 1995 General Conference session. Many
of those addressing the issue of unity have
quoted the beautiful message of Jesus in His
unity prayer:
That they all may be one; as thou,
Father, art in me, and I in thee, that
they also may be one in us: that the
world may believe that thou hast sent
me (John 17:21).

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Perfection

Those sermons to which I have listened


have, however, singularly failed to address
the sole basis upon which this unity can be
achieved. So important is this principle of
unity, however, that Christ emphasized it
twice in His prayer:
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy
word is truth (John 17:17).
And for their sakes I sanctify myself,
that they also might be sanctified
through the truth (John 17:19).
Until Gods people are sanctified, there
will not be unity. Every other call is a call for
a counterfeit unity, for such calls are predicated upon that which will destroy unity.
Frequently, these are calls to compromise,
consensus, or the silencing of truth. God cannot bring genuine unity under false circumstances. So important is this matter that Sister
White wrote:
Unity is the sure result of Christian
perfection. Sanctified Life, p. 85
Unity is not a goal, as it is often presented to be. It is the natural result of Christian
perfection. Sadly, the wide-spread teaching

Perfection and Unity

75

of the sin and live theology has robbed


our people of unity. Only a full response to
church-wide calls for revival, repentance, and
reformation will result in unity. The return
of Jesus depends upon it. However, not all
church members will respond to Christs call.
The final shaking brought about by persecution will remove all who continue in worldliness and selfishness. The truth must be held
sacred. The pluralistic, eclectic, ecumenical,
evangelical thrust that is bombarding the
Seventh-day Adventist Church is designed
to derail this church from its God-given mission. The servant of the Lord says:
There is no sanctification aside from
truth. Fundamentals of Christian
Education, p. 432
If we are to achieve that perfect unity necessary for the pouring out of the latter rain,
Gods people must hold the truth sacred. But
more than this, they must allow the truth to
be translated into the very fabric of their lives,
bringing the sanctifying principle of Gods
love. Thus Paul emphasized:
Till we all come in the unity of the
faith, and of the knowledge of the

76

Perfection

Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto


the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be
no more children, tossed to and fro,
and carried about with every wind of
doctrine, by the sleight of men, and
cunning craftiness, whereby they lie
in wait to deceive; But speaking the
truth in love, may grow up into him
in all things, which is the head, even
Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15).
Peter puts it in the most beautiful terms:
Seeing ye have purified your souls in
obeying the truth through the Spirit
unto unfeigned love of the brethren,
see that ye love one another with
a pure heart fervently; Being born
again, not of corruptible seed, but of
incorruptible, by the word of God,
which liveth and abideth for ever
(1 Peter 1:22,23).
There is no other way to hasten the coming of Jesus Christ. The Sanctuary message
is designed to lead to the justification and
sanctification of Gods people, the blotting
out their sins, and the uniting of the lives of

Perfection and Unity

77

men and women in Gods truth, providing


their title and fitness for heaven. There is NO
other way.

78

20

Perfection in the Church

erhaps the greatest challenge


that faces Seventh-day Adventist
preachers and teachers is to
present the concept of perfection within the
context of Christ our Righteousness. This
centrality of Christ points men and women
to the matchless claims of Christ upon their
lives and service; a claim validated by the love
of God demonstrated on Calvary, and proven
through the mercy and long-suffering that He
has shown to His people.
Perfection presented in a legalistic or
Christless fashion will avail nothing. Only as
the centrality of the love and power of Jesus
is presented in the most winning and attractive way, can we hope to see men and women
drawn from, on the one hand, the legalism of
human effort, and on the other, from the false
security that Christ did it all, that all we have
to do to be saved is to accept His perfect life.
Between these two failed concepts of legalism and antinomianism, is the truth that
Christ is able to keep us from falling into

Perfection in the Church

79

sin by His all powerful, victorious life. God


is drawing His people to the total surrender
of the will to Him. To the one Who is altogether trustworthy is the hope, not only of an
individual nor of the Seventh-day Adventist
Church, nor of Christians, but of the whole
human race. Our preaching must reflect this
challenge if we are serious about the soon return of our Lord and Saviour.

artland Publications was established


in 1984 as a Bible-centered selfsupporting Protestant publishing house.
We publish books and
produce media for
Christians of all ages,
to help them in the
development of their
personal characters,
always giving glory to
God in preparation
for the soon return of
our Lord and Savior,
Jesus Christ.
Please request a free catalog of our
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Perfection

Perfection

Colin D. Standish

he Bible teaches perfection of character,


not perfection of flesh or nature.
Perfection is significant to every aspect
of the saving acts of God. It took a perfect sacrifice
to purchase the salvation of the human race. It takes
a perfect High Priest to complete the atonement
for humanity. It takes the perfect character of Gods
chosen to give the answer to Satans lie that Christ
cannot secure victory in the lives of fallen humanity
(Signs of the Times, January 16, 1896). It takes the
perfect character of Gods faithful to assure the
angels that they are safe to save. It takes the perfect
character of Gods people to fulfill the promises of
God (2 Peter 1:4). It takes the perfect character of
Gods remnant to fulfill the purposes of the gospel.
It takes the perfect character of Gods saints to fulfill
the law. It takes the perfect character of Gods elect
to be freed from guilt. It takes the perfect character
of Gods obedient ones to prepare for the judgment.
It takes the perfect character of Gods anointed to
receive their acceptance and our assurance. It takes
the perfect character of Gods sanctified ones to bring
unity amongst Gods people (John 17:17; Sanctified
Life, p. 85). It takes the perfect character of Gods
surrendered ones to fit us for the Second Coming of
Christ. It takes the perfect character of Gods loyal
ones to safeguard the harmony of the Universe.

Colin D. Standish