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The “Perfect” Debate — 37 Comments

  1. Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.

    His righteousness is manifested in His "passing" over the sins. Like Joseph wanted to let Mary go in secret because he was a rightous man.

    All biblical history is evidence that God is postponding The Day of His wrath. Judgement Day.

    Last words in OT are in Malachi 4, The Great Day of God

    4 “For behold, the day is coming,
    Burning like an oven,
    And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
    And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
    Says the Lord of hosts,
    “That will leave them neither root nor branch.
    2 But to you who fear My name
    The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
    With healing in His wings;
    And you shall go out
    And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
    3 You shall trample the wicked,
    For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
    On the day that I do this,”
    Says the Lord of hosts.
    4 “Remember the Law of Moses, My servant,
    Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel,
    With the statutes and judgments.
    5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
    Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
    6 And he will turn
    The hearts of the fathers to the children,
    And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
    Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

    So when Jesus comes, He comes like when men came to Abraham on the way to destroy Sodom and Gomorah. Jesus could destroy mankind even from the cross. In that postponing we see that God is love. He loved the world and wants to save all.

    Jesus is given to all men to draw us away from Adam's attracting power of sin. We neglect the fact that we all fall short of the glory of God. Jesus even called us "children of the devil".

    So, what is for us to be perfect? If we confess our sins in front of the Law, and try to do good, is not that a maximum for us? In First John epistle, it is stated that who says he has not sinned is calling God a liar. That subject you started is of great importance for Adventists because we must be sure what it means to "keep" the Law. I think keeping it is having it with us and not rejecting it or changing it. We give the honor to Law but only to have good repentance.

  2. Dear William,

    Thanks for a very insightful and thought-provoking article. This is more proof that the best gospel is a complete gospel, and that even when looking at very important issues, we can get side-tracked based upon the perspective we embrace.

    I pray that this article proves to be helpful to many in achieving the completion that God desires for each one of us.

  3. [Moderator note: Please use first and last name when commenting on this site. ]

    Thank you. There is a lot more that can be said--you recognized this--but this distillation I think may demonstrate the true purpose of our journey: To love, trust and develop a relationship with Christ that will help us to achieve better behavior (and through that, a better life) and to learn how, through genuine repentance, to seek forgiveness (A la David) when we fall.

  4. William, your theology is soundly displayed here and I think I am blessed having read your blog. I see God's grace sufficient for all my sins. All I need to do is believe in Him and never doubt that what He has promised will come to pass. I keep on trusting Him for He is able.

  5. I think we have to realize that without Christ we can do nothing good and we can do all things through Christ. Christ is our all in all and by His help we allow Him to live out His perfect life though us. Start by praying to Him each day and night to live His perfect life through us day and night.

  6. Perfect is a big word, and when used to describe anyone from the fallen race, can only be speaking of faith. Our best works will fail of perfection while faith appropriates Jesus' perfection and receives His promises whereby we become partakers of His divine nature. Only He is able to keep us from falling, and present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. Didn't Peter prove this while trying to walk on water? He did this perfectly only when walking close beside Jesus, relying completely on Him.

    Jesus invites us to be perfectly yoked with Him, washes our robes perfectly white with His blood, and will keep us in perfect peace if our minds are stayed on Him.

  7. It sounds as though the conversations being held were with narrow minded people. It is clearly stated in the Bible that perfection can be attained and is measured by God. Three people proved that by being taken straight to heaven and 2 of the three did not die! Moses whom did die, was later seen by Jesus on the Mountian top and also questioned by Satan as to the whereabouts was Moses body after his death. Therefore, in summary we finite human beings have no earthly ideal(s) what God's definitiion of perfection is,... because we are not God!

    • Moses, Enoch and Elijah were saved the same way we are. Not by the works of the law, but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE. To suggest anything else is to put our faith in our own righteousness which is as filthy rags.

      • Here's the question, can we be saved without being sanctified? All those men you mention were holy and not saved while sinning.

        Keep in mind that justification does not depend on our holiness, but upon Christ's blood and righteousness. But, if we are not sanctified, haven't we rejected the gift? Aren't we the man at the wedding feast without the wedding garment?

        I have concluded that justification/sanctification are one gift. Imputed and imparted. The degree of having the imparted righteousness will depend on circumstances and opportunity, but is effective through faith. In Zechariah 3 Jesus does place a spotless robe on Joshua after removing the old one. No one goes to heaven naked, or in filthy rags. Revelation depicts spotless robes made white in the blood of the Lamb.

  8. We often tie ourselves in knots over this perfection thing. An enormous amount of effort goes into trying to express the idea. And no matter how we express it, someone takes exception to what we have said and accuses us of being either too conservative or too liberal in our views. The moment we suggest that we have to do something, someone accuses us of being legalists, and when we say that God still loves us no matter what we do, we are accused of being in the "once saved, always saved" camp.

    The issue for some of us is that we are so concerned about the semantics that we forget about the Christianity. That defeats the whole purpose of the idea. I grew up during the 1950s and early 60s when some of these questions exercised the local church considerably. I saw people lose their faith over the discussion.

    I do not think that God cares whether we get the semantics right or not. That is not the point. Of Abraham in was said, "And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Gen 15, 6.

    There are going to be those who never fully understand the semantics, or have indeed got the semantics completely wrong, who are going to be saved, not because of what they have done, but because they put they faith in Jesus, and it will be counted to them for righteousness.

    I am going to suggest that there are those who argue the semantics and theology of perfection, who are not going to be saved because they have put their faith in their ability to express the ideas of perfection, perfectly. And that would be really sad!

  9. Wow! Wonderful article. This has made my day! I finally understand what's at stake in the great controversy. And now I see that God wants to cleanse my heart of the lies Satan has tried to sow and bring to fruition: God's plan is boring, if you choose Christ your life will be miserable, hard, full of suffering and pain, etc. Thank you Jesus for the cross!

  10. Amen. Being perfect is a journey, not a destination. It's part of the sanctification process. It will not be complete until the good Lord bestows upon us the glorified body.

    • Yes Newton, and won't that journey continue on through eternity? Otherwise it would be a destination. Eternal life begins in this life, and the glorified body/mind will allow us to be unfettered in our learning experience. Our knowledge and understanding of God will never cease to unfold as our experience grows in the endless ages that will ever lay before us. What a thrilling thought!

  11. Really good blog, reminds me of the book Sin and Salvation by George Knight where he talks of sin being rebellion against God and disbelief in his Promises. I like that you have considered the root cause of sin and it does come down to not believing, trusting in God. Once you disbelieve Christ as Saviour or disbelieve in his promises you reject God in whole or in part thus leaving you open to transgressing the law.

    Good blog

    Stay blessed

    • Ah, yes, George Knight likes to say, with a twinkle in his eyes, "I used to be perfect," before going on to tell of his experience with performance-centered Christianity. I believe he draws the difference between seeing sin as "actions" and sin as a relationship and character issue. And he points out that if we define sin as "actions," we can easily define sin in a way that doesn't touch us - like the man who sees a wedding ring as sinful while driving an expensive luxury car. 😉 (That's my interpretation of some writings of George Knight, one of my favorite Adventist authors.)

      • I used to be conceited, but I worked on that. Now I am perfect! (TIC for those who think the comment is too oblique.)

    • Don't some translations render 1 John 3:4 as "sin is lawlessness"?

      In other words it implies a general rejection of God's law of love and a desire to live outside of it--rather that just random acts of disobedience against "random" laws.
      I think it captures the mindset better--or rather to me it is a better description of the problem (the sinful nature).

      That seems to me to mesh very well with the other definition of sin in John 16:9.

      • Andrew, I think you are right; in fact, most of the newer translations render it as lawlessness. I think they do that because it comes from the Greek word "anomia" which simply means without law.

        Here is an interesting commentary from the NET Bible on 1 Jn 3:4.
        The Greek word ἀνομία (anomia) is often translated "iniquity" or "lawlessness" and in the LXX refers particularly to transgression of the law of Moses. In Jewish thought the ideas of sin (ἁμαρτία, hamartia) and lawlessness or iniquity (ἀνομία) were often equated because sin involved a violation of the Mosaic law and hence lawlessness. For example, Ps 51:5 LXX sets the two in parallel, and Paul in Rom 4:7 (quoting Ps 32:1) does the same. For the author, it is not violation of the Mosaic law that results in lawlessness, since he is writing to Christians. The 'law' for the author is the law of love, as given by Jesus in the new commandment of John 13:34–35. This is the command to love one's brother, a major theme of 1 John and the one specific sin in the entire letter which the opponents are charged with (3:17). Since the author has already labeled the opponents "antichrists" in 2:18, it may well be that he sees in their iniquitous behavior of withdrawing from the community and refusing to love the brethren a foreshadowing of the apocalyptic iniquity of the end times (cf. 2 Thess 2:3–8). In Matt 24:11–12 Jesus foretold that false prophets would arise in the end times (cf. 1 John 4:1), that lawlessness (anomia) would increase, and that "the love of many will grow cold" (which would certainly fit the author's portrait of the opponents here).

  12. I suppose that this will be a popular blog post one way or another.

    I think that it is critical, as you say, that people understand what the Great Controversy is all about.

    I also think that it is critical people understand that by beholding we become changed. If we behold Christ we will become like Him. If we behold ourselves, well...

  13. You know the cross measures what God's love will do FOR a man, while the church demonstrates what God's love can do WITH a man.

    The highlight and focal point of the entire Bible is without question the CROSS. We fall in love with Christ as we behold his sacrifice for us. That the God of the universe would forever become one of us and suffer and die because of my sins just throws me to my knees and compels me to worship and praise him. "The love of Christ compels us" Paul said in 2 Cor 5:14. There is no greater demonstration of love in all the universe.

    But there is one that comes close: The triumphant church.
    Filled with ex- prostitutes, ex-murderers, ex-child molesters, ex-wife beaters, ex- sex addicts, etc. All transformed into the very image of Christ. With John we shout: " O what manner of love the father has bestowed on us that we should be called the sons of God!"
    That his love can transform me is absolutely amazing!!

    God has promised that this last generation, amidst the height of iniquity and evil will demonstrate the perfect character of Christ. Isn't that amazing news!!! He has promised that he will not reap until the harvest is ripe. So each day I pray that I may grow to maturity by his power and be a part of that harvest.

    • Our behavior (works) doesn’t determine our eternal destiny. Our behavior merely reflects who we’ve chosen as our leader and THAT determines our eternal destiny.

      • Sieg, why were Adam and Eve expelled from the garden? Their actions(works) were what they were judged by, not their promise to obey(assuming they gave such a response). The Bible teaches that every soul will be rewarded according to their works, not their profession or even their choice. Works are tangible evidence for all to see, and thus God is glorified by our good works, as Jesus taught.

        But works, as you say, are only the evidence of an underlying choice, but it is the works that anyone can judge us by, even a child. In this manner our faith, or lack of, is revealed to all watching eyes. And they are watching.

        We are told to examine our selves to see if we have "the faith". What is the evidence of "the faith" or lack of it? What are we to examine? Our profession? Our hope? Our "beliefs"? The Holy Spirit brings conviction to every soul of what is sinful in their lives, and it's our actions of faith/unbelief that speak louder than our profession of faith. Yes, our works and even our words will either justify or condemn us.(Matt 12:37)

        None of this teaches us to focus on our works, but to identify our faith or unbelief by the tangible evidence, which will be the focus of the judgement for every soul.

        If you had asked the Priest and Levite passing along the road to Jericho who they chose as their Leader, they would have both proudly said "Jehovah God!". Did their works reveal this as true or false? Yes, they chose God, but did not know Him. This is what saves us; knowing God. Then our choice is with knowledge and our works confirm it.

        Choosing, though vital, is not enough. Knowing the Lord is everything. Proverbs 2:1-5 teaches us how to "find the knowledge of God".

        • Hi Robert,

          I don't see Sieg as saying that our eternal destiny is determined by promises or profession. He wrote that our behavior reflects whom we have chosen as leader. Whether we choose Christ or Satan will, indeed, determine our destiny.

          It seems to me that if there is a difference between your view and Sieg's, it is one of emphasis. Or, as we used to say, it's a question of which comes first - the cart or the horse. Maybe nowadays we should ask which comes first - the truck or the trailer.

          I'm old enough to have ridden in a cart behind a horse, and I know that putting the cart before the horse doesn't get you very far. Neither does putting a truck in front of a trailer.

          Spiritually, it's a matter of focus. Focusing on our behavior won't get us any farther than putting a cart before a horse. Mind you, it's possible to push the cart or trailer for a ways. It takes a lot of effort and is unlikely to get anyone to a distant destination.

          Focusing on Christ, on the other hand, is like focusing on making sure the horse is well fed and pulling the wagon - or like making sure the truck is fueled and running. As long as the horse is pulling its load or the truck is pulling its load, the cart or the trailer will get to its destination.

          Christ has asked us to yoke up with him, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). That's because He's pulling most of the load. Our responsibility is merely to stay close to Him.

          It seems to me that a focus on behavior tends to make people exacting and judgmental. And that's not getting them to the "destination" of a character like that of Christ. And it is no more likely to get them to the heavenly destination than it got the Pharisees there. (I think we don't give the Pharisees enough credit. They were the "good" people of the day - careful in their lifestyle and church attendance. But their focus on behavior had so blunted their spiritual sensitivity that they crucified the Lord of glory.)

        • As for the importance of choosing, one Christian writer had this to say:

          Many are inquiring, “How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?” You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.

          I think that writer had it right. Choosing is all we can do - moment and moment, and day by day - and He supplies the power to work and to do. Realizing this made all the difference in my Christian experience. Not focusing on my goodness or badness, but focusing on Christ instead has brought a sense of freedom and joy that a focus on performance never could.

          The gospel is really very simple - as exemplified by the brazen serpent in the desert. (John 3:14) All the people had to do was to look, and they would live. (Numbers 21:8,9) So, today, we need to look to Jesus, and we will live, for by beholding Him we become changed. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

  14. This helped me definitely. At times i fall and think surely am over and done with, as i fall a lot. But such a balanced view is very helpful because truth is we are all a work in progress to be completed when He comes. We should and must hate sin, however if, and i dare say WHEN we fall, we have an Advocate. Halleluya!!! the is hope for a sinner wretched like me!

  15. That's right Sieg, as James tells us we show we have faith by our works and obedience. If we love and trust God perfectly then we obey Him perfectly. One of the first posts I ever wrote for SSNET illustrates that. (See "Mulligans and Grace")

    Right now I am at the Georgia-Cumberland conference camp meeting at Southern Adventist University, and the preacher, Dana Edmond, said in his sermon, "We will never realize that God can do everything, until we realize we can't do anything." I can't obey on my own, but through God's grace He can perfectly obey in and through me. Romans 8:4 tells us that by Christ's perfect obedience and sacrifice the law is fulfilled not just for us but in and through us.

    • Thank you William. I think that there is still some confusion for many people as illustrated by Nosipho Hlatswayo’s comment that we can never attain perfect behavior on earth and when we fail to, Satan uses this fact to cause some of us to believe we are lost. Your comment “If we love and trust God perfectly then we obey Him perfectly” implies that we can achieve this on earth. I guess the question then is, can we love and trust God perfectly and thus obey him perfectly?

      I like how you characterize sin above in “The perfect debate.” To wit, if faith in Jesus saves us and sin condemns us, then sin must be the opposite of faith in Jesus. John 16:8-9 "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me… "(sin is defined as lacking faith in Jesus). I don’t believe that we can obey God perfectly (on earth) and, because it is our nature, we will frequently fail in our attempts to attain this “perfection.” Does this then mean we are lost? By God’s grace only, NO! As Nosipho states, we are a work in progress and as we work toward perfecting our faith, our behavior increasingly reflects that. This is not to say that we are free to sin, but that as we increase our faith in and surrender to Jesus, we become more and more like him. Hence, perfect faith (as reflected in perfect behavior and obedience) is a journey, not an earthly destination.

      So FAITH = choosing, having a relationship with and becoming more and more like Jesus. And SIN is choosing, having a relationship with and becoming more and more like Satan (thereby rejecting Jesus). So in essence, FAITH and SIN are relationship choices that will determine our eternal destiny and, in end times, will determine who gets the Seal of God and who gets the mark of the beast.

      • Your comment “If we love and trust God perfectly then we obey Him perfectly” implies that we can achieve this on earth. I guess the question then is, can we love and trust God perfectly and thus obey him perfectly?

        I have always found this to be a peculiar preoccupation.
        People who have obtained perfection (whenever) would be the last people to recognize it in themselves.
        The only way to achieve this would be through God's power--and He would be the one to set the timing in my thinking.

        I say this out of a reflection on the idea by Ellen White that the closer we come to God, the more sinful we will appear. We certainly won't be resting/sitting pretty except in the arms of Jesus and in the confidence we have in His salvation.

  16. As Adventist we have always had problems when it came to understanding where our good works comes in with respect to salvation. I think William presented a very strong argument for the concept of Christ working through us or as Paul would say, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27 NKJV) which is a matter of righteousness by faith.

    Unfortunately, when a subject is presented so strongly questions arise because in the Bible rarely is a subject presented that is truly univocal (singular view). Works vs. faith is one of those things where there is tension so that we see both being presented that seem to conflict with one another. That tension produces a balance between them.

    Paul was extremely strong when it came to salvation by grace through faith yet he knew that people would misinterpret what he was saying and take a fanatical, exclusive stand that focused on his presentation alone. In order to stop such a thing from happening after arguing against the involvement of works as the means of salvation he carefully included in his letter to the Romans, "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law" (Rom. 3:31 NKJV). That apparently wasn't enough to stop people from going off the deep end so James had to enter the picture with his epistle that argues for the necessity of works in the Christian's life. Together we get a balanced picture.

    Our current problem is to understand our relationship to ultimate perfection which is what God has. If we ever achieved that we would be God knowing everything. But then that was the devil's argument to Eve in the garden (Gen 3:5). In spite of our lack, the simple fact is that when we first accepted Jesus as our personal savoir we were justified. That means that at that point God accepted us as though we had never sinned. The condemnation that was produced by our sins was erased and we stood as fully righteous people even though we still had a lot of problems that were certainly not Christian.

    Even though we learn and improve throughout our lives we should be able to see that our lives are anything but perfect - we still have a long way to go. Even during the time of trouble, after probation is closed, as Ellen White saw it, "As they review the past, their hopes sink; for in their whole lives they can see little good. They are fully conscious of their weakness and unworthiness" (Great Controversy, p 618.3). While they are aware of that they are nonetheless justified and therefore considered perfect, fully righteous in the eyes of God.

    The necessity of those works are never put aside and replaced by faith because faith always leads to works but since we are continually having problems with righteousness of necessity our salvation must be based on the grace of God that we appropriate through faith in Him.

    As we become one with Christ all these things are taken care of. Our salvation is secured and we improve through life becoming closer day by day to the character of Christ. The improvement that we experience is what is called sanctification as Ellen White explains:

    Sanctification is not the work of a moment, an hour, a day, but of a lifetime. It is not gained by a happy flight of feeling, but is the result of constantly dying to sin, and constantly living for Christ. Wrongs cannot be righted nor reformations wrought in the character by feeble, intermittent efforts. It is only by long, persevering effort, sore discipline, and stern conflict, that we shall overcome. We know not one day how strong will be our conflict the next. 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.
    None of the apostles and prophets ever claimed to be without sin. Men who have lived the nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly commit a wrong act, men whom God has honored with divine light and power, have confessed the sinfulness of their nature. They have put no confidence in the flesh, have claimed no righteousness of their own, but have trusted wholly in the righteousness of Christ. (Acts of the Apostles, p 560.3-561.1)

  17. I don't normally comment but I do read the postings on here. I must confess that I have often thought that I should just quit because I can't possibly be perfect enough. The study of James is bringing me there again. Pastors, Theologians, even armchair theologians have often left me discouraged and without hope because of their desire to say we must be perfect and in complete obedience to the law of God. Oh they say that salvation is only through the merits of Christ but it always twist back around and boils back down to me needing to work harder and being more obedient or I won't be saved. Even EGW will encourage me as she speaks of our salvation being only in Christ then leave me questioning my fitness when she starts talking about our need for perfect obedience. If Jesus is not able to save me as I am and unable to make me perfect then the gospel in my view would be a lie. I believe we need to get off the perfection circuit and find ourselves fully believing that Jesus is able to save to the uttermost. If it boils down to my perfect obedience then I will be lost. I am weary of Adventist who say salvation is by faith in Jesus then turn around and start preaching that we must perfectly obey. I believe the perfection Jesus in pointing us to is to be like Him in selfless love, compassion, and mercy. Only He can change me to be like that. I can't do it. God bless you all. I think the Bible and EGW supports this.

    • Hi Cliff. Thanks for honestly sharing. You are not alone. Satan wants us to feel we aren’t “good enough” so that we’ll quit trying to reach out and grasp God’s outstretched hand. God tells us that salvation is a gift (Ephesians 2:8). As such, we don’t earn it, work for it or deserve it (“I can contribute nothing to my own salvation, except the sin from which I need to be redeemed.” --William Temple). However, as with any gift, we must accept it, open it and claim it as ours. Then Cliff, it is ours. Please don’t give up. Please don’t believe that heaven is out of your reach because earthly perfection is out of your reach. Jesus has already paid for our entrance (John 19:30) and His perfection is credited to us by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Please pray that the Lord will give you the assurance of salvation and He will (1 Corinthians 1:18 KJV, “…which ARE saved.”) Then, pray some more. Don’t stop praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

      Many SDA’s still struggle with this “perfection” issue. Many claim perfection is a necessary requirement on earth. Yet, I have never met an Adventist who claims to have achieved this perfection, in Christ or otherwise. This sounds like they are talking out of two sides of their mouth and leads to confusion. It also tends to make many think “I can never get there.” This struggle comes and goes in the SDA church (and on SSNET). I too struggle with this at times and just trust that God is faithful in His promises and that Jesus has already paid the penalty for my sins so that I can spend eternity with Him (John 3:16). Does this mean that once we “believe” in Jesus our salvation is complete? I don’t think so. We will change. But, that change won't come from us. It will come from Jesus.

      You said it well: “I believe the perfection Jesus in pointing us to is to be like Him in selfless love, compassion, and mercy. Only He can change me to be like that. I can't do it.” Jesus IS pointing us to this perfection. He will help us become more like Him if we surrender our will and our lives to Him daily. Will we be perfect on earth like Jesus was? I’ll leave that question to the “theologians” who sometimes appear to make the Gospel more complicated than God intended. In the mean time, let us keep our eyes on Jesus, surrender to Him daily and trust in His promises. When we recognize our complete helplessness, our utter need for Jesus, and our need to surrender to Him (John 15:5; Matthew 11:28-30), then He will work out the details (Philippians 2:13).

      A poster (George) on another SDA message board described it beautifully in my opinion when he said, “It's not faith and works. It's not faith then works. It's faith which works.”

      God bless you Cliff. Let’s pray for our church, for each other and for God to help us all surrender to Jesus completely and “perfectly.”

    • Cliff, you have answered your own dilemma haven't you? "Only He can change me to be like that. I can't do it."

      What James, Paul, Ellen and many others are saying is that this change will be seen in us. Read Ps 40:1-3 and see how it happens, all by God's grace and working in us as we do our only part; surrendering completely to Him in all things. We choose to allow the power of God to dwell in us or we choose to refuse it, walking in our own ways. The fight of faith is the fight to surrender our will to God's perfect will for us. This was the great struggle of Jesus in Gethsemane.

      James, Paul, etc, are addressing those who claim to be the Lord's while acting like they are of this world instead. Read Romans 12:1,2.

      Remember, the gospel is: "the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes." (Rom 1:16)

    • God's intention for us is to be perfect, to be just as He made us in the beginning. Trouble is we just can't do it.

      Yes we may attend church on Sabbath perfectly, not commit adultery, not steal nor kill. That is possible. But to love God with all our hearts, to have true delight/joy on Sabbath and in worship, to love the unlovable like we love our kids, to have an overwhelming desire and zeal to see the lost saved, now that's out of our league. We can't conjure that up.Only Jesus can create that in us.

      SO the aim is perfection, but the means of attaining it is Christ.
      Ezekiel 36:25-27 says:
      "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

      Our job then is to stick with him (Jesus says abide with me). As we behold Him we will change. As Jesus said to Nicodemus, we might not be able to tell exactly when that change occurs, but if your faith is genuine it will happen.

      I recommend a study of the book: "Steps to Christ". It explains in detail the topic of Salvation and Righteousness by Faith.

    • Cliff, thank you for your comment. You wrote:

      I believe we need to get off the perfection circuit and find ourselves fully believing that Jesus is able to save to the uttermost.

      Bill Liversidge would agree with you. His book Overcoming Through Jesus - Embracing His Death and Receiving His Victorious Life. (a revision of his earlier Victory in Jesus) provides a good explanation of the subject. Among other things he explains where our often confused explanation of "Salvation is through Christ alone" followed by "but you have to do thus and thus" to be saved probably originates. [You can order from Amazon after clicking on the link.]

      Others call this book "an excellent rendering on Righteousness by Faith." Many have been encouraged and transformed by taking the message to heart, and pastors have found the book full of good sermon ideas.

      While you're waiting for the book to come, I encourage you to listen to the series, "Victory in Jesus," by Bill Liversidge on Youtube. I believe that anyone who has been discouraged at the impossible task of "becoming perfect" will be encouraged by the series. You will be able to be "confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6) And you will be able to rejoice in His salvation.

  18. I want to thank William Earnhardt for his posting as it lifted my spirit and helped me refocus. I have advocated his position for some time. The study of the book of James has been a very helpful study but has tended to leave me personally discouraged with myself.

    EGW makes a number of statements regarding Christ's mission.

    "To this sin-darkened earth He came to reveal the light of God's love,--to be 'God with us.'" DA p. 19.1

    "In His prayer for His disciples He says, 'I have declared unto them Thy name,'--'merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,'--that the love wherewithal Thou hast loved Me may be in them and I in them.'" DA p. 19.2

    This love Jesus seeks for us to have is not our earthly lustful, sentimental love but a selfless love for God and others. When we have have fully received what Jesus seeks to give us I believe we will be perfected. A "work" that will require a lifetime wether it lasts an hour or for 70 plus years. He, I believe does that work and we need to be willing to let Him. My behavior may clue me in that I am not well but it should always drive me back to my knees and my Savior. Dwelling on being perfect only depresses and discourages me. Thanks to all for your response, God bless each of you.


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