[Segment #1: Dennis Priebe discusses the Mission of the Church.]
Segment #2: Larry Kirkpatrick presents a Synopsis of Last Generation Theology
A rodent on a rat wheel spins and spins in his cage. He doesn't go anywhere. But he rides over and over again.
God has assigned humans a higher mission than rats and His plan is not for us to spin a wheel. There is a purpose at the finish of the age. "In the beginning, God," and at the close, "Even so, come Lord Jesus." We are at the "Even so, come Lord Jesus" part.
There was a first generation: Adam and Eve. What of we who live at the close of the epoch? Will Jesus' terminal generation be unique?
Some have struggled to understand: what special contribution do Seventh-day Adventists make to broader Christianity? Having discarded Bible understandings of the heavenly sanctuary, the remnant, the close of probation, and end-time investigative judgment, they doubt whether Adventists are bona fide Christians. To these I would say, look again to your Adventist heritage, and look a little higher.
Why? Because, if we choose, it is our privilege to experience the ripening power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus will fill-out our characters. His power will fill us. His values will change us. We can be made over again. We can be godly fathers, mothers, spouses, children, and neighbors. We've been a narcissistic, consume-it-on-ourselves generation; in God's grace we can be made over again so that we are other-focused, compassionate, and giving-of-ourselves. Are we determined, in God's grace, to authentically copy Jesus? Will we cooperate with Him so that our desires are changed?
What does embracing Last Generation Theology (LGT) mean? It means we see ourselves as Christians living in the very closing scenes of the rebellion. We are living in the rebellion.
Last Generation Theology begins with an understanding of first generation disobedience. God gave Adam and Eve free choice. They misused it. In the beginning, Adam and Eve experienced a natural enmity towards sin. But they made a choice to disobey. There was damage. Humankind was now enlisted on the wrong side in the moral war! But God brings good out of evil. Enmity toward sin is today being restored. Can God actually do that? Can He do it without being unfair in doing it?
Many have been led to think that this fall from grace stopped with Adam. But the Fall continued yesterday when you sinned yesterday. The controversy is no mere legal problem God would like to straighten out. He is not laboring to satisfy lawyerly intelligences. The controversy is over whether or not God is entitled to our worship. Was His creation of humans a grand mistake? Are we just an experiment gone wrong?
Man, when he sinned, damaged himself beyond human repair. But Jesus bridged the entire chasm. Helpless man and a holy Deity would have been forever separated. But as soon as there was sin, there was a Savior! Some think of these questions as nothing more than labored debates over the nature of Christ. But the questions involved cover the full sweep of Christian understanding.
- What happened to humans at the Fall?
- What is the phenomenon of sin?
- Is God Himself willing suffer and die to make possible the restoration of self-centered rebels?
- How powerful is His grace?
- Why thousands of years of mayhem and suffering?
- Is Jesus ever really coming back, and, if so, what exactly is it God intends to demonstrate through enabling humans to believe in Jesus?
Many are satisfied. They eat from the common trough. They hear the Adventist identity defined for them but are unaware that what they are hearing is subtly undermining and removing Adventist distinctives. Extended discussions of last generation topics, let alone accurate ones, are rare. Many are trapped in the thinking that humans cannot, in act and fact, overcome. Theological presuppositions which they have uncritically received close their minds to valid ideas, to enormous possibilities. The door of thought is closed. Their understanding of the Bible preempts the Bible from correcting them.
But, what if, as Jesus says, we are to be the light of the world? What if, in the last days His purpose is for us to live and give truth in the earth, and the wise will understand?
Let's consider some particulars.
First, we inherit everything Adam and His descendants could pass onward to us; we receive a damaged and degenerating humanity. But our weakness gives Jesus opportunity to show His power. He will never force us but in our weakness He strengthens the willing.
Last Generation Theology returns the simple answer to Jesus: Yes, Lord, I am willing!
And what about sin? When, fundamentally, we understand that sin is choice, God's character is not impeached as unjust. Then, following God fully is not impossible. Non-Adventists can be very interested in this question! Heaven has given answers. Why do we not spread them far and wide?
There are other terms. What does "Justification" mean? When God justifies a man, declaring him right, He also makes that man right. A Christian is a person learning to echo Jesus, fighting his own disordered humanity and cultivated selfishness. The old man, that is, the character habits we have formed, cannot be reformed. There is a resistance to being made holy. But being made holy is part of salvation. You cannot separate the talk from the walk, or the act from the fact. When we act in faith, spiritual desires become actual facts. Satan is tyrannically determined, with all the energy he can command, to prevent that outcome at any cost. But look where we are going. In the end of the controversy, God and heavenly intelligences can declare, "Here are they who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12).
The role of human free will is as important in the end-time as in God's Eden Garden. It is not up to anyone to read hearts to guess the motives of Jesus' followers in the last generation; it is up to God. He determines how the lives of men and women shall function as evidence. There is obedience from fear and there is obedience from love. The last generation will obey because of love for Jesus.
Another crucial idea in Last Generation Theology is the harvest principle. Jesus told a parable about a farmer. He casts seed into the soil and it begins to grow. First the sprouting seed, then the tiny blade. Then, the head appears, and, finally, the full grain in the head. Does he plant the seed in vain? Does he wander off to other interests? No. The farmer doesn't understand everything about how it all works, but he tends the crop, and at last the harvest is ripe. When that day comes, he immediately puts in his sickle and reaps the harvest because the harvest is ripe.
God is much like that farmer, growing the crop, tending the crop. He has a purpose. He is looking for a mature harvest. Just as soon as His harvest is ripe, He will reap His harvest. In the last generation the harvest comes ripe. Jesus longs to return for His children and He will just as soon as His character is fully reproduced in them.
Most of all, at the center of Last Generation Theology, stands Jesus, who took our fallen flesh and in it defeated sin. When we gave our hearts to our Lord we embarked upon a creation journey. Jesus makes it possible for us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to abandon our allegiance to selfishness and form a new allegiance to Love. Through all the ages God has raised up faithful ones. Humans have lived, turned to Jesus, and ripened in character. But even at Calvary the deceptions of Satan had not reached their final and ultimate subtlety. Satan at the cross was revealed as a murderer. And yet, even then the full contrast between Christ and Satan was not completely revealed.
In the last generation it will be.
Satan will manifest his principles fully, and Christ His, fully. In the followers of Lucifer and in the followers of Jesus, the difference will be seen. The evidence will be crystal in clarity, digital in precision. In God's power we will live in this fallen flesh without joining ourselves to its tendencies. We will obey exactly as Jesus obeyed. It will be seen that man can live just as Jesus lived, because Jesus lived just as man must live.
It's like this: In order to carry our sins, Jesus must walk in our flesh. If His stripes are going to heal us, He must receive those stripes in the fallen kind of flesh we live in. The Father's plan is for us to follow Jesus into His beautiful experience of not sinning. Why wouldn't we want this? Why wouldn't we seek it with all our hearts?
[Segue:] But now, another important question: what are Satan’s attacks that prevent the return of Christ?
[Segment #3: Dennis Priebe Describes Satan's Attacls on Righteousness by Faith.]
Segment #4: Larry Kirkpatrick addresses Why These Things Matter
Some presentations this Sabbath will include considerable historical detail. The errors are deeply laid with nearly a 70 year pedigree; correction will require serious examination.
Why go to this trouble? Why do these things matter? Because when we settle into God's teachings experientially and immovably, we will no longer sin. The controversy will be ended. All the misrepresentations about God will have been disproven; all the divine claims will have been shown true through flesh-and-blood examples from the termination generation.
We have all sinned. We have all added pain to this world. We have been part of the problem. Nothing is more practical than changing sides in the Great Controversy War and being part of Jesus' solution. It is the privilege of each one so to live that God will approve and bless him. Why do we keep living below our privileges?
Honesty admits: the gospel has not yet produced a people spotless and blameless. Jesus has not appeared because His people have not readied themselves. The wedding is still delayed. Consider Heaven's goal. Why so non-negotiable? What exactly is God's purpose? The manifestation of the sons and daughters of God. Heaven is invested in producing men and women able to be trusted with eternal life. When the harvest is ripe, Jesus will put in the sickle and reap. We live at the very edge of that harvest.
What about the “close of probation”? How could a loving God cut off people who might still change course? How could He destroy them?
But wait. The close of probation is not an arbitrary moment; it will occur when and only when the harvest is ripe. The suffering and mayhem of this age will linger no longer than necessary. Until then there will be cancer and shooting and torture and torturers and bullets and blood and immorality.
We feed and clothe street people and should continue to do that. But the ultimate way we can please God and help humanity is to stop sending sin to the heavenly sanctuary. Jesus longs to complete His ministry there, to return and deliver us. But so long as we keep on in sin we prolong suffering. All the universe awaits the end of sin. They're not waiting for squirrels to stop sinning; they're waiting for Christians to stop sinning.
Remember the journey from Egypt to Canaan. God commissioned His people to build an earthly model of the heavenly sanctuary. Ministry was conducted there for the discontinuation of sin. There were two divisions; the daily and the yearly. Throughout the year the sins of Israel were forgiven individually and recorded corporately. Then, once a year, the high priest engaged in an annual work; the sanctuary itself was cleansed. Sin was removed and the camp cleansed.
Those services were types illustrating what Jesus would do in heaven. He would make the final atonement. Sin exists for only a few thousand years in all eternity; but righteousness will be eternal. Sin is being discontinued as speedily as possible. There will be no new cycle of sinning and recording and cleansing and sinning all over again. Heaven's plan is linear. The creation is subject to violence for one epoch only. There was a beginning to this, and there is an end. Someone will live at the end of it. In the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
Heaven intends we shall be that people. Are you ready to take a rocket ride no other generation has ever taken?
The cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary is connected to the cleansing and purifying of lives on earth. We are living at ground zero. There will be no security agents screening us for the final flight. We will be safe to fly.
The last generation will walk into eternity. There will be no dying; only living. God seals His people. They cooperate with Him in character-change and His grace is sufficient for them. They become so committed to Jesus they are ready to follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
What's wrong with that?
What will it be like to stand among the sealed? We will no sooner find a person having God's character while lacking His power, more than we would find a flame without heat. Jesus will have His end-time witnesses. It will happen. The only question is whether we will be those witnesses.
Be clear. Perfection does not save man, but it does have a part in the vindication of God's character. There is always a question larger than our salvation: namely, whether or not God's character will be vindicated. For six thousand years He has continued to reveal truth and men and women have been changed by it. Indisputably, Jesus is the ultimate revelation of love and truth. And yet, to His Church He has given helps. Through many offices He has continued to communicate to His people. There is one final missing piece. Jesus will produce a people who cease from sinning.
When Babylon is full of wickedness, Jerusalem will be full of righteousness. With the fourth angel's call out of Babylon (Revelation 18:1-4), there is a living of light among God's people. The darkness of Babylon will stand in absolute contrast to the light of Jesus manifest in His bride. His Church will be victorious; the wedding will take place. Jesus is the true light who lights all men. In the last generation of believers He will have His witnesses.
His lights will blaze at last.
Will they generate their own light? Never! They are only reflectors. They are merely men and women who receive from God and live for Him fully in a time such as never will be ever again. In the spirit of Jesus they are copies of His likeness. Through them God shocks the world. They are not saved by any kind of righteousness inherent in themselves, but, in God's plan their lives serve as evidence that Jesus' power in men and women enables them to live without sinning under the most extreme duress. Christ is in them and is victorious in them.
No more questions will remain in the controversy.
All the evidence is in.
Then we see Jesus face to face.
That is why these things matter.
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