Ellen G. White Writings

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The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, vol. 76

“The Sermon. Christian Perfection” 1Sermon delivered before the S.D.A. General Conference the closing night, March 6, 1899, in South Lancaster, Mass. The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 76, 31, pp. 487, 488.



LET us look again at the statement that the gifts are for the perfecting of the saints, “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” There is the pattern. The way that Christ went in this world of sin, and in sinful flesh,—your flesh and mine, burdened with the sins of the world,—the way he went in perfection and to perfection, is the way set before us.

He was born of the Holy Ghost. In other words, Jesus Christ was born again. He came from heaven, God’s first-born, to the earth, and was born again. But all in Christ’s work goes by opposites for us: he, the sinless one, was made to be sin, in order that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. He, the living one, the prince and author of life, died that we might live. He whose goings forth have been from the days of eternity, the first-born of God, was born again, in order that we might be born again.

If Jesus Christ had never been born again, could you and I have ever been born again?—No. But he was born again, from the world of righteousness into the world of sin; that we might be born again, from the world of sin into the world of righteousness. He was born again, and was made partaker of the human nature, that we might be born again, and so made partakers of the divine nature. He was born again, unto earth, unto sin, and unto man, that we might be born again unto heaven, unto righteousness, and unto God.

Brother Covert says that makes us as brethren. It does certainly make us as brethren. And he is not ashamed to call us his brethren either.

Then he was born again, by the Holy Ghost; for it is written, and was spoken to Mary, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”

Jesus, born of the Holy Ghost, born again, grew “in wisdom and stature,” unto the fulness of life and character in the world, to where he could say to God, “I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work thou gavest me to do.” God’s plan and mind in him had attained to perfection.

Jesus, born again, born of the Holy Ghost, born of flesh and blood, as we were, the Captain of our salvation, was made “perfect through sufferings.” For “though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Hebrews 2:10; 5:8, 9. Jesus thus went to perfection in human flesh, through suffering; because it is in a world of suffering that we in human flesh must attain perfection.

And while growing all the time, he was perfect all the time. Do you see that? There is where many people misconceive the whole thought of Christian perfection—they think the ultimate is the only measure. It is in God’s plan; but the ultimate is not reached at the beginning. Look again at the fourth of Ephesians. This is a suggestion, thrown out to you and me, how we may attain to this perfection,—“the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” I read the thirteenth verse; now coupld with that verses 14-16: “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the 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; butspeaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even in Christ.”

This is to be accomplished in you and me by growth; but there can be no growth where there is no life. This is growth in the knowledge of God, growth in the wisdom of God, growth in the character of God, growth in God; therefore it can be only by the life of God. But that life is planted in the man at the new birth. He is born again, born of the Holy Ghost; and the life of God is planted there, that he “may grow up into him”—in how much?—“In all things.”

You remember that “the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field.” And “the seed is the word of God.” The seed is planted. He realizes that night and day it grows, he knows not how. But that seed is what?—It is perfect; for God made it. It sprouts presently. What of the sprout?

[Congregation: “Perfect, too.”]

Is it?

[Voices: “Yes.”]

But it is not a head of grain; it is not a stalk standing full and strong; it is a mere sprout peeping through the ground. But what of it? Is it not perfect?

[Congregation: “Yes.”]

According to the rate of its progress, it is as perfect at that point as it will be when its course is finished, at the point of maturity. Do you not see? Let not that misconception abide any more. Away with it!

When that sprout peeps through the ground, you stoop to look at it. It is a thing to be admired. It is charming, because it is perfect. That is as perfect a blade as ever appeared on earth, but it is a mere spindling thing, barely peeping through the ground. That is all there is of it; but it is perfect. It is perfect, because it is as God made it. God is the only one that had anything to do with it. Do you not see? It is all right. So you and I, born again of that good seed of the word of God,—born by the word of God and the Holy Ghost, born of the perfect seed,—when that seed sprouts and grows, and begins to appear among men, people see the characteristics of Christ. And what is he?—Perfect. Then what is the Christian right there?

[Congregation: “Perfect.”]

If we be born again through the power of Jesus Christ, and God himself directs the work, what will that be which appears?—It will be perfect. And that is Christian perfection at that point. Jesus Christ presents you holy, unblamable, and unreprovable, before the throne at that point.

That sprout grows and stands above the ground; presently another blade shoots off; there are two of them, and each is just as handsome as the other. The third one appears; it is now a stalk, and still grows. It now presents another picture altogether from that which it presented at first. Another picture indeed, but no more perfect than before. It is nearer to ultimate perfection, nearer to God’s accomplished purpose; but, though nearer to ultimate perfection, it is no more perfect, as it stands now, than it was the moment that it peeped through the ground.

In time it grows to its full height. The head is full-formed. The bloom appears upon it. It is more beautiful on account of it. And at last appears the full head of grain, perfect; and the grains of wheat, each one perfect. The work, God’s work, is finished upon it. It is perfected. It has attained unto perfection according to God’s mind when he started it.

That is Christian perfection. It comes by growth. But the growth can be only by the life of God. And the life of God being the spring, it can grow only according to God’s order. Only he can shape the growth. Only he knows, in perfection, the pattern. Christ is the pattern. God knows perfectly the pattern; and he can cause us to grow in perfection according to that pattern; because the same power, the same life, is in this growth that was in the growth of the original pattern, Jesus Christ.

And as Jesus began, at his birth, as a little child in human flesh, and grew up and finished the work that God had given him to do; so you and I, born again, growing up in him in all things, come presently to the day when we, as did he, shall say, and say in righteousness, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work thou gavest me to do.” For it is written, “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished.” We are in that day. We have that mystery given to us to give to the world. It is to be finished for the world; and it is to be finished in those who have it.

But what is the mystery of God?—“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” “God... manifest in the flesh.” Then in these days that mystery is to be finished in one hundred and forty-four thousand people. God’s work in human flesh, God being manifested in human flesh, in you and me, is to be finished. His work upon you and me is to be finished. We are to be perfected in Jesus Christ. By the Spirit we are to come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

Is not that worth having? Is not the Lord’s way a good way unto perfection? Oh, then, “leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, LET US GO ON UNTO PERFECTION; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” He has freed us from the unstable foundation that we had when in sin. Let the only foundation be that of the service of righteousness unto holiness, and the end, everlasting life.

And to every soul who will face the Judgment, and hold himself in the presence of the Judgment, surrendering himself to crucifixion and destruction, that thing will be accomplished in God’s own way, and in the short time in which he has promised to bring us unto righteousness. Then it is only God, God’s estimate, his standard, and Christ the pattern, and his the work, always, in all things, everywhere and forever! Then be of good cheer. Let is

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