The Gospel Herald -- Promoting the fundamentals of the 1888 message.



Character Perfection vis-a-vis
the Second Coming of Christ


Jones and Waggoner consistently taught (during the years of Ellen White’s support) that Christian character perfection is possible and will be certain for all who believe "the everlasting gospel" of Revelation 14. This is the opposite of the idea of "perfectionism." The motivation is not egocentric, but concern for Christ’s honor.


Genesis 26:5 Abraham’s perfect obedience as "father" (progenitor) of all "the faithful."

Genesis 13:16 An unnumbered multitude will at last by faith exemplify his character.

Matthew 5:48 Spiritual maturity is character perfection, the exemplification of agape.

Romans 1:16, 17 Experienced only through the true gospel; not a program of works.

Hebrews 3:1 Considering Christ as High Priest, as He truly is, leads to that perfection. 1

Hebrews 4:15, 16 The key truth involved is understanding the nature of Christ.

Hebrews 6:1 "Let us go on to perfection," the theme of Christ’s High Priestly ministry.

Hebrews 7:11, 19, 25 Perfection of character assured "in Christ" for all who "come."

Hebrews 9:11-14 The deepest heart-level (the conscience) will be "purged." 2

Hebrews 9:26 Before He returns, sin will be "put away," not merely legally pardoned.

Hebrews 13:21 A prayer for character perfection that must be answered before His return.

Ephesians 4:8-15 What God longs to see is a growing up unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The idea is, a people must be prepared for His return.

1 Thessalonians 4:3; 5:23 "Thy will [to] be done in earth ..." is the perfection of His people.

Hebrews 8:10, 11 The Good News of the 1888 view of the new covenant fulfilled at last. 3


"The everlasting gospel" believed produces true obedience. But it must also be understood. The 1888 message was "the beginning" of its final understanding and proclamation. The 1888 call to overcome was not bad news but Good News.


This topic of sinless living in sinful flesh has been ridiculed by some Adventists for decades. When it is properly presented, fanaticism disappears before it. The issue is simply motivation— transcending egocentric concern by a truly Christ-centered one.

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  1. See the first paragraph of Waggoner’s first book published after the Minneapolis Conference, Christ and His Righteousness. [return to study]
  2. Jones and Waggoner did not intimate that anyone would be conscious of character perfection, or in any way claim it. The closer one comes to Christ, the more unworthy he feels himself to be. Character perfection is judged only by God. The 1888 message insists only that it is possible, and will be accomplished "by grace through faith." It’s not a works trip but a faith trip. Faith can "grow up." [return to study]
  3. For a detailed presentation, see Waggoner, The Glad Tidings, chapters 3, 4; and Ellen White’s endorsements of his view (Letters 30, 59, 1890). [return to study]

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