As Seventh-day Adventists, our preaching, teaching, and our lives reflect our hope, belief, and anticipation of the soon return of Christ. As we consider the great controversy theme, we realize that God has called us to a special relationship with Him. We recognize that the 1950s were a watershed moment for our church. The ensuing discussions and sometimes controversies that have come from that period reflect a deep desire to understand the role of God’s people in the last generation before Christ’s return. Sometimes those discussions have led to extreme positions.
About four years ago, I was sitting on the back row next to Dr. Jiří Moskala, dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, at the General Conference Annual Council. We began a conversation about Last Generation Theology and concluded that there had never been a definitive work on this topic. Dr. Moskala began assembling a group of scholars in various areas of theological disciplines. As I read the manuscript it was clear that this book covers many of the most important aspects of living a Christ-like life in the last generation.
Question: Dr. Moskala, you are one of the editors and contributors to the book, God’s Character and the Last Generation, so I would like to ask you several questions about the birth of this very important publication for Adventism. First, what made you and the other authors feel a necessity to write this book?
Answer: Many distorted ideas regarding end-time issues and what is needed to be ready for the Second Coming of Christ circulate among our church members today. The purpose of this book is to clarify the meaning and the effects of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for us. This decisive victory over Satan and his power not only has results for our life today, but has cosmic dimensions for the security of God’s government. We cannot add anything to Christ's victory, but we can experience it, as well as live it, by the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word.
Why is this book needed now?
Adventists strongly believe that Jesus is coming soon. Therefore, our lives should be Christ-centered and not fear-centered. They must be hope, love, and faith-centered—not achievement-centered. Living in the last days has to be always God-centered and not human-centered. We should be led by the firm Word of God supported by the writings of Ellen White and not by speculation and calculation. The Bible gives us full assurance and joy of salvation, which brings balance to our Christian beliefs and service to the world. We humans have no power to be the last proof in God’s arsenal to defeat Satan and thus close the Great Controversy, because Satan was already defeated on the cross. We can only participate and walk in this decisive and non-repeatable triumph of Christ over the powers of evil. An Adventism which is not cross-centered is not true Adventism at all.
Please share a little about the authors and what they bring to the book.
Twelve Andrews University professors, mainly from the Theological Seminary, each contribute a chapter with a specific theme related to crucial issues dealing with God’s character of love, salvation, and the end time. Topics such as sin, justification, sanctification, perfection, last generation lifestyle, Christ as our Savior and/or example, and why the delay of the Second Coming are discussed in depth from a fresh biblical perspective.
Who is this book aimed at?
This book deals with the theological understanding, lifestyle, and choices pertinent to those who believe that they live at the time of the end. Pastors—and indeed, every church member today—face unprecedented conditions that demand a sound interpretive approach to life in the end-time. We all need to carefully examine different views in light of biblical teachings. So I believe that this publication will serve well an entire spectrum of readers across the Adventist Church.
How will this book help individual members, pastors, and leaders in our church?
The book navigates the reader through the labyrinth of different opinions existing in the church today—especially ideas related to last generation theology—and presents a very balanced biblical interpretation of these hotly debated topics. It will help readers gain a sound understanding of relevant issues in a coherent way so that they can be powerful, joyful witnesses for God in all their different activities in life. For the first time a book has been published which explores in a comprehensive way this crucial theme of how to live in the end-time.
What does it mean to recognize that Christ's atonement on the cross is complete, but needs to be completed?
The cross of Jesus is a unique, non-repeatable, unparalleled, and all-powerful event that lies at the heart of Seventh-day Adventist theology. Nothing can replace the centrality and ultimate importance of Christ's death. None of our actions can improve or add anything to this once-for-all work of God on our behalf. The cross secured our salvation. Atonement is thus “complete” on the cross, but not yet “completed,” because it needs to be applied to our lives, bring victory over sin, transform our characters, and totally eradicate evil. All these benefits flow out from Christ’s unselfish sacrifice for us on Calvary. But the full harmony of the universe will be restored only when God establishes the New Earth where death will no more exist.
What is the meaning of Christ’s intercessory ministry and the pre-advent Judgment?
The intercessory ministry of Christ brings the benefits of the cross into our lives. Because Christ died for us and now lives and intercedes for us, He is able to apply to us the results of His death: He is able to save us completely. He helps us in our everyday struggles and brings us victory over sin. This experience of salvation is the outcome of His work for us in the heavenly sanctuary. When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, then God is for us and never against us. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). We are His, and no one can ever separate us from the love of God. The pre-advent judgment brings the final solution to the problem of sin. As our High Priest, Christ affirms in front of the universe our allegiance to Him and thus secures our place in heaven for all eternity. He reveals and demonstrates to angels and the heavenly beings that His amazing grace has made us fit into heaven to become an integral part of the heavenly family. Soli Deo Gloria!
Dale E. Galusha is president of the Pacific Press Publishing Association.
Image courtesy of Pacific Press.
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