Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Are Believers on Probation? Can Believers be Perfect?

Are believers on probation? Will believers be perfect (cease sinning) before Jesus returns? The answer to these questions is a resounding and unequivocal NO! Believers are not on probation waiting for an Investigative Judgment to end and believers will not cease sinning before Jesus returns. As a former Seventh-day Adventist (SDA), I know this sounds like heresy but please hear me out because I can prove it from Scripture.

According to, probation comes from Middle French, meaning critical examination and evaluation, from Latin probation- probatio , from probare meaning to test, approve, prove. 1 a : subjection to a period of evaluation and possible termination at the commencement of employment in a position for which one's fitness is to be determined. 1 b : subjection to a period of review in the course of employment or education as a result of a violation of standards and with the possibility of dismissal if standards are not met.

Probation then is a test to prove our fitness for heaven with the possibility of being turned away if we don’t meet the standards. So probation for believers would be trying (as long as we live) to qualify for heaven knowing that in the end, we will be dismissed because we can never attain perfection. It’s a 'lose - lose' situation and pretty scary indeed! I lived with this fear for decades until I heard and believed the Good News of the Gospel! The Good News is that Jesus passed every test, He suffered, He bled, He died on the cross and He rose again that we might claim His victory and perfection by faith. In other words, He met the standards for us.

Our Seventh-day Adventist friends teach and believe that we are on probation, and that our name could come up for judgment at any time. They say we need to work to make sure that our character is perfect because it is the only thing that we will take from earth to glory. I believe that by beholding we become changed. If we believe what The Bible Says and if we are allowing the Holy Spirit to have active and daily control of our lives, change is inevitable, but that change is not a by-product of our works. It is God’s gift to us.

Seventh- day Adventists use the correct Christian jargon like “We teach and believe that we are saved by grace through faith.” What they really believe is that we are saved by grace through faith PLUS works (being perfect, keeping the 7th day holy, not eating meat, not wearing jewelry, giving 10% of their gross income and…. well, this is the short list). They are quick to say that they keep the Sabbath out of love for God NOT as a requirement to be saved but because He asked them to. God has never asked nor required New Covenant Christians to keep the 7th day Sabbath.

According to Ellen G. White (their prophetess), the Sabbath will be the end-time test that will divide believers from non-believers. The Sabbath keepers will be sealed and those worshipping on other days will not be sealed. So it is plain to see that it is indeed a requirement thus contradicting themselves. The Bible Says, believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit and a day of worship has absolutely nothing to do with it. In addition, God tore down the wall that separated believers and Seventh-day Adventists have built a wall separating themselves from other believers by requiring 7th day Sabbath keeping as the test of faith and calling those who choose to celebrate His resurrection on Sunday harlots. The Bible Says clearly that God gave the Sabbath to the Israelites only.

Be assured that if you choose to worship God with fellow believers on the 7th day, it is not a sin. You have the freedom to do so just as others have the freedom to worship on the day of their choosing. However, when you worship on the 7th day or any day because you believe you will not pass the so-called ‘probationary period’ or will not be sealed and saved unless you keep it, that’s where the problem lies. The Bible says in Col. 2:16-17...

16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Our Adventist friends also believe that we are to follow Jesus’ perfect example of living a sinless life because they believe Jesus could have sinned. There is nothing in the Bible to support this claim. Jesus was conceived by the Spirit, He was God in the form of human flesh and as God, He could not sin and had no desire to do so. We were born in sin and unlike Him, we have a sinful nature. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Jesus was the second or last Adam (before Adam sinned), but He was victorious where Adam failed. It’s hard to grasp an understanding of how and why God did what He did for us. It’s hard for us as humans with a sinful nature to understand how He could come to earth as a human and not have a tendency to sin. It’s hard for Seventh-day Adventists to understand that He could not sin, even though He was still God.

God the Son’s mission was to come to pay the price for our redemption. His mission was NOT to show us how to live a perfect life. What was needed for our redemption was a perfect, sinless, and unblemished sacrifice. Do we dare stoop to place God on our sinful level? He came so that we can be lifted out of the pig pen and claim His robe of righteousness as our own. He did all the work and all we have to do is believe Him and claim His righteousness. Remember the story of the prodigal son and His father's great love for him even though he was covered with pigs' stench? No one saw his dirt because of his father's royal robe embracing him.

Since we, in all fairness, cannot compare our sinful nature to His sinless nature, God being the wise God He is, left us plenty of sinful human flesh examples that were victorious and perfect in His sight that we can learn from and emulate. Read Hebrews chapter 11 for a short list (Abraham, Moses, Noah, Joseph, Rahab, Sarah ...) and please notice that they were men and women God honored because of their faith and belief in Him, not because they were sinless. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” and when we get to the point that we think we can explain God, at that point He ceases to be God because the God we love, adore, worship and honor is Sovereign and cannot be explained. It is His holy and majestic right to do as He pleases, how He pleases and when He pleases.

Christ came and paid the full price for our sins and to give all of those who believe in Him eternal life NOW! There was no need for Him to come if we can save ourselves and/or be sinless as He is sinless. Since we have eternal life NOW, there is no need for us to be sentenced to a life of probation to fret, wonder, hope, agonize and pray that we will somehow qualify by passing the test to enter into His rest.

Following are some Scriptures to prove that eternal life is ours NOW, at the moment we believe:

1 Timothy 6:12 NIV
"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (emphasis mine)

John 5:24 NIV
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (emphasis mine)

1 John 3:14 NIV
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” (emphasis mine)

1 John 5:13 NIV
“ I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (emphasis mine)

John 3:16 NIV
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (emphasis mine)

If we believe God, we have already entered His rest and we don’t carry that weight and burden of guilt wondering if God has come to our name, wondering if all of our sins have been confessed and wondering what was or will be the verdict. What a fearful and insecure way to live. Believe me, I know. When Christ said, ‘It is finished” He meant just that. His atonement was complete and when He returned to the Father, He sat down. He bids us, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavily laden and I will give you rest."

We can attribute the tale of having to stand before a holy God in a righteous (sinless) state without a mediator to Mrs. Ellen Gould White taken from her book, The Great Controversy:

“When [Christ] leaves the sanctuary [at the end of the Investigative Judgment], darkness covers the inhabitants of the earth. In that fearful time the righteous must live in the sight of a holy God without an intercessor” (GC 614).

The Bible Says that God will NEVER leave us nor forsake us. Perhaps Seventh- day Adventists get it wrong by how the word ‘perfection’ is defined. To them, it means without sin as quoted in the above statement by Mrs. White. Only a sinless being can stand before a holy God and not be consumed . Does your Bible say "If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts" ? 1John 1:10 Mine does.

Let’s discover what perfection really means:

Hebrews 10:14 reads, “14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” NIV

Notes for 10:14
We have been made perfect, yet we are "being made holy." Through his death and resurrection, Christ, once for all, made his believers perfect in God's sight. At the same time, he is making them holy (progressively cleansed and set apart for his special use) in their daily pilgrimage here. We should not be surprised, ashamed, or shocked that we still need to grow. God is not finished with us. We can encourage this growth process by deliberately applying Scripture to all areas of our lives, by accepting the discipline and guidance Christ provides, and by giving him control of our desires and goals. —Life Application Bible Notes

Matthew 5:48 reads, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Notes for 5:48
How can we be perfect? (1) In character. In this life we cannot be flawless, but we can aspire to be as much like Christ as possible. (2) In holiness. Like the Pharisees, we are to separate ourselves from the world's sinful values. But unlike the Pharisees, we are to be devoted to God's desires rather than our own, and carry his love and mercy into the world. (3) In maturity. We can't achieve Christlike character and holy living all at once, but we must grow toward maturity and wholeness. Just as we expect different behavior from a baby, a child, a teenager, and an adult, so God expects different behavior from us, depending on our stage of spiritual development. (4) In love. We can seek to love others as completely as God loves us.

We can be perfect if our behavior is appropriate for our maturity level — perfect, yet with much room to grow. Our tendency to sin must never deter us from striving to be more like Christ. Christ calls all of his disciples to excel, to rise above mediocrity, and to mature in every area, becoming like him. Those who strive to become perfect will one day be perfect, even as Christ is perfect (1John 3:2,3).—Life Application Bible Notes (all emphasis mine)

The word ‘perfect’ as in the above text comes from the Greek word G5046, teleios meaning: complete (in various applications of labor; growth, mental and moral character, etc.);

Perfect does not and cannot mean sinless because we are sinful by nature and that will not change while we are here on earth. We can claim perfection by faith because of what Jesus did for us but not because we don’t sin. I John 1:9-10 says, “9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." NIV

Notes for 1:9
Confession is supposed to free us to enjoy fellowship with Christ. It should ease our consciences and lighten our cares. But some Christians do not understand how it works. They feel so guilty that they confess the same sins over and over; then they wonder if they might have forgotten something. Other Christians believe that God forgives them when they confess, but if they died with unconfessed sins, they would be forever lost. These Christians do not understand that God wants to forgive us. He allowed his beloved Son to die just so he could offer us pardon. When we come to Christ, he forgives all the sins we have committed or will ever commit. We don't need to confess the sins of the past all over again, and we don't need to fear that God will reject us if we don't keep our slate perfectly clean. Of course we should continue to confess our sins, but not because failure to do so will make us lose our salvation. Our relationship with Christ is secure. Instead, we should confess so that we can enjoy maximum fellowship and joy with him.

As an aside, when one leaves the SDA church, he/she is said to be lost, to have left Christ in order to be free to do as he/she pleases. That is such a lie and another fear tactic to keep its members! We (those of us who sincerely believe) find ourselves running to Christ begging Him to live His life through us and to obey Him by loving others as He commanded. We finally REALLY see that salvation is not about us and our 'doing' but about our belief in what He has done and is doing for and in us. It's such an amazing life-changing experience. One of the most difficult parts for me about leaving Adventism is constantly discovering the ingrained deception and peeling the layers that was once perceived as truth. The discoveries seem to be unending and sometimes overwhelming for having been so gullible.

True confession also involves a commitment not to continue in sin. We wouldn't be genuinely confessing our sins to God if we planned to commit them again and just wanted temporary forgiveness. We should also pray for strength to defeat temptation the next time we face it.

1:9 If God has forgiven us for our sins because of Christ's death, why must we confess our sins? In admitting our sins and receiving Christ's cleansing, we are: (1) agreeing with God that our sin truly is sin and that we are willing to turn from it, (2) ensuring that we don't conceal our sins from him and consequently from ourselves, and (3) recognizing our tendency to sin and relying on his power to overcome it. —Life Application Bible Notes

Furthermore, those who have accepted Christ and believe in Him are not judged nor condemned. Romans 8:1-2 reads, “1 Therefore, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” NIV (emphasis mine)

Take note of the word ‘Now’ (present tense). If there is NOW no condemnation, there’s no need for probation or judgment.

Notes for 8:1
"Not guilty; let him go free" — what would those words mean to you if you were on death row? The fact is that the whole human race is on death row, justly condemned for repeatedly breaking God's holy law. Without Jesus we would have no hope at all. But thank God! He has declared us not guilty and has offered us freedom from sin and power to do his will.

Notes for 8:2
This Spirit of life is the Holy Spirit. He was present at the creation of the world (Genesis 1:2), and he is the power behind the rebirth of every Christian. He gives us the power we need to live the Christian life. For more about the Holy Spirit, read the notes on John 3:6; Acts 1:3; 1:4,5; 1:5. —Life Application Bible Notes

John 5:24 reads, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me HAS eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” NIV (emphasis mine)

Notes for 5:24

"Eternal life" — living forever with God — begins when you accept Jesus Christ as Savior. At that moment, new life begins in you (2Corinthians 5:17). It is a completed transaction. You still will face physical death, but when Christ returns again, your body will be resurrected to live forever (1Corinthians 15). —Life Application Bible Notes

In conclusion, if the Bible speaks truth when it says that Christ came and died for us so that we can have eternal life NOW, why the need to put us on probation? Neither is there a need for an Investigative Judgment because John 10:27-28 NIV says, “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I KNOW THEM, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” The Bible Says He already knows whose are His.

Notes for 10:28,29
Just as a shepherd protects his sheep, Jesus protects his people from eternal harm. While believers can expect to suffer on earth, Satan cannot harm their souls or take away their eternal life with God. There are many reasons to be afraid here on earth because this is the devil's domain (1Peter 5:8). But if you choose to follow Jesus, he will give you everlasting safety. —Life Application Bible Notes

The Bible Says that we have eternal life NOW and it is secure. No man can pluck us out of His hand. When He said,' It is finished', our salvation was complete contingent on our accepting His completed sacrifice. If you believe the Bible as your authoritative guide, that’s GOOD NEWS! Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus our blessed Redeemer!!! It’s not about us; It is ALL about Him.

By the way, the only work that Jesus asked us to do is found in John 6:28-29:

28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.(emphasis mine)

Notes for 6:28,29
Many sincere seekers for God are puzzled about what he wants them to do. The religions of the world are mankind's attempts to answer this question. But Jesus' reply is brief and simple: we must believe on him whom God has sent. Satisfying God does not come from the work we do, but from whom we believe. The first step is accepting that Jesus is who he claims to be. All spiritual development is built on this affirmation. Declare to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16), and embark on a life of belief that is satisfying to your Creator. —Life Application Bible Notes

Reader, I invite you to study to see what The Bible Says and permit the Holy Spirit to be your interpreter to see whether these things are so. Please don’t permit Ellen White to be your authoritative source or interpreter of God's Word. I saw things her way for decades and when I discovered what The Bible really Says, I was able to begin to experience a peace and joy that I didn’t know even existed in this life. Don’t just accept what you have been taught all of your life especially if you were born into an SDA family. Prove all things for yourself. Never in my life would I have thought I would NOT be a Seventh-day Adventist because I was convinced that I had the truth. I praise God that the truth of the Gospel prevailed and the veil of a different gospel was lifted simply because I decided to believe ONLY what The Bible Says.  Remember,

God cannot kiss His bride until the veil is lifted. --- Patricia A. Allen

With much Christian love.



  1. Very eloquently explained, Ms. Pat. Great research. Thank you for this extremely informative and candid article.

  2. Pat, I love your observation that "God cannot kiss His bride until the veil is lifted." It's awesome and I will not forget it!

  3. I wish my sda friend would see the truth. I've tried showing her Scripture but she twists it around to fit her need. I just keep praying for her.