Are You Serious About Being Saved?

When I was around twenty years old, as I studied The Great Controversy between Christ and His Angels and Satan and His Angels, I realized that when I reach heaven, I will be associating with those who on this earth had developed a perfect character.

I thought hard about this because I didn’t yet have a perfect character, and I was not sure that I knew anyone else who did.

As I continued to study, I discovered that those who do not have a perfect character will not be in heaven. Jesus spoke of this condition to His disciples when He said, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 25:29

It would be no exaggeration to say that I was in a state of alarm when I realized this. I had been baptized for ten years. I was looked upon as a good person. I was studying to be a minister, but I knew that my character had serious defects.

What Must I do?

So, what can be done to remove the terrible defects in our characters to make us fit for heaven?

“Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 331

If you decide that you cannot overcome your defects of character, then you will not be in heaven. This failure is perhaps one of the main reasons that a great majority of Adventists will fail of gaining entry to the kingdom of glory.

“In concluding this narrative, I would say that we are living in a most solemn time. In the last vision given me, I was shown the startling fact that but a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and be saved. Many will get above the simplicity of the work. They will conform to the world, cherish idols, and become spiritually dead. The humble, self-sacrificing followers of Jesus will pass on to perfection, leaving behind the indifferent and lovers of the world.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, 608, 609

Did you notice that Mrs. White said in vision that only a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be saved? It is my intention, by the grace of God, to be a member of that number, and I pray it is your intention, too.

God does not tell us to do things and then leave us to struggle on our own. “All His biddings are enablings.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 333. Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5, last part. He also said, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. How can He tell us to be perfect, unless He intends to give us the power to do it?

Writing to a husband who had some very serious character defects, Mrs. White said, “When tempted to murmur, censure, and indulge in fretfulness, wounding those around you, and in so doing wounding your own soul, oh! let the deep, earnest, anxious inquiry come from your soul, Shall I stand without fault before the throne of God? Only the faultless will be there.

“None will be translated to heaven while their hearts are filled with the rubbish of earth. Every defect in the moral character must first be remedied, every stain removed by the cleansing blood of Christ, and all the unlovely, unlovable traits of character overcome.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, 705

Friend, we all have unlovely, unlovable, unChristlike traits of character. All these traits must be overcome if we are to go to heaven.

“In the state which you and your family are in at present, all heaven would be marred should you be introduced therein. The work for you must be done here. This earth is the fitting-up place. You have not one moment to lose.” Ibid., 706

There is no infinite amount of time to overcome these things, no second chances when the end of all things comes. For that reason, we have no time to lose. We must get down to it, putting all our commitment and determination into overcoming all the ugly defects that mar our characters.

“All is harmony, peace, and love in heaven. No discord, no strife, no censoring, no unloving words, no clouded brow, no jars there; and no one will be introduced there who possesses any of these elements so destructive to peace and happiness.” Ibid.

Oh, friend, how serious are you about being saved? Enough to ask the Lord to help you learn the lessons He seeks to daily teach us? God knows our characters and exactly what must be overcome if we are going to be in heaven. If we surrender, heart, soul, and body, everything to Him, if we seek to do His will, and to learn His lessons, even when they involve trials that we don’t like, then God will help us every step of the way. He is preparing a people for heaven, and He will not allow any soul to fail if they will commit to work with Him in perfecting their character.

God told Abraham, “ ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless [perfect].’ ” Genesis 17:1, last part

In 1 Corinthians 1:4–8, Paul speaks to the church in Corinth about being blameless when Jesus comes. In his letter to the Ephesians, he describes the condition of the church when Jesus comes the second time as, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:27

Peter counsels the church to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” 2 Peter 3:14, last part

The work of seeking perfection of character is as important as it gets. “Our first work is to become perfect in His sight, by living faith claiming His promise of forgiveness.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 19, 49

Perfection of character is to be our first work. Every soul must aim for it.

“Success in any line demands a definite aim. He who would achieve true success in life must keep steadily in view the aim worthy of his endeavor.” Mind, Character, and Personality, Vol. 1, 341

If a person lacks steadfastness in their commitment to develop perfection of character, they will not overcome the defects in their character. When they set their course and ask the Lord to help them, they will be astonished at the defects He will reveal to them, and He will show them what they must do to be changed.

Without a perfect character, we will not enter through the pearly gates for we will be unable to endure the presence of God. Mrs. White tells us that when Jesus comes, the wicked will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming, just as the Roman guard, who did not have perfect characters, fell powerless to the ground at Jesus’ resurrection.

“No unlikeness to Christ will be permitted in the holy city.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 15, 171. If the Lord were to take anyone to heaven with a defective character, heaven would be spoiled. In fact, the same rebellion we have down here in this world eventually would occur again, and the Bible says that affliction is not going to rise up the second time.

“Will God take to heaven, and into His own glorious presence, those who are living in open violation of one of the plainest precepts of the decalogue? No, no. It can never be that He will take those who are living in rebellion to His holy law to heaven, among pure angels who delight to do His will, and obey the laws of His righteous government, for there would be a second rebellion in heaven. The indignation of heaven is aroused at man’s open and daring rebellion against God’s holy law.” The Review and Herald, September 16, 1862

This inspired statement shows us just how important it is that we aim for perfection of character, making it our first work here and now. For no one who still harbors sin will enter heaven.

“ ‘For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, ‘That will leave them neither root nor branch.’ ” Malachi 4:1

What is Perfection of Character?

The simplest definition of perfection of character is to be like Jesus Christ. However, it is impossible to be like Him, if we do not know Him. So the best way to know Him is to study His life.

Inspiration describes the characteristics of the person who has a perfect character in a number of passages. We’ll look at just a few of these.

A person with a perfect character

  1. Is always patient.
  2. Is pure in heart.
  3. Always has self-control.
  4. Does not exalt self.
  5. Is kind, tender-hearted, and refined.
  6. Will have the meekness of Christ.
  7. Is not half-hearted.
  8. Will manifest constant obedience to Jesus Christ.
  9. Will never be discourteous.
  10. Will have gentleness and forbearance, and his character will be manifest in his countenance.

The problem for us is that we do not have these characteristics. We must go to God and ask Him to help us, by His grace and power, to remedy the defects in our character. Praise God, He never tells us to do something without making it possible to do it. He stands behind every promise that He has made, and we can be assured that He will uphold them.

How is My Character Perfected?

We have found that having a perfect character is essential for we cannot go to heaven without it. We have determined what a perfect character looks like. Now we come to the most important part—how to obtain a perfect character.

For our characters to be made perfect, God must work a miracle in our lives. This miracle is available to every person in the world, but not all people are interested in, or serious about, being saved. They are happy with an easy religion that does not require obedience, sacrifice, or change of any kind.

I must be serious about being saved if I want to go to heaven. Time is running out and that makes the necessity of a perfected character a very scary proposition, because I have so much that needs to be changed. But regardless of how impossible it may look from a human standpoint, I can trust that all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26).

So, what am I to do to become perfect? First, I must understand that it is through Jesus Christ alone that my defects are remedied and my character is made perfect.

Most people, even many Adventists, believe that your character has to do with your words and actions, and that is true. But have you ever considered that your words and actions are, in fact, an outward expression of what is already in your mind (Luke 6:45)? If we want our actions and words to be changed, then our minds and hearts must be changed first.

Let’s look at what we need to do to have a perfected character.

  1. Ephesians 4:1–6 tells me that I come to perfection of character through certain spiritual gifts that God has put in the church. Through these gifts, the church will come into harmony and unity, and into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Jesus Christ.
  2. I must receive Jesus into my heart as the Lord of my life, and I must believe that Jesus can, by His grace, take a person like me and make my character perfect.
  3. Perfection of character is a step-by-step process. It does not happen with a snap of the fingers and now I am perfect.

“There must be a lifelong, persevering, untiring effort, a fighting of the good fight of faith. The struggle is lifelong and the victory is certain.” The 1888 Ellen G. White Materials, 938

  1. I must be learning daily about Jesus.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

  1. I must be involved in the work God is doing in the world. I cannot be just a spectator.

“Place your entire dependence on the One who is able to keep the souls committed to His trust, able to imbue them with His Spirit, able to fill them with unselfish love for one another, thus enabling them to bear witness that He has sent His Son into the world to save sinners. …

“God’s servants have one common work. Their aim is to convert people to the pure truth of the word of God.” The Upward Look, 85

  1. I will have trials, disappointments, and tribulation. I must be willing to fight against my defects of character and overcome them. Only God can give me the victory, but I must be willing to fight.

“The Christian life is a life of constant conflict. It is a battle and a march. Every act of obedience, every deed of self-denial, every trial bravely endured, every temptation resisted, every victory gained, is a step forward in the march to eternal triumph.” Ye Shall Receive Power, 358

“All who enter heaven will do so as conquerors. You will have battles to fight; you will have difficulties to meet that can only be overcome by strong, determined resistance.” The Signs of the Times, May 5, 1887

“Under the Lord’s guidance, every sphere of action, every position in life, every disappointment, becomes the means of the development of Christian experience.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 7, 149

  1. I must strive for perfection of character.

“Strive, for the grasp of Satan is upon you; and if you do not wrench yourselves from Him, you will be palsied and ruined. … Strive, for there is a crown to be won. Strive, for if you win not the crown, you lose everything in this life and in the future life. Strive, but let it be in the strength of your risen Saviour.” The Review and Herald, August 21, 1888

  1. I must daily study the word of God, pray, and do good.

“The business of every Christian is to study the character of Christ.” That I May Know Him, 182

“By studying the life of Christ let the workers learn how He lived and worked. Let them strive each day to live His life.” Testimonies, Vol. 6, 416

“Jesus gave us a perfect pattern. Let us study it carefully, and as we study and pray, we shall come into close connection with heaven. Shall we not try harder to be like Jesus? Shall we not pray more? Shall we not make more earnest efforts for others?” The Review and Herald, March 16, 1886

  1. I must seek daily to remove the blemishes from my character. If my thoughts, words, actions, or feelings are unChristlike, then there is a blemish in my character that must be removed.

“Those who expect one day to stand before the throne of the God of gods and Lord of kings, … should seek daily to remove the blemishes in character that lead to sin, and bring into their lives the perfection of character that all must reveal who have a part in the kingdom of heaven.” The Youth’s Instructor, October 29, 1907

  1. I am to exercise mercy toward my fellow man.

“The exercise of mercy in our daily relations with one another is one of the most effective means of attaining perfection of character, for only those who walk with Christ can be truly merciful.” In Heavenly Places, 290

  1. Only through Christ alone can I achieve perfection of character.

“If you have an earnest desire to answer the claims that God has upon you, if your desire is to be connected with God, and to reach the highest round of the ladder of progress in the divine life, then, when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. But it is your own efforts, through the grace of Christ, that will bring you perfection of character.” The Signs of the Times, May 5, 1887

“Jesus is the perfect pattern … . He kept His Father’s statutes, precepts, and laws. He was continually seeking counsel of God, and was obedient to His will.

“It is the duty and privilege of every child to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.” Sons and Daughters of God, 128

  1. I must have a regard for the laws of nature.

“Perfection of character cannot be attained when the laws of nature are disregarded; for this is transgression of the law of God.” Our High Calling, 266

  1. I can attain perfection of character because it is attainable by everyone who strives for it.

“The word of God is full of consolation. It presents before us great possibilities and advantages, which all should appreciate. By a faithful improvement of these blessings we may rise to the highest standard of Christian excellence. The gospel influences those who receive it to attain to perfection. They are inspired with faith and hope, and become Christlike in character.” The Review and Herald, February 19, 1901

  1. I must be willing to be obedient to the truth.

“God requires perfection of character from His children. He demands that His law be remembered and meditated upon, that unswerving obedience be rendered to its requirements.” The Signs of the Times, March 4, 1897

“We can never attain perfection of character if we do not hear the voice of God and obey His counsel.” The Youth’s Instructor, January 13, 1898

  1. I will follow Peter’s ladder to perfection.

“For this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. … Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.” 2 Peter 1:5–7, 10

  1. I must repent and forsake my sins.

“ ‘While it is called today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.’ [Hebrews 3:15]. It may be you will never hear the invitation again. A mere answer in the affirmative is not sufficient. We are to repent and forsake every sin, and work the works of righteousness.” The General Conference Bulletin, October 1, 1899 [Author’s emphasis.]

  1. I must practice self-denial and self-sacrifice.

“Seek to deny yourself; be holy; let your mind dwell upon heaven, and let your conversation be there also.” Sons and Daughters of God, 89

“Human nature is ever struggling for expression, ready for contest; but he who learns of Christ is emptied of self, of pride, of love of supremacy, and there is silence in the soul. Self is yielded to the disposal of the Holy Spirit.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 15

“There is a world to be warned. To us has been entrusted this work. At any cost we must practice the truth. We are to stand as self-sacrificing minutemen, willing to suffer the loss of life itself, if need be, in the service of God.” The Review and Herald, January 31, 1907

  1. I must be willing to work hard.

“Perfection of character is a lifelong work, unattainable by those who are not willing to strive for it in God’s appointed way, by slow and toilsome steps.” Testimonies, Vol. 5, 500

  1. I must place every thought in subjection to Christ.

“Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

  1. I must encourage unity in the church.

“Perfection of character means perfection in unity. ‘That they all may be one,’ Christ said, ‘as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee’ (John 17:21).” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 11, 179

“It is the unity of Christ’s followers that convinces the world that God has indeed sent His Son to die for sinners, to make them partakers of His perfection, changing the sinful heart, and forming the character after the divine likeness.” The Review and Herald, July 21, 1903

  1. I must constantly resist evil and cooperate with divinity.

“You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Hebrews 12:4

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

  1. I must stop criticizing.

“The one who criticizes another gives evidence that he is the very one who needs to criticize himself. Pray God to show you what you must remove from yourselves in order that you may see the kingdom of God.” Our High Calling, 233

  1. I must not only be beholding Jesus, I must talk of His love.

“Let us talk faith, talk courage. Let our lips utter the praise of the Lord. Behold Him, behold Him who is the Light of the world. Talk of His love, tell of His wonderful works.” The Upward Look, 289

  1. I must engage in hard, stern battles with self.

“A noble character is earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. God gives the talents, the powers of the mind; we form the character. It is formed by hard, stern battles with self.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 331

“This knowledge [the knowledge of God] is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation; and it is this alone that can make one like God in character. …

“None need fail of attaining, in his sphere, to perfection of Christian character. By the sacrifice of Christ, provision has been made for the believer to receive all things that pertain to life and godliness. God calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection and places before us the example of Christ’s character. In His humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance of evil, the Saviour showed that through cooperation with Divinity, human beings may in this life attain to perfection of character. This is God’s assurance to us that we, too, may obtain complete victory.” The Acts of the Apostles, 530, 531

[Emphasis supplied.]

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.