Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.
Ellen G. White - Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pg. 300 (1885).
Have you ever wondered why there are so many different denominations of churches, and other assemblies of individuals that all refer to them themselves as Christians? And, why each one tends to see themselves as the correct one, while everyone else who doesn’t bow to their particular brand of religion is a fraud? In my case, I didn’t wonder about the first question for at least the first two decades of my life because my involvement with public school brought me in contact with kids who came from various backgrounds, and upbringings, and we all seemed to get along to some extent, and shared many of the same interests. It wasnâ€™t until after being out of school a few years, moving out of state, reading the Bible, and going to a local church on my own recognizance that it became evident that this condition exists quite strongly in the Christian world.
Arriving at the conclusion of these questions took an additional two decades of continuous study. Not only that, it has resulted in a peculiar lifestyle that has prevented me from being able to “settle down” in a conventional sense. It is evident now that all of this has been necessary in order to equip me to present the message that is contained in this document, and to deal with its reception, or the lack thereof.
When Jesus of Nazareth walked this earth to fulfill the work of revealing His Father’s character for three and a half years culminating at Passover in the year 31, no one understood what He was about. They didn't get who He was. Not only was this the case with His disciples, but even His own cousin, John the Baptist, misunderstood the nature of the kingdom that Jesus preached. Everyone thought that Jesus was going to set up a kingdom that is patterned after the powers of this world, and the disciples spent much of their time vying for supremacy within this imaginary structure. It wasn't until Jesus was arrested, and consequently executed, that their delusions of worldly grandeur were shattered.
After Jesus was resurrected, made various appearances over the next forty days, and departed, the Bible says that the disciples "were all with one accord." Acts 2:1. In other words, they were no longer competing with each other as to who should be in charge. It was after coming to this place of relationship with one another that they could receive the Holy Spirit, and when they did, things would never be the same again for the human race.
Not only did they now understand who Jesus was in relationship to His Father, they knew who they were in relationship to the Father also, and this knowledge changed them from being disciples (students), to apostles. An apostle is one who has the same power, and authority as the teacher because they have that which the teacher intended on giving to them. Such knowledge is not a product of human invention, but comes directly from the Divine Mind itself.
"When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That though art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever that shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:13-19 (emphasis supplied).
In other words, knowing who God is, and who you are in relationship to God is the difference between those who can only present the Bible as nothing more than a collection of religious fairy tales, and those who have the power to turn the world upside down, which the apostles were accused of doing. Acts 17:6.
During the last supper with the disciples, Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye love one another." John 13:34-35. Love is a principle which when received, results in a state of being that is not natural to the human heart. "God is love" 1 John 4:8, and man was originally created in the image of God. Unfortunately, that image has been corrupted as a result of our first parents choosing to believe the first lie, and we have had to deal with the effects of that ever since. The confusion surrounding the definition of love is just one of numerous examples.
John is referred to as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" John 21:20 indicating that John was especially astute in the knowledge of this principle. He certainly wrote about it more than anyone else, and with good reason. As the longest living apostle, he witnessed the Church increase with numbers of interested observers, and participants in the following decades, and the sad departure of love among so many. This can be observed when one looks at the commendation that the apostle Paul gives to the Church at Ephesus in the middle of the century. "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints." Ephesians 1:15. At the end of the century, John is instructed to say unto this same congregation, "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." Revelation 2:4. This is why John went to Ephesus, and wrote his account of the gospel after being released from exile on the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation.
The loss of love within the Church coincided with the loss of the knowledge of who Jesus was in relationship to God, which in turn resulted in believers not knowing who they are in relationship to God, which resulted in the loss of love among the brethren. This loss also weakened the manifestation of the Holy Spiritâ€™s power in the Church. Despite this setback, the popularity of the Christian system of governance grew rapidly throughout the Roman Empire to the point that Christians were made objects of persecution in an attempt to uphold the authority of the Roman government from this perceived competitor.
In the early part of the fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine had an experience that resulted in him aligning himself with the Christian cause. After coming to the realization of the fractured state of Christianity, which was the result of conflicting explanations of who Jesus actually was in relationship to God, it was evident that he would have to take a position in this conflict if there was going to be order within his Roman/Christian empire. So in the year 325, the first ecumenical conference was held where Christian representatives throughout the empire were invited to the city of Nicaea to have a discussion with Constantine. What came out of that was something this is commonly known as the trinity doctrine, which is a system of explanation of the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, along with the believer, that was officially sanctioned by Constantine himself.
Thus you have the beginning of something known as the union of Church and state. You have a universal system of belief that is enforced by the Roman government. In other words the Roman Catholic Church, as the word catholic means universal. At the time, this may have been seen as a relief from the factious contention among the varying schools of Christian thought within a society that was becoming increasingly fragile as the empire was becoming too big for the government to manage. At the same time, such a system costs people the liberty to follow God according to the dictates of their conscience since the institutionalized Church would now assume the authority to dictate to people what is involved in following God. Those who would not submit to such things could be subjected to state prosecution.
Because of logistical challenges, the Roman Empire was eventually divided into two separate provinces, the east and the west. During the reign of Constantine, he moved the capital of the empire from Rome in the west to a city in the east that he named after himself, Constantinople, which is now known as Istanbul, Turkey today. In the wake of that move, the western part of the empire began to be over-run by "illegal immigrants" that were literally capturing large portions of the land, and claiming it as their own. These tribes eventually became strong enough that the last western Roman emperor was deposed in 476, leaving a vacuum of power.
Surprisingly, these nations of foreigners were not hostile to Christianity, but mainly to the empire itself. This was due to the fact that the Church helped these people organize as a society, and prosper through the interaction with other nations. By the year 538, the eastern half of the Roman Empire had recognized the work that the Church was doing, and essentially let them have that half, and fill the vacuum. This was the beginning of what history recognizes as the Middle Ages. It was during this time that the royal families were being established, and the nations of western Europe were being developed.
On the surface, this seems like an advancement in human civilization when in fact it came at a cost that resulted in multiple millions of people losing their lives prematurely over the following centuries. Part of that cost came in the form of the Church becoming a hierarchical structure over time. The head of this hierarchy being referred to as the Pope. One can argue that an organization with a hierarchical structure can operate more efficiently, and that would be correct from an administrative perspective, but the hierarchy that the Church became is one of authority where the members are subject to the clergy. Jesus said, "But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." Matthew 23:8-9 (emphasis supplied). The Bible refers to the people who have worked at creating this hierarchy as the Nicolaitans, and the injunction that Jesus makes against them is less than flattering. "So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." Revelation 2:15-16.
Another factor that plays into this is the fact that during this time, copies of the Bible were rare, and extremely labor intensive to produce. Not only that, but they were translated into Latin, which was the language of the Vatican, the central government of the Roman Catholic Church, but not of the common people. So practically everyone was at the mercy of the Vatican to know what the knowledge of God was. The few people who knew the Biblical testimony were essentially driven underground, and had to live in obscurity in order to avoid punishment for heresy.
But wait, it gets worse. Because the Roman Empire was divided into two provinces, a separate hierarchy was being developed in the eastern half of the empire as the Vatican was growing in the west. Eventually, things came to a head in 1054, and the Vatican sent emissaries to the east to tell them in no uncertain terms that there wasnâ€™t enough room on this planet for two Churches, and it was their duty to come into union with the Vatican. Their response wasâ€¦no, and that is something history refers to as The Great Schism, and resulted in the emergence of the Orthodox Church, which is prominent in Eastern Europe, Russia, Greece, and other Asian nations today.
After realizing just how damaging this situation was to the cause of Christianity, the Vatican set out to try and mend this wound by engaging in something that can easily be considered the worst act of public relations in the history of the world: The Crusades. In the year 610, a religion called Islam originated in Saudi Arabia, and spread throughout the nations of the Middle East, including the land of Palestine where Jesus lived. The Middle East was part of the eastern Roman Empire for centuries. The Vatican decided to liberate Palestine from Islam through a series of military interactions in an attempt to make amends with the Orthodox Church. It didn't work because evidently, the Orthodox Church didn't have that big of a problem with Islam that warranted an attempted genocide of entire nations of people.
After the last crusade took place in the early 1300's people within the Church started to realize that something is wrong with this picture, and publicly started calling for reform. One of these reformers was named John Wycliffe. John was born in England around 1328, and became a professor at the University of Oxford. He was one of the first people to translate the Bible into the English language, and is considered the morning star of the Reformation. Another reformer who was greatly influenced by the work of John Wycliffe was a university teacher from the present day Czech Republic named Jan Hus. Jan Hus was publicly executed in 1415 after being subjected to a mockery of a trial as a result of being betrayed by his own king who promised him safety in his travels to answer for his teachings. Some of his last words were a prediction that within a hundred years, God would raise up a reformer that would essentially be unstoppable. He was right.
That reformer was Martin Luther. Yes, the man that the American civil rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King jr. is named after. This Martin Luther was born in 1483 in a place referred to at the time as the Holy Roman Empire. Today it is called Germany. He was born in poverty, and his father sacrificed everything to send Martin to law school. After a lightning strike almost took his life as a teenager, he chose to enter a monastery, and become a monk instead. He later was sent to the city of Wittenberg where he became a professor at the university. On October 31, 1517, he posted a series of 95 theses to the door of the local church (the modern equivalent of making a social media posting to spark public conversation) questioning the authenticity of the Vatican's sale of indulgences.
By this time, the practice of printing had advanced substantially due to the advent of movable type characters. This resulted in the distribution of Luther's theses across most of Europe in a manner of months. In 1521, Martin was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by the Pope, and was ordered to appear at a tribunal to answer for supposed heresies. In this case, a political ally named Prince Frederick, ensured Martin was given a safe conduct by having him abducted on his return home, and stowing him away at the Wartburg castle for about a year. During this time, he translated the Bible into the common German language.
The German emperor at the time, Charles V, hated the reformation, and was intent on destroying it. In 1529, he called for an assembly of the German princes in the city of Spires, and demanded they take action on his demands. Their willingness to sacrifice their lives if need be, in consequence of disobeying their emperor is where the term Protestant comes from. It was the protest of these princes that opened the door for the separation of Church and state, along with the publishing of the Bible, that is the basis of what is known as the Protestant Reformation: The natural right of human beings to cultivate a relationship with God based on the knowledge He reveals to them through the study of His word. "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15.
Because of improved means of disseminating information, the Protestant Reformation sprung up across all of Europe during Luther's time. This resulted in several countries breaking their political ties with the Vatican. In the wake of this, the church in each nation took on a title that associated it with its native country. For example, the church in Scotland took on the name Presbyterian. The Lutheran church is named after Martin Luther, and his efforts to organize the church in his country. The Methodist and Episcopal churches are both associated with England (along with the Quakers and Baptists). Ireland, Spain, and Italy remained faithful to the Vatican.
France had a reformer named John Calvin, but he later moved his efforts to Geneva, Switzerland. In France, Protestants were a minority that were pejoratively referred to as Huguenots, as the French monarchy continued to adhere to Roman Catholicism. In 1598, the Edict of Nantes was ratified, giving Huguenots various civil and religious liberties. That edict was later revoked by King Louis XIV in 1685. That same year, the family of my now deceased grandmother, Florence LeFevre, was massacred except for one sixteen year old boy named Isaac LeFevre, who managed to escape with the family Bible. He was "adopted" into a wealthy merchant family named Farree who managed to make contact with William Penn, and procure a tract of land in Pennsylvania that the family named Paradise upon arrival in 1712. Our family history is documented in a book entitled, The Pennsylvania LeFevres. The family Bible has since been given into the care of the Lancaster Historical Society. When I took my parents to view it in 2009, we were told that it was one of their most popular artifacts, and that about 10,000 people a year come from all over the world to see it.
There is one more reformer worth noting. But before speaking about him, you may be thinking, where is God in all of this? I donâ€™t know about you, but the history of Christianity sounds like a horror movie full of dysfunction, deceit, turmoil, death, and confusion. I mean...the Crusades...really? What were these people thinking? Were they thinking? Has anyone learned anything in the last 2000 years?
Fortunately, Jesus understood humanity when he was here, and He told His disciples that the enemy would work through people to create the illusion that the kingdom of heaven, the Church, isn't working. "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." Matthew 13:24-30.
He then goes on to explain what this means. "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom (the Church) all things that offend (misrepresent the character of Christ), and them which do iniquity (have contempt for God's law); and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." Matthew 13:37-43 (emphasis supplied).
The Reformation did not, as many suppose, end with Luther. It is to be continued to the close of this world's history. Luther had a great work to do in reflecting upon others the light which God permitted to shine upon him; yet he was not to receive all the light which was to be given to the world. From that time to this, new light has been continually shining upon God's word, new truths have been constantly unfolding. God is light, and he is ever imparting light to his followers.
Ellen G. White - Signs of the Times, August 9, 1883.
The conclusion of the War of 1812 in the United States heralded a rebirth in the sense of independence that had been obtained from the American Revolution. The Era of Good Feelings commenced at this time as the Federalist Party collapsed along with the political disputes it had with the Democratic-Republican Party. This period carried with it a sense of unity, and purpose among many Americans. Couple this with the fact that in 1832, President Andrew Jackson vetoed the charter for the renewal of the Second National Bank, and paid off the national debt. This was the only time in history that the United States of America existed as a debt free nation. It's as if God was preparing America for a magnificent role to fulfill.
The American colonies started off as places that people risked their life to come to in order to live according to the dictates of their conscience, and develop a society based on those dictates. What many don't know is that all of the colonies originally had some kind of religious requirement if one intended on being a partaker of that society, or possibly be faced with criminal prosecution. This was especially true in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It wasn't until a man named Roger Williams was exiled from that colony, and petitioned the king of England for a charter to form his own colony that there was a place where the separation of Church and state existed in this land. At the time of his exile in the middle of winter, it looked like a death sentence. Because Roger survived, he named the capital city of his Rhode Island colony to Providence in honor of the God whom he accredited with sparing his life.
Someone who fought in the War of 1812, and survived the vastly outnumbered battle of Plattsburgh, was a man named William Miller. After his military service, he began studying the Bible after having a conversion experience in the local Baptist Church he belonged to. One of the subjects that captured his attention were the prophecies in the book of Daniel. One in particular states, "And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." Daniel 8:14. He concluded from that, in conjunction with other passages, that the sanctuary to be cleansed was the planet earth, and that this was an indicator that Jesus Christ would return sometime around 1843.
Although America was experiencing a great deal of religious interest during this time, no one was preaching that Christ was returning in that generation. The popular perspective at the time was that this era of good feelings would culminate in 20th century with the ushering in of a 1000 year golden age of peace and prosperity, and that Christ would return at the end of that time after the whole world was converted to Christianity.
At first, William kept his conclusions to himself. But as time moved on, he felt that God was calling him to make known what he had discovered. "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it." Habakkuk 2:2. Mind you, William was a farmer, not a public speaker. The thought of doing such a thing terrified him. Eventually, he told God that he would go public if the door were opened for him. Soon after that, a nephew from another town came to his house with a request from his church for William to speak in place of their absent minister, and share with them what he had found in the prophecies. He reluctantly agreed, and in August of 1831, an international movement began which continues to this day.
Granted, Jesus Christ did not return in 1843, or any other expected date during the 19th century. One of the consequences of that was the forming of a religious body called the Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses. They, along with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, who published their Book of Mormon the year before William Miller started preaching, are another American religious phenomenon.
By October 23, 1844, it was clear to these adventists that Jesus was not coming in accordance with the 2300 day prophecy, and many of them left the movement. It has since been referred to as The Great Disappointment. The few who remained were soon blessed with the knowledge of what the present truth of the matter actually was. The fact is, an event of Biblical proportions did occur on October 22, 1844 in fulfillment of the 2300 day prophecy. But to understand what that event was required people to unlearn those misconceptions that kept them from seeing what was really happening.
One of those misconceptions revolves around humanityâ€™s state of mortality. When Adam, the father of our race, first came into existence, the Creator told him, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Genesis 2:16-17. The term "die" in that verse means to be eradicated. That is, cease to exist entirely, without the hope of a resurrection. The term, "mortal" has been coined to describe a being that is subject to death. Therefore, to be immortal means to not be subject to death. God is telling Adam to be mindful of his actions because he is a mortal.
After the mother or our race came into existence, she was told by someone else (via a medium that was a natural constituent of their environment), "Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:5. In other words, she was told that she is immortal, and that God is lying. This being goes on to prove his point by eating from this tree, which in turn convinces her to follow suit since he didn't die. Because she was now in agreement with this adversarial sentiment, she served as an evangelist of this enemy to convince her husband to do the same, which he did. But yet, none of them dropped dead.
The reason for this is because a ransom was found. Christ knew the risks involved in allowing beings to exist that would have the capability of rebellion, and offered to receive the penalty of the guilty if such an occurrence were to ever happen. "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Revelation 13:8. At the same time, the actions of our first parents did not go without effects. One of those effects was that death would now result in two separate experiences: the first death, and the second death. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." Revelation 20:6.
On October 22, 1844, Jesus Christ commenced His work as our High Priest by beginning the investigative judgment of the characters of those who experienced the first death, and note those whom he is satisfied in spending eternity with. This would be followed by an investigation of those living, to see who is worthy of being translated from earth to heaven without having to experience the first death upon His arrival to resurrect the righteous to immortal life. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality." 1 Corinthians 15:53. This is the cleansing of the sanctuary that the prophet Daniel was referring to, and is a fulfillment of the Old Testament type of the Day of Atonement that was revealed to Moses.
The adventists in 1844 couldn't see this because they were leavened with the error that since human beings supposedly possess natural immortality, they continue to exist after the first death in some form in some place such as heaven, hell, purgatory, or some state of limbo. Such a perception makes the need for an investigative judgment unnecessary.
The truth is, humans were created with a spirit, a soul, and a body. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:23. In order for a person to exist as a conscious being, all three of these components need to exist and function. When a personâ€™s body expires, they experience the first death, and the body returns to the earth while the spirit returns to God containing the transcript of their character so that it can be evaluated during the investigative judgment. "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." Ecclesiastes 12:7.
This leaves the issue of the soul. What happens to it? It ceases to exist until the first or second resurrection because its existence is the result of the union of the body and spirit. And it is the existence of the soul that makes one conscious. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Genesis 2:7. The idea that humans have an immortal soul is one error, among many others, that crept into the Christian Church in the wake of the death of the apostles. "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." 2 Peter 2:1. The investigative judgment is the conclusion of the work of the price the Lord paid to buy us. Most people have a strong emotional attachment to the idea that their deceased loved ones are still present, but the conclusion of this matter is clear, "Which in his time he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen." 1 Timothy 6:15-16 (emphasis supplied). All supposed manifestations of the deceased are a counterfeit orchestrated by the enemy of God and man, along with his demonic sympathizers who are well aware of the details of everyone's life.
Even if the adventists had a correct understanding of the state of humanity, there was another error that kept the people from being prepared to meet the Lord, had he come according to their expectations. In Old Testament times on the Day of Atonement when the High Priest entered the most Holy Place of the sanctuary, he ministered on behalf of the people before the presence of God as He revealed Himself above an object known as the Ark of the Covenant. Contained within that ark were the two tables of stone in which God Himself engraved the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments can be divided between those which pertain to how one is to relate to God, and those which pertain to how one is to relate to other people. The Ten Commandments can also be regarded as a transcript of God's character. Therefore, how one relates to this Law, or Testimony of God is indicative of how they relate to God Himself.
At the heart of the Law is the Fourth Commandment which says, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Exodus 20:8-11.
The seventh day sabbath was established at creation, and re-established after the children of Israel were delivered from Egyptian slavery. "And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none." Exodus 16:25-26. The sabbath hours have been from Friday sunset till Saturday sunset ever since. It wasn't until the apostles of Jesus disappeared from the scene of history that the Sabbath was supplanted with Sunday. The notion that the fact that Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday somehow changed the sabbath hours is nothing more than a narrative invented by professed Christians to justify doing things as they see fit, irrespective of the law of God. "And he (the Vatican) shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time (538-1798). But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." Daniel 7:25-27 (emphasis supplied). If you were God, would you want to spend eternity with such a one that has this attitude toward your government?
By 1846, the advent movement recognized the need for sabbath reform in order to prepare to meet the Lord upon His return due to the influence of a man named Joseph Bates. "And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, not speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it." Isaiah 58:12-14.
In the years leading up to 1844, the adventists started to see their movement as a fulfillment of prophecy. "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." Revelation 14:6-7. This message of judgment in the middle of an age of optimism was not well received by most of the churches of the day. Many were disfellowshipped from their church for accepting the message of William Miller. By 1842 it was evident that the next message applied to those religious bodies which had apostatized from the Biblical testimony, and required believers to separate from them. "And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." Revelation 14:8.
It wasn't until after the Great Disappointment that the adventists realized that their bitter experience was necessary. "And I took the little book (the book of Daniel) out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophecy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings." Revelation 10:10-11 (emphasis supplied). This need to prophecy again is fulfilled in the proclaiming of the third angel's message, which commenced after the knowledge of the investigative judgment, and the High Priestly ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary was understood. "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, if any man worship the beast (the Vatican) and his image (the union of apostate Protestant Christianity and the state), and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and him image, and whosoever receivers the mark of his name." Revelation 14:9-11 (emphasis supplied).
In 1855, the state of Michigan required adventists to come up with a legal title after a man named James White purchased property in that state to commence a publishing business for the movement. After discussing it with other believers, the term Seventh-Day Adventist became the official name for the denominational organization that was developing around this movement of God.
There are many who are reading the Scriptures who cannot understand their true import. All over the world men and women are looking wistfully to heaven. Prayers and tears and inquiries go up from souls longing for light, for grace, for the Holy Spirit. Many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in.
Ellen G. White - The Acts of the Apostles, pg. 109.
My first encounter with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church happened in 1999 back in my home state after coming to the realization that I needed to start observing the sabbath, and was looking for a church that met on that day. The phone book told me this was my only option, and that was sufficient. My church membership at the time was with an Independent Baptist Church, and I had a sneaking suspicion that the pastor wouldnâ€™t be too keen on allowing his church to be open on Saturday so people in his congregation can meet on the sabbath. Unfortunately, I was right, and was compelled to separate from it that spring.
From day one, people regarded me as one proficient in the Scriptures, and encouraged me to go to one of the Church's universities to become a pastor. As flattering as that may have sounded, the thought of such an action felt revolting. One reason was the fact that it is written, "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." 1 John 2:27 (emphasis supplied). The other reason was that I didn't feel qualified to operate as a minister of Christ because I didn't have a complete understanding of what sin was, and wasn't convinced that any school could give me that understanding.
Despite being taken to a church almost every Sunday for the first thirteen years of my life, I had no idea what sin was, why it exists, or where it came from, except to assume that it was bad. It wasn't until my later teen years when I heard a song with a line in it that says, "If God were here he'd tell you to your face, man, you're some kind of sinner" that I started to consider the subject. Despite my ignorance, I knew that I didn't want God to tell me that, and was set on figuring out how to avoid such an encounter. And no, I didn't think to ask anyone because I didn't know anyone who impressed me as having any real knowledge of the subject, but only an opinion.
After getting baptized into the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and becoming involved in the administration of my local congregation, it started to become evident that despite the facade of Christian unity, the Church is divided between its version of liberals, and conservatives. This was perplexing to me at the time, but I didn't take it personal since I didn't start this controversy. Instead, it served to motivate me to study the history of the movement, and read the works published by its pioneers, which is a staggering amount of material that took years to get through.
The breakthrough came on October 25, 2012. A co-worker had invited me to watch a video presentation with some of his friends. It was a series of talks by a professor making a philosophical case for Christianity before a body of students. At one point he presents the world's view of man as being naturally good, followed with some examples used to uphold that notion. He then contrasted that with what he said was the Bible's view of man as being fallen, and needing a savior. Just as he said that, I heard a literal voice speak to my mind, not my ear, saying, "Wait a minute! I've read the Bible, and the Spirit that I am of tells me that the Bible's view of man is that man is the son of God because he has a savior." I instantly agreed with that voice because I too had read the Bible, and realized in that moment that I would have come to the same conclusion if I had not already agreed with the sentiments expressed in the video at early times in my life. When it was over I told the people what had happened, but to no avail, so I left.
"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isaiah 55:11. One of the effects of agreeing with that voice was that I suddenly knew who I was in relationship to who God is. In other words, I received an identity. Not only that, but it occurred to me that this is the thing I had been looking for all my life, and didnâ€™t even know it until after it arrived. And suddenly, everything about life made perfect sense. Why did my life turn out as it has? Why are people the way they are? Why is the world operating as it is? And everything else about life surrounding the question of "why" were all answered. It also changed how I regard, and relate to other people in that I no longer find fault in anyone because I understand everyone because I understand myself. It's like I entered into an entirely new state of being that I never want to depart from.
When Jesus was asked what would be the sign of His return, and the end of the world, his answer takes up two entire chapters of Matthew's gospel. Central to His answer is the simple statement, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." Matthew 24:14. If I were the devil, and didn't want my kingdom to come to an end, I would invent a counterfeit of the gospel by confusing the subject that makes the gospel necessary: sin. That way, I can use much of the same words, but get different results.
As mentioned earlier, Jesus knew this would happen, and warned us through the parable of the wheat and tares. He makes the same point in another parable. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 13:47-50. So if both the wicked and the just both claim to believe in Jesus, then how do you tell them apart? Simple. Unravel the confusion surrounding the subject of sin, and the counterfeit gospel, which isn't capable of making people just, is exposed.
The following passage includes the first mention of sin in the Bible. "And Adam knew Eve his wife: and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. And she bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." Genesis 4:1-7 (emphasis supplied).
The definition of the word sin in this passage in the original Hebrew is: an offense, or it can also mean to miss the mark. Before elaborating on this further, it is worth noting that both of these brothers believed in, and worshipped the same God. The only difference is that one came to God on God's terms, and the other came to God on their own terms. Although Cain's offering was rejected for not meeting the terms, he still had an opportunity to rectify that. If he didn't make such a correction, then he would be burdened with sin.
So let's see what Cain does. "And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; when thou tallest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater that I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him." Genesis 4:8-15.
Cain obviously refused to make the necessary correction but instead, made his brother the object of blame for his own disregard of the disclosure he had already been given regarding God's requirements of acceptance. And it was that act of blame, which prompted an act of murder, that made sin something that was previously "at the door" to something that was now a part of who he is in relationship to God. In other words, sin is a relationship status, a state of being.
When Cain's parents, Adam and Eve, transgressed the law, and agreed with the adversary's point of view, another one of the effects of that was that their offspring would be born with that point of view as their natural point of view. It is the work of the gospel to bring one around to God's point of view. The confusion arises when one is convinced that they are guilty of sin for being born with this point of view. The term, original sin has been coined to describe this presumed state of being, and is foundational to practically every assembly of the entire Christian religion.
The truth of the matter is, when our first parents came to be, their natural state of being was one of probation. When they disobeyed, Christ forfeited His life in order to purchase a second probation which we are born into. To suggest that we are born sinners is a denial of the sacrifice of Christ. "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son." 1 John 2:22. We become sinners as a result of insisting that our natural point of view is the truth, and behaving in accordance with that stance. The good news is, Christ died to save sinners, and one can come to Christ just as they are. When they do, He gives them the grace to no longer be at peace with their natural point of view (and the originator of it) as they come around to Godâ€™s point of view. "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Genesis 3:15. Unfortunately, many are like Cain, and put the blame of themselves on others because they are too proud to accept responsibility for their ways. In a way it can be said that Cain and Abel represent two classes of people throughout history: the wicked and the just, the guilty and the innocent, the tares and the wheat.
With that, it can be asked, when does this probation which Christ purchased for us, end? On an individual level, it ends when we experience the first death. In the context of the parable of the net mentioned above, it is when the net is full. And when is the net full? It is when God has a generation of believers in which the character of Christ is perfectly reproduced. "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." Daniel 12:1.
Notwithstanding the widespread declension of faith and piety, there are true followers of Christ in these churches. Before the final visitation of Godâ€™s judgments upon the earth, there will be, among the people of the Lord, such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon his children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and his Word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time, to prepare a people for the Lordâ€™s second coming.
Ellen G. White - The Great Controversy, 1888 edition, pg. 464.
1888 was a pivotal year for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. As mentioned previously, they organized around a movement of God that is codified in the three angel's messages of Revelation 14. These messages set forth the terms for one to be accepted of God in this final generation, just as the sacrificing of a lamb was the terms for Cain and Abel to be accepted of God.
In the days of Israel, the following condition was presented: "And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I commanded you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil." Deuteronomy 11:13-14. This sequence of the early and latter rain was meant to serve as a pattern for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon his people. "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." Hosea 6:3. The day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of the early rain. "But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." Acts 2:14-16. The outpouring of the latter rain is depicted as follows: "And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Revelation 18:1-4.
This angel's message is a repeat of the second angel's message of Revelation 14 with the additional mention of the corruptions that have been entering the various organizations that constitute Babylon since that message was first given in the summer of 1844. By 1888, it looked like the Seventh-Day Adventist Church was on the verge of giving this message...until it wasn't. Why it wasn't was made evident at their general conference session they held that October.
Like any organization, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church has a business meeting periodically to elect officers to various positions within their work. These meetings tend to host speakers to address the delegation on different subjects. At this particular conference, messages were given by two men named Alonzo Jones, and Ellet Waggoner. Despite their messages being the truth, they were not well received by many, including the General Conference President himself, George Butler. A witness who was there describes the situation as follows: "An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord's message through brethren Waggoner and Jones. By exciting that opposition Satan succeeded in shutting away from our people, in a great measure, the special power of the Holy Spirit that God longed to impart to them. The enemy prevented them from obtaining that efficiency which might have been theirs in carrying the truth to the world, as the apostles proclaimed it after the day of Pentecost. The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world." Ellen G. White - 1888 Materials, pg. 1575.
Although most of the people at this meeting later recognized the error of their ways, including President Butler, and repented of it, the damage was still done, and the state of the denomination was exposed. And, the effects of the spirit manifested at Minneapolis have not gone away. What it primarily shows is that although The Seventh-Day Adventist Church was organized around a recognizable movement of God, it is not the movement itself. Prior to 1888, it could be said that it was since it was the only known body of people whose lives were consecrated to that movement. But now, it was clear that there were people holding substantial positions within the Church whose lives were more consecrated to the survival of the organization, than to the Spirit of the movement that the organization has been built around. And it is this distinction that has made the Church vulnerable to being divided against itself, as I personally, and continuously witness since being baptized into it in 1999.
So what is the solution? How do we as believers in the present truth of the light that is to lighten the earth with its glory stop keeping it away from the world? It sounds so simple, yet it has taken me over fifty years of life to come to a place where it can be said plainly. God needs a body of people to organize around the simple truth that saints are not sinners. Ok, maybe that's not as simple as it sounds since the only way to know that is to be a saint. And what exactly is a saint? It's a relationship status, the same as a sinner. In this case, one can not make themselves a saint. God Himself makes one a saint whenever he feels like it.
So how does one make God feel like making them a saint? Simple, believe the truth contained in the three angel's messages. Their purpose is to manufacture saints. "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Revelation 14:12. And when God makes you a saint, you can testify as to what that looks like since it would be something you can only witness, but not produce on your own.
If you listen to Christian testimonies, they tend to revolve around what they did to become a Christian instead of what Christ did to make them a saint. It's all about how they repented, they accepted Christ, they joined the "true church." If you ask such a one if saints are sinners, they will likely say yes even if they admit that the correct answer ought to be no. Some will say yes, and claim that it is because they are humble. I'm sure Cain thought he was being humble when he asked God if he was his brother's keeper. The truth of the matter is that people who insist that saints are sinners are testifying that they have received the counterfeit gospel, and need to repent while they have the chance.
With that, how does one tell a saint from a sinner? How do we keep the body from becoming a field of tares all over again? Again, it's simple. Saints are free to regard, and treat others as saints, even if the others are not saints. This is because saints have a knowledge of the truth, and that keeps them from being deceived by nefarious non-saints. Sinners can not regard anyone as a saint because sinners are bearing guilt, and the thought of a living saint makes their burden that much more heavy. This is why you, and everyone who knew you, all need to be dead for about a hundred years before the Vatican will recognize you as a saint. The only relief a sinner can have from their burden of guilt is by putting it on others. This exchange is revealed in forms such as gossip, fault finding, projecting, and falsely accusing.
Despite how burdensome sin is, it is an unfortunate reality that many sinners would rather bear that, than humble themselves in order for the truth to make them free. Some are proud to bear such burdens because it makes them feel "ripped," and gives them a sense of superiority. This is why Cain chose to kill Abel instead of just making a simple correction. Except in this generation, Cain doesn't get to kill Abel, although he will have quite a system in place to try and make that happen. "And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak (legislation), and cause (enforcement) that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand (perform, but not agree), or in their foreheads (agreement): and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." Revelation 13:15-17 (emphasis supplied).
Cain was the first one to be given a mark. It was to distinguish him as one bearing guilt. Now, the saints are also marked, or rather, sealed in their innocence. "And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth (the four points of a compass - north, south, east and west), holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads." Revelation 7:1-3.
The function of a seal is to keep something closed. The saints are closed minded because they know the truth, they know that the truth is true, and they are in agreement with it. Sinners are open minded because they are not established in anything apart from their own vain, and pointless point of view. The purpose of the time of trouble in association with the close of probation mentioned previously is to prove to the beings of the unfallen worlds, who didn't fall for Satan's temptations, that God's saints can withstand the pressure to share in the burden of guilt being forced against them by a world of sinners, and their beastly system in the same way that Jesus victoriously bore the cross in order to vindicate His Father's character before the universe. "Many shall be purified, and made white, tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand." Daniel 12:10.
As Jesus said, the angels will sever the wicked from among the just. Amen. So let it be.