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Posts Tagged ‘seventh-day adventist’

A Final Coming Out

Some might be interested to know what Ellen said about two mutually exclusive gospels being taught in the church concurrently. Here is just a sample of her writings in chronological order:

 “Again I was shown the necessity of those who believe we are having the last message of mercy, being separate from those who are daily receiving or imbibing new error. I saw that neither young [n]or old should attend the assemblies of those who are in error and darkness. Said the angel ‘Let the mind cease to dwell on things of no profit’” (Ms. 3, 7/2/1853).

“We had hoped that there would not be the necessity for another coming out” (Ms. 30, 6/1889).

“While we should not seek for controversy, and should not needlessly offend, we must present the truth clearly and decidedly and stand firm to what God has taught us in His word. You are not to look to the world in order to learn what you shall write and publish or what you should speak” (Letter 3, 1890).

“When the law of God is made void, the church will be sifted by fiery trials and a larger portion than we now anticipate will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils [and be lost]” (Letter 3, 1890).

“Take the young men and women and place them where they will come in as little contact with our churches as possible, that the low grade of piety which is current in this day shall not leaven their ideas of what it means to be a Christian” (Letter 16F, 5/9/1892).

“The true people of God are now pulling apart” (Letter 12, 8/22/1892).

 After Laodicea
And what saith the Scriptures:

 “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me: which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter” (Rev. 4:1, KJV).

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things’” (Rev. 4:1, NASV).

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this’” (Rev. 4:1, NIV).

Revelation begins with a recital of the seven churches, representing the seven periods of church history (AA 586). The last church is Laodicea, the “judging of the people.” Ellen White has identified the Laodicean church as Seventh-day Adventism. “I was shown that the testimony to the Laodiceans applies to God’s people at the present time” (4T186). This identification seems fitting, for it describes Seventh-day Adventism to a “tee.”

But the True Witness doesn’t want to talk about Laodicea; He wants to talk about what comes after her. Yes, there is an after Laodicea. It is a short period that can only be referred to as the time of the clash of the titans. In fact, that’s what the book of Revelation is all about.

Uriah Smith, in his now generally discredited work, Daniel and the Revelation (Scholars say he was a terrible historian.), nevertheless said something regarding this text that will help us here. He said, “A new scene and a new vision now open before us. The expression ‘after this’ does not denote that what is recorded in Revelation 4 and onward was to take place after the fulfillment of everything recorded in the three preceding chapters. It means only that after the prophet had seen and heard what is there recorded, he had the new view which he now introduces” (p. 407; emphasis his). This pertains to the first “after this.”

But what of the second word, hereafter. Does that not say that the angel will show John what will come after Laodicea is no more? Both phrases, after this and hereafter, occurring in Revelation 4:1 come from the same Greek word. Therefore, the New American Standard version and the New International version are very accurate when they translate these two words the same way.

In fact, virtually all Bible translations render these two words alike or nearly alike. The angel will show John all that will take place when Laodicea is no more. Except for some background, is it possible that the book of Revelation finds its fulfillment in this great conflict at the very end of time? We have become so accustomed to interpret them as does Uriah Smith, we read over the words and don’t give them a second thought. But is it possible that these words are to have profound meaning as we enter the crisis of the last days?

Back to Sr. White
What problem in the church so concerned Sister White? What was the rock-bottom problem she saw?

She felt we were confused on the question of sin and what to do about it. How can we say, on one hand, that we have no power over sin, that it is to strong for us to defeat, and also say, on the other hand, that we must defeat it totally so that our righteousness is as complete as was Adam’s before the fall? And, further, how can we say that we believe it can be defeated, and yet confess that we are “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” and we cannot defeat it, as Scripture tells us?

Both theories in which we are now mired try to answer these questions. One theory has Jesus as a mere word that is spoken; He is an appendage on the experience of such believers. The other theory has Jesus in it as a living entity—a personal presence who comes in and lives the law inside the person, giving the impression that the person is doing it. But all the while the human has surrendered and it is only Jesus.

And in that garment—the garment of His righteousness—we must sound the message over the mountains and through the valleys with a new and urgent purpose. Since entrance of the character of God message, believers in that message must let our brothers and sisters know that they must put their sins away, for if they don’t they are putting God in a position where He cannot defend them in their day of trial. There are earthquakes and volcanoes, flooding and tsunamis in the future. But if they continue in their sins, God will, in order to respect their free will, tearfully and reluctantly have to let them go (2 Chron. 15:2).

The Bloggery
www.AdventistApocalypse.com

 

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Two Groups

Continuing on with Ellen White’s statement that there will be two groups in the church when Jesus returns . . . .

Today the church is in a great state of fluctuation in the manifestation of these two groups, with some leaving one camp for another group, and others pulling back as they leave and going in another direction, leadership too busy having their heads in “evangelism” to provide meaningful direction to their confused members. And then there are those who seem unaffected by it all, who continue mindlessly attending church, preparing for potluck, and doing their part in the programs of the church, for the most part unaware of the conflict in the church over righteousness—or How Does God Save Humans? It’s business as usual. But underneath it all there is a current, a tide, moving the members progressively into the two great camps of which she spoke.

Sandy Workman in The Creation of the 144,000 wrote about it also in these insightful words:

“On one side stand those who cling to the laws and doctrines which they have been taught to believe are the messages of Revelation 14:6-12 (I was there). On the other side stand those who have taken the more liberal position of the evangelical world (only believe and you will be saved – but there is not real victory over sin before Jesus comes). Both of these groups believe they have the truth on the matter.

“Then there is a third group in the Adventist world. They believe that the message initially sent through William Miller and his friends, and brought again through Waggoner and Jones, is the third angel’s message in verity and is the truth that will finish the work. While the first two classes struggle for supremacy in the church, this third class is preoccupied with learning, living and teaching the truth as it is in Jesus” (p. 44).

She goes on to compare this situation with that of Jesus in the first century. Two groups united to crucify Him, but we shall leave that subject for another time.

I want to talk about the third group, what it looks like from my POV (Point of View). It seems to me that there are many in the third group who know the theory of righteousness by faith very well but who have not entered into the experience of it. And righteousness by faith is most definitely an experience.

Let me give you an example. We recognize A. G. Daniels’ Christ Our Righteousness as a nonpareil of righteousness by faith. But I suggest that Daniels knew only the theory of righteousness by faith; he did not have the experience. If he had, he would not have opposed Ellen White in her insistence there was “kingly authority” in the church around the turn of the twentieth century. At Ellen’s insistence, they had a reorganization at that time. There was to be no hierarchical governance. They established a congregational form which lasted a short time until A. G. Daniels manipulated himself back into the presidency, and Ellen White gave up. Clearly, he had no concept of the experience of righteousness by faith. Is it possible that others in the righteousness by faith movement know the theory well but have never entered into the experience?

History will most likely designate the early twenty-first century as a time of change in the Seventh-day Adventist church. There is the old guard, many of whom are mindlessly unaware that any change is taking place. Then there are those who do know but zealously guard the past, because they know God requires full obedience and they mistakenly believe that they can provide it. There are those who realize the Adventist church has been legalistic, and they believe the only other choice is the “new theology,” where they exchange one error for another.

Lastly, there are those who believe the theory of true righteousness by faith. And a small percentage of these have found the Lord Jesus, His righteousness lived out in them and the peace that attends them, as they live their lives in humble praise and thanksgiving to Him. Stay tuned. . .

 

The Bloggery
http://www.AdventistApocalypse.com

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By now you should know that I am an unapologetic believer in the prophetic ministry of Ellen White. I seldom encounter Adventists who are embarrassed by her, but I did recently. That got me to thinking.

It was said she was “inspiring” but not “inspired.” She cannot predict the future. But if she is not good at predicting the future, she is not a prophet or messenger of God. Many people are inspiring; many enhance our relationship with God. But they are not inspired in the “prophetic” sense, it doesn’t matter how inspiring they are. We must conclude if she cannot accurately predict the future, that she is a false prophet, that her source is from somewhere other than God.

Here are just a few of the prophecies she has made (and prophecies made about her):

  •  Revelation 12:17 and 19:10 describe the last church as keeping the commandments of God (a Sabbath-keeping communion) and having the testimony of Jesus which is the Spirit of Prophecy. If this doesn’t describe Ellen White, then who does it describe?
  • In the Review and Herald, October 13, 1904, she said, “The fourteenth chapter of Revelation is a chapter of the deepest interest. This scripture will soon be understood in all it bearings.” Has our understanding of Revelation fourteen been enhanced in recent years? Yes. In the years since 1904 we have learned from F. T. Wright that there are seven angels in Revelation 14, not just three. My work, the Seventh Era (coming soon to this blog), further expands our understanding of Revelation 14 and makes it a “chapter of the deepest interest.” We can now see much more of what she saw when viewing Revelation 14. My question: Who told her?
  • “Old controversies will arouse to new life” (TM 116). A striking fulfillment of this prophecy is the antitrinitarian belief that is growing in the church. This is an old controversy. It dates back to the very beginnings of the Seventh-day Adventist church, and farther. It began in heaven, when Lucifer became jealous of Christ and from that point desired to “demote” Him. I ask, Who told her?
  • She said in Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 415, that the last message to be given to the world will be a revelation of God’s character of love. And now, in the tag end of time, what has sprung spontaneously upon us? A new message, “illuminating in its influence and saving in its power.” A message that cannot be refuted. A message that says our God doesn’t “steal, kill . . . [or] destroy,” just as Jesus said. A message that clarifies God’s character so that humans can, in Him, imitate it. Who told her?
  • In Letter 1, Oct 13, 1975, she wrote, “The third angels message means far more than we take it to mean. We should search to find out all that is possible concerning this solemn message.” Recent research has revealed that this message, the third angel, is given to refute the claims of the great imitator, who is here, on the earth, when this message is given in its primary, antitypical form. If you don’t believe it, I invite you to watch “The Seventh Era: Advanced Prophecy for SDAs” (coming soon). Who told her, if not God?
  • “The enemy will ring in false theories, such as the doctrine that there is no sanctuary. This is one of the points on which there will be a departing from the faith” (RH 5/25/1905). If the sanctuary doctrine is not under attack, then Ellen White is a false prophet. If it is under attack, she knew it many years ago. Is she then a true prophet? I’m sure we can all agree that the slaying of animals got wholly out of hand in ancient times. If they had just stopped sinning, no more blood would have had to flow. The killing of innocent animals is repulsive to most—almost as repulsive as the innocent Son of God having to come to this planet and give His life a ransom for our souls. But who told her this? How did she know?
  • And you who imply or state she was a false prophet, she talked about you. Yes, she did. She said, “I was told that men will employ every policy to make less prominent the difference between the faith of Seventh-day Adventists and those who observe the first day of the week” (Ms. 15, 3/27/1896). Isn’t our faith beginning to look a lot like theirs?
  • And all her pronouncements on health? Who told her?  Who enabled her to be at least a century before her time regarding health and healing? Who gave her the information that makes Adventists desirable candidates for medical research studies? They live about ten years longer than non-Adventists who don’t follow her health counsels.

But what of those failed prophecies? Can we properly assess them from our vantage point this side of eternity?  According to my understanding, she still has some time left. What about changed conditions that made the fulfillment of prophecy impossible? There are many reasons for her prophecies to appear unfulfilled. But the great bulk of them are either fulfilled or in the process of fulfilling, and it is on these that believers in SOP choose to trust.

There are atheists who don’t believe in the Bible largely for the same reasons that some supposedly enlightened Adventists no longer believe in Spirit of Prophecy. Many, many other prophecies and predictions could be cited as evidence that Ellen White knew what she was talking about. If you have decided to discard her because she was human and sometimes did human things, perhaps you might want to rethink your position. She was right too many times.

The Bloggery
www.AdventistApocalypse.com

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Can Ellen White accurately predict the future? Do we have a prophet among us, as Rev. 12:17 and 19:10 seem to indicate? Again, we take up our study of this SOP statement:

 “A new light is coming from heaven and taking possession of all God’s people. But divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed” (Ms. 32, 1896).

With these few words, Ellen opened up a picture of what is happening in the church before our very eyes. Last week and again this week we attempted and continue to show the enormous upheaval this order of things has brought to the church.

Speaking in general terms, Adventists have historically honored and respected law. They have emphasized obedience, while Jesus was (let’s admit it) a mere appendage of their experience. While this class continues to be present in the church, many of these Adventists became dissatisfied. They saw that God requires full obedience, as Adam rendered before the fall, and they knew that this they do not have to give. Their many attempts at this level of law keeping told them that it was impossible. They couldn’t do it.

At this point the path before them split and went in opposite directions:

Path 1. It was in the 60s that the message of righteousness by faith returned to the Seventh-day Adventist church, after having been rejected in the late 19th century. Many saw this as the answer to their dilemma. They studied it thoroughly and ordered their lives by it. But to many it became merely a subject of debate, and they derived no benefit from it. But those who studied the actual message itself discovered in it the ‘science of salvation’ and found by this pathway the secret to real obedience. Jesus lived out obedience in them, and thus they could, in honoring and praising Him day by day, live above sin. They found that, paradoxically, this required great humility and “eyes on Jesus” on their part.

Path 2.  The other group took a different direction. From the 60s to about the 80s and ongoing, with the influence of Des Ford, Walter Rey, and an assortment of others, our church virtually gutted Adventism’s raison d’etre. Recognizing that we could not keep the law to perfection, we jettisoned obedience, Ellen White, and an assortment of other doctrines and beliefs that had made us peculiarly stand for God in this world. We preached a more do-able gospel. Christ lived a perfect life and died for our sins in order that we didn’t have to. It was all done for us on the cross. Hallalujah! As long as we went to church, paid our tithe, worked in a church office we were okay. We had the assurance of salvation. We could no longer be of benefit to our protestant brothers and sisters, because our gospel began to look very much like theirs. The distance diminished between SDAs and protestants, leading Ellen to observe:

“The church has turned back from following Christ her Leader and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt, and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God, is leavening our churches everywhere. Satan would have it thus. Ministers who preach self instead of Christ would have it thus. The testimonies are unread and unappreciated. God has spoken to you. Light has been shining from His word and from the testimonies, and both have been slighted and disregarded. The result is apparent in the lack of purity and devotion and earnest faith among us” (5T 217).

Today, instead of giving the trumpet a certain sound—teaching a unified message, telling how God saves humans—we “evangelize” folk into the church and once inside the doors of the church it’s “every man for himself.”

On a subject that is so misunderstood, we apply virtually no teaching on the topic of true righteousness by faith to assist our people in coming into union with Christ. Robert Wieland, Frank Phillips, and others are certainly making an effort to bring the message back to Adventism, but to paraphrase Ellen, There is one where there should be one hundred.

But I believe I have made my point. There are basically two gospels being taught among us, and Ellen White called it accurately: “Two parties will be developed.” How accurate the message coming from her pen. How truly is the Laodicean message needed today.  We need the white raiment—the robe of the real Jesus covering us. We need the gold tried in the fire of faith and love. We need to have our eyes anointed with heavenly eyesalve so that we can see. We need to be slow to speak, allowing that brief moment to check our words with Jesus before they go out to bless (or not) the world.

Our obvious problem is, He is standing at our heart’s door; He is not inside. And to those who refuse His every attempt to enter, He will eventually have no choice but to “spue” them “out of His mouth.”

 

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Can Ellen White predict the future? There are many today, both in and out of the church, who say she cannot. Many of those inside the SDA church say she is inspiring but not inspired. We cannot depend upon her prophetic statements. Do we have the Spirit of Prophecy among us, as Rev. 12:17 and 19:10 seem to indicate, or do we not? Today I thought we could begin a series in which we ask, Is Ellen White inspired enough that her prophetic statements are reliable for us today? One of the statements she made is as follows:

A new light is coming from heaven and taking possession of all God’s people. But divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed (Ms. 32, 1896).

Note the date of this statement—1896. We live more than a hundred years beyond this date—enough time to assess the statement’s reliability. Within contemporary Adventism we find two parties forming out of four, as follows:

True Legalism. These members trust their church membership to save them. They think their obedience is good enough. Emphatic in right doing and busy with church activities, they seldom think about how they are doing in the obedience department.  Historic Adventists frequently fall within this category. They are the “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” and they don’t know it.

Legalist. These individuals try to obey, render a surface obedience, but are often troubled in their efforts. They know that God requires perfect obedience of them, and they know they haven’t it to give. They are powerless to know what to do about it, and are often vulnerable to counterfeit righteousness.

Counterfeit Righteousness by Faith: These people have given up. They have developed a theory that since perfect righteousness is required and they know they haven’t it to give, they assume that means Christ’s righteousness is lived out on their behalf. They don’t worry or even think about it any more. They purport to have the “assurance of salvation” but, unbeknownst to them, it is a sliding slippery slope.

True Righteousness by Faith: Among the doctrines of the church, righteousness by faith may be the most important. Righteousness is a person—the Lord Jesus Christ. We get his righteousness by getting Him to walk with us through our days. The folk who have found true righteousness by faith have discovered how to abide in Him. They have fellowship with Him through praise and thanksgiving. He has become to them, not a theory, but a living, daily reality.

Oftentimes we hear statements coming from leaders in the church, and we say w-h-a-t? Then maybe we go along with them because we are so confused. If only we had a number affixed over our  head or embroidered on a vest in order that people always know what category we are in. If we are obliged to be in a church with such an array of beliefs, perhaps it is the only way we can avoid soul-destroying confusion. But God requires that we give the trumpet a certain sound.

Remember, in the final analysis, there are only two categories when the end comes. Divisions will come, then two parties will be developed. The unique thing about Ellen’s pronouncement is that both parties are in the church. In the weeks ahead I will discuss each category more fully and perhaps suggest some helpful insights for each. And we will continue to probe the question: Is Ellen White inspired enough that her prophetic statements are reliable for us today?
The Bloggery
http://www.AdventistApocalypse.com

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(This is the the second and ending segment of this 1963 article by guest blogger, the late Arthur  L. Beitz.)

Was it any wonder that these two had to meet when Christ had said all of their religious organization, all of their twenty thousand priests ministering in the temple, all of their financial structure and their spiritual leadership were absolutely blind; and their organization—house—and institution had become desolate, for God was not in it? How brave of him, and what a terrible indictment!

For the Jews, the temple symbolized their entire religious heritage. It was very dear to the people, yet Jesus said it was forsaken of God. The temple house is needed, but there needs to be a loving family within it. The institution, the organization, is necessary but only as a means in helping to shepherd the people. If you have lost contact with the needs of the hearts of the people, your house is desolate.

This, also, is a terrible indictment. Finally, the high priest speaks to those who have gathered to make a decision about this man who claims to be the Son of God. He says, “You know nothing whatsoever. You do not use your judgment. The trouble with you is that you do not have good judgment. It is more to your interest that one man should die for the people than that the whole nation should be destroyed.” And thus the decision is made. But where would you have stood? The decision has to be made. It was religious institutionalism versus a personal human being, Christ our Saviour. It was an organizational religionism versus the gospel. It was organization versus a person. It was vested interest against Christ, for the earthen vessel had become more the object of devotion that the treasure within the vessel, and herein lies the universal tendency of human beings toward idolatry.

Man wishes to make himself secure within religious institutions, and, therefore, he hides himself from the presence of God. Laodicea thinks that she has everything, but Jesus Christ stands outside the door and knocks and knocks. The question is as alive today for you and for me as it was two thousand years ago because Caiaphas is very much alive in every one of us.

The issue is before us today, and you will have to make your own decision, if you have not already made it. Anti-organizationalism is of the rudest of follies because we need order and organization, but when the organization becomes the means as well as the end of our devotion, then we have crucified once again our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It can happen today, just as verily as it happened then.

What could have happened if Caiaphas, the high priest, had said: “Look, we are confronted with the Son of God. Let us accept Him.” What a help and inspiration for the repenting souls that would have been. If he could have only said, “Let us use this institution, this money, everything, in order to glorify God, and let it be God who is the center.” All institutionalism becomes corrupt with itself. It begins to build and build until we have forgotten the purpose of its building, and we seek security in everything except God himself.

When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, let us remember that there will be a unity of our hearts, the binding of mind to mind, of heart to heart, and of spirit to spirit. Institutionalism can provide us with an outward uniformity, but only the baptism of the Holy Spirit can give us an interior union of our spirits.

Oh, that God would help us to understand that religious institutionalism can become the greatest tool of the devil. Dr. Henry P. VanDolson, who wrote in The United Church Herald, states: “The Holy Spirit has always been troublesome to officialdom and to institutionalism because He is unruly, unpredictable and radical. The call to the ministry is to be alert, to discover every moment of the living, confounding, uncontrollable Spirit of God in what someone has called His Sovereign Unpredictability. We want security but we do not want to be shaken out of our false securities. When our false securities are shattered and we stand helpless before a superior person who vitalizes our lives, suddenly we recognize ourselves to be under the guidance of the Spirit of God. When you are under the guidance of the Spirit, you cannot control it. And, of course, institutionalism is built on control. So there is an everlasting problem here.

Dr. John A. MacKay, formerly president of both Princeton Theological Seminary and the World Presbyterian Alliance, once told a Presbyterian convention:

“A crudely emotional approach to religion is preferable to religious formalism and institutionalism which is purely esthetic and orderly and lacking in dynamic power. One of our serious troubles in the church today is that it has become legitimate to be institutional, but deep feelings and enthusiasm no longer exist. The moment the church becomes completely programmed and depersonalized, it becomes a monument to God’s memory and not an instrument of divine power.”

You see, when men build institutions they become their ultimate end instead of just the means to an end. That is idolatry. Men build and build, and they forget the purpose of the building. Institutions become more important than people.

There are no shepherds in the institution any longer—only people trying to prevent the ship from rocking. Then it is that truth suffers and good men are crucified. Then it is that the Spirit departs. The glory of God has departed.

Dr. Ernest Wright, of Harvard, writes:

“God, through the work of the Spirit, has always been at war with human institutionalism because the institution becomes idolatrous, self-perpetuating, and self-worshipping because church membership becomes synonymous with the new birth.”

Caiaphas thought he must save the church; therefore, Christ must die. But Christ had come to save the church. Where would we have stood had we been there that day? The issue before Caiaphas is everlastingly present. We have to choose continually between tradition and scripture, between the institution and the individual, between what is popular and accepted and what is true.

There is no need to crucify Christ that the institution may be saved. Unless Christ lives, the institution is already dead!

This is what Caiaphas had to face. How can you attack an institution and still retain it? How can you shatter that which you love? I happen to be one who has been reared in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and all my tenderest emotions and feelings are tied into Adventism. This can also become my greatest curse and damnation because I begin to trust in it instead of the living God. If I begin to think that the structure is what makes me a Christian instead of a personal friendship with my God and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, my faith is resting on an institution instead of on the Lord.

I think I can say concerning institutions that I love none better than Adventism. I was nurtured in it. I was cradled in it. I loved it. But this can also be my damnation unless I know that all of this is but for one purpose  and that is to bow my head and my mind before the living Jesus and say that unless Christ lives within the institution it has beome only desolation and hostility, noting but an empty institution.

The issue that faced Caiaphas is everlastingly alive in your heart and mine. What could happen if our hearts were blended together under Jesus Christ!

Oh, that God would help us today to once again understand the issues clearly and to make right choices. The people two thousand years ago had to make a tremendous choice, and their choice was a devastating decision, affecting their eternal destiny. If you have never gone through such an experience, you do not know what I am talking about, but those of you who know what I am speaking about realize the gravity of such a situation. It has shaken you completely until you have experienced a kind of death. The very thing in which you have trusted has never been shattered before you, and you will never be the same again because the basis of your life now is Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ. (E

Was it any wonder that these two had to meet when Christ had said all of their religious organization, all of their twenty thousand priests ministering in the temple, all of their financial structure and their spiritual leadership were absolutely blind; and their organization—house—and institution had become desolate, for God was not in it? How brave of him, and what a terrible indictment!

For the Jews, the temple symbolized their entire religious heritage. It was very clear to the people, yet Jesus said it was forsaken of God. The temple house is needed, but there needs to be a loving family within it. The institution, the organization, is necessary but only as a means in helping to shepherd the people. If you have lost contact with the needs of the hearts of the people, your house is desolate.

This, also, is a terrible indictment. Finally, the high priest speaks to those who have gathered to make a decision about this man who claims to be the Son of God. He says, “You know nothing whatsoever. You do not use your judgment. The trouble with you is that you do not have good judgment. It is more tot your interest that one man should die for the people than that the whole nation should be destroyed.” And thus the decision is made. But where would you have stood? The decision has to be made. It was religious institutionalism versus a personal human being, Christ our Saviour. It was an organizational religionism versus the gospel. It was organization versus a person. It was vested interest against Christ, for the earthen vessel had become more the object of devotion that the treasure within the vessel, and herein lies the universal tendency of human beings toward idolatry.

Man wishes to make himself secure within religious institutions, and, therefore, he hines himself from the presence of God. Laodicea thinks that she has everything, but Jesus Christ stands outside the door and knocks and knocks. The question is as alive today for you and for me as it was two thousand years ago because Caiaphas is very much alive in every one of us.

The issue is before us today, and you will have to make your own decision, if you have not already made it. Anti-organizationalism is of the rudest of follies because we need order and organization, but when the organization becomes the means as well as the end of our devotion, then we have crucified once again our Saviour, Jesus Christ. It can happen today, just as verily as it happened then.

What could have happened if Caiaphas, the high priest, had said: “Look, we are confronted with the Son of God. Let us accept Him.” What a help and inspiration for the repenting souls that would have been. If he could have only said, “Let us use this institution, this money, everything, in order to glorify God, and let it be God who is the center.” All institutionalism becomes corrupt with itself. It begins to build and build until we have forgotten the purpose of its building, and we seek security in everything except God himself.

When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, let us remember that there will be a unity of our hearts, the binding of mind to mind, of heart to heart, and of spirit to spirit. Institutionalism can provide us with an outward uniformity, but only the baptism of the Holy Spirit can give us an interior union of our spirits.

Oh, that God would help us to understand that religious institutionalism can become the greatest tool of the devil. Dr. Henry P. VanDolson, who wrote in The United Church Herald, states: “The Holy Spirit has always been troublesome to officialdom and to institutionalism because He is unruly, unpredictable and radical. The call to the ministry is to be alert, to discover every moment of the living, confounding, uncontrollable Spirit of God in what someone has called His Sovereign Unpredictability. We want security but we do not want to be shaken out of our false securities. When our false securities are shattered and we stand helpless before a superior person who vitalizes our lives, suddenly e recognize ourselves to be under the guidance of the Spirit of God. When you are under the guidance of the Spirit, you cannot control it. And, of course, institutionalism is built on control. So there is an everlasting problem here.

Dr. John A. MacKay, formerly president of both Princeton Theological Seminary and the World Presbyterian Alliance, once told a Presbyterian convention:

“A crudely emotional approach to religion is preferable to religious formalism and institutionalism which is purely esthetic and orderly and lacking in dynamic power. One of our serious troubles in the church today is that it has become legitimate to be institutional, but deep feelings and enthusiasm no longer exist. The moment the church becomes completely programmed and depersonalized, it becomes a monument to God’s memory and not an instrument of divine power.”

You see, when men build institutions they become their ultimate end instead of just the means to an end. That is idolatry. Men build and build, and they forget the purpose of the building. Institutions become more important than people.

There are no shepherds in the institution any longer—only people trying to prevent the ship from rocking. Then it is that truth suffers and good men are crucified. Then it is that the Spirit departs. The glory of God has departed.

Dr. Ernest Wright, of Harvard, writes:

“God, through the work of the Spirit, has always been at war with human institutionalism because the institution becomes idolatrous, self-perpetuating, and self-worshipping because church membership becomes synonymous with the new birth.”

Caiaphas thought he must save the church; therefore, Christ must die. But Christ had come to save the church. Where would we have stood had we been there that day? The issue before Caiaphas is everlastingly present. We have to choose continually between tradition and scripture, between the institution and the individual, between what is popular and accepted and what is true.

There is no need to crucify Christ that the institution may be saved. Unless Christ lives, the institution is already dead!

This is what Caiaphas had to face. How can you attack an institution and still retain it? How can you shatter that which you love? I happen to be one who has been reared in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and all my tenderest emotions and feelings are tied into Adventism. This can also become my greatest curse and damnation because I begin to trust in it instead of the living God. If I begin to think that the structure is what makes me a Christian instead of a personal friendship with my God and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, my faith is resting on an institution instead of on the Lord.

I think I can say concerning institutions that I love none better than Adventism. I was nurtured in it. I was cradled in it. I loved it. But this can also be my damnation unless I know that all of this is but for one purpose  and that is to bow my head and my mind before the living Jesus and say that unless Christ lives within the institution it has beome only desolation and hostility, noting but an empty institution.

The issue that faced Caiaphas is everlastingly alive in your heart and mine. What could happen if our hearts were blended together under Jesus Christ!

Oh, that God would help us today to once again understand the issues clearly and to make right choices. The people two thousand years ago had to make a tremendous choice, and their choice was a devastating decision, affecting their eternal destiny. If you have never gone through such an experience, you do not know what I am talking about, but those of you who know what I am speaking about realize the gravity of such a situation. It has shaken you completely until you have experienced a kind of death. The very thing in which you have trusted has never been shattered before you, and you will never be the same again because the basis of your life now is Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ. (Emphasis Supplied)

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I do not propose to answer this question but to give you inspired quotations so that you can answer it for yourself. Needless to say, it is a breathtaking concept.

“It is not His will that they shall get into controversy over questions which will not help them spiritually, such as, Who is to compose the hundred and forty-four thousand. This those who are the elect of God will in a short time know without question” (7BC 978).

“Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name [character]
“And they shalt be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own that serveth him”(Malachi 3:16, 17).

“Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name [character] and the name [character] of His Father written on their foreheads” (Revelation 14:1, NASB).

They have spoken of and thought of the character of Deity until it has shaped their own characters.

Where do we get that the Father’s name and Jesus’ name is their character? Exodus 33 and 34.

“And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord! the Lord! A God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, for giving iniquity and transgression and sin, but Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:5-7, Amplified).

Scripture even tells us that just before Christ returns, the truth will be known about his wrath or anger:

“The anger of the Lord shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart; in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly” (Jeremiah 23:20).

“The fierce anger of the Lord will not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it” (Jeremiah 30:24).

And what of the scapegoat, Azazel? What does he tell us about events to occur just prior to second coming?

“[Aaron] is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert” (Leviticus 16:21, 22, NIV).

Does this not hint that Satan will be exposed in the last days? And as a countermeasure, he will come in visible form to impersonate Jesus—to dispute the truth and to protect the lies he has told about redemption’s plan.

Are the 144,000 those who believe the Lord is a merciful God? a God who would never harm His creatures—good or bad? In other words, those who believe in the character of God message? Those who do know what a difference it makes to the character. But isn’t it a bit presumptuous to speak of this distinction in this way?

If it is, then the entire denominational church is guilty of the same indiscretion by claiming itself as the fulfillment of Revelation 12:17. Do I believe that the Seventh day Adventist church is the fulfillment of Revelation 12:17? I surely do. And do I believe that those within its fold who rejoice in believing the character of God message are the 144,000? I’ll let time answer that question for me.
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