Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 15, No. 4 Straight and Narrow April 2006
The Holy Spirit Part 1
By Allen Stump
The Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for the second quarter of 2006 is on the subject of the Holy Spirit. This quarterly lists the late Arnold V. Wallenkampf as the principal contributor and Clifford R. Goldstein as the editor. While containing Bible references and Spirit of Prophecy quotations, the quarterly has a liberal dosage of evangelical quotations that would have never been seen in Adventist publications during the life of our pioneers, including Ellen G. White. The influence of these evangelical quotations helps bring the student’s minds into mainstream evangelical thought.
The lessons cover several facets on the subject of the Holy Spirit, with the first lesson entitled, “The Personality and Divinity of the Holy Spirit.” The lesson’s main point is to prove that the Holy Spirit is a divine part of the Trinity, a proposition which we will show to be totally false. All the other lessons of the quarterly are then presented from a Trinitarian perspective.
Our Goal and Focus
The focus of this and subsequent studies over the next two months is not to provide a page-by-page, nor even a lesson-by-lesson, commentary on the quarterly. Not every section of the quarterly is problematic and some parts are commendable within certain parameters. While we will be looking at some specific pages and specific lessons, our goal will be first to present an overview of the Holy Spirit from the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy and then to look at specific and general points from the quarterly concerning the Holy Spirit.
The acceptance of the Trinity doctrine and what it teaches concerning the personhood and divinity of the Holy Spirit is considered vital by evangelical Christians. On page 10 of the companion book to the quarterly, New by the Spirit, Wallenkampf, also its author writes, Anyone who knows God the Father and God the Son, but has not attained to the belief in the Spirit as a Person and as God, is not a Christian any more than are those who do not believe in the deity of the Son. This concept focuses on the issue of worship and who is worthy of worship. If the Holy Spirit is divine as the Father and Son are divine, then mankind must worship the Holy Spirit. However, if the Holy Spirit is not a separate divine person, apart from the Father, then to worship such a concept would be idolatry. In reality there are no false deities such as Baal or Moloch. These pagan deities only existed in the minds of the people as they were inspired by Satan. (See Psalm 96:5, Deuteronomy 4:28, Isaiah 37:19, and Revelation 9:20.) Sadly, the worship of such false concepts leads to the worship of Satan and he is the one that Ellen White saw in vision who received worship and was prayed to by the careless company who did not rise up with Jesus when He went into the Most Holy Place. (See Early Writings, pp. 55, 56)
Only deity is worthy of worship and worship is the central theme of the book of Revelation. We are told to “worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:7) The Bible clearly teaches the worship of the Father and the worship of His Son Jesus Christ (see Revelation 5), but nowhere in Inspiration is man commanded to worship the Holy Spirit!
Worship is a life and death issue. For man to worship “the only true God,” (John 17:3) he must come out of Babylon for she “is fallen.” (Revelation 14:8) Babylon’s way of thinking, and all the doctrines and lifestyles that go with it, are denounced by God in the strongest terms and the follower of Christ is commanded to come out of her. God says this is urgent: “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 18:4) If we fail to heed the call of Christ, we shall be lost eternally.
The doctrine of the Trinity is the central pillar of Babylon. Notice this claim:
The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of Catholic Faith. Upon it are based all the other teachings of the Church. (Handbook for Todays Catholic, p. 11)
Revelation 17:5 calls the great harlot, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. The Advent movement was raised up, in part, to bring about a reformation in worship. The Advent movement was to reject the false abominations of worship that the Catholic Church bequeathed to Protestants. James White wrote:
The greatest fault we can find in the Reformation is, the Reformers stopped reforming. Had they gone on, and onward, till they had left the last vestige of Papacy behind, such as natural immortality, sprinkling, the trinity, and Sunday-keeping, the church would now be free from her unscriptural errors. (Review & Herald, February 7, 1856)
God raised up a people who were to be free from the pagan-papal errors mentioned by Elder White. Sadly, today finds a situation of apostasy (a falling away) from that truth which God gave to His people.
The doctrine of the Holy Spirit, as taught in Trinitarianism doctrine, was not held by the patriarchs and prophets, and it was unknown to the apostles and early Christians. This doctrine is, in fact, the establishing doctrine of the papacy! A. T. Jones in his voluminous book, The Two Republics, entitles the chapter on the acceptance of the Trinity, “Establishment of the Catholic Faith.” (See pages 329-354.) The main framework of the Trinity doctrine was laid in the Council of Nicæa in 325 A. D. This Catholic Council, presided over by the sun-worshipping Constantine, declared God and Christ to be co-equal and co-eternal; however, this Council did not deal with the subject of the Holy Spirit. The Catholic understanding of the Holy Spirit was formulated at the Council of Constantinople in 381 A. D. This Council elevated the Holy Spirit to personhood, co-equal and co-eternal, with God and Christ.
The early Adventist pioneers’ understanding of the Biblical term, “Holy Spirit of God,” was that of God’s life or inner nature. Further, they understood the Holy Spirit to be a “person” when referred to in the context of the “divine nature,” “personality,” or “presence” of God the Father and/or His Son — but never as a separate divine being (i.e. God the Holy Spirit).
The Adventist pioneers, such as James White and Joseph Bates, saw that when God gives us His Spirit, He is not giving us of someone other than Himself, but He is giving us His very self. (For a complete documented understanding of the pioneers beliefs see the free offer on page 16, column 2.)
The Meaning of “Spirit”
The word spirit appears to many as a rather vague term. The problem is compounded by the translators of the King James Version, using ghost ninety-eight times for the same word translated spirit. In the Old Testament the word spirit almost always comes from the Hebrew, ruwach. Ruwach is defined in Strongs Dictionary as: wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively, life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension, a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions). Besides spirit, some other translations of ruwach are: air, anger, blast, breath, cool, courage, mind, quarter, side, tempest, wind, whirlwind. The lexiconist Gesenius devotes nearly a page and a half of his lexicon defining ruwach and giving the various nuances. (See Gesenius Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, pp. 760, 761.)
The majority of cases involving ruwach relate it to breath or life. A word closely related to ruwach that is translated breath, is neshamah. Neshamah is used in Genesis 2:7 where we read, And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [neshamah] of life; and man became a living soul. Neshamah is also translated spirit twice and souls once. Neshamah is used interchangeably with ruwach. Notice the parallelism:
By the blast [neshamah] of God they perish, and by the breath [ruwach] of his nostrils are they consumed. (Job 4:9)
All the while my breath [neshamah] is in me, and the spirit [ruwach] of God is in my nostrils. (Job 27:3)
The Spirit [ruwach] of God hath made me, and the breath [neshamah] of the Almighty hath given me life. (Job 33:4)
Other parallel usages show these terms, ruwach and neshamah, to be synonymous: the breath (neshamah) of life, Genesis 2:7; the breath (ruwach) of life, Genesis 6:17. These verses show “spirit” to be living, active, and full of life.
Spirit and Mind
The Greek word usually translated spirit is pneuma. It is defined in Strongs as: a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively, a spirit, i.e. (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, demon, or (divine) God, Christs spirit, the Holy Spirit. This is very similar in concept to the Hebrew ruwach.
Both ruwach and pneuma carry the concept of mind or intellect. Isaiah 40:13 states: Who hath directed the Spirit [ruwach] of the LORD, or being his counselor hath taught him? The Septuagint (LXX) reads: Who has known the mind [Greek: nous] of the Lord? and who has been his counselor, to instruct him? Paul quotes this verse in Romans 11:34: For who hath known the mind (nous) of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?” Here we see that both the translators of the LXX and Paul understood the concept of spirit and mind to be closely related.
However, spirit goes much further than just the concept of mind, it is the very essence of being or the inner person. Suppose a person has become paralyzed and is lying in a bed unable to move or even speak, yet his mind and thoughts are clear. Is his paralyzed body the real essence of his person? Twice Luke records that Jesus “waxed strong in spirit.” (Luke 1:80; 2:40) This is not speaking of a physical process but rather of a development of that aspect of a person that cannot be explained in physical terms. To illustrate this further, notice these words Paul wrote to the believers:
For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. (Colossians 2:5)
For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed. (1 Corinthians 5:3)
Words / Spirit
One of the ways we receive Gods Spirit is by His words. Words express the concepts of the mind and are explained by Jesus to be spirit. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63) This truth is taught by parallelism in Proverbs 1:23: Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. The parallel is between spirit and words. Also in Ezekiel we read, And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.” (Ezekiel 2:1, 2) Here God’s words that He speaks and His Spirit entering are synonymous with one another.
The pouring out of Gods Spirit is often referred to as rain. Deuteronomy 32:2 states: My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. Gods doctrine (words) comes as the rain (spirit). When God pours out His Spirit, He often uses words and concepts. This is why Ellen White describes the latter rain as greater light in Testimonies to Ministers, p. 507, because His Words bring enlightenment.
Man Made in the Image of God
Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) not only in character, but in form and feature. (Great Controversy p. 645) Both Daniel and Ezekiel testify that God has a physical form akin to man.
I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. … I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. (Daniel 7:9, 13)
And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. (Ezekiel 1:26)
So while we read that God has a physical form, there is another aspect to God. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24) God’s Spirit is His inner being, mind, thoughts, and personality which is not restricted to physical form. If God is a two-dimensional being, bodily form and spirit, then man, who is made in His image, is a two-dimensional being as well. This is not to be confused with the concept of the immortal, undying soul. Upon death, man’s spirit (breath) returns to God and is never consciously separate from his physical form. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul compares the divine spirit with the human spirit:
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16)
In other words, mans spirit is to man, as Gods Spirit is to God, except that the spirit of man may not consciously dwell outside the body. That is the prerogative of God alone. When I say, My spirit is grieved, you wouldnt think for a moment that Im speaking of someone other than myself. My spirit is my mind, character, and personality. Its the element thats really me. You can cut my hand away, and Im still me. Cut my arms off, and Im still me. You can cut my legs off and Im no less a person, even though I have less of a body.
God is omnipresent by His Spirit
Even though God has a bodily presence, it is by His Spirit that God can be omnipresent. David wrote:
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. (Psalm 139:7, 8)
Here we see Hebrew parallelism in verse 7, with the terms “spirit” and “presence” used interchangeably. The Spirit of God is not an extra God, but the essence of His inner person, that aspect of God that is not in any manner physical. The term “God the Holy Spirit” is nowhere to be found in inspiration. Neither the Bible nor Sister White ever used that term. It is a man-made term to promote the idea of a third being that is co-equal and co-eternal with God and Christ.
While the Bible does not speak of “God the Holy Spirit,” it does speak of the “Spirit of God” and the “Spirit of Christ.”
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)
And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. (1 Samuel 11:6)
The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. (Job 33:4)
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (1 Peter 1:11)
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:9-11)
These usages are in the possessive form with the last reference (Romans 8:9) using Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ interchangeably. God and His Son share the same Holy Spirit. Jesus said, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. (Luke 4:18) Jesus said that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him because He had been anointed to preach the gospel. Jesus was set up [anointed] from everlasting. (Proverbs 8:23) The very term Christ means the anointed one. God anointed Christ with His Spirit. This is why we are told in Philippians 2:5, Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. The mind or spirit that was in Christ was the mind/spirit of the Father. In fact, Paul states that the Lord is that Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Trinitarianism or Tritheism?
Nowhere does the Bible teach that the Holy Spirit is the third person of a Trinity; however, this is the first point that the Sabbath School Quarterly attempts to establish. Interestingly, the quarterly, particularly the Teachers Edition, reveals the contributors are confused among themselves on their understanding of the nature of the triune god.
The Adventist pioneers declared with great unanimity that God and Christ were personal beings but never described the Holy Spirit as a personal being separate and apart from the Father or Son. Ellen White held this same position and never rebuked her husband, Elder Bates, Elder Waggoner, or others, for teaching such. There are statements that have been published in which Ellen White appears to teach differently. We will look at some of these statements later. In fact, the denomination used Ellen White, especially statements from the book, The Desire of Ages, as their license to make sweeping changes in their theology. However, all such charges must be carefully measured with the following statement of Ellen White written on her 78th birthday:
Nothing is so precious to me as to know that Christ is my Saviour. I appreciate the truth, every jot of it, just as it has been given to me by the Holy Spirit for the last fifty years. I desire everyone to know that I stand on the same platform of truth that we have maintained for more than half a century. (Ms 142, 1905, pp. 1, 2. Manuscript Releases, vol, 4, p. 44 – All emphasis in this article supplied)
In 1905 Ellen White declared that at least back to around 1855 there was a platform of truth that she and the brethren (we) had maintained. A major shift on the teaching of God would invalidate such a statement and make Ellen White out to be a liar.
Shortly after the death of Ellen White, there was a movement led by a new generation, including LeRoy Froom and others, to introduce a more evangelical understanding of God into the church. While called the Trinity in the statement of “Fundamental Beliefs,” it was interpreted by most of the brethren as tritheism. Tritheism teaches that God is three co-eternal beings, each a distinct person.
The Orthodox Trinity doctrine defines God as one being in a unity of three co-eternal Persons. The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity does not teach multiple beings. To Trinitarians God is of one numerical substance, yet in three persons, or as described by theologians, hypostasis. The three persons are referred to as three individual centers of intelligence and action. (Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, p. 150)
Tritheism declares that God is not numerically one, but the oneness of God is in the purposes, character and nature of God. Sometimes this is called Trinitarianism by those who do not understand the orthodox Trinity, but to knowledgeable Trinitarians, this is considered an anathema, a type of polytheism. While tritheism was not part of the 1931 statement of Fundamental Beliefs, it was the model that most laymen and many ministers believed and taught for many years in Adventism. It is still the understanding of God that many in the church believe today. This model is very popular among most independent ministries.
When we are speaking of the numerical individual(s) in the Godhead, the word “being” is used. Trinitarians seek to make a distinctions between “persons” and “beings” (one being, three persons) while Tritheists do not (three beings or three persons).
The General Conference has signaled an official shift in clear favor of the orthodox Trinity doctrine in the release of the Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, also known as volume twelve of the Commentary Reference Series. This volume was mandated by the 1988 General Conference Annual Council and conceived shortly after the 1980 Dallas General Conference session. Its preparation was entrusted to the Biblical Research Institute of the church. It is as official as such a book can be. On page 121, God is referred to as “one divine reality and not to a plurality of divine beings.” On page 122, God is again referred to as a “divine Being” singular, with a “plurality of persons.” On page 150 we read: “In the being of God is an essential coprimordiality [existing from the beginning] of three coequal, coeternal, nonoriginated persons.” Also on page 150 we read this warning against Trithesim:
The danger of Tritheism … becomes real when the oneness of God is reduced to a mere unity conceived in analogy to a human society or a fellowship of action. Beyond such a unity of action, however, it is necessary to envision God as the one single reality which, in the very acts by which He reveals Himself directly in history, transcends the limits of our human reason.
Unmistakably, the theologians and leaders of the denomination are on the path of orthodox Triniatarianism. In the quarterly, Wallenkampf begins writing with this concept in mind:
There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons.Seventh-day Adventists Believe , p. 16. In other words, Adventistsalong with millions of other Christiansbelieve in the triune nature of God; that is, there is one God (Deut. 6:4) who exists as three Persons. (Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (hereafter noted as, ASSBSG or “quarterly,” p. 7)
So imagine our surprise to see Wallenkampf on the next page refer to Jesus as a fully Divine Being espousing the tritheistic view, although for the rest of the quarterly he avoids such usages, instead speaking of Personages, Persons, Person, and triune God. However, the Teachers Edition of the quarterly also plainly promotes Tritheism. It states, Our views on the Holy Spirit stem from the concept of the Trinity as a unity of Three coeternal Beings. Most Christian denominations believe that this is true. (ASSBSG, p. 11.) This statement speaks of Three coeternal Beings not persons. This is definitely not what Most Christian denominations believe. The millions of other Christians that Wallenkampf mentions on page 7 believe in the Trinity doctrine, not Tritheism.
The Trinity is the Ecumenical Tie that Binds
The doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of the ecumenical movement. The Basis of the World Council of Churches constitution states:
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Constitution: World Council of Churches, quoted from their website: http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/who/con-e.html.)
To be a member of the World Council of Churches, one must subscribe to the Basis of its constitution. With the acceptance of the Trinity doctrine, The Seventh-day Adventist Church is eligible at any time to be received into membership of the World Council of Churches. At the very time that Satan was bringing about the beginning of the ecumenical movement in the 19th century, God was raising up the Advent movement. This movement is to be free from papal error and can only call people out of Babylon while she herself is free from it. The Satan-inspired ecumenical movement finds its unity in the Trinity doctrine.
On page 7 of the quarterly, Wallenkampf writes: “the biblical evidence for this truth [the Trinity] is powerful and compelling.” One would then think that which follows would be the powerful and compelling evidence. What does follow is an attempt to teach a plurality of the Godhead with the implication that the plural means three. Wallenkampf then lists six Bible texts for his compelling evidence.
Genesis 1:26 is the first text mentioned. The part under discussion says, And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. The terms us and our clearly are not singular, but they do not of themselves specify the quantity of individuals. However, God has not left His people to guess who the our and us are. In Early Writings we read: God said to His Son, Let us make man in our image,’ …” (p. 145) While Genesis 1:26 does teach a plurality of divine Beings, it only is making reference to the Father and Son, not to three beings.
The next text of compelling evidence is Genesis 3:22 which states in part, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” Again this text does not state who the “us” is that the LORD God is speaking about. There is no definitive statement from Ellen White on this verse. It is logical though that it would be the same “us” as referred to in Genesis 1:26. This text clearly does not mention a numerical essence, either one, two, three, or any other specific number. The same could be said for the next two references, Genesis 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8.
Finally, two New Testament references are given. John 1:1-3, which mentions only God and the Word or Christ, and John 8:58, where Jesus stated, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” Neither of these statements teach anything about the Holy Spirit.
There are some interesting texts that the quarterly could have included. One such text is Zechariah 6:13, the counsel of peace shall be between them both. The Hebrew word for both is shenayim. It is the plural for two. God had an Associate Who could enter into counsel with Him. This Being the Bible describes as His “only begotten Son.” Notice the words of Ellen White:
The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associatea co-worker [singular] who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings. the only being [singular] that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34)
Please note these references from the book of Revelation that speak of the Father and Son:
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. (Revelation 21:22)
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (Revelation 22:1)
Some have noted that the Hebrew word frequently translated God is elohiym. Elohiym is a plural word built from the singular word El. In Hebrew and many languages there is a principle called the pluralis majestatis (plural of majesty). This principle uses plural forms of names and titles to denote the greatness and superiority of one person. The Hebrews were intensively monotheist. They never have had an understanding that God is a triune being. Yet speaking of Deuteronomy 6:4, Wallenkampf, in the companion book, New by the Spirit, writes: it is logical to deduce that Moses used the plural name of God because there is a plurality of persons in the Godheadthe Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Actually, there is nothing logical about it. God, our Father, is the Supreme Being of the universe. While He has a Son, God is a single person, a single being, and the great weight of biblical evidence can only lead one to logically conclude that Moses used the plural word, elohiym, to show the greatness and superiority of God.
Once, when I was sharing the truth about God in Romania, I tried to explain this concept, but my interpreter stopped me. I didn’t need to go on, for this principle was well understood as it was a part of their language. In fact, he noted that as the younger Romanians discussed me among themselves, they referred to me using a plural form to show respect.
The Greek language does not use the plural of majesty, so when a group of Hebrew scholars translated the Old Testament into Greek (known as the Septuagint/LXX) they always translated elohiym using the singular Greek word theos, whenever speaking of the true God.
Two Key Texts:
Two texts that are given as proof texts for the Trinity doctrine are Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14
Matthew 28:19 is probably used more than any other verse in the Bible to try to prove that God is a triune being. This text is typically understood to mean that when an apostle or minister baptizes someone, he is supposed to baptize them using the formula, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” But what is the record of the apostles who directly heard Jesus?
The Bible Record of Baptisms
Acts 2:38 records this command of Jesus obeyed for the first time. Peter said, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Peter instructed these people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, rather than in the names of three separate persons. In Acts 10:48 Peter commanded [Cornelius and his brethren] to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” From these verses it is plain that Peter didn’t understand Christ to have commanded him to baptize into a Trinity.
Peter must have understood the command of Jesus differently than most Trinitarians understand it today. As we continue in the book of Acts we find that Peter was not alone in his understanding of this command.
In Acts 8:16, when Peter and John came to Samaria they found a group of people who had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Let us also consider Paul, who claimed he received the gospel directly from Jesus Christ. When he visited Ephesus and met some brethren who had only been baptized with Johns baptism, he instructed them about Christ, and the Bible says, when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:5)
There is no record in the Bible of anyone baptizing in three separate names of three individual persons. Now, there are a few possibilities that could explain why the disciples always baptized in the name of Jesus.
1) The disciples may have been in direct rebellion against Jesus.
2) They may have misunderstood what He said.
3) Matthew 28:19 may be a gloss. Perhaps Jesus never gave this command.
4) The disciples understood the command of Jesus differently than most Trinitarians understand it today.
Now, I do not believe that we can accept any of the first three possibilities, but the fourth statement offers a reasonable solution. Jesus was not trying to teach us that God is a Trinity or He would have been contradicting other statements He made and many statements made by other Bible writers. This verse says nothing about God being three persons. However, Ephesians 4:6 says that there is: “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” The Bible uses the phrase, “God the Father” thirteen times, but it never says, “God the Son,” or “God the Holy Spirit.”
To literally baptize someone in the name of a person we must know the person’s name. Yahweh (Jehovah or other similar spellings) is the personal name of the Father. Jesus (Yahshua or some other similar spelling) is the personal name of the Son, but the Scripture nowhere gives a name for the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not even hint that such a name exists.
So we can see that Jesus was not giving a specific formula of words for the preacher to recite at a baptism. We know this because: 1) All the recorded examples of people baptizing after this command was given show that it was done in the name of Jesus and 2) it would not be possible to literally baptize in the proper name of the Holy Spirit because the Bible makes no mention of such a name.
The word “name” in the Bible often refers to a person’s character. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel because his character had changed. The word “name” in Matthew 28:19 has reference to the character, rather than to proper names of, individuals. Once we realize that Christ was commissioning His disciples to baptize into the character of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, it is easier for us to understand His words. This command is closely connected with the command to teach. Christ wants His disciples to understand the truth about God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. All three of these are vital in a Christian’s life. The Father loved us so much that He gave His Son to die for our sins, and He gives His Spirit to guide us in our lives. If a person lacks the knowledge and experience of any of these aspects, his relationship with God will suffer. That is why Christ specifically mentioned all three.
2 Corinthians 13:14 states: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” Some have declared this to be the noblest verse of all Scripture since it supposedly speaks so clearly of the Trinity. But let us fairly examine this verse. The text speaks of:
1) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2) The love of God.
3) The communion of the Holy Ghost.
In this verse the title God is used only once and it is used in reference to a specific person. Obviously, it is God the Father whose love is spoken of in this verse and according to John 3:16, He loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son to give grace to us that we can be drawn into communion with Them both through the Spirit. Jesus said,
If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)
Please observe that Paul did not say we would commune with the Holy Ghost, but he speaks of the communion of the Holy Ghost. What does he mean by this? When Paul spoke of the communion of the Holy Ghost, he was showing how our communion would be. It would be by the means of the Holy Spirt that we would commune or fellowship with God and Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3 states, That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
According to John, we have fellowship with the Father and his Son, through the Holy Spirit. So Paul wanted to have this experience remain with these Christians in Corinth and with us today, the experience of true fellowship with the Father and His Son through the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit
Part 2 Jesus and the Holy Spirit
By Allen Stump
Lesson three in the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for the second quarter of 2006 is entitled, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The memory text is Luke 1:35:
The angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
The Adventist pioneers realized that this text is not compatible with the Trinity doctrine. They understood that if the Holy Spirit is co-equal and co-eternal, a person in all the same respects that God and Christ are, then Jesus would not be the Son of God as the Scriptures clearly state, but rather the Son of the Holy Spirit. (See Letter of H. W. Cottrell to LeRoy Froom, September 16, 1931.)
Though not noted in the King James Version, the word thing is a supplied word with the adjective holy in the neuter gender. The same adjective holy is used in the beginning of the verse with the word Ghost (pneuma - Spirit). Therefore, the missing word to be modified in the second usage could be “spirit” rather than “thing.” The verse would then carry the following meaning: The spirit of the Father would overshadow Mary and the Holy Spirit that would be born would be called the Son of God.
Jesus said that “the Comforter ... is the Holy Spirit.” (John 14:26) But, 2 Corinthians 3:17 states “The Lord is that Spirit,” and it will become very clear as we proceed that Jesus Himself, not a person separate and apart from Him, must be the Comforter. The basis for Christ being the Comforter is found in the incarnation. To be qualified and able to comfort and help His people, the Bible teaches that Jesus had to be made like His brethren.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren. (Hebrews 2:9-11)
The Greek word for became is prepo. It is defined as suitable, proper, it is fit or right. Paul declares in Hebrews 2:10 that it is suitable, proper, fit, right, for God to make Christ perfect through sufferings. He continues:
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (Hebrews 2:14-16)
In Romans 1:3 Paul says that ... Jesus Christ our Lord ... was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Paul leaves the reader with no doubt that he has a Saviour who comes close to him.
Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted. (Hebrews 2:17, 18)
The word translated behooved in the Greek is opheilo which means to be bound to, under obligation, indebted, owe. Commenting on this, Elder M. L. Andreasen wrote:
If Christ is to be a merciful and faithful high priest, Paul says it behooves Him in all things to be like His brethren. This is obligatory. It is a duty He owes and must not avoid. He cannot make reconciliation for men unless He takes His place with them and in all things becomes like them. It is not a question of choice. He should, He must, He ought to, He is under obligation to, He owes it. Unless He has to struggle with the same temptations men do, He cannot sympathize with them. One who has never been hungry, who has never been weak and sick, who has never struggled with temptations, is unable fully to sympathize with those who are thus afflicted. (Letters to the Churches, Series A, #1, p. 6 All emphasis in this article is supplied unless otherwise noted.)
Christ partook of the human experience to be able to comfort us! Let us notice closely the words of Jesus to the disciples on the night of His betrayal:
If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:15-18)
Jesus stated that He would send the Spirit of truth that the world neither received nor knew. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:11) This Comfortor was already dwelling with them, and Jesus clearly stated, I will come to you. The question that must be settled is, did Christ mean that He Himself would come or that He would send an associate? The word Comforter is from the Greek parakletos which means an intercessor, or one called beside. Parakletos is also found in 1 John 2:1: My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate (parakletos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” John says that our advocate or comforter is Jesus.
While God the Father is acknowledged as the One who sends the comfort (See 2 Corinthians 1:2-7.), He does so through His Son, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:4 NKJ) A person may sympathize, but they cannot empathize, with another unless he or she has had a similar experience. A comforter can give comfort because he has suffered the same trials and struggles as the one he seeks to comfort. This is why Paul stated that it was imperative for Christ to accept the fallen nature of man, so that He could properly comfort him. This concept makes the following Spirit of Prophecy statements shine with increased clarity:
The reason why the churches are weak and sickly and ready to die, is that the enemy has brought influences of a discouraging nature to bear upon trembling souls. He has sought to shut Jesus from their view as the Comforter, as one who reproves, who warns, who admonishes them, (Review & Herald, August 26, 1890)
When trials overshadow the soul, remember the words of Christ, remember that He is an unseen presence in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He will be the peace and comfort given you, manifesting to you that He is with you, the Sun of Righteousness, chasing away your darkness. If a man love me, Christ said, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. Letter 124, 1897 (Daughters of God, p. 185)
Some people have been confused about what Jesus meant in John 14:16. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. To express the thought of Christ, John uses the Greek word allos. Allos means another of the same kind as opposed to heteros, which means another of a different kind. Notice the usages as given in the examples:
And the Spirit of the Lord shall come upon thee [Saul], and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another [allos] man. (1 Samuel 10:6, LXX)
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another [heteros] gospel: Which is not another; [allos] but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6, 7)
When Jesus said that He would send another (allos) Comforter, He was saying that the comfort that the disciples were to receive was to be of the same nature as the comfort that He had given them. Receiving another Comforter did not imply receiving a different Comforter. In John 14:16, Jesus refers to Himself, as the Comforter, in the third person. This is not unique. He also does this in the following verses.
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:13-17)
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. (John 5:19)
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)
Notice these important points made by Ellen White:
As by faith we look to Jesus, our faith pierces the shadow, and we adore God for His wondrous love in giving us Jesus the Comforter. (Sons and Daughters of God, p. 124)
The Holy Spirit is Christs representative, but divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. (Desire of Ages, p. 669)
To be divested is to be stripped of. One is only divested of what one once had. No Trinitarian would admit that the Holy Spirit ever had humanity to be stripped or divested of. This could only refer to Christ, as her parallel statement clearly portrays “He would represent Himself.”
Parallels in Inspiration
Between Jesus and the Holy Spirit
The Apostle Peter states that the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21) Here Peter states that the prophets were moved by the Holy Ghost. However, in his first epistle he stated: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Peter 1:9-11) Here Peter states that the prophets were moved by “the Spirit of Christ.” Thus Peter, under inspiration, equated the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of Christ to be one.
The book of Daniel records the words of Gabriel when he said to Daniel: But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael [Christ] your prince. (Daniel 10:21) This channel of inspiration complements that expressed in Revelation 1:1: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” The line of communication originates with the Father who gives it to His Son. Christ gives the message to His angel who then delivers it to the prophet.
Revelation chapters two and three present seven messages addressed to seven churches. Each message begins with an introduction by Christ, using terminology connected with Himself in the first chapter that reveals He is the One giving the message. For example, the first message, to the church at Ephesus, is addressed as coming from the One who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand. (Revelation 2:1) In Revelation 1:16 Jesus is described as having the seven stars in His right hand. This is the pattern in each of the seven messages. The speaker is introduced in a way which leaves no doubt that it is Jesus Christ speaking. Yet every single message ends with the admonition: He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:29; 3:6; 3:13; 3:22)
Jeremiah 31:31-34 records the new covenant experience and states that it is the LORD who is speaking, yet in the New Testament, it is attributed to the “Holy Spirit.”
Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:15-17)
Isaiah says he heard the voice of the Lord saying: Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. (Isaiah 6:9, 10) In Acts 28:26, 27, Paul quotes these verses, and then in the preceding verse (25) he clearly attributes this to be the work of the Holy Ghost.
Paul, writing to the Romans, declares that the Spirit makes intercession for the saints. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26, 27) The same apostle declares in Hebrews that it is Jesus who ever liveth to make intercession for us. (Hebrews 7:25) Also, Paul, writing to Timothy, stated clearly, For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5) Ellen White wrote, No middle-man comes between the sinner and Christ. (Signs of the Times, June 28, 1899)
The Miracles of Jesus
The lesson for April 12 in the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide states that Jesus “performed His miracles through the power of the Spirit. (See Matt. 12:28.) Jesus was dependent on the power of the Spirit to perform His miracles during His earthly ministry.” The Teacher’s Edition for the same lesson states, “Jesus performed His miracles strictly through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (p. 35 Teacher’s Edition) In Acts 2:22, Peter noted that the miracles of Christ were performed by the power of God. Ellen White adds this inspired statement:
All the miracles of Christ performed for the afflicted and suffering were, by the power of God, through the ministration of angels. (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 67. See also The Desire of Ages, p. 143.)
The Holy Spirit
Part 3 - Spirit of Prophecy Statements
By Allen Stump
The following Spirit of Prophecy statements have been used in the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (quarterly) to prove the place of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity; however, careful examination of these statements shows that they fail to provide the evidence necessary. Space does not allow an examination of every statement that could be called into question, but the following is representative of some of the main statements.
The Heavenly Trio
Page 7 of the quarterly contains a statement that was published twice in Ellen White’s lifetime and at least three times thereafter which, out of context, seems to teach the Trinity doctrine. That statement reads:
There are three living persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spiritthose who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ. (Evangelism, p. 615, 1946 originally published in Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 62, 63 -1905)
The background to this statement is of vital importance. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, Director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, had adopted a system of theology and philosophy called pantheism, a teaching that God is in all things. These ideas were published in 1903 by Kellogg in a book entitled, The Living Temple. As we shall see, Kellogg drifted toward pantheistic ideas because he accepted the Trinity doctrine. Carefully notice the following statements which are taken from the same Testimony from which the famous “heavenly trio” statement is taken.
I have not been able to sleep during the past night. Letters have come to me with statements made by men who claimed to have asked Dr. Kellogg if he believes the Testimonies that Sister White bears. He declares that he does, but he does not. (Ibid., p. 60)
Kellogg claimed to believe the Testimonies and that they expressed what he was now teaching about the Holy Spirit. Writing to former General Conference President, G. I. Butler, he noted:
The ideas I hold in reference to the presence of God everywhere and in everything, as a manifest agency in all the workings of Nature, I didnot [sic] originate. (Letter of J. H. Kellogg to G. I. Butler, December 30, 1903.)
Earlier that year, writing to W. W. Prescott, Kellogg quoted from Desire of Ages, p. 161; Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 205; Special Testimonies on Education, p. 33; Christian Temperance, pp. 52, 161 to sustain the point that his writings merely reflected the work of Sister White. Although he claimed to believe the Testimonies and even used them to prove his points, Ellen White boldly declared that Dr. Kellogg did not believe them. Going back to the original Testimony in Series B Number 7:
I am so sorry that sensible men do not discern the trail of the serpent. I call it thus; for thus the Lord pronounces it. Wherein are those who are designated as departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, departing from the faith which they have held sacred for the past fifty years? I leave that for the ones to answer who sustain those who develop such acuteness in their plans for spoiling and hindering the work of God. (Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 61 – All emphasis in this article is supplied.)
Here she says that some of the brethren were “departing from the faith which they have [had] held sacred for the past fifty years.” In 1872, the first published statement of Fundamental Principles was issued. It clearly reflected the beliefs of those first 50 years of the Advent Movement. This statement declared in part:
That there is one God, a personal, spiritual being, the creator of all things, omnipotent, omniscient, and eternal, infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, truth, and mercy; unchangeable, and everywhere present by his representative, the Holy Spirit. Ps. 139:7.
That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom God created all things, …
Adventist Trinitarians who know our history acknowledge that there has been a paradigm shift in the churchs theology about the Godheada great change from the prior 50 years. The book Issues, authorized by the North American Division Officers and Union Presidents, called this statement of Fundamental Principles “distinctly non-Trinitarian.” (p. 39)
But in the very Testimony in question, Ellen White says that Kellogg’s teachings were a departing of the faith, not a work of progress. She declared that such would spoil and hinder the work of God! She also noted:
But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye already have hold fast till I come (Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 61)
Interestingly, Ellen White mentioned Thyatira. This church has been historically associated with Catholicism, whose Trinity doctrine is their central pillar of support. It was to this church, which rejected the sonship of Jesus, that our Lord addressed Himself as “the Son of God.” (Revelation 2:18) Notice the following statements that help broaden the picture:
The Father is all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and is invisible to mortal sight. The Son is all the fulness of the Godhead manifested. The Word of God declares Him to be the express image of His person. God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Here is shown the personality of the Father. The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. (Ibid., pp. 62, 63)
Now carefully read the following part of the Testimony as it was edited by Ellen White in her own handwritten manuscript that has been widely distributed and publicized by the White Estate.
There are [the living three personalities] of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powersthe Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ... (Ibid., p. 63)
A study of Sister Whites writings reveals that she did not use the terms being and personalities interchangeably as some do today. She stated that Christ was the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34) This denotes only two beings. If the Holy Spirit was a being in the same sense as Christ, then why was the Holy Spirit not able to enter into all the counsels and purposes of God?
She went on to write in the Testimony of 1905:
When the truth in its simplicity is lived in every place, then God will work through His angels as He worked on the day of Pentecost, and hearts will be changed so decidedly that there will be a manifestation of the influence of genuine truth, as is represented in the descent of the Holy Spirit. (Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 64)
Two key points of this Testimony are: 1) Kellogg had lost faith in the Testimonies, and 2) a contrast is made between his spiritualistic beliefs and the truth about God. Kellogg claimed to believe the Testimonies, and he even used them to try to prove that Ellen White was teaching the Holy Spirit was a third being separate and apart from the Father or Son.
However, she did not accept this new teaching and warned the people against accepting this so-called “new light.” She urged the church to stay with the truth they had been teaching for at least the last 50 years. That truth was simply that the Father is God and Jesus is His Son and the Spirit is the Spirit of God. Ellen White wrote that in his new theology, Kellogg was departing from the faith and accepting doctrines of devils.
This Testimony describes the personality of God, His literal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ, and also that the Comforter is said to be in fact “the Spirit.” Then she said that God’s working through His angels on the day of Pentecost… is represented in the descent of the Holy Spirit.” Notice this statement:
All the human capabilities are to be henceforth consecrated powers to do service for God in representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost upon whom they depend. All heaven is represented by these three in covenant relation with the new life. (Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, p. 389, dated 1904)
On October 28, 1903, Dr. Kellogg wrote to G. I. Butler stating:
As far as I can fathom, the difficulty which is found in The Living Temple, the whole thing may be simmered down to this question: Is the Holy Ghost a person? You say No. I had supposed the Bible said this for the reason that the personal pronoun “he” is used in speaking of the Holy Ghost. Sister White uses the pronoun “he” and has said in so many words that the Holy Ghost is the third person of the Godhead. How the Holy Ghost can be the third person and not be a person at all is difficult for me to see.
The next day, October 29, 1903, then current General Conference President, A.G. Daniells, wrote the following in a letter to Willie White concerning the pantheistic theories of Kellogg:
He [Dr. Kellogg] then stated that his former views regarding the Trinity had stood in his way of making a clear and absolutely correct statement; but that within a short time he had come to believe in the Trinity, and could now see pretty clearly where all the difficulty was, and believed that he could clear the matter up satisfactorily. He told me that he now believed in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and his view was that it was God the Holy Ghost, and not God the Father, that filled all space, and every living thing. He said that if he had believed this before writing the book, he could have expressed his views without giving the wrong impression the book now gives.
Earlier in the letter, Daniells had noted concerning Kellogg:
He said that some days before coming to the council, he had been thinking the matter over, and began to see that he had made a slight mistake in expressing his views. He felt sure that he believed just what the Testimonies teach, and what Dr. Waggoner and Elder Jones have taught for years; but he had come to believe that none of them had expressed the matter in correct form. (Ibid.)
Kellogg had, in his mind, taught what Ellen White, Jones, and Waggoner had taught, but that he had expressed his views poorly. A. G. Daniels wrote to Kellogg, Now you can readily see that all this can not be corrected by simply a change of terms. (Letter of A. G. Daniells, to J. H. Kellogg, October 28, 1903) Further, Daniels noted to Willie White that before his mother, Ellen White, had come out against the book, Kellogg had given fair warning that this battle would be fought out to the bitter end, and that the old traditional theories would be rolled under. (Letter of A. G. Daniels to Willie White, October 29, 1903) During the outset of the controversy, Kellogg acknowledged that he had a new model of thought that went beyond just the expression of his words. Daniels was not deceived by Kelloggs attempt to change the manner of expressing his thoughts. He wrote: I felt fully satisfied that he had not changed his views in any essential particular. (Ibid.)
What a lesson for us! Theories concerning the Godhead, as well as other truths, are sometimes presented to the people as living water, but these theories are from “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” Many times it is introduced as new light, but when resistance comes, the voices proclaim it is the old truth, even truth that Ellen White, Jones and Waggoner presented, just put in new settings. We must each be Bereans (Acts 17:11) and study for ourselves the Word of truth.
The Personality of the Holy Spirit
The next two statements deal with the personhood of the Holy Spirit.
The first of these statements was published in Evangelism:
We need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds.Manuscript 66, 1899. (From a talk to the students at the Avondale School. Evangelism, p. 616)
As noted in the reference in Evangelism, this is from a talk given at Avondale School April 15, 1899. This talk was never published during Ellen Whites lifetime. Part of it was first released in 1946 with the publication of Evangelism. A further part of it was published in 1990 in Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, p. 299, and then in 1994 more of it was released in Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, pp. 136-139. The entire talk has not been published, yet from Sermons and Talks we know that the above quotation is not the full sentence. The point that Sister White was making is seen in the context of the whole statement:
We have been brought together as a school, and we need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds, unseen by human eyes; that the Lord God is our Keeper and Helper. He hears every word we utter and knows every thought of the mind. (Sermon and Talks, vol. 2, pp. 136, 137)
Ellen White was making it clear that she was not advocating that the Holy Spirit was merely some impersonal force, but the person of “the Lord God” who was constantly with them watching and listening to everything that happen. If she was trying to teach the Trinity, she failed, for the school did not adopt the Trinity doctrine and the great “weight of evidence” from her writings is clearly on the non-trinitarian side of the issue.
Another controversial statement is found in Evangelism, p. 617:
The Holy Spirit has a personality, else He could not bear witness to our spirits and with our spirits that we are the children of God. He must also be a divine person, else He could not search out the secrets which lie hidden in the mind of God. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”
The key to understanding this statement is found in Sister Whites quotation of 1 Corinthians 2:11. This text, in essence, says that only man knows his spirit and only God knows His Spirit. In other words, man is to mans spirit as God is to Gods spirit. Nobody who properly understands the spirit of man would say that his spirit is a separate part or entity apart from him. We also use the term spirit of Satan, but never to say that there is another demon besides Lucifer that is separate and apart from him doing an evil work. Ellen White wrote concerning the Holy Flesh movement in Indiana at the beginning of the 20th century:
I bore my Testimony, declaring that these fanatical movements, this din and noise, were inspired by the spirit of Satan, who was working miracles to deceive if possible the very elect. (Letter 132, to Brother and Sister S. N. Haskell, October 10, 1900)
In Early Writings, page 56, Ellen White spoke of Satan breathing out his spirit as an “unholy influence” upon those who failed to arise with Jesus as He went to the Most Holy Place. In these usages of spirit for man or Satan, we would never think of the spirit being an entity apart from the individual. However, due to the teaching of the Trinity doctrine, most are trained to automatically assume that when we read of God’s spirit, it is someone apart from the Father. If we simply understand the identity of God’s spirit in a similar context to the way we understand the identity of man and the identity of man’s spirit, most of the problems quickly are solved. My spirit is my inner self, who I am, but not another individual in addition to me.
“Three highest powers in heaven.”
We are to co-operate with the three highest powers in heaven,the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these powers will work through us, making us workers together with God. (Evangelism. p. 617)
This statement, like the heavenly trio statement is taken from page 51 of Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7. All the background is the same. She is writing concerning the Kellogg crisis and is encouraging her readers to remain faithful to the truths that had been held for 50 years. In connection with this statement of Ellen White’s, it is highly interesting to note a statement that Uriah Smith made 14 years earlier at the 1891 General Conference Session. After sharing several Bible verses about the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ, he noted:
You will notice in these few verses the apostle brings to view the three great agencies which are concerned in this work: God, the Father; Christ, his Son; and the Holy Spirit. (General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 14, 1891, volume 4, p. 147)
This statement is remarkable because Elder Smith explains that the Pioneers understood the use of the term, “three great agencies” in a way that is in harmony with the teaching that the Holy Spirit is not a third, separate being, but rather the Spirit of the Father and His Son.
“Third Person of the Godhead”
Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. (Desire of Ages, p. 671 – 1898 Edition)
The phrase, third person of the Godhead was published seven times while Ellen White was alive. (Review & Herald, May 19, 1904; November 19, 1908; Signs of the Times, December 1, 1898; The Watchman, November 28, 1905; Special Testimonies, series A, no. 10, p. 25, 37; and Desire of Ages, 1898 edition) Each time the term third person was published, it was in the lower case. Standard rules for capitalizing the titles of Deity have not changed since Ellen Whites death. However this term has been republished six times since her death in the upper case including the changing of Desire of Ages into the upper case.
A Missing Statement
One statement not found in the quarterly that is often used to quiet unwanted discussion on the Holy Spirit is found in Acts of the Apostles:
The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. Men cannot explain it, because the Lord has not revealed it to them. Men having fanciful views may bring together passages of Scripture and put a human construction on them, but the acceptance of these views will not strengthen the church. Regarding such mysteries, which are too deep for human understanding, silence is golden. (Acts of the Apostles, p. 52)
It is important to know what this statement is saying as well as what it is not saying. Ellen White plainly states that the nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery. This is true. No man can adequately even define the nature of his own spirit let alone the spirit of God; however, this statement does not say we cannot know the identity of the Holy Spirit. The basis for the statement in the Acts of the Apostles is from a letter written to a Brother Chapman in 1891. Ellen White wrote to Brother Chapman in regard to his belief that the Holy Spirit was the angel Gabriel. She wrote in part:
Your ideas of the two subjects you mention do not harmonize with the light which God has given me. The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery not clearly revealed, and you will never be able to explain it to others because the Lord has not revealed it to you. You may gather together scriptures and put your construction upon them, but the application is not correct. …
It is not essential for you to know and be able to define just what the Holy Spirit is. Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and the Comforter is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, which the Father shall send in My name. I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you [John 14:16, 17]. This refers to the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ, called the Comforter…
There are many mysteries which I do not seek to understand or to explain; they are too high for me, and too high for you. On some of these points, silence is golden. …
I hope that you will seek to be in harmony with the body.
You need to come into harmony with your brethren. (Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, pp. 175-180)
Ellen White was encouraging Brother Chapman to come into line with what the brethren were teaching in 1891 which was clearly non-trinitarian.
We have seen that none of the statements of Ellen White that are supposed to be at the forefront of supporting the Trinity doctrine actually uphold it. For more information on what Ellen White and the Pioneers of the Advent movement taught concerning the Holy Spirit and the Godhead, please write and request the book, What did the Pioneers Believe?. If you will mention this offer from the April 2006 Old Paths, we will send the book free. Limited to one copy per request/household as supplies last.
By Onycha Holt
As Seventh-day Adventists, we know that our dead loved ones will not return and visit us following their deaths or speak with us and give us counsel in any way, because the Bible teaches that the dead know not anything. (Ecclesiastes 9:5) So when Ellen White wrote in 1884 about this snare of Satan, she wrote to an audience that, for the most part, was unmindful of this great truth. Among the most successful agencies of the great deceiver are the delusive doctrines and lying wonders of Spiritualism. Disguised as an angel of light, he spreads his nets where least suspected. (The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 347)
As a teenager, Jerry was considering the age-old question “Is God Real?” when he had a life-changing experience. He wrote, “The room lit up with a light that was beyond belief. It was a light so bright that I should have been blinded. A light so warm and soothing that I thought I was in some kind of a dream state. My body felt weightless as if I were floating over the chair. There was an immense feeling of love and peace that radiated from it and I never wanted to return to my previous state… I felt like the secrets of the universe had been unlocked for me… I knew that I was totally immersed in the universal force and that force was pure love. Not like we humans experience love but a love that can not be put in words. Language cannot convey what I experienced and I feel impotent in even attempting to describe my experience with the light. I am 55 years old and... I have never forgotten that light and although the universal wisdom I gained in the light vanished when the light left I have never forgotten the feeling of peace and love I was bathed in.” (http://www.mindspring.com/~scottr/nde/jerry.html)
Through Ellen White, God has given us an understanding that this is a modern-day type of spiritualism!
Let us consider Debbie’s experience. “Suddenly I looked up and saw a brighter light hovering above the waters. This light drew me upwards right out of the water into the ‘sky’. Face to face with this light was an experience I shall never forget. This light was a person! I never saw a face however I had the knowledge or inner vision of a face. This face was smiling and very happy to see me. The peace was not to imagine. Then I knew what this person was saying: ‘I Love You’. I looked behind me to see who this person was speaking to and then realized the person was me. I begged to stay there; pleading like a child to one’s father. The person of light began to weep and without seeing his face I knew that he too was telling me that I had to return. Instantly I was back in the body…” Debbie was not contemplating God when this happened. Her experience happened when she was “very sick with a high temperature for several days. Everytime (sic) I tried to clean the house or make dinner I felt drained and weak. Finally, I threw myself on the bed and gave up. Tossing & turning and wishing I were of good health. Suddenly, while still awake-not falling asleep, I was zapped out of my body through my feet! Imagine a vacuum sweeper on the soles of my feet. Looking down I saw my body still laying (sic) on the bed! I felt no fear and no emotions other than questioning why I was up here looking down there at my body. Two ‘beings’ appeared whom I call angels. They had no emotions nor did they communicate to me. I just went with them.” (http://mindspring.com/~scottr/nde/debbie.html)
Debbie had what many would call a near-death experience and her experience is similar to that of many other people. Both Debbies and Jerrys experiences were overpoweringly-real to them. They were life-changing events. You and I would know to avoid this kind of spiritualism, for there is nothing in Scripture to affirm such an experience and also because we know we have been warned that Satan would deceive the very elect if possible. (Matthew 24:24)
Some might wonder, should not our experience with God be just as real? No! In no way, for the above experiences are in reality false experiences. They are not real. They are experiences of Satan designed to deceive and to continue to hold in deception those so snared until time shall be no longer. A real experience with God is far more than these encounters. Far more! It is a true encounter, an encounter that repeats itself day after day, moment by moment, for as long as life shall last. It is an encounter that changes us day by day, as we grow more and more like our loving Father. A living, vibrant experience with God is a wonder and a joy that is comparable to none other, but we must be careful that it is based in the Word of God, that its foundation is on His truths alone, and not in the rich experience itself, for we know a time of trouble is coming in which every child of God will be tried and tested and a rich experience will not support us then. We will be perplexed and assaulted from every side and only the promises of God can be depended upon at that time. The religion of Christ is not a religion of mere emotion. You cannot depend upon your feelings for an evidence of acceptance with God; for feelings are variable. You must plant your feet on the promises of Gods word, you must walk after the example of Jesus, and learn to live by faith. (R&H, May 5, 1891, emphasis supplied.)
Ellen White warns against experience in this way: The Lord said to the holy pair: In the day that ye eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, ye shall surely die. Eve was beguiled by the serpent to believe that God would not do as He said He would. Ye shall not surely die, said the serpent. Eve ate and imagined that she felt the sensations of a new and more exalted life. She bore the fruit to her husband, and that which had an overpowering [evil] influence upon him was her experience. The serpent had said that she should not die, and she felt no ill effects from the fruit, nothing which could be interpreted to mean death, but, just as the serpent had said, a pleasurable sensation which she imagined was as the angels felt. Her experience stood arrayed against the positive command of Jehovah, and Adam permitted himself to be seduced by the experience of his wife. (Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 72, emphasis supplied.)
Brothers and sisters, may our experience with God be a true experience, one that is based on the Word of God. Then no matter how fierce the storm may be or how dark the night, we will be able to stand, for we will be standing on the sure Word of God and not on our experience. We can and should have a good experience with God and we should be able to testify to this experience, but the reliability and genuineness of it must always be measured and determined by the changeless truth of God’s Word.
Let us be in much prayer this month that our desire for God’s presence will be so ardent that we will relentlessly seek His guidance and His blessings. May we not give up until He blesses us, just as Jacob relentlessly wrestled with Jesus through the night, and also that there will be a fervent love in each of our hearts and minds for His truth.
In addition, we at Smyrna need your prayers for God’s direction as we contemplate the various aspects of reform needed in all of our lives, as well as for our consideration in expanding upon the concepts of godly relationships. We also long to be unified on the firm foundation of truth with our brothers and sisters in our work, our message, our mission, and our goals, so please pray with us toward this end.
We are very thankful that Benjamin and Bethany Turner have safely arrived from Australia. Ben is our new press operator and please pray with us that their adjustment to their new environment will be smooth and pleasant.
Fanaticism and Side Issues
By Ellen White
(The following is a condensation of an article by Ellen White entitled, Fanaticism and Side Issues, found in Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, no. 163, and it is felt to be timely counsel for us today. We encourage you to read the article in its entirety. All emphasis supplied.)
The Lord is soon to work among us in greater power, but there is danger of allowing our impulses to carry us where He does not want us to go. We must not take one step that we shall have to retrace… God desires us all to move calmly, considerately, choosing our words in harmony with the solid truth for this time. The truth should be presented to the mind as free as possible from that which is emotional, while still bearing the intensity and solemnity befitting its character… It is necessary for you to cultivate caution in every statement, lest you start some on a wrong track, and make confusion that will require much sorrowful labor to set in order…
My soul is much burdened, for I know what is before us. Every conceivable deception will be brought to bear upon those who have not a daily, living connection with God. Satans angels are wise to do evil, and they will create that which some will claim to be advanced light, and will proclaim it as new and wonderful; yet while in some respects the message may be truth, it will be mingled with human inventions, and will teach for doctrine the commandments of men. If there was ever a time when we should watch and pray in real earnest, it is now. Many apparently good things will need to be carefully considered with much prayer; for they are specious devices of the enemy to lead souls in a path which lies so close to the path of truth that it will be scarcely distinguishable from it. But the eye of faith may discern that it is diverging, though almost imperceptibly, from the right path. At first it may be thought positively right, but after a while it is seen to be widely divergent from the way which leads to holiness and heaven…
The Lord desires His servant today to preach the old gospel doctrine, sorrow for sin, repentance, and confession. We want old-fashioned sermons, old-fashioned customs, old-fashioned fathers and mothers in Israel. The sinner must be labored for, perseveringly, earnestly, wisely, until he shall see that he is a transgressor of Gods law, and shall exercise repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ…
Brethren should not feel that it is a virtue to stand apart because they do not see all minor points in exactly the same light. If they agree on fundamental truths, they should not differ and dispute about matters of little real importance All must be careful what they present to the people as truth. Do not present your own imaginations. The enemy tries to warp and twist human minds. To the one who will listen to him, he will present ideas which are odd and peculiar, which will create a sensation. These he leads him to present to others, with a test which he has imagined. Thus Satan sets minds running in wrong channels, diverting them from the genuine tests which God has presented in His Word No one is to put truth to the torture by placing a forced, mystical construction upon the Word. Thus some are in danger of turning the truth of God into a lie Satan is working in many ways, that the very men who ought to preach the message may be occupied with fine-drawn theories which he will cause to appear of such magnitude and importance as to fill the whole mind; and while they think they are making wonderful strides in experience, they are idolizing a few ideas, and their influence is injured, and tells but little on the Lord’s side. Let every minister make earnest efforts to ascertain what is the mind of Christ. There are those who pick out from the Word of God, and also from the Testimonies, detached paragraphs or sentences that may be interpreted to suit their own ideas, and they dwell upon these, and build themselves up in their own positions, when God is not leading them. Now all this pleases the enemy…
We should not needlessly take a course that will make differences or cause dissension. We should not give the impression that if our particular ideas are not followed, it is because the ministers are lacking in comprehension. There are in the lessons of Christ subjects in abundance that you can speak upon; and mysteries which neither you nor your hearers can understand or explain might better be left alone. Give the Lord Jesus Christ Himself room to teach; let Him by the influence of His Spirit open to the understanding the wonderful plan of salvation Some zealous ones who are aiming and straining every energy for originality have made a grave mistake in trying to get something startling, wonderful, entrancing, before the people, something that they think others do not comprehend; but often they do not themselves know what they are talking about. They speculate upon Gods word, advancing ideas that are not a whit of help to themselves or to the churches. For the time being they may excite the imagination; but there is a reaction, and these very ideas become a hindrance. Faith is confounded with fancy, and their views may bias the mind in the wrong direction. Let the plain, simple statements of the word of God be food for the mind; this speculating upon ideas that are not clearly presented there is dangerous business… Work with all your power to answer the prayer of Christ, that His disciples may be one, as He is one with the Father.
Not a soul of us is safe unless we learn of Christ daily His meekness and lowliness. In your labor do not be dictatorial, do not be severe, do not be antagonistic. Preach the love of Christ, and this will melt and subdue hearts. Seek to be of one mind and one judgment with your brethren, and to speak the same things. This talking about divisions because all do not have the same ideas as present themselves to your mind, is not the work of God but of the enemy. Talk the simple truths wherein you can agree. Talk of unity; do not become narrow and conceited; let your mind broaden…
Christ does not weigh character in the scales of human judgment. He says, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” [John 12:32]. Every soul who responds to this drawing will turn from iniquity. Christ is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto Him. He who comes to Jesus is setting his feet upon a ladder that reaches from earth to heaven. Teach it by pen, by voice, that God is above the ladder; the bright rays of His glory are shining upon every round. He is looking graciously upon all who are climbing painfully upward, that He may send them help, divine help, when the hand seems to be relaxing and the foot trembling. Yes, tell it, tell it in words that will melt the heart, that not one who will perseveringly climb the ladder will fail of an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…
While we must often impress the mind with the fact that the Christian life is a life of warfare, that we must watch and pray and toil, that there is peril to the soul in relaxing spiritual vigilance for one moment, the completeness of the salvation proffered us by Jesus, who loved us and gave Himself that we should not perish but have everlasting life, is to be our theme.
Deceiving the Elect?
By Onycha Holt
To the best of our knowledge there are at least one hundred billion galaxies in the universe and each galaxy may contain approximately two hundred billion stars. Even though each star is trillions of miles away from its nearest neighbor, these stars form a collective pattern in each galaxy, and the vast galaxies, when viewed with a cosmic eye, form chains and collective patterns throughout the boundless universe of God’s creation. Our Heavenly Father rules over all this immeasurable space with a precision only He is capable of. He is a God of the vast and complex space, as well as of the tiniest detail in this space. His meticulous care allows the treasures of His creation to be arrayed before us in unsurpassed beauty. So, do you think every detail of His work is important to Him? His voice reaches to the farthest realms of His universe and yet He desires to speak to each one of us personally as though we were the only one to be spoken to. Two of the ways He speaks to us are through His written Word and through the inspired writings of Ellen White, and every jot and tittle of these words are crucial for our edification and for our salvation.
So, when I read a deliberate misrepresentation of the words He has so graciously given us, it effects me deeply, for I know such a deception has the great potential of affecting the eternal destinies of Gods sheep. One glaring example of this type of deception is found in the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide on March 29, 2006, and I quote. As Christians we admit there are three Persons in the Godhead, but they are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person.Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 422. One is naturally lead to believe that Ellen White is stating that the three Persons in the Godhead are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person, but she is in no way saying this or even inferring this. Here is the quotation from The Ministry of Healing, p. 422, in its context:
“The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. They are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person. It is thus that God and Christ are one.”
Ellen White is clearly stating that Christ and His disciples, as well as God and Christ, are the ones who are “one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person.” There is no reference even hinted at by Ellen White that this unity applies to the “three Persons in the Godhead,” as the author of this lesson would have us believe. This is, at best, shoddy scholarship and at the worst, a deliberate attempt to influence God’s people to believe a lie about what Ellen White has said. While Arnold Wallenkampf is listed as the principal contributor of the quarterly based on his previously published materials, the student has no way of knowing who wrote this paragraph, but we do know that Clifford Goldstein is the Editor and I do hold him, and you should hold him, to be accountable to print only that which is truthful and honest!
A Fearful and Important Work
By Ellen White
(This is a portion of a serious testimony on education, found in Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 145, and is one of many special testimonies in the writings of the prophetess that we would encourage you to read and prayerfully consider. The point of this particular testimony is that we have a fearful and important work before us and that we need to prayerfully consider and understand the magnitude of this work that we have as parents, not only to our children, but also as fathers and mothers in Israel.)
Many parents plead that they have so much to do that they have no time to improve their minds, to educate their children for practical life, or to teach them how they may become lambs of Christ’s fold. Not until the final settlement, when the cases of all will be decided, and the acts of our entire lives will be laid open to our view in the presence of God and the Lamb and all the holy angels, will parents realize the almost infinite value of their misspent time. Very many will then see that their wrong course has determined the destiny of their children. Not only have they failed to secure for themselves the words of commendation from the King of glory, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant:… enter thou into the joy of thy Lord,” but they hear pronounced upon their children the terrible denunciation, “Depart!” This separates their children forever from the joys and glories of heaven, and from the presence of Christ. And they themselves also receive the denunciation: Depart, “thou wicked and slothful servant.” Jesus will never say “Well done” to those who have not earned the “Well done” by their faithful lives of self-denial and self-sacrifice to do others good and to promote His glory. Those who live principally to please themselves instead of to do others good will meet with infinite loss.
God Meets Our Need
By Allen Stump
(The following is an edited sermon presented at the 2006 Florida camp meeting.)
Sometimes the most simplistic and beautiful things are made difficult, complicated, and even mysterious, so I want to keep the things presented here as simple and clear as possible. The Lord wants you to understand His joy and the goodness that there is in serving Him and how wonderful this service is. However, God wants you to also understand the solemnity and the necessity of the time in which we are living right now, the time of the judgment.
1 Corinthians 9:27, states, But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. After I have preached to others, I dont want to become a castaway. I have had people ask me questions such as: How sure are you of what you are preaching? How sure are you, for instance, that the seventh day is really the Sabbath and that it is Saturday and not Sunday? How sure are you that this one, true God is not a trinity?” Maybe people have asked you such questions. My answer is, I stake my eternal life on that which I preach, and as a minister, I stake the responsibility of the eternal life of every soul who comes under the sphere of my speaking, my actions, and my influence, on these truths. It is a very humbling opportunity to share the truth.
Why is truth important? Error is never harmless. It never sanctifies, but always brings confusion and dissension. It is always dangerous. (Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, p. 292) Outside of the apostle Paul and the inspired writers, no preacher has every fully preached the truth in purity. Most likely, everyone has had something just a little bit off. We know that Martin Luther missed many details that we today would consider very important, but he had many truths that were important and good for the people at that time, truths that helped to bring them out of great darkness. Still many of the things that they held onto were harmful and we cannot afford, friends, as a people who are living at the end of time, to continue to have things that are harmful in our Christian experience. We should strive to be a member of the 144,000. I want to live to see Jesus come.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31, 32) The truth is designed to make us free. God wants to set the captives at liberty. The Bible says that the greatest truth of all is the truth about Jesus Christ. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) In Deuteronomy 32:4, God says He is a God of truth. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. And Jesus speaking of the Comforter, said that He is the Spirit of truth. (John 16:13.) The Bible is a collection of truth!
A New Order of Beings
Now, the Bible tells us in Genesis that the God Who created the myriads of worlds had a plan. We know that before the creation of this earth there was an order of beings called angels. We don’t know much else about the rest of God’s universe, but we have hints that there is much more. When God created this earth, He created a new order of beings unlike any other He had ever created. God has endowed humanity with the ability to procreate, with the ability to come into a relationship, very interestingly, that is akin to godliness.
Now, of all the creation in this world, mankind is the only one who can knowingly, intellectually, and willingly, enter into this type of relationship with an understanding of its beauty, holiness, and righteousness. One of the reasons that God did this is because there was a desire in the heart of God that the angels, and even His Son, could not fully fill. We were created for fellowship with the God of this universe. Genesis chapter three records that Satan introduced Adam and Eve into unbelief and so they sinned. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” (Genesis 3:7) Can you imagine the skimpy, worthless garment that they now had? They had lost that aura of light about them. They had lost the righteousness that God had given them and now they had nothing to cover themselves with, friends, nothing.
Ellen White speaks about people who want to obtain righteousness on their own in a language simple enough that even our young children can understand. She says that these people are not willing to be deprived of the garments of their own self-righteousness. (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 65) Think about Adam and Eve in the garden. Their garments of righteousness were fig leaves, which did not do the job and our own self-righteousness can never do the job. Ellen White goes on to say, “They are not willing to exchange their own righteousness, which is unrighteousness.” What does Isaiah say about our own righteousness? Everything that we think of or that we might imagine as righteousness is as unrighteous as a filthy rag, and not just some of our righteousnesses, but all of our righteousnesses (the plural form) are this way. (Isaiah 64:6) The Bible makes it clear, so that if we haven’t understood it before, we may know now that there is nothing good within us. Ellen White continues, “They are not willing to exchange their own righteousness, which is unrighteousness, for the righteousness of Christ, which is pure, unadulterated truth.” Here is a definition of the righteousness of Christ—“pure, unadulterated truth.”
We Must Personally Know God
As mentioned earlier, God created a new order of beings, because He desired a personal fellowship with them. Considering all the billions of people who have ever lived, and the current world population of approximately six billion, we are still just as individually and personally known to God, as if we had been that first Adam, even without Eve. We are that well-known to Him, but He must also become well-known to us. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3) We have to know God personally and not just about Him. We can read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, beloved; we can know all the facts and figures; we can memorize it all the way through; but this is not enough. We have to know God. We can get an encyclopedia or go on the Internet and access the acquired knowledge of the world, but that is not enough to know God. We can look up facts and figures about many people, but it does not mean we know those people. Knowing about them is not the same as knowing them personally. God is calling us to know Him and to know His Son personally.
Jeremiah 9:23 states, “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches.” Friends, might, riches, and wisdom are not things that will commend us to God, because if there is a man who is mighty, a man who is rich, or a man who is wise, he obtained all these things from God to start with. The Bible says Christ is our wisdom, as well as our righteousness and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30) “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:24) So what is it that God wants us to do? To glory in knowing Him and Him alone. The greatest friends I should have are Jesus and God.
What is the greatest thing that you and I can do to fulfill the purposes of God? “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:7) Friends, we are here for the glory of God. Our fellowship is important and should be sweet, and we should each personally know God. In John 14:1-3 we read: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” We read in Christ’s high priestly prayer, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” (John 17:24)
As some of you know, I have had the opportunity to travel around the world. I’ve been to Australia, to Europe, and to Africa, and as much as I love to preach and share the goodness of God with people all over this earth, after I have done this, I love to go home, for I can’t take my family and my friends with me on my travels. It is wonderful to return home and be with those whom I love so much, and God loves us so much that He wants to send Jesus for us so that we can go home and be with Him.
Giving Glory to God
The Bible says we were created for His glory. Revelation 14:6 says, “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach.” Is righteousness by faith about the gospel? I assure you that every book of the Bible, from beginning to end, is about the gospel. Wherever we read in the Bible, we are reading something about the gospel and when we realize this, it will be a blessing to us. It is true, friends, that we have a greater light now and that we don’t have to see only through types and figures, but friends, the gospel that was preached by Noah and by Adam is the same gospel and we are able to understand it more clearly, more brightly, and more gloriously now. It is the same beautiful, everlasting gospel and it is to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, “Saying with a loud voice, Fear [or reverence] God, and give glory to him.” (verse 7)
There are different ways people think they give glory to God. In West Virginia, we have snake-handling Pentecostal churches, wherein is much shouting and praising God. There is quite an emotional experience and they believe they are giving glory to God. While music rhythmically plays, baskets of poisonous snakes will be brought out and the believers will wrap the vipers around their necks, hold them high above their heads, and pass them down the line to the next person, all the while thinking they are very plainly giving glory to God. This is one way people think they can give glory to God, but there is a more sure way.
Our Iniquities Separate Us from God
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Nobody is exempt! The only exception to this is Jesus Christ. Even though He came in the likeness of sinful, fallen flesh, He never sinned. Ellen White tells us that our obedience pleases God. What pleases God? It is the loving obedience of every individual soul. The obedience of heavenly beings pleases God, and the sinner who unreservedly surrenders himself to do Gods way pleases God. (The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 995) This is so because obedience brings glory to Him. It shows what He can do through even a sinful man. Isaiah 59:2 says: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. Friends, sin does something very, very awful. It separates us from our God of love. It separates us from the One who wants so much to have that fellowship with us. That is what sin does. The plan of salvation, very simply put, is to bring about restoration of that union between God and man and to clarify the issues that Satan had brought up against God. The Bible says that our sins have separated us and that God cannot show His face to us because our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29) Exodus 24:17 says: “And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.” In Exodus 33, when Moses asked to be shown the glory of God, he was told in verse 20: “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” God took Moses and hid him in the cleft of the rock and let him see His back parts. To sin, God is a consuming fire. Sin is the opposite of God’s character and this is what separates us from God. It is our iniquities that cause us not to be able to enter into His presence and live.
Sin is Transgression of the Law
A familiar statement about sin is found in 1 John 3:4, 5: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” Is it God’s plan for us to continually sin and repent? No! His plan is for us to trust and obey Him. His plan is to remove the sin problem out of our lives, for this is what brings separation from God. Sin is the transgression of the law, and according to Romans 7:7, this law is specifically the Ten Commandment Law. But the Ten Commandment Law is broad and far-reaching in all that it does. When we have the sin of unbelief, for example, we are, in reality, calling God a liar and we are bearing false witness against Him.
Two Fundamental Issues
Now, I would like to make a point here. We are all familiar with the term “theologian.” To some of us, this term may have a negative connotation, but theologians and those who study systematic theology will tell you there are two basic concepts that almost every Christian theology is based upon. One is the nature of Christ and the other is the nature of sin. Our understanding of these two fundamental issues affects our understanding of everything else in our Christian experience. So, it is important to understand these issues, and I would encourage you to consider these two points very carefully because the end result of your Christian experience depends on the principles you begin with.
A very important and decisive statement is made in the Signs of the Times, December 5, 1892: The only definition we find in the Bible for sin is that sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). Now, there may be definitions of sin in Websters Dictionary, in encyclopedias and in other places, but Ellen White says the only definition in the Bible is that found in 1 John 3:4. It is the privilege of every sinner to ask his teacher what sin really is. Give me a definition of sin. We have one in 1 John 3. Sin is the transgression of the law. Now this is the only definition of sin in the whole Bible. (Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, p. 228) Sin, therefore friends, is a very important issue, and in our own minds we need to have a clear understanding of what sin is, because it is what separates us from God and keeps us from the close fellowship and communion that He longs to develop with each one of us.
The Motivation for Change Is Love
2 Corinthians 5:14 says that it is the love of Christ that compels us, and the depth of that great love was demonstrated in the gift of His Son. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16) “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9) “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Friends, to love God, we have to know Him. We can have an intellectual understanding of God, but if we don’t truly know Him it will be virtually impossible to love Him. But when we get to know Him, who He is, what He is really like, we will see how good He is and it will be easy to love Him. Friends, to know God is to love Him.
“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16) This is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27), but in addition to this, John says we have known and believed. Now, what is another word for believe? Faith. Faith is important, because without faith, we can’t understand and appreciate that God really loves us. God wants to do something very special for the sinner who has broken His law, who has walked in transgression. He has made available to him a wonderful experience. He wants to write that holy law in his heart. “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant (a better agreement), which was established upon better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6) Do you remember the promises the old covenant was established upon? “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.” (Exodus 19:8) They thought they were going to be able to keep the commandments of God, but they couldn’t. There had to be a better covenant.
New Covenant Experience
“For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” (Hebrews 8:8-10)
God wants to write that law in our hearts, so that our natural response will be to serve and please Him, for when we really love someone, we will only want to please that person. Our whole duty, our whole impulse, will be to serve that person, and our love for God will be the same. There will be no sacrifice too great for Him and we will seek to please Him in every little thing. “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” (1 John 3:22)
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things [referring back to the promise of a new heaven and a new earth], be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. (2 Peter 3:14) It is a very high calling to be without spot and blameless. The Bible says that there is going to be a group of people living when Jesus comes that is without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. They are called the bride of Christ, and when the Bible says they are without any wrinkle or any spot, it means exactly that. It doesnt mean that Jesus is coming back to save us from our sins by taking them out of us at that time. He is going to have already done it. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) Friends, God has made arrangement that every sin in our lives may be confessed, repented of, and cleansed of, and we are given the ability and power in Christ to walk in newness of life. We need never sin again. If we say we have to sin, then we are making an excuse for it and we are saying God is not powerful enough to keep us from sinning, but the Bible says, Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4) That is what the Bible says and there are no exceptions.
Sitting at the Feet of Jesus
Now, let us go to the gospel according to Luke. “And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils.” (Luke 8:1, 2) Now, let’s just think about this woman called Mary Magdalene. How many educational degrees do you think she had? How many semesters in theological school did she have to her credit? She didn’t have any, did she? This woman, who had been a very wicked woman, didn’t have many things that would commend her to be a teacher of the gospel to us, except for one thing. She had sat at the feet of Jesus. “And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And behold, a woman in the city.” (Luke 7:36, 37)
Even though the womans name is not mentioned here, when we compare it with Johns account, we realize this is the same Mary we read about in chapter 8. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisees house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (Luke 7:37, 38) Now, I dont know if there are very many sisters today who would have been so attuned to the need of Jesus and so righteously in love with Him that they would do something like this. I dont know if there any men who would have done this, maybe not even one man. This alabaster box and ointment was a very expensive gift. It was at a minimum a laborers wages for a whole year, and I dont know how Mary came upon these funds, but it was a gift that was so great that we marvel at it. Her love for Jesus could give no less than everything that she had. She was weeping and tenderly washing His feet with her tears and wiping His feet with her long hair. The Bible says she even kissed His feet. I dont know how many people would kiss someone elses feet. We are probably too proud to do that, but this woman loved Jesus so much that she kissed His feet.
Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? (Luke 7:39-42)
This is important because it helps us to understand what is necessary to be able to love Him and serve Him.
Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. (Luke 7:43-46)
Jesus informs us in John 12:7 that Mary bought that ointment to anoint Him at His burying. What did the disciples think Jesus was going to do? He was going to go to Jerusalem and take the kingdom. They didnt expect that He was going to die. When He was crucified, they were appalled and shocked. Who understood? Who perhaps alone was so close to Jesus that they understood what was going to happen in Jerusalem? It was Mary. She knew that He was going to die. In her love she had purchased this ointment to help embalm His body, but she couldnt wait. She couldnt put this precious gift upon His dead body when she could give it to Him when He was still alive. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (v. 47-50) She had faith to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, that everything He said was true and that He was going to save her at last in His kingdom, and when He said her sins were forgiven, she believed it! When? Right then. She knew it was a fact. Faith is a fact; it is the reality of a matter. Friends, when we love Jesus, we wont be able to let go of Him and we wont want to let go of Him.
Peter Clings to Jesus
There is an interesting account also in the fifth chapter of Luke when Peter and some of the disciples, before they were fully called into the ministry, were out fishing, without much success. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. (Luke 5:4-7) This made an impression on Peter. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. (verse 8) Peter was able to acknowledge his sinfulness. Peter exclaimed, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man; yet he clung to the feet of Jesus, feeling that he could not be parted from Him. (Desire of Ages, p. 246) Even though he asked for Jesus to depart from him, Peter held onto Him and did not want to let Him go. Like Peter, we might realize how unworthy we are of the least of Gods mercies, but we cant let Jesus go. Peter clung to the feet of Jesus, feeling that he could not be parted from Him. The Saviour answered, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. It was after Isaiah had beheld the holiness of God and his own unworthiness that he was entrusted with the divine message. It was after Peter had been led to self-renunciation and dependence upon divine power that he received the call to his work for Christ. (Ibid.)
The Sin Most Nearly Hopeless
There are times when differences in our understanding of theological issues occur, but consider this statement from Ellen White, God cannot connect with those who live to please themselves, to make themselves first. (Testimonies to the Church, vol. 7, p. 199) Do we believe that? God cannot connect with us, friends, because Christianity needs to be Christ-like, which means putting others first and serving others. God cannot connect with those who live to please themselves, to make themselves first. Those who do this will in the end be last of all. The sin that is most nearly hopeless and incurable is pride of opinion, self-conceit. This stands in the way of all growth. (Ibid.) Jesus said we need to be careful what we hear. (Mark 4:24) We need to be careful about what we see and read, because friends, sometimes we may hear something that sounds good, but may have one little part that is not accurate and this one little part will cause us to end up with a wrong result, even though the end result may look good and sound good.
Experience Not Reliable
What does it mean to say we have experience? It might mean we have spent time doing something and have gained an experience in whatever we have been doing, but generally, in a Christian walk, when we say a man has had an experience, we are talking about the way that he has related to, and his involvement in, the gospel. I mentioned earlier about the emotions and experiences one can see in snake handling churches. Members of Pentecostal, Baptist or other churches, and many evangelical churches will tell you of the great experience they are having and they give a wonderful testimony, and it is true that we should have a testimony, but friends we need to be careful because we can’t trust our experience. We can only trust the Word of God.
Here is where we have met the greatest difficulties in religious matters. The plainest facts may be presented, the clearest truths, sustained by the word of God, may be brought before the mind; but the ear and heart are closed, and the all-convincing argument is: my experience. Some will say: The Lord has blessed me in believing and doing as I have; therefore I cannot be in error. My experience is clung to, and the most elevating, sanctifying truths of the Bible are rejected for what they are pleased to style experience. (Testimonies to the Church, vol. 3, p. 71)
Luke tells about the experience of Paul and Silas at Berea: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11) They searched the Scriptures daily and that should be our responsibility as Bereans. My last counsel to you is in 1 Thessalonians 5:21: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
Beloved, we should be thankful that God has loved us so much to give us His only begotten Son. May we be thankful that in our Father’s great wisdom and love He has made this gift available to each one of us, that the great gulf of sin that has separated us from Him can be abolished, that all the great chasms that would try to exist between us and Him are bridged and brought together in Christ. God has made provision so that sin can be completely and totally taken out of our lives. This removal of sin is by His grace alone, but it must be done if we are going to see Him and live. May God give us a bigger, a deeper, and a richer heart that can love Him more and enter into His love in a deeper way. Within finite, mortal man God has built a capacity to increase in the ability to love. He has made us a new order of beings and even though we are born into this sinful world, God has a great and glorious plan for you and me. May we do nothing that stands in the way of God fulfilling that plan and may we fully surrender and submit our lives totally and fully to God, so that that great and glorious prayer of Jesus can be fulfilled that we might all stand on the sea of glass and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb.
Youth’s Corner – Lessons From Daniel
Ellen G. White
Daniel placed himself in right relation to God, and to his outward circumstances and opportunities. He was taken a captive to Babylon, and with others was placed under training to be prepared for a place in the king’s court. His food and drink were appointed him; but we read that he determined not to defile himself with the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank.
In taking this step, Daniel did not act rashly...
Having done this, Daniel and his companions did still more. They did not choose as companions those who were agents of the prince of darkness. They did not go with a multitude to do evil...
It was God’s purpose that these youth should become channels of light to the kingdom of Babylon. Satan was determined to defeat this purpose. He worked upon the minds of the youth who had refused to be God’s representatives, causing them to be jealous of Daniel and his companions. At Satan’s suggestion they laid plans to entrap those who were making such steady, rapid advancement in knowledge. They tried to mislead and deceive the Hebrew youth, endeavoring by flattery to lead them into wrong. But they failed signally, because these youth had on the armor of light; they fastened themselves to the promise, “Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me.”
Daniel and his friends knew that they must keep the eye single to the glory of God, seek wisdom and strength and grace from on high, and not allow themselves to be led, by smiles or frowns, to yield to the sophistry of Satan. They knew that no human power could be to them wisdom and righteousness and sanctification... They knew that they were not yet fully acquainted with the character of Satan’s enmity. They would have to watch unto prayer; for they were ignorant of the obstacles they would have to surmount. They knew that barriers would rise in their way, that embarrassment would surround them on every side.
They made a faithful study of the word of God, that they might know the divine will. By faith they believed that the One whom they served would communicate to them his will; and in answer to their faith God opened his will to them. The word of God was to them a light shining in a dark place. They made that word their text-book, looking upon it as the foundation upon which they must build character. They had only a part of the Old Testament. The youth of today have increased light...
Divine wisdom came to Daniel and his companions as they studied God’s word. They knew that it was their authority, and that it demanded their obedience. The truth was to them of the highest importance; for it placed their duty before them in a clear light.
Satan often cast his shadow across their pathway, to obscure their view of divine light, and darken their faith and confidence in God. But they would not yield, and the Lord gave them wisdom and power to prevail with him in prayer. As they followed the course of study outlined for them in the courts of Babylon, they made it their aim to become statesmen who would never sacrifice principle in order to obtain advantages for themselves. They knew that they were in an enemy’s country, under the power of the Babylonian king; and they were obedient in all things save where they were asked to sacrifice truth...
He who gave wisdom and understanding to Daniel is willing to give wisdom and understanding to all who place themselves in the same relation to him that Daniel did... (Ellen G. White Youths Instructor, September 6, 1900)
Meet The Turners
By Onycha Holt
Benjamin (Ben) and Bethany Turner left Maryborough in Queensland, Australia on February 12, 2006 on a long journey in answer to their prayer for the past year. Ben’s decision to become the press operator at Smyrna Gospel Ministries was the result of a year of prayer. He and Bethany left their “Sunshine State,” where sweaters and coats are unknown and where people never have to “rug up” with warm clothing, and arrived in the United States twenty-four hours later. They came armed with one suitcase of clothing, one pressure cooker, one baking pan, a few pamphlets for sharing, a “doona” for the anticipated cold nights (which is a duck down comforter), a woolen blanket and a quilt, electrical equipment, laptops, lots of talent, and a fervent eagerness to do whatever God has purposed for them. They are adjusting to driving on the “wrong” side of the road and are beginning to understand the “strange” accents people speak within the United States, especially, West Virginia! Ben was a graphic artist in Australia and also developed web sites, but he is happy to now work full time for God. We also hope to use his talents in internet web building, as well as in multimedia presentations. Please pray with us that their stay in the United States will draw them closer to our heavenly Father and that a great work can be done as they utilize their talents in His service.
Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, HC 64 Box 128-B, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web sites. The urls are: http://www.smyrna.org and http://www.presenttruth.info. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.
Editor: Allen Stump -
Assistant to the Editor: Onycha Holt - E-mail Onycha@smyrna.org
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This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013