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. 17, No.4 Straight and Narrow April 2008
The Four Great Councils
You are invited to have a seat on the front row as the vast curtains of time slowly part, revealing a view of our world. A huge map appears, but instead of the shapes of the countries outlined as we normally see them on a flat map, the countries themselves can be seen such as America, Mexico, and Canada with their great institutions of legislative, judicial, and executive bodies. We also see and hear the busy halls of higher learning; the magnificent works of art, along with the sounds of stupendous music; the state-of-the-art laboratories and scientists bending over their ground-breaking work while machinery hums in the background; the Smithsonian and other elaborate museums with their extensive collections of butterflies, birds, and minerals; the health care systems, buzzing with tireless workers dedicated to improving and saving life; and all else that man could ever hope to be or aspire to accomplish.
We pass next to Great Britain with its long history of kings and queens. We see John Newton at the helm of a slave ship and the work of Wilberforce in the Parliament. We then move to Europe and the great historical contributions of these cultures. We see before us Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, Bach at the organ, and Isaac Newton measuring the fall of an apple. We see Columbus planning his voyages and Hipparchus in the Middle East measuring the celestial sky. We pass next to the great countries of the Far East. We see China with its rich history and its current impact on the world, the whirlwind of activity in Japan, and the great strides made in technology.
We cannot begin to absorb all the wonders of our world and its history, its accomplishments, and its plans for attainments in knowledge and power, but, for a moment, let us step backwards in time past yesterday, past last year, and even past the last several centuries to a time when Rome ruled the world. Rome started as a small agricultural country but with its aggressive armies conquered land after land and people after people until it ruled the world. Before the time of Christ, her boundaries extended more than three thousand miles apart and spanned the entire Mediterranean Sea.
On one momentous day in Jerusalem a little over 2,000 years ago, Satan portrayed the power, beauty, and majesty of Rome, as well as the pomp, authority, and splendor of every other known kingdom of the day which extended at least east through Mesopotamia and India to China, south through areas of northern Africa, and north to the Scandinavian and Nordic regions. The Bible says all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them (Matthew 4:8) were revealed, but they, in all their glory, were not able to entice Jesus away from his life of purity and sinlessness. The eye of Jesus for a moment rested upon the glory presented before Him; but He turned away and refused to look upon the entrancing spectacle. He would not endanger His steadfast integrity by dallying with the tempter (Confrontation, p. 52).”
It did not take long, however, for Christianity to become entranced with power. The apostolic church under the labors of Peter, James, Paul, and the rest of the apostles flourished in spite of persecution. The gospel of Christ was proclaimed to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles. Its spread throughout the known world began under the missionary endeavors of Paul and others. Leadership crystallized, churches were established, and letters of admonition were written that continue to speak to us today. Far-reaching prophecy was given to guide God’s people through the coming ages and hope burned bright in the promised return of Jesus Christ. God used a handful of men, learned and unschooled alike, in his great cause of saving souls.
Satan, however, was on the rebound. He was not able to defeat Christ, but his church was now under attack. Many chose death rather than renouncement of their precious faith in their Lord and Saviour. Judaism and Christianity were in conflict with each other as well as with secular governments, and following the deaths of the apostles, leadership of the Christian church was gradually commandeered by those thirsty for power. Doctrinal error became rife and instead of the majority of the people seeking the presence of God for instruction in truth and for guidance in the proclamation of it, men used error as a means of obtaining power over other men’s minds and eventually over nations. I say the majority because God has always had a faithful band of believers on this earth:
Christ has a church in every age (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1079).”
And we need to pray for his church:
God has always wrought in behalf of his truth. The designs of wicked men, the enemies of the church, are subject to his power and his overruling providence. He can move upon the hearts of statesmen; the wrath of the haters of his truth and his people can be turned aside, even as the waters of a river could be turned, if thus he ordered it. Prayer moves the arm of Omnipotence. He who marshals the stars in order in the heavens, whose word controls the waves of the great deepthe same infinite Creator will work in behalf of his people, if they will call upon him in faith. He will restrain all the forces of darkness, until the warning is given to the world, and all who will heed it are prepared for his coming (The Review & Herald, November 23, 1905). (Emphasis supplied in this article unless otherwise noted.)
Power seemed to centralize around the church at Rome. Paul labored there and he honored it with a very important doctrinal epistle. Peter and Paul were both martyred there, and the whole Roman congregation passed through the fearful ordeal of martyrdom (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 2, p. 156) under the direction of Nero. These experiences, and others, seemed to predispose Rome for leadership in church affairs. Schisms in the body of believers, however, arose; and, based upon how the apostolic church solved the discord over circumcision by gathering the leaders together in Jerusalem, the religious authorities in Rome sought to solve disputes in the same way by convening councils and synods. These gatherings were an important means of maintaining and promoting ecclesiastical unity, and deciding questions of faith and discipline (Ibid., p. 176). Issues such as baptism, Christian morals, church discipline, use of sacred pictures in church buildings, participation in races and gladiatorial fights, and the treatment of those who betrayed their faith under persecution were dealt with in the early church councils in the first few centuries following Christ. The formation of orthodoxy, however, formally began with the Council of Nicæa in AD 325.
Nicæa was a bustling city in the country of Bithynia, a country that was geographically in present-day Turkey. It was only twenty miles from the imperial residence and was easily accessible by sea and by land from all parts of Bithynia. To Nicæa the emperor invited all the bishops of his empire, nearly 1,800 in all, but only 318 came. He provided public transportation, if they so wished, and covered the expenses of their residence while in Nicæa. Each bishop was instructed to bring with him three servants and two priests but may have also brought a deacon or two, so the total number of those attending the council could have reached 2,000. They traveled, in part, by public carriage, by horse and mule, and by foot. The council lasted two months and twelve days. In the opening remarks of the council, Emperor Constantine said:
Discord in the church I consider more fearful and painful than any other war. As soon as I by the help of God had overcome my enemies, I believed that nothing more was now necessary than to give thanks to God in common joy with those whom I had liberated. But when I heard of your division, I was convinced that this matter should by no means be neglected, and in the desire to assist by my service, I have summoned you without delay. I shall, however, feel my desire fulfilled only when I see the minds of all united in that peaceful harmony which you, as the anointed of God, must preach to others. Delay not therefore, my friends, delay not, servants of God; put away all causes of strife, and loose all knots of discord by the laws of peace. Thus shall you accomplish the work most pleasing to God, and confer upon me, your fellow servant, an exceeding great joy (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 3, p. 626).
The knots of discord the Council of Nicæa was to loose concerned, among other things, the deity of Christ (his relationship to God), matters of church discipline, and the time of Easter, but the most important issue was that concerning Christ:
The Arian controversy relates primarily to the deity of Christ, but in its course it touches also the deity of the Holy Ghost, and embraces therefore the whole mystery of the Holy Trinity and the incarnation of God, which is the very centre of the Christian revelation. The dogma of the Trinity came up not by itself in abstract form, but in inseparable connection with the doctrine of the deity of Christ and the Holy Ghost. If this latter doctrine is true, the Trinity follows by logical necessity, the biblical monotheism being presumed; in other words: If God is one, and if Christ and the Holy Ghost are distinct from the Father and yet participate in the divine substance, God must be triune (Ibid., p. 618).
The Arian controversy reached a temporary resolution at Nicæa in the formulation of the Nicene Creed. Only two bishops refused to sign this creed which paved the way for the trinitarian doctrine. They were banished, and the remaining bishops subscribed to the creed. The council decreed, among other things, that the books of Arius were to be burned and his followers branded as enemies, and then it came to a close.
Fifty-six years later, in AD 381, the next main council was convened in Constantinople under the direction of Emperor Theodosius I. It was attended by 150 bishops, and the divinity of the Holy Spirit was this time the main order of business, although various heresies were also addressed. The council lasted, as far as we know, during the months of May, June, and July, for in July the emperor ratified the decrees of the council and enacted a law that required all the churches in his domain to be turned over to bishops that upheld the equal divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Ibid., p. 640),” thus stripping all leadership from the hands of Arians or Semi-Arians.
Fifty years later, the Council of Ephesus was convened in AD 431 by Emperor Theodosius II in the city of Ephesus, where the worship of the Virgin mother of God had taken the place of the worship of the light and life dispensing virgin Diana (Ibid., p. 722).” This council was marked by much antagonism and strife. Even the day scheduled to open the council was in dispute because the whole body of prelates had not yet arrived. An appeal was made to delay the opening, but the conference was promptly begun on June 22 in spite of the protest of the imperial commissioner. The first session lasted late into the night and at its conclusion the approximately 200 bishops in attendance denounced another bishop whom they considered to be a heretic and declared him excluded from office. The people at Ephesus were overjoyed! They lit torches throughout the city and jubilantly accompanied the leader of the council, Cyril, to his home.
The fallout, however, began the next day. The imperial commissioner declared the decision of the council invalid because it had been made by only a portion of the council. In a few days, on June 27, the rest of the attendees finally arrived and held, as it were, a “counter-council” under the protection and guard of the imperial commissioner and deposed Cyril! And so it went, back and forth, each “council” incriminating the other and each appealing to the weak emperor (Theodosius II), who understood nothing of the ecclesiastical issues, the main one of which concerned the divinity and worship of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Even though it was not until 433, two years later, that a union was finally accomplished between the two camps, the first Council of Ephesus concluded in October 431, and the doctrine that Mary was the mother of God was tenuously established. Because of the controversy over this issue, some men were either imprisoned or banished, or sought retreat and escape by ship.
In AD 450, Emperor Theodosius II died after he fell from a horse, but he had no male heir, so his sister’s husband, Marcian, because his successor. He and his wife favored Pope Leo and when Marcian assumed power in the former court of Emperor Theodosius II, he restored several bishops who had been deposed to their positions, he gave an honorable burial to the remains of a former “heretic,” and to restore peace to the empire he called for a general ecumenical council in the city of Nicæa. Due to violent outbreaks from religious fanatics, however, the council was moved to the city of Chalcedon, which was opposite Constantinople. In this way, the imperial court and senate could attend the council and at the same time repress any further violence.
In calling for this council, Emperor Marcian wrote as follows:
That which concerns the true faith and the orthodox religion must be preferred to all other things. For the favor of God to us insures also the prosperity of our empire. Inasmuch, now, as doubts have arisen concerning the true faith, as appears from the letters of Leo, the most holy archbishop of Rome, we have determined that a holy council be convened at Nicæa, in Bithynia, in order that by the consent of all the truth may be tested, and the true faith dispassionately and more explicitly declared, that in time to come no doubt nor division may have place concerning it (Ibid., pp. 741-742).
From the beginning, the proceedings were characterized by interruptions, incidental debates, imprecations, and contempt and charges being hurled at those who held opposing beliefs. In spite of the dissensions and animosities, a consensus was achieved, and this council comes down through the ages to us as important because it finalizes and solidifies orthodox Christology. A trinitarian confession of faith was also adopted, following the reading of which all the bishops exclaimed: This is the faith of the fathers; this is the faith of the apostles; to this we agree; thus we think (Ibid., p. 746). This confession was ratified in the presence of the emperor and the empress. The emperor thanked Christ for the restoration of the unity of faith, and threatened all with heavy punishment, who should thereafter stir up new controversies; whereupon the synod exclaimed: Thou are both priest and king, victor in war, and teacher of the faith (Ibid.). Following this, issues of church discipline, personal matters, and the enactment of the canons were dealt with, and the council ended with the emperor banishing heretics from his empire and commanding their writings to be burned.
In this brief synopsis of four early ecumenical councils we see the lust for power grow, culminating with Pope Leo I. According to Philip Schaff, Pope Leo consolidated his power with boldness, and an unction displayed by none of his predecessors he wisely improved the perplexed state of affairs to enhance the authority of the papal see. He wrote and acted with imposing dignity, energy, circumspection, and skill, and with a perfect mastery of the question in controversy; --manifestly the greatest mind and character of his age, and by far the most distinguished among the popes of the ancient Church (Ibid., p. 740). We have no doubt that Leo had a great mind and by worldly standards was most distinguished, but he bowed in worship before Satans throne and, in exchange, received great power. The necessity for the Council of Chalcedon was created by the will of Leo alone (A. T. Jones, The Two Republics, p. 479), and Leo thus became essentially the fountain of the Catholic faith (Ibid.; emphasis in original).” Jones summarizes Leo and the work of the councils well by saying:
But as the faith of Leo which was established by the Council of Chalcedon, substantially completes the orthodox Christology of the ancient Church, (Schaff); and as the work of these four general councilsNice, Constantinople, first of Ephesus, and Chalcedonwas to put dead human formulas in the place of the living oracles of God; a woman in the place of Christ; and a MAN IN THE PLACE OF GOD; it is not necessary to follow any farther that particular course of ambitious strife and theological contention (Ibid., p. 482; emphasis in original).
It is this faith that led Emperor Marcian to write on February 7, 452:
That which has been so greatly and universally desired is at last accomplished. The controversy respecting orthodoxy is over, and unity of opinion is restored among the nations All unholy controversy must now cease, as he is certainly impious and sacrilegious who, after the declaration made by so many bishops, thinks that there still remains something for his own judgment to examine. For it is evidently a sign of extreme folly when a man seeks for a deceptive light in broad day No cleric, no soldier, and generally no one, in whatever position he may be, must venture publicly to dispute concerning the faith, seeking to produce confusion, and to find pretexts for false doctrines. For it is an insult to the holy synod to subject that which it has decreed and fundamentally established, to new examinations and public disputes, since that which was recently defined concerning the Christian faith is in accordance with the doctrine of the three hundred and eighteen Fathers [Council of Nicæa] and the regulation of the one hundred and fifty Fathers [Council of Constantinople]. The punishment of the transgressors of this law shall not be delayed If a cleric ventures openly to dispute respecting religion, he shall be struck out of the catalogue of the clergy, the soldier shall be deprived of his belt, other persons shall be removed from the residence city, and shall have suitable punishments inflicted upon them, according to the pleasure of the courts of justice (A. T. Jones, The Two Republics, p. 477).
As an example of the progression of the grasp of power, let us look at the decree issued by Emperor Marcian against the Eutychians. Eutychians maintained “that Christ had only one nature, his human nature being absorbed in his divine nature (http://www.britannica.com/eb/topic-196771/Eutychians).” On July 28, 452, the emperor stated the Eutychians could have no clergy, and if they did so, those who appointed the clergy and the appointed clergy themselves were to be banished for life and their goods confiscated.
They were forbidden to hold any assemblies of any kind, or to build, or to live in monasteries. If they should presume to hold any kind of meeting, then the place where it was held would be confiscated, if it was with the knowledge of the owner. But if without the knowledge of the owner it was rented by some one for them, he who rented it should be punished with a beating, with confiscation of goods, and with banishment. They were declared incapable of inheriting anything by will, or of appointing any Eutychian an heir. If any were found in the army, they were expelled from it. Those of them who had formerly been in the orthodox faith, and also the monks of the monasteryhe called it the stableof Eutyches, were be driven entirely beyond the boundaries of the Roman empire. All their writings were to be burnt, whoever circulated them was to be banished, and all instruction in the Eutychian doctrine was to be rigorously punished. And finally, all governors of provinces with their officials, and all judges in the cities who should be negligent in enforcing the law, were to be fined ten pounds of gold, as despisers of religion and the laws (A. T. Jones, The Two Republics, p. 478; emphasis in original).
Today, most of us are not tempted with the scepter of great power. We live normal, everyday lives of caring for our familieschildren, spouses, parents, and extended family members, of earning a living and maintaining a shelter to reside in, and of helping others in our communities. Only the very few rule nations or institutions. God, however, has given each one of us a sphere of influence over which we do have control, and, because of this, we are instructed that we should never begin the day without committing our ways to our heavenly Father. His angels are appointed to watch over us, and if we put ourselves under their guardianship, then in every time of danger they will be at our right hand. When unconsciously we are in danger of exerting a wrong influence, the angels will be by our side, prompting us to a better course, choosing our words for us, and influencing our actions. Thus our influence may be a silent, unconscious, but mighty power in drawing others to Christ and the heavenly world (Christs Object Lessons, p. 341). And, In the harvest the seed is multiplied. A single grain of wheat, increased by repeated sowings, would cover a whole land with golden sheaves. So widespread may be the influence of a single life, of even a single act. What deeds of love the memory of that alabaster box broken for Christs anointing has through the long centuries prompted! What countless gifts that contribution, by a poor unnamed widow, of two mites, which make a farthing (Mark 12:42), has brought to the Saviours cause (Education, p. 109)!”
As he did with Christ, Satan parts before us the curtains of this world. He reveals to us its riches and beauty, the alluring attainments, the power of the far-reaching grasp of influence, the affirmative cheers of support from people of means, and the acknowledgment of men in seats of authority. Inducements may be offered us of exceptional educational opportunities and the guarantee of future fame and renown or of material possessions with beautiful houses and much land. Perhaps it is the glow of an Olympic gold medal or the sparkle of a Nobel Prize that dazzles our eyes, but all of it, no matter how grand or how noble it may be in thought and design, if it is gained at the throne of Satan it will only end in misery and destruction. Jesus says he knows “the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2:9).” We are not to be swayed by what Satan or his synagogue has to say to us. Like Jesus before us, let us turn our eyes and refuse to look upon the enticing spectacle and, instead, cast our dependence upon our Saviour who “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).” Only in this dependence will we receive divine help.
We may wonder how God can finish the work with such a small band of workers who have limited resources. A large denomination with power, prestige, financial resources, and technical know-how would seemingly be able to do far more than all the independent ministries combined. God, however, has other plans:
In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and He cannot use them. The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view. There are precious ones now hidden who have not bowed the knee to Baal. They have not had the light which has been shining in a concentrated blaze upon you. But it may be under a rough and uninviting exterior the pure brightness of a genuine Christian character will be revealed (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 80).
When the mark of the beast will be urged upon us,
Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death…In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church…Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat.
When trees without fruit are cut down as cumberers of the ground, when multitudes of false brethren are distinguished from the true, then the hidden ones will be revealed to view, and with hosannas range under the banner of Christ. Those who have been timid and self-distrustful will declare themselves openly for Christ and His truth. The most weak and hesitating in the church will be as Davidwilling to do and dare. The deeper the night for Gods people, the more brilliant the stars (Ibid., p. 81).
Do you know that when Elijah called Elisha to follow him, the call had first been presented to men of learning and position (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 82)? We do not want God to pass us by in these momentous times. Men of learning and position will be used if they will humbly depend upon God for their strength and for the success of their work in Gods vineyard. God will, however, work a work in our day that but few anticipate. He will raise up and exalt among us those who are taught rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the outward training of scientific institutions. These facilities are not to be despised or condemned; they are ordained of God, but they can furnish only the exterior qualifications. God will manifest that He is not dependent on learned, self-important mortals (Ibid.).”
When I think of the development of the Apostolic Church into the current Christian Church through the means of ecclesiastical councils and synods, I am reminded of these words:
The church cannot measure herself by the world nor by the opinion of men nor by what she once was. Her faith and her position in the world as they now are must be compared with what they would have been if her course had been continually onward and upward…The knowledge of our state as God views it, seems to be hidden from us. We see, but perceive not; we hear, but do not understand; and we rest as unconcerned as if the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, rested upon our sanctuary. We profess to know God, and to believe the truth, but in works deny Him…
Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness. Those who are accounted good workers will need to draw nigh to God, they will need the divine touch. They will need to drink more deeply and continuously at the fountain of living water, in order that they may discern Gods work at every point. Workers may make mistakes, but you should give them a chance to correct their errors, give them an opportunity to learn caution, by leaving the work in their hands (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 299).
Brothers and sisters, let us be found faithful to the very end, for we are promised a crown of life (James 1:12), and may these sweets words ever be an encouragement to us:
How many toil unselfishly and unweariedly for those who pass beyond their reach and knowledge! Parents and teachers lie down in their last sleep, their lifework seeming to have been wrought in vain; they know not that their faithfulness has unsealed springs of blessing that can never cease to flow; only by faith they see the children they have trained become a benediction and an inspiration to their fellow men, and the influence repeat itself a thousandfold. Many a worker sends out into the world messages of strength and hope and courage, words that carry blessing to hearts in every land; but of the results he, toiling in loneliness and obscurity, knows little…
Of every gift that God has bestowed, leading men to unselfish effort, a record is kept in heaven. To trace this in its wide-spreading lines, to look upon those who by our efforts have been uplifted and ennobled, to behold in their history the outworking of true principles—this will be one of the studies and rewards of the heavenly school.
There we shall know even as also we are known. There the loves and sympathies that God has planted in the soul will find truest and sweetest exercise. The pure communion with holy beings, the harmonious social life with the blessed angels and with the faithful ones of all ages, the sacred fellowship that binds together the whole family in heaven and earthall are among the experiences of the hereafter (Education, p. 306).
Papal Visit to the U. S. A. this Month
On Tuesday, April 15, Pope Benedict XVI will fly into Andrews Air Force base and be greeted by President Bush. On Wednesday he will be formally welcomed at the White House by the president, following which he will have several engagements in the District of Columbia. The Pope goes to New York for Friday and Saturday events and then returns to the Vatican on Sunday.
There has been a good deal of speculation that the Pope has a secret agenda based upon certain reports that have been recently published. One of these reports deals with the purported meetings attended by some members of the Christian Colition and other Christian Evangelical-Ecumenical groups concerning a ten-point agenda that includes a National Day of Rest. Supposedly, these meetings were attended by high level Catholic bishops and officials.
It is said that during the Popes visit he will have a meeting in the Senate Chamber with some of the Senators and the President of the United States. These rumors, however, have not been documented despite the supposed source recently claiming it to be true. Nevertheless, we do know that we are living in the last days. The Papacy is working with great stealth, and we do not question that things are moving very rapidly and perhaps with much of it behind the scenes at this time.
The questions I would like to ask each of us are, “Do we need to have the exact agenda of the Pope in front of us with an exact timetable in order to be ready? Do we need to be scared into a relationship with God because we think events are about to finish? Can we find a relationship with God day-by-day whereby we walk with him regardless of the current events that are or are not happening around us?”
I think of the life of Enoch and how his life is a rebuke to those who talk about the necessity of being ready for Jesus just because his coming is soon.
We are living in an evil age. The perils of the last days thicken around us. Because iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold. Enoch walked with God three hundred years. Now the shortness of time seems to be urged as a motive to seek righteousness. Should it be necessary that the terrors of the day of God be held before us in order to compel us to right action? Enoch's case is before us. Hundreds of years he walked with God. He lived in a corrupt age, when moral pollution was teeming all around him; yet he trained his mind to devotion, to love purity. His conversation was upon heavenly things. He educated his mind to run in this channel, and he bore the impress of the divine. His countenance was lighted up with the light which shineth in the face of Jesus. Enoch had temptations as well as we. He was surrounded with society no more friendly to righteousness than is that which surrounds us. The atmosphere he breathed was tainted with sin and corruption, the same as ours; yet he lived a life of holiness. He was unsullied with the prevailing sins of the age in which he lived. So may we remain pure and uncorrupted. He was a representative of the saints who live amid the perils and corruptions of the last days. For his faithful obedience to God he was translated. So, also, the faithful, who are alive and remain, will be translated. They will be removed from a sinful and corrupt world to the pure joys of heaven (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 121, 122).
So, whether the Pope has a secret agenda and whether secret meetings planned in April or not, the fact is that things are going to be ending soon and we need to be ready. May God find his people being prepared, so that no matter how the scroll of prophecy unrolls, they will be ready. Remember that the primary purpose of prophecy is not to teach us what the future is, but, as Jesus said, And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe (John 14:29).
Did Ellen G. White Ever Speak Against the Trinity Doctrine?
One objection that is sometimes raised by Trinitarians against the message of the truth about God is that there appears to be no record of Ellen G. White speaking out against the trinity doctrine and, in fact, that she was neutral or silent concerning any view of God in her early years. Is this claim, however, legitimate?
As the Advent Movement was growing, Ellen White had to confront fanactism on the truth about God, as she relates in volume 8 of Testimonies for the Church:
After the passing of the time in 1844, we had fanaticism of every kind to meet. Testimonies of reproof were given me to bear to some holding spiritualistic theories.
There were those who were active in disseminating false ideas in regard to God. Light was given me that these men were making the truth of no effect by their false teachings. I was instructed that they were misleading souls by presenting speculative theories regarding God.
This is only one of the instances in which I was called upon to rebuke those who were presenting the doctrine of an impersonal God pervading all nature, and similar errors (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 292, 293). (All emphasis supplied in this article unless otherwise noted.)
In this testimony, Ellen White speaks of speculative theories regarding God by those holding spiritualistic theories. It should be noted that the teaching of the spiritualizers who held these spiritualistic theories was not on the state of the dead but, instead, was on the doctrine of God. Ellen Whites grandson, Arthur White, gives the history in The Early Years:
In eastern Maine Ellen was traveling and working in the atmosphere of the spiritualizers who had allegorized away heaven, God, Jesus, and the Advent hope. In the vision at Exeter in mid-February  she seemed to be in the presence of Jesus, and she was eager to procure answers to some vital questions.
I asked Jesus if His Father had a form like Himself. He said He had, but I could not behold it, for said He, “If you should once behold the glory of His person, you would cease to exist.”--EW, p. 54.
This was not the only occasion Ellen was to converse with Jesus and the angel about the person of Jesus and concerning God being a personal being. The answers satisfied her fully that the spiritualizers were in gross error (The Early Years, pp. 79, 80).
During the time that Arthur White is referring to, his grandfather, Elder James White (Ellen Harmon’s future husband), traveled with Ellen Harmon and her female traveling companion and was able to give a significant firsthand account of what the spiritulizers were falsely teaching about God:
The way spiritualizers this way have disposed of or denied the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ is first using the old unscriptural trinitarian creed, viz. that Jesus Christ is the eternal God, though they have not one passage to support it, while we have plain scripture testimony in abundance that he is the Son of the eternal God (The Day Star, January 24, 1846).
Thus, we see that Ellen White not only spoke out against false views of God, she specifically spoke out against the trinity. Today, however, we are led by the church historians to believe that Ellen White did not agree with her husband and others on the issue of who God is and remained silent for many years, allowing her husband and many of the early pioneers to die believing and teaching damnable heresy.
What does the true history show concerning Ellen White’s ministry? It shows that when there was apostasy and error, Ellen White did not hesitate to speak up. She was quick to speak out and warn God’s people of false teachings from men such as D. H. Canright, A. F. Ballenger, Dr. J. H. Kellogg, and others. She never, however, rebuked her husband, Elder James White, or J. N. Andrews, Captain Joseph Bates, Uriah Smith, and any of the other leading brethren for their nontrinitarian understanding of God.
In fact, Ellen Whites main concerns with Dr. Kelloggs book The Living Temple was that it contained false views of God. Kellogg acknowledged that his acceptance of the trinity doctrine was fundamental to his theology. On October 29, 1903, 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 (Letter of A. G. Daniells to Willie White, October 29, 1903).
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 claimed he had taught what Ellen White, Jones, and Waggoner had taught but using different expressions. He wrote:
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 did not originate (J. H. Kellogg to G. I. Butler, December 30, 1903).
Earlier that year, on October 25, Kellogg wrote to W. W. Prescott and quoted from page 161 of The Desire of Ages, page 205 in volume 1 of Testimonies for the Church, page 33 of Special Testimonies on Education, and pages 52 and 161 in Christian Temperance to support his claim that the Testimonies expressed what he was then teaching about the Holy Spirit.
A. G. Daniells wrote to Kellogg, Now you can readily see that all this cannot be corrected by simply a change of terms (Letter of A. G. Daniells to J. H. Kellogg, October 28, 1903). Furthermore, Daniells 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. Daniells 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. Daniells was not deceived by Kelloggs attempt to change his manner of expressing his thoughts. Daniells 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,” out of broken cisterns. Many times these theories are introduced as new light. When resistance comes, however, the voices proclaim the theories to be old truth in new settings that even Ellen White, Jones, and Waggoner presented. We must each be Bereans (Acts 17:11) and study for ourselves the Word of Truth.
Although Dr. Kellogg claimed to believe the Testimonies and even used them to prove his points, Ellen White boldly declared that Dr. Kellogg did not believe them:
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 (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 7, p. 60).
Just as Kellogg declared that he believed the Testimonies and that they supported his position, there are many today who claim to believe and use Ellen White’s writings to support a position which she did not believe and, in fact, did speak out against. It would be strange indeed for Ellen White to be silent to her husband, who clearly believed her testimonies as being from God and to wait for nearly two decades after his death to promote the trinity. Twenty-two years after the death of Elder White, however, we find Ellen White speaking out against a teaching that was based in the trinity doctrine. In fact, concerning the Kellogg crisis she wrote:
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).
Ellen White unflinchingly declared that God had pronounced Kelloggs teachings the trail of the serpent [Satan]. She stated that Kellogg was departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. and that he was departing from the faith which they have held sacred for the past fifty years? Beloved, do you realize what it means to hold a faith sacred?
Please be in much prayer as the Adult Sabbath Schools in the Seventh-day Adventist Church are studying the divinity and humanity of Jesus this month. Please pray that the booklets that accompany this issue of Old Paths be received and read by as many as possible.
Also, in our youth Sabbath School, three to four countries are being singled out each week for prayer during the week. In this past month, we have prayed for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Kenya, and Russia.. You can read about future choices in the news update on our website. There is a great work in the future for these people, so please pray for these dear souls. We may not know their names, but God, who numbered and named the stars, knows the name and the heart of every one in these countries.
West Virginia Camp Meeting June 10-14
Smyrna Gospel Ministries would like to invite all who are interested in preparing for the return of our Lord Jesus to attend camp meeting June 10-14 at the Smyrna Sabbath Chapel in West Virginia. As always, we eagerly look forward to this special time of study, prayer, and fellowship, and we are very anxious to see all of you once again. We are also very desirous to meet new friends and families. Please do not let anything prevent your attendance this June because time is short and more than ever we need to draw closer to one another and closer to our Redeemer. Our theme this year will be Maranatha (the Lord is Coming)!
While we acknowledge that meetings are the main focus of camp meeting, we also realize it can be difficult to secure personal time with God and with one another when the camp meeting schedule is very full, so we have scheduled free time in the afternoon and between sessions with this in mind. Tentative speakers this year include Elvis Alberto returning from the island of Curacao; Lynnford Beachy; Ed Cyrus; David Sims; Richard Stratton; Allen Stump; Jerry Travers; Dr. William Van Grit; Dr. Glenn Waite; and two attorneys, Sisters Elaine Nailing and Carmela Crawford, who are planning a special presentation on Sabbath afternoon. Our Spanish brethren will also present a message to us each morning, and the Waldensian School will have a presentation on Tuesday evening. We also are hoping for a few recipe demonstrations. All of this, coupled with a personal testimony each evening, our usual testimony service on Sabbath afternoon, plenty of special music, a communion service, and early morning prayer bands will make this a camp meeting you will not want to miss!
Jerry Travers’ field of expertise is agriculture, and he will share the spiritual blessings of working in nature, as well as advice on how to plant properly. Sisters Elaine Nailing and Carmela Crawford will discuss the recent legal developments of “thought crimes” and how it impacts upon us as Seventh-day Adventists. We are planning much in the way of health education. Richard Stratton will demonstrate hydrotherapy in the evening, and Dr. Glenn Waite will speak on our body’s physiology and how we can maintain optimal health.
We plan to have some meetings for all age groups except children under age four. To help mothers with children who need a place to go when their children are fussing or when they just need a relaxing place, we will be sending a live video stream into the fellowship hall, dedicating it as a mother’s-room area.
Camping is free to all, but each camper will be responsible for his or her own meals, except on Sabbath when a meal will be served at midday. Kitchen facilities will not be available, but camp stoves can be used in the camping area, but nooutdoor fires will be allowed. Ice can be obtained one mile away.
This is a camp meeting. You need to bring a tent or make other arrangements for shelter. We do not have cabins or rooms available. Smyrna has a few tents and other camping supplies for those who do not have their own and who cannot afford to purchase them. The supply is limited, so if you need to use a tent, camp stove, sleeping bag, or other items, please request early. We have four shower units with hot and cold water. Do not forget items such as bedding, flashlights, food, toiletries, and insect repellent. Let our dress and deportment be such as becomes Christians.
While there is room for RV’s, we do not have hook-ups. RV’s will need to be self-contained. For those who wish, there are motels in the area. The nearest motels are: The Pocahontas Motel (304) 436-2250, Woody’s Motel (304) 732-6540, The Cow Shed (304) 732-7000, and Twin Falls State Park Resort (304) 294-4000. If you need a room, please call early, as the better motels fill up quickly due to a large influx of tourists at this time of year.
Traveling from the North, Northeast, or Northwest: From Beckley, traveling I-77 south, take the third Beckley exit #42 (Sophia - Mabscott). Follow Sophia - Rt. 16, south branch of exit. After entering Rt. 16 south (four-lane undivided road at this point), go 3.6 miles and bear right on Rt. 54/97. Go 13.8 miles to Maben. Turn right on Rt. 97 and go 12 miles to Pineville. Upon entering Pineville, you will stop at a T in the road. Cook Memorial Baptist Church will be on the right and an Exxon service station on the left. Turn left and go 1/3 of a mile. Stop at four-way stop. Turn left and go 8/10 of a mile. Turn right on Rt. 16 south. Go 5.9 miles. Watch for Smyrna sign on the left side of the road. Turn right at the sign and go 7/10 of a mile. (These values have been measured and are very accurate.)
Traveling from the South, Southeast, or Southwest: From Wytheville, VA, traveling I-77 north, take exit #1 upon entering West Virginia, immediately after exiting East River Mountain Tunnel. Follow Route 52 north to Welch 38.7 miles. At Welch follow signs for Route 16 north. Upon leaving town, you will travel 9 miles. You will pass a Citgo gas station on the right. We are about ¼ of a mile past the Citgo station. Watch for the Smyrna sign on the right side of the road. Turn left at the sign and go 7/10 of a mile. (These mileages are approximates and not exact values.) Beware traveling through the towns of Northfork, Keystone, and Kimball; they are well-known speed-traps! Onycha Holt
Ellen G. White and the Truth About God DVD—A Miracle in the Making
I saw an Internet news report today about a woman who suffered a severe cerebral hemorrhage. Her physicians and family had all given up hope, and she was removed from life support and sent home to die. Just a few hours after arriving at home, however, she began to awaken from the coma she had been in. She has since progressed to a near-normal state. One of her doctors called it “simply a miracle.” No doubt it was.
Someone once said that miracles only happen when there is a great need or problem, and that seems to be true. I have talked to people who have wished to see miracles happen in their lives. They have been eager to see God working in a direct manner. I suppose we all have, at one time or another, but do we realize that to see a miracle, we must first be in trouble?
I would like to tell you about a miracle that I was blessed to experience. It happened because of much trouble. This experience was something that had, at least to some, a non-scientific answer. Here is how it happened.
Most of the video footage for the message Ellen G. White and the Truth About God was shot in May 2007, but due to the illness of my son and several other pressing matters, the digital video tapes sat quietly on my desk until early in the winter. When I finally cleared my schedule and mind sufficiently, I began to edit and embellish the video all I could. There were mistakes to edit out and Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy references to overlay. There were backgrounds and photographic images to gather and edit, as well as music to arrange and digitize. Then, of course, the material had to be encoded into mpeg 2 format, and a DVD menu navigation system had to be designed and produced.
I do not know how much work that sounds like to you, but to us, with our already heavy schedules and a shop more set up for offset printing than for a video studio, we were challenged to try to produce a quality message within a short period of time.
After loading the tape into the computer, I began editing and was beginning to make reasonable progress when my computer failed to restart after a power outage. I had had this problem a couple of times before and felt it was simply a faulty, unreliable switch. After working with the switch for nearly an hour, however, and running several tests with a voltage meter, I realized that the switch was working properly.
Concerned that the power supply had burned out, I traded the power supply with another computer. The other computer would not boot up with my power supply so I figured that was my problem. I, therefore, ordered a new power supply and waited the two days for it to arrive. When it did, I installed it, and nothing happened when I tried to restart the computer. NOTHING!
I then put the power supply in another computer, and it worked fine. Taking a power supply, however, from another computer and trying it in mine did not yield a computer that would boot. By this, I then knew that not only was my old power supply bad, but the mother board was bad also, as well as possibly the CPU chip.
It was time for the first woe to begin! Time was moving by quickly now, and we were receiving inquiries often on when this presentation would be finished. To try to simplify the matter, I ordered another motherboard and chip, but there was a new difficulty now. I had been using a special video-editing graphics card to help do most of the video editing. This card, however, was old technology (four years!) and the manufacturer strongly suggested using an approved motherboard that had certain characteristics, characteristics that could be found four years ago but not today. I looked on eBay and found a used motherboard in Hong Kong, but could not bring myself to trust that it would arrive in good working order.
I decided to buy a new motherboard and chip that would be as close to my old one as possible and hope that it would integrate with my system properly. Sadly, it did not. Being new and filled with current technology, it made the computer faster and better over all, but it did not mesh well with my video-editing card.
The second woe had begun. The poor integration resulted in the software going from being a very stable program to one that crashed on average every five minutes. This required restarting the program and opening the video edit session I had been working on. Because of the size of the file, this took nearly 3 minutes each time!
For weeks, I struggled to work five minutes and reset for three minutes, and even then, the software did not all work properly. I had invested so much time already that I did not wish to start from scratch by reinstalling Windows and all my other software, so I keep plugging along, hoping that it would finally start to work better or that I would be given an idea on how to make it work smoothly.
As I was getting near the end of the editing, I was greatly relieved that the worst of the problems had to be over. Encoding into mpeg 2 would simply be a few mouse clicks and walking away from it for a few hours while the computer encoded the standard digital video files into the mpeg format files.
After finally getting it ready to encode, or so I thought, I pressed those buttons and sat back to relax. As the progress meter was quickly counting off 30 to 40 frames a second, I was thankful that the worst, I thought, was over. The third woe had come! After about 10 minutes of encoding, the computer froze. I would have to restart. This does not normally happen, but it can and does on rare occasions; therefore, I rebooted the computer and restarted the software. I tried to encode the material again, with the same results!
Anticipating the process would be finished by the time Old Paths would be mailed, we published in the January issue that the DVD was ready. I could, at that time, see no reason it could possibly be delayed any further. Now what were we to do? As we had done many times already, we began to pray and work and pray and work and pray and work. I tried several different workarounds to help the computer do what it was supposed to do, but all in vain.
I then decided to disable the video-editing graphics card and try to reedit the video as would then be necessary, but the system did not respond properly. By this time, it was apparent to me that Satan would do anything he could to stop this project. I am only giving you the highlights! There were many, many technology glitches that I had never had to deal with before. So, now I was almost “stumped.”
After a season of prayer, I decided to rebuild a computer with a fresh installation of Windows and all the software. This finally worked, and I was able to finish the reedits and even encode thefiles into mpeg 2 format. After finishing this, I rebuilt my components into my old computer that had my DVD authoring software and other essentials on it.
The fourth woe approaches! As I was finishing the DVD authoring software, I seemed to notice a glitch of four seconds. I could not believe it! But there it was, four seconds missing! How could this be? After trying several workarounds only to see one after another fail, I was compelled to realize that I must rebuild the computer again. After doing so and fixing the four second error, I began another check of the project. Now, however, I got a message on my screen saying that the harddrive was either full or the data on it was corrupt. Being a 250 gigabit drive, I knew it was only about one half full. My heart began to sink as I wondered if the data was really bad or if the harddrive had somehow failed. I prayed and asked God to deliver me form this problem and rebuke Satan who had tried to stop this project so much. After prayer, I rebooted the computer, and all worked fine!
Even in these problems, though, we were blessed. Some errors that had missed us earlier were found and corrected. God was supplying a blessing.
Encoding the second time went well, then another computer rebuild, and I was finishing the authoring of the DVD!
Now, why do I write out this experience? For two reasons. Firstly, because I believe that it is a miracle that this DVD was finally finished. Without God’s special help, it could not have been finished. There is no way I was smart enough to figure out the different steps needed to be able to work around all the problems. I am also so thankful that my heavenly Father, knowing the problems would come, was preparing my spirit for each challenge.
Secondly, I tell this story to help illustrate how important this message on the DVD must be to have so much resistence from Satan. So, as the first group of orders have been sent out, we are praying that each one will arrive safely and that they will do the good work that God has designed them to do.
I do believe that God has already blessed this project greatly, and the initial response has been very good. Many have not only requested for themselves but have taken advantage of getting ten or more DVDs to save costs. If you have not received your DVD yet, please contact us. If you cannot make a donation and you sincerely desire to obtain the DVD, please let us know, and we will see that you get one as long as God blesses us to have them.
For those who missed the write up on the DVD last month, we have included an updated version of it below.
An Overview of the Message
Who was Ellen White? Early in the Advent Movement when believers were few, she was well-known among the little group of faithful souls, but this is the year 2008. It has been ninety-two years since Ellen G. White’s death in 1915 and 163 years since the Great Disappointment in 1844.
During this time the Seventh-day Adventist Church has established a publishing work on several continents with sixty-three publishing houses and branches. The church has redefined their Declaration of Principles, which were first printed in 1872, to the current Biblical Exposition of 28 Fundamental Doctrines. The Adventist Church has created a health ministry of 168 hospitals and sanitariums and 442 clinics. Its educational system has reached around the world with 5,666 primary schools and 1,618 secondary and tertiary schools. Membership has grown from the little flock of 1847 to the more than 15 million today.
The culture of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has changed and has become more diversified since 1844. Most members are now found in Latin America, next in Africa, and thirdly in the United States. Brazil is the country with the largest population of Seventh-day Adventists and India is next. We do not know the average age of a Seventh-day Adventist today, but 5,666 primary schools tell us there is a healthy core of young families, many of which have never heard of James or Ellen White and who are unfamiliar with our pioneers and our history as a movement, even though there is now available to members of the organized church Children’s Ministries, Women’s Ministries, Sabbath School and Personal Ministries, Broadcast Ministries, Global Mission outreaches, and more, which can and should be used to teach these historic truths.
It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the new DVD in the series The Good News About God be in your home. In its two hours of footage you will learn who Ellen White is, and you will learn how she and James worked tirelessly for the growth and establishment of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. More importantly, you will be able to trace the work of God in establishing his truth on earth. The understanding of the doctrine of God was clear to our pioneers and this DVD is packed full of documentation about the understanding our pioneers, especially Ellen White, held on the doctrine of God. While it is two hours long, it is doubtful that you will loose interest!
The DVD is a lively one, with many visual aids, music, and color. Many hours have gone into its production. In this presentation you will find over sixty statements of Ellen White on the issue of God and answers to the common questions that arise concerning what some people believe to be conflicting statements from her pen on this vital doctrine. The DVD clearly portrays Ellen White’s understanding of God to have been consistent and clear over time rather than evolutionary.
The DVD is well laid out and has easy navigation features. It also has settings to quickly find ten of the most common questions people have about Ellen White and the truth about God. We have also included audio mp3 versions of all the messages in The Good News About God series as well as electronic editions of the last 10+ years of Old Paths and eleven truth-filled books such as The Foundation of Our Faith, What did the Pioneers Believe?, and Gods Love on Trial in PDF.
We believe you will want to obtain this DVD for yourself and will want several copies to share with your Adventist friends who have questions or concerns about Ellen Whites views on the doctrine of God or who may have conscientiously ill-informed views on this subject. We know that if you will devote just two hours to this DVD, you will be blessed! The suggested donation is $6.00/DVD, plus postage, and, to continue to help spread these as far as possible, we are extending the special donation of only $40.00, plus postage, for a unit of ten DVDs.
Meet Michael Woodward
We would like you to meet our printer-in-training, Brother Michael Woodward! He is from New Hampshire and is a student at the Waldensian Center. He has been with us for several weeks as part of his work-study program, and he has been a tremendous help to us. He has been greatly involved in the reprinting of Gods Love on Trial, taking it from printing plates to a beautiful finished product. He also works on printing, assembling, and mailing the monthly issues of Old Paths and Present Truth. We are very thankful for his presence at Smyrna Gospel Ministries. He is a real joy to have around, has been a spiritual blessing to all of us, and even the young people love to play hide-and-seek and tag with him! We hope you will attend camp meeting June 10-14 because you will be able to meet Michael then and also view a presentation by the Waldensian Center.
Commentary on the Adult Sabbath
School Lessons for Second Quarter
The April, May, June 2008 issue of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, published by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, is entitled “The Wonder of Jesus.” In these lessons, the author, Dr. Roy Adams, examines the person of Jesus and his wonderful life, works, and teachings. After carefully studying through the lessons, we believe that there are many serious issues that need to be addressed.
We have published a short commentary (sent in a separate mailing from this issue of Old Paths) that parallels the first five lessons of the quarterly. The remainder of the lessons will be covered next month.
The commentary will contain extra study material to help those using the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide in their quest for truth and to help them intelligently discuss the lessons, from an informed perspective, in their local Sabbath Schools.
We have printed several extra booklets for those who wish to share copies with their classmates or teachers. The suggested donation is $.50 each, plus postage, but if you need copies and funds are an issue, let us know and we will share while supplies last. Two years ago the Adult Sabbath School Lesson Study Guide for the second quarter was on The Holy Spirit. We printed comments in Old Paths at that time and the response was without precedent. Please obtain and share as many of these truth-filled booklets as you can, for time is short both for the quarter and for the history of the world!
Bible Reading on Genesis 5-8
1. By what name did God call our first parents?
2. What principle in Genesis 5:3 helps us to understand the divinity of Jesus Christ?
3. Except for Adam, which patriarch in Genesis chapter 5 was the youngest when his first-mentioned child was born and how old was he when the child was born?
4. What does “the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men” in Genesis 6:4 mean?
5. What was the wickedness of the world like in Noah’s day? (Also check margin note on 6:5.)
6. Ellen White states, Guided by holy angels, they went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, and the clean beasts by sevens (PP,.p. 98).” So we know that Noah did not have to gather the animals. What Bible verse in chapter 6 would, while not mentioning angels, indicate that Noah did not gather the animals?
7. In Genesis 7:2 it states that the clean animals were to go on the ark by “sevens.” Does this mean seven animals or seven pairs of animals? What reasons can we give for our answer?
8. In Genesis 7:16 it is stated that the “LORD shut” Noah in the ark. This was done seven days before the flood. What prophetic significance does this have?
9. How high upon the earth did the flood waters rise? Can you compute this to an approximate height above sea level today?
10. Where did the Ark come to rest? How is this answer different than the common belief?
11. Why did God command Noah to take the clean beasts by sevens into the ark?
12. What sign of hope did the dove bring back to Noah to indicate “that the waters were abated from off the earth?”
Bonus: Why might the promise of Genesis 8:22 have seemed strange to Noah?
Answers to last months quiz on Genesis 1-4
1. Heaven is first defined as the firmament that divided the waters below from the waters above (vs. 7, 8). Later, in verse 14, he speaks of the firmament in the heavens where lights will be put, thus extending the concept of heaven to include what we call space or outer space. The dry land is earth (verse 10).
2. The Bible says that God set or placed them, the heavenly bodies, in their orbits or paths. This tells us that nothing was done by just throwing things around. God did all things in order. 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40 is good for all Christians to abide by.
3. The Father is speaking to the Son by whom he created all things. Revelation 4:11; John 1:3; Colossians 1:15, 16; Hebrews 1:2; Ephesians 3:9. The following are references to Spirit of Prophecy statements: Early Writings, p. 145; Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, pp, 24, 25 (also in Story of Redemption, p. 20), and Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, p. 17; vol 3, p. 34.
4. God blessed the seventh day. It does not say Sabbath in Genesis 2:1-3. This does away with the argument that it was just the Sabbath that was blessed. Sunday-keepers may call Sunday the Sabbath and believe that it was changed and still be a day blessed and sanctified.
5. The Bible does not say where God created Adam in location except that it was not at first in the Garden of Eden, for Adam was “put” or placed there by God (Genesis 2:8). If Adam had already been there he would not have needed to have been placed there.
6. “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air (Genesis 2:19).” In Genesis 1:20-24 the record is that “God said” as related in Psalm 33:6, 9, but it also says, for example, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature.” By this, we see that while all the earth was created from the word of God alone, he then used that dust of the earth to form all the beasts of the field and fowl of the air.
7. In Genesis 2:21 it says that God took one of the ribs and then closed up the flesh, so the rib was not transported by a supernatural power without first opening Adam’s side. Did Adam have a scar or mark from this? We do not know but we must assume that God did the closure perfectly.
8. There is no record that God told Eve that if she touched the fruit of the tree of knowledge that she would die. In fact, Ellen White writes, Eve had overstated the words of Gods command. (R&H, Feb. 24, 1874)
9. They wished to deny responsibility and cast the blame upon someone else. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed the one he was willing to die for shortly before and also indirectly cast the blame upon God for giving him that woman (Genesis 3:12, 13).
10. God asked Adam and Eve where they were to give them a chance to admit their guilt. This question was asked by the Lord, not because he needed information, but for the conviction of the guilty pair (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 42).”
11. The ground was not cursed as a punishment to Adam, rather, for his sake, as a blessing to him (Genesis 3:17).
12. God placed the Cherubim (plural) at the gate. In the Hebrew, the definite article is added by prefixing the Hebrew h (cheth) at the beginning of the word (rememeber Hebrew is read backwards). Cherub is bwrk, cherbum is Mybrk, but The cherbum is: Mybrkh. This indicates that all the cherubim were placed there, not just a cherub or some of the cherubim.
13. The expression “in process of time” (Genesis 4:3) means “At the end of the days.” At the end of the days would mean the end of the days that made up the week, the only unit of time given at this point to determine time. Thus, it means the Sabbath, which came on the seventh-day of the week.
14. The differences, in principle, between Cain’s and Abel’s offerings could be said as follows: One was an offering of the fruit of the ground, bloodless in nature. The other a blood offering brought after the manner that God directed. One showed a willingness to acknowledge his sin and God’s plan and was in harmony with his will. The other showed an unwillingness to acknowledge his sin and actually was a further type of rebellion, for God had plainly described the method of worship.
15. God told Cain, the voice of thy brothers blood crieth unto me from the ground (Genesis 4:10).
16. The first city in the Bible was named Enoch.
Bonus: The faithful had worshiped God before; but as men increased, the distinction between the two classes became more marked. There was an open profession of loyalty to God on the part of one, as there was of contempt and disobedience on the part of the other (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 80).
Youth’s Corner — How the Wind Shifted
Our story takes place many years ago in Africa at an Adventist mission station at a time when there was a severe drought. All the green plants that the children had been eating dried up. The only food they had left was dried corn that they could grind into meal, and the teacher thought that if they had a few cows the children would at least have some milk to go with their cornmeal. So, the teacher sent a few students out to a neighboring village to see if there was a cow they could purchase, but there were no cows available. No cows were for sale in the whole village, so the teacher sent more students to another village, and the students walked all through that village, but no cows were for sale there either. The students went to villages all around the mission complex, but no cows could be found for the children. So, what could they do? That’s right, pray! And that is just what they did. They prayed and asked God to please give them at least one cow for their mission compound that had about forty students.
The next day nothing happened and the following day nothing happened, but the next day one of the students called, “Teacher, teacher! Come look!” And what do you think the teacher saw? No, not a cow! Coming down the field toward the school were oxen! Thirty-two oxen, in fact, and the teacher knew what had happened. At that time in that part of Africa, sixteen oxen were yoked together to pull a big cart loaded down with supplies, so the teacher knew these thirty-two oxen were from two different carts, and he also knew the reason these oxen were running toward them. A lion was after them! In those days, about a hundred years ago, lions roamed freely in the area of the mission station, and these oxen were on the run it because lions had attacked their slow-moving carts. The oxen had been spooked and off they ran!
The teacher yelled, “Quick! Herd the oxen into the corral!” The students had made the corral to keep cows in, but, instead, oxen were on their way! So, the boys ran out and drove the oxen into the corral, and as soon as the oxen were in, they plopped down. They were so glad to be safe and were so exhausted that they didn’t move a muscle for a long time.
Well, the boys and the teacher took care of the oxen. Once the oxen had rested enough, they fed and watered them, and the next day they fed and watered them too. Later that day, however, a man came to the mission looking for something. His oxen! The teacher told the man what had happened, and he was very pleased that the students and teacher had taken care of his oxen. Then the teacher had a bright idea! He thought, I will ask this man if he knows of anyone who would sell us a few cows for our mission. So he said to the man, We only have corn to feed the students. All the green vegetables have dried up, and we have no other food. We really need milk for the students. The man said, No. There are no cows, not even one, for sale because I travel to many villages and I know. BUT, I have some cows that you could use! If you will send a group of your boys to the police station next week, on Tuesday, I will send some of my cows to your school, and you can use them for as long as you like!” Now, was that an answer to prayer? Yes, it was!
So, next Tuesday, the teacher sent the boys off to the police station, and do you know what they found? Not one cow, or two, or even three. There were seventeen cows! And these cows were in splendid condition. The boys brought the cows back to the mission station, and they “used” them for several years. They had more milk than they could possibly use at the mission, so do you know what they were able to do? They sold milk and butter to the villagers, and they were able to use the money they received to help improve their school.
I haven’t told you the best part of the story, however. You may not know, nor did I, that when oxen are chased by lions they always run directly into the wind because they want to be able to smell if they are running toward the enemy or not. When lions are ready to pounce on oxen, they come to the front of the oxen to catch them, not from the back, and somehow oxen know this, so they always kept their nose into the wind, with their heads up, running as fast as they can into the wind.
The man who came to the mission to collect his oxen told the teacher, “We were off to the north when the lions attacked us and we were heading north. Well, the mission station was in the south, and do you know what God did? He turned the wind, so that the oxen, keeping their faces into the wind, headed straight for the mission! That’s right! God turned those thirty-two oxen around by using the wind, just as a rider can turn a horse with reins. The oxen headed for the mission station, and that is how God answered the prayers of the teacher and students for cows–by using the wind. Isn’t God wonderful? The Bible says God used an east wind to bring a plague of locusts over the land of Egypt and a west wind to send the locusts away, and an east wind to divide the Red Sea and dry the ground on which the Israelites walked. He can do the same for us as he did for the Israelites and for the students at the African mission. We may not understand why conditions or circumstances sometimes change in our lives, but God has a plan and will work all things out for us if we are submissive and obedient to his will. Onycha Holt
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 Editor: Onycha Holt - E-mail Onycha@smyrna.org
Please also visit our Present Truth Website!
This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013