Old Paths

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. 19, No.8  Straight and Narrow  August 2010


“But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.” (Numbers 14:21

 

 

Beware of a False Revival

Sabbath, July 3, 2010, the newly elected General Conference President Ted Wilson was scheduled to speak. What kind of message would he give, and what kind of tone would he set? The previous administration of Jan Paulson had been one of inclusiveness and liberal policies. Would Wilson maintain status quo? Quickly, Wilson set out to chart what seemed like a historic course. Wilson spoke of holding to the pillars of our faith, of believing in a literal and recent six-day creation, of rejection of the emerging church, and of many other things that seemed to shore up belief in a revival that many have been seeking. But, sadly, there is too much evidence that God-approved change is not coming.

The Bible condemns the prophesying of “smooth things” (Isaiah 30:10). Yet, there are ways to “preach to the choir” that may sound strong and straight but are simply smooth things. Human nature likes the easy way. It is so today and has been so since the entrance of sin into our world. The prophet Jeremiah noted in his day:

The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so. (Jeremiah 5:31)

Satan knows that one of the best means to ensnare God’s people is with a false revival, letting them think that they are becoming “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”; yet they are actually “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).

In the last days Satan is preparing a great false revival. Historically, Adventism has understood this revival to be prophesied by both Isaiah (2:2-4) and Micah (4:1-5). The prophecies are almost exactly alike except that Isaiah speaks of people, where as Micah speaks of nations and gives some additional content. Micah and Isaiah were contemporaries of each other. Isaiah began his prophetic service first, and it is possible that Micah was inspired to draw some material from Isaiah. We will look at Micah’s prophecy, as it contains more details:

But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. (Micah 4:1-5)

“In the last days” — the time setting is clear, but notice who is declaring the things that are being said in the prophecy: “Many nations [Isaiah: ‘Many people’] shall come, and say…” It is not God speaking! Now we should notice what they are saying:

Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (v. 2)

In the last days many, people shall say that “the law shall go forth of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” but God’s law was published from Sinai (Exodus 19; Psalm 68:8, 17). God has established his law, and it need not be repeated from Jerusalem. This is a prophecy of what the people will do, and it predicts an international Sunday law coming from Jerusalem!

In the last days, many people shall say that the nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning-hooks.” In the last days, many people shall say that “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” In the last days, many people shall say “peace and safety,” because “they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid.” They will say that “the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” All these things many people will say in the last days, but what does God say? Notice his response:

In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. (Micah 4:6, 7)

God says that at the very time (“in that day”) when “many people” are saying all those seemingly good things, there will be some who will be “driven out,” “afflicted,” and “cast off” and that these will be a “remnant.” The Lord gathers this remnant, and he will reign in Mount Zion forever.

This prophecy is clearly against the doctrine of the conversion and gathering of all the world, for if that were true, there would be no remnant to be cast off, driven out, and afflicted. How can there be any afflicted or driven out when every man sits “under his vine and under his fig tree and none shall make afraid” and when none should “learn war any more”? Certainly there could not be such a remnant; therefore, Micah and Isaiah cannot be teaching of a time when there will be a millennium of peace, safety and the conversion of the world.

Vital to this topic is a parallel counter-prophecy of Joel which gives another perspective:

Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD. (Joel 3:9, 10)

If we go back to Joel 2:19, we see that God is now speaking: “Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will…” The words of God continue in, and actually finish, the book. In Micah and Isaiah, the people are saying to prepare for peace and to take their instruments of warfare and make implements of agriculture. God says, however, that instead of peace, there will be war and to take the implements of agriculture and make instruments of war from them. These prophecies are clearly antithetical. The prophecy of Joel parallels a thought from Zephaniah:

Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. Zephaniah 3:8

Zephaniah says that instead of the nations being gathered for peace they are assembled to receive God’s indignation.

God is not going to assemble a converted world and pour upon them his fierce anger! Zephaniah continues, “I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD” (v. 12).

This is exactly what the Lord says in Micah 4. While many people are saying “peace and safety” and that the world shall be converted, God is saying that destruction is coming. This is further shown by Zephaniah 3:13 which refers to the afflicted and poor people as the “remnant of Israel.”

Micah and Zephaniah clearly are complementary and parallel. The time spoken of in Zephaniah 3 is the same as that referred to in Micah 4, and they each refer to the same remnant which will be poor and afflicted, cast off, and driven out. (Does that sound like a sixteen million member church with assets, conservatively speaking, in the hundreds of millions of dollars?)

This concept of the remnant is confirmed by Revelation 12:17: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The dragon is “ the Devil, and Satan” (v. 9), and the “woman” is the church of God (2Corinthians 11:2). The devil is wroth with the church of God and goes to make war with the remnant of her seed. The devil works through earthly powers and agencies and is stirring up the people to attempt to oppress and destroy the church. This conflict continues until the very end. Daniel said:

I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21, 22)

The remnant is the last of the church, and the people who compose it keep “the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The devil, through the powers of earth, makes war against the remnant, and because of this they are “cast off,” “driven out,” and become an “afflicted” and “poor people.” Yet these are the very people who obtain victory over the combined forces of Satan!

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. (Revelation 15:2, 3)

These victorious believers who have kept “the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus” (Revelation 14:12) are the remnant who are driven out and afflicted but whom the Lord gathers.

Yet, at the very time when Satan is making war upon the poor, afflicted, and loyal remnant, those preaching in the popular pulpits and in the worldly churches will sing of peace and safety and claim that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is upon the church.

The Apostle Paul writes concerning this in his first epistle to the Thessalonians.

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3)

Paul does not identify who the “they” are that say peace and safety. (Note: The word “they” is not a direct translation of a Greek pronoun that is contained in this verse, but rather is placed in this verse because the Greek word translated “say” (legosin) is in the third person plural form. The pronoun “they,” therefore, is correctly used here.) Some people believe that the context of verses 4-6 indicates that the people referred to by the word “they” are unbelievers. While this might be so, the context could also be understood to be referring to those who profess to believe but really do not. There are many Laodiceans who profess that all is well, that things are peaceful, that safety abounds, and that there is no need to be concerned about the future.

There is also another type of deception that Satan has for the cast-out remnant. That deception involves giving them a false experience that is based in miracles and in a false latter rain Holy Spirit experience. When anyone dares to oppose these things, they are associated with unbelievers who deny the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul said that in the last days there would be a class of professed believers, “having a form of godliness” (2Timothy 3:5) but denying “the power thereof,” and the context of this verse reveals that the power denied is the power to overcome sin, not the power of the Holy Spirit to perform miracles in the lives of the believers!

Paul continues in chapter 3, saying that there will be “evil men and seducers [who] shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2Timothy 3:13). Yet, despite the revealing word of God which strips away the false nature of this last great pseudo revival, many will declare that the church is prospering, that the latter rain is falling, that everywhere people are flocking to hear the message, and that the church is on the highway to the coming of Jesus.

Miracles and signs will come from Satan within the professed church of God, and we have been warned, not only from Ellen White but from the Bible as well. For those who would discount the Spirit of Prophecy or claim we must seek the Bible first, we gladly go to the Bible to see what it says on this topic. Let us begin with 2 Thessalonians:

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work … Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. (2Thessalonians 2:7, 9-10)

The Greek word translated “signs” is semeiois (shmeivoiV from the root word shmei:on), and it means sign or miracle. The Greek word for “power” is dunamei (dunavmei from the root word dunamis). While this word means inherent power and strength, it is also translated “mighty work” and “miracle(s)” nine times! One such instance is found in Acts 19:11: “And God wrought special miracles [dunamis] by the hands of Paul.” Another usage is in 1 Corinthians 12:10, where Paul speaks of the manifestations of the Spirit: “To another the working of miracles.”

God has said that miracles will be among his people but that there are others who will perform miracles. Paul expressed his concern to the believers in Corinth. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2Corinthians 11:3). Eve was beguiled by “power and signs and lying wonders!” What appeared to be an animal was speaking and holding intelligent conversation with Eve, but Satan was behind it all! What a miracle it appeared to be, and Paul is concerned that believers will be deceived after this manner. He later notes:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2Corinthians 11:13-15)

We have been told that:

Satan … will come personating Jesus Christ, working mighty miracles; and men will fall down and worship him as Jesus Christ. We shall be commanded to worship this being, whom the world will glorify as Christ. What shall we do? — Tell them that Christ has warned us against just such a foe, who is man’s worst enemy, yet who claims to be God. (Review & Herald, December 18, 1888)

This is more than insight on a spiritual matter; this is a prophecy. Ellen White declares that God’s people will be commanded to worship Satan, who appears as Christ working miracles. Before this happens, Satan will have prepared the world well for his appearing.

Now we noted that the Bible does speak of miracles as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and this we accept. The greatest miracle is the conversion of a stony heart to a heart of flesh. “The conversion of the human soul is of no little consequence. It is the greatest miracle performed by divine power” (Evangelism, pp. 289, 290). Miracles of many sorts are daily done by God among his people, including healing of the sick. Because of the way that Satan is working today, however, many of God’s miracles for healing are done through the use of natural remedies.

The way in which Christ worked was to preach the Word, and to relieve suffering by miraculous works of healing. But I am instructed that we cannot now work in this way, for Satan will exercise his power by working miracles. God’s servants today could not work by means of miracles, because spurious works of healing, claiming to be divine, will be wrought.

For this reason the Lord has marked out a way in which His people are to carry forward a work of physical healing, combined with the teaching of the Word. Sanitariums are to be established, and with these institutions are to be connected workers who will carry forward genuine medical missionary work. Thus a guarding influence is thrown around those who come to the sanitariums for treatment. (Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 54)

We can claim to believe the Spirit of Prophecy, but if we disregard it or set it aside because it does not line up with our thoughts on things then we do so at our own peril. Jehoshaphat’s words still ring true today:

Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. (2Chronicles 20:20)

But again, if we lay Ellen White aside and only look to the Bible, we see that the Bible is presenting a picture of Satan and his agents working especially in miracles in the last days. Jesus predicted that there would be false Christs:

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs [miracles: semeia from semeion] and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. (Matthew 24:24)

We have noted some of Paul’s statements, but let us notice the inspired testimony from the last book of the Bible, Revelation. Notice that in the book of Revelation, miracles are not to be a test of truth. Concerning the second beast of Revelation 13, we read:

And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. (Revelation 13:14)

Revelation 16 describes the three-fold confederacy between the papacy, apostate Protestants, and spiritualism as performing miracles in the end of time.

And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Revelation 16:13, 14)

Finally, God will declare judgment upon this three-fold confederacy, and he notes that the central characteristic of the false prophet is that he deceived with miracles!

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Revelation 19:20)

Beloved, this is the picture the Bible sets forth in the last days. Miracles are not the test of truth. Some may not be aware that the Pentecostal movement that is so popular and widespread today is a phenomenon that was not known until about a century ago. It was only beginning about the time that Ellen White was in her last years of life. Satan is clearly using this movement and all who will follow its teachings to prepare for the final great drama in his plan of deception.

Satan will also use the Scriptures, as he is able, for his purposes. He will misquote or misapply the Bible. Simply using the Bible cannot be an indicator of the truthfulness of a message. When Satan came to Jesus, he quoted Scripture: “And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6). Satan was quoting from Psalm 91:11, 12, and he quoted it correctly without missing a jot or tittle; however, he was misapplying the text.

The Apostle Paul declared that we must rightly divide the word of truth (2Timothy 2:15). We need to realize that the Bible can be wrongly divided, especially many of the writings of Paul, as Peter noted:

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2Peter 3:16)

Ellen White speaks of examples of the Scriptures being distorted in her day, and those who forget the lessons of the past are doomed to commit their failures in the future!

One man, B by name, came all the way from Michigan with a special message for Sister White. He said that Sister White had been appointed by God to occupy the position occupied by Moses, and that he, B, was to occupy the position of Joshua. Thus the work was to be carried forward. Sister White’s work was to be united with his work, and we were to proclaim the truth with power.

This man took the liberty, as many others have done, to mingle a great deal of Scripture with his message, quoting passages which he applied to Seventh-day Adventists. During my connection with the work many such men have arisen. They have selected and arranged scriptures which they made applicable to the people of God. Mr. B read with a loud, strong voice the passages he had selected, declaring them to be applicable to us as a people. He said that I must see that he was right; for was it not the Bible he was reading.

“Yes,” I said, “you have selected and put these scriptures together, but like many who have arisen as you have, you are wresting the Scriptures, interpreting them to mean thus and so, when I know they do not apply as you have applied them.

“You, or any other deluded person, could arrange and have arranged certain scriptures of great force, and applied them according to your own ideas. Any man could misinterpret and misapply God’s Word, denouncing people and things, and then take the position that those who refused to receive his message had rejected the message of God, and decided their destiny for eternity.” (Selected Messages, bk.1, pp. 43-44)

One of the most challenging attacks to Adventism during Ellen White’s lifetime came from an Adventist minister, A.F. Ballenger who amassed a great amount of Bible verses for his teachings, but they were misapplied.

Satan will use his best plans to lead souls to bring in some new theories, some strange, fanciful ideas. These souls will try to substantiate false doctrines, and they will take texts of Scripture and misapply them in order to make their doctrines appear as truth. The theories that Elder Ballenger advocated, which remove the sanctuary truth, are just such as the enemy would bring in as matters of the utmost importance, to shake us from our foundation of faith. But we must heed the word, “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast.” When efforts are made to unsettle our faith in our past experience and to send us adrift, let us hold fast to the truth that we have received. (Manuscript Release, 760, p. 21)

Revelation 12:12 states: “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Satan is wroth, very angry, and is at war against God’s people, but

God has set bounds that Satan cannot pass. Our most holy faith is this barrier; and if we build ourselves up in the faith, we shall be safe in the keeping of the Mighty One. “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 297)

When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No after suppositions contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained. (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 161)

We are now living in the last days, in the very time when many people are teaching directly contrary to the word of God. The challenging counsel of God is “from such turn away” (2Timothy 3:5), for whoever trusts in such promises of peace and safety and follows in the way of such words shall not know peace.

For the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come … Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. (Joel 1:15; 2:12, 13)

Allen Stump


Tasty Recipe: Polenta Pizza

This delicious pizza was served to us at the General Conference Session by Sister Natasha Mansour, and she has graciously shared her recipe so we all can enjoy it! Thanks Natasha!

Bon Appétit


Christ Triumphant, Part 1

Historic Seventh-day Adventist theology is light years in advance of any other professed Christian people due to our understanding of the great controversy theme. We owe a debt to God for the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy to help us to understand this concept in a way that no church, people, or group under heaven understands.

Ellen White testified that during the Sabbath and Sanctuary conferences of 1848, God gave her light that helped the Advent people to understand “Christ, his mission, and his priesthood” (Review and Herald, May 25, 1905). Also, during the late 1840’s Ellen White received many visions in which were given to her segments of the great controversy theme. In 1858, while attending a funeral Elder White was presiding over, she had a vision that lasted two hours. She wrote about the experience:

“In the vision at Lovett’s Grove, most of the matter of ‘The Great Controversy,’ which I had seen ten years before, was repeated, and it was shown that I must write it out. It was shown, too, that I should have to contend with the powers of darkness, for Satan would make strong efforts to hinder me; but that I must put my trust in God, and angels would not leave me in the conflict.

“After I came out of vision, the afflicted friends and a portion of the congregation bore the body to its resting-place, and great solemnity rested upon those who remained. Two days after this occurrence, we took the cars at Fremont for Jackson, Mich. While on the cars we arranged our plans for writing and publishing the book called ‘The Great Controversy’ [commonly known as Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1] immediately on our return home. I was then as well as usual. On the arrival of the train at Jackson, we went to Bro. Palmer’s. We had been in the house but a short time, when, as I was conversing with Sister Palmer, my tongue refused to utter what I wished to say, and seemed large and numb. A strange, cold sensation struck my heart, passed over my head, and down my right side. For a time I was insensible, but was aroused by the voice of earnest prayer. I tried to use my left limbs, but they were perfectly useless. For a short time I did not expect to live. It was my third shock of paralysis, and although within fifty miles of home, I did not expect to see my children again. I called to mind the triumphant season I had enjoyed at Lovett’s Grove, and thought it was my last testimony, and felt reconciled to die. (Life Sketches of James White and Ellen G. White ( 1888), p. 338)

Spiritual Gifts, volume I, was expanded in 1860 with Spiritual Gifts, volume II, and in 1864 with Spiritual Gifts, volumes III and IV. In 1884 Ellen White published The Spirit of Prophecy, volume 4, which was expanded in 1888 under the title of The Great Controversy. This work was edited in 1911 and is now published as the standard issue of The Great Controversy.

The great controversy theme is really more than the story of the struggle between righteousness and evil. It is the story of victory, the theme of Christ triumphant.

This is the first of a series of four studies designed to cover the highlights of this triumph. In this first study, we will look at the beginning of this controversy in heaven and how it spread to this earth. The second study will show this controversy in the life of Jesus during the incarnation up to his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The third study will examine the last week of the life of Jesus and his triumphant death. Lastly, we will see the triumphant resurrection, High Priestly ministry, and Christ’s triumph being complete in the person and lives of his saints!

God is Love

To understand the nature of this controversy, we must understand the character of God. Patriarchs and Prophets is the first book in a series we call the Conflict of the Ages Series. The very first words of the text begin by quoting 1 John 4:16:

“God is love.” 1 John 4:16. His nature, His law, is love. It ever has been; it ever will be. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 33)

God’s love was manifested in the gift of his Son:

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. (1John 4:9, 10)

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. (John 3:16)

This God of love is eternal. Isaiah calls him “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity” (Isaiah 57:15). Habakkuk 3:6 declares that “his ways are everlasting.” God is also unchangeable. James 1:17 tells us that “his ways are everlasting,” and in Malachi 3:6 God plainly declares “I change not.”

The Bible teaches that this God of love brought forth a Son. In the book of Proverbs, we read these words concerning the Son of God:

The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth (Hebrew: begotten); when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth (begotten). (Proverbs 8:22-25)

Though speaking under the symbol of wisdom in Proverbs8, Ellen White declares that this is Jesus speaking (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34).

The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus is the “express image” of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus told Philip: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9), not that Jesus and the Father are the same person but that Jesus is exactly like God. When you see him, you see the exact likeness of God.

… we behold God in Jesus. Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give. “I do nothing of Myself,” said Christ; “the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father.” “I seek not Mine own glory,” but the glory of Him that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18. In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father’s life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all. And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life. (The Desire of Ages, p. 21).

Through the Son, all the blessings of God flow and through the Son they return to the great Source of all. The Father would bring all creation into being through his Son.

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him. (Colossians 1:15, 16)

Creation and Rebellion

Through Christ all creation would occur. But, if God is a God of love and one that values free will, there is a terrible risk in creation. Love can only abide in creatures of free will. Forced obedience or service cannot produce love and a God of love wanted love from his creatures. They must have the choice to love God and given a choice to love means that they also had a choice to not love him, even rebel against him. But God devised a plan in what the Bible calls, “The counsel of peace” (Zechariah 6:13). This council was “between them both.” The Hebrew word for both means two. This council between the Father and Son is referred to by Paul as “the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25). In this council, “Christ offered to stand as his [man’s] substitute and surety, in order to provide a way whereby the guilty race might return to loyalty” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, p. 239).

Inspiration does not tell us the identity of the very first creature, but it may have very well been Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12), whose name means “Bright Star.” God wanted Lucifer to be a light sharing God’s love throughout his creation. In one sweeping statement, Ellen White said that at one time Lucifer was both a cherub and and seraph: “He who was once a covering cherub remembers whence he has fallen. A shining seraph, ‘son of the morning.’” (The Great Controversy, p. 669). This speaking in past tense helps us to understand that the orders of cherub and seraph deal with function and not with the nature of angels. We are told of Lucifer’s creation:

Evil originated with Lucifer, who rebelled against the government of God. Before his fall he was a covering cherub, distinguished by his excellence. God made him good and beautiful, as near as possible like himself. (The Review and Herald, September 24, 1901; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

How can an infinite God put all of his creative ability into a finite creature? Nobody but God knows, yet this is what God did in his creation of Lucifer. Ezekiel states that he was “perfect” when created (Ezekiel 28:15). Yet, this once honored angel who was so highly exalted by God became the enemy of truth and righteousness. Ezekiel explains:

Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. … Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. (Ezekiel 28:15, 17)

Solomon stated, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25) Lucifer saw his beauty and wisdom and instead of glorifying God, the source of his gifts, he began to glorify himself and think he was good of himself. This change did not happen overnight. We are told that “little by little Lucifer came to indulge the desire for self-exaltation” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 35). This should be a lesson for humanity. The greatest of all creatures, one who had all of God’s creative ability, fell, but it was not in one moment that he went from being a light-bearer to an adversary (Satan) and an accuser (the devil); it was by little steps. Beloved, when temptation comes we are to resist it in the strength of Christ and cry out for help. While we are powerless of ourselves to resist the devil, we can choose to serve God and call upon the mighty power of Christ to come to our aid.

Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. (Steps to Christ, p. 47)

Satan went from serving God to one who wished to replace him: “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north” (Isaiah 14:13). This attitude is quite a contrast to Jesus, the Son of God, who is the express image of God (Hebrews 1:3). Philippians 2:6, 7 states:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

The Phillips translation renders these verses as:

For he, who had always been God by nature, did not cling to his privileges as God’s equal, but stripped himself of every advantage by consenting to be a slave by nature and being born a man.

Though Satan was the highest of all creatures, he was still a creature, and he strived for the place of the Creator. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, is far above any creature and was the agent of God in creation, yet he was willing to take humanity, the very slave nature, and be born as a man. He was willing to not elevate himself but to humble himself so he could elevate fallen humanity. This is the mind we are to have, as commanded in Philippians 2:5.

Christ and the loyal angels pleaded with Lucifer to humble himself and repent (Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 35, 36), but he finally gave himself over to total avowed rebellion. The servant was now the rebel. Jesus said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). He now became a murderer and liar. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).

To dispute the supremacy of the Son of God, thus impeaching the wisdom and love of the Creator, had become the purpose of this prince of angels. To this object he was about to bend the energies of that master mind, which, next to Christ’s, was first among the hosts of God. But He who would have the will of all His creatures free, left none unguarded to the bewildering sophistry by which rebellion would seek to justify itself. Before the great contest should open, all were to have a clear presentation of His will, whose wisdom and goodness were the spring of all their joy. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 36)

To impeach means to challenge or dispute the honesty or truthfulness of another. Yet God says he is “a God of truth” (Deuteronomy 32:4) and Jesus says that he is the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

This God of truth and love still had an appeal to Lucifer. Though Lucifer knew that God was right, pride forbade his return and that of the other angels.

Long was he retained in heaven. Again and again he was offered pardon on condition of repentance and submission. Such efforts as only infinite love and wisdom could devise were made to convince him of his error. The spirit of discontent had never before been known in heaven. Lucifer himself did not at first see whither he was drifting; he did not understand the real nature of his feelings. But as his dissatisfaction was proved to be without cause, Lucifer was convinced that he was in the wrong, that the divine claims were just, and that he ought to acknowledge them as such before all heaven. Had he done this, he might have saved himself and many angels. He had not at this time fully cast off his allegiance to God. Though he had forsaken his position as covering cherub, yet if he had been willing to return to God, acknowledging the Creator’s wisdom, and satisfied to fill the place appointed him in God’s great plan, he would have been reinstated in his office. But pride forbade him to submit. (The Great Controversy, p. 496)

Concerning the other fallen angels, we read:

But pride, love for their leader, and the desire for unrestricted freedom were permitted to bear sway, and the pleadings of divine love and mercy were finally rejected.” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 41)

What a lesson for us and how true is the word of God when it says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

War in Heaven

Lucifer was not content in heaven, but he refused to leave, and God had to act. The first war was in heaven:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan. (Revelation 12:7-9)

From the experience of Lucifer we learn an important principle: When you deny the truth you, will finally fight against the truth. Simple disagreement will not last.

Once Satan was in copartnership with God, Jesus Christ, and the holy angels. He was highly exalted in heaven and was radiant in light and glory that came to him from the Father and the Son, but he became disloyal and lost his high and holy position as covering cherub. He became the antagonist of God, an apostate, and was excluded from heaven. . . . He invited all the powers of evil to rally about his standard, in order to form a desperate companionship of evil to league against the God of heaven. He worked perseveringly and determinedly to perpetuate his rebellion, and to cause members of the human family to turn from Bible truth, and to stand under his banner. (Christ Triumphant, p. 10)

To the very close of the controversy in heaven the great usurper continued to justify himself. When it was announced that with all his sympathizers he must be expelled from the abodes of bliss, then the rebel leader boldly avowed his contempt for the Creator’s law. He reiterated his claim that angels needed no control, but should be left to follow their own will, which would ever guide them right. He denounced the divine statutes as a restriction of their liberty and declared that it was his purpose to secure the abolition of law; that, freed from this restraint, the hosts of heaven might enter upon a more exalted, more glorious state of existence. (The Great Controversy, p.499)

Satan first apposed God and his government and then fought against it. On Satan’s side were the disloyal angels and on the side of God and truth was Christ and his angels. Satan was cast out because the Creator is infinitely greater than the creature. I recently had a very tiny gnat light upon my arm and attempt to make a meal from my flesh. With one finger, I pushed down on him, squashing him to death. Afterward, I realized that God could have cast out Lucifer infinitely easier than my killing the gnat (from a physical sense), for God is the infinite Creator and Satan is the finite creature.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9)

The once beautiful Lucifer was now the serpent, the slanderer, and the adversary. The Greek word for “cast out” is ballo and simply means cast. It is translated “cast down” in Revelation 8:5. When Satan was cast out of heaven, he was cast down to the earth, but according the book of Job, Satan had what might be called “visiting privileges.”

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. (Job 1:6, 7)

The text says that he “came to present” himself. He did not live there at that time but had the ability, on God’s discretion, to visit. Revelation 12 speaks of a further casting down to the earth.

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. … And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. (Revelation 12:10, 13)

Until the cross, there were things, even in heaven, that were not totally clear in the minds of the loyal angels. Paul speaks of things, even in heaven, that had to be reconciled by the death of Jesus. “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20). At the cross, Satan was fully unmasked, and the universe clearly and sharply saw his true nature.

Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer await the angels as they came from the heavenly courts, and before them accuse Christ’s brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken. (The Desire of Ages, p. 761)

The scenes of the past and the future were presented to the mind of Jesus. [upon the return of the seventy.] He beheld Lucifer as he was first cast out from the heavenly places. He looked forward to the scenes of His own agony, when before all the worlds the character of the deceiver should be unveiled. (Ibid., p. 490)

The Controversy Moved to Earth

Satan quickly took up his war against God on this earth in the form of the serpent and beguiled Eve, and Adam followed suit (Genesis 3:1-6). The resulting fall was so devastating that man could not hope to resist the power of Satan or the fallen nature he now possessed. The Bible tells the condition of the carnal heart in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? We are all like lost sheep, and we are incapable of finding our way home.

The sinner is represented as a lost sheep, and a lost sheep never returns to the fold unless he is sought after and brought back to the fold by the shepherd. No man of himself can repent, and make himself worthy of the blessing of justification. (Notebook Leaflets, p. 21)

Man cannot even repent, but God’s great goodness and love leads to repentance (Romans 2:4). In fact, the Bible teaches that repentance is a gift:

Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31; see also 2Timothy 2:24-26.)

God’s goal in the plan of salvation is to see “the creature itself … delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

Through the counsel of peace, Christ becomes our daysman or mediator. When God said to Satan, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman” (Genesis 3:15) he was also saying that he would “put Christ between thee and woman.” Even before the fall of man, Christ had pledged himself to be surety for man.

The fall of man filled all heaven with sorrow. …Before the Father He pleaded in the sinner’s behalf, while the host of heaven awaited the result with an intensity of interest that words cannot express. Long continued was that mysterious communing– ‘the counsel of peace’ (Zechariah 6:13) for the fallen sons of men. The plan of salvation had been laid before the creation of the earth; for Christ is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8); yet it was a struggle, even with the King of the universe, to yield up His Son to die for the guilty race. But “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 63)

Jesus was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” As Ellen White puts it, “As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour” (The Desire of Ages, p. 210).

The instant man accepted the temptations of Satan, and did the very things God had said he should not do, Christ, the Son of God, stood between the living and the dead, saying, “Let the punishment fall on Me. I will stand in man’s place. He shall have another chance.” (The Faith I Live By, p. 75)

The war that began in heaven has been carried to this earth and the main battlefield is in your mind. The flesh tempted by Satan strives against your spirit, but if you will call upon Christ, a power mightier will strive within you and the same victory, the same triumph that the Son of God obtained in heaven can be obtained in your weak, fallen, sinful flesh because Jesus now lives within you. “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1John 4:4). “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

In Christ divinity and humanity were united, and the only way in which man may be an overcomer is through becoming a partaker of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Divinity and humanity are blended in him who has the spirit of Christ. (The Youth’s Instructor, June 30, 1892)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Corinthians 5:17). Christ’s triumph in heaven is complete as we become a partaker of the divine nature and become new creatures in Jesus Christ.

Jesus says that there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7). Jesus has died so that man may be saved not only from condemnation and the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin: “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

In Ephesians 1:6 Paul writes one of the most beautiful verses in all of Holy Scripture. He says, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Because of the amazing grace of God, we who were in rebellion are now accepted or, as the Greek can also be translated, “highly favored”! We who were “strangers and foreigners” are now “fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

Seventh–day Adventists have been highly favored to know the depths of the great controversy as no other people, to know God’s character and the gift of his Son and their desire for us to have a full and complete fellowship with them. Though we fight a mighty fallen foe, we have one infinitely mightier and greater who empowers us to have full and complete victory. Peter says you may cast “all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). God will have a people who, though assailed by the last great confederacy of evil will be “called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). May it be your decision to not follow your own ways or desires for self-exaltation but to “follow the [triumphant] Lamb whithersoever he goeth” (Revelation 14:4). Allen Stump


Observations from Marc Fury
on the West Virginia Camp Meeting
and Visiting the General Conference

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5: 11, 12).

As I write this, it has already been over two weeks since we all said “goodbye” at Atlanta. Hands were shaken, hugs were made, and tears were shed. Pastor Allen asked me to write a few words about all this experience for the readers of Old Paths, because he knows that his readers are blessed by personal testimonies of what took place either at the seminar, or at the outreach.

First of all, I must say that I didn’t attend the Smyrna Camp meeting for fun. This has been a personal calling from God to me, even if he used human instrumentalities to lead me to consider this mission trip. Having myself been blessed by all the dedication of others, I accepted to leave my wife and children for three weeks and to fly to the United States in order to join the believers at Smyrna.

During the first week, we were all blessed by a wonderful Christian fellowship and by deep spiritual messages of spirit-filled preachers. It was my humbling responsibility to share two of the messages, and I thank God for His goodness in providing for the words of life he intended me to speak. In the evenings, Pastor Allen shared four precious messages on Christ Triumphant from His pre-incarnation state to the glorious days of eternity, passing through all the stages of His birth, His ministry, His humiliation and resurrection.

On Friday we experienced a high moment of spiritual fellowship in partaking of the Lord’s Supper and in washing one another’s feet. It was been my joy to share this moment with our dear brother Joe, a brother I rapidly learned to appreciate through his musical talent.

On Sabbath we had a holy convocation with many blessings and thus, the camp meeting came to an end.

At the beginning of the second week, those of us who remained at Smyrna prepared for our trip to the General Conference at Atlanta. When I saw that God had some work for me in the office duplicating the DVDs, “Ellen G. White and the Truth about God,” I was very thankful to give a hand in that respect. Each one gave his all to be ready for the great day of our departure, which quickly arrived. Thus, Wednesday morning June the 23rd of this year, a crew of sixteen believers left the Smyrna facilities to fight the Lord’s battles in Atlanta.

In the evening of the same day we arrived at Georgia State University where our dorm rooms were waiting that God provided for us. Our God-given mission was to share several thousand pamphlets, booklets, and books to as many attendees of the General Conference as possible. This, by God’s grace, we were able to do with more or less difficulties through the next ten days. Many took the literature with thankful hearts, but after a few days the spirit of Satan begun to be felt. I can still remember one man who stood behind me for nearly half an hour, telling everyone he could that I was not a Seventh-day Adventist. When a person tried to understand, I asked him if James White and John Andrews were Seventh–day Adventists. He refused to answer and kept asking me if I believed as the General Conference. I told him that these men were former General Conference presidents and that if they were Seventh-day Adventists than I was also, since I believed as them. He kept harassing me for a while but finally left very angry, because God’s Holy Spirit prevented his behavior from discouraging me. I’m now very thankful for this trial, because it gave me an opportunity to defend my true Seventh-day Adventist identity, and to experience and understand how persecution will indeed come from our own former brethren.

In the meanwhile, we spent good moments together with all the members of our little crew; some of us had an opportunity to visit the Georgia Aquarium of Atlanta, and the morning worships and mealtimes were always blessed. Thus I can truly say that this experience has been a blessing, even if our hearts have been deeply saddened by the obvious apostasy of this God-called movement. As so often in this old world, the time to say goodbye finally arrived. Thanks to God, the joyous reunion of my dear family has made up for it. May God keep us and direct our paths toward the eternal Canaan. In the blessed hope.  Marc Fur


Let the Waters and the Earth Bring Forth
(Creation Series, Part 3)

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

Recently, many Adventists found themselves passing from the heat of spiritual discussions in their hometowns (over creation and other polarizing issues) to the door of the General Conference Session in Atlanta, Georgia, to gain insights from scientists and theologians alike on such topics of creation as the age of the earth and the life upon it, where the dinosaurs came from and why they disappeared, and reasons why evolution cannot be trusted.

In this small article, we wish to affirm, firstly, just what God has said — that everything which he made is very good. Most likely, all Seventh-day Adventist theologians and scientists can agree with such a statement, though when creation occurred and the process itself provides an open-ended forum for discussion. We also wish to affirm that even though a literalistic understanding of the biblical account of creation as recorded in Genesis has the potential of deeply dividing God’s people, we stand squarely and unmovably on the word of God. God spoke, God created, and it was done, in six literal, contiguous, twenty-four hour days. Scientific understanding has changed over millennia, but God’s word stands forever, just as sure and dependable today as it was when first given to the prophets, for “God is the source of all true knowledge” (Education, p.15).

Adam and Eve received [their] knowledge through direct communion with God; and they learned of Him through His works. All created things, in their original perfection, were an expression of the thought of God. To Adam and Eve nature was teeming with divine wisdom. But by transgression man was cut off from learning of God through direct communion and, to a great degree, through His works. The earth, marred and defiled by sin, reflects but dimly the Creator’s glory. It is true that His object lessons are not obliterated. Upon every page of the great volume of His created works may still be traced His handwriting. Nature still speaks of her Creator. Yet these revelations are partial and imperfect. And in our fallen state, with weakened powers and restricted vision, we are incapable of interpreting aright. We need the fuller revelation of Himself that God has given in His written word. (Ibid., pp. 15, 16; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

It is important to notice that God’s object lessons in nature have not been obliterated by sin, but they and other revelations of him are partial and imperfect. Our scientific knowledge about the process of and the time frame surrounding his creation are included in this group of partial revelations, for our weakened intellectual powers and our restricted vision make it impossible for us to grasp their complexities. It is certain that we do not have all the answers to the enigmas posed by the biblical account of creation, and this was recognized by many of the presenters at the Yes, Creation! seminars held during the recent General Conference Session in Atlanta. Nevertheless, we are counseled to move from the partial and imperfect observations we now obtain from the world of natural science to the fuller revelation of God found in his written word. If we do this and stand firmly on the word of God in all areas of life, even those areas wherein intelligent men’s thoughts veer away from the word of God, we will not make shipwreck of our faith. Instead, we will be found patiently waiting for the sweet school of heaven where, throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity, we will find answers to all of today’s and tomorrow’s perplexing questions.

It is interesting that though the Bible says that all that God has made is very good, some critics of intelligent design have cited as evidence of poor design the anatomy of the eye. These critics believe that the eye’s anatomical structure is actually inefficient and even does its work backwards from that which would make sense. Dr. David Ekkens, a professor of biology at Southern Adventist University, addresses this issue in his one of his classes like this:

I discuss the way the eye works, including details that these critics … may not be aware of. As light enters the eye, it passes through the cornea, aqueous humor, lens, and vitreous humor before finally hitting the retina, the light sensitive layer. There are 12 layers of retinal cells that the light passes through; the very back (outer) layer is the rods and cones. These cells convert light to nerve impulses that then reverse direction to the front surface of the retina. Here, nerve fibers pass along the inner surface of the retina and exit as the optic nerve. (Columns, Fall 2009, p. 17)

Critics view this process of light having to travel through the eyeball to hit the rods and cones in the back of the eyeball and then the nerve impulses having to reverse directions in order to be picked up and transferred to the brain as inefficient and clumsy. Dr. Ekkens continues:

But what some people fail to think about is that light is toxic; many free radicals are produced when light hits the rods and cones. Free radicals destroy cells if we don’t get them out of there. (Ibid.)

Dr. Ekkens then explains to his students that there is a layer just beyond the rods and cones that contains cells that “constantly remove the outer sections of the rods and cones, getting rid of the free radicals” (Ibid.)!

If the cells in the retina were oriented the other way (what some people consider the “right” way), free radicals would build up in the interior of the eye and wouldn’t likely be efficiently removed. Having the retinal receptors [the cells that help remove the free radicals] in front would not enable the essential process of cellular rejuvenation and removal of toxins.

So it turns out the eye is very efficiently designed, and we can forget about God not being a good engineer. The problem is with humans trying to understand God’s creation.

In all my classes, the students and I see design like this that shows tangible evidence of a Creator. (Ibid.)

Once again we say — all that God has made is very good!

On the fifth and sixth days of creation, we find God creating all that moves in the waters, all that flies in the open firmament of heaven, and all the creatures of the earth, including man. This is an astounding variety of life, but only two in this creation were made in the image of God:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26, 27)

There are only two other references in the Bible to the image of God and these are references to Jesus. Paul tells us in both Hebrews and 2 Corinthians that Jesus is the image of God:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2Corinthians 4:4)

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3)

And this Jesus “came to restore the moral image of God in man” (The Adventist Home, p. 99).

What is this image that was created in man?

When Adam came from the Creator’s hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. “God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27), and it was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image — the more fully reflect the glory of the Creator. All his faculties were capable of development; their capacity and vigor were continually to increase. Vast was the scope offered for their exercise, glorious the field opened to their research. The mysteries of the visible universe — the “wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16) — invited man’s study. Face-to-face, heart-to-heart communion with his Maker was his high privilege. Had he remained loyal to God, all this would have been his forever. Throughout eternal ages he would have continued to gain new treasures of knowledge, to discover fresh springs of happiness, and to obtain clearer and yet clearer conceptions of the wisdom, the power, and the love of God. More and more fully would he have fulfilled the object of his creation, more and more fully have reflected the Creator’s glory. (Education, p. 15; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

Through sin the divine likeness was marred, and well-nigh obliterated. Man’s physical powers were weakened, his mental capacity was lessened, his spiritual vision dimmed. He had become subject to death. Yet the race was not left without hope. By infinite love and mercy the plan of salvation had been devised, and a life of probation was granted. To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized–this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life.

Love, the basis of creation and of redemption, is the basis of true education. This is made plain in the law that God has given as the guide of life. The first and great commandment is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” Luke 10:27. To love Him, the infinite, the omniscient One, with the whole strength, and mind, and heart, means the highest development of every power. It means that in the whole being — the body, the mind, as well as the soul — the image of God is to be restored. (Ibid., pp. 15, 16).

In spite of the devastation of sin, God’s great love for us ever seeks to restore his lovely image in our lives.

The Bible says that “in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” (Exodus 20:11). That means everything in the heaven, everything in the sea, and everything in the earth (including the rocks) were made in six days, and, based upon biblical chronology, we know this occurred about six thousand years ago. There are Christian scientists today, however, who feel we cannot take God’s word as fact and teach it as such to our young people.

Science, rightly used and understood, is good and lovely. Our natural world, both animate and inanimate, comes directly from the hand of our heavenly Father and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Many vital discoveries have been obtained through the rigorous process of scientific investigation — discoveries in health, in the starry expanse, in the minute world of the microscope, among other things. The use of the scientific method to discover truth in areas that have no overriding “Thus saith the Lord” is not to be disparaged but to be encouraged, but a scientific investigation to substantiate something that God has already declared to be true is simply a protocol Satan uses to draw “intelligent” men and women into a seemingly logical study on a playing field that he controls.

Man’s first experience with one of Satan’s personal methods of so-called science occurred in the Garden of Eden. God had given his word, and no other documentation was needed, but Eve investigated to see if God’s word was so. After all, before her was the first talking serpent ever and a tree that appeared beautiful and abundantly worthwhile. I wonder, were it possible to replay that scene in the Garden of Eden today, whether or not we might be inclined to do as she did, for we have been trained to respect the scientific method and to use it to test whether or not something is true. We must always remember, however, that while we may test the words of men for their veracity, to subject God’s word to the scrutiny of scientific investigation is to impugn his character. In heaven, when Lucifer disputed the supremacy of the Son of God, he was actually impeaching the wisdom and love of the Father (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 36), and when we doubt the truthfulness of what God has said, we are, in reality, also denigrating his character of love.

We are not left, however, without hope and discernment in this world of chaos and confusion, for the mighty word of God is our anchor. If we patiently wait on the restoration of all things, we will finally know as we are known and we will be among those who throughout endless ages lift their voices in praise to our heavenly Father and to our Saviour, Jesus Christ, for their wonderful plan of salvation which recreates the image of God in our lives!  Onycha Holt


Report on the West Virginia Camp Meeting and the Visit to the 59th General Conference Session

As usual, the preparation for camp meeting this year was intense, and the more so, because some had to be mostly ready for the trip to the General Conference that would be just a few days after the camp meeting was ended.

God blessed us greatly during this busy time, as several faithful souls came to West Virginia early to give valuable help.

The weather before the camp meeting seemed to be a sign of a coming deluge. It rained much, flooding some of the lower surrounding areas. However, thankfully the sky was mostly rained out by camp meeting, and we actually had one of the driest camp meetings we have ever been blessed to experience.

The meetings were very interesting, and the theme of the camp meeting was Christ Triumphant. Pastor Allen Stump gave a series of four messages about the triumph of Christ throughout the great controversy theme. We were also blessed to have some first–time speakers with us. Brother Maurizio Esposito came from Italy. Brother Marc Fury came from France, and Brother Nadar Mansour came from Australia to share with us. All of these men shared testimonies and Scriptures that were instructive and encouraging.

Brother Elvis Alberto focused on the subject of “The School of the Prophets,” stating that we have been given a blueprint for schools and Christian training today. Pastor David Sims emphasized the need of working for the families and especially the need for dead–beat dads to take responsibility.

Brother Lynnford Beachy was here, and we enjoyed his detailed Bible presentations. We were sorry his family could not be with us this year.

On Friday morning we had communion, and it was a special time of renewal. As the Sabbath came in Friday night, we were certainly a blessed people.

Sabbath was surely a high day, with many blessings, including the health panel discussion in the afternoon. This favorite item, which we began last year, had Dr. Glenn Waite, Jim Raymond, Elvis Alberto, and David Sims answer questions on health from the congregation. Several questions were asked, and a wide range of information was then shared by the panelists.

Our usual set of ladies teaching the youth classes, Sandy McCrillis, Janet Cox, and Elaine Nailing, did a super job. We at SGM extend many thanks to these special ladies. Brother Nadar Mansour and his wife, Natasha, led out with our young adults, and together they were a great team.

Instead of our usual bonfire on Saturday night, we decided that the solemnity of the camp meeting would be better kept if we did not close with a festive gathering as the bonfire usually becomes. So we moved bonfire to Thursday night, and it seemed equally enjoyable to the young and old alike!

This year we were graced with some really special music and singing. The children provided a bell choir, as usual, and that was certainly exceptional, but perhaps the musical highlight was the attendance of Brother Joe Ryan, who brought bag pipes, violin, viola, guitar, a bass, and other instruments with which to bless us. Awakening to “Amazing Grace” played upon the bag pipes was hard for even the latest sleepers to argue about. Brother Marc Fury brought his wooden flute which he played solo and with Sister Mansour as she played her metal flute for a beautiful harmony.

We had two new activities at camp meeting this year that were very well–received. The first new activity was a health fair, conducted with the leadership of Sister Elaine Nailing and Brother Todd and Sister Rhonda Brown. The health fair was scheduled on Thursday, and a large crew loaded into cars and vans to drive to nearby Welch, only to find our road was blocked by a truck that could not move. After waiting for several minutes, Sister Elaine and Brother Todd began to feel that it was reaching a crisis! The fair had been advertised and we knew people would be expecting us there and now the road was blocked, or so it seemed. After prayer, Todd (whose visual acuity is challenged) eyed up the pathway at the edge of the road and decided that the cars just might be able to squeeze through. The first vehicle got through and the rest quickly followed. Though late, the crew was on its way. Upon arriving, they found people anxiously waiting. At the health fair, the people received blood pressure tests, health screenings, and more. About fifty local folks attended the fair and most found it helpful, with some requesting further information. Those who attended from the camp meeting were greatly blessed also, as they learned the great truth that “the liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Proverbs 11:25).

The second special activity was the new nature center that was prepared in the basement of Granny Ann’s house. Last spring Granny Ann renovated her basement and fixed it up so we could have a nature center in it. On display were several mounted wild animals such as fox, coyote, deer, plus snake skins and a few live friends as well! In connection with the nature center, we had a presentation by the Three Rivers Avian Center with several birds of prey. Ron and Wendy gave a wonderful presentation with several of their feathered friends who came with them from the Avian center due to injuries that prohibit them from being able to live in the wild.

Saturday night and Sunday morning were difficult times, as most had to say good bye. It reminded us of the Jews who, after AD 70, were displaced from Jerusalem for almost two thousand years. For centuries they would end the Passover by saying prayerfully, “Next year in Jerusalem.” We would pray, “Next year in the New Jerusalem.”

For those not able to attend, we hope to make the recordings available as soon as possible. We have the Part 1 and Part 2 from Pastor Stump’s series, “Christ Triumphant,” now available in DVD and audio CD format. We hope to make the others available within the next few months.

For some of the believers, the end of camp meeting did not signal the need to say goodbye just yet. A team of sixteen went to Atlanta for the eleven-day General Conference session held at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC). After the camp meeting, we had three days to clean up and get packed for the 59th General Conference Session in Atlanta, Georgia.

Our plans included passing out literature and visiting with as many attendees as possible, as well as attending as many meetings as we were able so we could attempt to read the current pulse of the church.

Sister Onycha Holt attended almost all the general sessions within the Georgia Dome, and we hope to present a report next month as an overview of the sessions. Most of the rest of the believers were at different access points, distributing literature and talking with all who were interested. A few of the team concentrated on keeping the troops fed and getting the supplies needed for each day.

Pastor Stump visited the GWCC last November to see if the area was considered public property and if there would be issues passing out literature there. After talking with the chief of security, we found out that the GWCC was owned by the state of Georgia and was not open for public demonstration or literature distributions except by permit only. However, the captain assured Pastor Stump that Smyrna would be given a permit. In fact, according to the captain, in all the history of the GWCC nobody had ever been denied a permit. Pastor Stump was assured that four or five key areas would be allotted to Smyrna for literature distribution, including the bus pick-up area.

Pastor Stump was informed that protocol required the General Conference to be informed of anyone wishing to “protest” but that would not make any difference concerning receiving a permit.

To make the longer story short, instead of receiving a permit for twenty–five to forty people at five locations as we requested, we received a permit for ten people at one location that was so isolated from where people were coming in that we began to call it Siberia! It was clear that the corporate church had leaned heavily upon security, for when I went to the main offices to discuss the broken promises with the police I was simply told “these people have paid a lot of money, millions of dollars to rent this place, and they do not want you here.”

But God helped us to find public access points, such as street corners leading up to the GWCC and nearby subway stations, where we could still contact many of the delegates. Sadly though, thousands and thousands traveled by buses and in cars to the GWCC and stopped or parked in areas that were off limits to us.

As is usual at a General Conference, the Sabbaths were the days of the largest attendance, and our opportunity to pass out literature was blessed with the distribution of thousands of booklets and pamphlets on those days. We encountered many different kinds of people from many countries. Some gladly took the literature and some scorned us. Some people asked why we were not inside sharing the literature or did not have a booth in the exhibition center. We told them that we had applied for a booth on the first day that applications were accepted. The General Conference cashed our check but later sent us a replacement check with a notice that our request for a booth had been denied, but we were given no explanation for why our application was rejected. Yet, space was granted to secular corporations such as Canon, Staples, Office Depot, and others. Space was granted to sell comic books and about anything you can imagine!

We began our mission of passing out literature on the opening night (Wednesday). On Thursday morning, an announcement was made during the first business session that the devil was angry with what the church was doing! The The attendees were told that there were people outside passing out literature (and we were the only ones passing out literature at that time) and that they should have nothing to do with them or their literature. The delegates were told to pass by them and to not speak to them. Beloved, we condemn the Catholic system of supplying an imprimatur upon their literature, but this is exactly the same thing in principle, the idea being “We will determine for you what is safe to read and what is not safe to read.” No doubt this announcement had its effect upon some people, but praise the Lord not all. Some were very glad to receive the materials and were willing to speak to us and ask questions.

Some of the attendees confused us with the Shepherd’s Rod organization and that became more of a problem as time went on, for the Shepherd’s Rod later came in strong force to pass out literature. At times, these people were simply rude to us and gave our people a difficult time. Sometimes seven or eight would come to a street corner where we had someone stationed passing out literature and surround that person in a way to make access difficult for the attendees to even see our person. But God helped us to maintain a Christ-like bearing despite these challenges, and by the end of the session we had passed out all the English literature (about fifty cases) we had brought and five extra cases of literature that had been sent to us from our brethren in Alabama.

As many know by now, Ted Wilson was elected president of the General Conference. He is the son of retired President Neal C. Wilson. Time and space do not allow us to write on his election nor on what might be expected from his presidency, but we hope to begin writing on this next month. What we can quickly say is that, to most appearances, Wilson is conservative and is willing to call upon the conservative members of the church to accomplish his agenda.

Inside the Georgia Dome the atmosphere was certainly nothing like a sanctuary. The preaching was very shallow and superficial, with no real meat. The last two hours of the session during what is called “The Parade of Nations” could only be described as an abomination and a trampling down of the Sabbath. Groups of people were loudly clapping, cheering and screaming as representatives from their countries appeared on stage carrying their national flag and wearing representative national dress. (Interestingly, the General Conference Program Book, p. 8, noted that clapping was an appropriate response for the worship and business sessions.) Videos that had been prepared by each division were played while the delegates marched out. All were set to heavily syncopated music.

I thought of many stories of faithful believers who went to prison or died because they would not work on the Sabbath and violate God’s holy commandment. Yet here were nearly 70,000 attendees acting like they were at a worldly party. Where was the leadership of the church? Some of them were up front announcing the different countries as the representatives came out. What a chance for Elder Wilson to come onto the platform and call for an end to such worldliness, but neither he nor anyone else was willing to put their foot down and demand that changes be made. Only God knows if such an action would have made a difference, but at least their blood would not have been upon his head. As I saw and heard the people expressing their enthusiasm, I thought of the text “and my people love to have it so” (Jeremiah 5:31).

Ellen White wrote of an “Impressive Dream” she had while at Battle Creek in August, 1868. In this dream she started out with a large crowd on a journey. As the group began to travel the road ascended and became narrower. Those traveling had to first abandon their wagons, then their goods, and then their horses due to the path becoming narrower. At this point she says, “small cords were let down from the top of the pure white wall; these we eagerly grasped, to aid us in keeping our balance upon the path. As we traveled, the cord moved along with us” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 595). Later their shoes and then stockings were removed in an effort to maintain footing. She then wrote:

We then thought of those who had not accustomed themselves to privations and hardships. Where were such now? They were not in the company. At every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only made these more eager to press on to the end.

Our danger of falling from the pathway increased. We pressed close to the white wall, yet could not place our feet fully upon the path, for it was too narrow. We then suspended nearly our whole weight upon the cords, exclaiming: “We have hold from above! We have hold from above!” The same words were uttered by all the company in the narrow pathway. As we heard the sounds of mirth and revelry that seemed to come from the abyss below, we shuddered. We heard the profane oath, the vulgar jest, and low, vile songs. We heard the war song and the dance song. We heard instrumental music and loud laughter, mingled with cursing and cries of anguish and bitter wailing, and were more anxious than ever to keep upon the narrow, difficult pathway. (Ibid., pp. 595, 596)

This description is terribly accurate to what we heard at the session. As some attempted to pass out literature, they were cursed and shown vulgar jests. The music at General Conference Sessionwas certainly dance–like at times. In fact, some of the presentations had rock–type music choreographed with dance movements that were preformed on the platform (stage). Interestingly, Ted Wilson was the chairman of the Music Committee for this General Conference Session.

Like Ellen White, experiencing these things certainly made us “more anxious than ever to keep upon the narrow, difficult pathway.”

We certainly need to pray for the dear, deceived souls who think that in all of the cheering, clapping, and shouting God is pleased and blessing the revelry. One brother remarked after the Parade of Nations, “I thought several years ago that the Adventist Church had sunk as low as it could go, but I learned tonight I was wrong.”

The next General Conference Session will be held at San Antonia, Texas, in 2015, if time should last. If time does last, may God have pity upon his people. Please pray for those who received literature or a DVD might accept the present truth necessary for this time.  Allen Stump


Prayer Requests

Though the date was not set early enough to have an announcement in the July issue of Old Paths, the Pacific Virtual Church is having a family camp meeting in Lookout, California, August 4-8. We solicit your prayers for this gathering.

Please continue to remember Brother Aland Ashton in Peru as he continues to battle health issues.

We also would like to continue praying for Renee Ford, Granny Ann’s great granddaughter who has been battling serious health issues.

As the first article states, Satan is especially angry and attempting to deceive God’s people in any way he can. Let us pray for the outcast remnant that they will not be deceived by the many miracles that are really the work of Satanic forces.

Please also ask God to bless the people who took the literature at the General Conference from us that they will open their minds and their hearts to receive truth and follow it.


Youth’s Corner —Finding Bethel

Our story this month is about Pastor Ross, a missionary in Central America during the early 1900s. At the time of our story, he was living in Panama, and one day he received a notice from his supervisor to travel to Bethel to share the word of God with the people there. Pastor Ross was told to go to the dock and a boat would pick him up and take him to Bethel. At this time in Panama, there were no motor boats. All the boats were canoes of varying sizes, and from the dock, Pastor Ross watched them come and go. No one, it seemed had ever heard of Bethel, let alone was going there! Bethel wasn’t even on any map!

By now, Pastor Ross was beginning to get a little concerned because the traffic at the dock was thinning out, and still nobody knew anything about a boat going to Bethel. While he was standing on the dock waiting and watching, he saw a t–i–n–y canoe heading his way, with two people in the canoe, a man in the front and a man in the back. They were smiling broadly and waving at him (remember, he was an American and easily distinguished from all the Panamanians around him). The first man hopped out of the canoe onto the dock and said happily, “We are going to Bethel, and you must be Pastor Ross!” And Pastor Ross said, “Yes,” eyeing the little canoe skeptically. He was not eager to get into such a little, tiny dugout canoe, and go off to a place that until now no one had ever heard of. But the man from the front hopped back in and said cheerfully, “You need to get in now,” and the man in the back smiled again from ear–to–ear and held up four fingers, saying, “Brother, meeting at 4, we go!” So Pastor Ross gingerly stepped into the canoe, holding his one piece of luggage, and carefully sat down. He positioned his luggage at his feet and then securely grasped the gunnels and not a moment too soon! Off they flew! It felt as if Pastor Ross was almost surfing a wave, they were moving so fast! Water was nearly up to the edge of the canoe and often sprayed in his face, as the expert paddlers speedily made their way to Bethel. They were happy to be taking a preacher to “their” Bethel, and even though it was fourteen miles up river, they leaned into their strokes with earnestness and swiftly propelled their boat toward home.

Well, after a few hours of this persevering travel, they arrived at Bethel, and do you know what Pastor Ross found? One building! Bethel was just one building built on long poles standing out of the water. That was Bethel. There were no houses nearby, there was no village, and there were not even any people to be seen or heard. Bethel was a church surrounded by dense jungle and a maze of waterways! The men paddled up the dock and very musically said, “It is time to get out!” So Pastor Ross stepped out onto the porch–like dock built around Bethel. The sweet brothers who had worked so hard to bring him to Bethel said, “We will see you later. We have to go home and get our families.” And off they paddled, leaving Pastor Ross all by himself in an isolated place that was not on anybody’s map. Baboons loudly called in the trees and jungle around him, and birds made strange chattering, squawking sounds. Very close by, Pastor Ross even heard the body of a large crocodile slide into the water. It was just Pastor Ross and Bethel, but he was not afraid because he knew he really was not alone! He was there on God’s business, and God has promised never to leave his children alone.

After a while, Pastor Ross noticed another canoe in the distance, and it seemed to be heading his way. Before long, a friendly voice said, “Are you thirsty?” And Pastor Ross looked down into the smiling face of a man in another small dugout canoe, and Pastor Ross was very thirsty, for he had had nothing to drink since he had left his hometown dock earlier that day. So his new–found friend cracked open two coconuts and shared the sweet coconut water from them with him and then said, “See you later! Have to go get my children!” And he was off like a flash.

Once again Pastor Ross seemed to be alone among the strange jungle noises around Bethel, but, by and by, another canoe approached him and in this canoe were a mother and her teenage son. This time, Pastor Ross heard, “Are you hungry?” And he said, “Yes, I am very hungry.” Up was passed a basket of food! And then with a smile and a wave, they said, “Goodbye! We’ll be back; we are coming back. Don’t worry.” And off they went, like a streak across the water, and Pastor Ross was left alone again.

Then a sweet, new sound fell on Pastor Ross’ ears and awakened him from a short rest. People were singing, “On a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross.” He looked out and, sure enough, many canoes were headed his way! And everyone was sweetly and happily singing! It was 4 o’clock, and people from all the nooks and crannies of the river were coming out to Bethel, a thatched-roofed, open-sided church where the word of God was going to be preached! And Pastor Ross had the great privilege of telling a people who could not read for themselves more about the great love of God for sinners like us.

When the service was over, the people started singing “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds,” but nobody left! And their leader said, “Oh, we want you to preach again,” and even though it was getting dusk outside, Pastor Ross taught the people more lessons from the word of God. When he was finished, the people again sang “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds,” and this time they did leave for home, and Pastor Ross found himself in another tiny canoe that skillfully made its way over the black waters to a home hidden among the trees.

Bethel, though isolated and not found on any map, was a sweet place where God’s people met to worship him. A few Sabbaths ago, another group of people gathered for Sabbath worship, a group of more than seventy thousand people. There were music and smiles at this gathering also. The word of God was even opened and presented in sermon, but before we consider further details of this Sabbath gathering, let me share with you what we studied in our Youth Sabbath School class a few Sabbaths ago.

In August 1868, 142 years ago this very month, Ellen White was given an important dream. In this dream, she was on a journey with a group of people. They traveled with heavily–loaded wagons. On one side of the road was a deep precipice, and on the other side was a high white wall, and as they journeyed, the road became progressively narrower and steeper. At first the wagons were left behind because of the severe road conditions, then the luggage carried by the horses was set aside, then the horses themselves were released, and finally the people shed first their shoes and then their socks in order to travel more safely. The path became so narrow that there was even no longer room to place their feet fully on the path. Cords, however, were let down from the white wall that the people held onto for support.

There was much hardship and privation on this pathway, and whenever a change was made along the way, some people left the group. Added to the distress of the journey were the sounds from the valley below, sounds of much mirth, revelry, and loud laughter. Also heard were sounds of dance music and jesting, but all these vile sounds only made those on the narrow pathway more determined to stay on their difficult pathway. Finally, their journey ended in safety.

A few Sabbaths ago, seventy thousand people gathered from many nations to worship God, just like on a smaller scale when many canoes gathered from many isolated homes and villages along the river inlets to a little chapel on the water, but the sweet hymns of Bethel were rarely, if ever, heard in this large gathering. Instead, even before the sacred hours of the Sabbath had ended, revelry, mirth, loud laughter, and music suited for a dance reverberated in a stadium filled with proclaimed recipients of God’s grace.

It might seem like wonderful things are happening in the valley, that interesting things are occurring and happiness abounds, but let us always remember that “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity” dwells with him “that is of a contrite and humble spirit” (Isaiah 57:15). Let us hold onto the cord of faith that God provides us and not be deterred from the pathway that leads to heaven, though it be narrow and steep and full of hardship, for heaven will be worth it all!  Onycha Holt


Living a Long Life

“And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2Timothy 2:5).

There is a power we can possess in our battle with sin that is present only when our physical beings are in harmony with the laws that govern them. Ellen White connects this harmony with the concept of striving lawfully that Paul mentions in 2 Timothy 2:5:

A man may make earnest efforts to overcome, while he is not in possession of the physical, mental, and moral power which he might possess were he brought into harmony with the laws which govern his being (Review and Herald, October 18, 1881; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise stated).

Without this power, we are sure to fail in our efforts to overcome, and when failure happens often enough, we will begin to question our spiritual experience and may even become discouraged and downhearted. Sister White continues on this theme:

If through selfish indulgence he is an intemperate man, every organ in his body becomes enfeebled [the loss of physical power], and he is robbed of mental and moral power. He is not striving lawfully. He is not laying aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets. Every law governing the human system is to be strictly regarded; for it is as truly a law of God as is the word of Holy Writ; and every willful deviation from obedience to this law is as certainly sin as a violation of the moral law. All nature expresses the law of God, but in our physical structure Jehovah has written his law with his own finger upon every thrilling nerve, upon every living fiber, and upon every organ of the body. We shall suffer loss and defeat, if we step out of nature’s path, which God himself has marked out, into one of our own devising. (Ibid.)

Understanding how we suffer loss and defeat is vitally important at this time, for we hear on every hand that God’s people will continue to sin until Jesus comes.

We must strive lawfully, if we would win the boon of eternal life. The path is wide enough, and all who run the race may win the prize. If we create unnatural appetites, and indulge them in any degree, we violate nature’s laws, and enfeebled physical, mental, and moral conditions will result. We are hence unfitted for that persevering, energetic, and hopeful effort which we might have made had we been true to nature’s laws. If we injure a single organ of the body, we rob God of the service we might render to him. (Ibid.)

Striving lawfully means that we do not break nature’s laws of physical, mental, and moral health, but the reality is that all of us have striven, at one time or the other, unlawfully (Romans 3:23), whether intentionally or not, for none of us has overcome every wrong habit and every sinful indulgence all at the same time. God leads us step–by–step along the Christian pathway, and our sanctification is the work of a lifetime. As a pitying and understanding Father, God continues, as it were, to lovingly bend over us, tie our shoes, and send us on our way, pointing out the best path to take; and he does this new for us every morning. “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22, 23). Under the umbrella of God’s mercy, we are to be ever growing in grace and ever setting aside those things that beset us. I dare say that one of the main reasons most Christians believe and teach that God’s people will be sinning until Jesus comes is that they are not willing to bring their lives into harmony with not only the moral law of God, but also with the physical laws of our being.

Which brings us to our health study for this month — living a long life, a life many of us hope continues unto the second coming of Jesus and beyond! In his book, Proof Positive, Dr. Neil Nedley has questioned why people often take better care of their cars than they do of their bodies. After all, we usually change the oil in our cars regularly and use the proper fuel. We try to keep the car mechanically operable and often like to see it look nice. We are careful when we drive over rough terrain and proceed with caution under the extremes of weather. We realize that proper care tends to extend the life of an automobile. And it is the same with us. Even though we may be genetically predisposed to certain types of diseases, Dr. Nedley says our lifestyle choices can forestall and even prevent the development of disease.

The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that the ten leading causes of death in the United States in 2007 were heart disease (616,067 deaths), cancer (562,875), stroke (135,952), chronic lower respiratory diseases (127,924), accidents (123,706), Alzheimer’s disease (74,632), diabetes (71,382), influenza and pneumonia (52,717), kidney-related diseases (46,448), and septicemia (35,828). Many of these diseases are affected by our habits of life, such as what we eat, whether or not we use tobacco and alcohol, the way we utilize motor vehicles, firearms, and drugs, in addition to other lifestyle behaviors. One longevity study by Drs. Bellow and Breslow revealed the following seven lifestyle factors wield a major impact on the length of life: Sleeping for seven to eight hours, no eating between meals, eating breakfast on a regular basis, maintaining proper weight, exercising regularly, no use (or a moderate use) of alcohol, and no smoking.

A few months ago, we studied the use of melatonin and the need of proper sleep, and we have covered the richness and benefits of healthy nutrition in months past. We hope to address heart disease, cancer, and other health-related issues in the future, but for now let us focus on the benefits of a eating a regular breakfast as one means of improving mental, physical, and moral health.

Did you know that those in the 60 to 94-year-old age bracket who do not eat breakfast on a regular basis have a fifty percent increased risk of death when compared to those in the same age group who do eat a regular breakfast? In this particular study of older Americans, long life was as dependent on eating a good breakfast as it was on not smoking and on getting regular physical exercise!

Some say, however, they are not hungry in the morning and that is why they do not eat breakfast, but this is usually because they have eaten a full meal the evening before. It would be far better to eat lightly in the evening and be hungry for breakfast in the morning than to skip breakfast altogether.

When we lie down to rest, the stomach should have its work all done, that it, as well as the other organs of the body, may enjoy rest. For persons of sedentary habits late suppers are particularly harmful. With them the disturbance created is often the beginning of disease that ends in death. (Child Guidance, p. 390)

Others say they skip breakfast to keep from gaining weight, but, again, it is far better health-wise to include a good breakfast in a weight-reduction program than to do without breakfast in the hopes of losing weight. In fact, one doctor referred to by Dr. Nedley advised his patients who wished to lose weight to simply change their meal pattern from a heavy meal in the evening to a heavy meal in the morning, along with a moderate lunch and a light meal in the evening, and all patients who followed his advice lost weight. They were not asked to change their food choices or the amount of calories they consumed, but they were instructed to eat their last meal ideally by noon but by no means later than 3 p.m. and to not go to sleep for at least eight and a half hours after the last intake of food. Additional benefits of following this meal pattern change were improved blood hemoglobin, reduced blood sugar, and improved thyroid function.

In 1884, Ellen White counseled:

It is the custom and order of society to take a slight breakfast. But this is not the best way to treat the stomach. At breakfast time the stomach is in a better condition to take care of more food than at the second or third meal of the day. The habit of eating a sparing breakfast and a large dinner is wrong. Make your breakfast correspond more nearly to the heartiest meal of the day. (Ibid.)

Eating a regular breakfast has also been found to reduce the risk of heart attack. Platelets, the body’s blood clotting cells, are stickier in the morning before breakfast. This increases the tendency for a blood clot to form during the morning hours, and if such a clot occurred in a heart blood vessel, a heart attack could result. Therefore, as one might expect, most heart attacks occur between 7 a.m. and 12 noon. Science News reported in 1991 that eating breakfast can help the platelets become less sticky and that without a breakfast the possible heart attack risk may be elevated for two to three hours after waking.

Eating a good breakfast also improves our mental acuity. Educators have long known that students who eat a good breakfast before starting their school day do better in their studies and in testing. This benefit is not limited to young people alone, however. Research has demonstrated that eating breakfast improves learning, memory, and physical well–being in both children and adults and is essential for maximum mental and physical efficiency, as well as for improved attitude and scholastic performance. In addition, eating breakfast also increases one’s verbal fluency and attention span.

If eating breakfast could be bottled as a medication, it would truly be a “wonder drug!” So, why not skip that late–night supper tonight and start tomorrow with a good, healthy, substantial breakfast in the morning instead?! By doing so on a regular basis, you will not only be helping to lengthen your life, but you will also be one step closer to striving lawfully, as both the Apostle Paul and Ellen White advise.

Onycha Holt

(Some health concepts adapted from Proof Positive by Neil Nedley)


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 - E-mail: editor@smyrna.org.
Associate Editor: Onycha Holt - E-mail Onycha@smyrna.org

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This page was last updated: Sunday, May 26, 2013