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. 22, No. 5 Straight and Narrow May 2013
This month’s articles:
A Tactical Briefing
The Bitterness of Sugar
The Protestant Reformation: Martin Luther part 2
West Virginia Camp Meeting
Video on Christian Politics
A Tactical Briefing
By David Sims
You and I are in warfare. Sometimes when things go easy and the battle is not strong at the moment, we forget that we are in a war, and it is vital that we know the tactics of the enemy, to understand and to know his methods and his movements.
In Genesis chapter 3 we read about the serpent that deceived Eve. This serpent was the agency that led this world into sin. Let’s take a closer look at the story of Genesis 3. It first tells us that the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field. This is not to give us a biology lesson or a zoology session; it is not given to us to teach us about the serpent, but rather to teach us about what the serpent symbolizes in the scriptures and to teach us about our great enemy, the devil. The serpent said unto the women, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden” (Genesis 3:1)?
We first of all find that Satan presents the question to Eve in an incredulous manner, in a way that will cause her to question either the truthfulness of the command or the reason behind it.
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:2–5)
It gets interesting that the Greek word for serpent,ophis is from optanomai which means to see, and by implication this word has the connotation to perceive, to understand, and it may very well be the knowledge of good and evil which came through the agency of the serpent caused this connection between the phrase to see and the word serpent. I am referring to the word that is found in the Greek and this same word is used in the LXX version of Genesis 3:1. Through the agency of the serpent, the knowledge of the good mingled or mixed with evil came to humanity. God, however, only intended for us to have the knowledge of good.
The Greek word for dragon in the New Testament is Iis drakon. It is used in such places as Revelation 12:9: 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. According to Strongs Greek Dictionary, drakon also has a connection with another word which means to see.
The idea of seeing, perceiving, or understanding gives us the idea of wisdom and subtlety. Genesis 3:1 brings out this idea of the subtlety of the serpent, the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field.” And this is the description we find of Lucifer in Ezekiel 28:17: “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.” Lucifer was the anointed cherub (v. 14). God created Lucifer perfect in all his ways, (v.15). Lucifer was a being of great beauty and wisdom, but he used this wisdom and his talents to glorify himself, and he perverted these gifts and turned them against his creator.
In looking at the tactics which Satan uses against us, it’s helpful to understand the reasons for his own fall because we are going to see a similarity between the things that caused Lucifer’s fall and the things he brings to bear against us in his attempt to cause us to fall.
Returning to the story of Genesis 3, it was the serpent that was the agency which Satan used to deceive mankind and cause man to fall. In verses 13 and 14 we find God speaking to the serpent, as if it was an intelligent being with a moral quality including the ability to choose right and wrong.
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:13–15)
We see in verse 15 that God is speaking in spiritual terms, personifying the serpent. The Bible is using the serpent as a symbol for Satan because it was, indeed, Satan who was using the agency of the serpent, and the qualities of the serpent, being subtle and wise, are an apt description of our great enemy. He is not dumb, or one whom we may take lightly. We must realize that we are in a terrible battle. Paul says,
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:10–12)
God warns us here that we need to be specially fitted and prepared because we do not have an ordinary foe. We have a foe that is mightier than we are, and we need the power and the armor of God to withstand his attacks. Notice Paul speaks of the wiles of the devil—the sly, deceptive, and sneaky attacks of the devil.
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. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
The Apostle Paul realized that there was a danger that the Corinthians would be beguiled and under-handedly deceived. They would be overcome by underhanded means. It is one thing when an enemy comes to you displaying his weapons; at least you know you are up against an enemy. At least we know who the enemy is and what the enemy plans to do. It is another thing entirely when your friend comes up to give you a hug and a kiss and then stabs you in the back.
Satan worked subtly through the serpent against Eve, and he is using very similar tactics today.
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. (2 Corinthians 11:13, 14)
How often we have been ready to espouse the cause of “an angel of light,” to espouse the cause of an apparent good cause, the cause of someone professing to be very spiritual and very missionary-minded? In reality, however, they have merely been in the appearance of an angel of light, when they were not in the 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” (2 Corinthians 11:15).
Now let us go back and examine some of Satan’s methods in a little more detail. In Genesis 3:4 we read, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die.” God had warned that they would die. Satan comes with a more flattering idea, “You will not die. You can’t die! You are full of life and energy. Look at your health, what could possibly cause you to die? In fact, who is to say that there is such a thing as death? Have you ever seen such a thing as even a leaf die? Much less can you die?”
Notice in verse 5 the insinuation of flattering thoughts, as Satan continues: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The praise was extended to Eve that she would be worth far more than for which she was given credit. She ought to have an exalted station in life, one far above her present existence. She should be like God; after all, didn’t she have wisdom? Didn’t she have many powers of perception, understanding, wisdom, and strength? All she needed was to be able to eat from this fruit and she would be as God. Satan came with flattery making her feel good, giving her ideas and propositions that would exalt her. He made Eve feel that somehow she had been snubbed by God. Something had been withheld from her—the knowledge of good and evil—and according to the serpent, that wasn’t right.
Satan, in effect, came to Eve to give her that which God had withheld from her. We see Satan’s ministers using the same tactics today. They promise to give us things if we merely transgress the law of God. Satan holds out to people the offer that if they will merely transgress God’s law just once that they will obtain great good. Eve turned from the generous offer that God had extended to her, and she took a huge risk of losing all by giving into the flattery with which Satan induced her and the promises he held out to her of obtaining a higher sphere and of even more.
Eve had the whole world—everything that her eyes beheld was hers—but she wanted more and instead lost all! In Genesis 4 we find Satan once again employing his arts against mankind. Abel, following the command of God, brought an offering to the gate of the Garden of Eden, and he offered there a lamb, representing a purity that he could not give, representing the free gift of righteousness. Cain, on the other hand, brought a symbol of his own work, a symbol of his hands and what he could offer. Satan inspires people today with self-righteousness, with gifts that they deem ought to be acceptable to God, rather than accepting the gift that God has given.
The ways and means that Satan used is reminiscent of his own fall which we read about in Isaiah 14:12–14:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 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: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Satan was not satisfied with the position which God had given him; he wanted a higher position. He wanted more power, fame, glory, and more of everything! In grasping for this and in his attempt to come out from under the control of God and trying to obtain to a higher sphere of existence, he fell to the lowest depths and shall be, as Isaiah notes: Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms” (vs. 15, 16).
Beginning on page 337 of the book The Spirit of Prophecy, volume 4, is a chapter entitled “The Snares of Satan.” This chapter enlightens us with Satan’s battle plans:
As the people of God approach the perils of the last days [that’s us] , Satan holds earnest consultation with his angels as to the most successful plan of overthrowing their faith. He sees that the popular churches are already lulled to sleep by his deceptive power. By pleasing sophistry and lying wonders he can continue to hold them under his control. Therefore he directs his angels to lay their snares especially for those who are looking for the second advent of Christ [that’s us], and endeavoring to keep all the commandments of God.
Says the great deceiver: “We must watch those who are calling the attention of the people to the Sabbath of Jehovah; they will lead many to see the claims of the law of God; and the same light which reveals the true Sabbath, reveals also the ministration of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, and shows that the last work for man’s salvation is now going forward. Hold the minds of the people in darkness till that work is ended, and we shall secure the world and the church also.
The Sabbath is the great question which is to decide the destiny of souls. We must exalt the Sabbath of our creating. We have caused it to be accepted by both worldlings and church-members; now the church must be led to unite with the world in its support. We must work by signs and wonders to blind their eyes to the truth, and lead them to lay aside reason and the fear of God, and follow custom and tradition. (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, pp. 337, 338)
These are the words of Satan, and he says that he is going to work by signs and wonders to blind the eyes of the people of God to the truth, so that they may lay aside reason and the fear of God and in their place substitute custom and tradition.
I will influence popular ministers to turn the attention of their hearers from the commandments of God. That which the Scriptures declare to be a perfect law of liberty shall be represented as a yoke of bondage. The people accept their ministers explanations of Scripture, and do not investigate for themselves. Therefore by working through the ministers, I can control the people according to my will. (Ibid., p. 338)
Brothers and sisters, we do not need to be deceived. If we will exercise and use our reason and study for ourselves and not merely take the words of a popular minister, we need not be deceived. It is one thing to hear the words of ministers, those who inspire many thoughts and arouse questions in our minds that cause us to reach out and dig into the word of God for answers, but we are to accept no man as the final authority for anything. The Scriptures given by ministers using a line of reasoning may help bring out truths that would be difficult to grasp any other way, but in the end you and I are responsible for what we believe, for our behavior, and ultimately for the condemnation or exoneration we will receive when we stand before the bar of God.
Eve did not have to be deceived; she was beguiled, but she allowed herself to be beguiled because she gave in to the flattering sentiments of Satan. She allowed the thought of reaching to and of obtaining a higher sphere of existence to influence her decisions.
But our principal concern is to silence this sect of Sabbath-keepers. We must excite popular indignation against them. We will enlist great men and worldly-wise men upon our side, and induce those in authority to carry out our purposes. Then the Sabbath which I have set up shall be enforced by laws the most severe and exacting. Those who disregard them shall be driven out from the cities and villages, and made to suffer hunger and privation. When once we have the power, we will show that we can do with those who will not swerve from their allegiance to God. We led the Romish Church to inflict imprisonment, torture, and death upon those who refused to yield to her decrees, and now that we are bringing the Protestant churches and the world into harmony with this right arm of our strength, we will finally have a law to exterminate all who will not submit to our authority. When death shall be made the penalty of violating our Sabbath, then many who are now ranked with commandment-keepers will come over to our side.
But before proceeding to these extreme measures, we must exert all our wisdom and subtlety to deceive and ensnare those who honor the true Sabbath. We can separate many from Christ by worldliness, lust, and pride. They may think themselves safe because they believe the truth, but indulgence of appetite or the lower passions, which will confuse judgment and destroy discrimination, will cause their fall. (Ibid., pp. 338, 339)
Notice what will cause the fall of those people prior to this great tribulation when the laws of the land are enacted demanding the life of Sabbath keepers. Before that time, which is now, Satan is going to attempt to cause God’s people to fall through “indulgence of appetite or the lower passions, which will confuse judgment and destroy discrimination.” Did you know that appetite has that power? Did you know that your appetite can cause your judgment and discrimination to become confused and will cause your fall? This is what inspiration says. We can be separated from Christ by worldliness, lust, and pride. Did you know that just thinking like the world, desiring the clothing of the world, the games of the world, and the activities of the world, that these things can separate us from the Christ and cause our fall? Satan continues with his plans:
Go, make the possessors of lands and money drunk with the cares of this life. Present the world before them in its most attractive light, that they may lay up their treasure here, and fix their affections upon earthly things. We must do our utmost to prevent those who labor in Gods cause from obtaining means to use against us. Keep the money in our own ranks. The more means they obtain, the more they will injure our kingdom by taking from us our subjects. Make them care more for money than for the upbuilding of Christs kingdom and the spread of the truths we hate, and we need not fear their influence; for we know that every selfish, covetous person will fall under our power, and will finally be separated from Gods people. (Ibid., p. 339)
Brothers and sisters, the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10), but selfishness is the causative factor for the desire of money. Selfishness is at the root of loving money. We only love money because of what it can do for us. Selfishness was Lucifer’s problem. He wanted to exalt himself above the stars of God. Selfishness is an insidious and dangerous sin. Ellen White tells us of a dream she had:
On the morning of October 23, 1879, about two oclock, the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I beheld scenes in the coming judgment. Language fails me in which to give an adequate description of the things which passed before me and of the effect they had upon my mind. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 384)
In this impressive revelation she saw the books of heaven, including the book of sins. She noted that under the general heading of selfishness came every other sin (Ibid.).
Satan is trying to keep the means and resources within his own ranks, tied up in stocks and bonds instead of being out in the field supporting gospel workers, literature, and the spreading of the truth. Satan says, Make them care more for money than for the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom and the spread of the truths we hate.”
Through those that have a form of godliness but know not the power, we can gain many who would otherwise do us great harm. (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 339; emphasis supplied)
Through those who have a form of godliness, those who make a profession, Satan is going to work through those whose hearts are filled with selfishness yet who make a great show of pity!
Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God will be our most effective helpers. (Ibid.)
Would you rather go to the bowling alley, the ice-skating rink, or something merely for pleasure instead of advancing the cause of God by passing out literature, visiting the sick, making a phone call to the down and out, and ministering in Christ’s stead?
Professed Christians are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. What about us? Instead of searching the scriptures on Saturday night, do we play games, such as Monopoly? Are we interested in discerning the signs of the times, or are we just interested in a good time?
Those of this class who are apt and intelligent will serve as decoys to draw others into our snares. (Ibid.)
Do you know what a decoy is? It is something, in this case, that diverts people’s attention away from what they need to be concentrating on. That’s the tactic that magicians use. They get your attention by doing something with one hand, while they subtly do something with the other hand.
Many will not fear their influence, because they profess the same faith. We will thus lead them to conclude that the requirements of Christ are less strict than they once believed, and that by conformity to the world they would exert a greater influence with worldlings. Thus they will separate from Christ; then they will have no strength to resist our power, and erelong they will be ready to ridicule their former zeal and devotion. (Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, pp. 339, 340)
It is a terrible thing to see someone who was once convicted of something, finally begin to even ridicule their former convictions. Those who have a great profession of godliness can serve as decoys for Satan. They can be very efficient agents for his work and cause others to stumble and fall by their example.
“Until the great decisive blow shall be struck, our efforts against commandment-keepers must be untiring. We must be present at all their gatherings. In their large meetings especially our cause will suffer much, and we must exercise great vigilance, and employ all our seductive arts to prevent souls from hearing the truth and becoming impressed by it.
I will have upon the ground, as my agents, men holding false doctrines mingled with just enough truth to deceive souls. I will also have unbelieving ones present, who will express doubts in regard to the Lords messages of warning to his church. Should the people read and believe these admonitions, we could have little hope of overcoming them. But if we can divert their attention from these warnings, they will remain ignorant of our power and cunning, and we shall secure them in our ranks at last. God will not permit his words to be slighted with impunity. If we can keep souls deceived for a time, Gods mercy will be withdrawn, and he will give them up to our full control. (The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 340)
That is a solemn thought to think that after a time of being in deception that God will give us up to Satan’s control.
“We must cause distraction and division. We must destroy their anxiety for their own souls, and lead them to criticise, to judge, and to accuse and condemn one another, and to cherish selfishness and enmity. For these sins, God banished us from his presence; and all who follow our example will meet a similar fate.”
The Scriptures declare that upon one occasion, when the angels of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan came also among them, not to bow before the Eternal King, but to further his own malicious designs against the righteous. With the same object he is in attendance when men assemble for the worship of God. Though hidden from sight, he is working with all diligence to control the minds of the worshipers. Like a skillful general, he lays his plans beforehand. As he sees the messenger of God searching the Scriptures, he takes note of the subject to be presented to the people. Then he employs all his cunning and shrewdness to so control circumstances that the message may not reach those whom he is deceiving on that very point. The one who most needs the warning will be urged into some business transaction which requires his presence, or will by some other means be prevented from hearing the words that might prove to him a savor of life unto life. (The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, pp. 340, 341)
Satan will cause the phone to ring, someone to knock on the door, the dog to bark, or other things to distract us from the message that is needed so much. Satan is laying his plans like a wise general. He is accomplishing his plans upon you and me, and we sit there like we are blind to it, following his suggestions. We allow ourselves to become distracted. We think of something that needs to be put away in the kitchen, we watch the cute little toddler that walks by or that is in the mother’s arms, or we hear the cat purr and want to pick up it up. Satan will use anything that will distract us and divert our attention from the things that God wants us to hear. Beloved, is God so unimportant that we allow these kinds of distractions in our worship services or in our personal devotions?
Again, Satan sees the Lord’s servants burdened because of the spiritual darkness that enshrouds the people. He hears their earnest prayers for divine grace and power to break the spell of indifference, carelessness, and indolence. Then with renewed zeal he plies his arts. He tempts men to the indulgence of appetite or to some other form of self-gratification, and thus benumbs their sensibilities, so that they fail to hear the very things which they most need to learn.
Satan well knows that all whom he can lead to neglect prayer and the searching of the Scriptures will be overcome by his attacks. Therefore he invents every possible device to engross the mind. [even good and necessary things] There has ever been a class professing godliness who, instead of following on to know the truth, make it their religion to seek some fault of character or error of faith in those with whom they do not agree. Such are Satans right-hand helpers. Accusers of the brethren are not few; and they are always active when God is at work, and his servants are rendering him true homage. They will put a false coloring upon the words and acts of those who love and obey the truth. They will represent the most earnest, zealous, self-denying servants of Christ as deceived or deceivers. It is their work to misrepresent the motives of every true and noble deed, to circulate insinuations, and arouse suspicion in the minds of the inexperienced. In every conceivable manner they will seek to cause that which is pure and righteous to be regarded as foul and deceptive. And in this work the agents of Satan have their master and his angels to help them. (Ibid., pp. 341, 342)
Have we, brothers and sisters, been instrumental in this work as agents of Satan? Have we allowed ourselves to be his mouthpiece at times? I appeal to each one of you that we cease from this work. Continuing, Ellen White writes:
But none need be deceived concerning them. It may be readily seen whose children they are, whose example they follow, and whose work they do. “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” [Matthew 7:16.] They closely resemble Satan, the envenomed slanderer, the accuser of the brethren.
It is Satan’s plan to bring into the church insincere, unregenerate elements that will encourage doubt and unbelief, and hinder all who desire to see the work of God advance, and to advance with it. Many who have no real faith in God or in his word, assent to some principles of truth, and pass as Christians; and thus they are enabled to introduce their errors as scriptural doctrines.
It is Satans plan to bring into the church insincere, unregenerate elements that will encourage doubt and unbelief, and hinder all who desire to see the work of God advance, and to advance with it. Many who have no real faith in God or in his word, assent to some principles of truth, and pass as Christians; and thus they are enabled to introduce their errors as scriptural doctrines. (Ibid, p. 342)
It was thus that Lucifer himself was cast out of Heaven. He became dissatisfied because all the secrets of Gods purposes were not confided to him, and he entirely disregarded that which was revealed concerning his own work in the lofty position assigned him. By arousing the same discontent in the angels under his command, he caused their fall. Now he seeks to imbue the minds of men with the same spirit, and to lead them also to disregard the direct commands of God. (Ibid., p. 346)
Here is a very clear explanation of Satan’s tactics. He causes dissatisfaction and discontent with the position, the work, and the knowledge that God has given us and arouses that same spirit in us that led to his fall. He leads us to disregard the direct command of God.
Those who are unwilling to accept the plain, cutting truths of the Bible, are continually seeking for pleasing fables that will quiet their consciences. The less spiritual, self-denying, and humiliating the doctrines presented, the greater the favor with which they are received. These persons degrade the intellectual powers to serve their carnal desires. Too wise in their own conceit to search the word of God with contrition of soul and earnest prayer for divine guidance, they have no shield from delusion. (Ibid.)
Did you understand that? They have no shield from delusion! Why? They have no shield because they are too wise in their own eyes to seek the word of God with contrition of soul and earnest prayer for divine guidance.
Now let us return to Ephesians 6 and examine the Christian armor in more detail. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). By looking at the pieces of the armor that God wants us to put on, we will see indications of more of the tactics and methods of the enemy. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth” (v. 14). The implication is that Satan will be attacking us with falsehood and lies. We need truth! We need to have truth be as a girdle holding us and confining us, keeping us from going off with every wind of doctrine. Paul continues, “having on the breastplate of righteousness” (v. 14). The indication is that Satan will be presenting a false righteousness, a righteousness that is not righteousness at all but rather a self righteousness, satisfied with what we think is right, with the gifts we think ought to be accepted. Instead of bringing what God has asked, instead of presenting the offerings that God requires of us, we bring something that represents self.
Paul continues, “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (v. 15). The implication is that Satan will be attacking us with violence. Indeed, we can look in the annals of history and find this confirmed. But God’s messengers will not show strife. “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked” (v. 16). The implication is that Satan will be attacking us with fiery darts of doubt, discouragement, and despondency. He wants to cause us to let go of our hold on God, our belief in God, and to let go of our confidence in his love and mercy.
“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). Satan is going to be attacking you with ideas, false reasoning, and false doctrines which will cause you to doubt your salvation, and wonder if God can truly save you or forgive you. He wants to cause you to wonder: Will God be able to reach to the very depths of my being and save me from the things I am so prone to, from the very evils I have developed, or from the tendencies I have inherited? Satan seeks to try to take the word of God from us. He brings in every conceivable thing to keep us from searching the word. He tries to cause us to doubt the validity of the word. Satan tries to cause us to doubt the origin of the Bible or that we have a faithful translation. Satan wants us to doubt the veracity of the Bible so we might doubt certain statements and if we cannot understand them we would say, “well, maybe it has been added, changed, or left out” and if so, then we are under no obligation to follow the part of the text we do understand because of our doubt of the portion that we do not understand.
I am not saying that we do not search for accuracy of meaning or for the best text or translation, etc., but the sentiment that God has not had a protecting hand over his word and left us a Bible we cannot trust to be an infallible revelation of his will is dangerous ground to tread. There are many ways that Satan tries to take the word of God from us.
Lastly, Paul says, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (v. 18). The implication is that Satan will cause us to seek to trust in ourselves. He will attempt to lead us to neglect prayer and that communion that is so necessary, so that we might receive power from heaven and the reinforcements that are so needed.
Brothers and sisters, We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (vs. 12, 13).
The Bitterness of Sugar
By Onycha Holt
The year was 1906. The Battle Creek Sanitarium, under the guidance of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, was by now well-established and greatly expanded in services from its early days of operation, when in 1866, as the Western Health Reform Institute, it had seen 106 patients. In the year 1906, 7,006 patrons entered its doors. When Kellogg took over as director in 1876 (a year after he had received his medical degree), he wanted to cure people of what one observer had called Americanitisor the bloated, gaseous stomachache caused by the ailment otherwise known as dyspepsia. The whole country seemed to be suffering from it, thanks in large part to what they were eating for breakfast. Nineteenth-century Americans typically started their mornings with sausages, beefsteaks, bacon, and fried ham, to which, as the day progressed, they added salt pork and whiskey. Grease, in effect, had become the national condiment (Michael Moss, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, p. 68).
As a medical student at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital Medical College, John Harvey Kellogg had seen, up close, what this diet was doing to America’s health. Concerned by the profusion of indigestion he saw, he ended up beating a hasty retreat to his home state of Michigan, where he decided that what America needed—as much as another doctor—was someone to promote better nutrition.
Kellogg took over a tiny health facility in Battle Creek, a town on the prairie 120 miles west of Detroit, and renamed it the Battle Creek Sanitarium. He added a solarium, a gymnasium, and a glassed-in palm garden with rubber trees. As word of the facilitys salutary treatments got around, the rooms began filling up. In high season, four hundred guests [at a time] were tended to by a staff of one thousand, and they happily underwent a relentless regime of baths, enemas, and exercise that included a high-stepping workout to a song that was dubbed The Battle Creek Sanitarium March. Mostly, though, Kellogg sought to remake their eating habits with a strict dietary regimen. He served wheat gluten mush, oatmeal crackers, graham rolls, and a tea made from a South African grass. He disdained salt and abhorred sugar, citing the overconsumption of both as primary contributors to the nations health woes, so there was none of either to be found in the sanitarium food. Nor was there much fat; his reform diet was built around whole grains and a dearth of meat. (Ibid., pp. 68, 69)
And as 1906 rolled around, John Harvey Kellogg and his brother, Will (who was also the sanitariums bookkeeper), were well on their way to providing a nutritious breakfast for their patients. The kitchens were now producing a novel type of breakfast fooda flaked wheat cereal that had been rolled between rollers and dried in ovens. It was devoid of salt and sugar, but was received well and sold 113,400 pounds in its early days. Will Kellogg then began to experiment with flakes of corn, and in 1906, while his brother was in Europe on a medical science trip, he added sugar to his corn mixture. Thus was born Kelloggs Toasted Corn Flakes! Sales for this sweetened cereal really took off, but the unhealthiness of it, in John Kelloggs mind, and other issues caused a feud between him and Will, with them fighting over the use of the name Kellogg and with them eventually going their separate ways.
Most of us know that over time Kellogg became dissociated with Adventism, due to his theology and administrative ideas, but much of Kelloggs medical work had grown from a desire to help others. He had an inventive mind (in addition to a flamboyant spirit), and he directed it to the care of others, including the poor and the needy. In harmony with his program for healthful living, which stressed the use of natural remedies such as water, fresh air, sunshine, and a vegetarian diet, Dr. Kelloggs approach to slum problems was simple and practical . . . I take it to be the duty of every Christian community to see that every homeless hungry man is fed. These men need not only shelter and food, but brotherly kindness, encouragement, and instruction. They need to be taken by the hand and lifted up. The homeless, destitute man is always a sick man. He is sick morally, mentally, and physically. He needs the physical tonic of good food and cleanliness [Richard W. Schwarz, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg as a Social Gospel Practitioner, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. 57, No. 1 (Spring, 1964), p. 6]. Kellogg believed his own Seventh-day Adventist church had a special calling along these lines. In the denominational vocabulary of those days the kind of social services Kellogg spoke about . . . was referred to as medical missionary work (Ibid., p. 7), and Kellogg created an outreach in Chicago for the Battle Creek Sanitarium. He sent medical students to minister in Chicago as part of their education; and he set up a one cent soup kitchen (he did not believe in free lunches), places for the homeless to sleep, bathing and laundry facilities, a free medical dispensary, visiting nurses for the people, an evening school, and a chapel for religious instructiona true inner city work. Dr. Kellogg himself spent each Sunday at the mission for a number of years. The dispensary provided free obstetrical care for the neighborhoods poor and unemployed. It also offered a diet service, with special food supplied free by Kelloggs Sanitarium Health Food Company, upon presentation of a written prescription (Ibid., p. 12). He also saw the need of clothing for the patrons of the mission, who often had only the tattered clothes they wore on their backs, and advertised in the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald for good used garments. Thus was born the Dorcas Society!
But it is for the invention and production of breakfast cereals that the world best remembers Will and John Kellogg, John because of his desire to provide Americans with something more than the normal wild pigeons, oysters, and stewed veal . . . [and] considerable amounts of eggs, bacon, sausages, and fried ham (Melanie Warner, Pandoras Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal, p. 54) they feasted upon at breakfast and Will because he saw the prospects of great wealth looming before him. Today the Kellogg Company is a $13 billion breakfast and snack empire (Ibid., p. 57), producing such breakfast items as Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, Pop Tarts, and the ubiquitous Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.
At the turn of the 20th century, America was being introduced to a new way of eating breakfasta healthier new waybut by the turn of the 21st century, this new way of eating had devolved into a monstrosity, a new type of Americanitis, and has helped to create unprecedented rates of obesity in the citizens of our country.
Obesity and the Top Food Manufacturers
On April 8, 1999, eleven heads of the world’s largest food companies gathered in Minneapolis for an off-the-record meeting. Together these companies controlled seven hundred thousand employees and $280 billion in annual sales. Pillsbury served as the host for Nestlé, Kraft, Nabisco, General Mills, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Mars, among others, fiercely competitive companies, but on this evening each man was cordial as they gathered in the auditorium for the only item on the agenda—the epidemic of obesity.
A respected vice president of Kraft, the company which produces more than fifty-five brands that can carry the consumer through an entire day, from breakfast to midnight snack (Moss, p. xv) took the stage and began his presentation of 114 slides, projected on a large screen behind him. The headlines and phrases and figures were nothing short of staggering (Ibid., p. xvi).
More than half of American adults were now considered overweight, with nearly one-quarter of the population—40 million adults—carrying so many extra pounds that they were clinically defined as obese. Among children, the rates had more than doubled since 1980, the year when the fat line on the charts began angling up, and the number of kids considered obese had shot past 12 million. . . .
Then came the specifics: diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, three types of cancerbreast, colon, and that of the uterus liningall on the rise. To varying degrees, the executives were told, obesity was being cited as one of the causes for each of these health crises. (Ibid.)
The executives were told that (1) the advertising their companies mapped out, especially that directed toward children, fed the epidemic of obesity and (2) the very foods which made their companies so successful were responsible for the great rise in obesity—not the decrease in exercise, as some of them liked to think (although it could be considered a distant factor).
The executives, however, did not buy it. Only one person spoke up in response. He was visibly upset with the presentation and said he would not pull back as a CEO, but would push his company forward on its current path and urged his peers to do the same (Ibid., p. xx).
And that was that. The meeting adjourned, the executives retired to an exclusive dinner, and since 1999, more of the same—highly processed products loaded with sugar, salt, and fat—has flooded the grocery shelves.
When you were in school, you may have learned that it was the tip of the tongue that tasted sugar, while the sides and back of the tongue were sensitive to other tastes, but we now know this is wrong. The entire mouth, including the palate, for example, wakes up to sugar! There are special receptors for sweetness in every one of the mouths ten thousand taste buds (Moss, p. 3). And it doesnt stop theretaste receptors for sugar light up all the way down our esophagus to our stomach and pancreas (Ibid., p. 4). No wonder we love sugar! Many of us even crave it, but for a long time we did not understand how powerful sugar is in compelling us to eat more than we should, until the late 1960s, when
. . . some lab rats in upstate New York got ahold of Froot Loops, the supersweet cereal made by Kellogg. The rats were fed the cereal by a graduate student named Anthony Sclafani who, at first, was just being nice to the animals in his care. But when Sclafani noticed how fast they gobbled it up, he decided to concoct a test to measure their zeal. Rats hate open spaces; even in cages, they tend to stick to the shadowy corners and sides. So Sclafani put a little of the cereal in the brightly lit, open center of their cages—normally an area to be avoided—to see what would happen. Sure enough, the rats overcame their instinctual fears and ran out in the open to gorge. (Moss, p. 5)
This observation came back to Sclafani a few years later, when he was trying to fatten some rats for a study:
Their standard Purina Dog Chow wasnt doing the trick, even when Sclafani added lots of fats to the mix. The rats wouldnt eat enough to gain significant weight. So Sclafani, remembering the Froot Loops experiment, sent a graduate student out to the supermarket on Flatbush Avenue to buy some cookies and candies and other sugar-laden products. And the rats went bananas, they couldnt resist. They were particularly fond of sweetened condensed milk and chocolate bars. They ate so much over the course of a few weeks that they grew obese. . . . when he gave his rats all they wanted, he saw their appetite for sugar in a new light. They loved it, and this craving completely overrode the biological brakes that should have been saying: Stop. (Ibid., pp. 5, 6)
Since then, a whole body of research has been undertaken to link sugar to compulsive overeating (Ibid., p. 6), and it is clear people love sugar and that sugar has few peers in its ability to create cravings (Ibid., p. 16).
Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia have spent long hours studying sugar and in trying to decide if it causes people to overeat. They found that a dish having an attractive taste is not enough to cause people to overeat. To be really enticing, the products had to be loaded with sugar and fat. Only these two ingredients, along with salt, seemed to have the power to excite the brain about eating (Ibid., pp. 18, 19). Sugar draws you back for more and more, and because of this sugar rakes in billions of dollars annually for the food companies, companies that outsell every other industry. Take Prego tomato sauces, for example: Whether cheesy, chunky, or light[they all] have one feature in common: The largest ingredient, after tomatoes, is sugar. A mere half cup of Prego Traditional, for instance, has more than two teaspoons of sugar, as much as three Oreo cookies (Ibid., p. 37).
Combining sugar with convenience makes an instant winnerTang, instant pudding, Pop Tarts, dry cereal, and jiffy pop-in-the-oven meals, with all of their hidden sugars included to hook you and draw you back for more, have proliferated. But cavities in childrens teeth have also proliferated, and sugar soon became a hot topic in parental circles. As a result the food companies quietly began to drop the word sugar from the names of their productsSugar Frosted Flakes became Frosted Flakes and Sugar Smacks became Honey Smacksand products with fruit motifs (but with just as much sugar) appeared. Real fruit flavors were added to Kool-Aid which somehow convinced many consumers that the drink (in spite of all the added sugar) was wholesome; a splash of real fruit juice was added to drinks made mostly with sugar, artificial flavors and preservatives; and fruit spreads emerged, sweetened only with fruit juice. This fruit juice, however, is often a fruit juice concentrate made through an industrial process that usually strips the fruit of all fiber and vitamins and mixes it with sweeter juice concentrates (such as grape and pear) to heightened the level of sweetness. Then all the water is evaporated from the concentrate, and the end product is simply pure sugar, but the consumer thinks he is getting a healthy product.
However, “there is no single product—among the sixty thousand items sold in the grocery store—that is considered more evil, more directly responsible for the [obesity] crisis than soda. The problem, as growing numbers of nutritionists see it, is not the calories in soda, though calories are ultimately what causes us to gain weight. Rather, it’s their form: Research suggests that our bodies are less aware of excessive intake when the calories are liquid. Health advocates don’t blame the single can of Coke with its roughly nine teaspoons of sugar. What made Coke evil . . . was the supersizing” (Moss, p. 98). And now you understand part of the push to ban supersized sodas—what we gulp down just isn’t registered correctly by our brains!
At Monell attention turned to soda, and it was discovered that sweetened drinks made rats more hungry, not less (Ibid., p. 19; emphasis in original). Attention was then directed to soda made with high-fructose corn syrup. Thirty subjects were included in a study which lasted for nine weeks:
“For three weeks we gave them nothing,” Tordoff [the scientist] said. “Three weeks they got 40 ounces a day of diet soda. And for three weeks they got 40 ounces a day of regular soda.” . . .
The most significant finding came with the regular soda, which was sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. With regular soda, both sexes gained weight: an average of nearly a pound and a half in just three weeks. At that rate, a person would put on 26 pounds in a year. . . .
This was one of the first studies to establish that sugary soda was likely a heavy contributor to obesity. (Ibid., p. 20)
And just in case you are wondering, fruit juice is not a good substitute for soda:
The health-conscious among you may opt for juice over soda. For those of you who can afford it, you skip Sunny Delight in favor of natural 100 percent fruit juices made by Odwalla or other organic companies. They tout multiple health benefits and claim that, because they are devoid of added sweeteners, they are in fact good for you. Wrong. The fruit is good for you, because it also contains fiber (see chapter 12). In fact, calorie for calorie, 100 percent orange juice is worse for you than soda, because the orange juice contains 1.8 grams of fructose per ounce, while soda contains 1.7 grams of fructose per ounce. (Robert H. Lustig, M. D., Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, p. 119)
Juan, a 100-pound six-year-old Latino boy whose mother is a non-English-speaking farm worker from Salinas, California, comes to my clinic in 2003. He is wider than he is tall. I ask the mother in my broken Spanish, I dont care what your kid eats, tell me what he drinks. No soda, but a gallon of orange juice per day. On calories alone, this accounts for 112 pounds per year of body fat. Of course, some of that is burned off, and it might influence total food intake. I explain to the mother, La fruta es buena, el jugo es malo (the fruit is good, the juice is bad). Eat the fruit, dont drink the juice. (Ibid., p. 3)
Julio is a fifteen-year-old Latino male from West Texas who weighs 400 pounds. He is Med-Flighted to San Francisco for an emergency liver transplant because his pathology shows severe fatty liver and scarring, known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) with cirrhosis, a condition associated with severe alcohol abuse. Although he has never consumed alcohol, he has imbibed at least a half-gallon of Coca-Cola every day since he was old enough to open the refrigerator. Julios transplant is successful, and he is discharged two weeks later, after being told to lose weight, stop drinking soda, and improve his diet. One year later, Julio is seen back at UCSF for a checkup. His diet hasnt changed, the soft drinks continue, his weight has not declined, and an ultrasound shows fatty deposits in his new liver. (Ibid., p. 150)
The mega amounts of sugar (more specifically the fructose) Julio was consuming in his soda affected his liver:
Nutritionists routinely categorize sugar as empty calories, interchangeable with calories from starch. But sugar has a special payload. Sugar (sucrose) is made up of half glucose and half fructose. Its the fructose that makes it sweet, and that, ultimately, is the molecule we seek. Its the fructose that causes chronic metabolic disease. So sugar, despite ostensibly being a carbohydrate, is really both a fat (because thats how fructose is metabolized in the liver) and a carbohydrate (because thats how glucose is metabolized) all rolled into one. Both pathways have to work overtime, which is why sugar is the real omnivores dilemma. Now, if youre starving and energy-depleted, consuming sugar can replete your livers glycogen stores more rapidly, which can be beneficial. So offensive linemen after three hours on the gridiron can consume all the Gatorade they want. But the overwhelming majority of people are neither starving nor energy-depleted (there are now 30 percent more obese individuals than undernourished ones on the planet). Our bodies have not adapted to our current environmental sugar glut, and it is killing us . . . slowly. (Ibid., p. 118; emphasis and ellipsis in original)
Glucose and Fructose
There are two classes of carbohydrate: starch and sugar. Starch is made up of glucose only, which it not very sweet and which every cell in the body can use for energy (Ibid., p. 20). Table sugar, on the other hand, is half glucose and half fructose. Fructose is very sweet and is inevitably metabolized to fat. It is the primary (although not the sole) villain (Ibid., pp. 20, 21; emphasis in original) to our health, but lets consider glucose first. It supplies energy, true, but if more glucose is ingested than can be converted to glycogen by the liver, the excess is converted to triglycerides, and high triglyceride levels can promote the development of cardiovascular disease. Glucose can also bind to the proteins in the cell, and when this occurs, reactive oxygen species (ROS) is released, which can cause tissue damage if the ROS is not immediately derailed by an antioxidant.
Like all things, glucose in excess can be bad for youespecially when it lacks fiber, which limits the insulin response (see chapter 12). However, you would have to consume a lot of it and over a long period of time for glucose to have these detrimental effects [mentioned above]. In general, large amounts of glucose (starches such as pasta, white bread, rice, etc.) will cause you to gain pounds but it wont make you sick. Rather, if over time you gain too much weight from glucose, the visceral fat that is formed will eventually take its toll on your health (see chapter 8). But [and here is the important part] when you consume the same number of calories as either ethanol [alcohol] or fructose, you get much more of a bang to your liver (more like a hand grenade), and it takes its toll that much faster. (Ibid., p. 121)
Consider Sujatha, a vegan who consumes large amounts of “white foods”:
Sujatha is a thirteen-year-old Indian girl who has just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. At a height of 5 foot 4 inches, she weighs 170 pounds. According to her BMI, she is technically obese, but she doesnt look it. Her mother is a nurse in a local hospital and also is a type 2 diabetic. She told me, I dont understand how this can happen. We are Indian, we are vegans at home. However, the family consumes large volumes of white foods such as naan [a type of white Indian bread], rice, potatoes, and processed starches. Almost completely lacking from their diet are brown foods such as lentils, garbanzo beans, and whole grain products. Like many teenagers, Sujatha refuses to eat her vegetables. Beverages consist of soda and juice, and virtually no water. The fiber content of their diet is close to zero. (Ibid., p. 130)
Fructose is never found alone in nature. Rather, it is always partnered with its more benign sister molecule, glucose. They have the same chemical composition (C6H12O6), but they are hardly the same. Fructose is much worse. Lets start with the Maillard, or browning, reaction. This is the same reaction that turns hemoglobin in your red blood cells into hemoglobin A1c (HbAlc), the lab test that doctors follow to determine how high a diabetic patients blood sugar has risen over time. The reaction product is brown; this is the reason bananas turn brown with time and also why barbecue sauce caramelizes the meat underneath when exposed to heat. So you can brown your meat at 375 degrees for one hour, or you can brown your meat at 98.6 degrees for seventy-five years. The result is the same. And fructose drives the Maillard reaction seven times faster than glucose. This seemingly subtle difference can cause every cell in the body to age more rapidly, driving various degenerative processes such as aging, cancer, and cognitive decline. (Lustig, pp. 122, 123)
Fructose, as we just read, drives the Maillard reaction seven times faster than glucose, which is a help in bakingthings turn nicely brown in the oven with fructosebut that same acceleration occurs in our bodies, Lustig is saying, just at a slower pace—instead of one hour, it may take seventy-five years—and it can cause every cell in the body to age faster and result in disease and cognitive decline.
Fructose is also a major cause of metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors for heart disease and other health problems). Unlike glucose, which can be metabolized by all organs of the body, allowing the liver to only have to deal with a small percentage of glucose ingested because the rest goes to other organs, fructose can only be metabolized in the liver (except in extremely rare cases); therefore, the liver gets triple the amount of fructose to metabolize at a time than it does of glucose. If heavy doses of fructose arrive at the liver, the liver can be depleted of a vital chemical (ATP), the depletion of which leads to the generation of uric acid, and the generation of uric acid can cause gout and increased blood pressure. So far, nothing good has been said about fructose. Here is another problem: Fructose is not converted to glycogen, as glucose is, but is released, after some preliminary work by the liver, straight to the cells. Do you remember that excess glycogen is turned into triglycerides? When too much fructose is sent out to the cells, the excess gets metabolized into fat, which can, in turn, lead to heart disease. Even worse, Not only does fructose turn your liver to fat and your proteins brown, but it tells your brain that you need more of it . . . and more. . . . Similar to the effects of alcoholism, fructose stimulates excessive and continued consumption by tricking your brain into wanting more (Ibid., p. 127; first ellipsis in original).
The list of problems with fructose goes onLustig mentions elevenso why is fructose the darling of the food industry? For one thing, fructose does not decompose as readily as other sweeteners, so it has a longer shelf life. Also, it helps products, like cookies, stay soft longer, it has an alluring aroma when baked and also produces a crisp brown surface, and when frozen it blocks the formation of ice; but most of all, it is far sweeter than glucose. On a relative scale, with the sweetness of table sugar marked as 100, glucose clocks in at 74, while fructose hits 173 (Moss, p. 130), but the bottom line is processed sugar is a toxin (Lustig, p. 127). Why?
Sugar Is Killing Us
Consider these facts:
1. Twenty years ago seeing an obese child with type 2 diabetes was an anomaly. Now it is an almost everyday occurrence (Ibid., p. xiii).
2. One quarter of U.S. children are now obese; even infants are tipping the scales (Ibid., p. xiv)!
3. Over twenty million children in America are seriously overweight (Ibid., p. 4).
4. The cluster of chronic metabolic diseases termed metabolic syndromewhich includes obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), lipid (blood fat) disorders, and cardiovascular (heart) diseaseis snowballing by leaps and bounds (Ibid.).
5. The obesity pandemic is staggering when the obesity-associated metabolic diseases and comorbidities, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, kidney disease, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. . . . orthopedic problems, sleep apnea, gallstones, and depression are considered (Ibid.).
6. Teens with type 2 diabetes used to be unheard of; now they are one third of all new diagnoses of diabetes (Ibid.).
7. Emergency rooms are taking care of forty-year-old heart attack victims, bariatric surgeries are sky-rocketing, and over 40% of death certificates now list diabetes as the cause of death, up from 13% twenty years ago (Ibid., pp. 4, 5).
8. But being thin is not a safeguardup to 40% of normal-weight individuals harbor insulin resistancea sign of chronic metabolic diseasewhich will likely shorten their life expectancy. Of those, 20% demonstrate liver fat on an MRI of the abdomen . . . Liver fat, irrespective of body fat, has been shown to be a major risk factor in the development of diabetes (Ibid., p. 7). People are sick and they dont even know it. Yes, sugar is killing us . . . slowly (Ibid., p. xii; ellipsis in original).
To be fair, not all scientists see sugar, and especially fructose, in the same light. Dr. Fred Brouns of the Department of Human Biology at Maastricht University in Maastricht, Netherlands, states, in response to an article in Nature entitled Public health: The toxic truth about sugar by Dr. Lustig and others:
Have bananas, apricots, apples, honey and all other foods that are relatively rich in fructose, as well as juices suddenly become toxic and bad for your health? Our body does not make a difference in absorbing and metabolizing fructose whether it comes from an intrinsic source or as added sugar. . . . Although there is sufficient science to substantiate that pure fructose in very high dosages has detrimental effects, there is not such good evidence when fructose is consumed along with glucose, as it is in virtually all foods and drinks, by humans in amounts as consumed by most humans. . . . The fact that now sugar is the culprit is a consequence of yet blaming something else than our personal responsibility to remain physically active and consume less food overall. (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v482/n7383/full/482027a.html%3FWT.ec_id=NATURE-20120202; accessed 4-12-13)
To be sure, we have a personal responsibility to exercise and to not overeat, but we are living in an age when consumers are bombarded, at least in America, with fast food eateries; convenient food store items; and sugary, fatty, and salty snacks on every hand, so that we need to intelligently brace ourselves against it, or we will be hooked and our health will suffer. So what can we do?
Let us keep in mind that God has created us to enjoy good food and that sweetness lights up our taste buds like nothing else does. The manna God provided the Israelites tasted like wafers made with honey (Exodus 16:31), John the Baptist ate locust and honey (Matthew 3:4), and Solomon advises us to eat honey because it is good (Proverbs 24:13), but he also advises us to not eat too much of it (Proverbs 25:27). And therein lies the solutionthe use of a sweetening agent should be in limited amounts and in consideration of any health issues one may be experiencing, and the type of sweetener used should be chosen for the least harmful effect, remembering that the free use of sugar in any form tends to clog the system (Ellen White, Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 56) and that sugar, when largely used, is more injurious than meat (Ellen White, Counsels on Diets and Foods, p. 328).
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Banana Breakfast Cookies
These treats are from the kitchen of Vera Antisdel, who says they are simple; require no sugar, flour, or eggs; and are amazingly delicious!
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix together and spoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.
This recipe, shared by Elisabeth Fury, is a traditional dish from northern Africa and is both easy and tasty.
Spread couscous into the bottom of a large casserole dish and pour the boiling water over it. With a fork, mix the water and couscous evenly. Cover dish with plastic wrap and let set for 15 minutes undisturbed. While waiting, chop the onion and pepper into fine pieces and cook the peas. After 15 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork and add the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately as a warm dish, or cool in the refrigerator and serve later as a salad. This recipe is easy, tasty, and nutritious!
The Protestant Reformation
Martin Luther, The Warrior Part 2
It is a horrible and frightful thing that the ruler of Christendom, who boasts himself vicar of Christ and successor of St. Peter, lives in such worldly splendor that in this regard no king nor emperor can equal or approach him, and that he who claims the title of most holy and most spiritual is more worldly than the world itself. He wears a triple crown, when the greatest kings wear but a single crown; if that is like the poverty of Christ and of St. Peter, then it is a new kind of likeness. (Martin Luther, An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate, 1520; reprinted in Documents in World History, p. 306)
About sixty miles south of Berlin and forty miles north of Leipzig lies Wittenberg, the city most closely associated with Martin Luther. Luther described Wittenberg as being on the borders of civilisation, (Henry Eyster Jacobs, Martin Luther, the Hero of the Reformation, p. 33; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted), containing about three thousand poverty-stricken inhabitants, living in three or four hundred low, frame, straw-thatched houses, built upon a sandy plain, that suffered severely from periodic visitations of the plague (Ibid.). In Wittenberg were two large churchesThe Parochial Church and the Castle Church. The Castle Church was so-named because its origin was in the chapel of a castle, and it was upon the door of this church that Martin Luther posted his ninety-five theses. Wittenberg was also the home of the Frederick the Wise, the prince of Saxony, who was an early protector of Luther, and this famous little city was also the home of the University of Wittenberg, established by Frederick after Emperor Maximilian I suggested that each of the Electors should endeavour to found a university within his territory for the cultivation of his subjects (Jacobs, p. 34). Frederick took this to heart, for he was well-versed in Latin and French and had traveled widely in the study of the natural sciences and in the collection of holy relics. He gathered professors and instructors, a campus was organized, and on October 18, 1502, the University of Wittenberg opened its doors. Four hundred sixteen students enrolled. The plague of 1506 reduced these numbers, but new professors joined the faculty, students once again enrolled and the school prospered. Luther enrolled as a student and received a doctorate in theology in 1512. He was then asked to join the faculty and to later become the head of the theology department, but he did not want to be known as a doctor of theology, but rather a doctor of the Holy Scriptures. When, at the age of 29, he was placed in charge of the school of theology, he created a new framework of studyhe made the Bible the first and main part of his curriculum, rather than the common books used for the instruction of the dialectics and physics of Aristotle, along with a smattering of the Bibleand he chose the book of Psalms with which to begin. The Book of Psalms was always Luthers Prayer-Book. To this Melanchthon referred in his funeral address, stating that he devoted a fixed period of time almost every day to the private recitation of the Psalms, and had no patience with those who, either because of indolence, or pressing duties, were content to pray by the mere direction of the sighs of their heart to heaven (Ibid., p. 43). When the study of Psalms was finished, Luther taught from the book of Romans, then Galatians, Hebrews, and Titus. His lectures made a great impression on his students, as noted by Melanchthon:
Wittenberg at the time of Luther 1536 on the Elbe River (United States Public Domain)
After a long and dark night the light of a new doctrine seemed to dawn. He . . . refuted the then prevalent error that, by their own works, men merit the forgiveness of sins, and, by their observance of discipline, are righteous before God. Recalling the minds of men to the Son of God, and, like the Baptist, pointing to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world, he declared that sins are remitted freely, on account of the Son of God, and that this benefit is to be received by faith. Other portions of the Churchs doctrine were made clear. These beginnings of still better things gave him great influence, especially since his life corresponded with his speech, and his words seemed to spring, not from his lips, but from his heart. (Ibid., pp. 44, 45)
Luther began his years of preaching in a humble way, and though the importance of his words has reached around the world and down through the centuries to us, Luther never disparaged his humble beginnings. He is an example to us that no matter how simple or impoverished our upbringing may be, God can use us in a great way, if we will but submit our ways and wills to him.
In an old dilapidated frame building, thirty by twenty feet in size, held together by props, and daubed with clay, standing within the foundation of the walls of the new monastery that had been begun, but whose erection had been temporarily suspended, and from a pulpit constructed of rough boards, raised three feet above the ground, the greatest preacher of modern times preached his first sermon. (Ibid., pp. 48, 49)
Over his lifetime Luther developed his talent for the use of wordsin hymns, sermons, speeches, and written documents. Here is an example of his writing, a portion of a letter he wrote in 1520 to the new, young holy Roman emperor, Charles V, hoping he could encourage him to engage in the work of ecclesiastical reform. He wrote this before the emperor commanded his appearance at Worms and his later condemned of him in the Edit of Worms. (We encourage you to read the whole letter, found on pages 301307 at http://www.uncp.edu/home/rwb/World_History_Documents.pdf)
Grace and power from God, Most Illustrious Majesty, and most gracious and dear Lords. It is not out of sheer forwardness or rashness that I, a single, poor man, have undertaken to address your worships. The distress and oppression which weigh down all the Estate of Christendom, especially of Germany, and which move not me alone, but everyone to cry out time and again, and to pray for help, have forced me even now to cry aloud that God may inspire someone with His Spirit to lend this suffering nation a helping hand. Oft times the councils have made some pretence at reformation, but their attempts have been cleverly hindered by the guile of certain men and things have gone from bad to worse. I now intend, by the help of God, to throw some light upon the wiles and wickedness of these men . . .
. . . we must be sure that in this matter we are dealing not with men but with the princes of hell, who can fill the world with bloodshed, but whom war and bloodshed do not overcome. We must go at this work despairing of physical force and humbly trusting God; we must seek God’s help with earnest prayer, and fix our minds on nothing else than the misery and distress of suffering Christendom, without regard to the deserts of evil men. Otherwise we may start the game with great prospect of success, but when we get well into it the evil spirits will stir up such confusion that the whole world will swim in blood, and yet nothing will come of it. Let us act wisely, therefore, and in the fear of God. . . .
But before all of this, he applied his skillful use of words to the issue of indulgences. Luther was not trying to undo the Papacy or to start a revolution when he posted his theses in 1517—he had no idea what the result would be—the theses were simply “the outcome of his pastoral fidelity to the souls with whom he had to deal in the confessional” (Jacobs, p. 59), and he had a specific man in mind—Tetzel, to be exact. Tetzel
. . . was a native of Leipzig, of about sixty years of age, of imposing presence and distinguished gifts of popular oratory that had been devoted for nearly half a generation to the sale of indulgences. . . . Whithersoever he went, therefore, he appeared as the representative of both State and Church, for beside his position of commissioner, he had the rank of Inquisitor-General. The bells of the towns and cities announced his approach; the officials of the place, the citizens, even the school-children, went in procession to meet him. A red cross, on which the coat of arms of the Pope was emblazoned preceded him. On a velvet cushion his papal commission was displayed. Entering a church, the red cross was raised in front of the high altar, and the indulgence chest placed beside it. Sermons were preached by the commissioner or his deputies, extolling the worth of indulgences, and urging their purchase. The terrors of the hearers were excited by graphic pictures of the seven years penalty reserved in Purgatory for every mortal sin, and of the remedy offered at so small a cost in the letters that were then to be purchased. The indulgence sellers were reported as bidding the people worship the red cross as the holy of holies; as declaring that indulgences were more efficacious than baptism, and restored the innocency that had been lost in Adam; as proclaiming that a commissioner of indulgences saved more souls than Peter; and that as soon as the penny sounded in the chest, the soul was delivered from Purgatory. Indulgences would avail for justification and salvation, even for him who had violated the mother of God! (Ibid., pp. 63–65)
Ellen White spells out the criminal actions of Tetzel and of the pope—St. Peter’s chapel was being built with iniquitous money!
The Roman Church had made merchandise of the grace of God. The tables of the money-changers were set up beside her altars, and the air resounded with the shouts of buyers and sellers. Under the plea of raising funds for the erection of St. Peters church at Rome, indulgences for sin were publicly offered for sale by the authority of the pope. By the price of crime a temple was to be built up for Gods worship,the corner-stone laid with the wages of iniquity. But the very means of Romes aggrandizement provoked the deadliest blow to her power and greatness. It was this that aroused the most determined and successful of the enemies of popery, and led to the battle which shook the papal throne to its foundation, and jostled the triple crown upon the pontiffs head. (The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 101)
Tetzel urged the people to buy indulgences, using what we would call today a hard-sales pitch:
“Lo! Heaven is open. When will you enter, if not now? Oh senseless men, who do not appreciate such a shedding forth of grace! How hard-hearted! For twelve pennies you can deliver your father, and, nevertheless, you are so ungrateful as not to relieve him in his distress. At the last judgment, I am free; but you are responsible. I tell you, that if you have but one garment, you should part with it, rather than fail of such grace.” (Quoted in Jacobs, p. 65).
Even the poor, with no money in their pockets, were urged to buy indulgences on credit:
Gratuitous indulgences were granted the poor upon the assurance of payment from the first money they could obtain. Wives were encouraged to purchase without the knowledge of their husbands. (Ibid.)
But why was everyone so willing to spend money they didn’t have to buy indulgences?
According to the current teaching, sin brought guilt and punishment. In baptism the guilt and punishment of original sin were remitted. The guilt of each actual sin, if confessed with true sorrow of heart, was remitted; but, while the penitent was absolved from the guilt, he was not from all punishment. In virtue of the merits of Christ, eternal was commuted to temporal punishment; penalties beyond mans power were, by the priestly absolution, brought within the reach of mans ability to make for them satisfaction. Man escapes Hell, but he does not, by Christs atonement, enter Heaven. In order to escape the temporal punishments of sin, satisfactions, such as prayers, fasts, alms, prescribed by the confessor, must be rendered. Since, therefore, every sin, to have its penalties removed, must be known and grieved over and confessed, and have it consequences offset by penances appointed by the Church; and since in this life the greater number of offences pass the scrutiny of even the most spiritually minded, Purgatory remains as the realm in which all these unsatisfied sins of contrite children of God meet their temporal punishment. From its fires only an indulgence could deliver. The saints, it was taught, had acquired, by their works of supererogation, a fund of superfluous merits, and these merits could be transferred by the Church. (Ibid., pp.60, 61)
Even Frederick the Wise believed in and supported the sale of indulgences:
The Elector Frederick, although in a far less offensive way, had provided for the sale of indulgences in connection with visits to the relics he had gathered in 1493 in the Holy Land, as a partial source of revenue for the Castle Church and cloister. The 5005 relics that were treasured in the Castle Church were said to give one hundred days indulgence each, if properly worshipped, i.e., 1371 years and 85 days, if all were thus used. (Ibid., pp. 68, 69)
Luther was not against the sale of indulgences, but he was against the abuse that occurred when indulgences were sold—it was the way they were sold that was wrong in Luther’s eyes because it taught the people not to fear sin itself, but to fear not buying the indulgences. As Tetzel drew near to Wittenberg, he attracted large crowds to his preaching, and Luther could not be silent:
Luther, though still a papist of the straitest sort, was filled with horror at the blasphemous assumptions of the indulgence-mongers. Many of his own congregation had purchased certificates of pardon, and they soon began to come to their pastor, confessing their various sins, and expecting absolution, not because they were penitent and wished to reform, but on the ground of the indulgence. Luther refused them absolution, and warned them that unless they should repent, and reform their lives, they must perish in their sins. In great perplexity they sought out Tetzel, and informed him that an Augustine monk had treated his letters with contempt. The friar was filled with rage. He uttered the most terrible curses, caused fires to be lighted in the public square, and declared that he had orders from the pope to burn the heretics who dared oppose his most holy indulgences. (White, p. 104)
Luther preached against indulgences from the pulpit, he wrote letters about it, he sought advice from those he looked upon as his spiritual fathers, and he appealed to his superiors, but to no avail. A crisis was imminent, a solution was needed and since nothing was working to halt the practice, Luther posted his theses in an effort to open scholarly debate on the issue:
Nothing sensational marked the hour. Notwithstanding his extraordinary popular gifts, he was no agitator, and did not move more rapidly than Providence opened clearly the way. On Fridays the theologians at Wittenberg were accustomed, in regular order, to conduct theological discussions, and to prepare and post up in advance the theses which, on a given date, they were ready to discuss. . . . The document which Luther prepared and that at once gained a universal hearing, was written not in the German, but in the Latin language. It was not for the people, but for the consideration of scholars and students. (Jacobs, pp. 70, 71)
Even though written in Latin, the ninety-five theses were noticed far and wide:
His propositions attracted universal attention. They were read and re-read and repeated in every direction. Great excitement was created in the university and in the whole city. By these theses it was shown that the power to grant the pardon of sin, and to remit its penalty, had never been committed to the pope or to any other man. The whole scheme was a farce,—an artifice to extort money by playing upon the superstitions of the people,—a device of Satan to destroy the souls of all who should trust to its lying pretensions. It was also clearly shown that the gospel of Christ is the most valuable treasure of the church, and that the grace of God, therein revealed, is freely bestowed upon all who seek it by repentance and faith. (White, p. 105) You may read the ninety-five theses at http://www.cresourcei.org/creed95theses.html.
All of this excitement began October 31, 1517. One year later, Luther was called to Augsburg (October 12–18, 1518) to be examined by Cardinal Cajetan for his heretical teachings, and the purpose was simple—Luther was to recant his positions on indulgences, on justification by faith, and on the authority of the pope, which he refused to do and realizing he was then to be arrested and sent to Rome, he left Augsburg on October 20, under the cover of darkness.
Two and one half years later, Luther was summoned by the holy Roman emperor, Charles V, to the Diet at Worms to answer charges of heresy, but between his visits to Augsburg in 1518 and to Worms in 1521, Pope Leo X issued a papal bull in 1520 which threatened Luther with excommunication unless he recanted the forty-one denounced propositions contained in his ninety-five theses. The day after receiving the bull, Luther wrote to Spalatin:
This bull condemns Christ himself. It summons me not to an audience but to a recantation. I am going to act on the assumption that it is spurious, though I think it is genuine. Would that Charles were a man and would fight for Christ against these Satans. But I am not afraid. Gods will be done. I do not know what the prince should do unless to dissemble. I am sending you a copy of the bull that you may see the Roman monster. The faith and the Church are at stake. I rejoice to suffer in so noble a cause. I am not worthy of so holy a trial. I feel much freer now that I am certain the pope is Antichrist. (Quoted by Roland H. Bainton in Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, p. 124)
And here was the true start of the Reformation—not when Luther wrote his ninety-five theses, but when he became convinced the pope was antichrist and that he was needed to stand up against him. A burden weighed heavily upon Luther’s shoulders for the faith and for the church, and he was not indifferent or neutral during this religious crisis:
If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 280)
And we face a momentous crisis, and we will have to decide between the truth of God’s word and the treason of Satan:
Now is the time for Gods people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are fewthis will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. (Ibid., vol. 5, pp. 136, 137)
Should the voice of the highest human authority announce an amendment or an addition to the law of God in any human legislature, such an announcement would be registered on the books of heaven as treason. (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, March 26, 1895)
Praise the Lord Luther was willing to be counted on the Lords side, and when Charles V commanded him to appear in Worms, he complied, believing God was calling him there, and before Luther ever appeared, God was working on the hearts and minds of the rulers already assembled at Worms. Aleander was the papal legate assigned the duty of securing Luther’s condemnation:
With a persistence worthy of a better cause, he [Aleander] urged the matter upon the attention of princes, prelates, and other members of the assembly, accusing the Reformer of sedition, rebellion, impiety, and blasphemy. But the vehemence and passion manifested by the legate plainly revealed that he was actuated by hatred and revenge rather than by zeal for religion. It was the prevailing sentiment of the assembly that Luther was innocent. (White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 121)
Later Aleander, the greatest of Romes orators (Ibid., p. 123), formally addressed the entire diet, and then the majority of the assembly were ready to sacrifice Luther to the demands of the pope (Ibid.), but then the Lord moved upon the heart of Duke George of Saxony, an enemy of Luther:
With noble firmness, Duke George of Saxony stood up in that princely assembly, and specified with terrible exactness the deceptions and abominations of popery, and their dire results. (Ibid.)
Ellen White tells us that “the voice of One greater than Luther” spoke through him, an open opposer of the Reformation. Amazing!
Had the eyes of the assembly been opened, they would have beheld angels of God in the midst of them, shedding beams of light athwart the darkness of error, and opening minds and hearts to the reception of truth. It was the power of the God of truth and wisdom that controlled even the adversaries of the Reformation, and thus prepared the way for the great work about to be accomplished. Martin Luther was not present; but the voice of One greater than Luther had been heard in that assembly. (Ibid., p.124)
When Luther later addressed the Diet, we are told he stood before the people as a righteous man:
Thus stood this righteous man, upon the sure foundation of the word of God. The light of Heaven illuminated his countenance. His greatness and purity of character, his peace and joy of heart, were manifest to all as he testified against the power of error, and witnessed to the superiority of that faith that overcomes the world. (Ibid., p. 134)
However, Dr. Eck, the Archbishop of Trier and Luther’s adversary at the diet, criticized Luther:
Martin, you have not sufficiently distinguished your works. The earlier were bad and the latter worse. Your plea to be heard from the Scripture is the one always made by heretics. You do nothing but renew the errors of Wyclif and Hus. How will the Jews, how will the Turks, exult to hear Christians discussing whether they have been wrong all these years! Martin, how can you assume that you are the only one to understand the sense of Scripture? Would you put your judgment above that of so many famous men and claim that you know more than they all? You have no right to call into question the most holy orthodox faith, instituted by Christ the perfect lawgiver, proclaimed throughout the world by the apostles, sealed by the red blood of martyrs, confirmed by the sacred councils, defined by the Church in which all our fathers believed until death and gave us as an inheritance, and which now we are forbidden by the pope and the emperor to discuss lest there be no end of debate. I ask you, Martin—answer candidly and without horns—do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?” (Bainton, pp. 143, 144)
And it was in answer to this pointed demand of Eck that Luther responded:
“Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other—my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.” . . .
Luther had spoken in German. He was asked to repeat in Latin. He was sweating. A friend called out, If you cant do it, Doctor, you have done enough. Luther made again his affirmation in Latin, threw up his arms in the gesture of a victorious knight, and slipped out of the darkened hall, amid the hisses of the Spaniards, and went to his lodging. (Ibid., p. 144)
The whole assembly were for a time speechless with amazement. The emperor himself and many of the princes were struck with admiration. The partisans of Rome had been worsted; their cause appeared in a most unfavorable light. They sought to maintain their power, not by appealing to the Scriptures, but by a resort to threats, Rome’s unfailing argument. Said the spokesman of the Diet, “If you do not retract, the emperor and the States of the empire will proceed to consider how to deal with an obstinate heretic.”
Luther’s friends, who had with great joy listened to his noble defense, trembled at these words; but the doctor himself said calmly, “May God be my helper! for I can retract nothing.”
Firm as a rock he stood, while the fiercest billows of worldly power beat harmlessly against him. The simple energy of his words, his fearless bearing, his calm, speaking eye, and the unalterable determination expressed in every word and act, made a deep impression upon the assembly. It was evident that he could not be induced, either by promises or threats, to yield to the mandate of Rome.
The papist leaders were chagrined that their power, which had caused kings and nobles to tremble, should be thus despised by a humble monk; they longed to make him feel their wrath by torturing his life away. But Luther, understanding his danger, had spoken to all with Christian dignity and calmness. His words had been free from pride, passion, and misrepresentation. He lost sight of himself, and of the great men surrounding him, and felt only that he was in the presence of One infinitely superior to popes, prelates, kings, and emperors. Christ had spoken through Luthers testimony with a power and grandeur that for the time inspired both friends and foes with awe and wonder. The Spirit of God had been present in that council, impressing the hearts of the chiefs of the empire. Several of the princes openly acknowledged the justice of Luthers cause. Many were convinced of the truth; but with some the impressions received were not lasting. There was another class who did not at the time express their convictions, but who, having searched the Scriptures for themselves, at a future time declared with great boldness for the Reformation. (White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, pp. 134, 135)
The emperor later called in some of the electors and princes to ask their opinions, but they requested more time.
“Very well,” said the emperor, “I will give you my opinion,” and he read them a paper which he had written out himself in French. This was no speech composed by a secretary. The young Hapsburg was confessing his faith:
I am descended from a long line of Christian emperors of this noble German nation, and of the Catholic kings of Spain, the archdukes of Austria, and the dukes of Burgundy. They were all faithful to the death to the Church of Rome, and they defended the Catholic faith and the honor of God. I have resolved to follow in their steps. A single friar who goes counter to all Christianity for a thousand years must be wrong. Therefore I am resolved to stake my lands, my friends, my body, my blood, my life, and my soul. Not only I, but you of this noble German nation, would be forever disgraced if by our negligence not only heresy but the very suspicion of heresy were to survive. After having heard yesterday the obstinate defense of Luther, I regret that I have so long delayed in proceeding against him and his false teaching. I will have no more to do with him. He may return under his safe conduct, but without preaching or making any tumult. I will proceed against him as a notorious heretic, and ask you to declare yourselves as you promised me. (Bainton, pp. 144, 145)
The final response of Luther to the diet was on May 18, 1521. On May 23, Charles V signed the Edit of Worms, which stated, in part:
To put an end to the numberless and endless errors of the said Martin, let us say that it seems that this man, Martin, is not a man but a demon in the appearance of a man, clothed in religious habit to be better able to deceive mankind, and wanting to gather the heresies of several heretics who have already been condemned, excommunicated, and buried in hell for a long time. Let us add to this all the heresies recently brought in by him to be the source of all iniquity and rubbish and to destroy the Catholic faith. As an evangelical preacher he labors to trouble and demolish all religious peace and charity and all order and direction in the things of this world. And finally, he brings dishonor upon all the beauty of our Holy Mother Church. (http://www.cresourcei.org/creededictworms.html)
Brothers and sisters, the Reformation is not over—it will continue to the end of time! Let us not be found guilty of treason in the courts above. Let us, instead, be part of those whom God can use to turn minds away from darkness to the everlasting light.
The Reformation did not, as many suppose, end with Luther. It is to be continued to the close of this worlds history. Luther had a great work to do in reflecting to others the light which God had permitted to shine upon him; yet he did not receive all the light which was to be given to the world. From that time to this, new light has been continually shining upon the Scriptures, and new truths have been constantly unfolding. (Ibid., p.123)
A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper he, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great;
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Student Light-Bearers of the Reformation
(This month we continue a series based upon the book Youthful Witnesses by W. A. Spicer, published in 1921. This month we offer, due to space constraints, a condensed version of chapter 6.)
JOHN TREBONIUS, the schoolmaster of Eisenach, was a wise old teacher. Whenever he came before his class in the morning, it is said he always took off his master’s cap and saluted the boys on the rows of benches. He said to them:
“I do this to salute the coming man. I do not know what boy there may be here of whom God purposes to make a great advocate, a distinguished chancellor, a burgomaster, or a learned doctor; and I salute the coming man.”
Little did he realize that one of those boys was to be used of God, not to fill some distinguished academic chair or civic office, but as the chief agent of the great Reformation of the sixteenth century, that cut short the long reign of the Papacy and still blesses mankind with the spreading light of the word of God set free.
Born in 1483, Luther was a boy of nine when Columbus discovered the New World. The age of reform was at hand, and God’s providence was beginning to open all the world before the approaching era of increased knowledge.
Luther was only an ordinary student. He was thirtieth in a list of fifty-seven when he took his bachelor’s degree in Erfurt, at nineteen. It was at Erfurt, however, where some of the old university buildings still stand, that young Luther found the Latin Bible that began the transformation of his life.
Then he made his visit to Rome; and there, climbing the holy stairs on his knees, trying to win by penance the release from the sense of sin, the text had flashed into his heart, “The just shall live by faith.” He rose from his knees, and that day, in the Holy Spirit’s power, the Reformation was born in the young man’s soul.
As Luther began to teach and to open the Bible to the people, a new spirit stirred in the hearts of men, and everywhere in the beginnings of the work of reform we find young students at the fore. Tetzel, with his raw traffic in indulgences, came into German with his money chest and his indulgences. His slogan was: “So soon as ever in the chest the money rings, The soul out of the fiery flame of purgatory springs.”
At the noise of Tetzel’s propaganda, Luther’s soul was stirred, and he nailed up his theses on the door of the old Wittenberg church, proclaiming the way of salvation by faith. That act, performed on Oct. 31, 1517, was the launching of the great Reformation, little as Luther, then thirty-four years of age, realized what would grow out of it.
But the man was not consciously starting a reformation. Great movements like that do not come of human planning. Some one — this time a youth verging on middle age — stands up for Christ, and out of a witness borne unflinchingly for truth, God brings forth great results by his own mighty power.
Philipp Melanchthon reached Wittenberg just in time to throw his youthful ardor into the battle for truth. He was the scholar of the Reformation. He had won the highest respect of the greatest scholar in Europe — Erasmus, the sage of Rotterdam. Philipp had taken his bachelor’s degree at fourteen. He came to Wittenberg in 1518, the year after the nailing up of the theses, and with heart and soul gave himself to the new cause. This was no mere intellectual battle. It was not learning against learning. Scholarship had little to do with it, save as God used it to open the long-closed word of life and set it before the people. Hungry hearts were fed the plain and simple fare. In 1519 Melanchthon wrote:
I am wholly engaged on the Holy Scriptures, and I wish you would also devote yourself wholly to them. There is a wonderful charm in them; yea, a heavenly ambrosia nourishes the soul which is engaged on them. Life of Melanchthon, Richards.
Students had lived on the dry husks of philosophy and logic and all the rest that makes up a university course without God and his living word. Now the very waters of life were bubbling up, and thirsty souls were drinking. They found Christ and the forgiveness of sins. It was a new life, not merely a new school of teaching.
Erasmus, the mere scholar, was frightened. He begged correspondents not to drag him into it or to praise his writings that had helped to start the spirit of inquiry. Reuchlin, who had done so much to prepare the way by his Greek and Hebrew studies, was alarmed. Melanchthon was his nephew. Reuchlin finally besought the ardent nephew not to write to him. Mere scholarship without strength of character and the love of Christ was helpless when the hour struck for a revival of the knowledge of Christ’s salvation. The wisdom of this world is but foolishness with God.
Now the young students from over Europe who had found the Saviour and experienced his pardoning grace and saving power in Wittenberg, hastened back to their homes with the good news.
Olaf Patersen, of Orebro, Sweden, came to Wittenberg at nineteen. He was doubtless in the throng about the old church when Luther was nailing up his challenge and declaration of faith. Back Patersen went to Sweden two years later, and with his brother Lawrence set Sweden aflame with the preaching of the simple gospel. King Gustavus Vasa I espoused the cause, and Sweden was won away from Rome.
John Tausen, a Danish youth, had been sent by the prior of his monastery to Germany for study. He heard of Wittenberg. Though warned that its “waters” were “poisoned,” he went there. He, too, found Christ. A few years there, and back he went to Denmark with a message that transformed the kingdom. The efforts of the ecclesiastical authorities to silence the young man’s witness were altogether vain. The flame spread over Denmark.
“With the heart man believeth unto righteousness,” says the Scripture. The students of Reformation times found use for all their intellectual powers, but that training of the mind was of service in the cause of Christ only as Christ himself was found as a personal Saviour, and his cause and work and the salvation of souls were made the chief thing on earth.
Calvin’s experience illustrates the point. He was in Paris, a student, fascinated with the learning of the schools. Wylie tells how Calvin found that something was lacking in his range of study, and how he found the way into light as he turned to the Bible:
One day, while the young scholar of the Montaigu was passing through these struggles, he chanced to visit the Place de Greve, where he found a great crowd of priests, soldiers, and citizens gathered round a stake at which a disciple of the new doctrines was calmly yielding up his life. He stood till the fire had done its work, and a stake, an iron collar and chain, and a heap of ashes were the only memorials of the tragedy he had witnessed. What he had seen awakened a train of thoughts within him. “These men,” said he to himself, “have a peace which I do not possess. They endure the fire with a rare courage. I, too, could brave the fire, but were death to come to me, as it comes to them, with the sting of the church’s anathema in it, could I face that as calmly .as they do? Why is it that they are so courageous in the midst of terrors that are as real as they are dreadful, while I am oppressed and tremble before apprehensions and forebodings?
Yes, I will take my cousin Olivetans advice, and search the Bible, if haply I may find that ‘new way’ of which he speaks, and which these men who go so bravely through the fire seem to have found!” He opened the book which no one, says Rome, should open unless the church be by to interpret. He began to read, but the first effect was a sharper terror. His sins had never appeared so great nor himself so vile as now.
He would have shut the book, but to what other quarter could he turn? On every side of him, abysses appeared to be opening. So he continued to read, and by and by he thought he could discern dimly and afar off what seemed a cross, and one hanging upon it, and his form was like the Son of God. He looked again, and the vision was clearer, for now he thought he could read the inscription over the head of the Sufferer. He was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our transgressions: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. A ray now shone through his darkness; he thought he could see a way of escape a shelter where the black tempest that lowered over him would no longer beat upon his head; already the great burden that pressed upon him was less heavy, it seemed as if about to fall off, and now it rolled down as he kept gazing at the Crucified. O Father, he burst out, it was no longer the Judge, the Avenger, O Father, his sacrifice has appeased thy wrath; his blood has washed away my impurities; his cross has borne my curse; his death has atoned for me! In the midst of the great billows his feet had touched the bottom; he found the ground to be good; he was upon a rock. Ibid., book 13, chap. 7, p. 153.
And thus listening to the voice of God in the living word and taking the gift of righteousness by faith, young Calvin became one of the valiant witnesses to the French-speaking peoples.
Scotland tried to shut out the Reformation doctrines. It was impossible. The tracts and books from the Continent got across the North Sea in cargo boats and fishing smacks. A law of 1525 forbade such bringing in of Lutheran heresy. As well might the law have forbidden the North Sea tides to wash upon the Scottish coasts.
But who was to be the agent to first lift up the torch of Reformation truth and to summon all Scotland to walk in the light? Again it was a youth to whom it was given to lead the way. Young Patrick Hamilton was to be the first messenger. He was but twenty-three at his death. Of princely lineage, grandson of a king, noble in character, a student, he had been to Wittenberg. He came back with the reform truth in his heart. [See poem on page 24.]
Young Patrick made the Bible teaching plain, that Christ alone can make the heart right and by his power create the new life that bears the fruit. Believing just that simple lesson now, means salvation and joy in the knowledge that Jesus has forgiven all our sins and that we are his children. And that was the Reformation. It was not anything else. It came by giving the people the Bible. And as men and women and youth laid hold of this blessed truth that no works of their own of any kind could help to save from sin and condemnation, but only faith in Christ, who alone has power to help and save, ecclesiasticism and superstition began to totter.
Hamilton was hastened to the stake; but his triumphant witness there, and the teachings that he left behind, began the work that summoned all Scotland to the conflict. Others caught up the word of light, and no power of evil could stop the spreading movement.
Themighty work arose out of simple faith in the Bible as the word of the living God. Captivated by the love of God for sinners, they devoted their all to his service in proclaiming the message of pardon and free salvation which they had found in the word of God and God used the witness of these student youth for the launching of the great Reformation.
Oh! young Hamilton, from beyond the sea
He hath strange new doctrines brought,
And our father the Pope says such heretics
Are easier burned than taught!
No crucifix in his hand he waves,
Nor relic nor chaplet wears;
And he spends no worship on dead men’s bones
No faith upon dead men’s prayers.
And young Hamilton stands in his light of youth,
With his calm and holy brow;
And it seems as the Father’s name of love
Were beaming from it now!
The dry wood crackled, the flame rose high,
One groan from the breathless crowd;
But a voice came back from the mantling fire
As a trumpet clear and loud:
“How long, O my God! shall this darkness brood?
How long wilt Thou stay thy hand?
Now gather my soul to rest for thee,
And shine on my native land!”
Mrs. Stuart Menteit
West Virginia Camp Meeting
Smyrna Gospel Ministries will be hosting their annual camp meeting June 25–29 this year. The camp meetings theme is “The Sabbath.” We certainly hope you will be able to attend this study and fellowship retreat. There will be a seminar on the lunar Sabbath each day, with question and answer sessions at the end of the meetings. The lunar Sabbath fallacy has sadly taken some brothers and sisters into its deceitful grasp, and we believe it is past time for God’s people to have a better understanding of the many problems with this wind of doctrine. Looking at the negative aspects of the lunar Sabbath will just be a small part of the camp meeting, though. We will also emphasize the truth of the biblical Sabbath, with speakers covering areas of the Sabbath, such as how it dovetails into the three angels’ messages and righteousness by faith and how to enjoy the Sabbath in a manner that pleases God.
We are also planning on programs for the youth, and Brother Ron Toel will be back this year to share with us from his broad knowledge of nature.
Health presentations will be given, and we hope to also have another story tent.
Please do not forget to bring your Bibles and a cheerful heart. This is a camp meeting, and there is no cost to attend the camp meeting. For those who do not wish to camp, there are motels nearby; and for those who are older or have medical issues and would like to come but cannot afford a motel, contact us, and we will find a place on site for you.
There are complete directions and maps on our website. If you use GPS, the co-ordinates are: N 37° 31 13", W 81 36 09"
This message is available on DVD. Thesuggested donation is $3.00 each, which includes postage. You may view and/or download this video on YouTubeat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbLmKkiahTI.
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 site. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.