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. 23, No. 10 Straight and Narrow October 2014
To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under
the heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
In this issue:
Popular Church Opinion
Broadcast Services Available
Insights on the Life of Ellen G. White
The Perfect Character 2
Was James a Heretic
Popular Church Opinion
By Allen Stump
The first known opinion poll ever conducted was a straw poll taken in 1824 by The Harrisburg Pennsylvanian. It accurately predicted that Andrew Jackson would win the presidency over John Quincy Adams. In this poll Jackson received three hundred thirty-five votes to one hundred sixty-nine for Adams. Though a very small poll, it proved to be true. Jackson not only won the popular vote in the state of Pennsylvania but also won the popular vote in the whole country and most importantly, he won the electoral college vote. It was not until the year 1916 that a magazine called The Literary Digest, in an effort to help raise circulation rates, conducted what we would call the first nationwide opinion poll. It correctly predicted that Woodrow Wilson would be reelected president of the United States. In 1920 its poll accurately predicted that Warren Harding would be our next president. In 1924 they were right about Calvin Coolidge. The Literary Digest poll for the election of 1928 correctly called the election for Herbert Hoover, and in 1932 it correctly predicted that Franklin Roosevelt would be the president of the United States.
In 1936 Alf Langdon challenged President Roosevelt who was running for reelection. The Literary Digest had predicted correctly five out of five elections! This time The Literary Digest again took its poll and received 2.3 million votes. And you know what the Digest predicted? It predicted that Alf Landon would win. Those who know United States presidential history know that the 1936 election was the largest landslide victory ever, but not for Landon. Roosevelt won. The Digest had been sent mostly to affluent people, and these people tended to be Republicans, all of whom were going to vote for Alf Langdon. Interestingly, there was another man by the name of George Gallup, and he conducted a scientific poll. Though his was a much smaller poll, it was based upon a larger demographic group of people, and he predicted that instead of Alf Langdon winning the election Franklin Roosevelt would win in a landslide victory. The Literary Digest soon went out of business. Gallup kept going and even today there is what is known as the Gallup Poll.
People are interested in what other people think because, rightfully or wrongfully, they make decisions based upon what other people think, but the concepts and the views held by the majority of the population or even the majority of the church population is not always right and, in fact, is seldom right. The Bible, on the other hand, urges us to have personal independent thinking based upon God’s word rather than to be the adherent of a popular belief, of what a preacher might say, or of what a preacher might publish. God’s people should not be concerned about public opinion or even public church opinion. What the people of God need to be concerned about is what God says!
The Bible warns against following a crowd into evil:
Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: (Exodus 23:2)
Following a multitude because they are a multitude is wrong. If they multitude is doing right, by all means get in line, but the facts will show that on this Earth, the multitude is almost always wrong. And when people get behind the multitude, they are usually there to do evil.
Job says, “If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom: Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door” (Job 31:33, 34)? Another translation says:
Others try to hide their sins, but I have never concealed mine. I have never feared what people would say; I have never kept quiet or stayed indoors because I feared their scorn. (TEV)
Sometimes people wait to see which way the current is moving and then they get in line with what seems to be popular. Job was a man of great integrity and one of three men that God could outline through his prophet as a great man, (Ezekiel 14:14, 20). Job said, I never hid myself. I never was quiet because of what people might say or because they might scorn me. In other words, he did not hold back the truth for anyone or for anything. He was not afraid of what people would say.
In volume 1 of Testimonies for the Church on page 406, Ellen White states:
We should not measure ourselves by the world, nor by the opinions of men, nor by what we were before we embraced the truth. But our faith and position in the world, as they now are, must be compared with what they would have been if our course had been continually onward and upward since we professed to be followers of Christ.
This is our standard, and this is where our opinion should be. It should not be on what other people think but on what God thinks of where we should be today. Paul warns Christians:
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
We do not want to compare ourselves with others, but we need to consider where we would be if we continue onward and upward. This is what we should concern us.
Brother O. H. Harrell was traveling with Brother Glen Ford one day, when they went by a large church with a full parking lot. Brother Harrell made the comment, “You can be sure of one thing. They are not preaching the truth in that church.” And he could say that based upon the principle that the majority does not want to hear the truth. The majority wants smooth things preached to them. That is the way things always have been and always will be. Jesus said:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13, 14)
The majority of people would rather have smooth things preached to them. They say, “Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits” (Isaiah 30:10).
Beloved, the majority is usually not correct, but there are exceptions. The majority of heaven is correct, is it not? And one day we will be part of the family of heaven and become one, united in substance, and the majority will always be true then, but on this earth today the majority is usually not right.
Let me share a word of cautionthe inverse is not always true. The minority is not always right either. Do understand? For example, you could have a church of one hundred people when a schism occurs. Ten people move away from the rest and then look at the ninety and say, Look. There is the majority, and the majority is never right. We are the few who are standing for God. Within that ten there could be two who say, The other eight over there have made a mistake and being in the new majority, they cannot be right. And so the two separate from the eight. The two are now the minority and, therefore, conclude they must be right. Finally there is a breakup between these two, and each are sure they are right!
Jesus said, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Jesus said that the broad road, the easy way, would be attended by the majority but that the way to heaven was a strait way, through a narrow gate, and few go in. And this is generally the rule of thumb. The great majority, where the masses are going, is not the truth.
Public opinion can have quite an effect, and I want you to see this in the Bible. Remember the famous words of Samuel to King Saul about obedience? Samuel had commanded Saul to destroy every bit of Amalek. Israel was not to leave even one person behind. The sin and wickedness was so bad that even the children could not be spared. Furthermore, Israel was not to spare their cattle or any of their animals, but Saul came back with King Agag and Israel came with great herds of animals. Samuel meets Saul, and Samuel gives the truth straight to him:
And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:22, 23)
This was terrible to hear, but Saul had to be told. Surely Saul must have known that he was disobeying God. The word of the prophet was the word of God then, as it is now. What influenced Saul to the point of such wretched disobedience? The next verse has the answer:
And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. (1 Samuel 15:24)
Saul feared the people! The popular opinion of the troops was we should takes these back, and Saul was too much of a coward to say no. He would not stand up for what was right.
Even before this Saul had relinquished to the multitude. First Samuel 14 gives one of the few places where the majority voiced a good opinion. Israel was fighting against the Philistines. Jonathan and his armor bearer and all the others were with Saul. Jonathan went up to the Philistines with his armor bearer, and they started a great victory. Earlier that day, however, Saul had decreed that “cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies” (1 Samuel 14:24). Jonathan, however, had not heard this decree and when he saw a honeycomb, he partook of its refreshing nature. When his father found out, he was going to kill Jonathan because of the pride of his own word, but the multitude stood up and said to Saul:
Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. (1 Samuel 14:45)
Saul was a man that did not live by principle, but by popular opinion.
Public opinion led Jesus Christ to being crucified.
Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. (Matthew 27:15, 16)
Remember the rest of the story? You can read it through verse 31. Barabbas was a vile criminal, someone who was notable for being wicked and in an endeavor to save Jesus, Pilate brought out this wicked man and put him in stark contrast to Jesus. He sets him in contradistinction to Christ and said, “Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you” (Matthew 27:21)? What did the popular opinion say? “And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas” (Luke 23:18).
Popular opinion led to Peter being imprisoned:
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) (Acts 12:1–3)
It had pleased the Jews that James was killed, and so Peter was taken prisoner. Herod knew it would please the Jews if Peter died. He would be more popular, but events would not stop there. More imprisonment and executions would follow, perhaps it would next be John or Andrew or someone else. God, however, decreed that it was going to stop, and it did stop.
Very seldom has the recorded history of popular public opinion or of popular church opinion been favorable to truth and righteousness. Public opinion is often contrary to the divine will and standards of God because the majority is not converted. The majority is living after the flesh and not after the spirit.
Haggai, however, tells us that revival and reformation can come to those who will listen to the voice of God.
Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? (Haggai 1:2–4)
God told them to consider their ways—they had homes to live in, but his house, sadly, was lying in waste. God went on to say that he cannot bless this kind of program:
Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. (Haggai 1:6–9)
God was not happy with this situation, and he said that there would be a drought upon the land and that things were going to be hard. To the credit of the people, however, here was a time when they listened. They listened, and they decided that they would do something about it. We have nice insight on this in the book Prophets and Kings:
The message of counsel and reproof given through Haggai was taken to heart by the leaders and people of Israel. They felt that God was in earnest with them. They dared not disregard the repeated instruction sent them—that their prosperity, both temporal and spiritual, was dependent on faithful obedience to God’s commands. Aroused by the warnings of the prophet, Zerubbabel and Joshua, “with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet.” Verse 12.
As soon as Israel decided to obey, the words of reproof were followed by a message of encouragement. “Then spake Haggai . . . unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel” and of Joshua, and “of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God.” Verses 13, 14.
In less than a month after the work on the temple was resumed, the builders received another comforting message. Be strong, O Zerubbabel, the Lord Himself urged through His prophet; be strong, O Joshua; . . . and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts. Haggai 2:4. (Ellen White, Prophets and Kings, p. 575)
There is a vital point to remember here and one that we will see in many other applications. When the people listened to the prophet, they prospered and were blessed. When the people listened to the prophet, it was as if the voice of God was speaking. Do you know why? It is because it is the voice of God, for that is why the person is a prophet. In the time of Haggai, the people heard and when they heard, they came under what they heard. They obeyed and prospered.
Remember the twelve spies sent to spy out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:21–14:10)? Only two of the twelve came back with a good report. Which two? Joshua and Caleb. We all remember their names, but there were ten others and even though their names are mentioned, very few will know the name of even one of those ten. Their names are not remembered. They, the majority, brought back an evil, wicked report. In fact, their report would have resulted in the stoning of Joshua and Caleb if God had not intervened, and because of this rebellion of the majority, the people were to stay in the wilderness for forty years.
Another case of a wrong majority is found in 1 Samuel 8:
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel. (1 Samuel 8:4–6)
Let me ask you a question. Why did the request of the people displease Samuel? By requesting this they were offending God; in making this request they were rejecting God.
But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. (1 Samuel 8:6–9)
God told Samuel to hearken, or to obey, their request. This is what the majority wanted, and the majority ruled. The results, however, were not good.
Those who live within the United States today believe that they live in something called a democracy. In a democracy each person has an equal right to have a voice in the direction of and in the government of the nation. The international political goal of the United States is to insure that everybody else in the world lives under a democracy. The fact is, however, that this country was not founded as a democracy. It was founded as a republic and in a republic, the majority does not always make the decisions. In a republic only certain responsible citizens determine the course of the nation. The founders of the United States knew that the majority is not usually correct and attempted to make a provision to have a government that would run the country by what was right, regardless of whether policy was politically correct or not and regardless of whether it was agreeable or not to the majority. That form of government, however, is no longer operating in the United States, and the results are revealing that the majority cannot be safely trusted with the welfare of such a great nation.
Another example of the pseudo wisdom of the majority is found in 1 Kings 18. Israel had been in a terrible drought for three and a half years. Elijah had been commissioned of God to see Ahab. The prophet gathered Israel at Mount Carmel. Something was to happen:
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. (1 Kings 18:21)
The people answered him not a word! Elijah demanded to know how long the people were going to halt between two opinions. This phrase of halting between two opinions is taken from a Hebrew metaphor of a bird hopping from one branch to another, seemingly never knowing where it wanted to settle. Israel was quiet. Even the seven thousand who had not bowed their knee to Baal were quiet, if they were there.
I have wondered, have we as a people done worse today? A lot of people have ceased being indifferent and have gotten off the fence alright, but many have gotten off on the wrong side of the fence! They are now with a majority. Have we done worse than Israel did in the time of Elijah? When I remember what has been written in the testimonies of Sister White, I realize that we have not done worse because there we read:
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)
This testimony was written in connection to the story of Elijah. Do you understand what it is saying? It is actually worse to be neutral than to be on the side of the wrong majority! Why? Because those on the side of the majority, if the wickedness is clear enough and if the error is pronounced enough, at least can be clearly seen to be error.
If someone is going to be in error, I would rather for them to be in a great error that is plain for others to see, instead of being in a subtle error where the track of truth and the track of error lie close together because to the undiscerning eye that is not worked by the Holy Spirit it is very difficult to discern which one is right. They may appear as one. It would be far better, beloved, to be very wrong, to be way off, than to be neutral and not clear on where you are standing. So we are not as bad today as Israel was in the time of Elijah, for many are not being quiet but are wholeheartedly joining apostasy.
There was a mob in the day of Jeremiah. The story is recorded in Jeremiah 26:716. The people wanted to kill Jeremiah, but some of the princes and elders stepped in and said, You cant do this; he is speaking for God. The majority, however, were ready to get rid of Jeremiah. They may have thought, Jeremiah speaks badly about us, says ill things about us, and does not like us. He is upset with us. He harbors grudges against us. But was this true? Not at all, friends! Jeremiah loved those people. He was willing to die for those people. He was going to tell them the truth, even if it killed him.
All these divisions that separate the majority from the minority, that separate truth from righteousness, that separate holiness from wickedness, really center around Jesus Christ and what we do with him.
Public and church opinion of Jesus Christ has always brought division. Matthew 16:13–18 records an important opinion poll. I am sure you have heard these verses. They begin:
When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:13–16)
Interestingly, the answer that Peter gave was not an answer from the popular opinion polls. Not one opinion poll revealed the identity of Jesus Christ. None of the majority believed that Jesus was the Son of God, and the same is true today. If you take a poll of the majority of church leaders, representatives, and members today, you will find that, to them, Jesus is the second person of the supposedly Holy Trinity, but the Apostle Peter said he was the Son of the living God. Jesus replied:
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:17, 18)
We have been told in the book The Desire of Ages, Peter had expressed the truth which is the foundation of the churchs faith” (Ellen White, p. 413; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted). On the page before (page 412), she states: “The truth which Peter had confessed is the foundation of the believer’s faith.” The church is collectively made up of all the individuals; therefore, if a truth is the foundation of the entire set of believers, it must also be the foundation of the Church’s faith. Our belief of Jesus is extremely important. John records:
And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people. (John 7:12)
It is the same today. There are some who will look at the ministers of Christ today and say, Oh, they are good people. They are doing a good work. And others will say, No! They are deceiving the people. If different ministers of Christ come together and are preaching different gospels, there is someone wrong in that group, regardless of what the people or the majority believe. It is also true that there may not necessarily be anyone teaching truth. Just because you have a diverse group of opinions does not mean you have the right opinion yet. In Matthew 16 Jesus asked the opinion of the people. None of the answers people were giving were correct! So just because you think Brother A is wrong on a certain position does not mean that Brother B, who has a different position, is correct. Everything must be tested with what inspiration says.
The Stand of One against the Majority
Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1 Corinthians 10:11)
Of all the things that are ensamples to us recorded in sacred history, I think that the cases where we have one against the majority are of great importance, for in the last days God’s people will be a small minority and will all be called to stand alone.
It does not seem possible to us now that any should have to stand alone; but if God has ever spoken by me, the time will come when we shall be brought before councils and before thousands for his names sake, and each one will have to give the reason of his faith. Then will come the severest criticism upon every position that has been taken for the truth. We need, then, to study the word of God, that we may know why we believe the doctrines we advocate. We must critically search the living oracles of Jehovah. (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, December 18, 1888)
What do you suppose it was like to be Noah? Can you imagine what it was like building a boat for one hundred twenty years? He was a laughing stock to the antediluvians! Of all the great appeal sermons that have ever been preached, that last sermon Noah preached might have been one of the greatest ever. I would love to have heard it. Can you imagine it? Noah knew the door was going to be shut. He knew the rain was coming, and he knew that everyone outside of the ark would be lost. He appealed with tears, he pleaded, and he begged for the people to come into the ark. Noah was speaking against the popular opinion of a whole world. Perhaps the leading scientist of the day declared that water just could not hang in the sky and drop down at the will of God and the theologians argued that since God did not destroy Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, he would not destroy them with a flood. Everyone was against Noah.
Elijah was against the opinion of the church and the state and even though there were seven thousand who had not bowed down the knee to Baal, they were not vocal on Mount Carmel. Elijah stood, in effect, alone.
Remember when Moses came down from the Mount with the tables of stone? His own brother, who had just been anointed of God as the High Priest of Israel, was leading all of Israel into the golden calf apostasy. Moses stood alone, and he stood boldly. He stood with confidence, for he had the assurance that he was in the true majority. Beloved, if you stand with God, even if it is just you standing alone with God, you are standing in the majority. God and you make a majority, and that is all you need. That is the real majority. That is the true majority.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were told to bow down to the image. Everybody, not just the people of Babylon alone, bowed down, for when you read the story, it says that Nebuchadnezzar called all the captains and rulers of all the provinces (Daniel 3:3). I am sure that King Zedekiah of Judah was there as well, and he bowed down to the image, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not bow down.
Jesus is the supreme example of one person standing against the majority. When everyone forsook him, Jesus remained faithful in the Garden of Gethsemane and on to the cross. Jesus Christ spiritually stood true and tall, in spite of being bowed down with the perspiration of blood upon his face and in spite of all of his disciples forsaking him. Jesus stood against the opinion of the world, and he was faithful unto the end.
Opinion of the Individual
We have been talking about the opinion of the majority, but we need to also consider the opinion of the individual because sometimes the opinion of an individual, forcefully presented, can sway a majority. One person with the wrong idea can do a terrible work.
Karl Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history. He founded what is called Marxism, which has developed into what we today call communism. Vladimir Lenin later agreed with Marx’s ideas and began the enslavement of millions of people which lasted for almost a century. So we see that one person can make a large difference for evil, as well as for good. How vital, then, that we have correct opinions. We have been told that:
Self-will and pride of opinion lead many to reject the light from heaven They cling to pet ideas, fanciful interpretations of Scripture, and dangerous heresies; and if a testimony is borne to correct these errors, they will, like many in Christs day, go away displeased. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 72)
Think about this for a minute. People have pet ideas. They “have fanciful interpretations of Scripture,” meaning that they have interpretations that are not sound. These ideas are “dangerous heresies.” Interestingly, we have been told:
Error is never harmless. It never sanctifies, but always brings confusion and dissension. It is always dangerous. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 292)
If all heresy, therefore, is dangerous, using the expression dangerous heresies adds emphasis to the point, but pride of opinion will lead many to reject the testimonies of Ellen White and to treat them with complacency. Sometimes the testimonies are ignored. People may say, Well this testimony has let me down; therefore, I do not need it. I will just go with something that I like. I like the Bible because I can interpret it anyway I want. If that interpretation, however, goes against the testimonies of the prophetess, you can be sure it is a fanciful interpretation.
I hate to see false views to go into print or to be preached not only because of the error, but because once someone has something printed or has publically presented something, that person seldom retracts what he or she has presented. It is one thing, beloved, to come up with an idea you are not sure about and to present it to brethren of experience, where you can sit down and discuss it together. Maybe the brethren of experience can show you where the idea is not sound, and you can sit back and say, I love my brethren, and I love the word of God. They have helped me to understand that I have had a wrong interpretation, a fanciful interpretation, but now I understand, and that is what I want.
Once you put something into print, it can go to thousands of people; and once you preach, thousands may hear you through a recording or through Internet sites, such as Youtube, and then it becomes very hard to back down and say, I was wrong. People do not usually do it. It takes courage to do that.
I met a young man several years ago who had learned what is called new theology. He learned this while attending Southern University. With the zeal of a better cause, he was preaching it as loud and as hard as he could; but the truth was presented to him and when he learned the truth, the very first Sabbath that he had a chance to preach, he stood in the pulpit and said, I must tell you that I have been teaching you errors and lies. I want to show you why I have done it, what the lies are, what the issues are, and finally what the real truth is.
As a group of people, independent Adventists do not have a favorable impression or mindset of Donald Barnhouse and Walter Martin. We know of the conferences that they had with leading Adventists in 1955 and 1956 and how those conferences led to compromises in our faith and to the publishing of the book Questions on Doctrine. Prior to the conferences Barnhouse had called Adventism a cult and its doctrines heretical. He did not believe Seventh-day Adventists were Christians. He had said this for years, and Walter Martin came along and said, Im not so sure about that. I have been researching this people, I have been talking to them, and I think that they are not a sect at all, like you thought they were. Maybe they are not a heretical people. And in their minds, based upon what our men had told them, Adventists were no longer heretical because we had made changes. These men had the moral courage to publish their new belief. Donald Barnhouse published a magazine entitled Eternity. When Barnhouse published his new position in Eternity, he lost thousands of subscriptions. Some were cancellations and others were failures to renew, but the reality is that he lost a full third of his subscriptions. A third! Can you imagine? He was willing to stand up for what he believed was right. Oh, friends, how can we let people like Donald Barnhouse and Walter Martin outdo us? Surely if they had the moral courage to stand for what they thought was right, we should be able to have moral courage to stand for what we know is right, even if we are standing alone.
If we do not have Christ abiding in our hearts, it is natural to hold onto our opinions, regardless of what we may say about Christ. All preachers claim to have Christ in their hearts. They all say that they are preaching the righteousness of Christ. Everyone does! How many people are telling you that they are preaching the righteousness of Satan or righteousness by works? When was the last time you heard a good sermon on that? We see churches called Faith Baptist Church and Faith Methodist Church, but when was the last time you saw one called Disobedience Baptist Church. It does not happen.
One of the most solemn statements in the Spirit of Prophecy is found in volume 7 of the Testimonies for the Church: “The sin that is most nearly hopeless and incurable is pride of opinion, self-conceit” (Ellen White, pp. 199, 200).
The sin that is almost incurable is pride of opinion. It is nearly hopeless. I am glad she said it is nearly hopeless because, friends, it can be overcome if we let Jesus in, but this should tell us something about how important it is to say the truth and to know what we say. Jesus told Nicodemus, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen Another translation says, I assure you: We speak what We know and We testify to what We have seen (Holman Christian Standard Version). Christians do not speak their own opinions. Even Jesus did not come to speak his own words (opinion), but the words of the Father (John 14:10).
Jesus is the example for each believer. We are not wise enough to come up with good interpretations. Our best work, apart from God’s guidance, will only give fanciful interpretations. May we each submit to the will of God to bring our opinions and thinking into line with his opinion and will. This will truly be having the “mind of Christ” (Philippians 2:5).
Broadcast Services Available
We wish to inform our new readers and remind our old readers that we broadcast our main services each week. This includes our Wednesday night prayer meeting (7 pm EST), our Sabbath morning song service (9:15 am), a Youth/Adult Sabbath school class (9:35 am), and Sabbath Worship services (11 am).
These services can be accessed over the phone by dialing 16193262730 and entering the reference code 755896 when prompted. Follow the rest of the prompts to be a part of the service. This connection includes a feature that allows you to interact with the service. You may also use this phone connection for our weekly story hour on Mondays at 7 pm. The story being read at this time is Yankee on the Yangtze.
For those who have Internet access and wish to view the service as well as hear it, you may access the service at www.webmeetinglogin.com/go/church/services. Log in using any user name you wish, and you may see and hear the services, as well as use the chat board for prayer requests and comments.
Insights on the Life of Ellen G. White
By Arthur White
(The following is chapter 9 from the paper, Ellen G. White the Person by her grandson, Arthur White.)
Perseverance characterized Ellen White from her childhood to the sunset years. It was evident in her earnest labors for the conversion of her teen-age friends when she was a girl. All except one gave their hearts to God.
Perseverance was also evident when her son Willie (twenty-one months old) nearly drowned in a tub of dirty washwater. Cutting the garments off the seemingly lifeless child, she took him out on the front lawn and, against the protests of neighbors, who felt that she was mauling a dead baby, rolled little Willie on the grass until the water gurgled out of his lungs and he finally gasped for breath. His life was saved.
Perseverance was evident in her efforts to reclaim her stricken husband when at the age of forty-four he suffered a paralytic stroke so severe that the doctors said they had never seen a case of this kind make a recovery. But the message from God was that his mind and body could be restored only if the faculties were brought into use. In defiance of the physicians, who counseled that her husband should not exercise either mind or body, she dedicated her time and strength for nearly two years to working toward his restoration. During this period they retired to a little farm, where she devised ingenious means to lead him to engage in daily walks, to harness the horses, to work in the garden, to get the hay in. Depressed, he preferred to be withdrawn from people, but she drew him into positions where he had to converse with others, answer questions, give counsel.
Speaking to a group of medical workers in St. Helena in 1902, she described the final victory:
After eighteen months of constant cooperation with God in the effort to restore my husband to health, I took him home again. Presenting him to his parents, I said, “Father, Mother, here is your son.”
“Ellen,” said his mother, “you have no one but God and yourself to thank for this wonderful restoration. Your energies have accomplished it.” After his recovery, my husband lived for a number of years, during which time he did the best work of his life. Did not those added years of usefulness repay me manyfold for the eighteen months of painstaking care?
Perseverance manifested itself again in connection with a journey to the Williamsport, Pennsylvania, camp meeting in June 1889, the year of the Johnstown flood. She and Sara McEnterfer left Battle Creek in a pouring rain. The nearer they approached Pennsylvania, the more disturbing became the reports of the devastating flood. At Elmira, New York, they heard that no trains would leave for Williamsport, for bridges were washed out, embankments had crumpled, and the floodwaters were rising, causing destruction and death. They were advised to stop over at a hotel; but when they learned the train was to proceed as far as it could go, they got aboard. After a few miles the train crawled to a halt on a siding. The track ahead was gone. Retreat they could not, for the track was washed out behind them. Food was growing short, and the Sabbath was drawing on. They spent the day in an unoccupied coach.
After the Sabbath they attempted to find anyone with a team who would take them through. Someone suggested that they might get through on a mountain road. One man they approached declared that he wouldn’t do it for $100. Another said that if someone gave him $1,000 he might consider it. But the two women didn’t give up. Finding some Adventists with a team, they proceeded on the mountain road. They decided, “When we should come to an insurmountable obstacle, we would return . . . but not before.” They prayed for God’s protection and pressed on. The wagon broke down in an attempt to pull over fallen trees, but with makeshift repairs they pressed on.
Finally a swollen stream seemed to bring an end to the journey. The bridge was gone, and local bystanders declared the stream could not be forded. But Ellen White replied, “Do what you can for us. We must be put across the river.” From the floating debris a raft was built to ferry the wagon. With a swimmer at the bridle, one horse was taken across, and then the other, the animals swimming the stream and finally gaining foothold on the other side. The passengers were then rowed across in a little boat—and they were on their way.
They reached the camp meeting a day late. The camp had been repitched on higher ground, the tents were soaked, the bedding was wet, the clothing was damp, and the food supplies were limited. But Ellen White reported, “We had no disposition to murmur.” She spoke thirteen times, and the people declared it to be the best camp meeting they had ever attended.
Perseverance led to the opening of the new school in Australia on the advertised date. Although the land was being cleared, and the buildings were going up, it was evident from the rate of progress that school would never open on the day announced. Sensing the importance of following the schedule to maintain the morale of the people, Ellen White called an early morning meeting in the church and declared that the school must open on time. She pledged the assistance of all her helpers. For a few days Sara McEnterfer nailed floorboards in the dining hall, the wife of the school principal assisted, and the whole community pitched in with zeal. school opened on time. Ellen White wrote that “you must work with perseverance, constancy, and zeal if you would succeed.”
The Perfect Character 2—“Behold the Lamb of God”
By Thomas Akens
The Great Controversy
The great controversy is a real struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Perhaps no truth is as important to the Christian as the truth of good and evil. The enemy of our souls has sought to enshroud these two central truths with all the mist, mystery, and doubt of hell. The character and nature of good and evil have been reversed, and in some cases have been made to appear as one. Satan has sought, where possible, to distort the qualities of good and to so misconstrue and misrepresent them that they should appear as evil, while the evil of his own corrupt character he has represented as the standard of all goodness. Said he, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). This, in short, is the great controversy.
The great controversy revolves around the character of God and the character of Satan. We must understand both. We must understand God, who is good, and we must understand what goodness truly is and what it is not; and we must know to call it by its right name. We too must understand what evil is, and what it is not; and we must learn to call it by its right name. God has determined that all may know the truth of the matter, and this is why we are involved in the great controversy.
By our lives we shall either vindicate or condemn God. In order for us to vindicate God we must clearly understand the two sides in the controversy. Those who fail of comprehending the great central issue of the great controversy will find themselves among the vast throng who welcome Satan as Christ, when he appears to deceive all mankind.
Who Is the Greatest?
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1–3).
The question “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” is one of the most important questions which we Christians can ask. It is a question we all need to answer. Who, then, is the greatest? Jesus’ answer was not a lengthy verbal dissertation on the difference between worldly and heavenly greatness. No, no. Rather, it was a living illustration of what true greatness is. He beckoned to one of the little children nearby. And what did that little child do? He came, as any good and obedient child of God should. This seemingly insignificant act was itself an unspoken answer to the disciples’ question. Next Jesus proceeded to break the silence with words which could not fail of hitting their mark in his disciples’ hearts (and neither should they fail of hitting their mark today upon our hearts), for they were spoken not only for his disciples’ benefit, but for the well-being of all future generations who should have the blessed benefit of his words upon which to meditate.
The words spoken by Jesus, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, give us the key to unlock the mystery of the great controversy between good and evil. They afford us one of the simplest answers to the unspoken and often overlooked question, What character must I have to be saved? Here is the standard which the Lord requires of all his professed believers in order to enter the pearly gates of heaven. Here too is how we are to climb the ladder of Christian character to heaven.
But how does becoming as little children secure us an entry into heaven? The answer may seem difficult and mysterious to us today (being as we are far removed from that event by time and place), but it was not so to his disciples; for they were witnesses of the simple, humble, trusting, and loving obedience of that little child. The character of that child had not received its stamp or mold from the world. Its nature had not been perverted, and its eyes had not been blinded by sin. It sees good for what it is and evil for what it is. This is one of the reasons why Jesus used a child as an object lesson in answering his disciples’ question.
If we then should turn around and say that children are born sinners, what then are we saying about entering heaven? What are we saying about Jesus’ answer as to whom is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? The truth of the matter is that the Bible was not written for children, but for us adults. He set a child in the midst of adults to show what they must become. They were the ones in need. They were the ones who needed to be converted and become as little children. No, dear reader, the Bible was not written for babies, but for us perverted and corrupt adults. It was written for you and me.
In the little child we behold a living illustration of the Lamb of God. We get a view of what real innocence is, of what real perfection of character isthat character which never left Jesus. Jesus was always a child in heart, but he was never childish or immature. I do not believe that childish things ever had a place in Jesus’ life. But we adults must follow the example of both Jesus and the Apostle Paul—we must put childish things away (1 Cor. 13:11). And it was to illustrate this need that Jesus left on record the answer to that most important of questions, “Who is the greatest?”
Does becoming a man or woman mean that we are no longer a child? Most of us have probably been taught to think so. In reality being grown up has more to do with the development of behavior than with the development of body. Our English word adult which once simply meant to mature now more closely resembles its phonetic twin. You see, once again the great deceiver has made good to appear as evil and evil as good. We all know what adultery is. It denotes the adulteration of something by a foreign object i.e., to corrupt or pollute. Thus “adulthood” has become synonymous with its perverse cousin. If you do not believe me, take a closer look at the material that is advertised for “adults.”
What then are we to do?
Behold the Lamb of God
We are not called to behold the ram of God, the adult, male sheep, but we are called to behold the Lamb of God, the child of God. If the prophet had been speaking of goats, he would have said, Behold the kid of God. Let us behold the Lamb of God as Isaiah describes him:
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:1–12).
The question still remains for you and me to answer whether we have “believed” the prophets report. Do we believe his report? This same prophet wrote:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20, 21)
Our present condition as “adults” is due to the fact that we too have learned to call evil good and good evil, to put darkness for light and light for darkness. We have learned to be wise in our own eyes and prudent in our own sight because we have failed to behold the Lamb of God.
But he that lacketh these things [faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, love] is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins (2 Peter 1:9).
Peter tells us that those who lack those essential qualities are blind. How then does this blindness come upon us?
According to the light that God has given me in vision, wickedness and deception are increasing among God’s people who profess to keep His commandments. Spiritual discernment to see sin as it exists, and then to put it out of the camp, is decreasing among God’s people; and spiritual blindness is fast coming upon them. The straight testimony must be revived, and it will separate those from Israel who have ever been at war with the means that God has ordained to keep corruptions out of the church. Wrongs must be called wrongs. Grievous sins must be called by their right name. All of God’s people should come nearer to Him and wash their robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. Then will they see sin in the true light and will realize how offensive it is in the sight of God.
. . . Who can know, in the moment of temptation, the terrible consequences which will result from one wrong, hasty step! Our only safety is to be shielded by the grace of God every moment, and not put out our own spiritual eyesight so that we will call evil, good, and good, evil. Without hesitation or argument [or with diligence], we must close and guard the avenues of the soul against evil. (Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 324).
We as a people have failed to reason from cause to effect. Who can know, in a moment of temptation, the terrible consequences which will result from one wrong, hasty step? Who, but God alone! God alone can know the sure results from one wrong move. For he has said:
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).
God too has ordained the means of engraving this lesson upon our minds. He saw where it would end, and he ordained the means to ensure that it never happen to us. Our only safety is to be shielded by the grace of God every moment and not to put out our own spiritual eyesight, so that we call evil good and good evil.
The Meaning of Sin
It was five years ago while on a mission trip, near the city of Nadi (pronounced Nandi) in the northern portion of the island of Fiji, that I had an experience which helped to teach me the meaning of sin. I was there helping out with treatments in a little sanitarium.
One day there came an Indian woman with her family to the sanitarium to receive treatment. As I was helping with the treatments for the mother, the children were all huddled in a corner with their attention riveted to a video they were watching on a mobile phone. In the course of my helping, I had heard some sounds coming from their phone, and my attention was drawn to them. I was thinking to myself, “Lord, how can I reach those children, and help them to understand their danger?” Later, as I passed by them on my way to clean up after the treatment, the one who had the phone came over to where I was, and assuming that I was interested in what they were watching, stuck it in front of my face, and said, “Here, look at this.”
What I saw that day made a deep and lasting impression on me. I watched as what appeared to be a Muslim man was bound hand and foot as he struggled with his assailants. When his judges had succeeded forcing him to the ground, one of the men who sat atop him, pulled out a big knife, and slit his throat, not once, but several times. For a brief moment I stood in stunned amazement before I turned my head away in horror, yet it was too late. The damage was done. I stood there in dumb horror, with what must have been a stricken countenance.
What I had just witnessed was a Muslim execution of a man guilty of some crime. I do not remember what crime of which he was guilty (all that matters little to me), only the image remains and the feelings that the image left upon my mind and heart. I saw death, as I had never seen it before. This was no play or act, where the event was all make-believe. No, this was real. I had just watched a brutal murder. The thought saddened my soul with horror. Even though I had gone to a rough high school, where violence and even bloodshed were an almost daily occurrence, yet somehow this experience came so near to me that it changed my view of sin and death forever. It caused the meaning of the expression “the Lamb of God” to mean as never before. I now understood more perfectly why God had instituted that system of sacrifice and the shedding of blood.
That experience, as horrifying as it was, served to teach me a lesson that I will never forget—the lesson of sin. It revealed to me how a just and holy God looks upon sin and death.
In order to teach man this vital lesson, God instituted the sacrificial system. He ordained a system perfectly designed to teach man by experience the “wages of sin” and thus brought him to know, by causing that his hands should, by the shedding of innocent blood, learn what sin and death are all about.
God did not need to thunder from heaven and declare to all mankind the penalty for transgression. Such could never cause men to know for themselves the true nature of transgression with all its sure results. Instead, he ordained a system whereby man was called upon to shed the blood of an innocent victim who took his place; a victim not from someone else’s sacrifice but one from among his own flock, one that he himself had raised from its birth, fed, nurtured, protected, and cared for—one of his own. And when his hand must be raised to shed that innocent blood, when he witnessed the blood of that poor victim being willingly shed for his life, and when a horror for what he had just done went through his whole body, then his heart was touched with the deepest sense of his own sin and of what it cost heaven. His having to participate in the result of his own sin was an object lesson which spoke louder than a thousand lectures and sank deeper than a thousand stripes, and taught him as nothing else could the meaning of “the wages of sin.”
Thanks be to God that we no more have to shed innocent blood to learn that lesson. The innocent blood of God’s only begotten Son was shed for us all upon the cross of Calvary, which caused all the sacrifices for sin to forever cease. At that time Christ instituted another system which we call Communion or the Lord’s Supper. In the symbols of the grape juice and of the bread we have the very same lesson taught for centuries by the shedding of blood under the old dispensation. Jesus gave his life to help us understand the nature of both good and evil and their costs.
If we fail of understanding these things, we shall never become as little children. We shall fail of entering heaven. We will never put sin out of our lives until we see just how offensive it is in the sight of God. The image of that man’s execution is unutterably offensive to me, yet I cannot efface it from my mind. It is my prayer that as we “behold the Lamb of God” we too shall never be able to efface it from our minds. That is why it is written in the imperative form of the verb, “Behold!” Look here! Keep your eyes fastened upon this one thing. The moment we take our eyes from beholding him our hearts begin to harden against him, and we too will lose our first love.
When we turn away from our first love, instead of directing our eyes inward and searching our hearts, we begin to look outward. This is why we read the following:
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1–5).
What leads a man to become such a keen judge of sin in others? It is because he has stopped beholding the Lamb of God. That beam of his own personal sin is still distorting his vision. Sin, which has corrupted his mind and perverted his judgment, sets his own sinful, perverse habits as the standard for others. Thus many are led to become self-appointed judges of others and not to judge themselves.
Let us not forget that we are to help our brother but before we can be of any help to our brother, we must first help ourselves. This is why we must learn to call sin and righteousness by their right name; otherwise, we will not see clearly to help our brother. Our judgment will be perverted according to our perception of sin. We will be wise in our own eyes. We will no longer call sin by its right name, but we will call good evil and evil good.
It is for this reason that Psalm 73 was written. In this psalm David tells his story of how he once was envious of the wicked. He saw their prosperity, and he said, “my steps well nigh slipped” when I beheld the prosperity of the wicked—the seeming peace, security, happiness, and having everything heart could desire—and he coveted after that; in other words, he longed for the things of the world. He had lost sight of the Lamb of God. His vision was blurred. Yet he says something in that chapter that we all should note. It is found in verses 16 and 17:
Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
Then it was that David understood their end and not only their end, but his own end, should he remain as they. Then he too got it, and that beam was taken from his eyes. That is why four Psalms later, we find the same author penning this triumphant strain of song:
Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? (Psalm 77:13)
Sin in the Camp
As Joshua was leading the hosts of Israel to victory in the land of Canaan, someone interrupted that victory—the troubler of Israel. In the writings of the prophet Nahum, we read that “affliction [trouble] shall not rise up the second time” (Nahum 1:9). If we understand the story of Achan, we should then understand why. Let us take note of something in the account of God’s dealing with this troubler of Israel:
Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. (Joshua 7:12, 13).
When Israel finally realized the reason for their falling before their enemies, each man was then given time by God to examine himself, to know the state of his own heart before God. One had the curse, or woe, of God resting on him, according to Isaiah 5:20, “woe to them that call evil good, and good evil. . .” Achan had seen that which was accursed of God, and coveted after that which was evil. To Achan, that which was evil appeared good. God gave time and opportunity for Achan to come forward and confess his sin, and when that sin and sinner was hidden among them, God informed them that he would no longer be with them, except they destroy the accursed one from among them.
This may seem like strong language from God and may even appear as unreasonable from a purely human standpoint but if we will allow God’s spirit to anoint our eyes with eye-salve, we will see it as God sees it; and we will understand as he does the offensive nature of sin and the necessary measures that must be taken to rid it from the life. You see, beloved, when the sinner chooses to cling to his sin, rather than to confess, repent, and amend his life according to God’s moral law, then it is that the sinner is joined to his sin, and the only thing which can then save the rest of the camp from its defiling influence is for both sin and sinner to be destroyed from among them.
We need to learn how to deal with sin and iniquity, not only in the camp, but in our own wicked hearts first. If we have not first dealt with sin in God’s way, we will never deal appropriately with sin in the camp. That is why God instituted the sanctuary service first—to teach his people how to rid sin out of their own lives—so that they could properly rid it from the camp and what must be done in order to rid it from among them. It was to be an object lesson forever. Sin was to be seen in its true colors, how that it cost the shedding of innocent blood.
The Creator loves his creatures, but he who loves sin more than righteousness, error more than truth, perpetuates the transgression that brought woe into our world, and cannot be regarded with favor by the God of truth. The way of truth and righteousness involves a cross [the implement of death]. Many misinterpret the requirements of God, and make them mean anything that will not disturb their consciences or inconvenience them in their business relations; but truth is the only sanctifying medium.
The love of God as manifested in Jesus, will lead us to the true conception of the character of God. As we behold Christ [the Lamb of God], pierced for our sins, we shall see that we cannot break the law of God and remain in his favor; we shall feel that as sinners we must lay hold of the merits of Christ and cease to sin. Then we are drawing nigh to God. As soon as we have a correct view of the love of God, we shall have no disposition to abuse it. (Ellen G. White, The Review & Herald, June 17, 1890).
It is for this reason that I began this subject of perfection of character by sharing “Christ, the Perfect Character—the Rose of Sharon and Lily of the Valley.” We have to understand that first, beloved, before we can understand the nature of sin. We have to understand purity, before we can understand the vileness of evil. We must become as children.
In the book of Revelation we find the end of sin and sinners, and something very glorious is written there. It is something that makes sense once we understand the nature of the great controversy:
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. (Revelation 15:2, 3).
In the Old Testament we find that singing is often linked together with prophesying. Why? Song is but one form of prophesying. In fact, all the Old Testament prophets wrote in one or more forms of Hebrew poetry. Their stories are told in the vivid and free form of song. We also find that a song most often followed some great event, and the people, overcome by the spirit of inspiration, would break forth in rapturous song. Thus it would be handed down from priest to people, and from father to son.
Songs in the Bible are the poetic stories of experiences and when we sing the hymns in our hymnals, we too are rehearsing in our ears the stories and experiences of men and women around the world. God wants that these experiences should become our own. He wants that not only for the hymns we sing, but especially does he want it to be so for his word. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11) wrote the Psalmist, telling us the means whereby we too can gain the victory in Christ Jesus our Lord. You see, beloved, if the word of God does not become ours, if we do not make it our own by bringing it into our daily lives, then we are singing its songs in vain. All our words are but hot air.
God wants us to make his word our own. This is the experience of the 144,000, which we read about above. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb because that song has become their own.
Why is it the song of Moses and of the Lamb? It is because Moses made the song of the Lamb his own song. Inspiration tells us that it is not only the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, but it is also the song of the 144,000. They too make the Lamb’s song their own, and so they are able to sing that song before the God and before his angels.
We too can sing that song, beloved, if we will strive to be among that number, if we will come to Jesus and behold the Lamb of God. Let us begin to understand his purity, his goodness, the goodness of God and begin to understand the nature of evil and to abhor it in our own lives. We need to behold the Lamb of God.
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)
If we love any man or woman on this earth more than Jesus, we are not worthy of him. Why? Because God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. God did not love himself more than he loved us. He set that example for us that we ought to love him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. And I believe that is what it is all about.
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: the LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace (Numbers 6:24–26).
Was James a Heretic?
By Allen Stump
The writer of the book of James has been getting some notoriety lately. The current adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide is on the book of James. A vastly different perspective of James and his message was recently offered by the July 2014 issue of Open Face.
Certainly the book of James is, and has been, one of the more controversial books of the Bible. Martin Luther found the book of James troubling, when he compared it to Paul’s message of faith and in fact, Luther called it “an epistle of straw.” Writing in the introduction to the German New Testament, Luther stated:
St. Jamess epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it. (Martin Luthers Basic Theological Writings, W. R. Russell & T. F. Lull, Eds., Third Edition., p. 96)
Luther also wrote that he did not consider the book of James to be written by an apostle. While Luther did not personally believe the book of James was canonical, he would not argue with those who wished to defend its place in the canon. Interestingly, Luther did not dismiss it from his translation of the New Testament.
Luther’s main issue with James was that he felt that the book attempted to teach justification differently than Saint Paul taught, with whom he readily agreed. The point that Luther missed, when he compared James with Romans or Galatians, was actually very simple. Paul was teaching how one is justified with God by faith, while James was teaching how the one who is justified by faith lives and how that life proves, or justifies, his status as a Christian. In other words, Paul’s writings, primarily, teach how one becomes justified with God (though he also has much insight on how to live the converted life), while James’s writings teach how one is justified in the eyes of man.
Both Paul and James mention Abraham as an example of someone justified (Romans 4; James 2), yet each seems to approach the subject differently. Why? It is because Paul is stating how Abraham became justified before God. Abraham was a sinner in need of grace, just like every other person who has ever lived, yet Abraham was to be the father of the faithful. He had shown a lack of faith in his arrangement with Sarai to use Hagar to have a child, yet Abraham learned to fully trust God, but to be the father of the faithful, this must be demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt, in a way that could not be controverted. God tested Abraham with the greatest test of love that has ever come to a man. He asked him to take his son, Isaac, whom he loved so much and offer him as a sacrifice upon Mount Moriah (Genesis 22). Abraham loved Isaac but also knew that the promise of salvation was to be through him. To kill Isaac, Abraham would be cutting off not only Isaac’s life but the channel of salvation for himself and for all humanity. Abraham, however, had learned to love and trust God with all his heart, and he accounted, through faith, that God could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). In being willing to offer Isaac, Abraham was justified before angels and the rest of creation. It was clearly demonstrated that Abraham could be the father of the faithful and that God was also just in giving him that position.
Let us now return to Luther. Was he correct in stating that James had nothing of the nature of the gospel about it? While there are surely many statements on good works in the book of James, we should not let these overshadow many good statements on faith and gospel teachings that are solidly in the book of James. For example, James refers to faith, or believing, at least eighteen times in fourteen different verses: James 1:3, 6; 2:1, 5, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26; 5:15. These are more verses than James uses to mention law (James 1:25; 2:8, 9, 10, 11, 12; 4:11) and more times than he uses the word works (James 1:4, 25; 2:14, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26; 3:13, 16).
James, addressing believers from all areas scattered abroad, begins his letter with thoughts on faith developing patience and the need to ask for wisdom through faith (1:36). James encourages believers to have the same faith as Jesus (2:10), but he also says that even that faith is dead without good works (2:26). James closes his epistle with the instruction that the prayer of faith will save the sick.
There has also been a close parallel seen between many of James’s practical teachings with those of Jesus given in the Sermon on the Mount. Notice the following:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (James 2:5) Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted. (James 1:9)
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. (James 4:9)
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. . . . Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:7, 9)
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (James 2:13) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:8)
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3:18)
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:11, 12)
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. . . .Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. (James 1:2; 5:10, 11)
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. . . . For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. (James 1:19–25; 2:10, 11)
But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22)
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20)
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Matthew 5:27)
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. (James 2:10, 11)
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne. (Matthew 5:34)
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. (James 5:12)
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:4)
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:15)
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (James 2:13)
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. (Matthew 6:19)
Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. (James 5:2)
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4)
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:25)
Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. (James 4:13–16)
Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matthew 7:1)
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. . . . Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? (James 3:1; 4:11, 12)
Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. (Matthew 7:2)
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (James 2:13)
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you . . . If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:7, 11)
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. . . . Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:5, 17)
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:8)
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:3)
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well. (James 2:8)
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matthew 7:16)
Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. (James 3:12)
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. (Matthew 7:21–26)
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. . . . What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? . . . Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. (James 1:22; 2:14; 5:7–9)
This comparison is quite impressive. It helps us see that the book of James is centered in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Other parallels can be found between James and the gospel account according to Luke. Notice the following parallels: James 1:9–11 with Luke 8:14; James 2:15, 16 with Luke 10:29–37; and James 5:1–4 with Luke 12:16–21.
Again, it is important to remember that James is writing about how to live as a Christian and not how one becomes a Christian.
The letter of James reads like a practical manual on how to live the Christian life. It tells us how to handle doubt and temptation (1:615). It describes the kind of attitude we should have towards the rich and the poor (2:17, 1417). We learn about the importance of controlling our words (3:112) and how to pray effectively (4:2, 3; 5:1518). We also find many gems of wisdom worth framing: be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger (1:19, NRSV); the wisdom from above is first pure . . . without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy (3:17, NRSV); God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (4:6, NRSV); Submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (4:7, NKJV). (Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, Oct.–Dec. 2014, p. 15)
The Apostle Paul would have had no problems with the book of James. In fact, taken alone we might reject Paul’s statement in Romans 2:13 as legalism:
(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. (Romans 2:13)
Of course, Paul is not teaching that we are justified by keeping the law, but rather that all who are truly justified will be doers of the law, just like James says (James 2:10).
Some suggest that the book of James was written early in the history of the church, perhaps one of the first books of the New Testament canon to be penned. If this is so and if James was a heretic for teaching a false gospel, then Paul would have been boldly in the forefront to denounce it! He would not have been silent concerning it. Paul was not, as some have suggested, attempting to avoid offending those in charge of the Church. When Peter was wrong, Paul faced him boldly (Galatians 2:11).
It is true that James erred in his suggestion to Paul to fulfill a vow (Acts 21:23, 24); however, James was not alone in this error of judgment. The text speaks of James and the elders (Acts 21:18), using plural terms throughout the narrative (Acts 21:20–23), indicating that James was not alone in this counsel. But one incident, though wrong and tragic as it was, should not be compared to a godly life and to inspired teachings, nor allowed to disannul them.
Some have suggested that Jamess theology was faulty, going back to the council at Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts 15. In fact, the July 2014 issue of Open Face has an article entitled “The Mystery of Iniquity.” The tenor of the article is that the Apostle James and the decree from the Council of Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts 15, was the beginning of the formation of the mystery of iniquity that Paul spoke about in Thessalonians because it was laying a foundation of righteousness by works instead of righteousness by faith in Christ. Notice what is said in this article:
James understood that the issue was threatening to divide the Christian Church and he proposed a compromise solution. (p. 4)
This article says that what James declared, as recorded in the Holy Word of God in Acts 15, was a compromise solution. The article later says that it
. . . was based on a legalistic approach to righteousness. (Ibid.)
After quoting Acts 15:23–29, the letter sent out by the Jerusalem Council to the brethren in the different places, here is what is written in that article:
Notice that this epistle is lacking any instruction to NOT depart from Christ, and to hold fast to Him by faith. It contains only the four commandments proposed by James. It is not hard to imagine what may have happened in the minds of the Gentile Christians who read it: their attention was diverted from Jesus to the fulfillment of the four rules, with the promise that if ye abstain ye shall do well [sic] (Acts 1529) [sic]. A new path opened for the Gentile Christians: not the way of the law from Sinai, but of the law from Jerusalem, but the principle promoted was actually the same: be careful what you do and you will be saved. If you do not break the rules you will be a true Christian! (Ibid.)
Now this is an interpretation. It is not important if I agree or disagree with it. What is important is if it is an interpretation that can stand the test of inspiration; therefore, let us see what the Spirit of Prophecy says. Firstly, I acknowledge that this will only be profitable to you if you still value the testimony of Jesus. If you do not like the Spirit of Prophecy, if you believe it has failed you, or if you believe it is in error, then the Spirit of Prophecy will not help you, but remember that we have already shown, from the Bible alone, that the book of James is a book full of faith and that its teachings parallel the teachings of Jesus Christ. If James was a heretic, then what can we say about Jesus?
Secondly, before discussing what the Spirit of Prophecy says about the Jerusalem Council and its letter, let me remind you of something that is found in the book of Galatians. Chapter 5 speaks of the fruit of the spirit, but it also speaks about something called the works of the flesh:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19–21)
Friends, it is certainly true that by grace we are saved through faith; it is a gift of God, not from works. Our works will never save us, but I want to tell you that the Apostle Paul, the man whom we talk so much about as the teacher of faith, makes it very clear here that our works, if they are bad works, if they are wicked works, will cause us to be lost, and do not ever forget that! Only grace through faith can save us, but, friends, works can cause us to be lost, irrespective of our claim of faith.
Now who was behind the letter from the Jerusalem Council, recorded in Acts 15:23–29? The Bible mentions that the apostles, elders, and brethren were behind it. Paul and Barnabas and Judas and Silas were especially mentioned as those carrying the letter. James did not compromise in that council and neither did Paul in carrying the letter. If that letter was so bad, then why was Paul a carrier for it? Why did Paul promote that letter, if it was teaching contrary to what he taught? No, no, beloved. Paul was not compromising. The servant of the Lord has said:
The four servants of God were sent to Antioch with the epistle and message that was to put an end to all controversy; for it was the voice of the highest authority upon the earth. (Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 196)
Did you get that? Something was the voice of the “highest authority upon earth.” What was that voice? It was the letter from the Jerusalem Council! As Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and Judas took this epistle to Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, it was to silence all discussion because it came from the highest authority on Earth. Furthermore, the letter stated:
For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; (Acts 15:28)
The letter says that these things were necessary. Friends there are things that are necessary for our Christian lives, and we should not be afraid of them. Because God is good and because he does not want us involved in sin, he does not want us involved in the bad, wretched things. He does not want us involved in pollution and uncleanness. There are things necessary for us. Acts 15:28 also says it seemed good to us and to the Holy Ghost also. It was good to the Holy Ghost and to us. Us is plural; it was not just James, but the whole council. Continuing in the book Acts of the Apostles:
James also bore his testimony with decision, declaring that it was God’s purpose to bestow upon the Gentiles the same privileges and blessings that had been granted to the Jews.
The Holy Spirit saw good not to impose the ceremonial law on the Gentile converts, and the mind of the apostles regarding this matter was as the mind of the Spirit of God. (White, p. 194)
Now, beloved reader, do you think God compromised on the issue? Of course not! Continuing:
In this instance James seems to have been chosen as the one to announce the decision arrived at by the council. (Ibid., p. 195)
This was not simply Jamess decision. No! It was the decision of the whole council. The council came together, and they (plural) brought this before the others.
The July issue of Open Face was written, no doubt, with good intentions by people I love. I do not question their love for Jesus, nor their desire to help others; however, to ascribe to James the beginning of the mystery of iniquity is not sound theology. Throughout this issue of Open Face, James’s character is assassinated and the truths of the Spirit of Prophecy are disregarded. This issue is a declaration of independence from historic Seventh-day Adventism and from the testimonies of Ellen G. White, and from that for which our people have stood throughout Adventism’s existence, and here is why I say this:
One point will have to be guarded, and that is individual independence. As soldiers in Christs army, there should be concert of action in the various departments of the work. No one has the right to start out on his own responsibility and advance ideas in our papers on Bible doctrines when it is known that others among us hold different opinions on the subject and that it will create controversy. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol., 5, pp. 534, 535)
There are two qualifiers here: first that things published would be different from the opinions held by others and second that they would create controversy. We may have slight differences we express at times, but we do not do this in a manner that brings us to the point of creating controversy. If, however, these differences do cause controversy, then we are to come together with the brethren to discuss these matters and to agree on a platform of truth as expressed in Scripture and in the Spirit of Prophecy. If we cannot do this in good conscience, then we can no longer claim to be Seventh-day Adventists and should not claim that we are continuing in the truth and that we are upholding the banner of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
I say sadly that sometimes it is better if we are going to be in apostasy to be so deeply in apostasy that people can see and understand the apostasy and not be misled by it. I thought that I had seen things before that were bad, but this theology brings us to a new level.
I hope and pray, brethren, that, like the people in the day of Haggai, those who are misled will read what the testimony, what the Spirit of God, what the prophet has said to Gods people and that they will change and that they will not have so much pride that they cannot say, We have gone off and done our own thing. That is what the people did in Haggais time. They went off and built their own houses and took care of their own selves; they were doing their own thing. Today we are simply doing it theologically instead of materialistically. Brethren, it is time to stop! If this train that we have been on since 1844 is wrong, then let us be honest and step off and simply be rid of it. Let us just denounce the whole thing because I am telling you that is what is going to happen, and it will happen for a surety when we step off of these kinds of vital points. It is just a matter of when and where it occurs, but it will happen. I have seen it happen over and over. It has been prophesied in the testimonies that it would happen, and we have seen it fulfilled, but friends we have not followed cunningly-devised fables. The truth is still the truth, and all the hellish lies of Satan cannot change one truth into a hundred errors.
James was not a heretic at the Jerusalem Council, and his epistle stands the tests of time and truth. A study of that book will yield great blessings in helping the believer to live the life of faith.
Although we have a few issues with the current Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide (quarterly), it is one of the best that has been published in several years, and it solidly supports the validity of the book of James, as well as James’s integrity, and offers the student some worthwhile insights to consider.
Tasty Recipes from Raquel Akens
Easy Garbanzo Patties
Process garbanzos, salt, lemon juice, and cumin in a food processor until pasty. Place mixture in a medium sized bowl. Next process the onion, bell pepper, and garlic together until very finely chopped. (Do not liquify the vegetables!) Thoroughly mix the vegetables and chopped parsley with the garbanzos. Shape into small to medium size patties. (I like to use a small ice-cream scooper and a fork to flatten them.) Place on a cookie sheet lined with (baking) parchment paper. The patties should easily peel off the parchment once baked, and no oil is necessary for greasing the paper. Bake @ 350º F for 20 minutes, then flip the patties, and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy them in pita pockets with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and dressing! These patties can be frozen and then easily reheated in a toaster at high setting! Pastor Allen really likes these!
Sprouted Lentil Salad
Soak lentils overnight and let them sprout for about one and a half days. Once you have lentil sprouts, it is time to eat them!
In a medium bowl, combine the lentil sprouts, cucumber, tomato, green onions, basil and olives. Toss lightly.
In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, garlic and onion powders, oregano, and salt. Drizzle the mixture into the lentils and vegetables, toss gently again, and allow the flavors to blend for 20–30 minutes before serving.
Gluten-free Vegan Boston Cream Pie
Ingredients for Pie:
Ingredients for Vegan Pastry Cream:
½ cup hot cooked millet
½ cup almond milk
¼ cup coconut milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 ¼ cup evaporated cane juice
Ingredients for Vegan Carob Cream:
Preheat oven to 350º F. Lightly spray a 9 inch cake pan with non-stick baking spray. Cut a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom of the cake pan and spray the paper too. Set aside. Next sift together the flour, baking soda substitute, and cornstarch, and set aside. In a blender, blend the chia seeds and the almond milk in which the seeds have been soaked together with the coconut milk, the ½ cup almond milk, evaporated cane juice, salt, and vanilla. Pour mixture into the bowl containing the flour mixture and with a whisk stir until the cake batter is relatively smooth. Pour into pan and smooth top of batter with a spatula. Bake for about 35–40 minutes. The cake will have begun to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the cake pan for about 20 minutes. Then invert the cake—carefully—onto a cooling rack. Pull the parchment paper off when the cake is done cooling. After another ten minutes or so, split the cake in half (horizontally) by cutting it with a long bread knife.
While the cake is baking, you can work on both the pastry cream and the carob cream. For both of them, follow the same procedure—place all ingredients for the cream into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour each mixture into a separate bowl and allow to cool. Then place them in the refrigerator until cake is ready to assemble.
To assemble the pie/cake, top one half of the split cake with the pastry cream, spreading it to a half inch of the edges. Then place the remaining cake half on this and spread carob cream over it. Enjoy!
Youths CornerYoung Converts of the Mission Fields
(Our story this month continues Chapter 19 in the book Youthful Witnesses, written by W. A. Spicer)
“Out of weakness were made strong” Hebrews 11:34.
CONSIDERING how the grace of Christ has always been sufficient, it is not difficult to account for the courage and constancy of young converts in dark mission fields who in modern times have had to meet the same opposition of heathen prejudice that youthful witnesses met in the early centuries. Only the grace of Christ explains the faithfulness of these who have had so few advantages, yet whose experience was so deep and true.
IN CHINA UPRISINGS
Never can one of the lessons of the Boxer uprising cease to give courage to those who work and pray for China. In that fiery trial the true gold of faith appeared. These several illustrations of constancy under trial were related by Professor Headland of Peking University:
There was young Wang Chih-shen, a student at Peking. The uprising of 1900 found him visiting his home in the country.
When the storm approached, he was urged by all his friends to escape, as he was a marked man, but he refused to desert his family. He was taken by the Boxers and was offered the choice of recantation or death. To make it easier for him to deny his Master, it was proposed by the village elders that some of his friends be allowed to worship the idols in his stead, in which case they would secure his release.
“No,” he said, “I will neither burn incense to idols myself nor allow any one to do it for me; not to mention the fact that it would be denying my Lord, I should never dare to look my teachers in the face again.”
He then exhorted his persecutors to personal repentance and an acceptance of Christianity. Their swords silenced his voice, but did not silence his testimony speaking in the hearts of the people.
Lin Wen-lan, a girl teacher, was captured with seventeen of her flock.
As they were being led to the place of execution, she reminded them how the Master was persecuted and killed, and afterward ascended to heaven; how the disciples, one after another, had met death because of their faith, and she continued, “Though we are not worthy to die for Him, we are ready and willing to do so, and will depend upon His grace to save us.”
The Boxers were angered by her exhortations, and threatened to kill her at once. None of the threats moved her, however, and without a tremor she offered her head to the sword as if by her fearlessness in death to strengthen her companions for the coming trial.
Ton Lien-ming was a student in the senior preparatory class in the Peking University.
He was seized by the Boxers at his home, taken to the temple, and ordered to burn incense and knock his head on the ground before the idols, both of which he refused to do.
“He is a devil of the second class,” exclaimed the crowd.
“I am not a devil,” he answered.
“What are you, then?”
The slender youth straightened himself up, and without a sign of fear replied, “I am a Christian” and in answer to further questions, began to explain what it meant to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Kill him! Kill him!” cried the mob.
“No, no, not here; it is not proper to kill him in front of the temple; take him to the street which has been set apart for the slaughter of devils.”
While they led him forth, he continued to exhort them, urging them to listen to the truth, until many of those who followed the irresponsible mob felt pricked to the heart, as they afterward reported, and would have saved him if they could. It was when they were about to put him to death that he said:
“Though you can kill our bodies, you cannot kill our souls; hereafter we will live forever,” and with that they hacked him to pieces.
His death had a profound influence on his fellow students
“He has eaten the medicine of the foreigner until he does not fear to die,” said a mob on one occasion, accounting for their victim’s joyful courage. Rather had these faithful men and women and youth of China heard the message of Jesus: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer . . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Down across the ages that blessed word of assurance to Smyrna has come with power to make hearts strong that would have fainted if left to human support. Even the callous heathen, who apparently cared neither for their own lives nor for the lives of others, marveled at what they recognized to be a strange, unearthly joy and tender, forgiving courage in the face of death on the part of these believers in the living Christ. It is said that the Boxers sometimes cut out the hearts of the victims of their superstition and cruelty, to see if the hearts of the Christians were differently constituted. The “hidden man of the heart,” however, was beyond all earthly vision or human analysis.
EXECUTIONS IN MADAGASCAR
A cliff at Antananarivo, Madagascar,
The queen of Madagascar was seeking to uproot Christianity from the soil of her island kingdom. Missionaries were expelled and worship forbidden. Bibles were gathered and burned. But in secret Malagasy believers still worshiped.
In the year 1849, by the queen’s orders, Christians were being put to death. One mode of execution was by hurling from the top of a rock that stands near Antananarivo, the capital. The face of the cliff is a sheer precipice, with jagged rocks at the bottom, 150 feet below.
“As they stood on that perilous height,” says Ellis, “they were promised life if they would by an oath acknowledge the false gods of Madagascar; but to refuse was to be hurled over that fearful verge, and dashed on the rocks below. To this dread proposal no tongue faltered in its answer.”
For many a year the strange courage and joy of these witnesses was a topic of conversation among the heathen.
One young girls conduct, particularly, left an indelible impression on the minds of the people, continues Mr. Ellis, who was acquainted with her family. He says, in Madagascar Revisited:
She was so placed as to see the destruction of all her companions, in the hope of terrifying her so as to induce her to recant. To this she was earnestly persuaded then and there by a high official, as he himself informed me, and by her own father. In that trying moment she recommended with affectionate earnestness to her father the Lord Jesus Christ, her Saviour.
This young woman, it is said, was of royal connection, and the queen desired to save her from the general order to kill all Christians. At last her turn came. Miss Campbells Madagascar tells the sequel:
The executioner led her to the edge of the precipice, to look down on the mangled bodies. In the meantime she was begged and entreated by her friends to deny the Saviour. “I beg you,” she said, “that I may be permitted to follow my friends.” “She is insane,” said the executioner, slapping her face, “take her home;” and she was taken home.
For twenty-six years, from 1835 to 1861, it was a crime to be a Christian in Madagascar; yet when the wicked Queen Ranavalona I died in 1861, and a new order of toleration came in, it was found that the number of professed believers had increased from 1,000 to 7,000.
DARK DAYS IN UGANDA
The old kingdom of Uganda, on the shores of the Victoria Nyanza, was the scene of bitter persecution in the year 1885. King Mwanga was angry particularly with the “readers,” those who had learned to read the word of God through the missionaries, who were just beginning work in that region. A native teacher had been slain, and his boys driven flying into the bush.
Among the pupils that day was a small boy, Kiwobe, who had fled along with the others. The same day he went down to the mission station, being in charge of a number of children to be vaccinated. While Mackay was attending to these, the little boy went up to his colleague, Ashe, and said, “My friend, I wish to be baptized.”
“Do you know what you are asking?” replied the astonished missionary.
“I do, my friend.”
“But if you are known to be a Christian, they will kill you.”
“I know, my friend, I know.”
“If people asked you, would you tell a lie, and say you were not a reader ?”
“I shall confess.”
Further conversation with the lad proved that he quite understood the gravity of the step he was taking, and notwithstanding the possibility of a cruel death, he desired to be baptized, acknowledging thus his devotion to Christ as his Master. He was duly baptized under the name of Samweli.
Years afterward, Bishop Tucker, of the Church of England Society, was taken by a guide to the chief place of martyrdom where Uganda lads had been faithful unto death. He asked his guide if he knew any of these boys.
“Yes, I knew most of them; one was a very dear friend.”
“Were you a Christian then?”
“No; but my friend often talked to me about Jesus Christ, and besought me to become a disciple; but I hardened my heart.”
“What led you to become a Christian at last?”
“Munange [my friend], it was because my brother died for what he believed to be true. If he had not died, I should never have become a Christian. How could I refuse then?”
Thus into heathen hearts in modern Africa there came the conviction of the truth through witnessing the grace of Christ in His persecuted followers. The witnesses had suffered not in vain. The blood of the martyrs was still the seed of the church, as of old.
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