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. 24, No. 1 Straight and Narrow January 2015
He casteth forth his ice like morsels:
Who can stand before his cold? (Psalm 147:14)
Photo Courtesy of Vince Rush
In this issue:
The True Identity of Jesus Christ
Fair Flowers of Promise
Jesus Christ, the Son of God
Using Speech Well
“His Ways are everlasting”
Mission Report from Peru
The Truth of the Identity
of Jesus Christ
Recently I was given a copy of the September-October 2014 issue of Cherith Chronicle, written by Bob Trefz. The theme of the paper is the divinity of Jesus Christ. With that concept we are most heartily in agreement, but Trefz takes exception to our Adventist pioneers, who denied the trinitarian doctrine, and teaches that they were in error in their denial and that by their failure to accept the trinitarian doctrine, they denied the deity of Jesus Christ. Such a position is neither sustainable nor profitable.
The size of our magazine limits us from examining each detail of Trefzs theological arguments; however, we wish to set the record straight on the matter of the history involved and the intentional or unintentional denigration of our pioneers by the Cherith Chronicle. We will begin by examining how the Adventist pioneers came to the truth of the three angels’ messages and what Inspiration says about the movement—if it was really raised in the truth or not, for the divinity of Christ is one of the most foundational and important teachings of the Bible. All agree that its truth is paramount to salvation.
A Deeply-laid Foundation
The disciple Jude writes: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3). The faith to which Jude refers is the body of truths which we hold concerning our Christian beliefs. Peter says, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8, 9). Both of these writers encourage the believer to hold on to the faith.
The faith is to be distinguished from the phrase your faith. Your faith refers to the believer’s personal experience: “the trial of your faith” (1 Peter 1:7). “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge” (2 Peter 1:5).
Revelation 14:12 states: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” While much attention has been given to the phrase “they that keep the commandments of God,” it should be noted that those who receive the seal of God and who avoid the mark of the beast also “keep . . . the faith of Jesus.” The phrase “the faith of Jesus” serves as an object of the verb “keep”; thus, the remnant will be those who “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3).
Within Adventism the faith includes not only the body of truths that were established early in the apostolic age, but also those special truths the Bible indicates would be revealed in the last days. These special truths are known within Adventism as the three angels messages. The first part of this study will cover the method with which these truths were established and will give evidence for the following points concerning the three angels’ messages:
We will briefly note each point. First of all, the main doctrines and foundational points of our faith were established through much biblical study and with the aid of divine revelations given to Sister Ellen G. White. Secondly, these main foundational points were established early, by 1850. Thirdly, the Scriptures state: If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do (Psalm 11:3)? The Scriptures also teach that the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18); however, the “shining light” that grows brighter will not darken that which has been established as truth! Fourthly, deviation from these truths brings apostasy which, if continued, results in a city that was once faithful becoming a “harlot” (Isaiah 1:21).
Let us begin by noting the method by which the apostolic faith was developed. The apostle Peter states:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:19–21)
Peter tells us that the faith was revealed through the prophets as they were moved by the the Holy Ghost or, as he says in his first epistle, the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11). Moses had prophesied concerning Christ: I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him (Deuteronomy 18:18). The book of Revelation begins in this way: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John (Revelation 1:1). Here we see that God communicates his will through the prophets. The faith is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11, 12).
Doctrinal Development from Biblical Study and Revelation
The beliefs of Christianity were delivered by the prophets, and the special aspects of our faith occurred in a similar manner. Sister White, in writing of the development of our faith, stated:
Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with them, and we studied and prayed earnestly. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the word. Again and again these brethren came together to study the Bible, in order that they might know its meaning, and be prepared to teach it with power. When they came to the point in their study where they said, We can do nothing more, the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me, I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus light was given that helped us to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was made plain to me, and I gave to others the instruction that the Lord had given me. (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, pp. 56, 57; 1904)
Here we see the dual aspects of biblical study and revelation. The brethren would come together for study and prayer and would sometimes continue through the entire night. Sometimes the sun would rise before they would give up (Ellen White, Sermons and Talks, p. 345). When they could go no further in their study, Sister White would be taken off in vision, and instruction would be given (Ibid.). Note that it was not new scriptures, but a clear explanation of the [scriptural] passages that they had been studying that was given by revelation. Simply, she was given understanding on how to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). As she could write later, In the word of God we have found the truth that substantiates our faith (The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, p. 257).
Yet, as Ellen Whites grandson, Arthur White, wrote, ... this is not the full story. The Lord manifested Himself in a manner that made it forever clear that what took place was beyond human manipulation. (The Early Years, p. 145). Sister White wrote:
During this whole time I could not understand the reasoning of the brethren. My mind was locked, as it were, and I could not comprehend the meaning of the scriptures we were studying. This was one of the greatest sorrows of my life. I was in this condition of mind until all the principal points of our faith were made clear to our minds, in harmony with the Word of God. The brethren knew that when not in vision, I could not understand these matters, and they accepted as light direct from heaven the revelations given. (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 207; 1904)
In the early days of the message, when our numbers were few, we studied diligently to understand the meaning of many scriptures. At times it seemed as if no explanation could be given. My mind seemed to be locked to an understanding of the Word; but when our brethren who had assembled for study, came to a point where they could go no farther, and had recourse to earnest prayer, the Spirit of God would rest upon me, and I would be taken off in vision, and be instructed in regard to the relation of scripture to scripture. (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, June 14, 1906)
Sister White states that during the time that our doctrines were being formulated she could not understand the Scriptures and could not be of help to the brethren in a normal manner. Her expression was that her mind was locked. However, when the brethren could do no more, she would be given an explanation of the meaning of the passages, and this was done under such circumstances that it was beyond human manipulation. Thus, by both biblical study and revelation, the faith was established. Writing also in the Review article, she noted:
These experiences were repeated over and over and over again. Thus many truths of the third angels message were established, point by point. (Ibid.)
The following statements point out the divine help that was given in the establishing of “the faith”:
The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 201)
This foundation was built by the Master Worker, and will stand storm and tempest. (Ibid., p. 204)
We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth? (Ibid., p. 205)
The principles for which we fought in the early days . . . were brought out in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Ibid., p. 206)
Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord. But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His Word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority. (Ibid., p. 208)
The truths given us after the passing of the time in 1844 are just as certain and unchangeable as when the Lord gave them to us in answer to our urgent prayers. The visions that the Lord has given me are so remarkable that we know that what we have accepted is the truth. This was demonstrated by the Holy Spirit. Light, precious light from God, established the main points of our faith as we hold them today. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, p. 53, Letter 50; 1906)
We can confidently say, The truth that has come to us through the Holy Spirits working is not a lie. The evidences given for the last half century bear the evidence of the Spirits power. (White, The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, p. 257)
Ever we are to keep the faith that has been substantiated by the Holy Spirit of God from the earlier events of our experience until the present time. (Ellen White, The Upward Look, p. 352; December 4, 1905)
The precious light revealed to Sister White makes it clear that God was directly involved in helping the early pioneers to have a correct understanding of the major points of our faith. The result of this combination of Bible study and revelation is spoken of in the following language: The leading points of our faith as we hold them today were firmly established. Point after point was clearly defined, and all the brethren came into harmony. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, p. 413, MS 135; 1903)
Major Points Established Early
The weight of evidence bears heavily that the main points of our faith were established early.
In the early days of the message, when our numbers were few, we studied diligently to understand the meaning of many scriptures. At times it seemed as if no explanation could be given. My mind seemed to be locked to an understanding of the Word; but when our brethren who had assembled for study, came to a point where they could go no farther, and had recourse to earnest prayer, the Spirit of God would rest upon me, and I would be taken off in vision, and be instructed in regard to the relation of scripture to scripture. (Ellen White, The Review & Herald, June 14, 1906)
Writing earlier, in 1903, she spoke of her mind being opened so that she could understand the Scriptures as an “open book”:
For two or three years my mind continued to be locked to the Scriptures. . . . It was some time after my second son was born [July 1849] that we were in great perplexity regarding certain points of doctrine. I was asking the Lord to unlock my mind, that I might understand His Word. Suddenly I seemed to be enshrouded in clear, beautiful light, and ever since, the Scriptures have been an open book to me. (White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, pp. 413, 414, MS 135; 1903)
For two or three years my mind continued to be locked to an understanding of the Scriptures. In the course of our labors, my husband and I visited Father Andrews, [December 1850] who was suffering intensely with inflammatory rheumatism. We prayed for him. I laid my hands on his head, and said, Father Andrews, the Lord Jesus maketh thee whole. He was healed instantly. He got up, and walked about the room, praising God, and saying, I never saw it on this wise before. Angels of God are in this room. The glory of the Lord was revealed. Light seemed to shine all through the house, and an angels hand was laid upon my head. From that time to this I have been able to understand the Word of God. (White, Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, pp. 57, 58; 1904)
I know and understand that we are to be established in the faith, in the light of the truth given us in our early experience. At that time one error after another pressed in upon us; ministers and doctors brought in new doctrines. We would search the Scriptures with much prayer, and the Holy Spirit would bring the truth to our minds. Sometimes whole nights would be devoted to searching the Scriptures, and earnestly asking God for guidance. Companies of devoted men and women assembled for this purpose. The power of God would come upon me, and I was enabled clearly to define what is truth and what is error. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 319, Letter 50; 1906)
All these differently-dated testimonies portray the same picture. The establishing of the main points of our faith occurred while Sister Whites mind was locked. Sister White says she was in this condition until all the principal points of our faith were made clear (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 207). She testifies that her mind was unlocked sometime after her second son was born, which was in July 1849, and specifically by December 1850, when she visited with Brother Andrews; therefore, the main points of our faith were established by December 1850. Thus we received as a people a line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God (White, Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 57).
The Leading of the Lord
This line of truth was light which helped the pioneers to understand the scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood (Ibid.). Furthermore, we have been counseled:
In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history. (Ellen White, Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, p. 196)
This statement, first penned in 1892, was sent to the General Conference sessions of 1893 and 1899. Later the statement was published in The Review and Herald of October 12, 1905, and in books such as Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers and Selected Messages, Book 3. The latter part of this statement deserves emphasis. It has two important points. We must first remember the way “the Lord has led us” and secondly “His teaching in our past history.”
The statement “His teaching in our past history” would refer especially to that time period before December 1850, when the brethren came together for study and prayer. While we have nothing to fear for the future if we remember our past history, the contraposition would be equally true that if we don’t remember the past, we would indeed have much to fear! This is much more than just historical knowledge; it is also a putting into action that system of beliefs.
Foundational Points Not To Be Moved
The foundation of a building is the most important feature of its construction. If the foundation is not set level and upon a firm surface, the structure will have problems. God knew that in the establishment of the Advent Movement, the foundation was of the utmost importance. If the foundation were correct, then the light would be able to shine “more and more unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18).
New light will ever be revealed on the word of God to him who is in living connection with the Sun of Righteousness. Let no one come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed. The diligent, prayerful seeker for truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the word of God. Many gems are yet scattered that are to be gathered together to become the property of the remnant people of God. (Ellen White, Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 34; original source The Sabbath School Worker, March 1892)
Old truths will grow brighter, and new truths will be discovered in God’s Word; yet, those new truths will never contradict the established truths already set.
When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No after suppositions contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained. (White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 161; 1905)
Messages of every order and kind have been urged upon Seventh-day Adventists, to take the place of the truth which, point by point, has been sought out by prayerful study, and testified to by the miracle-working power of the Lord. But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority. (White, Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 59; 1904)
As a people we are to stand firm on the platform of eternal truth that has withstood test and trial. We are to hold to the sure pillars of our faith. The principles of truth that God has revealed to us are our only true foundation. They have made us what we are. The lapse of time has not lessened their value. (Ibid., p. 51; 1904)
We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. This has been done over and over again during the past fifty years. And while the Scriptures are Gods word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake. (Ibid.)
No line of truth that has made the Seventh-day Adventist people what they are is to be weakened. We have the old landmarks of truth, experience, and duty, and we are to stand firmly in defense of our principles, in full view of the world. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 17)
I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps,the first, second, and third angels messages. Said my accompanying angel, Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received. I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict. God had led them along step by step, until He had placed them upon a solid, immovable platform. (Ellen White, Early Writings, pp. 258, 259; 1858)
The Early Writings statement of 1858 carries quotation marks! Sister White is not writing down her impressions or thoughts alone, though they be inspired, but words straight from heaven!
New light is to come, without contradicting established light! New light will simply build upon the foundation, as a carpenter builds upon the foundation that the mason has prepared. The foundation is not changed or altered, yet a more complete building arises. This very principle is explained by Sister White:
The Lord has made his people the depositaries of sacred truth. He has set them on an elevated position, above the world. He declares of them: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” And again he says: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”
Upon every individual who has had the light of present truth devolves the duty of developing that truth on a higher scale than it has hitherto been developed. (Ellen White, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, September 21, 1897)
This statement tells us that it is not some new truth in the sense of something totally different that we are to search for, but rather we have the “duty” to develop “that truth” which the Lord has already entrusted to us “on a higher scale than it has hitherto been developed.”
God designs that the light from his throne is to shine with purity and clarity. He illustrated this with an object lesson to the children of Israel. God instructed Moses: And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always (Exodus 27:20). Not just any oil was sufficient in the services of God. This pure olive oil was prepared from unripe fruit, beaten, or pounded, in a mortar rather than crushed in a mill. As a result, it was clear and colorless and burned brightly, with little smoke (The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 644). God desires that his truths shine more and more unto the perfect day and not flare up and flame as the hellish torch of Satan (Ellen White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 409, 410).
New light will come from a study of the Scriptures. When a doctrine is presented that does not meet our minds, we should go to the word of God, seek the Lord in prayer, and give no place for the enemy to come in with suspicion and prejudice (Ellen White, Gospel Workers, p. 301). We are counseled that when discussing differences with the brethren the only right way would be to sit down as Christians, and investigate the position presented, in the light of Gods word, which will reveal truth and unmask error (Ellen White, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, June 18, 1889). New light is not to be shunned, for there are areas of study that need clarifying today. There are many topics that are not foundational points, such as Daniel chapters 11 and 12, that should be finely tuned; however, the foundation which was delivered by study, prayer, and revelation stands sure.
Stepping Away from the Foundation Results in Apostasy
Apostasy is defined as an abandonment of ones religious faith (American Heritage Dictionary). The English word apostasy, while not translated as such in the Scriptures, is from the Greek apostasia (ajpostasiva). Apostasia means a falling away (Thayer, Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament; italics in original). James told Paul in Acts 21:21 that he had been accused of apostasy. There it states: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake (apostasia) Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. Paul himself wrote about apostasy in 2 Thessalonians 2:3: Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away (apostasia) first.” To leave established truth is to step off the sure platform into the sinking sand of apostasy.
The Lord has declared that the history of the past shall be rehearsed as we enter upon the closing work. Every truth that He has given for these last days is to be proclaimed to the world. Every pillar that He has established is to be strengthened. We cannot now step off the foundation that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization; for this would mean apostasy from the truth.Manuscript 129, 1905. (White, Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 390)
To “step off the foundation that God has established” is equated to entering into a “new organization.” This is defined as “apostasy from the truth.” In other words, as we move away from, or defect from, the truth, we form a “new organization.” Those who stand with the platform of truth that God established stand with the true organization that God established.
During the early part of this century, the Adventist Church experienced the alpha of deadly heresies (White, Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 50). This apostasy concerning the nature of God was led by Dr. Kellogg, and many of the leading physicians and ministers (Jones, Waggoner, Sutherland, Magan, Paulson, etc.) stood with Kellogg. Sister White had been instructed that she must meet it, referring to the teachings of this movement. Special Testimonies, Series B, Number 2 was written to physicians and ministers to help deal with this crisis. In meeting this apostasy, she wrote:
Who has authority to begin such a movement? We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth? (White, Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 55)
Here we see that our response to apostasy should be that we “repudiate everything that is not in harmony” with the truth! We are to reject that which would try to destroy the foundation of our faith!
The common view today within most of the Advent Movement about the teaching of God, both within the mainline church and among the independent groups, is that the pioneers, though good men, got the teaching about God very wrong and were in great error but that Ellen White was not in this error. Most in the mainline church and in the independent groups believe that when she spoke of the movement obtaining the truth early, she was not speaking about the doctrine of God, but simply about the Sabbath and the issues surrounding the three angels messages. However, Ellen White said that it was a connected truth, extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God (Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 56). Also this truth was specifically about Christ, His mission, and His priesthood (Ibid.). If the brethren had a wrong view of Christ, certainly this line of truth would have corrected this error. Ellen White never wrote that she only had the truth. She wrote that the movement was given the truth. In fact, she wrote in 1881:
It is as certain that we have the truth as that God lives; and Satan, with all his arts and hellish power, cannot change the truth of God into a lie. While the great adversary will try his utmost to make of none effect the word of God, truth must go forth as a lamp that burneth. (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595)
Seven years even before the 1888 Conference, Ellen White stated that “we have the truth.” The “we” cannot be making reference to only herself or herself and a few selected believers. There is nothing in the statement, nor in the context of the statement, to sustain such a position. No, she is telling us, as strongly as words can express, that God’s people in 1881 had the truth as sure as that God lived.
If you will examine what doctrinal changes exist today contrasted to 1881, you will find the doctrine of God to have had a major shift from a non-trinitarian position to a trinitarian position. We have only two reasonable conclusions that we may draw. Either Ellen White told the truth and the pioneers were correct in teaching a non-trinitarian doctrine, thus indicting modern Adventism of apostasy, or Ellen White did not tell the truth, the Adventism pioneers taught heresy, and modern Adventism today is sustained, but without a true prophet or a God-given heritage.
Furthermore, as one looks back at the dating of many of the statements from the pen of inspiration, we have seen there is a core group of statements declaring that we have the truth. The timing of these statements, aside from the 1881 statement, are mostly from 1903 to 1906, during the time that Kellogg was trying to bring in his teaching on the personality of God, with the publishing of The Living Temple in 1903. Kellogg claimed his teaching was in agreement with what the Spirit of Prophecy taught; however, Ellen White flatly rejected such an idea:
I have not been able to sleep during the past night. Letters have come to me with statements made by men who claimed to have asked Dr. Kellogg if he believes the testimonies that Sister White bears. He declares that he does, but he does not. (White, Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 7, p. 60)
Also see letter of October 25, 1903, from Dr. Kellogg to W. W. Prescott reprinted in the November 2014 Old Paths. Dr. Kellogg also stated, The ideas I hold in reference to the presence of God everywhere and in everything, as a manifest agency in all the working of Nature, I didnot [sic] originate. Those truths were sent to me by Sister White in a special Testimony, copy of which I am sending you herewith so you may see my authority” (Letter of Dr. Kellogg to S. N. Haskell, September 21, 1903).
Dr. Kellogg claimed that his concept on the Holy Spirit was made clear when he accepted the trinitarian teaching about God. A. G. Daniells, writing to Willie White, explained the change in Kellogg’s thinking:
Ever since the council closed I have felt that I should write you confidentially regarding Dr. Kellogg’s plans for revising and republishing “The Living Temple.”
… He [Kellogg] said that some days before coming to the council, he had been thinking the matter over, and began to see that he had made a slight mistake in expressing his views. He said that all the way along he had been troubled to know how to state the character of God and his relation to his created works…
He then stated that his former views regarding the trinity had stood in his way of making a clear and absolutely correct statement; but that within a short time he had come to believe in the trinity and could now see pretty clearly where all the difficulty was, and believed that he could clear the matter up satisfactorily. He told me that he now believed in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and his view was that it was God the Holy Ghost, and not God the Father, that filled all space, and every living thing. He said that if he had believed this before writing the book, he could have expressed his views without giving the wrong impression the book now gives.
I placed before him the objections I found in the teaching, and tried to show him that the teaching was so utterly contrary to the gospel that I did not see how it could be revised by changing a few expressions. We argued the matter at some length in a friendly way; but I felt sure that when we parted, the Doctor did not understand himself, nor the character of his teaching. And I could not see how it would be possible for him to flop over, and in the course of a few days fix the book up so that it would be all right. (Letter of A. G. Daniells to W. C. White on October 29, 1903, pp. 1, 2; emphasis supplied)
The history reveals that the alpha of deadly heresies has its roots in the doctrine of the personality of God. Dr. Kellogg introduced subtle changes about God, based upon his new view of the Holy Spirit and of the trinity. This history is rejected today, however, and in its place we are told that our pioneers had the wrong theology about God and that close to the time of the Kellogg crisis, Ellen White began to write a clearer, and perhaps even newer, theology that corrected all the prevailing errors being published. But as we shall see, this is a misunderstanding of history. One of these so-called corrections came in the book The Desire of Ages, with the now famous statement, In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived” (Ellen White, p. 530).
To some, this statement stops any further discussion on the matter, and it is said to carry the endorsement of M. L. Andreasen as changing the theology of the denomination. While Andreasen certainly was a great man of God, he was not infallible, and here, though we have no reason to doubt his sincerity, he was wrong. Let us first note what Andreasen said, as well as what he did not say. Andreasen wanted to personally see Ellen White and examine her writings before becoming the dean of the seminary; therefore, he wanted to see firsthand what Ellen White had written and to ask her about many things. Virginia Steinweg, in her biography of Andreasen, quotes from one of his manuscripts about the trip:
This led me to consider a journey to St. Helena, California, where Mrs. White resided at that time. I wished to have firsthand knowledge as far as it was obtainable. I did not wish to be deceived, nor did I wish to deceive others.
Consequently, in due time I arrived in St. Helena and was cordially received by Mrs. White. I stated my reason for coming, which was to obtain permission to examine her writings in manuscript before anyone had done any editorial work on them. I had brought with me many quotations from her writings that were of outstanding interest either for their theological import or their beauty of expression.
In my own mind I was convinced that Sister White had never written them as they appeared in print. She might have written something like them, but I was sure that no one with the limited education Sister White had could ever produce such exquisitely-worded statements or such pronouncements on difficult theological problems. They must have been produced by a well-trained individual, conversant not only with theological niceties but also with beautiful English.
I was given ready and free access to the vault where the manuscripts were kept, and I immediately began work. I was overwhelmed with the mass of material placed at my disposal. It did not seem possible for one individual to produce such a quantity of matter ir a lifetime, most of which was handwritten. I had imagined that Sister White dictated most of her writings, for she had helpers. Now I found that while she might at times dictate, most of her writings were produced by her own pen. It was these writings in which I was interested and that I examined. I spent several days at this work, and, being a reasonably rapid reader, and with the assistance of the office staff, I accomplished my task.
When I was done, I was both amazed and perplexed. Here I saw before my eyes that which I believed could not be done. I verified many of the quotations I had brought with me. I saw in her own handwriting some of the statements that I was sure she had not written could not have written. Especially was I struck with the now-familiar quotation in The Desire of Ages, page 530: In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. This statement at that time was revolutionary and compelled a complete revision of my former viewand that of the denominationon the deity of Christ. (Virginia Steinweg, Without Fear or Favor, pp. 75, 76)
Andreasen also related this experience when he was preaching at the 1955 Ohio Conference camp meeting. In a recorded message he relates some of his visit to see Sister White and of her acceptance of him. At one point he asked Sister White what she meant by a certain statement. Her reply, as given by Elder Andreasen, was very interesting:
Sister White herself was a very pleasant personality. I used to sit with her in the morning, early, six, five and once four; and she was up writing. She’d sit in her rocking chair, arms and a board across those arms; and there she’d write. I don’t know why she accepted me, but I was gladly welcomed. I sat there trying to find out all about her; and, I suppose, she was reading me while I was trying to read her. We had a good time together.
Sister White, what do you mean by that statement? What statement? Then Id read it. [She would reply] I dont understand it. Lets read it. Then shed open to read it. [She replied] I dont know any more about that than you do. I was perplexed. Dont you know anymore about it than I do? [She responded] No, I have to study it same as you do. And sometime she would throw light on the statement and sometimes shed simply say, I dont know. (Andreasen, 1955 Ohio Camp Meeting Sermon; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcQah7Q67Mc)
One point we can draw from this information is that Ellen White did not always know the meaning of the things that she wrote. She, like the prophets of the Bible, had to study her own writings (see 1 Peter 1:11). Yet an equally important point is something that is lacking in both the manuscript account and the Ohio camp meeting sermonany mention of directly asking Ellen White what she meant by her statement in The Desire of Ages. This is an enigma, for it was one of the main points Andreasen wished to examine.
It is more than interesting that, despite her trinitarian background in the Methodist Church, Ellen White never used the terms trinity or triune God in her writings. During the first fifty years of Sister Whites ministry, her brethren found nothing in her writings to cause them to alter their anti-trinitarian theology; yet, with the publication of The Desire of Ages in 1898, some felt that the denomination had been given a theological license to change its position.
The statement, on the surface, seems simple enough, and for most there is no need to examine it further. We can be thankful, however, that even if Andreasen had asked or not, Ellen White had already given insight into the statement!
While clearly speaking of the divinity of Christ, what did Ellen White mean by Christs life being original, unborrowed, underived? Was she now advocating a trinitarian position? Following the rule that the testimonies themselves will be the key that will explain the messages given (White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 42; Letter 73; 1903), we look to an article published one year prior to the publication of The Desire of Ages. This article originally appeared in The Signs of the Times and was entitled “Christ the Life-giver.” We find in this article a clarification of Sister White’s understanding of the concept:
In him was life; and the life was the light of men (John 1:4). It is not physical life that is here specified, but immortality, the life which is exclusively the property of God. The Word, who was with God, and who was God, had this life. Physical life is something which each individual receives. It is not eternal or immortal; for God, the Life-giver, takes it again. Man has no control over his life. But the life of Christ was unborrowed. No one can take this life from Him. I lay it down of myself (John 10:18), He said. In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived. This life is not inherent in man. He can possess it only through Christ. He cannot earn it; it is given him as a free gift if he will believe in Christ as his personal Saviour. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 296, 297; emphasis supplied.)
The significance of this rarely-quoted statement can hardly be undervalued. While stating that Christs life was original, unborrowed, underived, Ellen White also stated that this life is not inherent in man. So far, there is nothing to send up a red flag. The next two sentences open up a whole new perspective and clarify the mystery in the statement: He [man] can possess it [life, original, unborrowed, underived] only through Christ. He [man] can not earn it [life, original, unborrowed, underived]; it is given him as a free gift if he [man] will believe in Christ as his personal Saviour (White, The Signs of the Times, April 8, 1897).
According to what Sister White wrote a year before The Desire of Ages was published, man is offered the same quality of life that Christ has. If Christ can bestow this life as a free gift upon man, then he could have received that same life from his Father. It is the original, unborrowed, underived life of the Father that Christ possesses and is able to bestow upon man. This is what Jesus meant when he said, For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26).
The Original Source
Sister Whites libraries contained well over one thousand volumes. These volumes were cataloged in two main groups. One section involved her private library in her sitting room bookcase, the other, her office library where her literary assistants worked (A Bibliography of Ellen G. Whites Private and Office Libraries; Compiled by Warren H. Jones, Tim Poirier, and Ron Graybill, p. i). One of the entries listed as being in her private library is Sabbath Evening Readings on the New Testament by John Cummings. On page 5 we find the following statement: In him was life, that is, original, unborrowed, underived (John Cummings, Sabbath Evening Readings on the New Testament, p. 5; 1856).
It is no coincidence that this statement and the reference in The Desire of Ages are almost word-for-word identical. Research reveals that Sister White used the language of Cummingss book, for we find her quoting these words, and more, here and in at least two other places. These passages have been published in at least thirteen places. Those references (the primary in bold) are as follows: ST, April 8, 1897, reprinted in ST, Feb. 13, 1912; 5 BC, p. 1130; 1 SM, pp. 296300; Maranatha, p. 302; DA, p. 530, reprinted in Ev. p. 616; 7A BC, p. 438; LHU, p. 17; FLB, pp. 47, 187; Letter #309; 1905, published in part in Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 19, p. 23; RH, August 6, 1914; and MM, p. 7. In a letter dated November 1, 1905, she wrote to the manager of one of our sanitariums:
In Him is life that is original,unborrowed, underived life. In us there is a streamlet from the fountain of life. In Him is the fountain of life. Our life is something that we receive, something that the Giver takes back again to Himself (Ellen White, Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 19, p. 23).
The parallel statement from Cummings reads as follows:
In him was life, that is, original, unborrowed, underived. In us there is a streamlet from the Fountain of Life; in him was the Fountain of Life. Our life is something we receive, something that the Giver takes back again to himself (Cummings, op. cit.).
Except for one word, these statements are identical. It is not our purpose to discuss the extent of the literary borrowing of Sister White and the problems resulting from it. It has been freely admitted by the brethren that such borrowing was done, and with Cummingss book being in Sister Whites private bookcase, it is reasonable to believe that Sister White, under inspiration, and not one of her literary assistants, made the decision on its usage.
Two areas of Cummingss statement should be considered. We will examine the context first. Cummings noted: He [the apostle John] at once begins by asserting the Deity of Christ as God and Lord of all (Sabbath Evening Readings on the New Testament, p. 5). While upholding the deity of Jesus Christ, Cummings makes no statement here concerning the Godhead in relationship to a trinity or a triune God. This closely parallels the thoughts of the early Advent pioneers and Sister White, who wrote positively of the deity of Christ but never of the trinity or triune God.
Secondly, we would like to examine the content of Cummingss statement. Christ is said to be the Fountain of Life. We are said to be a streamlet. A streamlet is defined as a small stream (Websters Dictionary). A streamlet does not carry a large quantity of water, nor is it the source of the water; however, it does carry the same quality of water that comes from the source! Ellen White wrote concerning our receiving the life that flows from the Fountain:
In Him was life, original, unborrowed, underived. This life is not inherent in man. He can possess it only through Christ. He cannot earn it; it is given him as a free gift if he will believe in Christ as his personal Saviour (The Signs of the Times, April 8, 1897).
Here Sister White states that man may have original, unborrowed, underived life, but he can receive it only as a gift from Christ. Christ can bestow the same quality of life upon the sinner that he has because he has received it from his Father to give. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). Jesus has received it because he is the only begotten Son of God.
The weight of evidence clearly reveals that Sister White believed Jesus to be the literal Son of God. Concerning the weight of evidence, Sister White has written: He [God] requires of His people faith that rests upon the weight of evidence, not upon perfect knowledge (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 258). Those who desire to doubt will have plenty of room. God does not propose to remove all occasion for unbelief. He gives evidence, which must be carefully investigated with a humble mind and a teachable spirit, and all should decide from the weight of evidence (Ibid., p. 255).
So while the life, original, unborrowed, underived statement clearly was not designed to change the theology of the church, some attempted to use it as a license to move the church towards a trinitarian teaching. Some, like Andreasen, claimed it changed the whole church; however, history says otherwise.
No official, pro-trinitarian statement was ever published by the church during the life of Ellen White. There certainly is evidence that factions of the church were beginning to move that way shortly before she died in 1915. Four years later, in 1919, the church held its first Bible conference since 1888.
The 1919 Bible Conference is the best kept secret of Seventh-day Adventism and yet was a landmark event in our history, with implications which, nearly a century later, continue to linger. In 1919, sixty-five administrators, theologians, educators, and editors came together for this conference, where issues were discussed, such as Bible prophecy and discussions on principles of prophecy, the eastern question, the seven trumpets, the daily, and other points. The core of the discussion was the ongoing theological authority of Sister White, who had died four years earlier. A great deal of time was spent on trying to find a better understanding on the nature of and the role of the Spirit of Prophecy.
There was also a series of studies by W. W. Prescott on “The Person of Christ.” These studies, which dwelt upon the eternal nature of Jesus and his deity, caused serious discussion on the doctrine of God.
Because of the controversial and explosive nature of the discussions on the deity of Jesus and on the role of inspiration in the Spirit of Prophecy, General Conference President A. G. Daniells ordered the transcripts locked in the church’s vault and there they stayed until discovered by the church’s archivist in the 1970s.
We will now present some portions of the discussions on deity of Jesus, which are clear evidence today that four years after Ellen White died, the church was not solidly in the trinitarian camp:
WILCOX: We all believe the deity of Christ. It is not a question as to his deity or non-deity. In all this discussion there is no question regarding this.
WAKEHAM: Would you consider the denial of the co-eternity of the Father and Son was a denial of that deity?
PRESCOTT: That is the point I was going to raise: Can we believe in the deity of Christ without believing in the eternity of Christ?
BOLLMAN: I have done it for years.
PRESCOTT: That is my very point—that we have used terms in that accommodating sense that are not really in harmony with the Scriptural teaching. We believed a long time that Christ was a created being, in spite of what the Scripture says. I say this, that passing over the experience I have passed over myself in this matter—this accomodating use of terms which makes the Deity without eternity, is not my conception now of the gospel of Christ. I think it falls short of the whole idea expressed in the Scriptures, and leaves us not with the kind of a Saviour I believe in now, but a sort of human view—a semi-human being. As I view it, the deity involves eternity. The very expression involves it. You cannot read the Scripture and have the idea of deity without eternity.
KNOX: I believe all the statements that were made this morning by Elder Prescott concerning the promises that are given to us through Jesus Christ—that is, the many Scriptures that were read; and I believe they are made sure to us because they are bound up in the Deity of Jesus Christ. I think that we are all agreed in the deity of the Son of God (Amens).
I think also that we ought to remember what Brother Daniells reminded us of this morning, that we cannot by searching find out God—that this is a matter—a subject that will be unfolding all through the days of eternity. And yet I do believe that the Lord has given us glimpses in his Word, which he has intentionally placed there, to draw our minds out into the contemplation of truths concerning God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost.
Now I can not but believe as Brother Prescott has said, the Deity must be eternal. But the difficulty with me is that I can not believe that the deity of the Son as a separate existence is eternal. I believe in the trinity of God, and I believe that Jesus is God. It says, “Unto us a son is born?” and then you remember the names by which he is called—the Everlasting Father—the Prince of Peace—in Isaiah. The same Scripture speaks of him as the Son and as the Everlasting Father.
You remember the Word says that “in the beginning was the Word.” Now that has been spoken a number of times, and by it we are carried back through eternity. But the same words are used exactly concerning the existence of matter. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now some time God called the things that we see out of the things that did not appear. I do not suppose there is one here that will contend the co-existence of matter with out God. Matter has been called into existence by God; but it was called into existence “in the beginning,” and “in the beginning” was the Word. Now the Word was the agency God used to call matter into existence, for “by him were all things made that were made.”
Now again the servant of God speaks of the Son as the first created being. I never saw that, and never believed that, but it speaks of him as having sprung from the bosom of the Father. Now the Word also speaks of Levi paying tithes while he was in the loins of Abraham. Now it would have been equally true if the Lord’s Spirit had carried the acts of Levi back to the time when he was in the loins of Adam. From God’s view point Levi had existed in the loins of his forefathers from the very beginning of time, but he did not have a separate existence until he was born.
And so Christ, was with the Father, and of the Father—and the Father—from eternity; and there came a time—in a way we cannot comprehend nor the time that we cannot comprehend, when by God’s mysterious operation the Son sprung from the bosom of his Father and had a separate existence.
PRESCOTT: I would like to call Brother Knox’s attention to this, and ask how on that basis he would deal with John 8:58 “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was born I am.” What does “I am” as to our conception of time, mean?
KNOX: His personal existence. I believe in the eternity of Jesus Christ. I cannot grasp the eternity of his separate and distinct existence.
TAIT: I feel we are discussing something we ought to wait sixty billion years before we start in on. Some of these scriptures do not mean to me what the brethren say they mean to them. But now I think if we still get hold of Christ and what he is to us now and what he will be to us who will reign with him in glory we will go a long ways. Now I am willing to wait to find out a lot of things I do not understand now, until I get on the other side.
A. G. DANIELLS: Now we shall have to change the order. We don’t want to keep on and go too far in fine distinctions. But I don’t think I can altogether with Brother Tait. I have enjoyed these discussions. They have been helpful to me. I am glad for them.
H. C. LACEY: Is it necessary, in order to have a heart apprehension of a Bible truth, that our minds should have a clean-out apprehension of it? Are we not to understand the theory within the mind as well as with the heart? I have enjoyed these discussions, and I think the Bible has given us enough to answer that question. I didn’t see it myself, years ago. But now I think I can see how Jesus can be the eternal son.
M. C. WILCOX: Doesn’t the heart sometimes apprehend what the mind cannot comprehend?
A. G. DANIELLS: So far as I am concerned, I went along with a mystified idea quite a while, and the thing that began to knock the scales from my eyes was when the Desire of Ages came out. I was in Australia when the page proofs were brought out. I never believed some other things till the Testimonies came out and set me thinking. And I said, Look here, Sister White has always been in harmony with the Bible, now she has dropped a stitch somewhere or else I am wrong, went to studying, and that did more for me.
Perhaps we have discussed this as long as we need to. We are not going to take a vote on trinitarianism or arianism, but we can think. (1919 Bible Conference Collection, pp. 240–244)
The Establishment of the Catholic Faith
Before closing this historical correction, we should note that in the last section of the Cherith Chronicle the Catholic councils of Nicæa and Chalcedon are mentioned, with the historical spin that these councils teach a false view of God and that this same view was the view adopted by our pioneers.
Let us briefly review the creeds from those councils, to which Trefz makes reference, and see if this claim is also valid.
Any honest church historian who knows even the basics of church history will tell you that the Council of Nicæa (AD 325) laid the ground work for the establishment of the trinitarian doctrine. Far from being a non-trinitarian teaching, this council was understood by A. T. Jones to be the establishment of the Catholic faith! Chapter 14 of his monumental work The Two Republics, which covers the Council of Nicæa, is entitled “Establishment of the Catholic Faith.”
The Council of Nicæa stated:
I believe in ONE GOD THE FATHER Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord JESUS CHRIST, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made;
Who, for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; suffered and was buried;
And the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures;
And ascended into heaven; sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
And he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the HOLY GHOST, the Lord, and Giver of life; who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets.
And one holy catholic and apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
And I look for the resurrection of the dead;
And the life of the world to come. Amen. (Schaff, P., The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The History of Creeds, vol. 1, p. 98; italic emphasis in the text, but bold emphasis supplied)
The Creed of Chalcedon (AD 451) states:
We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [coessential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ: as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us. (Schaff, P., The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Greek and Latin Creeds, with Translations, vol. 2, p. 63; italic emphasis in the text, but bold emphasis supplied)
Interestingly, both creeds declare that Jesus is begotten of the Father; however, how is this to be understood by the Catholic Church? If we look also at the Athanasian Creed, we can understand.
And the Catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. So the Father is God: the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet there are not three Gods: but one God. The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created: but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten: but proceeding. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after another: none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are co-eternal, and co-equal. So that in all things, as aforesaid: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshiped. (Miley, J, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, p. 228; emphasis supplied)
So while Jesus is here said to be begotten, it is clear that he is “co-eternal and co-equal” with God the Father, something which could be said for no true son. If the Catholic Church believes that Jesus is co-eternal with God the Father, why do they say he is begotten? Because by so doing they are at least trying to stay within some of the terminology of Scripture, even if it must be interpreted in a way inconsistent with reality. If we condemn the creeds based upon their stating that Jesus is begotten of the Father, then logic and reason say that we must also condemn Proverbs 8:24, 25; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9, 5:1, and other texts that declare Jesus to be begotten!
But the creeds also say that Jesus is consubstantial with the Father. That means he is of the same substance and is not a separate being distinct from the Father. This we do condemn, for it is not the teaching of the Bible, nor of the Spirit of Prophecy. Because of the teaching that Jesus and the Father are consubstantial, Jesus is called the second person of the godhead and not the second being.
Clearly our Adventist pioneers did not accept such thinking. For example, Joseph Bates wrote:
Respecting the trinity, I concluded that it was an impossibility for me to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, was also the Almighty God, the Father, one and the same being. I said to my father, If you can convince me that we are one in this sense, that you are my father, and I your son; and also that I am your father, and you my son, then I can believe in the trinity. (The Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates, p. 1868)
It should be noted that there are many Seventh-day Adventists who claim to believe in the trinity, thinking that it means that they believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and that these three are separate distinct beings who are one in purpose and goals. (This is the theology of Trefz.) This is not the teaching of the trinity, however, but of tritheism, the belief in three almighty gods.
Yet sadly, the mainline Seventh-day Adventist Church has adopted the concept of the godhead being consubstantial. In the Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, a volume fully approved by the General Conference which claims to represent Adventist faith, we find these statements on the doctrine of God:
The oneness of God plays a decisive, systematic role in determining the referent for the biblical revelations about God. In other words, since the God of the Bible is one and not many, all the various revelations about Him presented throughout the Bible refer to the same, one divine reality and not to a plurality of divine beings. (Handbook of Seventh-Day Adventist Theology, p. 121)
The danger of Tritheism involved in this position becomes real when the oneness of God is reduced to a mere unity conceived in analogy to a human society or a fellowship of action. Beyond such a unity of action, however, it is necessary to envision God as the one single reality which, in the very acts by which He reveals Himself directly in history, transcends the limits of our human reason. . . (Ibid., p. 150)
Rather than a tritheist position, the church now teaches the orthodox, or classical, trinitarian doctrine:
In Gods eternal being there is no eternal generation, and consequently, no eternal procession of the Spirit. The biblical concepts on the generation of the Son and the procession of the Holy Spirit must be understood as belonging to the historical personal acts of the Trinity in the work of Creation and redemption. In the being of God is an essential coprimordiality of three coequal, coeternal, nonoriginated persons. Moreover, Adventism conceives the idea of persons in its biblical sense, as referring to three individual centers of intelligence and action . . . (Ibid.)
This theology of God represents the being (singular) of God with three individual centers of intelligence and action.
Beloved, the Apostle Peter wrote, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). Peter knew who Jesus Christ was firsthand, that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Our pioneers were not following cunningly devised fables either. They were given a line of truth that would take them to the city of God. They were given the truth as sure as that God lives. We have been told:
We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth? (White, Special Testimonies, series B, no. 2, p. 55; 1904)
When Jehoshaphat led Israel to battle, he declared: “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20). Because the people believed, God gave a great victory, and he blessed them. In Adventism we have a statement that parallels Jehoshaphat’s declaration. It is:
In reviewing our past history, having travelled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment and with confidence in Christ as Leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and his teaching in our past history. (Ellen White, General Conference Daily Bulletin, January 29, 1893)
The above statement is usually quoted from Life Sketches, but here we see that is was originally given more than twenty years before the publishing of Life Sketches in 1915 and clearly falls within a time frame prior to any acceptance of trinitarianism within the movement. Allen Stump
Fair Flowers of Promise
Youths CornerYoung Converts to the Mission Field
(Our story this month continues Chapter 19 in the book Youthful Witnesses, written by W. A. Spicer)
In his book China from Within, C. E. Scott tells of the test that comes to some of the young women of China, requiring grace for quiet endurance of daily trial. Speaking of one form of heathen persecution that exceeds all others in sustained intensity, this writer says:
It is the hidden horror of heathenism. It is called by the Christians “burying alive.” It refers to the immurement of Christian daughters-in-law in the families of heathen mothers-in-law.
A baby girl, while her parents were yet heathen, has been betrothed into a heathen family. In the course of time her parents become Christians; she is given a school education, and grows up trained and winsome, with the laudable ambition to make her own home a real Christian home.
But her parents dare not break the contract, and she is tied for life to a peasant boor, uneducated, unsympathetic, coarse, and brutal. He has never seen her, possibly is considerably younger; perhaps at marriage is still a boy.
It is a living death the steady, relentless pressure, glacierlike, of nagging and contumely.
The young wife is supposed to have swallowed a “magic Jesus-doctrine pill,” and the only way to get it out is to pound it out. This the family set themselves, through drudgery, abuse, and violence, to do. Often all the members have a hand in the process, even the younger female relatives.
A woman, converted in one of the meetings I was conducting, confessed there with agonized weeping that for ten years she had made life as nearly unendurable as possible for her eldest sister- in-law, who was one of our best Bible women.
A charming young woman in one of our churches — an unusually good teacher she was — on her marriage, was repeatedly threatened by her husband. Daily brandishing a knife before her, he vowed that he would cut out her heart if she did not recant. Finally, because of her inflexible determination, he divorced her—an unspeakably disgraceful and helpless condition for a woman in China.
Another girl in nobility of spirit silently endured the curses and scorn of her adopted family. She came at night, when her father-in-law would not know it, to be strengthened by her lady missionary friend in her purpose to serve Christ, and at the end of the fifth year she was still holding out against the most violent opposition and persecution. When asked the secret of her strength, she quoted God’s promise to Joshua: “I will be with thee: I will not fail thee.”
Another example, with a happy ending to the faithful witnessing, is given as follows:
A young Christian bride, she was immured in a heathen family. Her husband soon informed her that he was going to whip her once a week till she renounced foreign doctrines. Each week as he lashed her, she wept for pain, and prayed in an agony of spirit for him. At the end of two years he approached her to inflict the weekly beating, and in a terrible voice announced: Now this time if you dont recant Im going to kill you! With ferocity he rained the blows; then suddenly threw down his whip, and laughed, a strange, hard laugh, exclaiming, Its no use; Ive been trying all these weeks to make you seng ta ki (literally, beget a great anger), just as the other women I know do. But I can’t make you! “ And in that instant the Holy Spirit, honoring her faithful witness and real prayer-life, convicted and converted him; and he and his wife, helped by the Holy Spirit, began forthwith the winning of their clan to Jesus Christ.
The source of her endurance, I later learned, was Psalms 50:15, repeated and prayed many times, claiming the faithfulness of God: “I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.”
Ransoming Her Life
It was in a Sabbath school in China that we learned of Han Me Li An’s persevering purpose to redeem herself from a marriage contract that would mean a life of misery to her.
The lesson topic that morning was, “The City of God, the Inheritance of the Saved.” In the lesson review we had heard a young Chinese worker of the Shanghai mission press tell of the city with its gates of pearl and its streets of gold. Then a young woman was called upon to sing a solo. As she was going to the front and the organ prelude was playing, my interpreter told me in a few words her story:
Han Me Li An had in infancy or childhood been betrothed. The boy’s parents had paid to her parents the equivalent of fifty dollars to seal the contract. These contracts, by custom, are counted about as fixed as the marriage ceremony itself. As Me Li An had grown up, she found Christ as her Saviour.
She had attended school, and was now assistant teacher. Her betrothed was a worthless, ignorant heathen. And for years now, the interpreter said, Me Li An had been saving from her earnings to accumulate the money that would repay the man’s parents and ransom her own life. She had the price of her redemption nearly made up. Here the story told by the interpreter was cut short as Han Me Li An, in a clear, pleasing voice, began the song,
My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full,— He has riches untold.
“ I’m a child of the King, a child of the King!
With Jesus, my Saviour, I’m a child of the King!
CALLED TO THE LIGHT
It was in Chungking, in far Szechuan, about fifteen hundred miles up the Yangtze, that Dora Li, a Bible woman, told me her story, with apologies.
“ I came,” she said, “ because 1 want to tell you what Jesus did for me. But I don’t want you to think He would pay any special attention to me, or that I amount to anything; for I do not.”
But not one of the sheep is valueless in the eyes of the Shepherd. And the Good Shepherd certainly searched to find this young member of the scattered flock lost on the dark mountains of Szechuan. This is the story:
As a small girl, Dora Li had attended a mission school somewhere, and had heard about Jesus and had learned many texts of Scripture. Then came her marriage, as a young girl, into a well-to-do family. She lived the ordinary life without a thought of God. But she fell ill, and for weeks lay semiconscious on her bed. Then it was that into her mind came the texts of the mission school days. She often repeated the texts aloud. Her father was angry, and forbade her to repeat them. “But I cannot help it,” she would reply. Then one day came a voice speaking to her heart, sounding so clearly that it seemed as loud and distinct as a human voice speaking to the ear: “ My child, Jesus loves you; get up.”
She rose from her sick-bed, and maintained constant improvement until well and strong. Then she began to search for the way of Jesus. In contact with this and that representation of it, she found no peace, and kept searching. Then she found our workers in Chungking, heard the gospel of Jesus’ life and death and ministry in heaven for sin, and of His soon return to gather His children home. It was the message that answered the longing of her heart, and now she is working to bring the blessed hope to her Chinese sisters.
“I don’t want you to think I amount to anything,” she said, “or that Jesus would pay any special attention to me.” But she was glad that He had found and saved her.
Several months after she had told us her story, her young husband died. Through her influence he was a believer, though he had not yet been baptized. Missionary M. C. Warren, of Chungking, wrote:
He died at his home three days from here. Mrs. Li says that his faith was strong in the Lord, and he would not allow his relatives to call in the heathen priests.
After his death the parents took matters in their own hands, as in China a daughter-in-law has no desires that can be respected. Mrs. Li knew it was useless to express her desire that her husband should be buried as a Christian.
Then came the trial for Mrs. Li. Her conscience would not allow her to act the part that a wife commonly takes in the ceremony. She did not know to what lengths the family might go in trying to get her to worship her husband’s spirit. Telling the experience, she said: “At first I thought I would feign that I was ill, and hurry to my room; but I knew that would not be right. I continued to pray to our Lord to help me. The priests announced that it was time for me to take part. Then something made me stand right up, and I told them that I believed in Jesus, and could not take part in the ceremony of worship of spirits. I was surprised at the way I spoke, as I had been feeling so fearful. My attitude seemed to convince them I could not be forced against my conscience. Even the priests spoke up and said, ‘That’s right, that’s right. She is a Christian, and you must excuse her.’”
This came as a surprise to the country people, as they had never known ones connection with a mission to interfere with such a ceremony. They were interested to hear about this religion, and gave Mrs. Li the opening she had longed for to tell them of Christ and His salvation. One young man present declared that he would learn more of this way. Mrs. Li is now with us in the Bible work.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God
Does the Scripture portray Jesus as the second person of the trinity or as God the Son? These are certainly titles that never appear in either Scripture or the Spirit of Prophecy.
Inspiration, instead, shows that the terms Son of God and only begotten Son of God are expressive of the divine relation to the Father in which Christ’s highest character consists.
To illustrate this, let us simply see what the Bible says about this matter, letting it explain itself.
If these propositions are clearly supported by the word of God, can we possibly avoid the conclusion that the terms under consideration import the highest character of our Redeemer?
1. That “the Lord from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:47) is presented to a perishing world as the great and glorious object of faith in the character of the Son of God, the belief which true salvation is connected to, appears from the following passages:
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17)
While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Matthew 17:5)
And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. (John 1:34)
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)
And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. (John 6:69)
Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? (John 9:35)
She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. (John 11:27)
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Acts 8:37)
And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (Acts 9:20)
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. (Romans 1:4)
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. (1 John 4:15)
2. It is as the Son of God that Jesus is worshipped:
And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (Hebrews 1:6)
That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. (John 5:23)
Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. (Matthew 14:33)
Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? . . . And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. (John 9:35, 38)
3. No passage can be found in which Jesus, “the faithful witness” (Revelation 1:5), ever claimed a higher title. On this high claim, the charge of blasphemy by his opposers was founded:
Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? (John 10:36)
This claim excited their utmost rage:
Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:18)
4. That it is as the Son of God on the throne of the mediatorial kingdom that he is called God is evident from the following scriptures:
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8)
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: The sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. (Psalm 45:6)
The first chapter to the Hebrews illustrates this important truth and lifts up Jesus in his divine nature as the Son of God. It is clearly Paul’s purpose to set forth Jesus in his highest dignity and most glorious character. He represents him as the Creator:
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. (Hebrews 1:2)
Jesus is represented as the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of his person:
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Hebrews 1:3)
Jesus is represented as being much better than the angels and one who by inheritance obtains the name of Son of God:
Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. (Hebrews 1:4)
Jesus is set forth as being much better than the angels and an object of their worship:
And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. (Hebrews 1:6)
Paul has no reluctance to declare Jesus’ divine nature, calling him God as he is called in the Old Testament:
But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8)
From these verses we clearly see that it was in the character of Son that he made the worlds. If, then, his creating the world and if his being the express image of the invisible God denote his divine nature, the title of Son must denote the same. Why is he made so much better than the angels? Because he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. But what is this excellent name ? It is the Son of God. This is evident from verse 5: For unto which of the angels said he at any time, thou art my Son. But if this name is applicable only to his humanity, it must rather signify that Jesus was “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8:5) instead of being “so much better than the angels,” and Paul has failed in his proof, despite his seemingly conclusive remark of verse 5.
The most-loved text of the Bible says, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus declares the great love of the Father by declaring the great gift he has given. And all this love and excellence is set forth in his only begotten Son. This title, then, declares the highest character of our blessed Redeemer. If it does not, it is totally inadequate for Jesus to use it in order to demonstrate the amazing love of God towards us in “his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Paul says in Hebrews 4:14, Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. Our great high priest is the Son of God. The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). If, then, there is any divinity in his priesthood, to give virtue to his sacrifice and intercession, that divinity is in the name of the Son of God.
Furthermore, when Jesus is exalted as King on the holy hill of Zion, the decree is declared, “Thou art my Son” (Psalm 2:7). And when we are required to be reconciled to his government, we are commanded to “kiss the Son” (Psalm 2:7).
Jesus prayed, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). The obvious truth in this passage is that the Son possessed glory with the Father “before the world was” and, consequently, that this relationship then subsisted. But if the term “Son of God” is not expressive of Christ’s highest character, it follows that the Son of God, so far from possessing glory with the Father before the world was, has not yet existed two thousand years!
Thirty-nine times in his gospel, the Apostle John referred to Jesus as the one whom God has sent (John 3:17, 34; 4:34; 5:23–24, 30, 36–38; 6:29, 38–39, 44, 57; 7:16, 28–29; 8:16, 18, 26, 29, 42; 9:4; 10:36; 11:42; 12:44–45, 49; 13:16, 20; 14:24; 15:21; 16:5; 17:3, 18, 21, 23, 25; 20:21). How could God send his Son if he was not already his Son? To say that God sent his Son into the world implies that he was his Son antecedent to being sent. To suppose otherwise is no less absurd than supposing that when Christ is said to have sent forth his twelve disciples they were not disciples but in consequence of sending them, they became his disciples. Ellen White wrote a very clarifying statement:
In His incarnation He gained in a new sense the title of the Son of God. Said the angel to Mary, The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). While the Son of a human being, He became the Son of God in a new sense. Thus He stood in our worldthe Son of God, yet allied by birth to the human race. (The Signs of the Times, August 2, 1905; see also Selected Messages, book 1, page 226)
Notice that he was in a new sense the Son of God at the incarnation. This means that he was also the Son of God prior to the incarnation in another sense. This helps to explain texts such as Luke 1:35 and Acts 13:33.
Jesus could not simply become the Son of God at the incarnation because sonship is not a progressive matter. If his sonship arose from his miraculous conception, it could not also have arisen from his resurrection or from his exaltation. On the other hand, if it arose from his resurrection or his exaltation, it could not have proceeded from his miraculous conception. But if each can be understood of his being hereby proved, acknowledged, or as the scriptures express it, declared, to be the Son of God with power, then all is in agreement, and we have a harmony in the Scriptures.
May we, like Peter, declare that art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16).Adapted
Using Speech Well
(I recently used some words that, though without malice, were very poorly chosen, and so this study is for me. I hope that it helps others, too. Editor)
Words can instruct and inspire. Think of the encouraging and the uplifting effect of Joshua’s great words when he said, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). Words, however, can also discourage and cause people to lose heart. The words “nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. . . We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:28, 31) helped to keep the children of Israel out of the promised land for forty years!
The way in which we, as believers, speak should reflect our calling as Christians. Christian speech should be sincere, godly, and honoring to God. We have been told:
Of all the gifts that God has bestowed upon men, none is more precious than the gift of speech. If sanctified by the Holy Spirit, it is a power for good. It is with the tongue that we convince and persuade; with it we offer prayer and praise to God, and with it we convey rich thoughts of the Redeemers love. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 337)
It is no coincidence that the tongue brings out both the best and the worst of man.
The Desire for Godly Speech
As Christians we should greatly desire to have godly speech in our lives. A daily prayer to consider is found in Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, And the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” All that we say and think should be acceptable to God, meeting his every standard for purity, for honesty, and for thoughtful delivery. David said, “I will take heed to my ways, That I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, While the wicked is before me” (Psalm 39:1). The tongue is a wild beast and not naturally tame. Like a wild beast, the tongue is quick to strike out if it feels threatened. It spares little of its would-be opponent. The tongue, therefore, must be bridled. A bridle is used to control an animal, and the natural tongue most certainly needs to be controlled. No wonder David prayed, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; Keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
Guard well the talent of speech; for it is a mighty power for evil as well as for good. You can not be too careful of what you say; for the words you utter show what power is controlling the heart. If Christ rules there, your words will reveal the beauty, purity, and fragrance of a character molded and fashioned by his will. But if you are under the guidance of the enemy of all good, your words will echo his sentiments. (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, May 12, 1910)
Not only should we desire to have good speech in ourselves, but we should also wish to hear it displayed among all believers. Paul noted:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. (Ephesians 4:29–31)
Commenting upon these verses, the Spirit of Prophecy states:
The apostle, seeing the inclination to abuse the gift of speech, gives direction concerning its use. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, he says, but that which is good to the use of edifying. The word corrupt means here any word that would make an impression detrimental to holy principles and undefiled religion, any communication that would eclipse the view of Christ, and blot from the mind true sympathy and love. It includes impure hints, which, unless instantly resisted, lead to great sin. Upon every one is laid the duty of barring the way against corrupt communications. (White, The Review and Herald, May 12, 1910)
Writing to the church at Colossae, Paul similarly noted:
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. (Colossians 3:8–10)
This counsel is very plain. We are to put anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy communication out of our mouths. We are to be honest and tell the truth, but the key to being able to doing this is to put on the new man. In other words, we have to be changed from within by the power of God; we must be converted. Until we are converted, we will not have the power to overcome bad speech.
When I was younger, I sadly developed the use of foul language. Many things that came out of my mouth were filthy communications. When I became a Christian, I was at first worried that, by habit, these filthy things would continue to come out of my mouth, but I prayed and asked for the power of God to cleanse me from those kind of words, and he immediately gave me the victory, and he can give you the victory, also. Without a conversion, however, it is impossible to truly fix the problem. It is like having a sink with its drain closed and the faucet on. Very soon the sink will overflow. You can get a mop and bucket and begin to mop up the water into the bucket but as you mop over the area, the floor is wet again and ready to have another full mop removed. There would be no end to such a cycle. The answer is to get to the source of the problem by turning the water off. You may put on the new man by accepting Jesus Christ as your saviour, and then he will help you to have pure and good speech.
What do anger, wrath, and malice usually lead to? They lead to filthy communications. Jesus said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34).
The expression filthy communications is from the Greek word aischrologia and it means obscene, shameful speech involving culturally disapproved themesvulgar speech, obscene speech, dirty talk (GreekEnglish Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains, reference # 33.33).
Peter further develops on this theme, stating:
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. (1 Peter 3:8–10)
Christians do not seek revenge for wrongs done to them in word or in deed. Christians may be railed upon, but they do not rail back. Furthermore, they refrain the tongue from all evil and speak no guile (Greek: dolos, bait). This must include doctrine. The Christian will speak no false doctrine.
Characteristics of Godly Speech in Our Relationship to God
First and foremost in the Christian’s speech will be the way he addresses and approaches God. Jesus taught us to pray: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9).
To hallow the name of the Lord requires that the words in which we speak of the Supreme Being be uttered with reverence. “Holy and reverend is His name.” Psalm 111:9. We are never in any manner to treat lightly the titles or appellations of the Deity. In prayer we enter the audience chamber of the Most High; and we should come before Him with holy awe. The angels veil their faces in His presence. The cherubim and the bright and holy seraphim approach His throne with solemn reverence. How much more should we, finite, sinful beings, come in a reverent manner before the Lord, our Maker!
But to hallow the name of the Lord means much more than this. We may, like the Jews in Christ’s day, manifest the greatest outward reverence for God, and yet profane His name continually. “The name of the Lord” is “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, . . . forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Exodus 34:5–7. Of the church of Christ it is written, “This is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.” Jeremiah 33:16. This name is put upon every follower of Christ. It is the heritage of the child of God. The family are called after the Father. The prophet Jeremiah, in the time of Israel’s sore distress and tribulation, prayed, “We are called by Thy name; leave us not.” Jeremiah 14:9.
This name is hallowed by the angels of heaven, by the inhabitants of unfallen worlds. When you pray, Hallowed be Thy name, you ask that it may be hallowed in this world, hallowed in you. God has acknowledged you before men and angels as His child; pray that you may do no dishonor to the worthy name by which ye are called. James 2:7. God sends you into the world as His representative. In every act of life you are to make manifest the name of God. This petition calls upon you to possess His character. You cannot hallow His name, you cannot represent Him to the world, unless in life and character you represent the very life and character of God. This you can do only through the acceptance of the grace and righteousness of Christ. (Ellen White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 106, 107)
Our speech should give glory to God. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). Let us be known as Christians of good fruit, with the praise of thanksgiving upon our lips. “I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).
All aspects of our communication and life should be done in the name of the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Colossians 3:17). The words are, of course, what we speak, but also in our deeds (Greek ergon) or works—what we do beyond the tongue—we are to glorify God.
Our worship should glorify God. We have this counsel: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, And into his courts with praise: Be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). We are told “in every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and we can do this, for Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We are to give thanks for the good and for the challenging.
Matthew Henry, the famous scholar, was once accosted by thieves and robbed of his purse. He wrote these words in his diary: Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed. (Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times, p. 1456)
Our speech should confess Jesus Christ as Lord. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9, 10). The time to confess Jesus is certainly now. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32–33).
Not only should we confess Jesus as simply Lord, but as the Christ, the Son of the living God, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
Characteristics of Godly Speech in Relationship to Others
Perhaps of all aspects of speech, we are challenged most in our relationship to how we speak to others. The Bible says that we should have gentle, gracious, and tactful speech. “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6). Seasonings in food can make the difference between a great tasting experience and a very poor, bland one. The same is true about our speech. If it is filled with grace and seasoned with spiritual salt, it will be a good experience, not only for us but for all those around us, as well.
One of the most important texts on speech that may be the most difficult to obey is found in Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: But grievous words stir up anger.” Soft answers are always best when we are confronting wrath.
The Hebrew word for grievous means painful. Words do not have to be loud or even harshly-given to cause pain. While the way we say things is extremely important, the contexts of the words are vital, too. “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, Sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). Even health to the bones? Yes, that is right because the body and the mind sympathize with each other. That which encourages the spirit will bring health to the bones. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: But a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
Tactful words also can go a long way to helping others. You may remember that a problem Gideon had which required great diplomacy. The Ephraimites were angry with Gideon because he had not chosen them to pursue the fleeing Midianites. They were told only to hold the fords of the Jordan against the enemy. The jealous Ephramites were ready to cause a serious split in the army, but notice how Gideon tactfully handled the situation:
And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply. And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that. (Judges 8:1–3)
The way we emphasize our words can totally change what the words might say. Read the following sentence and ask yourself what it means: I didnt say you stole money. Without any emphasis, it is simply a declaration that you did not say someone else stole money. What if we add an emphasis? I didnt say you stole money. It means, no, I did not say it. Maybe someone else said it, but I did not. Now let us change the emphasis: I didnt say you stole money. I did not say it, but I may have implied it, or I may have written that you stole money. What about, I didnt say you stole money. In other words, I did not say you stole the money; someone else stole it! Changing the emphasis again, I didnt say you stole money. In other words, you didnt steal the money; you got it some other way. And lastly, I didnt say you stole money. No, I did not say you stole money, but you stole something else. Six words and five ways the same sentence can be understood, simply by changing the emphasis of the words.
Let us strive to have kind words. “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: But a good word maketh it glad” (Proverbs 12:25). Think of the magnanimity of Joseph towards his brothers who had sold him into slavery. He could have been harsh to them when their father died and even had them put to death, but he told them:
And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (Genesis 50:19, 20)
If you are trying to show that someone is wrong, you seldom need to use Martin Luthers I am right and you are wrong technique.
As a rule, do not say, You are wrong, and Im going to prove it to you. That is like saying, I am superior to you and, therefore, I have the right to change your mind. A better, more tactful, approach is to say, This is the way I understand it. Now, I am glad you are interested in truth, and I am, too, so lets look at it together to be sure we know what Gods word is really saying.
Good speech should be instructive and edifying. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
If the words of Jesus dwell in us, then it is most likely that the words of Jesus will be what others hear.
A special text that I appreciate is found in Proverbs 31:26. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; And in her tongue is the law of kindness. Her mouth has wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness! Did you know that there was a law of kindness? The word for law in verse 26 is the Hebrew word torah or law, but it also means teaching. The teaching of kindness is in her tongue.
We are to speak the truth in love. But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15). Perhaps someone is trying on a new article of clothing and asks you, How does this look on me? The truth might be that it makes the person look unattractive, and we want to be truthful, but we do not have to be blunt in what we say. We could honestly reply that a different style or color might look better. That is speaking truth in love.
Early in this study we read Ephesians 4:29, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. The Greek word for edifying is oikodomçn. It means to build up house. Part of this word is where we derive our word domicile. This word is also used in the following texts:
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. (Matthew 24:1)
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. (Ephesians 2:21)
The things that we speak should be edifying or building up of the house of God.
Our speech should be prudent and even, at times, restrained.
He that hath knowledge spareth his words: And a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. (Proverbs 17:27)
Our goal should not be to demonstrate how bright we are by speaking a lot. In fact, usually the more intelligent the person is the more the person will hold or spare his or her words. In fact, the proverb goes on to say:
Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: And he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. (Proverbs 17:28)
When others want to present what they consider truth to you, do not cut them off, thinking that you already know it all, before they can begin to explain. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, It is folly and shame unto him.”
As James says, we should be “swift to hear, [and] slow to speak” (James 1:19). Or as the old proverb says, “Think twice before you speak once.”
Let us be careful of our words. Oh, there is so much speech that is not for the glory of God. Would it not be much better if we should talk less and pray more? (Ellen White, The Voice in Speech and Song, pp. 121, 122)
Let our speech be honest and unadorned, without sarcasm. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil” (Matthew 5:37).
Zechariah 8:16 commands us, “These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.” We are to speak the truth and never bear false witness (Exodus 20:16).
False speaking in any matter, every attempt or purpose to deceive our neighbor, is here included. An intention to deceive is what constitutes falsehood. By a glance of the eye, a motion of the hand, an expression of the countenance, a falsehood may be told as effectually as by words. All intentional overstatement, every hint or insinuation calculated to convey an erroneous or exaggerated impression, even the statement of facts in such a manner as to mislead, is falsehood. This precept forbids every effort to injure our neighbors reputation by misrepresentation or evil surmising, by slander or tale bearing. Even the intentional suppression of truth, by which injury may result to others, is a violation of the ninth commandment. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 309)
Even the expressions on our faces must be guarded:
It is our duty to be very jealous of the glory of God, and bring no evil report even by the sadness of the countenance or by ill-advised words, as though the requirements of God were a restriction upon our liberty. The whole person is privileged to bear a decided testimony in every linein features, in temper, in words, in characterthat the service of the Lord is good. This they proclaim: The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Let your words be positive on the side of the Lord. (White, The Voice in Speech and Song, p. 121)
Let us speak good, encouraging words often to our brothers and sisters.
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: And the LORD hearkened, and heard it, And a book of remembrance was written before him For them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. (Malachi 3:16)
Jesus Christs Speech Was Perfect
There could be no better example of perfect speech than that of Jesus Christ. When the temple guards were sent to arrest him, they came back empty-handed. They had approached him for the purpose of arresting him, but their minds and consciences were arrested when they heard him speak. They brought back the simple report, “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46).
Jesus is our example. His voice was musical, and was never raised in high, strained notes while He was speaking to the people. He did not speak so rapidly that His words were crowded one upon another in such a way that it made it difficult to understand Him. He distinctly enunciated every word, and those that heard His voice bore the testimony that never man spake like this man. (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, March 5, 1895)
Jesus taught with authority, And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes (Matthew 7:28, 29). He had authority because he had been sent of God. When we are sent of God and carry his words and speak in his manner under the power of the Holy Spirit, we, too, can teach with authority. The people were astonished at his doctrine. The word astonished here means to strike out, to cause panic, or to amaze. That was the kind of teaching and words Jesus spoke.
Yet these words that were so amazing were also gracious. “And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22).
The words of Jesus were with astonishing words of authority. They were gracious and also pure. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:22). The Greek word for guile is dolos, the same word used in 1 Peter 3:10, and it is the same word translated in the LXX in Isaiah 53:9, when the prophet says that in Jesus was no “deceit in his mouth.”
What we say and the way we say things have a tremendous influence for good or for bad, and the same could be said for what we do not say. Let us set a watch upon our lips to only say the right things, at the right time and in the right way. Let us know when it is best to be quiet and not speak, and may we never to deny our Lord Jesus by word or lack of words, or by actions or lack of actions.
I’m careful of the words I say
to keep them soft and sweet.
I never know from day to day
which ones I’ll have to eat.
Lay o the Land
(Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times, p. 1,425)
Notice: Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were not able to publish an issue of Old Paths for December 2014. By God’s grace, though, we expect to be in full publication mode for the new year.
We look forward to a new year, one year closer to the coming of Jesus. “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11).
This summer we plan to attend the General Conference Session and bring you a full report on the session, including commentary on the issue of women’s ordination and of any changes to the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
We look forward to strong health for our gospel workers here and for the chance to be a stronger and better blessing to those to whom we have the privilege of ministering. Editor
His ways are everlasting.
What he hath done at one time, he will do yet again. Mans ways are variable, but Gods ways are everlasting. There are many reasons for this most comforting truth: among them are the followingthe Lords ways are the result of wise deliberation; he ordereth all things according to the counsel of his own will. Human action is frequently the hasty result of passion, or fear, and is followed by regret and alteration; but nothing can take the Almighty by surprise, or happen otherwise than he has foreseen. His ways are the outgrowth of an immutable character, and in them the fixed and settled attributes of God are clearly to be seen. Unless the Eternal One himself can undergo change, his ways, which are himself in action, must remain for ever the same. Is he eternally just, gracious, faithful, wise, tender?then his ways must ever be distinguished for the same excellences. Beings act according to their nature: when those natures change, their conduct varies also; but since God cannot know the shadow of a turning, his ways will abide everlastingly the same. Moreover there is no reason from without which could reverse the divine ways, since they are the embodiment of irresistible might. The earth is said, by the prophet, to be cleft with rivers, mountains tremble, the deep lifts up its hands, and sun and moon stand still, when Jehovah marches forth for the salvation of his people. Who can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? But it is not might alone which gives stability; Gods ways are the manifestation of the eternal principles of right, and therefore can never pass away. Wrong breeds decay and involves ruin, but the true and the good have about them a vitality which ages cannot diminish.
This morning let us go to our heavenly Father with confidence, remembering that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and in him the Lord is ever gracious to his people. [Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening: Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.]
Mission Report from Peru
By Aland Ashton
Greetings and blessings from the Most High God. May the the strength of Jesus be upon each of you.
I thank God for so many blessings and for those who have helped me to understand the present truth to give us strength and comfort as we are nearing the end of time.
As I was reading The Foundation of Our Faith, I came to realize how profound it is and that I am more mature in the word of God now. I remember years ago during a camp meeting at Smyrna how Brother Glen Ford opened the Scriptures to me in his living room. He also gave me a book about the Waldenses and the book by A. T. Jones entitled The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection. I have them and still read them.
God has used others also to help me. Brother Andreas Morales gave me a book about the Ten Commandments. Brother Willis Smith gave me his book entitled Michael.
Brother Brian Stephens handed me a book on how to understand the book of Revelation. Brother Ed Cyrus drove me to the Greyhound station and as we went, we talked about faith, and he shared with me his encouraging testimony. Brothers Steve Saenz and Benjamin Vela, whom I met with in a park, asked me to sing “Shema Israel.” Though I felt inadequate to do this, I remembered how Brother Willis Smith encouraged me to do all things to the glory of God.
I remember wondering how I would get to the West Virginia camp meetings and how I would travel to United States with just an email letter of invitation and present that to the immigration chief at the Miami airport. Yet God knew and worked it out, with the immigration chief telling me, “Mr. Ashton God loves you.” What an blessing for honoring and believing in God.
God bless all those brothers who dared to present to me the true God of John 3:16. Many, like Brother Lynnford Beachy, have helped me greatly along the way. He gave us a printer, but it was never able to be delivered to us (more on this later). Some of these dear brothers are sleeping in Jesus now, and I look forward to seeing them when Jesus comes. Amen!
As you may know, I have been very sick the last few years, but my hope and trust is in God. I feel his strength and hear his call to serve the one who has showered me with so many blessings and care. It will be a great shame if we do not make it to heaven. What a waste when Jesus died so that each person could be in heaven. God wants to lead you, beloved, but it will not be until you decide to be led by him. Let this be your desire and goal.
No heavenly goal is attainable unless we follow God’s ways. Brothers and sisters, God is the one who calls you to his work to achieve his goals. These tasks may seem to be big or small, but it does not matter. When we do God’s work, God’s way is all big and important to him. I remember a sister who cleaned the restrooms with love. God used her! He has also used others in his work that have been such a blessing to me, people like Sister Ann Ford, Brother and Sister Holt, Sister Shirley, and a dear brother who works in the hospital and brought all those delicious bowls of soups to me. I thank God and Jesus for all those who have and are working for him today.
What do we expect to hear in the presence of our Father, and Jesus, who was tested and tempted and prevailed? How many songs I did write for thanks and appreciation, for being his child. Will I hear from him, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” He is calling me and each one to hear his offer of salvation. The choice is ours now to be in heaven, to be a part of the 144,000, or to be wherever we will fit in at his table.
By God’s grace I will walk on the street of gold, touch the wall of jasper, and drink from the river of life that flows clear as crystal. I may know by faith even if I do not understand how God’s grace can save a sinner like me. You can, too!
God helped me to understand this with a little illustration. If you go into a dark room and want the room to have light, what do you do? You turn on the light switch, and the room has light. This seems very apparent, but you do not care if the electric wires to the switch are green, red, black, or white. You do not ask yourself if the current is AC or DC. You do not question where the main electrical box is. No, you just go directly to the switch and turn it on, and there is your electrical light. The Bible tells us we have a source of light and though we do not understand how it all works, we know that it does. We believe in the word of God, and our faith is the vehicle through which God works.
As you believe the light will come on when you flip the switch, so you can believe in the word of God and turn on your faith and make it happen. This is the time to be diligent and to seek our heavenly Father with his word. It is written should be our life! Our good works will never merit salvation. The saved will never say to their Maker, I did this and that, I gave to thy cause, I passed out tracts, or I preached. To all such Jesus will say, “I never knew you.”
Speak My Lord
Hear the Lord of harvest sweetly calling,
Who will go and work for me today?
Who will bring to me the lost and dying?
Who will point them to the narrow way?
Speak my Lord!, Speak my Lord!
Speak and I´ll be quick to answer thee.
Speak my Lord!, Speak my Lord!,
Speak and I will answer Lord send me.”
When the coal of fire touched the prophet,
Making him as pure as pure can be;
When the voice of God said Wholl go for us?
Then he answered, “Here am I, send me.”
Millions now in sin and shame are dying,
Listen to their sad and bitter cry;
Hasten brother, hasten to the rescue;
Quickly answer, “Master, here am I.”
Soon the time for reaping will be over;
Soon well gather for the harvest home;
May the Lord of harvest smile upon us,
May we hear His blessed, “Child, well done.”
One Sabbath morning our family (wife Karina, daughter Jerusalem, sons Yovel, Levmacher, and Brakhot) sang this amazing praise and in the afternoon, we remembered we had a stack of different tracts entitled The Love of God, Idolatry, and The Law of God Changed by the Papacy. At that time I clearly heard the voice of God in my heart asking, Whos going to work for me today? For so long I had been lying in bed just inert, yet always praising, praying, and reading the word of God. He strengthened me to remember how he has strengthened us in the past and that we should not be afraid for the future, unless we forget his leading and teachings in our past history.
Despite the fact that we could not get the donated printer here, God had provided us with more than four thousand tracts, plus books of the pioneers, tracts from different themes, such as questions about the Sabbath, tracts about the Holy Spirit, about the truth about God, and about other great biblical themes. The message of Joshua 24:15 was ringing through my ears, and we wanted to answer the call as we realized the amazing goodness and love of God towards us. So with these tracts and books, we decided to prepare our little 1975 Toyota and go out to share these truth-filled pamphlets. We call our little car Mehonit, meaning car in Hebrew. It has never failed us on the road.
We began by going to the cities that are very far from Lima, south to the border with Chile and Bolivia. As we traveled we were full of peace in our hearts with the desires to go and work for our God and present to the people his only begotten Son.
The love of God in giving us his Son is clearly explained in “The Love of God” tract. And yet, how good is the truth if nobody knows it?
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:14, 15)
We reached some towns that have never had present truth presented. We were so blessed to be able to share the message, and we believe that many will read about the truth and some will accept the truth because of this effort. Our work is to sow the seeds, and it is God’s work to bring conviction to the hearts.We must hasten, as is expressed in the praising song, “Speak my Lord.”
Some of the areas we visited were Pucusana, a district in southern Lima Province in Peru and to its south the Chilca District of the Cañete Province. In these areas we found many fishermen, towns which are full of idols even in the hills and in the fishing boats. Some of the places we visited were Chilca, Cañete, Chincha, Ica, Pisco, Nazca (where the Nazca lines existed), Chala, Atico, and Camana. All of these cities are south of Lima, on the way to Chile. We also visited Mollendo, Ilo, Tacna, and Arica just over the border in Chile. In Tacna we preached to soldiers and road workers. Many of these people were amazed about the tract of “The Love of God.”
After arriving in one town and securing a room at a small hostel, we prepared the tracts into what we call sandwiches. This is a tract with one or more other tracts inserted inside so we could easily give out multiple tracts. We then went to the main square, which in Peru is called Plaza de Armas and began passing out the tracts to a group of young men. As we passed out the tracts to all of them, one of them rapidly read it and turn around and said, What took you so long to come? I was frozen as he thanked us. I weep and thank God for the privilege to be there.
We went to the thermal waters near this city. It is called a miraculous place. It is a big pool more like a little lake inside a cavern. In the top of the cave there is an idol of a man they named after a so-called saint. The cave is dark, but the local people believe that this idol brings light to the area. When I saw it, I remembered the altars of Baal, so I climbed to the top without anyone seeing me and when I reach up, I knocked on his head made of clay. I then quickly climbed down by the protection of the angels of God. I got into the thermal waters like others and all of a sudden we heard a sound! The head of this image started falling down, hitting the rocks that form the cave and then fell inside the pool. Everyone started screaming and running out of the water. I got out too and said its only an idol, made out of clay. Praise God! That was amazing and made so many people think, What is an idol? How sad that nobody will explain to the people about the evils of such idolatry or read the 115th Psalm. As we walked back to the hostel in town, we passed our tracts to the people of many little adobe houses, cabins, and shacks.
We came to a town near the border with Chile where there are chili paprika plantations. There were many little shacks with a road going to the hills and a sign that read “Monastery,” so we went up the road. There we found a little town, with houses, animals , cows, goats, and chili paprika plantations. We saw a little plaza, a square with some big stones and children playing, so we continued up the road and there was, a big hacienda (large estate), with well-cared-for gardens. We continued higher up the road, but it was getting hard to pass so we came back to the hacienda and our children approached the gardener or caretaker of the place. He asked if the children were coming for the classes because there were some classes put on by a Baptist church. Once a month a Baptist group goes to this place and stays for two days. During that time they preach and teach. People come from around the area to learn. We thanked the man and blessed him with some tracts. He asked us if we were Baptist. We told him that we are believers in the God of the Bible. We only believe what is in the Bible and if there is a teaching not written in the Bible, we should be aware and not believe what is not from God.
This man was busy working on a ladder and though he did not climb down, he waved to us and and thanked us for the preaching.
Down the road we met the children in the plaza, so my wife, Sister Karina, and the children spent about twenty minutes giving them some food and gifts with tracts to read. One of the children said, “Ma’am I don’t believe in idols, but they, referring to the other children, do.” He also noted that they go with their parents to an obligatory Sunday mass at the local monastery.
But one of the little ones said, Yeah! But we dont go. Instead, we go to the Baptist place. We run away and make them believe we went to the Monastery. Sister Karina told them to read from the Bibles and encouraged them to serve the Lord, and she prayed with them. She then left them some books, pencils, and notebooks. God is so good. Please pray that God will put his hand over these dear children and protect them so they can find the truth.
So many people were touched by the truth written in the tracts. We went inside farms, where not a single person refused the tracts. The people were touched, and some came back to us and asked for more to share with others. It was amazing the power of the presence of God in answer to our prayers asking God to prepare people before we went to the streets.
I hope this will give a picture of the work of God here in Peru. By God’s grace about eight thousand tracts where shared on this trip, for the glory of God and his knowledge. We are preparing to go to Bolivia in January 2015. Pray for us, as we pray for all of you.
Brother Aland Ashton