Old Paths Masthead

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.6, 7 Straight and Narrow June/July 2015


 

GC Squirrel.jpg

The eyes of all wait upon thee;
and thou givest them their meat
in due season. (Psalm 145:15)

 

In this issue:

Atonement

The Two Phases of Christ's Work

Youth's Story

A Trial Run

Publisher Information

 

Atonement

By Allen Stump

(This is the second installment of a series we are publishing on the sanctuary and the atonement. More will continue next month. Editor)

There are some things that are unique to certain countries or groups of people. For example, if you see a man wearing a kilt, you are probably in Scotland or under Scottish influence. If you are in Mexico or Spain and see people sleeping for two hours in the afternoon, you know it is siesta time.

There is a word in English that many other countries do not have with as deep a meaning as in English, even though its origin is not unique to English, and that word is atonement.

This rich English word is defined in the New Oxford American Dictionary as a reparation for a wrong or injury, a reparation or expiation for sin, or the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ. The origin is from the early sixteenth century and denotes unity or reconciliation, especially between God and man, an at-one-ment, and Ellen White used it this way, too. For example:

Men may comprehend the spirituality of the law, they may realize its power as a detector of sin, but they are helpless to withstand Satan’s power and deceptions, unless they accept the atonement provided for them in the remedial sacrifice of Christ, who is our Atonement–our At-one-ment–with God. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, July 23, 1902)

It is interesting how the English word atonement is translated into other languages. In Spanish, it is expiación, which would be expiation in English. In French, it is expiation, which would also be expiation in English. Expiation is defined as “the act of making amends or reparation for guilt or wrongdoing; atonement: an act of public expiation” (New Oxford American Dictionary; emphasis is original; all other emphasis is supplied unless otherwise noted).

The word expiation has a meaning that falls short of the unity that is achieved from what the English word atonement conveys.

Atonement means being in perfect unity, perfect at-one-ment with God. Think of two tuning forks. If they are alike (440A, for example), when both are struck at the same time, they will sound as one, but if they are of different frequencies, they will be out of tune with each other. God wants us to be in perfect harmony with him, without a signal discordant note between him and us.

Common View

The common view of the atonement is: Jesus died for our sins; this process was finished at the cross; Jesus suffered for us and even obeyed the law of God for us; since we cannot suffer and die for ourselves and still be saved, the death of Jesus is to be accepted, not only for the penalty for our sins, but for our obedience, too. It is commonly believed that it is impossible for man to obey God’s law. Notice how a very common and reputable biblical dictionary defines atonement:

Atonement—. . . it is used to denote the effect which flows from the death of Christ. By the atonement of Christ we generally mean his work by which he expiated our sins. But in Scripture usage the word denotes the reconciliation itself, and not the means by which it is effected. When speaking of Christ’s saving work, the word “satisfaction,” the word used by the theologians of the Reformation, is to be preferred to the word “atonement.” Christ’s satisfaction is all he did in the room and in behalf of sinners to satisfy the demands of the law and justice of God. Christ’s work consisted of suffering and obedience, and these were vicarious, i.e., were not merely for our benefit, but were in our stead, as the suffering and obedience of our vicar, or substitute. Our guilt is expiated by the punishment which our vicar bore, and thus God is rendered propitious, i.e., it is now consistent with his justice to manifest his love to transgressors. (Easton Bible Dictionary)

This view of atonement is one that provides forgiveness through the suffering of Jesus. Furthermore, it is said that his work consisted of obedience. We might pause a moment and think, Well, of course, Jesus had to obey the law of God so that he could be our perfect, untainted sacrifice, but this is not what the quotation is about. His obedience is said to be vicarious, which means to experience in the place of or for another. The evangelical view of the atonement has Christ obeying in our place because that view does not believe in perfection of character. Since we must have good works in our record because we are judged by our works, Jesus’ obedience must be vicarious for us. But Scripture tells us that we are able, by God’s power, to keep all of his commandments.

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3:31)

God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Romans 6:2)

According to the popular view of the atonement, not only does Jesus obey vicariously for us, but his sufferings justify God in manifesting his love towards humanity. The Bible teaches, however, that it is the love of God that prompted him to give his son, not the giving of his son that prompted him to love us.

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)

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18–20)

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. (Colossians 1:21, 22)

God’s plan is in Ephesians 1:10: “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” When this is done the family of heaven and the family of earth are one. As Ellen White noted:

One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 678)

Biblical Usage of Atonement

The first usage of the word atonement in the English Bible is in Exodus, but we begin to see its meaning more in the book of Leviticus, where it is most frequently found. No chapter in the Bible speaks more of atonement than Leviticus 16 (Day of Atonement chapter), where it is used fifteen times in twelve verses.

The word translated atonement is an interesting word. The Hebrew is kaphar, and in its basic form it means to cover, to smear, or to coat over. Most likely you already know the plural form—kippur. Add the Hebrew word for day, yom, and we have Yom Kippur, an expression that is not translated into other languages but is simply carried over in the Hebrew:

In French I say bonsoir for good evening, but for the Day of Atonement, I say Yom Kippur.

In Spanish I say buenas noches for good evening, but for the Day of Atonement, I say Yom Kippur.

Ellen White agrees with the definition of kaphar to mean to cover or to blot out:

In the type, this great work of atonement, or blotting out of sins, was represented by the services of the Day of Atonement. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 358)

This statement is speaking about the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

Before we see how atonement is used in the Bible, let us first notice a statement from the Spirit of Prophecy:

The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:14. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 409)

Daniel’s prophecy was about a cleansing of the sanctuary. This parallels the experience outlined in Leviticus 16!

There were many services performed in the Old Testament sanctuary. These were all types and shadows that pointed to the work of Jesus Christ. Paul sums up these services in Hebrews as being two main points:

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people. . . . How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:1–7, 14)

Paul mentions two basic services: A service that always (continually or daily) occurred and a service that occurred once a year. These correspond to the daily sin offering and to the Day of Atonement. These services are outlined in Leviticus 4 and 16. Their final work is to clean our conscience, or mind, from all dead works so that we might serve the living God.

The Sin Offering

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them. (Leviticus 4:1, 2)

Leviticus 4 outlines four different procedures for four different cases. Verse 3 speaks about the priest who is anointed (the high priest), verse 13 speaks about corporate sin, and verse 22 speaks about rulers. The last category of offering was for the common person:

And if any one of the common people sin through ignorance, while he doeth somewhat against any of the commandments of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and be guilty; Or if his sin, which he hath sinned, come to his knowledge: then he shall bring his offering, a kid of the goats, a female without blemish, for his sin which he hath sinned. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar. And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the LORD; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 4:27–31)

Besides a female kid of the goats, according to verse 32, a female lamb could be brought, but in either case, after the procedure, the result is made clear: “The priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him” (Leviticus 4:31); “The priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him” (Leviticus 4:35). The killing of the lamb represented Jesus dying on the cross, and the result of this is an atonement of forgiveness.

The Day of Atonement services described in Leviticus 16 are the most complex of all the sanctuary services and the most sacred. The record of the sins that had been symbolically transferred to the sanctuary through the year was to be cleansed on the day known as Yom Kippur. The important part in relationship to this study is found in verses 29 and 30:

And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. (Leviticus 16:29, 30)

The result is an atonement of cleansing from sin, not simply being forgiven, but being made clean. While the services of Leviticus 4 represent forgiveness and justification, the services of chapter 16 represent cleansing and sanctification.

The importance of the Day of Atonement can be seen in Leviticus 23:27, 28:

Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement(s) [Hebrew kippur]: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement(s) [Hebrew: kippur], to make an atonement [Hebrew: kaphar — to cover] for you before the Lord your God.

Inspiration uses the plural of majesty in making reference to the Day of Atonement to show its superiority or greatness. This is why it is called Yom Kippur instead of Yom Kaphar. By the term Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement is represented to be the atonement of all atonements.

In both Leviticus 4 and 16, an atonement was made for the people. As we review our study, we see that the Bible uses the word atonement in Leviticus 4 to mean the reconciling that we have from the death of Jesus upon the cross. Was there anything that was not perfect about it? No! But it was not the total of the plan of salvation. It provided forgiveness. You are given a standing before God as if you had never sinned. When God views you, he does not see your past, but your present Savior! But the services of Leviticus and what they represented did not finish the plan of redemption. Leviticus 16 must also be considered. The problem in the evangelical world and in a great deal of Adventism is that what Leviticus 16 represents is totally ignored.

Theological License

Some theologians have taken a license from certain statements in the Spirit of Prophecy to attempt to change our faith, statements like these:

Our great High Priest has made the only sacrifice that is of any value in our salvation. When he offered Himself on the cross, a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the people. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, June 28, 1899)

He planted the cross between heaven and earth, and when the Father beheld the sacrifice of His Son, He bowed before it in recognition of its perfection. “It is enough,” He said. “The atonement is complete.” (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, September 24, 1901)

If we do not understand the dual atonement, we might read these statements and think that since this atonement was perfect and complete, the plan of redemption was totally finished at the cross. The implication is that since the plan of redemption was finished at the cross, there is nothing that Jesus accomplishes for us in heaven today; however, we also find statements like these:

. . . at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844, Christ then entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to perform the closing work of atonement preparatory to His coming. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 422)

The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement; so in the type the blood of the sin offering removed the sin from the penitent, but it rested in the sanctuary until the Day of Atonement. (White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 357)

. . . in the final atonement the sins of the truly penitent are to be blotted from the records of heaven . . . (Ibid., p. 358)

As the priest entered the most holy once a year to cleanse the earthly sanctuary, so Jesus entered the most holy of the heavenly, at the end of the 2300 days of Daniel 8, in 1844, to make a final atonement for all who could be benefited by His mediation, and thus to cleanse the sanctuary. (Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 253)

These statements speak of a closing work of atonement and of a final atonement. For there to be a final of anything, there must be something prior. If there is a final atonement, then there is some kind of atonement prior to the final atonement. In the first two statements in this section from The Review and from The Signs, we read of an atonement made on the cross, while the later statements speak of a final atonement in heaven beginning over 1800 years later.

Both sets of statements are true, and both are in harmony with the Bible, which tells us of an atonement of forgiveness—a bringing us into harmony with God so that he may view us as if we have never sinned—and of an atonement of cleansing or sanctification from sin, bringing us to the place where we no longer need justification or forgiveness in our lives.

New Testament Usage of Atonement

The only place the term atonement is used in the New Testament is in Romans 5:11: “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” The Greek word translated atonement is katallag, and it means reconciliation. Most translations use the English word reconciliation. For example:

More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:11 ESV)

Furthermore, katallag is never used in the LXX for kippur or kaphar.

Today there is a tremendous amount of confusion on the point of the atonement, and it occurs from a neglect to recognize the dual atonement, or the two divisions of the atonement. Notice what is said about John the Baptist:

He did not distinguish clearly the two phases of Christ’s work,—as a suffering sacrifice and a conquering king . . . (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 136)

The next article in this series will begin the discussion on the two phases of the atonement, but, friends, you do not have to wait until you read that article to hear Jesus speaking to your heart. You can accept the perfect, completed atonement made on the cross by his sacrifice of himself. He wants you to know that no matter how scarlet your sins are they can be made white by the blood of Jesus Christ. The invitation is, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Jesus wants you to experience his ministry in the heavenly sanctuary today, making intercession for you so that you may have your conscience purged of dead works in order to serve the living God. Won’t you come to him today? If the Father can bow before this sacrifice and say, “It is enough,” who are we to want more? If you have not done so before, give your heart to Jesus today, right now!


Two Phases of Christ’s Work (Parts 1 and 2)

By Allen Stump

“Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God” (Psalm 77:13)? God’s way, his modus operandi, if you please, is in the sanctuary.

Of all the pillars of Adventism, the sanctuary is the central pillar and a landmark of our faith that must not be removed. While others outside our faith decry and ridicule the biblical teaching on the heavenly sanctuary, we have seen in our earlier presentations that it is a solid, biblical doctrine. The sanctuary on earth was a type representing the antitype, or the reality, in heaven. There was a holy place in the earthly type because there is a holy place in heaven. There was a most holy place in the earthly type because there is a most holy place in heaven, where Jesus “is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

Jesus Christ ministers in the heavenly sanctuary so that the sinner who has been separated from God can be brought into an one-ment with him. This is called atonement, where man and God come into perfect unity. Atonement is used to represent the condition between the sinner and God, when the sacrifice of Jesus is accepted in behalf of the sinner for the forgiveness of his sins. The sinner has a cleared record, but he is not yet ready to stand in the presence of a holy God, who is a consuming fire to sin: “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).

Atonement is also used to represent the unity from the cleansing of all sin, the total removal of sin from the life of the person. This is what will give the person, who was once a sinner, the ability to stand in the presence of God and live. However, for the last fifty-eight years, since the publication of the book Questions on Doctrine, there has been a great confusion on the point of the atonement, and it arises, at least in part, from a neglect to recognize the two divisions of the atonement. Notice what is said about John the Baptist:

He did not distinguish clearly the two phases of Christ’s work,—as a suffering sacrifice and a conquering king . . . (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 136)

The first of these two phases is the subject of this study.

The Suffering Sacrifice

The first phase of Christ’s work is that of the suffering sacrifice. Jesus did not wait until the cross to become the lamb of God. The Bible declares that Jesus is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Inspiration tells us,

As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour. Christ knew what He would have to suffer, yet He became man’s substitute. As soon as Adam sinned, the Son of God presented himself as surety for the human race, with just as much power to avert the doom pronounced upon the guilty as when He died upon the cross of Calvary. (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, March 12, 1901)

Even before the incarnation, the temptation in the wilderness, the trial of Gethsemane, or the supreme suffering at Golgotha, Christ was our sacrifice.

The fifty third chapter of Isaiah speaks more pointedly and more poignantly about Jesus’ sufferings than any prophecy. It climaxes in verses 10:

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

How could it please the LORD (Jehovah, the Father) to bruise his servant (his son, Jesus Christ)? Let us first note Isaiah 52:13:

Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.

God the Father could not be delighted that Jesus should suffer; however, in the light of the big picture for the salvation of humanity and for the stability of the universe (Isaiah 9:6), it was best for Jesus to suffer. “It pleased the LORD” in the sense that it was his will and that the results of Christ’s sufferings would greatly please God. This was the only way that the plan of redemption could succeed.

If Jesus was to be the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, then his sufferings had to have been agreed upon at the “counsel of peace” (Zechariah 6:13). Christ’s sufferings and death were the plan of God the Father.

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. (Acts 2:23)

The expression determinate counsel could also be translated definite plan, deliberate plan, or predetermined plan of God. While Christ offered himself to be man’s sacrifice (see Early Writings, pages 149, 150), this had been put in his heart by God the Father from the days of eternity. Christ, one with the Father in nature, embodied the same unselfish character as the Father.

The Hebrew word translated sin in Isaiah 53:10, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,” is ‘asham. It is usually translated trespass offering, as in Leviticus 5:6. The trespass offering was presented when restitution was required, either to man or to God. Christ’s death provided an adequate and effectual sacrifice to make restitution for the sin of humanity. This sacrifice was essential to man’s redemption and restoration and was sufficient to cover all the sin of God’s creation, for that sacrifice was greater than all the creation!

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

Satan Claimed the World as His

When God created Adam God placed him in dominion over the earth and all in it (Genesis 1:26, 28). By yielding to temptation, however, Adam was brought under the power of Satan, for Peter writes: “Of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Peter 2:19).

When man became Satan’s captive, the dominion which he held, passed to his conqueror. Thus Satan became the ruler of this world. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 67)

Satan gained such a foothold that control of humanity, except eight people at the time of the flood, was in his grips.

Later when a council was held in heaven, Satan appeared, claiming to be the rightful representative of the world:

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

When Jesus was upon earth, during the temptations in the wilderness, Satan offered to give the kingdoms of this world to Jesus, thus implying Satan’s ownership of them:

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. (Matthew 4:8, 9)

The apostle Paul in the New Testament calls Satan “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).

Christ Disputes the Claim of Satan

Through Christ, God would dispute this claim.

When Satan declared to Christ, The kingdom and glory of the world are delivered unto me, and to whomsoever I will I give it, he stated what was true only in part, and he declared it to serve his own purpose of deception. Satan’s dominion was that wrested from Adam, but Adam was the vicegerent of the Creator. His was not an independent rule. The earth is God’s, and He has committed all things to His Son. Adam was to reign subject to Christ. When Adam betrayed his sovereignty into Satan’s hands, Christ still remained the rightful King. Thus the Lord had said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will.” Daniel 4:17. Satan can exercise his usurped authority only as God permits. (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 129)

And that usurped authority was to be limited. Satan was to be cast down from his usurped position:

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10)

When the voice of the seventh angel sounds, we are told:

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

A king, by definition, has a kingdom, and all kingdoms are ruled by law. To be ruled means to be under rules. Satan’s rule was one of hatred, murder, and, in fact, lawlessness. His only rule is that you must break God’s rules or law, but God would, through Christ, bring man out of a state of rebellion into obedience to the law of his kingdom. This Christ would do, and he would do it on man’s level.

In becoming man’s substitute, and bearing the curse which should have fallen upon him, Christ pledged himself in behalf of the race to maintain the sacred claims and the exalted honor of his Father’s law. The Father has given the world into the hands of his Son, that through his mediatorial work he may completely vindicate the holiness and the binding claims of every precept of the divine law. (Ellen White, Bible Echo, January 1, 1887)

The great work of redemption could be carried out only by the Redeemer taking the place of fallen man. (Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, p. 88)

Jesus volunteered to meet the highest claims of the law, that he might be the justifier of all who believe on him. (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, September 2 1890)

Jesus could say, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8). That law is in the heart of all who know righteousness.

Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law. . . (Isaiah 51:7)

Jesus has pledged himself to the Father and has accepted the responsibility for each person on earth.

By pledging his own life, Christ has made himself responsible for every man and woman on the earth. He stands in the presence of God, saying, Father, I take upon myself the guilt of that soul. It means death to him if he is left to bear it. If he repents, he shall be forgiven. My blood shall cleanse him from all sin. I gave my life for the sins of the world. (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, February 27, 1900)

Christ Must Meet Satan on His Ground

For the contest between Christ and Satan to be considered fair, Christ must meet Satan on this earth, in the very way that man must meet Satan.

Christ undertook to redeem man and to rescue the world from the grasp of Satan. The great controversy begun in heaven was to be decided in the very world, on the very same field, that Satan claimed as his. (White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 69)

As Satan claimed the earth to be his, it was necessary for Jesus to overcome Satan before he could take possession of his kingdom. Knowing this Satan made a stupendous effort in the wilderness to get Jesus to sin. Jesus was weak and emaciated from forty days of fasting and though humanity was weak, heavenly power sustained Jesus, just like it will sustain us in our weakest moments!

Separated from God

For the next three and one half years, the scenes move throughout Judea to Jerusalem and finally to Gethsemane.

The night before Jesus was crucified, he could confidently tell his disciples:

Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. (John 16:32)

Earlier, Jesus had declared:

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:29)

Jesus could confidently stand before charging, raging demons because he knew he was not alone. God was always with and beside him. Before Gethsemane Jesus had been upheld by the knowledge of his Father’s approval and presence, but now in Gethsemane:

He was overpowered by a terrible fear that God was removing his presence from him. He felt himself being separated from his Father by a gulf of sin, so broad, so black and deep that his spirit shuddered before it. He clung convulsively to the cold, unfeeling ground as if to prevent himself from being drawn still farther from God. (Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 95)

What if God would forsake him and leave him, would he still be able to resist the devil? There is no question that in the counsel of peace the plan of salvation was fully made clear to Jesus, including his life of poverty, his sufferings, and finally his death for the sin of the world and the shadowing of the Father’s presence. But for Jesus to be tested on earth, he must not know all of this. Remember that Jesus was not born with the knowledge of the universe. He came to Bethlehem as a babe, and the Bible says that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). One cannot increase in something (wisdom and knowledge) if one already has it all. Day by day and step by step, God revealed to Jesus his work and the plan of salvation. It was not until he was twelve that he fully realized that he was the Son of God, the Messiah of the world. But the withdrawal of the Father’s presence from Jesus at the cross was not revealed by the Father at any time during his incarnation. Christ, the combining of divinity and humanity, must be fully tested and proven victorious over Satan and Satan’s ways. When Jesus cried out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46), it was not the cry of an actor or a thespian but a real cry of the Son of God trying to deal with the unsuspected withdrawal of his Father. That withdrawal began in the garden as Jesus prayed.

As the Father’s presence was withdrawn, they saw Him sorrowful with a bitterness of sorrow exceeding that of the last great struggle with death. (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 759)

“O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”

Three times has he uttered that prayer. Three times has humanity shrunk from the last crowning sacrifice. But now the history of the human race comes up before the world’s Redeemer. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish under the Father’s displeasure. He sees the power of sin, and the utter helplessness of man to save himself. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world arise before him. He beholds its impending fate, and his decision is made. He will save man at any cost to himself. (White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, pp. 99, 100; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

The Great Choice Imperils Heaven

Only Christ’s decision will save humanity. “The fate of humanity trembled in the balance” (White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 99). This was not play-acting. The sufferings and death of Jesus carried consequences far past our world.

Remember that Christ risked all; “tempted like as we are,” he staked even his own eternal existence upon the issue of the conflict. Heaven itself was imperiled for our redemption. (Ellen White, General Conference Daily Bulletin, December 1, 1895)

Heaven was imperiled? Heaven could be imperiled! The government of God was upon the shoulders of Jesus. What would have happened to Jesus if he had failed?

The new tomb enclosed Him in its rocky chambers. If one single sin had tainted His character the stone would never have been rolled away from the door of His rocky chamber, and the world with its burden of guilt would have perished. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 385)

Not only would we have perished, but the Son of God would never have lived, existed, or known life again! If you believe in the doctrine of the trinity, do you see the implications of this false teaching? If Jesus were a part of a three-person being and he died, then the rest of this being must die or cease to be God. All of heaven must also perish! This is why trinitarianism teaches it was impossible for Jesus to even have a possibility of failure.

But Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father, refused to sin! He refused to blame God for his position. When the full weight of the world was upon Christ, he could not see through the portals of the tomb. Sin now is shown for all of its abominable self to Jesus, in a clearer manner than even he could have known before. Sin is so bad it has separated God from him and if this separation is forever, if Jesus must perish eternally so that man may live, he accepts the plan of God and is willing to die forever, without a resurrection, so that man may live.

Jesus, who lived with God for eternity past, who only could know the full depths and riches of God’s love, was willing to forsake it all if he could give that privilege to humanity. Paul writes, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9). Jesus suffered and tasted death for every person.

He had borne that which no human being could ever bear; for He had tasted the sufferings of death for every man. (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 694)

At Calvary we see the character of God, not the power of God, on trial. Strip away his ability to sustain himself, take away his knowledge of the future, take away his very life—will the divine character pass the character test?[1]

Christ’s faith in his Father’s love and goodness kept him, and he could finally bow his head in death, but just before he did he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). What was God’s response?

God bowed His head satisfied. Now His justice and mercy could blend. He could be just, and yet the justifier of all who should believe on Christ. He looked upon the victim expiring on the cross, and said, “It is finished. The human race shall have another trial.” The redemption price was paid, and Satan fell like lightning from heaven (Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol, 5, p. 1150)

God bowed His head in recognition of the completeness of the offering made for sin, and said, “It is enough.” (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, December 25, 1901)

. . . as the Father beheld the cross, he was satisfied. He said, “It is enough, the offering is complete.” God and man may be reconciled. Those who have lived in rebellion against God, may become reconciled, if as they see the cross, they become repentant, and accept the great propitiation that Christ has made for their sins. In the cross they see that “mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Ibid., September 30, 1889)

If God is satisfied with the sacrifice of Jesus, how dare we try to add to it or seek to work our way into heaven by penance? The sacrifice of Jesus fully met the requirements of the law so that the sinner can be justified and that God can be just in justifying the sinner.

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:26)

Elder M. L. Andreasen went so far as to say: “It was necessary that there should be given the world a stern manifestation of the wrath of God” (M. L. Andreasen, Letters to the Churches, Series A, no. 6). What this stern manifestation of God’s wrath demonstrates is the immutability of God’s law and the seriousness of its transgression. We are told that “in the grave Christ was the captive of divine justice” (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, November 15, 1899).

Resting in the Grave

Jesus had taught his disciples “that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). Have you wondered why Jesus was to rise on the third day? If he must die, why could he not have been resurrected right after death? It was to make crystal clear to the world that Jesus was really dead. This was no trick or sham. This was not a case of near-death but Jesus really, truly died.

Christ had declared that he would be raised from the dead on the third day; and at the appointed time a mighty angel descended from heaven, parting the darkness from his track, and resting before the Saviour’s tomb. “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” Brave soldiers, who had never been afraid of human power, were now as captives taken without sword or spear. The face they looked upon was not the face of mortal warrior; it was the face of a heavenly messenger, sent to relieve the Son of God from the debt for which he had become responsible, and for which he had now made a full atonement. (Ellen White, The Youth’s Instructor, May 2, 1901)

His Finished Work

The night before he was crucified, Jesus was praying to his Father and said:

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4)

This was before Gethsemane, before Calvary; what does Jesus mean? What work at that point had Jesus finished upon the earth? The Spirit of Prophecy explains. After quoting John 17:4, Ellen White states:

That is, he had wrought out a righteous character on earth as an example for men to follow. (White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 260)

In his life on earth, he healed the sick, taught the multitudes, even forgave sins, but at the heart of all this work was the formulation of a righteous character. This must be, for character is not something that is given or bestowed upon another. Character is build by making choices.

Never forget that thoughts work out actions. Repeated actions form habits, and habits form character. . . . The Bible is to be the rule of life. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, p. 194)

Our thoughts give rise to the choices we make and are worked out in our actions. These actions form habits, and habits form character. Character is not formed by one big choice, for while that one choice may be a part of a habit being formed, it, by itself, is not a habit and does not form character.

The structure of a strong, well-balanced character is made by a faithful performance of individual acts of duty in little things. You need, dear youth, to be particular in regard to your words. Your deportment, the spirit and feelings that you cherish, care and thoughtfulness in the things which are least in every-day life, form the true test of character. (Ellen White, The Youth’s Instructor, December 15, 1886)

The Counsel of Peace

In the counsel of peace between the Father and the Son (Zechariah 6:12, 13), the plan of salvation was agreed upon and included these three points:

The life and death of Jesus fulfills the first part of his ministry of the suffering sacrifice, a sacrifice made for you, a sacrifice that must not be ignored. Friend, if you have not accepted the one who risked his eternal life for you, come to him today, even right now. If you have been holding on to the world, what can it give you? Riches, honor, and pleasure, perhaps? But how does it stand on the balance scales with your eternal life? Are you living for the devil, figuring he will give you what you want? He claims to have the earth, but even if he did, would you give your soul for the world?

Through his sufferings and death, Jesus offers you grace here and eternal glory hereafter, an imperishable, unstained, unchangeable inheritance! Come to him today!

Part Two

Now we go to his second phase—conquering king—but as we do this, we shall see that this second phase of Christ’s work is he being our high priest. We shall see shortly how this is related to Jesus being a conquering king.

The Bible boldly declares and clearly teaches that Jesus ministers in heaven today as our great high priest. Paul writes:

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. (Hebrews 8:1, 2)

This summation of the first seven chapters of Hebrews is so that we might understand that Jesus is our high priest in heaven and that he is perfectly qualified to be that priest. In heaven he sits at the right hand of God and ever lives to make intercession for us.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

The intercession of Jesus is no sham or without results. Because Jesus perfectly understands humanity with all of its liabilities, he can help in our time of need and in our greatest time of need. As we approach the throne of God, we find, through Christ, the mercy of God.

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. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14–16)

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. (Hebrews 9:24)

The goal of the plan of salvation is to bring man into complete harmony with God. To do this his mind or conscience must be cleansed. This is the great object of the intercession of Jesus.

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)

Here the blood of Jesus is essential, not just his spilled blood but his sprinkled blood in heaven. The Bible says that “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). But that shed blood is not simply to be poured out at the base of the cross but applied in the sanctuary in heaven for the purging of our consciences.

The last generation will be living in the most degenerate time of human history. They will be the weakest of the weak and yet, by repentance and by Christ’s work in the final atonement, they will be able to stand before God faultless. The Lord has promised to

. . . make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. (Isaiah 13:12)

And not just a single man or person—God will have a righteous nation that keeps the truth:

Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. (Isaiah 26:2)

And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:5)

These people are the real deal! They do not profess to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus; they really do keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This final work is called the closing work of atonement.

. . . at the termination of the 2300 days in 1844, Christ then entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, into the presence of God, to perform the closing work of atonement, preparatory to his coming. (Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 266)

Now how does Christ’s priesthood ministry fit into our earlier statement about the two phases of his work, the second being conquering king? Let us first notice this statement:

After his ascension, our Saviour began his work as our high priest. . . . In harmony with the typical service, he began his ministration in the holy place, and at the termination of the prophetic days in 1844, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, he entered the most holy to perform the last division of his solemn work,—to cleanse the sanctuary. (Ibid., pp. 265, 266)

This work of ministry is called his last work. Remember that Christ was not a priest after the Levitical priesthood but, rather, after the order of Melchizedek.

The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. (Psalm 110:4)

Melchizedek was the priest/king of Salem, later Jerusalem (Genesis 14:18). Thus the last work, or second work, of Christ is to be the work of both a priest and a king. As Christ purifies his people who make up his kingdom, he is able, then, to begin his reign.

John the Baptist did not distinguish these two areas of Christ’s work, but we have clearer light than John. The theologians who are in darkness and confusion about this need not be. The evidence is plain and simple, if they are willing to learn.

Our Uniqueness

The work of Jesus in heaven today and understanding that work is the fundamental principle of Adventism. Remember that

The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and the central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration: “Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Daniel 8:14. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 409)

While we proclaim that we are Seventh-day Adventists, it is not the Sabbath nor the second coming of Jesus that makes us unique as a body of believers. There are several other Sabbath-keeping groups, though in the minority, and most Christians believe in the coming of Jesus. While many believe in the Jesuit-inspired secret rapture theory, there are still some, besides Adventists, who believe Jesus’ coming will be open and pre-millennial. What makes us unique is the doctrine of the sanctuary. This is the sacred trust that has been given to us as a people. It is this very teaching that Satan is so opposed to and works tirelessly to try to destroy. We have been warned:

Satan is striving continually to bring in fanciful suppositions in regard to the sanctuary, degrading the wonderful representations of God and the ministry of Christ for our salvation into something that suits the carnal mind. He removes its presiding power from the hearts of believers, and supplies its place with fantastic theories invented to make void the truths of the atonement, and destroy our confidence in the doctrines which we have held sacred since the third angel’s message was first given. Thus he would rob us of our faith in the very message that has made us a separate people, and has given character and power to our work. (Ellen White, Special Testimonies, series B, no. 7, p. 17; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

This is vital counsel for us today, for great efforts are made to have others believe that we are like the churches about us, an evangelical body and not a dangerous sect. The doctrine of the final atonement in heaven has long displeased the opposers of the truth. While most all the professed Christian world teaches that the atonement was finished on the cross, inspiration teaches that the final atonement is in heaven. To believe otherwise brings upon one the accusation that one is a part of a cult or of a dangerous sect and not truly Christian. Paul faced similar charges in his day. Tertullus accused Paul before Felix as

. . . a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. (Acts 24:5)

The word sect is translated from a form of the Greek word hairesis, from which we derive our word heresy. Paul was accused of belonging to a group or a sect that taught heresy, and he directly confronted that charge, declaring:

But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy [sect], so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets. (Acts 24:14)

God’s faithful people face a similar charge, not just from those outside the professed people of God, but from apostates within who have given up or rejected the sanctuary teaching. But, unlike the current modern-day apostasy, those who are faithful are teaching all the great truths that were given to us in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. These faithful believers are worshiping the God of the pioneers, teaching the sanctuary doctrine that he gave our people!

In Paul’s day, like today, men spoke badly of the true church, calling it a sect, the equivalent of our English word cult. Paul was not disturbed by this. We have no record that he attempted to have the church of the living God recognized as an evangelical body by men who trampled the law of God in the dust, and neither should we. On the contrary, whatever others might call Paul and his sect, he confessed that he believed all things which were written in the law and the prophets.

The QOD Denial

Those knowledgeable of Adventist history, especially of the last sixty years, are familiar with the disaster the publication of the book Questions on Doctrine (QOD) has caused. That book, which was declared to be a restatement of our faith, fired destructive torpedoes at the ship of Adventism, squarely hitting the doctrine of the sanctuary. Though this devastation was denied for years, at least George Knight, former professor of history at Andrews University, was honest enough to admit that QOD did bring a change:

But Questions on Doctrine did set forth one problematic change in Adventist theology; a change done in such a way that it alienated various factions of the church theologically. The publication of Questions on Doctrine did more than any other single event in Adventist history to create what appear to be permanently warring factions within the denomination. (George Knight, Questions on Doctrine, Annotated Edition, p. v.)

The problematic change concerned the sanctuary. QOD was published to prove we were not a sect but, rather, an evangelical body. In 1957, the date of the publication of QOD, the church of the living God, which had been given the commission to preach the everlasting gospel to every creature under heaven (Revelation 14:6, 7) and to give the call to come out of Babylon (Revelation 14:8), was then standing at the door of those very Babylonian churches, asking permission to enter and to become one of them. They were granted admission, and today corporate Adventism is standing toe-to-toe with Babylon!

We have been told that “surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). God was not surprised by the QOD debacle. Many years before QOD, the stage was being set for apostasy and through his prophet, God gave a warning:

The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities, and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 204, 205)

How does this prophecy, given in 1904, find fulfillment today?

Notice that the principles of truth, especially on God and the sanctuary, have been discarded.

Our religion is changed. Stop to ask yourself what makes the different denominations different? What makes the Baptists, Baptist; the Presbyterians, Presbyterian, etc.? That’s right; it is the doctrines they teach. If we change the doctrines of any church, we, by very definition, change the nature of the church, for it is the doctrines that separate the different denominations. For Adventism to have a new organization, it would mean that new doctrines have been accepted. Interestingly, former General Conference President Neal C. Wilson, the father of current General Conference President Ted Wilson, stated:

Our doctrines cannot be changed without changing the nature of the church. (Adventist Review, November 8, 1979; speech given at the Annual Council in Washington, D.C. in October 1979).

The timing of this statement is remarkable, since the church was at that time planning on a new statement of fundamentals to be presented for a vote at the upcoming General Conference Session at Dallas, Texas, the following year! A vote that took place!

Wilson is plain—if you have different doctrines, you have a different church, exactly what we saw earlier. Ellen White also recognized this principle when she wrote:

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. (Ellen White, Notebook Leaflets, vol. 1, p. 51; written 1905)

God told his people that if this false reformation came in among his people, books of a new order would be introduced. We see this in books, such as QOD, Movement of Destiny, SDA’s Believe, The Trinity, Seventh-day Adventist Handbook on Theology, etc.

This false reformation would bring into the church a system of intellectual philosophy. Today almost all ministers have to be sent to Andrews University or a similar school and receive a Master’s of Divinity degree before they can become ordained pastors.

This false reformation would result in workers going into cites and doing what appears to be a wonderful work. There would be great meetings and programs, but we are told that God is not in it!

This false reformation would regard the Sabbath lightly. That is perhaps stating it lightly. The Sabbath is downtrodden by even the leadership of the church. Five years ago in Atlanta, Georgia, at the General Conference session, the meetings were concluded with the annual Parade of Nations. This festive event of celebration began on the Sabbath, with inappropriate music, screaming and yelling, cheering and clapping as each division group took to the floor. But this is just a once-every-five-year event, you say? Sadly, these Sabbath desecrations happen each Sabbath in many Adventist churches with celebration services.

This false reformation, despite proclaiming to baptize thousands a day, will mean nothing because God is not leading or empowering the movement. Remember, Ellen White stated that “God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure.”

No doubt these are seemingly harsh charges against the book QOD, similar books, and their supporters. Is there evidence to back up such accusations? Yes, and we will call on QOD to testify against itself. There can be no American 5th Amendment protection in eternal interests.

As we have studied the sanctuary, the second installment of this series clearly shows that the Bible teaches a dual atonement, an atonement at the cross and an atonement in heaven. What does QOD say?

Adventist do not hold to any theory of a dual atonement. (Questions on Doctrine, p. 390; emphasis in original)

LeRoy Froom was the principle contributor of QOD. QOD was actually the product of questions about Adventism proposed by evangelicals Walter Martin and Dr. Donald Barnhouse. If those questions were answered to Martin’s and Barnhouse’s satisfaction, then these evangelicals would affirm that Adventists were also evangelical and would do all they could to convince other evangelicals that Adventists were Christian. But while they liked the answers that Froom and Anderson gave, they were disappointed that there were still the old teachings of a dual atonement in our books, readily available in our bookstores. Froom and Anderson assured the evangelicals that there was a certain “lunatic fringe” among them that believed in a final atonement in heaven but by far, the great majority of Adventist believed just like the answers that were given in QOD. Barnhouse wrote, declaring his view of the Adventist pioneer’s teachings and also affirming Froom and Anderson’s denial of our old teaching:

It [the sanctuary teaching] is to my mind, therefore, nothing more than a human face-saving idea! … It should also be realized that some uninformed Seventh-day Adventists took this idea and carried it to fantastic, literalistic extremes. Mr. Martin and I heard the Adventist leaders say, flatly, that they repudiate all such extremes. This they have said in no uncertain terms. Further, they do not believe, as some of their earlier teachers taught, that Jesus’ atoning work was not completed on Calvary but instead that He was still carrying on a second ministering work since 1844. This idea is also totally repudiated. They believe that since His ascension Christ has been ministering the benefits of the atonement which was completed on Calvary. (Donald Barnhouse, Eternity, September 1956).

But, as we have seen in Adventist publications, there are statements regarding the final atonement and that Christ is making atonement now. How shall we view these statements according to QOD and to the new theology that it teaches? QOD states:

When, therefore, one hears an Adventist say, or reads in Adventist literature – even in the writings of Ellen G. White – that Christ is making atonement now, it should be understood that we mean simply that Christ is now making application of the benefits of the sacrificial atonement He made on the cross; that He is making it efficacious for us individually, according to our needs and requests. (Questions on Doctrine, pp. 354, 355; emphasis in original)

It is presumptuous for us to define Ellen White’s writings for her. Her writings explain themselves. “The testimonies themselves will be the key that will explain the messages given, as scripture is explained by scripture” (White, Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 42). But what does the phrase, “making application of the benefits of the sacrificial atonement he made on the cross” mean? QOD tells us:

How glorious is the thought that the King, who occupies the throne, is also our representative at the court of heaven! This becomes all the more meaningful when we realize that Jesus our surety entered the “holy places,” and appeared in the presence of God for us. But it was not with the hope of obtaining something for us at that time, or at some future time. No! He had already obtained it for us on the cross. (Questions on Doctrine, p. 381; emphasis in the original)

The theology of QOD is that Jesus obtains nothing for us in heaven. Whatever Jesus ministers in heaven was already obtained on the cross. But the atonement of the cross is one of forgiveness (justification) and not of cleansing (sanctification). Thus, the new theology is one of justification only and that Jesus obtains nothing for us in heaven, for it had all been secured on the cross. No final atonement! The most current publication that claims to be representative of Seventh-day Adventist doctrine is the book Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . This book was first published in 1988 and then was revised and updated in 2005. This book claims to be:

An exposition of the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. (Cover, 2005 edition; all quotations from the 2005 edition unless otherwise noted).

Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . was prepared in a manner similar to Questions on Doctrine; in other words, a single writer prepared the initial draft and then a large group of ministers and scholars gave input. Originally, the initial draft for Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . was prepared by Norman Gulley. This draft was too far to the left for the then ministerial leader, Bob Spangler. Spangler requested P. G. Damsteegt to rewrite the initial draft of each chapter. On page v of the 1988 edition of the book, we learn more of the input process:

The church’s ten world divisions selected a committee of 194 persons who went over each chapter, suggesting corrections, additions, and deletions. A smaller committee of 27 church leaders, theologians, and pastors met regularly with Damsteegt to give additional supervision to the preparation of this work. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . p. v; 1988 edition)

Among those who are credited as “sharing their counsel, checking sources, researching materials, rewriting, and editing” are Roy Adams, Duncan Eva, Samuele Bacchiocchi, B. B. Beach, Norman Gulley, William Johnsson, and a host of other new theology proponents. While Damsteegt himself may be historic in his understanding of the atonement, the above-named rewriters and editors are not. Anyone familiar with the publishing process knows that on many occasions the finished product is very different from what is submitted. While some sincere brethren have seen Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . as “a courageous realignment with the historic faith of our pioneers and our church,” the truth is that it teaches the same doctrine of the atonement as does Questions on Doctrine. The Evangelicals clearly understand Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . as setting forth the teachings of Questions on Doctrine. Notice how closely the language of Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . follows that of Questions on Doctrine:

The once-for-all sacrifice has been offered (Heb. 9:28); now He makes available to all the benefits of this atoning sacrifice. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . p. 348)

Similarly, Christ, in the heavenly sanctuary, has been ministering the benefits of His completed atonement to His people; at His return He will redeem them and give them eternal life. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe, p. 406)

This is the very language of Questions on Doctrine. In Chapter 9 of Seventh-day Adventists Believe, entitled “The Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ,” we read:

There, as High Priest, He [Christ] applies the benefits of His complete and perfect atoning sacrifice to achieve the reconciliation of humans to God. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . ., p. 125)

Both Questions on Doctrine and Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . carry statements which claim that they are representative, but not authoritative. We read in Questions on Doctrine:

But because of the very nature of the Seventh-day Adventist Church organization no statement of Seventh-day Adventist belief can be considered official unless it is adopted by the General Conference in quadrennial session, when accredited delegates from the whole world field are present. The answers in this volume are an expansion of our doctrinal positions contained in the official statement of Fundamental Beliefs already referred to. Hence this volume can be viewed as truly representative of the faith and beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. (Questions on Doctrine, p. 9)

Seventh-day Adventists Believe holds to the same position that Questions on Doctrine does. It claims to be a representative Statement of Beliefs and not an official Statement of Beliefs because it was not voted on by a General Conference in session:

Although this volume is not an officially voted statement (only the summary statements have been officially voted by the General Conference in session), it may be viewed as representative of “the truth as it is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21) that Seventh-day Adventists around the globe cherish and proclaim. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . p. vi)

Therefore, in both Questions on Doctrine and Seventh-day Adventists Believe, we find what is claimed to be a true and representative, but not an official, statement. Interestingly, during a conference held in honor of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Questions on Doctrine, Denis Fortin, then dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, emphatically stated during his presentation that the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary supported and taught the theology of Questions on Doctrine.

To be an official statement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a statement must be voted on by the General Conference in session. Such a statement of apostasy does exist! When the church met in 1980 at Dallas for the General Conference Session, a Statement of Beliefs was voted on. That statement can be found in any church manual printed after 1980 or in the book Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . Belief #24 states, in part:

There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle which the Lord set up and not man. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. (Seventh-day Adventist Church Manuel, p. 18; 2005 ed.)

From 1872, when the first Statement of Beliefs was published, until 1980, no statement like this was presented. Where did this language come from? It came from Questions on Doctrine, page 355. As we quoted earlier:

Christ is now making application of the benefits of the sacrificial atonement He made on the cross. (Questions on Doctrine, p. 355)

And its meaning is explained:

. . it was not with the hope of obtaining something for us at that time, or at some future time. No! He had already obtained it for us on the cross. (Questions on Doctrine, p. 381; emphasis in original)

In other words, Christ provides for us justification only!

Beloved, God gave to his people a platform of eternal truth. In 1881 Ellen White could confidently proclaim:

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.(Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 595)

Trace the history of the new theology on the trinity. It was not accepted until after Ellen G. White died in 1915. Trace the history on the new theology on the sanctuary. While there were off-shoots, like A. F. Ballenger and others, there was no success in changing our sanctuary doctrine until 1957. Trace the history of any of the so-called new teachings, and you will see that they are also a part of the new theology, and God does not expect his people to remain quiet:

We must firmly refuse to be drawn away from the platform of eternal truth, which since 1844 has stood the test. (White, Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 2, p. 50)

What influence is it that would lead men at this stage of our history to work in an underhanded, powerful way to tear down the foundation of our faith,— the foundation that was laid at the beginning of our work by prayerful study of the word and by revelation? Upon this foundation we have been building for the past fifty years. Do you wonder that when I see the beginning of a work that would remove some of the pillars of our faith, I have something to say? I must obey the command, “Meet it!” (Ibid., p. 58)

Look and Live

Brazen Serpent 70-1177-b.jpgIt is the ministration of Jesus Christ in the heavenly sanctuary that makes perfection of character possible. This is not holy flesh theology nor impossible theology. Our great high priest is able to save to the uttermost (Matthew 1:21; Hebrews 7:25), if we will look to him, where he is at today, in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary.

There is a short but well-known story in the Bible, recorded in Numbers 21:5–9:

And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

The people had to merely look and live, but they had to look in the right place, at the right time, or they would not be healed. Jesus used this story, when speaking to Nicodemus:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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 3:14–16)

While the cross is the great central point of the plan of salvation, Jesus is not hanging upon the cross today, and neither is he in Joseph’s tomb. We have a risen Lord, and he is ministering for those who wish to be saved not just in their sins, but from their sins. As we understand and enter into this work with him, we are fulfilling the position that God wishes us to attain.

To be continued in our next issue

[1]. “At the time when he was most needed, Jesus, the Son of God, the world’s Redeemer, laid aside his divinity, and came to earth in the garb of humanity.” (Ellen White, Bible Echo, October 12, 1896.)

 


Youth’s Story

(This story is the conclusion of chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4 of Escape from Siberian Exile by John Godfrey Jacques, published by Pacific Press in 1921.)

Banishment

The car that had brought us from the railway station was not large enough to carry our entire number; and going back, I was among those who walked. To be thus in the free air was a privilege, though we were driven four or five miles through the deep snow.

All traffic was compelled to give way to the étape, policemen with bared swords clearing a thoroughfare.

At the railway station, we were obliged to stand for an hour in the piercing wind, although those who had walked were wet with perspiration, and all were thinly clad.

The trip from Kiev to Kursk was the least disagreeable part of our journey. Some of our soldier guard were genial boys, and an earnest conversation developed between them and our company of evangelists. They manifested wonderment that persons like us should be banished.

We were assured that we should not have to stay at all in the jail at Kursk, but should keep on to the next stopping place; but on reaching the railway station, we learned that the company with which we were to have gone had already started, therefore we must lodge in the dreaded jail. The hour of our severest trial had struck.

We were taken in charge by soldiers for the forced march of eight or ten miles to the jail. In the searching there, I was the victim of a drunken, inhuman tyrant. He apparently took delight in my suffering. The room being cold, and the asphalt floor wet and dirty, I was so rash as to suggest that I be not required to disrobe, as I had nothing about me that was prohibited. My tormentor was beside himself with rage at such presumption, and raising his fist, declared that he would kill me. But he did not strike. Instead, he demanded that I take off even my underclothing, although that was not customary. Each garment, as I removed it, he threw in a different direction. Then, as soon as he had finished, he began to rave because I was not dressed again.

After the searching was ended, we nine requested the jailer to let us have a cell by ourselves. At first, this request seemed to be ignored, and we were put with a crowd of criminals and other prisoners; but after about half an hour, we were taken to a separate cell.

When the old man we had comforted at the Odessa jail observed that we were about to leave him, he clung to us, refusing to be left behind; and he was not hindered from going along. Perhaps the guard did not know that he was not one of our number. This man was an atheist, although he showed so emphatic a preference for association with Christians rather than with persons who shared his unbelief.

The cell to which we were assigned was much worse than the one we had left. Water dripped from the ceiling, and the walls were green with mold. The stench was beyond comparison. The only way we could resist the deathly dampness and cold was to run about the room almost constantly. If we stopped for a few minutes, the cold became unendurable. The thought of having to remain there for a week was most alarming. We begged the local inspector to let us have a few pieces of board as a protection from contact with the asphalt floor; but he replied that it was not in his power to do anything for us. We were dumb with agony.

The discipline in this jail was more than ordinarily strict. An officer made a tour of inspection three times a day. The inmates of each cell were warned of his approach, in order that they might stand in line facing the corridor as he passed by. Once when some of those in our cell were too weak and ill to get into position in time, the officer sharply reprimanded us, and threatened to deprive us of hot drinking water. The hot water was our only source of warmth; and furthermore, without it, we could not have eaten the hard prison bread, famished though we were.

Having exhausted our strength in efforts to combat the cold, we sought to devise some method of securing a little rest and sleep. We put some of our coats on the floor, and lay upon them, crowded together literally like sardines, and used the remaining coats as covers. But soon we had to get up and run again.

From the first night, we all had rheumatism as a result of the cold and the dampness. Our throats and ears also were affected. Not till months afterwards was my hearing entirely restored. One week in that damp, loathsome, frigid cell made deep inroads upon our health. In those days, I first learned the real value of prayer. When the wretchedness of my condition overwhelmed me, prayer was the only way of escape from absolute hopelessness.

The promise of transportation from that dungeon after one week, was not fulfilled, and for aught we knew, our confinement there might continue indefinitely.

Meanwhile another detachment of prisoners had arrived. This we learned when one of them was placed in our cell. He had been an imperial Austrian councilor, and freedom had been offered him on condition that he divulge the plans of certain cities in his province. His face told something of what he had suffered for his refusal to betray his country thus.

This man was of impressive appearance, yet wholly unpretentious. He expressed joy at the unexpected companionship he found with us, and thenceforth he was one of us. He took part in our devotional services, evincing perfect confidence in the Scriptures.

Our ninth day here was the acme of our misery. That we could not much longer endure such circumstances was evident. After special prayer together, we determined to appeal to the warden for removal to a less objectionable cell.

That same day, a state inspector visited the jail. As soon as he saw us, he comprehended the seriousness of our situation; and in a few hours, we were taken to another cell.

Up to this time, the local inspector had been very harsh; but after he learned that we were in prison because of our religion, he was much changed in his attitude toward us.

Our guard in the new quarters was remarkably unlike those we had had before; and each day, he prepared something palatable for us to eat.

We were yet to see why Providence had permitted us to be kept so long at Kursk.

A Petition to the Czarina

NOW we could employ our time to other purpose than that of fighting the cold. Each day, we gave an hour to Bible study together. The German minister was the only one among us who had been allowed to keep a Bible, and the rest of us often wished that in former years we had gained more knowledge of the sacred Word.

One peculiarity of our new cell was most distressing. The ceiling was arched, and the walls were circular. This construction was said to have been intended as a means of torture. A person who has never been subjected to the ordeal, cannot imagine the effect produced upon the nerves as the eyes follow the circling lines, with no place to rest. In some instances, this has even caused insanity, or at least contributed to it. Any one who has lain ill in a room where the wall paper was of intricate pattern, and has spent weary hours trying to trace out the design, will not think that statement an exaggerated one.

At about this time, we asked the privilege of sending a petition to the governor-general of the Odessa war zone. The object of the petition was to get leave to make the remainder of our railway journey as ordinary passengers, under guard, as exiles sometimes did, we to pay the traveling expenses.

This request brought us to the attention of the warden, and frequently thereafter he sent for some of us to come and talk with him on religious subjects. On the wall of his office hung a portrait of the former chief inspector of the jail system of all Russia. This high official was in sympathy with the sectarians, and attended their services in Petrograd. When the warden was informed of this, his interest in us appeared to increase.

Some of the other officers of the jail also gave evidence of being well disposed toward us, and came to our cell repeatedly to talk with us. Opportunity was given us to write postal cards or short letters to our friends; but of course these brief missives were censored, and if anything had been found in them that the prison authorities did not approve, we should have paid a heavy penalty.

To be continued


A Trial Run

By Onycha Holt

Count Schwerin von Schwanenfeld was a landowner in Germany, a resistance fighter, and an accomplice in the 1940 plot to kill Hitler. After his arrest he was brought into Roland Freisler’s court. To humiliate him for his appearance, he was given shabby, ill-fitting clothes and no belt, so that he had to constantly hold onto his pants, while others involved in the plot who had dentures, had them tossed, so that all stood before raving Roland, as Freisler was known, in as demeaning a state as possible. The mockery of their trials was filmed on newsreel, and Freisler was captured frequently screaming (which was normal for him) at the defendants, calling them derogatory names. Count von Schwanenfeld was quickly condemned to death.

Kurt Huber

Kurt Huber was a professor of philosophy at the University of Munich, a small man, crippled in one foot and plagued with a weak, stammering voice, both the result of a childhood illness. One afternoon in 1942 a soldier and former student knocked at his door. The soldier was home on leave and wanted to unburden his soul to his former teacher. He spoke in quiet tones, for fear of being overheard by Huber’s Nazi neighbors. He told of the German army’s recent attack on the Russians at Stalingrad and how it was becoming the bloodiest battle in German history but worse than this, he spoke of the sterilization experiments that Germany was carrying out on Polish Jews and non-Jews alike and then, unable to keep himself quiet any longer, he burst out, “Professor Huber, I have something terrible to tell you, and it is not a rumor. I saw it myself. We are shooting Jews in the Crimea. Sir, we are shooting Jews!” This was when Huber joined the White Rose, an underground resistance movement. He later was arrested and brought before Freisler in Berlin:

On April 19, 1943, he stood before the Berlin People’s Court and pointed out that he had fought Nazism not with violence or the threat of violence, but with the naked word (das schlichte Wort), because he wanted to awaken Germany to the meaning of decency, and he wanted to help restore people’s trust in one another. He wanted neighbors to trust one another, and parents to trust their children. He wanted to show Germany that the rule of Nazism was the rule of brute force over public justice and personal conscience.

He said these things standing in front of the fanatical Nazi judge Roland Freisler, who alternately drummed his fingers on his desk and screamed at the defendant. But Huber continued his carefully written speech in that thin voice of his. He did not stammer. [1]

On July 13, 1943, Huber was executed.

Haute-Loire

Jewish families in France knew they could send their children for safe-keeping to the Huguenots in the mountainous region of Loire. The godly, nonviolent Huguenots housed the children as their own, in an effort to prevent their arrest and deportation across the border to concentration camps in Germany and in Poland. Elise and Sylvia were two such children. They were only eleven and eight, scared to be away from their parents, scared to live with strangers, and scared to think of the foreboding future. Their parents hid as they could in other areas of France, being taken in by friends and strangers alike. France was occupied, and it was an appallingly fearful time for all.

Julius Schmäling

Julius Schmäling was the commander of the German troops occupying the high Loire area for the few years prior to the end of the war and knew of the flow of Jewish children into his area, knew of the underground activities of the quiet residents, but did nothing to stop either. When the war was over, Schmäling was arrested, as were all Germans. On the afternoon of August 23, 1944, while Paris was being liberated, Major Julius Schmäling walked into the hearing room of the Préfecture, in the hands of his enemies.

As he walked up the aisle toward the presiding officer of the hearing, something strange started to happen. People in the room, including the tough Resistance leader who was chairing the session, rose to their feet. The German officer bowed his head slightly toward the Resistance chief, and the lean Frenchman bowed back. Then still standing, the maquisard delivered himself of a quiet, restrained speech. He spoke of the German’s services to the people of the Haute-Loire, of their gratitude to him, and of his affectionate personality.

Elsewhere in France Germans were being swiftly tried and executed. North of Le Puy fifty-five Germans were mutilated and thrown into a deep well in the suburbs of Saint-Étienne. In a more dangerous part of France than Saint-Étienne, however, the former leader of the Germans was receiving what he called in his diary Huldigung, homage. (Ibid., p. 68)

A Trial Run

World War II was a tragic, deplorable time; we are all aware of this. A new leader quickly changed a peaceful Germany into a monster enemy, one filled with concentration camps; Kristallnachts; Wannsee-type meetings called to solve the Jewish problem; courts ruling without the constraint of law; secret police; neighbor spying on neighbor; bloody, deadly battles; destroyed, crumbling cities; hunger and starvation; dehumanization; and crying, abandoned children. This was a reality, and it was but a trial run of something far worse to come:

. . . there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation (Daniel 12:1)

Every move by Satan has been directed to one end—to the exaltation of a false Sabbath in place of the genuine Sabbath. All the big moves among nations and all the smaller moves in individual lives have had this one, ultimate goal in mind:

The position taken by some is, that this civil [see hard copy] enactment [a Sunday law in the South] has no relation to the present observance of the Sabbath. Here again great blindness is shown to be upon them. In this they are not correct, for every move from the first made by Satan was the beginning of his work to continue to the end to exalt the false, to take the place of the genuine Sabbath of Jehovah [sic]. He is just as intent now and more determined to do this than ever before. He has come down with great power to deceive them who dwell on the earth with his Satanic delusions. (Ellen White, The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 477; all emphasis supplied unless otherwise noted)

Satan orchestrated Hitler and his noxious theories and plans as a practice run to the final solution of his great problem and in the final round, God’s faithful will be targeted for elimination. During the trial run known as World War II, the world turned against Hitler, and in the last great fight for his life, Satan knows he will have to prevent a similar boomerang reaction or at least hold it off long enough to hopefully gain the victory, and he will attempt to do so by feigning goodwill. He will come as Christ, speaking words of love and compassion:

As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour’s advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13–15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: “Christ has come! Christ has come!” The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 624)

Impersonating Christ, Satan will not use the inflammatory rhetoric of Hitler, although Hitler could also feign goodwill. Less than two months after he came to power, in a speech to the Reichstag, Hitler used the example of an abused and then dead wife to promote the need for his own increased power. He connected something that appealed to the righteous indignation of the masses with his desire for force and power, and his speech was met with “thunderous applause,” and we can expect this type of appeal to be used against God’s people. It has been reported this way:

. . . the Nazi rulers had to take stern measures against anyone whose activities, however, trivial, were seen to stand in the way of ultimate victory. Every institution of German life had to be oriented toward the Endsieg, the final victory. . . . [Hitler] would no longer tolerate sentences that failed to meet his vision of appropriate severity, relating the case of a man who had abused his wife, driving her to madness and eventually to death. Hitler was outraged that the man had been sentenced to only five years in prison. He promised that in the future he would intervene in cases and remove judges who did not recognize the demands of the hour. Joseph Goebbels. . . reported that the Führer’s demand for absolute authority to do what is necessary to prosecute the war, without regard to the vested rights of others, was greeted by thunderous applause. [2]

Aspects of Nazism That May Be Repeated

Illegal court system

In America we have an appeal process in the judicial system. Laws passed by Congress, for example, can be appealed to the Supreme Court for examination of their constitutionality, and certainly a death decree based on religious belief is unconstitutional. So, how could such a decree ever be attempted in America? In Nazi Germany, the legal system of former days was simply replaced, and not even by new laws, but by the arbitrary decisions of Satan-controlled judges, of whom Roland Freisler was chief. “In his proceedings, Freisler abandoned all pretense of judicial impartiality, cast off any veneer of judicial dignity, and remorselessly hectored his hapless defendants” (Ibid., pp. 63, 64). We can expect no less.

The crimes for which those appearing before the VGH [the people’s court of Germany, controlled by Freisler] could be convicted ranged from the most serious to the apparently trivial—from assassination attempts on Hitler to sabotage to listening to foreign radio broadcasts. For such acts the accused could expect one of three penalties: imprisonment, forced labour or death. Between 1934 and 1944, almost 13,000 individuals (including foreign nationals) were sentenced to death. . . . A world-famous pianist was sentenced to death for criticizing National Socialism; a doctor, himself a former NSDAP [Nazi party] member, received the same penalty for voicing doubts about Germany’s eventual victory over the Allies; others died for telling political jokes . . . [3]

Freisler wrote in 1944 that the people’s court “had become ‘a truly revolutionary tribunal to purify the nation’” (Ibid., p. 6), and its so-called justices used to purify the nation have never been brought to trial. Their crimes remain open and unchallenged on the world’s legal records.

“Never before in the history of German justice,” wrote one shorthand secretary, “have defendants been treated with such brutality, such fanatic ruthlessness, as at these proceedings.” (Steven Lehrer, Wannsee House and the Holocaust, p. 159)

But most amazing was Freisler’s creation of a new crime—thought crimes:

As Freisler had insisted before his appointment, what counted for him was one’s frame of mind. To intend to commit a crime was tantamount to having committed one, Freisler asserted. Hence he virtually created a new penal code for political attitudes, a Gesinnungsstrafrecht. (Koch, p. 231)

We should not be surprised if similar charges are brought against us.

Martyrs

Solomon has said that as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7), but man cannot read the heart of another, only God can: “. . . the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). It is a deceitful and prejudiced court that purports to know a defendant’s thoughts and intent.

What happened during this trial run of Satan is important. It shows us, for one, that we cannot depend upon our legal system to protect us, thinking that we have a good constitution to fall upon or at least an appeal process that usually takes years, giving us enough time to flee to the safety of the mountains and the forests. With the right person in charge, with or without the majority of Congress backing him or her, constitutional law will be swept swiftly aside, just as it was in Nazi Germany. In its place will be the desires of the president and of the judges, and their whims will be inspired and controlled by the arch deceiver himself.

Will God’s people be martyred in the days before probation closes, as people were murdered in Germany without cause? Yes, most certainly.

And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. (Revelation 17:6)

. . . prior to the last closing conflict, many will be imprisoned, many will flee for their lives from cities and towns, and many will be martyrs for Christ’s sake in standing in defense of the truth. They will be brought before kings and rulers, and before councils to meet the false, absurd, and lying accusations brought against them, but they must stand firm as a rock to principle, and the promise is, “As thy days so shall thy strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33:25). (White, Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 484)

What about after probation closes? No, not one.

The eye of God, looking down the ages, was fixed upon the crisis which his people are to meet, when earthly powers shall be arrayed against them. Like the captive exile, they will be in fear of death by starvation or by violence. But the Holy One who divided the Red Sea before Israel, will manifest his mighty power and turn their captivity. “They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” [Malachi 3:17.] If the blood of Christ’s faithful witnesses were shed at this time, it would not, like the blood of the martyrs, be as seed sown to yield a harvest for God. Their fidelity would not be a testimony to convince others of the truth; for the obdurate heart has beaten back the waves of mercy until they return no more. If the righteous were now left to fall a prey to their enemies it would be a triumph for the prince of darkness. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, 1888 ed., p. 634)

A new order of crimes

A new aspect of the Nazi people’s court was the prosecution and punishment of anyone undermining national defense and favoring the enemy, revealed by such activities as “harboring or socializing with enemy prisoners, giving an enemy prisoner a piece of bread, spreading anti-regime propaganda among the German population, or even telling a political joke” (Rachlin, p. 72). We should expect such activities to again be declared criminal.

When Freisler entered office as president of the VGH [the people’s court], Hitler’s “Night and Fog” (Nacht und Nebel) initiative was well underway. This program, decreed by Hitler on 7 December 1941, was directed against dissenters and resisters . . . Such individuals were to be either executed on the spot or secreted away either to Germany for trial or to concentration camps. A key mandate of the program was that the family and relatives of those kidnapped were to have no knowledge of the cause of the disappearance or the victim’s destination. In short, the purpose of “Night and Fog” was to sow terror in the populations of occupied countries. (Ibid., p. 74)

We can also expect to not be told the whereabouts of our loved ones, but perfect love will not allow fear to rule in our lives. Satan seeks to instill terror, but the infinite God holds our hand. At such a time, we must trust God to protect our loved ones and to provide for our needs.

Fearful tests and trials await the people of God. The spirit of war is stirring the nations from one end of the earth to the other. But in the midst of the time of trouble that is coming,—a time of trouble such as has not been since there was a nation—God’s chosen people will stand unmoved. Satan and his host cannot destroy them, for angels that excel in strength will protect them. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 17)

Failure to abide by the constitution

An important factor in the establishment of the German people’s court was an article in German law, which “explicitly empowered the government to enact legislation deviating from the constitution and to do so without the sanction of the Reichstag” (Koch, p. x). It happened in Germany, and it will happen in America. The United States Constitution has to be nullified and made void or be overridden in order for the death decree to be sanctioned. The president of the United States could possibly declare a state of emergency and our constitutional rights might then be eclipsed. Already the protection of habeas corpus can be usurped under certain circumstances, but this is nothing new. On September 24, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation “that implemented martial law and suspended habeas corpus [4]

A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial order that directs prison officials to facilitate an inmate’s appearance at a judicial proceeding wherein a judge will determine whether the prisoner has been lawfully imprisoned or whether he should be released. Someone who objects to being detained can bring a petition for habeas corpus. This right is guaranteed in the Constitution unless suspended by the Congress in time of rebellion. (Ibid.)

In 1987, the United States Supreme Court “called habeas corpus ‘one of the centerpieces of our liberties’” (Ibid., pp. 70, 71), but Lincoln suspended this right for confederate sympathizer John Merryman. After his arrest, Merryman petitioned the U. S. Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus, which the chief justice granted, and the justice ordered the government to bring Merryman into his courtroom to legally justify their confinement of him. Lincoln overrode this order and never complied, but he had no right to do so. Only Congress has the authority to override an order of habeas corpus and that must be during a state of war. The president today does, however, have the authority to declare a state of emergency, and when he does so, the 1976 National Emergencies Act law “requires each house of Congress to meet within six months of an emergency to vote it up or down. That’s never happened. Instead, many emergencies linger for years or even decades. . . . Invoking those emergencies can give presidents broad and virtually unchecked powers.” [5]

The president can also issue executive orders and presidential directives. On May 9, 2007, for example, President Bush issued a presidential directive that allowed “him to assume control of the federal government following a ‘catastrophic emergency.’” [6]

Right now there are approximately thirty on-going states of emergency. Executive orders number in the thousands, not all in force today, and many presidential directives are on the books, both of which supposedly carry the full force and effect of law. What this means to us should be obvious. If we were to be arrested for our faith under a state of emergency or under an executive order, it is possible we could remain indefinitely in prison without a right to habeas corpus and be dependent on the prosecution to move our case forward in the court system, which the prosecutor could delay indefinitely. As Chief Justice Taney wrote over the Merryman issue, “‘If the president of the United States may suspend the writ, then the constitution of the United States has conferred upon him . . . absolute power over the liberty of the citizen.’” [7]

An even greater threat, however, is that of being declared an enemy combatant. This can legally be done for people who are not citizens of the United States, like Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, mentioned below, but the Constitution protects American citizens, such as the Lackawanna Six, also referred to below, from such a declaration. Al-Marri was and still is a citizen of Qatar. He was arrested as a suspected terrorist while studying in the United States. Listen to how he was treated, and realize you could one day be in similar shoes:

He was indicted by a federal grand jury for lying to FBI agents about the dates he traveled in the United States and the dates he made certain telephone calls, and for possession of false credit cards. When he refused to cooperate with the Justice Department in its investigation of terrorism, as is his right, John Ashcroft asked a court to dismiss the indictment against him. The court did so. Ashcroft then asked President [G. W.] Bush to declare Al-Marri an enemy combatant, which he did, then whisked Al-Marri under cover of darkness from a federal holding facility in Chicago to a Navy brig in South Carolina. (Ibid., p. 228)

Continuing to write, in 2006, Napolitano said:

Al-Marri could languish there for the rest of his life without ever having been convicted of a crime. He has no access to family, friends, or lawyers, and he may never see a judge, a jury, or a prosecutor. Under this administration’s interpretation of the law, it’s possible that he won’t be charged, tried, or convicted, and all the while he’ll be held in solitary confinement. . . .

By labeling someone an “enemy combatant,” the government claims it can take away a person’s constitutional rights. The federal government will not allow an enemy combatant the right to an attorney, a speedy and public trial, or to confront the witnesses against him. (Ibid., pp. 228, 229)

Al-Marri plea-bargained his case in 2009, was sentenced to prison, and was then released from prison in January 2015. He has since returned to Qatar.

The threat of being labeled enemy combatants was made to six Arab American soccer players known as the Lackawanna Six. They were charged with providing aid and support to a terrorist group. What they did was listen to Muslim clerics preach hatred toward the United States while at camps in Afghanistan, where they were learning about weapons. (See Ibid., page 231.) The six men “maintained that once they arrived and met the people in the camps, they wanted nothing to do with it, but the government told a federal judge that since the clerics being heard by the six were preaching violence, the six had committed crimes of violence” (Ibid.).

The court rejected that argument out of hand. After reviewing the evidence against the six, the judge wrote that these defendants—like all defendants—are guaranteed due process . . . (Ibid., p. 231)

But the government lawyers

. . . implicitly threatened the six during plea negotiations that if they did not plead guilty, if they did not speak up as the government wished, if they did not cooperate in their own prosecutions, or if they insisted on their due process rights, the government would declare them to be enemy combatants. (Ibid.)

And if that happened, the lawyers threatened,

. . . the six would have no due process rights, no trial, no lawyers, no charges filed against them, and they would receive solitary confinement for life. (Ibid., p. 232)

The attorneys for the six men let their clients plead guilty and accept six-to-nine year jail terms because they knew it was their only viable option, in spite of the fact that the judge had rejected the prosecution’s argument. Today all of them have served time, have been released, and are quietly living with their families in the United States.

I mention them because we may be faced with similar circumstances, and we may be offered a plea deal and a limited sentence instead of life in solitary confinement, if we only admit guilt and deny our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and our heavenly Father.

While we, with most Americans, are concerned about terrorism and homeland attack, we cannot condone the withholding of the right of habeas corpus and of due process under law from any American citizen, and we see it as a harbinger of the future for true Seventh-day Adventists.

The Supreme Court has come to the place where it holds the intent of the framers of our Constitution to be “irrelevant in the interpretation of constitutional language, and thus the meaning of the fundamental law of the land changes with each generation” (Ibid., pp. 94, 95; emphasis in original); in other words, the Constitution can “be interpreted to mean anything that serves present day convenience” (Ibid., p. 95).

Does this sound familiar? This is exactly what has happened to us as a denomination—our fundamental principles have changed as new generations have come on the scene. As Justice Antonin Scalia “cautioned, ‘If the courts are free to write the Constitution anew, they will . . . write it the way the majority wants; the appointment and confirmation process will see to that. This, of course, is the end of the Bill of Rights, whose meaning will be committed to the very body it was meant to protect us against: the majority’” (Ibid., p. 95; emphasis in original). For the first hundred years of our national history, the Supreme Court has“usually interpreted the Constitution to mean what it said” (Ibid. p. 103), but not now, and for the first fifty years of our church history, the founding doctrines of our faith were considered to be the pillars of our belief, but not now. The majority, instead of God, has gained the rule in our beloved church.

Sanctioning murder without due process

Even greater than these threats to our freedom is the ability of the president of the United States to command the killing of a United States’ citizen without due process. The Constitution makes it clear “that whenever the government wants the life, liberty, or property of anyone, it must follow due process. Stated differently, it must either sue the person for his property or prosecute him for his life or liberty . . . ” [8]

In 2011 President Obama ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to kill Anwar al-Awlaki. The problem with this command was that al-Awlaki was an American citizen, who was born in New Mexico. The United States Constitution guarantees each citizen the right to due process, but this right was denied al-Awlaki. The president became judge and jury in one swift stroke. It is true that al-Awlaki was a terrorist and that Yemen had a bounty on him, wanting him dead or alive, but the point of due process is to protect those, even the guilty, from being declared guilty without a trial by a jury of his or her peers. Napolitano sees this as an erosion of our constitutional rights, and he is not the only one to think so. In an article in The Atlantic, Mr. Friedersdorf has said:

At the highest levels of government, appointed officials meet in secret proceedings to decide whether or not to kill American citizens without due process. The Constitution requires a trial to convict an American of treason. It demands that “no person” be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Yet U.S. officials from the Department of Justice, the Pentagon, and the CIA participate in opaque death panels that decide the fates of fellow citizens. They are transgressing against a document that they’re sworn to protect and defend. [9]

We can see how easily things can turn against us.

Deceitful official documents

Another important lesson to learn from the Nazi experience is that we cannot always believe official documents. On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland from the west. Sixteen days later the Soviet Union attacked from the east, and the two powers divided the country between them, as they had secretly agreed. They later signed an official public agreement that stated, in part:

“The Government of the German Reich and the Government of the USSR consider it as exclusively their task, after the disintegration of the Polish state, to re-establish peace and order in these territories and to assure the peoples living there a peaceful life in keeping with their national character.”[10]

Listen to how they did this, and fast forward your thoughts to the future:

With these words, the Germans and the Soviets launched the systematic destruction of Poland and its people. They deprived the citizens of the conquered country of all human rights.

The attack on the civilian population began the moment the Germans crossed into Poland. The bombing of residential districts was as heavy as that of military targets; low-flying planes cruised above the refugees, machine-gunning down old people, women, and children fleeing from their burning homes. In Warsaw, historical old buildings as well as hospitals, clearly marked with a red cross, were bombing targets.

The General Eastern Plan of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler ordered the extermination of the Polish educated classes, the enslavement of those required for labor, and eventually, the deportation of the rest to the east, beyond the Ural Mountains. . . .

There were many massacres. In the city of Katowice, all the boy scouts, between the ages of 12 and 17, were rounded up and shot. In the city of Bydgoszcz and other parts of Pomerania, some 20,000 Poles were shot in reprisal for the deaths of ethnic German citizens of Poland who formed a fifth column and fought against the Polish army at the start of the war.

. . . Some 750,000 farmers were forced off their land in the Polish corridor . . . In all, over 1,000,000 Poles were moved to the Generalgouvernement [a ghetto of laborers] and almost as many to Germany for forced labor. Most of the educated and professional classes, along with the clergy and major landowners, were killed, removed to concentration camps, or sent to the Generalgouvernement to work. Those who remained lost all human rights. They were strictly segregated . . . All Polish schools, churches, and cultural institutions were closed and all children over 14, and in some cases as young as eight years old, were forced to work. Over a million German colonists were brought in to settle on confiscated properties.

. . . blond children who had “Perfect Teutonic” or Germanic features were taken away from their parents and given for adoption to German families. Very few of these children were ever found again. Mass murders were common . . . (Ibid., pp. 3–5)

And the list goes on. Clearly the “peaceful life” and the continuation of a “national character,” referred to in the German-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Demarcation, were not speaking of the Polish people, as one would expect, but of the one million German people who came to “settle on [the Polish people’s] confiscated properties.”

In the midst of the misery of the [Polish] ghettos, was the constant presence of German soldiers. Unmoved by the suffering, they amused themselves with sadism—killing, beating, and humiliating their victims. “Brutality towards Jews,” noted [the world-renowned microbiologist Dr. Lukwik] Hirszfeld, “was a German amusement.” And again, “Most nations would weep to see such misery, but the German soldiers laugh.” (Ibid., p. 13)

Other Concerns

No right to work

The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Fourteenth Amendment states, in addition, that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” but neither document guarantees a citizen the right to work in order to maintain that life, liberty, and property. In 1869, “the Louisiana legislature passed a law that gave a group of seventeen people the sole right to manage a slaughterhouse in the city of New Orleans” (Napolitano, The Constitution in Exile, p. 104). This meant that “every slaughterhouse except one had to shut down. Anyone who wanted to be a butcher could only work at that one slaughterhouse. Butchers were even charged fees for using this facility. It was a clear power grab . . . ” (Ibid.), and twenty-five butchers were deprived of their livelihoods. They brought suit, eventually to the Supreme Court, and lost. A majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the right to work is not protected by the Constitution. We highlight this case to illustrate one way we could find ourselves not being able to buy or sell, as prophesied in Revelation 13:17. If the opportunity to work is taken from us, we will have no means with which to buy or sell. The court decision of the twenty-five butchers has never been overruled, and it has been cited hundreds of times to prove that no one has the right to work.

Loss of states’ rights

Another way the Federal government is trampling on the Constitution is its intrusion into states’ rights, contrary to explicit limits placed by the Constitution. One example is the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act. Schools are state schools; they are not federal schools, and they should be under the control of state law, not federal law, but not in this case. This is another example of how we are speedily losing the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and this loss will continue to spiral until we find ourselves facing a death decree because of our faith, a sentence very possibly rendered without the benefit of due process of law.

A Few Ways To Prepare

Country living

In Nazi Germany the simple people living in the country, not the intellectuals living in the cities, were the ones most likely to resist Nazism. These country people testified “to the failure of a political party—whose aim was total control” [11] to persuade or intimidate them into compliance. They “retained a sense of their traditional values and morality in the face of a dictatorial government” (Ibid.). This is in contrast “with the way in which many lawyers, doctors and teachers, among others, succumbed to the Nazi appeal” (Ibid.). We are sorry to say the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany was one of those “others” that succumbed to Hitler (see Old Paths March 2015), and a similar capitulation by church leadership may happen in the future but by making our homes in the country, we can avoid much evil.

Again and again the Lord has instructed that our people are to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of enemies. (Ellen White, Adventist Home, p. 141)

Dependence on God

All the trial runs by Satan in controlling others and in perpetrating widespread inhuman atrocities are but precursors to his final showdown in which God’s people will be the ultimate victims of his rage. The events of Nazi Germany occurred under a despot in an otherwise fairly calm world. Soon, in a terribly evil and chaotic world, filled with numerous bloody uprisings, violent Islamic and radical fundamentalism, financial and political chicaneries, abuse of all kinds in families and in work places, increasing inner city violence, and out-of-control natural disasters, Satan will arrive, not as a despot, but as an apparent Saviour, and all the world will wonder after him, and all the world will scour the earth for us as the arch enemy, but God will not forsake us.

Many heroes worked against Nazism during World War II. Common, everyday people risked their lives to help the Jews, the Poles, and men, women, and children of all descents find safety, but there were be NO heroes to help us. None. Only the angels of God will protect us, which are all we will need, and only upon our true brothers and sisters of faith will we be able to depend, although each will be in anguish over his or her own soul. All other men and women will hate us, will denounce us, and will seek our extermination. Can you understand the counsel to “press together, press together” (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, p. 292) with another perspective? At this time probation will have closed, and Satan will have gained full control of the impenitent. Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied territories pale in the intensity of what we can expect.

Entire families [in Poland] were put to death when caught sheltering Jews. . . . Yet thousands took this risk, whether for days, for years, or for a moment. Emanuel Ringelblum, the chronicler of the Warsaw Ghetto, recorded that Poles were shot just for throwing bread over the ghetto wall. . . .

Saving lives was a capital crime. Giving food to the starving was a capital crime. Taking in a motherless child was a capital crime. On the other hand, rewards were offered for turning in fugitive Jews and their protectors, while refusal to do so could result in imprisonment or death. . . .

Warnings about the automatic death penalty for those who would help Jews in occupied Poland were continually blared out on loud-speakers and posted in countless public places. (Tomaszewski and Werbowski, p. xxi)

During the German occupation of wartime Poland, three groups of people lived under the threat of instant death. One was made up of members of the resistance. A second consisted of fugitive Jews, who had escaped from the ghetto or who had somehow contrived to avoid going there in the first place. And the third was drawn from the large company of people who had the courage to give succor and support to the resistance, to Jews, or to both. They were surrounded by informers, recruited by the Gestapo usually by bribery or blackmail both inside and outside the ghetto. They lived with the knowledge that, if caught, the SS would not just shoot them, but their children, their parents, and grandparents as well. The General Government was the only place in occupied Europe where German soldiers and officials were given licence to kill the Untermenschen with no questions asked. (Ibid., “Foreword” by Norman Davies, p. x)

Would you capitulate under the threat of the murder of your children, your parents, and your grandparents? As a parent and a grandparent, I say emphatically to all children, “Never do so!” No godly parent or grandparent would ever want you to lose eternal life because of them. Instead, let us demand that all children, parents, and grandparents stand firmly for God, entirely trusting him to do all things perfectly.

Lessons from Israel

While God has given the promise that our bread and water will be sure (Isaiah 33:16), he has, in times past, allowed his people to languish in physical hunger and thirst, and we can expect to suffer the same in the future:

The people of God will not be free from suffering; but while persecuted and distressed, while they endure privation and suffer for want of food they will not be left to perish. That God who cared for Elijah will not pass by one of His self-sacrificing children. He who numbers the hairs of their head will care for them, and in time of famine they shall be satisfied. While the wicked are dying from hunger and pestilence, angels will shield the righteous and supply their wants. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 629)

Isaiah 33:16 refers also to the spiritual needs of the soul. Hungry and thirsty though we may be physically, God will sustain us with spiritual bread and water, just as he did Jesus during his wilderness experience. Jesus suffered for want of food in the wilderness to break the hold of appetite on man, true, but his example can also strengthen us when we are suffering hunger.

When he was faint and hungry from his long fast, Satan appeared to him as an angel of light, tempting him to employ his divine power in his own behalf. He urged him to command the stones to become bread; but Jesus met him with the word of God, the only weapon that could defeat him, the weapon that each one of his followers must use if they would obtain the victory. Jesus said to the evil one, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

The lesson here presented to us by our great Exemplar is that it is of far greater consequence to obey the word of God than to sustain our natural life. We are God’s property, and we are not to feel it our privilege to use even that which we claim as our own as we please, in eating and drinking and feasting. The favor of God is of far higher value to us than our temporal food. Jesus made it manifest, though assailed with the fiercest pangs of hunger, that he trusted in his heavenly Father with unshaken confidence. He knew that his Father was acquainted with his position of trial, and would strengthen him to endure it. In the unfaltering trust of Jesus there is a lesson for us; we are to have an eye single to the glory of God. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, July 28, 1890)

We can expect to be cruelly laughed at because of our physical distress, just as the defendants were mocked in Freisler’s court, and, whether alone or in groups, we will be hungry, perhaps starving; tired and perhaps cold; and suffering mental anguish and perhaps physical disease, but not one tear or one pang of pain will go unnoticed. Angels have always been our companions and always will be. Our lives, as miserable as they may seem, are safely in their hands.

Could men see with heavenly vision, they would behold companies of angels that excel in strength stationed about those who have kept the word of Christ’s patience. With sympathizing tenderness, angels have witnessed their distress and have heard their prayers. They are waiting the word of their Commander to snatch them from their peril. But they must wait yet a little longer. The people of God must drink of the cup and be baptized with the baptism. The very delay, so painful to them, is the best answer to their petitions. As they endeavor to wait trustingly for the Lord to work they are led to exercise faith, hope, and patience, which have been too little exercised during their religious experience. Yet for the elect’s sake the time of trouble will be shortened. “Shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him? . . . I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” Luke 18:7, 8. The end will come more quickly than men expect. The wheat will be gathered and bound in sheaves for the garner of God; the tares will be bound as fagots for the fires of destruction. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 630)

The earthliness that longs for relief, that longs for comfort, and that longs for the preservation of self, even a godly self, must be consumed. When we are content to suffer until God says enough, we will hear the voice of deliverance penetrate the dark, deep clouds over us.

In the meantime, we must prepare. We must now put aside all the weights that hinder us—we cannot carry them into heaven. We must now seek a clearer and more integrated understanding of Scripture—no surface readers will pass this test. And we must now give our all to cooperate with heavenly agencies in the perfection of our characters—no harbored sin will accompany us through the gates of New Jerusalem.

When Israel entered Canaan, God gave his people pertinent instruction. Let us read part of it in Deuteronomy 7, starting in verse 6. These words also apply to us, as we prepare to enter the heavenly Canaan:

Thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. . . . If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them? Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the LORD thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt . . . Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible. . . . and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them. (Deuteronomy 7:6–8, 17, 18, 21, 23, 24)

Let us consider each vital point. We are to be an “holy people unto the LORD,” special to him, above everyone else on the face of the earth (v. 6).

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. . . . And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:1, 5)

Upon the crystal sea before the throne, that sea of glass as it were mingled with fire—so resplendent is it with the glory of God—are gathered the company that have “gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name.” With the Lamb upon Mount Zion, “having the harps of God,” they stand, the hundred and forty and four thousand that were redeemed from among men; and there is heard, as the sound of many waters, and as the sound of a great thunder, “the voice of harpers harping with their harps.” And they sing “a new song” before the throne, a song which no man can learn save the hundred and forty and four thousand. It is the song of Moses and the Lamb—a song of deliverance. None but the hundred and forty-four thousand can learn that song; for it is the song of their experience—an experience such as no other company have ever had. “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.” These, having been translated from the earth, from among the living, are counted as “the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb.” Revelation 15:2, 3; 14:1–5. (White, The Great Controversy, pp. 648, 649)

God’s people are commanded be holy, despite the overwhelming theological stance of many that we will not and cannot be perfect:

Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of Himself: “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” John 14:30. Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble. (Ibid., p. 623)

Moral perfection is required of all. . . . earned by individual effort through the merits and grace of Christ. (Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 330, 331)

We have no choice, brothers and sisters. We either do this, by the grace of God, or we will receive the wrath of God poured out in the seven last plagues. We cannot accomplish this by our own efforts; however. We must have the mind of Christ:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5)

We must train our minds to be think like Christ, just as a musician trains his hands and feet on the organ and just as the mountain climber trains his body. When the temptation comes to think harshly about someone or negatively about a particular circumstance, swiftly turn your mind to Jesus on the cross or bending over a lifeless body, tendering calling it back to life. Focus on Jesus, call on him to help you, and the temptation of the moment loses its force—always—and Satan will find no advantage in you. You choose; God delivers.

Point 2—God’s people will be “the fewest of all people” (Deuteronomy 7:7).

It will be urged that the few who stand in opposition to an institution of the church and a law of the state ought not to be tolerated; that it is better for them to suffer than for whole nations to be thrown into confusion and lawlessness. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 615)

In my dream a sentinel stood at the door of an important building, and asked every one who came for entrance, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost?” A measuring-line was in his hand, and only very, very few were admitted into the building. (Ellen White, Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 109)

Point 3—God will deliver his people from this wicked world “with a mighty hand” and redeem them “out of the house of bondmen” and “from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:8), only our deliverance today and in the future will be from wicked Babylon. If we become afraid of the foes arrayed against us who are so great in number, we are to remember what “the LORD our God did unto Pharaoh and unto all Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:18).

The faithful disciples of Jesus need not be terrified by the rulers of darkness of this world, because the power of the enemy is limited and beyond his limits he cannot go. (White, Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 481)

Roland Freisler was an eager and ambitious Nazi, once a ministerial director in the Prussian Ministry of Justice and later secretary of state in the Reich Ministry of Justice. He screamed at the defendants in his court, hurled vicious verbal attacks at them, and only a handful walked away with their lives. If we are in a similar situation, we cannot retaliate, even mentally, in like manner as did Freisler. We cannot scream back or raise a fist in defiance. We must trust both our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to do all things righteously.

That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Genesis 18:25)

One case brought before the people’s court was the case of Otto and Elise Hampel. They were arrested for a clandestine writing campaign against Hitler and were tried in January 1943. They were convicted and sentenced to death; however, before trial and sentencing, each took the entire blame onto himself or herself, making an effort to exonerate the other. They did not expect the death penalty, but when the death sentences were handed down, their attitudes completely changed. Each now blamed the other and stressed his or her own loyalty to Hitler. Their applications for clemency were in vain, and they were executed April 8, 1943.

Their case reveals a common companion to war and to tyranny. When faced with the prospect of death, a person often blames other people, even loved ones, in an attempt to escape death—another example of an earthliness that must be consumed.

God’s love for his children during the period of their severest trial is as strong and tender as in the days of their sunniest prosperity; but it is needful for them to be placed in the furnace fire; their earthliness must be consumed that the image of Christ may be perfectly reflected. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 621)

Ellen White says earthliness must be consumed, but by what? The trial is the means through which purification occurs, yes, but it is the love we have for our heavenly Father and for Jesus that allows the trials to do their prescribed work; otherwise, we would rebel against them. Love takes precedence over trials and temptations. Without love, trials and temptations are of no positive value, but are a curse. When we love God and only want his character to be vindicated, we will not fear a violent death, or fear anything, for we know that God is our companion at all times and that one glorious day he will make all things right.

Conclusion

Huber refused to compromise with Hitler’s atrocities and against them wrote pamphlets for the underground to spread far and wide. He was eventually arrested and executed. Julius Schmäling, on the other hand, was content to save a few people near him but, at the same time, was comfortable remaining in Hitler’s army. He was not motivated by principle, but by convenience. If he looked the other way on the clandestine work of the Huguenots, the French resistance agreed not to attack Schmäling’s men. It was a win-win situation.

After his release by the French, Julius Schmäling returned to Munich, where he lived in a “partially ruined apartment house. During the war it had suffered a direct hit from a bomb, and more than a decade later half of it was still rubble” (Hallie, p. 61). He lived on the third story and had to climb shaky, uneven stairs to reach his apartment. Inside “the floor of the apartment sloped toward the ruined part of the building, so that if a pencil had been put on the floor, it would have rolled the full width of the apartment. A bed visible from the living room had a canvas tent suspended over it to keep off the rain that seeped through the ruined roof” (Ibid.). Such was war-torn Munich. Though Germany offered no praise to him, France was appreciative of the efforts of Schmäling and wrote a letter to him, which he carried in his wallet to his dying day. It thanked him for making the conditions of war the best possible under the harsh circumstances and assured him that the French people remembered, with affection, the compassion he had shown. One of his primary functions at Loire was to keep the peace, which he accomplished, but let us not forget that he did this while supporting a nation that was perpetrating the murder, torture, and plunder of millions of people. With one hand Schmäling held to the good he could do in the town of Loire, and with the other he clasped the hand of one of the vilest of evils the world has ever known. We cannot do the same. We cannot hold the hand of God and the hand of Satan at the same time. Good will never peacefully coexist with evil.

The atrocities worldwide, past and present; the evil machinations of nations; the looming national and international financial crises; the secularization of spirituality; the foundation-faltering Adventist church; the deployment of side issues that take time and energy away from the study of God’s word; and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans are simply precursors to the last great, desperate attempt of Satan to save his own life. He will fail and he knows it, but what he does not know is if you will fail. So he is after you with a vengeance, for if you do fail, he will not have to suffer for your sins. Even worse to consider, however, is that any failure on our part will cause everlasting pain in the heart of God.

May we be faithful, and may God have mercy on us, the little flock of his own choosing.

Of all the kinds that range at large

I’ve chose one little flock,

And those I make my lovely charge

Before them I will walk.

Their constant Shepherd I will be,

And all their ways refine,

And they shall serve and reverence me,

The humble heart is mine.

—George De Witt Hymnal

(This is one part of a two-part series on our camp meeting theme of “Preparing for the End.” We will conclude in our next issue.)

[1]. Philip Hallie, In the Eye of the Hurricane: Tales of Good and Evil, Help and Harm, p. 89

[2]. Robert D. Rachlin, “Roland Freisler and the Volksgerichtshof: The Court as an Instrument of Terror, in The Law in Nazi Germany: Ideology, Opportunism, and the Perversion of Justice, edited by Alan E. Steinweis and Robert D. Rachlin, pp. 65, 66

[3]. H. W. Koch, In the Name of the Volk: Political Justice in Hitler’s Germany, pp. 5, 6

[4]. Andrew P. Napolitano, The Constitution in Exile, p. 70.

[5]. Gregory Korte, USA Today, October 23, 2014; accessed at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/10/22/president-obama-states-of-emergency/16851775/ on 5–14–15

[6]. “Habeas Corpus” by The Rutherford Institute, accessed at https://www.rutherford.org/constitutional_corner/habeas_corpus/ on 5–15–15

[7]. Napolitano, Ibid., p. 71

[8] . Andrew Napolitano, “Can the president kill Americans?” in The Washington Times, April 15, 2015; accessed 5–17–15 at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/15/anderw-napolitano-can-the-president-kill-americans/

[9]. Conor Friedersdorf, “The Extrajudicial Killing That Didn’t Happen,” The Atlantic, April 17, 2015; accessed at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-drone-that-didnt-strike/390603/ on 5–17–15

[10]. Irene Tomaszewski and Tecia Werbowski, Code Name: Żegota: Rescuing Jews in Occupied Poland,1942–1945, The Most Dangerous Conspiracy in Wartime Europe, p. 3

[11] Jill Stephenson, Hitler’s Home Front: Wurttemberg Under the Nazis, p. 359


Combined Issue for June and July

For just the third time in twenty-four years, we are combining two issues of Old Paths (June and July) into one printing.

We are doing this because of the time frames of two camp meetings and of the General Conference session. The West Virginia camp meeting is June 9–13 and may be over by the time you receive this issue. There will also be meetings in central New Hampshire June 19–21. The Seventh-day Home Church Fellowship will be holding meetings in The Bessie Rowell Community Center, 12 Rowell Drive, Franklin, NH 03235. The speakers will be Thomas Akens, Onycha Holt, Fred Skucy, Allen Stump, and Wallace Woodward. You may contact Raquel Akens at 530–708–2381 for details. Limited housing is available, so please let us know soon if you wish to attend and need accommodations.

After the meetings in New Hampshire, some of our staff will be leaving to go to the General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, running July 2–9.

This session has the potential to be the most divisive and controversial session in the over one hundred fifty year history of the denomination.

One very polarizing issue to be discussed concerns women’s ordination. The issue concerns whether the individual divisions may choose to ordain women as ministers, without the whole church adhering to a uniform practice that all are following. This issue is threatening to upend the denomination. There may be churches, perhaps even conferences, that might bolt, if this is not passed. If it is passed, we may still see similar action from those not in favor of women ministers. At this time there is no question where the North American Division and much of the General Conference leadership are heading—in favor of ordination.

A second and equally serious issue the General Conference will present to the delegates is a review of the fundamental beliefs of the church. Each one could be the subject of change. This has not been done since the 1980 Dallas session.

Drafts of proposed changes have been published, and many statements are changed for the reason of inclusion. This simply means that instead of using male references, such as man, for mankind, other language, such as humanity, is proposed. Beyond this are other changes that may threaten to further sacrifice the truth of the three angels’ messages.

Our August issue of Old Paths will share camp meeting reports and pictures, and we will begin to try to digest the major events at the General Conference session. We appreciate your patience while you wait for the next issue of Old Paths. We sincerely ask for your prayers during the next few months, as we prepare for the events of the last days.

Editors


  Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published monthly by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, 750 Smyrna Road, Welch WV 24801-9606. U.S.A. It is sent free upon request. The paper is dedicated to the propagation and restoration of the principles of truth that God gave to the early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers. Duplication is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. This issue, with other gospel literature we publish, can be found at our web site. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732-9204. Fax: (304) 732-7322.