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, Nos. 9, 10 Straight and Narrow September/October 2015


 

Capital.jpg

 

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of
the whole American people which declared that their
legislature should “make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise
thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between
Church & State.
(From a letter sent by President
Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist congregation)

 

In this issue:

The Blood of the Atonement

Thoughts from Waggoner

Knowing the Time

Don't Needlessly Die

Report from Serbia

White Estates Make Release

Welcoming the Beast

GC Report part 2

Excerpts from a Letter on Forgiveness

Youth's Corner

Beneficial Fiber

Publisher Information

The Blood of the Atonement

(This is a continuation of a series of studies on the sanctuary, the last part of which was in the June issue of Old Paths.)

How important are words? Words form the skeleton of spoken and written language. Without words we are reduced to only symbols and pictures for communication. Words express the thoughts of the mind. One word that we have studied is atonement. It expresses an at-one-ment or an agreement, between two parties, a coming into perfect harmony.

There is another word that we wish to consider: the word commenced. Commenced is the past tense of commence, which means to begin or to start. Commenced means something has started or has begun. With this awareness let us notice the following from the pen of inspiration:

While he [Jesus] is in Heaven carrying on the work of intercession and atonement commenced on earth, his life and character are to be exemplified by his church upon earth. (Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 261)

This statement is saying that a work of intercession and atonement was begun on earth (past tense) and is being carried on now (present tense) in heaven. The atonement going on in heaven today is the antitypical day of atonement. The work for the typical day of atonement, from which we may understand the reality, is outlined in Leviticus 16.

And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORDS lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. (Leviticus  16:7–9)

Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: And he shall make an atonement for the [most] holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, [holy place] that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel. And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the LORD, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. (Leviticus 16: 15–19)

Notice the importance of the blood in the service. All things revolved around the shedding and application of the blood. On the Day of Atonement, the killing of the LORD’s goat represented Jesus dying upon the cross, shedding his blood for our sins. Without this shed blood there can be no forgiveness of sins.

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22)

But was the Day of Atonement made or completed when the sacrifice was killed? No, the atonement was not completed until the blood was applied and the service was over! It is the blood that makes the atonement:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)

Prior to William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood in 1628, little was known about the value of the blood. In fact, blood was thought to be the source of disease rather than of life. This incorrect information logically led to the process of bloodletting—bleeding sick people to rid the body of disease. The first president of the United States, George Washington, developed a sore throat which became progressively worse, to the place where he could hardly breathe or speak. The practice of bloodletting was performed, removing up to half of his blood. Clearly his death was hastened by bloodletting. If his physicians had only read the Bible and understood its great teaching on the blood, his life might have been preserved!

The blood of the atonement, though, is not simply blood that has been withdrawn, as when one makes a donation to the Red Cross. To have the blood of atonement, it has to come from the death of the sacrifice which makes the atonement.

At the night of the Passover in Egypt, specific instruction was given for the sprinkling of the slain lamb’s blood:

And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:1–7, 12, 13)

The lamb without blemish represented Jesus who did no sin and was pure (1 Peter 2:22). The lamb’s blood was to be sprinkled and without that sprinkling of blood, the firstborn could not be safe.

The legend goes that the eldest daughter was sick; but that she was acquainted with the fact that a lamb was to be chosen for every family, and that its blood was to be sprinkled upon the lintel and side posts of the door so that the Lord might behold the mark of the blood, and not suffer the destroyer to enter in to smite the first-born. With what anxiety she saw the evening approach when the destroying angel was to pass by. She became very restless. She called her father to her side, and asked, “Have you marked the door-post with blood?” He answered, “Yes; I have given directions in regard to the matter. Do not be troubled; for the destroying angel will not enter here.” The night came on, and again and again the child called her father, still asking, “Are you sure that the door-post is marked with blood?” Again and again the father assured her that she need have no fear; that a command which involved such consequences would not be neglected by his trustworthy servants. As midnight approached, her pleading voice was heard saying, “Father, I am not sure. Take me in your arms, and let me see the mark for myself, so that I can rest.” The father conceded to the wishes of his child; he took her in his arms and carried her to the door; but there was no blood mark upon the lintel or the posts. He trembled with horror as he realized that his home might have become a house of mourning. With his own hands he seized the hyssop bough, and sprinkled the door-post with blood. He then showed the sick child that the mark was there. (Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, May 21, 1895)

This sprinkling of the animal’s blood was clearly a symbol of the sacrifice made by Christ. This blood [the animal’s] had no efficacy for the soul. Paul says that the blood of bulls and goats produced a type of cleansing of the flesh, but only the blood of Christ could purge the soul from sin.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 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 9:13, 14)

The Greek word translated conscience, is syneidēsin (συνείδησιν). It is “the psychological faculty that distinguishes between right and wrong; either afflicts or comforts the person depending upon their actions” (Logos Bible Lexicon). God wants the conscience, that which distinguishes between right and wrong, to be purged, and this the blood of Jesus can accomplish:

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2)

While the spilled blood is important and there could be no salvation without it, neither could there be any salvation without the sprinkled blood.

During the Passover, blood was sprinkled on the side door posts and on the upper door post, but it should be noted that no blood was sprinkled on the threshold, for not even in symbol was the blood of Christ to be physically trodden under foot.

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29)

We must not neglect or treat with spite the precious blood of Christ.

The blood of Christ makes the new testament effective.

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26: 27, 28)

The terms covenant and testament in the New Testament both come from the same Greek word: diathēkē (διαθήκη).[1] So when we read covenant or testament in the Bible, they are interchangeable and have the same basic meaning.

The blood of Jesus had to be spilled before the new testament or the new covenant could be ratified. Before he died, Jesus took bread and gave thanks and brake it and then said to his disciples:

Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:24)

Jesus then noted of the juice:

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28)

The phrases is broken and is shed are both present passive participles, yet the body of Jesus was not yet offered or his blood yet poured out. Why then did Jesus have this service before he died instead of as a commemorative act after he had died? The Bible has the clear answer. Paul, writing in Hebrews, states:

For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. (Hebrews 9:16, 17)

Here the Greek word diathēkē is used for testament. Besides being defined as a testament or a covenant, it is also understood to be a will, as in last will and testament. Paul states that a testament, or will, is only ratified, or made effective, after the death of the testator (the one making the testament). He further states it is not in force while the one making the testament, or will, lives. We clearly understand this matter. If I write my last will and testament today, leaving all my worldly possessions to my daughter, she does not inherit anything while I am alive. No, the will is “of no strength” while I am alive. But after I die it “is of force.”

Now we need to compare this with Galatians 3:15:

Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. (Galatians 3:15)

When a person makes a will, the will may be contested, but if it is a valid will, it cannot be changed after the death of the testator. The testator is free to change any part of his or her will while alive, but after the death of the testator, the will cannot be changed. Nothing can be added to it or taken away!

Now let us apply this to Jesus and to the new covenant. For the service, which we call the Lord’s Supper, to be a part of the new covenant experience, it had to be instituted before Jesus died because nothing can be added after the death of the one making the covenant. This is precisely why Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper the night before he died.[2]

Central and vital to the new covenant is the blood of Jesus.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. (Revelation 1:5)

Without the blood of Jesus—his shed blood and also his sprinkled blood, the blood that is applied— there is no forgiveness of sins and this is not “an act,” “an atoning act,” “the sacrificial act of the cross,” or “the benefits of the atonement,” as described by apostate LeRoy Froom. Notice the following non-biblical concepts of Froom that have become commonplace in Adventism:

The Sinless One, our blessed Lord, voluntarily took upon Himself the burden and penalty of our sins. This was an act in full counsel and cooperation with God the Father. (Questions on Doctrine [QOD], p. 53; 2007 edition)

That is the tremendous scope of the sacrificial act of the cross—a complete, perfect, and final atonement for man’s sin. (LeRoy Edwin Froom, “The Priestly Application of the Atoning Act,” Ministry, February 1957, p. 10; all emphasis in this article supplied unless otherwise noted)

George Knight says that this statement from Ministry magazine was “especially offensive to M. L. Andreasen” (QOD, p. xviii). Froom also declared:

This transcendent event certified before the entire universe the integrity of the multiple promises of redemption in Christ. And it was attested by His triumphant resurrection from the dead and His ascension into heaven, where, as our great High Priest, He ministers in the presence of God the benefits of the atonement made on Calvary. (QOD, p. 200; 2007 edition)

As we have studied before, the phrase, “ministers . . . the benefits of the atonement made on Calvary” is an atonement of forgiveness and fails to take into account sanctification. In other words, Froom believes in a theology of sin and repent instead of trust and obey!

In the true antitype Jesus does not minister “the benefits of the atonement made on Calvary,” he ministers his blood!

Jesus was clothed with priestly garments. He gazed in pity on the remnant, then raised His hands, and with a voice of deep pity cried, “My blood, Father, My blood, My blood, My blood!” (Ellen White, Early Writings, p. 38)

The blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat, which was above the law of God. Between God and his holy law, which we have broken, is the mercy seat, where the blood of Jesus is sprinkled. The Bible calls Jesus “the propitiation for our sins”:

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. (Romans 3:25)

The Greek word for propitiation is hilastērion (ἱλαστήριον). This same word is translated in Hebrews 9:5 as mercy seat.

And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat (hilastērion); of which we cannot now speak particularly. (Hebrews 9:5)

Jesus paid for our redemption with the price of his blood. That was a very high price to pay but with his blood, we have the victory over Satan and over all sin!

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:10, 11)

While our testimony is vital, the blood of Jesus is essential for our salvation! Satan attempts to defeat God by accusing his people, but they overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb. God’s people will understand what both the spilled blood at Golgotha and the sprinkled blood in heaven do for them and for their loyalty to God and even under the threat of death, they will not waver. I am sure that the Apostle John knew from personal experience of Satan’s accusations—You’ve served God all your life and this rocky island called Patmos is your retirement plan! God has forsaken you!—but John does not accept Satan’s accusations because he knows about the blood of the Lamb.

Pictured below is one of the most fascinating pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. It is simply called Deep Field. To obtain this picture Hubble was pointed to one pinpoint of space for a two million second exposure (a little over twenty-three days). This pinpoint of space produced multiple galaxies, each with billions of stars!

 

 

Today scientists believe that there are over three hundred billion galaxies, with over one hundred to three hundred billions stars in each one. This, of course, may be only the tip of the iceberg. The point is—God’s universe seems to be infinitely big, BUT the blood of the Lamb means that we are worth the whole universe to God! You are precious in his eyes. You may feel alone today, but God cares, and the blood is proof that no price was too high to pay for your salvation.

Samuel Untermeyer (1858–1940) was an American lawyer and civic leader, as well as a millionaire. He married Minnie Carl.

Minnie once cabled her husband from Europe about a very fine Gobelin tapestry she had found. The price was $25,000, and she wanted to know if she should buy it. “No” was Untermyer’s reply, “Price too high.” When she returned from Europe, however, she brought the tapestry with her. Samuel asked why she had disregarded his reply. She showed him the cable. It read: “NO PRICE TOO HIGH.” The operator had failed to insert the comma, and that comma made the difference.

God considered no price too high for our redemption, and the blood makes the difference for us. Despite our unworthiness no price was too high for the king to give to redeem mankind, not even the blood of his Son.

He who considered it not robbery to be equal with God, once trod the earth, bearing our suffering and sorrowing nature, and tempted in all points like as we are; and now he appears in the presence of God as our great High Priest, ready to accept the repentance, and to answer the prayers of his people, and, through the merits of his own righteousness, to present them to the Father. He raises his wounded hands to God, and claims their blood-bought pardon. I have graven them on the palms of my hands, he pleads. Those memorial wounds of my humiliation and anguish secure to my church the best gifts of Omnipotence. (White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, pp. 261, 262)

This blood-bought pardon is our only hope. Without the pleading of Jesus, we have no life. Notice the clarity and sureness of this teaching in the Spirit of Prophecy:

In the temple in heaven, the dwelling place of God, His throne is established in righteousness and judgment. In the most holy place is His law, the great rule of right by which all mankind are tested. The ark that enshrines the tables of the law is covered with the mercy seat, before which Christ pleads His blood in the sinner’s behalf. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 415)

When in the typical service the high priest left the holy on the Day of Atonement, he went in before God to present the blood of the sin offering in behalf of all Israel who truly repented of their sins. So Christ had only completed one part of His work as our intercessor, to enter upon another portion of the work, and He still pleaded His blood before the Father in behalf of sinners. (Ibid., p. 429)

So Christ, the great High Priest, pleading His blood before the Father in the sinner’s behalf, bears upon His heart the name of every repentant, believing soul. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 351)

Beloved, despite being poor and needy, God looks upon you individually! David said, “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God” (Psalm 40:17).

John writes, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

It is said that when Martin Luther was at the Wartburg, he struggled with the devil. He even believed he saw Satan and when he did, he threw an ink bottle at him. There is another story about Martin Luther having a close encounter with the devil, however. It happened during a serious illness. Satan was supposed to have entered Luther’s sickroom and looked at him with a triumphant smile. Satan then unrolled a big scroll, which he carried in his arms.

As the devil threw one end of it on the floor, it unwound by itself. Luther’s eyes read the long, fearful record of his own sins, one by one. Luther’s strong heart seemed to stop before the ghastly roll.

Suddenly it flashed into Luther’s mind that there was one thing not written there. He cried aloud: “One thing you have forgotten. The rest is all true, but one thing you have forgotten: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.’” And as he said this, the accuser of the brethren and his heavy roll disappeared.

Beloved, when Satan comes to us, even with the true record of our past, we may claim the blood of Christ for our forgiveness as well as for our power to walk in the newness of life.    Allen Stump

[1]1. Twelve times testament; eighteen times covenant

[2] Knowing this is very helpful in relationship to the Sabbath issue, for if the disciples began to keep Sunday as the Lord’s Day on the first Sunday after the death of Jesus, it was three days too late! For Sunday to be part of the new covenant experience, Jesus would have had to institute it before he died. Is there any such record in Holy Writ? There is not a single reference, and nobody is so brazen to suggest it, either.


Thoughts from Waggoner

God does not adopt us as His children because we are good but in order that He may make us good. Says Paul, “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loves us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [made us alive] together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:4–7. And then he adds, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Verses 8–10. This passage shows that God loved us while we were yet dead in sins. He gives us His Spirit to make us alive in Christ, and the same Spirit marks our adoption into the Divine family, and He thus adopts us that, as new creatures in Christ, we may do the good works which God has ordained. (E. J. Waggoner, Christ and His Righteousness, p. 69)



Knowing the Time

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11)

In March 1933 W. H. Williams was under-treasurer of the General Conference, and he was impressed to take a trip to New York City to do some unscheduled banking transactions for the church. Prior to this, periodically, he directed his secretary to place units of $1,000 in envelopes into an office safe with no further explanation as to why the cash was being kept separate from the other money.

Williams left Thursday, March 2, on the midnight train from Union Station in Washington, D. C., and arrived in New York City early the next morning, Friday, March 3. When the banks opened for business, Williams proceeded to two different banks and made two separate transactions, which involved sending funds for three months in advance to most of the overseas missions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. His business completed, he left by train for Union Station, eventually arriving back in Takoma Park, Maryland, that evening.

The next morning, Sabbath, March 4, Williams slept in a little longer than usual. He was awakened by the sound of a newspaper boy hawking papers on the street outside his home. The headline shouted by the newsboy captured his attention: “Banks closed!” Many banks in the nation were closed, and all the banks in the state of New York were closed by the order of Governor Lehman. Williams suddenly saw everything clearly. He spent the rest of that Sabbath rejoicing in the Lord’s care and providence.

Just after sunset the phone rang, bringing an urgent call from J. L. Shaw, General Conference treasurer, demanding an immediate meeting in his office of General Conference officers. Shaw hung up so quickly that Williams could not explain his actions on Friday. He went to the meeting and found the officers in great concern over the news of the day and wondering where the funds would come from to allow them to keep the missionaries in the field, as well as to pay employees’ salaries.

The mood of the meeting changed from despair into one of praise when Williams told the others about his response to a strong impression to go to New York and transfer funds the previous day. Furthermore, the $1,000 deposits in the General Conference safe was just the amount needed to sustain the General Conference payroll. Instead of a widespread financial crisis, the church was able to withstand the closing of the banks. Williams was a man who God was able to work through in a special time.

We certainly need men and women like Williams today. Men and woman with whom God can speak about the times. Such men are mentioned in 1 Chronicles 12:32:

And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.

Different times require different messages. Some messages that are very applicable in one time have no relevance at another time. The preaching of the flood was present truth in the time of Noah, but today it is past history. Concerning the time of Elijah and the fearful apostasy in Israel, we read in the section entitled “The Sacrifice on Mount Carmel”:

Elijah demands a convocation at Carmel of all Israel and also of all the prophets of Baal. The awful solemnity in the looks of the prophet gives him the appearance of one standing in the presence of the Lord God of Israel. The condition of Israel in their apostasy demands a firm demeanor, stern speech, and commanding authority. God prepares the message to fit the time and occasion. Sometimes He puts His Spirit upon His messengers to sound an alarm day and night, as did His messenger John: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” Then, again, men of action are needed who will not be swerved from duty, but whose energy will arouse and demand, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” let him come over with us. God will have a fitting message to meet His people in their varied conditions. (Ellen White Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 279)

God’s servants need discernment to be able to understand the times and conditions, so that they may have a fitting message! God wants his people to have discernment, or sound judgment. This discernment comes from being connected to the source of all wisdom. We are told:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

Paul writes:

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:9, 10 )

Paul wanted the believers to be able to “approve things that are excellent.” The Greek word for approve is dokimazō (δοκιμάζω), and rather than meaning to cast favor upon someone or something, it more accurately means to analyze or to discern. God wants us to be able to discern what is excellent, so that we may stand in the day of Christ without offense. God will not grant such discernment to those in rebellion and in disobedience to his word. Hosea states that obedience is vital for understanding:

Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein. (Hosea 14:9)

In this verse the just stand in opposition to the transgressors, or disobedient. The just shall understand, but the transgressors shall fall, for they shall not understand.

It was not God’s intention for humanity to know sin but once that time came, mankind had to be able to distinguish between good and evil.

We are set in this world to live holy lives and this cannot be done, if we cannot discern between good and evil. But Jesus is our example, and he is able to help us walk as he walked. Isaiah wrote prophetically of Jesus:

Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. (Isaiah 7:15)

Today we might not think eating a type of sugar and an animal-based food to be something healthy and able to give one discernment; however, this language is symbolic of a strong healthy diet. When Israel spied out the promised land, it was said to be “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 13:5). This meant that flowering plants were abundant and could, therefore, produce much honey, and the flowing milk represented the ability of female animals to produce good milk, which could not be so if the land were impoverished. The temperate life of Jesus, by only partaking of the good, blessed him with discernment. We are told:

True temperance teaches us to dispense entirely with everything hurtful and to use judiciously that which is healthful. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 562)

The lack of true temperance by the elder children of Aaron brought disaster to Israel. The Bible gives the account:

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:1–3)

God looked so unfavorably upon this violation of sacred things that he did not allow Aaron to weep or to mourn for his children (verse 6). Then came the instruction:

Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations. (Leviticus 10:9)

And the reason for the prohibition:

And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean. (Leviticus 10:10).

God wants his people to be able to distinguish the holy from the common. This includes being able to distinguish between truth and error, between the straight testimony and smooth things. To be able to accomplish this, we must be temperate people.

Understanding the Significance of Events

One day Jesus taught a parable, saying:

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (Matthew 24:32–33)

By this parable Jesus taught us to be aware of the significance of the events transpiring around us. He told the religious leaders of his day:

When ye see a cloud rise out of the west, straightway ye say, There cometh a shower; and so it is. And when ye see the south wind blow, ye say, There will be heat; and it cometh to pass. Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time? (Luke 12:54–56)

Though the religious leaders in Christ’s time could discern the face of the sky to predict the coming weather, they could not understand the current signs of the times to discern the coming events.

Discernment as Insight into Spiritual Realities

I get e-mails every day, it seems, with links to some vital or important message for this time. Someone has learned a great new truth that he or she wishes to share. Recently I checked out one of these links and found it to be a presentation by a fringe apostate group of Adventists. Someone in good faith had listened to the presentation and was excited enough about it to send the link to me and to several others. While it contained a lot of truth, the presentation also contained poisonous error. The person sending the e-mail either had not studied the presentation carefully or simply did not have the discernment needed to understand truth from error. Paul tells us that discernment is one of the gifts of the Spirit:

To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:10)

According to inspiration, this necessary gift will be lacking by many in the last days:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. (1 Timothy 4:1)

Paul tells us that in the latter times some will especially be deceived by the spirit of Satan. How can we avoid this? Is this simply a matter of having the gift and being discerning or of not having the gift and being lost? While God gives discernment, he is able to use some basic principles to help all of us have the discernment needed for salvation.

We can never expect discernment unless we are studying the scriptures. Luke noted that the Bereans were “more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). If we will study the Bible with an open heart, seeking truth and refraining from sin, God will open rich veins of truth to the searcher.

But we may study many hours a day and still not have discernment because of sin in our lives. David wrote:

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. (Psalm 119:34)

And David’s son, Solomon, noted:

Whoso keepeth the law is a wise son: but he that is a companion of riotous men shameth his father. (Proverbs 28:7)

Those who obey God’s holy law are wise, but those who sin are not wise.

Moses noted an important point in being able to discern when God is leading a person:

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:21, 22)

If the prophecy of a person does not come to pass, then we are not to follow or to be afraid of that person. Even if what they do proclaim comes to pass, that, of itself, is not proof that they are being led of God.

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:1–3)

Please note this point with care. Even if a person gives a sign or predicts something terrible will happen and it happens, do not follow that individual if he or she teaches you to serve other gods. God says that he has not sent them. Would not the trinity doctrine rightly represent a strange god, as it is described in Daniel 11:39? In the time leading up to September 2015, a well-known Adventist missionary worker proclaimed that God had laid a burden upon him that something was going to happen in September that would change the world, especially concerning the economy. While nothing of this nature has visibly occurred, as of this writing, even if it did, we are not to go after those who promote another god.

The Source of Discernment

The source of all true discernment is God. Daniel noted:

And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: . . . Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, The secret which the king hath demanded cannot the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, the soothsayers, shew unto the king; But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. (Daniel 2:21, 27, 28)

Solomon also noted: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10). Clearly spiritual things must be spiritually discerned:

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. (1 Corinthians 2:12–15)

Again, we cannot emphasize enough that spiritual discernment comes to us from an understanding of God’s word.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (Psalm 19:7)

The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. (Psalm 119:130)

God wants his people to dig deeply into the scripture and partake of the meat of the word. (See Hebrews 5:12–14.)

But, beloved, if we simply study the Bible as an academic would study, then we will not progress in our Christian lives. We also need a renewed mind to have discernment. Paul writes:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)

To be able to prove, or test, what is good, is acceptable, is perfect, and what the will of God is, we need a renewed mind, or to be converted. It is when God writes his law in our hearts that we can be fully open to the understanding of his Spirit:

But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)

When God writes his law in our hearts, he will give us understanding of how high and how holy that law is and how we may live under that law to please him. This is part of the process of having the mind of Christ:

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Finally, in the quest for discernment, we must pray. The Bible has many examples of earnest prayer for wisdom and discernment. David prayed:

Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. (Psalm 119:66)

James tells us to pray in faith:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (James 1:5, 6)

Those living in the United States have just witnessed the visit of Pope Francis to America, including his visit to the White House, his address to a joint session of Congress, his address to the United Nations, as well as his visit to Philadelphia. Time is sure to close soon. How soon? We can not know the exact time before it occurs, but the signs are clear that now, as never before, we need to be children of discernment who know the times. Allen Stump



Don’t Die Needlessly

I have a confession to make. I almost waited too long to have a screening for colon cancer (colonoscopy). I was almost fifty-eight years old and had been eating a high fiber diet for almost four decades. Animal products were discarded long ago, and there was no colon cancer in my immediate family. I exercise and workout regularly. The last cancer I could ever have had, in my mind, was colon cancer. But I was wrong.

Due to some stomach disorders I had been having for over a year, I decided that I should try to get to the root of my problems. My family physician referred me to a gastrointestinal specialist, who ordered upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopies.

These procedures enable doctors to literally see what is going on inside the digestive tract. The results shocked me. I had four polyps in my colon, which were removed during the procedure. At least one was pre-cancerous and would soon have turned into cancer, had it not been removed.

I learned that colon cancer is totally asymptomatic until it is stage IV (the last and deadliest stage). That means that there are no symptoms until the cancer is so advanced that there is only a small chance of survival (11%). With early detection the survival rate is up to 89%, but the better news is that colon cancer always starts as polyps and that these polyps are easy to detect with a colonoscopy and it take three to five years for them to turn cancerous.

While colon cancer is totally asymptomatic until it is stage IV, it is also totally preventable with screening, since the polyps can be found before they become cancerous.

Most medical literature today suggests that everyone should have a colon screening by age fifty, with African Americans by age forty-five, due to higher colon cancer rates among this group of people.

I almost waited too long to be screened. If you are forty-five to fifty years old and have not had this procedure, or if it has been several years since you last had a colonoscopy, I greatly suggest you have this painless procedure done soon. I am glad I did. It prevented me from learning a year or two later that I had an incurable situation.  Allen Stump


 

Report from Serbia

(In late August Pastor David Sims left for Serbia to meet with brethren who are zealous for the truth and who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Here is a short report on his time there.)

We enjoyed five beautiful days in Serbia, studying the Bible and enjoying fellowship together. We learned some things about ourselves, including some things that we need to overcome.

The Lord also blessed our time studying with a former Jehovah’s Witness, who has accepted the three angels’ messages and the truth about God.

The Sabbath was blessed with a really nice church service, which had more than twenty people in attendance. We spent much of our time in the open air, under the beautiful blue sky. We shared lunch together and visited some horses, an ostrich, and some other animals, as well. Later we had an ordination of Brother Dragan, taking the first step in organizing the church in Serbia. The Sabbath was closed by partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

On Sunday, we had the most beautiful part of our week together. A young lady with a nominal orthodox background had decided to be baptized, after many prayers and much encouragement had been given to allay her fears. Now, after a few days, she has told us a couple of times that she has a peace in her heart. The following is a message from her:

“Dear brother, Happy to see mails from you and _________. I want to share with you that I am very happy because of my decision to be baptized. With every hour I am more convinced that I made a good decision. My heart is full of gratitude to the Lord because of his patience to me. There is one more thing which I want to share, I decided to be vegan. Christ with all of you! Sincerely, ___________”

Let us uphold this dear sister in prayer that she will remain firm to her decision to follow Christ, in spite of opposition from close family members.

Pray for the work in Serbia and that the church of the only-begotten Son of God may continue to grow in grace and truth.

David Sims

20150830_064138.jpg

Baptism
 

20150829_115847.jpg

Special prayer
 

20150829_030648.jpg

Sharing Testimonies
 

20150829_030642.jpg

Believers listening to a testimony



 

The White Estate Releases All of Ellen White’s Writings

July 16 of this year marked the one hundredth anniversary of the death of Ellen White. For one hundred years the White Estate has held onto thousands of pages of letters and manuscripts that had not been published since her death. No doubt some of these letters contained material that would have been considered sensitive and, perhaps, embarrassing to those who might have been the subject of the letters, but with the passing of one hundred years, the thought was that the time had come to open the database to all.

This thought was impressed upon the White Estate, at least in part, by some hackers who breached the White Estate computer systems and downloaded all the materials. They requested that the White Estate either release all the materials or that they would make them available. The White Estate agreed to release these materials on July 16.

The site to read and search the Ellen White writings is egwwritings.org, and her works are available in many languages. Mobile versions of her books can be downloaded, as well as audio versions. To be fully able to access the total volume of Ellen White’s writings, however, one must know English, as it is the only language that has all of Ellen White’s writings.

For those who do not know English, there are eleven different language interfaces for the website. On the left side of the home page is a navigation window that has ninety-five different language sections in which one may find Ellen White’s writings. All languages, except English, are limited. Some carry many titles and others just a few. For example, Garo, a language spoken by 800,000 in the Garo Hills of India and Bangladesh, has only the book Steps to Christ translated.

Each language has a drop-down symbol or arrow beside it. There you find Ellen G. White’s writings and, in some language sections, you will also find the Bible. When you continue to expand the section on Ellen White’s writings, it will subdivide, according to how much is translated.

At the top of the English language section are four subdivisions: Ellen White’s writings, References, the Bible, and Adventist Pioneer Library. We will now briefly examine each section.

Ellen White’s Writings, when expanded, gives the following lists: Books, devotionals, periodicals, pamphlets, manuscript releases, misc. collections, letters & manuscripts, biography, modern English. Most of the sections are straightforward. At this time it appears that the previously unreleased materials are mostly, if not entirely, in the letters & manuscripts section. This section is broken into eight time periods: 1847–1849, 1850–1859, 1860–1869, and so forth. When these sections are expanded, you have a choice between letters or manuscripts. After making a choice you then have the individual years within that section of letters or manuscripts for that time period.

An example of this would be: Start with English and then proceed through letters & manuscripts to 1900–1909, then 1901, then letters, and then Lt53–1901. There you will find a previously unpublished letter to Brother and Sister Farnsworth, dated June 12, 1901. In this letter we read the following:

In (Exodus 30:22-38) we find the recipes given by the Lord for use in the tabernacle. These were the Lord’s special preparations. No man was to use as common that which He had made sacred. The distinction between the common and the sacred was to be strictly observed by His people throughout their generations. “Upon man’s flesh it shall not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it, after the composition of it: it is holy, and it shall be holy unto you. Whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people.” (Letter 53, 1901, paragraph 5)

The Reference section contains Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, EGW Children’s Stories (stories about Ellen White suitable for children), EGW Reference Works, EGW Research Documents, EGW Scripture Index, EGW Topical Index, Historical Reference Works (such as Jean-Henri Merle d’Aubigné’s History of the Reformation, Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Luther on Galatians, and many others), and the seven volumes of the current SDA Bible Commentary, including volume 7A.

The English Bible section contains seven Bible translations, including American King James Version, American Standard Version, Darby Bible, King James Version, Webster’s Bible, World English Bible, and Young’s Literal Translation.

The Adventist Pioneer Library has four subsections: Pioneer authors; periodicals, misc. titles, and recent authors (including titles by LeRoy Froom, W. E. Read, William Spicer, and Arthur Spalding).

There is a general search feature above the library navigation window. There you may search for specific words, combination of words, or specific phrases by using quotation marks around your search. To confine your search to a certain section, you simple check the boxes besides each database. For example, I searched all the EGW writings for the word trinity. The Ellen White CD-rom lists one reference, a subtitle by the compiler of Evangelism (page 616). A search of the Ellen White database, however, reveals two other references. One is from The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 7A, page 437, and it is in a note by the compilers of the volume and is not by Ellen White. The other new reference is from the pen of Ellen White and is from a previously unpublished letter written to a Brother and Sister Gage, May 19, 1898, from Sunnyside. In it Ellen White laments the Gages’ spiritual condition and notes:

This warning now comes to you, and what will you do with it? Will you say, “Have no fear of me?” But beware of that which the old writers called the world’s trinity—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. If you trifle and tamper with these, they will prove your ruin. Unless you are born again, unless your objectionable hereditary tendencies are changed, unless purity and sanctification work a transformation in your lives, your barque will be shipwrecked, your souls lost. (Lt43–1898, May 19, 1898, par. 25)

For the first time we now have certainty on the subject of Ellen White’s pen and the term trinity. She did use it once, but not in any way to promote a theological position for or against it.

There is also an advanced search feature tab besides the library tab in the left side navigation panel, where you can search within certain given parameters.

Some very nice features to this website include: Text size that is easily changeable for the individual and showable page breaks in books and others. There are also quick-share buttons for Facebook and Twitter users.

Applications for mobile devices can be accessed at this site also. They include Android, Blackberry Apple IOS, Kindle, and Nook. In at least the IOS version, you may download any or all of the database but currently that is an arduous process. We have not tested the system on other mobile platforms but would assume that they can also download the database.

We certainly give this database and the user interface a thumbs up. It provides the previously unreleased writings of Ellen White and many other helpful resources that are free to the user. At least now we need not wonder any longer what Ellen White thought on a certain point if we have the time and the skill to know how to properly search the database of her writings. Editors

 

EGWWritings.png

 


 

Welcoming the Beast

As we reported in the April 2014 issue of Old Paths, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, extended a formal and open invitation on March 13 of this year to Pope Francis to address a joint meeting of Congress. No pope or religious leader who serves as a head of state has ever addressed the United States Congress. Boehner, a Roman Catholic, stated:

His address as a visiting head of state before a joint meeting of the House and Senate would honor our nation in keeping with the best traditions of our democratic institutions. . . . It would also offer an excellent opportunity for the American people as well as the nations of the world to hear his message in full. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/03/13/boehner-pope-francis/6373779/; accessed March 16, 2014)

In other words, the pope was invited to use the United States Capitol as his pulpit!

Boehner who frequently references his own Catholic faith, said: “we’re humbled that the Holy Father has accepted our invitation and certainly look forward to receiving his message on behalf of the American people.” (http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/05/politics/pope-us-visit-congress)

Pope Francis’s schedule called for him to visit Washington, D.C., after being in Cuba. At the nation’s capital, the pope first visited with President Obama on September 23.

Prior to the papal visit at the White House, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said:

I can tell you that the President and his team here at the White House have been anticipating the visit from Pope Francis here in the United States for quite some time, and even as far back as the President’s visit to the Vatican, where he first met Pope Francis, he talked about how eager he was to welcome the pope to the United States, so the President is certainly looking forward to this visit. (http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/05/politics/pope-us-visit-congress)

Obama, who is a great admirer of the pope, said at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5:

He challenges us to press on in what he calls our “march of living hope.” And like millions of Americans, I am very much looking forward to welcoming Pope Francis to the United States later this year. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/05/pope-francis-congress-boehner/22923081)

On September 23, 2015, President Barack Obama, on the south lawn of the White House, welcomed Pope Francis to the White House and to the United States. Speaking from prepared remarks, the president said:

On behalf of the American people, it is my great honor and privilege to welcome you to the United States of America.[1]

In his remarks the President called the pope “Holy Father” six times, as well as addressing him as “Your Holiness.”

Obama spoke of the “deep devotion of some seventy million American Catholics,” and said that the pope’s visit “reveals how much all Americans, from every background and of every faith, value the role that the Catholic Church plays in strengthening America.”

Obama praised the Catholic Church for its work worldwide and for the “moral authority” and “moral example” of the pope. He praised the pope for his work towards the poor, the downcast, and those in the crossfires of war.

Obama noted the pope’s concern for the “sacred obligation” we have “to protect our planet,” but the president’s most important words were:

You remind us that people are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely.  Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty.  It was the basis for so much that brought us together, and here in the United States, we cherish our religious liberty, but around the world at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith.  Believers are prevented from gathering at their places of worship.  The faithful are imprisoned, and churches are destroyed.  So we stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and free from intimidation.

Have we forgotten why the early American settlers wanted or needed religious liberty? They came from oppressive countries, where kings ruled under the hand of the popes.

The pope then spoke, also from prepared remarks, stating how grateful he was for the president’s welcome:

During my visit, I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles.

Pope Francis spoke of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, where he would “celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this critical moment in the history of our civilization.”

Here was a not-so-subtle support for straight-only marriages. This is a point with which Seventh-day Adventists and most evangelical Christians would agree but one with which liberals would strongly disagree. Interestingly, this part of the speech was hardly noted in the news.

The pope spoke on the ecology issue briefly, even quoting Dr. Martin Luther King’s “promissory note” illustration. The pope welcomed the president’s work for Cuba, but the most vital point he made was a third of the way through the speech, when the pope spoke about religious liberty:

Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely-ordered society respect their deepest concerns and the right to religious liberty. That freedom reminds one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.

Is the Papacy “committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination?”

To say that there is “unjust discrimination” implies that there is just discrimination. What has been the Catholic position on toleration and religious liberty?

“The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX, in his Encyclical Letter of August 15, 1854, said: ‘The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience are a most pestilential error—a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a state.’ The same pope, in his Encyclical Letter of December 8, 1864, anathematized ‘those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,’ also ‘all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.’” (Josiah Strong, Our Country, ch. 5, pars. 2–4, quoted by Ellen White in The Great Controversy, pp. 564, 565)

The state cannot afford to permit religious liberty. We hear a great deal about religious tolerance, but we are only tolerant in so far as we are not interested. A person may be tolerant toward a religion if he is not religious. . . Intolerance means fervor and zeal. The best the state can do is to establish a limited religious liberty; but beyond a certain degree of tolerance the state cannot afford to admit the doctrine. (Monsignor Russell [a Catholic], quoted in The Washington Post, May 5, 1910)

The church has persecuted. Only a tyro in church history will deny that. . . . We have always defended the persecution of the Huguenots, and the Spanish Inquisition. When she thinks it good to use physical force, she will use it. . . . But will the Catholic Church give bond that she will not persecute at all? Will she guarantee absolute freedom and equality of all churches and all faiths? The Catholic Church gives no bonds for her good behavior. (Editorial in Western Watchman [a Catholic publication], St. Louis, Missouri, December 24,1908)

We confess that the Roman Catholic Church is intolerant; that is to say, that it uses all the means in its power for the extirpation of error and sin; but this intolerance is the logical and necessary consequence of her infallibility. She alone has the right to be intolerant, because she alone has the truth. The church tolerates heretics where she is obliged to do so, but she hates them mortally, and employs all her force to secure their annihilation. (Shepherd of the Valley, St. Louis, Missouri, 1876)

Let us not be deceived about the nature of the papacy today, for Rome never changes.

Popery is just what prophecy declared that she would be,—the apostasy of the latter times. It is a part of her policy to assume the character which will best accomplish her purpose; but beneath the variable appearance of the chameleon, she conceals the invariable venom of the serpent. “We are not bound to keep faith and promises to heretics,” she declares. Shall this power, whose record for a thousand years is written in the blood of the saints, be now acknowledged as a part of the church of Christ? (Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, p. 388)

Jesus said:

These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. (John 16:1, 2)

In killing the people of God, the religious zealots will simply be following their father:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)

God does not use force to extract obedience from his creatures. Instead, he says:

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)

We are also told:

God does not force the will of His creatures. He cannot accept an homage that is not willingly and intelligently given. A mere forced submission would prevent all real development of mind or character; it would make man a mere automaton. (Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, pp. 43, 44)

God does not force the will or judgment of any. He takes no pleasure in a slavish obedience. He desires that the creatures of His hands shall love Him because He is worthy of love. He would have them obey Him because they have an intelligent appreciation of His wisdom, justice, and benevolence. And all who have a just conception of these qualities will love Him because they are drawn toward Him in admiration of His attributes. (White, The Great Controversy, p. 541)

The spirit of Satan is one of force, and all who differ or refuse to comply will be attacked. This spirit is well-illustrated in the experiences of Cain and Abel:

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. (1 John 3:11, 12)

Paul uses the ridicule and persecution of Ishmael over Isaac as an illustration of the wicked against the righteous:

But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. (Galatians 4:29)

Paul notes that the same spirit was in his day, and it is still here because the spirit of Satan is behind all evil.

God Wants Liberty for His People

God did not send his Son to die on Calvary so humanity could stay in bondage, but, rather, so they might have liberty. Remember how the bondage of Israel in Egypt was described?

And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. (Exodus 2:23)

But God heard their groaning:

And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. (Exodus 2:24)

And God said to Moses:

Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. (Exodus 3:9, 10)

When God gave his law, he declared that he had led Israel out of bondage (Exodus 20:2). While the whole world wonders after the beast, God’s people are to be “called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).

After visiting with President Obama, Pope Francis spoke the next day before a joint session of Congress in the United States Capitol. After first going to Speaker Boehner’s office, the pope proceeded to the House chamber.

Before we discuss his speech, though, the pope’s visit to Cuba should be noted. It is reported that although he talked with President Castro and with his older brother and former president, Fidel Castro, the pope had little to say about politics or in calling for reforms. It was said to be a trip upon which to build—a trip to make friends and to build bridges.

 

Speaker greeting the Pope.jpg

Speaker Boehner greeting the Pope

 

When Pope Francis went to Washington and then to New York, it was for the purpose of making friends and of calling for no more than that to which he had already spoken. He was here for his “moral authority,” to share his moral megaphone, as it has been called.

At the Capitol, in addition to the joint session of Congress, four of the nine members of the Supreme Court were present, as well as other government officials, such as Secretary of State John Kerry. The pope began by noting that America was “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Through the Congress he said he wanted to address “the entire people of the United States.” His speech spoke throughout of the pursuit of the common good for all.

The pope graphically addressed the working people, the youth, and the elderly in an attempt to leave nobody out of his sphere of influence.

The pope then drew upon the record of four Americans, two non-Catholic and two Catholics, and used their lives and traits as the mold for the message he wanted to give. Those four were: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton.

Pope Francis ended his talk by giving a summary of each person’s virtue:

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

He said that these people presented the richness of American heritage, and it was his desire that their spirit continue and “that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.” Again, this is something with which it is hard to find fault.

The pope spoke about defending “human life at every stage of its development.” We would certainly agree with this.

The pope also spoke about the need to protect our home, the earth. He quoted from his recent encyclical Laudato Si nine times.[2] Of course, we acknowledge that God has said he will “destroy them which destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18). Ecology and protecting the environment are issues that Christians should not ignore.

It has been suggested that the pope may use the “save the earth” idea to declare that if we would all take one day off in seven, we could save much energy, lower greenhouse emissions, etc. Of course, that day would be Sunday, but I do not think that we shall see this scenario because we have been told:

Men in responsible positions will not only ignore and despise the Sabbath themselves, but from the sacred desk, will urge upon the people the observance of the first day of the week, pleading tradition and custom in behalf of this man-made institution. They will point to calamities on land and sea--to the storms of wind, the floods, the earthquakes, the destruction by fire--as judgments indicating God’s displeasure because Sunday is not sacredly observed. These calamities will increase more and more, one disaster will follow close upon the heels of another; and those who make void the law of God will point to the few who are keeping the Sabbath of the fourth commandment as the ones who are bringing wrath upon the world. This falsehood is Satan’s device that he may ensnare the unwary. (Ellen White, The Signs of the Times, January 17, 1884)

Thus far, and in many points, one could not honestly argue with the points made by Pope Francis; however, there is a theme that Pope Francis spoke about that should ring every Christian’s liberty bell of warning.

The pope said that we had to “be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism.” Do you know what fundamentalism is? It is defined as:

A form of Protestant Christianity that upholds belief in the strict and literal interpretation of the Bible, including its narratives, doctrines, prophecies, and moral laws. (New American Oxford Dictionary)

Or a

. . . strict maintenance of ancient or fundamental doctrines of any religion or ideology, notably Islam. (Ibid.)

In other words, the pope is saying that dogmatic people [not Catholic people] are a danger. People who believe in a literal creation and in a literal Sabbath rest are dangerous. The church should be concerned with those who believe in a literal flood. The pope acknowledged that all groups had “individual delusion or ideological extremism” and then said:

. . . there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps.

Pope Francis is saying that moral issues are not all black and white [unless they are issues in which he believes]. Francis declared that it is wrong to polarize into the two camps, the righteous and the sinners, the good and the evil. But, friends, there is a time coming, as foretold in Revelation 22:11, when “he that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” As you read this, if probation were to close right now, you would either be saved or lost. There is no such thing as a limbo or a purgatory taught in the Bible!

This inclusive pope is willing for everyone else to compromise on their faith for the good of the whole, while he maintains his position. The pope says that:

We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The pope called for a renewed spirit of brotherhood and unity, but Amos asks the question: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). The answer is, of course, no; and that is why the declarations of Revelation 14:8 and 18:4 are so important. Babylon has fallen, and if one remains in Babylon that person will be lost.

Pope to Congress.png

The Pope speaking before Congress

 

The pope is suggesting that we lower the common denominator of faith enough so that we can all work for the good of the poor and the unprotected of society.

The pope spoke of the Golden Rule and of helping the immigrants, but the Vatican is the only country in the world which virtually has a wall around its entire perimeter! The Catholic Church is extremely rich, and while, no doubt, it does charity work on a local level, yet the Vatican’s coffers stay full to overflowing.

The pope called “for the global abolition of the death penalty,” yet the Papacy has practiced more genocide than Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia put together. Though the second beast of Revelation 13 produces a death penalty for those not in agreement with her, she exercises all the power of the first beast (Revelation 13:12)!

Pope Francis quoted Pope Benedict XV, who called World War I a “pointless slaughter” but failed to quote Pope Pius IX, who, as we noted earlier, said:

The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience are a most pestilential error—a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a state. (Encyclical letter of August 15, 1854)

This was not always only an Adventist concern. The Annual Report of the Missionary Society, Sunday-School Union and Tract Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Volume 68, quoted the above encyclical, in addition to many other quotations to sustain the point that Rome was an enemy of the true church of Christ. The report also noted:

Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world. (Bishop O’Conner, quoted on page 228; 1886)

Today, however, the so-called Protestants are in bed with the Roman harlot.

The pope says it is his duty to build bridges. It is not without reason that the pope inherits the pagan title Pontus Maximus, the great bridge builder.

The pope is mostly lying low, saying enough, but not too much, to keep the faithful attached and to draw the protestant churches, Judaism, and even non-radical Islam around the papacy.

What the pope is asking the world to accept is the concept of moral relativism, of no absolute moral values, of the idea that there are no blacks and whites. It’s the philosophy that is taught in our schools and broadcast in our media—there is nothing that is true everywhere and that everything is true somewhere. It allows us to accept former Olympian Bruce Jenner becoming a woman (Caitlyn Jenner) and to even applauding such vile, corrupt behavior, calling it brave and bold! This toleration philosophy is dangerous. We are told:

Error is never harmless. It never sanctifies, but always brings confusion and dissension. It is always dangerous. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 292)

Do you realize that about 65% of all adults in America reject the notion that there are absolute moral truths?

Most Americans believe that all truth is relative to the situation and to the individuals involved. Similarly, 83% of our teenagers embrace the same position regarding moral truths. Not only did more than four out of five teenagers say there is no absolute moral truth, four out of five also claim that nobody can know for certain whether or not they actually know what truth is.

But is this so? Must we follow such lies?

To the claim that there are no moral absolutes, I offer the words of Jesus:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

Jesus did not qualify His remarks by saying, I am the way, the truth, and the life for Palestinian Jews and Western Europeans. He claimed to be the only way for everybody.

Islam declares that Israel should be destroyed; pacifism would reject that. But you cannot have mutually exclusive viewpoints be both true. Neither may be true, both may be false, or one may be true; but both cannot be true.

An even greater problem, however, arises from the idea that there are no moral absolutes—if there is no absolute moral truth, there is no basis for morality.

If we follow this philosophy to its conclusion—there are no moral absolutes and no absolute truth—then there is no way to judge Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin to be evil. These men merely followed the truths in which they believed. There is no way to ever say anything is evil because that is an absolute moral judgment.

But, beloved, there are moral absolutes, and Jesus has told us his word is the place to go to discover the truth that does not change.[3] Not only did Jesus say he was the truth, the way and the life, he also noted:

If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31, 32)

Friends, the Bible, the moral standard of the universe, stands the test of time:

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever. (Isaiah 40:8)

The Bible stands the test of time and of all. The pope, with his tradition, says, Let’s be friends. You compromise, and we can get along fine. The Bible, however, teaches:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1)

We are to see saint and sinners, good and evil, right and wrong; and they are to be kept separate. What we see today is the beginning of an effort to blur the clear biblical distinction between right and wrong.

The pope’s welcome and his presentation in Congress certainly constitutes a repudiation of the separation of church and state embodied in our constitution. The government has made provision for the pulpit of Rome to sound throughout the United States and the world. We have been told:

When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near. (White, Ibid., p. 451)

In conclusion, please carefully consider the following portions of a letter Ellen White wrote in 1901 and the question she asks at the end:

The principalities and powers of earth are in bitter revolt against the God of heaven. They are filled with hatred against all who serve Him, and soon, very soon, is to be fought the last great battle between good and evil. The earth is to be the battlefield—the scene of the final contest and the final victory. Here, where for so long Satan has led people against God, rebellion is to be forever suppressed.

Christ came to this earth in human form that He might stand as the Captain of our salvation, so that we should not be overcome by Satan’s power. And when the enemy has seemed to be gaining a signal victory over righteousness, God has been working in mercy and power to counteract his designs. . . .

God’s people are to bear a bold, decided testimony for the truth, unfolding the purposes of God by the witness of pen and voice. . . . When we consecrate ourselves to Christ, He speaks to the heart, filling it with His Spirit. We have no time to wrestle and contend among ourselves, no time to work on suppositions or cherish prejudices. It is too late for this . . . for Christ is at the door.

There is a reality in sound doctrine. It is not a vapor that passes away. Light is to shine forth from the Word of God. God calls upon His people to draw near to Him. Let no one interpose between Him and His people. Christ is knocking at the door of the heart, seeking for entrance. Will you let Him in?—Letter 153, 1901. (Ellen White, Christ Triumphant, p. 369) Allen Stump

[1] This quotation and several that follow are taken from videos of this occasion and of the speech to the joint session of Congress; all emphasis supplied.

[2]Laudato Si means For Praise Be to You in medieval central Italian. The encyclical is subtitled, “On Care for Our Common Home.”

[3] Notice we wrote discover the truth, not define the truth. The moral absolutes have already been put in place by God. Our work is to uncover them or find them. This is quite contrary to the evolutionist’s thought that morals evolve in a society for the good of the society.


 The 60th General Conference Session Report 2

(We have had many calls on when we will be publishing a fuller report on the General Conference Session. Due to several reasons, including the timing of the papal visit, we are only able to continue with a small part of our report this month but will report on the church manual sessions and the issues of the fundamentals and women’s ordination in upcoming issues. Editors)

As we noted last month, July 2–11, 2015, marked the dates of the sixtieth General Conference Session of Seventh-day Adventists, held in San Antonio, Texas. It signaled the continuance of status quo within the ranks of the church, with the conservative wing of the church scoring at least four important victories, while the rest of the body (the liberal wing) was encouraged to unify with the body as a whole.

The end of the first day’s business was the approval of the Nominating Committee. This was done after a question was first asked by delegate Gina Brown, who was one of the representatives of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (hereafter referred to as the General Conference). She inquired about the gender composition of the proposed committee. It was then noted that of the 252 people nominated to be on the committee, 218 were men and 34 were women. A breakdown by age range was also supplied:

Under age 30 — 5 people

Ages 3039 — 10 people

Ages 40–49 — 63 people

Ages 50–59 — 102 people

Ages 60–69 — 66 people

Age 70 plus — 6 people

After a question was called on the discussion, the delegates voted to approve the committee. The committee chose Homer Trecartin, president of the Middle East and North African Union, as its chairman and Dr. Leslie Pollard, a delegate of the General Conference, as the secretary.

Day 2 (June 3)

The largest issue facing the delegates on the second day was the issue of the election of the General Conference president. The morning business session began with more discussion about the electronic voting, and this was followed by the executive secretary’s report of and given by Secretary G. T. Ng. After the report had been accepted, the chair, General Conference Vice President Pardon Mwansa noted that the Nominating Committee had a report for the delegates. This was an important announcement, for all knew that the first point of business of the Nominating Committee was to nominate a person for the General Conference presidency.

During the nominating committee report, an objection was raised, and as we compare the minutes with a recording of the dialog, we see that the minutes certainly do not reflect a verbatim record and not always the exact intent of the dialog. The following copy of the minutes printed in the Review has the correct dialog added, which was taken from a recording of the session, points this. (The blue is the Review version, the black is what was actually said and left out of the Review version, and the text strike through is text that was added by the Review but not said.) After Wilson’s name was brought to floor by the Nominating Committee and then seconded by the floor, the following dialog took place:

RAYMOND HARTWELL: Mr. Chairman, thank you, I have great respect for our church and for our leaders and for our process. I respectfully request that the report be referred back.

PARDON MWANSA: Okay, That is a request, and it’s not a motion. And at this time my suggestion would be, maybe before you take your seat explain the cause for the request that we may proceed with the [Mwansa pauses]

In most cases the Nominating Committee looks and examines quite a lot before they bring their report here. We will only and we encourage only referring the report back only if you have very substantive issues that you would want to raise with the Nominating Committee, that with the name. So at this moment, unless you feel that that’s the case, I would entertain a motion to contest if that should be so.

RAYMOND HARTWELL: Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that very much, and I have a great respect for our process. And I do believe in due process in our church family around the world.

I’m willing to meet with the Nominating Committee if that should be their desire. According to our General Conference Rules of Order, page 5, under Elections, number 6, it states that with “a request that the report be referred back to the Nominating Committee for further consideration, it is the usual procedure for the chair to accept the referral.”

PARDON MWANSA: Yes, it is the usual procedure, but I would then like to test it with the group, if you are willing to make it into a motion. I would rather get the sense of the body as to where they are.

RAYMOND HARTWELL: I’m respectfully requesting that we follow the written part that says, “It is the usual procedure to accept the referral.”

Mr. Chairman, it’s your session, and you can guide the body. I’m just presenting the request very respectfully.

PARDON MWANSA: I’m going to follow, as you have said.

I see a point of order on microphone 6. I will take that.

SADRAIL SAINT-ULYSSE: Brother Chairman, I would just like to point out that if there is a request for referral, it should that be honored at all times. (General Conference Session Bulletin 3, July 6, 2015, pp. 41, 42)

When Wilson’s name was brought to the floor, it was greeted with a large round of applause from the delegates; however, when Raymond Hartwell, President of the Pennsylvania Conference, asked the name to be taken back to the Nominating Committee, there was also loud applause, but of less volume, from the North American Division, as well as the Trans-European Division.

It was clear that Pardon Mwansa did not wish to have the name referred back to the committee. He said that they would only “refer the report back” for “very substantive issues.” Shortly afterward, Sadrail Saint-Ulysse, representing the North American Division, encouraged the chair to honor the request, thus supporting Hartwell and casting support away from Wilson.

Finally the chair partly yielded to the request of Hartwell and allowed him to meet with Elders Trecartin and Pollard to share his concerns. After a short time, Trecartin came to the microphone to say:

Mr. Chairman, the Nominating Committee officers have listened to the concern and feel that it’s one that has already been dealt with, and so our motion still stands. (Ibid., p. 42)

After this, Saint-Ulysse asked to also speak to the committee:

SADRAIL SAINT-ULYSSE: Mr. Chair, I also would like to speak to the Nominating Committee, please.

PARDON MWANSA: I take it that that’s the same request to refer this back to the Nominating Committee?

SANDRAIL SAINT-ULYSSE: That is correct. (Ibid.)

Saint-Ulysses’ request was finally granted and after spending five minutes with the officers of the nominating Committee, Trecartin and Pollard returned to again say that the objection had already been dealt with in the committee.

Elizabeth Talbot of the ministry Jesus 101, then called for a secret ballot, since the electronic voting was not working correctly:

ELIZABETH TALBOT: I would like to make a motion, because of the magnitude of this decision, that we go back to secret voting. (Ibid.)

Indeed, this decision would be one of great magnitude. The motion was seconded and when the vote was taken, it failed by a close vote.

A question was called on the previous question by Larry Boggess, North American Division (NAD), which was a motion to cease all further debate on Wilson’s nomination, and the motion passed. The floor could now vote on the report of the nominating committee, and Wilson was re-elected by a large majority, with only groups of voters from the NAD and the Trans-European Division (TED) voting against Wilson.

After Wilson’s re-election he gave a brief speech emphasizing three points:

First and foremost, I hope that all of us will completely and fully lift up Christ and His righteousness for us in all things.

Second, I want to ask all of us, by God’s grace, to be faithful. . . . And third, it is of absolute importance that we have total member involvement and empowerment in witnessing and evangelism. (Ibid.)

Thus ended the third business session of the conference.

The fourth business meeting was held on Friday afternoon, July 3. It began with the retirement announcement of General Conference Vice President Armando Miranda.

After Miranda’s retirement announcement, the Nominating Committee brought G. T. Ng’s name to the delegates for re-election as General Conference secretary. The vote appeared to be unanimous.

After a very short acceptance speech, General Conference treasurer Robert Lemon began to give the treasurer’s report. He started with an acknowledgment of those working directly below him.

Two things stood out to us, as Lemon gave his report. Firstly, the cost of the General Conference Session. Lemon noted:

The amount to the General Conference this year is a little more than $8 million for the GC session. But if you put everything together, it’s somewhere between $20 and $30 million, with everybody’s tickets who come here, all of the various hotels and various expenses. But even if it were $30 million, which I don’t think it’s quite that high, dividing that by 18 million members or even 15 million members would result in a cost of $2 per member every five years, or 40 cents a year per member, for a GC session. (Ibid. pp. 43, 44)

While $30 million is not a great setback to a corporation as large as the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it is still a lot of money. Perhaps video conferences would be too complex for as many delegates as are registered, especially those coming from poorer countries, where Internet access is limited.

The second point of interest was the discussion on investments with stocks. Lemon noted:

Tim Aka went back and looked at the past 15 years the percentage of the GC funds that were in stocks, as opposed to bonds and fixed income. At one point about five years before the 2008 crash, we had more than 50 percent in stocks. We were making some adjustments. It wasn’t some huge single adjustment, but the Lord led over time. And at the time the stock market crashed, we had less than 12 percent in equities. So we did not take the hit that we might have taken. The Lord led in that, too. (Ibid., p. 43)

Later Lemon was asked to answer two questions from Tom Angelsen of the TED:

Does the GC have ethical guidelines of investments in the stock market? And second, has the GC ever withdrawn investments because of conduct against these guidelines? (Ibid. p. 46)

To this Lemon responded:

ROBERT LEMON: On the first question, we have very definite policies. You can look at them in the policy book that gives guidelines on investments. And certain types of investments are appropriate for retirement funds that might not be appropriate for funds you are holding for a church building program, because you can’t take the risk of a stock market going up or down, so you have to put it in fixed income.

On the question of ethics, yes, we have a very clear stand, and we screen the items. As a matter of fact, every year we have a meeting in which we get together with the various fund managers and a group from Treasury. And we spend a day looking at any companies that we have investments in and trying to determine whether their type of business has changed, what they’re doing, and we then make decisions as to whether we will include them or not include them in companies that we will invest in. (Ibid., emphasis supplied)

We called the treasury department of the General Conference to ask about the policy book that gives guidelines on investments. Our call was returned with an assurance that there were specific guidelines in the General Conference Working Policy, but it was not specific about the “ethics” guidelines that take a very clear stand. In talking with a conference treasurer, he had no knowledge on what any ethic guidelines might be.

We can only hope that they are better than they were thirty years ago. At that time I obtained a copy of the General Conference’s audit report; not a summary, but a document of several hundred pages. In that document all the stocks and bonds that the General Conference had were outlined, including stocks in gold mines and in places that sold liquor. This seemed so strange to me in light of the following:

In the night season I was instructed to tell God’s people that it is not according to His will that those who believe in His near coming should invest their means in mining stock. This would be burying our Lord’s talent in the earth. (Ellen White, Counsels on Stewardship, p. 242)

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. (James 5:1–3)

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1)

Also found in the auditor’s report of 1984 were bonds that did not mature until the year 2040 and later, yet we claim to believe that Jesus is coming soon!

During the July 3 afternoon session, Juan Prestol-Puesán was elected as the General Conference treasurer to replace retiring Robert Lemon.

During the audited combined statement report by Jim Nyqvist, Delmer Navallo Caro of the South American Division asked:

DELMER NAVALLO CARO: If I understood correctly, almost half of the church already is outside the United States. So my question is What’s the criteria to assign the money that goes to different entities outside the United States?

Also, what has been done at the GC to take care of the assets, especially outside United States?

Finally, how has the church addressed the legal issues that had to be paid out of this money? And what is being done in order to prevent that in the future? (General Conference Session Bulletin, July 6, 2015, p. 45)

To this Lemon replied:

ROBERT LEMON: First of all, on the appropriations, it is not a simple matter to figure out how best to allocate the funds that the Lord has made available to the various parts of the world. During the past quinquennium we had a commission that traveled to all of the divisions in the world, met with the divisions, looked over their needs, and the adjustments in appropriations came from that. We have a commission that works in this next quinquennium that will work on a year-by-year basis.

So there’s a structure of dealing with appropriations to be approved by the Executive Committee.

On the question of assets outside the U.S., you may be referring to two different types of assets, both of which are investments. We do have investment policies in each of the divisions, policies that work on trying to optimize their investments within their territories. Property registrations are done at the union, the division, and the conference levels with division guidance.

On the legal issues we certainly wish that we did not live in a world with lawsuits. But when there are lawsuits and we have to respond to those, we work with it as best we can. We have a legal department, general counsel at the General Conference. Each division also deals with lawsuits at their level.

The Lord has to give wisdom in each of these cases, because it’s not simple. (Ibid.)

The last part of Navallo Caro’s question may or may not have been directed towards the trademark lawsuit[1] cases, but Lemon’s answer certainly avoided the whole idea when he stated,“when there are lawsuits and we have to respond,” implying that the lawsuits the church were involved in were those in which they were defendants and not plaintiffs. Lemon failed to note that millions of tithe dollars have been spent by the General Conference to bring ligation against small groups that, outside of aid help, seem helpless.

In his closing remarks to the church, Lemon quoted from Ellen White’s book, Life Sketches:

In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history. (Ellen White, Life Sketches, p. 196; emphasis supplied)

The first article of the first bulletin of the General Conference session was entitled “The Spirit of ’63” by David Trim. This article reviewed some of the history of the first General Conference session and the need the pioneers had to be unified, but it should be remembered that they were unified upon doctrine and part of that doctrine included a non-trinitarian position on God. A position that was still the standard denominational teaching in 1881 when Ellen White stated:

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

How sad that neither Lemon nor Trim can see the beauty of the truth that our pioneers possessed on Jesus being the son of God. Other actions of this session included voting Myron A. Iseminger as undersecretary; approving the treasurer’s report, approving the auditor’s report, and voting a statement expressing appreciation to Robert Lemon for his service as the General Conference treasurer.

The first two days of business sessions of the 60th General Conference session were now over, and Sabbath could be spent secure that the General Conference president and secretary were reelected and that a loyal worker was chosen to replace the retiring treasurer. It would be the next four business days that would help define the conference.

To be continued

[1] The General Conference has trademarked the name Seventh-day Adventist and several of its variations and has actively brought suit against any independents who have attempted to use that name or the various other trademarked terms.


Excerpts from a Letter on Forgiveness

There is never a time or a place when it is right for you or me to say, I will not forgive my brother, and I will not walk and work in fellowship with him. In doing this the human agent places himself in opposition to the express teachings of Christ.

But the question of forgiveness needs not to be interpreted for it is plain. If a brother err, forgive him if he asks you. If he is not humble enough to ask, forgive him in your heart and express your forgiveness in word and action.

Then the weight of his sin will not in any degree be upon you. “Consider thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” When he reaches out his hand and says, “Forgive me,” it is not for you to turn away and refuse to forgive, because you may think he does not feel humble enough and does not mean what he says. You have no right to judge him because you cannot read the heart. The Word of God says, If he repent, forgive him. “If he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” And we are not only to forgive seven times, but seventy times seven. Just as often as God forgives us, we are to forgive one another. Thus we encourage repentance and confession.

You are never to say, “When I see that you have reformed, then I will forgive you.” This is not God’s plan. This is in accordance with the prompting of human nature rather than with divine promptings. A Pharisaical indifference and hardness of heart is not to be allowed, for it is not Christlike. In showing that you do not care for the soul of your brother and do not want fellowship with him, you hurt your brother and set him a wrong example. (Letter 23-1901)

Ellen White


Youth’s Corner — Escape from Siberia

(This installment is the conclusion of chapter 4 and is chapter 5 of Escape from Siberian Exile by John Godfrey Jacques, published by Pacific Press in 1921.)

Soon after Christmas, the priest of the parish in which the jail was located, made his yearly rounds to “bless” the cells. We were notified beforehand of his coming, and all stood during his presence, except one man who was not well. Others of us had urged this man to let us help him to stand while the priest performed his ceremonies; but as we had been treated leniently for some time, he was emboldened to disregard the requirements.

The policeman in attendance on the priest was enraged at such a breach of discipline, and we feared he would have the transgressor put into a dark dungeon. These dungeons were so low a man could not stand upright in them; and to the darkness, the noxious odors, the suffocating lack of air, cold, hunger, solitude, and the dampness caused by frequent flooding of the floor, was added the prospect of never again knowing any other existence.

The ceaseless rattling of the fetters on our fellow prisoners made a sound pitiful to hear. Such a sound heard in a machine shop or a foundry would not be particularly painful; but when we knew that it signified a cruel burden borne perhaps for many years, reducing wrists and ankles to skeleton-like size, it was truly pathetic.

On stated days, we were taken into the courtyard of the jail for a few minutes’ breathing spell. At these times, we delighted in seeing the crows that came for the crumbs we had saved for them. They brought to us, in return, a suggestion of joyous freedom.

Thus three weeks wore away after our change of cell. As each week passed, we were told that on the next, we should leave this place. Transportation from jail to jail was not an agreeable experience. Often it involved kicks and beatings, and divers forms of discomfort. Yet we longed for it more impatiently than a child longs for an expected holiday.

On the last day of our sojourn at Kursk, the son-in-law of the German pastor, and the daughter of another of our number, came to the jail, and an interview with their relatives was granted them. They brought food for us all, sufficient for a few days; and blankets and extra clothing, such as we had not been permitted to bring with us. Thus we saw one reason why God had let us be detained so long there; for the extreme cold of the Siberian winter would have mocked at the light garments we had worn.

These visitors also brought money to pay our fare for the rest of our railway journey, in case the governor-general should consent to our traveling by passenger train; but apparently we were not in the category of prisoners to receive any favors from him.

This visit had still another and far greater significance. After the first interview, we prepared a petition to the czarina, in which we respectfully asked that our sentence be modified so that we should be sent to some station in European Russia instead of the far northern part of Siberia. Then the father of the young woman obtained permission to shake hands with her at the farewell interview; and as he clasped her hand, he left in it the petition, which had been written on thin paper, and tightly folded.

She afterwards transmitted a copy of this to a lady of the imperial court, who was herself a sectarian; and through this channel, it reached the czarina, and ultimately the czar. This meant much to us later.

The night after our visitors left, we were awakened at about two o’clock, by a call to march. Overjoyed, we sprang to our feet; and quickly our packs were on our backs and we were awaiting the opening of the doors. During the searching and the forming of the command, I observed crouching on the floor some women prisoners—distressed looking creatures, one of them, who had a babe in her arms, being evidently near death. It would not seem as if any heart could be unmoved by the sight. Yet no mercy was shown to these women.

After we had been taken into the prison yard, the warden came out, and called to us religious prisoners by name; and when he had found us, he presented to us three copies of the New Testament.

An hour’s tramp through the snow brought us to the railway station. Our leader displayed more consideration than we had received on like occasions before; for he found shelter for us in the station, in order that our perspiring bodies should not be exposed to the intense cold outside.

There was questioning among the prisoners as to whether we were to be taken through Moscow; but when we were not far from that city, our course was changed, so that we passed to the east of that historic capital of Great Russia.

We arrived at Tula late in the evening and were marched five miles to the jail.

There we were put in a large cell with about one hundred criminals. Among these were many thieves, who gathered in groups, each of which had its leader. Some of them were laying plans for their next campaign—for their depredations did not cease in prison. They were on very amicable terms with the jailers; and we learned afterwards that they divided their booty with them in return for certain concessions.

While the prisoners lacked food, they did not lack tobacco; and the tobacco fumes increased the foulness of the air. Many of the prisoners were tuberculous, and other communicable diseases were rife.

After three days, we were taken from this place, and headed toward Samara. The soldiers in charge of the étape were merciless.

We had been told that there would be a change of guard at Penza, but that no transport ever stopped at the jail there. However, when we had waited an hour at the railway station, for the guard that were to take us to Samara, and still they did not come, we were driven to the Penza jail.

As we stood before the gate, a little girl appeared with a package of bread, which she wished to give us; but the soldiers roughly ordered her away. She left sorrowfully, disappointed that she could not fulfill her mission of mercy. Possibly she had heard of the benevolent old man at Kiev, and had thought to emulate his example.

At the jail, we waited another hour or two. We were informed that the soldiers were taking their baths, hence the delay. When at last they were ready, we gladly continued on our way.

We crossed the Volga, and arrived at Samara in the evening, in a heavy snowstorm. From the railway station, the lights of the prison were pointed out to us. But to us, they were not cheerful lights.

We waded through snow knee-deep to the prison, and after the usual delay, were admitted through the first gate, then a second, and still a third, and afterwards into the searching hall.

The food in this jail was clean in comparison with that in the other jails, the bread was more edible, and cooked grains were provided. If all the food had been served to the prisoners individually, no one would have lacked seriously. But only the bread was thus portioned out. The other food was brought into the cells in bulk, and the most lawless prisoners got nearly all of it.

The cells were the most habitable we had yet occupied. But all classes of prisoners were crowded together; and during the last days of the sixteen that we spent there, there was no room even to move about, and hardly enough to sit down.

The thieves carried on their work here as at Tula. One of them feigned interest in the gospel; but when he found that his pretense did not make me relax my vigilance in guarding my belongings, he was in a rage, and vowed he would take revenge on me when we reached our destination.

Thieving is as verily a habit as is the use of stimulants. Some of these confirmed thieves were really unable to be quiet after night came on. Though they might want to sleep, they seemed impelled to creep about and seek pillage.

The Baptists who were with us wrote post cards to friends in Samara, and these friends came to see them at the jail. Gorelic and I inquired whether there were any Seventh-day Adventists in the city; and learning that there were, we sent a request that some of them visit us. A few days afterwards, our minister who was stationed in the place, called upon us. His wife had implored him not to do so, fearing that he too might be arrested if he thus identified himself with us; but his conviction that he ought to come was so strong he could not refuse to heed it.

Gorelic being too ill to go to the visitors’ room, I went alone to meet our guest. The interview could last only a few minutes; and even during that little time, we were separated by two sets of grating, with guards between. Not many words were spoken. Yet the comfort it gave me simply to look into the face of this brother, was beyond expression. When I was taken back to my cell, I endeavored to communicate to Gorelic the encouragement I had received.

Our good brother had brought us food and also some money. As we were not allowed to take the money, we asked that it be kept for us at the office of the jail, and were told that it would be; but we never saw any of it again.

Most of the food was stolen from us in our cell. If we had given some of it to the thieves at the outset, we might have fared better.

In one large cell of the Samara jail was a Prussian pastor with his whole flock, who had been taken as prisoners of war—men, women, and children, some sick, all dirty, ragged, and half starved. The aged cleric found diversion in keeping count of the vermin he caught in his clothing. The number was in the thousands when he showed us his record.

The hunt for body vermin—though not the tally—was necessary in self-defense; for so numerous were these parasites, that if not destroyed, they would sap one’s very life.

One day, we were startled by shrieks from one of the other cells. Jailers ran in the direction from which the noise came; and soon we saw them hauling a prisoner down the stairs. The poor wretch’s mind had given way under the conditions to which he had been subjected.

When Gorelic had partially regained his strength, I became ill. Fortunately, as both were not helpless at the same time, we could wait upon each other in turn.

Some of the prisoners who arrived later than we, were removed sooner. This, to be sure, tended to discourage us. The covetous chief jailer knew that we had a small sum of money on deposit at the office, and he warned us that unless we gave him an amount which he specified, he would see that we remained long where we were. When, after a little more than two weeks, we were called to transport, he tried frantically to get hold of some of our little store, but did not succeed.

On the Siberian Border

The train soon bore us over the Ural Mountains, the natural frontier between Europe and Asia. We received the acceptable tidings that at Chelabinsk, we should not be taken into the jail, but should stop at the prisoners’ transportation station until the next étape, a few hours later.

We were marched through the city, a distance of about five miles. Only with difficulty could I walk, being half sick; and my pack seemed an almost unbearable weight.

As it was Sunday, many people were riding on the streets; and there were exclamations of delight and clapping of hands, for we were thought to be war prisoners, and our presence was regarded as evidence of the success of the Russian troops. In truth, some of us were loyal Russian citizens.

At the transportation station, we were delivered over to the care of humane soldiers. We had heard before that the Siberians were more merciful toward exiles than were the Russians, and this assertion was verified in our contact with them. An explanation of their considerate disposition may be found in the fact that many of them had themselves been exiles, or were descendants of such.

Announcement was made that there were too many prisoners for one transport, and some must go to the jail and wait another week. Our company were among those to wait. With the memory of our recent experiences still very vivid, the thought of having to undergo a repetition of such experiences was most depressing.

The scanty baggage we carried—bound upon our shoulders with thongs—was minutely searched. Then we were put into a cell with the same class of criminals that we had encountered at Samara. In this cell, there were “bunks”—so decorous a term as “berths” would be a misnomer. We could not get possession of any of these; but this was not wholly a misfortune, for we secured a place near the bars, where the watchmen could see us plainly, and thus we had their protection. The watchmen in this jail were apparently honest; yet, as they could not see clearly so far into the poorly lighted cell as the “bunks” were, the thieves operated there diligently.

One morning, when the inspector made his regular circuit, an Austrian prisoner of war reported to him that one of the other prisoners had stolen some money that the Austrian had concealed in his clothing. In acknowledging that he had secreted anything about his person, the man became liable to a penalty of at least two weeks in a dark cell. And further, the thief and his colleagues threatened him with dire punishment for accusing them. To avert these consequences, he retracted his statement. But even after that, the thieves beat him most brutally.

Another morning, one of the ministers discovered that the soles of his shoes had been cut away in the night. The motive doubtless was, to find any money that might have been hidden inside.

During the first part of our stay here, the warden would not permit the watchman to buy food for us with the money held in trust for us in the office of the jail; but later, permission was given for him to do so. The price charged us was probably three or four times what the watchman paid; but in reply to a demur on our part, he tauntingly suggested that thereafter we go and make our own purchases.

When the time set for us to leave Chelabinsk had passed, and still there was no indication that we should go soon, a riot was started in our cell. The prisoners insisted that they be allowed to see the warden. He came, together with his subordinate officers, all armed, and they entered the cell. The spokesman of the prisoners then stated their demands. The warden was very conciliatory while standing among that hundred reckless men, and he promised to do all he could to hasten the time of their going.

Nowhere else had our stay among the criminals been so trying. They were very bold, stealing even in the daytime. I kept close to my baggage all the while; but this provoked their ire, and they became intent on doing me injury. The misery of our surroundings would have been unendurable but for the comfort bestowed by Him who is rightly called “the Comforter.”

I met in this cell a prisoner of war—a Prussian peasant—who, with his wife and children, had been transported back and forth from jail to jail, seemingly for no purpose but to wear their lives away. There were many others equally unfortunate. One man was dying before our eyes. The feet of another were frozen, and he could not stand. He was sent to the jail hospital, which was another step toward death.

While we were with these men, they joined us each day in worship, and some evinced a real respect for Christianity. One aged man was inconsolable when he was taken from us. He said he wished to remain with us till he should die, or his condition should be bettered.

After spending two weeks at Chelabinsk, we left for Tomsk. This journey required three days. The soldiers had told us that it was likely we should stop at the two jails at intermediate stations; but we passed them by, and not at all reluctantly. Our spirits rose hourly, for we hoped to quit cell life soon—though not free, yet no longer to be confined behind prison bars.

We reached Tomsk at night. When the cold air struck our lungs, we could hardly breathe. The temperature was forty degrees below zero.

We were formed into orderly command, four abreast, and were thus taken to the jail. As the dry snow creaked noisily under our feet, the sound was echoed by the forest. The bright moonlight shone on the snow-laden fir trees; and notwithstanding the wretched appearance of the prisoners, the scene on the whole impressed me as really pleasing.

One man, being lightly clad, succumbed to the cold, and fell by the way. He was dragged to a sled in the rear, which was intended for such emergencies.

The jail was a large, white building; but its color did not typify what we found within. Our small company had hoped that like the political prisoners, we might have a separate cell; but instead, we were put with a gang of criminals. These seemed to consider the cell as their own, and us as intruders. They dealt out the food, giving us only very small servings; but we accepted this arrangement without protestation, knowing that any complaint would make matters worse. The one distinguishing feature of this jail was that the food—what little we had—was fairly edible.

One of the greatest boons of our prison existence was the few minutes spent in the small, high-walled yard two or three times a week. Though we were kept walking in a circle, under guard, yet no wealth could have purchased from us this respite.

On our third day at Tomsk, we were transferred to a cell in which there were only prisoners of war. This was a decided relief to us, as we had been compelled for months to mingle with the worst of criminals. After that, we did not see them except when taken into the area.

In one cell that we passed at such times was a most harrowing spectacle—a company of war prisoners who were dying of filth and hunger.

We had been only about a week in the jail at Tomsk, when the jailer opened our cell door, and read the names of those who would the next day be transported; and our names were on the list. There is nothing to which I can compare our joy at the prospect of leaving this, the last jail on our route. We knew that the cold would be pitiless five hundred miles farther north, where we were to be stationed, and that the transport by small sleds would involve much suffering; but that did not lessen our enthusiasm at the thought of getting into the free outdoors.

One thing for which our little group had prayed was that we should not be separated. That we had kept together so long was extraordinary; for in many instances, families were broken up.

On our last evening in jail, when we had worship, several of the other prisoners wept because we should have no more such occasions together.

As we left the jail, we noticed a significant change—the soldiers’ swords were no longer bare, but were in their sheaths; and for the transport of about twenty-five prisoners, there were only two guards. Precautions against the escape of prisoners were little needed in that snow-bound region.

To be continued

Some Scenes from Siberia

Siberian_autumn_in_taiga_Elkwiki.JPG   Altai_Kutscherla-Stefan Kühn.jpg   Akkem_Valley_2011_Fred Schaerli.jpg   26_swiatoinos_Sansculotte.jpg

 Courtesy of  Elkwiki,   Stefan Kühn,  Fred Schaerli ,  and Sansculotte


Beneficial Fiber

One thing one of us recently learned during a visit with a gastroenterologist was the need for most of us to have more fiber in our diets. The doctor was not impressed with the exuberant assertion that we get more than enough fiber with a vegan, plant-based diet!

“Some people need more, and maybe this is even more true if you only eat two meals a day,” the doctor said, unperturbed by the dropped jaw and look of shock on the face. “Add fiber to your drinking water and drink it throughout the day. I do this; in fact, all the nurses here do. It’s tasteless, you won’t know you are drinking it, and it will help you. The recommended daily intake of fiber is just not enough.”

Colon issues are becoming increasingly common in America, particularly irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some people are even tied to the home because they typically have only a few seconds’ notice of the need to visit the smallest room in the house.

The spread of IBS is an unremarked global pandemic. One in ten visits to the doctor relate to the condition . . .

The cause, however, remains elusive. (Alanna Collen, 10% Human: How Your Body’s Microbes Hold the Key to Health and Happiness, p. 63)

The gastroenterologist stated that Benefiber (or Walmart’s equivalent), mixed in sixty ounces of water a day, can help calm an irritable intestinal tract and can help maintain a healthy colon, for those who may not be getting enough fiber in their diets.

Proper diet is included in the list in The Ministry of Healing on page 127 of the eight true remedies. Ellen White also counsels us on what this good diet is:

God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design—that man should subsist upon the natural products of the earth. Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view and endeavor to work steadily toward it. (Ellen White, Counsels on Health, p. 450)

We also have good instruction about other aspects of our diet:

The grease cooked in the food renders it difficult of digestion. The effect of cheese is deleterious. Fine-flour bread does not impart to the system the nourishment that is to be found in unbolted wheat bread. Its common use will not keep the system in the best condition. (Ibid., p. 114)

Large quantities of milk and sugar eaten together are injurious. . . . Sugar clogs the system. It hinders the working of the living machine. (Ellen White, Counsels on Diets and Foods, p. 330)

One of the blessings we have as Adventists is the counsel (gleaned from various places in the Spirit of Prophecy) to be vegan. Not only can this promote clearer thinking (consider Daniel and his three friends), but a plant-based diet is full of fiber, whereas meat and dairy products have absolutely none! So, whether you have colon issues or not, whether you are vegan or not, consider the amount of fiber you are including in your diet and also consider speaking to a gastroenterologist about your health, especially if you are over the age of forty, for if colon cancer should strike, it will remain asymptomatic until it has reached a late stage.

Editors

Good foods with lots of fiber

Colorful vegetables dreamstime_4236762.jpg  Fruit composite thinkstock.jpg


 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.