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. 25, No.5 Straight and Narrow May 2016
In this issue:
A man is late for work, and his wife has burnt his breakfast toast. In his frustration, he speaks harshly to her, as he departs in a huff. But he knows she is hurt. His conscience is pricking him. He is sorry and wants to restore harmony to the home. That morning he sends his wife a text asking her to forgive him, but his ringer is silent in return. He texts her again, extolling her good virtues as a wife, and she texts back a simple ty. After he leaves work he stops by the flower shop and purchases a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates (carob treats, if a SDA) and with contrition, apologizes again to his wife upon returning home, asking to be installed back into her favor. He is looking to make a reconciliation for his sin. He wants to be forgiven and pardoned. He wants to somehow cancel the morning out and receive mercy from his wife. What he needs is atonement!
The word atonement is one of the most broad, wide ly-nuanced words in the English language. Many other languages have no exact translation for this word that sometimes is broken down to mean at-one-ment or to be in harmony. It can mean reconciliation, pardon, appease, canceled, and a host of other concepts.
The main scope of this study will be to look at the two Hebrew words translated atonement and to find the different nuances, so that we might better grasp the biblical concept of all that is involved in the word atonement.
The basic Hebrew word translated atonement is kaphar (כָּפַר). It is used one hundred two times in the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) in a multitude of ways. The plural form of kaphar is kippur (כִּפֻּר). Most have heard of Yom Kippur, what the Jews today call the Day of Atonement. Kippur is used eight times in the KJV, though it is translated atonement in the singular seven times and atonements once.
The importance of understanding the atonement
To understand the importance of atonement, please consider the importance of afflicting one’s soul on the Day of Atonement.
Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. (Leviticus 23:27–29)
Those cut off were considered to be lost and estranged from God. Those who would not participate in the typical Day of Atonement could not find the forgiving grace of God. The lesson for us today is very clear: If we do not participate in the antitypical Day of Atonement, we shall not find the forgiving grace of God. However, how can one participate in something that one does not understand? We cannot, and that is why we must understand atonement.
The following three statements help us to understand the vital nature of understanding the atonement better.
I spoke in the ministers’ meeting. The Lord gave me strength to bear my message with power and clearness. We need so much a deeper piety. We need to receive the holy oil from the two olive branches, “which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves.” We need to understand the work that is going forward in heaven. In this the great antitypical day of atonement, we need to be in perfect harmony with the work being carried forward in heaven. We need to repent and confess our sins. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” (Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, p. 417; written in her diary on February 3, 1890)
In this statement we read that “in this the great antitypical day of atonement, we need to be in perfect harmony with the work being carried forward in heaven.” Here we see that Ellen White did not believe that the antitypical day of atonement was just one literal day, but rather a time period after 1844 and that this work was not a finished work on the cross, but one going on in heaven during the time of the writing.
The Father, the omniscient One, created the world through Christ Jesus. Christ is the light of the world, the way to eternal life. He, the anointed One, God gave to make an atonement for the sins of the world. You need to understand that unless you believe in that atonement, and know that you are bought with the price of the blood of the only begotten Son of God, you will assuredly be bound up with the wicked one. (Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, p. 59)
Only as we believe in the atonement can we be assured we will not be under the control of Satan. This certainly means that we must understand the atonement, for how can we believe in something that we do not understand?
Now brethren, you want to get hold of the pillars of your faith. Here is Christ in the great antitypical Day of Atonement and you must understand that you need a special preparation for the Day of Atonement. We want our sins taken away, we want to confess them that they may go beforehand to judgment. Do not go away in discouragement, but believe that Christ is able to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. We must cease to sin because sin is the transgression of the law. Put away sin and then cling to the Mighty One who is able to wash away every stain of sin. Now this is a work of humility at this time, and we must confess our sins and get nearer to God so He can write “Pardon” against our names. (Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, p. 252; from a sermon given in England on September 21, 1886)
Again, we see an emphasis upon our being in the antitypical Day of Atonement (the real day, not a symbolic day) and that this is one of the pillars of our faith!
Kaphar literally means to cover over, and this basic concept is, by extension, understood to be the means by which God covers over our sins, finally blotting them out and restoring mankind to fellowship with himself. Kaphar’s first usage in the Bible is found in Genesis 6:14: “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch (kaphar) it within and without with pitch.”
Make . . . atonement
Kaphar is most often (sixty-six times) translated make, made, maketh an atonement, or make the atonement. For example, in Leviticus 4 we read about the sin offerings. The result of the process for the common person is noted in verse 31:
And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the LORD; and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him. (Leviticus 4:31)
In this reference we find the basic function of forgiveness, or pardon, as the result of atonement. This sin offering represented the saving work of Jesus upon Calvary. As Ellen White noted:
As the Saviour is lifted up before the people, they will see his humiliation, his self-denial, his self-sacrifice, his goodness, his tender compassion, his sufferings to save fallen man, and will realize that the atonement of Christ was not the cause of God’s love, but the result of that love. Jesus died because God loved the world. The channel had to be made whereby the love of God should be recognized by man, and flow into the sinner’s heart in perfect harmony with truth and justice. (Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, September 2, 1890)
Here Ellen White is speaking about the death of Jesus upon the cross and that this atonement was provided by God because of his great love for humanity.
The phrase make . . . atonement is also used to represent the cleansing work of the Day of Atonement.
For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. (Leviticus 16:30)
And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest’s office in his father’s stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments. (Leviticus 16:32)
Ellen White also calls this cleansing work atonement:
Jesus is our great High Priest in heaven. And what is He doing? He is making intercession and atonement for his people who believe in Him. (Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 37)
The concept of a dual atonement, an atonement of forgiveness at Calvary and an atonement of cleansing in heaven, is the foundation of historic Adventism’s sanctuary teaching; but the book Questions on Doctrine denied the atonement in heaven by merely stating that the work in heaven was an application of the one atonement on the cross. Notice the wording from Questions on Doctrine:
When, therefore, one hears an Adventist say, or reads in Adventist literature—even in the writings of Ellen G. White—that Christ is making atonement now, it should be understood that we mean simply that Christ is now making application of the benefits of the sacrificial atonement He made on the cross; that He is making it efficacious for us individually, according to our needs and requests. (Questions on Doctrine, pp. 354, 355; emphasis in the original)
This statement cannot be mistaken, with semantics as an excuse, for later in the book, we read:
How glorious is the thought that the King, who occupies the throne, is also our representative at the court of heaven! This becomes all the more meaningful when we realize that Jesus our surety entered the “holy places,” and appeared in the presence of God for us. But it was not with the hope of obtaining something for us at that time, or at some future time. No! He had already obtained it for us on the cross. And now as our High Priest He ministers the virtues of His atoning sacrifice to us. (Ibid. p. 381; emphasis in original)
Adventists do not hold any theory of a dual atonement. (Ibid. p. 390; emphasis in the original)
Purge or purged
Kaphar is translated four times as purge and four times as purged. For example:
Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: And deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake. (Psalm 79:9)
To purge means to remove something unwanted. Most diesel engines have fuel filters with water purging pumps to remove any water filtered from the fuel. This is necessary, for diesel engines do not run well with even small amounts of water in the fuel. This is why the purge pump is so necessary. Sin, even in small amounts, cannot remain in the life of the Christian, if he is to live in the presence of God; therefore, his sins must be purged, or removed. God wants to do more than simply cover our sins. In Zechariah 3, Joshua is shown clothed with filthy garments (v. 3) but before the robe of righteousness is put upon him, the filthy garments must first be removed (v. 4).
We also read about sin being purged in Isaiah:
And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. (Isaiah 6:7)
Notice the parallelism used in the last part of the verse. The iniquity taken away is parallel with the sin being purged, denoting the processes to be the same.
Kaphar is also translated as make atonement four times. For example:
And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. (Leviticus 1:4)
Kaphar is translated make reconciliation four times—once in the Pentateuch, twice in Ezekiel, and once in Daniel:
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24; see also Leviticus 8:15; Ezekiel 45:15, 17)
We again see parallel structure in Daniel 9:24. The phrases “finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity” are all parallel to each other. To finish transgression is to make an end of sin and this will bring reconciliation for iniquity. Perhaps you have read the following or heard something like it:
We are not to serve God as if we were not human, but we are to serve him as those who have been redeemed by the Son of God and through the righteousness of Christ we shall stand before God pardoned, and as though we had never sinned. (Ellen G. White, The Signs of the Times, April 10, 1893; emphasis supplied)
The reconciliation that God accomplishes is so complete that God can look upon us as if we had never sinned! This is the great work of atonement!
Kaphar is also translated as reconcile twice (Leviticus 6:30 and Ezekiel 45:20) and reconciling once:
And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy place, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. (Leviticus 16:20)
So this could have been translated: And when he hath made an end of making atonement for the holy place . . .
Kaphar is also translated forgiven in Deuteronomy 21:8, forgive in Jeremiah 18:23, and forgave in Psalm 78:38:
But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: Yea, many a time turned he his anger away, And did not stir up all his wrath. (Psalm 78:38)
Atonement . . . made
Kaphar is also translated the atonement was made in Exodus 29:33 and an atonement shall be made in Numbers 5:8.
Kaphar is translated as pacified in Ezekiel 16:63 and pacify in Proverbs 16:14:
The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: But a wise man will pacify it. (Proverbs 16:14)
Kaphar is translated appease in Genesis 32:20:
And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us. For he said, I will appease him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.
Here we see Jacob speaking of the rift between himself and Esau and of Esau being appeased, or covered, by his presents.
Kaphar is also translated merciful twice.
Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. (Deuteronomy 21:8, see also 32:43)
Interestingly, in the Septuagint the word that usually replaces kaphar is ἱλάσκομαι (hilaskomai). Its root form means merciful. A version of this word, λαστήριον (hilastērion), is used in two places in the New Testament. They are Romans 3:25 and Hebrews 9:5.
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (λαστήριον) 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)
And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat (λαστήριον); of which we cannot now speak particularly. (Hebrews 9:5)
Various singular usages
The following verses are the final single usages of kaphar. The word(s) translated from kaphar are italicized:
For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good Lord pardon every one . . . (2 Chronicles 30:18)
By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; And this is all the fruit to take away his sin; When he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, The groves and images shall not stand up. (Isaiah 27:9)
And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, And your agreement with hell shall not stand; When the overflowing scourge shall pass through, Then ye shall be trodden down by it. (Isaiah 28:18)
Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: And mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: And desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know. (Isaiah 47:11)
As the sin offering is, so is the trespass offering: there is one law for them: the priest that maketh atonement therewith shall have it. (Leviticus 7:7)
So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. (Numbers 35:33)
Thus we see that kaphar is translated to make atonement in different variations—as purge or purged, make reconciliation, forgive, pacify, merciful, pardoned, disannulled, put off, cleansed, and pitch. This shows the wide variety and shades of meanings that kaphar can convey, and it has to have this wide variety because the plan of salvation is so wide-ranging in what it accomplishes in bringing man into a state of at-one-ment with God, a state as if he had never sinned.
The eight usages for kippur are as follows:
And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. (Exodus 29:36)
And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the Lord. (Exodus 30:10)
And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls. (Exodus 30:16)
Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. (Leviticus 23:27)
And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the Lord your God. (Leviticus 23:28)
Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. (Leviticus 25:9)
But if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto the Lord, even to the priest; beside the ram of the atonement, whereby an atonement shall be made for him. (Numbers 5:8)
One kid of the goats for a sin offering; beside the sin offering of atonement, and the continual burnt offering, and the meat offering of it, and their drink offerings. (Numbers 29:11)
Three of these texts make reference to the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27, 28; Numbers 21:11), using the plural in the royal form to denote not simply plurality but, rather, the superior nature or status of the atonement. Throughout the year many services were noted as making atonement, but the atonement on the Day of Atonement was the atonement of all atonements!
In the New Testament we only find the term atonement used once in the KJV:
And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:11)
Here the Greek word translated atonement is καταλλαγὴν (katallagen), and it means reconcile.
What does God want from man? Obedience and service? Yes, of course; but more than anything, he wants our heart, our love. If God gets that, he gets everything else. The more we love someone, the more earnestly we desire to be back in harmony with that one when we have offended him or her. Like the cranky husband estranged from his wife, we have all been estranged from God, due to our sins, and the greater our love for God, the greater will be our desire for atonement—a restoration of the perfect harmony that both God and we desire. Romans 3:23 declares that we have all “sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” and Romans 6:23 declares that “the wages of sin is death.” As he is, man is doomed to destruction and to eternal separation from God. For humanity to have fellowship with God, man must be forgiven (pardoned, justified) and cleansed (sanctified), but there must be more. Sinlessness, as wonderful and important as that goal is, is not enough. For in heaven, a place inhabited by sinless beings, there was need for atonement. Even things in heaven had to be reconciled!
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile (ἀποκαταλλάσσω) all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (ἀποκαταλλάσσω). (Colossians 1:20, 21)
The atonement does more than forgive and sanctify man; it restores trust, confidence, and full love between God and all of his creation. We are told:
Satan charged upon the law and government of God. All evil he declared to be the result of the divine administration. He claimed that it was his own object to improve upon the statutes of Jehovah. Therefore it was necessary that he should demonstrate the nature of his claims, and show the working out of his proposed changes in the divine law. His own work must condemn him. Satan had claimed from the first that he was not in rebellion. The whole universe must see the deceiver unmasked.
In the contest between Christ and Satan, during the Saviour’s earthly ministry, the character of the great deceiver was unmasked. Nothing could so effectually have uprooted Satan from the affections of the heavenly angels and the whole loyal universe as did his cruel warfare upon the world’s Redeemer. The daring blasphemy of his demand that Christ should pay him homage, his presumptuous boldness in bearing Him to the mountain summit and the pinnacle of the temple, the malicious intent betrayed in urging Him to cast Himself down from the dizzy height, the unsleeping malice that hunted Him from place to place, inspiring the hearts of priests and people to reject His love, and at the last to cry, “Crucify Him! crucify Him!”—all this excited the amazement and indignation of the universe. (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 498, 501)
The great controversy issue has encapsulated the entire universe; therefore, the atonement must be for the entire universe. Holy angels who had never been disloyal to God, as well as inhabitants of other unfallen worlds, knew of Satan’s accusations against God. Before Satan’s rebellion they had only known of God’s goodness, but now a new element had been introduced into their minds. Could there be even a thread of truth in what Satan says? Atonement must provide for the total restoration of the fellowship that was present before sin; without any doubts, questions, or inhibitions, for all those in the universe, concerning the character of God and his work in the salvation of humanity.
For humanity salvation is not simply having a slate of sins forgiven and then being given a title to heaven. Neither is salvation merely being pronounced justified. Salvation is a total freedom from sin—its presence, power, and penalty. It is also a total restoration to the original fellowship with God that is free from all doubts and free from all inhibitions.
Let us return to our husband, whose toast was burnt. When he brings home the flowers and candy, he might be forgiven, but there may still be in the back of the wife’s mind concerns that if the toast were burnt again, there might be a repeat of the morning’s criticism. She wants to trust her husband, but he needs to prove to her that he is restored, that he is changed. In God’s plan of atonement, God will not only justify his people from sin, he will justify them in the sight of the universe and prove they are safe to save for eternity. He will even compose his government from these people, and no one will complain because atonement has been made. Both God and his people will be fully vindicated through atonement.
The concept of the vindication of God’s people is brought out by James, when he wrote about Abraham and Rahab both being justified through their actions. Yet Paul had clearly written:
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28)
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. (Galatians 3:11)
Paul is quoting from Habakkuk 2:4. But now James comes along and says:
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? (James 2:21–25)
How do we reconcile these two seemingly different positions? It is by understanding the full range and purpose of atonement. When we understand atonement, we recognize that God is going to reconcile all things to himself. Paul speaks about our legal standing with God and with his holy law. That law cannot justify us; but by faith in Christ, through his blood, we can be justified, as if we had never sinned. James, on the other hand, declares that our works show that faith has done its work in justifying us so well that we can be trusted by the unfallen creation of God, who will someday be under the government of God that is run by former fallen, rebellious creatures! This is the work of atonement. Without the work of atonement, the universe would not trust Abraham to rule over them or for a harlot to be in the family tree of Jesus Christ, but with atonement, full trust in restored.
Atonement means no more sin and even no more doubts and inhibitions among all the creation of God. You may know someone right now who professes to be a believer, but you have doubts, for some reason. You may say nothing to others, but in the deep places of your mind and heart you question if this brother or sister can be trusted. The final atonement will take care of that and prove beyond all doubt that all who are in heaven will be there on the worthy basis of Christ’s sacrifice and because of the transforming work it has done in their lives. It will further prove that when God has been judged, his character and name will be cleared and vindicated by the very lives of those who were at one time rebellious against him. No wonder Revelation portrays the following scene:
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. (Revelation 5:11–13)
This is all because of atonement. Though sin has been quarantined to this earth, we realize that its tentacles have reached into the deepest corridors of space. It has tempted every intelligent creature to look upon God differently. Atonement will fix everything that was wrong. You may question someone today but if you and that other person are in the sweet by and by, you will never, ever question that person again and that person will never, ever question you again; and God will never question you, either. You will truly be in God’s sight as if you never had sinned. The whole universe and the multiverses that may exist, of which we now have no understanding, will all pulse in perfect harmony forever and ever because the worthy Lamb has made atonement!
. The antitypical Day of Atonement was represented by the symbolic Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).
. Other references not given in this group are: Exodus 29:37; 30:10, 15, 16; 32:30; Leviticus 4:20, 26, 35; 5:6, 10, 13, 16, 18; 6:7; 8:34; 9:7 twice; 12:7, 8; 14:18, 19, 20, 21, 29, 31, 53; 15:15, 30; 16:6, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 24, 33 thrice, 34; 17:11; 19:22; 23:28; Numbers 6:11; 8:12, 19; 15:25, 28 twice; 16:46; 28:22, 30; 29:5; 31:50; 2 Samuel 21:3; 1 Chronicles 6:49; 2 Chronicles 29:24; Nehemiah 10:33.
. Other references not given are: 1 Samuel 3:14; Psalm 65:3; Proverbs 16:6; Isaiah 22:14; Ezekiel 43:20, 26.
. Other references not given are: Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 10:17; 16:27.
. aποκαταλλάσσω (apokatallassō) is a form of katallagen with the preposition apo.
Ellen G. White and the Atonement
The Advent pioneers referred to the work of Christ upon the cross as an atonement, while the high-priestly ministry in heaven was considered the atonement. Ellen G. White also referred to the death of Jesus as an atonement. For example:
Following right principle means the faithful doing of the first four and the last six commandments. In obedience to these divine commands, we eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, appropriating all that is embraced in the atonement made on Calvary. Christ will stand by the side of all who receive Him as their Saviour. (Ellen White, The Upward Look, p. 196; Manuscript 161, July 1, 1903)
“White-isms” and the atonement
M. L. Andreasen was concerned that reading Sister White’s writings on the atonement could cause confusion, if one did not “recognize the two divisions of the atonement” (Letters to the Churches, Series A, No. 6). While the lack of understanding of the “two divisions” has led some to misunderstand Sister White’s writings on the atonement, some have further failed to understand her usage of terms or expressions. The late Dr. Ralph Larson wrote about Sister White’s usage of words. He stated:
It is a well established principle of research that a writer’s use of terms and/or expressions (groups of words) is to be understood in the light of the writer’s other uses of the same terms or expressions. If an author’s writings are not very extensive, comparisons may be difficult to make and word meanings difficult to establish.
This is emphatically not the case with Ellen White. She wrote twenty-five million words, and used terms and expressions with a remarkable uniformity of meaning. The student will note, however, that her usages, though clear, uniform and consistent in her own writings, are sometimes different from ours. In such cases we must let Ellen White speak to us in her own way, and take care that we do not force an alien interpretation, or our own interpretation, on to her words. (The Word Was Made Flesh, p. 15)
Dr. Larson documented the way Sister White was consistent in her usage of different terms and phrases in relationship to the humanity of Christ. It can also be well-documented that she was consistent in her word choice, while writing on the atonement. With the recent release of the entire Ellen G. White database, we now have the chance to make an exhaustive study of Ellen G. White’s use of the word atonement. After reading and studying over one thousand statements on the atonement, we have narrowed the references to a select group of exact phrases, which will give the reader a clearer understanding of Sister White’s perspective.
The first phrase we shall examine is “perfect atonement.” This expression is found thirteen times in the egwwritings.org database. Twice it is used by the publishers as a supplied title. Of the remaining eleven references, we find that all come from three original sources. For this phrase, as well as for the other phrases, we will give the original reference and sometimes references where it was later republished. The first statement is found in manuscript 128, 1897:
Our great High Priest completed the sacrificial offering of Himself when He suffered without the gate. Then a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the people. Jesus is our Advocate, our High Priest, our Intercessor. Our present position therefore is like that of the Israelites, standing in the outer court, waiting and looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Ellen White, Ms128–1897, November 28, 1897; also published in The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7A, p. 459; The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 913; That I May Know Him, p. 73)
The next statement is:
Type met antitype in the death of Christ, the Lamb slain for the sins of the world. Our great High Priest has made the only sacrifice that is of any value in our salvation. When he offered Himself on the cross, a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the people. (Ellen White, The Bible Echo, May 1, 1899; also published in The Signs of the Times, June 28, 1899; The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7A, p. 459; That I May Know Him, p. 73; Lift Him Up, p. 319)
The last statement was written in 1902:
Christ as the great high priest, making a perfect atonement for sin, stands alone in divine majesty, grandeur, and glory. All other high priests were only types, and when He appeared, the need of their service vanished. (Ellen White, Ms143–1902, November 6, 1902)
This statement was edited, removing the word grandeur, and then published as:
Christ as the great high priest, making a perfect atonement for sin, stands alone in divine majesty and glory. Other high priests were only types, and when he appeared, the need of their services vanished. (Ellen White, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, March 17, 1903; also published in That I May Know Him, p. 74)
The first two of this group of statements clearly describes the work of Christ on the cross as “a perfect atonement.” The last statement is not as clear without further context. The article’s title is, “The Worth of Souls.” It begins, “God’s servants need a realization of the value of souls. Christ died for human beings. His sacrifice on the cross is the measure of their value in God’s sight.” Reading through the article both the work of the cross and the high-priestly ministry of Christ are noted. Neither liberal nor conservative need argue the fact that both the sacrifice of Christ and his high-priestly ministry in heaven are “perfect” works for man. The death of Christ was perfect. The ministry of Christ in heaven is perfect also.
“Complete ... atonement”
The following is a representative selection of statements from paragraphs with the words complete and atonement but not with atonement directly following the word complete.
It became Him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in the redemption of the world to save sinners by the blood of the Lamb. The great sacrifice of the Son of God was neither too great nor too small to accomplish the work. In the wisdom of God it was complete; and the atonement made testifies to every son and daughter of Adam the immutability of God’s law. The value of the law of Jehovah is to be estimated by the immense price that was paid in the death of the Son of God to maintain its sacredness. (White, The Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889)
Christ’s sacrifice in behalf of man was full and complete. The condition of the atonement had been fulfilled. The work for which He had come to this world had been accomplished. (Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 29)
But the atonement for a lost world was to be full, abundant, and complete. Christ’s offering was exceedingly abundant to reach every soul that God had created. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 565)
Christ’s words on the mountainside were the announcement that His sacrifice in behalf of man was full and complete. The conditions of the atonement had been fulfilled; the work for which He came to this world had been accomplished. (Ibid., p. 819)
Jesus gave himself for us, making an offering so complete, an atonement so perfect, that every one may be accepted in Him. (Ellen White, Ms11–1902, February 4, 1902)
After Adam fell, Jesus entered upon the work of redeeming man. In every part his sacrifice was perfect; for he could make a complete atonement for sin. Though he was one with God, yet he made himself of no reputation. He took upon him our nature. “Lo, I come,” was his cheerful announcement of the clothing of his divinity with humanity, “to do thy will, O God!” He loved his church, and gave himself for it. “Therefore doth my Father love me,” he said to the Pharisees, “because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” (Ellen White, The Youth’s Instructor, June 14, 1900)
Do you realize your sinfulness? Do you despise sin? Then remember that the righteousness of Christ is yours if you will grasp it. Can you not see what a strong foundation is placed beneath your feet when you accept Christ? God has accepted the offering of his Son as a complete atonement for the sins of the world. (Ibid., September 20, 1900; also published in The Faith I Live By, p. 91)
On the cross of Calvary, Christ made a full and complete atonement for the fallen race. He died because of our sin. (Ellen White, Ms47–1902; April 2, 1902)
Every one is to be dealt with according to his works. Christ has made for us a complete atonement. He has wrought out for us a perfect character. Our part is to depend wholly on Him. He ever liveth to make intercession for us. And apart from Him, we cannot do one good thing. (Ellen White, Ms143–1902; Novem ber 6, 1902)
Christ has given His life for you. In your behalf, God gave His Son to die on the cross, to make a complete atonement for your sins. Will you not accept Him as your Saviour? (Ellen White, Lt171–1904; May 10, 1904)
All the statements in the last two sections refer to Christ’s death on the cross. Of interest is the statement from the June 14, 1900, issue of The Youth’s Instructor. It helps to shed light upon references to a “perfect atonement.” In this statement she equates Christ’s sacrifice as being “perfect” and “a complete atonement for sin.”
“Atonement was complete”
Let us study God’s law in connection with the work of Christ. Man broke the law. Christ came to this earth to make an atonement for transgression. His atonement was complete in every part. As He hung on the cross, He could say, “It is finished.” The demands of justice were satisfied. The way to the throne of grace was opened for every sinner. (White, The Signs of the Times, July 31, 1901)
This reference clearly speaks of Christ’s death on the cross and not of his high-priestly ministry. This atonement, she says, was “complete in every part.”
“Atonement is complete”
We are not merely to see a way by which to cross the gulf of sin, but we are to appreciate the value of the ransom paid for our souls; we are to realize something of what has been suffered that we might be forgiven, and rescued from destruction. We are to rejoice that the atonement is complete; and believing in Christ as our complete Saviour, we may know that the Father loves us, even as he loves his Son. (White, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, November 11, 1890)
Christ came as a man, that He might meet men where they are. Had He come in all His glory, human beings could not have endured the sight. “Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” He planted the cross between heaven and earth, and when the Father beheld the sacrifice of His Son, He bowed before it in recognition of its perfection. “It is enough,” He said. “The atonement is complete.” (White, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, September 24, 1901; also published in The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7A, p. 459)
The September 24, 1901, statement is of special significance because of the direct quotation of God the Father being used. Both of these statements refer to the death of Christ as bringing about a completion to the atonement.
“Completion of the atonement”
The time had come for the universe of heaven to accept their King. Angels, cherubim and seraphim, would now stand in view of the cross. The Father bows His head in recognition of the One of whom the priests and rulers had said, “He trusted in God let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him.” The Father accepts His Son. No words could convey the rejoicing of heaven or God’s expression of satisfaction and delight in His only begotten Son, as He saw the completion of the atonement. (White, The Bible Echo, May 22, 1899; also in The Signs of the Times, August 16, 1899, except the word language is used in place of the word words; a portion also printed in The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7A, p. 460)
These references all find their unedited origin in the following manuscript:
The time had come for the universe of heaven to accept their king. Angels and archangel, cherubim and seraphim, would now stand in view of the cross. The Father bows his head in recognition of the One of whom the priests and rulers had said, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now if he will have him.” The Father accepted His Son. No words could convey the language of heaven, or God’s expression of satisfaction and delight in His only begotten Son, as He saw the completion of the Atonement. Christ’s sacrifice was in every way satisfactory. (White, Ms128–1897, par. 34; November 28, 1897)
This reference, like those that state the “atonement is complete,” refers to the death of Jesus on the cross.
“Atonement … truths cluster”
A search for “atonement . . . truths cluster” yields eight references. Of these eight references, there are only two original sources. The first was from the diary entry of July 30, 1901. This later became know as Manuscript 70, 1901. It was not published until the year of Sister White’s death, 1915, in the expanded version of Gospel Workers:
The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. (Ellen White, diary entry for July 30, 1901; published first in Gospel Workers 1915 ed., p. 315; later published in Evangelism, p. 190; Sons and Daughters of God, p. 221; Our Father Cares, p. 33; The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1137; and twice in volume 7A, p. 457; Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, p. 336)
Christ is the foundation of every true church. All who are brought to a new faith are to be established on Him. The plain, simple truths of the gospel are to be kept before minds. Christ crucified as the atonement for sin is the great central truth of the gospel, round which all truths cluster. To this great truth all other truths are tributary. (White, The Upward Look, p. 85; letter of March 12, 1902, to Elder E. F. Franke, an evangelist)
These last statements from the pen of Sister White speak clearly of an atonement finished in heaven. They show that she did not define atonement as meaning a finishing of the plan of salvation, or she could not have written: “The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. . . . The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon the cross. By His death He began that work which after His resurrection He ascended to complete in heaven.” (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pp. 488, 489) Thus, when we read before of a “perfect” or of a “complete” atonement, she was referring to the death of Christ as being a complete and perfect sacrifice. That complete and perfect sacrifice made an atonement between God and the sinner so that there could be an at-one-ment between a holy God and sinful man!
At the crucifixion, as Jesus died on Calvary, he cried, It is finished, and the vail of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom. This was to show that the services of the earthly Sanctuary were forever finished, and that God would no more meet with them in their earthly temple, to accept their sacrifices. The blood of Jesus was then shed, which was to be ministered by himself in the heavenly Sanctuary. As the priests in the earthly Sanctuary entered the Most Holy once a year to cleanse the Sanctuary, Jesus entered the Most Holy of the heavenly, at the end of the 2300 days of Dan, viii, in 1844, to make a final atonement for all who could be benefited by his mediation, and to cleanse the Sanctuary. (Ellen White, Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, pp. 161, 162; reprinted in Early Writings, p. 253, with minor editing)
In the typical service, only those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the blood of the sin-offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service of the day of atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative Judgment, the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. (White, The Great Controversy, 1888 ed., p. 480; also published in The Great Controversy, 1911 ed., p. 480; and portions reprinted in From Here to Forever, p. 296; Christ in His Sanctuary, p. 116; and The Faith I Live By, p. 210)
The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement; so in the type the blood of the sin offering removed the sin from the penitent, but it rested in the sanctuary until the Day of Atonement. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 357; also published in Christ in His Sanctuary, p. 38; From Eternity Past, p. 249)
As in the final atonement the sins of the truly penitent are to be blotted from the records of heaven, no more to be remembered or come into mind, so in the type they were borne away into the wilderness, forever separated from the congregation. (White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 358; also published in Christ in His Sanctuary, p. 38; In Eternity Past, p. 249)
When Christ, the Mediator, burst the bands of the tomb, and ascended on high to minister for man, He first entered the holy place, where, by virtue of His own sacrifice, He made an offering for the sins of men. With intercession and pleadings He presented before God the prayers and repentance and faith of His people, purified by the incense of His own merits. He next entered the Most Holy Place, to make an atonement for the sins of the people, and cleanse the sanctuary. His work as high priest completes the divine plan of redemption by making the final atonement for sin. (Ellen White, Manuscript 69, 1912, p. 13, “The Sin and Death of Moses,” copied Sept. 10, 1912; published in Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, p. 157 and vol. 11, p. 54)
All five original statements for the phrase “final atonement” refer to Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. Of significance is the last reference, where she specifically states that “his work as high priest completes the divine plan of redemption by making the final atonement for sin.” Thus, while the atonement of the cross was complete of itself, it is the sanctuary ministry of Christ in the final atonement that completes the plan of salvation.
Of the eight sets of phrases we have reproduced, we find that under half of these are from original statements. In other words, at least 55 percent were reprints of original statements. This percentage will only rise if additional statements are reprinted.
One other statement that we will include does not include the term atonement, but it clearly makes reference to the work of Jesus on the cross. It says:
The power of the eternal Father and the sacrifice of the Son should be studied more than it is. The perfect work of Christ was consummated in His death upon the cross. In His sacrifice and His intercession at the right hand of the Father, is our only hope of salvation. It should be our joy to exalt the character of God before men, and make His name a praise in the earth. (Ellen White, Manuscript 137, June 17, 1907; printed in Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 170; Notebook Leaflets, vol. 1, p. 76; Lake Union Herald, November 3, 1909)
From these statements we see that Ellen White had a very broad view of the atonement. Like the Bible does, she presents an atonement made at the cross and the final atonement made in heaven. This dual atonement need not be rejected, nor should Adventism ever be embarrassed by this solid, biblical teaching. The doctrine of the atonement is the measure of Adventism, and understanding how the testimony of Jesus uses the word atonement helps us to gain an enhanced view of the plan of salvation.
From the File Cabinet of History
Youth's Corner — Escape from Siberia
(This installment is the second part of Chapter 9, A Penal Island, of Escape from Siberian Exile by John Godfrey Jacques, published by Pacific Press in 1921.)
While I kept watch over our baggage, Gorelic went in search of lodgings. He met on the street a young Jewish prisoner of war from Galicia—an intelligent, well educated man—and through him, secured quarters in the house of an aged Jew, who was also a prisoner of war.
This young Jew was from the same city as our former fellow prisoner the imperial councilor; and the next morning, he took us across a branch of the Ob to a small island, where we had the great joy of meeting again that fine-spirited Christian man. He had been sent first to Kolguyak, but later had been removed from there, because the conditions he had to meet were seriously affecting his health. When he learned that we were bound for that place, he was dismayed. We were glad that he was in a more favorable location now; for he was an elderly man, and was not inured to hardship.
At Narym, we met an editor of note, who also was an exile. He averred that he stood for the same principle as we—individual liberty—though he was concerned most with the civil aspects of the subject, and we with the religious. This man afterwards escaped from exile, and reached the United States.
Late in the day, we boarded the small steamer that was to take us to Kolguyak, the most northern of the penal stations in western Siberia.
As the boat drifted away, almost noiselessly, with the current, the setting sun was spreading a veil of gold over the evening sky. Flocks of wild ducks floating overhead became lost to sight in the luminous glow, or in the dark green background of firs.
Before entering upon the privations that awaited us, we indulged, on the boat, in the unwonted luxury of an ordinary meal—such a luxury as we had not enjoyed for long months.
During the night, the boat stopped at a number of little villages—mere huddles of fishermen’s huts. At each place, the villagers were all at the landing; for a call from one of the small river steamers was an important event in their lonely existence.
The next morning, we reached our destination, an island a mile or two across. The population consisted of a few fishermen and traders, with their families, and about twenty exiles.
During the short Siberian summer, boats occasionally passed this island; and once a month or so, one might stop. But in winter, sleds drawn over the ice by horses were the only means of travel.
We had been told at Narym that the one fit associate we would find among the exiles at Kolguyak was a young Austrian prisoner of war. He had heard of us, and he met us cordially when we arrived.
Other exiles also were very affable and were profuse in offers of assistance. But we recognized some of them as former cell mates, with whom we could not safely mingle; and we knew that to keep clear of them from the first would be easier than to break away from them later. Accordingly, we insistently declined their aid. But one of them refused to be repulsed, and seizing some of our baggage, went with us on our search for a place to live.
We applied at the home of a trader, the most well-to-do man on the island. This man never housed exiles; but the military prisoner and the thief who accompanied us assured him that he need not fear to take us into his home, as we were not criminals. Indeed, the thief gave a very clear statement of our case. He represented himself as having come from Odessa, and having known of us there. As a result of the intercession of these two, we were so fortunate as to get lodgings with this family.
Kolguyak is a desolate spot, not so much because of the natural environment, or even the isolation, though the unbroken forests stretch far on either side; but the most dismal feature of the place is its population—principally criminals and semicivilized Ostyaks. Still, the few Russians there are less ignorant than would be supposed. They are really better informed than many of their countrymen in middle Russia.
So far as religion was concerned, we had more freedom here than at Alatayevo. The priest of the parish lived at a village twenty miles away; and he did not come to Kolguyak often. When he did come, his only errand was to get a supply of the liquor made by women of the island, in defiance of the imperial prohibition issued at the beginning of the war.
On one occasion while we were there, this priest, on leaving the steamer on which he had come, gave whispered directions to a bystander, who forthwith hastened off on his commission; but he did not so quickly return, and the priest became very nervous, as the boat was to stop only a short time. Not until it was moving away did the messenger reappear. Then he tossed an immense bottle to the priest, who succeeded in catching it; but the stopper flew out, and some of the contents gushed out into the cleric’s face and beard. For all his plight, he seemed well pleased with the success of his mission.
Our host and his family were confirmed users of this same brand of liquor—stronger than common vodka; and they gambled also. Yet they were very kind to us.
The house contained only two rooms; and these the family shared not only with Gorelic and me, but with our hostess’s sister and the latter’s husband.
The thieves continued to inflict their society upon us; but our former acquaintanceship with them made us sure that their object was to get access to the premises, with an eye to plunder. Had we let ourselves be drawn into association with them, we must have forfeited the shelter of the trader’s rude home. Instead, we soon won his full confidence.
We sometimes slept out of doors. One night when we had chosen to sleep in the house—for what reason, I do not now remember—thieves forced an entrance into the store, and carried away what money had been left there. The trader never gave the least intimation that he suspected us of being in any way responsible for the raid; and obviously there was no ground for such suspicion, as we could not have left the room where we slept, without stepping over his body.
Here, as at Alatayevo, there were gnats and mosquitoes in such swarms as sometimes to obscure the daylight. It was unsafe to venture away from the settlement without careful protection from these minute pests. They were not so numerous about the dwellings as elsewhere.
Now Abideth Hope
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
The Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for fourth quarter 2002 was on the topic of hope, the principal contributor being Jonathan Gallagher, who was with the General Conference Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department at the time. The lesson for September 29 states that Adam and Eve, “thriving in an existence in which all their needs were met, did not have to hope for anything, because they had everything. Thus, they lived without hope, because they did not need it.” But did not Eve hope for a wisdom she did not possess (Genesis 3:6) and ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil expecting to obtain it? And did not Adam place his expection (hope) and desire on his life with Eve, in spite of her transgression and not with the God who created Eve, and ate of the fruit of the tree, as well?
Adam regretted that Eve had left his side; but now the deed was done. He must be separated from her whose society he had loved so well. How could he have it thus? His love for Eve was strong. And in utter discouragement he resolved to share her fate. (Ellen White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 39)
Even the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has a misunderstanding of the concept of hope, for they teach that God, who knows everything, hopes!
God hopes to change fallen beings into His image by transforming their wills, minds, desires, and characters. (Seventh-day Adventists Believe: An exposition of the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2005 ed., p. 141; published by the Ministerial Association of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; all emphasis in this article supplied unless otherwise noted)
A better statement would be: God changes fallen beings into his image by transforming their wills, etc. This is how God changes fallen man, when it occurs. It is not how he hopes to do it.
But now we have another problem. The will is not changed or transformed. It is the things we do that are changed, through the right application of the will. There is not a bad will or a good will, for the will is simply our power of choice and is not the choices made. It is on whose side in the great controversy that we place our will that is important. The will is the governing power that God has given each one possessed of reason. No one can force the will without our consent. The will is a sacred trust that we each hold.
The will is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or choice. Every human being possessed of reason has power to choose the right. In every experience of life, God’s word to us is, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Joshua 24:15. Everyone may place his will on the side of the will of God, may choose to obey Him, and by thus linking himself with divine agencies, he may stand where nothing can force him to do evil. (Ellen White, Education, p. 289)
The tempted one needs to understand the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man—the power of decision, of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. (Ellen White, The Ministry of Healing, p. 176)
God does not design that our will should be destroyed, for it is only through its exercise that we can accomplish what He would have us do. Our will is to be yielded to Him, that we may receive it again, purified and refined, and so linked in sympathy with the Divine that He can pour through us the tides of His love and power. (Ellen White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 62)
Even though the will of man was given into the control of Satan at the Fall, the sacrifice of both the Father and the Son enables us to regain control of our wills and to yield them to God. Then our wills become as his will (still two separate wills; the power of choice is not taken from us), and we choose to do his good pleasure:
This will, that forms so important a factor in the character of man, was at the Fall given into the control of Satan . . . But the infinite sacrifice of God in giving Jesus, His beloved Son, to become a sacrifice for sin, enables Him to say, without violating one principle of His government: “Yield yourself up to Me; give Me that will; take it from the control of Satan, and I will take possession of it; then I can work in you to will and to do of My good pleasure.” When He gives you the mind of Christ, your will becomes as His will, and your character is transformed to be like Christ’s character. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 515)
But let us get back to hope. What exactly is this hope that can be so easily misunderstood by even the best of Adventist minds?
We find the English words hope, hoped, hope’s, hoping, and hopeth one hundred forty-three times in the Bible, two of which are supplied. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary says: “No single Hebrew word corresponds directly to the English word ‘hope.’ More than a dozen Hebrew words may be so translated but each has its own nuances” (Logos version). These Hebrew words can connote hope, expectation, confidence, trust, a waiting for, an enduring, a looking for, and a taking refuge in. True hope is always directed to God. God is the “hope of Israel” (Jeremiah 50:7), he is the “God of hope” (Romans 15:13), and he is the confidence (hope) of the earth (Psalm 65:5). David hoped in God (Psalm 42:5), and Jesus is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1), but hope can be ill-founded and in vain.
Atmaram Gawande was an urologist and his wife a pediatrician. Together they made a home in Athens, Ohio, and raised two children, but in his early seventies, he began having neck pain. Until then he had been in vigorous health, with seemingly boundless energy. He played lively tennis three days a week; maintained a busy medical and surgical practice, without missing an operating room or an office appointment because of sickness. He served as president of the local Rotary Club and then as district governor, he engaged in numerous charity projects, and he was actively involved in expanding a rural college he had established in India, which had started with a single building but had grown into a campus with a student body of two thousand.
The neck pain shot down his left arm and ended up as a tingling in the tips of his left fingers. X-rays showed nothing, so he kept working, but the pain increased. He could not sleep comfortably. The tingling in his fingers became full-blown numbness and spread to his whole hand. He had trouble feeling the thread when tying sutures. Two years later an MRI revealed a tumor growing inside his spinal cord. It was, however, a slow-growing tumor, and Dr. Gawande was able to work a few more years. He developed a comfortable way to sleep and when the weather was chilly, he wore a glove on his left hand because it often became extremely cold. He knew it was just a matter of time before he would have to make drastic changes. When his grip strength gave out—tennis rackets flew out of his hand and drinking glasses slipped to the floor—and when tying knots and handling catheters grew too difficult, he accepted the inevitable and retired.
Atmaram lived four years after his pain began, but he died with hope—hope in his religion.
Rappings are so old they are covered by dust in people’s minds. Do most people today know anything about them? Seances to talk with the dead? Who has ever heard of that? But near-death experiences are a different story. Many people have experienced them, and some are writing about them—from a 4-year-old (who didn’t do the writing, of course) to a neurosurgeon. Their books have been, and continue to be, on the New York Times’ best-seller lists. Near-death experiences are big business for secular and Christian publishers alike. When family members of the author of one the near-death best sellers of Baker Books (an Evangelical Christian book publisher) tried to inform the company that the book they had published about a young man going to heaven and coming back (all the while comatose in a hospital bed) was fabricated, Baker Books ignored the warnings, refused to meet congenially with the family (according to one family member), and only pulled the book when they could no longer avoid the incriminating finger pointing at them. Scientists and common people alike are attesting to the authenticity of these experiences, which some say date back to Plato and others say back to the 1700s, but in these experiences most people meet dead loved ones, one person has been told he can do no wrong, and another has been introduced to the Holy Spirit, seated on a throne beside the Father. Everyone, however, reports an indescribable feeling of goodness and love. One of these books has nearly eight thousand positive ratings on Amazon, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Millions of copies of such books have been purchased. There is no need today for darkened seances to promote the purported existence of life after death. The whole world is now exposed to supposed light shining from the open gates of heaven, and the world is happily stepping onto Satan’s speeding train of spiritualism because these experiences give the world hope of a heaven where sinners, who died while knowingly committing sin, freely walk with saints, who confessed and turned from their sins.
For a few decades now some Seventh-day Adventists have felt, or are feeling, a new surge of hope also—a hope in a God so actively involved with his people that he has sent, or is sending, new messages to them through various people considered to have been, or to be, prophets. In addition they have experienced a renewed hope in the soon coming of Jesus because of new revelations about the hidden activities in the realm of Satan, and they have experienced an increased hope in the power of Jesus Christ over the evil power of Satan, as stated in a recent testimony of escape from the Illuminati.
Older Adventists may remember Johnny Todd, a man who claimed, in the 1970s, to be have been a warlock and who preached about the destructiveness of rock music. He also claimed a connection with the Illuminati and gained a significant following in Adventism until he was revealed to be a fraud. Adventists may also remember a couple of Adventist ladies in different parts of the world who, during the 1980s, wrote of their communications from God. They also gained a following. Then a child in the western part of the United States drew pictures of messages he supposedly received from God (he was too young to write them out), which included a devastating break in the Hoover Dam. Visions and dreams also came out of France. These were all in close succession with one another. The Hoover Dam has not burst (the child saw a crack forming in the supporting structure of the dam), perhaps it will, but Adventists seem to be drawn to any new message supposedly sent from God. In the 1980s, Jack Darnall had a dream which was not widely reported until 2008. In Darnall’s dream an African-American was president of the United States at the time of Christ’s return. The president was tall and had close-cropped hair and large ears. Darnell also claimed that there would be one more pope after John Paul II.
Whether or not the dream is about President Obama and whether or not Mr. Obama declares martial law and remains president longer than his term of office allows is not what is important. While we do not know the future for President Obama and while we do not know if he will be serving as the president of the United States when Jesus returns, the fact that there have been two popes since John Paul II disqualifies this dream from being true.
David Wilkerson is another man with whom many older Adventists are familiar. During the 1960s he co-authored a book, The Cross and the Switchblade, about his work for Christ with drug addicts and gang members in New York City. Wilkerson prophesied in 2009 about a thousand fires coming to New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut and that major cities across America would experience riots and blazing fires as part of an earth-shattering calamity which would affect the whole earth and which would be brought on by the wrath of God in judgment against the raging sins of America and the nations.
He did not know exactly when this would take place, but he knew it would be soon. As Adventists, we can relate to such a prophecy, BUT Wilkerson leaves out one very important fact—Seventh-day Adventists who refuse to receive the mark of the beast will be targeted as the reason for the great calamities this world will experience at the end of time, and they will be blamed for the wrath of God being poured out!
Then there is Cristian Silva, who predicted Jesus would return on October 13, 2011. Most of us would not be beguiled by such a teaching, for we know that no man knoweth the day nor the hour of Christ’s return. In spite of the failure of his prophecy and in spite of his current advocacy for a flat Earth, he has continued to maintain a steady following. Why is it that some Adventists eagerly gather in homes to listen to such testimonies, prophecies, and perverted theologies (Scriptures are claimed to support a flat Earth) and do not as eagerly gather to study the great truths of the Bible, our spiritual heritage, or the stabilizing truths of the Spirit of Prophecy? Perhaps it is because the type of presentations of Silva, Johnny Todd, Jack Darnall, and others feeds an interest in the sensational and an interest in the dark history of Satan. While we cannot judge the veracity of any man’s testimony (outside of the Scripture), for it relies on the person’s word alone, we do not have to be deceived in theology, for we have the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy to guide us and the promise of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth; however, there seems to be no end to the duplicity of some religious leaders and to the gullibility of their followers, who hope against hope that their leaders are right. Their hope, however, has no foundation. It is simply the emotion of hope, an emotion, like all emotions, that is changeable. Our only safety is the principled word of God and the steadiness of the Spirit of Prophecy. The longer we live, the more valuable they become.
All of these false leaders offered what seemed to be a renewed hope to some Seventh-day Adventists—a restored hope that Christ’s return was definitely imminent, a comforting hope that God loved them enough to send them messages in dreams and visions, and a reaffirmed hope that God was more powerful that anything earthly, including the Illuminati.
Perverted biblical hope
Satan undermines and even destroys all hope for the nominal Christian. Consider Calvinism. Twenty-first century Calvinism offers many nuances to two of its original doctrines—unconditional election and the total inability or depravity of man to believe the gospel. The latter doctrine gives rise to the first, for if man has sunk so low that he can never believe, then God must make the decision for him, and this decision is made before the man or woman is born and is made regardless of the character the person forms during his or her lifetime. God consigns each to either an eternally burning hell or an eternal life of bliss, and man has no choice in his destiny and never knows of what group he is a part until he dies. If you are one of the elect, you are saved; if not, you burn forever in hell. What kind of spiritual hope does this offer anyone?
Then there is the hope of most evangelical Christians—a hope of eternal life in heaven based on a profession of belief (Acts 16:11). Belief is important (Acts 16:31). We are saved by grace and not by works (Ephesians 2:8, 9), but the complete picture includes our works, for we are judged by them (Ecclesiastes 13:14), and without them our faith is dead (James 2:20) because faith works by love (Galatians 5:6) and because we are to keep God’s commandments (1 John 5:2; John 14:15).
All of us have hoped, at one time or another, for a better day. Some of us have worked on our cars and have hoped that the repairs fixed the problem. Others have sped to the hospital as fast as safety allowed, hoping to arrive before death crossed the threshold for a loved one. Still others are parents of unborn children, and they hope and pray for a healthy baby. All of these hopes represent desires that are without guarantees. They are only hopes. We hope for the best in all situations but because it is hope and not faith, no promise can ever be claimed concerning the hope. (Remember, this is secular hope.)
Christian hope, however, is closely tied to faith, for the Bible tells us faith is the foundation of the Christian’s hope (Hebrews 11:1), but Christian faith has evidence to substantiate it, whereas Christian hope does not (except secondhand). Secular hope is common to all mankind, even to Christians, but Christian hope is only understood by the Christian, for it is the fruit of faith. When you have true, godly faith, which is evidence-based and principled, the natural result is the beautiful feeling of hope. Hope gives us a measure of joy and lifts our spirits. Of the three great “moral powers,” faith, hope, and charity (1 Corinthians 13:13), only godly hope is an emotion, full and sweet; whereas, the other two powers are principles. When hope is not grounded in the sure word of God, however, it becomes perverted and holds us fast, as in a tangled web, for we tend to cling to what we want, regardless if it has been promised to us or not. Adam and Eve were held fast by such an evil hope. Godly hope, on the other hand, is a reliable hope, for it is based on faith, which, in turn, is based on the sure word of God, who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
Abraham did not have hope on Mount Moriah; he had faith. God had promised him that through Isaac all nations would be blessed, so Abraham knew, somewhere deep in his heart, that whatever happened on the mountain, Isaac would live. He had faith in God’s word, but hope is an altogether different experience. Abraham did not feel joyful with hope climbing the mountain, but he was firm in his belief, though his steps were slow and painful.
When the prodigal son was in rags and hungry, he knew of nowhere to go but to his father’s house, where he hoped to obtain work as a hired hand. In this way he could at least have food and clothing. He did not expect his father to accept him back as his son, but he hoped—he had a measure of anticipation—that his father would give him work.
The lesson of the prodigal is given for the instruction of youth. In his life of pleasure and sinful indulgence, he expends his portion of the inheritance in riotous living. He is friendless, and in a strange country; clad in rags, hungry, longing even for the refuse fed to the swine. His last hope is to return, penitent and humbled, to his father’s house, where he is welcomed, forgiven, and taken back to a father’s heart. (Ellen White, Messages to Young People, p. 408)
Hope is not listed as a fruit of the Spirit, nor is it a rung in Peter’s ladder (Galatians 5:22, 23; 2 Peter 1:5–7). No chapter has been devoted to it as has been for faith (Hebrews 11) and for love (1 Corinthians 13), Jesus never blessed the attribute of hope in the Beatitudes or ever advised people to seek after it, and the twenty-eight beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church do not include hope as a doctrine, but we are admonished throughout scripture to hope. In fact, part of the Christian’s armor is the helmet of the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Here are some key texts on hope:
Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy. (Psalm 33:18)
The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy. (Psalm 147:11)
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. (Jeremiah 17:7)
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:26)
. . . the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:16)
We are to have the hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2), the blessed hope (Titus 2:13), the Lord Jesus Christ as our hope (1 Timothy 1:1), the helmet of the hope of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:8), and the hope which is an anchor to our soul (Hebrews 6:18, 19); and we are saved by hope (Romans 8:24). We are to rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2), and just as tribulations work patience, experience yields hope, a hope of which we do not need to be ashamed (Romans 5:3–5).
It is hard to separate faith from hope, for many times they seem interchangeable, but Job knew the difference between hope and faith. On one hand he said, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope” (Job 7:6) but on the other, he offered this beautiful testimony of faith:
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. (Job 19:25–27)
He felt he was without hope, but he knew his redeemer liveth.
Habakkuk also understood the sublime difference between faith and hope. Even if nothing around Habakkuk offered a trace of hope, he still had faith in God:
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17, 18)
And Jesus, in the darkest hour of his life, felt forsaken by his Father:
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)
Yet, his faith in his Father did not falter:
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)
God wants us to have a hope that is confident and even joyful because we have faith in his promises. We believe the promise of an earth made new, for example, so we look forward to it with joyful anticipation. The end result of evidence-based faith and its fruit of hope is the reality, but until we experience that reality, may we patiently wait with joyful hope. When days are dark and drear, our joy may diminish—Abraham’s did; Job’s did—but our faith must never falter, and even in the worst of circumstances if we talk of our faith, talk of the goodness of God, and sing hymns of praise, our hope will never die.
October 23, 1844, was a terrible day for hope. Just twenty-four hours earlier, hope ruled in thousands of hearts, but October 22 closed with devastating heartbreak and with only a handful of confused, but faithful-to-God, people. As for the others, when hope deserted them, faith left also, revealing that their faith and hope were not grounded in the God of all faith and hope, but in a doctrine and when the doctrine failed them, so did their faith. Most of these people never again walked with the Advent believers. October 22 was only twenty-four hours long and yet ended with seemingly disastrous consequences. The greatest time of trouble the earth will ever see will be longer, and the calamities leading up to the close of probation will cause the hope of an unknown number of Advent-believing people to disappear like a morning fog and with it their nominal faith. Now is the time to ground ourselves in the sure word of prophecy, in the God of our salvation, and in the promises of God’s eternal love and presence. When the great test comes to us, we must be fully established on the rock of our salvation, or we will turn with a greater vengeance upon the faithful few than former believers turned on the faithful few in 1844.
Hope and Adventist pioneers
J. N. Loughborough described hope as a star that cheers us:
To mortals, toiling in this world of perplexities, afflictions, temptations, persecutions, and death, how important to have the anchor of hope to steady our barque, threatened as it is on every hand with destruction amid the rocks and shoals of sin and sorrow. While toiling on, beating against the current, how the heart is cheered with a knowledge of the fact that we have a kind Father who pities us “like as a father pitieth his children.” While we humbly trust him, our Father is at the helm to guide us, and the star of hope is before us to cheer us with its clear shining. (J. N. Loughborough, The Hope of the Gospel, p. iii)
And E. J. Waggoner as an absolute certainty:
Christian hope is absolute certainty, based on the sure promise of God. Love, which believeth all things, takes every promise of God at its full value, and so has fulness of hope. It is well constantly to remember that “love is the fulfilling of the law,” and thus to know that whoever has not all patience and faith and hope is not a commandment keeper. (E. J. Waggoner, “Daily Bread for Christian Workers,” The Medical Missionary, vol. 13, October 1904)
As a blessed hope:
Hope is the desire for something with the expectation of receiving it. Now sin and sorrow, blasted hopes, sickness and death, cruel wrongs and base injustice are the common lot of man. The “blessed hope” is that when Jesus comes all this will come to an end; for “God shall wipe away all tears . . . and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.” And more: Jesus said to His sorrowing disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. And if l go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself.” What those mansions are like, “eye hath not seen, ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man.” What a blessed hope! “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” 1 John iii. 3. (E. J. Waggoner, “Hope,” The Present Truth, vol. 15, July 13, 1899)
And not as a doctrine:
The apostolic exhortation is, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” 1 Peter iii. 15. It is a great mistake to suppose that means to be able to repeat a creed, or to quote Scripture texts to substantiate dogmas. A formula of doctrine is not a hope. Hope is living; it is a real thing, “Christ in you” is the only “hope of glory.” Col. i. 27. Therefore to be able to give to every man a reason of the hope that is in us, is to be able to make plain to him the Divine presence. This is further evident from the fact that the ability to give a reason for the hope in us comes from having God sanctified, enthroned, in the heart. See 1 Peter iii. 15. (Waggoner, “The Hope Within,” The Present Truth, vol. 16, November 15, 1900)
Dr. Gawande’s hope
Varanasi is the chief city of Hinduism in India, and it is the longing of every Hindu to die in Varanasi, for by so doing one releases himself from the prospect of millions of reincarnations and allows himself to go straight to nirvana, the place where salvation is found. To avoid repeated reincarnations, a Hindu believes he must die in Varanasi and have his or her cremated ashes spread upon the sacred Ganges River. Many hotels in Varanasi cater to those who expect to die within fourteen days. Other people make pilgrimages to Varanasi just to wash in the Ganges River for by so doing, they believe they can wash away their sins. The hope of Dr. Gawande was in Hinduism and in having his ashes spread upon the Ganges River. Only in this way did he believe he could obtain salvation; therefore, he requested his son to do this for him. His son has written in a recent book: “When a person’s remains touch the great river, he or she is assured eternal salvation. So for millennia, families have brought the ashes of their loved ones to the Ganges and spread them upon its waters” (Atul Gawande, Being Mortal, pp. 260, 261). Let us remember, however, E. J. Waggoner’s earlier-quoted words: “A formula of doctrine is not a hope. Hope is living; it is a real thing, ‘Christ in you’ is the only ‘hope of glory.’ Col. i. 27.” Man’s only hope is in Christ Jesus, the resurrection and the life, and this hope Dr. Gawande did not have.
An example of the hope of James and Ellen White
Ellen White dreamed an impressive dream in 1868, in which she and a group of people started on a journey. During the journey, their path became more narrow and was harder to traverse, so that the people had to leave some of their possessions behind in order to maneuver the difficult path. Eventually cords were let down from the top of the wall along the path, which were eagerly grasped to help them keep their balance. She noted: “As we traveled, the cord moved along with us. The path finally became so narrow that we concluded that we could travel more safely without our shoes, so we slipped them from our feet and went on some distance without them. Soon it was decided that we could travel more safely without our stockings; these were removed, and we journeyed on with bare feet” (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 595).
Their dangers increased, but the size and strength of the cord to which they clung also increased. Finally they came to a large chasm, the other side of which was a beautiful field of green grass:
At length we came to a large chasm, at which our path ended. There was nothing now to guide the feet, nothing upon which to rest them. Our whole reliance must be upon the cords, which had increased in size until they were as large as our bodies. Here we were for a time thrown into perplexity and distress. We inquired in fearful whispers: “To what is the cord attached?” My husband was just before me. Large drops of sweat were falling from his brow, the veins in his neck and temples were increased to double their usual size, and suppressed, agonizing groans came from his lips. The sweat was dropping from my face, and I felt such anguish as I had never felt before. A fearful struggle was before us. Should we fail here, all the difficulties of our journey had been experienced for nought.
Before us, on the other side of the chasm, was a beautiful field of green grass, about six inches high. I could not see the sun; but bright, soft beams of light, resembling fine gold and silver, were resting upon this field. Nothing I had seen upon earth could compare in beauty and glory with this field. But could we succeed in reaching it? was the anxious inquiry. Should the cord break, we must perish. Again, in whispered anguish, the words were breathed: “What holds the cord?” For a moment we hesitated to venture. Then we exclaimed: “Our only hope is to trust wholly to the cord. It has been our dependence all the difficult way. It will not fail us now.” Still we were hesitating and distressed. The words were then spoken: “God holds the cord. We need not fear.” These words were then repeated by those behind us, accompanied with: “He will not fail us now. He has brought us thus far in safety.”
My husband then swung himself over the fearful abyss into the beautiful field beyond. I immediately followed. And, oh, what a sense of relief and gratitude to God we felt! I heard voices raised in triumphant praise to God. I was happy, perfectly happy. (Ibid., pp. 596, 597)
This hope—“God holds the cord. We need not fear.”— is the hope that you and I can have when we come to chasms in our lives. God has been our dependence all along the difficult way, and he will not fail us in any new difficulty; however, if we do not honor the law of God, he will not honor us in our need (Proverbs 28:9).
The Law Of God
I cannot express upon paper how deeply my heart is stirred as I realize that time is so short. . . . Any fallacy is likely to be received by a people who make void the law of God. . . . The Lord has plainly stated their danger; but they have rejected the word of the Lord to follow after the deceptive influences of human and satanic agencies combined, and they have fallen into Satan’s snare. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 20 p. 14)
The Holy One has given us rules for the guidance of all who will keep the way of the Lord. The law is God’s standard, from which there can be no swerving without sin. . . . The rule of heaven, which must be observed with unswerving obedience, is “They shall keep the way of the Lord.” Every other path is that of the destroyer. “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked.” Some, whose eyes are now blinded by Satan, seem to be proud of their smartness and keenness, as revealed in their deceptive, fraudulent, underhand dealings. But a day will come when the Word of God, as summed up in His law, will be vindicated.—Manuscript 39, 1906, (Ibid., p. 15)
The context of this quotation is the observance of Sunday sacredness in place of the seventh-day Sabbath, but the serious consequences of making void the fourth commandment of the law of God can be applied to making void any of the commandments of the law of God, for we must keep the way of the Lord with unswerving obedience, as we read above. The results of making void the commandments of the law include: Becoming likely to receive any fallacy of Satan, following the deceptive influences of human and satanic agencies combined, falling into Satan’s snare, and being proud of a smartness and keenness in deceptive, fraudulent, and underhand dealings. We hate to think any Adventist would adopt any of these attributes of Satan, but let us consider the first commandment just as seriously as we consider the fourth. We usually interpret the first commandment—“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3)—as commanding us not to worship false gods and not to place any object in our affection before our love to and worship of God, and this is correct.
Jehovah, the eternal, self-existent, uncreated One, Himself the Source and Sustainer of all, is alone entitled to supreme reverence and worship. Man is forbidden to give to any other object the first place in his affections or his service. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 305)
Herod became as a god to the people, and his acceptance of their worship made him guilty of transgressing the first commandment (Acts 12:21, 22):
Herod was acquainted with the law of God, which says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3); and he knew that in accepting the worship of the people he had filled up the measure of his iniquity and brought upon himself the just wrath of Jehovah. (Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 151)
But there is more to understanding this commandment. Throughout the Old Testament, one God is to be worshipped (Deuteronomy 6:14; Exodus 20:3, 5), one God is to be honored (Psalm 29:2), and one God is acknowledged as the Creator of heaven and earth (Isaiah 40:28; Job 38:4, 31, 32); and in the New Testament, only the Father and the Son are to be worshipped. Never are we commanded to worship the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of God, not a separate entity apart from God. When we worship something that God does not command us to worship, we are worshipping that object in place of God, and this is condemned by the first commandment. Near-death experiences are modern day spiritualism, crafted by Satan himself. We can all agree with this, without any hesitation, because in them the dead are alive and well. So, when a person claims to have met the Holy Spirit, seated upon a throne beside the Father in one of these experiences, as well as to have met people who have died, you know it is a lie straight from the pit of Satan. There is no truth in it. What does this mean for the Seventh-day Adventist? It means that the Holy Spirit that is worshipped in the trinity is a false god. I know trinitarianism is deeply ingrained in the minds of Seventh-day Adventists and ingrained in all Christianity, but how is it that a spirit can be a person, such as in “the third divine person of the Godhead’? A person has a form, a being, and a spirit does not. They are antithetical to each other. All through Scripture the body and the spirit are two distinct things. You may be thinking right now that since the ways of God are mysterious, we cannot be expected to understand everything about God; however, what he has communicated to us, we can understand, and in any verbal or written communication of humanity of any language, spirit and person are mutually incompatible. The spirit can inhabit the person, but the spirit is not the person. Trinitarianism is one of those fallacies of Satan we read about earlier—a deceptive influence of human and satanic agencies combined. Anyone who worships the Holy Spirit is committing offense against God and is guilty of breaking the first commandment. It is that serious. Remember: “The rule of heaven, which must be observed with unswerving obedience, is ‘They shall keep the way of the Lord.’ Every other path is that of the destroyer” (White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, p. 15)
In the last time of trouble, we shall be severely tried, and any one harboring even one unconfessed sin will not prevail.
Though God’s people will be surrounded by enemies who are bent upon their destruction, yet the anguish which they suffer is not a dread of persecution for the truth’s sake; they fear that every sin has not been repented of, and that through some fault in themselves they will fail to realize the fulfillment of the Saviour’s promise: I “will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world.” Revelation 3:10. . . .
Though suffering the keenest anxiety, terror, and distress, they do not cease their intercessions. They lay hold of the strength of God as Jacob laid hold of the Angel; and the language of their souls is: “I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me.”
Had not Jacob previously repented of his sin in obtaining the birthright by fraud, God would not have heard his prayer and mercifully preserved his life. So, in the time of trouble, if the people of God had unconfessed sins to appear before them while tortured with fear and anguish, they would be overwhelmed; despair would cut off their faith, and they could not have confidence to plead with God for deliverance. . . .
Satan leads many to believe that God will overlook their unfaithfulness in the minor affairs of life; but the Lord shows in His dealings with Jacob that He will in no wise sanction or tolerate evil. All who endeavor to excuse or conceal their sins, and permit them to remain upon the books of heaven, unconfessed and unforgiven, will be overcome by Satan. The more exalted their profession and the more honorable the position which they hold, the more grievous is their course in the sight of God and the more sure the triumph of their great adversary. Those who delay a preparation for the day of God cannot obtain it in the time of trouble or at any subsequent time. The case of all such is hopeless. . . .
Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father’s commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pp. 619–623)
Jesus always honored his Father above himself, worshipped his Father, and prayed to his Father. He did not worship the Holy Spirit, pray to the Holy Spirit, or honor it above himself, and neither are we advised to do so. There is a Holy Spirit, yes, but it is the spirit of the Father and the spirit of the Son, not a third person of the Godhead.
We want to abide under the shadow of the Almighty when the storms of the last crisis break upon us, and this can only happen if we are keeping all of God’s commandments, not nine of them. The case of the latter, regardless of the degree of faithfulness to the Seventh-day Adventist church organization, will be hopeless after the close of probation. God will only claim us as his own, in this age of knowledge and enlightenment, if we are keeping all of his commandments. We all love God—not for a moment do we doubt it—but a profession of love will not save us. We must keep his commandments and not adhere to ungodly man-made traditions. Only then will our hope be a godly hope, based on the firm foundation of godly faith, and only then can God honor and protect us (1 Samuel 2:30; Psalm 91).
. Emphasis in original
. Ellen White, Lt28–1872, February 27, 1872, par. 19
. Cameron Conaway, “The Ganges River Is Dying under the Weight of Modern India,” Newsweek, 9–23–2015 and http://factsanddetails.com/world/cat55/sub354/item1343.html
. “The Hope Within,” The Present Truth, November 15, 1900
. Fernando L. Canale, “Doctrine of God,” Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, Raoul Dederen, ed., p. 130
WV Camp Meeting
2016 WV Camp Meeting Schedule, June 14–18
The Final Atonement: June 14–18
As we have noted the last few months, the West Virginia camp meeting will be held at Smyrna Tuesday, June 14 through Sabbath, June 18.
Through the years we have focused on some very important topics, but I do not think that we have ever had a more important topic than this camp meeting theme: The Final Atonement.
The concept of a final atonement has been a pillar of Adventism from the early days. The Battle Creek Church, in 1890, proclaimed this truth in a list of its published fundamentals:
That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, the one by whom he created all things, and by whom they consist; that he took on him the nature of man, for the redemption of our fallen race; that he dwelt among men, full of grace and truth, lived our example, died our sacrifice, was raised for our justification, ascended on high to be our only mediator in the sanctuary in heaven, where, through the atoning merits of his blood, he secures the pardon and forgiveness of all who penitently come to God through him; and as the closing portion of his work as priest before he comes again as King of kings, he will make the final atonement for the sins of all believers, and blot them out, as foreshadowed and prefigured by the Levitical priesthood. (1890 Church Directory of the Membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church of Battle Creek)
We certainly encourage you to come and to share the blessing with us. We want this to be an interactive camp meeting, so we are planning for lots of time for questions and discussion after the meetings. Some of the speakers currently scheduled are Michael Brown, Ed Cyrus, Onycha Holt, S. T. Lewis, Morgan Polsky, Dennis Robertson, Allen Stump, Allen Uhl, Andy Whitehurst, and Michael Woodward.
The afternoons (Wednesday–Friday) will be devoted to seminars on health and to youth meetings. The health seminars will be conducted by Raquel Akens, Elaine Nailing, and Christy Whitehurst and will include instruction in principles of healthy meal planning and demonstrations of healthful food preparations, prepared both with the benefit of electricity and without, and one seminar will be devoted to useful natural treatments.
We are very pleased that Three Rivers Avian Center (TRAC) will again visit us, bringing an interesting exhibit of some of their beautiful birds.
Camping is free to all, but each camper will be responsible for his or her own meals, except on Sabbath, when a fellowship meal will be provided. Kitchen facilities will not be available, but camp stoves can be used in the camping area, and ice for ice chests can be obtained one mile away.
This is a camp meeting. We do not have cabins or rooms available. Smyrna has a few tents and other camping supplies for those who do not have their own and who cannot afford to purchase them. The supply is limited, so if you need to use a tent, camp stove, sleeping bag, or other items, please request early. We have four shower units with hot and cold water. Remember to bring such items as bedding, flashlights, food, toiletries, and insect repellent. Let our dress and deportment be such as becomes Christians.
While there is room for RV’s, we do not have hook-ups. RV’s will need to be self-contained. For those who wish, there are motels in the area. The nearest motels are: The Pocahontas Motel (304) 436–2250, The Cow Shed (304) 732–7000, and Twin Falls State Park Resort (304) 294–4000. If you need a room, please call early, as the better motels fill up quickly, due to a large influx of tourists at this time of year.
Please check our website (smyrna.org) for detailed driving directions.
“Old Paths is a free monthly newsletter/study-paper published by Smyrna Gospel Ministries, 750 Smyrna Road, Welch, WV 24801–9606 U. S. A. 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 website. The url is: http://www.smyrna.org. Phone: (304) 732–9204. Fax: (304) 732–7322.
Editor Allen Stump—email@example.com
Associate Editor Onycha Holt—firstname.lastname@example.org