Greatest of These
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three;
but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
How great is charity? It takes the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 to explain. Paul offers a list of the characteristics, or qualities, of charity—it is longsuffering, kind, not easily provoked, etc.—but he does not give us a definition of charity because charity is hard to define in a few words. Whatever it is, it is harbored in the mind and is seen in actions. Nowhere else in Paul’s writings does he give so long a list of the qualities of anything. Faith also is a quality of the mind and expressed in actions, but Paul is able to define it (Hebrews 11:1) and then provides a long list of examples of faith. The Bible gives many examples of sin, but the definition is limited to one verse (1 John 3:4).
Charity is one of the best illustrated concepts in the Bible, recorded both by precept and example, and this is because of our great need to understand and to emulate it. We do not naturally love. The desire to love others and to be tender-hearted is contrary to our sinful hearts, so through the life and teachings of Jesus and through the record of all of God’s interactions with men, as well as through Paul’s classic illustrations in 1 Corinthians 13, God kindly teaches us exactly what love is. The world, however, has hardened its heart to true charity, as Pharaoh hardened his heart, for love is a self-sacrificing quality and requires much of the follower of Christ. In its place, Satan has provided a perverted emotion that the world accepts with pleasure, for lust, control, and selfishness respond to the call of the unconverted heart and deface the image of God in heart and mind. So, has the concept of charity been lost over the ages in our world?
The Bible lists four world nations—Babylon, Medo-persia, Greece, and Rome (Daniel 2)—but it also mentions other individual great nations, and the United States is one of these great nations (Revelation 13:11), but she is young and only one of many that currently rule on earth. Frequent political maneuvers and rumblings cause the nations of our day to rise and fall as they attempt to establish their authority and place in history (Matthew 24:6, 7), but should we not see an even thread of charity running through the movements of nations, for are we not all brothers and sisters?
Most major ancient cultures, including those of the Old Testament times, practiced human sacrifice as part of their religious rites and/or demands of state. You would not have wanted to be the queen or one of the attendants of a Sumerian king in Ur, for you would have been sacrificed at his death. The Maya, the Inca, and the Aztec civilizations all practiced human sacrifice, and Satan was so successful in perverting the worship of God, that human sacrifice even invaded Israelite worship.
Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. (Psalm 106:37, 38; see also Patriarchs and Prophets, pages 337, 544)
The God of the Bible, the only true God, has a character of love (1 John 4:8; John 3:16), and all other so-called gods are simply Satanic delusions created to serve Satan and to destroy man. Only our heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, have love as the foundation of government.
The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all created beings depended upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness. God desires from all His creatures the service of love—homage that springs from an intelligent appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced allegiance, and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service. (Ellen White, The Great Controversy, p. 493)
What a wonderful God we serve! He only requires the broken and contrite heart of man, not his physical life. Death is foreign to the benevolent character of God. Even the destruction of the wicked is a strange act to him (Isaiah 28:21).
We read Genesis 3 with deep sadness, but immediately after the treacherous acts of Eve and of Adam, Jesus came to them with a heart full of love. The consequences of their sins were laid before them, but Jesus also gave them the promise that love would triumph over evil and made for them coats of warmth. What matchless love! Can you find it anywhere outside of God? The Bible is full, cover to cover, of the evidence of God’s love. When the Bible speaks of God’s love, the word love may not necessarily be used, but who can deny the love that flows in these verses:
Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. (Isaiah 49:8–16)
The concept of love in the Bible
In the Old Testament there are seven root words used to convey the concept of love, which, in the Hebrew mind, usually meant a strong attraction or affection, a compassion for someone or something, a clinging to someone or something, or a cherishing of a person or thing; but in the New Testament, love is presented in greater depth, though in fewer words. Even though Peter and Jesus spoke Aramaic, John wrote his gospel in Greek, and he chose two Greek words to illustrate the concepts of love depicted in the conversation Jesus had with Peter. Peter, it seems, did not understand one of these concepts of love, the one based on principle and not on feeling.
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? (John 21:15)
Lovest is the Greek word αγαπαω (agapaō), but Peter’s answer to Jesus was the Greek equivalent φιλεω (philĕō):
He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (philĕō) thee. (John 21:15)
Jesus tried again:
He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (agapaō) thou me? (John 21:16)
And Peter answered as he had at first:
He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love (philĕō) thee. (John 21:16)
Jesus asked a third time:
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (philĕō) thou me? (John 21:17)
Here Jesus changed his use of the word love to the word Peter had been using. Peter was grieved because he thought Jesus did not understand him and that he doubted him, but actually it was Peter who did not understand. Peter answered:
And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (philĕō) thee. (John 21:17)
Jesus was stressing the importance of agapaō over philĕō, so let us consider these two concepts.
Philĕō is a Greek word derived from the root philŏs. Philŏs means dear, friend, or fondness, and philŏs is combined with other Greek words to form a compound word that means a love or a fondness for whatever the second Greek word is. Philĕō, however, is a non-compound word that simply means love for an individual or an object that has not been specified because a second Greek word has not been appended to philŏs. In our texts Peter specified Jesus as the individual for whom he had a fondness or loving friendliness. Jesus, however, was asking for more than a fondness from Peter, no matter how deep and special his fondness might have been, but Peter missed the point of what Jesus was trying to teach him, and with anguish of heart cried out, “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (philĕō) thee” (John 21:17).
To Peter’s credit, he later grasped the concept of principled love and advises us in his letters to “love (agapaō) one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22), to “love (agapaō) the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17), to “have fervent charity (agapē) among yourselves” (1 Peter 4:8), and, in his ladder of godly living, to add charity (agapē) to brotherly kindness (2 Peter 1:7). Isn’t Jesus wonderful? He taught Peter an important lesson about love long before it became meaningful to him, but the experience stayed in Peter’s mind, and he dwelt on it until he finally understood it. And Jesus does the same for us. It may be years before we finally understand what he has been trying to teach us all along! God is so good and patient. How can we not agapaō him always?
But what do agapaō and agapē mean? Do we understand their concepts any better than Peter originally seemed to? We all know what it is like to have feelings of love for one another and perhaps a feeling of love for one person in particular, and many of us know that sweet feeling of parental love when we look on our helpless babes innocently asleep. All of these are sweet feelings that are good and God-supplied, and we are all blessed by them, but feelings can be tried, and emotional love can be dampened or lost. Darkness falls, chasms grow, and unless we humbly stop the process (through God’s grace), tempers flare, often leaving divorce, disinheritance, or violence in its wake.
True love is not a mere emotion. It does not consist in sentiment alone, it is a principle manifest in works, in noble and unselfish deeds. (Ellen White, Lt53–1900.17)
. . . from the Christian standpoint, love is power. Intellectual and spiritual strength are involved in this principle. Pure love has special efficacy to do good, and can do nothing but good. It prevents discord and misery, and brings the truest happiness. . . . truth and goodness are the properties of pure love. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 138; all emphasis in this article supplied unless otherwise noted)
And love is the principle of heaven:
Love is the great principle that actuates the unfallen beings. With what amazement then do the angels behold the indifference of those who have light and knowledge! The heavenly host is filled with an intense desire to work through human agencies to restore in man the moral image of God. They are ready and waiting to do this work. The combined power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is pledged to recover man from his fallen state. Every attribute, every power, of divinity has been placed at the command of those who unite with the Saviour in winning men to God. (Ellen White, Lt165–1901.8)
This principled love is the love husbands are commanded to have for their wives.
Husbands, love (agapaō) your wives, even as Christ also loved (agapaō) the church, and gave himself for it. (Ephesians 5:25)
Why? Jesus loved the church to the point of giving himself for it so “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26, 27). For the same reason men ought “to love their wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28). The church is the spiritual body of Christ and in like manner, wives are the spiritual bodies of their husbands, and husbands are responsible to Christ for them. When godly wives are loved in the selfless way Jesus loves the church, how can they help but love their husbands with great joy and submit to them as unto Christ? It is a beautiful example of the circle of love, each serving the other, but Satan has perverted the system so that even Christian men can be harsh and overbearing or self-centered and insensitive to the wants and needs of their wives. Women seeking to be godly women in such households are often reduced to a perversion of what a godly woman is meant to be because they often think that a meek and quiet spirit does not, in a loving and gentle way, address the selfish behavior of their spouses:
When the wife yields her body and mind to the control of her husband, being passive to his will in all things, sacrificing her conscience, her dignity, and even her identity, she loses the opportunity of exerting that mighty influence for good which she should possess to elevate her husband. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 476)
May God richly bless our homes, especially young homes, where the husband and wife are just beginning to learn the deep lessons of agapē.
Women are required to be a source of agapē in the home (1 John 4:11), and when the husband and wife have tender feelings of love for each other, as well as principled agapē to bind them during times of stress and to bless them in times of peace, the home will be a heaven on earth.
But women can also be a source of selfishness in the home. They may, or may not, be harsh and overbearing, but they can be proud. Satan rules in the proud heart, for pride is always self-centered. Pride of adornment, one demonstration of pride, is addressed in Isaiah 3:
Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, And walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, Walking and mincing as they go, And making a tinkling with their feet . . . And their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the muffle The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, And the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, And the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, And the hoods, and the vails. . . . Thy men shall fall by the sword, And thy mighty in the war. (Isaiah 3:16–25)
Ellen White said verse 25 was to be strictly fulfilled:
The prophecy of Isaiah 3 was presented before me as applying to these last days, and the reproofs are given to the daughters of Zion who have thought only of appearance and display. Read verse 25: “Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy mighty in the war.” I was shown that this scripture will be strictly fulfilled. Young men and women professing to be Christians, yet having no Christian experience, and having borne no burdens and felt no individual responsibility, are to be proved. They will be brought low in the dust and will long for an experience in the things of God, which they have failed to obtain. (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, p. 270; published 1862)
None of us, as women, want the men in our lives to fall by the sword, so why do many Seventh-day Adventist women adorn themselves with jewelry, with many changeable suits of attire, etc., after having been warned of the fulfillment of this prophecy in the last days? The warning was given in 1862 and even if this prophecy was fulfilled in the Civil War, the principles remain the same. Having changes of clothing is not the issue, for we all need to be clothed. The issue is the pride exhibited by the use of jewelry and in the clothing worn for display. We want to be neat, clean, healthful, and lovely in our appearance, but we do not want to call attention to ourselves, for the beautiful qualities of God’s Spirit are to shine forth:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22, 23)
Pride with all its nuances, whether in appearance or of opinion, will lead us to uncharitable actions and to disharmony in the home because pride insists on its own way and is unwilling to sacrifice completely for others, for any part of pride that remains will always be a source of disharmony. Concerning pride and the last days, we are told:
Frivolous amusements, pride of dress, indulgence of appetite, hardened the heart and benumbed the conscience, so that the voice of truth was not heard. Duty was despised. Things of infinite value were lightly esteemed, until the heart lost all desire to sacrifice for Him who has given so much for man. (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 558)
Charity (agapē) has several characteristics. It is patient and kind. It is not envious or boastful. It is not arrogant, rude, irritable, or resentful, and it does not insist on its own way. It does not rejoice with wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things, and charity never ends (English Standard Version).
Love is manifested in kindness, gentleness, forbearance, and long-suffering. The expression of the countenance is changed. The peace of heaven is revealed. There is seen a habitual gentleness, a more than human love. Humanity becomes a partaker of divinity. Christ is honored by perfection of character. As these changes are perfected, angels break forth in rapturous song, and God and Christ rejoice over souls fashioned after the divine similitude.
We should accustom ourselves to speak in pleasant tones; to use pure, correct language, and words that are kind and courteous. Kind words are as dew and gentle showers to the soul. The Scripture says of Christ that grace was poured into His lips, that He might “know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” And the Lord bids us, “Let your speech be alway with grace” “that it may minster grace unto the hearers.” (Ellen White, Ms69–1902, par. 11, 12)
It is wonderful to experience such love, but what do you do when this love is not shown to you; when your life partner sits while you do all the work or is demanding or when you are criticized, misjudged, ignored, and rejected? Do you bear all of this is the name of charity?
In the darkness of human experience, the star of heavenly love can still shine. It rises above every human sorrow and comforts every heart of woe. “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee” (Psalm 55:22).
Kind words are never lost. Jesus records them as if spoken to Himself. (Manuscript 33, 1911). (Ellen White, Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1118)
The charity shown the hard-hearted and selfish may not change them, but it fills the heart of God with joy. He is the source of all love (1 John 4:8; 19), and love is returned to him in every deed of kindness, in every wrong patiently borne, and in every harsh word left unchallenged. In the heat of the moment, when unkind fire is blazing, you must respond with charity, but when the embers cool, a new responsibility remains for the follower of Christ.
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. . . . And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:6, 7, 11)
Adults on the receiving end of works of darkness are required to render a reproof. This is the only loving thing to do, for salvation is involved.
“You must have charity,” is the cry heard everywhere, especially from those who profess sanctification. But true charity is too pure to cover an unconfessed sin. While we are to love the souls for whom Christ died, we are to make no compromise with evil. We are not to unite with the rebellious and call this charity. God requires His people in this age of the world to stand for the right as unflinchingly as did John in opposition to soul-destroying errors. (Ellen White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 554)
While our words are ever to be kind and tender, no words should be spoken that will lead a wrongdoer to think that his way is not objectionable to God. This is a kind of sympathy that is earthly and deceiving. No license is given for undue manifestation of affections, for sentimental sympathy. Wrongdoers need counsel and reproof, and must sometimes be sharply rebuked. (Ellen White, Ms17–1899.7)
If you accept unloving attitudes, words, or actions from someone close to you without a gentle reproach at the right time, then you are uniting with the sin, for you are accepting it, with no deterrent offered, and you are not demonstrating true charity to the person rendering it.
No man has love to God, no matter what his profession may be, unless he has unselfish love for his brother. . . . We shall not feel like letting the soul who is in the greatest peril, and in the greatest need, go unwarned, unlabored for, and uncared for. We shall not feel like holding the erring off, and being critical and exacting, or letting them alone to plunge into further unhappiness and discouragement, and to fall on Satan’s battleground . . . (Ellen White, Ms62–1894.12)
We are not to respond with a harsh, retaliatory reproof, and the only reproof needed, when in the presence of darkness, may simply be silence:
If you are spoken to harshly, never retaliate. Utter not a word. When under provocation, remember that “silence is eloquence.” Silence is the greatest rebuke that you can possibly give a faultfinder or one whose temper is irritated. (Ellen White, Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, p. 376)
You can also offer, perhaps later, kind, humble counsel, based on scripture. In the face of selfishness, injustice, rejection, etc., the Christian is required to reprove the wrong, but he or she is not to keep pointing it out. Once loving reproof is given, duty is done. Godly discretion is needed for any further counsel, and always remember that when a child is present at flashpoint or in the dimming embers of anger, safety cannot be compromised and if an adult is in harm’s way, his or her safety must also be firstly secured.
When we intervene with godly advice and reproof, it should never be because we believe our rights have been violated and we are standing up for them. That would be selfishness of our part. Jesus never contended for his rights. We are only to bring up an issue because we have concern for the other person’s salvation, and we know this is how we would want others to treat us. None of us would want to be lost because we have been blind to how we treat others and no one was kind enough to enlighten us. When we keep salvation as our focus, any concern we raise will always be done in love.
Jesus did not contend for His rights. Often His work was made unnecessarily severe because He was willing and uncomplaining. Yet He did not fail nor become discouraged. He lived above these difficulties, as if in the light of God’s countenance. He did not retaliate when roughly used, but bore insult patiently. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 89)
And your work will be made unnecessarily severe also. In the workplace, people may take advantage of you. At home you may be rejected. You may be derided because you refuse to enter into the criticism and/or the commandment-breaking behavior of others. All that live godly will suffer persecution, but when you come to the end of your day and when you repose for yet another night, lift your eyes heavenward and remember to pray for them which despitefully use you that you may be “the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:45) and remember, also, the glorious star of angels who visited the shepherds long ago with a message of “on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14), for in spite of the turmoil we all face, you can have peace through Jesus, born in the city of David, our Saviour, Christ the Lord.
Following the Voice of the Spirit
(This is the printed version of a message presented Sabbath morning at the 2016 West Virginia camp meeting.)
During the last three or four months, I have been carefully reading the words of Jesus in Matthew 23 through 27, and when I got to Matthew 25, something shocking jumped out at me. Of the ten virgins, five were wise and five were foolish, but all of them went to sleep, and Sister White says that this represents the church, the corporate church. All of them were asleep, but then it goes on to say that at midnight somebody cried out, Behold the bridegroom cometh. Now if the church was asleep, who was it that called out? Folks like those who publish Old Paths. You see, the corporate church is all involved in whatever it is involved in, and it is asleep, she says, but you have watchmen on the walls, like Brother Stump, that warn us. We’re busy; we’re working; we’re doing this; we’re doing that, and this man’s life is caught up in warning us. He’s a watchman on the wall, warning us from the wiles of the devil. I personally appreciate it.
For the last several months, Pastor Stump been writing about the atonement—the blood of Christ, the sanctuary, and Jesus Christ. So what I did, I took all the messages in the Old Paths and had them printed, and then I went through all of it carefully—underlining, writing things down. Now, he’s the one who dug all this out. He researches; he gets the written word; he makes it clear and plain, and he illustrates something that we don’t see. So, when you get a chance, read the papers. They really are important to read—the atonement, the blood of Jesus, and the importance of the sanctuary. Thank you for all the work that you, Pastor Allen, do in trying to show us what the Lord has for us in these last days.
Now, I asked the Lord to help me make simple this plan that Stump has been giving us. When you read the Bible, it’s there, but like I showed you with the picture of the cow in the last presentation, unless somebody shows it to you, you won’t see it, though you’re looking at it all the time. So, when we look at the whole plan of salvation, the Lord wants to show us the process that he goes through in getting rid of our sin and saving us, and he illustrates this in the sanctuary. In the Old Testament and in the New Testament, he talks about the sanctuary, the holy place, the most holy place, the importance of the holy place, the importance of the most holy place. He talks about the high priest, and he talks about the Day of Atonement, all in the process of the sanctuary.
Now, as I was looking at this and reading this, something jumped out at me that frightened me and made me fearful and scared me, and I will read it to you. I am going to try to explain this the way the Lord has given it to me. Every sermon that I preach, I make sure that I get my own message.
Let’s start with Leviticus. In the process of the sanctuary, there is a holy place, a most holy place, a Day of Atonement, and all of these aspects have an important work to do in what Jesus does. When it comes to the Day of Atonement, the people had something to do on that day, along with the high priest. There are two phases. Let us read:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 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. (Leviticus 23:26–28)
And next comes the phrase that scared me. He says that the high priest is in the sanctuary. Now this was the sanctuary on earth, and we, as Adventists, believe that there is no sanctuary on earth now, but all of this represented the reality or the antitypical day in heaven. Now while Jesus was in heaven and the high priest was on earth, you weren’t to do any work because work would not do you any good on that day. Instead, the people were to afflict their souls. Listen to what God says:
For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. (Leviticus 23:29)
In other words, if you didn’t afflict your soul or if you were not in tune with the high priest on earth, who was in the sanctuary, you were to be separated, cut off, or put away. Now, get the picture here. On the Day of Atonement—one day a year (and atonement means one, together with, united, in harmony)—the high priest goes into the most holy place before God, and while he is in there before God, the people are on the outside. Are you listening? Now, while the high priest was in there before God, the people on the outside were basically kind of fearful because they wanted to make sure that the high priest represented them in the most holy place while he was in there with the Father. So, they did not work; there was no need to work. They were afraid. They prayed, Please, Father, accept me and pardon my sins that had been in the holy place and were transferred to the most holy place. Lord, please, have mercy. Now, if there was sin in the camp while the high priest was in the most holy place, what would have happened? They would have died. You see, the point to me is that while the high priest on earth was in before the Father, you don’t play around, act the fool, and be unlike God while the high priest is taking the time to represent you and your sins before the Father. Now, that burned into my mind and sticks with me.
Now, transfer the earthly practice in the most holy place over into heaven. We understand that since 1844 Jesus has been in the most holy place before the Father. Now, I’m on earth, and Jesus is up there, and he is telling his Father, Look, all these folks have asked me for pardon; they’ve confessed their sins, and I’ve forgiven their sins. He is in the most holy place up there, and we’re down here wandering around, disobeying, acting crazy, have hatred in our hearts, don’t love anybody, and we don’t worry about it! We just do whatever we want to do, while Jesus is up there. People are not going to receive atonement acting like that. We’re struggling; we’ve got problems; we’ve got sin; and, oh, we’ve got worries.
Now, the sad part about this is, the corporate church comes along and says that there is no way you can be without sin, that you’re going to always sin, that the Lord is forgiving, and that he will always forgive you, and he will, if you not only confess and repent, but forsake the sin. That last part is left out from the corporate church, and it relaxes you to think that you can just keep on doing what you’re doing, and Jesus is going to be up in heaven, forgiving you.
Now, one thing about it is, Jesus won’t lie. He’s not going to tell his Father that you’re all right, if you are not all right. We need to get that through our heads. He’s not going to lie for me in heaven, when he is representing me and my sins that I’ve asked him to take and he has been faithful and just to forgive. So, unless what he says in heaven agrees with me down here, I could be cut off. Now that is the thing that scared me. Now it doesn’t scare me any more because I understand it. The articles in Old Paths helped me to see this. Now, if you don’t read it, you won’t get it, and it won’t help you.
The point with us today is, since we are in the antitypical day of the atonement, how do we act down here, while he is in before his Father up there, asking him to forgive us, and we keep on doing what we’re doing? Atonement is not going to happen.
Now, listen. Sister White says in the 1888 version of The Great Controversy, “The subject of the sanctuary and the investigative Judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God” (p. 488), implying we don’t understand it. Looking at the sanctuary, we normally think we see it. We’ve been reading about it. I’ve been preaching about it, telling the people all about it, but I didn’t completely understand it. She says the people of God ought to clearly understand it. Now, I call myself part of the people of God, so I need to clearly understand it.
“All need a knowledge for themselves of the position and work of their great High Priest” (Ibid.). Now, it’s all right for me, as a minister, to have an understanding, but she says you, as a person, need it. Now, I delved in it for myself, but because I’m a preacher, I tell you what I find, and that is what I doing now, but you need to sit down with your Bible and your Spirit of Prophecy books, and with the help of what is in Old Paths, and understand the judgment and the investigative judgment of the sanctuary for yourself. Not for somebody else; for yourself. “Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time, or to occupy the position which God designs them to fill” (Ibid.).
Now, what I have also learned is that the biggest work that Jesus tried for fifty years to show me was that the most important thing that God wanted and that Jesus wanted was for me to have complete faith and trust in them. Every time I turn around somebody is trying to tell me what I should do or what I ought to do and what I’ve got to do and what I can’t do. Jesus is interested in my faith, and Sister White makes it clear, when you understand the position of Jesus as your high priest in the most holy place, that what you need to understand is what strengthens your faith, and faith is what you have to have, not just knowing the truth, but faith, real faith. We are to “bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed” (Ibid.) to us, but this falls on deaf ears. We are to bear testimony. “The sanctuary in Heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men” (Ibid.).
Now, wait a minute. It that’s the center of my salvation, then I better know something about it. Let’s say the decision of whether I go to heaven or to hell weighs on the brethren downtown and that I’ve got a trial and a case downtown. I know my name is coming up downtown. Am I going to be outside the town, having fun, playing the fool, and acting up while my name is being talked about and a decision is made whether I go to heaven or hell? They are going to decide, but I don’t bother to know anything about it and I don’t care to be clear on what the lawyer (or the priest) is going to say about me or what I am making him say? It doesn’t make sense to me to be so indifferent!
“It is of the utmost importance that all [both old and young] should thoroughly investigate these subjects” (Ibid.; emphasis supplied). Now to me, this is what Brother Stump has done. He has thoroughly investigated it, delved into the word, and showed us the meaning, so that we might understand, and he has really made simple in his papers the importance of Jesus and his blood on the Day of Atonement.
Now to me, most Seventh-day Adventists don’t really talk about it. You don’t hear anything about it. Preachers don’t preach about it, so you don’t get it. You’ve heard about it in the Bible, but you don’t get it.
“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” (Ibid., p. 489). Oh, we know about his death, which is important, and we know all about his life, which is also important, but just as important is the work Jesus is doing in heaven in the sanctuary.
Now, if I have a problem (as a preacher, I am always preaching to myself) with this process, I want to sit down and figure out how it is that I can live down here on this earth without sin, when he is representing me up there in heaven and when he doesn’t want any sin in me down here. Now, I can’t listen to anybody else, but I am going to listen to Jesus. Are you getting it? So, I am concerned, and I go to my Bible, and here is what I find. Now of all the Bible writers, Paul got it. I mean, the Apostle Paul had it, and from my experience, it seems like you have to have some kind of supernatural, out of the way, unusual circumstances before you get it.
You see, all along I’m preaching, and all along I’m going up and down the road. I’m going here, and I’m going all up and down the road to the churches. I’m doing all this stuff, and then all of a sudden I have a stroke, and I say, Now, Lord, I have been doing all these things for all these years, and I don’t want to fool around and be lost.
So, I took my Bible and I said, I’m going to read this Bible unlike I have ever read it before, and I think I’ve told you that when you read the Bible and let it tell you what it says, you will discover that it says differently than what you heard that it said and differently from what they told you it said.
It was the same with Paul—he read the Bible, he studied the Bible, and he was working for the Lord. He was going around killing the Christians, whipping them, putting them in jail, when all of a sudden he had an experience, that hit him in his head and knocked him off his horse. Oh, Lord, have mercy. What do you want me to do? That experience helped him to understand what he didn’t see. I told you in my last meeting about how you can look at something and not see it. Paul notes:
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. (1 Corinthians 2:14, 15)
When you talk about Jesus being your high priest, that is spiritual talk because you don’t talk about or understand about any earthly high priest normally down here. Paul continues:
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Now, listen to this. The Lord showed me that the whole plan of salvation is really, really simple because the Lord’s Spirit works on your head, on your brain, in your mind. In other words, all of us were born physically, but we also know that there is a spiritual light, the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. The Spirit is there, too, impressing us with light. Now the Spirit is what God works with—something that you can’t see with your eyes, something that you can’t hear with your natural ears, but something that works on that side of you that only he works on—but you decide, and that’s the critical point, your decision. He told Nicodemus he must be born again—to stop listening to the flesh and to start listening to the Spirit—and when you are born again, Jesus comes and fills that spot in your brain. You decide to follow him every day that you live. The decision that you made we sometimes say was in the heart because the heart is the center of the body and the heart rules your brain or your mind. Jesus wants to work on your mind. He just wants you to give him your mind, to trust him, to turn yourself deliberately over to him in your mind. Now, you can’t see anything spiritual, if you don’t give him your mind.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Oh, I’ve preached that text a thousand times. What does it mean the Holy Spirit is in my body? Now, my body is my flesh, and I don’t see any Spirit in me, and you don’t see any Spirit in me. We can’t see it with our eyes, but Paul said, according to Jesus, that the Holy Spirit lives in our body, if you chose in your head to let him live there. Lord, I want you in my heart, in my head, in my body and you to control what I do. See? What is in your mind controls what you do. And Jesus says he wants to live in you.
Now, I want you to get this. I’m going to take my time with it. He wants to live in you. Now, you can’t see it. Jesus told Nicodemus, You can’t see, after you are born again, me living in you, but you can see the evidence of it. And the example he gave is just like the wind blowing. You can’t see the wind, but you can see the tree moving, but you don’t see what is moving it. So, when the Spirit is living in your head, you can’t see in your head and you can’t see in mine, but you can see the evidence that he is in me.
Now, I’m going to read a little more. So the Holy Spirit is in me, dwelling in my mind, because I’ve chosen to let him lead me. Now, if you don’t choose to let him lead you, the flesh side is going to control you, and the devil is going to control your flesh and control what you see. Oh, boy, that looks good. Oh, that’s pretty. I like that. That is the flesh. See, the Spirit controls the things of the Spirit, and the flesh controls the things of your flesh, and the devil controls your flesh.
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God. (2 Corinthians 6:16)
Now, did you get that? Your body, if you decide to let Jesus lead you, will become a living temple, and people can see this because of the evidence.
As God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (1 Corinthians 6:16)
So, when a person decides to let Jesus’ Spirit live in him or her, then that person will see the evidence that Jesus is in there by the way they think. They don’t think like they used to. They think differently than when they were living by the flesh.
This idea is also in the Old Testament. Ezekiel wrote: “A new heart also will I give you”; in other words, a new mind, “and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26). Not the old spirit, which was from the flesh, but a new spirit, something you don’t have because you have never been born again. If you are not born again, you still have the old spirit. “A new spirit will I put within you [here’s that phrase again of putting something within you]: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an [new] heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26, 27). You see, he’s talking about the same thing, about living in you, being in you, abiding with you. “I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezekiel 36:27).
You see, we always put the cart before the horse. In other words, when you let the Spirit of God control your head, or your brain, what Jesus puts in you will be the ability and the mind to obey his commands. So you don’t have to try to do it; you do it automatically. Now I want you to get that. See, we often think, Oh, I’ve got to do this. Oh, I’ve got to pass out something. Oh, I’ve got to belong to this church. Oh, I’ve got to go to this meeting. What I’ve learned is the devil has been as slick as anything in this world. He has us all wrapped up in what we do. Oh, this is just so important. Oh, we’ve got to go to the church. Oh, we’ve got to belong here. Oh, the pastor said we’ve got to do this. And this is not only among Adventists; it is everywhere.
Did you see the documentary on Mohammed Ali? He was the greatest man in the world, some said. Everybody loved Mohammed. Everybody wanted to be like Mohammed. Then they sat down and interviewed him and his wife. And his wife said, The reason why he did what he did in the end is he wanted to make sure that everything that he did helped him to be saved. So, he gave out money; he gave out tickets. He went around doing good. Now, all that is fine, but my Bible tells me you aren’t going to have eternal life without Jesus. Understand? So the devil fooled him to think, made him think, that what he did would help him be saved, but, you see, what he did was to leave out Jesus. You see, that’s how we all are. That is how the devil makes us all think—that we can get to heaven without Jesus. Oh, if I just belong to the Seventh-day Adventist Church—not necessarily make any changes, but just belong—isn’t that right? Now, listen. I can stand here and tell you I didn’t believe this deliberately. I did it ignorantly, until my eyes came open.
See, my goal as a practicing minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was baptizing as many people as possible. They put it in our heads that our success as a preacher was in baptizing people. They gave you all the skills, even gave you a little money, and gave you all the tools. We bought a tent. We bought chairs. We wanted to make Seventh-day Adventists out of people, and I had an unconscious thought that if a person just belonged to the church, he was saved, and my goal was to just fill up the church. Everywhere I went—fill up the church—and I thought filling up the church meant that I was successful. To the eyes that were not of God, like I read to you, that was success, but to the eyes of the Lord and his Spirit, that may not have been because the people that came in did not have Jesus in them. Now, how do I know that? You’re trying to judge them, now, you say. No, I’m not judging. I’m just looking at the evidence because some would come in and not like what they saw and what they heard and how the people treated them, so they left. So, their salvation was not in belonging to my church. Is that clear?
We’ve read about Paul, but here Jesus says: “I will pray the Father and he will give you another Comforter” (John 14:16). Jesus is talking to his disciples. He said, Now, listen folks. I’m going to send you somebody else from my Father. Now, the Father is going to give you somebody else, and he is going to comfort you and abide with you. Not only will he be in you, but he’s going to abide outside of you. Now, if there is something controlling my brain that I listen to and that is Jesus in there and then on the outside of me, Jesus is helping me and abiding with me, I don’t have anything to worry about. See how simple this thing is?
I’m not through yet. Verse 17:
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:17)
In other words, he is in you and with you. Now, how can you go wrong? Just tell me, now, how can you go wrong? I’m down here, and I need help because he’s not going to represent me up there while I’m sinning down here. So he tells his disciples that when he goes back to his Father and represent us up there, he’s going to leave us his Spirit down here that is going to be in our heads that will help us and control us, if we listen to it. He is going to abide with us. So, it’s a guarantee that if we listen to the Spirit, we are going to be like Jesus.
Hold on, now. There’s more. Philippians 2:5 says, “Let his mind be in you.” There it is again. In other words, allow the Spirit of Christ to control your brain. Don’t listen to your flesh; listen to the Spirit.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (verse 5).
So, the invitation to me is clear. Unless the Spirit controls me, I can’t be represented properly by my Saviour in heaven.
Now let me give you another text that came to my mind while I was sitting here in the chair.
First John 3:4. Now, listen to this. This is what really helps me.
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
Now, Jesus came here to take away my sins, so I have given him my sins, I’ve asked for forgiveness, and he helps me overcome, and I have accepted him by faith. It continues to say:
“And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin” (verse 5). This means we do not practice or keep on sinning, because he is in you. So, when you keep talking about you can’t overcome and you can’t stop sinning, you’re telling a lie, and Jesus is not in you. If Jesus is in you, you will not continually practice sin. You see, Jesus made it possible for us to be able to stand on this earth and for him to represent us up there. He made that possible. He said, I’m going to leave you now, and I’m going to send you help, inside of you and outside of you, if you just listen to me. Now, what for? The whole purpose is he wants to be one. What is atonement? Being one.
Now, I’m not finished reading to you yet. I’m going to read the next verse out of another translation, but let’s take your Bibles and go to Colossians 1 and start in verse 24. Now listen to this. It is about a mystery and how the Lord shows us a mystery by examples. See? Now this whole thing that I have read to you is about Jesus being in you, being with you, abiding with you, and all, but you say, Oh, we just don’t get it, so I’m going to read out of another translation so it will smoothly go into your head. Remember, I am after understanding, so I want you to understand this.
I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. (Colossians 1:24, 25, New Living Translation [NLT])
What did he mean by entire? He means they didn’t get it all, and I didn’t get it all. Now, I got some of it, but I didn’t get it all.
This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. (Colossians 1:26, NLT)
So, there was some part of the plan that was kept secret. Secret even from me. Now, I saw it, but I didn’t see it. I listened to it, but I didn’t hear it. It is like most of us. Now, listen.
For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. (Colossians 1:27, NLT)
The secret that has been blocked out for generations was not only for Jews, but for Gentiles. This was the secret—that God wanted to live in us, through Christ. They didn’t know that. So in the atonement it is possible for a person to be complete and whole, not because of what he or she did, but because of Christ living in them! Oh, that thing is simple to me now, but like the example before about the cow—I didn’t see it!
So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me. (verses 28, 29, NLT)
With all of his might because of the power of Christ that was working with him, he wanted to show people how important it was for them to accept in their head the Spirit of Christ, who abides with them and in them, so that they might be complete. Were they absolutely perfect? No, but they had perfect faith in Jesus. Now that is simple.
Now, listen, there is one more thing. Go the book of St. John again, chapter 16. Now this idea about him living in you was so strong with Jesus. Read verse 7:
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (John 16:7)
He was telling the truth; he wasn’t lying. It was expedient for you that he went away.
Now, he’s gone. Jesus has left.
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. (John 17:9–11)
They may be what? One. What does atonement mean? One. Jesus said, I’m going to supply everything to you on this earth that will help you to be one with me and my Father. Now, I don’t see how you can beat that. I’m going to live in you; I’m going to live around you; I’m going to control you, if you listen to what I tell you in your head. See, everything that you do you have to decide to do it. I don’t care what it is, and that Spirit that is in your head, if you decide to follow Jesus, will tell you what to do and how to live. I want to go to the store. I want to go and buy this. The Spirit tells you not to get that, but you don’t listen to it. Most of us don’t. I’m going to buy this. I think I need that. I’m going to buy this dress. I’m going to go here. I’m going to go there. We don’t follow the Spirit. We do what the flesh wants. Jesus has supplied everything we need to be properly represented on the Day of Atonement in heaven with his Father. Now, I don’t see how in the world we can miss that. It’s right here before me.
Hold on, though. I’m not through reading yet. Verses 20, 21:
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:20, 21)
Now this is Jesus himself talking. He says oneness is what my Father wants. Now I am going to put myself, through my Spirit, in them. I’m going to abide with them, so that when you look at those who accept this plan, all of them will be one. That’s what the atonement is—to make us one, united with the Father and with the Son—and he said because we do that, we will glorify him. Jesus will be honored and praised and glorified and hallowed everywhere. He is the crowning act of our salvation. How could we miss that?
Now, in conclusion: We all got sidetracked because the leaders of the church decided that this is an unusual message and since they wanted to be like the world, they put that message on the side, weren’t going to talk about it, and were not going to acknowledge it. We went to the seminary, and we were taught, all of us ministers, that it wasn’t even so. Now you say, How do you know that? Humph! I’m one of the preachers they sent to the seminary, and I couldn’t understand how the teachers at the seminary could go against the sanctuary, the atonement, and the priesthood of Christ.
Now, going back to Stump. Stump puts in his newsletter letters that were written by certain ministers back then that couldn’t understand how the thing had changed. See, the Lord is wonderful. I mean the Lord is wonderful. Back then the ministers were confused because they had been teaching it like I’ve presented here, and all of a sudden the thing changed. So they were writing Froom, saying, How in the world did this change? And Froom lied and told them we hadn’t changed anything but were just presenting the old truth in a new package and all kind of stuff. But they liked the new package and the new lies with it and began to teach it, so much so that it became the new standard. Now, how dare we change things that God has already stated is truth? And Stump went back and got the letter and put it in his newsletter, so that you can see how the thing got changed, Oh, the devil is terrible, and unless you understand for yourself, you run the risk of being lost. Jesus paid it all. All to him we owe. Sin has left a crimson stain on everything, including us.
When you sit down with your Bible and with the Spirit of Prophecy, the Lord will enlighten your head and if you decide to follow the Lord, he will live in you and will abide with you and represent you in a place where you can’t be and can’t know and can’t see with your eyes, just like he did on the Day of Atonement on this earth. People couldn’t see the high priest, but they knew he was in the most holy place, and they wanted to be sure that all their sins not only were forgiven, but were cleansed. See, there’s a forgiving, and there’s a cleansing; and Jesus forgives, and he cleanses. All of it was shown forth in the sanctuary. Thank God for the sanctuary. I believe in the sanctuary. I believe in Jesus, and I want him to be my high priest.
May God bless us and keep us. Remember now, the things that are of the Spirit are of the Spirit and when you let the Spirit live in you and abide with you, you can’t go wrong.
One more thing before I go. This comes from the original Great Controversy that Mrs. White wrote in 1858 based on her vision at Lovett’s Grove, Ohio, in the spring of 1858. When I say they were slick, they were slick. They took this entire book and they put it in Early Writings. Now you can find this in Early Writings, but your head won’t be thinking of the great controversy between Christ and Satan when you read it there. You see, it is in Early Writings—it’s still there—but you are not alerted to the part it plays in the great controversy.
I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, and would give no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. (Ellen White, Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, p. 168)
She says this is what she saw.
I was shown three steps—one, two and three—the first, second and third angels’ messages. Said the angel, Woe to him who shall move a block, or stir a pin in these messages. (Ibid.)
You don’t mess with the three angels’ messages.
The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. (Ibid.)
Now that rings a bell in my head. If something is important, then I must understand it and know it and believe it.
The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received. (Ibid.)
Now, this is what she sees.
I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict. (Ibid.)
She saw the importance of the three angels’ messages because it pertains to my soul’s salvation, and I’m going to understand it. I have to dig and study and read and pray to make sure that I do understand the plan that God has laid down for me. We can stand in front of God free, with Christ living in us and abiding with us.
Let’s bow our heads in prayer.
Lord, we thank you for your word and for Jesus, who gave us all that we might completely represent him. We ask that you would be in our midst, be with each one of us individually, and, Lord, help us to understand your plan, as you are in the antitypical Day of Atonement. Forgive us, live in us, abide with us, stay with us, and make us one with you, so that we might eternally live you. We ask it in Jesus’ name and for his sake. Amen. ?
Report from Europe
The month of September found my schedule full of camp meetings and visits to western and eastern Europe. With the knowledge that I could do nothing without the help of God and also with the knowledge that with God all things are possible, I left the United States for France. Now as I wait in the Charles de Gaulle airport to return to the United States, my memories whirl from driving almost one thousand miles in Ukraine and Moldova, to experiencing an earthquake while in Moldova, to visiting the Vatican, and to seeing the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii, destroyed by Mount Vesuvius. But most of all, I remember the brothers and sisters I renewed fellowship with and the new brothers and sisters I was privileged to meet.
Brother Jean-Christophe Bolotte organized the camp meeting in France. We met at Champagnac-el-Vieux, and the theme was What Is a Real Seventh-day Adventist? Besides myself and Jean-Christophe, Sasha & Ira Raylean from Moldova and Brother Henri Rasolofomasoansro were speakers.
I focused upon the pillars of our faith as something vital to a real Seventh-day Adventist. Others approached the subject from various aspects. In this issue of Old Paths, we have a printed version of Jean-Christophe’s first message, which you will find very interesting. Brother Jean-Christophe is a young believer who has a zeal for the word and the work of the Lord. His enthusiasm is contagious, yet his thinking is deep and clear upon the great spiritual truths of our message.
Brother Rasolofomasoansro originates from the island of Madagascar and has been involved for many years with the educational system within the Adventist Church, including being the president of a colleges in Africa and most recently a professor at the seminary in Colognes, France. Though retired now, he still visits the campus in Colognes to talk to and to study with students. After our camp meeting he was going to Haiti for about three weeks to study with interested Adventists, followed by a trip to Africa, for the same purpose at the college where he was once president.
Both Sasha and Ira Raylean shared messages of encouragement and hope. Their lives are proof that one without all the advantages of western society can obtain a high level of self education and spiritual moral excellence.
Our Sabbath was highlighted with a baptism and with the Lord’s Supper. Plans are already being made for another camp meeting next year.
From France the Bolotte family traveled with the Rayleans and myself to Italy for a camp meeting, hosted by Maurizio Esposito, near the village of Reiti, Italy. A small resort hotel opened its doors out of the normal season and provided us with nice rooms to sleep in, as well as a meeting room for our services and meals, which they graciously prepared to our requirements.
This little area in the Italian Alps was a beautiful setting and provided a nice atmosphere for spiritual thinking.
The theme of these meetings was Preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus. Brother Maurizio opened the camp meeting with a study on the sanctuary and how its message is to help prepare a people to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. After this fine message Brother Maurizio translated every meeting into Italian, and it was a lot of work for him. God graciously sustained him in this duty, as well as with the duties of running the camp meeting, and he certainly got an A+ from all who attended.
I shared four messages on perfection of character, while Brother Jean-Christophe shared a three-part series on the faith of Jesus. The Rayleans also shared, too, and we were blessed on Sabbath with a retired Pastor from the area attending, who accepted the truth about God from reading the book, The Foundation of Our Faith, which Brother Maurizio has translated into Italian and has had published. This aged man of God was so thrilled to be with us and to give God thanks that even though he was now in his nineties, he has learned the truth that God gave to our pioneers.
The Sabbath highlight again was a baptism, and we were greatly blessed with testimonies and with songs with deep messages to finish out the camp. We are also planning another camp meeting in Italy next year.
After the camp in Reiti, some of us traveled Monday morning to Rome and visited the Vatican, followed by a visit to the famous coliseum. The Rayleans and I then traveled with Brother Maurizio to his home for the night, and the next day we traveled to see the ancient Roman town-city of Pompeii, near modern Naples. In AD 79 Mount Vesuvius erupted. This event buried Pompeii and many surrounding areas under 13–20 feet of volcanic ash and pumice. Here the city laid for a millennium and a half, hidden and forgotten before being discovered in 1599. This once thriving city was a technical center of its day and a place filled with pagan worship and many licentious activities.
To walk on streets over two thousand years old and to see the bodies of those who were encased in the fallen ash and pumice brought pensive thoughts to all of our minds. No doubt most of the people in that city had little to no idea that their deaths would come so swiftly and so surely, and so will it be in the end of time. Many say, “eat, drink, and be merry,” feeling that time will go on forever, but when God decides to bring an end to the activities of man, nothing we can do will stop his work.
The next day the Rayleans and I flew to Chișinău, the capital of Moldova, where we stayed for a day holding meetings for individuals who come meet with us at various times of the day. One of the central points we discussed was the relationship one could have with an apostate church and how the message in Revelation 18:4 to come out was not only appropriate but necessary at this time.
While we were in Chișinău, we also worked on publishing Russian translations of Old Paths onto the Smyrna website. Sister Ira, with help from Sasha, has been working on translating the paper into Russian. The name for the paper there is most appropriately called Ancient Paths, for that is the way the Russian Bible translates Jeremiah 6:16.
On Thursday we traveled, via a rented car, to the Rayleans’ home village of Congaz in southern Moldova. We decided to rent a car instead of taking a bus because we wanted to visit some people in Ukraine and the time we had would not fit with any bus schedules. When we arrived in Congaz, we prepared for the Sabbath. It was after we were all sleeping well on Sabbath night that the earthquake struck.
God blessed the faithful who came out Sabbath morning, and we were able to have an excellent service, including the most popular event in eastern meetings—questions! The people are always full of questions, and we tried, by God’s grace, to give them good biblical answers to their questions. Because we had a car, something very few of the believers there have, we were able to provide some transportation home for some of the sisters who attended the meeting.
There was a dear couple in Ukraine involved in serious family issues that had led to a separation of the husband and wife. I desired to see them both greatly but realized it would be costly (needed a rented car) and time consuming, causing us to expend many hours in travel. As I was praying for direction, the story of Jesus’ visit to Phoenicia, when he healed the daughter of the Canaanite woman, came to my mind. He made the effort and trip to minister to this one woman. I knew we could put forth no less effort for one or two of God’s sheep.
Early on my last Sunday, we left Congaz to travel into Ukraine. After going through the border crossings, we soon found ourselves on a road I called purgatory. It was a very rough and pothole-filled road, where speeds of 15–20 mph were fast.
Our visits in Ukraine were important to make, and the details need not be discussed in an open forum, but please keep the young couple from Ukraine in your prayers.
We returned from Ukraine for one more night in Chișinău before I had to say the most difficult of goodbyes. I had been privileged to be with many sweet brothers and sisters on this trip, but the Rayleans were my companions during the entire time I was in Europe. They had personally ministered to my needs many times, and we all choked back tears, as we said goodbye at the airport.
It reminded me that there will be a great reunion when Jesus comes, and these kinds of sad farewells will be abolished forever. Until then we are all to work for the Master and give the message that we have for these last days. While there are camp meetings being planned for France and Italy and maybe Moldova next year, it is also my prayer that the work can close up before that time. Wouldn’t that be wonderful. So we write as John did, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:10).
Special Announcement: The 2017 West Virginia camp meeting will be held June 12–16. Plan now to attend!
What Is a Real Seventh-day Adventist?
Genetically modified organisms
We don’t have enough food. Our crops are much too vulnerable to insects. Certain important staples cause allergies. These claims have been raised since the end of the twentieth century. As a solution to these problems, genetically modified foods, using GMOs, were proposed. But what is a GMO? A GMO is an organism or microorganism whose genetic material has been altered by means of genetic engineering. For example, when the world giant of GMOs, Monsanto, wants to increase the yield of a plant species, its scientists follow a process:
1. Identify in a cell the gene that allows the plant to produce more
Isolate this gene with enzymatic scissors
3. Incorporate this gene in the plasmid of a bacterium
Multiply this modified plasmid among a culture of bacteria
Transfer the modified plasmids into the plant cells in one of two ways:
A. Extract the modified plasmids and put them around micro-balls in order to bombard them on the plant cells; at that moment, the genes integrate themselves into the plants cells.
B. Transfer the modified plasmids to other bacteria that are able to get into DNA in the genome of the plants cells
Grow these modified plants cells
Evaluate the expression of the gene which was integrated into the plant cells; that is, if the plants produce more, it means that the genetic modification worked.
Commercialize these plants
This is what the scientists of Monsanto do when they want to increase the yield of a plant species. Now, if Monsanto wants to reduce the vulnerability of a plant species to insects, its scientists have to repeat this process with a gene that is resistant to the insects that it wants to fight. If Monsanto wants to remove the property of a fruit that causes an allergy, its scientists just have to repeat this process with a gene that will remove the property. In this way, Monsanto’s species seem to be the solution to the food issues of our earth.
In so doing, Monsanto’s scientists are modifying God’s creation. In so doing, they are placing themselves in the place of God. They are taking glory to themselves and are not giving the glory to God.
In order to fight this genetic modification movement, some people have decided to make a huge distinction between GMO and non-GMO foods. And the consequence of this distinction is that if I decide to eat food that doesn’t give glory to men, I buy food which is reputed to be far away from Monsanto’s work, i.e., non-GMO food. With fruits and vegetables that have this label, I have some guarantee that the food I buy for my family is a one that gives glory to God, not to Monsanto. But the problem with this label is that Monsanto indirectly marginalizes me. Indeed, many non-GMO foods have to be called organic food, while the GMO food has generally the name of the species. For example, I have to call my tomatoes organic tomatoes, while my neighbor, who eats Monsanto’s tomatoes, calls his tomatoes just tomatoes. Thus, Monsanto took the name (the character) of the fruit and attributed it to the fruit of their creation. This state of things leads some people into confusion because the tomatoes which are the fruit of the counterfeiting by Monsanto’s scientists take the very name of the tomatoes which have always been non-GMO, causing the group of tomatoes which are non-GMO to have to have a new name, that of organic tomatoes. In this confusion, the question that certain people may ask is: What is a real tomato?
Genetically modified Jews
In the days of the Apostle Paul, the Bible tells us that the church was struggling with the name, Jew. Let us consider what the Bible says in Romans 2:17–29:
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, 18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, 20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? 24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. 25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
The fact of being circumcised, the fact of having the name of Jew because of birth, was not what determined or constituted a real Jew. Abraham “received the sign of circumcision” as “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.” This is what Paul said about this rite in Romans 4:11. Thus, a real Jew was somebody who had the faith of Abraham. Now, let us read 1 Corinthians 7:19:
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
With this faith of Abraham in him, the real Jew was able to work the works of Abraham, that is the keeping of the commandments of God.
In addition to being a disciple of the Jewish religion, the Jew also come from the tribe of Judah, the tribe from which, according the prophesy of Genesis 49:9, the Messiah was to come. Thus, the Jews had to be an advent people, that is the tribe or the people who had to prepare for the first coming of Christ to the earth. And this prophecy, and the things that are linked to it, was a subject of pride among the Jewish nation. It is the reason why the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:1–3:
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Paul, a Jew by birth, was clarifying to the Philippians the real circumcision, that the real Jews were the ones who worshiped “God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus.” In John 14:6, Jesus tells us that he is the truth, and in John 4:23, 24, he said to the Samaritan woman that the true worshippers are the ones who worship God “in spirit and in truth.” That meant that the worship of God would soon be done without the ceremonies which the entire Jewish nation cherished but through the renewing power of the Spirit of God and by the reception of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus.
Like Jesus, Paul insisted on this matter because of the teachers who promoted false doctrines to the Gentiles who had accepted the gospel.
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (Colossians 2:8–17)
Like the believers of Rome, Corinth, and Philippi, there were teachers at Colossae who tried to convince the believers to leave their state of being real Jews in order to make them carnal men. Paul explained to the Colossians that the circumcision is operated by Christ through the operation of God by faith. This was represented by the believers being baptized, symbolizing that they are dead to sin in Christ. Thus, as the tomatoes are defined by their DNA, these real Jews were defined by their faith of Jesus, which led them to keep the commandments of God. And this class of Jews had such a relation with Christ that, according to Act 11:16, the first time they were called Christian was in Antioch. This name reflected the characteristic of their faith. And the Bible tells us that God approved it:
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. . . . If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1 Peter 4:16, 14)
During the century which followed the death of the apostles, people who bore the name of Christian became reformers. Now let us focus on a period of great interest for us today.
Last advent people
In the proclamation of the third angel of Revelation 14:12, we find the terms commandments of God and faith of Jesus related to a people whom the Bible calls saints. And this message comes before the appearing of the Son of man on the cloud with a golden crown on his head, and in his hand a sharp sickle (verse 14). Thus, the last advent people, that is the people who have to prepare for the second coming of Christ on earth, keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. If we can know when this proclamation begin, we’ll know when the gathering of this advent people will begin. And I want to propose a short summary of this to you.
The third angel follows the one who preaches about the coming of the judgment hour in verses 6, 7. In Leviticus 23, the Bible tells us about a special day in the Hebrew calendar. From verse 26 to 32, we read:
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 27 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. 28 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. 29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 Ye shall do no manner of work:it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
According to what we read in the 16th chapter of Leviticus, this work of atonement includes the purification of the earthly sanctuary, which had accumulate the sins of the whole nation during the daily services. Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Hebrew nation observed the Day of Atonement. On this day, the earthly sanctuary was purified and each Hebrew had to afflict his soul, otherwise he would “be cut off from among his people.” Without the confession and the abandonment of sin on that day, the people would be cut off, they would lose their lives. These words in Leviticus 23 express a work of judgment.
In Daniel 8:14, the Bible tells us about the purification of the sanctuary at the end of a certain period of time.
And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. (Daniel 8:14)
This period of time cannot lead us to a purification of the earthly sanctuary because the earthly sanctuary was purified one time a year. And if we take this period of time in a literal way, it covers a period of more than six years. Thus, it must be understood symbolically in a prophetic manner.
The death of Christ for our sins is the reality or antitype of the death of the lambs in the earthly sanctuary. So, the point to which this period of time is leading us is to be the reality of the Day of Atonement.
According to the creation record, we know that one day is composed of one night (dark part) and one day (light part). And according to Numbers 14:33, we know that a prophetic day is equal to a literal year. So, the 2,300 symbolic days are 2,300 literal years.
Notice that Daniel received no information about the beginning of this period. We have to wait for the return of Gabriel in Daniel 9 to get more information about it. And in verse 25, Gabriel informs Daniel about the beginning of this period.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks . . . (Daniel 9:25)
The focus of the date is on when “the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” goes forth. The Bible tells us about such a time in Ezra 7:11–23. In the fall of 457 BC, King Artaxerxes sent forth a decree to restore and to build Jerusalem. Two thousand three hundred years from 457 BC, brings us to the fall of 1844.
Thus, on October 22, 1844, that is the tenth day of the seven month in the Jewish calendar, Jesus Christ, the high priest, went into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to purify the sanctuary in beginning the work of the judgment. The proclamation of the first angel leads us to this time.
One thing that we must notice: The cleansing of the sanctuary that is mentioned in Daniel 8:14 is necessary due to the work of the little horn mentioned in verse 9. This power is the same power mentioned by the term “beast” in Revelation 14:9. Without a shadow of doubt, the Bible clearly identify that this power is the papacy.
By teaching things different from the doctrine of Jesus, this institution tried to change the faith of Jesus. For example:
h The immortality of the soul, instead of mortal man (Job 4:17)
h The Eucharist, instead of the Lord’s Supper and one death (Hebrews 9:28)
h The Immaculate Conception, instead of Mary being sinful (Romans 3:23)
h The confession of our personal sins to a man (priest), who takes the place of Christ, the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5)
Many other such abominations concerning salvation could be offered. This institution also claims to have changed the law of God.
h It tried to change the fourth commandment by teaching and forcing the people to leave the observation of the seventh-day Sabbath and to observe the so-called Lord’s day on the first day of the week, that is Sunday.
h It tried to change the first commandment by teaching and forcing the people to worship the trinity instead of God the Father and his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as the Bible teaches us.
h It also tried to change the second commandment by allowing the people to bow down before graven images.
It’s partly because of this institution that God announced the hour of the judgment.
Now my friend, when Jesus went into the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, he went before the ark in which there is, particularly, the tables of stone written with the finger of God, that is the Ten Commandments. And because of this power and because of the new position of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, the third angel reveals the characteristic of the real advent people in Revelation 14:12 in saying:
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
After the fall of 1844, God began the gathering of the last advent people. They are described in Revelation 14:12, and also in Revelation 12:17, where it says that they have the testimony of Jesus, which is the gift of prophecy (Revelation 19:10; 22:9). At this time, God directed this people to organize themselves in order to give to the world the message that he gave them. People called them Adventists. Like those in Antioch, these people had their focus on the second advent of Jesus. But contrary to some others Adventists, they understood the immutability of God’s law, especially the fourth commandment, which speaks about the seventh-day Sabbath. As a result they decided to take the name that illustrate the main characteristics of their faith. Seventh-day Adventists was the name that they chose. And, as like in the Apostolic Church, God approved this name.
The banner of the third angel has inscribed upon it, “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Our institutions have taken a name which sets forth the character of our faith, and of this name we are never to be ashamed. I have been shown that this name means much, and in adopting it we have followed the light given us from heaven. Let us hear what the Lord saith, [Exodus 31:12, 13, 17, quoted]. (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, p. 68)
So, this people had to be a people of reformers.
Genetically modified Seventh-day Adventists
What happened with the tomatoes and what happened with the Jewish people is also happening with Seventh-day Adventists. Satan is working to change their DNA, the characteristics of their faith.
1. He made them forsake their God in accepting the God of Rome, the trinity.
2. He made them renounce the true comprehension of the two-part atonement and also the ministry and the nature of Christ.
3. He made them accept the Eucharist, when their leader sign the BEM (Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry).
4. He is working to makes them lose their confidence in the authority of Spirit of Prophecy writings.
5. And now he is encouraging the churches to open their gates to worship on Sunday.
They are doing all these things under the name of the Seventh-day Adventist church.
My friends, the faith that I am cherishing and sharing with you is, by the grace of God, exactly the same faith that the Seventh-day Adventist pioneers had. From this point of view, the faith that I have can be resumed with the name Seventh-day Adventist, but because of the erroneous image that these people are giving to the world today, many people like me cannot bear the name of Seventh-day Adventist. If today I tell somebody that I am a Seventh-day Adventist, that person will think that I believe in the trinity and in the rest of the above abominations. I am in the same situation as I was with my organic tomatoes.
In order to fight this genetically modified faith, people like me have decided to make a distinction between a genetically modified Seventh-day Adventist faith and a non-genetically modified Seventh-day Adventist faith. And the consequence of this distinction is that if I decide to serve God in a way that doesn’t give glory to men, the papacy indirectly obligates me to use another name to describe my faith: Historical Seventh-day Adventist is sometime employed. With the faith that has this label, I can have some guarantee that the fellowship in which I serve God is one which will give glory to God, not to the devil, via the papacy. But the problem with this label is that the papacy indirectly marginalizes me. Indeed, the non-genetically modified Seventh-day Adventists are called Historical Seventh-day Adventists, while the genetically modified Seventh-day Adventist continues to use the name Seventh-day Adventist. Thus, the papacy took the name (the character) of this faith, and attributed it to a faith of its likeness. This state of things causes confusion among believers because the faith that is the counterfeit of the papacy has the very name of the faith which is non-genetically modified, and the faith which is non-genetically modified now has the name of Historical Seventh-day Adventist. In this confusion, the question that certainly people may ask is: What is a real Seventh-day Adventist? To this question, the angel of Revelation 14:12 responds:
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
God foresaw all theses apostasies, my friends. This is the reason why, in the book of Revelation, he gave us the characteristics of the remnant church instead of its name. Without its characteristics, a name is nothing:
“And now also,” said the prophet, “the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Not by its name, but by its fruit, is the value of a tree determined. If the fruit is worthless, the name cannot save the tree from destruction. John declared to the Jews that their standing before God was to be decided by their character and life. Profession was worthless. If their life and character were not in harmony with God’s law, they were not His people. (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 107)
God set aside the Jewish people for the advancement of his work because they did not continue to bear the characteristics of the name Jew.
A long time ago, God rejected the part of his church which gave birth to the Catholic church, the mother, and in 1844 he did the same with her daughters, the Protestant churches, which followed in her way. He rejected these so-called churches for the advancement of his work because they did not have the characteristics of the name that they bore: Christian.
In Exodus 19:5, 6, God said that the ones who will obey his voice would be his people, his church, and this is confirmed by Revelation 14:12.
In 1980 the Seventh-day Adventist denomination decided openly to transgress the first commandment in serving another god. Other important changes in the true faith were made, such as the belief that the atonement was finished at the cross and that Jesus did not have our human nature on earth. Does this system still have the characteristic of its name? Can such a system still work for the advancement of the last message that God gave unto it? I do not think so, my friends. Since it rejected the characteristics of its first faith, its name cannot do anything for it.
As with the true Jew and with the true Christian, we can still have the characteristics of the true Seventh-day Adventist faith. If we look for the old paths, we can be real Seventh-day Adventists.
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) ?
(Jean-Christophe Bolotte, of Le Reste (The Remnant Ministries), writes from France. You may contact him at: La Bergerie, La Jarrige 15270 Lanobre, France. Telephone: +33 6 12 60 13 69; e-mail: email@example.com. The Remnant Ministries materials can be viewed on the Internet at their website: http://lereste.org.)
Youth’s Corner —
Escape from Siberian Exile
(This installment presents Chapter 14 of Escape from Siberian Exile by John Godfrey Jacques, published by Pacific Press in 1921.)
THAT there should be more religious liberty in Siberia, the land of exile, than in imperial Russia proper, which pretended to allow its subjects freedom of conscience, was strange; but that such was the case, I was reminded by the sign on the residence of the minister we sought, and on the chapel where he presided—simply an announcement of the services. Such a sign could not have been seen in all Russia, on a building used by members of a “sect.”
As the minister was not at home, I briefly told his wife of my errand. She became much perturbed; but I did not think that remarkable, considering how dangerous was the undertaking to which she was asked to become a party. Then she informed us that there was a police officer in an adjoining room. I shall not say that I was undisturbed at the news. Our hostess explained that the officer was there to get details in reference to her son, a young man of military age, who was attending one of our missionary training schools in western Europe.
My soldier companion and I quickly decided to go away for a while, and return after the officer had gone.
We had passed only the first crossing, when out from the crowd emerged a familiar figure—the former superintendent of our Caucasian Mission. He also was a victim of the malice of “Orthodox” priests, and had been exiled to this city. He was not imprisoned, but must report daily to the guard, as must all exiles. I made an appointment to meet him later at the parsonage from which I had just come. Then we separated, for the ever needful purpose of avoiding observation.
We met again as agreed. Our hostess and the superintendent regarded my project as a very daring one. Yet, as they could suggest no other, they gave me such encouragement as they could.
When the exchange of clothing between the soldier and me had been effected, he returned with me to the station, pointed out the train for wounded soldiers which was to leave for Vladivostok that night, and left me.
I began to feel concerned because of having no appearance of being wounded. I had discovered in my baggage a strip of white muslin, which doubtless some member of my family had put there. The one who did so, did better than she knew. I found a place where I could not be seen, and made of the muslin a sling for my right arm. This would not only afford an apparent reason for my being on the disabled soldiers’ train, but it would also exempt me from the military requirements relative to saluting, and thus from much exacting scrutiny.
I had to wait two hours at the station. I was an object of some suspicion, or else I interpreted mere curiosity as suspicion. Be that as it may, I affected, as best I could, a forbidding sternness, and boldly paced the platform.
When the first signal was given for the departure of our train, a crowd of wounded soldiers began to gather. Some of them had but one arm, others only one leg, while still others were wounded in various ways.
As is common in Russia, there was much crowding and jostling in boarding the train.
I could not manage my luggage very well with my one free hand. When finally I was seated, the soldiers in the same car began to assail me with questions as to what regiment I was of, what battles I had been in, how I had been hurt, and many other particulars.
I had not expected such a fusillade, and was unprepared for it. Any attempt to answer must have involved me in endless embarrassments. Instantly I bethought myself to feign deafness. This was not an easy thing to do without a moment’s forethought. Still, my questioners became convinced that I had lost my hearing, and perhaps also my mind to some extent. A few tried speaking loudly to me, even shouting in my ears; but they soon wearied of such efforts. There was speculation among them as to the probable cause of my condition—shell shock, exposure, or what.
A man of middle age, who was in the same compartment as I, assumed a paternal guardianship over me, and prevented others from annoying me with attempts at conversation. He himself communicated to me, largely by signs, any information he thought might be of value to me.
When the conductor came into our compartment, I gave no intimation, at first, that I saw him; but my self-appointed guardian acted as spokesman for me. I had been uneasy over the question of whether my pass would be accepted, or instead, would get me into trouble; and when the conductor marked it and returned it to me without hesitancy, I felt like shouting for joy. Had the fact become known that although wearing a military uniform, I was not a soldier, the consequences would have been such as I was loath to contemplate.
Next morning, our train began to crawl sluggishly up the mountains on the southeast side of the renowned Lake Baikal, whose waters are nearly a mile deep. At the time when the railroad was under construction, it is said, temporary tracks were laid on the ice, and heavy trains run over them.
The country in that vicinity is exceptionally beautiful, contrasting strongly with the dreary steppes over which we had come.
About noon of the first day after we left Irkutsk, as we stopped at a station, “Sisters of Mercy” appeared, and led us to an eating room maintained for disabled soldiers. There long tables were spread with food, principally soup and bread.
The “sisters” were very attentive to us; and after I had finished my meal, some of them volunteered to re-bandage my arm. I declined their aid, but one was persistent. She wished to take me to a surgeon in the hospital booth. I was becoming solicitous as to how I could get away from her, for discovery that my arm was not injured would be sure to lead to grave developments.
At that juncture, the engine whistle gave warning that the train was about to start. It was a joyous sound to me. I still had time to obtain some cotton batting, and with it I thoroughly plugged my ears. This made the role of deaf soldier easier, as I then really could not hear much.
The practice of such deception was not pleasing to me, nor was it inspired in any degree by love of adventure, but only by the hope of thus procuring freedom from the tyranny of a despotic government.
At another station where we stopped, I saw in a bookstand a copy of the works of the Caucasian poet Lermantov. As his home had been near my own, his writings had a double charm for me; and I purchased the book, and read from it on the train. That volume of Russian verse afterwards played a part I did not plan when I bought it.
Three days of travel brought us almost to the Chinese frontier, the next critical point in my journey, I had thought that if we reached the frontier at night, I might leave the train and cross afoot unseen; but it was midday when we drew near the line, and to pass the border police unobserved would be impossible. Besides this, when the train approached a station, the doors were locked, and they remained thus until we were well under way again.
I had come to the limit of my resources. In fact, my success thus far was not attributable to any shrewdness on my part. At times when my actions had been such as to avert suspicion, they were not premeditated, but were prompted by an impulse of the moment. Now my frightened heart could only call out to Him who had kept me hitherto.
Gendarmes came on board to examine the passengers. I heard the clank of their sabers. Unless Heaven should interfere, I should never again know freedom. Still, I believed that I should soon be with friends in Harbin, although I had no conception how this could be.
Two of the officers came to my compartment, and one of them brusquely demanded my papers. In the right-hand pocket of my trousers was my railway pass. I knew that it would be of no use to me now; yet, as it was the only military paper I had, involuntarily I reached for it. My right arm being bound up, I essayed to thrust my left hand into my right-hand pocket. The gendarme put a stop to my awkward endeavor by saying that badly wounded soldiers need not present their papers. Then he went on to the next compartment.
I was dumfounded. There had been passing before my mental vision pictures of lifelong imprisonment, with all its agony and torture. Now I could scarcely comprehend that I had escaped the fate which, only a few moments before, had appeared to be in inevitable.
The next town at which we stopped was Manchuria, the first station in the province of the same name. I was much elated at having passed the most dreaded ordeal of all, the crossing of the frontier.
Our train went no farther; but with the few soldiers who had not left it before we reached the border, I was transferred to another train. They were to continue across Manchuria and into Russian territory again. I did not intend to do so, but hoped to escape from the train at Harbin, about two thirds of the distance across.
Over the door of the compartment that I occupied on the new train, was a sign which indicated that the occupants were wounded soldiers. Gendarmes going through the train, saw the sign, and merely glancing into the compartment, went on without calling for our papers. Thus another peril was passed.
The journey through Manchuria furnished scenes new to me. With real enjoyment I watched them from my window. The dark shadow that had hung over my road to freedom was now largely dissipated, and notwithstanding difficulties that I knew I must yet meet, I felt wonderfully light-hearted. Had I known all that was still before me, I should hardly have had courage to face it.
Late in the evening of an early November day—the fifth since we left Irkutsk—our train arrived at Harbin. A horde of vehicle drivers, mostly Manchurians, beset the passengers as they alighted; and I hastily put my luggage into an empty carriage, thinking that in the confusion, I might get away without being seen by the guard. Straightway one of them accosted me, asking why I was leaving the train. I answered that I wished to stop a short time in the city; but he showed no inclination to let me go.
His attention was diverted for a moment; and seizing my baggage, I dashed away into the night and the fog. When I had gone a few yards, I came upon an unoccupied public carriage. Into this I threw my luggage, and signaled the driver to hurry away.
I had the address of our Harbin mission, but could not make the Manchurian cabman understand it. The only course left to me was to make inquiry of some one, though I knew that in so doing, I might leave behind me a clue that would lead to my capture. But no alternative was left me.
The pedestrian of whom I inquired, directed me to the street I wished to find, and the cabman took me to it; but when I reached the house, I learned that our mission had moved. Where it was then located, the new tenant did not know.
There was apparently no way of finding the location, without exposing myself to too much publicity. Even to be on the streets at such an hour, was to attract the notice of the police. I reentered the carriage, not knowing what else to do, and ordered the driver to go ahead, although I could not tell him where to go.
Soon I saw a boy of ten or twelve years walking along the street, and I felt impelled to ask him if he knew of any Seventh-day Adventists in the city. He replied that his family were such. This surely was an astounding coincidence, as there were but few of our people in Harbin, and there were few persons on the street that dark, rainy night.
I took the boy into the cab, and he guided me to his home. The father was in prison because of his religious activities. The mother and the other children were alarmed at the appearance of a soldier—which, of course, they took me to be— in their home at that hour; nor were they reassured when I impulsively threw aside the sling that had bound my arm, exclaiming that I had masqueraded long enough. The sense of security that I felt at being among those who I knew would not report me to Russian officials, naturally caused a reaction from the tense secretiveness of weeks past.
My explanation half dispelled the fears of the family, yet I overheard the mother saying to the elder son that he had better go for Mr. Gardishar. I was surprised to hear the name, for it was that of a former schoolmate of mine, and I so stated to the good woman. In response to the message sent him, he hastened to meet me; and his greeting left no distrust in the mind of my involuntary hostess. Her hospitality thereafter was wholly voluntary and cordial.
I gladly put off my military uniform, with its lying epaulets, and donned my accustomed clothing.
More than formal thanks were offered to Heaven that night for my deliverance from danger. Then I slept in peace, although to the charges previously held against me by the czar’s government was now added that of desertion.
To be continued
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.
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