Old Paths Masthead

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. Psalm 25:14


Vol. 26, No.2 Straight and Narrow February 2017


What reform did these three men
support at the 1903 General Conference?

In this issue:

Does God Change

Perfection by the Faith of Jesus

Youth's Corner

The Fundamental Belief of the Holy Spirit

 

Does God Change?

By Allen Stump

    Does God change? In Malachi 3:6, God says, “For I am the LORD, I change not.” Does God change? In Deuteronomy 32:4, we read of God:

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

How can a God of truth change? For God to change means he must change what truth is; yet, his truth is what changes the lives of his people by a “belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

How can God change, when his truth is the equivalent of the righteousness of Christ? Ellen White has noted:

. . . many . . . are not willing to be deprived of the garments of their own self-righteousness. They are not willing to exchange their own righteousness, which is unrighteousness, for the righteousness of Christ, which is pure, unadulterated truth. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 65)

Yet, today many believe that God changes. They do not publish it outright, in so many words, but Satan has an insidious deception that is designed to destroy millions. Satan has millions believing that God changes, and the majority of these millions do not perceive that they think this way about God! But before we reveal that deception, we need to understand an important key for understanding the testimonies of the Spirit of Prophecy.

Time and place

    A key principle in understanding biblical truth is context. It has been said that context is king. This is true in the Bible and also in the Spirit of Prophecy, and Ellen White certainly affirms this:

Regarding the testimonies, nothing is ignored; nothing is cast aside; but time and place must be considered. (Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 57)

We are NOT at liberty to ignore or to cast out any of the writings, but she says that we must take into consideration the time and place of the writing. In other words, we must understand the context and sometimes even apply practical logic and common sense.

Among Seventh-day Adventists there are many doctrines, and some of them are controversial. Who is the king of the north in Daniel 11? What is the daily in Daniel 8, or is it time to give up milk and cheese? While we do not ignore or cast aside these questions, we realize that they are not fundamental principles, and concerning truly fundamental principles nothing is more important than the doctrine of God. The doctrine of God has become controversial in the last couple of decades within Adventism. Underneath this in importance, we could list the sanctuary and the incarnation as vital areas with a certain degree of controversy. Interestingly, a great deal of the controversy over these doctrines is due, not to a biblical text, but to statements from the writings of Ellen G. White.

A misunderstood teaching

    Another subject needs to be understand that may be the most misunderstood of all. This doctrine also receives it greatest controversy over pronouncements from the pen of Ellen G. White, and that is the doctrine of the church! What is the church? Is it going through? Do we ever leave the church? Or must we, at all cost, stay with the ship?

Let us quickly look at the identity of the church. Who or what is the church? Is it a building or a denomination?

The word church is translated from the Greek word, ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) and means an assembly or congregation. The word ekklēsia comes from two Greek words that mean called out or people called out. Certainly Christians have been called out from the world. These called-out ones are grounded in truth. Writing to Timothy, Paul said:

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

The great central truth that Jesus founded his church upon is the truth that he is the Son of God (Matthew 16:13–18). The rock that Jesus built his church upon was not Peter but, rather, the truth which Peter confessed: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

Peter had expressed the truth which is the foundation of the church’s faith . . . (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 413)

Concerning Christ’s church, we also read:

From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. (Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostles, p. 11)

God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church. (Ellen G. White, Upward Look, p. 315)

Israel’s position with God

    With this as a background, let us proceed to see what the church situation was like in the time of Jesus. Then we will bring it down to the time of the Advent Movement and then to today.

God had given to Israel what seemed like an uncompromising promise:

Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:35–37)

Each day the Jews could see the sun shining, and they could see the moon and stars in their nightly paths. They could see and feel the ocean tides, knowing that they never failed to go in and out. In reading Jeremiah they became assured that no matter what might happen, the church could never become Babylon. It might be taken into a captivity, but it was never Babylon, and one was never to leave the ship under any circumstances.

In your mind’s eye see the tables being turned over, the coins falling to the ground, and the people fleeing, as Jesus cleansed the temple the second time. During the first cleansing Jesus had said, “Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:16). At that time, he called the temple his Father’s house. But three years later he said, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). Their house? Not the Father’s house? Desolate!? This could not be, and they took the scroll of Jeremiah and read the section we noted in Jeremiah 31:33–35, and they denounced Jesus as an imposter. They might have thought:

This cannot be! The word of God cannot be broken. Israel will be a nation before God forever.

Go and watch the sun arise. Watch the moon and the stars move across the sky, and check out the tides at the ocean.

Oh, this man Jesus might be sincere, but he is deluded. His word is not greater than the word of God! Case closed; no questions need to be asked!

Yet there was another perspective the leaders failed to understand. Daniel also had written, and his prophecy was different:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 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, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:24–26)

There was to be from the “going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince” seventy weeks. We know that the Jews of that time understood these seventy weeks of time in the prophecy to be seventy years of weeks because we are told that:

It was well known that the seventy weeks of Daniel’s prophecy, covering the Messiah’s advent, were nearly ended; and all were eager to share in that era of national glory which was then expected. (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 133)

The only way that they could know that the seventy weeks of Daniel were nearly ended was if they understood the year-day principle. Now it should be clear that Jeremiah 31 is not equivalent to Daniel 9. These prophecies, as they stand, are antitheses one to the other. Jeremiah appears to be offering a free ticket for Israel into the heavenly borders, no matter what. But now we see Daniel indicating that there will be some kind of judgment that will happen after the seventy weeks of years, and the verdict was yet to be determined, depending upon whether or not they obeyed the conditions of Daniel 9:24.

A message for Israel

    As the final week of the seventy weeks was beginning, a voice was heard in Israel:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe 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. (Matthew 3:7–10)

John had come calling the leaders of his church vipers (poisonous snakes) and warning them to flee from the wrath to come! What wrath?, they surely must have asked. Of what were they to repent? John told them NOT to say “we have Abraham to our father” (Matthew 3:9). The word translated repentance is μετανοίας (metanoias), and it means to have a change of mind or to change one’s thinking. What were they thinking? That Abraham was their father and that this relationship secured for them their status as the favored of God.

The Jewish people cherished the idea that they were the favorites of heaven, and that they were always to be exalted as the church of God. They were the children of Abraham, they declared, and so firm did the foundation of their prosperity seem to them that they defied earth and heaven to dispossess them of their rights. But by lives of unfaithfulness they were preparing for the condemnation of heaven and for separation from God. (Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 294; all emphasis in this article supplied unless otherwise stated)

The axe laid at the root of the tree

    John said, “The axe is laid unto the root of the trees” (Matthew 3:10). What did he mean by this? Jesus taught two parables to help make this clear. The first is in Luke:

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. (Luke 13:6–9)

Ellen White gives us this insight, concerning this parable:

The generation to whom the Saviour had come were represented by the fig tree in the Lord’s vineyard—within the circle of His special care and blessing. (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 214)

This was the generation of the seventieth week! She later notes:

Jesus did not in the parable tell the result of the gardener’s work. At that point His story was cut short. Its conclusion rested with the generation that heard His words. To them the solemn warning was given. “If not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.” Upon them it depended whether the irrevocable words should be spoken. The day of wrath was near. In the calamities that had already befallen Israel, the owner of the vineyard was mercifully forewarning them of the destruction of the unfruitful tree. (Ibid., p. 216)

The day of wrath was near, and the nation of Israel would depend upon the generation of the seventieth week.

The second parable was recorded by Matthew:

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. (Matthew 21:17–20)

Again, Ellen White gives us this insight, concerning this parable:

The cursing of the fig tree was an acted parable. That barren tree, flaunting its pretentious foliage in the very face of Christ, was a symbol of the Jewish nation. The Saviour desired to make plain to His disciples the cause and the certainty of Israel’s doom. (The Desire of Ages, p. 582)

This parable, given near the end of the Saviour’s ministry, was “to make plain to His disciples the cause and the certainty of Israel’s doom.” The Jewish leadership had rejected Jesus and were planning his death. The decision in heaven had been made, and Israel’s doom was now certain.

The parable of the fig tree, spoken before Christ’s visit to Jerusalem, had a direct connection with the lesson He taught in cursing the fruitless tree. For the barren tree of the parable the gardener pleaded, Let it alone this year, until I shall dig about it and dress it; and if it bear fruit, well; but if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. Increased care was to be given the unfruitful tree. It was to have every advantage. But if it remained fruitless, nothing could save it from destruction. In the parable the result of the gardener’s work was not foretold. It depended upon that people to whom Christ’s words were spoken. They were represented by the fruitless tree, and it rested with them to decide their own destiny. Every advantage that Heaven could bestow was given them, but they did not profit by their increased blessings. By Christ’s act in cursing the barren fig tree, the result was shown. They had determined their own destruction. (Ibid., p. 584)

Do you think that the Jewish people acknowledged or accepted this? No. We saw earlier that they defied earth and heaven to take their status as God’s people away! “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

The warning is for all time. Christ’s act in cursing the tree which His own power had created stands as a warning to all churches and to all Christians. (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 584)

Ellen White did not say Christ’s act in cursing the tree, which his own power had created, stands as a warning to all churches except the Seventh-day Adventist Church. She said to all churches.

So we must ask again, does God change? What did the Jews miss in Jeremiah’s prophecy? Like almost all prophecies, it was tied to conditions. It was to a people in whose heart God’s law was written that the promise was made!

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

The promise was upon the condition of having God’s law written in their hearts. Yet at the very time the Jewish leaders were claiming this promise, they were plotting the death of God’s dear son, showing that in no wise was the law in their hearts.

To a people in whose hearts His law is written, the favor of God is assured. They are one with Him. But the Jews had separated themselves from God. Because of their sins they were suffering under His judgments. This was the cause of their bondage to a heathen nation. Their minds were darkened by transgression, and because in times past the Lord had shown them so great favor, they excused their sins. They flattered themselves that they were better than other men, and entitled to His blessings.

These things “are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11. How often we misinterpret God’s blessings, and flatter ourselves that we are favored on account of some goodness in us! God cannot do for us that which He longs to do. His gifts are used to increase our self-satisfaction, and to harden our hearts in unbelief and sin. (White, The Desire of Ages, p. 106)

What about the Seventh-day
Adventist Church?

    “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. (Ibid., p. 107)

What about the Seventh-day Adventist Church today? Does it feel that is has its own type of the ship-is-going-through promises? Yes, it is called Ellen White! Notice the following statements that seem just as promising as Jeremiah 31:35–37 did to the Jews:

God is leading out a people. He has a chosen people, a church on the earth, whom He has made the depositaries of His law. . . . The message to pronounce the Seventh-Day Adventist Church Babylon, and call the people of God out of her, does not come from any heavenly messenger, or any human agent inspired by the Spirit of God. (White, Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 66; Letter 16, June 11, 1893)

Again I say, The Lord hath not spoken by any messenger who calls the church that keeps the commandments of God, Babylon. True, there are tares with the wheat; but Christ said He would send His angels to first gather the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into the garner. I know that the Lord loves His church. It is not to be disorganized or broken up into independent atoms. There is not the least consistency in this; there is not the least evidence that such a thing will be. Those who shall heed this false message and try to leaven others will be deceived and prepared to receive advanced delusions, and they will come to nought. (Ibid., pp. 68, 69; Letter 16, June 11, 1893)

These strong statements seem to leave room for no negative outcomes. But then, how do we answer the following testimony?

Who can truthfully say: “Our gold is tried in the fire; our garments are unspotted by the world”? I saw our Instructor pointing to the garments of so-called righteousness. Stripping them off, He laid bare the defilement beneath. Then He said to me: “Can you not see how they have pretentiously covered up their defilement and rottenness of character? ‘How is the faithful city become an harlot!’ My Father’s house is made a house of merchandise, a place whence the divine presence and glory have departed! (Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 250; April 21, 1903)

Do you see the contrast in this last statement with the two statements before, like you can see between Jeremiah’s and Daniel’s statements, which were ten years apart and with seemingly different messages? Why? What does time and place have to say about this, and what can we learn from history that will help us? Does God change? How does a faithful city, a city that was once faithful, become a harlot? We are told:

It was by departure from the Lord, and alliance with the heathen, that the Jewish church became a harlot; and Rome, corrupting herself in like manner by seeking the support of worldly powers, receives a like condemnation.

Babylon is said to be “the mother of harlots.” By her daughters must be symbolized churches that cling to her doctrines and traditions, and follow her example of sacrificing the truth and the approval of God, in order to form an unlawful alliance with the world. (White, The Great Controversy, pp. 382, 383)

New-modeling the cause

    So what has corporate Adventism done? Have they changed their doctrines? Have they formed an unlawful alliance with the world and with the worldly churches? What excuses can be given for accepting the doctrine of the Trinity? What excuses can be given for changing our teachings on the sanctuary, the incarnation, and officially dropping our position on the papacy? What excuse can be given for using the courts to enforce the trademark on the name Seventh-day Adventist? In making these changes we are following in the same path as those who helped form the papacy.

By conforming to the practices of paganism, to facilitate the acceptance of Christianity by the heathen. The apostle Paul declared, even in his day, “The mystery of iniquity doth already work.” 2 Thessalonians 2:7. During the lives of the apostles the church remained comparatively pure. But “toward the latter end of the second century most of the churches assumed a new form; the first simplicity disappeared, and insensibly, as the old disciples retired to their graves, their children, along with new converts, ... came forward and new-modeled the cause.”—Robert Robinson, Ecclesiastical Researches, ch. 6, par. 17, p. 51. (Ibid., p. 384)

We are not pioneer Adventists today, but we can be historical Adventists, believing and teaching the same doctrines as the early Adventists. We have a long line of excellent spiritual heritage in our history. We have been told:

We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history. (Ellen White, Life Sketches, p. 196)

Not only are we to remember the leading of God, but also his teachings in our past history! What has happened since the death of Ellen White and of the pioneers?

Changes were quickly made after Ellen White died that prepared the way for the SDA–Evangelical conferences of 1955 and 1956, where our top leaders met with leading evangelicals to discuss what could be done to bring Adventism into line with mainstream Christianity. The main Adventist participants were LeRoy Froom, Roy A. Anderson, W. E. Reed, and T. E. Unruh. Unruh later wrote of the experience:

We Adventists also faced problems. The Evangelical conferees were satisfied that we were presenting contemporary Adventist doctrines, because we were supported by the 1931 statement of fundamental beliefs, which appeared regularly in official yearbooks and manuals of the church, and by the amplified statement in the baptismal covenant. But, they asked, if the Adventist church had reached a firm consensus why did they find contrary or misleading statements in Adventist publications, for sale in Adventist book and Bible houses? We explained that this was the result of efforts by the church to avoid an officially adopted creedal statement, and the denomination’s preference for an open-end theology which permitted new light to penetrate in depth. This explanation did not impress them. They asked if we did not think that we ourselves were to some extent to blame if these erroneous statements were used against us. We could only reply that correction had begun. (T. E. Unruh, Adventist Heritage, vol. 4, no. 2, 1977, p. 38)

Questions on Doctrine was published late in 1957. It was designed to begin with the “Statement of Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists,” first published in 1931, later given General Conference approval, and regularly included in church manuals and yearbooks of the denomination. This was to make clear to Adventists and non-Adventists alike, that in presenting an amplified statement on doctrine the General Conference was not setting forth a new theology, but was clarifying and amplifying the doctrines most generally believed by contemporary Seventh-day Adventists. (Ibid., p. 44)

Unruh mentioned the trinity, the completed atonement, the divine-human nature of Jesus in the incarnation, and then he wrote:

These were the areas which had been found to be most frequently misunderstood and misquoted. (T. E. Unruh, Adventist Heritage, vol. 4, no. 2, 1977, p. 44)

Remember, the early Christians formed an unlawful alliance as they new-modeled the cause. What is the difference between new-modeling the cause and presenting contemporary doctrines?

Remember, Ellen White said that we must consider time and place (Selected Messages, volume 1, page 57), as we study her writings. This is true today, and it was true in the time of Jeremiah. We must look at all the sources available to us. Specifically, Jeremiah had warned the people against thinking that they had a favored position because of something other than the character of their lives.

Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. (Jeremiah 7:4, 8)

The people were not to trust in lying words that could not profit, and some of the dying words were an implicit trust in the temple and their association with it. As Adventists, we have for years decried the Catholic teachings that allow their people to feel spiritually safe because they belong to the Catholic Church. The Jews did this, and we, as a people, have fallen into the same trap.

Rites and ceremonies could not atone for sin. Notwithstanding their [Jewish people in the time of Jeremiah] claim to be the chosen people of God, reformation of heart and of the life practice alone could save them from the inevitable result of continued transgression. (Ellen White, Prophets and Kings, p. 414)

God does not change, beloved. If trusting in churches for salvation did not work in the time of Jeremiah or in the time of John the Baptist, it will not work today.

An historical perspective necessary
to understand the impact

    Let us now look at some of the history that sets the background to the statements of 1893, when Ellen White said to not call the church Babylon and then look at the background to what she said ten years later.

First, concerning the 1893 statements, we need to go back to July of 1888 when Ellen White wrote:

The facts concerning the real condition of the professed people of God, speak more loudly than their profession, and make it evident that some power has cut the cable that anchored them to the Eternal Rock, and that they are drifting away to sea, without chart or compass. (The Review and Herald, July 24, 1888)

Just a few months later, in October and November 1888, the church had its famous Bible Conference and General Conference Session in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was at these meetings that Elders Jones and Waggoner presented what Ellen White called a “most precious message.”

The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure. (White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 91, 92)

Now, it has been Satan’s determined purpose to eclipse the view of Jesus and lead men to look to man, and trust to man, and be educated to expect help from man. For years the church has been looking to man and expecting much from man, but not looking to Jesus, in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. Therefore God gave to His servants a testimony that presented the truth as it is in Jesus, which is the third angel’s message, in clear, distinct lines. (Ibid., p. 93)

The message of 1888 was to give back to the people of God a chart and a compass. The church’s problem was that they were looking to man, and God wanted their eyes upon Jesus. The message of Jones and Waggoner was to be the beginning of the loud cry. In fact, Ellen White could write just four years later:

The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth. (The Review and Herald, November 22, 1892)

It was at a time when God was beginning to pour out the latter rain and when the loud cry was beginning to sound that Ellen White wrote to not call the church Babylon. It would not be consistent to call the people receiving the Holy Spirit Babylon. But why did Ellen White have to make such a pronouncement? At this time in Australia there was a brother who had begun preaching a message, using the testimonies, that the church had become Babylon. Ellen White refuted that message at that time with the plainest words possible and had them printed in the Review for all to see:

While the deep movings of the Spirit of God were made manifest among the people, and souls were being converted, and hard hearts broken, there were those who were listening to the suggestions of Satan, and they were inspired with zeal from beneath to go forth and proclaim that the very people receiving of the Holy Spirit, who are to receive the latter rain and the glory that is to lighten the whole earth, were Babylon. Did the Lord give these messengers their message?–No; for it was not a message of truth. (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, September 5, 1893; Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 49)

My brother, if you are teaching that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is Babylon, you are wrong. God has not given you any such message to bear. (Ellen White, The Review and Herald, September 12, 1893; Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 59)

But things did not stay this way for long. Just two years later Ellen White began to write in a different vein:

The goodness, mercy, and love of God were proclaimed by Christ to Moses. This was God’s character. When men who profess to serve God ignore His parental character and depart from honor and righteousness in dealing with their fellowmen, Satan exults, for he has inspired them with his attributes. They are following in the track of Romanism. (White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 362; 1895)

The righteousness of Christ by faith has been ignored by some; for it is contrary to their spirit and their whole life experience. Rule, rule, has been their course of action. (Ibid., p. 363; 1895)

Ellen White is, at the least, implying that the 1888 message was being rejected and ignored because of the Romanist spirit to rule.

The 1888 message taught by Jones and Waggoner was about more than justification. It was also about administration and how we deal with brethren! To say, as some proclaim, that the 1888 message was accepted in a glorious victory would be to disregard the history of the last one hundred twenty years. The fact that the loud cry was cut off and that the world has continued until now is compelling evidence that the message, which at first received limited acceptance, was finally rejected. If we do not think so, we have this letter of Ellen White to P. T. Magan to consider:

We may have to remain here in this world because of insubordination many more years, as did the children of Israel, but for Christ’s sake, His people should not add sin to sin by charging God with the consequence of their own wrong course of action. (Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 202; December 7, 1901)

We also have to consider why are we still here, if the message was accepted. Remember, Ellen White wrote:

We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history. (Life Sketches, p. 196)

Something was forgotten and discarded about God’s leading and/or his past teachings and this caused men to want to rule over other men. Something was wrong and needed correction.

1901

    Just before the 1901 General Conference session in Battle Creek, Ellen White had a meeting in the college library on April 1, and she said this, in part:

Now the Lord wants his Spirit to come in. He wants the Holy Ghost king. (Spalding and Magan Collection, p. 166)

Then on April 2, after the preliminaries were finished, the chair of the session brought the session to order and Ellen White rose to speak:

I feel a special interest in the movements and decisions that shall be made at this Conference regarding the things that should have been done years ago, and especially ten years ago, when we were assembled in Conference, and the Spirit and power of God came into our meeting, testifying that God was ready to work for this people if they would come into working order. The brethren assented to the light God had given, but there were those connected with our institutions, especially with the Review and Herald Office and the Conference, who brought in elements of unbelief, so that the light that was given was not acted upon. It was assented to, but no special change was made to bring about such a condition of things that the power of God could be revealed among his people. (Ellen G. White, General Conference Bulletin, April 3, 1901, p. 23)

All who are educated in the office of publication should see there exemplified the principles of heaven. I would rather lay a child of mine in his grave that have him go there to see these principles mangled and perverted. . . . You have no right to manage, unless you manage in God’s order. (Ibid., p. 25)

O, my very soul is drawn out in these things! Men who have not learned to submit themselves to the control and discipline of God, are not competent to train the youth, to deal with human minds. It is just as much an impossibility for them to do this work as it would be for them to make a world. That these men should stand in a sacred place, to be as the voice of God to the people, as we once believed the General Conference to be,—that is past. What we want now is a reorganization. We want to begin at the foundation, and to build upon a different principle. (Ibid.)

To heed the call of Ellen White, the General Conference discussed a new constitution which removed the office of president of the General Conference. Willie White noted that the idea was to have a chairmanship that rotated at least once a year:

W. C. White: It seems to be the mind of this Conference that responsibility shall not be centralized and fixed upon a few individuals for a long period. . . . It seems to be for the advantage of the work to allow this committee, which will be a thoroughly representative one, to choose its chairman, [and] . . . that no one should be chairman of this committee for a period of more than twelve months at a time. (Ibid., April 12, 1901, p. 205)

The General Conference brought out a new constitution, which made provision for an executive committee of twenty-five, but, instead of a rotating chairman, A. G. Daniells was chosen as the permanent chairman:

ARTICLE 4. EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. (April 22, 1901 N/A, GCB 379.1)

SECTION 1. The Executive Committee of this Conference shall be twenty-five in number, and shall have power to organize itself by choosing a chairman, secretary, treasurer, and auditor, whose duties shall be such as usually pertain to their respective offices. It shall also have the power to appoint all necessary agents and committees for the conduct of its work.

SEC. 2. The Executive Committee shall be elected at the regular sessions of the Conference, and shall hold office for the term of two years, or until their successors are elected, and appear to enter upon their duties. (General Conference Bulletin, April 23, 1901, p. 379)

Permanent Chairman, A. G. Daniells. (Ibid., April 22, 1901, p. 377)

Although A. G. Daniells was only the chairman of the committee, shortly after the conference he was signing documents as president of the General Conference. Ellen White would later say that a thorough work had not been done. (See Testimonies for the Church, volume 8, pages 105, 106.)

1903

    Now let us fast forward to April 9, 1903, and the General Conference Session in Oakland, California.

The desire for a kingly power had not been killed. A new constitution was brought out, restoring the office of General Conference President:

SECTION 1. The officers of this Conference shall be a president, two vice-presidents, a secretary, a treasurer, and an auditor, who shall be elected by the Conference. (General Conference Bulletin, April 10, 1903, p. 145)

But something very unusual happened. For the only time in General Conference history, a minority report on the constitution was presented. Their report was short and to the point:

Report of the Minority of the Committee on Plans and Constitution

H. W. Cottrell

The minority of your Committee on Plans and Constitution beg leave to submit that the Constitution proposed by the majority of the Committee appears to us to be so subversive of the principles of organization given to us at the General Conferences of 1897 and 1901 that we can not possibly subscribe to it.

The proposed new Constitution reverses the reformatory steps that were taken, and the principles which were given and adopted as the principles of reorganization, in the General Conferences of 1897 and 1901, and embodied in the present Constitution; and this before that Constitution or the organization according to it, has ever had adequate trial.

We therefore recommend that the Constitution of 1901 be given a fair trial before it be annihilated.

Signed,

E. J. Waggoner,

David Paulson,

Percy T. Magan.

(Ibid., p. 147)

These were no common personages in Adventism. All know of Waggoner. David Paulson was a physician who started the Hinsdale Sanitarium, and P. T. Magan, with Dr. Sutherland, started the school at Madison, first known as “The Nashville Agricultural and Normal School.”

Waggoner spoke to the matter first, noting:

The Bible organization recognizes leaders; most certainly it does. Whomsoever God appoints as leaders ought to be recognized, and will be recognized, by the body, if they are leaders indeed; for authority rests in the individual and his relation to God, and not in the position to which he is elected. And truth is truth, though it be spoken by one who has no standing or official position. And error can not be made to be truth, or mistakes can not be made to be right, because promulgated by some one in official position, or even by the whole body; and we should recognize, and we must educate ourselves and the people to recognize, the truth of the Bible, and to be recognized by the Bible and the Spirit of God, so that whenever any case comes up for decision we have that one thing to guide us. (Ibid., p. 148)

He closed by saying:

Now, the master workman is God, and the Spirit of God is given to lead us into all truth, not simply into what is unfortunately known as theological truth, or, better, spiritual truth, to guide in personal conduct and morality, but given to guide us into all truth, as to administration. However many administrations there may be, there is only the one Spirit, and therefore when we have that master Workman given to guide us, why shall we not voluntarily, gladly, and rejoicingly, yield to the Spirit of God, for Him to work in us all, and trust that that one Spirit can bring us back into perfect harmony and keep us there? (Ibid., p. 149)

The session adjourned until after lunch, and then, hardly before P. T. Magan could speak, there was a motion to limit discussion to five minutes. It was quickly seconded, but A. T. Jones and A. G. Daniells both spoke against limiting the discussion, and when question was called on the motion, the motion failed. Magan then spoke:

. . . I want to say to you that any man who has ever read “Neander’s History of the Christian Church,” Mosheim’s, or any of the other of the great church historians, — any man who has ever read those histories can come to no other conclusion but that the principles which are to be brought in through this proposed constitution, and in the way in which they are brought in, are the same principles, and introduced in precisely the same way, as they were hundreds of years ago when the Papacy was made.

Further: This whole house must recognize this, before we are through with this discussion, that the proposed new constitution, whatever improvements may be claimed for it, whatever advantages it may be stated that it contains, that, in principle, as far as the head of the work is concerned, it goes back precisely where we were before the reformatory steps of two years ago. (Ibid., p. 150)

The appeal failed. Jones spoke lengthily and strongly against the new system, but these appeals failed, and the constitution was accepted. What would happen next? When the ruling principles of Rome are accepted, it is only a matter of time before the teachings of Rome are accepted.

After the conference Ellen White went back to Elms-haven and on April 21, 1903, (remember time and place) she wrote a testimony entitled, “Shall We Be Found Wanting,” in which she said:

In the balances of the sanctuary the Seventh-day Adventist church is to be weighed. She will be judged by the privileges and advantages that she has had. If her spiritual experience does not correspond to the advantages that Christ, at infinite cost, has bestowed on her, if the blessings conferred have not qualified her to do the work entrusted to her, on her will be pronounced the sentence: “Found wanting.” By the light bestowed, the opportunities given, will she be judged. (White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 247)

Now we see how important time and place are in our study! Ellen White said that the church would come to a crisis through which it might not pass, and that crisis was beginning at that very time!

1904

    In 1904 Ellen White spoke about the “alpha of deadly heresies.”[1] This was a result of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg’s book, The Living Temple, and the theology that it taught. Ellen White gave a long list of events that would happen if this heresy was accepted. She called it the alpha, indicating that it was the first of other heresies (plural) to follow.

1905

    This apostasy was quickly becoming entrenched into the church, for, on December 4, 1905, Ellen White not only affirmed the apostasy was occurring, but gave a clear description as to its duration:

One thing it is certain is soon to be realized,—the great apostasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger, and will continue to do so until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout. We are to hold fast the first principles of our denominated faith, and go forward from strength to increased faith.…

The past fifty years have not dimmed one jot or principle of our faith as we received the great and wonderful evidences that were made certain to us in 1844, after the passing of the time. The languishing souls are to be confirmed and quickened according to His word. And many of the ministers of the gospel and the Lord’s physicians will have their languishing souls quickened according to the word. Not a word is changed or denied. That which the Holy Spirit testified to as truth after the passing of the time, in our great disappointment, is the solid foundation of truth. Pillars of truth were revealed, and we accepted the foundation principles that have made us what we are—Seventh-day Adventists, keeping the commandments of God and having the faith of Jesus. (Ellen White, Special Testimonies, Series B, no. 7, pp. 57, 58)

Ellen White said this apostasy would continue until Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven. In 1893 there was no doubt that the church was not Babylon. By 1895 men were ruling men, and God called for reform. They heard and adjusted in 1901, but a thorough work was not done. In 1903 the prior reforms were rejected. By 1904 the alpha was present, and in 1905 the prophet said that the apostasy would continue until Jesus returned.

The only safety was to maintain the faith that had been given in the early part of the movement. This included a non-trinitarian position on God, an atonement in the heavenly sanctuary, a Jesus who, in his incarnation, stepped down to where man was so man could be saved from the bottom up, and strong denunciations against the man of sin and against Sunday exaltation.

Do we know the difference between the movement which began in 1844 and the organization that formed in 1863 but apostatized? The movement will go through. It will be composed of those who accept “the foundation principles that have made us what we are—Seventh-day Adventists, keeping the commandments of God and having the faith of Jesus” (Ibid.). Those who continue in the apostasy will forsake those great truths and will new-model the cause, teaching contemporary Adventism.

Are we truly historical Adventists, or are we contemporary and holding to a new-modeled cause?

1908

    God’s design for his people was given to Ellen White in 1908:

I am instructed to say to Seventh-day Adventists the world over, God has called us as a people to be a peculiar treasure unto Himself. He has appointed that His church on earth shall stand perfectly united in the Spirit and counsel of the Lord of hosts to the end of time.—Letter 54, 1908 (White, Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 397)

Like in the parable of the vineyard, Jesus did not give a full conclusion at that time. It would be up to those who would follow as to whether this ideal would be accepted or not.

1931 and beyond

As we saw in Unruh’s account, the 1931 statement was contemporary for Martin and Barnhouse, the evangelical conferees. A worse statement of fundamentals, however, was approved at the General Conference Session of 1980. This statement of beliefs denied the final atonement, gave full acceptance of the trinity, and neglected any teaching on the papacy. The 1980 fundamental beliefs were cosmetically updated in 2015 and is the position of the modified church today. Now you do not have to take my word for anything that has been presented in this study. You can find each of these statements readily in this age of information and if you will use time and place as the Testimonies counsel, you can see that the corporate church has been weighed in the balances and found wanting. What else can a God who does not change do, beloved?

It could be said, There are some great men in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination; we can trust them. Let’s stay with the ship. There are Ted Wilson and Doug Batchlor. On the edges, but working within the church, there are Stephen Bohr and Walter Veith. They may be accounted as good men. I will let heaven determine that, but they all have a common message. You are to believe in the trinity and are to stay within the church, no matter what happens. But these are lying words.

The 1844 movement was of God and continues! But apostasy has moved to apostate. The message of Revelation 3:16 has taken place, and it is time to hear the message of Revelation 18:4 today.

God is displeased with us when we go to listen to error, without being obliged to go; for unless He sends us to those meetings where error is forced home to the people by the power of the will, He will not keep us. The angels cease their watchful care over us, and we are left to the buffetings of the enemy, to be darkened and weakened by him and the power of his evil angels; and the light around us becomes contaminated with the darkness.

I saw that we have no time to throw away in listening to fables. (Early Writings, p. 125) ?

[1]. See Selected Messages, book 1, pages 201–208.

2017 WV Camp Meeting

    We are very pleased to announce the 2017 WV camp meeting will be June 12–17. Though that is still six months away, now is the time to plan to attend. We hope all of you will come and join us for this annual event.

Theme: Our theme this year is “The Message and Its Right Arm.” During the day we will be discussing how the health message is a vital part of the work for God’s people at this time, and then the evening meetings will be on the three angels’ messages.

We are planning to have Pastor Jean-Christophe Bolotte from France with us, and Pastor David Sims is hoping to attend and bring us some stirring reports of the medical missionary work in the Philippines.

Warning: It might be hard to discuss any subject within Adventism where there are so many different opinions as there are on health. No matter where you are from and what your background is, there is an excellent chance that someone may present something with which you disagree. We are all striving for truth together, so please come with Christian love and forbearance for those who might see things differently than you do. We encourage all to think for themselves and to view the Bible and the Testimonies in a sound manner.

As always, there is no cost to attend. The Sabbath fellowship lunch will be provided. We have plenty of room for camping, and showers are available. There are also motels within a reasonable distance. We will be sharing more information in the coming months, but mark your calendar now to attend. See you in June! ?


Perfection by the Faith of Jesus

by Demario Carter, continued from last month

What perfection is

    In the song of Moses we read: “He is the Rock, his work is perfect …” (Deuteronomy 32:4). Compare this with what the prophet Samuel says: “As for God, his way is perfect …” (2 Samuel 22:31). So God’s work and God’s way are perfect. Now add one more text to this: “The law of the LORD is perfect …” (Psalms 19:7). Notice what these three passages teach concerning perfection. God’s work, God’s way, and God’s Law are perfect. And we also know that God’s work, way, and Law are righteous. So if his work, way, and Law are perfect and righteous, then we can see that perfection is simply the righteousness of God. It is his righteousness and not our own. In other words, moral perfection is the righteousness of God, and if we therefore attain God’s righteousness we consequently attain moral perfection. They are synonymous. If we have his righteousness, both imputed and imparted to us, then we have his perfection, and in his eyes we are as the Master.

How perfection is attained

    But how can we, as weak, sinful mortals, attain this righteousness? Paul says, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ …” (Romans 3:21, 22a). Here we are told that the righteousness of God is by the faith of Jesus Christ. There are many faiths in the world: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, your own, etc. But there is only one faith whereby we can attain the righteousness of God. Paul further says, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9). In other words, we can only attain the righteousness of God by the faith that Jesus gives. It is his faith. We must receive it. Only the faith of Jesus, which is given to every man by measure, can lift us from the depths of sin to the heights of righteousness. We are told, “The faith of Jesus. It is talked of, but not understood. What constitutes the faith of Jesus, that belongs to the third angel’s message? Jesus becoming our sin-bearer that He might become our sin-pardoning Saviour. He was treated as we deserve to be treated. He came to our world and took our sins that we might take His righteousness. And faith in the ability of Christ to save us amply and fully and entirely is the faith of Jesus” (Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, bk. 3, p. 172).

What the faith of Jesus accomplishes

    How was the faith of Jesus displayed in the life of Jesus? What did this faith lead Jesus to do while on this earth? In writing to the Hebrews, Paul says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Notice that, although tempted as every man is, Jesus was somehow enabled to resist all sin. Compare this with what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Jesus knew no sin, but that does not mean he had no knowledge of sin. Remember, thoughts concerning sin and sinful thoughts are widely different. In the beginning, Adam knew Eve. This knowledge was an intimate, personal bonding. So when the Bible says that Jesus knew no sin, it means that he never came into personal intimacy with sin. He never indulged the act or thought of sin. Peter says, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:21, 22). This is what the faith of Jesus enabled him to do. Do you have this faith? This is the faith he wants to give his people at this times—a faith that knows no sin. Some of you are still having intimacy with sin. You have a personal bond with sin because you are still walking with it, holding on to it, and even indulging it. God is trying to set you free from that sin and separate it from you forever. He, himself, is wanting to have a personal bond with you.

But how was Jesus enabled to keep this faith and know no sin? In the next verse Peter says, “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). Although Christ was ridiculed, despised, and rejected by men; although he was reviled, threatened, and persecuted; he committed his life into the hands of him who judges righteously. He committed his case into his Father’s hands, and he knew that God’s way, his work, and his Law would vindicate the truth. This is what we must learn to do on a daily basis, moment by moment, in spite of what we are dealing with; in spite of suffering, trials and testing. A. T. Jones once said, “Faith is the depending upon the word of God only, and expecting that word only, to do what the word says” (The Review and Herald, January 17, 1899). Friends, we must learn to commit our soul into Christ’s keeping and trust implicitly and completely in the Savior. We must remain faithful and focused, steadily keeping in view that aim worthy of our endeavors. Perfection demands a definite aim! “As the Son of God lived by faith in the Father, so are we to live by faith in Christ. So fully was Jesus surrendered to the will of God that the Father alone appeared in His life. Although tempted in all points like as we are, He stood before the world untainted by the evil that surrounded Him. Thus we also are to overcome as Christ overcame” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 389).

Again, what is the Christian’s aim? I close with these words from A. T. Jones:

Perfection, perfection of character, is the Christian goal — perfection attained in human flesh in this world. Christ attained it in human flesh in this world and thus made and consecrated a way by which, in Him, every believer can attain it. … Perfection is the Christian’s goal, and the High Priesthood and ministry of Christ in the true sanctuary is the only way by which any soul can attain this true goal in this world. “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary.” Ps. 77:13. (A. T. Jones, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, p. 45)

For thus it has been demonstrated to the very fulness of perfection, that there is no man in the wide world for whom there is not hope in God, no one so lost that he cannot be saved by trusting God in this faith of Jesus. … This is the faith of Jesus that is given to men. This is the faith of Jesus that must be received by men in order for them to be saved. This is the faith of Jesus which, now in this time of the Third Angel’s Message, must be received and kept by those who will be saved from the worship of the “beast and his image,” and enabled to keep the commandments of God. This is the faith of Jesus referred to in the closing words of the Third Angel’s Message: “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Ibid., pp 28, 29)

Even though the aim may look impossible, God has spoken, and we only need to take him at his word. We can live a life without sin, only by the faith of Jesus.


Youth’s Corner — Afoot and Alone

    (This installment presents a continuation of Chapter 17 of Escape from Siberian Exile by John Godfrey Jacques, published by Pacific Press in 1921.)

The storm had abated, though there was still a strong wind. The moon looked down full-faced on the snow-covered region. Its light was sufficient to guide us, but the snow hid the road.

The wind went through my clothes as if they had been gauze. I soon became almost numb from cold. To combat it, we ran. From my eyes, smarting from the effects of the smoke at the inn, tears streamed down my cheeks, and froze there.

The conditions truly were not exhilarating; but I asked the pitying Father for courage and strength, and thanked Him for the kindly guide He had sent me, without whom I should have been much worse off.

As we hurried along over the creaking snow, I learned from my fellow pedestrian a few Manchurian words, and this little knowledge was afterwards very useful.

After some hours, our road crossed the Russian railway, near barracks; but presumably the guard saw in us only two natives, for we passed unchallenged—except for the dogs, which followed us a long way.

As they turned back, we saw ahead of us a wayside shrine, which denoted the probable proximity of a village. Within the shrine was a dish of rice intended for the spirits that were supposed to sojourn there, but appropriated by the birds. The religion of the Manchurians has to do principally with evading evil spirits, and appeasing those which cannot be evaded.

In the village not far beyond, we stopped at an inn to rest and warm ourselves. The inmates were too intent on their smoking, or too stupid, to heed our coming or going; and I was relieved at being unobserved.

I was more relieved when, later in the day, we came in sight of Shwang-chang-puo; for traveling was becoming very difficult, my muscles being stiff and sore.

To reach the city gate, we had to pass around a long wall. The shelter of this wall was most welcome.

Compared with other Manchurian towns I had seen, this one seemed ancient, but neat and orderly.

It lies near the Russian railway. Soon after entering it, I saw a European on the street; but as he apparently did not notice me, I felt little misgiving on his account. Later I espied a Russian soldier, and this was enough to admonish me that I should exercise caution about being seen.

We went into a small eating booth, where the warmth was most gratifying to our benumbed bodies. What my palate said to the unaccustomed foods, I could not hear, because of the louder cries of hunger.

Before I left Harbin, some of my friends there told me that in Shwang-chang-puo there was a native evangelist of our faith, who spoke a little Russian. I had taken his address, thinking he might help me to plan for the remainder of the journey. But in that strange Oriental city, how could I search out any one, without making myself dangerously conspicuous?

I decided to continue my journey; and my volunteer guide declared his intention to go along, although his only motive, so far as I could learn, was the purely unselfish one of looking after my welfare.

We started toward the south gate. Though we could converse but little, yet we smiled encouragement at each other; and I needed encouragement, for I was nearly exhausted.

As we were passing the last compound inside the wall, the guide excitedly caught hold of me, and pointing to the gateway, exclaimed, “Yesua, Yesua!” Then he pulled me into the yard, where there were several natives. Their bearing was genial, and the premises were exceptionally clean.

This was a Christian mission. My guide had discovered the fact by the sign over the gateway; and his exclamation “Yesua” was an attempt to speak the name “Jesus.” The native evangelists here knew the one I had wished to find, and they directed us to his home. Half an hour’s walk, with some inquiry by the way, brought us to the house.

A middle-aged man of amiable appearance, with his wife, welcomed us. Portraits that had been given to me in Harbin, of some of our missionaries in China, were an indication, to this good couple, that I had been associated with our people; and they appeared as happy to have me in their home, as I was to be in so hospitable a place.

My guide, seeing that I was now among friends, essayed to leave; but he was not permitted to go until he had received all due courtesies.

My host and hostess had been but a few years out of heathenism; yet the contrast between them and the non-Christians about them, was very marked. The little group of converts they had gathered, also gave proof of a marvelous transformation of character.

In our training school that this evangelist and his wife had attended, the students were not taught European customs in lieu of Oriental, except in so far as the latter were objectionable. Consequently the house in which I found myself a guest was not unlike those about it, except for its cleanliness.

The same was true of the food and clothing of the family. The staple articles of diet were millet, cabbage, and peanuts. To make the food palatable for myself, I was obliged to add salt, much to the amusement of the household. The Manchurians, instead of salting their food in general, eat with it very salty cabbage.

My host and some of his friends seemed delighted with a chalk talk that I gave them, the former translating to those who did not understand any language I could speak. My singing also evidently pleased them. I could not pretend to an equal enjoyment of the dirge-like Manchurian music, all of which sounded alike to me, whether the occasion was a funeral or a wedding.

I applied myself to the study of Chinese, in order that I might better make my wants known when I should resume my journey.

The evangelist begged that I remain with him, learn the language, and do evangelistic work among the people. This proposition was not without appeal to me; but I knew that even my brief stay there was hazardous, for though I was in Chinese territory, any of the numerous Russian soldiers seen on the streets would not on that account hesitate to seize me, should they have a hint of my identity.

After a few days’ recuperation, I started out once more on my perilous trip. My host proposed to accompany me a day’s walk, to a village where some people lived who were studying the Bible with him.

In going through the city, I met, near the gate of the government building, my recent guide. He wore a uniform, having obtained a civil service commission. Though he could not well go with me now, he manifested the same brotherly interest in me as before.

The evangelist and I, after a walk of some twelve miles, reached the tiny village that we had set out for. Manchuria is much less densely populated than China proper, and its villages are fewer and smaller. The population of the one to which we were going was made up almost wholly of the various branches of one well-to-do family. They were converts of an evangelical church; and though they were not so well instructed as those I had just left, still their homes were a tribute to the work of Christian missions.

I shall perhaps not be criticized for asserting that the converts of our own missions give greater evidence of the transforming power of the gospel, than do those of any other missions I have visited—and I have visited those of many different churches.

We were received cordially by the villagers, and later were requested to conduct an evening service. Again I resorted to the use of crayon sketches to atone for my inability to speak the language. This manner of teaching quite captivated the little audience, and they too would fain have had me take up my permanent residence in Manchuria and teach the gospel.

In truth, what I saw, during this journey, of the influence of Christianity among heathen people, fully convinced me that foreign mission work is worthy the best efforts of any young man. The world offers nothing to surpass it.

The patriarch of the little clan made us his guests for the night, and all the men of the settlement came and slept with us. That was in accordance with their ideas of social ethics.

The morning was creeping over the wall of the compound when I bade them adieu, and once more started out, staff in hand. The evangelist walked a little distance with me, then I went on—alone. The full meaning of that word “alone” is not easily learned. To be continued


Fundamental Belief on
the Holy Spirit,
Addendum

By Onycha Holt

    Last month, in the article “The Fundamental Belief of the Holy Spirit,” we addressed a statement made by Ellen White that refers to the Holy Spirit as a person. The statement, as quoted, reads:

We have been brought together as a school, and we need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds, unseen by human eyes, that the Lord God is our Keeper and Helper. He hears every word we utter and knows every thought of the mind. (Ellen White, Ms66–1899.11; also Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, p. 136)

The entire paragraph reads:

The Lord says this because He knows it is for our good. He would build a wall around us, to keep us from transgression, so that His blessing and love may be bestowed on us in rich measure. This is the reason we have established a school here. The Lord instructed us that this was the place in which we should locate, and we have had every reason to think that we are in the right place. We have been brought together as a school, and we need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds, unseen by human eyes, that the Lord God is our Keeper and Helper. He hears every word we utter and knows every thought of the mind. (Ibid.)

This quotation is taken from a sermon Sister White presented in the Avondale Church on March 25, 1899. The school she referred to was the Avondale School,[1] now known as Avondale College. This school was relocated, in 1897, from the city of Melbourne, Australia, to a rural setting in Cooranbong that was “in the woods, away from the large cities and their influences” (Ellen White, “The Week of Prayer at Avondale School,” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, October 25, 1898).[2]

In late May and early June of 1898, a Week of Prayer was held at the school, and Sister White was present. Her reports of the planning for the week, as well as her reports of the Week of Prayer itself, were published in four consecutive issues of The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, starting with September 27, 1898. Near the middle of 1898, therefore, Ellen White was at the Avondale School for the Week of Prayer, and then in early 1899 she was present again on campus, delivering a sermon in the campus church. On both of these occasions, she referred to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit as being on campus.

During the Week of Prayer in 1898, she said:

On Wednesday morning, June 1, I met with the students in the school chapel. I read to them important words of counsel and instruction, and I was impressed by the Holy Spirit to encourage them to exercise faith in God. I knew that if the eyes of teachers and students were opened, they would see that the Lord Jesus was among them, and that they were honored by the presence of the greatest Teacher that the world has ever known. The Saviour is watching the development of character. He is weighing moral worth. With what pleasure he looks upon the students, both old and young, who are daily hearing the instruction from his written word! (White, Ibid.)

And during the sermon on campus in 1899, she stated:

We have been brought together as a school, and we need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds, unseen by human eyes, that the Lord God is our Keeper and Helper. He hears every word we utter and knows every thought of the mind. (White, Ms66–1899.11)

Sister White connects the Holy Spirit with the Lord God, in the quotation immediately above, through the double use of the word that. It seems she is re-describing, with parallelism, the Holy Spirit to be the Lord God. Now, she can only be saying one of two things—either the Holy Spirit is the Lord God or the Holy Spirit is the representative of the Lord God. It cannot be the first because nowhere in her writings does she refer to the Holy Spirit as the Lord God. The Bible also never refers to the Holy Spirit as the Lord God but does refer to the Spirit as the Spirit of the Lord God (Isaiah 61:1).

Also, when Ellen White states the Holy Spirit is as much a person as God is a person, she is not saying the Holy Spirit is God. The Holy Spirit could not be God under such a statement, for it would make no sense. It would be like saying, God, who is as much a person as God is a person. Instead, the Holy Spirit can only be spoken of here as the representative of God, and in this sense it walked on the campus grounds and in this sense has a personality, which we discussed in our article last month.

Let us now link these thoughts with a portion of Sister White’s comments made during the Week of Prayer (1898), which we quoted earlier:

I knew that if the eyes of teachers and students were opened, they would see that the Lord Jesus was among them, and that they were honored by the presence of the greatest Teacher that the world has ever known. The Saviour is watching the development of character. He is weighing moral worth. With what pleasure he looks upon the students, both old and young, who are daily hearing the instruction from his written word! (White, “The Week of Prayer at Avondale School,” Ibid.)

Interestingly, during the Week of Prayer, it was Jesus who was abiding on campus, watching, weighing moral worth, and looking upon the students with pleasure. Ten months later, it was the Holy Spirit walking on campus, hearing and knowing every thought. These two quotations help to connect the Holy Spirit with Jesus. I realize that to the trinitarian mind, both, as two separate individuals, would be understood to have abided on campus, walking and watching, but the information presented here and in last month’s article, affirms that it was Jesus or his representative, the Spirit of Jesus, that had been on campus.

Loughborough on the Spirit of God

    J. N. Loughborough wrote a series of articles on the Holy Spirit, published in the Advent Review as Sabbath Herald, beginning on September 20, 1898. Most of the articles were consecutive on a weekly basis, except for a few occasions when the next article was not published until after a week or more had elapsed. You will not find this series of articles in the pioneer database for Elder Loughborough, I am sorry to say, but they are available to read online and to download from the Adventist archives website.[3] One week before Sister White’s first article appeared about the Avondale Week of Prayer, Elder Loughborough wrote the following statements, taken from his first article in his series on the Holy Spirit.[4] Ellen White never reprimanded him or took issue with anything published in this series, as far as we can discern.

The Spirit of God is spoken of in the Scriptures as God’s representative—the power by which he works, the agency by which all things are upheld. This is clearly expressed by the psalmist, when he inquires: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139:7–10). We learn from this language that when we speak of the Spirit of God, we are really speaking of his [God’s] presence and power. . . .

In further confirmation of the truth that the Spirit of God is recognized in the Bible as the Lord’s presence, we note the statement made by our Lord to the Samaritan woman: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and, in truth” (John 4:24). (J. N. Loughborough, “The Spirit of God,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, September 20, 1898)[5]

The indefinite article a and the word is in John 4:24 are both supplied words. The Greek literally reads pneuma ho theos, or spirit the god, and you might be inclined to think that John is teaching that the Spirit is God, but this is not so. As David Crump explains, John describes the Spirit as “performing the work of regeneration and illumination” but John offers “no insight into the Spirit’s eternal or essential place within the Godhead” (Abstract, “Re-examining the Johannine Trinity: perichoresis or deification?” by David Crump, Scottish Journal of Theology, volume 59, issue 4; November 2006).[6] John is simply stating one aspect of God—he is a Spirit—for we know God is also a person (Hebrews 1:3).

Let us determine in this new year to study to show ourselves “approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

 

[1]. See E. G. White, The Week of Prayer at Avondale School,” The Advent Review & Sabbath Herald, vol. 75, no. 43, October 25, 1898.

 

[2]. In this sermon Ellen White repeatedly called for strict obedience by the students to the standards of the school. If they were unable to do so, they were to leave the school.

 

[4]. Please see the enclosed Sabbath School comments booklet for the entire article.

 

[5]. Loughborough’s articles on the Holy Spirit are found in The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 9–20–1898; 10–4–1898; 10–11–1898; 10–18–1898; 10–25–1898; 11–01–1898; 11–08–1898; 11–22–1898; 11–29–1898; 12–06–1898; 12–13–1898; 1–03–1899; 1–31–1899; 2–07–1899; and 2–14–1899.

 

[6]. Accessed at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/scottish-journal-of-theology/article/div-classtitlere-examining-the-johannine-trinity-perichoresis-or-deificationdiv/0571F228C1E6EB0B8BB382C1A1D48894


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

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