"And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory." Rev. 18:1.
For the finishing of His work on earth, God gave us three messages (Rev. 14) by which we are to be prepared to stand in the great day of the Lord. They are the present truth for today. The way we treat these messages determines our position before God and decides our destiny either for salvation or perdition. "The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received." EW 258, 259. Revelation 14 is evidently a life or death question in which the great deceiver takes special interest. As a matter of fact, he is doing his best to weaken our grasp of the present truth. "Satan is constantly seeking to cast a shadow about these messages, so that the people of God shall not clearly discern their import, their time and place." 6T 18. And, unfortunately, he has had much success among the professed people of God.
I-WHY THE ANGEL OF REVELATION 18 MUST COME
"Satan has devised a state of things whereby the proclamation of the third angel's message shall be bound about. We must beware of his plans and methods. There must be no toning down of the truth, no muffling of the message for this time. The third angel's message must be strengthened and confirmed. The eighteenth chapter of Revelation reveals the importance of presenting the truth in no measured terms but with boldness and power.... There has been too much beating about the bush in the proclamation of the third angel's message. The message has not been given as clearly and distinctly as it should have been." Ev 230.
"The third angel's message is to be given with power. The power of the proclamation of the first and second messages is to be intensified in the third. In the Revelation John says of the heavenly messenger who unites with the third angel: 'I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice.' Rev. 18:1, 2. We are in danger of giving the third angel's message in so indefinite a manner that it does not impress the people. So m. any other interests are brought in that the very message which should be proclaimed with power becomes tame and voiceless." 6T 60.
"As foretold in the eighteenth of Revelation, the third angel's message is to be proclaimed with great power by those who give the final warning against the beast and his image: [Rev. 18:1-6 quoted]. This is the message given by God to be sounded forth in the loud cry of the third angel.... It is a solemn and terrible truth that many who have been zealous in proclaiming the third angel's message are now becoming listless and indifferent! The line of demarcation between worldlings and many professed Christians is almost indistinguishable. Many who once were earnest Adventists are conforming to the world to its practices, its customs, its selfishness. Instead of leading the world to render obedience to God's law, the church is uniting more and more closely with the world in transgression. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world." 8T 118, 119.
According to E. G. White, the angel of Revelation 18 would bring the needed reinforcement:
"I saw another mighty angel commissioned to descend to the earth, to unite his voice with the third angel, and give power and force to his message." EW 277.
"Satan has laid every measure possible that nothing shall come among us as a people to reprove and rebuke us, and exhort us to put away our errors. But there is a people who will bear the ark of God.... They will proclaim the word of the Lord; they will lift up their voice like a trumpet. The truth will not be diminished or lose its power in their hands. They will show the people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins." TM 411.
II-MINNEAPOLIS, THE TURNING POINT
1888 marked a critical period for the SDA Church. In this same year and in the following years the church was called upon to choose between vital issues and thus decide her destiny.
1. The Beginning of the Light (1888)
The servant of the Lord wrote:
"I know that a work must be done for the people, or many will not be prepared to receive the light of the angel sent down from heaven to lighten the whole earth with his glory." TM 468, 469.
"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." 1SM 363.
"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." TM 91, 92.
2. Only a Few Can See the Light
"We are living in the last days, and the generation that is to witness the final destruction has not been left without warning of the hastening judgments of God. Says the apostle, [Rev. 18:1-5 quoted]. The whole earth is to be lightened with the glory of this message, and hearts and minds will be prepared by its reception, for the coming of the King of kings. But this gracious message will be as generally rejected by the professed Christian world, as was the message of the Messiah by the Jewish nation. Only a few will receive the testimony of truth, for every influence that Satan can bring to bear against the reception of the truth of God will be employed.... The question of most vital importance for this time is, 'Who is on the Lord's side? Who will unite with the angel [of Revelation 18] in giving the message of truth to the world? Who will receive the light that is to fill the whole earth with its glory?' Those who cherish the light that they have, will receive more. Increasing light will shine about the souls who yield to the softening, subduing grace of Christ; and those who love the light, will be saved from the delusions of Satan." RH Nov. 5, 1889.
"For nearly two years we have been urging the people to come up and accept the light and the truth concerning the righteousness of Christ, and they do not know whether to come and take hold of this precious truth or not.... They do not let the Saviour in." RH March 11, 1890.
"O how few know the day of their visitation! . . . How few there are who are truly humble, devoted, God-fearing servants....
'Today there are few who are heartily serving God. The most of those who compose our congregations are spiritually dead in trespasses and sins.... They are less and less sensible of the preciousness and value of truth, because they neglect the practice of those things which are pleasing in the sight of God. The stirring testimonies of reproof and warning do not arouse them. The sweetest melodies that come from God through human lips-justification by faith, and the righteousness of Christ-do not bring forth from them a response of love and gratitude. Though the heavenly merchantman displays before them the richest jewels of faith and love, though his voice invites them to buy of him 'gold tried in the fire,' and 'white raiment that they may be clothed,' and 'eye-salve that they may see,' they steel their hearts against him, and fail to exchange their lukewarmness for love and zeal; but fold their hands in complacency, make a profession, but deny the power of true godliness. If they continue in this state, God will reject them with abhorrence. To praise the world and God at the same time, is in no way acceptable to God. Awake, awake, before it is everlastingly too late." RH April 4, 1893.
3. There Is a Time Limit
The counsel of the Faithful and True Witness to Laodicea (Rev. 3:18-20) was offered to remedy the situation while there was still hope. Sister White wrote:
"The message given us by A.T. Jones and E.J. Waggoner is the message of God to the Laodicean church, and woe be unto anyone who professes to believe the truth, and yet does not reflect to others the God-given rays." MS 24, 1892.
"There is yet a chance to remedy their state [those who are lukewarm], and the Laodicean message is full of encouragement; for the backslidden church may yet buy the gold of faith and love, may yet have the white robe of the righteousness of Christ, that the shame of their nakedness need not appear." RH Aug. 28, 1894.
"Brethren, your own lamps will surely flicker and grow dim until they go out in darkness unless you make decided efforts to reform. 'Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.' The opportunity now presented may be short. If this season of grace and repentance passes unimproved, the warning is given: 'I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place.' . . . But His Spirit will not always strive. His patience will wait but little longer" 5T 612 (1889).
"It is not God that puts the blinder before the eyes of men or makes their hearts hard; it is the light which God sends to His people, to correct their errors, to lead them in safe paths, but which they refuse to accept-it is this that blinds their minds and hardens their hearts. They choose to turn from the light, to stubbornly walk in sparks of their own kindling, and the Lord positively declares that they shall lie down in sorrow. When one ray of light which the Lord sends is not acknowledged, there is a partial benumbing of the spiritual perceptions, and the second revealing of light is less clearly discerned, and so the darkness will constantly increase until it is night to the soul. Christ said, 'How great is that darkness!'. . .
"May the Lord forbid that the history of the children of Israel in departing from God, in refusing to walk in the light, in refusing to confess their sins of unbelief and rejection of His messages, should be the experience of the people claiming to believe the truth for this time. For if they do as did the children of Israel in the face of warnings and admonitions, the same result will follow in these last days as came upon the children of Israel.... God is not in a hurry to carry out His plans; for He is from everlasting to everlasting. He gives light and opens His truth more fully to those whom He would have to receive it, that they in their turn may take up the words of warning and encouragement, and give them to others. If men of repute and intelligence refuse to do this, the Lord will choose other instruments, honoring those who are looked upon as inferior." RH Oct. 21, 1890.
"The Lord has seen our backslidings, and He has a controversy with His people.... The displeasure of the Lord is against His people. In their present condition it is impossible for them to represent the character of Christ.... They have refused to receive the message; they have refused to come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved.... The time will come when it must be said of the impenitent, 'Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone.' Will the church see where she has fallen? . . . When the members of the church humble themselves before God by zealous, not half-hearted, lifeless action, the Lord will receive them. But He declares, 'I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.' How long shall this warning be resisted?-The church is like the unproductive tree . . . on which the divine search discovers nothing but leaves. Solemn thought for our churches! solemn, indeed, for every individual! Marvelous is the patience and forbearance of God; but 'except thou repent,' it will be exhausted; the churches, our institutions, will go from weakness to weakness, from cold formality to deadness, while they are saying, 'I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.'" RH (EXTRA), Dec. 23, 1890.
"'Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.' What effect have these words had upon the church? Have the professed people of God understood the import of the words, 'I will come unto thee quickly [when you are at ease, careless, filled with spiritual negligence], and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.' When warnings come no more to the people of God, when tender admonitions from the Spirit of God are silent, when the candle of heavenly illumination shines no longer upon their pathway, they will be left to kindle their own fire, and to walk in the sparks of their own kindling." RH April 4, 1893. (The words in brackets appear in the original.)
From the foregoing quotations we see that the presentation of Christ and His righteousness led the church to the place where she was given:
(1) a short time to decide her destiny,
(2) the opportunity to decide between:
(a) a genuine revival and reformation or
(b) removal of her candlestick.
If the church accepted the special help sent to her, it would not be too late for her to avert the impending denominational disaster. But if she failed to improve the opportunity given her for revival and reformation, the removal of her candlestick would be marked by the cessation of God's warnings and admonitions.
III-THE CHURCH DECIDES HER DESTINY
It is not generally known among Adventists that "the message of the other angel" was rejected.
1. The Message Rejected
Sister White wrote:
"Now our meeting is drawing to a close and not one confession has been made, there has not been a single break so as to let the Spirit of God in. Now I was saying, What was the use of our assembling here together and for our ministering brethren to come in if they are here only to shut out the Spirit of God from the people? . . . If the ministers will not receive the light, I want to give the people a chance; perhaps they may receive it." MS 9, 1888.
"If you wait for light to come in a way that will please every one, you will wait in vain. If you wait for louder calls or better opportunities, the light will be withdrawn, and you will be left in darkness. Grasp every ray of light that God sends. Men who neglect to heed the calls of the Spirit and word of God, because obedience involves a cross, will lose their souls." RH Dec. 18, 1888.
"I have tried to present the message to you as I have understood it, but how long will those at the head of the work keep themselves aloof from the message of God?" RH March 18, 1890.
"If they have not recognized the Spirit of the Lord in the messages I have borne they will recognize it less now, for I have not strength to contend with the spirit, and resistance, doubts and unbelief which have barricaded their souls, that they could not see when good cometh. I have far greater liberty in speaking to unbelievers. They are interested. They feel impressed by the Spirit of God, and say it seems those words are spoken under the inspiration of the Spirit of God.
"O, it is the hardest place in the world, to speak where great light has come to men in responsible positions. They have been enlightened, but have chosen darkness rather than light...." Letter 32w, 1890.
"The same spirit that actuated the rejectors of Christ, rankles in their hearts, and had they lived in the days of Christ, they would have acted toward Him in a manner similar to that of the godless and unbelieving Jews." Testimonies to R & H Office, pp. 16, 17.
"I can never forget the experience which we had in Minneapolis, or the things which were then revealed to me in regard to the spirit that controlled men, the words spoken, the actions done in obedience to the powers of evil.... They were moved at the meeting by another spirit." Letter 24s, 1892.
"An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord's message through Brethren [E.J.] Waggoner and [A.T.] Jones.... The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world." 1SM 234, 235.
"If Satan can impress the mind and stir up the passions of those who claim to believe the truth, and thus lead them to unite with the forces of evil, he is well pleased. If once he can get them to commit themselves to the wrong side, he has laid his plans to lead them on a long journey....
"I wish to plead with our brethren who shall assemble at the General Conference to heed the message given to the Laodiceans. What a condition of blindness is theirs; this subject [the message of 1888] has been brought to your notice again and again; but your dissatisfaction with your spiritual condition has not been deep and painful enough to work a reform. 'Thou sayest I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.' The guilt of self-deception is upon our churches." Letter to O.A. Olsen, Sept. 1, 1892, O.19, d'92.
"I saw that Jones and Waggoner had their counterpart in Joshua and Caleb. As the children of Israel stoned the spies with literal stones, you have stoned these brethren with stones of sarcasm and ridicule. I saw that you willfully rejected what you knew to be truth, just because it was too humiliating to your dignity. I saw some of you in your tents mimicking and making all manner of fun of these two brethren. I also saw that if you had accepted their message, we would have been in the kingdom two years from that date, but now we have to go back into the wilderness and there stay forty years." GCB May 9, 1892 (Melbourne, Australia).
"Our own people opposed the work of God by refusing the light of truth on the righteousness of Christ by faith. This they should have received and reechoed with heart and voice and pen. But when light has come to those at the center of the work, they have not known how to treat it." TM 401, 402 (1897).
"We should be the last people on earth to indulge in the slightest degree the spirit of persecution against those who are bearing the message of God to the world. This is the most terrible feature of unchristlikeness that has manifested itself among us since the Minneapolis meeting. Some time it will be seen in its true bearing, with all the burden of woe that has resulted from it." GCB 1893, p. 184.
"The sin committed in what took place at Minneapolis remains on the record books of heaven.... And when these persons are tried, and brought over the ground again, the same spirit will be revealed. When the Lord has sufficiently tried them, if they do not yield to Him, He will withdraw His Holy Spirit." Letter to O. A. Olsen, Sept. 1, 1892, O. 19, d'92.
2. The Messenger Rejected
The rejection of the message implies the rejection of the messenger-the angel of Revelation 18.
The angel of Revelation 18 symbolizes a movement. The servant of the Lord refers to "the movement symbolized by the angel coming down from heaven, lightening the earth with his glory" (GC 604). In this movement, both divine and human agents take an active part. In Revelation 18 it is actually the Holy Spirit that lightens the earth with His glory (ChS 253). He is also to seal the sighing and crying ones (3T 267) with the seal of the living God.
Literal angels certainly participate in the sealing of the 144,000 (Heb. 1:13, 14; PK 591). And consecrated human beings have their share, too, in the closing work.
"The angels are represented as flying in the midst of heaven, proclaiming to the world a message of warning, and having a direct bearing upon the people living in the last days of this earth's history. No one hears the voice of these angels, for they are a symbol to represent the people of God who are working in harmony with the universe of heaven. Men and women, enlightened by the Spirit of God and sanctified through the truth, proclaim the three messages in their order." 2SM 387.
So, if "the message of the other angel" (1888) was rejected, this means that the men who brought the message were rejected, the angels who attended these men were rejected, and also the Holy Spirit that used these men was rejected. Sister White wrote:
"Now, just now, is our day of mercy and salvation. The Lord God, who dwelleth in the holy place, sees every soul that shows contempt for the manifestations of His Holy Spirit. God has revealed himself again and again in a most marked manner in Battle Creek. He has given a large measure of His Holy Spirit to the believers there. It has come unexpectedly at times.... Some felt annoyed at this outpouring, and their own natural dispositions were manifested. They said, 'This is only excitement; it is not the Holy Spirit, not showers of the latter rain from heaven."' Sp T, Series A, No. 6, p. 19 (1896).
"The heavenly messenger has been repulsed by the determined will. 'Thus far shalt thou go with my students, but no farther. We need no enthusiasm in our school, no excitement. We are much better satisfied to work with the students ourselves.' It is thus that despite has been done to God's gracious messenger, the Holy Spirit.
"Are not the teachers in our schools in danger of blasphemy, of charging the Holy Spirit of God with being a deceiving power, and leading into fanaticism? . . . A succession of showers from the living waters has come to you at Battle Creek . . . but you did not recognize it as such. Instead of drinking copiously of the streams of salvation, so freely offered through the influence of the Holy Spirit, you turned to common sewers, and tried to satisfy your soul-thirst with the polluted waters of human science. The result has been parched hearts in the schools and in the church.... But I hope the teachers have not yet passed the line where they are given over to hardness of heart and blindness of mind." Sp T, Series A, No. 7, pp. 31, 32 (1897).
The faithful few, who at that time accepted the message, were powerless to reform the church. Nevertheless, 1888 marked the beginning of the prophesied movement of revival and reformation, which was more fully revealed in another crisis, when open apostasy brought a major separation.
It is a pity that the Adventist people, with few exceptions, are not properly enlightened about the turning point brought by "the message of Righteousness by Faith" in 1888. Official church publications have given very scanty and inadequate information on the subject. Those who have read the Spirit of Prophecy statements quoted before, must surely be disappointed when they find inaccurate declarations made by the leadership today. For example: in the book The Story of Our Church, pp. 246, 247, we read:
"The rank and file of the people attending the conference accepted the message joyously, but not some of the leaders....
"After the 1888 conference, unity gradually came; leaders who had opposed the movement toward a deeper, more personal faith, accepted reproof from Mrs. White and confessed their unhappy condition of mind after the conference....
"Though the Minneapolis Conference seemed depressing and alarming, it turned out to be a great victory for the church.... A new experience came to the leaders, and the church made rapid progress in all branches of the work at home and abroad, as there was a realization of the proper emphasis which must be given to righteousness by faith."
This rosy picture which the leaders are now trying to present contradicts the true picture shown by the servant of the Lord in the writings quoted before and in those transcribed hereinafter. Sister White says:
"The religion of Jesus is endangered. It is being mingled with worldliness. Worldly policy is taking the place of the true piety and wisdom that comes from above, and God will remove His prospering hand from the conference. Shall the ark of the covenant be removed from this people? Shall idols be smuggled in? Shall false principles and false precepts be brought into the sanctuary? Shall antichrist be respected? Shall the true doctrines and principles given us by God, which have made us what we are, be ignored? . . . This is directly where the enemy, through blinded, unconsecrated men, is leading us." MS 29, 1890.
"Formality, worldly wisdom, worldly caution, worldly policy, will appear to many to be the very power of God, but when accepted, it stands as an obstacle to prevent God's light in warnings, reproof, and counsel from coming to the world....
"Satan will insinuate himself by little wedges, that widen as they make a place for themselves. The specious devices of Satan will be brought into the special work of God at this time." MS 16, 1890.
"The Lord will not leave His church without reproofs and warnings. Sins have become fashionable; but they are nonetheless aggravating in the sight of God. They are glossed over, palliated, and excused; the right hand of fellowship is given to the very men who are bringing in false theories and false sentiments, confusing the mind of the people of God, deadening their sensibilities as to what constitutes right principles. Conscience has thus become insensible to the counsels and the reproofs which have been given. The light given, calling to repentance, has been extinguished in the clouds of unbelief and opposition brought in by human plans and human inventions." News Letter, Methods No. 1 (1897).
"A new order of things has come into the ministry. There is a desire to pattern after other churches, and simplicity and humility are almost unknown. The young ministers seek to be original, and to introduce new ideas and new plans for labor. Some open revival meetings, and by this means call large numbers into the church. But when the excitement is over, where are the converted ones? Repentance and confession of sin are not seen. The sinner is entreated to believe in Christ and accept Him without regard to his past life of sin and rebellion. The heart is not broken. There is no contrition of soul. The supposed converted ones have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus." Undated MS, 111.
1. Unfaithful Leaders Denounced
"The men who close their eyes to the divine light are ignorant, deplorably ignorant, both of the Scriptures and of the power of God. The Holy Spirit's working is not agreeable to them, and they attribute its manifestations to fanaticism....
"Those who entertain and speak this belief do not know what they are talking about. They are cherishing a love of darkness; and just as long as these Christless souls are retained in positions of responsibility the cause of God is imperiled. They are in danger of fastening themselves so firmly with the dark leader of all rebellion that they will never see light; and the longer they are retained the more hopeless is their chance of receiving Christ or of having a knowledge of the true God. How uncertain they make everything that is spiritual and progressive in the truth! Under the influence of their leader they become more and more determined to work against Christ." TM 284, 285 (1896).
2. The Banner of Christ Destroyed
"On many occasions the Holy Spirit did work; but those who resisted the Spirit of God at Minneapolis were waiting for a chance to travel over the same ground again, because their spirit was the same. Afterward, when they had evidence heaped upon evidence, some were convicted; but those who were not softened and subdued by the Holy Spirit's working, put their own interpretation upon every manifestation of the grace of God, and they have lost much. They declared in their heart and soul and words that this manifestation of the Holy Spirit was fanaticism and delusion. They stood like a rock; the waves of mercy were flowing upon and around them, but were beaten back by their hard and wicked hearts, which resisted the Holy Spirit's working. Had this been received, it would have made them wise unto salvation-holier men, prepared to do the work of God with sanctified ability. But all the universe of heaven witnessed the disgraceful treatment of Jesus Christ, represented by the Holy Spirit. Had Christ been before them, they would have treated Him in a manner similar to that in which the Jews treated Christ.... Those who opened the door of their hearts to temptation at Minneapolis, and carried the same spirit home with them, will realize, if not now, in the near future, that they resisted the Holy Spirit of God, and did despite to the Spirit of grace. Will they repent? .... The Spirit of the Lord has been upon His messengers whom He has sent with light, precious light; but there were so many who had turned their faces away from the Sun of Righteousness that they saw not its bright beams. The Lord says of them, 'They have turned their back unto me, and not their face.' . . . Who will now understand these things that I write? . . . The Lord is coming; but those who venture to resist the light that God gave in rich measure at Minneapolis, who have not humbled their hearts before God, will follow on in the path of resistance, saying, 'Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?' The banner all will bear who voice the message of the third angel, is being covered with another color that virtually kills it." Sp T, Series A, No. 6, pp. 19-26 (1896).
3.The Work Receives a New Mold
"Men who are entrusted with weighty responsibilities, but who have no living connection with God, have been and are doing despite to His Holy Spirit. They are indulging the very same spirit as did Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and as did the Jews in the days of Christ....
"Jesus said, 'Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.' This prophecy was literally fulfilled by the Jews in their treatment of Christ and of the messengers whom God sent to them. Will men in these last days follow the example of those whom Christ condemned?
"These terrible predictions they have not as yet carried out to the full; but if God spares their lives, and they nourish the same spirit that marked their course of action both before and after the Minneapolis meeting, they will fill up to the full the deeds of those whom Christ condemned when He was upon the earth....
"They began this satanic work at Minneapolis.... Yet these men have been holding positions of trust, and have been molding the work after their own similitude." TM 78-80 (1895).
"Already has the power of darkness placed its mold and superscription upon the work.... The Holy Spirit is wanting in our work." TM 277, 278 (1896).
4. Further Developments
"The same work that has been done in the past, will be carried forward under the guise of the General Conference Association. The sacred character of this association is fast disappearing. What will then be respected as pure, holy, and undefiled? Will there be any voice that God's people can regard as a voice they can respect? There certainly is nothing now that bears the divine credentials....
"To a large degree the General Conference Association has lost its sacred character, because some connected with it have not changed their sentiments in any particular since the Conference held at Minneapolis. Some in responsible positions go on 'frowardly' in the way of their own hearts....
"Who can now feel sure that they are safe in respecting the voice of the General Conference Association? If the people in our churches understood the management of the men who walk in the light of the sparks of their own kindling, would they respect their decisions? I answer, No, not for a moment. I have been shown that the people at large do not know that the heart of the work is being diseased and corrupted at Battle Creek. Many of the people are in a lethargic, listless, apathetic condition, and assent to plans which they do not understand. Where is the voice, from whence will it come, to whom the people may listen, knowing that it comes from the True Shepherd?" Sp T, The Work at Battle Creek, (May 31, 1896).
"At the center of the work matters are being shaped so that every other institution is following in the same course. And the General Conference is itself becoming corrupted with wrong sentiments and principles. In the working of plans, the same principles are manifest that have controlled matters at Battle Creek for quite a length of time." TM 359 (1895).
"The church is in the Laodicean state. The presence of God is not in her midst." News Letter, Education No. 6 11898).
"The heavenly Teacher inquired: What stronger delusion can beguile the mind than the pretense that you are building on the right foundation and that God accepts your works, when in reality you are working out many things according to worldly policy and are sinning against Jehovah? . . .
"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! For this cause there is weakness, and strength is lacking.
"Unless the church, which is now being leavened with her own backsliding, shall repent and be converted, she will eat of the fruit of her own doing, until she shall abhor herself." 8T 249, 250 (1903).
"Making no attempt to reform, they are growing worse and worse." 7T 62 (l902).
The development of this condition (especially 8T 250) is one of the strongest evidences that the message of 1888 (Rev. 18:1) was rejected by the leadership and the church. In connection with this negative experience, the following warning becomes very meaningful:
"Where the message of divine truth is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in darkness." GC 378.
5. Special Efforts Made in Behalf of the Leaders
a) Appeal of 1901 (ignored)
"At the General Conference, held in Battle Creek in 1901, the Lord gave His people evidence that He was calling for reformation.... If stubborn hearts had then broken in penitence before God, there would have been seen one of the greatest manifestations of the power of God that has ever been seen. But God was not honored. The testimonies of His Spirit were not heeded. Men did not separate from the practices that were in decided opposition to the principles of truth and righteousness, which should ever be maintained in the Lord's work." 8T 97, 98 (1903).
b) Appeal of 1903 (ignored)
"When the Battle Creek Sanitarium was destroyed, Christ gave Himself to defend the lives of men and women. In this destruction God was appealing to His people to return to Him. And in the destruction of the Review and Herald Office, and the saving of life, He makes a second appeal to them." 8T 102 (1903).
"After I received word in regard to the excellent meeting of confession and unity that had been held in Battle Creek, I was writing in my diary, and was about to record the thankfulness I felt because a change had come, when my hand was arrested and there came to me the words: 'Write it not. No change for the better has taken place "' 8T 231 (l903).
c) Appeal of 1909 (ignored)
"During the General Conference of 1909 a work should have been done in the hearts of those in attendance that was not done. . . . But, though opportunities were given for confession of sin, for heartfelt repentance, and for a decided reformation, thorough work was not done." 2SM 400, 401 (1909).
The sad experience of 1888 was repeated during the following General Conference sessions also. The renewed appeals made to the leadership were rejected again and again. No genuine revival and reformation was witnessed among them. And the church suffered the unavoidable consequences.
V-HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
"The rejection of light leaves men in darkness, so that they know not at what they stumble. The invitation which the Jews refused, was sent to the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind. The terrible denunciation was pronounced that none of those who had refused the invitation should taste of the marriage supper. They had listened to the suggestions of Satan, and had made excuses, and under his leadership they would be left in the darkness of unbelief. They entrenched themselves as did Pharaoh in stubborn resistance against the Lord Jesus and His disciples; they chose Barabbas instead of Christ.
"The precious message has come to us in these last days. Warnings and entreaties have sounded. The invitation has been given, 'Come; for all things are now ready.' While it is called today, harden not your hearts. Shall men and women whom God has blessed with great light, permit themselves to be led astray by the flattering lies of the enemy of their souls? . . . Shall we not arouse, and shake off the dangerous lethargy of the world, which is lulling us to sleep in the cradle of carnal security? . . . God's Spirit will not always strive with man.... Will you imitate the Jews, who refused the invitation?" RH Nov. 5, 1895.
"By rejecting the light that was shining upon them, by refusing to examine the evidence to see whether the messages were from heaven, the Pharisees sinned against the Holy Ghost....
"The Jews pursued their course of rejecting Christ until, in their self-deceived, deluded state, they thought that in crucifying Him they were doing God a service....
"In this our day the sin of the Pharisees is being repeated. Many are turning from light, refusing to listen to the warning of God's Spirit. But by closing the heart to divine impressions, we put away the forgiveness which our Redeemer is so graciously offering to us. By rejecting mercy and truth, we prepare for a course of resistance which, if followed, will continue till we have no power to do otherwise. A point is reached where the most pointed appeals are without effect. The desire to submit to God and to do His will is no longer felt. The spiritual senses become dulled. Darkness is the result, and how great is that darkness!
"The Holy Spirit strives with every man. It is the voice of God speaking to the soul. But let that voice be resisted, and we, like the Pharisees, shall stifle conviction and resist evidence, however plain. God will give us up, and we shall be left to our own inclinations." RH July 27, 1897.
"Satan is working that the history of the Jewish nation may be repeated in the experience of those who claim to believe present truth." 2SM 111 (1896).
"The Jewish people were destroyed because they rejected the message of salvation sent down from heaven. Shall those in this generation to whom God has given great light and wonderful opportunities follow in the trend of those who rejected light to their ruin?" 6T 146 (1900).
In the evidences produced so far, two points have been emphasized: (1) the coming of the angel of Revelation 18 (called the fourth angel) with a specific message of revival and reformation in 1888 and (2) the way this vital message was treated on that occasion and during the subsequent years. We will now consider the two phases of the work of this angel.
1. First Phase-Preparation
The Spirit of Prophecy establishes beyond the possibility of doubt the fact that the angel of Revelation 18 began his work with the presentation of the message of Christ's righteousness in 1888.
In 1888, the fourth angel (Rev. 18) represented the messengers who: (1) brought the diagnosis made by the Great Physician (Isa. 58:1; Rev. 3:14-17) and (2) offered the only remedy prescribed for the badly needed treatment (Rev. 3:18). He came with a message of revival and reformation to prepare a people for the receiving of the latter rain. Sister White wrote:
"In every meeting since the General Conference, souls have eagerly accepted the precious message of the righteousness of Christ. We thank God that there are souls who realize that they are in need of something which they do not possess-gold of faith and love, white raiment of Christ's righteousness, eyesalve of spiritual discernment." COR 45.
"God has raised up men to meet the necessity of this time who will 'cry aloud and spare not,' who will lift up their 'voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.' Their work is not only to proclaim the law, but to preach the truth for this time, the Lord our righteousness." COR 47, 48.
"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." 1SM 363.
"The question of most vital importance for this time is, 'Who is on the Lord's side? Who will unite with the angel [of Rev. 18] in giving the message of truth to the world? Who will receive the light that is to fill the whole earth with its glory?'" RH Nov. 5, 1889.
"Mystic Babylon has not been sparing in the blood of the saints and shall we [not] be wide awake to catch the beams of light which have been shining from the light of the angel who is to brighten the earth with his glory." 3SM 426.
"All who are laborers together with God . . . will not be turned from the present message, which is already lightening the earth with its glory." 2SM 114.
"If we would receive the light of the glorious angel that shall lighten the earth with his glory, let us see to it that our hearts are cleansed, emptied of self, and turned toward heaven, that they may be ready for the latter rain. Let us be obtaining a fitting up to join in the proclamation of the angel who shall lighten the earth with his glory." ST Aug. 1, 1892.
"The prophet declares, 'And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.' Brightness, glory, and power are to be connected with the third angel's message, and conviction will follow wherever it is preached in demonstration of the Spirit. How will any of our brethren know when this light shall come to the people of God? As yet, we certainly have not seen the light that answers to this description. God has light for His people, and all who will accept it will see the sinfulness of remaining in a lukewarm condition; they will heed the counsel of the True Witness when He says, 'Be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.' The Church is represented as standing in a self-satisfied, pleased, proud, independent position, ignorant of her destitution and wretchedness....
"The gold that Jesus would have us buy of Him is gold tried in the fire; it is the gold of faith and love, that has no defiling substance mingled with it. The white raiment is the righteousness of Christ, the wedding garment which Christ alone can give. The eyesalve is the true spiritual discernment that is so wanting among us, for spiritual things must be spiritually discerned.
"To our brethren who are standing in this self-confident, self-satisfied position, who talk and act as if there was no need of more light, we want to say that the Laodicean message is applicable to you." RH April 1, 1890 [emphasis supplied].
According to these statements, the angel of Revelation 18:1 must first do an internal work of revival and reformation among church members before he can give the loud cry under the power of the latter rain (Rev. 18:2-4).
The servant of the Lord says that the work of this other angel began in 1888 (1SM 363), when the first rays of his light appeared, strengthening the "third angel's message in verity." From its small beginning, this light is to grow until it reaches a climax:
"The message loses none of its force in the angel's onward flight, for John sees it increasing in strength and power until the whole earth is lightened with its glory. The course of God's commandment-keeping people is onward, ever onward. The message of truth that we bear must go to nations, tongues, and people. Soon it will go with a loud voice, and the earth will be lightened with its glory." 5T 383.
"The angel [of Rev. 18:1] who unites in the proclamation of the third angel's message, is to lighten the whole earth with his glory." GC 611.
The idea that the prophesied reformation must begin with the miraculous healing of the sick and other signs and wonders, under the latter rain, is a false interpretation of 9T 126, which refers to the climax, not the beginning, of the reformatory movement. We are warned:
"Many who refuse the message which the Lord sends them are seeking to find pegs on which to hang doubts, to find some excuse for rejecting the light of heaven. In the face of clear evidence they say, as did the Jews, 'Show us a miracle, and we will believe. If these messengers have the truth, why do they not heal the sick?'. . .
"Could their eyes be opened, they would see evil angels exulting around them and triumphing in their power to deceive them. The day is just before us when Satan will answer the demand of these doubters and present numerous miracles to confirm the faith of all those who are seeking this kind of evidence. How terrible will be the situation of those who close their eyes to the light of truth and ask for miracles to establish them in deception!" Ev 594.
"There must be a reformation throughout our ranks; the people must reach a higher standard before we can expect the power of God to be manifested in a marked manner for the healing of the sick." MM 16.
"The great reformatory movement must begin in presenting to fathers and mothers and children the principles of the law of God." 6T 119 (1900).
The evidences presented before make it clear that the first purpose of the coming of the angel of Revelation 18 is to give power to the third angel's message, which grew weak in the hands of those first entrusted with it (Ev 230; 6T 60; 8T 118, 119; EW 277; TM 411). Only as the third message is strengthened by the other angel can it swell to a loud cry according to several Spirit of Prophecy statements.
There can be no mistake in what God has revealed through Sister White. Yet some try to give the impression that they know better than the Spirit of Prophecy. They explain Revelation 18:1 saying that the other angel has not come as yet, but when he comes, they assert, he will lighten the whole earth directly with the fullness of his glory. These brethren are evidently advocating, contrary to a Thus Saith the Lord, that the message will grow even without the only help that the Lord has provided to make its growth possible. And this mistaken belief creates yet another inconsistency: If the message could steadily increase in strength and power, so that it would come to a climax by itself, completely unaided by the fourth angel, then it stands to reason that the coming of the fourth angel at the end would serve no purpose. Sometimes we wonder why, for the sake of consistency, these professed believers do not explain Revelation 14:9 in exactly the same way. They have never told us why the "loud voice," with which the third angel comes, was not heard in 1844. As can be seen, error is inconsistent with its own conclusions.
2. Second Phase-Latter Rain
In 1888, when the angel of Revelation 18 came, he represented those who actually accepted his message. From the beginning to the end of his mission, he identifies himself only with the true Adventists. In the prophesied shaking, therefore, we find him, not with the apostatized majority, but with the faithful minority. Prophecy says:
"As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel's message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side.... They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren." GC 608.
"But [at this time] God still has a people in Babylon; and . . . these faithful ones must be called out.... Hence the movement symbolized by the angel coming down from heaven, lightening the earth with his glory and crying mightily with a strong voice, . . . [bearing] the final warning to be given to the inhabitants of the earth." GC 604.
"In this time of persecution the faith of the Lord's servants [the 'former brethren' identified with the 'movement' of Revelation 18] will be tried. They have faithfully given the warning, looking to God and to His word alone." GC 608.
To sound the loud cry, as can be seen, becomes the responsibility of a small, faithful"remnant" which is clearly distinguished from the unreformed mother "church" (5T 211, 213, 524). Of these faithful few, who have been called to "bear the ark of God," it is written that "the truth will not be diminished or lose its power in their hands." This small "company" of "former brethren," journeying along the narrowing road (2T 594, 595), must first show the professed people of God their transgressions "and the house of Jacob their sins" (TM 411). The giving of the final warning, the loud cry, is the last part of their work. The Spirit of Prophecy describes this event as follows:
"The messengers of Heaven are to be seen running to and fro, seeking in every possible way to warn the people of the coming judgments, and presenting the glad tidings of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. The standard of righteousness is to be exalted. The Spirit of God is moving upon men's hearts, and those who respond to its influence will become lights in the world. Everywhere they are seen going forth to communicate to others the light they have received as they did after the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. And as they let their light shine, they receive more and more of the Spirit's power. The earth is lighted with the glory of God.
"But, O, sad picture! . . . He will take His Holy Spirit from the church, and give it to others who will appreciate it.
"There is no greater evidence that those who have received great light do not appreciate that light, than is given by their refusal to let their light shine upon those who are in darkness, and devoting their time and energies in celebrating forms and ceremonies. Thoughts of the inner work, the necessary purity of heart, are not entertained. The absence of harmony with God becomes apparent. The light grows dim, goes out; the candlestick has been removed." RH July 16, 1895.
"At the time of the loud cry of the third angel those who have been in any measure blinded by the enemy, who have not fully recovered themselves from the snare of Satan, will be in peril, because it will be difficult for them to discern the light from heaven, and they will be inclined to accept falsehood. Their erroneous experience will color their thoughts, their decisions, their propositions, their counsels. The evidences that God has given will be no evidence to those who have blinded their eyes by choosing darkness rather than light. After rejecting light, they will originate theories which they will call 'light,' but which the Lord calls, 'Sparks of their own kindling, by which they will direct their steps." RH Dec. 13, 1892.
"The cause of Christ will be betrayed. Those who have had the light of truth, and have enjoyed its blessings, but who have turned away from it, will fight down the Spirit of God. Inspired with a spirit from beneath, they will tear down that which they once built up, and show to all reasonable, God-fearing souls that they cannot be trusted. They may lay claim to truth and righteousness, but their spirit and works will testify that they are betrayers of their Lord. The attributes of Satan they call the movings of the Holy Spirit." RH May 24, 1898.
"There is to be in the churches a wonderful manifestation of the power of God, but it will not move upon those who have not humbled themselves before the Lord, and opened the door of the heart by confession and repentance. In the manifestation of that power which lightens the earth with the glory of God, they will see only something which in their blindness they think dangerous, something which will arouse their fears, and they will brace themselves to resist it. Because the Lord does not work according to their ideas and expectations, they will oppose the work. 'Why,' they say, 'should not we know the Spirit of God, when we have been in the work so many years?' Because they did not respond to the warnings, the entreaties of the messages of God, but persistently said, 'I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.' "RH Dec. 23, 1890.
VII-THE OTHER ANGEL AND THE SHAKING
The statement in GC 608, which points to a separation in the SDA Church, does not refer to only one event or only one occasion. It shows a series of successive events taking place over a long period of time. Three phases are evident in this prophecy: (1) Before the testing storm comes, a large class of Adventist believers (see proportion in ChS 41) turn away from the truth and place themselves under the banner of Satan. This does not mean that they leave the organization. On the contrary, they form the great majority, and the controlling power, within the church to the very end. (Read 5T 209-212.) (2) While the great test is coming nearer and nearer, this apostatized majority develop their denominational character, step by step, as they unite more and more with the world, partaking more fully of its spirit. This is taking place now, in our days. (3) Then, when the great test, the Sunday decree, is finally brought, this majority, as an organized church, yields to the powers that be. That is when they become the most bitter enemies of the company of "former brethren," who have been entrusted with doing the work of the angel of Revelation 18 (compare GC 604, 608).
This faithful remnant company unites with the third angel like the third angel united with the second angel in 1844. And how did the third angel join the second angel? When the third angel came in 1844, the truth which he brought was rejected by the First Day Adventists (including William Miller and other leaders of the Advent Movement) who had so far been represented by the first and second angels. As this group of Millerite believers refused the light of the third angel, they ceased to be represented by the first and second angels. From that time on the representation of the first and second angels has continued in the hands of those Adventists who have heartily accepted the message of the third angel. It was through these faithful believers, who turned away from their former associates and became the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, that the third angel joined the first and second angels. While there was a separation in the body of Advent believers, there was an association among the three angels, who were now working, hand in hand, in and through the newly formed group of Seventh-day Adventists.
There is a parallel between the joining in of the third angel and the coming of the fourth angel (Rev. 18). History is being repeated. The unreformed SDA mother church, who will receive, not the latter rain but the wrath of God (5T 211), ceases to be represented by the first, second, and third angels when the presence of God is withdrawn from them as a church (5T 210). Evidently, a church that eventually becomes a "cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (TM 265) can no longer be represented by the three angels of God. These represent the faithful remnant company of former brethren (GC 608). It is in this company that the fourth angel must now add power and glory to the third angel's message, until they, as "the movement symbolized by the angel" of Revelation 18, are prepared to give the loud cry.
As SDA reformers, we hope that if we remain faithful, we will take part in this victorious experience, which is a challenge to all true Adventists. It is our conviction that the SDA Reform Movement with its stand for present truth fits into the prophetic picture pertaining to the faithful remnant company. (For details see Study No. 2, The Church and the Remnant.) Evidences show that, in the providence of God, this Movement was called into existence to carry on an important work in the light of Revelation 3:18-20 and Revelation 18:1.
During the days of Christ's earthly ministry there was much discussion among the Jews as to the identification of the prophesied Elijah, who was to come. Even the disciples were confused by the Pharisees, who maintained that Jesus could not be the Messiah, because according to Malachi 4, "Elias must first come." What a startling revelation it must have been to them to learn "that Elias is come already, and they knew him not" (Matt. 17:12). This explanation was readily accepted by those who recognized John the Baptist as God's messenger. Jesus said: "And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come." Matt. 11:14. We would leave the same proposition with the reader of this booklet concerning that "other angel." All agree that he is to come, but not all will recognize that he "is come already, and they knew him not."
The problem with the Laodicean believers is that, because of their spiritual blindness (Rev. 3:17), they fail to discern the difference between right and wrong, truth and error. "Woe unto them that call evil~good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" Isa. 5:20. Only the eyesalve offered in the Laodicean message can give us the needed spiritual discernment to see light in God's light.
At this stage some of our readers may say, "All this is new to us. We have never been taught these things." As a matter of fact, not too many Adventists know the truth about the angel of Revelation 18 and the message of 1888. Therefore, multitudes will not be in a position to see the light.
'When light goes forth to lighten the earth, instead of coming up to the help of the Lord, they will want to bind about His work to meet their narrow ideas. Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel [of Rev. 18:1] who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world." TM 300.