Both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy show that, by refusing the light of heaven, we as a people to whom the Lord has entrusted the threefold message (Revelation 14) have placed ourselves in an unfavorable position.
The Bible exhorts us:
"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 Spirit of Prophecy warns us:
"The same disobedience and failure which were seen in the Jewish church have characterized in a greater degree the people who have had this great light from heaven in the last messages of warning." 5T 456.
To remedy this situation, the Lord has sent us the needed prescription. He says:
"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.".
This heavenly counsel, which is a message of reformation, has been urged upon us especially since 1888. The servant of the Lord explains:
"Our Redeemer sends His messengers to bear a testimony to His people. He says: '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.'. But many refuse to receive Him. The Holy Spirit waits to soften and subdue hearts; but they are not willing to open the door and let the Saviour in, for fear that He will require something of them. And so Jesus of Nazareth passes by. He longs to bestow on them the rich blessings of His grace, but they refuse to accept them. What a terrible thing it is to exclude Christ from His own temple! What a loss to the church!" 6T 262 (1900).
As the counsel of the true Witness is continually ignored by the leaders, He finally addresses a call, without distinction, to any that are willing to be used by the Holy Spirit in the work of revival and reformation. Sister White writes:
"Men of clear understanding are needed now. God calls upon those who are willing to be controlled by the Holy Spirit to lead out in a work of thorough reformation. I see a crisis before us, and the Lord calls for His laborers to come into line. Every soul should now stand in a position of deeper, truer consecration to God than during the years that have passed.... I have been deeply impressed by scenes that have recently passed before me in the night season. There seemed to be a great movement- a work of revival-going forward in many places. Our people were moving into line, responding to God's call." TM 514, 515 (1913).
As Sister White was shown in vision, this last call would be heeded by some. As a matter of fact, the light of the angel of Revelation 18 has been giving "power and force" to the third angel's message in the movement of revival and reformation operating in many places. History reveals the beginnings of this movement in 1914.
We are told that, "from age to age," there is a striking similarity" in the work of reformation (GC 343). To us the following parallel is important: The early Christians obeyed the call of God without first having to get permission from the Jewish church (see example:). So we believe we now have a right, nay, we are duty-bound, to answer God's call to the best of our understanding, even without the consent or recognition of the denominational leaders.
In this study it is our purpose to elaborate on two points briefly discussed in Study No. 1, The Angel of Revelation 18 and the Message of 1888. These two points are as follows: (1) the consequences of refusing the light (1888), and (2) the present work of the angel of Revelation 18.
I-A TURNING POINT
The rejection of the message of reformation () by the majority brings a turning point in the history of the church with the following consequences: meddling with the doctrinal foundation, growing conflict, divisions. Here are some fearful predictions:
1. Tampering With the Foundation
"The truth for this time is precious, but those whose hearts nave not been broken, by falling on the rock Christ Jesus, will not see and understand what is truth. They will accept that which pleases their ideas, and will begin to manufacture another foundation than that which is laid. They will flatter their own vanity and esteem, thinking that they are capable of removing the pillars of our faith, and replacing them with pillars they have devised." MS 28, 1890.
"Many have trusted and gloried in the wisdom of men far more than in Christ and the precious, sanctifying truth for this time. They need the heavenly anointing that they may comprehend what is light and truth. They thank God that they are confined to no narrow groove, but they do not see the breadth and far-reaching extent of the truth, and are not enlightened by the Spirit of God as to heavens' large liberality. They admire manmade inventions and discoveries, but they are walking in the sparks of their own kindling, diverging farther and farther from the genuine principles of Christian action, ordained to make men wise unto salvation.... At this time the church should not be diverted from the main object of vital interest, to things that will not bring health and courage, faith and power. They must see, and by their actions testify that the gospel is aggressive. But the light which is given to shine brighter and brighter, unto the perfect day, burns dimly. The church no longer sends out the clear, bright rays of light, amid the moral darkness that is enveloping the world as a funeral pall.... The Lord has presented before me that those who have been in any measure blinded by the enemy and who have not fully recovered themselves from the snare of Satan will be in peril, because they cannot discern the light from heaven and will be inclined to accept a falsehood. This will affect the whole tenor of their thoughts, their decisions, their propositions, their counsels. The evidences that God has given are no evidence to them because they have blinded their own eyes by choosing darkness rather than light. Then they will originate something they call light, which the Lord calls sparks of their own kindling, by which they will direct their steps."-Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, No. 1, pp. 12-17 (1892).
"Every phase of fanaticism and erroneous theories, claiming to be the truth, will be brought in among the remnant people of God. These will fill minds with erroneous sentiments which have no part in the truth for this time....
"From the light given me of the Lord, men will arise speaking perverse things. Yea, already they have been working and speaking things which God has never revealed, bringing sacred truth upon a level with common things....
"Men have brought themselves in with their heterogeneous mass of heresies which they represent as oracles for the people. The people are charmed with some strange, new thing, and are not wise in experience to discern the character of ideas that men may frame up as something.... O, how this rebukes the low standard of piety in the churches."-Letter 136a, 1898.
"There are ministers and workers who will present an issue of nonsensical falsehoods as testing truths, even as the Jewish rabbis presented the maxims of men as the bread of heaven. These are given to the flock of God, as their portion of meat in due season, while the poor sheep are starving for the bread of life. Even now there seems to be a burning desire to get up something startling, and bring it in as new light. Thus men are weaving into the web as important truths a tissue of lies." RH Jan. 22, 1901. "The food that is being prepared for the flock of God will cause spiritual consumption, decline, and death." RH June 18, 1901.
"When the Saviour saw in the Jewish people a nation divorced from God, He saw also a professed Christian church united to the world and the papacy. And as He stood upon Olivet, weeping over Jerusalem till the sun sank behind the western hills, so He is weeping over and pleading with sinners in these last moments of time. Soon He will say to the angels who are holding the four winds, 'Let the plagues loose; let darkness, destruction, and death come upon the transgressors of my law.' Will He be obliged to say to those who have had great light and knowledge, as He said to the Jews, 'If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes'?" RH Oct. 8, 1901.
"False theories will be mingled with every phase of experience, and advocated with satanic earnestness in order to captivate the mind of every soul who is not rooted and grounded in a full knowledge of the sacred principles of the Word. In the very midst of us will arise false teachers, giving heed to seducing spirits whose doctrines are of satanic origin. These teachers will draw away disciples after themselves. Creeping in unawares, they will use flattering words, and make skillful misrepresentations with seductive tact.... If they do not succeed, because their way becomes hedged by warnings from God, they will change somewhat the features of their work, and the representations they have made, and bring out their plans again under a false showing. They refuse to confess, repent, and believe. Confessions may be made, but no real reformation takes place, and erroneous theories bring ruin upon unsuspecting souls because these souls believe and rely upon the men advocating these theories." RH Jan. 7, 1904.
"A great work is to be done now in convicting souls.... There will be seducing spirits and doctrines of devils in the midst of the church, and these evil influences will increase.... Devote not precious time in trying to convince those who would change the truth of God into a lie.... Whoever is determined to depart from the faith can not be helped by you. All your reasoning will be as idle tales. Take the banner of truth and hold it aloft, higher and still higher.... Beware of the leaven of evil.... God now calls for all who choose to serve Him, to stand firmly on the platform of eternal truth." RH Aug. 9, 1906.
"We are living in a time when men who are not under the teaching of the Holy Spirit will bring in false theories. These men have been standing in high places, and they have ambitious projects to carry out. They seek to exalt themselves, and to revolutionize the whole showing of things." 7BC 954 (l905).
"From the light that God has given me, I know that one great danger of those who claim to be followers of Christ, is in being self-deceived. Satan is watching his chance. He will come to men in human form, and will speak to them most entrancing words. He will bring against them the same temptations that he brought against Christ. Unless their minds and hearts are filled with the pure, unselfish, sanctified love that Christ revealed, they will fall under Satan's power, and will do and say and write strange things, to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect." RH June 30, 1910.
"Instruction has been given, warning our people against uniting in the least degree with those who advocate false theories. He who allows his sympathies and interests to be enlisted in a work that is opposed to the teachings of the word of God, is on dangerous ground, where he is surrounded by the agencies of evil. Satan is working with great determination to introduce among God's peculiar people strange and forbidden things....
"So vast is the field, and so subtle and untiring are the efforts of the enemy of souls, that God's people need to be very watchful, and to labor earnestly and unceasingly to counterwork evil in the church and in the world. Satan and his agencies are laying out special lines of labor for men who can be controlled by his power. Deceptions of every degree and kind are arising, so that if it were possible, Satan would deceive the very elect. There will be lords many, and gods many. The message will be heard, Lo, here is Christ, and lo there! With the same subtle power with which he plotted for the rebellion of holy beings in heaven before the fall, Satan is working today to operate through human beings for the fulfillment of his purposes of evil.
"I ask our people to study the 28th chapter of Ezekiel. The representation here made, while it refers primarily to Lucifer, the fallen angel, has a yet broader significance. Not one being, but a general movement, is described, and one that we shall witness. A faithful study of this chapter should lead those who are seeking for truth to walk in all the light that God has given to His people, lest they be deceived by the deceptions of these last days." Sp T, Series B, No. 17 p. 29, 30 (1911).
2. Growing Conflict
"The contest will wax more and more fierce on the part of Satan; for he is moved by a power from beneath. As the work of God's people moves forward with sanctified, resistless energy, planting the standard of Christ's righteousness in the church, moved by a power from the throne of God, the great controversy will wax stronger and stronger, and will become more and more determined. Mind will be arrayed against mind, plans against plans, principles of heavenly origin against principles of Satan. Truth in its varied phases will be in conflict with error in its ever-varying, increasing forms, and which, if possible, will deceive the very elect....
"There are men who teach the truth, but who are not perfecting their ways before God, who are trying to conceal their defections, and encourage an estrangement from God.... They see no necessity for reform.... This very refusal to heed the admonitions which the Lord sends gives Satan every advantage to make of them the bitterest enemies of those who have told them the truth. They become falsifiers of those who have borne to them the message from the Lord.... Unsanctified ministers are arraying themselves against God. They are praising Christ and the god of this world in the same breath. While professedly they receive Christ, they embrace Barabbas, and by their actions say, 'Not this Man, but Barabbas.' Let all who read these lines, take heed. Satan has made his boast of what he can do. He thinks to dissolve the unity which Christ prayed might exist in His church. He says, 'I will go forth and be a lying spirit to deceive those that I can, to criticize, and condemn, and falsify.' Let the son of deceit and false witness be entertained by a church that has had great light, great evidence, and that church will discard the message the Lord has sent, and receive the most unreasonable assertions and false suppositions and false theories. Satan laughs at their folly, for he knows what truth is. Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan.... God will make the ears of the hearers tingle if they will not heed His voice or His message. He will denounce those who resist the word of God. 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. The conflict is to wax fiercer and fiercer. Satan will take the field and personate Christ.... Many who now claim to believe the truth, but who have no anchor, will be bound up with Satan's party.... These rejecters of light will remain barren deserts, where no refreshing, healing waters flow, and their ministrations as barren of moisture as were the hills of Gilboa, where there was neither dew nor rain." TM 407-413 (1898).
"Christ's lament over Jerusalem was for those also who today have had great light, and who have seen wonderful manifestations of His power and goodness, but who have not fulfilled God's purpose for them. Those who hear the voice of God and cooperate with Him, using their capabilities in His service, will receive His blessing. But those who forget His instruction, and follow their own way, are a dishonor to Him. A time will come when their wrong course of action, with its results and consequences, must be met. In our work today we shall meet with the same spirit that Christ met in His day.... We shall meet with those who have received light and evidence, but who in their perversity reject all that does not harmonize with their own plans, persisting in the determination to follow their own way. They refuse to receive truth themselves, and do all in their power to lead others to regard with indifference the word of the Lord." RH Dec. 2, 1902.
History repeats itself in the work of reformation, as we mentioned before (GC 343). This is true also from the standpoint that apostasy causes separation. The servant of the Lord writes:
"My heart aches day after day and night after night for our churches. Many are progressing, but in the back track.... Unless they shall become Christians indeed, they will go from weakness to weakness, divisions will increase, and many souls will be led to perdition." 5T 93.
Details on the subject of the prophesied shakings in the SDA Church will be found in Study No. 2, The Church and the Remnant.
The Laodicean message, which is the counsel of the true Witness, divides the Church into two distinct companies. Only one of these companies, namely the one represented by the angel of Revelation 18, is referred to as carrying on the work of revival and reformation. In this work, the message ofwhich goes hand in hand with (See TM 296), prepares a people for the receiving of the latter rain.
II-PREPARATION FOR THE LATTER RAIN
The present mission of the fourth angel is to prepare a people, through the message ofand Isaiah 58, for the receiving of the latter rain. Sister White says:
"I was shown that the testimony to the Laodiceans applies to God's people at the present time.... This fearful message will do its work.... I saw that this message would not accomplish its work in a few short months. It is designed to arouse the people of God, to discover to them their backslidings, and to lead to zealous repentance, that they may be favored with the presence of Jesus, and be fitted for the loud cry of the third angel." 1T 186.
"My brethren, you need to study more carefully the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. This chapter marks out the only course that we can follow with safety....
"The prophet receives this word from the Lord-a message startling in its clearness and force: 'Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.' Though they are called the people of God, the house of Jacob, though they profess to be linked with God in obedience and fellowship, they are far from Him. Wonderful privileges and promises have been given to them, but they have betrayed their trust. With no words of flattery must the message be given them.... Show them where they are making a mistake. Set their danger before them. Tell them of the sins they are committing, while at the same time they pride themselves on their righteousness.... Worldly policy has come into their business and religious life. Their hearts are not purified through the truth. God looks on their outward ceremonies of humility as a solemn mockery. He regards all religious sham as an insult to Himself....
"Our work now is to rouse the people. Satan with all his angels has come down with great power, to work with every conceivable deception to counterwork the work of God. The Lord has a message for His people. This message will be borne, whether men will accept or reject it. As in the days of Christ, there will be the deep plottings of the powers of darkness, but the message must not be muffled with smooth words or fair speeches.... "The people here described realize that they have not the favor of God.... They are destitute of the Holy Spirit.... The Lord sends them a message of positive reproof, showing why they are not visited by His grace....
1. The Reformers-The Bearers of the Message
"We are to put into practice the precepts of the law, and thus have righteousness before us; the rereward will be God's glory.
The light of the righteousness of Christ will be our front guard, and the glory of the Lord will be our rereward....
"As Christians we are to have a righteousness that shall be developed and seen-a righteousness that represents the character of Jesus Christ when He was in our world....
"Here  are given the characteristics of those who shall be reformers, who will bear the banner of the third angel's message, those who avow themselves God's commandment-keeping people, and who honor God, and are earnestly engaged, in the sight of all the universe, in building up the old waste places. Who is it that calls them, The repairers of the breach, The restorers of paths to dwell in? It is God. Their names are registered in heaven as reformers, restorers, as raising the foundations of many generations." 4BC 1149-1151.
2. The Reform-"The Lord's Standard"
"The only true reform....
"God's plan with you is to begin at the very seat of all difficulties, the heart, and then from out of the heart will issue the principles of righteousness; the reformation will be outward as well as inward.... God's plan is to set man to work in reformatory lines; then he will learn by experience how long he has pampered fleshly appetites, and ministered to his own temperament, bringing weakness upon himself.
"God's way is to work in power. He gives the grace if the sick man realizes that he needs it.... God proposes to purify and refine the defiled soul; then He will implant in the heart His own righteousness and peace and health, and man becomes complete in Him. Then the issues of life, proceeding from the heart, are represented as a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.
"This is the kingdom of God within you. Day by day men are revealing whether the kingdom of God is within them. If Christ rules in their hearts, they are gaining strength of principle, power, ability to stand as faithful sentinels, true reformers; for there can be no reform unless there is a thorough cooperation with Jesus Christ. Through the grace of Christ, men are to use their God-given faculties to reform themselves; by this self-denying action, which the Lord of heaven looks upon with approval, they gain victories over their own hereditary and cultivated tendencies. Then like Daniel they make impressions upon other hearts that will never be effaced. The influence will be carried to all parts of the world.
"Men are taking sides, according to their choice. Those that are feeding on the word of God will show this by their practise; they are on the Lord's side, seeking by precept and example to reform the world. All that have refused to be taught of God, hold the traditions of men. They at last pass over on the side of the enemy, against God, and are written, 'antichrist.' The people of God, who understand our position in this world's history, are, with ears open and hearts softened and subdued, pressing together in unity-one with Jesus Christ. Those who will not practise the lessons of Christ, but keep themselves in hand to mold themselves, find in antichrist the center of their union. While the two parties stand in collision, the Lord will appear."-Special Testimonies to Ministers and Workers, No. 9, pp. 54-56 (1897).
Down the ages, the leaders of the apostatized mother church have always tried to establish a lamentable confusion in the minds of the people concerning the reformatory movements that God has brought into existence. In every religious awakening Satan has used his agents to misrepresent the character and the motives of those directed by the Holy Spirit. And even today the archdeceiver is doing his best to arouse suspicions and insinuate wrong ideas in the minds of professed commandment keepers, leading them to regard those who are honest and upright as foul and deceptive. The Spirit of Prophecy warns against this trickery of Satan.
1. How Satan Succeeds in Causing Confusion
Here is how he works:
a) He associates unregenerated persons with the true reformation; then
b) He causes the enemies of the true reformation to reject the work of God because of these unregenerated persons as if the work actually belonged to them.
"In every revival he [Satan] is ready to bring in those who are unsanctified in heart and unbalanced in mind. When these have accepted some points of truth, and gained a place with believers, he works through them to introduce theories that will deceive the unwary. No man is proved to be a true Christian because he is found in company with the children of God, even in the house of worship and around the table of the Lord. Satan is frequently there upon the most solemn occasions in the form of those whom he can use as his agents.
"The prince of evil contests every inch of ground over which God's people advance in their journey toward the heavenly city. In all the history of the church no reformation has been carried forward without encountering serious obstacles. Thus it was in Paul's day. Wherever the apostle raised up a church, there were some who professed to receive the faith, but who brought in heresies, that, if received, would eventually crowd out the love of the truth. Luther also suffered great perplexity and distress from the course of fanatical persons who claimed that God had spoken directly through them, and who therefore set their own ideas and opinions above the testimony of the Scriptures. Many who were lacking in faith and experience, but who had considerable self-sufficiency, and who loved to hear and tell some new thing, were beguiled by the pretensions of the new teachers, and they joined the agents of Satan in their work of tearing down what God had moved Luther to build up. And the Wesleys, and others who blessed the world by their influence and their faith, encountered at every step the wiles of Satan in pushing overzealous, unbalanced, and unsanctified ones into fanaticism of every grade....
"In the days of the Reformation its enemies charged all the evils of fanaticism upon the very ones who were laboring most earnestly against it. A similar course was pursued by the opposers of the Advent Movement. And not content with misrepresenting the errors of extremists and fanatics, they circulated unfavorable and exaggerating reports that had not the slightest semblance of truth....
"The fact that a few fanatics worked their ways into the ranks of Adventists is no more reason to decide that the movement was not of God than was the presence of fanatics and deceivers in the church in Paul's or Luther's day a sufficient excuse for condemning their work. Let the people of God arouse out of sleep and begin in earnest the work of repentance and reformation; let them search the Scriptures to learn the truth as it is in Jesus; let them make an entire consecration to God, and evidence will not be wanting that Satan is still active and vigilant. With all possible deception he will manifest his power, calling to his aid all the fallen angels of his realm." GC 396-398.
2. How to See the Distinction
People who are not willing to investigate the whole truth for themselves, but are inclined to blindly accept what others tell them, can be deceived in two ways: (1) by accepting the spurious for the genuine, and (2) by rejecting the genuine as spurious. But there is no need for anyone to be duped in this matter, since Christ has given His followers a rule to keep them from this deception: "By their fruits ye shall know them." Matt.. An unprejudiced, honest, open-eyed and thorough examination of the fruits in the light of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, will enable the sincere believers to see the distinction.
a) Characteristics of False Reformers
"As we near the close of earth's history, perils and dangers thicken around us. A mere profession of godliness will not avail. There must be a living connection with God, that we may have spiritual eyesight to discern the wickedness which is in a most artful and secret manner creeping into our midst through those who make a profession of our faith. The greatest sins are brought in through those who profess to be sanctified and claim that they cannot sin. Yet many of this class are sinning daily and are corrupt in heart and life. Such are self-sufficient and self-righteous, making their own standard of righteousness and utterly failing to meet the Bible standard. Notwithstanding their high claims, they are strangers to the covenant of promise....
"He who holds the truth in unrighteousness, who declares his belief in it, and yet wounds it every day by his inconsistent life, is surrendering himself to the service of Satan and leading souls to ruin. This class hold intercourse with fallen angels and are aided by them in gaining the control of minds.... There is always a bewitching power in heresies and in licentiousness. The mind is so deluded that it cannot reason intelligently, and an illusion is continually leading it from purity. The spiritual eyesight becomes blurred, and persons of hitherto untainted morals become confused under the delusive sophistry of those agents of Satan who profess to be messengers of light. It is this delusion which gives these agents power. Should they come out boldly and make their advances openly they would be repulsed without a moment's hesitation; but they work first to gain sympathy and secure confidence in themselves as holy, self-sacrificing men of God. As His special messengers they then begin their artful work of drawing away souls from the path of rectitude by attempting to make void the law of God....
"Men professing to have new light, claiming to be reformers, will have great influence over a certain class who are convinced of the heresies that exist in the present age and who are not satisfied with the spiritual condition of the churches. With true, honest hearts, these desire to see a change for the better, a coming up to a higher standard. If the faithful servants of Christ would present the truth, pure and unadulterated, to this class, they would accept it, and purify themselves by obeying it. But Satan, ever vigilant, sets upon the track of these inquiring souls. Someone making high profession as a reformer comes to them, as Satan came to Christ disguised as an angel of light, and draws them still further from the path of right." 5T 139-144.
And here are some further characteristics:
Instead of working along the lines where Christ is working, they advocate the tearing down of that which the Lord has been building up (TM 36);
In place of giving their cooperation towards preparing a people to stand in the day of the Lord, they become accusers of the brethren (TM 37);
They act as destroyers, seeking to ruin those who do not harmonize with them (6T 151);
They show a bigoted (4T 569), condemnatory, rude and domineering spirit; they use selfish methods (6T 151); they want to be foremost; they reveal self-exaltation in their course (1T 122);
They take unwarrantable liberties and make use of dishonorable means in order to give character and influence to what they regard as truth (TM 33);
They do not have a high sense of honor and integrity (TM 42);
They pass by the fundamental truths and dwell upon nonessential points (GW 313);
They advocate theories that are new and startling (TM 54);
They are in opposition to organization (TM 53);
They act as if the unity which Christ prayed for were not necessary; they move according to their own independent opinion; they refuse to counsel with their brethren; they regard their individual judgment as supreme; they press on in their own way until they become unbalanced in mind (TM 55, 56; AA 164); they are self-appointed messengers (EW 97-100).
b) Characteristics of True Reformers
In addition to the characteristics mentioned before (4BC 1149-1151), here are some more marks of distinction:
"Every true reform has its place in the work of the third angel's message" (6T 110); true reform is needed in every line of God's work (6T 291);
It goes hand in hand with repentance (DA 555), confession of sin (5T 640), spirit of prayer (8T 251), self-denying missionary work (6T 401);
It must be outward as well as inward (CD 35);
It begins with soul cleansing (MH 180);
It must begin at home (CG 489), with parents (MH 131; 6T 119), and also with ministers (1T 469; TM 145);
It brings the truth into practical life (6T 401);
It is called forth by the Laodicean Message (1T 186, 187), which causes a shaking in the church (EW 270);
Its object is to secure highest development of body, mind, and soul (MH 146);
Its basis is the Holy Scripture (GC 595) and its foundation the law of God (7T 139);
It is a progressive work (2T 594-597);
It must come before the latter rain, as a condition for the receiving of the refreshing (EW 71);
It will be misrepresented by its enemies: "Every advance made by those whom God has called to lead in His work has excited suspicion; every act has been misrepresented by the jealous and faultfinding. Thus it was in the time of Luther, of the Wesleys and other reformers. Thus it is today." PP 404.
IV-REFORM WITHOUT CONTENTION?
One of the most current suppositions, nurtured even by honest SDA believers, is that complete absence of dissension must characterize the prophesied reformatory movement. Such opinion is found, for instance, in the book Preparation for the Final Crisis, p. 29. This idea is evidently a misinterpretation of 8T 251.
The Spirit of Prophecy says, on the contrary, that much strife and contest would be the fate of the remnant church, the company of "former brethren," the prophesied Reform Movement. As a matter of fact, the prophetic word speaks of two areas where there would be conflicts among those engaged in a work of reformation: (l) controversies which will cease, and (2) controversies which will continue. This second category of conflicts will hereunder be considered in the light of history, which repeats itself.
1. In the Days of the Apostles
In the early Christian church, some ambitious and self-confident leaders caused much trouble among the brethren.
"These men assumed to engage in the work on their own responsibility. They indulged in much murmuring and faultfinding, proposing new plans and seeking to pull down the work of the men whom God had ordained to teach the gospel message. From the first the church has had such obstacles to meet and ever will have till the close of time. " AA 196, 197 (emphasis supplied).
"To the end of time, men will arise to create confusion and rebellion among those who claim to be representatives of the true God. Those who prophesy lies will encourage men to look upon sin as a light thing. When the terrible results of their evil deeds are made manifest, they will seek, if possible, to make the one who has faithfully warned them, responsible for their difficulties." PK 442.
2. In the Days of the SDA Pioneers
Similar difficulties were experienced by the SDA Church in the early days of the message, when Sister White wrote:
"God's frown has been brought upon the church on account of individuals with corrupt hearts being in it. They have wanted to be foremost, when neither God nor their brethren placed them there. Selfishness and exaltation have marked their course. A place is now open for all such where they can go and find pasture with those of their kind. And we should praise God that in mercy He has rid the church of them." 1T 122.
"God is sifting His people. He will have a clean and holy church.... A corrupt people has arisen who could not live with the people of God.... We all have reason to thank God that a way has been opened to save the church; for the wrath of God must have come upon us if these corrupt pretenders had remained with us.... We have nothing to fear in this matter. As we near the judgment, all will manifest their true character, and it will be made plain to what company they belong. The sieve is moving. Let us not say: Stay Thy hand, O God. The church must be purged, and it will be." 1T 99, 100.
3. In Our Days
As we study the history of the people of God in the Christian dispensation, we find that these difficulties even occurred in the best days of the church. They appeared in the days of Paul, in the days of Luther, in the days of Wesley, in the days of the SDA pioneers, and the Spirit of Prophecy assures us that, also in our days, as we "begin in earnest the work of repentance and reformation," Satan will again bring in the same difficulties, "calling to his aid all the fallen angels of his realm." (GC 396-398, emphasis supplied.) This is not a new situation, and we have not created it. This is actually an old problem, which Lucifer started in heaven, and, as he continued his deceptive work on earth, men only take sides with Christ or with Satan. Those who have understood the Reform Message properly, and want to be true reformers, will never get confused on this issue. The remnant church must go through severe conflicts.
"Until Christ shall appear in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, men will become perverse in spirit and turn from the truth to fables. The church will yet see troublous times. She will prophesy in sackcloth. But although she must meet heresies and persecutions, although she must battle with the infidel and the apostate, yet by the help of God she is bruising the head of Satan. The Lord will have a people as true as steel, and with faith as firm as the granite rock." 4T 594.