Reorganization in Laodicea

STUDY 12

 

"Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." Rom. 11:22.

A sick person does not always realize his condition. When told to see a doctor or take a treatment, he may not appreciate the advice. He will not use any medicine before he is convinced that he actually needs a cure; and it frequently happens that, when he reaches this conviction, it is too late.

In the spiritual field, a similar difficulty involves not only many individuals but the denomination itself. A series of statements from the Spirit of Prophecy, diagnosing the condition of the church, show that unless we are willing to take the remedy offered, we must take the consequences. (5T 75-79, 217; 8T 118, 250; 1T 609; AA 600, 601; 4T 166, 167, 286, 619; PK 416, 417; COL 306; 2SM 78.) Sister White says: "I have been shown that painful and contagious disease is upon you, which will produce spiritual death unless it is arrested." 5T 70.

Therefore, when the subject of reform is raised, let us not ignore or shrug off our great need. Sometimes the suggestion to introduce realistic reform in the church is greeted with surprise, apathy or even downright derision. All too many, lulled in the cradle of carnal security and the oft repeated counsel to stay with the church, feel that if a reform is to come it will be within the church, and they will be duly informed by the leaders in whom they place implicit confidence. This feeling is a self-deception.

Our Lord in His mercy sent revelation after revelation through His servant so that His people might see their true spiritual standing as heaven sees it.

 

I-LUKEWARMNESS AND ITS IMPLICATIONS

1. Our Great Danger

When someone is narcotized, he does not realize that he is beginning to sleep. So, "a knowledge of the state of the backslider from God seems to be hidden from him" (TM 451). And this is what makes it all the more dangerous. Everybody knows how risky it is to drive while under the influence of a narcotic. The same peril exists in the spiritual field. The Inspired Word says:

"The deadly lethargy of the world is paralyzing your senses. Sin no longer appears repulsive because you are blinded by Satan." 5T 233.

"Thou 'knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.' With what fidelity do these words portray the present condition of the church." 5T 101.

If we are blinded by the spell of apostasy we are like a drug-addict under the effect of a stupefacient. We do not realize where we are going or what we are doing. And we may change masters without noticing it. Sister White writes:

"For years there has been creeping into the church an element that is educating many professed believers to resist the teachings of the Holy Spirit. In their efforts to make of no effect the Word of God, many array their strength on the side of the deceiver." RH Jan. 11, 1912.

2. Reformation

Imbued with the opinion that each denomination should stand on the merits of her own program, try to convert the world with her own means and methods, and see to her own problems, without considering the virtues and defects of other churches, some have suggested that we mind our own business and leave the SDA Church alone, because we would not benefit from her errors anyhow. This attitude makes denominations individually competent, with self-sufficient reasons for their existence, provided they do a good work. It almost likens them to competitive companies launching similar or even identical products on the market. This was of thinking is congenial to the modern Protestant world. In the light of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, however, there is no room for such a concept. "There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing on the breach, and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places." TM 50. And no one is allowed to ignore this only one church and her ministry (AA 164, 165). As no man has a right to put away his wife unless he knows that she has betrayed him (Matt. 19:9; 1 Cor. 6:15), so God does not repudiate the church and we should not leave her unless she has become a harlot (8T 250). But what if this has actually happened, and if there has been no repentance?

Under normal conditions, the rules of the established church are to be respected, but denominational deviation from the truth demands a work to be done "in a manner very much out of the common order of things (TM 300)." The faithful few must then do what they believe is right, according to the word of God, without requiring the consent of the church. They must denounce the backslidings of the denomination and start a reformation. They have no other choice compatible with the will of God. A reformatory movement is always the result of open apostasy in the mother-church. This cause and effect relationship must then be declared in unmistakable terms. And, as a rule, reformers have to "go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matt. 10:6.) Otherwise, the Adventist preaching of the Threefold Message to the Protestant churches, since 1844, would be a mistake.

These divergent attitudes and moves create a real conflict between the leaders of the official church and the reform-minded Adventists. And this conflict was foreseen and foretold by Sister White. She said, repeatedly, that the "movement symbolized by the angel" of Revelation 18, which is the company of "former brethren" entrusted with giving the loud cry (GC 604, 608), would be opposed by the leaders of the denomination. The attitude of these leaders, to the very end of time, is clearly and vividly depicted in 5T 210-212. "They are self-sufficient, independent of God, and He cannot use them. The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view." 5T 80, 81.

3. Within the Church or Out of It?

When an old house needs renovation, repair works must begin on that same rundown house, not on a new house. So, in the spiritual realm, when there is apostasy, a reformatory effort is to be started immediately within the church, not outside the church. And this was done repeatedly in the history of Christianity. As a reformer, "Jesus began the work of reformation by coming into close sympathy with humanity" (DA 150), within the Jewish church. Peter Waldo (who is said to have organized the Waldensian church), John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John and Charles Wesley, William Miller, and many other reformers began their work of reformation right in the church, following the example of Christ. But what happened?

Time and again the reformers were opposed and persecuted, the message of reformation was spurned and rejected, and the apostatized mother church was left in darkness. "Where the message of divine truth is spurned or slighted, there the church will be enshrouded in darkness." GC 378.

As the time of visitation (Luke 19:44)- the special opportunity to seek the Lord through a work of genuine revival and reformation-was ignored by the majority of leaders and people, the church surrendered to the powers of darkness, and the faithful few remnant children of God were finally obliged to withdraw from the unreformed denomination. This has happened repeatedly in the history of the Christian church.

One of the leaders through whom the Lord sent a reform message to the SDA Church in 1888 (TM 91), writes about the great reformation at the end of the Middle Ages:

"The men whose preaching made the reformation could have said all that they ever said, and more, in denunciation of the iniquity in the church, and the enormities of the popes; and yet could have remained in good standing in that church all their days, if they had still held that church to be the only and true church, and have held themselves in conformity with her accordingly.

"All men saw the iniquities practiced. They actually felt them on every side. Nobles, kings, emperors, priests, bishops, cardinals, and councils, called for reformation. Even popes confessed the sore need of it....

"The church was 'the ark of God,' the 'ship of salvation.' The pilot, the captain, and the crew might all be pirates, and use every motion of the ship only for piratical purposes, and load her to the sinking point with piratical plunder, and keep her ever headed straight toward perdition, yet 'the grand old ship' herself was all right and would come safely to the heavenly port. Therefore, 'cling to the ark,"stand by the old ship,' and you will be safe, and will land at last on the heavenly shore.

"Such, in essence, is the conception held, and that for ages has been inculcated....

"So long as this delusion was systematically inculcated, blindly received, and fondly hugged, of course reformation was impossible.

"But as soon as there arose men with the courage of conviction and the confidence of truth, and spoke out plainly and flatly that the Roman system is not the church at all in any feature, or in any sense, then the reformation had begun.

"That is how the reformation came. And without that, the reformation never could have come."-The Reformation and the Roman Church, A. T. Jones, pp. 2-5.

Sister White confirms these facts:

"As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation. Again and again the history of Christ's withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the reformers preached the word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who were longing for the truth. In our day few of the professed followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teaching of the word of God. And many times those who are seeking for light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the church of their fathers, that they may render obedience." DA 232.

"The work of God in the earth presents, from age to age, a striking similarity in every great reformation or religious movement." GC 343.

These statements of the Spirit of Prophecy have a full weight when all the facts are known also the fact that the reformations in the past involved a separation for the reasons clearly explained by A.T. Jones and E.G. White. This is one of the important parallels that should always be borne in mind.

Some associate the idea of "apostasy" restrictively with the idea of "leaving the church." But history tells us that people apostatize and still remain in the organization, where they pass from the ranks of Christ over to the ranks of Satan. Jews, Catholics and Protestants never stepped out of their churches when they apostatized. As a matter of fact, leaving the church can be so far from apostatizing that it may actually be a remedy against apostasy. The reformers whose names embellish the pages of sacred history in the Christian era left their mother-churches but did not apostatize.

 

II-EXAMPLES OF REFORMATIONS AND REORGANIZATIONS IN THE CHRISTIAN ERA

1. Reform and Reorganization in the Separation From the Jewish Church

"The leaders in the Jewish nation had signally failed of fulfilling God's purpose for His chosen people. Those whom the Lord had made the depositaries of truth had proved unfaithful to their trust, and God chose others to do His work." AA 78, 79.

2. Reform and Reorganization in the Early Christian Church (Smyrna-Pergamos Periods)

"After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few decided to dissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to free herself from falsehood and idolatry. They saw that separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the word of God.... If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war." GC 45.

3. Reform and Reorganization During the Thyatira Period

There were some who refused to follow the apostatized majority. "They were determined to maintain their allegiance to God and to preserve the purity and simplicity of their faith. A separation took place." GC 64.

4. Reform and Reorganization in the 16th Century, When Protestants Separated From the Roman Church

The Protestant reformers withdrew from the Roman church. "Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants the charge of heresy and willful separation from the true church. But these accusations apply rather to themselves. They are the ones who laid down the banner of Christ and departed from the 'faith which was once delivered unto the saints."' GC 51.

5. Reform and Reorganization in the Separation of the Advent Believers in the Time of William Miller (Second Angel's Message)

"In the summer of 1844 about fifty thousand withdrew from the churches." GC 376. Read also EW 237, 238, 249.

6. Reform and Reorganization in the Advent Movement When the Sabbath Was Adopted (Third Angel's Message)

"The company who had been united and loving in 1844 were losing their love, opposing one another, and falling into a cold, backslidden state." EW 257.

"The majority of Adventists rejected the truths concerning the sanctuary and the law of God, and many also renounced their faith in the advent movement, and adopted unsound and conflicting views of the prophecies which applied to that work." GC 456.

"It was represented to me that the remnant followed Jesus into the most holy place and beheld the ark and the mercy seat, and were captivated with their glory.... They see the fourth commandment among the ten holy precepts.... They joined in the work of the third angel, and raised their voices to proclaim the solemn warning. But few at first received it; yet the faithful continued with energy to proclaim the message." EW 255, 256.

7. Reform and Reorganization in the Time of the SDA Church (Second Angel's Message Repeated by Fourth Angel)

The Spirit of Prophecy says:

"A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work." RH March 22, 1887.

"Unless there is a decided reformation among the people of God, He will turn His face from them." 8T 146.

"The great reformatory movement must begin in presenting to fathers and mothers and children the principles of the law of God." 6T 119.

"There is a great work of reform to be carried forward, not in one or two lines, but in every line." 6T 291.

"A revival and a reformation must take place under the ministration of the Holy Spirit." ChS 42.

"He [God] will take his Holy Spirit from the church and give it to others." RH July 16,1895.

 

III-THIS LAST REFORMATION

Before we can proceed, a few vital questions must be considered in the light of what has been presented so far:

How did the SDA Church respond to the reform message in 1888 and subsequent years?

They rejected it. And, as the result, her spiritual decline was accelerated. Read 8T 119,250.

When the Lord calls for a reformation, does He wait indefinitely or does He give the church a time limit in which to reform? What warning was sent to the Adventist Church?

"Brethren, your own lamps will surely flicker and grow dim until they go out in darkness unless you make decided efforts to reform.... 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.' . . . His [God's] patience will wait but little longer." 5T 612 (1889).

Those who, after the unfortunate experience of 1888 and subsequent years, still expect "a reformation within the SDA Church," would not be able to find a consistent refutation for the Catholic argument: "We reject Protestantism as a spurious reformation, because we believe the true reformation is to take place inside the Catholic Church." If we forget that there is a time limit for "a reformation within the church," and think a reformation is still coming within the Adventist denomination, from whom the Holy Spirit has long since been withdrawn, then our hope is not more realistic than the hope of our Catholic friends.

Prophecy says that the Adventist people will be divided into two distinct parties and that only one of these a small remnant will be reformed and prepared for the latter rain, while the other party the denomination as an organized body will remain unreformed and will finally be destroyed by the wrath of God. (3T 267; 5T 210-213,524; GC 608; etc.)

For these reasons we believe it is too late now to advocate a reform within the SDA Church.

The reformatory journey along an ascending and narrowing road was shown to Sister White in a prophetic dream. She writes: "I dreamed of being with a large body of people. A portion of this assembly started out prepared to journey." 2T 594. Mark this: Not the whole body of SDA believers, but only a certain "portion" of this "large body" starts out on this journey. This statement (cited above) is one of those which divide Adventists into two very distinct classes. Of these two companies, we will now follow the one that starts out on the reformatory journey:

"A portion of this assembly started out prepared to journey: [1] We had heavily loaded wagons.... As we journeyed on, the road grew narrower and steeper . . . [and] we concluded that we could no longer travel with the loaded wagons. [2] We then loosed them from the horses, took a portion of the luggage from the wagons and placed it upon the horses, and journeyed on horseback. As we progressed, the path still continued to grow narrow. . . . [3] We then cut the luggage from the horses, and it fell over the precipice.... [4] As the path grew more narrow, we decided that we could no longer go with safety on horseback, and we left the horses and went on foot, in single file.... [5] The path finally became so narrow that we concluded that we could travel more safely without our shoes, so we slipped them from our feet.... [6] Soon it was decided that we could travel more safely without our stockings; these were removed, and we journeyed on with bare feet.

"We then thought of those who had not accustomed themselves to privation and hardships. Where were such now? They were not in the company. At every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only made these more eager to press on to the end." 2T 594, 595.

This is not the experience of the denomination (read 5T 217), but only of a remnant group of reformers. These advance step by step, coming up higher and higher in their preparation. When they begin to "take off their shoes" and "strip off their stockings," symbolically, then they actually commence a "thorough reformation."

"When this [phase of] reformation begins, the spirit of prayer will actuate every believer, and will banish from the church the spirit of discord and strife. Those who have not been living in Christian fellowship will draw close to one another. One member working in right lines will lead other members to unite with him in making intercession for the revelation of the Holy Spirit. There will be no confusion, because all will be in harmony with the mind of the Spirit. The barriers separating believer from believer will be broken down, and God's servants will speak the same things." 8T 251.

The gradually intensified hardships experienced all along the road lead them to solve their internal difficulties as a final preparatory step for the receiving of the latter rain. Sister White still writes:

"As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks.... But, on the other hand, when the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd's voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together and present to the enemy a united front. In view of the common peril, strife for supremacy will cease; there will be no disputing as to who shall be accounted greatest. No one of the true believers will say: 'I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas.' The testimony of one and all will be: 'I cleave unto Christ; I rejoice in Him as my personal Saviour.'

"Thus will the truth be brought into practical life, and thus will be answered the prayer of Christ, uttered just before His humiliation and death: 'That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.' John 17:21. The love of Christ, the love of our brethren, will testify to the world that we have been with Jesus and learned of Him. Then will the message of the third angel swell to a loud cry, and the whole earth will be lightened with the glory of the Lord." 6T 400, 401 [emphasis supplied].

The prediction that strife for supremacy will "cease" among the "true sheep" proves wrong the idea that "Strife will never exist among true reformers."

 

IV-WRONG IDEAS CORRECTED

Concerning the prophesied reformation among the SDA people, there have been many wrong ideas. Following are some examples:

1. The Proper Time

Some believe that the reformation will come in the time of Jacob's trouble, but we read that the case of all such is hopeless (GC 620); others put the needful preparation off until the final test, under the Sunday decree, when it will be too late (COL 412); others believe there will be a chance for repentance and conversion under the latter rain, when the loud cry shall be given, but we know that there will be no time then for this work. The false teaching that the latter rain will give us power to reform, was foreseen by the servant of the Lord (EW 71).

The reformation comes before the outpouring of the latter rain. E.G. White writes:

"It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us." 5T 214.

"I was shown that if God's people make no efforts on their part, but wait for the refreshing to come upon them and remove their wrongs and correct their errors; if they depend upon that to cleanse them from filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and fit them to engage in the loud cry of the third angel, they will be found wanting. The refreshing or power of God comes only on those who have prepared themselves for it by doing the work which God bids them, namely, cleansing themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 1T 619.

2. Those Who Leave and Those Who Remain

It has been widely taught in SDA circles that all apostatized members will be shaken out of the SDA organization under the Sunday decree/final test, that the denomination will then be reformed, and that the faithful few who remain in the church (finally a triumphant church) will receive the latter rain for the finishing of the work. This is one of those pleasing fables without scriptural support.

The Spirit of Prophecy teaches that the shaking process in the SDA Church is marked by two acute phases: It begins under the counsel to Laodicea (EW 270), when the "former brethren" become separated from the "large class" of Adventists, and it climaxes under the Sunday decree/final test (5T 81), when the few sighing and crying ones leave the "large class" church and join the company of "former brethren."

3. Two Distinct Phases

Some people read about the "great reformatory movement" in 9T 126, and make the arbitrary and erroneous statement that the prophesied reformation will be started with the healing of the sick and other miracles. They overlook the two distinct phases (first: preparation; second: latter rain with miracles, etc.) clearly specified in other prophecies parallel to 9T 126. (Read EW 270, 271.) We are not told to expect miracles in the first phase.

'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.

In 9T 126, we read about the time when the reform movement will reach its climax.

4. An Organized Body vs. Stray Individuals

In many parts of the world, God has a people organized in church capacity, who are engaged in a work of reformation. For this reason there is no room in the plan of God for any individual to start a work on his own, ignoring the existence of the prophesied Reform Movement. Sister White tells us how to distinguish between true reformers and false reformers:

"If he will work in fidelity and in harmony with God's plan he will hear the sweet words, 'Well done,' from the lips of the Master. But if he rejects the labors of God's servants, if he chooses his own way and leans to his own understanding, he will surely make shipwreck of faith. God has not passed His people by and chosen one solitary man here and another there as the only ones worthy to be entrusted with His Truth. He does not give one man new light contrary to the established faith of the body. In every reform men have arisen making this claim." 5T 291.

5. A Work in Due Season vs. Untimely Beginnings

If an Adventist arises today, after the apostasy has existed for so many years, and forms an independent group, claiming to be starting a work of reformation now, we should know that such an untimely work is not in accordance with the plan of God, being out of due season. When there is a positive state of apostasy in the church, the Lord does not wait for a long period of time, permitting the apostasy to get deep-rooted, before taking corrective steps through the work of reform-minded people. In His plan, "iniquity must be met promptly and decidedly" (3T 260), while there is still hope.

6. Complete Work vs. Partial Work

Many have started out denouncing some of the points of apostasy but ignoring others. Sometimes those points that they overlook are more important than those that they attack. In reality they are only doing a partial work. What confidence could we have in the work of a staff of engineers if they do an incomplete job on, say, a hazardous bridge?

7. Fanaticism

Whenever a true work of reformation begins, Satan is always ready to set something going to hinder it. One of his favorite methods is to introduce some form of fanaticism which attempts to ally itself with the work of God. With their characteristic spirit, fanatics will force their way to gain attention, deceiving many. Their pretentions and excesses will unfortunately be laid at the door of the very ones who are struggling to oppose them. Fanatics, of course, have never recognized themselves as such and, to make matters worse, fanaticism has often been blamed on a genuine work of reformation. We, therefore, need to know what are the identifying marks of fanaticism.

Fanatics can be identified by their attitudes. They generally have an accusing spirit (2SM 66), a false zeal (5T 305), a pretended piety (2SM 27), a highly developed self-righteousness (2T 555), an overbearing and dictatorial character (2SM 27), boisterous manners (2T 555), bold and insolent attitudes (2T 555), confused senses (2SM 36), unbalanced minds (2SM 64). Their religion is spiced with eccentricities and oddities (2T 553), they misuse the Scriptures and the Testimonies (2SM 44-46, 65), they do not have a true sense of the exalted character of God's work (2T 553), they pass by the great truths of God's word to dwell on minor matters (GW 313). A genuine work, however, should not be branded as fanaticism.

"When the Lord works through human instrumentalities, when men are moved with power from on high, Satan leads his agents to cry, 'Fanaticism!' and to warn people not to go to extremes. Let all be careful how they raise this cry; for though there is counterfeit coin, this does not lower the value of that which is genuine. Because there are spurious revivals and spurious conversions, it does not follow that all revivals are to he held in suspicion." GW 170.

8. Popularity vs. Unpopularity

Some expect to see great demonstrations in the work of reformation (PK 168, 169), others want to see numbers, and still others will not accept anything that is not approved by the leaders of the church (TM 107). Thus, history repeats itself.

"By the rulers of this world Christ's claim to be a king was ridiculed.... There were only a few Galilean peasants to represent the new kingdom. Their poverty, the fewness of their numbers, were urged over and over again as a reason why men should not connect themselves with these simple-minded fishermen who followed Jesus." COL 77, 78.

The "opponents of Jesus were men whom the people had been taught from infancy to reverence, to whose authority they had been accustomed implicitly to bow. 'How is it,' they asked, 'that our rulers and learned scribes do not believe on Jesus? Would not these pious men receive Him if He were the Christ?' It was the influence of such teachers that led the Jewish nation to reject their Redeemer. The spirit which actuated those priests and rulers is still manifested by many who make a high profession of piety. They refuse to examine the testimony of the Scriptures concerning the special truths for this time. They point to their own numbers, wealth, and popularity, and look with contempt upon the advocates of truth as few, poor, and unpopular, having a faith that separates them from the world." GC 595, 596.

The "former brethren," who, to all appearances, have no means to carry on the work, are like their spiritual forefathers few, poor, and unpopular.

"The work which they [the 'former brethren'] have undertaken seems far beyond their ability to accomplish. They are threatened with destruction. The enthusiasm which animated them is gone; yet they cannot turn back. Then, feeling their utter helplessness, they flee to the Mighty One for strength." GC 609.

9. Human Imagination vs. Divine Prophecy

Some say that the SDA denomination (the "mother church") will be reformed. But this hope is contrary to prophecy, which clearly depicts the church as unreformed to the very end. The Spirit of Prophecy says:

"The command is: 'Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.' . . . But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel; although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking.... They [the faithful few sighing and crying ones] mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect.... Here we see that the church-the Lord's sanctuary-was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust.... The abominations for which the faithful ones were sighing and crying were all that could be discerned by finite eyes, but by far the worst sins, those which provoked the jealousy of the pure and holy God, were unrevealed." 5T 210, 211.

As we can see, the organization remains apostatized until it is hit by the wrath of God. There is no such thing as the church experiencing a genuine revival and reformation. Only a small remnant goes through this victorious experience (read 3T 267; 5T 213, 472, 524).

10. Contentions

Strife among those who actually are servants of God will cease, but conflicts between the servants of God on the one hand and the servants of Satan on the other hand will continue.

Those who want to be recognized as the true people of God must engage in a work of reformation, because, by definition, "they are reformers" (7T 62); but they cannot carry on a reformation without contention, because Satan is always ready to oppose them through his agents. And he always has them in the church. A "strifeless reform," which some people would like to see, is as impossible as a "waterless ocean," or a "treeless forest," or a "windless tempest." It is a self-contradiction.

Mark the references to the workers of evil that reformers will have to meet in the church:

"Satan, I saw, will arouse when they [the people of God] in earnest commence the work of reformation in themselves." 2T 484.

"Fallen man and fallen angels, by likeness of purpose and principle, will join in a desperate and determined companionship to resist truth and righteousness.... With what zeal will the workers of iniquity pursue their Satanic purpose! They will put light for darkness, and darkness for light, until they will sincerely believe they are servants of God, and doing him service by persecuting his children. It has been so in the conflicts of the past; and in the closing work of God the same spirit will be manifested....

"In these last days, when iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall wax cold, God will have a people to glorify his name, and stand as reprovers of unrighteousness....

"We must put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand. There will be a constant conflict from the time of our determination to serve the God of heaven, until we are delivered out of this present evil world. There is no release from this war. The work of God for this time cannot be accomplished without arousing opposition, reproach, and calumny. Satan is at enmity with the truth, and he will instigate against its advocates every manner of warfare. His efforts to overthrow the word of God will not be wholly confined to the ranks of its avowed enemies, but among those who claim to believe and practice it, 'some shall depart from the faith.' The impression given by those who have turned away from the doctrines of the Bible, is that the work committed to men for this day will come to a speedy end, and thus they make it manifest that they have esteemed themselves as the very pillars of the truth.... He [God] reads the hearts of his children, and knows those, also, that believe not.... If we consent to lay down our arms, to lower the bloodstained banner, to become the captives and servants of Satan, we may be released from the conflict and the suffering. But this peace will be gained only at the loss of Christ and heaven. We cannot accept peace on such conditions. Let it be war, war, to the end of earth's history, rather than peace through apostasy and sin.

"The work of apostasy begins in some secret rebellion of the heart against the requirements of God's law.... Men who have long been advancing in the path of truth, will be tested with trial and temptation. Those who listen to the suggestions of Satan, and swerve from their integrity, begin the downward path, and some masterful temptation hastens them on in the way of apostasy, till their descent is marked and rapid." RH May 8, 1888.

'There is a strife between the forces of good and evil, between the loyal and the disloyal angels. Christ and Satan are not at an agreement, and they never will be. In every age the true church of God has engaged in decided warfare against satanic agencies. Until the controversy is ended, the struggle will go on, between wicked angels and wicked men on the one side, and holy angels and true believers on the other.... The wrongdoing of evil workers must be met.... When there are men in the church who love riches more than righteousness, and who stand ready to take advantage of their fellow men by unjust dealings, shall we make no protest? And when men standing in the position of leaders and teachers work under the power of spiritualistic ideas and sophistries, shall we keep silent, for fear of injuring their influence, while souls are being beguiled?" Sp T, Series B, No. 2, pp. 5-9.

"Satan holds under his control not a few who pass as friends of the truth, and through them he works against its advancement. He employs them to sow tares among the people of God. Thus when danger was not suspected, great evils have existed among us. But while Satan was working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, stanch advocates of truth have stemmed the tide of opposition and held the word uncorrupted amid a deluge of heresies. Although the church has at times been weakened through manifold discouragements and the rebellious element they have had to meet, still the truth has shone brighter with every conflict. The energies of God's people have not been exhausted. The power of His grace has quickened, revived, and ennobled the steadfast and the true.

"Again and again was ancient Israel afflicted with rebellious murmurers. These were not always persons of feeble influence. In many cases, men of renown, rulers in Israel, turned against the providential leading of God and fiercely set to work to tear down that which they had once zealously built up. We have seen something of this repeated many times in our experience. It is unsafe for any church to lean upon some favorite minister, to trust in an arm of flesh. God's arm alone is able to uphold all who lean upon it.

"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.

Read also AA 196, 197; 1T 99, 100, 122; TM 407-414.

11. Separation or No Separation?

If the ripe tares and their unholy fruits are not removed, they rapidly multiply and soon become the majority in the church, and take control. And this is the condition of the SDA Church to the end of time. (5T 210-212.)

When the church becomes a field of full-grown tares, when the Spirit of God "is trampled underfoot," when "the truth is made of none effect," when "deceptions of almost every kind are in the church," when at least some of the abominations that are practiced can be "discerned by finite eyes," when principles are sacrificed by men in sacred office, when "the servants of Satan triumph" in the church, when evidence shows that the presence of God has "departed" from the church (5T 210, 211), then we have before us a denominational condition characterized by the mature fruits of apostasy, and the parable of the wheat and tares can no longer be applied to require the faithful to remain in this church.

The Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy reveal the general rules given by God to regulate our relationship with sin and sinners:

a) Two cannot walk together unless they are in harmony with each other (Amos 3:3).

b) When blindness falls upon the leadership of the church, and no cure is seen (Rev. 3:17; 8T 248), then the warning finally applies: "Leave them alone; they are blind guides." (Matt. 15:14 RSV.)

c) The class of professed believers referred to in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 are the foolish virgins in the church (COL 411), and the Bible says, "From such turn away."

d) Even our silent presence would be considered as giving sanction to the existing apostasy: 'We should never give sanction to sin by our words or our deeds, our silence or our presence." DA 152.

e) Those who dare to "turn aside the counsel of God" and "lessen the confidence of God's people in the testimonies, are rebelling against God" (5T 66), and "we are not to unite with the rebellious" (ALA 555).

f) Those who want to reform cannot remain indefinitely united with those who are becoming more and more apostatized. The Spirit of Prophecy says: "I am deeply solicitous that our people should preserve the living testimony among them, and that the church should be kept pure from the unbelieving element." 5T 229. "If they do not reform, they should be separated from the precious and holy, that God may have a clean and pure people that He can delight in. Dishonor Him not by linking or uniting the clean with the unclean."lT 117, 118. These instructions were not carried out, and the apostatized elements rapidly became the majority and took control of the church. E. G. White writes: "The church is corrupt because of her members who defile their bodies and pollute their souls." 5T 79. And what is the consequence? "It is impossible for you to unite with those who are corrupt, and still remain pure." 6BC 1102. "To yoke up with those who are unconsecrated, and yet be loyal to the truth, is simply impossible. We cannot unite with those who are serving themselves, who are working on worldly plans, and not lose our connection with the heavenly Counselor." 5BC 1086. "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." 5T 456. So what? "Even if they have to walk as did Enoch with God alone his children must separate from those who do not obey Him." 2BC 1037. "Pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. ... The servants of Satan triumph.... The truth is made of none effect." 5T 210,211. Therefore: "Let the watchmen on the walls of Zion not join with those who are making of none effect the truth as it is in Christ." 4BC 1141. Corruption (5T 79), working on worldly plans (8T 249), disobedience (5T 456), making the truth of none effect (5T 21l)-the technical term for all this is "apostasy." Apostasy is like a cancer-it is a growing process (7BC 62), in which a climactic point is finally reached where separation is a must (GC 45).

g) Note the conditions under which the leading men can be trustworthy: "If the men whom the Lord has chosen to stand in positions of responsibility will heed the testimonies that God has given and is giving, if they will keep close to His word, if they will separate from those who are binding up with worldly influences, they will be safe men for the times upon which we have entered." Sp T, Series B, vol. 2, p. 41.

h) The true people of God must be separated from sin and sinners before they can receive the latter rain, which will not be poured out upon a mixed multitude: "God's displeasure is upon His people, and He will not manifest His power in the midst of them while sins exist among them and are fostered by those in responsible positions." 3T 270.

i) The seal of the living God will be for those only who are separated from sin and sinners: "The angel with the writer's ink horn is to place a mark upon the foreheads of all who are separated from sin and sinners, and the destroying angel follows this angel." 4BC 1161.

j) The call for unity is at the same time a call for separation: "Christ calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on wrong practices.... I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis." 1SM 175. "If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war." GC 45.

12. Reorganization or No Reorganization?

False reformations are reorganizations from truth to error (EW 45). A true reformation is a reorganization from error to truth.

a) God forbids a reorganization from truth to error.

"The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established." Sp T, Series B, No. 7, pp. 39, 40.

"The truth for this time is precious, but those whose hearts have 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." NL, The Church 4, p. 2.

"Every truth that He has given for these last days is to be proclaimed to the world. Every pillar that He has established is to be strengthened. We cannot now step off the foundation that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization; for this would mean apostasy from the truth." NL, The Church 1, p. 3.

b) God demands a reorganization from error to truth.

"There must be an entirely new organization. There should be a renovation without delay."-Special Message to General Conference, April 1, 1901.

"A revival and a reformation must take place, under the ministration of the Holy Spirit. Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices." 1SM 128.

 

V-OUR STAND

The prophesied reformatory movement (6T 119; 9T 126) among the Advent people was brought into existence during World War I.

We, Seventh Day Adventist reformers, share the feelings, sorrows and purposes of all Adventists who are earnestly striving to come closer to God in their preparation for what is soon to befall this world. We are one in spirit with those "that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the church" (3T 267), and together with these faithful few we are earnestly preparing to receive the seal of the living God. At the same time we are praying that the Lord may arouse the Advent people to a sense of need and real danger in these ominous days. We feel duty-bound to appeal that they consider the realities which must be remembered by all desiring to be saved.

The Spirit of Prophecy explains how and why this appeal must come to the Adventist people today:

"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.' Rev. 3:20. 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.

1. We Hold These Truths

The following is a brief summary of the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement. Our motto is: To the Law and to the Testimony.

1. We believe in the existence of God, the Creator of all. Ex. 20:2, 3; Isa. 45:5, 6, 18.

2. We believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, the sin-pardoning Redeemer, and that there is no salvation in any other. John 3:16; Acts 4:12.

3. We believe that the Holy Spirit is the representative of the Father and the Son on earth. These three-Father, Son and Holy Spirit-are one, and in their names every repentant and converted sinner should be baptized. John 14:16-18, 26; Matt. 28:19.

4. We believe that the Bible the Old and New Testament is the inspired Word of God. John 5:39; 2 Tim. 3:16.

5. We believe in the unchangeable moral law of God, expressed in the Ten Commandments, which demands implicit obedience under any circumstances, in every place, and at all times. Matt. 5:17-20; Luke 16:17; James 2:10.

6. We believe that, according to the fourth commandment, the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath-day ordained by God for rest. Luke 23:56; Acts 16:13; Mark 2:27, 28.

7. We believe that the New Testament church is released from the obligation of keeping the ceremonial law; and that repentance, conversion, faith, and obedience to the moral law go hand in hand with salvation by grace. Col. 2:14, 17; Acts 4:19; Eph. 2:8; Rom. 2:13, 23; 3:31.

8. We believe that the authorities are ordained by God to protect the citizens and to punish evildoers. It is our conscience-duty to support, and pray for, the government, and also to obey the laws of the land which are not in conflict with the law of Ten Commandments. Rom. 13:1-5; Acts 5:29.

9. We stay away from ecumenical councils, labor unions, and secret societies, and from any other associations that do not show strict adherence to the law of God, and we conscientiously object to, and do not participate in, politics, plots, revolutions, bloodshed, war, and the taking of human life. We believe that no one on earth has been given power to dictate upon the conscience of others, and that the word of God is above every human legislation. Therefore, we expect from the state religious freedom and liberty of conscience. Z Cor. 6:14-17; Rev. 18:4; Matt. 22:21.

10. We maintain toward the government the same attitude which the pioneers of the Advent Movement took in 1864/5.

11. We believe that the symbolic ceremonies baptism, washing of the feet, and the Lord's supper are still in force for all true Christians today. Mark 16:16; John 13:7-17; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17.

12. We believe in the Spirit of Prophecy given to the last church. Rev. 12:17;19:10.

13. We believe that obedience to the principles of health and dress reform is instrumental in our preparation for the coming of the Lord. 1 Cor. 9:27; 10:31.

14. We believe that the paying of tithes and offerings is for the support of the ministry and missionary enterprises. Mal. 3:8-11; Heb. 7:8.

15. We believe that the church of God on earth is Christ's embassy. Eph. 4:4, 11, 12; 2 Cor. 5:20; 1 Tim. 3:15.

16. We believe in the doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary and in the proclamation of the Three Angels' Message, which is the present truth resulting in the sealing of 144,000. Heb. 8:1-5; Rev. 11:19; 14:6-12.

17. We believe that the angel of Revelation 18:1-4 represents a movement of revival and reformation among the advent people and the rest of the world.

18. We believe that the second coming of Christ is the glorious hope of the church, the goal of the plan of redemption. Isa. 25:9; John 14:1-3.

19. We believe in the natural mortality of the soul; in immortality for the just only through Christ; in the resurrection of the righteous at the second coming of Christ; and in the resurrection of the wicked at the end of the millennium, when Satan and his followers will be destroyed, and the earth will be purified by fire and made new. Ezek. 18:4, 20; Rom. 2:6, 7; 2 Tim. 1:10; John 5:25, 28, 29; Rev. 20:5-9.

20. We believe that the earth purified and renewed by the power of God will be the everlasting home of the saints. 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21:1-7.

2. We Contend for Principles

The military question became a dividing issue among the Adventists in Europe during the troublous years of World War I. The combatant stand officially taken in several European countries was regarded, by a minority, as inconsistent with the traditional position of the denomination and as contrary to every principle of truth (lT 361). Under the test, the minority understood that conscientious objection was the only attitude compatible with the law of God, and not a few who had the courage of their convictions suffered severe treatment at the hands of the authorities.

The crisis which came upon the church soon resulted in a division. When Conradi, then president of the European Division, committed the church to combatancy, a minority protested, and the most outspoken ones were disfellowshiped. A denominational paper published in Australia says Conradi's decision "probably made him the record holder for shifting the greatest number of souls out of Seventh-day Adventism." To be more explicit, we would say that this disfellowshipment separated them from the organization but not from the message which was entrusted to the Seventh-day Adventist pioneers (Rev. 14). It was actually in defense of the message that the minority stood up. This is how the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement came into existence.

In 1920 four General Conference representatives tried to solve the problem, but failed. They could not be successful while justifying the position of Conradi and the other leaders in Europe and condemning the position of the disfellowshiped minority. Elder Daniells, then General Conference president, declared the European leaders to be "faithful and upright in the work" and reproved the protesters as "completely wrong." (See "Minutes of the Conference with the Movement of Opposition," Friedensau, Germany, July 21-23, 1920, published by the SDA's.) Rather than correct and offend, and possibly lose a few questionable leaders, they preferred to lose several thousand conscientious members.

Ever since the lamentable separation of 1914-1918, additional changes, unfortunately not for the better, have widened the rift. We as traditional (sometimes called "old fashioned") Seventh-day Adventists are not happy to see the steady trend away from original Adventism. Therefore:

1. We cannot sanction the new stand taken by the SDA Church concerning the duty of its members in military service, as published in 1923: "We grant to each of our church members absolute liberty to serve his country at all times and in all places, in accord with the dictates of his personal conscientious convictions."-Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, pp. 346, 347. As far as we can see, this is in direct conflict with the original position of the church (1T 361; and SDA's in Time of War, p.58) and with the requirements of the holy law of God.

2. We stand for strict Sabbathkeeping and believe continual Sabbathbreaking is cause for disfellowshipment. Open violation of the fourth commandment has become a serious problem, not only in connection with military service, but also with reference to making a living (finding a job with Sabbath off) in poor countries and meeting governmental requirements (e.g., sending children to public schools also on the Sabbath) in some of the socialist countries. In our opinion, this is one of the points on which the church should take a definite stand, making it clear that those who do not stand the test will not be prepared to receive the seal of God.

3. We are convinced that divorce and remarriage is a violation of the law of God (Luke 16:18) and should not be permitted for church members.

4. We think those who are involved in transgression of the seventh commandment (especially those guilty of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah) should be disfellowshiped.

5. We are surprised that the SDA Church has not taken a definite stand against abortion, which should not be permitted in SDA hospitals or among SDA doctors. Even lay members who resort or consent to abortionist practices should be seriously dealt with.

6. We believe the people of God should be separated from the world (2 Cor. 6:17, 18; 1T 127, 128; 2T 441) in the setup and administration of church-run institutions and should have nothing to do with politics, nationalism, labor unions, worldly fashions (lT 132, 133, 137), etc.

7. We hold the Testimonies of E. G. White to be inspired and with us this is a test of fellowship. We think that those who, like Conradi, disbelieve the Spirit of Prophecy, should not be permitted to hold offices in the church.

8. We take a firm stand in behalf of progressive health reform as pointed out in the writings of E. G. White. This is also a test of fellowship in our midst.

9. We cannot endorse any involvement in ecumenism or any kind of association with modern Babylon (Rev. 14:4; 18:4). To avoid further dissension and division over this issue (e.g., split among SDA's in Hungary), it seems to us that the leaders of the SDA Church should sound a serious warning immediately: "Let the watchmen on the walls of Zion not join with those who are making of none effect the truth as it is in Christ. Let them not join the confederacy of infidelity, popery, and Protestantism." 4BC 1141.

10. We do not sympathize with the modern theories and interpretations which have found their way into the church that Christ, at birth, took the sinless nature of Adam; that the perfecting of the saints, with justification and sanctification, will continue after the close of probation; that the sealing work of the 144,000 did not begin in the early days of the third angel's message; that Christ at His second coming will walk among the people on earth (see Maxwell's book The Man the World Needs Most); etc. We cannot go along with these modernistic ideas, and think that some of them are very dangerous in the light of what we read in the Bible, in the Spirit of Prophecy, and in the writings of the Advent pioneers.

 

VI-THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS

"As never before, we should pray not only that laborers may be sent forth into the great harvest field, but that we may have a clear conception of truth, so that when the messengers of truth shall come, we may accept the message and respect the messenger." 6T 420.

"Refusing to hear because you are prejudiced against the message or the messenger will not make your case excusable before God. To condemn that which you have not heard and do not understand will not exalt your wisdom in the eyes of those who are candid in their investigations of truth. And to speak with contempt of those whom God has sent with a message of truth, is folly and madness." CSW 32.

With the above in mind, we appeal to you, dear brethren, to consider prayerfully the following:

1. That through Sister White, the special messenger of God to the Adventist people, the Lord sent an ultimatum to the church, giving them a limited time in which to choose between a genuine revival and reformation or removal of the candlestick. (5T 612.)

2. That the Lord through the same means gave specific signs by which the removal of the candlestick would become evident if the revival and reformation did not take place,(RH April 4, 1893; MS 78, 1900.)

3. That in 1888 the Lord sent a message to revive and reform the church, in order to avert the impending disaster, and that this message was rejected by the majority of the leaders and the people. (TM 80, 401, 402)

4. That, in spite of this rejection, a movement began with the object of preparing a people for the latter rain, the finishing of the work, and the coming of the Lord Jesus. (lSM 363; GC 604.)

5. That you should personally look into the history of the SDA Reform Movement from their side also, and make a thorough investigation of its origin, its prophetic basis, and the doctrinal reasons for its existence.

6. That the Seventh-day Adventists as a denomination have departed from their original understanding of the threefold message. That changes and innovations have been introduced over the years.

7. That the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement upholds the original faith and practice of the Adventist Church to the law and to the testimony-and that this Movement has believers in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa and Australasia.

8. That E. G. White, the messenger of the Lord, was shown that, instead of final victory, the professed Adventist Church will suffer ultimate shipwreck of faith. (3T 267; 5T 2l0-2l2 )

9. That the only people that will have protection against the wrath of God is a "small remnant," "the remnant church," which is distinct and separate from "the church." (5T 213; PK 727, 728.)

10. That the door opened to the Adventist people in 1888, with a special message of light and truth, will not be closed: "Even if all our leading men should refuse light and truth, that door will still remain open. The Lord will raise up men who will give the people the message for this time." TM 107.

It is our sincere prayer that you, dear reader, may be willing to receive the light of God for your own salvation and for the salvation of such other souls as you may influence.

Not all Adventists are indifferent toward the existing situation. "At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest," there is a "little company who are standing in the light" and whose prayers arise especially "in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world," and because "deception of almost every kind are in the church," while "the truth [is] made of none effect" (5T 209-211). If you, dear reader, are one of those who are worried about this precarious situation of the church, and if you wish to have a better knowledge of the reasons for the existence of the Reform Movement, please feel free to contact us for more evidences. Many of "those 'that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done' in the church" (3T 267) do want to know about Reform. We are, therefore, convinced that it is about time for us to speak up and let the people know the whole truth. This pamphlet is only one step in this direction.

By drawing the attention of our brethren in the SDA Church to these things, we are neither accusing nor criticizing the denomination. We are only trying to fulfill a sacred duty enjoined upon us by the word of God, where the present situation among SDA's has been predicted:

"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.... They have betrayed their trust. With no words of flattery must the message be given them. 'Show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. ' [Isa. 58:1.] 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.... The Lord has a message for His people. This message will be borne, whether men will accept or reject it. . " 4BC 1149.

There is no doubt that God has His champions in the SDA Church. They are those "that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the church" (3T 267). With these faithful few we have no controversy. We are one with these believers and wish to be in close contact with them.