Will the Real Seventh-day Adventist Protestant Please Stand Up?
Will the Real Seventh-day Adventist Protestant Please Stand Up
Seven score and eighteen years ago our pioneers brought forth, line upon line, our distinctive message for the sole purpose of fulfilling a mission by manifesting it to the world. We are now at a crossroads, a fork, a great divide, attesting whether or not the Second Advent Movement will withstand in the hallowed footsteps of its founders.
"I was shown three steps—the First, Second, and Third Angels’ Messages. Said my accompanying angel, ‘Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.’ I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict." Early Writings, 258, 259.
Dedicated to the Work
Our brave predecessors struggled against all odds. We may long forget what we do, but we can never forget what they did, what God did through them, for us! Those courageous pioneers now dead, struggled for us, so that we could be dedicated to the great task of completing the work that they started.
"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth." Revelation 14:13.
It has been said that all a man hath will he give for his life. While we are required to contribute our substance, these honored dead gave their lives and devotion to our cause. The greater merits are due to them, and we should be highly determined that these shall not have died in vain.
"God had led them along step by step, until He had placed them upon a solid, immovable platform. I saw individuals approach the platform and examine the foundation. Some with rejoicing immediately stepped upon it. Others commenced to find fault with the foundation. They wished improvements made, and then the platform would be more perfect, and the people much happier. Some stepped off the platform to examine it and declared it to be laid wrong." Early Writings, 259.
We expect to maintain this task come what may. Whether we triumph or are conquered, through life or death, come rain or shine, whether men embrace or forsake us, it must be well understood, once and for all, that we will not surrender or turn away from our stern purpose in making known our old, historical, timely, beloved messages to the world.
Proclaiming the Final Invitation
We urge you again, we admonish you not to let go but to be steadfast and do all you can do, which is your duty as well. It is your business to rise up and preserve this work. Do it for yourselves. Do it for your Lord. Do it for those that are still in Babylon, to whom the Lord declares, "Come out of her, My People." Revelation 18:4. Let us readopt our mission, and together, let us harmonize with it. Let all Seventh-day Adventists, lovers of the Three Angels’ Messages, join in this great and marvelous work.
If we do this, we will not only save souls, but we will save ourselves and fulfill our destiny by proclaiming the final invitation from God to this dying world. The millions and millions of celestial inhabitants, and the holy people in the world made new, shall rise up and call us blessed, for we labor in the final era of the plan of salvation.
For now, this unpopular work must continue. The cause of God must not be surrendered, even though there may be one or a hundred obstacles.
Do Not Falter
So many find fault with our course of action, which can sometimes bring sorrow. Yet it is a perfect certainty that if we stick to our resolution, if we do not falter or give up, one day, very soon, God will turn all our sorrow into everlasting joy. We would be most happy indeed if we could be a humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, by perpetuating the real issues of the great controversy.
We must never remain silent. It is the eternal struggle between the two principles, right and wrong, that we endeavor to proclaim. These are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and have ever continued to struggle. In your hands, my fellow Adventist, is the momentous issue of the great controversy. Get involved. When you do, you will be assailed. You will be in conflict. You will meet with aggressors, but you will be registered in heaven as a co-laborer with God. Heaven will guide, preserve, protect, and defend your efforts.
My fellow Adventists, we are not enemies. We must not become enemies. Though many difficulties may have strained our bonds of fellowship, let it not affect our bonds of affections. The same Spirit that leads in every mission, every battlefield, whether past or present, will yet swell in our hearts again.
Kiss the Protestants Good-bye
"Romanism is now regarded by Protestants with far greater favor than in former years." The Great Controversy, 563.
"It is not without reason that the claim has been put forth in Protestant countries that Catholicism differs less widely from Protestantism than in former times. There has been a change; but the change is not in the papacy. Catholicism indeed resembles much of the Protestantism that now exists. . . . Instead of standing in defense of the faith once delivered to the saints, they are now, as it were, apologizing to Rome for their uncharitable opinion of her." Ibid., 571, 572.
"The Protestant churches are in great darkness, or they would discern the signs of the times. . . . Protestants have tampered with and patronized popery." Ibid., 565, 566.
We, as Seventh-day Adventists, have already seen what has happened to Protestantism today. There was a time when Protestants would protest all the corrupt practices of apostate churches and promote true, biblical Christianity. By this unholy union with Rome, we shall see how Protestants have ceased to be what they once were. Rome has perpetuated a change, a "liberation" of the Protestants. This was accomplished through Vatican II. Adventists have seen this and know this to be true, so why do we believe that, if we do the same thing, somehow we cannot be affected in the same way? Why, then, should Seventh-day Adventists make compromises and concessions with ecumenical Babylon? We would be very foolish to do this, knowing what the consequences would be. It would be appropriate for us to review how this change has taken place and to review our Protestant-Christian heritage.
One "Catholic" Church
Soon after Christ’s ascension into Heaven, churches began to appear. In the New Testament, the word church means an assembly or body of people. The first Christian church was in Jerusalem. Most of its members, if not all, were Jews who had accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah. As the disciples of Christ began to carry the gospel to the Gentile nations, there were many churches established. Even though there were several churches started, God looked down from heaven and saw only one church made up of all true Christians.
The term catholic, which means universal or one, was used to describe the great church of all believers. The idea of a catholic church was gradually accepted to mean a single, visible, large, organized church for all Christians. Perhaps their motives were at first innocent—a desire to unite all believers (which Christ had taught) and to defend Christian beliefs, but the visible catholic church soon began to distort and change Christianity.
In time, the organization of the churches had changed. Bishops had come to the forefront and had become very powerful. A single bishop ruled several churches. The bishops tried to maintain and to justify their supremacy in the church by the idea of apostolic succession. They said that the apostles were the guardians of the gospel. Instead of emphasizing the New Testament as the Christians’ permanent link to the apostles, they claimed that the apostles had appointed bishops as their successors. They also claimed that these successors had, in turn, appointed successors of their own and that much, if not all, of the authority of the apostles had, therefore, been passed down in an unbroken line to the bishops of this day. During the first century, the bishops of Rome began using the scripture to support the Petrine theory, that Christ made Peter the head of the Catholic Church, and that Peter passed his power to the bishop of Rome. Yet, the Bible never shows Peter acting as if he were the head of the church nor does it refer to Peter as the church foundation.
The Petrine theory permitted the supremacy of the church in Rome to emerge, resulting in the idea of the Roman Catholic papacy that the bishop of the Church of Rome is supreme over all churches. The bishop of Rome, eventually called the pope, meaning papa or father, began to rule the Catholic Church as supreme ruler or king.
The word reformation is a term that describes the fragmentation of the Roman Catholic Church during the Sixteenth Century. Several Christian groups rose up to protest the way the established Roman church was distorting the truth and denying people access to the Word of God. Bible-believing Christians protested the corrupt practices of the Catholic Church and at first sought to reform the church, restoring it to the authority of the Scriptures, rather than to withdraw from it. The followers of this movement were called Protestants. By the 1530s all of Scandinavia, the British Isles, and much of Germany, Austria, and France had severed their ties with Rome. The Protestant Reformation so shook the Roman church that the pope soon responded with the Counter-Reformation. The main objectives were to prevent any more Catholics from becoming Protestants and to force Protestants back into the Roman fold. The Counter-Reformation put life into the Inquisition. Throughout Europe, the Inquisition used torture and terror to destroy Protestantism.
Babylonian Captivity of the Church
Most of the Protestants compared the pope to ancient Babylon, which had taken the Chosen People captive. They declared that the pope held the church in captivity by his distortions of Biblical Christianity. They believed in the freedom of the Christian. They declared that one thing, and one thing alone, is necessary for life, justification, and Christian liberty. That one thing is the most holy Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Protestants said nothing new; they simply revealed that what the Catholic Church had put between man and Christ was a distortion of the Word of God. They only tried to restate the Bible and restore the authority of the Scriptures to men’s lives. The work of the Reformation resulted in the formation of the first Protestant churches. Roman Catholic doctrines and practices incompatible with the gospel of Christ were rejected. The sermon came to occupy a central place in public worship; in it the preacher exposed sin and then proclaimed forgiveness, life, and salvation in Christ through faith in the gospel. The formation of these Independent-Protestant churches completed the breach with Rome. In spite of intense persecution from Rome, the newly formed Protestant churches continued to greatly influence the world.
Second Vatican Council and the Ecumenical Developments
The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) brought about enormous changes to the Catholic Church. Vatican II produced 16 council documents in all. During the third session of 1964, The Decree on Ecumenism was produced. The decree describes the ecumenical movement as one of seeking Christian unity.
We know, from Bible prophecy (Revelation 13), that the decree on ecumenism is really an attempt to destroy the Protestant Spirit and to bring Protestants back to the already existing unity of the Roman Catholic Church.
Protestants once taught that the Roman Catholic Church was the whore and beast of Revelation 17. During the Reformation there were men like Martin Luther, John Knox, and John Calvin; and then you had the great preachers like Moody, Finney, Spurgeon and so on. They all believed the same thing—that the papacy was the anti-Christ. It wasn’t until lately, after Vatican II, that things have changed.
See the chart on page 7 for some of the differences between Protestants and Catholics.
Liberals, Moderates, and Conservative Protestantism
In the past, when a person professed to be a Protestant Christian, this meant that they identified their theological beliefs by the list shown on page 7. But recently, after Vatican II, Protestants are finding themselves internally divided. Protestants today talk about the existence of two Christian religions. They are not referring to a split between Roman Catholics and Protestants, as in the past, but rather a division among the Protestant denominations. The terms, such as fundamentalist, conservative, evangelical, mainline, modernist, and liberal, all refer to Protestants today.
Religious conservatives and fundamentalists are viewed negatively, as overly strict on moral issues, close-minded, intolerant of other religious views, fanatical about their beliefs, too harsh, too much emphasis placed on guilt or sin, too concerned about their own salvation, and too rigid and simplistic. Many people would not like to have them as neighbors.
Liberals, mainline, and modernists are viewed as substituting social concerns for the true Gospel, too compromising with the world, morally loose, having a shallow knowledge of the Bible, and influenced too much by the world. The chart on the previous page spells out some of the differences between liberals and conservatives. Moderates fall somewhere in between.
Roman Catholic leaders have been trying to accelerate a change in the Protestant churches. They call it the modernization of the church. Vatican II is responsible for changes within Protestantism. The Roman church is trying to liberate (called liberation theology) Christians from fundamentalism. Rome’s objective is complete—Keep the Protestants fighting among themselves so that they are not protesting.
Protestants must wake up. Romanism, as a system, is no more in harmony with the gospel of Christ now than at any former period in her history. (See The Great Controversy, 566.) Does this mean our fight is with the Roman Catholic people who have been betrayed by their leaders? No! Our job is to rip that mask off her face, and let Roman Catholics and Protestants see that to which they are really tied. They have to be set free. They have to find Christ as the answer. It is not Mary and the rest of the unscriptural practices that will save them. It is our job to win them to the truth.
Protestants are in great darkness, or they would discern the signs of the times. Liberalism and modernism (New Theology) have taken over Protestantism and have even made their way into the ranks of Seventh-day Adventism. Historic Seventh-day Adventists must proclaim the Three Angels’ Messages, the only remedy for this spiritual disease that plagues this world. Catholics and Protestants must wake up! They can only do so by the faithful missionary efforts of the true, Protestant-historic Seventh-day Adventists.
"We are not to cringe, and beg pardon of the world for telling them the truth. We should scorn concealment. Unfurl your true colors to the gaze of men and angels. Let it be understood that Seventh-day Adventists can make no compromise." Review and Herald, January 31, 1893.
Seventh-day Adventists should never apologize to Rome for the Three Angels’ Messages. Rome should apologize and repent for what it has done. We are not out to please pastors, churches, or denominations. The truth is worth everything, and we must be willing to share it regardless of the opposition. It is worth enduring persecution, when it is for the truth’s sake. But how do we expect to stand for the truth during the terrible crisis that is before us, when we have been compromising, acting political with the truth, and apologizing to Rome? Why do we keep deceiving ourselves?
"The persecutions of Protestants by Romanism, by which the religion of Jesus Christ was almost annihilated, will be more than rivaled when Protestantism and popery are combined." Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, 239.
"Protestants will throw their whole influence and strength on the side of the papacy; by a national act enforcing the false sabbath, they will give life and vigor to the corrupt faith of Rome, reviving her tyranny and oppression of conscience." Signs of the Times, June 12, 1893.
The fields are ripe for the harvest now! It is now time to go forward with the work and win precious souls for Christ. God bless you; may you "Prepare to meet thy God." Amos 4:12.
April 2002 Table of Contents