A Fractured Remnant

I can remember when I was young, hearing Adventist preachers tell people that although there were many different identifying marks of Babylon in the Bible, you only needed to know two things to find God’s people in the last days. They were called a remnant and the remnant is the last of anything. The remnant keep the commandments of God and they have the testimony of Jesus, the Spirit of Prophecy (Revelation 19:10). They said, if you know those two things, you can find God’s people.

I decided that I wanted to be part of God’s remnant people when Jesus comes and because of that, anything that happens to God’s remnant people is of great concern to me. It is not something that I just look on as a spectator or observer. God’s remnant people are so important to me that although there are some in God’s professed remnant church who consider me an enemy, I still pray for them to be saved. It is a great concern to me when I see God’s remnant people fractured. Why is that happening? What is going on?

This is not the first time God’s people have been fractured. Hosea 5:11 says: “Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked by human precept.”

Another time God’s people were fractured is mentioned in Matthew 26:31: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: “I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” ’ ”

I’ve tried to imagine that, and I cannot comprehend what it must have felt like to be the Lord. He came to this world to willingly pay an infinite price to save people, a price that would cost unbelievable suffering and sorrow but when He did, every single person forsook Him. This is something that God’s people at some point in the future will experience.

The remnant is a small number of people scattered all over the world. It is easy to comprehend being in a situation where it seems as if you are the only one left who believes and everybody in the world has forsaken you. You are all alone with nobody left, but you still have faith. When we look at the fracture among God’s people today, we need to remember what God is getting us ready for.

Inspiration says, “As we approach the last crisis it is of vital moment that harmony and unity exist among the Lord’s instrumentalities. The world is filled with storm and war and variance. Yet under one head—the papal power—the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witnesses. This union is cemented by the great apostate. While he seeks to unite his agents in warring against the truth he will work to divide and scatter its advocates.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 182.

This worldwide union will “have one mind” and make war against the Lamb. They cannot go to heaven to make war, so they make war against the Lamb by attacking His people in this world. At the same time, the devil unites his forces and tries to divide and scatter those who advocate the truth.

It is important to understand who is behind all these problems. If it seems those against you are in your family or local church, don’t think that they are your enemies. It is the devil who is behind what is going on. He is using them as pawns, and they are often unaware that they are being directed by a superior force. That is why Jesus said to pray for your enemies. (See Matthew 5:44.) The real enemy is the evil spirit that is using that person as a pawn.

As the devil wars against the truth, he will work to divide and scatter its advocates by jealousy, evil surmising, and evil speaking, which are instigated by him to produce discord and dissension. If only we could overcome those three things, we could solve problems more quickly than almost anything else we could do.

“The members of Christ’s church have the power to thwart the purpose of the adversary of souls. At such a time as this let them not be found at variance with one another or with any of the Lord’s workers. Amidst the general discord let there be one place where harmony and unity exist because the Bible is made the guide of life. Let the people of God feel that a responsibility rests upon them to build up His instrumentalities.” Ibid.

Ellen White says a deeper problem lies in our families. She says, “He knows that the spirit governing in the home will be brought into the church.” The Upward Look, 163.

You can be sure that if there is trouble in your church, there is trouble in the homes of the members in your church. “How many there are who reveal selfishness and unkindness in their dealings with one another. How many professing Christians seem never to be satisfied unless they are engaged in strife? How many home circles are broken because the members receive and act upon Satan’s suggestions? Well does Satan know what heaven is, and what the influence of the angels is.” Ibid.

He’s been there. He knows what it’s like.

“His work is to bring into every family the cruel elements of self-will, harshness, selfishness. Thus he seeks to destroy the happiness of the family. He knows that the spirit governing in the home will be brought into the church.” Ibid.

You can’t talk about the family without talking about husbands and wives. She says, “The husband is to treat his wife, the mother of his children, with due respect, and the wife is to love and reverence her husband. How can she do this if he treats her like a servant, to be dictated to, ordered about, scolded, found fault with before the children? He is forcing her to dislike him and even to hate him.” Ibid.

The devil often uses men to talk in a wrong way and destroy the happiness in the family.

The strength of the church and also the nation is the family. Strong families strengthen the church. With a lot of broken families in your church, your church will be weak.

Some of the causes of weakness in the church

Personal dislike – Within families there can be two people who have absolutely opposite temperaments; they think and reason differently. One may say: I have a rational mind. Why can’t my wife figure this out?

Because we are so different, it is easy to develop dislikes for each other while co-habiting. There are husbands and wives who have developed personal dislikes for each other, sometimes just because they don’t agree on some point.

Some things Ellen White wrote about the church also apply to the family. After all, if you are Christians, your family is a little church.

“Let us be careful how we pass sentence of condemnation of one for whom we may be cherishing dislike because he does not meet our ideas, for the sentence will reflect upon ourselves, and do far more harm to us than to the one we condemned. Christ would have His church strong in unity. Let us all praise God that we are not to be judged according to finite man’s discernment, which is very liable to be perverted.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, 195.

Friend, sometimes there is intense dislike for somebody in a person’s own family. None of us are perfect; so we need to have mercy on other family members. Maybe the thing you dislike most in a person is something they are aware of and are working on to overcome and they need encouragement. It is much harder to overcome something if someone is criticizing you and tearing you down. Pray that the Lord will help you to love those difficult family members. Without the right feelings toward them it will be impossible to love church members.


Rebellion – Many years ago George Vandeman wrote a book called A Planet in Rebellion. Ellen White wrote in Selected Messages, vol. 2, 58: “Rebellion and apostasy are in the very air we breathe. We shall be affected by it unless we, by faith, hang our helpless souls upon Christ.”

Rebellion is in the air. This is a special problem in families with children. The Bible says, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23.)

How do you deal with the problem of rebellion in your family? Ellen White wrote: “My soul is sick and discouraged in regard to those who have been so long rebellious in Waukon [a city in Iowa]. Souls in Waukon have rebelled and stood fast in their rebellion, and very recently they have professed to see themselves, and their stubbornness is changed to a spirit of witchcraft or divination. I call upon all who have the cause of God one particle at heart to rise in the name of the Lord and put down the manifestations among them.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, 352.

Children must know that whether they are rebels or not, there are rules in your home that are not going to be changed. Ellen White said to one father who had a problem with a son who wanted to smoke, you need to say to your son, I want the angels of heaven to abide in my home, and so I cannot allow smoking, drinking, or carousing. You cannot bring your girl friend over to my house to sleep with overnight. You can’t do that here. I have rules in this house.

Rebellion is never solved by letting down the rules. A son like that should be told that if he is determined to live that way, he will have to leave home and live wherever he chooses, because there are rules in your father’s house.

However, in addition to having rules, in a situation like this the Lord must be sought for wisdom to know what to do so that this child or person will understand that we still love them. In fact, that we love them so much that we would die for them. How can we help them to find that out? One thing is for sure, making a house with no rules is not showing them love. Rebellion is a huge problem affecting not just homes, but churches.

Evil Surmising – Ellen White wrote, “The church is made up of persons of different temperaments and of various dispositions; they have come from different denominations. … If the love of Christ is in the hearts of the members of the church, through the abundant grace of Christ, there will be oneness, unity, among brethren. …  Selfishness is sin, and it grieves away the Spirit of Christ. When we cherish unkind thoughts and harbor suspicions against our brethren, we are cutting ourselves off from the channel of God’s light and love.” The Signs of the Times, April 13, 1891.

Many things happen in this world which may seem to be suspicious but of which we have limited facts. When you see a situation in your family or your church and you don’t know all the facts, remember, you can put either a positive or negative spin on that. Some people always put a negative spin on everything. They often get in trouble, which extends to their families and the churches they attend.

“Jealousy is as cruel as the grave, and should never be cherished in the heart, much less expressed in the actions. How cruel it is to cherish evil surmising against those who are members of Christ’s body! Accusation, condemnation, and revenge are all of Satanic origin, and evil thoughts of others should be at once rejected from the mind …” Ibid.

Jealousy comes directly from the devil. It is he who stirs us up to accuse and condemn one another and to get even with one another. We all at some time have had evil thoughts come into our minds about others, but they are to be rejected.

Overbearing or Arbitrary Spirit – Ellen White wrote, “While at family prayer that night at Bro. S.’s I was again taken off in vision, and that portion of the vision that had passed from me was repeated, and I was shown the overbearing course of R. and C., that their influence in the church was to cause division. They possessed an exalted spirit, and not the meek spirit of Christ.” Spiritual Gifts, vol, 2, 181.

It only takes a couple of overbearing people to cause division in a church.

Pride of Opinion – “ ‘For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end’ (Ephesians 3:14–21).

“Here are brought to view the possibilities of the Christian life. How far short of reaching this standard falls the church of today! Strife, discord, selfish pride of opinion, self-exaltation,—self, self, self,—all this is manifest in those who claim to be followers of the meek and lowly Jesus. When shall we awake?” The Ellen G. White, 1888 Materials, 1794.

Believing my opinion to be better than your opinion divides churches. It divides families. It creates all manner of unhappiness because we think we are so much smarter and know so much better than somebody else.

If you would like to become a really wise person, ask the Lord to help you to look in an objective analytical way at the position of the person that thinks totally opposite from you. You may just learn something.


Impulsive and Erratic Movements – “The religious life of some is characterized by impulsive movements. They are as likely to be erratic as to be correct. Some are impatient and restless, while others are indolent and indifferent, and there is such a diversity of opinion and action that there is division instead of harmony in the church.” The Review and Herald, October 22, 1889.

This behavior can never produce a harmonious church in unity. Erratic, impulsive behavior results in division in the church.

Hard-heartedness – “The reason why there are so many hardhearted men and women in the world is that true affection has been regarded as weakness, and has been discouraged and repressed. The better nature of these persons was stifled in childhood; and unless the light of divine love shall melt away their cold selfishness, their happiness will be forever ruined. If we wish our children to possess the tender spirit of Jesus, and the sympathy that angels manifest for us, we must encourage the generous, loving impulses of childhood.” The Desire of Ages, 516.

Jesus said, “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). However, the Jews then questioned why Moses had told them that they could divorce their wives and put them away (verses 7, 8). Jesus told them permission was given, not because it was right, but because of the hardness of their hearts. (See Deuteronomy 24:1–4.)

Lack of Discipline – There is very little discipline in churches today. People can do just about anything and still be a church member, but this will result in receiving the curse of God.

“God charged Eli with honoring his sons above the Lord. Eli had permitted the offering appointed by God as a blessing to Israel to be made a thing of abhorrence, rather than bring his sons to shame for their impious and abominable practices. Those who follow their own inclination, in blind affection for their children, indulging them in the gratification of their selfish desires, and do not bring to bear the authority of God to rebuke sin and correct evil, make it manifest that they are honoring their wicked children more than they honor God. They are more anxious to shield their reputation than to glorify God; more desirous to please their children than to please the Lord and to keep His service from every appearance of evil.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 578.

Sinful Neglect – “Though we have an individual work and an individual responsibility before God, we are not to follow our own independent judgment, regardless of the opinions and feelings of our brethren; for this course would lead to disorder in the church.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 30.

Each must realize that they are neither king nor pope. In church matters all must get counsel with other people.

Disrespect – Disrespect destroys families; it can also destroy a church. Ellen White says when the problem is with the husband: “There are many living martyrs today who suffer in silence.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 372.

These victims are not dead, but they are considered martyrs. Could it be when we get to heaven that there may be people there with red around the border of their garment that we never knew were martyrs? Who are these living martyrs?

“They are abused with the tongue and who are tantalized, who are hurt and wounded by coarse, harsh denunciations, whose lot seems to be to live and to suffer, receiving comfort only from Jesus, who is the source of their strength. Such souls are missionaries. They are Christ’s noble ones, and their names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

“Remember, Jesus knows it all—every sorrow, every grief—He will not leave you to sink, for His arms are beneath you. You may be an enlightenment to a whole neighborhood if you are indeed patient, kind, forbearing. In this, my sister, consider your questions answered.” Ibid.

“When discouraging words are spoken to you, do not reply unless you can return a pleasant answer. When you are tried and tempted by unkind words, do not retaliate. Say to yourself, ‘I will not disappoint my Saviour.’ ” Ibid., vol. 8, 442.

“One mother says her husband is an unbeliever. She has children but they are taught by the father to disrespect the mother. She is deeply burdened for her children. She does not know what course she can pursue.” Ibid., vol. 3, 368.

“Because Satan uses the father of your children to counteract your work, do not be discouraged; do not give up the conflict. Do as you wish them to do. Treat your husband with kindness at all times and on all occasions, and bind your children to your heart with the cords of love. This is your work; this is the burden you have to bear. Talk not your home trials to anyone but Jesus; pour them into His ear.” Ibid., 369.

What can be done when communications between disparate parties have broken down?

  1. Look for an opportunity to be a good Samaritan. Remember, when the Samaritan passed the Jew who was wounded, Ellen White says he knew that if the situation were reversed, the Jew would just spit in his face and go on. He knew the wounded man was an enemy. He said, You are in trouble, so I am going to help you out anyway. The Bible says this story is actually a prophecy about the Messiah, “They that hate Me without a cause are more than the hairs of My head: they that would destroy Me, being Mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I did not take away” (Psalm 69:4).
  2. If you have said or done anything that is wrong by which the other party is offended, confess your mistake to them and ask for forgiveness. You don’t need to mention what they’ve done, but if you have done just one thing against them, confess it, tell them you are sorry, and ask for forgiveness.
  3. Pray and be brave enough to say, Lord, I am willing for You to do whatever it takes to save my child. Don’t pray that prayer unless you are serious. I know a mother who prayed that prayer, and in a short time later, her son got cancer, from which he eventually died. But before he died, he came back to the Lord. That is not the pleasant way to come back to the Lord, but when Jesus returns this mother and son will be reunited.
  4. A rift between parent and child will not be healed by giving money. Ask God for special wisdom whether you should actually give to your child what he or she is asking for as it may not be wise.
  5. If your son or daughter or perceived enemy is suffering with a medical problem or some other kind of serious problem, even if they are on the pathway to hell, it is proper for you to do something to try to alleviate their problem. They may see Jesus in you. Remember, Jesus healed ten lepers but only one said, Thank you.

If there is one in ten, or even one in a hundred that reaches salvation because of what you did to help them, it would be worthwhile and there will be rejoicing in heaven.


(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.