Break Every Yoke

Do you remember the experience of Moses where the children of Israel had sinned? God said, “Look, let me destroy them. Let them go and I will make of you a new beginning and a new nation and you will be the promised people.”

“And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Exodus 32:31, 32.

There is a book, friends, which contains the names of God’s people. If God would not forgive the children of Israel for the golden calf, Moses was willing to give up his leadership, and the chance for his descendents to be the promised people and the great nation that is going to receive the covenant. “If you cannot forgive the sin of the children of Israel,” he said, “blot me out of the Book of Life.” Do you know what that means? That means that he was willing to give up his right to heaven.

God then told Moses what His policy is. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” Verse 33. Now how many of you have not sinned against God? That is the way to get your name out of the Lamb’s Book of Life, right? We are all sinners. So your name goes into the Book of Life, and your name can go out of the Book of Life if you are a sinner. What hope is there for us if we have sinned against God?

Let us take a look at the Bible, for there we find how to keep our name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5.

These two Scriptures contain the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment. You get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. If you continue in sin, your name will be taken out of the Lamb’s Book of Life. But if you overcome, with God’s help it will be left in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Very simple. Now then, there has to be an investigation of the names in the Lamb’s Book of Life, right?

And it makes a difference, friends, whether you are continuing in sin or whether you overcome. If I took the position that evangelical Seventh-day Adventists take, that you cannot stop sinning, then, of course, I do not want an Investigative Judgment, because if I cannot stop sinning, my name will be blotted out of the Book of Life. So, along with their idea that you cannot stop sinning, they have to do away with the idea of an Investigative Judgment, because if they do not, friends, the people who accept the idea that they cannot stop sinning are all doomed to be lost.

If you believe that you can overcome, then your name will be left in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and you are going to be in a select group of people at the end. “…all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. Whom shall they worship? The first beast of Revelation 13. Who is that? It is the Papacy and, indirectly, it is the devil.

Now, friends, this select group of people, those who overcome and whose names are left in the Lamb’s Book of Life, are the only ones who will not worship the devil. It is important that your name remain in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Church Books vs. Heaven’s Books

How do you get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life? How do you know that it is there? I have actually cringed and felt like standing up and saying, “No, it is not so,” when I have been in Seventh-day Adventist meetings and heard the minister say, “As soon as you are baptized and voted into the Seventh-day Adventist Church, your name is inscribed in letters of gold in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

No, friends, that is not how you get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I dare say that the majority of the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church never have their names put in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

“And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” Philippians 4:3.

Now, friends, you have to be a fellowlabourer, a true yokefellow, and then you may be assured that your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In other words, it is not a matter of baptism and being voted into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is a matter of accepting the invitation of Christ found in Matthew 11:28–30, where He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you [You must take the yoke of Christ if you hope to have your name inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. You must be a true yokefellow, wearing the yoke of Jesus and no other yoke.] and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

After Isaiah tells us that what the children of Israel were doing was not what God wanted, he says, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” Isaiah 58:6. You cannot wear two yokes at a time.

Breaking the Yoke

The yokes that Isaiah calls to be broken are the things that, for many, many years, I did not understand, and I do not believe that most people understand them. I do not believe that the people of the denomination, or the leadership in particular, understand what he is talking about and what this appeal means.

There is more than one yoke. There is the yoke of Christ, and if you are wearing that yoke, then you may be positive and certain that your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life. If you are wearing any other yoke, you have no assurance at all that your name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Christ says His burden is light. That is the big difference between the yoke and the burden of Christ and that of any other yoke that you can find.

If we continue reading in the book of Matthew, we find that Christ gives a little sermon on the church of His day. “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Matthew 23:1–4.

What was the purpose of their life? “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” Verses 5–7.

Yokes of Bondage

Now, friends, this is a description of another yoke. What kind of a yoke? It is a yoke of bondage, of heavy burdens. All other yokes, except the yoke of Christ, are yokes of bondage, of heavy burdens, and these are the yokes that we are called to break in Isaiah 58. Was it a political yoke that they had foisted on the people, or was it a church yoke? They were sitting where? Not on the throne of King David, but in Moses’ seat.

In my reading I came across an address by Ellen G. White. Sometimes I think we should not use her name. I think we ought to say we have an address from the Holy Spirit to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, because that is what she says we have. She says that if you slight the Testimonies and belittle them you have thereby insulted the Holy Spirit. I take this as a message from God. (See Testimonies. vol. 5, 234.)

The Holy Spirit Speaks

In my studies of the early pioneers, the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Ellen G. White, I find that Mrs. White did not go around looking for problems in the church about which she could write testimonies to people. It was her nature to always look on the good side and always give people the benefit of the doubt. She was always on the positive side and she had difficulty writing these kinds of testimonies.

When Sister White writes these things, friends, it is the Holy Spirit speaking, not Sister White. She was not a genius who knew all the things that the brethren were doing and all that was going on in the church. Those things had to be revealed to her by God. So she says, “I write thus fully, because I have been shown that ministers and people are tempted more and more to trust in finite man for wisdom, and to make flesh their arm. To conference presidents, and men in responsible places.” Testimonies to Ministers, 480.[To whom is she talking? To the world? No! She is talking to the leaders in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.] “I bear this message: Break the bands and fetters that have been placed upon God’s people.” Ibid., 480, 481. I am afraid that most baptized Seventh-day Adventists have taken a church yoke on their necks, instead of the yoke of Jesus. I did, and I fully believed, for most of my life, that the yoke of the church and the yoke of Jesus were one and the same.

I believe that most Seventh-day Adventists regardless of the group they belong to, believe that the yoke they have taken is the yoke of Jesus. And when I first read this quote, it did not fit my thinking. It did not fit what I wanted to believe. What I am going to say, friends, may not suit your thinking or your beliefs, either.

“I bear this message: Break the bands and fetters that have been placed upon God’s people.” Ibid. Every Seventh-day Adventist, according to this testimony, is wearing bands and fetters put on them by conference presidents and men in responsible positions. “To you the word is spoken, ‘Break every yoke.’” Ibid. How many? Every one except Christ’s, because you cannot wear the yoke of Christ until you have broken from off your neck every other yoke, whether it be the yoke of the church, the yoke of the American Medical Association, Labor Unions, Fraternal organizations, the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis Club, or you name it. All of these organizations put a yoke upon your neck. Yet we do not perceive this because our thinking is not tuned to it.

Divorces from God

I worked for the Seventh-day Adventist Church for 27 years as a minister. I grew up in the church. Before I went into the ministry, I worked at the Glendale Sanitarium; I worked there when it was really doing sanitarium work. I worked in an academy. I went through our schools, friends, and I did not know that I was wearing a yoke. I thought I was wearing the yoke of Jesus. I had my doubts at times, because the yoke of Jesus was always described as being light, easy. “To you the word is spoken, Break every yoke, [What yoke is she talking about? Well, she tells us.] Unless you cease the work of making man amenable to man.” Ibid.

Have you ever been called to account to the church for what you did? Have they ever come to you and said, “You cannot do this?” or, “You do that!” “Unless you cease the work of making man amenable to man, unless you become humble in heart, and yourselves learn the way of the Lord as little children, the Lord will divorce you from His work.” Ibid.

We are to treat one another as brethren, as fellow laborers. In other words, fellow yokefellows, as Paul calls it, wearing the yoke of Christ, not any other yoke.

“… as men and women who are, with us, seeking for light and understanding of the way of the Lord, and who are jealous for His glory. God declares, ‘I will be glorified in My people.’” Ibid.

Friends, there is going to be a group of people in this world who are going to throw off every other yoke and wear only the yoke of Christ and glorify God. The world is going to be lightened with the message they bring. Is that not what it says?

So, “God declares, ‘I will be glorified in my people;’ but the self-confident management of men has resulted in putting God aside, and accepting the devisings of men.” Ibid.

That is exactly what the Pharisees were rebuked for all the time while Jesus was here. “Ye teach for doctrines the traditions or commandments of men.” (See Matthew 15:9.)

Books of a New Order?

When I was born there was no General Conference working policy. There was no General Conference educational policy. There was no church manual. When people wanted to know what to do, they only had two places to go: the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. When I was three years old, the brethren put together the first General Conference Constitution and By-laws and Working Policy. I do not remember the exact number of pages then, but now it is over 500 pages of rules and regulations to be followed by you and the leaders of the church. If time goes on, it will probably expand to a thousand, and the next thing we will have to do is train scribes to interpret it!

We need them right now, because when I used to attend committee meetings where the brethren would be laying plans, I would say, “Do you not know that in the Working Policy it says such and such?” And they would say, “No, we do not,” because nobody can remember 500 pages of rules and regulations, not even the leaders.

A few years back I checked on the educational policies. I went to the local church school, pulled open the teacher’s file and took out the Pacific Union Conference Educational Code. Then I pulled out the supplement, because the rules of men are never adequate and consequently they are always adding to them. I counted 1,000 pages! This was not fine print, like the General Conference Working Policy; this was 1,000 mimeographed pages of rules to govern the colleges and church schools in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.

When I was nine years old, the first Church Manual was issued. The statement as to the reason for voting a church manual was, “We hope this will stop the headlong plunge of the church into apostasy.” Has it?

The first Church Manual was advisory. It had no authority; nobody had to follow it or pay any attention to it. But in 1946, when I had been in the ministry one year, the General Conference in session gave full authority to the Church Manual. This is a yoke, friends, made by men and put on your neck and on their own necks.

Would you like to know what the apostle Peter and the brethren in Jerusalem had to say about the yoke of the Jewish Church? Acts 15:10 tells us the people in Jerusalem were starting down the same headlong rush to put a yoke other than the yoke of Christ upon the church:

“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples? [How long did it take the early Christian church to start putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples? Why, they had just barely gotten started. A yoke] which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear.” Oh, friends, all human yokes are heavy, difficult. The yoke of Jesus and His burden is light.

You may say, “Well, I do not think I have a yoke on my neck.” Maybe you feel quite comfortable with it because you have gotten so used to it. Or maybe, like I did for many years, you believe that the yoke of the church is the yoke of Jesus. Sometimes I wondered how He ever thought to say that His yoke was easy and light, though, and I used to really puzzle over those two words describing the yoke of Jesus when I had the two confused.

Calling Sin By It’s Right Name

I have been puzzling over this question of yokes for years and years. What was Sister White talking about? I know that we cannot be amenable to mankind. I know that making men responsible to man puts God aside, and that was at least part of the yoke. “For years our physicians have been trained to think that they must not give expression to sentiments that differ from those of their chief. Oh, that they had broken this yoke.” Series B, 28.

The belief that you cannot express an idea that differs with the pastor or the church is a yoke that you must break. I cannot break the yoke from off your neck unless I put it there. And even then, you may not let me remove it. Only you can break a yoke off your neck. These physicians had accepted a yoke which required them to agree with the boss, the head of the Battle Creek Sanitarium and Hospital, even though they differed with him.

Sister White said, “Oh that they had broken the yoke.” Ibid. Have you worn that yoke and kept your mouth shut? Have you accepted that yoke? If so, you had better break it, because they did not, and Mrs. White said, “Oh, that they had called sin by its right name!” Ibid.

Have you ever been quiet when you should have spoken out and called sin by its right name? A yoke you have to break. A yoke the church puts on your neck. I know, because they put it on my neck and when I threw it off, they immediately rushed in to replace it.

Oh, friends, the yoke to keep quiet, to not disagree with your boss, your leader, so you do not call sin by its right name is a yoke you have to break before you can wear the yoke of Christ.

Mrs. White continues, “They would not be regarded in the heavenly courts as men who, though bearing weighty responsibilities, have failed of speaking the truth in reproof of that which has been in disobedience to God’s Word.” Ibid.

A Yoke of Silence

This yoke that the brethren impose upon the necks of the ministry, upon the necks of the laity, and anyone else, is a yoke of silence when it comes to denominational policy and procedure. If you dared to open your mouth, you were a faultfinder, condemner and criticizer.

It was not until the brethren disfellowshipped me that the yoke of the church was actually fully removed. I am not saying you have to be disfellowshipped, but I would like to see Seventh-day Adventists fully remove the yoke of the church from off their neck without being disfellowshipped. All you have to do is to throw off the yoke that has you not disagreeing with the leadership, the one that has you not calling sin by its right name, not reproving things that are contrary to God’s Word.

I cannot support things contrary to the Spirit of Prophecy. The only program that I hope anybody can trust me to support is the one found in the Bible and in the Spirit of Prophecy. That which is found in the Church Manual and Working Policy I cannot support if it is contrary to the Bible and to the Spirit of Prophecy.

So continuing in Series B, and again addressing the people under the Alpha of apostasy, here is what was wrong that caused the church to go into the Alpha of apostasy: “Our physicians have lost a great deal out of their lives because they have [1] seen wrong transactions and [2] heard wrong words spoken, [3] and seen wrong principles followed, and have not spoken in reproof, for fear that they would be repulsed.” Ibid., 29.

The yoke of man silences you so that you will not object to a policy of the church that is contrary to the Spirit of Prophecy.

Anything else that is contrary to the Bible and to the Spirit of Prophecy is a yoke of man who says, “Do not speak out, be a loyal Seventh-day Adventist.” Are you wearing that yoke? Have you refrained from speaking out about something? Have you seen wrong principles followed and not spoken in reproof? It worked on me, friends, for years. I wore a yoke of silence when I should have spoken out, and yet the brethren always thought I was speaking out too much. But I kept quiet too often, friends.

If things need adjusting at the heart of the work, what do we do? Well, friends, if we do not speak out, if we wear this yoke of silence, God will take care of things, but how much better it would be if we did it ourselves. Every wrong within the Seventh-day Adventist Church is going to be taken care of, either by God or by the membership.

Worst Sins are Unrevealed

Sister White states: “The abominations for which the faithful ones [These are the ones who did not wear the yoke of silence.] 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. The great Searcher of hearts knoweth every sin committed in secret by the workers of iniquity. These persons come to feel secure in their deceptions and, because of His long–suffering, say that the Lord seeth not, and then act as though He had forsaken the earth. But He will detect their hypocrisy and will open before others those sins which they were so careful to hide.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 211.

The sad thing I have observed is that people take the yoke off from their necks that is imposed by the Adventist Church, and run right over to some other group and put that yoke on their necks. The only yoke I am interested in you having around your neck, is the yoke of Jesus, so your name will be in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

The yoke of Jesus has no stress, no tension, no frustration. It is a yoke of victory. It is a yoke of being an overcomer. It is a yoke that is easy and the burden is light. Oh, yes, it promises you persecution, but it says you will be able to “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad when man shall persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely.” (See Matthew 5:12.)

When you wear the yoke of Christ, then and then alone, you are God’s free man. If you are not wearing the yoke of Christ, then you are in bondage. You cannot be God’s free man until you become Christ’s servant. You must! God will not place the yoke upon your neck. You must willfully choose to take the yoke of Christ. He says, “Take My yoke.” He does not say, “Accept it and I will put it on your neck.” He says, “Take up the cross.” He does not say, “Lean over and I will put it on your back.”

No yokes can be forced on your neck. You may die resisting it, but you do not have to accept any yoke.

The Final Warning

“The Final Warning,” is a chapter in The Great Controversy that we need to study and restudy. If you take the yoke of Christ, understand that you are enlisting the opposition of the hosts of darkness. Your life will become very interesting. You will probably not have another boring day. “Evil angels will assail him, alarmed that his influence is taking the prey from their hands. …Evil men, rebuked by His example, will unite with them in seeking to separate him from God by alluring temptations.” The Great Controversy, 610.

You want a lot of the luring of temptations? You just put on the yoke of Christ.

“When these do not succeed, then a compelling power is employed to force the conscience.” Ibid.

You have an interesting life ahead of you, never a dull moment.

Mrs. White tell us: “It is the first and highest duty of every rational being to learn from the Scriptures what is truth, and then to walk in the light and encourage others to follow his example.” Ibid., 598.

We had better get busy on the first and highest duty of every rational being.

“We should day by day study the Bible diligently, weighing every thought and comparing Scripture with Scripture. With divine help we are to form our opinions for ourselves, as we are to answer for ourselves before God.” Ibid. I beg of you, throw off every other yoke and put on the yoke of Christ because your life depends on it; your eternal life depends upon it. Soon, very soon, your name will be called in the Investigative Judgment and it is either going to be blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life, or it is going to stay.