We cannot draw nigh to the same cross without coming into unity of spirit. . . . Can God love us as He loves His Son when we quibble and find fault with the truth because it does not agree with our opinions, and for fear we shall understand something as our brother understands it, and so come into harmony with him? God designs that His children shall be one. If this unity did but exist, it would speak to the world of the power of God manifested in His children.” Review and Herald, March 4, 1890.
Friends, the devil is trying to destroy God’s remnant people by division and doctrinal controversy, and all manner of variance and strife. The fact that this type of thing is going on is proof that we are a great distance from the cross. In coming closer to the cross, we are coming close to Jesus, who is the way and the truth. Therefore, the closer we get to the cross, the closer we are to the truth.
The Devil’s Trick
It is amazing how the devil tricks us. He leads us to believe that the only way to have unity is through a compromise with truth. The reality of the matter is that compromise always has just the opposite effect. I say this kindly, but people are attempting to find unity without a determination to do so on the basis of truth. If you are believing all different kinds of doctrines, you are not going to have unity but variance and strife. In order to overcome this lack of unity, a hierarchy is created and there is an attempt to impose an artificial unity.
There is a cross that must be lifted up by everyone who, by faith, accepts a crucified and risen Saviour. If we yield our convictions of truth to please our father, our mother, our sister, our brother, our husband, our wife, or our children, according to Matthew 10:32–38, we are unworthy of Christ and are shunning the cross.
The cross is the great center of attraction for the universe. The heavenly intelligence’s know this, and we need to recognize it. And, if in humility of mind we study the cross, the Holy Spirit is going to come and be our teacher.
How many times have you studied the story of the cross and asked yourself, “Why did Jesus have to die such a shameful death in my place?” There are many other ways of dying. It is all right to ask that question because it is dealt with in the Bible, and Jesus Himself has answered it. It says in John 3:14, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For [that is, because] God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Jesus revealed to Nicodemus that the reason that He came and went to the cross is because of the love that God has for the world. This is a revolutionary idea because the devil has sought to convince the world that God is a tyrant. This is what the doctrine of eternal torment is all about. It is describing God to people in such a way as to make them so angry when they think about it that they will not want to have anything to do with Him. There are many infidels and atheists in the world today because of this very doctrine. In contrast, Jesus said that it is because God loves the world that He gave His Son to die.
Two Sides of the Cross
You can approach the cross from two different sides. You can approach it from the dark side, or from the light side. On the dark side, the cross is the greatest tragedy of all time. Some of us have spent too much of our lives on the dark side of the cross.
What is the light side? The light side is the revelation to us of a love that is so broad, so great, and so comprehensive that we cannot take it all in. And although force is contrary to the principles of God’s government, once you arrive at the cross and begin to allow your mind to try and take it all in, you will find that its power of attraction is the most compelling force in the universe. And, as you seek to comprehend God’s love for you, love is awakened. “We love Him because He first loved us.” I John 4:19. Love is not something that we can create or generate in ourselves, because the natural condition of the human heart is one of cold, hard-heartedness. The love awakened by God’s love for you will create a healing to all of the divisions that we see everywhere among God’s professed people. In the midst of divisions and the apostasy that will continue to worsen until Jesus comes, there are going to be groups of people all over the world who are going to have love and unity and will experience harmony among themselves. We can be a part of that.
“My brethren are well aware that the Word of God presents the matter of church unity as a principle; those who are united to Christ by the truth of heavenly origin should have strong friendship for one another. And this is not all. “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is My commandment, that ye love one another.’ The love of Christ must come into the church, and be cherished by every member as a precious plant. If the branches of the vine are united to the parent stock, the same life dwells in them all. In Christ Jesus, there is love. And those who are united to Christ will not have merely a tame, common regard as acquaintances, but true, sincere love for one another, because they are endued with the spirit of Christ. This drawing off from one another is not Christ-like, but it is after Satan’s order. (Love is not a mere simple regard, but a living principle—not a temporary emotion, but a permanent power. We drink it fresh from the fountain of love that flows from the cross of Calvary.) We are quickened by this love.” 1888 Materials, 1141, 1142.
Notice that if you have love in your heart, you are spiritually alive; and if you do not, you are spiritually dead, regardless of how much you may know about theology.
Quickened by Love
I like the word quicken, but I do not often use it because most people do not understand its meaning. It means to make something alive. When Jesus went into the home where the little 12-year old girl was dead, He said to her, “Little girl, arise” [see Luke 8:54]; and He touched her. Ellen White says that a tremor went throughout her body. Right then she was quickened.
When you knowingly break the Law of God and are out of harmony with it, in the place of harmony and love, you experience discord and strife. But when the love of Jesus comes into your heart, you are quickened and made alive again. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” I John 5:3. “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me.” John 17:23. Quickened by this love, the power of the Holy Spirit brings even our thoughts into conformity to the Law of God.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” [see John 14:6]; and when you come close to the cross, you are coming close to Jesus who is the truth. Love rejoices not in unrighteousness, but in the truth. (See I Corinthians 13:6.) When we come close to the cross, we will have a burning desire in our hearts to follow, to obey the truth, because when you follow the truth, you are following the Lord.
Truth and the Cross
Many people who have a shallow understanding of the cross, come to us and ask, “Well then, why is it that we cannot all get together? Whey do we not have this unity that you talk about?” They fail to realize that for true unity to exist, there must be a willingness to follow and to obey truth. That is why there are certain groups, or churches, with whom we cannot be in harmony. It is not because we do not love them or because we do not want them to be saved; but if you are close to the cross, you have to be faithful to the truth. Whatever truth the Holy Spirit reveals to you through the Word, you have to follow and obey, because you know that if you do not, you will be crucifying the Son of God afresh. You will be at variance with the One who is the truth.
“The time has come when things must be called by their right names. The truth is to triumph gloriously, and those who have long been halting between two opinions must take their stand decidedly for or against the Law of God. Some will take up with theories that misinterpret the Word of God, and undermine the foundation of the truth that has been firmly established, point by point, and sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit.”” Upward Look, 88.
Old Truth and New Light
Once a truth has been firmly established by the whole body of believers, by studying the Word of God and by prayer, and the Holy Spirit has confirmed it by giving visions and dreams that establish it, we do not have a right to entertain any suppositions that would be contrary to that truth. That would be to walk right away from the cross.
The Godhead does not disagree. Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes, He will glorify Me. If I entertain something that is contrary to what the Holy Spirit has sealed, I am walking right away from the cross. To come close to the cross means that you come close to Him who is the way, the truth and the life.
“The old truths are to be revived, in order that the false theories that have been brought in by the enemy may be intelligently met. There can be no unity between truth and error. We can unite with those who have been led into deception only when they are converted.” Ibid.
Today, God’s people are getting confused by doctrines and theories that are coming in which contradict points that have been established firmly and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
Have you established in your mind that the gift of prophecy was manifested in the life and ministry of Ellen White? Have you compared her life and ministry with the Bible to see if it checks out? There were many supernatural manifestations in her life and ministry; and that, by itself, immediately proves that her work was either of God or of the devil—it has to be one or the other. Do not let anyone tell you, “Well she was just a good woman.” Absolutely not! She was not just a good woman. She was either of God or of the devil. To claim to be something that you are not is to break the ninth commandment and proves you to be under the control of evil spirits. She was either a prophet or she was a most wicked person.
If you believe that she did have the true gift of prophecy, then you should be fearful to accept any explanation of the Scriptures that would contradict her messages. Though it was not the only way, her messages were one of the ways that the Holy Spirit sealed these truths that were established point by point.
There is a story that is told of an infidel who made a challenge to a minister. He challenged the minister to a debate regarding the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible and the value of the gospel. The minister consented but on these terms. He said, “If we debate, I want you to bring just one person to the debate whose life has been transformed and changed by your theories of atheism. I can bring a hundred whose lives have been transformed and changed by what I teach.”
Another way that these truths were sealed is that when men of God stood up and spoke them, the Holy Spirit attested to their truthfulness by completely changing the lives of people all over the world.
These truths have been firmly established, point by point, and sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit. If we turn our back on that, friend, we are walking right away from the cross; and we are not going to have unity. We are going to have division and strife and all kinds of confusion.
One of the truths which has come under attack is the principle of a day for a year in prophecy. The second, which goes right along with it, is the doctrine of a two-apartment sanctuary in heaven, of which the one on earth was simply a type, as the apostle Paul clearly teaches in Hebrews 8 and 9. But friends, that is one of the teachings that was firmly established, point by point, and sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit. You are walking straight away from the cross when you reject the truth that has been firmly established and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
I have been amazed, as I have studied the Three Angels’ Messages, to see that right within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, every single point of the Three Angels’ Messages has been under attack. But the Three Angels’ Messages are messages that have been firmly established, point by point, and sealed by the power of the Holy Spirit. If you reject any point, you are walking right away from the cross. You are never going to have unity; you are going to have confusion, strife, trouble, and division.
The sanctuary doctrine has been under attack; and that includes, of course, the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment. In this doctrine, the necessity of sanctification is clearly revealed. As a result, people do not like the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment. To meet their interests, they have to invent a new kind of theology that changes the historic Adventist understanding of the human nature of Christ, changes the doctrine of the Atonement, and erases the meaning of all of the feasts and the ceremonial system. This setting aside of the sanctuary truth, of course, destroys the First Angel’s Message.
Do not be confused by what others may say when it contradicts historic Adventist truths. With an interlinear Bible or a Strong’s Concordance, you can show that the book of Hebrews teaches exactly what Adventists have taught for over 100 years; and there is no problem in the book of Hebrews. The problem is with the shallowness of human comprehension.
We also find utter confusion today in regard to who and what is Babylon. This is absolutely astounding. If you do not understand who Babylon is, of course you cannot preach the Second Angel’s Message.
This Apostasy has been Prophesied
The very things that we see happening around us today were prophesied over 100 years ago. “The days are fast approaching when there will be great perplexity and confusion. Satan, clothed in angel robes, will deceive, if possible, the very elect. There will be gods many and lords many.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 80.
If the Holy Spirit is in control of our hearts and minds, we are going to have unity and harmony that is not a veneer, but a unity that comes from the heart. It will be a unity of spirit.
The gospel always goes right to the heart of the matter and solves the real problem, and we have to go to the heart of the problem to get a real solution that will last.
Oh, friend, are you willing to stay close to the cross so that you can receive God’s love into your heart, be obedient to all of His commandments, and be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that you can be “quickened” and the Holy Spirit be in charge of your life? When this happens in a family, there is going to be unity and harmony in the family. And when this happens in a church, there is going to be unity and harmony in the church; but first it has to happen in each of our hearts.