This is such an important article that you will probably wish to read it several times in order to understand every detail. May I suggest that you encourage other church members to also read this article.
The greatest hope of the Christian today is centered in the coming final climax when Jesus returns to gather His saints and take them to their eternal home. Jesus has promised, “…I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John
Today we are surrounded by scores of signs that Jesus is coming soon. But one of the signs that He foretold we seem to have ignored. It is the one sign that tells us exactly when the Second Coming is to take place. In Matthew 24:14 Christ states, “…this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
This truth is emphasized by the Three Angels of Revelation 14:6 in which it is proclaimed that the everlasting gospel is to be preached to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
Christ’s Soon Return Not Possible
Here I must level with you. The fulfillment of a soon-coming Saviour is absolutely impossible without divine intervention. For at the present rate of progress, to reach every nation, tongue and people with the everlasting gospel will take thousands of years.
In the Review and Herald of December 17, 1987, we were told that 80% of the world’s population today has no knowledge of Christianity. At present, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is witnessing, by its presence, to only fifteen percent of the people of the world. Over 2.4 billion people living on this planet have never been reached by any church with the gospel.
Now let me clarify that. I have traveled across India by train and car. In this densely populated country there are approximately one-half million villages. Of these, 475,000 villages have never received any knowledge of Christianity by any denomination. The alarming truth is that we have done so little.
“Our penetration in the Indian languages is, likewise, scant. India has sixteen languages but more than 1,600 dialects. The Bible is available in only 74 of these languages and dialects. The Oriental Watchman Publishing House publishes Adventist literature in only 21 languages. And so we have no publications in hundreds of Indian languages and dialects. The language problem is further compounded by an average literacy rate of 36%.” North Pacific Gleaner, November 11, 1989.
And what about China—over one billion people, and other unentered lands? Yet we find this precious promise. “For He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.” Romans 9:28. So comes the question, “Just how can this be accomplished?”
Will you pray, with me, that God will help us discover the answer to this perplexing situation? We must acknowledge that our loving Father created us by His hands. He made us with an inquisitive mind, unable to foresee the future as He sees it. But we read in His Word that He will do nothing without revealing it to His prophets. We must ask for heavenly guidance as we search for an answer in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy, so we may grasp, by faith, the answer of how the Three Angels’ Messages can be preached quickly to every nation and people and tongue so Jesus may come.
The Eleventh Hour Workers
Let us look in the Bible, to the parable of the eleventh-hour workers. (See Matthew 20:1-9.) In this parable we will note that the kingdom of heaven is compared to a vineyard owner who hires laborers at different times of the day. In fact, he hired five separate groups of men to work in his vineyard. At the end of the day these men were all given the same wages, irrespective of how long they had worked.
The basic lesson being taught is that salvation is by faith. The redeemed will receive eternal life, not according to their works, but according to the generosity and the grace of God. (See Christ’s Object Lessons, 394–404.) However, take note that their works were not ignored, for only those who worked were paid. Furthermore, this vineyard owner was in great need to quickly gather in his harvest, for no employer pays a full day’s wage for one hour of labor.
As you read the Scripture, you will realize that the one-hour workers, at the close of the day, were indispensable for the need to quickly finish the task. Now let us look at this parable.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.”
Ellen White, as an agent of the Holy Spirit, gives us an understanding insight as to how God plans to quickly finish the work with the help of these eleventh-hour workers. Scattered through her writings, you will find that she made seven clarifying statements concerning this parable.
We will examine each statement carefully and discover that this parable is actually a prophecy of what is soon to take place. It will change your thinking of what we have been taught that only the remnant will finish the work. As we study these quotations, you will be enlightened and encouraged, but, I also must add, be prepared for some very painful information.
The Storm Within
Now let us discuss the bad news first. As the coming storm of persecutions burst upon us by the beast and its image from without the church, Ellen White also describes an internal storm, which will face the faithful from within the church. These quotations which, when read together, reveal that apostasy will become so bad within the church that only a small remnant will be left to participate in giving the Loud Cry. But God is prepared.
“Already the judgments of God are abroad in the land, as seen in storms, in floods, in tempests, in earthquakes, in peril by land and by sea. The great I AM is speaking to those who make void His law. When God’s wrath is poured out upon the earth, who will then be able to stand? Now is the time for God’s people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in the defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason…. All who will gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their defections, and loyalty from their treason, will triumph with the Third Angel’s Message.” Sons and Daughters of God, 201. Praise the Lord for such assurance.
How sad to learn, from this quotation, that few within the church will remain faithful; the majority will forsake the truth. Those that are left will need courage as they witness such deflection. How painful as these thoughts may be, yet this is but the beginning.
“We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world…. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greater obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan’s devices.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 122.
Oh, what a terrible picture of what is to come! “As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the Third Angel’s Message, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren.” The Great Controversy, 608.
Promoting Sunday Sacredness
Now, as the result of this, let us see what takes place within our church. “Men in responsible positions will not only ignore and despise the Sabbath themselves, but from the sacred desk, will urge upon the people the observance of the first day of the week, pleading tradition and custom in behalf of this man–made institution.” Signs Of The Times, January 17, 1884.
Beloved, this sounds unbelievable! But do not forget, it is true, for the tares within the remnant church are not going to change. “The forms of religion will be continued by a people from whom the Spirit of God has been finally withdrawn; and the satanic zeal with which the prince of evil will inspire them for the accomplishment of his malignant designs, will bear the semblance of zeal for God.” The Great Controversy, 615.
But take courage! The remaining wheat, though few in number, will be filled with the Latter Rain and will give the Loud Cry. The results will be amazing! “Servants of God, endowed with power from on high with their faces lighted up, and shining with holy consecration, went forth to proclaim the message from heaven. Souls that were scattered all through the religious bodies answered to the call, and the precious were hurried out of the doomed churches, as Lot was hurried out of Sodom before her destruction.” Early Writings, 278, 279.
It is at this time that we will discover that God has a plan by which He will quickly finish the work, for the honest souls who have answered the call and who have come out of Babylon will join the remnant and become the eleventh-hour workers, making it possible to quickly give the everlasting gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. Then we will see “…the Lord can do more in one hour than we can do in a whole lifetime, and when He sees that His people are fully consecrated, let me tell you, a great work will be done in a short time, and the message of truth is to be carried into the dark places of the earth, where it has never been proclaimed.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 347, 348.
Who are the Eleventh Hour Workers?
Now we are ready to explore these seven quotations describing the eleventh-hour workers. The first quotation tells us who the eleventh-hour workers are. “The laborers for the Master were His official servants, upon whom He laid the weightiest responsibilities to do His work…. Some were found waiting for work at the eleventh hour, only one hour before the close of the working–day.” Review and Herald, June 28, 1898. So these are going to be His official servants.
In the second quotation we find where these workers are now located. “There are diligent students of the word of prophecy in all parts of the world, who are obtaining light and still greater light from searching the Scriptures. This is true of all nations, of all tribes, and of all peoples. These will come from the grossest error, and will take the place of those who have had opportunities and privileges and have not prized them. These have worked out their own salvation with fear and trembling, lest they should become deficient in doing the ways and will of God, while those who have had great light, through the perversity of their own natural heart, turned away from Christ because they were displeased with His requirements. But God will not be left without witnesses. The one-hour laborers will be brought in at the eleventh hour, and will consecrate their ability and all their entrusted means to advance the work. These will receive the reward for their faithfulness, because they are true to principle, and shun not their duty to declare the whole counsel of God. When those who have had abundance of light throw off the restraint which the Word of God imposes, and make void His law, others will come in to fill their places and take their crown.” Review and Herald, June 15, 1897.
They are Not Seventh-day Adventists
Now let us analyze these two paragraphs.
- The eleventh hour people are scattered all over the world. They are native citizens of every country.
- They are not Seventh-day Adventists. How do we know this? Because the eleventh hour people are in gross doctrinal error. Adventists are not in doctrinal error. Ellen White specifically defines gross error as belief in Sunday sacredness, and in the immortality of the soul. (See The Great Controversy, 588.)
- Her use of the expression “great light” and “abundance of light” is confined to Seventh-day Adventists.
- She says that these (Seventh-day Adventists) would be the ones to throw off the restraints because they were displeased with God’s requirements.
- The eleventh-hour workers will take the place of the early workers who have not been true to principle for they had turned away from Christ. And here we find her most astounding prediction that these Seventh-day Adventists will make void the law of God.
The eleventh-hour people will take the crowns of those who failed to walk in the light.
Now we come to the third quotation, which tells us from where these eleventh-hour workers will come. “At the eleventh hour the Lord will gather a company out of the world to serve Him. There will be a converted ministry. Those who have had privileges and opportunities to become intelligent in regard to the truth, and yet who continue to counterwork the work God would have accomplished, will be purged out, for God accepts the service of no man whose interest is divided. He accepts the whole heart, or none.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, 320.
As we meditate upon this third quotation, we discover it is not referring to some reform movement that comes out of the body of Adventism, but to a people who come out of the world, for the problem of the early workers was that they lacked conversion. Worse than that, they have counterworked God’s will. Their interests are divided. They will be purged out. The eleventh-hour workers, who are coming, come out of the world and will take their place. What painful words are these.
Who Will Finish the Work?
Now the fourth quotation reveals how the eleventh-hour worker will finish the job. “At the eleventh hour the Lord will call into His service many faithful workers. Self-sacrificing men and women will step into the places made vacant by apostasy and death. To young men and young women, as well as to those who are older, God will give power from above. With converted minds, converted hands, converted feet, and converted tongues, their lips touched with a living coal from the divine altar, they will go forth into the Master’s service, moving steadily onward and upward, carrying the work forward to completion.” The Youth’s Instructor, February 13, 1902.
Did you notice that the word “converted” was used three times? This is the problem of our church today. Only faithful workers will be called to the work. The eleventh-hour people carry the work to completion.
The fifth quotation describes the speed and the special power bestowed upon the eleventh-hour worker. “But I speak not my own words when I say that God’s Spirit will pass by those who have had their day of test and opportunity, but who have not distinguished the voice of God or appreciated the movings of His Spirit. Then thousands in the eleventh hour will see and acknowledge the truth.… These conversions to truth will be made with a rapidity that will surprise the church, and God’s name alone will be glorified.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 16.
A previous quote said the early workers within the church were purged. Quotation five said they were passed by. Why? Because they failed to understand their day of opportunity. The early workers did not know God’s voice when they heard it. They did not appreciate the work of the Holy Spirit. They did not glorify God. Thousands of people will see and acknowledge the truth at the eleventh hour. The work will be finished so fast that the church will be surprised.
“A great work is to be done in a short time.” Review and Herald, December 18, 1888. “In Ezekiel’s vision… The bright light going among the living creatures with the swiftness of lightning represents the speed with which this work will finally go forward to completion.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 754. What a promise!
The sixth quotation reveals that these eleventh-hour workers will enter the vineyard and make possible a finished work. It says, “There are many souls to come out of the ranks of the world, out of the churches—even the Catholic Church—whose zeal will far exceed that of those who have stood in rank and file to proclaim the truth heretofore. For this reason the eleventh hour laborers will receive their penny. These will see the battle coming and will give the trumpet a certain sound. [Praise God!] When the crisis is upon us, when the season of calamity shall come, they will come to the front, gird themselves with the whole armor of God, and exalt His law, adhere to the faith of Jesus, and maintain the cause of religious liberty which reformers defended with toil and for which they sacrificed their lives.…” Selected Messages, Book 3, 386, 387.
Keeping the Commandments of God
Now let us take note. These eleventh-hour people come out of the world and out of other churches, even the Catholic Church. They are not a movement coming out of Adventism. The people who will finish God’s work are still in the ranks of the world, that is, in other churches. Nothing could be more plainly stated. And, consider carefully, will these eleventh-hour workers observe the Sabbath? The answer is “Yes, beyond any doubt.”
How do we know this? Because they will “exalt His law.” How could they possibly exalt His law and not keep the Sabbath? How could they have the faith of Jesus and not understand the conditional immortality and other connected and essential truths? They are the eleventh-hour people.
The sixth quotation ties the parable beyond any doubt to a future time. We have not yet entered a season of calamity as a church. As yet there has been no overwhelming religious liberty crisis. I believe this will take place when the mark of the beast is enforced. We will be faced with a crisis of persecution and difficulty such as we have never dreamed. But praise the Lord! God has a plan to finish the work with the eleventh-hour workers.
The seventh and last quotation reveals the saddest information of all, for it tells us that the early workers within the church will find that their lamps will go out. “Many souls who have come from other denominational churches and, at the eleventh hour, will obey all the truth because they have not set themselves in array against heaven’s light but lived up to all the light they had; while those who have had great light, large privileges and opportunities and have failed to live in the light and walk in the light will drop out by the way. Their light will shine less and less until their lamps will go out for the want of the oil of the grace in their vessels with their lamps.” Letter 36a, 1890.
Remember, “As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the Third Angel’s Message,… abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy popular side….They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren.” The Great Controversy, 608.
Opposing Heaven’s Light
These quotations are painful for us to read, but they are not difficult to understand. With slight variation they each tell the same basic story. For want of grace the lamps of the early workers go out. Why? Because they have opposed heaven’s light. “The majority forsake us.” That means more than half. Half may be a conservative estimate. Ellen White says a large class currently in our pews will unite with the world and become our bitterest enemies. They will deceive and mislead souls.
Finally, it is clear beyond any misunderstanding that, in the last hour of time, God will call a new team of workers into His vineyard. People from other churches will pick up the torch of truth and finish the work. We have always felt that no one else could take our place. Ancient Israel had the same false security—and how wrong they were.
Mrs. White has made plain that God’s people will go through, but shaken and sifted. There is no question that truth will triumph. God has expanded this parable in her writings, not to sadden us, but to give us courage for the future. God has His people everywhere. They will come from unexpected places. Praise the Lord! Thus unfamiliar names and unfamiliar faces may largely lead the work of God in the eleventh hour.
We may try to avoid the unpleasant character of these predictions. We might look for a fulfillment sometime in the past, but the internal evidence in these quotations rules out any past fulfillment. These eleventh-hour events are obviously all still future. These are final hour events, eleventh-hour events, to take place just before our Lord returns.
Humble and Uneducated
“Those who have trusted to intellect, genius, or talent will not then stand at the head of rank and file. They did not keep pace with the light. Those who have proved themselves unfaithful will not then be entrusted with the flock. In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged. 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. There are precious ones now hidden who have not bowed the knee to Baal. They have not had the light which has been shining in a concentrated blaze upon you. But it may be under a rough and uninviting exterior the pure brightness of a genuine Christian character will be revealed. In the daytime we look toward heaven but do not see the stars. They are there, fixed in the firmament, but the eye cannot distinguish them. In the night we behold their genuine luster.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 80, 81.
On examining this comment it is clear that education and talent are not the ultimate qualifications of the eleventh-hour workers, for “few great men will be engaged.” What God needs is a total dependence on Him. We are told that the faithful servants are not yet disclosed to view. They do not have our light, but they have a genuine Christian character.
When everything turns dark, we will see them. Beloved, here is a description of the coming massive interchange. “In vision I saw two armies in terrible conflict. One army was led by banners bearing the world’s insignia; the other was led by the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel. Standard after standard was left to trail in the dust as company after company from the Lord’s army joined the foe and tribe after tribe from the ranks of the enemy united with the commandment-keeping people of God.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 41.
Thank God for such heavenly insight. “As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks…. Those who have had great light and precious privileges, but have not improved them, will, under one pretext or another, go out from us.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 400.
So we have been given the nature of this final conflict to come. It is a time of mortal conflict, when company after company will leave us. Such an exodus has not yet taken place. We have not yet seen the day that tribe after tribe, from the ranks of the enemy, have joined us. It is true that, from time to time, individual ministers from other faiths have joined us, but the picture given here is one of an enormous interchange, not an individual or a few people here and there.
Filling the Ranks
The scenes appear to be simultaneous. While the companies leave us, whole tribes will join us.. It would be rational to believe that these tribes are the eleventh-hour laborers. Soon we may expect a manifestation of the great power of God, for Ellen White says, “The Lord can do more in one hour than we can do in a lifetime, and when He sees that His people are fully consecrated, let me tell you, a great work will be done in a short time, and the message of truth is to be carried into the dark places of the earth, where it has never been proclaimed.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 347, 348.
As you have read these inspired quotations, I trust you have felt the divine impression that God is only waiting for an adequate number of fully consecrated people who will cooperate with Him in finishing the work. Will you be ready? I hope so, for God will soon put His hand to His final work. He will call faithful, humble people wherever He can find them. He will finish His work using only consecrated people. This work will be accomplished against incredible resistance. God will do His work quickly, and He will do it to the eternal glory of Jesus Christ.
Beloved, it is now time for the faithful remnant to prepare for this coming crisis in total consecration to God and His message. The servant of the Lord has told us in The Great Controversy, 464, “Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children.”
We, as God’s end-time people, have now come to the time of this last great revival and reformation which is to take place among the remaining wheat. This will prepare the faithful few for the great outpouring of the Latter Rain which will enable the sealed saints to call out of Babylon the eleventh-hour workers, who will then join with us and together, with converted minds, converted hands, converted feet and converted tongues, with lips touched with a living coal from the divine altar, carry the work forward to completion.
Praise God! It will happen! And Jesus will come for His saints. Will you not pray and prepare for this final revival of primitive godliness, which has not been seen since apostolic times, that we, with the eleventh-hour workers, may quickly gather in the harvest that Jesus may come?