False Justification by Faith, Part I

Allow me, please, to begin with a question: Why was justification by faith rejected in 1888 at the Minneapolis Conference? The answer: During the Dark Ages, God began to prepare a people for the Second Coming of Jesus by using Martin Luther to start the great Protestant Reformation in the preaching of justification by faith. Then, in 1844, God brought forth His Advent Movement preaching the additional truth that the divine Law of God, contained in the Most Holy Place within God’s heavenly sanctuary, must be obeyed in order for us to fully receive the righteousness of Christ.

Many within the church, in their zeal to preach the law, did so in a legalistic way, forgetting that we need Jesus in our hearts before we are able to keep the law and live the Christian life. Ellen White recognized this problem when she wrote, “As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that had neither dew nor rain.” Review and Herald, March 11, 1890.

To help the servant of the Lord meet this problem, the Lord sent E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones to preach justification by faith with the law. But many within the church, especially its leaders, thought they were trying to do away with the law. This is why the Minneapolis Conference of 1888 rejected the message of justification by faith.

Today, we are facing the imminent return of Jesus. Once again Satan has infiltrated God’s true church with the “Celebration” of New Theology that proclaims a false justification by faith in teaching that all that is needed for salvation is love and unity; that no one need be concerned about the law since Christ kept it for us. As a result, millions among us today have been duped to believe the lie of Satan that the divine Law of God cannot be kept, even in the power of Almighty God; therefore, we can sin until Jesus comes. May God help us! Surely our hearts faint within us as we see many within the Seventh-day Adventist Church today blindly following Babylon’s false teachings of justification by faith alone in love and unity, without equally emphasizing obedience to the divine law.

Turning to God’s Word, we read: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 11 Corinthians 6:14-18.

In view of this clear counsel from God’s Word not to mingle with the followers of Babylon, let us examine how this false teaching of justification by faith alone is affecting the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Willow Creek

In 1975, Bill Hybels started an interdenominational Pentecostal-style church near Chicago, Illinois, focused on church growth. Today, about 17,000 adults attend his weekend services and 6,000 his mid-week services. By all human standards, the Willow Creek Church is a great success. Further, this church has formed the Willow Creek Association (WCA). Presently over 2,200 churches have joined this WCA, and at least 56 of those are Seventh-day Adventist churches; three are Seventh-day Adventist conference organizations. (See The Remnant Herald #43, Melbourne, Australia, November 1998.)

Several of these churches have adopted names that do not reflect that they are Seventh-day Adventist Churches. We must at least credit these churches with professing that which they practice, for they are surely no longer Seventh-day Adventist Churches, however the conference may regard them; thus, they do not publicly shame the name Seventh-day Adventist.

The Willow Creek Association is an organization of a fallen church of Babylon. It is a charismatic, Sunday-keeping church. These conferences and churches have now gone to a fallen church of Babylon in order to be better Seventh-day Adventists! Just as well may they go to the witch of Endor. (See 1 Samuel 28.) These conferences and churches have entered Babylon. It will be well nigh impossible to recover such denominational entities, for they have done so in the full light of truth.


Lest it be thought that these conferences and churches have incurred the displeasure of the church organization, or even that the Willow Creek Association on the Internet is unreliable in its listing of these churches, we direct your attention to the documented evidence to the contrary. An editorial by Andy Nash in the Adventist Review of December 18, 1997, made these points: 1) “Adventists should give Willow Creek a fair shake”; 2) “Adventists should continue gleaning from Willow Creek”; 3) “Gleaning from Willow Creek’s message doesn’t mean forfeiting our message.” (General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, Maryland, 6.) These subheadings contained two disgraceful admonitions and one absolute falsehood. How can we be so blind?

Just consider this statement from the same editorial listed above: “Adventists, both pastors and lay people, consistently make up one of the largest groups at Willow Creek’s half-dozen annual seminars . . . .” Ibid. This is not only so in the United States. In 1997, numerous Seventh-day Adventist pastors and laymen attended the Willow Creek Association meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden. This report is written to warn God’s flock worldwide concerning this phenomenon within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Already the fruitage of this union with Babylon is well-known to church administrators. Again quoting from the same Adventist Review article, it is admitted, “Fact: The three largest Adventist churches to divide or depart¾Oregon’s Sunnyside, Maryland’s Damascus, and Colorado’s Christ Advent Fellowship, were clearly influenced by Willow Creek’s ministry hallmarks . . . .” Ibid.


Robert H. Pierson, a former president of the General Conference, foresaw what was about to take place as a result of this New Theology of a false justification by faith when he wrote in The Ministry magazine of October 1977, “It would be well for every Seventh-day Adventist leader to prayerfully study the subtle plans of the apostate ‘angel of light’ as he seeks to thwart the triumph of the Advent movement. Get out your Bibles and the Spirit of Prophecy (especially Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 193-200). On your knees consider these startling facts faithfully chronicled by the Lord’s servant. . . .

“Note well what Ellen White warns:

“1. ‘The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church would be discarded.’¾[Selected Messages, Book 1], p. 204.

“2. ‘The truth will be criticized, scorned, and derided.’¾Ibid., p. 201.

“3. ‘It will “make of no effect the truth of heavenly origin.” ’¾Ibid., p. 204.

“4. ‘Our religion would be changed.’¾Ibid., p. 204.

“5. ‘The Sabbath, of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it.’¾Ibid., p. 205.

“6. ‘The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error.’¾Ibid., p. 204.

“7. There would be a ‘supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith.’¾Ibid.

“8. ‘A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced.’¾Ibid.

“9. The new philosophy would ‘rob the people of God of their past experience, giving them instead a false science.’¾Ibid.

“10. It would seek to weaken the preaching of the Second Advent by teaching, ‘that the scenes just before us are not of sufficient importance to be given special attention.’¾Ibid.

“11. ‘Books of a new order would be written.’¾Ibid.

“12. ‘A new organization would be established.’¾Ibid.

“13. ‘Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement.’¾Ibid., p. 205.

“Now go back over those thirteen points. Study them carefully and prayerfully. You may have to meet them sooner than you expect. The seeds of such apostasy are in the churches of Christendom all around us. Before Jesus returns, the Seventh-day Adventist Church may well be confronted with a crisis that will exceed in magnitude the Kellogg alpha apostasy. It ‘will be of a most startling nature.’ ” Robert H. Pierson, “The Omega of Apostasy,” The Ministry, vol. 50, No. 10, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D. C., October 1977, 8.

“Spiritualism is now changing its form, veiling some of its more objectionable and immoral features, and assuming a Christian guise. Formerly it denounced Christ and the Bible; now it professes to accept both. The Bible is interpreted in a manner that is attractive to the unrenewed heart, while its solemn and vital truths are made of no effect. A God of love is presented; but his justice, his denunciation of sin, the requirements of his holy law, are all kept out of sight. Pleasing, bewitching fables captivate the senses of those who do not make God’s word the foundation of their faith. Christ is as verily rejected as before; but Satan has so blinded the eyes of the people that the deception is not discerned.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 405.

To be continued . . .

For over 60 years Pastor Lawrence Nelson served as an evangelist and minister for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Of that time, he served 13 years as the director of evangelism for youth at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Upon retirement from the General Conference, he continued to pastor, but when, as a result of his stand for truth, he was denied the opportunity to continue his pastorate, he started Keep the Faith Audio Tape Ministry, recording his sermons and making them available to individuals. Before his retirement from this ministry in 2004, over 18,000 audiotapes were being sent around the world each month.