Back in 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 the 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 addressed this problem when she wrote, “As a people, we have preached the law until we are as dry as the hills of Gilboa that hath neither dew nor rain.” Review and Herald, March 11, 1890.
To help the servant of the Lord meet this legalistic 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, and once again Satan has infiltrated God’s true church with the celebration of New Theology. This theology proclaims a false justification by faith by teaching that all that is needed for salvation is love and unity. No one need be concerned about the law, since Christ kept it for us, they say. As a result millions among us 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.
We need to have our eyes opened that through an experience of the new birth, born of repentance, confession, forgiveness and obedience, we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness and thus fit for heaven.
False Justification Enters the SDA Church
How is this false teaching of justification by faith affecting the Seventh-day Adventist Church? From the Remnant Herald, No. 43, November 1998, I gleaned the following.
In 1975, Bill Hibbles began an interdenominational Pentecostal-styled church near Chicago focused on church growth. Today about seventeen thousand adults attend his weekend seeker services and six thousand attend the midweek believers services. By all human standards the Willow Creek Church is a great success. This church has formed the Willow Creek Association (WCA), and presently over two thousand two hundred churches have joined. At least fifty-six of those are Seventh-day Adventist churches. They are listed on the WCA’s web site.
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. They 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.
An article in the Adventist Review, December 18, 1997, promotes this association by stating:
- Adventists should give Willow Creek a fair shake.
- Adventists should continue gleaning from Willow Creek.
- Gleaning from Willow Creek’s message does not mean forfeiting our message.
How can we be so blind? “Adventists, both pastors and lay people constantly make up one of the largest groups at Willow Creek’s half dozen annual seminars.” Ibid.
God’s flock worldwide must be warned concerning this phenomenon within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Work of the Omega
Elder Robert Pierson, 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. In the October 1977, Ministry Magazine he wrote, “It would be well for every Seventh-day Adventist leader to prayerfully study the several 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 in Selected Messages, Book 1,193–205, and on your knees consider the startling facts faithfully chronicled by the Lord’s servant. Now note well what Ellen White, in this reference, warns could mark the work of the omega.
- The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church would be disregarded. (Ibid., 204.)
- The truth will be criticized, scorned and derided. (Ibid., 201.)
- It will make of no effect the truth of heavenly origin. (Ibid., 204.)
- The religion would be changed. (Ibid.)
- The Sabbath, of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. (Ibid., 205.)
- The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the past fifty years would be accounted as an error. (Ibid., 204.)
- There would be a supposition that a great reformation was about 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. (Ibid.)
- A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. (Ibid.)
- The new philosophy would ‘rob the people of God and their experience, giving them instead a false science.’ (Ibid.)
- 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.” Ibid.
- Books of a new order would be written. (Ibid.)
- A new organization would be established. (Ibid.)
- Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of this new movement.” Ibid., 205.
Now go back over these 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.” Ibid., 197.
I believe we are in the omega crisis now. This is none other than the work of spiritualism, which has invaded God’s true church. In Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 405, we read, “Spiritualism is now changing its form, veiling some of its most 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.” Jesus gives a test by which false teachers may be distinguished from the true. (See Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 145.)
Vatican II and Celebration
The Vatican II Papal document stated that it is their objective, through the celebration movement, to bring the whole of humanity into one fold (meaning the Roman Catholic Church). According to this document, the objectives of the second Vatican Council are:
- Let there be a custom application [use] of the word celebration.
- Let there be a custom of revival in celebration worship in which the people will be involved directly with both verbal and physical participation.
- Let there be a custom of celebration worship dialog between the pastor and the people.
- Let us use as much variety in worship as is possible.
- Let music, while they worship there, be the most effective.
- Lessen, [narrow] the difference, between the Eucharist and the Lord’s Supper. Teach people that the Eucharist and the Lord’s Supper is the foundation of Christian unity, friendship and celebration of the Lord’s day [Sunday].
- Do your best to encourage observation of Sunday, including rest from work.
As a result of these Vatican objectives, celebration began in the Catholic Church and soon the Pentecostal charismatic churches followed. The old method of Jesuit infiltration of Protestant churches was suspended by the new infiltration of Catholic philosophy called love and unity. The second Vatican Council added its blessing by no longer calling the Protestant Churches heretics but brethren separated from the Mother Church.
The Vatican II Council then began to emphasize the Holy Spirit by holding revivals among its nuns and priests. The result was startling. Tens of thousands of priests and nuns began speaking in tongues. Now both the Catholic and the Protestant had something in common. They both spoke in tongues in the celebration movement.
John Janiuk confronts the celebration movement with the Three Angels’ Message in his book, The Great Controversy Endgame, No. 2. He clearly differentiates between what is true and what is false justification by faith.
“The Three Angels’ Message is God’s call to leave Babylon. It is the message of separation.…The celebration movement calls for unity of all churches.
“The Three Angels’ Message is a warning message, but the celebration movement is the message of peace and security, love and unity. Sin and the law of God are treated lightly.
“The foundation of the Three Angels’ Message is the message of the everlasting gospel (true justification by faith).…The foundation of the celebration movement is a false gospel (a false justification)—salvation in sin—‘you will be sinning until the Second Coming of Christ.’ It is a gospel without power. If you sin before and after accepting the gospel, where is the power of the gospel? The truth is, if you accept a false gospel you have no power from God.…Satan demonstrated his power with great effect in Eden, and we are still affected by that same power today. Today he says that we cannot keep God’s commandments. If you believe his lies then you will not obey God’s law.
“The Bible says: ‘…here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ The pen of Inspiration says: ‘Christ left His heavenly home, and came to this world to show that only by being connected with divinity can man keep the law of God. In itself, humanity is tainted and corrupt, but Christ brought moral power to man, and those who live in communion with Him overcome, as He overcame.” Signs of the Times, December 10, 1896.
“‘He who has not sufficient faith in Christ to believe that He can keep him from sinning, has not the faith that will give him an entrance into the kingdom of God.” Review and Herald, March 10, 1904. (See also Acts of the Apostles, 523.)
A Call to Righteousness
“The Three Angels’ Messages are calling the whole of humanity to ‘Fear [reverence] God’ in complete surrender to God and His Word, and also His will, the Ten moral Commandments and the gospel. But the celebration movement depends on theology which ‘Is interpreted in a manner that is attractive to the unrenewed hearts, 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.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 405.
“The Three Angels’ Messages call to ‘Give glory to Him.’ Mrs. White says: ‘To give glory to God is to reveal His character in our own, and thus make Him known. And in whatever way we make known the Father or the Son, we glorify God.” SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 979. But the celebration movement does not preach this.
“The Three Angels’ Messages proclaim ‘For the hour of His judgment is come.’ This is the pre-advent, Investigative Judgment, which began in the year 1844. The celebration movement does not warn the people about this. However, if the subject is mentioned they say: ‘Do not be afraid of the judgment, if you believe in Jesus, don’t worry about it.’
‘Worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’ God tells us to keep holy the Sabbath day as a special day in memorial of His creation and redemption. But the purpose, goal, and aim of the celebration movement according to Vatican II is to observe Sunday and recognize the Pope as the Vicar of Jesus Christ and submit to him.
Babylon is Fallen, Come Out of Her
“The Second Angel’s Message says: ‘Babylon is fallen.’ Why? Because Babylon rejected the Biblical truths. Revelation 18:2 describes the last day condition of Babylon. The fallen churches [Catholic and Protestant] attacked the Seventh-day Adventist church with the celebration movement. The Bible says ‘a habitation of devils.’ Of course, God still has, in these fallen churches, some individuals who are the children of God. Our message, especially in the time of the loud cry will be ‘Come out of her, my people’ Revelation 18:4.
“The Third Angel’s Message is the most fearful of any before. This message was proclaimed to mortal man, as a warning against receiving the mark of the beast (observance of Sunday as the Sabbath). According to the document of Vatican Synod II the purpose of the celebration movement is that the whole world shall observe Sunday and submit to the Papacy. It does not matter to them what else you believe so long as you submit to those two things. Do you see where this movement is leading us?
“The Three Angels’ Messages are summarized in Revelation 14:12 and describe what people will be like after they accept these messages. ‘Here is the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ Here is presented the main characteristics and qualities of God’s people:
- The patience of the saints
- They keep the commandments of God
- They have the faith of Jesus
“But the celebration movement says: ‘We cannot keep the commandments of God.’ ‘Men who are under the control of Satan repeat these accusations against God, in asserting that men cannot keep the law of God.’ Signs of the Times January 16, 1896. (We must) ‘not only accept Christ as Saviour of the world, but as a personal Saviour from sin and sinning. Faith is nothing if it falls short of this.’ Signs of the Times August 26, 1889.” The Great Controversy Endgame, No. 2.
Music, Love and Praise!
The heart of celebration worship is found in its music, Contemporary Christian or Christian rock. Their message is love and praise for the most part. It does not call to repentance, appeal for sacrifice, or for prayer for sinners. The Second Coming is almost absent. Bible doctrines are not found.
Pioneering Seventh-day Adventists sang many hymns containing its message. They did so because they believed that God had called them to proclaim a message even in their singing. The current Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal has a topical index of hymns. Nearly every major doctrine is represented there: Salvation through faith in Christ, the Second Coming, the Sabbath, the judgment, the sleep of the dead, stewardship and even the sanctuary along with still others. God intended that the great hymns of faith should be used to teach His end-time message.
For example, No. 412 in the Hymnal illustrates this point. “Reconciled by His death for my sin, Justified by His life pure and clean, Sanctified by obeying His word, Glorified when returneth my Lord.” What a wonderful balance, a presentation of the gospel that is given in such songs. Preachers and laity would both be less likely to stray from the path of truth if they paid attention to the message of such songs.
“The great fear is that these contemporary songs are replacing the message songs entirely and are doing their part to produce a generation devoid of doctrinal certainty. A church’s music…is an essential part of its self-identity, its witnessing package, and even its survival kit.” Adventists’ Affirm, 1998, 8–21.
The ex-choir director of heaven uses his celebration music to charm people, to bind them to himself and to control them. He uses emotionally oriented religion that depends on feeling rather than on the word of God.
The Greatest Challenge Facing SDAs
Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, while at Andrews University, wrote in his doctorate thesis entitled, Receiving the Word, 38, the following, “The greatest challenge facing the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not come from the independent right, who operate from without, but rather from the liberal left, who are working from within. These moderate liberals seek to redefine historic Adventist beliefs according to their new views of the Bible. Indeed, as some of the Adventist scholars have begun using the historical-critical approaches of liberal theology, the church has been challenged in its distinctive truths, such as the prophetic significance of 1844, the necessity of Christ’s substitutionary atonement for sinners, and the self-understanding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as God’s end-time remnant. At the same time the church has been thrown into turmoil over abortion, polygamy, divorce and remarriage and women’s ordination and homosexuality.”
Can you imagine an Adventist professor of religion who wrote in the Spectrum of May 1993 on page 46 an article entitled, “Apocryphy, Who Needs It?” In the beginning of this article there is a thought-provoking question. “How seriously should Adventists take apocalyptic books like Daniel, Revelation and The Great Controversy?” This theologian answers, “Perhaps we should replace them with the gospel of love, acceptance and forgiveness.” This is the central message of the celebration movement and its worship services.
Professor Steve Daily, who taught at La Sierra University and was also their chaplain, is one of the most liberal among us today. He suggests some practical things Adventists can do to contribute to this goal. Among these are:
- We can cease to think or speak of ourselves as the remnant church and see ourselves as a part of God’s larger remnant.
- We can take advantage of the special opportunities we have to attend other churches, since they meet on a different day, to befriend them and learn from them and share with them and affirm the good things we see in them.
- Each of us can make a special effort to maintain active membership in at least one non-Adventist community service organization to combat our natural tendency to isolation.
- We can involve ourselves in inter-denominational Bible study and a charismatic intercessory prayer group to broaden our spiritual perspectives.
(Excerpted from Steve Daily’s book, Adventists for a New Generation, 315, 316.)
Such advice is absolutely contrary to the Spirit of Prophecy. Is this the time for Seventh-day Adventists to seek such new light on worship, church growth and learning from others? (See Early Writings, 124, 125.)
Let us never forget that God will finish His work in His church and then He will finish His work in the world. But if we, as a church, reject true justification by faith and continue to proclaim a false justification, then true revival and reformation will not take place. We will not receive the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain and we will never finish God’s work in this world. We will lose our identity, our credibility and the purpose for our existence.
What a tragedy this would be! May God give us wisdom, understanding, knowledge and power to fulfill this for His honor and glory and also for the salvation of the people of the world. Then we will go home to praise Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. If you have discovered that the church you attend has become a celebration church in doctrine, in music and worship, may God grant you heavenly wisdom to know what you can do to help restore a worship service in which God can bless. It may be that the Lord will lead you to a nearby church with a historic Seventh-day Adventist pastor. Praise God, He still has many. And if need be, God may lead you to a nearby home church or have you begin a home church in which it can be truly said, “Here is the patience of the saints. Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”