Why do you exist? Some people think that this question has already been answered, and if you know the answer, that is fine. But this is a question that I keep getting asked, and people are very sincere when they ask it. Why does there even have to be a place like Steps to Life? Why do independent ministries exist? Why do such special ministries have to exist?
There was a time when they did not exist. They did not need to exist, and they would never have had to exist. It would be just fine with me if we still did not have to exist, but we do. Why?
Not too long ago I went to talk to a young pastor of a conference church. Now he is your average, run-of-the-mill type pastor, and I do not know what happened in his life, but some time in the past he decided that he was going to start studying and reading the writings of a woman by the name of Ellen White. Surely the Holy Spirit was speaking to his heart! He started studying these books, and he made a 180-degree turn. All of a sudden his preaching changed; everything changed! It changed too much, according to some people.
About six months ago he preached a sermon in his church in which he dealt at great length with the subject of jewelry. He had been reading the writings of Ellen White; do you think he was for or against jewelry? He was against it. He not only preached against it, but he took the position that all conference pastors took when I was a conference pastor, years ago. When I was a conference pastor ministers could not baptize someone who wore a wedding band—not to mention any other jewelry. As this pastor was preaching, he said, “We cannot go on like this; we cannot have officers in our church who are wearing the kind of adornment that is forbidden in God’s Word.” Oh, oh! There just happened to be 60 or 70 people in that church who were adorned. When they found out that they could not be an officer of the church under this pastor, they decided that he had gone too far. They went to the conference office. The conference leadership asked this pastor to resign.
A friend of mine went to him and said, “You have not done anything wrong; do not resign. Let them fire you if they are going to.” He did not resign. The conference fired him. Do you think that he should keep preaching, or do you think that he should stop preaching? If you think he should keep preaching, where do you think he should preach?
Peace and Unity
Perhaps at this point we should take a look at the subject of peace and unity. We are approached from time to time by people who say, Why can’t you make peace and have unity with the conference today? There are even some people in some independent ministries and some special ministries and self-supporting work that believe that they can get along with the conference, and they say, Since you cannot get along with the conference, something must be wrong with you.
[Editor’s Note: Pastor Grosboll and his brother Marshall, the founder of Steps to Life, were raised in a Seventh-day Adventist family. Both became ordained ministers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and worked for several years within that organization. During the time of their ministry, several large issues rocked the church. They sought counsel from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy to reaffirm the foundations of their faith and beliefs. While others seemed to be stepping off the Rock, they planted their feet more firmly on the Rock. As they endeavored to continue to proclaim the Three Angels’ Messages, they encountered more and more opposition within the organized church from those stepping off the Foundation. They were finally forced out of its membership.]
I want to review with you some of the reasons why we are not seeking unity with the conference at the present time.
Because . . .
Because they are trying to destroy us. My brother wrote a booklet in 1989 called The Cost of Revival and Reformation, in which he described what happened in Wichita, Kansas, where he was pastoring when he was driven out of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Such action is so rampant all over the world that we no longer have to prove it occurs.
We were in a situation where we were working in a conference church—sending tithe to the conference church, trying to work with them in every way that we could. But every dollar—several thousand dollars—that we had in our bank account was suddenly taken, just like that! We had absolutely no money. We were not rich. We had a television program, and we had several office staff, so we had expenses. We have not seen that money since.
If I understand my Bible correctly, thieves are not going into the Holy City. (See Exodus 20:15; Revelation 12:17; 14:12, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.) When you are willing to rob someone of every dollar that they have, you are trying to destroy them. The wrongs we experienced against us at that time have not been made right. I am not pointing a finger at anyone, and I pray for these people. I believe that when we come to the end of time there will be a lot of people in high places, who call themselves Adventists, who are going to find out that they have lost their soul, because they have not made things right. They have lied and stolen, and they have never confessed or made amends. This is serious, friends. Many will be shut out from the Holy City on this basis.
In The Great Controversy, 608, we are told: “As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, 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. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them.”
If you decide to take somebody to court and put them in jail, like was done with John Marik [lay pastor of 12-member Seventh-day Adventist Congregational Church, Kona, Hawaii], you are trying to destroy them. Ellen White wrote that it is not the true church that makes war against those who keep the commandments! (See The Signs of the Times, April 22, 1889.) Keep that uppermost in your mind. Don’t ever forget that! The devil is trying to deceive people today, but when you see a group of Christians making war on another group of Christians who are keeping the Law of God, you know that the group who is doing the persecuting is not the true church. It is that simple!
I could go into great detail about how the conferences are trying to destroy the Revival and Reformation Movement all over the world. People are being taken to court and some are put in jail, not by unbelievers but by professed brethren. Although you may know about those things, it is necessary to review them once in awhile, since people come to us and want to know why we cannot work with the conference.
Because they are trying to control us. You may ask what is wrong with that. What is wrong is that it is forbidden in the strongest language in the Spirit of Prophecy. Ellen White repeatedly states that the church of God is not to be brought under human control. One reference is, “In his ministry, Paul was often compelled to stand alone. He was specially taught of God and dared make no concessions that would involve principle. At times the burden was heavy, but Paul stood firm for the right. He realized that the church must never be brought under the control of human power. The traditions and maxims of men must not take the place of revealed truth. The advance of the gospel message must not be hindered by the prejudices and preferences of men, whatever might be their position in the church.” The Acts of the Apostles, 199, 200. [Emphasis supplied.] Never is that to be done! The Lord has forbid it.
It is interesting how people’s minds work. In Wichita, at the same time they were trying to destroy us, they were trying to control us—telling us which people we should allow on our board. My brother said, “This does not make sense. Should we put people on our board of directors who have demonstrated that they are trying to destroy us?” We did not think we should do that!
Ellen White called it the “rule or ruin system.” “Men have taken unfair advantage of those whom they supposed to be under their jurisdiction. They were determined to bring the individuals to their terms; they would rule or ruin. . . .” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 360. “The rule-or-ruin system is too often seen in our institutions. This spirit is cherished and revealed by some in responsible positions, and because of this God cannot do the work He desires to do through them. By their course of action those who reveal this spirit make manifest what they would be in heaven if entrusted with responsibility.” Ibid., 280. We have seen this system—either we are going to control you or we will ruin you—in operation! Ellen White said that God would not sanction or serve with that.
Because of a difference in theological belief. Ellen White said, “We are to unify, but not on a platform of error.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, 259. Our opponents in conferences claim that they believe in revival and reformation. They claim there is nothing they want more than that—until someone comes along to bring them that, then they try to destroy them. It has happened over and over throughout the world. In other words, their actions show what they really believe. The Jews said that they were looking for the Messiah, but when He came, they destroyed Him.
If you encourage celebration-style worship, the preaching and the teaching of the new theology, a new gospel whereby men are qualified for heaven on the basis of justification only—a teaching that the Adventist pioneers never taught or believed—then we are not dealing with just some minor difference in beliefs. We are dealing with the most fundamental teachings about how a person is saved and what the Christian life involves. We are dealing with the most radical differences about who and what the church is, and what is New Testament gospel order and discipline. There is a difference of opinion on that, and that is very basic and fundamental. We believe both in the New Testament definition of the church, and we believe in New Testament gospel order. Incidentally, New Testament gospel order excludes all hierarchical methods.
Because we cannot but protest the apostasy. This is one of the very reasons the conference thrust us out in the first place. When I was disfellowshipped, one of the four reasons given for the action was because I said the organized church was in apostasy. I had to agree with them, because I did say they were in apostasy, and they are. The apostasy is worse now than when I was disfellowshipped, a lot worse. The average Seventh-day Adventist in the structure church cannot seem to tell the difference between fault finding, back biting, and criticism and protesting on the basis of a “thus saith the Lord.”hvy5w12q
It is a frightful thing when God’s professed people cannot tell the difference between the work of God and the work of the devil. We should pity these people and pray for them, because they are the victims of false education just like the children of God were in Jesus’ day.
Because the organization is linking itself up with Rome. We cannot, with a clear conscience, do this or join or support an organization that is doing it. The evidence was hidden for a long time, but God has allowed it to be revealed, out in the open. When you take three hospitals [in the Denver, Colorado, metro area] worth millions of dollars and just give them into the control of the Catholics, you are linking yourself up with Rome. That cannot be denied. When this action was reported in a well-known church publication, it met no protest. In the Bible we are told, “be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing].” 11 Corinthians 6:17.
Because we must be free to preach our conscientious convictions. When I go out to preach, no one tells me what I have to preach. We have to be free to preach our conscientious convictions.
This is one of the major reasons that my brother, Marshall, was fired from the Kansas-Nebraska Conference. He was told, “You must not preach what you are preaching. You have to preach love and unity. You must not rock the boat so much.” And he said, “I have to preach my conscience, and if you are going to fire me for preaching my conscience, you will just have to do it.” They did.
Paul said, “For now do I please men or God? Or do I seek to please men? If yet I am a man pleaser, I am not a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10. He went on to say that the gospel that he preached did not come from men; men did not teach it to him; he got it from the Lord. The Lord is the One who gave Paul the message he preached, and he had to preach what the Lord told him. It is still true today. If you want to kill your church, institute a system where the preacher gets instructions on what to preach from some man. It takes the Holy Spirit completely out of the loop.
Because the organization is linking itself up with the ecumenical movement. We cannot be part of an organization that is linking up with that movement, which we believe is condemned in Revelation 13, 17, and 18. Ellen White wrote, “It is impossible for you to unite with those who are corrupt, and still remain pure.” Review and Herald, January 2, 1900. It is impossible!
When our brethren in Germany put out a newspaper containing the Three Angels’ Messages, they printed millions of them and started sending them all over. They put the local conference’s telephone number on it so that people could find out where there was a Sabbath-keeping church that they could attend. They sent these newspapers all over Eastern Europe. The conference took them to court, and these brethren were forced to remove the conference’s telephone number from the newspapers. Why? Because the conference is linked up with the ecumenical organization, and the Sunday-keeping churches came to them and asked them why they were allowing that paper to be distributed all over the country. They said, “Well, we can’t stop it, but we won’t allow them to use our telephone number.” So they took our brethren to court and sued them and forced them to remove the phone number. One of the brothers called and asked if they could put the phone number of Steps to Life on these papers. I told him, “Sure. I don’t know who will call us from Germany, but if you cannot find anyone there who will let you use their phone number, you can put ours on, and we will give information to anyone who calls.”
We cannot be part of the ecumenical movement. God has forbidden it, and for those people who link up with it, if they do not get loose soon, it will be too late for them.
Because the organization is practicing deception on all levels. There is much documentation that can be given on that. (See The Kulakov File. Compiled in 1993, this book contains correspondence written during the late 1970s between Russia and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.) An Adventist attorney was told that the reason the conference trademarked the name Seventh-day Adventist was because they did not want homosexuals to use the name. At that very time they were taking faithful Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific to court and trying to force them to stop using the name. That is double-talk, what we used to call a forked tongue.
Because the Spirit of Prophecy links up the idea of an image to the beast with the idea of a universal creed, which then becomes enforced. “Charles Beecher, in a sermon in the year 1846, declared that the ministry of ‘the evangelical Protestant denominations’ is ‘not only formed all the way up under a tremendous pressure of merely human fear, but they live, and move, and breathe in a state of things radically corrupt, and appealing every hour to every baser element of their nature to hush up the truth, and bow the knee to the power of apostasy. Was not this the way things went with Rome? Are we not living her life over again? And what do we see just ahead? Another general council! A world’s convention! Evangelical alliance, and universal creed!’—Sermon on ‘The Bible a Sufficient Creed,’ delivered at Fort Wayne, Indiana, February 22, 1846. When this shall be gained, then, in the effort to secure complete uniformity, it will be only a step to the resort to force.” The Great Controversy, 444.
The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has formed such a creed. How do we know? Because they come into our churches and disfellowship us, not with the Bible, but with a little red book. They open that book, The Church Manual, and if you are not in harmony with the things written in that book, you are going to be disfellowshipped. If you can be disfellowshipped on the basis of that book, it is a creed.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that all these things are separating them from God, and we cannot go back into the organized church without the risk of losing our souls. We tried to stay in it as long as we could. For years we did everything we could think of, until my brother said, “I cannot violate my conscience.” Then we were separated.
Ellen White tells us what is going to happen, and it is very encouraging. It helps us understand what is going on right now and what is going to happen in the future. “As the last conflict with Satan will be the most decisive, the most deceptive and terrible that has ever been, so also will his overthrow be the most complete.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 10, 317. I want to tell you, friends, the Three Angels’ Messages are going to triumph! We must stick with them and keep proclaiming them. We must keep telling the people. The people are judgment bound, and if we do not share this message with them, they will not be able to choose to save their souls. The Three Angels’ Messages are going to overthrow the whole government of Satan.
I want to be on the Lord’s side in this final controversy, how about you? It does not matter whether or not you are few or many. Look at Gideon’s 300; they took on an army of 120,000. (See Judges 7, 8.) Moses said, “Two of you will put to flight ten thousand.” (See Deuteronomy 32:30.) Do not worry about numbers. Actually, a few people who are fully converted are 100 times more powerful than a large group that is half converted.
Such a Time as This
Why do we exist? Oh, the Lord put us where we are for such a time as this. Are you going to be faithful to your calling? Will you say, “Lord, By your grace, if I am the only believer in this area, I am going to get the Three Angels’ Messages out, so the people have a chance to be saved.” The judgments are coming! We need to warn the people. If we are faithful, when the Three Angels’ Messages triumph, we will triumph with them.
[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]
Pastor Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life Ministry and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.