The servant of the Lord has told us that we must have unity or in the storm that is coming, we will be destroyed. In two previous articles, we have studied two of the prerequisites for unity—repentance and confession. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
One of the reasons Historic Adventists all over the world are in trouble now is that there has been sin in spiritual Israel. But as soon as someone stands up and says: “To have a clear conscience, I have to speak out on this,” that person gets into trouble.
If we are going to be in harmony as a people, we are going to have to quit covering things up and repent of all sin. If there is lying or stealing or other forms of dishonesty, this must be repented of, confessed and forsaken. Departure from Bible truth must also be repented of, confessed and forsaken. When the early Adventists first learned the truth of the Sabbath, though they had been breaking it ignorantly, they were very sad. They not only repented and confessed it, but they started to live differently. Whenever anyone becomes involved in error, when it is pointed out, he must go to the Lord, repent, confess and forsake it. If others have been hurt by their teaching, they need to go to them and confess and tell them that they have forsaken their erroneous belief. If the offending person does not confess it, he must be separated from God’s professed people.
In this article we are going to consider the remaining two points that must be met in order for there to be unity between Historic Adventists today and the Seventh-day Adventist world church structure.
The third requirement is that there must be a reformation in the life of the person. See Desire of Ages, 555. After confession, as far as is in their power, they must make restitution. Ezekiel 33:15 says, “If the wicked…gives back what he has stolen…he shall surely live.” Full restitution is then the third step.
The fourth thing that must be done to prepare the way for unity is that there must be an agreement to stand together on the pillars of the truth that the Lord has given us. Unless all four of these things take place, there can never again be unity and harmony.
“If your faith in the Word of God is strengthened; if you will fully accept the truths that have called us out of the world and made us a people denominated by the Lord as His peculiar treasure; if you will unite with your brethren in standing by the old landmarks, then there will be unity.” Manuscript Releases, vol.11, 319 [Emphasis supplied] Notice that it is these truths that have brought about unity.
In Adventism in the last days, it is only those who stand by the landmarks, on the platform of truth, who can be truly united. The people who reject the Spirit of Prophecy and preach new theology are all confused. Though they may have an outward union, they will never have true unity.
“God is leading out a people to stand in perfect unity upon the platform of eternal truth.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, 311
“We are one in faith in the fundamental truths of God’s Word. And one object must be kept in view constantly; that is, harmony and cooperation must be maintained without compromising one principle of truth. And while constantly digging for the truth as for hidden treasure, be careful how you open new and conflicting opinions. We have a worldview message. The commandments of God and the testimonies of Jesus Christ are the burden of our work.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 79
Notice that in giving counsel in how we may have unity, she says, “Be careful how you introduce new and conflicting opinions.” We are to be united on the fundamental truths of God’s Word, and if we have new light, there are ways that the new light can be introduced to the church. In Historic Adventism, we must get back to gospel order or the devil is going to destroy us. There is a right way and a wrong way to introduce new light. We are never going to have unity if we all go off on our own ways.
Some people think that we just preach on anything that comes into our mind. That is absolutely not true. There are many things that we use great restraint in preaching or teaching because we want to move in harmony and unity with the body of God’s people. There are many scriptures that I have studied and I am very interested in understanding, but that I do not preach about. They are not the scriptures of primary importance for the world to understand right now. The messages that are critical for the world to understand at this point in time are the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation and especially the three angels’ messages.
When we find some precious new light in scripture, we should not be sending it all over the world before we have sought counsel. If you are going to an Historic Seventh-day Adventist Church, even if you are absolutely sure that what you have found is truth, until you have counseled with some other experienced brother, prayed about it and come to a unity of opinion, you should not present it publicly. Suppose that after you have presented it to the brethren, the brothers say, “Well, I just don’t know.” Then you might want to talk it over with some leaders or minister in historic Adventism.
There are many scriptures that are interesting to study which we do not have unity of opinion on right now. I can continue to enjoy studying them and, if the Lord wills, one of these days soon maybe we can have a Bible conference or two on some of these scriptures. We need to get together like they did in the Bible conferences in 1848 and kneel down, pray and study the Word and come to unity of understanding among the brethren before we introduce something, even though we may be very sure of opinion.
To have unity in Historic Adventism, we must be united on what the Bible calls “present truth.” See 2 Peter 1:12. One of the great reasons for the lack of unity in Adventism today is that some people who call themselves Seventh-day Adventists have gotten away from present truth.
“The oneness and unity of God’s truth-believing remnant people carries powerful conviction to the world that they have the truth, and are the peculiar, chosen people of God. This oneness and unity disconcerts the enemy, and he is determined that it shall not exist. The present truth, believed in the heart and exemplified in the life, makes God’s people one, and gives them a powerful influence.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 327
There are some timeless truths. Since the Fall, it has always been true that if you are going to be saved, you can only be saved through the blood of Christ’s sacrifice. But there are other truths that are present truth—truth for a certain time. There was a present truth in the time of Noah; there was a present truth in the time of Christ and the apostles; and there was present truth in Martin Luther’s time. There has been present truth in every generation of God’s people—and there is present truth today.
What is present truth today? How about the three angel’s messages? Were the three angel’s messages preached in the time of the apostle Paul? No, that prophecy was not even given yet. Were they preached in the time of Martin Luther? No, they were not. It was not present truth then. The three angel’s messages began to be preached in the 1840s. Since then, and all the way to the close of time, the three angel’s messages are present truth.
Now, to understand the three angel’s messages, there are some other truths that we could also call present truth. In the three angel’s messages in Revelation 12:14 it says, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God.” Can you be called a commandment keeper if you break one? No, you cannot because it says in James 2:10, if you keep the whole law but you break one, you are guilty of all. So, you cannot be called a commandment keeper unless you keep all of God’s commandments. Is the Sabbath part of present truth? Yes, it is.
Then you have in the fist angel’s message that the hour of God’s judgment is come. What information do you have to know to be able to say to the whole world with a loud voice that the hour of God’s judgment has come. You have got know that the judgment has already started. How do you know for sure that it has started? There is only one way that you can determine that for certain, and that is from Hebrews 8 and 9 and Daniel 8 and 9.
Daniel 8 tells you that the judgment will begin in 1844. Here you have the subject of the sanctuary. You cannot understand that the hour of God’s judgment has come without an understanding of the sanctuary. If you forsake the doctrine of the sanctuary, you have forsaken present truth. When this happens, unity is impossible. The only people who are going to be united at the end of time are the Historic Adventists who hang on to present truth. Everybody else is going to be in all kinds of confusion. They can call themselves Seventh-day Adventists or anything they choose to, but if they do not hold to present truth, there can be no unity. When you start forsaking present truth, you lose the unity. That is why we have confusion now, and we will never, never have unity again until we come back and stand on present truth.
“Unity is the strength of the church. Satan knows this, and he employs his whole force to bring in dissension. He desires to see a lack of harmony among the members of the church of God. Greater attention should be given to the subject of unity. What is the recipe for the cure of the leprosy of strife and dissension? [She gives the simplest of answers.] Obedience to the commandments of God.” Selected Messages, book 2, 159
If we would all make the decision that when God commands something, that would be the end of all controversy, we would have unity.
Ellen White says that historically God sent a message to Christendom that would have brought unity, if they had accepted it.
“The first angel’s message of Revelation 14, announcing the hour of God’s judgment and calling upon men to fear and worship Him, was designed to separate the professed people of God from the corrupting influences of the world and to arouse them to see their true condition of worldliness and backsliding. In this message [preached in the United States by William Miller and his cohorts], God has sent to the church a warning, which, had it been accepted, would have corrected the evils that were shutting them away from Him. Had they received the message from heaven, humbling their hearts before the Lord and seeking in sincerity a preparation to stand in His presence, the Spirit and power of God would have been manifested among them. The church would again have reached that blessed state of unity, faith, and love which existed in apostolic days, when the believers ‘were of one heart and one of soul,’ and ‘spake the Word of God with boldness,’ when ‘the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.’ Acts 4:32,31; 2:47.” The Great Controversy, 379
Do you realize what this statement is saying? If the first angel’s message had been accepted, it would have brought the church back to the condition it was in the days of the apostles. Do you suppose that this message could still bring unity in the 1990s?
The people who are destroying the unity in the Seventh-day Adventist Church are not the Historic Adventists. It is the people who are trying to change our doctrines! It is the people who no longer believe in the two apartment sanctuary, who no longer believe in 1844, who no longer believe that you can overcome sin and who no longer know who Babylon is. If you do not understand these things, how can you even call yourself a Seventh-day Adventist?
Satan has a goal for Seventh-day Adventists, and I leave it with you to decide whether or not he has had any success.
“This is intended as a warning to the people of God living in the last days. If they follow after righteousness and true holiness, if they keep all the commandments of God, Satan and his agents will not be permitted to overcome them. All the opposition of their bitterest foes will prove powerless to destroy or uproot the vine of God’s own planting, Satan understands what Balaam learned by sad experience, that there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither divination against Israel, while iniquity is not cherished among them; therefore his power and influence will ever be employed to mar their unity and defile the purity of their characters. His snares are laid in a thousand ways to weaken their power for good.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 599
If we will cling to the truth and live the truth, if we will follow after righteousness and true holiness, there is no way that the devil can overcome us. The devil understands this much better than we do. There is no divination against Israel, there is no enchantment against Jacob, there is no way that he can overcome the people of God, and he knows this. That is why he is laying traps and snares to try to get us to trip up into sin so that our unity will be marred and our characters defiled so he can destroy us. This is one of the reasons why at Historic Adventist meetings there is so much emphasis on how to overcome sin. When God’s people understand how to overcome sin and they are standing on the truth and are united, the devil knows that there is no way that he can overcome us. He is trying to divide us up, split us up into all kinds of factions, get us arguing or quarreling over anything imaginable so that our unity can be broken up and our characters defiled so that he can destroy us.
There are many people today who are separationists. I want to share with you who the real separationists are. I want you to see how important this is.
Speaking of those who forsake the historic Adventist teaching on the sanctuary, Ellen White said, “But on no other platform than that which the Lord has laid can we unite with them. Never could we combine on any other basis. The foundation has been laid and all who will take their stand upon this platform, uniting wholeheartedly with the Lord’s people, will be made welcome with rejoicing. But we cannot unite with those who choose to take their stand upon another foundation.” Manuscript Releases vol. 760, 5
“There is to be a decided change in those who have kept up their warfare against the principles delivered to us by the Lord. Truth is truth, and righteousness is righteousness. To those who have separated in principle from true believers, choosing their own course, the word is spoken, ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ There is to be unity, but it is to be on the right basis.” Ibid.
Now, who are the real separationists? She calls them the people who have separated in principle from the true believers—the people who have forsaken the true doctrines, the present truth, the fundamental doctrines, the platform which God has made for His people. In Early Writings, the three angels’ messages are called a firm platform and the angel pronounced a curse upon anyone who tried to move a pin or a block in those messages. The people who leave the truth—the three angels’ messages, the sanctuary and the commandments of God and the ability to overcome sin through the grace of Christ—are the separationists.
It is time to think straight, friends. You need to recognize that it is those people who have separated from the truth who are in the business of labeling those who have stayed with the truth, separationists, when just the opposite of what they say is true.
There are some times and situations in which God has forbidden us to attempt to unify with others. I would like to mention three situations.
- We are not to unify with those who are departing from the faith.
- We are not to unify on wrong practices.
- We are not to attempt to unify on a platform of error.
Are we willing to have unity with the entire world church? Absolutely, but there are four requirements—repentance, confession, restitution and a willingness to stand together on the truth, the truth that God has given to Seventh-day Adventists.
Ellen White has told us that this unity cannot occur in a moment. It takes prayer, time, and discussion together. When unity comes, however, it will give more force to our evangelistic preaching than anything else we can do. When we come into perfect unity, we are going to see miracles, the sick healed among us and many wonderful things. Is it worth working toward?
Like a great sweeping tidal wave, there are people around the world who are recognizing that we must get together and work together as Historic Adventists to finish the work—we must have perfect unity. The will of God demands it. The sacrifice of Jesus demands it. For the work to be finished, it must happen. If it is your desire that there be perfect unity in God’s people, let the prayer of your heart be, “Lord, any change that there has to be in my mind, my body, my spirit or anything about my life, show me what it is and give me the grace to do it.”