How Do You Know if You Are Listening to Error?

We know that the world is rapidly growing worse, and that the apostasy in the church is also rapidly growing worse. These conditions in the world and in the church set up a context of urgency. We have again come to the place where the children of Israel were when the Lord sent a special message to Amos. “Thus He showed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline with a plumbline in His hand. And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of My people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more.” Amos 7:7, 8.

A plumb line is a string with a weight attached and it is used by builders to make things straight and true vertically. It is an instrument of testing, measuring and judging. This text in Amos pictures the Lord standing on a wall which was made by a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand.

What is the meaning of this wall? When God called His people out of Egypt, He had sought to teach them obedience by many kinds of miracles, and providential deliverances and even some severe punishments. But the record shows that the majority did what the majority always seem to do. They apostatized.

The Lord put a wall of separation between them and the nations around about them. That wall was made up of the truth of God and it protected them from the things that were evil outside. The stones or building blocks of that wall were: no human sacrifices, no temple prostitution, no paying to the sun god, no burning of children in fire as offerings to the sun god.

However, the people did not like the wall, and they tried to tear it down. “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves.” Judges 3:7. In spite of the Red Sea crossing, in spite of the Jordan miracle, in spite of the falling of the walls of Jericho, in spite of the manna, no matter what God did, the majority always turned their back on Him.

This sad observation is repeated five times in the book of Judges, which covers a history of a few hundred years. A remnant stayed true and faithful, but the majority always turned their back on God. Look at Judges 3:12. “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord.” Then Judges 6:1. “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord.” A little further on to Judges 10:6. “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord,” . .. again and again and again.

But in Amos 7:8, the Lord said, “I will not again pass by them any more.” He had punished them and they had repented and He forgave again and again and again and again. Finally He said, “No more.” It is over.

There is an epitaph in 2 Chronicles 36:14–16 which says: “Moreover all the chief of the priests [apostasy usually comes from the top down], and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which He had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” At last there could be no remedy! Jerusalem was destroyed by fire a little later.

The Case of Modern Israel

What can be said about modern Israel then? Again God called a people out of Egypt—out of the darkness of apostasy. He worked many remarkable miracles of deliverance, and He gave some punishments at times. Incredible things were done under the leading of the Lord. But once again the people have demonstrated the principle that the majority will always turn away from God. A remnant will stand true, but the majority will always turn away from God. We cannot escape this unpleasant fact. Are God’s professed people today honoring the prophets that He sends or are they misusing the prophets and speaking against them? I think you can answer that.

For modern day Israel, God also made a wall. This wall was straight and true, there were no false stones in it: no false Sabbath, no false state of the dead, no false infant baptism, no false applications of prophecy. But people are not satisfied with that wall and they are trying to tear it down. They are not taking the last warning message to the world, saying, “Repent and turn away from your sins.” Instead, the popular message is, “Never mind, you do not need to stop sinning. The Lord is too merciful to allow you to be lost.”

All Seventh-day Adventists used to say, “The hour of God’s judgment is come.” But now many are saying, “There is no longer a need for a judgment. The judgment was all done on the cross.” Scripture in no way supports this teaching, which has become so popular among professed Adventists. We will examine several scriptures that readily prove that point. “Because He hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained.” Acts 17:31.

“And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come.” Acts 24:25.

“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” Romans 2:16. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:10.

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing in His kingdom.” 2 Timothy 4:1.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27.

“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.” Hebrews 10:26, 27.

“Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4.

“So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged.” James 2:12.

“Who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick [the living]and the dead.” 1 Peter 4:5. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment.” 2 Peter 2:9.

“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude 6.

Here are twelve verses in the New Testament which all talk about a judgment that is to come. How then can anyone delude or deceive a Seventh-day Adventist by telling them that the judgment was all finished on the cross? That is a problem and it worries me.

How to Know Error

Some time ago, I presented a sermon in which I read Spirit of Prophecy statements about the danger of listening to error. A lady came to me afterward and said, “I am not sure I would know when I am listening to error.” This made me really sad! Any Seventh-day Adventist who is spending much time with his or her Bible should not have that problem. Let me give you a few examples of errors you are likely to hear, and if you do, I warn you to flee for your life.

On a trip to Texas, Betty and I visited Southwestern Adventist University. We went to see the new men’s dormitory and there we picked up a student newspaper. In that paper there was an article written by a fourth year theology student who, in a few short months would be out ministering to churches. He was the assistant to the chaplain. The headline reads, “IT IS OK TO SIN.” In the opening paragraph he uses a filthy four-letter word. He then goes on to describe his concern in these words: “I read an article in the last “Southwesterner” [this student newspaper] and I perceived or felt its understanding to be that we could not live in sin and still be children of God. This is exactly what I have spent my last four years of ministry fighting against.” [Emphasis supplied.]

The point he wants to prove in this article is that one can live in sin and still be a child of God. Further down there is a line like this, “We are saved even before we are born. [This is reflecting Calvinistic theology.] The whole world was saved at the cross. Jesus not only saved us before we were born, but He has forgiven us of all unrighteousness. His sacrifice was not only for professed Christians, but also for all who ever were or ever will be. He forgave every sin we will ever do at the cross.”

That is a better deal than Tetzel offered in Luther’s time when you had to drop some money in the chest before the soul flew up to heavenly rest. Here there is no charge whatsoever. This deluded young man continued: “He forgave all of your sins that you ever will do before you were even born. If Christ had wanted us to be sinless, He would not have had to die on the cross.” This is an absolute contradiction of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. The Calvinistic wolf has its teeth in the throat of the Bride of Christ.

My next example is worse. So much worse that I cannot print a single line from this article which was published in a student newspaper at Andrews University. This article was written by a professor who uses his entire article to strongly recommend licentious practices to the students of that University, with written details. His article is a manual of how to practice licentious habits. Those habits that the Spirit of God has clearly told us are defiling, debasing and degrading he calls beautiful and recommends that everyone should be practicing them. I do not see how a man with a licentious mind, like this, could be allowed to influence the students on the campus of an Adventist College.

Men want salvation in sin, but it does not work that way. God’s wall is going to stand. God said to Amos, “Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of My people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more.” Amos 7:8. That means that God’s judgment is going to be done once and for all.

My Appeal to Adventist Ministers

In the book The Great Controversy, 654, 655, we have an interesting line. “The minister who has sacrificed truth to gain the favor of men now discerns the character and influence of his teachings. It is apparent that the omniscient eye was following him as he stood in the desk, as he walked the streets, as he mingled with men in the various scenes of life. Every emotion of the soul, every line written, every word uttered, every act that led men to rest in a refuge of falsehood,has been scattering seed; and now, in the wretched, lost souls around him, he beholds the harvest.”

These religious leaders are leading people to perdition while pretending to guide them to the gates of Paradise. Yet we know that this sad state has been predicted in exact detail. “The clergy will put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light lest it should shine upon their flocks. By every means at their command, they will endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions.” The Great Controversy, 607.

They will not let a historic Seventh-day Adventist speak at their pulpit, but they will let a Catholic priest. “They try by every means to suppress the discussion of these vital questions.” Read these words of warning. “The people see that they have been deluded. They accuse one another of having led them to destruction; but all unite in heaping their bitterest condemnation upon the ministers.” The Great Controversy, 655.

I want to appeal to my brethren in the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who I love very dearly. Please, hear my words! Those of you who are prostituting the pulpits of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, using improperly that which was ordained for a holy use, prostituting it to the devil’s use, please, hear my words! You who are prostituting the classrooms of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, defiling the minds of young people with falsehood and doctrines, listen! You who are prostituting the publications of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and you who are even prostituting the Conference Offices of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, using them to support falsehood and error, hear my words!

You may be saying like the people of Israel, “The Lord will not do good, neither will He do evil,” so let me do what I want to do. (Zephaniah 1:12.) But God is keeping record and everything is going into His computer and, when God pushes the right button, it is all going to come right back on the screen and you are going to be looking at yourself, telling people that they do not need to stop sinning. You are going to be looking at yourself telling people that the judgment was all done on the cross, while you stand in judgment! May God have mercy! I implore you, my brethren, I plead with you, my brethren, be done with it. Finish it off. Recognize that you cannot win.

There is an old black folk sermon that says, “Young man, young man, your arm is too short to fight with God.” I appeal to any minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who ever reads these words; you cannot fight with God and win.

More Errors to Flee From

To those of you who may ask the question, “How do I know if I am listening to error?” here are some suggestions. Do you hear “It is O.K. to sin”? Scream and run for your life. If you are not hearing any sermons on overcoming, if you are not hearing any sermons on the Sanctuary, but you are hearing the statement made that it was all done on the cross, flee from the wrath to come.

Are you hearing that obedience is legalism? So many people are being accused of legalism because they want to obey the law. What is legalism? Let’s read Paul’s comparison. “For it is written that Abraham had two sons [Isaac and Ishmael], the one by a bondmaid [Hagar], the other by a freewoman [Sarah]. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory; for these are the two covenants.” Galatians 4:22–24.

There you have a very clear Biblical definition of legalism. We must ask the question delicately and chastely. Was the physical action of Abraham that resulted in the birth of Isaac any different from the physical action of Abraham that resulted in the birth of Ishmael? No, the action was the same. Legalism has nothing to do with actions. The actions can be identical, legalistic or not legalistic.

The difference is the attitude of the heart. In the case of Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, Abraham was saying, “I know how to do this. The laws of the country provide for this. It has all been worked out. I do not need the Lord; I can do this by myself.” That is legalism. In the other case Abraham was saying, “This will not work unless the power of the Lord comes into the situation. There is no way this can be done except by the power of the Lord.” That is not legalism.

Fix this fact in your mind. Legalism is not an action. Legalism is an attitude of the heart. So if you say, “I believe I should obey the commandments of the Lord,” and someone tells you, “Oh, you are a legalist,” you just say, “How long have you been on the throne of God? Can anybody other than God read the heart and see what attitude is there?”

Be warned, if you hear many sermons on justification and very few on sanctification; if they tell you from the pulpit that Christ came in the unfallen nature of man; if they tell you that they believe in original sin. By the way, they probably will not use the word “original sin.” They will probably say something like the definition given in The Review and Herald, January 25, 1990, in an article written by a Seventh-day Adventist theologian and professor in one of our colleges. He describes it very succinctly like this. “If a baby dies a few hours or days after birth, it is still subject to the second death, the condemnation death even though it has never broken any commandment.”

According to the Calvinistic theology that this man is following, that little baby is going to hell and he will burn and burn and burn, and never stop burning! That is where they are taking us. May God have mercy!

If your minister is talking a lot about the Eucharist instead of the Lord’s Supper, watch out. If you hear the line that behavior has nothing to do with salvation, beware. Where did that come from? A Calvinistic theologian wrote, “It is an error to think that there is anything that must be done to inherit eternal life. When we bring the message of Scripture, we must be careful not to create the impression that human repentance, faith and obedience contribute in even the smallest way to divine forgiveness.

“We are not saved by anything we do, not even by our decision to believe. As paradoxical as it may seem, imperfect faith is an evidence of our union with Christ. . . We must get rid of all thought about our actions.” Neal Punt, Unconditional Good News, 135–139. How sick can the human mind become? There does not seem to be any limit. And today Adventists are following in the road of Calvinism.

So what can you do? If you are sneered at and asked if you think you are perfect, just take it and look for a city of refuge. Go to a historic campmeeting and look around, get acquainted. You may find someone from your own area that you did not know about who is feeling the same way you are and having the same problem you are having. Historic Adventists have to find each other, and get to know each other, and unite with each other in a way that will bring the harmony and the unity that God calls for without sacrificing any principle of truth. There is a power that will come with unity that cannot be obtained in any other way. We are claiming that promise. May God bless you and strengthen you to stand for the truth.