Editorial — The Passive Generation

There is a time to be passive: “When self ceases to wrestle for the supremacy, and the heart is worked by the Holy Spirit, the soul lies perfectly passive; and then the image of God is mirrored upon the heart.” Sons and Daughters, 142.

But while we are to be passive under the remolding and fashioning of the character by the hand of God, we cannot be saved if our characters are only passive: “A passive piety will not answer for this time; let the passiveness be manifested where it is needed, in patience, kindness, and forbearance. But we must bear a decided message of warning to the world. The Prince of Peace thus proclaimed His work, ‘I came not to send peace on earth, but a sword.’ Evil must be assailed; falsehood and error must be made to appear in their true character; sin must be denounced; and the testimony of every believer in the truth must be as one. All your little differences which arouse the combative spirit among brethren, are devices of Satan to divert minds from the great and fearful issue before us.” General Conference Bulletin, February 6, 1893.

One of the great dangers of our time is passivity. In 1964, it made national news when 38 people saw a person being murdered in a large American city and not one of them did anything significant to help the victim. Many people were shocked. But people are much more passive than in 1964. The most glaring departures from the faith that Adventists have espoused for over 100 years are scarcely even noticed by many. “The church is asleep.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 159. Upon those who are spiritually asleep the end of all things will come as a snare, as an overwhelming surprise. (Matthew 25; 1 Thessalonians 5.) This will happen also to many Adventists: “Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation; therefore they could not receive the refreshing that all must have to fit them to live in the sight of a holy God. Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building. But there will be no time then to do it and no Mediator to plead their cause before the Father. Before this time the awfully solemn declaration has gone forth, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” I saw that none could share the “refreshing” unless they obtain the victory over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action.” Early Writings, 71.

“When Jesus ceases to plead for man, the cases of all are forever decided. This is the time of reckoning with His servants. To those who have neglected the preparation of purity and holiness, which fits them to be waiting ones to welcome their Lord, the sun sets in gloom and darkness, and rises not again. Probation closes; Christ’s intercessions cease in heaven. This time finally comes suddenly upon all, and those who have neglected to purify their souls by obeying the truth are found sleeping. They became weary of waiting and watching; they became indifferent in regard to the coming of their Master. They longed not for His appearing, and thought there was no need of such continued, persevering watching. They had been disappointed in their expectations and might be again . . .While their interest was buried up in their worldly gains, the work closed in the heavenly sanctuary, and they were unprepared.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 191.

Inspired: “But man is no passive being, to be saved in indolence. He is called upon to strain every muscle and exercise every faculty in the struggle for immortality, yet it is God that supplies the efficiency. No human being can be saved in indolence. The Lord bids us, ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate.’ ” Counsels to Teachers, 366.

“We are not to be altogether passive, thinking that there has been no task allotted to those who would win immortality. No; no; God calls upon us to do our best with the powers that He has given us,—to put to the stretch every faculty, and exercise every ability, that we may not fail of everlasting life. That man can be saved in indolence, in inactivity, is an utter impossibility.” Review and Herald, October 30, 1888.