Have you ever heard the term “corporate accountability?” In the secular world, corporate accountability is defined as the “legal obligation of a company to do the right thing.” The Role of Corporate Accountability in Sustainable Development, An NGO report to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, 1997, < https://www.un.org/en/> (cited June 5, 2002).
Applying this definition to the religious world, for anyone in a church group there rests a great responsibility to ensure that their church and their fellow members do those things that are right, that are in accordance with the word of God. When error comes into their ranks, when sin exists, they are responsible for addressing it and for having it corrected and removed. (Corporate accountability should not be confused with “corporate repentance” which is being promoted by some groups.)
“Those who have too little courage to reprove wrong, or who through indolence or lack of interest make no earnest effort to purify the family or the church of God, are held accountable for the evil that may result from their neglect of duty. We are just as responsible for evils that we might have checked in others by exercise of parental or pastoral authority as if the acts had been our own.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 578.
“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Isaiah 58:1.
“Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all [ye of] Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord.” Jeremiah 7:2.
“For thou [art] not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, [but] to the house of Israel.” Ezekiel 3:5.
Messages of reproof and warning do not only come to those who do not know the truth, but to those who should already know—but for whatever reason, have backslidden.
“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” Ezekiel 3:17, 18.
Do you want to be held responsible for not telling someone, not warning someone of impending destruction and punishment? Is this what you want laid up to your charge?
“Those who in mind and heart are turning away from the Lord’s special work for this time, those who do not cooperate with Him in establishing souls in the faith by leading them to heed His words of warning, are doing the work of the enemy of Christ.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 70.
“When the Lord gives a man a message, He gives with it something whereby His people may know that the message is from Him. God does not ask His people to believe everyone who comes to them with a message.
“The Lord sends warnings to His people, not to destroy them, but to correct their errors. . . .
“We are living in perilous times. From the light I have, I know that Satan is trying to bring in that which will make people think they have a wonderful work to do. But when God gives a man a message, that man, by his meekness and lowliness, will give evidence that God is working through him. God lives and reigns, and He desires us to walk before Him in humility. He does not wish this man N to force himself before a congregation. . . .
“We are not going to be interrupted in meeting after meeting by those who claim they have a message to deliver. He who presses himself forward into a place where he is not wanted is not doing the work of God. We are to work like soldiers in an army. We are not to step out of the ranks, and begin to work on our own account.—Manuscript 30, 1901.” Ibid., 71.
Sometimes we, as Adventists, forget the meaning of the Sabbath day. Perhaps we have been Adventists for so many years, maybe growing up in the church, and we have seen other members—the deacon, the Sabbath School teacher, the school teacher, or the head elder, and even the pastor—doing things on Sabbath, and we never even questioned. We thought, “Surely if _____ is doing it, then it must be all right for me to do it also.” But that is not always a wise conclusion.
Study to Know the Truth
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15.
To study for ourselves, sometimes seems to be asking a whole lot out of us. Is it important for us to know—or to find out for ourselves?
“We have much to answer for, considering our superior advantages and knowing that we must be judged by the light and privileges the Lord has granted us. We cannot plead that we are less favored with light than that people who have been for ages an astonishment and a reproach to the world. We cannot expect judgment to be given in our favor because, like Capernaum, we have been exalted to heaven. The Lord has wrought for His commandment-keeping people. The light that has reflected to us from heaven was not granted to Sodom and Gomorrah, or they might have remained unto this day; and if the mighty works and knowledge and grace which have been manifested to this people had been made known to the nations in darkness, we know not how far in advance of this people they might now be. We cannot determine how much more tolerable it would be for them in the day of judgment than for those who have had the clear light of truth shining upon them as you have had, but through some inexplainable cause have turned from the holy commandment delivered to them. We can only point to your case with sorrow, as a beacon of warning. ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.’ The Lord seeth not as man seeth. His thoughts and ways are not what blind, selfish men believe they are or wish them to be. The Lord looks on the heart and works in and with His creatures to will and to do whatever He commands or requires of them, unless they reject His counsel and refuse to be obedient to His commandments.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 624, 625.
The Sabbath must be proclaimed more fully, but before this can happen, we must thoroughly understand what we are proclaiming! We must live a life that proclaims the truth we are preaching.
“I saw that God had children who do not see and keep the Sabbath. They have not rejected the light upon it. And at the commencement of the time of trouble, we were filled with the Holy Ghost as we went forth and proclaimed the Sabbath more fully. . . . This enraged the churches and nominal Adventists, . . . as they could not refute the Sabbath truth. And at this time God’s chosen all saw clearly that we had the truth, and they came out and endured the persecution with us. I saw the sword, famine, pestilence, and great confusion in the land. The wicked thought that we had brought the judgments upon them, and they rose up and took counsel to rid the earth of us, thinking that then the evil would be stayed.” Early Writings, 33.
Just because we keep the Sabbath day, go to church, do all the right things, and know all the prophecies, does not guarantee us a place in God’s kingdom.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21–23.
Not All Will be Sealed
“Not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed. There are many even among those who teach the truth to others who will not receive the seal of God in their foreheads. They had the light of truth, they knew their Master’s will, they understood every point of our faith, but they had not corresponding works. These who were so familiar with prophecy and the treasures of divine wisdom, should have acted their faith. They should have commanded their households after them, that by a well-ordered family they might present to the world the influence of the truth upon the human heart.
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul-temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost.
“We are too easily satisfied with our attainments. We feel rich and increased with goods, and know not that we are ‘wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.’ Revelation 3:17. Now is the time to heed the admonition of the True Witness: ‘I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.’ Verse 18.” Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, 189.
This is why it is so important for us to individually know the truths for ourselves and to not rely on someone else’s interpretation of the scriptures.
“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46–49.
We must dig deeply of the things that are salvation issues to us as a people. Let us not be content with superficial things or surface answers. We must search until we thoroughly understand a subject, while in the meantime we share it with others. By doing this we will find out that we will learn more and gain a blessing if it is shared with other God-fearing people. The Sabbath has to become very precious to us, so precious that we would not bring any dishonor to God by breaking His, and not our, Sabbath.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8.
Why do you think that God told us, not just the Israelites, to remember? Could it be that even we Adventists could forget to keep it holy?
Testimonies, vol. 6, 353, under the heading, “Preparation for the Sabbath,” tells us, “At the very beginning of the fourth commandment the Lord said: ‘Remember.’ He knew that amid the multitude of cares and perplexities man would be tempted to excuse himself from meeting the full requirement of the law, or would forget its sacred importance. Therefore He said: ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.’ Exodus 20:8.”
“Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: For [in] six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:9–11.
“Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and [that] the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:12–15.
“But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” You see, it is not our Sabbath to do as we please. If we keep His Sabbaths, we will not allow anyone else within our gates to pollute it either, whether it be family or a friend visiting over the weekend.
“And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27, 28.
“Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I [am] the Lord that sanctify them. . . . Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my Sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols. . . . And hallow my Sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I [am] the Lord your God. Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which [if] a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my Sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness. Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my Sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers’ idols.” Ezekiel 20:12, 16, 20, 21, 24.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:1–3.
Sanctified, that is an interesting word. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines it as dedicated. Now let us look at the word sanctify. “Sanctify: (from the Latin word sanctus, holy + facere, to make) 1. to make holy; a. to make free from sin; purify; b. to set apart as holy; consecrate. 2. to give sanction to; make sacred, or inviolable.” Inviolable is defined as: “1. not to be violated; not to be profaned or injured; sacred: as, an inviolable promise. 2. that cannot be violated; indestructible.”
The Sabbath is holy, free from sin, set apart—not to be violated or profaned, and it is indestructible. That is pretty strong stuff! It is good enough for me; what about you?
Mrs. White writes, “Great blessings are enfolded in the observance of the Sabbath, and God desires that the Sabbath day shall be to us a day of joy. . . . Our heavenly Father desires through the observance of the Sabbath to preserve among men a knowledge of Himself. He desires that the Sabbath shall direct our minds to Him as the true and living God, and that through knowing Him we may have life and peace.
“When the Lord delivered His people Israel from Egypt and committed to them His law, He taught them that by the observance of the Sabbath they were to be distinguished from idolaters. It was this that made the distinction between those who acknowledge the sovereignty of God and those who refuse to accept Him as their Creator and King.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 349.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it [is] a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that [ye] may know that I [am] the Lord that doth sanctify you.” Exodus 31:12, 13.
Notice something; God said “throughout your generations”—not just one, singular, but many, plural.
“Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it [is] holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth [any] work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.” Exodus 31:14.
I am thankful that the Lord is merciful and full of compassion, that we are not put to death immediately if we break His Sabbath, as were the Israelites. But we are given the sentence of death—eternally separated from God—because sin is the transgression of God’s law.
“Six days may work be done; but in the seventh [is] the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth [any] work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, [for] a perpetual covenant.” Exodus 31:15, 16.
Now here is another interesting word, perpetual: “1. lasting forever or for an indefinitely (or having no exact limits) long time. 2. continuing indefinitely without interruption, constant.” Webster’s New World Dictionary
“It [is] a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever [for eternity, for always, endless, always, at all times]: for [in] six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” Exodus 31:17, 18.
God wrote this with His own finger! He did not leave it for someone else to write.
A Sabbath Blessing
“As the Sabbath was the sign that distinguished Israel when they came out of Egypt to enter the earthly Canaan, so it is the sign that now distinguishes God’s people as they come out from the world to enter the heavenly rest. The Sabbath is a sign of the relationship existing between God and His people, a sign that they honor His law. It distinguishes between His loyal subjects and transgressors.
“The Sabbath given to the world as the sign of God as the Creator is also the sign of Him as the Sanctifier. The power that created all things is the power that re-creates the soul in His own likeness. To those who keep holy the Sabbath day it is the sign of sanctification. True sanctification is harmony with God, oneness with Him in character. It is received through obedience to those principles that are the transcript of His character. And the Sabbath is the sign of obedience. He who from the heart obeys the fourth commandment will obey the whole law. He is sanctified through obedience.
“To us as to Israel the Sabbath is given ‘for a perpetual covenant.’ To those who reverence His holy day the Sabbath is a sign that God recognizes them as His chosen people. It is a pledge that He will fulfill to them His covenant. Every soul who accepts the sign of God’s government places himself under the divine, everlasting covenant. He fastens himself to the golden chain of obedience, every link of which is a promise.
“The fourth commandment alone of all the ten contains the seal of the great Lawgiver, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Those who obey this commandment take upon themselves His name, and all the blessings it involves are theirs.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 350.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:22–27.
[All emphasis supplied.]