In These days, we hear shocking news about prisoner abuses, same-sex marriages, and homosexuals being ordained as ministers, to say nothing of the many other immoral acts that are going on in our society. What a sad mess! We are experiencing war, terrorism, and political fraud. It all adds up to one thing—this world is becoming an unfit place in which to live!
But praise God! He knew all these things would take place, and He has made provision for His faithful children. He knew how mixed up this world would be, that it would be difficult to tell truth from error. It is recorded by inspiration that, “As we near the end of time, falsehood will be so mingled with truth, that only those who have the guidance of the Holy Spirit will be able to distinguish truth from error. We need to make every effort to keep the way of the Lord. We must in no case turn from His guidance to put our trust in man.” God’s Amazing Grace, 201. And then, we read in Maranatha, 156,
“So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.”
The Greatest Event
We are living in an unfortunate age, but at the same time, we are highly privileged. Just think, if we are faithful, we will have the privilege of seeing Jesus come in the clouds of heaven, which will be the greatest event that has ever happened in the universe. No other generation has had such a privileged blessing. The closest thing to it was Christ’s first coming, but even when His people were able to see the character of God demonstrated in His daily life, they did not recognize Him as their God.
As we draw closer to the greatest event that will ever take place in the universe, astounding things are happening all around us. Human beings are being separated into two groups: those who are following the lovely Jesus and those who are following the hateful Satan. As each group follows its leader, the people become more and more like that leader.
God has given us the power of choice. But once we start on the path of our choosing and proceed farther and farther along with the leader of our choice, we will soon act out all our beliefs and intents. It will be easy to recognize the fruit that is being produced.
Hopefully, in this article, as we review some of the events that are taking place among our brethren, it will bring us to our knees to ask for wisdom to help us in always choosing the right leader. These events are not recorded for us to criticize or to make fun of, but to alert us as to the signs of the times that tell us of Jesus’ soon coming.
The distinguishing characteristics of each group are being acted out in reality. The wonderful thing is that we have the privilege of choosing whom we will serve. The Bible says, in Joshua 24:15, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” We are living in the time when we can choose, but the day is coming when our characters will be fixed and the choosing time will be over. We will live or die from the choices we have made.
What Is to Come
Before we begin looking at a few of the events that are taking place among our brethren in various locations at home and abroad, I think it would be beneficial for us to go over some of the texts in the Bible that may help us to understand what is really going to take place in the near future.
In Ezekiel 34:12 we read, “As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep [that are] scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” Then, in Jeremiah 23:2, we read, “Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.” And Isaiah 18:7 says, “In that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled, and from a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden under foot, whose land the rivers have spoiled, to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion.”
This is only a sampling of the many texts found in Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and in the Minor Prophets that mention a scattered and oppressed people. It would be profitable to make a study of the Lord’s Second Coming to see who will be His people and from where He will find His subjects who will make up His kingdom. We need to know whom the Lord is coming to redeem.
Scattered and Peeled
As the Lord gathers a scattered flock and people who have been peeled, where do you suppose He will find such people? Do you suppose they will be sitting on padded pews in a plush church building, or might it be that they will have been forced out of the church, becoming scattered and peeled?
There are several statements in the Spirit of Prophecy concerning the situation that now exists. Here is just one of them: “We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan’s devices.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 122.
We have been repeatedly saddened by the number of faithful Seventh-day Adventist people being forced out of the churches and disfellowshipped because they firmly stood for principles that are founded on the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy. At first, there was only one here and one there, and we encouraged each one to remain faithful to their conscience. Today, it has become quite prevalent. We still say, “Stand fast for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.”
Now we have heard of one whole church being disbanded and the members being disfellowshipped. We have also learned of even one whole conference being disbanded. I ask myself the question, Who is on the Lord’s side—the ones on the inside or the ones on the outside?
I am well aware that there are offshoots and that every wind of doctrine is blowing. I hear the oft repeated statement, “Stay with the ship; it is going through.” However, I also know of the statement that says that not one pin of the first, second, and third angel’s message is to be moved. “Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance. The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.” Early Writings, 258, 259.
I do have a question, though. Which ship is going through? Is it one with worm-eaten planks? “Men may have excellent gifts, good ability, splendid qualifications; but one defect, one secret sin indulged, will prove to the character what the worm-eaten plank does to the ship—utter disaster and ruin!” Testimonies, vol. 4, 90.
I think of the oft quoted statement that Ellen White wrote, which is recorded in the book Upward Look, 315: “God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments.” May I ask, Who are the people who are keeping the commandments—not just talking about them, but practicing them in their homes and in their churches and in their businesses?
Recently, we have learned of more than one instance where the structured Seventh-day Adventist Church has taken it upon themselves to destroy church buildings. In one place, they employed a mob to club down the windows and destroy the roof of a church in which some independent Seventh-day Adventist people were worshiping. In another location, people entered the church building, knocked holes in its walls, and even took a jackhammer and tried to destroy the floor. I ask the question, Which leader do you suppose people are following who do such things as destroying churches?
Not only are they destroying churches, but they also are attempting to destroy the reputations of the people who attend these churches. It is strange; they will do many questionable things to keep peace with the Catholic Church, but they will tear down a church where people are keeping the Law of God.
There are many more very shocking instances that could be cited; however, if you throw a straw into the river, you can tell which way the water is flowing just as well as if you throw a log into the river. So I choose to only throw in a straw, so to speak. I would rather not list all of the atrocities that are being done.
With members being disfellow-shipped and churches being disbanded, I hear it said that we are in the time of the shaking. I truly agree with that, for I read, “Satan will work his miracles to deceive; he will set up his power as supreme. The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths.” Upward Look, 356.
Will History Repeat?
Let us look at a few Spirit of Prophecy quotes that may help us as we think about what is happening. Is the church going to be purified as it was in the days of Jesus and the apostles? The Jewish church did fall, and Jerusalem was destroyed, but Christ’s church went right on through. It was the people who had been disfellowshipped who became the true church. Could it happen again?
“Write in a book the things which thou hast seen and heard, and let it go to all people; for the time is at hand when past history will be repeated.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 113.
“How did men treat Christ when He came? . . . ‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not’ (John 1:11). Thus it is today. This history is being repeated, and will be repeated again and again before the Lord shall come in the clouds of heaven. The deceptions of Satan will be upon those who dwell on the earth. . . .
“ ‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God. . . .’ After fitting up this world as the dwelling place of man, God looked upon it, and rejoiced in it, pronouncing it very good. So He will accept of and rejoice in the reformation wrought out by those who, receiving Christ as their Saviour, have obtained power to become the sons of God. . . .” That I May Know Him, 54.
“We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Many of the prophecies are about to be fulfilled in quick succession. Every element of power is about to be set to work. Past history will be repeated; old controversies will arouse to new life, and peril will beset God’s people on every side. Intensity is taking possession of the human family. It is permeating everything upon the earth.” Review and Herald, August 31, 1897.
“There is a spirit of desperation, of war and bloodshed, and that spirit will increase until the very close of time. Just as soon as the people of God are sealed in their foreheads,—it is not any seal or mark that can be seen, but a settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they cannot be moved,—just as soon as God’s people are sealed and prepared for the shaking, it will come. Indeed, it has begun already; the judgments of God are now upon the land, to give us warning, that we may know what is coming.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 249, 250.
“In history and prophecy the Word of God portrays the long continued conflict between truth and error. That conflict is yet in progress. Those things which have been, will be repeated. Old controversies will be revived, and new theories will be continually arising. But God’s people, who in their belief and fulfillment of prophecy have acted a part in the proclamation of the first, second, and third angel’s messages, know where they stand. They have an experience that is more precious than fine gold. They are to stand firm as a rock, holding the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 109.
Out or In
May I ask the question, Are people being shaken out of the church, or are they being shaken into the church?
When Jesus was here on earth, He healed a blind man. And when the Pharisees learned of this healing and of his acceptance of Jesus, the Pharisees cast him out of the temple. Afterwards, when Jesus saw the man again, Jesus spoke to him, and the man worshiped Jesus. Who was really cast out?
Ruth Grosboll is an employee of Steps to Life. A retired, registered nurse, she worked for many years with her husband in the mission field. She may be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.