Last month we learned that when Joshua led the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, God instructed that one man from each of the 12 tribes carry a stone from the midst of the Jordan River to the shore of Canaan. There an altar was to be built as a reminder of the Lord’s leading. (See Joshua 4:1–9.)
Every one of us should know that the Lord has been leading us. We should also know that the Lord has been leading in the second advent movement and in the revival and reformation movement in Adventism. If God is leading us, He will always, without fail, be leading us in harmony with His law.
After Ellen White died, in 1915, did the Lord continue to lead the advent movement? Yes! Is He going to lead us until the end? Yes! So, we need to study and to remember—just as the children of Israel put up a memorial when they went across the Jordan River—how the Lord has led us, not just up until 1915 but up to today.
In the development, in the understanding, and in the proclamation of the three angels’ messages, the Lord has been leading. We should know how the Lord has led, and we need to recognize how the devil has attacked and what the Lord has done in return. Our faith, as Adventists, must be grounded in the Bible.
Dropping the Bombshell!
In 1979 I was invited to teach health science, food and nutrition at Southwestern Adventist College in Keene, Texas. Prior to that time I had been a pastor for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and had worked in public evangelism. My family and I arrived in Keene during the summer of 1979 for the beginning of the 1979–1980 school year. At the beginning of the school year a bombshell dropped on Adventism that has had repercussions around the world, and we are still affected by it.
In California at Pacific Union College at that time was a visiting professor from Australia by the name of Dr. Desmond Ford. He gave a lecture at an Adventist Forum, the essence of which was that, as a church, we were mistaken in regard to what happened in 1844. He also espoused that we were mistaken in regard to our concept of the investigative judgment.
Although I was not on the Theology Department staff, I obviously was mingling with people from all of the departments. As we mingled, we talked about these things, and I found out something shocking.
I learned that the faculty was divided. Some of the faculty thought that Desmond Ford was right! Some of them thought that he was dead wrong. A flurry of publications began to be issued. Some people, whom I had always thought were pillars in the Adventist Church, our theologians, were writing things like, “We cannot find anything about the investigative judgment in the Bible.”
Our Doctrines Still Stand
I was amazed! I can find things about the investigative judgment in the Bible! For example: “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of days was seated; his garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before him. A thousand thousands ministered to him. Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. [That is a hundred million.] The court was seated [or the judgment was set in place] and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9, 10.
These verses are talking about a court, or a judgment. Notice that in the last sentence it says, “and the books were opened.” I do not know how much more plain you could write it. If you have a judgment and books are being opened, some kind of investigation is occurring.
If you look at the context of these verses, they take place while the little horn power, the antichrist, is still in existence. This is not talking about after the millenium, or after Jesus comes, because when Jesus comes, the antichrist power is going to be destroyed. (See 11 Thessalonians 2.) This takes place before the antichrist power is destroyed—check the context in your Bible. This is talking about a judgment which includes an investigation. You do not have to be a scholar to understand this. It is in plain language.
Revelation 14:6, 7 talk about a judgment that takes place while the gospel is still being preached. Is the gospel going to be preached after Jesus comes? No, the gospel is all finished being preached before Jesus comes.
If you study Revelation 14:6, 7 carefully, you will see, from the context of the verses, that your conduct is going to make a difference in regard to the decision made in this judgment. It says, “The hour of his judgment is come” and for that reason you need to “fear God and to glorify him.” The Bible is very clear—there is a judgment that takes place in heaven before Jesus comes, while the antichrist power is still in the world and the gospel is still being preached.
But in 1979–1980, we started to have all of these things dropped on us. In fact, it was such a bombshell that it was decided that all the leaders in the Adventist Church would gather the next year at Glacier View Camp in Colorado to study out this topic. After this gathering, many more than before of the scholars in the Seventh-day Adventist Church were even more convinced that Desmond Ford was right. But they decided not to say anything about it, because they were afraid they would lose their jobs. Many of those people are still teaching our ministers.
Checking it Out
The people said, “Well you just do not know. You cannot tell from the Greek text in Hebrews that Jesus went into the holy place instead of the most holy place in 31 a.d.”
I decided to check this out further. I thought I already knew what was truth—I had been teaching it for many years. I thought all Adventists knew. But some of the leading scholars in our church said that we were wrong and that we had been wrong since the beginning of the church. It was time to do some very diligent study.
It was said that if you looked in the Greek text at Hebrews or if you looked in the Hebrew text at Daniel, you would find out that we were wrong. In the providence of God, I had studied Greek at Walla Walla College (College Place, Washington) and at the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan. At the Berrien Springs Seminary I had also studied Hebrew. In fact, I often preach from my Hebrew Bible.
I bought a new Hebrew Bible and secured some new Greek Bibles, and I determined to check out this teaching. If we had been wrong in Adventism for almost 150 years, it was high time that we found out what the Bible really said. If you have studied the history of Adventism and know where we come from, you know that Seventh-day Adventists are Protestants. A Protestant is a person whose faith is anchored in the word of God. So if the word of God should prove us wrong, we would have to just accept that we were wrong.
I determined to check every word. I was going to check the declension of every single noun. I was going to check the conjugation of every single verb in these disputed passages and I was going to find out if we were wrong. And, of course, if we were wrong, we would have to change; we would have to acknowledge that we were wrong. I spent a number of years checking all of those things out very, very carefully.
Our Anchor Holds!
Since I was working at a college, I had access to the Baptist Seminary Library in Forth Worth, Texas, which provided me access to historical and lexical aids. I checked out everything, and I want to tell you, the Adventist message that our pioneers taught is solidly anchored in the Bible. There is no mistake in it!
I am not saying that we know everything. I am not claiming that we can explain every verse of Scripture, but the message that Adventists have proclaimed about 1844 and about the investigative judgment and about the sanctuary is anchored in the Bible. The more deeply we study into it, the more solid we will find it to be.
When I started to study in 1980, I spent so many hours in my Hebrew Bible that I got a magnifying glass so I could enlarge the words and make it easier to read. I went down Daniel 8 word-by-word-by-word, over and over again, because that was one of the most disputed passages. There were people saying that they did not think that this passage even applies to the papacy; they thought that it applies to Antiochus Epiphanies. That is what other Protestant churches teach! Now church leaders claimed that what we had been saying for over 100 years was wrong.
Even a Child Can Understand
Let me point out some things.
- In the first part of Daniel 8 is the description concerning the ram. It says, in the Hebrew language, that the ram became great.
- It also talks about a he-goat with a horn between the eyes and about the ways that the he-goat became very great. The ram became great; the he-goat became very great. Daniel 8 tells us as well that the ram represents the kings of Medo-Persia; the he-goat represents Greece, and the great horn represents the first king.
- It then talks about the little horn becoming exceedingly great. That is more than very great! In the Hebrew language, it is very explicit and very clear. You cannot make a mistake. The ram became great; the he-goat became very great, and the little horn became exceedingly great, greater than Alexander the Great. Was Antiochus Epiphanes greater than Alexander the Great? No! That would be like saying that your state governor is greater than the President of the United States. It makes no sense at all. The little horn in Daniel 7 and Daniel 8 is exactly what the Adventist pioneers said—the papacy!
The 2,300 days are exactly what our pioneers said also. You can follow word-by-word-by-word in the Hebrew text, and you do not have to take anything out of context. When I was challenged about this, and when I saw theologians in our church saying that we did not know what we were talking about, I realized that what they were saying would not only make Ellen White wrong, but it would make us all wrong in our beliefs. If they were right, we would have to change.
People did change as a result of this theology. One of them, the associate pastor of the church that I had attended in Loma Linda, California, became the pastor of a Sunday-keeping church. That is where this theology led him.
God has led in the second-advent movement! There is not one Adventist in a hundred who knows how deeply this message is laid. The foundation goes deep; it is on the Rock. You cannot overthrow it unless you overthrow the Bible.
We have nothing of which to be ashamed when we talk to any person of any religious persuasion concerning what we believe about the prophecies in Daniel 7, 8 and 9. If we have studied it carefully, we can go through the verses word-by-word-by-word, in context, and they all fit together.
I did the same type of study in the book of Hebrews. I looked at the conjugation of every verb, the declension of every noun, and looked at every single word. They say that you cannot determine that Jesus went into the holy place in 31 a.d., but you most certainly can! You do not have to look at the writings of Ellen White to prove it, either. You can find it right in the Bible.
The Bible Alone—Our Foundation Stone
Our faith is based in the Bible. We should be able to teach every doctrine of belief that we have right from that Book. Now, please do not misunderstand me. I believe that Ellen White is a prophet. I do not have any question about that. But you and I should be able to prove everything that we believe from the Bible alone.
Ellen White told us that we should be able to do that. (See Manuscricpt Releases, vol. 2, 96.) The Adventist message came out of the Bible. That is why you do not need to take anything out of context. You do not need to twist anything. You just need to look and see what it says and what is the weight of the evidence.
What was the bottom line in all those new teachings that came to be called the New Theology? It all led to denial of 1844, to denial of the investigative judgment, and to denial of the sanctuary message. The people who accepted those new teachings, have been led from one heresy to another. A theology student came to me one day when I was teaching at Southwestern Adventist College. He said, “I have a theology teacher who told us in class that we are going to sin until Jesus comes.” That is the end result of this theology. The fact of the matter is, friend, that many, many Seventh-day Adventists as well as other people are going to sin until Jesus comes, but then they are going to get burned up.
The reason there has been so much opposition against what Adventists teach about the sanctuary is because of the devil’s hatred of that doctrine. That doctrine will lead you to understand that you and I must be purified to be ready for Jesus to come. Oh, friends, you and I cannot go to the kingdom of heaven the way we are right now. We have to be purified. We have to be cleansed. Our sins have to be blotted out.
Purified and Cleansed
Are you praying about this every day? Do you want to be purified and cleansed? Do not try to find some new message. The Bible teaches the Adventist message. Maybe I should say it the other way around—the Adventist message comes out of the Bible. The sanctuary message comes out of the Bible. The fact that we must be purified comes out of the Bible.
John said, “Everyone who has this hope in him [Jesus] purifies himself, just as he is pure.” 1 John 3:3. Do not look for a different message. We have the truth! I am not boasting. We have the truth because God gave it to us. Our spiritual forefathers searched the Bible through, and the Lord, through the Spirit of Prophecy led them to understand what these words mean.
You can go to those original texts in Hebrew and Greek, and you will find that they teach Adventism. God has led us. The big question is, are you and I going to come into harmony with what God wants to do for us individually and for us as a movement?
Before the end of time, one of two things is going to happen to every single person in Adventism, and eventually to every single person in the world, because this is the way that God is leading. We know it is going to happen because prophecy says so. There is going to be one group of people, a smaller group, who will come into harmony with everything in the word of God, every word!
Living by Every Word
Jesus said we should live by every word (see Matthew 4:4); that means that every word is important. I want to be among that group. That is the whole aim of my life. Those people are going to be purified; the Lord is going to blot out their sins. He is going to clothe them with the righteousness of Jesus Christ and take them to heaven.
But there is going to be a much larger group of people in Adventism, as well as in the world, who are not going to become purified. If you believe the New Theology, then you believe that you are going to sin until Jesus comes. Ellen White says, “Success in any line demands a definite aim.” Education, 262. If you are not aiming to overcome sin, you are not going to do it.
Have you ever seen an alcoholic who just quit drinking without even trying? Have you ever seen a chain smoker suddenly quit, and it just happened? You see, those things do not just happen. They do not happen unless a person decides they are not going to do those things any more. They decide to change.
A person does not quit sinning unless they decide, either, but you are not going to decide to stop sinning if you do not think that it is possible to stop. That is what is wrong with so much religious teaching today. People are not taught that it is possible. Even some Seventh-day Adventist preachers are telling their congregations to just do the best they can.
Not Good Enough!
I believe that it is good to do the best you can in all your activities all the time. But if you are talking about sin, you had better not just talk about doing the best you can, because God requires that we come up to a standard which He has set.
God is leading a people into a path of purification and holiness. The evidence for it is strong. The evidence is overwhelming that this is true. We know that He is leading because the deeper we study the Bible, the more evidence we find that this is what it teaches.
When it is all over, there will be only two groups. In which of those two groups are you going to be? The devil is attacking; he is trying to trip you up with any kind of heresy or false teaching that he can foist on you. The Lord is leading a people, and if you are willing for Him to lead you, He said, I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. (See Hebrews 13:5.)
If you depart from the truths of our church pioneers, it is because you choose to believe error. It is not because God or His message have changed. We see the evidence from history that He has led us up to this point and He is going to lead us into the kingdom.