Testimony – Ignorant? Not So Fast.

If you are over 20 years old, you know the dynamics of the twenties. You’re young, curious, full of energy, ready to discover and travel the world. I was no different. I grew up in a certain cultural and religious environment, teaching me certain truths, morals, and values. As most 20-year-olds, I questioned them and was eager to find out better for myself and come to my own conclusions. I wanted to discover the whole world, travel to Asia, Africa, etc. I made sure my travel dreams came true. When traveling to the eastern hemisphere, I quickly discovered that not all the values I was taught are universal. At the same time, I noticed hints of biblical stories that proved to be universal in countries such as Thailand, Laos, Malaysia—such as the depiction of the Flood on a Buddhist temple, stories of Jesus in the far non-Christian world, and traces of the pre-Christian Sabbath.

The Sabbath/Sunday issue was of particular interest to me. I was on a quest to get to the bottom of the origins of the Sabbath, and I dived deeply into the stories of the Bible. A fascinating ancient world unfolded in front of me. The more I read—whether the Bible, historical documents, or secular materials—the clearer the confirmation of the Sabbath history became. The Sabbath has been here since the beginning of time as a memorial of creation. Moreover, it has never been changed by any divine authority.

The evidence, whether biblical or recorded by secular historians, was overwhelming. If this is the case, why then is it that only a tiny fraction of Christianity observes it? How do Christians today explain it away if their own literature confirms the seventh day of the week as the eternal day of worship? I made friends with clergy from various denominations and asked. I took Bible studies in a Lutheran youth group, then studied the entire pre-baptismal courses with Jehovah Witnesses and the Church of Latter-day Saints. Those were easy to access. Other denominations didn’t even have any structured courses. When I asked about the fourth commandment, it was always swept under the carpet.

No Protestant denomination had clear-cut answers. The reality of the true Sabbath can’t be denied, so the next step would be to explain it away. Or outright declare that it’s not important. We are talking about the decalogue here, one of the Biblical ten commandments. Not important? I was hoping for better answers.

Perhaps the most honest Christians on this issue are the Roman Catholics. They do not try to hide the truth. One well-educated clergyman explained to me that while I am reading the Sabbath truth from the Bible correctly, the Roman Catholic Church has the power—given by heaven itself—to alter any Biblical doctrine. In addition to the Bible, the Catholic Church has one more pillar of faith—church tradition. This church tradition, sanctioned by God Himself, has the power to overwrite the Bible. So claims the Roman Church. Flabbergasting!

As a young person, full of ideals and a strong sense of justice, I was disappointed with the answers given by both Catholic and Protestant clergy. The inevitable conclusion was that the clergy members will have to answer to God’s court of justice at the final day of our earth’s history.

I felt sorry for the regular church members who will never do the research themselves. Or even if they do, will accept their clergy’s word as final. While people in all denominations revere the Bible, by and large, they don’t read it. Most people just don’t know, and it’s not up to me to decide how God will judge ignorance.

Soon thereafter, I was about to pass through a fire—one of the most profound experiences of my life that challenged some of my assumptions about the people in the pews. I signed up for a summer colporteur program, which helped me work my way through school. This job is a door-to-door sale of Christian books. The student will learn sales techniques, but also will talk to people about spiritual subjects. Some of the conversations stayed hammered in my mind forever. People asked me for prayers, we prayed on their front porches. The most powerful experiences are portrayed in the following stories. I have lived through this same experience several times:

The Baptist Couple

In a middle-class neighborhood of a suburban town in the midwestern United States, I knocked on the door of a beautiful home with a nicely manicured lawn. A man opened the door, greeting me with a smile. I explained the reason for my visit and shared with him the books I had to offer. He called his wife and together they chose several books. They shared with me that they attended their local Baptist church. A wealthy church, they proudly added. They were quite knowledgeable about the Bible and we had a very nice conversation. Since they knew so much, I added a bonus to their order and gifted them the book The National Sunday Law by Jan Marcussen.

I didn’t share this book with every household. But here, I just felt impressed to give them one. Moreover, we connected very quickly and became friends. They thanked and invited me for lunch the next Sunday.

I knocked on the door next Sunday. The man opened the door. He didn’t say hello or any other greeting. Instead, he exclaimed: “I know we go to church on the wrong day,” and invited me in. I didn’t expect this statement to come out of his mouth. So I asked: “Really? What does your wife think about it?” She stood right behind him and also exclaimed: “I always knew the Adventists are right on this one.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

We shared a lunch together and briefly touched on their Sabbath knowledge again. They explained it in these words: “While we know that we go to church on the wrong day, it doesn’t mean we’ll switch denominations. We’re comfortable in our church, we have lots of friends and family there. At the end, it doesn’t really matter on which day we worship.” This time I didn’t say anything. They know the truth, but think it’s not important. I’m not the judge.

I have gone through similar experiences and conversations many times. Bible students acknowledge the facts, yet they choose to do otherwise.

I had talked to people from various denominations, thinking their lack of knowledge is to blame for not keeping God’s law, but I stood corrected. There are many people who are not ignorant. They know the truth, they just choose to ignore it.

I state again that the above experience with the lovely Baptist couple wasn’t an isolated one. I recall many more. The following one was one of the first ones in my teenage years:

The Lutheran Lady

I lived in a small town with my family. One of our neighbors was a lovely, retired lady. Her husband had already passed away and gradually her health didn’t allow her to do her own grocery shopping. I offered to help. She’d give me her list of items to purchase and I gladly did the shopping and delivered it to her house.

She always invited me in. I unloaded the bags on the table, she paid the bill, and each time offered some homemade goodies. As I entered her kitchen, I noticed on several occasions that she listened to audio recordings of Christian sermons. In those recordings, I quickly recognized the voice of a famous Adventist evangelist. I asked the lady where she got the audio tapes. It was in the days before CDs and internet downloads.

She proudly shared the story that she attended evangelistic meetings with her husband some years prior and this evangelist was the presenter. Back in those days, such meetings didn’t last a weekend. They lasted several weeks! She and her husband made sure that they purchased the recordings of every single night, so they could listen to them later at home. It was quite a library, over 30 tapes!

She related to me that her husband believed everything that was presented on those audio tapes. I checked the tapes and naturally, several of them covered the Sabbath subject. I also knew that her husband died as a good Lutheran.

This lady herself would never set her foot in the Adventist church. She lived in a staunch Lutheran area and her Lutheran family and neighbors would have disapproved. Some years later, this lady also passed away as a good Lutheran.

The above stories beg the question: If I learned a truth of which I am absolutely convicted, would I leave my own denomination and follow my conscience? The reality is that most people would not, which portrays the following experience:

The Exception

I was sitting in an Adventist church, listening to the testimony of a young couple who had left their Sunday-keeping denomination because they no longer could ignore the voice of their conscience on the Sabbath. They had searched for a Sabbath-keeping congregation and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

They shared that this step was very hard. Their prior church was so much better in all aspects. There was more fun, all their family and friends were there, the music was better, so many activities to choose from, etc. Their newly found Adventist congregation was half dead, but they made the transition anyway and slowly found new friends.

After sharing their story, an open forum for questions followed. At that point, one Adventist church member stood up and expressed his admiration for the couple. He furthermore stated: “I’d never do what you did. You left your family and friends behind. You should have stayed in your prior church. Here we can’t offer as much.” Many others in the congregation nodded in agreement.

Really? We can’t offer as much? No other denomination has such deep wells of knowledge. The reality that we are viewed as non-inclusive and overly proud of our exceptionalism is only our problem. When thousands will knock on our door one day, will we turn them away? May God have mercy on us. I tremble when I think of that day. Get ready now!