Most of us have occasion to use banks. Money is entrusted to a bank’s care. A “Run” on a bank, a sometimes-frantic move to withdraw one’s savings, can take place if it is thought, by depositors, that the institution cannot maintain a faithful oversight of the funds entrusted to its care. Financial collapse can come if unwise decisions are made by those in positions of responsibility.
There can be no doubt that truth is more precious than anything in this world. It is worth its weight in gold, because it is that commodity gifted from heaven that sanctifies and prepares us to live in the presence of the Creator. So precious is it, that we shall seek more of its wonder throughout eternity.
God has the task of sending truth from His infinite mind to the minds of created beings, of which we, in this world, are fallen. It has been said, “There is a heresy in every sermon,” for by the time the truth of God goes from His infinite mind to the finite mind of a preacher, out his finite lips and into the finite mind of the listener, something is bound to get mixed up in the process. If you doubt that, take a look around you and notice the “independent atoms” all claiming to believe the same Three Angels’ Messages. There are conflicts of understanding involving every single one of those messages among God’s professed people.
Where is the Depositary of Truth?
At one time there was great unanimity among the people of God’s last day movement. Now, if any unanimity can be found, let alone greatness of it, you are most blessed, indeed.
Recently I searched the counsel of the Ellen White Estate to see what the servant of the Lord had to say about the depositary of truth. Where can it be found today? Some of the answers really surprised me. I urge you to look into this subject for yourself and thoroughly examine all Mrs. White wrote about this crucial subject.
First, let me lay out the list of things I found that God has included in that depositary: His Law; priceless treasures of sacred, living, divine, eternal, precious truth; His sacred faith, trust, and responsibilities; oracles of divine grace, knowledge, rare blessings, and the pure religion of Jesus.
God be praised! Lead me to that depositary! Lead me to that safety deposit box!
Well, here is the catch. Spiritually speaking, in different ways, if conditions apply, we are that safety deposit box.
Let us take a logical look at the process of God. Who was entrusted with the care of God’s message for the world? Space restrictions will allow only some examples of the quotes from the Testimony of Jesus on this subject. Let’s begin.
“Says the prophet, ‘When Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let favor be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness,…and will not behold the majesty of Jehovah.’ Isaiah 26:9, 10. Thus it was after the Flood. Released from His judgments, the inhabitants of the earth again rebelled against the Lord. Twice God’s covenant and His statutes had been rejected by the world. Both the people before the Flood and the descendants of Noah cast off the divine authority. Then God entered into covenant with Abraham, and took to Himself a people to become the depositaries of His law. To seduce and destroy this people, Satan began at once to lay his snares. The children of Jacob were tempted to contract marriages with the heathen and to worship their idols. But Joseph was faithful to God, and his fidelity was a constant testimony to the true faith. It was to quench this light that Satan worked through the envy of Joseph’s brothers to cause him to be sold as a slave in a heathen land. God overruled events, however, so that the knowledge of Himself should be given to the people of Egypt.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 332. (See also page 314.)
“When Balaam was called to curse the Hebrews he could not, by all his enchantments, bring evil upon them; for the Lord had not ‘beheld iniquity in Jacob,’ neither had He ‘seen perverseness in Israel.’ Numbers 23:21, 23. But when through yielding to temptation they transgressed God’s law, their defense departed from them. When the people of God are faithful to His commandments, ‘there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel.’ Hence all the power and wily arts of Satan are exerted to seduce them into sin. If those who profess to be the depositaries of God’s law become transgressors of its precepts, they separate themselves from God, and they will be unable to stand before their enemies.
Fallen Prey to Harlots
“The Israelites, who could not be overcome by the arms or by the enchantments of Midian, fell a prey to her harlots. Such is the power that woman, enlisted in the service of Satan, has exerted to entrap and destroy souls. ‘She hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.’ Proverbs 7:26. It was thus that the children of Seth were seduced from their integrity, and the holy seed became corrupt. It was thus that Joseph was tempted. Thus Samson betrayed his strength, the defense of Israel, into the hands of the Philistines. Here David stumbled. And Solomon, the wisest of kings, who had thrice been called the beloved of his God, became a slave of passion, and sacrificed his integrity to the same bewitching power.
“‘Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.’ 1 Corinthians 10:11, 12.…As we approach the close of time, as the people of God stand upon the borders of the heavenly Canaan, Satan will, as of old, redouble his efforts to prevent them from entering the goodly land. He lays his snares for every soul. It is not the ignorant and uncultured merely that need to be guarded; he will prepare his temptations for those in the highest positions, in the most holy office; if he can lead them to pollute their souls, he can through them destroy many. And he employs the same agents now as he employed three thousand years ago. By worldly friendships, by the charms of beauty, by pleasure-seeking, mirth, feasting, or the wine cup, he tempts to the violation of the seventh commandment.” Ibid., 457. (Compare with Testimonies on Sexual Behaviour, Adultery and Divorce, 189; Manuscript Releases, Book 21, 380.)
“But the question was asked by many a devout worshiper, How came that architecture on the opposite side of the Jehoshaphat ravine, thus impiously confronting the temple of God? The truthful answer must be made: The builder was Solomon, known as the wisest king that ever wielded a scepter. These idols bore testimony that he who had been honored and applauded for his wisdom, became a humiliating wreck. He was thrice called the beloved of God. Pure and elevated in character, his piety and wisdom were unexampled. But Solomon did not go on from strength to strength in the pure and true life. It was his ambition to excel other nations in grandeur. To do this, he allied himself by marriage with heathen nations, and in the place of keeping loyal to the true and living God, he allowed his wives to draw him away from God. To please them, he built altars where they might worship their idols. Thus the leaven of idolatry became mingled with Solomon’s religious principles. Tares were sown among the wheat.
“Solomon knew that God had chosen Israel, and had made them the depositaries of the true and sacred faith. God had erected a wise barrier between them and the rest of the world, and only by jealous guarding the ancient landmarks could they preserve their high and distinct character. Why, then, did Solomon become such a moral wreck? He did not act on correct principles. He cultivated alliances with heathen kingdoms. He procured the gold of Ophir and the silver of Tarshish; but at what a cost!
Truth Mingled with Error
“Solomon mingled error with truth, and betrayed sacred trusts. The insidious evils of paganism corrupted his religion. One wrong step taken, led to step after step of political alliance. The polygamy so common at that time was directly opposed to the law of Jehovah. But this evil was tolerated in Palestine, and the Israel of God mingled in marriage with Phoenicia, Egypt, Edom, Moab, and Ammon, nations that bowed at idolatrous shrines, practicing licentious and cruel rites, greatly dishonoring to God. These Solomon countenanced and sustained. His once noble character, bold and true for God and righteousness, became deteriorated. His profligate expenditure for selfish indulgence made him the instrument of Satan’s devices. His conscience became hardened. His conduct as a judge changed from equity and righteousness to tyranny and oppression. He who had offered the dedicatory prayer when the temple was consecrated to God, he who prayed for the people, that their hearts might be undividedly given to the Lord, was in his later years following a course entirely contrary to right. The life once wholly dedicated to God, had been given to the enemy.
“Solomon tried to incorporate light with darkness, Christ with Belial, purity with impurity. But instead of converting the heathen to the truth, he allowed pagan sentiments to be incorporated with his religion. He became an apostate. God was no longer to him the only true and living God, a ruling Providence. Solomon was a religious wreck.
“In the days of Christ, the ruins of the groves erected by Solomon for his wives might still be seen. By the truehearted in Israel this place was named the Mount of Offense. Solomon little thought that those idol shrines would outlast his reign, continuing even till Shiloh came and looked upon the melancholy sight.
Beware of Cherishing the Errors of the World
“This case is placed on record as a warning to all who profess to serve God. Let those who know the word of the living God beware of cherishing the errors of the world. These Satan presents in an attractive guise, for he seeks to deceive us, and destroy the simplicity of our faith. If these errors are introduced, they will obscure the precious landmarks of truth.” The Review and Herald, March 10, 1910.
Needless to say, the privilege of being the depositary came with a condition. There are always conditions to receiving and maintaining God’s blessings. It is also alarming to see the issue of the seventh commandment continually at the core of this subject. Dear reader, if you do not see the connection between these passages and the current situation in Adventism, you are living in a religious vacuum. The last General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists 2000 Session, Toronto, Canada, with its decisions of allowing “abandonment” as a reason for divorce; the proliferation of Easter sunrise services and other things of pagan origin rapidly gaining acceptance among Seventh-day Adventists; the harlot daughters of Rome gaining greater access to Seventh-day Adventist pulpits should ring bells that give headaches of shock. One wonders, Where is the outrage? Where is the Protestantism? Where is fidelity to be found? Just where is the depositary? Let us read on.
“The sin of Eli had consisted in passing lightly over the iniquity of his sons in sacred office, and over the evils prevailing throughout the land. His neglect to correct these evils had brought upon Israel a fearful calamity. His sons had fallen in battle, Eli himself had lost his life, the ark of God had been taken from the land of Israel, thirty thousand of the people had been slain—and all because sin had been allowed to flourish unrebuked and unchecked. Israel had vainly thought that, notwithstanding their sinful practices, the presence of the ark would ensure them victory over the Philistines. In like manner, during the days of Jeremiah, the inhabitants of Judah were prone to believe that a strict observance of the divinely appointed services of the temple would preserve them from a just punishment for their wicked course.
“What a lesson is this to men holding positions of responsibility today in the church of God! What a solemn warning to deal faithfully with wrongs that bring dishonor to the cause of truth! Let none who claim to be the depositaries of God’s law flatter themselves that the regard they may outwardly show toward the commandments will preserve them from the exercise of divine justice. Let none refuse to be reproved for evil, nor charge the servants of God with being too zealous in endeavoring to cleanse the camp from evil-doing. A sin-hating God calls upon those who claim to keep His law to depart from all iniquity. A neglect to repent and to render willing obedience will bring upon men and women today as serious consequences as came upon ancient Israel. There is a limit beyond which the judgments of Jehovah can no longer be delayed. The desolation of Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah is a solemn warning to modern Israel, that the counsels and admonitions given them through chosen instrumentalities cannot be disregarded with impunity.” Prophets and Kings, 416.
Remaining True to Your Trust!
“Had the Jewish nation been true to their trust, and communicated to the world the light they had, they would have remained the depositary of the truth of God. God had brought His people out of the cruel bondage of Egypt, and had exalted them before the nations around them. They were favored with every temporal and spiritual blessing. God’s presence went with them, enshrouded in the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night. They were under His guardianship, and His love and care were manifested in protection and blessing. But they were unfaithful; they rebelled against God, and transgressed His holy law spoken from Mount Sinai by His own voice, and written on tables of stone by His own finger; and God sent His Son to make known to the world His character and the laws of His kingdom.” Signs of the Times, March 18, 1897.
“Continuing His answer to the disciples of John, Jesus spoke a parable, saying, ‘No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old.’ The message of John the Baptist was not to be interwoven with tradition and superstition. An attempt to blend the pretense of the Pharisees with the devotion of John would only make more evident the breach between them.
“Nor could the principles of Christ’s teaching be united with the forms of Pharisaism. Christ was not to close up the breach that had been made by the teachings of John. He would make more distinct the separation between the old and the new. Jesus further illustrated this fact, saying, ‘No man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.’ The skin bottles which were used as vessels to contain the new wine, after a time became dry and brittle, and were then worthless to serve the same purpose again. In this familiar illustration Jesus presented the condition of the Jewish leaders. Priests and scribes and rulers were fixed in a rut of ceremonies and traditions. Their hearts had become contracted, like the dried-up wine skins to which He had compared them. While they remained satisfied with a legal religion, it was impossible for them to become the depositaries of the living truth of heaven. They thought their own righteousness all sufficient, and did not desire that a new element should be brought into their religion. The good will of God to men they did not accept as something apart from themselves. They connected it with their own merit because of their good works. The faith that works by love and purifies the soul could find no place for union with the religion of the Pharisees, made up of ceremonies and the injunctions of men. The effort to unite the teachings of Jesus with the established religion would be vain. The vital truth of God, like fermenting wine, would burst the old, decaying bottles of the Pharisaical tradition.
“The Pharisees thought themselves too wise to need instruction, too righteous to need salvation, too highly honored to need the honor that comes from Christ. The Saviour turned away from them to find others who would receive the message of heaven. In the untutored fishermen, in the publican at the market place, in the woman of Samaria, in the common people who heard Him gladly, He found His new bottles for the new wine. The instrumentalities to be used in the gospel work are those souls who gladly receive the light which God sends them. These are His agencies for imparting the knowledge of truth to the world. If through the grace of Christ His people will become new bottles, He will fill them with new wine.
“The teaching of Christ, though it was represented by the new wine, was not a new doctrine, but the revelation of that which had been taught from the beginning. But to the Pharisees the truth of God had lost its original significance and beauty. To them Christ’s teaching was new in almost every respect, and it was unrecognized and unacknowledged. The Desire of Ages, 278, 279.
Clinging to Dead Forms
“ Jesus pointed out the power of false teaching to destroy the appreciation and desire for truth. ‘No man,’ He said, ‘having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.’ All the truth that has been given to the world through patriarchs and prophets shone out in new beauty in the words of Christ. But the scribes and Pharisees had no desire for the precious new wine. Until emptied of the old traditions, customs, and practices, they had no place in mind or heart for the teachings of Christ. They clung to the dead forms, and turned away from the living truth and the power of God. Ibid.
“It was this that proved the ruin of the Jews, and it will prove the ruin of many souls in our own day. Thousands are making the same mistake as did the Pharisees whom Christ reproved at Matthew’s feast. Rather than give up some cherished idea, or discard some idol of opinion, many refuse the truth which comes down from the Father of light. They trust in self, and depend upon their own wisdom, and do not realize their spiritual poverty. They insist on being saved in some way by which they may perform some important work. When they see that there is no way of weaving self into the work, they reject the salvation provided.” Ibid., 280.
“The Jewish people had been made the depositaries of sacred truth; but Pharisaism had made them the most exclusive, the most bigoted, of all the human race. Everything about the priests and rulers—their dress, customs, ceremonies, traditions—made them unfit to be the light of the world. They looked upon themselves, the Jewish nation, as the world. But Christ commissioned His disciples to proclaim a faith and worship that would have in it nothing of caste or country, a faith that would be adapted to all peoples, all nations, all classes of men.” Ibid., 819, 820.
“The leaders in the Jewish nation had signally failed of fulfilling God’s purpose for His chosen people. Those whom the Lord had made the depositaries of truth had proved unfaithful to their trust, and God chose others to do His work. In their blindness these leaders now gave full sway to what they called righteous indignation against the ones who were setting aside their cherished doctrines. They would not admit even the possibility that they themselves did not rightly understand the word, or that they had misinterpreted or misapplied the Scriptures. They acted like men who had lost their reason. What right have these teachers, they said, some of them mere fishermen, to present ideas contrary to the doctrines that we have taught the people? Being determined to suppress the teaching of these ideas, they imprisoned those who were presenting them.” The Acts of the Apostles, 78, 79.
Much more could be included about the Jewish nation and their fall from being the depositary. What has been presented, however, should suffice to lay down an absolute principle: No religious body has any lasting guarantee of being God’s depositary, if they do not remain faithful to the purposes of that depositary.
It has been stressed that there needs to be some great prophetic event for the depositary to be passed to others. Logic refutes that position. Was there not a depositary after the first century church apostatized and left a remnant to carry on? Indeed. Was there not a depositary when God raised up Reformers to wage war against the Man of Sin? Indeed. It can be stated that the depositary rested in the hands of faithful believers not joined to any particular, religious organization, for longer than the history of the New Testament church and Seventh-day Adventists. Principle decided such matters, not prophetic events or prophetic utterances. But, I get ahead of myself. Notice some statements where the individual is considered a depositary.
“Abraham’s course in controlling his children and his household, and instructing them to fear and obey God, was approved of Heaven. Because he had been faithful to the trust already given, God committed to him greater responsibilities, making him the depositary of divine truth for all the generations to come. He had honored God in his household, and God honored him before the world. It was declared that through his posterity, all the nations of the earth should be blessed.” Signs of the Time, June 2, 1881