The Church “Then”. . . . . .and the Church Now
by Terry S. Ross
DA 601 “The priests and rulers had listened in silence to Christ’s pointed rebukes. They could not refute His charges. But they were only the more determined to entrap Him, and with this object they sent to Him spies,…”
We have seen this kind of behavior in our present day. These priests and rulers weren’t interested in the truth, they were interested in entrapping Jesus. You will notice that they could not refute His charges and that these charges were pointed. For many years the evidence has been continuing to pile up against the corrupt priesthood of our day and yet they can not and will not refute the charges with a “thus saith the Lord” for in the attempt, they would only expose themselves all the more.
DA 602: “He [Christ] declared that since they were living under the protection of the Roman power, they should render to that power the support it claimed, so long as this did not conflict with a higher duty. But while peaceably subject to the laws of the land, they should at all times give their first allegiance to God.”
The reason for directing readers to this quotation is that there are those today who advocate and promote such law- breaking as refraining from procuring a marriage license or paying taxes. They say that if you get a marriage license, the children become a “product” of the state for, after all it was the state which “allowed” you to become married. The marriage license, therefore, becomes a tool of the state enabling it to seize from you your children when and if it chooses to do so.
The Lord declared that we should obey the laws of the land as long as they didn’t conflict with the higher duties of a Christian. This includes doing things that are morally correct and shunning the appearance of evil, which avoiding getting legally married would not do. Certainly a piece of paper doesn’t give a person grounds for divorce, but Jesus said that when it is appropriate to do so, we should obtain such papers, so as to do things in order. I guarantee that when the state decides to take your children, it will do so regardless of whether you have a marriage license or not.
Some also say that, because the government is corrupt, we shouldn’t be paying taxes. I will admit I don’t know very many people who believe that the way taxes are collected is totally fair or who enjoy paying them but that’s not the bigger point. The Lord told us to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. Also, I have yet to run into these non- paying advocates who refuse to use the highways or the many other conveniences the tax dollars subsidize. Unfortunately, these folks are bringing on a time of trouble before they should and will bring reproach to the cause of God in the process.
DA 603: “The Pharisees were rigid adherents to tradition. … But Christ declared that they made void the law of God by teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
You will notice, it didn’t say the Pharisees were rigid adherents to God’s Word. In the early 1890’s, a committee of ten men were chosen to do a study and report on whether the Seventh- day Adventist Denomination should adopt a church manual. J. N. Loughborough was one of the men on the committee which unanimously voted that the Adventist Denomination should NEVER do such a thing. Following is the insight that Brother Loughborough offered which has turned into somewhat of a prophetic statement: E. G. White, Early Years #1 p. 453: “The first step of apostasy is to get up a creed, telling us what we shall believe. The second is to make that creed a test of fellowship. The third is to try members by that creed. The fourth, to denounce as heretics those who do not believe that creed. And fifth, to commence persecution against such.”
Could anyone have expressed a truer summation of what is transpiring today? One of the greatest charges ever leveled at the Ancient Conference by Christ was that they made void the law of God by teaching the doctrines of man for the commandments of God. In other words, making of none effect the testimonies of the Spirit of God. “Satan is… constantly pressing in the spurious— to lead away from the truth. The VERY LAST DECEPTION OF SATAN will be to make of none effect the testimony of the Spirit of God. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish; (Prov. 29: 18). Satan will work ingeniously, in different ways and through different agencies, TO UNSETTLE THE CONFIDENCE OF GOD’S REMNANT PEOPLE IN THE TRUE TESTIMONY.” 1SM 48.
This was the major reason for the fall of the Ancient Adventist Conference two thousand years ago. This is the very last deception to be used by Satan to unsettle the confidence of GOD’S REMNANT PEOPLE in the true testimony. If you can’t see that we are squarely living within the borders of this prediction, I beg you to get on your knees and plead with your Lord for help. Now instead of telling you where I think the Conference is headed, let me ask you an honest question. All I ask in return is for you to give an honest answer. If the Lord rejected the very Ancient Adventist Conference He had raised up because they made of none effect the testimony of God, and the conditions were the same today, would we expect the same results from a God Who never changes but is the same yesterday, today, and forever?
DA 608: “In the law is embodied the same principle that is revealed in the gospel. The law points out man’s duty and shows him his guilt. To Christ he must look for pardon and for power to do what the law enjoins.”
One cannot look to God’s law with success without looking to God’s Son. The reason for a large number of the problems in the Adventist structure is because of the self- righteousness of the “Scribes” and “Pharisees.” They refuse to operate the structure in the power of Jesus Christ. They are trying to assert their own power and in so doing have set themselves higher than Christ. They will fail, as did the Jews.
DA 610- 11: “He [Christ] had set before these leaders their real condition, and the retribution sure to follow persistence in their evil deeds. The warning had been faithfully given. Yet another work remained for Christ to do. Another purpose was still to be accomplished.
“The interest of the people in Christ and His work had steadily increased. They were charmed with His teaching, but they were also greatly perplexed. They had respected the priests and rabbis for their intelligence and apparent piety. In all religious matters they had ever yielded implicit obedience to their authority. Yet they now saw these men trying to cast discredit upon Jesus, a teacher whose virtue and knowledge shone forth the brighter from every assault. They looked upon the lowering countenances of the priests and elders, and there saw discomfiture and confusion. THEY MARVELED THAT THE RULERS WOULD NOT BELIEVE ON JESUS, WHEN HIS TEACHINGS WERE SO PLAIN AND SIMPLE. They themselves knew not what course to take. With eager anxiety they watched the movements of those whose counsel they had always followed.”
What a fitting description of the atmosphere in Adventism today! As I have stated previously, approximately four years ago except for a handful of people, Cathy and I stood alone. Now, however, we are happily witnessing the interest of the people in Christ’s present truth steadily increasing. We are also aware that a large number of the professing Adventists are in the valley of decision and seem to be greatly confused. We can understand why. We don’t question these dear folk’s honesty but rather think the statement above reveals to us today the same problem as was in ancient times. The people have respected the Conference Pastors and Leaders for their intelligence and apparent piety. In all religious matters, they have ever yielded implicit obedience to their authority. This is where the problem lies. Jesus had this trouble at first with His own disciples.
There’s much said today by the Conference Leaders about respecting “properly constituted church authority” and how those of us who have challenged them have not had, as we should, the proper respect for their authority. We certainly want to do everything in order and according to the principles that the Lord has laid before us. Jesus manifested proper respect when and where it was due; He was not intimidated, on the other hand, by men who were trying to manipulate people into doing that which dishonored His Father. Let’s take an example from the Word of God to illustrate how Jesus handled the exact problem in the exact atmosphere that parallels our day. This example will also illustrate that even the disciples didn’t initially understand how to properly handle the issues or where certain principles lay.
Matthew 15: 1- 16: “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
“And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
“Then came his disciples, and said unto him, KNOWEST THOU THAT THE PHARISEES WERE OFFENDED, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. LET THEM ALONE: THEY BE BLIND LEADERS OF THE BLIND. AND IF THE BLIND LEAD THE BLIND, BOTH SHALL FALL INTO THE DITCH.
“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, ARE YE ALSO YET WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING?”
First of all, it might be well for us to remember that Jesus was the One who set forth this system of religion for which He certainly had respect. But it wasn’t a lack of respect He showed toward the Ancient Adventist Movement when He denounced the corrupt leadership of His day. It was a lack of respect for the apostasy which they promoted. It was a disdain for the way they were leading and a hatred for what it was doing to the people. Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Father do not like, approve, or respect deception. They certainly are not in the business of supporting those who claim to be leaders in a system which is involved in deceptive practices. Our Heavenly Father represents just the express opposite — honesty and forthrightness. Please notice, as well, that although the laity (including the disciples) equated their Conference Leadership as being men of God, Jesus plainly stated that this wasn’t the case. “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” In other words, Jesus was informing His disciples that while they might have been taught that being a Conference Leader automatically made them of God’s choosing, His Son said it was not the case. This is something that we desperately need to get straight in our own minds. Just because a Conference Leader or a Conference Committee insists that they are to be respected because God chose them and because they told you so, doesn’t mean anything unless you believe it! The test is: HOW do leaders lead and WHERE do leaders lead? It is not: I told you I was chosen and that’s the end of it — now keep quiet and follow me! And if you don’t, I’ll have you kicked out of the synagogue!
These Conference men had come to Jesus and had asked Him why His disciples did not follow the “Church Manual.” Jesus asked them in return what many are asking the present- day leaders of the structure, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?”
As God had set forth the Commandments, they were just and good. But the Conference Leaders commanded control of the people and so they formulated a creed to gain an authority they would not have otherwise had, which belong to God alone. This authority, as it developed, actually kept the people from a true knowledge of God! This “authority” did Jesus not only disapprove and disrespect, but openly attacked and rebuked! Jesus rightly understood that the “Leadership” was standing in the way of the people’s salvation. They were actively keeping the flock from an experiential knowledge which would allow them to enter the kingdom of God (we’ll prove this later). This is the meaning of verse nine — “But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
The people and even the disciples were confused and questioned Jesus (God Himself) as if to ask, “Do you know what you are doing?” When His disciples pointed out to Him that He had just offended the Conference Leaders, as people expect today, He admitted His lack of respect for “properly constituted church authority” and went immediately and apologized. Right? No! If He had, He would have been doing the work of the devil, not of His Father! He told His disciples that if they expected to find the heavenly path, they must STAY AWAY FROM THE “LEADERSHIP.” It wasn’t Jesus who misunderstood THE work, but those who had put their trust in a corrupt priesthood. Jesus had an extremely difficult time convincing people (even His disciples) because they had so much unfounded faith (blind faith) in the professed leadership of their day.
I certainly pray that you are seeing the parallels to all of this in our presentday situation. If you are, you are starting to come to a knowledge that Jesus so wanted His disciples to have. As a matter of fact, we learn later that until these men came to this knowledge, they could not be too effective in bringing others to salvation. I hope you are beginning to realize that the confusion of their day and the reasons for it are the same as in our own day. This understanding is just as vital now as it was then. This is why Jesus has brought (and is bringing) this knowledge to you, just now. Dear Brother and Sister, we are passing through the exact portal that the disciples passed through and it is the way of Christ’s leading. This is the road that leads to the feet of Him who has traveled this road before us. I hope that you will trust Him, as did His disciples, and that you will follow. The way of the cross leads home. I am confident that as we move through this transition, the Lord will eventually have a people who will understand and follow Him wheresoever He leadeth.
DA 611- 12 “In the parables which Christ had spoken, it was His purpose both to warn the rulers and to instruct the people who were willing to be taught. But there was need to speak yet more plainly. Through their reverence for tradition and their blind faith in a corrupt priesthood, the people were enslaved. THESE CHAINS CHRIST MUST BREAK. THE CHARACTER OF THE PRIESTS, RULERS, AND PHARISEES MUST BE MORE FULLY EXPOSED.”
At times it’s difficult for an author to not capitalize the whole paragraph. I must admit that this is one of those times. These few words are loaded with information which will take us far down the path of understanding if we desire to know why they were left for us.
Many have indicated that they want to be “just like Jesus” and “do the same work Jesus did.” Do we really realize what we are saying when we make such statements or is this just an ascent to some dreamy ideal? Are we just trying to impress others with these statements or could it be we don’t understand what Jesus was really like? It seems that perhaps the latter is the most appropriate. We have been taught that Jesus is just “love and hugs.” This seems wonderful but it can be a deadly deception if we’re not on our toes. In this “Dr. Spock, if- it- feels- good- do- it generation,” we don’t want anything to do with discipline because it’s so “negative.” These same sentiments rule in the “church.” Those of us who care to see the reality of where this has lead us understand all too well why our society is in so much trouble and why double- standard government doesn’t work except for evil. Unfortunately, the same problem exists to a gross extent among those who claim to be “the church.”
When Jesus was on earth, His work was two- fold as we are told above. These are inspired words, folks, not mine or anyone elses for that matter. “It was His purpose both to WARN THE RULERS and to instruct the people WHO WERE WILLING TO BE TAUGHT.” This is exactly what many Independent Leaders have been doing for the last several years. Jesus understood that He had come to a professed church who “Through their REVERENCE FOR TRADITION and their BLIND FAITH IN A CORRUPT PRIESTHOOD, THE PEOPLE WERE ENSLAVED.”
You see, Jesus was in the business of saving people, not playing politics. Because He came to the “Seventh- day Adventist Church” didn’t mean He had to ask permission to do the work. It didn’t mean that he had to bow to the Conference men when they walked into the room. It didn’t mean that He had to get their corrupted opinions before He could press on with the job His Father had given Him to do. It didn’t mean He had to seek unity at all costs with “the church.” It didn’t mean He had to exchange heavenly principles for earthy power. It didn’t mean that paying attention to “properly constituted church authority” was more important than paying attention to His Father’s authority. But He came to a people who had placed their faith in corrupt men instead of a Holy God. Today, my friend, we find ourselves in this carbon copy dilemma.
By the time Christ showed up on the earthly scene, and it’s a shame to have to say it, He had to save the people FROM the Conference, not IN the Conference! Was this His fault? Was He to blame for all the trouble His message of reform brought? Was He the rebellious One? You know the answers to all these questions. Are you willing to answer the same questions that are their present- day parallel just as honestly? I believe your eternal salvation depends on it!
If Christ was going to save His people, if Jesus was going to bring the people to a balanced knowledge of His Father, if He was going to instruct those who were willing to be taught but were enslaved to a corrupt priesthood by their blind loyalty, what was He to do?
The Desire of Ages says, “THESE CHAINS CHRIST MUST BREAK.” In order for Jesus to give the people a real opportunity to come to a knowledge of salvation, He must break the chains of slavery the corrupt priesthood had over them. The Spirit of Prophecy has much to say regarding kingly power and Sister White had her share of trouble with it. We’ll not take the time here, but it is an interesting study which I would encourage you to pursue.
Jesus didn’t like being in this kind of predicament, loving the people so much, He knew He must break this stranglehold the Conference men had on the laity. If the people were going to have an opportunity to hear what was truth, He would have to break the confidence the people had placed in these men who were leading away from God, not toward Him as they claimed. And how was the strength of these chains to be overcome? “THE CHARACTER OF THE PRIESTS, RULERS, AND PHARISEES MUST BE FULLY EXPOSED.”
Now are you sure you want to be just like Jesus? Many have said and continue to say that it is the work of the devil to “speak against the leadership of the church,” but if this is true, Jesus clearly did the work of the devil or many would have to believe He did. The problem is not what Christ did but rather concerning the same prejudice that He had to deal with. It’s like trying to convince someone who is an alcoholic (who denies it) that he has a drinking problem. The problem lends itself to denial, and in turn to misunderstanding, and in turn to difficulty in achieving a successful turn- a- round. We should be careful how we treat the leadership of the church. We had better make sure, however, that we realize who they are and what the church is.
Nonetheless, Christ stood His ground and did the disagreeable duty, even though at the time hardly anyone understood, supported, or agreed with what He was doing. I’m so glad that Jesus did what He had to do, aren’t you? If He were to pay attention to what the majority are shouting today, you and I wouldn’t even be here much less have an opportunity to live forever. We must learn what is hard to learn and unlearn some of that which we’ve been taught. We must understand what was so difficult for the disciples to understand. The work of Christ is freeing people to live for His Father and His Father only. The work of Jesus is showing people that they are to follow and worship not man, but God. As long as the leaders whom Christ raised showed the people these truths, everything was as it should have been. But when a priesthood becomes corrupt and leads those for whom Christ died to the one who killed Him, He has no choice but to go to the next step of exposing the apostasy and breaking the chains.
These leaders were willing to sacrifice Christ, God Himself, in order to save their precious Conference authority. They had said that it was better to sacrifice one man (meaning Jesus) in order to save the nation (meaning the Conference). They were saying that they were willing to sacrifice the truth in order to maintain their status. Jesus had no choice but to break the chains of enslavement. The character of the Pastors, Conference Presidents, and the General Conference Leaders must be more fully exposed.
Should you have any remaining doubt regarding what you are reading, let’s take a quick look at Ezekiel chapter 8:
Ezekiel 8: 6- 9: “He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
“And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.”
I could write a small book on this topic alone. It is full of treasure for our present- day understanding and I hope you will take the time to study it. Our own books tell us that the judgement starts with the Seventh- day Adventist movement and from the top down, meaning those who claim to be leaders down through the ranks.
Folks, we are witnessing the living expression of Ezekiel, chapter 8! We are living in this chapter’s day of fulfillment. We need to understand that God is no respecter of persons. This isn’t meant to say that He doesn’t respect or love people. It simply means that His judgment is fair and doesn’t make exceptions to the eternal principles He has set forth. If the rules or principles can be changed, they are flawed and this is not possible for God is perfect.
God is not going to let Brother A into His kingdom because He loves him more, and shut Brother B out because popular opinion views him as being “difficult.” The reverse is true as well. The Father is not going to keep a TRUE gospel worker out of the kingdom just because popular opinion “votes” to censure or disfellowship him, and let an apostate leader in just because he has the majority vote of a church.
When we are standing at the judgment bar, spiritually speaking, God is not going to ask the Conference Committee or the editors of the Review if it’s all right to let us in. It will work the same for those who should be kept out. This may come as a shock but nobody, nobody, is going to heaven except those who follow Jesus. It doesn’t matter what position we may have had or how long we have held it. The requirements for entrance are the same for every single individual. The only difference it will make is that, if you make a great profession, if you claim to be a leader and DO NOT LEAD OTHERS TO JESUS, you only increase and lengthen your own damnation!
The work of Ezekiel 8 Jesus did while here, and that same work is being done for the last time, right now. I strongly encourage you to take a look at the next event to take place which is found in the next chapter of Ezekiel. We are told that this will be literally fulfilled.
18MR 236: “Study the ninth chapter of Ezekiel. These words will be LITERALLY FULFILLED; yet the time is passing, and the people are asleep. They refuse to humble their souls and to be converted. Not a great while longer will the Lord bear with the people who have such great and important truths revealed to them but who refuse to bring these truths into their individual experience. The time is short. God is calling. Will you hear? Will you receive His message? Will you be converted before it is too late? Soon, very soon, every case will be decided for eternity.”
Ellen White’s 1888 Materials 1303: “The Lord reads the heart as an open book. The men who are not connected with God have done many things after the imagination of their own evil hearts. The Lord declares concerning them, ‘They have turned unto Me their back, and not the face, though I taught them, rising up early and teaching them; yet they have not hearkened to receive instruction. ’ We are amid the perils of the last days, the time will soon come when the prophecy of Ezekiel 9 will be fulfilled; that prophecy should be carefully studied, for IT WILL BE FULFILLED TO THE VERY LETTER.”
The only way the people could be free to follow the Father was if the chains were broken. The only way the chains could be broken was for Jesus to expose the characters of these apostate leaders. This work is in process even as you read this book. Please ask the One who lead His disciples to the path of life to guide you just now to the same path. He certainly will if you let Him.
DA 612: “ ‘The scribes and the Pharisees, ’ He said, ‘sit in Moses’ seat. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works; for they say, and do not. ’ The scribes and Pharisees’ claimed to be invested with divine authority similar to that of Moses. They assumed to take his place as expounders of the law and judges of the people. As such they claimed from the people the utmost deference and obedience. Jesus bade His hearers do that which the rabbis taught according to the law, but not to follow their example. They themselves did not practice their own teaching.
“And they taught much that was contrary to the Scriptures. Jesus said, ‘They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. ’ THE PHARISEES ENJOINED A MULTITUDE OF REGULATIONS, HAVING THEIR FOUNDATION IN TRADITION, AND UNREASONABLY RESTRICTING PERSONAL LIBERTY. And certain portions of the law they so explained as to impose upon the people observances which they themselves secretly ignored, and from which, when it served their purpose, they actually claimed exemption.”
As Jesus plainly states above, we are to follow only those things leaders teach which uphold the law and are the requirements of the Father. He told the people however, not to follow their example. Why? Because they weren’t following the truth or the law of God, they were not even following their own teaching when it didn’t suit their purpose.
Sighting a modern- day example is a startling, personal situation experienced approximately 12 years ago. I was in the midst of a discussion regarding Sabbath breaking as some friends were collecting money for registration at the camp we were attending. My argument was that business should be done on any day other than the Sabbath, believing the Sabbath commandment to be so clear that what I was saying was a foregone conclusion. To my utter surprise and amazement, the California Conference guest speaker entered into the discussion along with another leader from the East coast and proceeded to give me a shellacking! They informed me that I should understand that Adventist Leaders everywhere traveled on planes, in taxies, and bought food in restaurants on Sabbath in order to “do the Lord’s work.” I, a Literature Evangelist at the time, informed them, much to their dislike, that no true Adventist Leader did these things unless under extreme emergencies. I asked them if they had ever heard of packing a sack lunch or fasting so far as having to buy food on the Sabbath. I have to tell you that I was offended by these loose leaders professing to be the standard- bearers for the Seventh- day Adventist Church. But I better understood why we are having so much trouble with standards among the laity.
At the same time these types of leaders are leading the people to lower the pure, elevated standards of Jesus, they are enjoining a multitude of regulations having their foundation in tradition, and unreasonably restricting personal liberty.
How many times have you or someone you know had to ask for “permission” from the Pastor or Conference Leaders before you could do some work the Lord has placed on your heart? More than this, how many of you have ever experienced (or know someone who has), these same “leaders” telling you that you could not do this work! The above quotation is also speaking loudly and clearly about “the church manual.” I know of a young man who recently was at his own disfellowshipping and the Pastor asked for the use of a church manual to make his point. This young man took a Bible and tried to hand it to the Pastor telling him THIS was the church manual. The Pastor wouldn’t except it! At my own trial, the Conference Leaders threw out the “church” manual because it didn’t serve their purpose, exactly as the Spirit of Prophecy said they would. Moving on.
DA 613: “When persons were invited to a feast, the guests were seated according to their rank, and those who were given the most honorable place received the first attention and special favors. The Pharisees were ever scheming to secure these honors. This practice Jesus rebuked.
“He also reproved the vanity shown in coveting the title of rabbi, or master. Such a title, He declared, belonged not to men, but to Christ. Priests, scribes, and rulers, expounders and administrators of the law, were all brethren, children of one Father. Jesus impressed upon the people that they were to give no man a title of honor INDICATING HIS CONTROL OF THEIR CONSCIENCE OR THEIR FAITH.
“If Christ were on earth today, surrounded by those who bear the title of ‘Reverend’ or ‘Right Reverend, ’ would He not repeat His saying, ’ ‘Neither be ye called MASTERS; for one is your Master, even Christ’?”
This has always bothered me and this is the appropriate place to share it with you. I don’t intend to give it much space but I do ask for your prayerful consideration and I also wish to demonstrate how, to the letter, we are living in the parallel of Christ’s day. I will place my concern in the form of yet another question.
How can any Seventh- day Adventist Pastor accept the title of Master or Doctor of Divinity? If bestowing such titles to any human on earth today is not dangerously close to open blasphemy and in direct violation of Jesus’ expressed command concerning this subject — I don’t know what is. I’ll be the first to confess that I didn’t attend the “rabbinical” schools, but I can read in simple English in the Inspired Word of God, that ONLY THE GODHEAD have any right to claim the title of Masters of Divinity!
Now we come to a quotation which is quite revealing. This ancient experience gives us an invaluable modern- day lesson. This is for all the New Theology people and their pastors. Those of you who want to be set free may indeed know and understand what the Lord is trying to tell us in the next few words:
DA 614: “By perverting the Scriptures, the priests and lawyers blinded the minds of those WHO WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE RECEIVED A KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST’S KINGDOM, AND THAT INWARD, DIVINE LIFE WHICH IS ESSENTIAL TO TRUE HOLINESS.”
Dear Christian friend, what is Jesus telling you and me in this statement? It seems to me that He is revealing that these apostate leaders are perverting the Scriptures in such a way as to not only deceive people but to actually KEEP THEM FROM GAINING A KNOWLEDGE THAT WOULD OTHERWISE BRING THEM TO PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN LIVING WHICH IS ESSENTIAL TO TRUE HOLINESS. Is that what you read? If not, then what? Are these apostate leaders bringing people to an understanding that there is no excuse for sin, not even one?! Are they showing that — “God leads His people on step by step. The Christian life is a constant battle and a march. There is no rest from the warfare. It is by constant, unceasing effort that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. As a people we are triumphing in the clearness and strength of the truth. We are fully sustained in our positions by an overwhelming amount of plain Scriptural testimony. But we are very much wanting in Bible humility, patience, faith, love, self- denial, watchfulness, and the spirit of sacrifice. We need to cultivate Bible holiness. Sin prevails among the people of God. The plain message of rebuke to the Laodiceans is not received. Many cling to their doubts and their darling sins while they are in so great a deception as to talk and feel that they are in need of nothing. They think the testimony of the Spirit of God in reproof is uncalled for or that it does not mean them. Such are in the greatest need of the grace of God and spiritual discernment that they may discover their deficiency in spiritual knowledge. They lack almost every qualification necessary to perfect Christian Character. They have not a PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE OF BIBLE TRUTH, WHICH LEADS TO LOWLINESS OF LIFE AND A CONFORMITY OF THEIR WILL TO THE WILL OF CHRIST. They are not living in obedience to all God’s requirements.” 3T 253.
This is just as serious as your next breath! As a matter of fact, it is more important! Jesus told His disciples to flee from the “New Theology” Pastors of His day. He told them they were being lead by these leaders in the way of death not the way of life. It took them, admittedly, a while before they listened but they did listen and were saved! Are we listening today? Are we determining to follow our baptismal vows even if it leads in the same direction as it did the disciples? I pray that we are for, in fact and in reality, we must go the same way the disciples went or we WILL end up in a place that we would rather not be. Better to be alone in heaven than to be in unity with the crowd in the lake of fire!
DA 614: “The Pharisees had great influence with the people, and of this they took advantage to serve their own interests. They gained the confidence of pious widows, and then represented it as a duty for them to devote their property to religious purposes. Having secured control of their money, the wily schemers used it for their own benefit. To cover their dishonesty, they offered long prayers in public, and made a great show of piety. This hypocrisy Christ declared would bring them the greater damnation. The same rebuke falls upon many in our day who make a high profession of piety. Their lives are stained by selfishness and avarice, yet they throw over it all a garment of seeming purity, and thus for a time deceive their fellowmen. But they cannot deceive God.”
Listen, you “pious widows” and all the rest of us who need to heed this lesson. I have heard some real horror stories of how once the Conference obtains someone’s trust account or property, the trusting party has a terrible time retrieving it if they want, and sometimes can’t. We are witnessing the same demonstration involving the local churches and this reveals the great “sin” in handing over the deed to the Conference to be the “trustee.” We are now witnessing the closure of some of these churches in the very faces of those who paid for and built them! And who is doing this shameful work of padlocking these churches against their rightful owners? The trustees!
Here’s some free advice. If the people of your church haven’t given the deed over to the “trustees,” DON’T! If you are going to build a church, make sure you have no intention of giving it away. If you let the “trustee” look after your property they may take it away! Isn’t this exactly what the parable of the Husbandman is all about? God placed the vineyard into the “trustee’s” hands and when He sent His Son to claim it, they killed Him and stole the property! It’s past time we paid attention, don’t you think? If you don’t agree, you WILL pay the price!
DA 616: “The Saviour continued His denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees: “Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor. Ye fools and blind, for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? and, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind; for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?” The priests interpreted God’s requirements according to their own false and narrow standard. They presumed to make nice distinctions as to the comparative guilt of various sins, passing over some lightly, and treating others of perhaps less consequence as unpardonable. For a money consideration they excused persons from their vows. And for large sums of money they sometimes passed over aggravated crimes. At the same time these priests and rulers would in other cases pronounce severe judgment for trivial offenses.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” In these words Christ again condemns the abuse of sacred obligation. The obligation itself He does not set aside. The tithing system was ordained by God, and it had been observed from the earliest times. Abraham, the father of the faithful, paid tithes of all that he possessed. The Jewish rulers recognized the obligation of tithing, and this was right; but THEY DID NOT LEAVE THE PEOPLE TO CARRY OUT THEIR OWN CONVICTIONS OF DUTY. Arbitrary rules were laid down for every case. The requirements had become so complicated that it was impossible for them to be fulfilled. None knew when their obligations were met. As God gave it, the system was just and reasonable; but the priests and rabbis had made it a wearisome burden.”
Included in a tithe tract we wrote, we shared three letters which plainly shows that money, especially tithe money, is not a test of fellowship or membership in the Adventist Church. But is tithe paying not a test of fellowship? All these letters were written from March to May of 1986. The letters come from (strangely enough) a President of the Oregon Conference, President of Northwest SDA Headquarters, and a very well known General Conference Leader. We will send them to you upon request. Just send for the tithe tract, “A Personal Responsibility” which deals with kingly power, as well, and you will receive the letters which are part of the tract.
This money problem and the manipulation of the people through this medium is nothing new. Desire of Ages shows us clearly that 2,000 years ago the Apostate Leadership of Christ’s day also used God’s money to manipulate the people. They censored and disfellowshipped those who would not support them and they made money a test of fellowship. Many Adventist Pastors use Malachi, chapter 3, extensively to support their view using specifically verses 8 and 10: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. … Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
When it comes to money, leaders are to grant freedom to people by the Biblical standard in upholding and preaching the truth. But they are to leave the people to carry out their own convictions of duty. They are not to set up arbitrary rules and then use money as a weapon against certain groups as we see happening throughout the Adventist structure. If the leaders were truly concerned for the right reasons, regarding the subject of tithe, why are they only disciplining those who choose not to pay their tithe to them? Why aren’t they disciplining the majority of the people who are actually robbing God and not paying tithe at all? The fact that the Conference Leaders are only picking on one group of people reveals not only their prejudice but their lack of consistency and their self- serving purposes.
We believe that people should leave others alone regarding this subject, except for trying to guide them in the right path. The principle of tithe paying is right and it should be shared with the people. But how many times have you heard that the Lord was reproving the leadership for mishandling His money in Malachi 3?! The reproofs and promises of Malachi are plainly to the leadership as well as to the people. Read chapter two and you will see whom the Lord is speaking to and about. Also, look as verse 3 of chapter 3. “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify THE SONS OF LEVI, and PURGE THEM as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”
Why is the Lord saying in Malachi that He must purify these pastors? Because they were not pure. Of course, the laymen weren’t pure either, and not being so was an individual responsibility but it was largely due to the leadership because: “The church will rarely take a higher stand than is taken by her ministers. We need a converted ministry and a converted people. Shepherds who watch for souls as they that must give account will lead the flock on in paths of peace and holiness. Their success in this work will be in proportion to their own growth in grace and knowledge of the truth. When the teachers are sanctified, soul, body, and spirit, they can impress upon the people the importance of such sanctification.” 5T 227.
DA 618: “The Pharisees built the tombs of the prophets, and adorned their sepulchers, and said one to another, If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have united with them in shedding the blood of God’s servants. At the same time they were planning to take the life of His Son. This should be a lesson to us. IT SHOULD OPEN OUR EYES TO THE POWER OF SATAN TO DECEIVE THE MIND THAT TURNS FROM THE LIGHT OF TRUTH. Many follow in the track of the Pharisees. They revere those who have died for their faith. They wonder at the blindness of the Jews in rejecting Christ. Had we lived in His day, they declare, we would gladly have received His teaching; we would never have been partakers in the guilt of those who rejected the Saviour. BUT WHEN OBEDIENCE TO GOD REQUIRES SELF- DENIAL AND HUMILIATION, THESE VERY PERSONS STIFLE THEIR CONVICTIONS, AND REFUSE OBEDIENCE. THUS THEY MANIFEST THE SAME SPIRIT AS DID THE PHARISEES WHOM CHRIST CONDEMNED.”
Today various tours are available both on the East coast and the West coast to view the places where Ellen G. White lived, worked, had visions, and died. Many nice things are said and outwardly she is honored during these times. At the same time, a large group of leaders are actively trying to destroy her inspired work and influence, just as the Ancient Adventist Leaders did in the days of Christ. It has always been amazing to me that a person can be honored for showing the Baptist, Catholic, Mormon, Lutheran, Jehovah Witness, or the many other people in various churches their mistakes and bringing them to the truth, but when you bring the truth “home” to the Adventist, you are no longer a hero but a heretic. Why is this?
We need to have a stiff respect for the power of the enemy. Satan is roaring as a lion and he is very angry especially toward those who are determined to maintain the truth as it is in Jesus. The Laodicean condition is the most dangerous position to be in. It is a position where persons really do not study for themselves but rather place their trust in those who seem to. They are riding on the shirttails of someone else’s experience. I might add that this condition exists in people no matter what “group” they may be in. One can have the Laodicean condition in the Historic or Reform group just as easily as in the structure. Truth- filled books, magazines, audio tapes, and videos are good. They should be utilized as tools to further one’s knowledge but that certainly shouldn’t be the total sum of the experience. We must hunger and thirst after righteousness and study to show ourselves approved. We must know for ourselves what and why we believe the way we do. We cannot get to heaven by hitching a ride on the shoulders of someone else. Jesus Christ is the only way.
Many find it so easy to speak of the stupidity of the ancient Jews and how we would never do what they did. At the same time we are doing things far worse then what they did! How can this happen? How can we have all their failures in open view and still be making the same mistakes, having the same spiritual pride and end up persecuting the same people within our own ranks? It boggles the mind to try to comprehend it! “But when obedience to God requires self- denial and humiliation, these very persons stifle their convictions, and refuse obedience. Thus they manifest the same spirit as did the Pharisees whom Christ condemned.” Did you notice here that inspiration plainly says that Christ condemned people? Next time you hear someone insisting that Jesus never condemned anyone, ask him or her to explain this quotation for you. If honest people are around you, it should take care of the argument or at least let everyone know who’s interested in truth and who isn’t.
How many times have you heard of someone reading a simple and plain “thus saith the Lord” to someone, just to hear the response, “I haven’t been convicted on that.” These things should open our eyes to the power of Satan to deceive those who have turned away from the light. We should ask the True Witness for all the help He has promised to give us that we might discern what is truth.
Remember the four little words, “not blind, nor bitter?” Although we are in a real battle, although we must fight the enemy for every inch of ground, although the Christian walk is a battle and a march, although we must expose apostasy and call sin by it’s right name, and although we will end up being hated, persecuted, and possibly killed by those who once said they loved us, we need to maintain our Christian dignity and spirit of salvation toward others, even our enemies. In the spirit of Christ we want to be “not blind, nor bitter.”
DA 619: “Christ’s indignation was directed against the hypocrisy, the gross sins, by which men were destroying their own souls, deceiving the people, and dishonoring God. In the specious, deceptive reasoning of the priests and rulers, He discerned the working of Satanic agencies. Keen and searching had been His denunciation of sin; but He spoke no words of retaliation. He had a holy wrath against the prince of darkness; but He manifested no irritated temper. So the Christian who lives in harmony with God, possessing the sweet attributes of love and mercy, will feel a righteous indignation against sin; but he will not be roused by passion to revile those who revile him. Even in meeting those who are moved by a power from beneath to maintain falsehood, in Christ he will still preserve calmness and self- possession.”
Our struggle must be fought on a higher level than that of our enemies. We must always have the best interests of others in mind even in times of rejection, even in times when others refuse to recognize our motives for what they are, even in times of persecution and slander, and in the face of death. Yes, we have real, live enemies. Yes, they can hurt us and break our hearts. They can cause us undue pain and grief. But our Lord and Saviour gave up all that He possessed to travel this road before us. He showed the way that leads home and He has demonstrated that to live His life is the best and only way. He revealed that even in meeting those who are moved by a power from beneath to maintain falsehood, by His example and power we will still preserve calmness and self- possession.
Dear Brother and Sister, see Jesus in the garden. See Him being taken by that brutal mob and betrayed by one of His own. View our lovely Jesus in the hall at His trial. How calm and self- possessed is His countenance. By His example, isn’t it this calmness and self- possession that draws you to Him? Isn’t it this that is partly the reason Jesus is so much your hero? Don’t you wish to be this way in the face of adversity? Then enter the battle you must. There is no other way except through the garden, to the trial, and on up Golgotha’s hill. We must be “crucified” to self and given totally to Jesus. But praise the Lord! He will “resurrect” us anew. He has provided for our every need and He so much wants to give us, each one, of His Spirit. Just take that which He offers, friend. It matters not what our heritage may be. We can be German, Irish, Scottish, Latin, French, or Italian. We can continue to excuse our human tempers and be lost or we can give them to Jesus and be saved. The decision is as simple as that. But if we choose to trust ourselves to Jesus, if we are willing enough to place our lives into His nailed- scarred hands, He will finish in us that which He has started.
Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross