For some reason, there is great confusion among God’s professed people today about some very fundamental principles. If you study sacred history, you will find that God’s people have a poor track record in recognizing when prophecy is fulfilled.
Jesus got into great difficulty with God’s professed people in His day because He said to them, “This day is this word fulfilled in your ears.” And a little bit after He said that, they decided to kill Him. You see, I think all churches have a tendency to do one of two things with prophecy. We tend to say it was fulfilled in the past, or it is going to be fulfilled in the future. Is there no prophecy being fulfilled today? Is all prophecy either in the past or in the future? Very often prophecy is being fulfilled right in front of our eyes but we do not recognize what we see.
We want to look at Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, and religious freedom. Have you ever wondered how Easter eggs and Easter bunnies came into the Christian Church? Have you read anything about it in your Bible? I never have.
Here is a more difficult question. Have you ever wondered how a worldwide Virgin Mary Cult got into the Christian Church? Did you know that the images of the Madonna and her son are over four thousand years old, yet Jesus was not born until two thousand years ago? It is a documented fact. If you would like to see pictures of some of those images, look at The New Illustrated Great Controversy and you will see pictures of the Madonna.
The Son of the Sun
It started back in Genesis, a short time after the flood, with Nimrod and his wife, Semiramis. Nimrod died a violent death. After he died, Semiramis became pregnant. She was the queen and wanted to retain her power, so she told the people her dead husband had gone up into the sky. He was now the sun god and she was carrying his child. She bore a son, the “son of the sun,” she said, and he was named Tammuz. You can read about Tammuz in the Old Testament. Those images of the woman and the child, are actually images of Semiramis and Tammuz, and they were taken into the Christian Church. There were people in the Christian Church who had been taught by the followers of the apostles. These people had been taught both the Old and the New Testament, and they knew about idolatry. So the people who wanted to bring these things into the church, had to figure out a way to get them accepted. Do you know what they did? They changed the names of the images! They no longer called the woman, Semiramis, or the queen of heaven, they called her the Virgin Mary, and the son, of course, would no longer be Tammuz, but Jesus Christ.
The symbol for Tammuz was a cross, and all the Pagan people had crosses. They also had fertility gods and goddesses, and these things came into the Christian Church, too. That is where we got Easter. The egg was a symbol of fertility, and the rabbit, being prolific, was also a symbol of fertility, so the Easter egg and the Easter bunny were also brought into the Church.
“That which Satan has led men to do in the past he will, if possible, lead them to do again.” Review and Herald, November 22, 1892.
Let me ask you a question, and remember, we are studying fundamental principles here. We want to understand the significance of what happened then and its relevance for us today. What did they do in the past? In the past they combined Paganism and Christianity. They took Pagan philosophy and combined it with the Christian Church.
Have you heard the theory that is in many Christian Churches today concerning the immortality of the soul? They teach that man has an immortal soul and that when you die, your immortal soul goes on living forever. Of course, if it can live forever, it can burn forever.
Do you know where that idea came from? It did not come from Scripture! It came from Plato! Plato was a Greek philosopher, and he believed that man had an immortal soul. Plato got his theory from the Egyptians, and he taught others that man had an immortal soul, and when man died, he had some entity that went on living forever. The Bible does not say that. According to the Bible, only God has immortality! (See 1 Timothy 6:15, 16.) But Plato’s teachings came into the Christian Church. And so, all of these Pagan ideas were joined to the Christian Church and they made it all one.
If you had been living back then, what would you have done? Here you are, going to church, and you come to church one Sabbath morning and there stands an image of a woman and child, right in the church. You might say, “What is that? I am a Christian, I don’t worship images,” and the response would come back, “Oh, that is just to remind us of the Virgin Mary and her Son, Jesus.” What would you have done? Do you think there were any people back then who saw those images in the church and said, “I cannot go to a church that is worshipping images. I am getting out of here?” There were a few, but not very many.
Why were there not very many? Because most of the people said the same thing they are saying today. They said, “Jesus Christ said that the gates of hell will not prevail against My church. So all I have to do is stay here and I will be saved.” That is what the majority said.
The Faithful Few
There were a few who felt they could not stay in a church that was worshipping idols, because that really was not the true church. It could not be! We can find out who the church is by turning to Scripture. The apostle Paul writes to a young minister, and he tells him who the church is: “But if I am delayed, I write so you will know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15. Notice the house of God is the church, and it is “the pillar and the ground of the truth.” That could also be translated, “the foundation, the ground or the foundation of the truth.”
The Foundation, the Rock, on which the church is built, is the truth. That is what it says, and that is what Jesus said. “On this Rock (that is Himself) I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” The church is built on the truth. There were a few people who knew from the Scripture that the church is built on the truth, and the church cannot go into idolatry and keep being the true church. That just cannot happen.
There was something else that happened about the same time that all of this was going on. “That which Satan has led men to do in the past, he will, if possible, lead them to do again. The early church was deceived by the enemy of God and man, and apostasy was brought into the ranks of those who professed to love God; and today, unless the people of God awake out of sleep, they will be taken unawares by the devices of Satan.” Ibid.
The Day of the Sun
At the same time that they were bringing these images into the church, people noticed that the Pagans got together to have a wild solar holiday on the first day of every week, and that is where the name Sunday comes from, it was the day of the sun.
Monday was the day of the moon, Wednesday, the day of Wardes [a German Pagan god], Saturday, the day of Saturn. All of our days of the week are named after the Pagan gods of that day. So the Pagans worshipped different heavenly bodies and different Pagan gods every single day of the week. But the greatest of all, was the sun god and Sunday. The Christians wanted to incorporate this into the Christian religion along with everything else they were bringing in, and they found a ready excuse to remember Sunday; it was the day that Jesus came out of the tomb. The Pagans worshipped the sun at sunrise on Sunday morning, and they worshipped toward the east. You will find, when you study the Sanctuary, that when God had the Sanctuary erected, He told Moses which direction it was to face. When you entered God’s Sanctuary, you were facing west. This was God’s instruction because the whole Pagan world faced east and worshipped the sun. (See Ezekiel 7, 8, 9.)
That had been going on for thousands of years, and it was going on by the latter part of the second century. So much so, that by 200 a.d. there were Pagan philosophers who told the Christians they were no different than them! The Christians claimed they were different, even though it was true that they were worshipping the rising sun on Sunday, they claimed they were actually worshipping the “Son of righteousness.”
The Shaking Has Begun!
Remember, that which Satan did before, if possible, he is going to do again. I want to tell you, he is doing it right now! He is doing it in Adventism; and Seventh-day Adventists are looking into the future saying there is going to be a national Sunday law sometime, and then everything is going to be shaken out. What they do not realize is, the shaking out has already begun, and the national Sunday law is the end of the shaking, not the beginning.
What would you do if you came to church some Sabbath and there was an image standing in your church? Pray to God that we will never have images in our church! That is why we do not have crosses in our church. Not because the cross itself is wrong, but it is wrong when people start worshipping it. You cannot find any place in the Bible where we are instructed to worship a cross. Of course, people claim they are not worshipping the cross, they are worshipping the Son of God, Who was on the cross. Be careful!
The Name of the Game is Compromise
What would you do if you came to church and found that the majority of the people had gotten together and decided to compromise to have more influence in the community?
This is the way it happened in early times. They wanted to have more influence with the Pagan world, thus they would have more converts, more influence. “We are going to have more converts if we accommodate ourselves to the customs of the people,” they said. It is not wrong to accommodate yourself to a culture or custom, if it does not involve the violation of the Word of God. But they decided to accommodate themselves to the Pagan world by doing what the Pagan world was doing. They were still going to worship on Sabbath, but they would join the Pagans in the customs of their sun day. If you study history, you will find that it was very insidious the way Sunday-keeping came into the Christian Church. It started really early in Alexandria [in Egypt], and in Rome. But for most of the Christian world, Sunday-keeping took hundreds of years to become established.
Ten years ago, I was in one of the largest Seventh-day Adventist Churches in the Midwest, and I listened with astonishment as the pastor announced that they were going to start having services on Sabbath and Sunday, because they would be able to get the community to come on Sunday. I was amazed!
The reason I was so astonished was that I had read a little bit of history. Some people do not like history, but when you do not know history, you can make the same mistakes made fifteen hundred years ago and not even know what you are doing.
That is what the early Christian church did. There were churches in the Roman Empire that kept both Sabbath and Sunday for hundreds of years. You could not tell them they were breaking the Sabbath, because they kept the Sabbath. But eventually the time came when Sunday was elevated more and more, and the Sabbath was pushed down. It took a long time, but it finally happened, and it is happening again!
People were saying this is God’s church and Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. So if you stay in here, you are going to be all right and are going to wind up on the heavenly shore. The fact of the matter is, the great majority of those people lost their souls. (See Early Writings, or The Great Controversy.)
“There is no union between the Prince of Light and the prince of darkness, and there can be no union between their followers.” The Great Controversy, 45.
Who were the followers of the Prince of Light and the followers of the prince of darkness? Remember they all called themselves Christians, so you could not divide them that way. How do you tell the difference between a follower of the Prince of Light and the prince of darkness? Is it what church they go to? Is it what organization they belong to? Absolutely not!
“When Christians consented to unite with those who were but half converted by Paganism, they entered upon a path which led further and further from the truth.” Ibid. They consented to unite with those who were not totally converted, they would become one church. They would baptize people who were not yet converted. In this way, they brought into the church a mass of “professors” of Christianity who were still worshipping idols and doing things contrary to the Bible.
Has that happened in Adventism? Yes, it has! What does that do to the church? It takes you on a path that leads farther and farther from the truth, but you do not realize it because it is only one step at a time.
The Majority is Never Right
There were a few people who decided that they were not going to go along with this program. There is no question that they tried to persuade their brethren against this move because they knew it was not in harmony with the Word of God. They tried, but they could not persuade them because they were in the minority. If you study religious history, you will find that there has never been a time recorded in the Bible, since Adam and Eve sinned, when the majority was in the right. That just never happens.
“It required a desperate struggle for those who would be faithful to stand firm against the deceptions and abominations which were disguised in sacerdotal garments and introduced into the church.” Ibid., 45. What happened to those who decided to stand firm? It required a desperate struggle.
Have you ever been involved in a desperate struggle? Have you ever seen someone involved in a desperate struggle? Have you ever seen anyone who is about to drown, flailing around trying to get out? That is a desperate struggle, and it required that same kind of struggle for those who would stand firm against these deceptions. We are in that kind of struggle again today.
Deceptions are flooding into the churches all over the world, including the Adventist Church. What has happened? “The Bible was not accepted as the standard of faith. The doctrine of religious freedom was termed heresy, and its upholders were hated and proscribed.” Ibid.
Just think that over. First, the Bible was not the rule of faith. The same thing is happening today with the Spirit of Prophecy. Secondly, they did not believe in the doctrine of religious freedom. Where did the religious freedom go?
The Pagans had a custom that was thousands of years old, and as the church combined with Paganism, this custom applied to them. You can read about it in Scripture, and in early Christian history. The ruler of the country dictated what religion you were going to follow, and you had to comply.
That is what Nebuchadnezzar did. It is what the Medo-Persians did. That is why Daniel got thrown into the den of lions. It is what the Greeks did. That is why forty thousand Jews were killed in Egypt during the time of the Greek wars. During just one war, forty thousand Jews were killed. Read the Macabees, the history of God’s people during that period.
How about the Roman Caesar? The Roman Caesar was called the personification of the sun god, and they would build an altar in the center of the city. They had town squares in Roman times, and they put an altar right in the middle of it. They would light a fire on the altar and burn incense there. The people of the town were required to walk by, take a pinch of incense, throw it in the fire and say, Caesar es corius. Meaning, Caesar is lord. They did this to find out who the Christians were. Can a Christian say that? No! When a Christian would come by, he would not take the incense, because that would be offering incense to the sun god, but he would say, Cristos es corius, meaning, Christ is Lord. We will never know, until the Day of Judgment, how many were martyred on that one point alone, just because they would not acknowledge Caesar as lord.
You see, in the Pagan countries, you had a state religion and you had to be of the same religious persuasion as the president or the king, or you could lose your head. As you study religious history, you find this went on in Europe all during the dark ages. In England, in the sixteenth century, when the Protestant ruler died and a Catholic Queen came to the throne, over a three-year period they burned at the stake, or got rid of, almost all of the Protestant leaders in the country.
When Elizabeth became queen, all of a sudden the Protestants could exercise their religion without getting killed any more. What was it that they took from Paganism? The idea that the state could dictate in regard to religion. Is that happening today? Yes! And it is not finished yet. It is going to get worse.
Clasping the Arm of the State
When you go into a court and ask them to make a ruling on something about religion, you have done the same thing they did back there. We are doing it, and we have been for several years.
When it gets so bad that you no longer have religious liberty, what should you do? The same as they did. The majority went along with it, but there were a faithful few that said we are not going to go along with this, no matter what, because it is wrong.
Do you believe that there are, in God’s government, moral absolutes? A moral absolute is a principle that is always wrong to violate—no matter what. It is even wrong to violate it to save your life. The world today does not believe in moral absolutes. The thing that made America a great nation was, as late as World War II, most of our population still believed in moral absolutes. But since World War II, the majority in our country have changed their minds.
In 1967, I was listening to a religious radio program. The speaker said, “In front of every one of the Ten Commandments you should put the word ‘ordinarily.’” Now if you put the word ‘ordinarily’ in front of every single one of the Ten Commandments, what does that do to them? It takes away their moral absolute character. It makes them say, you can do it most of the time, but you do not have to do it in certain situations. Today, we call this ‘situation ethics.’
People are living in fornication and adultery. When a Christian pastor goes to plead with them, they say things like “God does not expect me to be unhappy all my life and live in loneliness.” Do you see? Once you put the word “ordinarily” in front of any one of the Ten Commandments, you have no idea where you are going to end up.
Today there are people who are professional killers, claiming to be Christians. They go to confession, confess their sins, and would tell you they expect to go to heaven. But I want to tell you that, according to the Bible, they will not. (See Revelation 22:15.)
What do people do, who decide to resist this “after a long and severe conflict?” Has it been going on in Adventism? Yes, it has. I meet people all the time that have been going through a long and severe conflict for years and years in their churches. And the church is going into more apostasy and worldliness, and they cannot stop it. Notice what Christians did in the past. “After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few decided to dissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to free herself from falsehood and adultery.” Ibid., 45.
A Harlot Church
The apostate church decided to unite with the state. Read this carefully. What I am telling you now is something that I have thought through for many years and I do not expect to back down on this, because I know from history, and God’s word, it is so. When any church decides to unite with the state, that church has become a harlot church. That church is in apostasy. And it is not something to happen in the future, it is happening now.
Let me explain that for someone who has not thought that through before. Do you believe in marriage? Does the Bible teach that marriage is holy? Yes, it is so explicit in the Bible: “Marriage is holy in all things and the marriage bed is not defiled.” Hebrews 13:4. But in regard to marriage, Paul said, “What I am really talking about is Christ and the church.” (See Ephesians 5:32.) “The two [quoting from Genesis 2:24 where God instituted the marriage relationship] shall be one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31. So if the two are one flesh it is holy. But what if it is three? Is it holy then? No, it is not holy any more. It is wicked. Now let us think this through. Paul says, what I am really talking about here, when I talk about the two being one flesh, is Christ and the church.
The church is the bride of Christ. Is that what the Bible says? Yes, and Paul says, I have espoused you to how many husbands? One. God gave Adam only one wife and He gave Eve only one husband. Now the church is to be espoused to Christ and Christ says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36. What if the church that is to be espoused to Christ, instead of having her relationship totally with the Lord, develops a relationship with a civil government in this world? What then? The church has two husbands. Can you have two husbands and be holy? No. Would you agree that a woman who has two husbands is a harlot? So, anytime any church develops a union with the state, that church has become a harlot because the church is to be united with the Lord only.
Jesus is very clear about this. (See Matthew 22:21.) “They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar.” Who is Caesar? He is the state government. In those days it was the government of the whole world. Caesar had a world empire and Jesus said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” In other words, it is lawful for you, as a Christian, to pay your taxes and to abide by the laws of Caesar. However, did Jesus make it clear that there are some things that do not belong to Caesar? Look at what the end of the text says, “And to God, the things that are God’s.” Ibid.
Are there some things that belong to God, that do not belong to Caesar? God does not forbid you, but He tells you to render to Caesar those things that belong to him. The New Testament spells out exactly what is due to the state government. (See Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.)
As Christians we attempt to follow the Word of God and so we are loyal citizens—as long as the state government does not interfere with what belongs to God. You see, when a church unites with, and starts working through the government to get her way, she has become a harlot church. If you are in such a church and you cannot get that church to stop doing what it is doing, you are going to have to get free, or you are going to be a member of a harlot church too. You are going to be part of the harlotry, the spiritual adultery. That is the problem in the last days. (See Revelation.) The whole world is gone after this thing and the kings of the earth have committed fornication. It is not talking about physical fornication, even though there is plenty of that going on, it is talking about spiritual fornication. Spiritual fornication is when you claim that you are united with the Lord, but you are united with something else—a state government. It is union of church and state.
Separate—Dissolve all Union
“After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few decided to dissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to free herself from falsehood and adultery. They saw that separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the Word of God.” The Great Controversy, 45.
“Oh, no,” someone says, “you are teaching separationism!” I just quoted it from The Great Controversy. I never cease to be amazed at how frightened people are of what they call separationism. If the early Christian church had been afraid of separationism, they would have stayed in the organization and would have wound up being part of Babylon.
When a church becomes a harlot church, you cannot stay in it, participate, support and fund it, and not be contaminated. It is like living in a commune with a group of men and women who are living together in sin. You may think you will just live there, and not participate, but you will be taken by surprise after a while.
“They saw that separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the Word of God.” Ibid. Are you and your family obedient to the Word of God? If you want to stay that way, if you want to be ready for Jesus to come, you have to separate from apostasy and not participate in it.
“They dared not tolerate errors fatal to their own souls, and set an example which would imperil the faith of their children and children’s children.” Ibid. Praise the Lord there were people like this. They were from all nations. Rome became the center, and in Italy those people who could not tolerate this went into the northern part of Italy, into Milan, and later on to Deuteron, and even later into what we call the Waldensian Valley. They became the Waldenses.
The Waldenses were a group of people who actually came from many different nations, part of the true church, but they were not the only group. There were the Albagenses and Paulicians. We do not know how many Paulicians there were, but we do know, from historical records, that in the middle ages, the Paulicians were farther up in the eastern Roman Empire. We also know that during the reign of just one queen, she had one hundred thousand of them killed. So we know there were a lot of them. But they were not very many in proportion to what the whole church was, because the whole church was in the many millions.
Peace at the Sacrifice of Principles?
“To secure peace and unity they were ready to make any concession consistent with fidelity to God; but they felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle.” Ibid.
Oh, friend, do you have some moral principles based on the Word of God that you are not going to sacrifice, no matter what happens? I hope you do. Because if you do not, if you are willing to purchase peace by compromising, you are on a downhill run and will end up in Babylon and not even know what happened.
You may not think you will ever do that because you are part of Zion, but remember that is what all those people, who called themselves Christians, thought, and the great majority lost out. What we are talking about has caused the loss of billions of souls.
This idea of trying to keep peace by compromising your principles a little bit is dangerous. As time goes on, you have to compromise a little bit more, and a little bit more, until there is no end.
You may think that the Lord is going to sort it out when the National Sunday Law comes. The Lord is going to sort it out, all right. Do you think the people who are compromising a little bit here and there right now will, all of a sudden, turn around and go the opposite direction when the National Sunday Law comes?
Think! If we cannot stand up and not compromise the truth in a relative time of peace, what do you think we are going to do when the pressure is put on us?
Let There be Difference—Even War!
Ellen White writes about the feelings of this small, faithful few. “If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war.” Ibid.
Do you mean a Christian would say, “Let there be war?” That is exactly what it said. “Well would it be for the church and the world if the principles that actuated those steadfast souls were revived in the hearts of God’s professed people.” Ibid., 46.
What were the principles that actuated these steadfast souls? They decided that they were going to absolve all union with an apostate church and would not listen to anyone that was united with the world. They would not be part of it.
Do you know what the apostate church called them, and has been calling them for over fifteen hundred years? They called them separationists!
In Vatican II, the Pope called them “separated brethren.” The Papacy is still calling them that, and they are not going to be content until they get them all back.
Who Really are the Separationists?
All Protestants are separationists according to the Pope. Who really are the separationists?
“Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants the charge of heresy and willful separation from the true church.” In other words, they accuse Protestants of being separationists because of willful separation from the true church. Now look at the next sentence. “But these accusations apply rather to themselves.” The Great Controversy, 51.
Who were the separationists? It was the majority, not the minority. The majority kept the church building, the pastor, the organization, the finances, the name, the collusion with the government, everything. They had worldly peace and prosperity, but Inspiration says they were the separationists.
How do you know that they were the separationists? There are two things that make a person a separationist. If these apply to you, or me, then we are separationists. But whoever they apply to, they are separationists.
“They are the ones who lay down the banner of Christ and departed from the ‘faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’ Jude 3.” Ibid.
They did two things. They laid down the banner of Christ! They did that by accepting Pagan customs and teachings. They laid down the truth and picked up Pagan ideas and brought them into the church. They laid down the banner of Christ and “They departed from the faith, which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 3.”
That is why I personally like the term Historic Seventh-day Adventist, because I want the historic Seventh-day Adventist faith that the saints of all ages knew, what the pioneers of Adventism, who understood the judgment hour message, accepted.
Our Pioneers said, “We do not have any creed. The Bible is our creed.” When I was a young boy, I was taught this in the Adventist Church, and as a young preacher, I used to tell people, when I was studying the Bible with them in their homes, the Bible is the only creed that I have, and I am very sincere and I can say it in public today. I am still sincere when I say it. If you could show me anything in the Bible that is contrary to the way I am living, I am willing to change, starting today.
I want to live according to the Bible. The faith once delivered to the saints is in the Bible. The separationists are the people that lay the banner down and start following other teachings, customs, or traditions of philosophy. The separationists are the majority. The faithful few, who keep the faith that was once delivered unto the saints, are not the separationists, they are the true church.
The Future Brings the End of the Shaking
The same thing that happened back there is happening right now. Do not let somebody fool you and tell you it is going to happen some time in the future. It is going on right now. The future will not bring the beginning of the shaking, it is going to bring the end of the shaking. Are you ready?
There were a faithful few back then, and we know through prophecy (See Revelation 12:17,) there is going to be a faithful few again at the end. It says so. “The woman fled into the wilderness.” (See verse 6) It was the faithful few that fled into the wilderness.
At the end there is going to be a faithful few again, just a small group in proportion to the world’s population. Although, it will be a large group in terms of total numbers. I want to be part of 1the remnant that is talked about in Revelation 12:17, who still keep the commandments and have the testimony of Jesus. If that is what you want, and you want to dedicate your life to the Lord today, say, “Lord, whatever it takes. I am willing to go through the desperate struggle. I am willing to be called a separationist. I am willing, whatever people want to call me, I want to be part of the remnant that keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus.” Pray and ask Him to help you be part of that group today.