The Seal of Apostleship, Leaders Ordained of God

While Christ is the minister in the sanctuary above, He is also, through His delegates, the minister of His church on earth. He speaks to the people through chosen men, and carries forward His work through them, as when in the days of His humiliation He moved visibly upon the earth. Although centuries have passed, the lapse of time has not changed His parting promise to His disciples: ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ [Matthew 28:20.] From Christ’s ascension to the present day, men ordained of God, deriving their authority from Him, have become teachers of the faith. Christ, the True Shepherd, superintends His work through the instrumentality of these undershepherds. Thus the position of those who labor in word and doctrine becomes very important. In Christ’s stead they beseech the people to be reconciled to God.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 393.

“Paul [a minister who was not on the payroll of the church organization but, rather, was what would be called, today, a self-supporting minister or a minister working in pioneer evangelistic work] further disproved the accusations of his enemies, by showing that his position as an apostle of Christ had been acknowledged by the council at Jerusalem, and that in his labors among the Gentiles he had complied with the decisions of that council. Those who were seeking to destroy his influence, professed to acknowledge Peter, James, and John as pillars of the church. They were constantly extolling these apostles, and endeavoring to prove them superior to Paul in position and authority. But Paul showed that his enemies could not justify their course by a pretended regard for these apostles. While he honored them as faithful ministers of Christ, he showed that they had not attempted to instruct him, neither had they commissioned him to preach the gospel. They were convinced that God had called him to present the truth to the Gentiles, as he had designated Peter to go especially to the Jews. Hence they acknowledged before the council Paul’s divine commission, and received him as a fellow-laborer of equal position with themselves.

“It was not to exalt self, but to magnify the grace of God, that Paul thus presented to those who were denying his apostleship, proof that he was ‘not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.’ [11 Corinthians 11:5.] Those who sought to belittle his calling and his work were fighting against Christ, whose grace and power were manifested through Paul. Hence the apostle felt that he was forced, by the opposition of his enemies, and even by the course of his brethren, to take a decided stand to maintain his position and authority.” Sketches from the Life of Paul, 193, 194.

“Men are deceived in thinking they are serving God when they are serving themselves and making the interest of the cause and work of God a secondary matter. Their hearts are not consecrated. The Lord takes no pleasure in the services of this class. From time to time, as the cause has progressed, He has in His providence designated men to fill positions at Battle Creek. These men could have filled important positions if they had consecrated themselves to God and devoted their energies to His work. These men of God’s selection needed the very discipline that a devotion to His work would give them. He would honor them by connecting them with Himself and giving them His Holy Spirit to qualify them for the responsibilities they were called to bear. They could not gain that breadth of experience and knowledge of the divine will unless they were in positions to bear burdens and responsibilities.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 468, 469.

“But what are the members of the church doing that they should be designated “laborers together with God”? 1 Corinthians 3:9. Where do we see travail of soul? Where do we see the members of the church absorbed in religious themes, self-surrendered to the will of God? Where do we see Christians feeling their responsibility to make the church prosperous, a wide-awake, light-giving people? Where are those who do not stint or measure their loving labor for the Master? Our Redeemer is to see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; how is it with those who profess to be His followers? Will they be satisfied when they see the fruit of their labors?” Ibid., vol. 6, 423.

“O that this experience might be understood in all our ranks! Were children and parents converted, and did they but unite in using all their intrusted talents for the Master, and by using them double them, what a work might be done. Never was there a time in the history of the world when there was a more urgent demand for workers than at present. The seeds of truth are to be sown, and the reapers are to follow after to gather in the sheaves. If the members of all our churches did but have the love of Christ, and the love for souls which his indwelling presence would impart, they would be aggressive workers, and would lay aside their busy activities upon unimportant things, and would put out to interest their talents, and invest in that which would bring treasure throughout eternal ages. In the service of the Master, they would have increased strength and light. O then, why not study as to how you may reach souls who are out of the ark of safety? Let your work be proportionate to your advantages and privileges, and trade on the talents you have at your command, and you will have a living experience in the things of God. Some excuse themselves, saying they do not know how to do the kind of work that is called for in the missionary. You ought to have known how to do the work from the very beginning of your religious life. Will you be content to rest in ignorance and indifference? Will you venture to be a slothful servant to the end of the chapter? Or will you now seek most earnestly after God, and know what it is to eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of man, and become laborers together with God? ‘Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.’ [1 Corinthians 3:9.] You must render an account to God as to how you build; for every provision has been made that you may be successful in your work. Will he who with his divine finger drew the boundaries of Judea, who designated the exact spot where the temple should stand, who wrought out designs for the Jewish church and for the service of the sanctuary, leave his people, his chosen people, who keep his commandments, to a chance experience, to accident, to stumble along in darkness? Shall those to whom he has committed most precious light, to whom he has intrusted the third angel’s message, have less of his providential leading than had his ancient people?” Review and Herald, February 21, 1893.

“The Lord has designated his people as ‘the light of the world,’ and to them he has committed the sacred trust of preaching the gospel in all the world. In order to do this, how great need there is of bringing our wants within the least possible scope, that we may give ourselves and our all for the fulfilling of our divine commission. We should all learn to economize in the use of means. God does not require that his people should deprive themselves of that which is really necessary for their health and comfort, but he does not approve of wantonness and extravagance and display. In no sense should we abuse the gifts of God; for we shall be called upon at the last day to give an account of our stewardship. Let us look at the precept and example of our divine Lord, regarding economy, and making the most of the blessing of heaven. When Jesus had worked a notable miracle, and had fed five thousand people, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.’ [John 6:12.] This command had a double meaning; for it not only showed that every morsel of bread given through the miracle of Christ was sacred, but that those morsels, imparted to others, multiplied and extended the blessing to those who had need. From this circumstance we may learn a lesson in spiritual matters. As the bread was carefully saved to be given to others in need, so we should carefully treasure up all that God gives us, in order that it may be again imparted to those who have need.” Ibid., December 19, 1893.

“This large work and its sure results are plainly presented to me. I am so sorry that sensible men do not discern the trail of the serpent. I call it thus; for thus the Lord pronounces it. Wherein are those who are designated as departing from the faith and giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, departing from the faith which they have held sacred for the past fifty years? I leave that for the ones to answer who sustain those who develop such acuteness in their plans for spoiling and hindering the work of God.” Testimonies for the Church Containing Messages of Warning and Instruction to Seventh-day Adventists (1906), 61.

“Would that every minister might realize the sacredness of his office and the holiness of his work, and show the courage that Elijah showed! As divinely appointed messengers, ministers are in a position of awful responsibility. They are to ‘reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering.’ 11 Timothy 4:2. In Christ’s stead they are to labor as stewards of the mysteries of heaven, encouraging the obedient and warning the disobedient. With them worldly policy is to have no weight. Never are they to swerve from the path in which Jesus has bidden them walk. They are to go forward in faith, remembering that they are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. They are not to speak their own words, but words which One greater than the potentates of earth has bidden them speak. Their message is to be, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ God calls for men like Elijah, Nathan, and John the Baptist—men who will bear His message with faithfulness, regardless of the consequences; men who will speak the truth bravely, though it call for the sacrifice of all they have.” Prophets and Kings, 142.

“A dignified looking personage, who had been repeatedly presented to me in my dreams as making one in our council meetings, and who seemed to have authority, was listening with the deepest interest to every word. He spoke with deliberation and with perfect assurance. ‘The whole world,’ he said, ‘is God’s great vineyard. The cities and villages constitute a part of that vineyard. These must be worked, and not passed by. Satan will try to interpose himself, so as to discourage the workers, and prevent them from giving the message of light and warning in the more important as well as in the more secluded places. Desperate efforts will be made to turn the people from the truth of God to falsehood. Angels of heaven are commissioned to work with the efforts of God’s appointed messengers. The preachers of the truth must encourage faith and hope, as did Christ, your Living Head. Keep humble and contrite in heart before God. Maintain an unwavering faith in the promises of God.’ ” Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, — No. 7 (1897), 3.

“If we are the Lord’s appointed messengers, we shall not spring up with new ideas and theories to contradict the message that God has given through His servants since 1844. At that time many sought the Lord with heart and soul and voice. The men whom God raised up were diligent searchers of the Scriptures. And those who today claim to have light, and who contradict the teaching of God’s ordained messengers, who were working under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, those who get up new theories, which remove the pillars of our faith, are not doing the will of God, but are bringing in fallacies of their own invention, which, if received, will cut the church away from the anchorage of truth, and set them drifting, drifting, to where they will receive any sophistries that may arise.—Manuscript 75, 1905, pp. 2, 3. (“Building the Waste Places,” May, 1905.)” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 247.


“You are at this time passing through a trying experience. Stand strongly linked with My appointed messengers, and let not any evil words prejudice your minds or be as seed sown in your hearts. Your strength now is not in keeping silent and allowing fables to be brought in and taught as truth. My word will go forth as a lamp that burneth. I will work through messengers who will not yoke up with Dr. Kellogg, who will not endorse his methods and plans, but who will reprove them. He has refused to wear My yoke, and unless he is converted I will separate from him and from those who sustain him in his self-exaltation.” Ibid., vol. 21, 175.

“From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. These sentinels gave the message of warning; and when they were called to lay off their armor, others took up the work. God brought these witnesses into covenant relation with Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people.” The Acts of the Apostles, 11.

“The watchmen anciently placed upon the walls of Jerusalem and other cities, occupied a most responsible position. Upon their faithfulness depended the safety of all within those cities. When danger was apprehended, they were not to keep silent day nor night. Every few moments they were required to call to one another, to see if all were awake, and no harm had come to any. Sentinels were stationed upon some eminence overlooking the important posts to be guarded, and the cry of warning or of good cheer was sounded from them. This was borne from one to another, each repeating the words, till it went the entire rounds of the city.

“These watchmen represent the ministry, upon whose fidelity depends the salvation of souls. The stewards of the mysteries of God should stand as watchmen upon the walls of Zion; and if they see the sword coming, they should sound the note of warning. If they are sleepy sentinels, if their spiritual senses are so benumbed that they see and realize no danger, and the people perish, God will require their blood at the watchmen’s hands.” Gospel Workers (1892), 21.

“Sinful and worthless creatures though we are, through a vital connection with Christ we yet may be renewed in knowledge and true holiness, and thus reflect the glory and image of our Creator and Redeemer, and be qualified to care for His sheep and lambs. Not only have the sheep and lambs been dealt with in hardness, but even the shepherds themselves have been treated with reckless disregard. They have been spoken of in a way that shows that many in high and lower positions have little courtesy to give to God’s ordained ministers. The churches themselves have been educated in such a way that they have had too little respect for those who preach the Word of God, and who for years have given full proof of their ministry. But this way of dealing with the ministers and with the members of the family of God must be changed. The blessing of God cannot rest upon those who manifest little respect for the workers together with Him.” Review and Herald, October 24, 1893.

“These ordinances are regarded too much as a form, and not as a sacred thing to call to mind the Lord Jesus. Christ ordained them, and delegated His power to His ministers, who have the treasure in earthen vessels. They are to superintend these special appointments of the One who established them to continue to the close of time. It is on these, His own appointments, that He meets with and energizes His people by His personal presence. Notwithstanding that there may be hearts and hands that are unsanctified who will administer the ordinance, still Jesus is in the midst of His people to work on human hearts. All who keep before them, in the act of feet-washing, the humiliation of Christ, all who will keep their hearts humble, and keep in view the true tabernacle and service, which the Lord pitched and not man, will never fail to derive benefit from every discourse given, and spiritual strength from every communion. These ordinances are established for a purpose. Christ’s followers are to bear in mind the example of Christ in His humility. This ordinance is to encourage humility, but it should never be termed humiliating, in the sense of being degrading to humanity. It is to make tender our hearts toward one another.” Review and Herald, May 31, 1898.

“Jesus is the sinner’s friend, His heart is ever open, ever touched with human woe; He has all power, both in heaven and upon earth; but He respects the means which He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men. He directs Saul to the church, thus acknowledging the power that He has invested in it as a channel of light to the world. It is Christ’s organized body upon the earth, and respect is required to be paid to His ordinances. In the case of Saul, Ananias represents Christ, and he also represents Christ’s ministers upon the earth who are appointed to act in Christ’s stead.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 433.

“Matters of grave import come up for settlement by the church. God’s ministers, ordained by Him as guides of His people, after doing their part are to submit the whole matter to the church, that there may be unity in the decision made.” Ibid., vol. 7, 263, 264.

“The ministers have their appointed work. The importance of the ministry is to be understood and appreciated. The preaching of the word is one of the means by which the Lord has ordained that his warning message shall be given to the people.” Australasian Union Conference Recorder, September 1, 1900.

“The gospel ministry is a high and sacred calling. Properly done, the work of the gospel minister will bring many souls into the fold. ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,’ Christ said. ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’ [Matthew 28:18, 19.] This commission is given to every ordained minister. The minister who is merely a speaker, who does not labor as Christ labored, putting his whole soul intelligently into the work, needs true conversion.” Review and Herald, October 6, 1904.


“The forces for good among the lay members of the church cannot be developed and brought into proper working order without careful planning and systematic training. And as these workers are developed, they must be given the wise, helpful supervision of experienced leaders. They should not be left to struggle along alone, unaided. While it is true that the responsibility of leadership rests heavily upon the officers of the local churches, yet this responsibility is to be shared by the ordained ministers and by conference officers. Those in positions of trust in the General Conference and in union and local conferences cannot overlook their responsibility toward every church member, however humble may be the work in which he is engaged. All lines of service are to be bound together in one united whole.” Ibid., October 22, 1914.

“The ministers whom you condemn God has ordained to do a work for which He has not qualified you. Money cannot supply your deficiency. Your prejudices, preferences, dislikes, your sweeping condemnation of both the Healdsburg College and the Health Retreat, have been active influences in encouraging fault-finding, jealousy, evil surmising throughout all the churches. When your ideas and expectations are not met, you have talked out your dissatisfaction, but God has not prompted you in your independent spirit, in your accusation of His instrumentality. There can be no unity where such things exist. Confidence cannot live amid suspicion and evil surmisings.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, 97.


“It is a truth which should make every one of us weep, that those living in these last days, upon whom the ends of the world are come, are far more guilty than was Belshazzar. This is possible in many ways. When men have taken upon themselves the vows of consecration, to devote all their powers to the sacred service of God; when they occupy the position of expositors of Bible truth, and have received the solemn charge; when God and angels are summoned as witnesses to the solemn dedication of soul, body, and spirit to God’s service—then shall these men who minister in a most holy office desecrate their God-given powers to unholy purposes? Shall the sacred vessel, whom God is to use for a high and holy work, be dragged from its lofty, controlling sphere to administer to debasing lust?” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 434.


“The powers of every minister of the gospel should be employed to educate the believing churches to receive Christ by faith as their personal Saviour, to take Him into their very lives and make Him their Pattern, to learn of Jesus, believe in Jesus, and exalt Jesus. The minister should himself dwell on the character of Christ. He should ponder the truth, and meditate upon the mysteries of redemption, especially the mediatorial work of Christ for this time.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 187.

“Our churches are in need of those to minister in holy office who shall be men of honor, of piety, of purity; who shall be sanctified by the Spirit and by the word.” The Signs of the Times, February 2, 1882.

“Let your sanitariums be conducted by physicians and ministers who are in harmony with the light God has been giving to His people for the last half century. Place not men in positions of holy office who will not listen to God’s counsel concerning His way and His will. There are influences working mightily against the very work God requires to be done. The time has come when the Lord’s name is to be magnified in all your camp meetings. Every soul must now draw in even cords. Unbelief has taken possession of men who have been warned in regard to the seducing influence of Satan’s working and the methods of his work, yet who have taken no heed. They are of the party that will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Where is this party that will depart from the faith? Consider this. Do not place in charge of your important work or even of the less important enterprises, those who will lead minds away from the truth which is to decide the destiny of souls.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 91.

“The work of the minister represented by the seven stars is a high and sacred work. When he entertains the idea that his work is comprehended in sermonizing, he overlooks, and is sure to neglect, the work devolving upon a shepherd of the flock. It is his work to have care, to oversee the flock, to so arrange the elements of the church that each may have something to do.” Review and Herald, May 31, 1887.

“The light that has been given me for the past fifteen years has been a representation of the great responsibility which is attached to the work of the ministry. The work of the minister should be regarded in a far higher light. It is the low estimate placed on this work that leaves our Conferences in such a weak, feeble condition. We can not afford this. Those ministers who place a low estimate on the work intrusted to them neither do justice to themselves or to the church. Just as long as our ministers fail to feel a sense of responsibility proportionate to the greatness of their work, there will be a deficiency in our Conferences.” The General Conference Bulletin, April 16, 1901.

“We do not want to lose sight of the peculiar sacredness of this mission of ministering in word and in doctrine to the people. It is the work of the minister to speak the words of truth to the people, solemn, sacred truth.” Review and Herald, February 22, 1887.

“The ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification. It was an acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office and a recognition of one’s authority in that office. By it the seal of the church was set upon the work of God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 161, 162.

“The circumstances connected with the separation of Paul and Barnabas by the Holy Spirit to a definite line of service show clearly that the Lord works through appointed agencies in His organized church. . . . And now, when the divine commission given at that time was to be more fully carried out, the Holy Spirit, again bearing witness concerning Paul as a chosen vessel to bear the gospel to the Gentiles, laid upon the church the work of ordaining him and his fellow laborer. . . .

“God has made His church on the earth a channel of light, and through it He communicates His purposes and His will. He does not give to one of His servants an experience independent of and contrary to the experience of the church itself. Neither does He give one man a knowledge of His will for the entire church while the church—Christ’s body—is left in darkness. In His providence He places His servants in close connection with His church in order that they may have less confidence in themselves and greater confidence in others whom He is leading out to advance His work.

“There have ever been in the church those who are constantly inclined toward individual independence. They seem unable to realize that independence of spirit is liable to lead the human agent to have too much confidence in himself and to trust in his own judgment rather than to respect the counsel and highly esteem the judgment of his brethren, especially of those in the offices that God has appointed for the leadership of His people. God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for he who does this despises the voice of God.

“Those who are inclined to regard their individual judgment as supreme are in grave peril. It is Satan’s studied effort to separate such ones from those who are channels of light, through whom God has wrought to build up and extend His work in the earth. To neglect or despise those whom God has appointed to bear the responsibilities of leadership in connection with the advancement of the truth, is to reject the means that He has ordained for the help, encouragement, and strength of His people. For any worker in the Lord’s cause to pass these by, and to think that his light must come through no other channel than directly from God, is to place himself in a position where he is liable to be deceived by the enemy and overthrown. The Lord in His wisdom has arranged that by means of the close relationship that should be maintained by all believers, Christian shall be united to Christian and church to church. Thus the human instrumentality will be enabled to co-operate with the divine. Every agency will be subordinate to the Holy Spirit, and all the believers will be united in an organized and well-directed effort to give to the world the glad tidings of the grace of God.” Ibid., 162–164.

“Words were spoken by One of authority, and I will try to repeat in finite words the instruction given regarding the work to be done. The heavenly messenger said, The ministry is becoming greatly enfeebled because men are assuming the responsibility of preaching without gaining the needed preparation for this work.

“Those who give themselves to the ministry of the Word of God enter a most important work. The gospel ministry is a high and sacred calling. Properly done, the work of the gospel minister will add many souls to the fold. Many have made a mistake in receiving credentials. They will have to take up work to which they are better adapted than the preaching of the Word. They are being paid from the tithe, but their efforts are feeble, and they should not continue to be paid from the tithe. In many ways the ministry is losing its sacred character.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 17, 304, 305.

“It was at the ordination of the Twelve that the first step was taken in the organization of the church that after Christ’s departure was to carry on His work on the earth. Of this ordination the record says, ‘He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto Him whom He would: and they came unto Him. And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach.’ Mark 3:13, 14.” The Acts of the Apostles, 18.

“After choosing His disciples, Christ appointed them as His representatives, and gave them their ordination charge, their commission. They were to go forth as His witnesses, to declare what they had seen and heard of Him. Their office was the most important to which human beings had ever been called, and was second only to that of Christ Himself. They were to be workers together with God for the saving of the world.

“He who called the first disciples is still calling men to His service. And He is just as willing to manifest His power through us as through the first disciples. However imperfect and sinful we may be, the Lord holds out to us the offer of partnership with Him, of apprenticeship to Christ. He invites us to come under the divine instruction, that, uniting with Christ, we may work the works of God.” Pacific Union Recorder, December 4, 1902.


“The resolution [Resolved, That we recommend to the churches in the State of Michigan to unite in one conference with the name of the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists] was quickly adopted. Then the ministers and delegates from the churches were declared members of the Michigan Conference. Appropriate officers and a conference committee were elected. The chairman, Joseph Bates, and the clerk, Uriah Smith, were voted in as the officers for the current year, and the time for the first session was set for October 5 to 8, 1862. There was one more important question, and that was ‘ministers’ papers.’ Here is the action:

“Resolved, That our ministers’ papers consist of a certificate of ordination, also credentials to be signed by the chairman and clerk of the conference, which credentials shall be renewed annually.” White, Arthur L., Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Volume 1, 1827–1862, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington D.C., 1985, 455.

“The minutes of this conference session set forth some interesting items of business that Elder Sanborn brought from Illinois and Wisconsin, calling for the opinion of the conference:

“1. How shall we treat divorced marriages?

“2. Shall preachers from other denominations embracing the message preach and baptize among us, on the strength of their former ordination and standing as ministers?

“3. Shall young preachers, before being ordained, be allowed to baptize? . . .

“After satisfying themselves to the full intent of the first question—and ascertaining that what was involved was the accepting into church membership those couples comprised of individuals who had been divorced on grounds other than the violation of the seventh commandment, actions were taken as follows:

“1. Resolved, That the matter of divorced marriages be referred to the conference committee. [Diligent search fails to disclose any report on this perplexing item.]

“2. Resolved, That ministers of other denominations, embracing present truth, should give proof of being called to preach the message, and be ordained among us, before administering the ordinances.

“3. Resolved, That no person, young or old, should administer the ordinances before being ordained.” Ibid., 478, 479.

“1868: James White reported concerning their eastern tour:

‘We have, in this time [nearly three months], traveled by railroad 3,200 miles, and by private conveyance 600. Have held 140 meetings, and preached 60 times, and have spoken more or less in nearly all these meetings. Mrs. White has spoken from half an hour to two hours in more than 100 of these meetings. We have assisted in the ordination of four ministers, and the dedication of one house of worship. Have presided in the examination of 150 candidates for baptism, and have baptized 18. . . .’ ” White, The Progressive Years, Volume 2, 1862–1876, 220.


“We are certainly living in the closing days of this earth’s history. We need to devote much time to our spiritual interests, if we would experience the spiritual growth that is essential in this age. We are to make decided reforms. The Voice said: The watchmen need to awake, and give the trumpet a certain sound. The morning cometh; and also the night. Wake up, My watchmen. Voices that should now be heard presenting the truth are silent. Souls are perishing in their sins, and ministers and physicians and teachers are asleep. Wake up the watchmen!” Pacific Union Recorder, February 20, 1908.

“The message of the third angel is to go forth with a loud voice. Wake up the watchmen; leave them not to settle back in their death-like slumber.” Review and Herald, July 23, 1908.

The Ten Commandments, Part III: Idol Worship is Bad News

According to what God has told us, upon the Ten Commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Testimonies, vol. 2, 43.) So all instruction really emanates from His Word, His Law, His character, and His love. We need to gather the principles contained in His Law and then apply them to our lives that we might not sin against Him.

The Second Commandment

“Thou shalt not make thee [any] graven image, [or] any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me, And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” Deuteronomy 5:8–10.

The first commandment is very short and to the point. The second commandment is a bit longer, but the first and the second commandments are closely related in that they both prohibit idolatry and false worship. There are, nevertheless, very distinct differences between them. Let us take a look at some of these differences.


The first commandment deals with the question of Who is the true God. The second commandment deals with how the true God is to be worshipped. The second is not a repetition of the first, as some would have us to believe. As we look at Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican catechisms, we see that the second commandment is removed or, with very small type, is included under the first. Then the second commandment is given as, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.” The third commandment is given as, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” And the tenth commandment is divided in half to fill the void.

The distinction between the first and second commandments is as much as that which exists between any of the other ten. The first commandment reveals the object of true worship. It tells us Who alone must be worshipped. The second tells us how He must be worshipped or how He must not be worshipped. The first prohibits the worship of false gods; the second forbids false forms of worship.

No Tinkering

Ellen White tells us, “The Lord has not placed before one individual the trade of becoming a church tinker.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 1, 40. With what should we not tinker? We should not tinker with the form of worship! Is it tinkering because we are not following a certain kind of liturgy, or is it speaking to greater principles than this? I think that it is speaking to greater principles. When we are counseled to not tinker with the form of worship, it involves the fact that the attention is not to be given to those who are directing the worship but rather to the One who is the object of the worship.

In the early years of my ministry, I attended, at my cousin’s invitation, a special musical program in a Nazarene church. During the program, I noticed one individual, a gentleman, who seemed particularly enraptured with the presentation.

The musical presentation was followed by the “Ministry of the Word,” but at the conclusion of the music, this man left. He had no interest in the preaching. He only wanted the “high,” the sensuous emotion that the music had apparently given him. He did not have any further interest in hearing the Word.

We can tinker with worship to the extent that it becomes almost a sensuous experience; we become wrapped up in all the choreography and the details of the presentation and forget Whom it is we have come to worship. Such are the kinds of things to which this commandment speaks.

The first commandment deals with our conception of God. The second commandment addresses our external acts as manifested in worship. It directs against the false worship of the true God. He must not be worshipped through idols or images—visible manifestations to represent the diety.

Negative Implies a Positive

We must not think that the Ten Commandments are wholly negative. Many of them begin with “Thou shalt not,” and there is a tendency for us to bristle just a little, because we do not like to be told what not to do. This is part of our sinful, fallen, human nature. Yet, we perceive a negative aspect to the second commandment, because it leaves more of a negative impression upon our minds than it does a positive. This is, again, a result of human nature.

There are many things that we accept being told to do, but there are very few things that we enjoy being told not to do. However, if we are told not to worship in a certain way, it is because there is a positive way in which to worship. The negative command, “You shall not,” always implies the positive command, “You shall.” Sin forbidden indicates righteousness commanded. “You shall have no other gods before Me,” implies the command, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only should you serve.” (Matthew 4:10.)

Internal Belief/External Acts

Both the internal belief and the external acts are involved in worship. These are distinguished by the first two commandments. The outward acts of worship reveal the thoughts and the intents of the heart. Outward acts are fruits; they are one of the things we can judge. We cannot judge the intents of the heart, but the intents of the heart are usually revealed in the outward actions. This is where a lot of people get into trouble. They do not want to be judged, but they present themselves before people in such a way that there is nothing else that can take place, because we are called to be fruit inspectors and to judge from that standpoint. As a man thinks in his heart, so is his conduct. (Proverbs 23:7.)

False or True

The distinction between false gods or false forms of worship needs to be recognized, because, as fallen human beings, we can very easily be caught up in worshipping idols and things along with or in place of the true God.

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, He told her that “the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” John 4:23.

This is a positive aspect of the second commandment. True worship is far more than religious forms and ceremonies. This is one of the principles of this commandment that we need to consider.

True worship can become perverted and degraded by those who are occupied with the externals and substitute them for the spiritual experience. This is one of the problems with churches which apparently feel that the louder the noise and the more physical movement that occurs, the more they are worshipping God.

One of the reasons many Seventh-day Adventists are worshipping independently of the organized church is because of the inroads the celebration movement has made into Adventism. This is one of the reasons I am no longer employed by the organized conference.

A Stand for True Worship

I had preached a sermon about the celebration movement and the inroads it was making into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Shortly thereafter, the local conference academy wished to sponsor a rock radio station on its campus. Some of the church members, who knew my stand on the matter, asked if I would accompany them to talk with the conference leadership concerning this station.

We prepared a packet of materials that outlined Christian standards of music and sent a copy to each member of the Conference Committee 30 days before the scheduled meeting. They laughed us to scorn in the meeting.

The church members decided they were going to see to it that this issue was put on the agenda for the constituency meeting, which was to be held in three months. At the appointed time, I was the only pastor who stood before the assembled constituents and spoke against the music that would be played on the campus of the academy by this proposed radio station.

In the three months following this meeting, the little conference of 6,000 members missed its budget by $150,000. The leadership sent out a letter, inquiring whether any of the pastors knew why the giving had diminished so drastically. Upon receipt of that letter, my wife and I drove to the conference office and said, “You have asked a question; we have an answer.” We told them what we felt the answer was, and they again laughed us to scorn and declared, “It could not possibly be.”

A few months later, the conference president called me to his office and told me he would like to discuss my new responsibilities. I had been in my current church district for seven years, and I knew it was getting close to the time to move to another district. We did not think we would be moved clear out, but we were. The conference president said, “We have four positions which must be cut because of the finances. One pastor has taken a call to another conference; one has retired; one has gone back to Andrews University. This leaves one more position, and that is yours.” If I was in trouble, it was because I stood for principle on issues, not because I was involved in moral problems or other personality difficulties.

As far as I was concerned, this change was fine. God had called me to ministry, so my wife and I started an independent ministry. We have continued in the Lord’s work ever since.

Forbidden Images

The second commandment, as given to the Israelites, forbids the making of images or any likenesses of any created object in heaven or earth for the purpose of worship. There are people who believe that this commandment forbids photographs—pictures of Jesus or relatives or anything of that nature. They say that such pictures are graven images. They do not believe we should display these things in our homes, because the commandment forbids it. Well, the commandment does not forbid this kind of thing. If indeed such was the case, then Moses, when commanded by the Lord, shortly after this commandment was given, to embroider figures of angels, to be placed in the Sanctuary to beautify it, was under divine injunction to transgress this commandment!

The principle of this commandment centers on worship. If you have created a shrine, where you bow down and worship, and the shrine includes a photograph of someone you adore and worship, then yes, this is wrong, and the second commandment addresses that. Memory’s hall, where we have photographs and pictures of loved ones, has nothing whatsoever to do with this principle.

Anything in the Heavens

Many people interpret “Thou shalt not make . . . any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above” as not making a picture of Jesus. After all, He is in heaven above. But let me just ask you a question: Are we to worship Jesus? Absolutely! This commandment is not forbidding the worship of Jesus. (Although, as presented previously, it does forbid worshipping a graven image of Jesus.) He certainly is worthy to be worshipped.

This commandment is referring to the planets in the heavens above us, to which people have attributed the status of gods. People have bowed down and worshipped Venus, Mars, and the sun. The Lord tells us that we should not worship these heavenly bodies or make any graven images of them. Neither should we worship angels, which are in heaven. They are not worthy of worship. (See Revelation 22:8, 9.)

Dead gods are not worthy of worship. Let us be honest; there are dead gods. They were known and called such, but they were believed to have immortal souls. We are forbidden to make graven images for the worship of these gods.

The second commandment is a prohibition against the worship of the work of our hands.

In Place of God

An idol is any creature or created thing put in the place of God. Idolatry is creature worship rather than Creator worship. Of all the forms of idolatry, the most degraded and senseless is the worship of the mere image of the genuine.

Think about this for a moment. Man is always superior to that which he makes, and in worshipping the works of his own hands, he is worshipping that which is inferior to himself. If you fashion a little doll or an image—perhaps a statue of the Virgin Mary—it is something crafted by your hands. It has no life or energy. It cannot help you. It is actually beneath you. It would be one thing to worship a living human being who is on your same level, but it is altogether different to worship something which is beneath you.

Image worship is even worse than the worship of what God has made, because what God has made has at least come from His hand. Image worship is the worship of something from the hand of man.

Heathen Gods

When the law was given to the children of Israel at Sinai, they had just been delivered from a country where some of the worst forms of idolatry had been practiced. They were on their way to a land that was equally corrupt. The chief gods, which the Egyptians worshipped, were the likenesses of Osiris and his wife, Isis. Osiris was known as the god of the dead. All heathen gods were men and women who, after their deaths, were deified and worshipped. In many places, they are still worshipped.

In Egypt, along with the worship of human forms, the people also worshipped the ox, heifer, stork, crane, hawk, crocodile, serpent, frog, and fish of the Nile. Every living thing was a god, and a god was in everything. This was a form of pantheism.

As far back as can be traced, the worship of all pagan deities originated with the worship of dead men and dead women. The Bible speaks very plainly concerning the worship of the dead and the familiar spirits of the dead. Do not seek after those that peep and mutter, the Bible says. (Isaiah 8:19.) (See also Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:10–12.)

All graven images of worship usually represent dead heroes, ancestors, or, as we find in modern forms of this idolatrous worship, the saints and the Virgin Mary. Interestingly, in the Catholic structure, a person does not become a saint until he or she is dead.

Immortality of the Soul

This commandment forbids the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. If it were understood correctly, there would never be the concept of the immortality of the soul.

Can you see why, on the Ten Commandments hang all the law and the prophets? Immortality is not spoken of in the Ten Commandments, yet the foundation of it is found there. This is why it is never to be entertained as a doctrine, because the second commandment forbids the consideration of the immortality of the soul. Only God is immortal. To represent God, an image must represent someone who is immortal as well.

In the book, The Origin of Pagan Idolatry (A. J. Halry, London, 1816), the author, George S. Faber, states that the gods were holy men and the sun, moon, and stars were regarded as intelligences, because they were the abode of deified men. The gods were the souls of men who were afterwards worshipped by their posterity on account of their extraordinary virtues.

Since the dead are unconscious and know not anything and have nothing whatsoever to do with anything that is done under the sun, pretended spirits of the dead are really the spirits of devils or evil angels impersonating the dead for the purpose of deception. (Ecclesiastes 9:5) The worship of idols constitutes demon worship and is so designated in the Scriptures.

The Great Apostasy

Idol worship denigrates the idea of worshipping God to the level of worshipping goats and devils. What an abomination to our Creator!

Idolatry is Satan’s effort to substantiate the lie to Adam and to Eve when he said, “You shall not surely die. For God knows that in the day that you eat of this tree, then your eyes will be opened, and you will be as gods.” (Genesis 3:4, 5.)

The great apostasy, or falling away, which was mentioned by the apostle Paul during the early Christian centuries, was a return to heathen idolatry under the disguise of a Christian exterior. The apostles were scarcely dead before the early Christians began to make images of them to venerate the relics of apostolic days. The apostasy ripened into its full fruitage between the fourth and the eighth centuries.

Edward Gibbon, in his book, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (reprinted by Allen Lane The Penguin Press, London, 1994), wrote that the sublime and simple theology of primitive Christians was gradually corrupted and the monarchy of heaven, already clouded by metaphysical subtleties, was degraded by the introduction of a popular mythology which tended to restore the reign of polytheism, the worship of many gods.

At the first, the experiment was made with caution. As the church leadership began to bring this practice in, they did it very carefully at first, because they did not know what the reaction of the people was going to be. The venerable pictures of saints and martyrs were discretely allowed, and before the end of the sixth century, these images were the object of worship and the instruments of miracles. By the beginning of the eighth century, the more timorous Greeks were awakened by an apprehension that, under the mask of Christianity, they had restored the religion of their fathers.

Temporal or Eternal

It is so much easier to be carnal than spiritual! This explains the general demand for ritualism on the part of unspiritual people. They seem to feel that a great outward show of religion makes up for the lack of an inward experience. This is one of the things commanding the attention of human beings today, especially in the area of fashion. The less spiritual experience a person has, the more they are drawn into the field of fashion. They do not seem to realize that these “things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.” 11 Corinthians 4:18. This is why, “The just shall live by faith,” not by sight. Galatians 3:11. (See also 11 Corinthians 5:7.)

The most lasting and valuable things of life are invisible. Love, joy, peace, righteousness, and character cannot be seen, yet they are more precious and eternal than all the things that are visible to the naked eye.

To be continued . . .

Pastor Mike Baugher is Associate Speaker for Steps to Life. He may be contacted by e-mail at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

Peter’s Counsel to Parents, Part VIII: “Steadfast Unto the End”

In the second letter addressed by Peter to those who had obtained “like precious faith” with himself, the apostle sets forth the divine plan for the development of Christian character. He writes:

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [11 Peter 1:2–8.]

Ladder of Christian Perfection

These words are full of instruction, and strike the key-note of victory. The apostle presents before the believers the ladder of Christian perfection, every step of which represents continual advancement in the knowledge of God, and in the climbing of which there is to be no standstill. Faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity are the rounds of the ladder. We are saved by climbing round after round, mounting step after step, to the height of Christ’s ideal for us. Thus he is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.


God has called his people to glory and virtue, and these will be manifest in the lives of all who are truly connected with him. Having become partakers of the heavenly gift, they are to go on to perfection, being “kept by the power of God through faith.” [1 Peter 1:5.] It is the glory of God to give his virtue to his children. He desires to see men and women reaching the highest standard; and when by faith they lay hold of the power of Christ, when they plead his unfailing promises, and claim them as their own, when with an importunity that will not be denied they seek for the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be made complete in him.

Safeguard of Knowledge

Having received the faith of the gospel, the next work of the believer is to add to his character virtue, and thus cleanse the heart and prepare the mind for the reception of the knowledge of God. This knowledge is the foundation of all true education and of all true service. It is the only real safeguard against temptation; and it is this alone that can make one like God in character. Through the knowledge of God and of his Son Jesus Christ, are given to the believer “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” [11 Peter 1:3.] No good gift is withheld from him who sincerely desires to obtain the righteousness of God.

“This is life eternal,” Christ said, “that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” [John 17:3.] And the prophet Jeremiah declared: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” [Jeremiah 9:23, 24.] Scarcely can the human mind comprehend the breadth and depth and height of the spiritual attainments of him who gains this knowledge.

Character Perfection Possible

None need fail of attaining, in his sphere, to perfection of Christian character. By the sacrifice of Christ, provision has been made for the believer to receive all things that pertain to life and godliness. God calls upon us to reach the standard of perfection, and places before us the example of Christ’s character. In his humanity, perfected by a life of constant resistance of evil, the Saviour showed that through cooperation with divinity human beings may in this life attain to perfection of a character. This is God’s assurance to us that we too may obtain complete victory.

Before the believer is held out the wonderful possibility of being like Christ, obedient to all the principles of the law. But of himself man is utterly unable to reach this condition. The holiness that God’s Word declares he must have before he can be saved, is the result of the working of divine grace, as he bows in submission to the discipline and restraining influences of the Spirit of truth. Man’s obedience can be made perfect only by the incense of Christ’s righteousness, which fills with divine fragrance every act of obedience. The part of the Christian is to persevere in overcoming every fault. Constantly he is to pray to the Saviour to heal the disorders of his sinsick soul. He has not the wisdom nor the strength to overcome; these belong to the Lord, and he bestows them on those who in humiliation and contrition seek him for help.

The work of transformation from unholiness to holiness is a continuous one. Day by day God labors for man’s sanctification, and man is to cooperate with him, putting forth persevering efforts in the cultivation of right habits. He is to add grace to grace; and as he thus works on the plan of addition, God works for him on the plan of multiplication. He is always ready to hear and answer the prayer of the contrite heart, and grace and peace are multiplied to his faithful ones. Gladly he grants them the blessings that they need in their struggle against the evils that beset them.

There are those who attempt to ascend the ladder of Christian progress; but as they advance, they begin to put their trust in the power of man, and soon lose sight of Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith. The result is failure—the loss of all that has been gained. Sad indeed is the condition of those who, becoming weary of the way, allow the enemy of souls to rob them of the Christian graces that have been developing in their hearts and lives. “He that lacketh these things,” declares the apostle, “is blind, and can not see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” [11 Peter 1:9.]

No Possibility of Failure

The apostle Peter had had a long experience in the things of God. His faith in God’s power to save had strengthened with the years, until he had proved beyond question that there is no possibility of failure before the one who, advancing by faith, ascends round by round, ever upward and onward, to the topmost round of the ladder that reaches even to the portals of heaven.

Privileges of Believers

For many years Peter had been urging the believers to grow in grace and in a knowledge of the truth; and now, knowing that soon he would be called upon to suffer martyrdom for his faith, he once more drew attention to the precious privileges within the reach of every believer. In the full assurance of his faith, the aged disciple exhorted his brethren to steadfastness of purpose in the Christian life. “Give diligence,” he pleaded, “to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [11 Peter 1:10, 11.] Precious assurance! Glorious is the hope set before the believer as he advances by faith toward the heights of Christian perfection!

“I will not be negligent,” the apostle continues, “to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.” [Verses 12–15.]

The apostle was well qualified to speak of the purposes of God concerning the human race; for during the earthly ministry of Christ he had seen and heard much that pertained to the kingdom of God. “We have not followed cunningly devised fables,” he reminded the believers, “when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” [Verses 16–18.]

Safe Guide of Prophecy

Convincing as was this evidence of the certainty of the believers’ hope, there was yet another still more convincing in the witness of prophecy, through which the faith of all might be confirmed and securely anchored. “We have also,” Peter declared, “a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” [Verses 19–21.]

While exalting the “sure word of prophecy” as a safe guide in times of peril, the apostle solemnly warned the church against the torch of false prophecy, which would be uplifted by “false teachers,” who would privily bring in “damnable heresies, even denying the Lord.” These false teachers arising in the church are accounted true by many of their brethren in the faith, but the apostle compared them to “wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.” “The latter end is worse with them,” he declared, “than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” [11 Peter 2:1, 2, 17, 20, 21.]

End Time Conditions

Looking down through the ages to the close of time, Peter was inspired to outline conditions that would exist in the world just prior to the second coming of Christ. “There shall come in the last days scoffers,” he wrote, “walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” But “when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” [11 Peter 3:3, 4; 1 Thessalonians 5:3.] Not all, however, would be ensnared by the enemy’s devices. As the end of all things earthly approached, there would be faithful ones able to discern the signs of the times. While a larger number of professing believers would deny their faith by their works, there would be a remnant who would endure to the end.

Peter kept alive in his heart the hope of Christ’s return, and he assured the church of the certain fulfilment of the Saviour’s promise, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself.” [John 14:3.] To the tried and faithful ones the coming might seem long delayed, but the apostle assured them: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found to him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you. . . . Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” [11 Peter 3:9–15, 17, 18.]

Peter’s Imprisonment

In the providence of God, Peter was permitted to close his ministry in Rome, where his imprisonment was ordered by the emperor Nero about the time of Paul’s final arrest. Thus the two veteran apostles, who for many years had been widely separated in their labors, were called upon to bear their last witness for Christ in the world’s metropolis, and upon its soil to shed their blood as the seed of a vast harvest of saints and martyrs.

Since his reinstatement after his denial of Christ, Peter had unflinchingly braved danger, and had shown a noble courage and boldness in preaching a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour. As he lay in his cell, he called to mind the words that Christ had spoken to him: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.” [John 21:18.] Thus Jesus had made known to the disciple the very manner of his death, and even foretold the stretching of his hands upon the cross.

Peter’s Death

Peter, as a Jew and a foreigner, was condemned to be scourged and crucified. In prospect of this fearful death, the apostle remembered his great sin in denying Jesus in the hour of his trial. Once so unready to acknowledge the cross, he now counted it a joy to yield up his life for the gospel, feeling only that for him who had denied his Lord, to die in the same manner as his Master died was too great an honor. Peter had sincerely repented of that sin, and had been forgiven by Christ, as is shown by the high commission given him to feed the sheep and lambs of the flock. But he could never forgive himself. Not even the thought of the agonies of the last terrible scene could lessen the bitterness of his sorrow and repentance. As a last favor, he entreated his executioners that he might be nailed to the cross with his head downward. The request was granted, and in this manner died the great apostle Peter.

Review and Herald, September 19, 1912; September 26, 1912.

Ellen G. White (1827–1915) wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books during her lifetime. Today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. She is the most translated woman writer in the entire history of literature, and the most translated American author of either gender. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Mrs. White was appointed by God as a special messenger to draw the world’s attention to the Holy Scriptures and help prepare people for Christ’s second advent.

Rendering to God His Own, Part I

The study of nature demonstrates the existence of a God who is a Creator, but gives no insight into His purposes in creating the earth or in placing man upon it, or of His plan for the salvation of man. For this information we must go to the Bible. Why? Because it is the only source of revelation of that God and Creator, declaring His purposes in creation and presenting His plan of salvation. Anciently God spoke to certain men, prophets and apostles, making known His purposes and plans through them. These revelations have, in part, been gathered by divine direction, and now constitute what is known as the Scriptures, or Sacred Writings.

If men would study these writings and live out their teachings, they would find them a source of knowledge that would thoroughly furnish them “unto all good works.” [11 Timothy 3: 17.] But this they fail to do, hence God has given us instruction through the testimonies of His Spirit. But these testimonies were not given to take the place of the Bible. “God has seen fit in this manner to bring the minds of His people to His Word, to give them a clearer understanding of it.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 663.

“The written testimonies are not to give new light, but to impress vividly upon the heart the truths of inspiration already revealed.” Ibid., 665.

A Study of Tithing

With these two sources of light and knowledge, let us study more deeply, possibly, than we yet have done, the otherwise familiar subject of tithing; study the purpose of God in planning it; study it until we reach the foundation principle, love, the beginning of every purpose, every plan, of God. And as the light comes, and the beauty and charm of it all is revealed, let us turn our wayward feet back again into the dear old path, and tell the Lord that, won by his love, we are “coming home, never more to roam.” [William J. Kirkpatrick, “I’ve Wandered Far Away From God,” The Church Hymnal, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Takoma Park, Washington, D.C., 1941, 560.]

For an amplification of the truth of the biblical statements concerning tithing, we will place the Testimonies beside the Bible. Beginning, then, with volume 3, we shall obtain a clear explanation of God’s purpose in presenting the tithing system to man. From page 388 we will quote, commenting as we proceed: “The great work which Jesus announced that He came to do was entrusted to His followers upon the earth. Christ, as our head, leads out in the great work of salvation and bids us follow His example. He has given us a world-wide message.”

From this we gather that Christ opened up the work, illustrating how it should be accomplished, but that the work itself was to be and will be accomplished through human agents. Now what was this work, as defined by himself? “He announced in the synagogue of Nazareth: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ ” And this statement is followed by the further one. “He has given us a world-wide message. This truth must be extended to all nations, tongues, and people.”

Completing the Work

Did you ever have an important piece of work on hand which you were extremely anxious to see finished, yet so many annoyances and interruptions distracted your attention and consumed your time as almost to discourage you in your efforts to accomplish your undertaking? Well, there you have a picture of the predicament and perplexities of the missionary for Christ. Still that is not all or the worst side of the picture. The most discouraging and the most appallingly disheartening obstacle the missionary has to meet and allow for is unfaithfulness in support from the home center. It takes money to carry on war. How cruel to send gospel soldiers out into the field to meet the enemy, then rob the home treasury so that an adequate amount cannot be forwarded to meet the soldier’s needs and necessities!

The Lord’s servant has said, “An extensive war was to be maintained against the powers of darkness. And in order to do this work successfully, means were required. God does not propose to send means direct from heaven, but He gives into the hands of His followers talents of means to use for the very purpose of sustaining this warfare. He has given his people a plan for raising sums sufficient to make the enterprise self-sustaining. . . . The treasury will be full if all adopt this system, and the contributors will not be left the poorer. Through every investment made they will become more wedded to the cause of present truth. They will be ‘laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.’ ” Ibid., 388, 389.

When an individual enters the church through baptism, the act is a tacit pledge to “walk in newness of life,” which means not only to believe but to live out all the principles of truth. [Romans 6:4.] “Every person, upon becoming a member of the church, pledges himself to be a representative of Christ by living out the truth he professes. The followers of Christ should carry forward the work which He left for them to do when He ascended into heaven.” Ibid., vol. 4, 464. When you accepted present truth and became a member of the church, you agreed to cooperate with Christ in the giving of the message, in person and in time, and to contribute of your means, . . . to carry on the warfare to be waged against Satan. This is what it means to be a co-laborer with Christ, and in return the assurance is given that persistence in this cooperation will insure a change of character which will admit the faithful one to the heavenly courts. In God’s plan there is no other way in which a character can be perfected.


The plan of salvation is founded upon [Jesus Christ, and it, by His example and command, includes] self-denial. The cultivation of that spirit is, therefore, a necessity as a fundamental principle of truth. God has made this absolutely obligatory. “Whatever necessity there is for our agency in the advancement of the cause of God, He has purposely arranged for our good. He has honored us by making us co-workers with Him. He has ordained that there should be a necessity for the co-operation of men, that they may keep in exercise their benevolence. . . . Christians are required by the Scriptures to enter upon a plan of active benevolence which will keep in constant exercise an interest in the salvation of their fellow men.” Ibid., vol. 3, 391, 392. “This is God’s means of exalting man. It is just the work which he needs, for it will stir the deepest sympathies of his heart and call into exercise the highest capabilities of the mind.” Ibid., vol. 4, 472.

“God is not dependent upon man for the support of His cause. He could have sent means direct from heaven to supply His treasury, if His providence had seen that this was best for man. He might have devised means whereby angels would have been sent to publish the truth to the world without the agency of men. He might have written the truth upon the heavens, and let that declare to the world His requirements in living characters.” Ibid., vol. 3, 390.

“But the all-wise God did not choose any of these ways. He knew that man must have something to do in order that life might be a blessing to him. The gold and the silver are the Lord’s, and He could rain them from heaven if He chose; but instead of this He has made man His steward, entrusting him with means, not to be hoarded, but to be used in benefiting others. He thus makes man the medium through which to distribute His blessings on earth. God planned the system of beneficence in order that man might become, like his Creator, benevolent and unselfish in character, and finally be a partaker with Him of the eternal, glorious reward.” Ibid., vol. 4, 473.

To Give or To Get

The primary object, then, in presenting the tithing system is the salvation of man through cooperation with God in his plan of salvation, the support of his cause being supplemental, as one of the incidents connected with the plan. The spirit of heaven is to give. Christ first gave himself, and then gave all that he had, for the redemption of man. The angels put aside the quiet life of absolute bliss, and gladly took their places as ministers to fallen man. The plan of salvation began with a sacrifice, and will end with one. All heaven has been emptied by a loving, sacrificial offering for souls. The man who would cooperate with God and with the angels in such a work must have a heart and mind like theirs, or the work would fail of attraction to him.

The natural desire of the human heart is to retain, to get. This nature must be changed until it learns to delight in giving, loves to labor for others. Selfishness is a fundamental sin, is the natural condition of fallen natures; the tithing system is intended to eliminate this deformity, and replace it with the love of God. As a man faithfully tithes his income, the blessing of the Master tenders his heart. He becomes interested in the work into which his money goes, and as time passes, he learns to love others as himself, and obtains a burden for their salvation. He learns to think God’s thoughts after him, and gradually develops a character like God’s. Then he is ready for admission into heaven, and for association with God and the holy angels. This is God’s purpose in presenting the tithing system to man—to insure the eradication of self and the development of character, so that man can be accepted as an heir of God, and admitted to companionship with his holy family.

“Christ saw that in the prosecution of business the love of riches would be the greatest cause of rooting true godliness out of the heart. He saw that the love of money would freeze deep and hard into men’s souls, stopping the flow of generous impulses and closing their senses to the wants of the suffering and the afflicted.” “The system of benevolence was arranged to prevent that great evil, covetousness.” Ibid., vol. 3, 547.

“God in His wise plans has made the advancement of His cause dependent upon the personal efforts of His people and upon their freewill offerings. . . . As the work enlarges, means will be needed to carry it forward in all its branches. Those who have been converted to the truth and been made partakers of His grace may become co-workers with Christ by making voluntary sacrifices and freewill offerings to Him.” Ibid., vol. 4, 464.

“Whenever God’s people, in any period of the world, have cheerfully and willingly carried out His plan in systematic benevolence and in gifts and offerings, they have realized the standing promise that prosperity should attend all their labors just in proportion as they obeyed His requirements. When they acknowledged the claims of God and complied with His requirements, honoring Him with their substance, their barns were filled with plenty. But when they robbed God in tithes and in offerings they were made to realize that they were not only robbing Him but themselves, for He limited His blessings to them just in proportion as they limited their offerings to Him.” Ibid., vol. 3, 395.

—To be continued . . .

The Seven Churches, Part XI: The Church of Laodicea

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, [that] the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and rep ent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ” Revelation 3:14–22.

The Last Church

In our study of the seven churches, we have come to the last church—Laodicea. God has some straight things to say to the Laodicean church! How wonderful it is to be living in the last days, right before Jesus comes! With the added privilege of living during this time, however, comes added responsibility. God holds us responsible for more than He does any other generation.

The message to Laodicea begins with, “I am Jesus, the Faithful and True witness.” The words, “I am Jesus,” are not actually given, but before the messages to the previous churches, Jesus is identified as the One speaking. The very first verse of Revelation says, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you.”

Jesus wants us to know that what He is declaring in this message is true and accurate. It is not exaggerated; God neither overlooks nor does He exaggerate. It is a true account of the condition of God’s people in the last days. Of course, God’s account of each of the seven churches is faithful and true, but He felt the need to especially remind the last church of that fact. Because His counsel to it is so stern, He wanted to make sure that His people would not take it lightly.

Those Before

To bring everything into perspective, we will briefly review the first six churches. The first church, the church of Ephesus, was representative of the Christian churches during the apostolic era. They were faithful, diligent, and theologically correct, but they had lost their first love. They had that love once; the disciples had it at the time Jesus left, but they lost it before the church was through, and God had to remove their candlestick.

Ephesus, in some ways, was like Laodicea, although Laodicea is worse. Ephesus had left their first love. They were the church which thought they could never be moved, because they were the apostolic church. But God cautions not to think that we can never be removed, because He can remove our candlestick.

Ephesus was followed by the church of Smyrna, the persecuted church. Persecution brought back the love that Ephesus had lost. It weeded out those who had lost their first love. Smyrna is one of only two churches about which God had nothing bad to say; He had only good things to say about it. God is not all negative, by any means. He is a faithful and true witness. He does not call out only the evil deeds. The message that came from God for the church of Smyrna was only encouragement and nothing else. God said to that church, “You are doing well. You think that you are poor, because you have been stripped of earthly goods, but actually, you are rich. I am pleased with you. I am happy with what you are doing.” Would you like God to say that about you?

The church of Smyrna was just the opposite of the church of Laodicea. God had not one good thing to say about Laodicea. The church of Laodicea thought they were rich, but God said that they were poor. The church of Smyrna thought they were poor, but God said that they were rich.

144,000 Represented

Now, the church of Smyrna was like God’s people who come out of the church of Laodicea. It typified the 144,000. Persecution had refined and purified the church of Smyrna. The 144,000 will be refined and persecuted. “Then one of the elders answered, . . . ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ . . . ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ ” Revelation 7:13, 14. Again, not one bad thing was said about them.

Remember the ten virgins, representing those, in the last days, who are waiting for Jesus to come? They thought they were all waiting for Jesus, but what were they really doing? They were sleeping. (Matthew 25.) However, some of them awakened, trimmed their lamps, and made ready for the Lamb. Those who had extra oil, who had been diligent Bible students, the Lord used.

In Revelation 14:5, it is written, “In their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” This is how the Bible describes the 144,000 who come out of the church of Laodicea. These people will be of like character to those of the church of Smyrna that came out of the church of Ephesus. Oh, how wonderful it would be to have God say this about each one of us! If we are faithful, this can be said about us.

What is it that helps us to gain this experience? The trials and troubles that come our way help us to learn to look to the Lord and trust in Him. As we experience trials and troubles, just remember that God is getting us ready to be among the most privileged people who have ever lived. Only two people have ever gone out of this world alive, without dying first—Elijah and Enoch. But there will be saintly people alive, when Jesus returns, who will live forever. These people are approved of God, “for they are without fault before the throne of God.” This is God’s purpose and His will for each one of us.

Blessings to Perdition

The church of Pergamos followed the church of Smyrna. This church came about when Constantine, the emperor of Rome, declared himself to be a Christian. Then the church became very, very popular, but with popularity, the church became worldly.

What a shame it is that, when God gives us peace and ease and blessings, we, so many times, use these very blessings to our perdition. You would think that, when God gives us blessings, we would use them for our salvation. But too many times we use the very blessings God gives to us to forget Him and be lost. Have you ever known people, with lots of trials and troubles, who looked to God, prayed, became Christians, and found happiness? God took away their troubles, blessed them financially, blessed them with good health, but then, sometimes, they became so engrossed with their money, their pleasures, or their families, that they forgot all about God. It is not long until such people end up unhappy, like they were before, but too proud to repent to God.

Such people think they have too much going for them to spend time with and for the Lord. They do not need to follow Him; that is for the poor or the ugly or the weak. They can make it in the world, you see. What a shame that the very blessings God gives to us are sometimes used for our demise! That is what the children of Israel did.

God, speaking to Jeremiah, said, “I remember you, The kindness of your youth, The love of your betrothal, When you went after Me in the wilderness, In a land not sown. Israel [was] holiness to the Lord.” Jeremiah 2:2, 3. This was in the days when Israel was poor, living in tents.

Verse 6 continues, “Neither did they say, ‘Where [is] the Lord, Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and pits, Through a land of drought and the shadow of death, Through a land that no one crossed And where no one dwelt?’ ” When they were in Egypt, God said that they were holy, but when God brought them into a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of plenty and prosperity, what happened? They completely forgot Him.

“I brought you into a bountiful country, To eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land And made My heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘Where [is] the Lord?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me.” Verses 7, 8.

Well, that is what happened to Pergamos. They became rich and prosperous, and God did not have much good to say about them.

The next church, Thyatira, was in existence during the Dark Ages. God did not hold those people as responsible as He did the others, we are told, in Revelation 2, because they did not have Bibles. The Bibles had been taken away. God just told them to hold fast to what they had. In that church, the papal leaders were likened to Jezebel.


Then we come to the church of Sardis, the period of the reformation. Except for Laodicea, God has the least good to say about this church! We look back to this period as a great and wonderful time, but the Bible says, regarding that church, “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1. The church of Sardis had some wonderful leaders, but the church did not follow them, so the reformation did not accomplish what God purposed. It fell short, and the beast’s wound was healed.

Second Reformation

This was followed by the second reformation—the age of Wesley, Whitefield, the Quakers, and others. During this time of the church of Philadelphia, many people fled to America to escape persecution.

There was some persecution in America’s beginning. Roger Williams had to flee to Rhode Island because of persecution. Nevertheless, for the most part, they did not have as much persecution as did the sixteenth-century reformers. Not one good church escaped persecution, but no church suffered as much persecution as the church of Sardis. Yet, even in comparative prosperity, which the church experienced, at times, the church of Sardis developed a character that God approved. I do not know of any other time in the Bible where that happened.

God had not one bad thing to say about them. This was a time of revival and reformation. When Wesley preached, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 people came to hear him, especially in America, but in Eng-land too. The people would leave their jobs to listen to him speak. The same thing happened with Whitefield.

This was a time when the missionary societies were started, sending missionaries all over the world. The Bible societies were organized and began translating the Bible in all languages. People gave offerings—this is when serious mission offerings began. This is a time when prayer meetings and evangelistic meetings began. This was a time of Baptist lay preachers and Methodist circuit riders. So this takes us to the last church, the church of Laodicea. This is the church upon which God pours out His special blessings, because He is getting a church ready, a special people ready for the Second Coming.

A Church Ready

What are God’s requirements of His church when Jesus comes again? Ephesians 5:25, 26 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.” He has been going through a great washing process for 2,000 years with seven different churches. We are in the last church, the church of Laodicea, culminating with the 144,000.

We could almost say that the 144,000 are an eighth church, which comes out of Laodicea, but they certainly are not like Laodicea! God does not list the 144,000 as a church, however. The list of churches ends with Laodicea. Nevertheless, the Bible says there will be a remnant—a remnant out of Laodicea, a remnant out of the churches.

What is the church going to be like when God is done washing it, purifying it? We are told, in verse 27, “That He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” That is what God says about the 144,000.

The Greatest Work

This last church has the greatest work of history to do. This work is outlined in Revelation 14:6, 7. In verse 6, we read, “I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth . . . .” To whom are they to preach? “Every nation, tribe, tongue, and people”—Chinese, Africans, South Americans, Caucasians, Russians—to everyone.

The devil would like to close every avenue he can to keep the gospel from going throughout the world, but the Lord has allowed for many inventions to take place in these last days—things like radio, television, and mass publishing—that go right into areas that are “closed” to Christianity. Most people in countries such as Russia and China have shortwave radios, and many hear the gospel on them. God has people in those countries, people who are willing to risk their lives for the gospel.

Before the communist revolution in China, God helped the Seventh-day Adventist Church to become firmly established in China. All through that vast country, from Mongolia to Shanghai to Hong Kong, churches were firmly established for almost 50 years before the revolution. The church has continued, but not because of Americans or missionaries, because missionaries have not been allowed to enter China since 1947. Some of the missionaries who were there at that time went to jail for the next 30 years. Some of them died there.

The Chinese work continues, just as it does in Viet Nam and Cambodia, and all other countries, because God has faithful, national people there who are true to Him and who, at the risk of their lives, continue to hold worship services where they can preach the gospel.

The devil does everything he can to close up the work, but he cannot close out the gospel. And so, the Bible says, the gospel is to go “to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’ ” Verses 6, 7.

God’s Requirements

God gives special blessings to the last church in order to fulfill this commission, in order to become holy, in order to give the gospel to the world. But with increased blessings come increased responsibilities. When God gives greater privileges, He requires more.

Jesus said, “That servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare [himself] or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many [stripes]. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:47, 48.

This is why the church of Pergamos was told, “I do not require so much of you.” He required something; they had to overcome. Those who overcome will be saved. He also counseled to hold on to what you know, and to do what you know. This is why we should not question people, because we do not know how much light they have received. There may be people who are not nearly living up to the light we have, who are better Christians than we are! We cannot judge people. Some people say that their mother, their father, their grandmother, and their grandfather were good Christians, but these people did not do everything God requires them to do. Why not? Because God may not have required it of these forefathers.

We, however, are living closer to Jesus’ Second Coming than have our parents. We are living much closer than have our grandparents. Jesus did not come in their day. They were not among the 144,000. And so, today, God is requiring more, and He is giving more. We cannot go by what our fathers or our forefathers did.

More Required

God requires more of the last church. We look at the counsel to the last church, and we see that not one good thing is said. Someone may say, “My, this is a terrible church!” Well, if you compare it to some of the other churches, it is probably better than some, from a human perspective. But the others did not have as great privileges or as much knowledge.

Look at what the Lord has given to the last church. Revelation 3:14 says, “To the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness.’ ”

Two things are implied in “the Faithful and True Witness”:
(1) What God is going to say about Laodicea is correct and faithful and true. It is not exaggerated.
(2) Beyond this, God is renewing His witness, His testimony to the church in the last days.

In Revelation 12:17, we read: “The dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” The Greek word, loipoy, which is here translated as rest, also means remnant. This means “the last part,” which actually is implied in the Greek.

Testimony of Jesus

“The testimony of Jesus Christ,” the witness of Jesus, is rather a technical term in prophecy. We find, in Revelation 19:10, as well as in Revelation 22 and other places in the Bible, that the testimony of Jesus Christ is the Spirit or the gift of prophecy.

God promised different gifts to the church. In 1 Corinthians 12, various gifts of the Spirit are given. There is the spirit of discernment and the spirit of working miracles. The spirit of helpfulness is an interesting gift, which God talks about in Romans 12. There is the spirit of administration, which may not have been a miraculous gift, but it is a gift of ability which God gives people. There is a spirit of being able to speak in other languages. Then there is a spirit of prophecy. This spiritual gift is going to be renewed in the last days, we are told in Revelation. God says to this last church, I am “the Faithful and True Witness.” He renews His witness in the last days. God continues, “the Beginning of the creation of God.” Revelation 3:14.

In the Beginning

The beginning of the creation of God, as given in Genesis 1 and 2, is when the Sabbath was made. “So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God created and made.” Genesis 1:31–2:3. In fact, the Sabbath, as we are told in the fourth commandment, is the memorial of the creation: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of the Lord your God: . . . For [in] six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that [is] in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8–11.

It is interesting that it does not just say to remember the Sabbath day, but to remember also that “the seventh day [is] the Sabbath,” and “to keep it holy.” God does not say, “Make a sabbath,” or “Keep one day a week.” He is as specific as He can be. It is the Sabbath, and “you shall do no work,” because in six days He created everything, and on the seventh day He rested from His works.

The Sabbath is the commemoration of the creation. It is what God has given to us to help us remember that He is the creator. Evolution is wrong, and all false religions are wrong. We cannot make up our own philosophy or religion or any- thing else. God is the creator. Everything here is created, and we are creatures.

If only people had kept the Sabbath and kept the meaning of the Sabbath, there would not be all the false religions we have today. The Sabbath teaches people about creation.

When more than in the last church do we need the teaching of the Sabbath? We have the teaching of the creation and the Creator and the memorial of creation, restored on earth. That is done by the seventh church, the church of Laodicea.

To be concluded . . .

Pastor Marshall Grosboll, with his wife Lillian, founded Steps to Life. In July 1991, Pastor Marshall and his family met with tragedy as they were returning home from a camp meeting in Washington state, when the airplane he was piloting went down, killing all on board.

Editorial – Types and Shadows, Part III

In the last editorial, we began looking at Colossians 2:14–17. A minimum of nine lines of evidence was given showing that the law described in this passage of Scripture could not have been the Ten Commandment Law. But it is not enough to begin to understand that this passage is not talking about the Ten Commandments. We want to know what this passage is really saying. Since very large treatises have been written about this passage, it is not possible to be exhaustive, and to conserve space, we will look one by one at a number of details.

  1. It has been recognized by Bible commentators for many years that Paul was attempting to correct certain Gnostic practices, which had crept into the church at Colossae. (Gnostics believed that they had secret knowledge about God, humanity, and the rest of the universe of which the general population was unaware.) Gnosticism was one of the major heresies which troubled the New Testament Church and which the apostles fought against so vehemently that the debate fills large sections of the New Testament. One of the major thrusts of the Gospel of John was to attack Gnostic teachings coming into the church. In 1 Timothy, 1 John, Philippians, Ephesians, and the Book of Revelation, some of the ideas of Gnosticism are again attacked. As with any major heresy, there were several branches or flavors, one of which was antinomianism (the belief that, under the gospel dispensation of grace, the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation).
  2. The Christian is not to let any person judge him in regard to eating and drinking and religious practices. Rather, he is to recognize that he will be judged by God and not by any human court. (See 1 Corinthians 4:3, 4.) In Romans 14, when Paul clearly teaches not to judge others concerning worship days, he states strongly that we will all give an account of ourselves concerning worship days to the Lord. (See Romans 14:4–13.)
  3. In addition to eating and drinking, there are three other religious observances about which the Christian is not to let any person (notice that person is singular, and this word is singular in the Greek text) judge him. These three religious observances are (1) feast, (2) new moon, and (3) sabbaths. Although the word for sabbath is in the plural, this plural word is often used in a singular sense and is often used to refer to the seventh day Sabbath. (For examples of the word sabbath used in the plural with a singular meaning in English, see Mark 1:21; 2:23, 24; Luke 4:16; 13:10; Acts 13:14; 16:13.)
  4. There is a stated reason that the Christian is not to allow any other person (i.e., a Gnostic) to judge him concerning religious observances and that is that, first of all, these religious observances are shadows of coming things. Second, these religious observances had been seized upon by Gnostics as a way to gain control of the church. Theology has been used numberless times to gain control of other people’s minds and finally to control them entirely. There are still people today with the same Gnostic attitude attempting to gain control of the church of God by dictating various practices for believers to follow in regard to eating, drinking, working, dressing, feast days, methods of Sabbath observance, ad nauseum.

To be continued . . .