Children’s Story – Dangerous Doors

“Oh, Cousin Will, do tell us a story! There’s just time before the school-bell rings.” And Harry, Kate, Bob, and little Peace crowded around about their older cousin until he declared himself ready to do anything they wished.

“Very will,” said Cousin Will. “I will tell you about some dangerous doors I have seen.”

“Oh, that’s good!” exclaimed Bob. “Were they all iron and heavy bars? And if one passed in, did they shut and keep them there forever?”

“No; the doors I mean are pink and scarlet, and when they open you can see a row of little servants standing all in white, and behind them is a little lady dressed in crimson.”

“What? That’s splendid!” cried Kate. “I should like to go in myself.”

“Ah! It is what comes out of these doors that makes them so dangerous. They need a strong guard on each side, or else there is great trouble.”

“Why, what comes out?” said little Peace, with wondering eyes.

“When the guards are away,” said Cousin Will, “I have known some things to come out sharper than arrows, and they make terrible wounds. Quite lately I saw two pretty little doors, and one opened and the little lady began to talk like this: ‘What a stuck-up thing Lucy Waters is! And did you see that horrid dress made out of sister’s old one?’ ‘Oh, yes,’ said the other little crimson lady from the other door, ‘and what a turned-up nose she has!’ Then poor Lucy, who was around the corner, ran home and cried all evening.”

“I know what you mean,” cried Kate, coloring (blushing).

“Were you listening?”

“Oh, you mean our mouths are doors!” exclaimed Harry, “and the crimson lady is Miss Tongue; but who are the guards, and where do they come from?”

“You must ask the Great King. This is what you must say: ‘Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth: keep the door of my lips.’ Then He will send Patience to stand on one side and Love on the other, and no unkind word will dare come out.”

The End

Martin Luther, part XV – The Diet at Augsburg

Emperor Charles V had called for a Diet of all the German States in Augsburg on April 8, 1530. With spring and the opening of the Alps, Charles began his travels to Germany from Italy. He arrived at Innspruck in May. Here the counselor Gattinara, who had encouraged Charles to avoid using the sword against Protestantism, sickened and died. This left only Campeggio as counselor to Charles, and he was the Pope’s specially commissioned counseler, who called for an inquisition against the reformers. Many of the Protestant princes themselves called for war, but Luther replied, “No, let no man resist the emperor: if he demands a sacrifice, lead me to the altar.” History of Protestantism, 581. He wrote to the princes calling for Christian patience and firm faith and “his noble hymn, ‘A Strong Tower is Our God,’ began to be heard in all the churches of Germany. Its heroic strains pealed forth by thousands of voices, and swelling grandly aloft, kindled the soul and augmented the confidence and courage of the Protestant host. It continued to be sung in the public assemblies during all the time the Diet was in session.” Ibid., 581, 582.

In early April, the Protestant princes and the theologians began their journey to Augsburg. The people watched them leave with great anxiety. Not since the Diet at Worms in 1521, had there been such a widely felt and deep agitation in Germany. This contest was to decide great issues and the people, along with their representatives went in prayer to Augsburg . Luther’s hymn, sung by the travelers, drowned out the tramp of horses and the clank of armor, and served to increase their courage. Luther also preached a sermon at the end of each day’s march. Charles advanced closer to Augsburg, causing the hymn to be sung more loudly. Since he was to be present at the Diet, this brought out a full attendance of princes and deputies who were determined to also be present at this momentous occasion.

In March, Elector John of Saxony had issued an order for the theologians of Wittemburg to write a summary of the Protestant faith. It was meant to state, in a concise manner, how they differed from Rome. Luther, Melancthon, Jonas and Pomeranus worked on it jointly and presented it to the Elector before the trip. But a few weeks later at Augsburg, Melancthon enlarged and remodeled the articles, with a view in mind of having them read at the Diet. He worked long days and nights on this important task. “Nothing did he spare which a penetrating judgment and a lovely genius could do to make this Confession, in point of its admirable order, its clearness of statement, and beauty of style, such as would charm the ears and lead captive the understandings and hearts of the Roman Catholics in the Diet. ‘They must listen,’ he said, ‘in spite of themselves.’ Everything was put in the least offensive form. Wittemburg and Rome were brought as near to each other as the eternal barrier between the two permitted.” Ibid., 585.

During the journey it had been deemed best for Luther to stay at Elector John’s Castle of Coburg, rather than to be present at the Diet in person, since the Edict of Worms was still in effect. There he could still be kept informed of events and his advice could be sought, but he would not be in such danger. Luther studied and spent hours each day in prayer. Melancthon’s revised articles were sent to Luther at Coburg. He gave them his approval. “I have read over Master Philip’s apology: it pleases me right well, and I know not how to better or alter anything in it, and will not hazard the attempt; for I cannot tread so softly and gently. Christ our Lord help that it bear much and great fruit; as we hope and pray. Amen.” Ibid.

During the weeks that the crowds waited on Charles to arrive, they were given opportunity to hear the Protestant teachings, as the churches were opened and Protestant preachers gave daily messages which attracted thousands. The Papists were confounded by the courageous Lutherans, and they determined to replace these preachers with their own. These proved they had not learned how to preach and the crowds left them to deliver their noisy speeches in empty cathedrals.

The Emperor at Augsburg and the Opening of the Diet

June came, long past the April 8 date for the Diet, and Charles had still not arrived. The long delay caused Luther much anxiety. He used the time well, in study and prayer, and completed his translation of several books of the Old Testament during his confinement at Coburg. He daily spent three hours in prayer and added to this hours with the Scriptures. He needed rest but was not able to rest. He suffered from fears that seemed realities, but he wrote Scripture on the walls and claimed promises of safety and rest. He was able to come out the victor as he beheld in the skies the great firmament and the Hand that upheld it, and by faith he saw the mighty Hand that guided this movement. With this Hand in control what was the need of his own weak arm? From here he was able to strengthen Melancthon who was trying to uphold the heavens himself and was being crushed by its weight.

Melancthon was rushing here and there from one Romanist to another trying through every device to reconcile the parties. Luther clearly saw the two diametrically opposite churches and faiths in this matter, and he also saw that it was a waste of time and a risk to character and truth to try to reconcile the two. This Melancthon did not see. Luther counseled his friend, “If we are not the Church, where I pray is the Church?” Ibid., 593.

At last Charles made it to Augsburg on June 15, 1530 , and directed an assault against the Protestant sermons. “The crowds that gathered round the preachers were as great as ever. The emperor was galled by the sight of these enthusiastic multitudes . . . That the heresy which he had crossed the Alps to extinguish should be proclaimed in a score of churches, and within earshot of him, was more than he could endure. He sent for the Lutheran princes, and charged them to enjoin silence on their preachers. The princes replied that they could not live without the preaching of the Gospel, and that the citizens of Augsburg would not willingly consent to have the churches closed . . . After two days’ warm altercation it was concluded on the part of the Protestants—who feared to irritate too greatly the emperor, lest he should forbid the reading of their Confession in the Diet —that during the sitting of the Senate the Protestant sermons should be suspended; and Charles on his part agreed to appoint preachers who should impugn neither creed in their sermons, but steer a middle course between the old and the new faith . . . Those who went to witness the promised feat of preaching something that was neither Popery nor Protestantism, were not a little amused by the performances of this new sort of preachers. ‘Their sermons,’ said they, ‘are innocent of theology, but equally innocent of sense.’” Ibid., 589.

Charles opened the Diet with a speech. He told of the dangers presented by the Turks and then called for his hearers to execute the Edict of Worms. His speech shows the sad state of Christianity at this age. Priestcraft and despotism had so weakened the West that it was ready to be overcome by the Turks. Protestantism had arisen just in time to rekindle the nearly extinguished fires of patriotism and valor. Charles was calling for the death of the only hope the West had of being saved from being ruled from Constantinople and forced into Mohammedanism. The Diet had been called to deal with the problem of the Turks and to answer the religious questions. Charles decided to begin with the religious question.

Reading The Augsburg Confession

On the 23rd of June the Protestants met to sign their Confession which Melancthon had polished. This document had been prepared by theologians but it was signed by the laity. This was significant since “it proclaimed the forgotten fact that the laity form part of the Church . . . The Protestants agreed to demand that their Confession should be read publicly in the Diet. This was a vital point with them. They had not kindled this light to put it under a bushel, but to set it in a very conspicuous place; indeed, in the midst even of the princedoms, hierarchies, and powers of Christendom now assembled at Augsburg.” Ibid., 594.

After deliberations and delays, a public reading was granted to be given in a small hall that held only two hundred persons. Finally on the 25th of June the reading was given in German by Bayer, a chancellor of Elector John. All eyes were on the Protestants whose faces were radiant with joy. Bayer’s voice rang strong so all could hear, and for two hours the reading of the Confession continued. “Not a word was spoken all that time. This assembly of princes and warriors, statesmen and ecclesiastics, sat silent, held fast in the spell, not of novelty merely, but of the simplicity, beauty, and majesty of the truths which passed before them in the grand spiritual panorama which Melancthon’s powerful hand had summoned up. Till now they had known the opinions of the Protestants only as rumour had exaggerated, or ignorance obscured, or hatred misrepresented and vilified them: now they learned them from the pen of the clearest intellect and most accomplished scholar in the Lutheran host . . . The effect on some was surprise; on others, conviction; on most, it was the creation of a more conciliatory spirit towards the Lutherans.” Ibid., 599.

“The presentation of the Confession to the Diet was the culmination of the movement on German soil. It was the proudest hour of the Lutheran Church . . . The Augsburg Confession was not a perfectly accurate statement of Scripture truth by any means, but as a first attempt, made before the Reformation had completed its second decade, it was a marvellous effort . . . ‘Christ has been boldly confessed at Augsburg,’ said Luther, when the news reached him. ‘I am overjoyed that I have lived to this hour.’” Ibid., 601, 602.

“The Popish members were dismayed and confounded when they reflected on what had been done. The Diet had been summoned to overthrow the Reformation; instead of this it had established it.” Ibid. Two other Confessions followed, one from Bucer and signed by the four cities which held to the Zwinglian rather than the Lutheran view of the Lord’s supper, and the other from Zwingli stating his individual views. The Papists had hoped to find “a schism in a schism” but they found “that on one point only did they differ and that all were united in their repudiation and condemnation of Rome.” Ibid.

“Moreover, powerful princes were passing from the Romanist to the Protestant side . . . Their accession wellnigh doubled the political strength of the Reformation . . . The Confession was translated into most of the languages of Europe, and circulated in the various countries; the misrepresentations and calumnies which had obscured and distorted the cause were cleared away; and Protestantism began to be hailed as a movement bringing with it renovation to the soul and new life to States.” Ibid., 602, 603.

The morning after the reading, Charles knew that he had made a bad start of this matter. He determined to correct his first false move and he sought counsel. Some suggested concessions that might appease the Protestants while leaving the mass and the authority of the Church intact. Charles liked this idea but Campeggio convinced him not to follow this counsel. He listened to many and varied counselors and determined that he must look into this matter himself. He did not speak German and so he ordered a perfectly accurate translation of the Confession into French.

In the meantime he called the deputies of the free cities of Germany into his ante-chamber. They were astonished by the demand made upon them. After the reading of Melancthon’s eloquent words which had caused such obvious perplexity among the Romanists, they expected a concession or an overture of conciliation, but they received a demand that they withdraw their support of the “Protest of the Princes” given at Spires in 1529. The deputies answered that in a matter of such importance they must have time to make an answer.

They had not thought much of the protest at the time but it was becoming evident that a wisdom not their own had ruled in the matter. “The Protest had deposited in Christendom the one everlasting corner-stone of freedom and virtue—an emancipated conscience . . . An emancipated conscience they committed to the guardianship of the Bible: and the supremacy of the Bible they placed under the sovereignty of God. Thus they brought conscience in immediate contact with her Lord, and human society they placed under the rule of its rightful and righteous king.” Ibid. The Protest “restored society to God . . . Protestantism came to reinstate the Divine government over the world. It did so by placing the authority of Scripture above the chair of the Pope, and lifting the crown of Christ above the throne of the emperor.” Ibid., 605.

Attempted Refutation of the Confession

Charles summoned a council of the Popish members of the Diet to give him advice concerning the Confession. Their counsel was not wise and was more of a distraction and embarrassment to Charles than a help. In the end it was decided that a few learned doctors would be appointed to write a Refutation of the Lutheran Confession which would then be read to the princes and ratified by Charles. Those selected for the task were twenty extreme Romanists, and it was clear that there would be no concessions to the Protestants. “Before unsheathing the sword, they would first make trial with the pen. They would employ violence with all the better grace afterwards.” Ibid., 608.

All knew too that this Refutation could not stand against the Confession if the Bible were the basis of its arguments. “‘Doctor,’ inquired the Duke of Bavaria, addressing Eck, ‘can you confute that paper out of the Bible?’ ‘No,’ replied he, ‘but it may be easily done from the Fathers and Councils.’ ‘I understand,’ rejoined the duke, ‘I understand; the Lutherans are in Scripture, and we are outside .’” Ibid.

Luther was inspired and encouraged at the prospect of the battle, but Melancthon was in despair. Luther’s hours of prayer and his great faith begat faith, as he wrote to encourage his friend that the battle was God’s and that He would win. The adherents of Lutheranism might die, but the cause would win. “So did the battle proceed on the two sides. Wiles, frowns, threats, with the sword as the last resort, are seen on the one side—prayers, tears, and faith on the other.” Ibid., 610.

Charles had sent two groups away with instruction to return with answers. The first to return were the deputies of the free cities. Charles had hoped that the differences within the cities on the question of the Lord’s supper might split the Protestant front, but they stood united and firm against the common foe and stated that they could not obey the emperor’s wishes as this would cause them to disobey God. The second group to return were the Popish doctors with their refutation or more rightly stated condemnation of the Protestant Confession.

After seeing the 280 page document and finding that it made no refutation at all but was full of abuse, Charles could see that “her worst foe could not do Rome a more unkindly act, or Wittemburg a greater service, than to publish such a document.” It would never stand under contrast with the Confession. Another refutation must be attempted.

End of the Diet of Augsburg

Six weeks were required to rewrite the Refutation. In the mean time Charles attempted to split the Protestants through the princes. “They were taken one by one, in the hope that they would be found less firm when single than they were when taken together. Great offers—loftier titles, larger territories, more consideration—were made to them would they but return to the Church. When bribes failed to seduce them, threats were had recourse to . . . Neither were threats able to bend them to submission . . . Their faith taught them not to fear the wrath of the powerful Charles. No efforts were spared to compel the Elector John to bow the neck . . . He must make his choice between his crown and his Savior.” He could not be moved to deny his Lord. “John risked all; but in the end he retained all, and amply vindicated his title to the epithet given him—‘John the Constant.’” Ibid., 614.

On September 3, Charles called his princes together to hear the reading of the Refutation. There were some areas of agreement with the Confession of the Protestants, but this Refutation professed the old fabric of salvation by works and “maintained the Divine authority of the hierarchy, and of course the correlative duty of absolute submission to it; the Protestants acknowledged no infallible rule on earth but the Scriptures.” Ibid., 615.

“When the reading was finished the emperor addressed the elector and the other Protestant princes to the effect that, seeing their Confession had now been refuted, it was their duty to restore peace to the Church, and unity to the Empire, by returning to the Roman obedience. He demanded, in fine, consent to the articles now read, under pain of the ban of the Empire.” Ibid.

“The Protestant princes were not a little surprised at the emperor’s peremptoriness. They were told that they had been refuted, but unless they should be pleased to take the emperor’s word for it, they had no proof or evidence that they had been so . . . and as they knew of no power possessed by the emperor of changing bad logic into good, or of transforming folly into wisdom, the Protestant princes—a copy of the Refutation having been denied them—intimated to Charles that they still stood by their Confession.” Ibid.

Every attempt of the emperor and the Romish representative of the Diet had failed to bring the Protestants into submission. Everyday they seemed to display more courage and their cause was gaining strength, while the anger and perplexities of the Romanists increased. The emperor was at his wit’s end. He dared not carry out his threats against the Protestants. Luther, still in the Castle of Coburg was filled with joy and courage, and his letters reflect his assurance of victory and an elevation of faith.

“Meanwhile in the Diet promises had been tried and failed; threats had been tried and failed; negotiations were again opened, and now the cause had wellnigh been wrecked.” For though Luther was able to see by faith the Hands of God upholding all, Melancthon who was the chief negotiator for the Protestants seemed to imagine the imminent fall of the cause and was about to surrender all. For the sake of peace he all but sacrificed himself, his colleagues, and the work. His concessions were extraordinary. The lay Christians felt they were witnessing the burial of the movement. The Swiss Protestants were grief stricken. “Luther was startled and confounded.” He wrote to Augsburg. “I learned that you have begun a marvellous work, namely, to reconcile Luther and the Pope; but the Pope will not be reconciled, and Luther begs to be excused. And if in despite of them you succeed in this affair, then, after your example, I will bring together Christ and Belial.” Ibid., 616.

But Melancthon would not be counseled by Luther. His patience was short and his temper sour, and he was about to finish what he termed his work of conciliation when deliverance came from another avenue. The Romanists, as if smitten with madness, drew back at the very point of victory and refused to be reconciled. “Thus Rome lost the victory, which would in the end have fallen to her, had she made peace on the basis of Melancthon’s concessions. Her pride saved the German Reformation.” Ibid., 617.

Now it was left to Charles to end the Diet. An edict was sent out allowing the Protestants till April 15th to be reconciled to the Pope and forbidding the circulation of their books or proselytizing and demanding that they help to reduce the Anabaptists and the Zwinglians. “This edict Charles would have enforced at once with the sword, but the spirit displayed by the Protestant princes, the attitude assumed by the Turks, and the state of the emperor’s relations with the other sovereigns of Europe put war out of his power; and the consequence, was that the monarch who three months before had made his entry into Augsburg with so much pomp, and in so high hopes of making all things and parties bend to his will, retired from it full of mortification and chagrin, disappointed in all his plans, and obliged to conceal his discomfiture under a show of moderation and leniency.” Ibid.

The End

James White and Church Organization

It was the year of 1863. The United States of America was in the deadly embrace of a civil war. The eyes of the world were directed towards this nation. Could Protestantism and Republicanism stand? Even in 1863, this nation had already fallen far from what she once was. That very year the prophet wrote, “The people of this nation have forsaken and forgotten God. They have chosen other gods and followed their own corrupt ways until God has turned from them. The inhabitants of the earth have trampled upon the law of God and broken His everlasting covenant.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 355, 356. But while the nations of this earth looked on with disgust and indignation at the atrocities of the civil war, the most important battle of the day was little known.

This battle was being fought and won in humble homes and churches, in little known offices and most of all in the hearts of men. By the year 1863 many major victories had already been won in this battle of establishing a people in the third angel’s message. The Bible doctrines that were her foundation were in place. Each belief had been dug from the Scriptures. Each had the living testimony of the messenger of the Lord in its support. In various states, conferences were being formed to stabilize the work and guard against fanaticism. But in this year, there were new heights to be scaled and new victories to be won.

On June 6, 1863, the “health vision” was given. In and of itself the message of God on health reform marks 1863 as a never to be forgotten year. Health reform is the right arm of the message. “It is as closely connected with the third angel’s message as the hand is with the body.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 69. For a people preparing for translation, the health reform was mandatory. “It is impossible for those who indulge in appetite to attain to Christian perfection.” Ibid., 22.

Yoked up with health reform was the vital matter of church organization which was finalized just two weeks before the vision on health. On May 20–23, 1863, the state conferences met and formed a general conference. John Byington served as chairman after the refusal of James of White. But that should deceive no one as to who was the driving force causing the formation of the General Conference. “Without James White’s dynamic leadership there would have been no organization of the Adventist Church in the 1860’s. For week after week, month by month, year after year, through the columns of the Review and Herald, he presented the importance of gospel order and led the members forward step by step toward his goal. A problem that he had to face was that he could see farther ahead than most of his brethren. And, of course, he was married to Ellen White, through whom God spoke directly to him on many occasions, counseling, encouraging, and stimulating his thinking.” James White, 164, by Virgil Robinson.

This man, James White, who brought about many victories for God’s cause: just what kind of a man was he? In our time we can only rely on pen pictures, as no one living was his personal acquaintance. This man, like Jesus’ disciples, had many natural abilities. However, as important as that is, we could never ascribe his success to that alone. Alexander the great, Napoleon and Nebuchadnazzer, all had many natural abilities, but James White’s abilities were surrendered to the use of God’s cause on earth. His wife, God’s prophet, “recognized the special talents God had given her husband. She wrote to him: ‘God has given you a good intellect—I might say a giant intellect . . . The cause of God cannot spare you without experiencing a great loss.’ ” Ibid. Later she wrote to her son, “Your father does the work of three men at all these meetings. I never saw a man work so energetically, so constantly as your father. God does give him more than mortal energy. If there is any place that is hard your father takes it.” Ibid.

In the 1990’s we are (or should be) well acquainted with the writings of Ellen White, the Lord’s special messenger. We know that those who read and study the testimonies from her pen become settled into the third angel’s message. But we are often unaware of the role James White played in the establishment of the remnant church. He ever had a great mission in mind, and was ever planning for its accomplishment. His mission was to cause the triumph of the third angel’s message over the powers of evil. His life was bound up in its welfare. When it prospered, he was comforted. But, when it languished, he sorrowed and went to work to heal it. He knew that for its final triumph, it must be a united body moving in perfect order against the powers of evil. For this cause, under God, he bent the powers of his “giant intellect.” Few men in God’s remnant church have ever had such a wonderful blend of executive ability combined with a profound theological knowledge of Biblical truth. But God saw that is what it would take to organize His church on earth.

With all that said, one would think those around him would see and appreciate his abilities. But history proves that this is seldom the case with anyone. We have only to remind ourselves of Paul, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Joseph to mention a few. The one, who with keen vision looks down the path and sees what course is needed, is usually derided by his contemporaries. It proved thus for James White. We should not be surprised, for our Lord and Master was scorned, and He was perfect. It was through His cruel humiliation that we were brought the blessing of salvation. And once again in the life experience of James White, we will see how the Lord turned scorn and derision into large blessings for his people.

This scorn and evil speaking played its role in bringing about the first General Conference meeting in May of 1863. When going through some bad experience we seldom grasp the full meaning of the promise, “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” 2 Corinthians 13:8. But, the historian of later years can look back and be amazed at the reality of the promise. As we will see by the story below, this is what happened with the rumors started against James White.

In 1862 and 1863, the work in Wisconsin was suffering from fanaticism. One of the leaders who was caught up in it was a Mr. T.M. Steward and his wife. They were claiming that Mrs. Steward had received visions. Because of this many sincere believers threw out all visions—including Ellen White’s. Others, in leadership positions, wanted to deny fellowship to new converts to the three angels’ messages until they had a chance to evaluate the prophetic gift and who consequently would not instantly state their belief in Ellen White’s visions. The Lord sent counsel to His people about the course to follow in this situation in Testimonies, vol. 1, 326–340 and 382–384.

Mr. Steward also opposed and criticized the idea of the organization of the believers. As is often the case, instead of attacking the message which cut across his ideas, he attacked the messenger—James White. The story is recorded in Ellen White: The Progressive Years, by Arthur White. It will be quoted here at length.

One way the great adversary sought to cripple the work of James White was in the circulation of rumors and falsehoods regarding his business integrity and honesty. Such criticism centered in northern Wisconsin, influenced by T.M. Steward. (See Testimonies, vol. 1, 311–323.) But criticisms were being heard from other areas where organization had been resisted. In early 1863 the Battle Creek church took steps to halt the malicious criticism. They recognized that James White’s reputation was not only of great value to him but also to “those who may be connected with the cause.” At a business meeting convened on Sunday, March 29, actions were taken to clear his name:

Resolved: That we, the church of Seventh-day Adventists of Battle Creek, deem it our duty to take measures to ascertain the grounds of the charges, complaints, and murmurs that are in circulation, that they may be sustained, and action taken accordingly, or may be proved to be groundless, and the envenomed mouth of calumny and slander be effectually stopped.

Resolved: That we appoint Brethren U. Smith, G.W. Amadon, and E.S. Walker, a committee to take this matter in charge.— RH, March 31, 1863.

The breadth of the proposed investigation is seen in the next action taken by the church:

Resolved: That we hereby earnestly request all those far and near who think they have any grounds of complaint against Elder White, all who have handed to him means that he has not appropriated as directed, all who think that he has wronged the aged, the widow, and the fatherless, or that he has not in all his dealings in temporal matters manifested the strictest integrity, probity, and uprightness, to immediately report their grievances, and the grounds upon which they base them, to Uriah Smith, chairman of the above named committee, that they may be received previous to the middle of May next.—Ibid.

Testimonials were solicited from all who had had dealings with James White since the beginning of his public ministry. These were to be laid before the coming General Conference session, called for late May.

In a last-page note in the next issue of the Review, White called attention to the action of the Battle Creek church. He stated:

The church deemed it necessary, for the good of the cause that there should be an investigation of our business career connected with the cause, and a printed report made. If flying reports be true, we should be separated from the cause. If an open and critical investigation proves them false, a printed report in the hands of the friends of the cause with which we have been connected may, in some instances at least, paralyze the tongue of slander.—Ibid., April 7, 1863.

He urged a prompt response “for the sake of the cause.”

The Call For A General Conference

The same issue of the Review carried the call for a meeting of the General Conference, at which it was hoped that church organization could be rounded out by binding the State conferences together in a unified body of believers across the land. The delegates were called to meet on Wednesday, May 20. The notice stated:

The several conference committees in the different States are requested to send delegates, or letters at their discretion. The brethren in those localities where there is no State conference can also be represented in the conference by delegates or letters.—Ibid.

On Wednesday afternoon, May 20, twenty ministers and laymen assembled in Battle Creek were ready to present their credentials. The conference moved into its work, in organizing the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, as noted elsewhere. (See Ellen G. White: The Early Years, 479–481.) The conference elected John Byington as president; Uriah Smith , secretary; and E.S. Walker, treasurer. James White was first unanimously elected to the presidency, but he thought it best to let another carry that responsibility. Byington would be joined by J.N. Andrews and G.W. Amadon, making an executive committee of three. The main thrust of the conference related to organization in both the State conferences and the General Conference.

Further Business of The Conference

The wording was brief, but the results were far-reaching. Actions were taken relating to the publication of charts for use in public proclamation of the message: a new prophetic chart, and one on the Ten Commandments (RH, May 26, 1863).

The General Conference took action regarding the survey of James White’s business integrity:

As no one had reported any grievances pertaining to the subject in hand, according to the request in the Review, the committee could only report that fact to the conference, and place in its hands the more than threescore and ten fervent testimonials which have been received on the other side, with the recommendation that, as it seemed that no one dared appear, to sustain the aforesaid reports, some action be taken by this conference to show the falsity of these reports, and vindicate before the world the character and course of Brother White. . . .

Resolved, That the committee employed by the Battle Creek church be empowered to act further in this matter in behalf of this conference, and prepare for publication a record of the action of the Battle Creek church relative to the accusations against Brother James White, and the substance of the responses received.—Ibid.

It was thought well to hold open the time for reports on White for another two months. The report finally appeared in the form of a forty-page pamphlet, which was circulated under the title “Vindication of the Business Career of Elder James White.” The introduction to the pamphlet, signed by the committee of three, declared that “no one has reported himself aggrieved.” It added:

His enemies have thus betrayed their utter want of confidence in the work they have been doing. Their silence has sealed their ignominy. Hereafter, in view of this fact, none will be willing to place themselves in the contemptible position of circulating such reports, except those whose enmity and prejudice overcome their convictions of right and reason,—Vindication of the Business Career of Elder James White, 3, 4.

The “Vindication” pamphlet consists of the signed statements of some seventy individuals who were well acquainted with White; many of these had had business dealings with him.

The conference was the first official General Conference session. It marked the completion of the organizational structure among Seventh-day Adventists. Attendance was such that meetings were held in the tent on the green across the street from the Review office. Uriah Smith, in his editorial report, declared:

Taking general view of this meeting as a religious gathering we hardly know what feature of the joyful occasion to notice first. We can say to the readers of the Review, think of everything good that has been written of every previous meeting, and apply it to this. All this would be true, and more than this.

Perhaps no previous meeting that we have ever enjoyed was characterized by such unity of feeling and harmony of sentiment. In all the important steps taken at this conference, in the organization of a General Conference, and the further perfecting of State conferences, defining the authority of each, and the important duties belonging to their various officers, there was not a dissenting voice, and we may reasonably doubt if there was even a dissenting thought. Such union, on such points, affords the strongest grounds of hope for the immediate advancement of the cause, and its future glorious prosperity and triumph.—RH, May 26, 1863.

This step in organization brought the church into a unified denominational structure in time to meet the emergencies of the military draft, and prepared to make advance steps as the health message came, through vision, two weeks after the session.

Taken from Ellen White: The Progressive Years, 30–33.

God turned the charges against James White into a blessing. This very situation showed the need for just such a conference. It seems that whenever the cause of God is marked with the promise of progress, the enemy of truth is on the ground to contend every inch of advance. Thus it was in the days of Moses, Jesus, Paul and Martin Luther.

Today the Lord can turn the apparent troubles in God’s work into blessings if we stay humble and obedient. We must watch and pray and keep our garments unspotted from the prevailing iniquity around us. Our lips must be firmly sealed against idle words and evil speaking. Otherwise, we could innocently fall into Satan’s snares and unknowingly be carrying out his plans. Thus it was with the disciples of John the Baptist.

John the Baptist lived a very austere life. The Pharisees secretly hated him. They “had not accepted the mission of the Baptist. They had pointed in scorn to his abstemious life, his simple habits, his coarse garments, and had declared him a fanatic. Because he denounced their hypocrisy, they had resisted his words, and had tried to stir up the people against him. The Spirit of God moved upon the hearts of these scorners, convicting them of sin; but they had rejected the counsel of God, and had declared that John was possessed of a devil . . . Although they had opposed the mission of the Baptist, they were now ready to court the friendship of his disciples, hoping to secure their co-operation against Jesus . . . They contrasted the austere piety of the Baptist with the course of Jesus in feasting with publicans and sinners . . . The disciples of John had not a clear understanding of Christ’s work; they thought there might be some foundation for the charges of the Pharisees.” Desire of Ages, 275, 276.

These poor men, without knowing what they were doing played into the hands of the Pharisees, who were Christ’s bitterest enemies. And they came and questioned Jesus about why He and His disciples did not fast as often as they and the Pharisees did. You can read the whole story in Desire of Ages, 272–280.

This accusing spirit repeats itself over and over again in the work of God. James White contended with it all his life, not only from his enemies, but often from his “best” of friends. Rumors are still floating around today of what a hard man he was. One wonders how many of those are founded upon even a shred of truth! But we can be sure, whatever is said about him, that God accepted his labors. Ellen White was shown in vision that he will be saved. We know that God’s grace was sufficient for him and that his weakness was submitted to God’s strength. “For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:3.

The End

by Gwen Reeves

What Inspiration Says About – Being Deceived

Be not deceived; many will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. We have now before us the alpha of this danger. The omega will be of a most startling nature.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 197.

“Christ sees the wickedness on the earth today. He sees that the sins of Noah’s and Lot’s time are being repeated. What terrible revelations of crime are being made. Everything seems to be stirred with an intense activity from beneath. Excitement is continually kept up. Feasting, buying, and selling, are brought into the churches. The watchman cries, ‘The morning cometh, and also the night.’ The night symbolizes prevalence of error, misinterpretation and misapplication of Scripture. Every species of delusion is now being brought in. The plainest truths of God’s word are covered with a mass of man-made theories. Deadly errors are presented as the truth to which all must bow. The simplicity of true godliness is buried beneath tradition.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, February 1, 1897.

“Those temptations are most dangerous which come from the professed servants of God, and from our friends. When persons who are uniting with the world, yet claiming great piety and love, counsel the faithful workers for God to be less zealous and more conservative, our answer must be an appeal to the Word of God. When they plead for union with those who have been our determined opposers, we should fear and shun them as decidedly as did Nehemiah.” The Signs of the Times, January 3, 1884.

“Christ had foretold that deceivers would arise, through whose influence ‘iniquity’ should ‘abound,’ and ‘the love of many’ should ‘wax cold’ (Matt. 24:12). He had warned the disciples that the church would be in more danger from this evil than from the persecution of her enemies. Again and again Paul warned the believers against these false teachers. This peril, above all others, they must guard against; for by receiving false teachers, they would open the door to errors by which the enemy would dim the spiritual perceptions and shake the confidence of those newly come to the faith of the gospel.” Reflecting Christ, 344.

The Sure Consequence of Imbibing Error

“We are living in the perils of the last days. It is not safe to be careless and indifferent now. With humble hearts and perfect submission to the will of God, we should pray earnestly to be kept from error and that we may be guided into all truth. Truth sanctifies. Error corrupts. The soul can be kept pure and strengthened only by walking in the light as Christ is in the light.” Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 2, 1875.

“Error is falsehood and deception. Those who partake of it must suffer in consequence, as did Adam and Eve in Eden. It is the privilege of all to search with prayerful, eager interest for the truth. Truth is the tree of life, the leaves of which the human family are to eat and live.” The Upward Look, 125.

“It is a fact widely ignored, though never without danger, that error rarely appears for what it really is. It is by mingling with or attaching itself to truth that it gains acceptance. The eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil caused the ruin of our first parents, and the acceptance of a mingling of good and evil is the ruin of men and women today.” Education, 230, 231.

“Error is never harmless. It never sanctifies, but always brings confusion and dissension. It is always dangerous. The enemy has great power over minds that are not thoroughly fortified by prayer and established in Bible truth.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 47.

Danger of Not Going to a Church of True Believers

“I then saw the third angel. Said my accompanying angel, ‘Fearful is his word, awful is his mission. He is the angel that is to select the wheat from the tares, and seal or bind the wheat for the heavenly garner.’ These things should engage the whole mind, the whole attention. Again I was shown the necessity of those who believe we are having the last message of mercy, being separate from those who are daily receiving or imbibing new error. I saw that neither young nor old should attend the assemblies of those who are in error and darkness. Said the angel, ‘Let the mind cease to dwell on things of no profit.’ ” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 425.

“In order to live in the light, we must come where the light shines. It is not well for the people of God to lose the privilege of associating with those of like faith with themselves; for the truth loses its importance in their minds, their hearts cease to be enlightened and vivified by its sanctifying influence, and they lose spirituality. They are not strengthened by the words of the living preacher.” Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, November 14, 1882.

“I was shown the necessity of those who believe that we are having the last message of mercy, being separate from those who are daily imbibing new errors. I saw that neither young nor old should attend their meetings; for it is wrong to thus encourage them while they teach error that is a deadly poison to the soul and teach for doctrines the commandments of men. The influence of such gatherings is not good. If God has delivered us from such darkness and error, we should stand fast in the liberty wherewith He has set us free and rejoice in the truth. God is displeased with us when we go to listen to error, without being obliged to go; for unless He sends us to those meetings where error is forced home to the people by the power of the will, He will not keep us. The angels cease their watchful care over us, and we are left to the buffetings of the enemy, to be darkened and weakened by him and the power of his evil angels; and the light around us becomes contaminated with the darkness. Early Writings, 124, 125.

“Those who do not feel the necessity of seeking the assembly of the saints, with the precious assurance that the Lord will meet with them, show how lightly they value the help that God has provided for them. Satan is constantly at work to wound and poison the soul; in order to withstand his efforts we must breathe the atmosphere of heaven. We must individually get hold and keep hold of Christ.” SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 934.

“No longer should our people go to Battle Creek as they have been doing. Infidelity has been sown there in words in false statements, in unsanctified influence of mind over mind. God is dishonored, we are to prepare to accept the situations God may prepare for us. Never before did the matter appear as the Lord presents it today. False theories, repeated again and again, appear as falsely inviting today as did the fruit of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. The fruit was very beautiful, and apparently desirable for food. Through false doctrines many souls have already been destroyed. Some will never see the light and come to their senses. The Lord God of Israel now declares, ‘If the Lord be God, serve Him; and if Baal, serve him. Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.’” Loma Linda Messages, 165.

“We shall be called to meet those who, notwithstanding definite reproof and warning through the Testimonies have gone on in an evil course. We are bidden of God to hold ourselves separate and distinct from these men who have not given heed to His warnings. Some of them will seek to enter our churches, but we are to give no place to them. If they are converted, they will bear a different testimony. But I have a positive warning in reference to men who have departed from the faith. Let not our churches be opened for them; for they will deceive, if possible, the very elect.” (To S. N. Haskell, November 11, 1908.) Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 196.

“Every truly honest soul will come to the light of truth. ‘Light is sown for the righteous.’ (Psalm 97:11) And no church can advance in holiness unless its members are earnestly seeking for truth as for hid treasure.” The Great Controversy, 522.

“There are men whose character and life testify to the fact that they are false prophets and deceivers. These we are not to hear or tolerate.” Testimonies to Ministers, 294.

“Satan will bring his temptations, and if he is to be resisted we must pray to God for deliverance. If there ever was a time that we needed to pray, it is in these last days. The Word is no more bound than it was when Christ was upon the earth. We shall have Satan and evil men to combat, but we also shall have messengers of light to help us. It is for us to gather upon our pathway all the rays of light, and not listen to error, for if we do we shall be turned away from truth. We have no time to listen to fables. Christ’s prayer was, ‘Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth’ (John 17:17). We want the truth and we want to give Him all our powers, that when He comes His benediction will rest upon every one of us and we shall receive the reward.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 98.

Necessity of Opposing False Teachers

“False teachers may appear to be very zealous for the work of God, and may expend means to bring their theories before the world and the church; but as they mingle error with truth, their message is one of deception, and will lead souls into false paths. They are to be met, and opposed, not because they are bad men, but because they are teachers of falsehood, and are endeavoring to put upon falsehood the stamp of truth.” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, September 12, 1893.

“The Word of God contains the truth, but when this Word is misapplied and made to strengthen error, we must meet this danger without hesitation. We must call upon our people to turn from such theories, to receive them not, to remember how they have received, and heard, and hold fast, and repent. We call upon them to keep their spiritual eyesight clear and to receive not the elaborate, uncalled-for explanations of the Scriptures offered by some, because these explanations would undermine the pillars of our faith. Reverence the Word, but not its misapplication to substantiate error.” Manuscript Release, vol. 760, 16.

Fatal Consequence of Improper Education

“The education that consists in the training of the memory, tending to discourage independent thought, has a moral bearing which is too little appreciated. As the student sacrifices the power to reason and judge for himself, he becomes incapable of discriminating between truth and error, and falls an easy prey to deception. He is easily led to follow tradition and custom.” Education, 230.

“Physicians, have you been doing the Master’s business in listening to fanciful and spiritualistic interpretations of the Scriptures, interpretations which undermine the foundations of our faith, and holding your peace? God says, ‘Neither will I be with you any more, unless you awake, and vindicate your Redeemer.’” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 196.

Whose Authority Will You Obey?

“The word of God is to be our counselor. It is only those who render perfect and thorough obedience to God that he will choose. Those who follow the Lord are to be firm and straightforward in obeying his directions. Any deviation to follow human devising or planning disqualifies them for being trustworthy. Even if they have to walk as did Enoch,—with God alone,—his children must separate from those who do not obey him, who show that they are not in vital connection with him. The Lord God is a host; and all who are in his service will realize the meaning of his words to Zerubbabel, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.’ ” The Youth’s Instructor, April 28, 1898.

“But ‘every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.’ In place of the authority of the so-called fathers of the church, God bids us accept the word of the eternal Father, the Lord of heaven and earth. Here alone is truth unmixed with error. David said, ‘I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts.’ (Ps. 119:99, 100) Let all who accept human authority, the customs of the church, or the traditions of the fathers, take heed to the warning conveyed in the words of Christ, ‘In vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” The Desire of Ages, 398.

“But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.

“Satan is constantly endeavoring to attract attention to man in the place of God. He leads the people to look to bishops, to pastors, to professors of theology, as their guides, instead of searching the Scriptures to learn their duty for themselves. Then, by controlling the minds of these leaders, he can influence the multitudes according to his will.” The Great Controversy, 595.

Error’s Bewitching Power

“There is in error and unbelief that which bewilders and bewitches the mind. To question and doubt and cherish unbelief in order to excuse ourselves in stepping aside from the straight path is a far easier matter than to purify the soul through a belief of the truth, and obedience thereto. But when better influences lead one to desire to return, he finds himself entangled in such a network of Satan, like a fly in a spider’s web, that it seems a hopeless task to him, and he seldom recovers himself from the snare laid for him by the wily foe.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 46.
“My mind is sad beyond expression because the enemy has obtained victories over the minds and hearts and wills of those whom the Lord has been admonishing, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it.’ God has been warning them for years, but they would not receive His words and take heed to them; they would not make their works perfect before Him. Some of those who claim to have been teaching the truth present before God a very ragged practice, which He does not accept. They determined to follow their own will and way, and they have been led by the enemy of all righteousness. Satan has been playing the game of life for their souls, and has been stealing away from them the Lord’s entrusted gifts, putting in their place his evil sentiments, to be worked out in scientific problems. He has blinded the spiritual eyesight, and deceptive, delusive imaginings are taking the place of the word of life and truth. Some in exalted positions of responsibility are sustaining error in the place of truth. Satan makes his delusions most attractive, clothing error in the garments of truth, so that it seems the most desirable thing to possess. The minds of many whom we would naturally suppose would see things clearly, are blinded as with a bewitching sophistry of error. If the terribly bewitching, fascinating story is not interrupted, those who are listening to it will become infidels in their belief. There is no safety in their present experience. They need to be convicted and converted by eating the word of God, believing it just as it reads, interpreting it correctly, not weaving the messages sent by God to save His people, into their own sophistries, making them speak in favor of fables that undermine the foundation established by the Lord for His commandment-keeping people.” Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7.

“Everywhere error will be presented for truth; and unless we have a living connection with God, and are diligent in searching the Scriptures, there is danger of being misled. Voices will be heard on every side, saying, ‘Come with us; we have the truth.’ Jesus is the true Shepherd. His sheep hear His voice, and follow Him; but a ‘stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.’ But unless we are ever on our guard, there is constant danger of listening to strange voices.” The Signs of the Times, October 29, 1885.

“There is no nook or corner of the world, however secluded, where error and sin have not found their way. Error is often presented in a specious garb, so that it requires more than human wisdom to detect the falsehood under the pretension of truth. If error was never mingled with truth, it would not be so subtle in its influence upon the mind. If error stood forth alone in its true, hideous form, souls would not be deceived. But there are many who see attractions in error, and will eagerly feast upon it, although it poisons the mind. Error always injures the soul and deforms the character. Error may, at first sight, appear plausible, but its tendency is to corrupt the heart, and to ensnare its victims. We often hear it stated that it matters not what one believes if his life is only right. But the life is molded by the faith. If light and truth, are within our reach, and we neglect to improve the privilege of hearing and seeing the truth, we virtually reject it, and choose darkness rather than light. Said Christ to the Jews, Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 2, 1875.

Occupy the Mind With Truth, Contend for Truth

“And now opposition has to be encountered. In the world they were gliding along peaceably, but now they have to stem the current of popular opinion. As they turn from the maxims and customs of popular professors of religion, the conflict begins in earnest. They must contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, or be carried away from light, away from truth, into error and darkness, to final ruin.” General Conference Daily Bulletin, January 28, 1893.

“None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Are our feet planted on the rock of God’s immutable word? Are we prepared to stand firm in defense of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?” The Great Controversy, 593, 594.


“We have a testing message to give, and I am instructed to say to our people, ‘Unify, unify.’ But we are not to unify with those who are departing from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. With our hearts sweet and kind and true, we are to go forth to proclaim the message, giving no heed to those who lead away from the truth.” Manuscript 31, 1906; Selected Messages, book 3, 412.

“Our church members see that there are differences of opinion among the leading men, and they themselves enter into controversy regarding the subjects under dispute. Christ calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on wrong practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating, ennobling truth and false, misleading doctrines. He calls sin and impenitence by the right name. He does not gloss over wrongdoing with a coat of untempered mortar. I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis.” Manuscript 10, 1905; Selected Messages, vol. 1, 175.

Satan’s Objective

“Satan is now using every device in this sealing time to keep the minds of God’s people from the present truth, and to cause them to waver. I saw a covering that God was drawing over His people to protect them in the time of trouble; and every soul that was decided on the truth, and was pure in heart, was to be covered with the covering of the Almighty. Satan knew this, and he was at work in mighty power to keep the minds of as many people as he possibly could wavering and unsettled on the truth . . . I saw that Satan was at work . . . to distract, deceive, and draw away God’s people, just now in this sealing time. I saw some who were not standing stiffly for present truth. Their knees were trembling, and their feet sliding because they were not firmly planted on the truth . . .

“Satan was trying his every art to hold them where they were, until the sealing was past, until the covering was drawn over God’s people, and they left without a shelter from the burning wrath of God, in the seven last plagues.” Sons and Daughters of God, 342.

The End

Food for Life – Vegetarianism

This quotation caught my eye the other day: “Until God changes what a person is, don’t try to change what he does!” Until we have a heart change, we cannot expect to change a lifestyle of wrong eating habits. Once we determine to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, we will not have any regrets in accepting the health reform message He has given to His people in the “end time,” to prepare them for His second coming.

The Lord is not arbitrary. There are reasons for each of His health principles. For example, in these last days vegetarianism is important because of the many diseases found in animals today, that were not present in the time of Christ.

The Spirit of Prophecy states very explicitly that we cannot make “gods of our bellies” and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So we do have a work to do for ourselves. But not without help! That was why Christ endured the wilderness experience, to show us that He will be very near to each one of us in our most trying experiences.

“Our Savior fasted nearly six weeks that He might gain for man the victory upon the point of appetite. How can professed Christians with enlightened consciences, and with Christ before them as their pattern, yield to the indulgence of those appetites which have an enervating influence upon the mind and body? . . . Many who profess godliness do not inquire into the reason of Christ’s long period of fasting and suffering in the wilderness. His anguish was not so much from the pangs of hunger as from His sense of the fearful result of the indulgence of appetite and passion upon the race. He knew that appetite would be man’s idol and would lead him to forget God and would stand directly in the way of salvation.” Confrontation, 50, 51.

“Those who make determined efforts in the name of the Conqueror to overcome every unnatural craving of appetite will not die in the conflict. In their efforts to control appetite they are placing themselves in right relation to life, so that they may enjoy health and the favor of God and have a right hold on the immortal life.” Ibid., 79.

“Let him who is struggling against the power of appetite look to the Savior in the wilderness of temptation. See Him in His agony upon the cross as He exclaimed, ‘I thirst.’ He has endured all that it is possible for us to bear. His victory is ours.” Desire of Ages, 97.

February Recipe:

Pasta Salad

1 8 oz. package of Vegetable Pasta

Cook according to your package directions

1 4 oz. Can sliced Olives

1 Large Cucumber (or non-vinegar pickle) diced small

½ cup Tofu Mayonnaise

1 ¾ tsp. Sea Salt

Tofu Mayonnaise

16 oz. pkg. tofu

1/3 cup of lemon juice

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1 Tablespoon ground dill (optional)

1/4 cup pineapple concentrate

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup Fruit Source (granulated)

1/2 cup cashew pieces

4 oz. can chopped olives

Place first eight ingredients in blender on high speed and blend until smooth.Then add cashews and continue blending until very smooth. Pour into container and add the chopped olives and stir well. For use as sour cream on baked potatoes, omit olives and use chives. This also makes a delicious dip for chips (the baked variety with no oil, or Frito-Lay makes delicious Tostitos with nothing but corn and salt.)

The End

New Testament Church Organization

He [Jesus] who was the foundation of the ritual and economy of Israel would be looked upon as its enemy and destroyer.” The Desire of Ages, 111. The reason for this was that those who were in charge of the system viewed themselves as being the church, and they realized that if Jesus were to be accepted, many of them would lose their positions.

Today, there is a similar problem in the professed church of God; there are some inspired counsels we are willing to deal with but others that we are not. If many of the counsels of Ellen White were really advocated, they would be considered to be dangerous to the church, possibly even capable of destroying it. I do not believe, however, we will ever receive God’s blessing until we feed upon every word.

Principles of church organization affect every aspect of the church, from the youngest member on up to the General Conference. In the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, there is a great deal of information dealing with church organization that is written not only to those in leadership positions but to laymen as well.

Throughout history, whenever doctrine becomes corrupted, organization also becomes corrupt. In fact, in Revelation God is as concerned about false organization as He is about false doctrine. In the writings of Ellen White there is a great deal written about doctrine, but I also find hundreds of pages written about church organization which we are afraid to touch because if we even read the quotation, we will be accused of criticism. It is time, however, that we have the courage of John the Baptist, and with the spirit of love, humbly look at the things God has given to us. We must pray that He will help us to implement these things so that He can pour out His Spirit and finish the work He is seeking to do.

First Corinthians 1:2 tells us how the New Testament church is organized. “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.” The church at Corinth, identified by Paul, is not addressed as the church which is registered. It could be registered, but that is not the point. Nothing is said regarding their organization or where they meet. They may meet in some building and they are organized, but that is not the point. The church in Corinth are those people who are sanctified and called to be the saints of God. Now the church was to be organized, but the organization was not the church. The people were the church. These people could work in harmony because this is possible when God is in your heart. So they would meet and work together, send out missionaries and take up offerings, and do all those things which are necessary for God’s work to progress. But the church itself was the people. This is what the church has always been.

The Books of Heaven

In a special sense, the church are those people who are registered in the books of heaven. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven” Hebrews 12:22, 23. The church, the true church of God, is composed of those people who are registered in the book of life in heaven.

Now this presents a very interesting situation. Who decides who is going to be a church member? Is it the pope who has the keys? If it is not the pope, is it the church board? Can they decide? What about the church body? Can we decide who is saved and who is not, whose name is written in heaven and whose is not?

Well, don’t we have anything to do? Oh, yes, we have something to do. We are called to recognize those whom God has registered in the books in heaven; and those whom He has registered there, we are to register here. He does not, however, follow our suit; we are to follow His, and there is a difference.

Let us suppose that God takes someone’s name off of the books in heaven and they are disfellowshipped. Are they still church members? No. But suppose their names remain in the books on earth. This is an interesting dilemma. The church is purified when the books on earth match the books in heaven. You see, God has given mankind no authority to decide who can be a member and who cannot be a member, but simply to recognize those whom He has accepted or rejected.

God has local congregations here on earth and we have organizations here to help organize the work, but the headquarters of your local church is in heaven, where only the sanctified are registered, not in some office in your state or some office in Maryland. Some people find this rather disconcerting, believing such a policy could lead to all kinds of trouble.

The Books on Earth

Just suppose that a coup took place in some local church or conference through politicking and some people, who were not inspired by the Lord, or filled with the Holy Spirit, took over through manipulation and because of their prejudices certain people were unjustly disfellowshipped. Would those who were disfellowshipped cease to be church members? Certainly not. Suppose, on the other hand, that people were allowed to come into the church who were never converted. Because their names were in the books on earth, would they, therefore, be church members? Not in any way, shape or form. God has never left His church to be manipulated and tampered with by the political whims of mankind. There is coming a time when He is going to turn and overturn the professed church that is called by His name. God’s true church remains the same as it has always—those people who are registered in the books of heaven.

“God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them’ Matthew 18:20. Where Christ is, even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church.” Upward Look, 315.

When Paul was ordained, he was ordained to baptize and establish churches—the two together. According to inspiration, the same ordination that gives people the right to baptize gives them the right to establish churches. More and more, however, there are increasing restrictions controlling the starting of new churches.

I have been doing some studying on the history of Kansas. In 1903, Kansas had one hundred churches. The state has grown by almost a million people in the last fifty years, and during that period of time, we have gone from one hundred churches down to fifty-four.

Not only has God alone reserved the right to start and to recognize a church, but if you and I decide to go out and start a church apart from His will, no matter what conference committee may approve it, it will never be a church. “For the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church.” Ibid. [All emphasis supplied] If God’s presence is not the center of His church, it is not recognized by Him as His church whether or not it is recognized by a conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Called and Sanctified

In New Testament times, the church was those who were called and sanctified. Wherever Paul went and converted a few people, he organized them into a church, right then and there, without seeking any other permission. It was not up to the church in Jerusalem to give permission or to decide if they were a church, but to recognize the fact that they were. Now, of course, if a church apostatized or if a local member apostatized, it was also up to the church in Jerusalem to decide that, as these people are no longer keeping the commandments of God, they are no longer recognized by us as being one of God’s churches.

For us individually to receive the Holy Spirit, we must study the Bible, pray, overcome sin, and witness. For the church body to receive the Holy Spirit, they must, as a body, also have these four things present. Not only is it necessary for us as individuals to be winning others to Christ, but God’s design for His church is that every church should start new churches.

One of the things that must take place before God can pour out His blessing upon the church is not only a revival of primitive doctrine, but a revival of primitive organization. The New Testament churches had the freedom to go out and start new churches; but they were not just started and left to flounder by themselves, they were left with local organization. “And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’ So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.” Acts 14:21–23.

Authority in the early church was to be earned because of a godly life, a knowledge of the Scriptures and the ability, that God had given to the individual; but never was it to come just by virtue of office. Today our church is almost being destroyed in some parts of this world because some have assumed the office of minister and decided that, because they have that office, they are the king of the local church. God never intended that office to be that of a king, but one of service.

Wolves Among the Sheep

“From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church.” Acts 20:17. What elders were these that He called? These were the elders who had been appointed. Notice, it is elders plural, not the elder. “Therefore take heed to yourselves [this is the instruction he is giving to these elders] and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Acts 20:28–31.

So he called the elders to guard the church from wolves. In a correlating passage to this in Testimonies, vol. 5, 77, Ellen White, writing of her own experience, says that she could scarcely keep from weeping when she saw the people who were taking charge of the church were people trained by Satan. Paul had the same concern, and the elders were called to protect the church from these wolves.

Now the questions is, suppose that a wolf came from Jerusalem. Were the elders to protect the church from that wolf? “Oh, no,” someone says, “not a local elder.” Turn with me to one of the most interesting passages in the New Testament in regard to this. “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.” Galatians 2:11–13. Paul stood up and rebuked Peter, but Paul was not happy about this because he was not the one who should have had to do the rebuking.

God had established a local leadership to protect the church. “Not from Peter,” someone might say, “he was from Jerusalem. He was one of the pillars; he knew Jesus personally. No, not from Peter. They were only Gentiles who had been newly converted to the faith. You do not expect them, these Gentile Galatians who had just come into the Christian church a few years ago, to stand up and rebuke Peter, who was from the Jerusalem church, who had been a Jew all his life, one of the pillars in the church, a follower of Jesus—not Peter! I mean, Paul was an apostle. He could do that.” But Paul was most unhappy that he had to do that. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?” Galatians 3:1

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” Galatians 5:1. Someone might say, “That scripture is dealing with circumcision and all those things.” Circumcision was involved, and eating with Gentiles was involved, but that was not the issue! The issue in Galatians was that Peter had caused them to transgress and they were to stand in their freedom, even if it was Peter from Jerusalem who should come down and preach false theology.

Kingly Power

“But strange fire has been offered in the use of harsh words, in self-importance, in self-exaltation, in self-righteousness, in arbitrary authority, in domineering, in oppression, in restricting the liberty of God’s people, binding them about by your plans and rules, which God has not framed, neither have they come into His mind. All these things are strange fire, unacknowledged by God, and are a continual misrepresentation of His character.” Testimonies to Ministers, 357, 358.

The Lord established the church upon the Rock, Jesus Christ, and He is to be the head of the church. See Ephesians 1:22, 23. The issue in the days of Martin Luther was who was in charge of the church, the Lord or the pope. That was the issue in Wesley’s day and it was the issue in 1888. I have been amazed at how little Ellen White deals with doctrine in relationship to 1888. The problem with Jones and Waggoner was that they did not go through the “proper channels.” They were not approved by the “proper people.”

The following statements are from a letter that Ellen White wrote to Elder Butler. “God designs that men shall use their minds and consciences for themselves. He never designed that one man should become the shadow of another, and utter only another’s sentiments. But this error has been coming in among us, that a very few are to be mind, conscience, and judgment for all God’s workers. The foundation of Christianity is ‘Christ our Righteousness.’ ” 1888 Materials, 112. Do you want to know what Christ our Righteousness means? She tells us what it means. “Men are individually responsible to God and must act as God acts upon them, not as another human mind acts upon their mind.” Ibid. God is to decide what is right, not some human committee. God makes the rules, not some human rule book. The Bible is our creed. We always used to say: “We do not have a creed book; the Bible is our creed.”

“For if this method of indirect influence is kept up, souls can not be impressed and directed by the great I AM. They will, on the other hand, have their experience blended with another, and will be kept under a moral restraint, which allows no freedom of action or of choice . . . If we would be wise, and use diligently, prayerfully, and thankfully the means whereby light and blessings are to come to His people, then no voice nor power upon earth would have authority over us to say, ‘This shall not be.’ ” Ibid., 112, 113.

In the book Testimonies to Ministers, Ellen White wrote a great deal of material, to the leadership and ministry in general, after 1888. Much of this book is dealing with this very principle of church authority. Among other similar statements, she said, “The high-handed power that has been developed, as though position has made men god’s, makes me afraid, and ought to cause fear. It is a curse wherever and by whomever it is exercised.” Testimonies to Ministers, 361. “The spirit of domination is extending to the presidents of the conferences. If a man is sanguine of his own powers and seeks to exercise dominion over his brethren, feeling that he is invested with authority to make his will the ruling power, the best and only safe course is to remove him.” Ibid., 362. “Rule, rule has been their course of action. Satan has had an opportunity of representing himself.” Ibid., 363.

Our Source of Light

In the chapter “Under Which Banner?” she says, “Humanity is hailed as God.” Ibid., 365. She is talking to us dear friends. She says, “God will not vindicate any device whereby man shall in the slightest degree rule or oppress his fellowmen.” Ibid., 366. A curse is pronounced upon all who do this (Jeremiah 17:5).

“State conferences may depend upon the General Conference for light and knowledge and wisdom; but is it safe for them to do this? Battle Creek is not to be the center of God’s work. God alone can fill this place. When our people in the different places have their special convocations, teach them, for Christ’s sake and for their own soul’s sake, not to make flesh their arm. There is no power in men to read the hearts of their fellow men. The Lord is the only One upon whom we can with safety depend, and He is accessible in every place and to every church in the Union. Is the president of the General Conference to be the god of the people?” Ibid., 375. Following the counsel and teaching of these ideas does not make a person very popular, but we are told to do it.

Instead of teaching the truth God has commissioned to be taught, do you know what she says we have been taught? “For many years an education has been given to the people which places God second, and man first. The people have been taught that everything must be brought before the council of a few men in Battle Creek.” Testimonies to Ministers, 325. I want you to notice that this is a serious matter because it is breaking the first commandment. God says, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3. “Let me entreat our state conferences and our churches to cease putting their dependence upon men and making flesh their arm.” Ibid., 380. Today we have gone far beyond where they were in 1888.

“In reference to our conference, it is repeated o’er and o’er and o’er again, that it is the voice of God, and therefore everything must be referred to the Conference and have the conference voice in regard to permission or restriction or what shall be and what shall not be done in the various fields . . . We have heard enough, abundance, about that everything must go around in the regular way . . . He [God] wants every living soul that has a knowledge of the truth to come to their senses.” Spalding–Magan Collection, 163. “The Lord wants His Spirit to come in, He wants the Holy Ghost King.” Ibid., 166. Today we have come to the point, in many places, that if you even invite someone to come and speak in the pulpit, you have to get the permission of the local conference.

Fall Upon the Rock

God is looking for every one of us, from the General Conference president down, to be broken on the Rock. When Jesus is the King, unity, peace and love pervade. This does not do away with organization. It is the only thing that creates a workable organization. We still have offices, but when God’s plan is followed, no one is striving for office because everyone is striving to serve one another. See Matthew 20:25–28.

The message of Christ our Righteousness has to become practical. We need to exercise less and less control over one another and do more and more praying for one another. Let us not decide that God has given any one of us authority to tell everyone else how they are to serve God. God is calling for much more freedom in His church than we have been willing to allow. There is a place for order, a place for leadership, but dear friend, God is calling for us to be broken on the Rock, to be filled with the humility and the love of Jesus. Then we will find that once again the Holy Spirit will be King.

The End

by Marshall Grosboll

A Letter to Newlyweds

Dear Edson & Emma,

My dear children, I am desirous that you should know Christ by experimental knowledge of Him yourselves. You should obtain an experience for yourselves and be His earnest, faithful servants, manifesting perseverance and zeal and energy in the work and cause of God. Seek to exemplify Christ in your lives. Seek to adorn your profession. Take an exalted position in divine things, seeking to perfect Christian character.

You, my children, have given your hearts to one another; unitedly give them wholly, unreservedly to God. In your married life, seek to elevate one another, not to come down to common, cheap talk and actions. Show the high and elevating principles of your holy faith in your everyday conversations and in the most private walks of life. Be ever careful and tender of the feelings of one another. Do not allow either of you for even the first time, a playful bantering, joking, censuring of one another. These things are dangerous. They wound. The wound may be concealed, nevertheless the wound exists, and peace is being sacrificed and happiness endangered when it could be easily preserved.

Edson, my son, guard yourself and in no case manifest the least disposition savoring of a dictatorial, overbearing spirit. It will pay to watch your words before speaking. This is easier than to take them back or efface their impression afterwards. Brother Winslow has made his married life very bitter by a dictatorial, ordering spirit, savoring of the arbitrary. He has made his wife’s family much trouble by the set will savoring of perverseness.

Edson, shun all this. Ever speak kindly; do not throw into the tones of your voice that which will be taken by others as irritability. Modulate even the tones of your voice. Let only love, gentleness, and mildness be expressed in your countenance and in your voice. Make it a business to shed rays of sunlight, but never leave a cloud. Emma will be all to you you can desire if you are watchful and give her no occasion to feel distressed and troubled and doubt the genuineness of your love. Yourselves can make your happiness, or lose it. You can, by seeking to conform your life to the Word of God, be true, noble, elevated, and smooth the pathway of life for each other.

Edson, you, my dear boy, have to educate yourself in practicing self-control. God help you, my much loved son, to see the force of my advice and counsel to you. Be careful every day of your words and acts. Yield to each other. Yield your judgment sometimes, Edson; do not be persistent if your course appears just right to yourself. You must be yielding, forbearing, kind, tenderhearted, pitiful, courteous, ever keeping fresh the little courtesies of life, the tender acts, the tender, cheerful, encouraging words. And may the best of Heaven’s blessings rest upon you both, my dear children, is the prayer of your mother. Manuscript Release, vol. 20, 333, 334.

The End

Who and What is the Church?

The subject of who and what is the church, is an exceedingly important subject. The most wonderful privilege any human being can have is to belong to God’s church.

“To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 3:8–10.

This tells us that there was a mystery hidden in the mind of God which no created beings understood. But Paul says, now this mystery is going to be made known. How?—by the church. If you belong to the church, God is going to reveal something through you to the beings all over the universe. There is a mystery that they have been wanting to know for a long time. They are going to find it out, through the church, through you. This seems inconceivable doesn’t it? Beings that have been alive for thousands and thousands of years, can learn something from you and me!

Abraham’s Covenant

The church is one of the most wonderful subjects in the Bible. We are going to go back to the book of Genesis to study about the church. After sin entered the world, gradually God unfolded to this world the doctrines of grace. The world rejected God and went into idolatry. Then God chose a certain person to preserve the knowledge of His law—His government. This person became a progenitor of Christ. The people of God, all the members of His church, for the next 2,000 years, looked back to this person as their spiritual father and to themselves as his children. In fact, to become a member of the church involves becoming this person’s child. This person’s name was Abraham, one of the most famous men that ever lived. God came to Abraham and said: “And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly . . . And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.” Genesis 17:2, 7.

God gave circumcision to Abraham as a sign of the covenant. God told him that anybody wanting to become part of his seed, had to be circumcised.

“In Him [that is Christ] you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.” Colossians 2:11.

Ishmael & the Covenant

Any person in the world could come to Abraham and say, “We want to worship your God. We want to be part of your religion and your family.” They could become a part if they were circumcised. That represented the cutting away of sin from the life. When you became a member of the church you had to covenant that you were going to follow God and keep His commandments. When Israel left Egypt, that very same covenant was renewed to them. Exodus 19. Circumcision was an outward symbol of an inward experience. I want to ask you a pivotal question. What if you only had the outward symbol?—You had been circumcised but you did not have the inward spiritual experience that it represented. Were you a member of God’s church? Were you really part of the seed of Abraham? The Bible says that Abraham took Ishmael, his son, and all that were born in his house and had them circumcised. Genesis 17:23–25.

Ishmael had the outward experience of circumcision. Was he part of Abraham’s seed? He was according to the flesh. But was he part of the spiritual seed? No. Abraham asked if Ishmael could be part of the seed, and God said that He was going to establish His covenant with the son of Sarah. “But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” Genesis 17:21.

Ishmael was not really a part of the church, because he did not have the inward experience that circumcision represents. When you give your allegiance to God and you choose to serve Him, keep His laws, and put away sin, then you become part of God’s chosen people—His church. In Old Testament times anybody could do this from any nation. Ruth was not a descendant of Abraham, but of Lot. She was a Moabitess. Notice what Ruth decided, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” Ruth 1:16.

Ruth & the Church

Ruth was not a descendant of Abraham according to the flesh, but she wanted to have the same religion and belong to the same church. She was adopted in and became part of Abraham’s seed. “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” Ruth 2:12.

The covenant people—those that entered into this covenant that Abraham and the Lord had made—said, “Yes, we want to forsake sin and follow God by keeping His commandments. We want to be part of Abraham’s family, of his seed.” They professed faith in God and obeyed His commandments; they became part of His professed people. Now here is a question. What if these covenant people did not abide by the conditions of the covenant? Remember, a covenant is an agreement between two parties. God made the offer and the conditions. Genesis 17. We can decide whether we want to be part of that offer—covenant, or not. What if I decide to be part of the covenant and then I do not follow through with my agreement with the Lord? I have the outward experience, but I do not continue to keep His commandments. I do not cut away sin from my life. This has been God’s problem for thousands of years. The prophets addressed it over and over again. Jeremiah tells God’s people what is going to be the end of this kind of thing. He said circumcise your heart and not just your flesh. In other words, you need to cut away sin from your life.

In Jesus’ day, the people who called themselves God’s people had not been faithful to the agreement. They said, “We are Abraham’s seed. We are the true church.” But to be part of the church, there are conditions. If you do not cut sin away from your life, you have broken your covenant with God. That was the problem in Jesus’ day. In fact, the people that professed to be the children of God were actually the children of the devil. You cannot be both, part of God and part of the devil, at the same time.

“We want to understand the time in which we live. We do not half understand it. We do not half take it in. My heart trembles in me when I think of what a foe we have to meet, and how poorly we are prepared to meet him. The trials of the children of Israel, and their attitude just before the first coming of Christ, have been presented before me again and again to illustrate the position of the people of God in their experience before the second coming of Christ. How the enemy sought every occasion to take control of the minds of the Jews, and today he is seeking to blind the minds of God’s servants. That they may not be able to discern the precious truth.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 406.

John the Baptist’s Denial

If a person professes to be a child of God—you profess to be part of His church. God told Abraham, when you enter into this covenant you will be My people, I will be your God. In Jesus’ time, the people that professed to be the children of God, were not actually His children. They did not fulfill the covenant which was the condition for being the seed of Abraham. God sent a special messenger, John the Baptist, to give them a chance to turn around. These people said to John the Baptist, “Abraham is our father. We are his children, therefore, we are part of the true church. We are saved.” Notice what John the Baptist told them.

“And do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” Matthew 3:9. What was John the Baptist telling them? They said, “We are Abraham’s children. He is our father. We are part of the true church.” And John the Baptist said, “Don’t you say that. Don’t say that Abraham is your father. Don’t say you are a member of the true church. Don’t say it.” Don’t even think it.

Then he said, “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Matthew 3:10. If the tree doesn’t bear good fruit, no matter what the name is, it won’t save the tree. You can say, “Oh, I’m a member of the true church.” But, that will not save you. It is the fruit—not the name that determines the destiny of the tree.

“John declared to the Jews that their standing before God was to be decided by their character and life. Profession was worthless. If their life and character were not in harmony with God’s law, they were not His people.” Desire of Ages, 107. [All emphasis supplied.]

That is plain talk. “If your life and character are not in harmony with God’s law, you are not a member of the church. You are not Abraham’s children. You are not God’s people. It is your character, the fruit of your life that determines membership, and not your name and not your profession.” John the Baptist said there is coming a great shaking and sifting among the Jews. He calls it a winnowing fan. There is going to be a separation soon, and the wheat is going to be gathered into the garner and the chaff is going to be burned up. That time of judgment and shaking came when Jesus came. When you follow the life of Jesus, you find out wherever He went His words and His acts aroused opposition and a great tumult. Jesus spoke about this same issue to the Jews in even stronger language than John the Baptist. Jesus acknowledged that they were the descendants of Abraham according to the flesh, but he denied that they were Abraham’s spiritual descendants.

Jesus’ & Abraham’s Children

” ‘I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.’ They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.’ ” John 8:37–39.

Jesus said, “If you were really Abraham’s children you would do the works of Abraham. You would have a character like Abraham.” What God is interested in is not our likeness in the flesh to somebody else, but it is the likeness in our minds and in our spirit.

” ‘But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.’ Then they said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.’ ” John 8:40–44.

Jesus said to the Jews, “Your spiritual father is the devil. You are not the children of God. You are not part of God’s church at all. You are part of the synagogue of Satan. Your character proves it.” They were plotting to kill Him right then, and in addition to that they were lying.

Do you think people who heard talk that plain should be able to figure out who and what the church was? They didn’t. Even Christ’s own disciples took a long time to get this figured out. We human beings are so used to looking at the flesh, that often the spiritual truth in the Bible just bypasses us completely. The apostle Paul had to fight this same battle all over again.

Paul & Israel

“But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel.” Romans 9:6. Who is Israel?—God’s people. “They are not all Israel who are of Israel.”—They are not all Israel who profess to be Israel. They are not all God’s people who profess to be God’s people.

“Nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham: but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ ” Romans 9:7. Ishmael does not count, even though he had the outward sign of circumcision to prove he was a church member.

“Those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” Romans 9:8. How much more plainly can you say it? Profession alone does not make anyone a child of God or a member of His church. Who really is a member of the church? It is not the children of the flesh, it is the children of the promise—those who have the spiritual qualifications.

“For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” Romans 4:13. Paul teaches here that through righteousness by faith, the Gentiles have the same privileges as the Jews. It was God’s intention from the beginning that anyone could become part of the seed of Abraham, through faith. We saw this in the story of Ruth.

“For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, ‘I have made you a father of many nations’) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” Romans 4:14–17. “The Israel of God are those who are converted.” Upward Look, 80.

John the Baptist said, “God is able of these stones [the Gentiles] to raise up children of Abraham.” Matthew 3:9. When a Gentile comes to Jesus and He puts His Holy Spirit in the mind, he then learns to keep God’s law just like Abraham did. When anyone has the same spiritual experience that Abraham had, he is accounted the seed of Abraham.

If Judah is the church, who would a church member be? He would be a Jew. If Israel is the church, a church member would be an Israelite or a Jew. Notice who Paul says is really a Jew. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly. [That is the one who makes a profession.] Nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh.” Romans 2:28. If that was the thing that did it, then Ishmael would have been a member of the church. But, Paul is very emphatic in the book of Galatians that Ishmael was not a member.

“But he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:29. It is not outward, it is inward. It is not in the letter, but in the spirit. Paul says, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.” Galatians 3:7. Those are the only ones who are really part of the church.

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26–29. Jesus was a seed of Abraham and if I am a child of Christ, I am part of the seed of Abraham too.

The Church in Revelation 12

“Now a great sign appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. And she bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and to His throne.” Revelation 12:1–5.

Who was the male child that was caught up to God and to His throne? It was Jesus. This is a symbolic prophecy about a woman that stood on the moon. This symbolic woman is a pure woman and is clothed with light. She is not a harlot woman. Who does a woman represent in Bible prophecy? A church. Paul said, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. [He is talking to the church.] But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2, 3.

In Revelation 12 we have a pure woman, God’s church. She is pregnant, about to bare a child. This is talking about God’s church. What does it mean? We can find one answer in Galatians 4:19. Paul is writing to a church that was converted but they went into apostasy and now he is making this appeal to them: “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19.

Men do not have babies in the flesh. He is talking to the church. He is talking about the spiritual nature of Christ. This is the mystery that we read about in our first text from Ephesians 3. The mystery is Christ formed in you, so that you think, talk, and act like He does. Paul describes this: “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27. If you want to be a member of this church that is talked about in Revelation 12, you must bring forth the spiritual character of Christ in your life. That is what New Testament religion is all about. The apostles were continually talking about it.

“Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” Revelation 12:6. Why did the woman have to flee into the wilderness? Because the professed church tried to destroy the real or true church. If you do not understand the difference between the real church and the professed church, you cannot understand Revelation 12:6. “Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants the charge of heresy and willful separation from the true church. But these accusations apply rather to themselves. They are the ones who laid down the banner of Christ and departed from ‘the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’ Jude 3.” Great Controversy, 51.

“Through the agency of Romanism, Satan took the world captive. The professed church of God was swept into the ranks of this delusion, and for more than a thousand years the people of God [true church] suffered under the dragon’s ire.” Signs of the Times, November 1, 1899.

Who Left the Church?

In the church at Rome there was a departure from the truth and the majority of the people and their pastor decided they were going to worship God on Sunday. This was happening by the second century. It started with Easter. They were going to celebrate the resurrection every year. Then they said, we might as well do it every week.

But there were a few people in the Roman church that would not go along with it. What happens when there are a few people and they do not go along with what the majority of the church wants to do? Who gets their way, the minority or the majority? The majority decided that they were going to worship on Sunday. But there were a few people that said we must keep all the commandments of God. Can you stay a part of a church when you cannot even agree on which day to go to church? No, you cannot. That little group had to go somewhere else and get another pastor and building. What if they met one of their brethren on the street in Rome and this person said to them, “Oh, why did you leave the church?” What should they say? They should say, if they understand who the church is, “Why did you leave the church?” You see, the majority of the people had the building, the pastor, the organization, the money, everything—everything but the truth. If you leave the truth, you leave the church. So the majority of the people left the church, but, from a human point of view, it looked like they stayed in. From God’s point of view the majority were the ones that left. And the minority that were forced out were actually the ones that stayed in the church, because the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. I Timothy 3:15.

Jesus told the Jews: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24. Righteous judgment is not always according to appearance. There was this tremendous controversy during the Dark Ages as to who the church was. The controversy has persisted to the present day. Many Protestants today understand “who and what the church is,” more according to Catholic theology than Protestant theology. Protestants teach that the Bible is the ultimate authority and the church is underneath it. A Roman Catholic says, “I believe in the authority of the Bible, but the authority of the church is above the authority of the Bible.” (That is the difference. If you want to live according to everything in the Bible, you have to keep the seventh-day Sabbath.)

The Reformers & the Church

John Wycliffe said: “The holy church is the congregation of the just men for whom Christ shed His blood.”

Martin Luther said: “The Pope, the bishops, the monks and the priests need not make a noise. We are the church. There is no other church than the assembly of those who have the Word of God and are purified by it.”

Melancthon made almost an exact statement to Martin Luther’s. It is quoted by Ellen White. “There is no other church than the assembly of those who have the Word of God and who are purified by it.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 237.

How is it that we find such a marked uniformity among the Waldensees and these Protestant Reformers? They had all been studying the same Book. They had found that the New Testament teaches what the church is. If we are Protestants, if we claim that we are going to base all of our religion on the Bible, should our understanding of who and what the church is be based from it also? We will here study a few texts that define who and what the church is.

“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.” Colossians 1:24. The apostle Paul says that the church is Christ’s body. Paul has some very specific things to say about this body—the body of Christ.

Have you ever wondered how big the church is? Some people think that the church is located on several acres near the city of Rome. Some people think that the church is located in Maryland. Some people think that the church is located where they go to church. The church is a lot bigger than any of those places. “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:22, 23. Does this phrase “all in all” refer to merely this world? God says, “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” Jeremiah 23:24. The Lord fills heaven and earth. The church is His body, “the fullness of Him that fills all in all.” It is the biggest thing in the universe, “the fullness of Him that fills all in all,” not only in this world but also in heaven. There is only one church in this world and in heaven.

How many churches are there? “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.” Ephesians 4:4. There is just one. It is “the fullness of Him that fills all in all.” How many heads does this body have? Just one. Ephesians 1:22, 23. There are beasts in the Bible that have seven heads, but Christ’s church does not have seven heads. He Himself is the only head of the body. This was a major controversy during the Reformation. Roman Catholic theologians had made two churches. They said there is an invisible church and Christ is the head of that; and there is a visible church and the Pope is the head of that. John Wycliffe said, “If there are two heads of the church, that is a monster.”

The Bride of Christ

Christ is the husband of the church. “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, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish . . . For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:25–32.

The apostle Paul says that the church is bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh. We are to be one with Him. What does this mean? “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ he says, ‘shall become one flesh.’”

1 Corinthians 6:15–16. You cannot mistake what the apostle Paul is talking about here. Notice that in the next verse He uses the same verb. “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” To be a part of the church means to be joined to the Lord. What if I am not? If you get married and you go through all the process with the justice of the peace and get all the paperwork done, but immediately after you get married one of you moves to California and the other to Maine and you never see each other again, are they married? Not really. Any court would recognize that their marriage was not valid. They would not even need to get a divorce, that “marriage” could be annulled.

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” Romans 8:9. If I do not have the Spirit of Christ, am I part of His body? No.

The Vine & the Branches

Jesus said: “You are the branches.” John 15:5. The church is God’s vineyard. It was described that way in Isaiah 5, and we are the branches united to the True Vine. Jesus talks about how necessary it is to have a vital relationship, otherwise if we just have an external relationship some day we will be cut off and the branch will die. Desire of Ages, 830. The branch has to bear fruit or it will be taken away.

The Good Shepherd & the Flock

This is one of the most beautiful illustrations in the Bible. It is found in John 10. Jesus talks of Himself as the Good Shepherd and His church as His sheepfold. He speaks of Himself as being this door and we must go through it to be part of His fold. The door represents His humanity, His life. When we live His life we are going through the door.

The Temple

“But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15. The church is the house or temple of God—the pillar and ground of the truth. Paul speaks about this spiritual house for God to dwell in through the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 2:22.

What is the Church?

We will now compare some definitions from inspiration with the condition of the Jewish church when Jesus came. Here are some definitions of what the church is.

  1. The church is the spiritual seed of Abraham.
  2. The church is God’s people.
  3. The church is the people who have entered into God’s covenant. (The sign of entering into God’s covenant, even in the Old Testament, was keeping the Sabbath.)
  4. The church is the body of Christ, joined to Him as one spirit.
  5. The church is God’s fold.
  6. The church is God’s grain field.
  7. The church is God’s vineyard.
  8. The church is God’s spiritual temple.
  9. The church is the faithful souls. “From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth.” The Acts the of Apostles, 11.
  10. The church is “those that love God and keep His commandments.” Upward Look, 315.
  11. The church is God’s “city of refuge.” The Acts of the Apostles, 11. God has made a city of refuge for you, friend, and if you enter that city of refuge you will never suffer the second death, because Jesus will save you from it.
  12. The church is “God’s fortress . . . which He holds in a revolted world.” Ibid.

Were all the Jews God’s Church?

Now, let us look at the Jewish church in the time of Christ, at the leaders and most of the people.

  1. Were they the spiritual seed of Abraham? No. Matthew 3:9; John 8:39.
  2. Were they God’s people? No. John 8:42; Desire of Ages, 36.
  3. Had they entered into God’s covenant? No. John 8:34–42.
  4. Were they the body of Christ? Absolutely not. They were not joined to Christ, they were fighting Him the entire time He was here.
  5. Were they God’s fold? No they were not. Jesus said to the Jews, “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.” John 10:26.
  6. Were they God’s vineyard? They had no vital connection with the true vine. They were like the fig tree that bore no fruit.
  7. Were they a spiritual building where the Spirit of God dwells? No, they were not. They became the agents of Satan. The people whom God had called to be the pillar and ground of the truth had become the representatives of Satan. Desire of Ages, 36. They were not a spiritual building where the Spirit of God dwelt.
  8. Were they faithful souls? No, they were not. They were unfaithful souls. Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 2, 41.
  9. Did they love God and keep His commandments? They professed to, but did they really? No, they did not, they murdered Jesus and lied about Him; they did not love Him or keep His commandments. Matthew 15:3.

Some are Tares

For the sake of the whole universe being convinced as to who is faithful in their profession, God allows all who make a profession to be a part of the professed church—His chosen people. However, the parable of the wheat and the tares tells us that some who make a profession are tares. Jesus said the tares are the children of the devil. In the professed church, or the church militant as Ellen White sometimes calls it, there is a mixture of wheat and tares, a mixture of the children of God and the children of the devil. The tares are not a part of the body of Christ, they are not faithful souls, they are not part of the spiritual building, they have not gone though the door into the sheepfold, they do not love God, and they do not keep His commandments. But, they pretend, or profess, to do all these things, while in reality they are a part of the synagogue of Satan or the devil’s church. You cannot be a part of Christ and part of the devil at the same time (I Corinthians 10).

Now in addition to the tares, or children of the devil who are in the church, there are those who have once been converted but their spiritual experience has become tepid, or lukewarm. Their love for God is not wholehearted anymore, they have lost their first love. Now I have two questions for you. The first one is this: How do we relate to tares—children of the devil, who are in the church? People think that is an easy question and right away they say, well, the Bible says don’t pull them up. But, they have not read their Bible carefully enough. That statement, “don’t pull them up,” has a context. The Bible is very clear (see 1 Corinthians 5), that anyone who is living in open sin is to be put out of the church. However, if a person is false in their heart but they are making a profession, we cannot do anything about that. Those are the tares, the people who are making a profession. They are not living in open sin, they are not taking their brother to court, or using NLP, or lying, and openly doing those things that are contrary to the ten commandments, they are making a profession, but their heart is false. We cannot read that. Those are the tares. But they still are the children of the devil. Christ Object Lessons, 71.

I want you to notice something else Jesus said about the church which a lot of people have not noticed today. Look at Matthew 15. Jesus is talking about the tares in the church. You know He is talking about the tares because it says: “He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.’ ” Matthew 15:13.

Who are these plants that the Heavenly Father has not planted? These are the tares. Now, notice what He says about these tares that had gained control of the God’s professed church in Jesus’ day.

Let Them Alone

“Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Matthew 15:14.

There were people in Jesus’ day, and they said, “Oh, these are the spiritual leaders. They have duly constituted church authority and they are the sons of Levi.” And Jesus told them that those spiritual leaders were blind spiritual leaders. They were not teaching the truth and if you followed them you would lose your eternal salvation. I hear people say, “I think we had better go and talk to these people.” But Jesus says, “Let them alone.” Do not go and talk to them or associate with them. Do not go and listen to them. If you do, you are going to be led somewhere you do not want to go and you are going to lose your soul. There are people today that have not studied this text and they are being led by blind leaders who are leading the blind, and they are leading them straight to hellfire and they do not even know it. Now that is plain talk, but that is what Jesus taught in Matthew 15.

A Little Leaven

Jesus warned His disciples: “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6. Then the disciples got into a discussion about that, and Jesus said to them: “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but you should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 6:11, 12.

If you go and listen to someone preach doctrine that is not according to the Bible and if you keep going and listening, what is going to happen to you? Did you ever put a little yeast into some dough and let it sit there and watch what happens? It goes through the whole batch and soon, if you want to make unleavened bread, you are going to have to throw the whole batch out and start all over. The yeast will infect the whole batch. If you listen to a blind leader of the blind that is preaching or teaching, not according to the Bible, you are going to become infected with false teaching and will be ruined for the kingdom of Heaven. You will be led into the ditch. Look what Paul said about this in 1 Corinthians 5:7. Some people come and say, “I want to keep going to this church over here. I know the pastor isn’t preaching the truth but I have a lot of friends here. I will go to some camp meetings and other special revival meetings and stay alive spiritually.” Or another variation is, “I know that the messages there are not any different than those being preached in other churches.” But, pablum sermons will not get you ready to successfully go through the last days That is dangerous!

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:7. Paul says, purge out the old leaven. I want to warn you, I am doing this because of love for your soul. If you go and talk and have conferences with people who are blind leaders of the blind, you are going to become infected and not even know what has happened.

“God is displeased with us when we go to listen to error, without being obliged to go; for unless He sends us to those meetings, where error is forced home to the people by the power of the will, He will not keep us. The angels cease their watchful care over us, and we are left to the buffetings of the enemy, to be darkened and weakened by him and the power of his evil angels; and the light around us becomes contaminated with the darkness.” Early Writings, 125.

Here is a question for you. What is going to happen to the tares, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, those who have climbed over the wall into the sheepfold, those who do not have a vital connection to the true vine? Just like in the time of John the Baptist, there is going to be a shaking or purging in the church, and at the end, Jesus says there is going to be a separation. The angels are going to come and separate the tares from the wheat. John the Baptist said there would be a separation in the time of Christ—and there was a separation. There was a shaking and almost the entire Jewish church was shaken out. But, their church organization went right on. That is something that many people have not thought of and you need to think it through. Judaism still existed, but almost the entire group, or organization, was shaken out. I have to tell you the truth. According to prophecy, something very similar to this is going to happen to the Seventh-day Adventist Church before the end.

People say, “We are in the true church and we are going to be saved.” They do not know they are following blind leaders. This is what is going to happen, “How many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! . . . Those who refuse to be hewed by the prophets and fail to purify their souls in obeying the whole truth, and who are willing to believe that their condition is far better than it really is, will come up to the time of the falling of the plagues, and then see that they needed to be hewed and squared for the building.” Early Writings, 71. When the plagues fall then probation is over and it is too late to be saved.

“To the marriage supper of the Lamb will come many who have not on the wedding garment—the robe [Christ] purchased for them with His lifeblood. From lips that never make a mistake come the words, ‘Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?’ Matthew 22:12. Those [thus] addressed are speechless. They know that words would be useless. The truth, with its sanctifying power, has not been brought into the soul, and the tongue that once spoke so readily of the truth is now silent. The words are then spoken, ‘Take them out of My presence. They are not worthy to taste of My supper.’ (Compare with Luke 14:24.)

“As they are separated from the loyal ones, Christ looks upon them with deep sorrow. They occupied high positions of trust in God’s work, but they have not the life insurance policy that would have entitled them to eternal life. From the quivering lips of Christ come the mournful words of regret, ‘I loved them; I gave My life for them; but they persisted in rejecting My pleadings, and continued in sin. O that thou hadst known, even thou, in this thy day, the things which belong to thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.’ ” Upward Look, 301.

Oh, if you want to be part of the church, part of those that will be saved when Jesus comes, you must have the spiritual experience that makes you a part of His body, joined to Him as one spirit. You must have that vital connection with the True Vine. You must love God and obey His commandments. You must have the reality and not just the form. There is coming a time when the only people that will be left in the church will be holy people. Isaiah 4:3.

I want to be part of the real church when Jesus comes, not just someone that has made a profession and then falls out at the end. The profession is necessary. If you have the real thing you are not going to lie and say you do not have it, you are going to tell the truth and make a profession. I want to appeal to you, friend, to make that decision and come to Jesus and say, “Lord, I want to enter into the covenant. I want the real thing, more than just a profession. I want to be one of those faithful souls, one of those who loves God and keeps His commandments. I want to be a part of the body of Christ, ‘bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh,’ one of those who is joined to Him in one spirit.” I want to be part of the church not just by profession but in character.

The End

by John J. Grosboll

Editorial – Sinners in Zion, part 2

The sinners in Zion are the same as the tares who are in the church. “There are many sinners in Zion, and they are likened to tares among the wheat.” Review and Herald, November 10, 1893.

Jesus gave many illustrations to help us understand the difference between the true Israel (church) and Israel (professed church) according to the flesh. Romans 9:1–8. One illustration is that of the true vine. (See Desire of Ages, 830.)

There is an outward connection that apparently is part of the vine, but really is not, and there is an inner vital connection that makes a person part of the vine. The one with the outer connection only is a professed Christian, a professed church member, his name is on the roll on this earth but he is not really a member of the true church, he is a false or pretended brother or believer. Testimonies to Battle Creek Church, 64. When tested this person does not produce fruit. It is the same with the tares, they look like wheat but they are pretended or false brethren or believers and do not produce fruit. Christ Object Lessons, 71, 72. Notice how the following quotations explicitly state these facts: “The branch which does not derive its nourishment from the vine, is unable to bear fruit. Having no real, vital connection with the vine, not receiving the sap which flows through the parent stock, it is fruitless. So it is with those who are not truly united to Christ. They may claim to know him, their names may be on the church roll, but unless they are living branches of the True Vine, this is of no value. There is a union with the church that avails nothing with God. Their profession will not save them, for their want of faith, their lack of fruit, proves that they are false branches.” Signs of the Times, December 3, 1896. (A false branch, a pretended or false brother or believer, cannot be a true brother or believer, and a true brother is obviously a member of the true church, because we are all brethren. Matthew 23:8.)

“Faith is that mysterious and mighty principle that attracts the soul of man to God. As the sapless branch is united to the living vine, so we must be connected with Christ. There are two kinds of connection between the branches and the vine stock. One is visible, but superficial. The other is invisible and vital. So there is an apparent union, a membership with the church, and a profession of religion, which, though in itself good, is too often unaccompanied by saving faith in Jesus or living obedience to the commandments of God. The branches that are connected with Christ, the living vine, will make it manifest by bearing much fruit in good works to the glory of God. But the branches which have nothing but an apparent union, will be fruitless. As the branch cannot possibly bring forth fruit without a vital connection with the parent stock, so the Christian can be fruitful in good works only as union with Christ is made and preserved. The ruin [the sifting of the sinners in Zion] of those who are not connected with Christ, is as complete as though they had no name to live; for they are dead. Christ compares them to lifeless branches that are gathered and burned in the fire.” Signs of the Times, July 27, 1888.

See also Christ Object Lessons, 216, 279, 304.

So the sinners in Zion are outward, professed members of the body of Christ, the true church, but their profession is not accompanied by the real vital connection to Christ, which would enable them to overcome sin. During the time of the shaking and sifting they will be sifted (separated) from the loyal and faithful and true. Notice that the 1886 statement (see Manuscript Release, vol. 12, 324; or Selected Messages, vol. 2, 380) does not say that they will be sifted from the church organization; it distinctly says that they will be sifted from the loyal and true and that this is a most terrible ordeal. In a later article in Land Marks we will look at inspired statements about this sifting process in more detail but for now let us notice just who Zion is. There is a Zion according to the flesh, according to profession—all those who profess the Seventh-day Adventist faith—but, “He whom God accounts a citizen of Zion is he that ‘speaketh the truth in his heart;’ ‘that backbiteth not with his tongue,’ ‘nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.’ ” Education, 235, 236. [All emphasis supplied.]

“False brethren will continue to increase.” Signs of the Times, January 3, 1884.

“When trees without fruit are cut down as cumberers of the ground, when multitudes of false brethren are distinguished from the true, then the hidden ones will be revealed to view, and with hosannas range under the banner of Christ.” Testimonies to the Battle Creek Church, 64.

The End