The Waldenses, part 1

“Amid the gloom that settled upon the earth during the long period of papal supremacy, the light of truth could not be wholly extinguished. In every age there were witnesses for God—men who cherished faith in Christ as the only mediator between God and man, who held the Bible as the only rule of life, and who hallowed the true Sabbath. How much the world owes to these men, posterity will never know. They were branded as heretics, their motives impugned, their characters maligned, their writings suppressed, misrepresented, or mutilated. Yet they stood firm, and from age to age maintained their faith in its purity, as a sacred heritage for the generations to come.” The Great Controversy, 61.

God in His wisdom prepared a place in the wilderness for His faithful church. There they were able to maintain the light of truth when the Dark Ages covered Europe. They lived their simple lives raising their children in the truth of God’s Word, which they had in their own language, while that Word was known only by ‘scholars’ throughout the rest of the continent. From their valleys and mountain passes, after years of preparation, missionaries were sent to share the Good News with the nations around them. They were the forerunners of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.

The Roman Catholic church did all in her power to destroy the Waldenses. It tried, during many crusades and persecutions, to annihilate them. Every attempt was made to destroy the writings of their leaders and although books from other authors of that time are still preserved, the books of the people of the valleys were largely destroyed. The Latin Vulgate Bible, with its many errors, was produced to try to replace the Latin Itala Bible of the churches of the Waldenses. False reports and slanders were spread.

Years of persecution failed to wipe out this faithful church so Rome tried to destroy their history through false accounts of their origins and doctrines. The enemies of the Church in the Wilderness have tried to trace their name to Peter Waldo, an opulent merchant of Lyons, France, who began his work about 1160. However, evidence is clear that the name Waldenses comes from the Italian word for “valleys” and as they spread over France they were called Vaudois which means “inhabitants of the valleys.” Waldo was converted in his mid-life and labored to spread evangelical teachings. When he met persecutions he fled to the Waldenses. But evidence is ample that the people of the valleys were an organized body for hundreds of years before he lived among them.

The Ancient Beginnings of the Waldenses

There is abundant evidence that the history of the Waldenses dates back to the time of the apostles. It is their claim that their religion passed to them from the apostles and in fact even the writings of their enemies give credence to this. (Note that the Waldenses were called by several different names: Leonists, Vallenses, Valsenses, Vaudois and others.)

Reinerius Sasso was a well informed Inquisitor of the thirteenth century. He had once been a pastor among the Waldenses but had apostatized and become their persecutor. The book The History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses by George Faber gives a translation of this testimony on page 272. His testimony described the Leonists (Waldenses) as being the most ‘pernicious’ of the sects of heretics for three reasons. The first reason was because of their longer continuance, for they had lasted from the time of Pope Sylvester or even from the Apostles. Secondly, because there was scarcely a land where they did not exist. And the third reason being because they lived justly before all men and blasphemed only against the Roman church and clergy while maintaining every point concerning the Deity and the articles of faith which made their doctrine appeal to the populous. He also writes that they were simple, modest people who instructed their children first in the Decalogue of the law, the Ten Commandments. (See Truth Triumphant, 254.)

Faber also shares the testimony of Pilichdorf, also of the thirteenth century, who writes that the Valdenses claimed to have existed from the time of Pope Sylvester. Claude Scyssel, the Archbishop of Turin, who lived in the neighborhood of the Waldenses in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries tells us that the Valdenses of Piedmont were followers of a person named Leo. In the time of Emperor Constantine, Leo, on account of the avarice of Pope Sylvester and the excesses of the Roman Church, seceded from that communion, and drew after him all those who entertained right sentiments concerning the Christian Religion. (See The History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, 276.)

For nearly two hundred years following the death of the apostles, the process of separation went on between those who rejected pagan practices being brought into the church and those who accepted this baptized paganism, until there was open rupture. The Waldenses date their exclusion from communion with the papal party to the year 325 and the Council of Nicaea when Sylvester was given recognition as bishop of Rome and given grand authority by Constantine. “Such believers did not separate from the papacy, for they had never belonged to it. In fact, many times they called the Roman Catholic Church ‘the newcomer.’ ” Truth Triumphant, 220.

Scientific inquiry into the dialect of the Waldenses by M. Raynouard and discussed in his Monuments of the Roman Tongue, reveals that their language is a primitively derived language and leads to the conclusion that the “Latin Vaudois must have retired, from the lowlands of Italy to the valleys of Piedmont, in the very days of primitive Christianity and before the breakup of the Roman Empire by the persevering incursions of the Teutonic Nations.” The History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, 285. It is from their language that the Romance languages of French and Italian were derived. They were the first to write modern literature in their vulgar tongue with their religious poems being prized today as the most perfect compositions of that period.

Vigilantius — Leader of the Waldenses

The name of Leo and the term Leonist come from Vigilantius Leo or Vigilantius the Leonist so named after his birthplace of Lyons on the Rhone and credited by Faber as the first supreme director of the Church of the Waldenses. In his book Truth Triumphant, 63, Benjamin Wilkinson says that in the time of Vigilantius (AD 364–408), “the protests against the introduction of pagan practices into primitive Christianity swelled into a revolution. Then it was that the throngs who desired to maintain the faith once delivered to the saints in northern Italy and south-western France were welded into an organized system.”

Vigilantius was a contemporary of Helvidius and Jovinian, who were also from northern Italy. Helvidius was famous for his exposure of Jerome for using corrupted Greek manuscripts in bringing out the Vulgate, the Latin Bible of the papacy. Jovinian taught and wrote against celibacy and asceticism. It is likely that “followers of Jovinianus took refuge in the Alpine valleys, and there kept alive the evangelical teaching that was to reappear with vigor in the twelfth century.” Truth Triumphant, 69, quoting Newman, A Manual of Church History, vol. 1, 376. So it was to these people of the valleys, who adhered to the teachings of scripture, that Vigilantius came to begin his public efforts to stop the pagan ceremonies. He did amighty work with wide influence.

The Church in the Wilderness

Vigilantius was able to build a strong organization among the Waldenses and evidence suggests that these apostolic Christian people had already occupied their valleys for some time. “The splendid city of Milan, in northern Italy, was the connecting link between Celtic Christianity in the West and Syrian Christianity in the East. The missionaries from the early churches in Judea and Syria securely stamped upon the region around Milan the simple apostolic religion.” Ibid., 67. This territory enjoyed a separate recognition from Rome for a thousand years as the bishoprics in northern Italy were called Italic and those of central Italy were named Roman. It is likely the Itala Bible received its name from this region. (See Truth Triumphant, 218, 219.)

“Now this district, on the eastern side of the Cottian Alps, is the precise country of the Vallenses. Hither their ancestors retired, during the persecutions of the second and third and fourth centuries: here, providentially secluded from the world, they retained the precise doctrines and practices of the Primitive Church endeared to them by suffering and exile; while the wealthy inhabitants of cities and fertile plains, corrupted by a now opulent and gorgeous and powerful Clergy, were daily sinking deeper and deeper into that apostasy which has been so graphically foretold by the great Apostle.” Faber, The History of the Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, 293, 294.

“The faith which for centuries was held and taught by the Waldensian Christians was in marked contrast to the false doctrines put forth from Rome. Their religious belief was founded upon the written word of God, the true system of Christianity. But those humble peasants, in their obscure retreats, shut away from the world, and bound to daily toil among their flocks and their vineyards, had not by themselves arrived at the truth in opposition to the dogmas and heresies of the apostate church. Theirs was not a faith newly received. Their religious belief was their inheritance from their fathers. They contended for the faith of the apostolic church,—‘the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’ Jude 3. ‘The church in the wilderness,’ and not the proud hierarchy enthroned in the world’s great capital, was the true church of Christ, the guardian of the treasures of truth which God has committed to His people to be given to the world.” The Great Controversy, 64.

The Itala

“The Waldenses were among the first of the peoples of Europe to obtain a translation of the Holy Scriptures. Hundreds of years before the Reformation they possessed the Bible in manuscript in their native tongue.” Ibid., 65. It is from the city of Brescia, a city with an independent spirit like Milan and Turin, that the Itala, the first translation of the New Testament from Greek into Latin, is given to the apostolic Christians. This translation was made “three centuries before Jerome’s Vulgate.” Truth Triumphant, 242. ” They prized their Latin Bible (not the Latin Bible of Jerome), generally called the Itala, ‘because it was read publicly in all the churches of Italy, France, Spain, Africa, and Germany, where Latin was understood; and Vetus, on account of its being more ancient than any of the rest.’ To supplant this noble version, Jerome, at the request of the pope and with money furnished by him, brought out a new Latin Bible.” Truth Triumphant, 70, 71, quoting Gilly, Vigilantius and His Times, 99.

Robert Oliveton, a native of the Waldensian valleys, who translated the Vaudois Bible into French in 1535, wrote in the Preface of that work that this Bible had been a precious treasure received from the apostles and ambassadors of Christ and held by a certain poor people and friends in Christ since that time. “When the fall of the Roman Empire came because of the inrush of the Teutonic peoples, the Romaunt, that beautiful speech which for centuries bridged the transition from Latin to modern Italian, had become the mother tongue of the Waldenses. They multiplied copies of the Holy Scriptures in that language for the people. In those days the Bible was, of course, copied by hand.”

“The Bible formed the basis of their congregational worship, and the children were taught to commit large portions of it to memory. Societies of young people were formed with a view of committing the Bible to memory. Each member of these pious associations was entrusted with the duty of carefully preserving in his recollections a certain number of chapters; and when the assembly gathered round their minister, these young people could together recite all the chapters of the Book assigned by the pastor. It thus can be seen how naturally their pastors, called barbes,’ were a learned class. They were not only proficient in the knowledge of the Bible in Latin and in the vernacular, but they were also well schooled in the original Hebrew and Greek, and they taught the youth to be missionaries in the languages which then were being used by other European peoples.” Ibid., 250, 251.

Missionary Spirit

“The spirit of Christ is a missionary spirit. The very first impulse of the renewed heart is to bring others also to the Savior. Such was the spirit of the Vaudois Christians. They felt that God required more of them than merely to preserve the truth in its purity in their own churches; that a solemn responsibility rested upon them to let their light shine forth to those who were in darkness; by the mighty power of God’s Word they sought to break the bondage which Rome had imposed.” The Great Controversy, 70.

The Vaudois minister was required to receive experience in evangelism gained in a three year mission field assignment. They were sent out with an older pastor two by two. They had to conceal their mission behind a secular disguise, often that of a merchant. They were able thus to spread God’s Word throughout Europe. Often they lost their lives while on these missionary travels.

“Seemingly they took no share in the great struggle which was going on around them in all parts of Europe, but in reality they were exercising a powerful influence upon the world. Their missionaries were everywhere, proclaiming the simple truths of Christianity, and stirring the hearts of men to their very depths. In Hungary, in Bohemia, in France, in England, in Scotland, as well as in Italy, they were working with tremendous, though silent power. Lollard, who paved the way for Wycliffe in England, was a missionary from these Valleys . . . In Germany and Bohemia the Vaudois teachings heralded, if they did not hasten, the Reformation, and Huss and Jerome, Luther and Calvin, did little more than carry on the work begun by the Vaudois missionaries.” Truth Triumphant, 249, quoting McCabe, Cross and Crown, 32.

“There is an abundance of testimony to show the harmonious chain of doctrine extending from the days of the apostles down to the Reformation and later, including the beliefs held by the believers of northern Italy, the Albigenses, the Wycliffites, and the Hussites. Andre Favyn, a well-known Roman Catholic historian, who wrote in French, traces the teachings of Luther back through Vigilantius to Jovinianus, claiming that Vigilantius gave his doctrines to ‘the Albigenses, who otherwise were called the Waldenses,’ and that they in turn passed them on to the Wycliffites and the followers of Huss and Jerome in Bohemia.” Ibid., 263.

Early Waldensian Heroes

The Waldenses were often called by many different names. “Whenever from the midst of the Church in the Wilderness a new standard-bearer appeared, the papacy promptly stigmatized him and his followers as ‘a new sect.’ This produced a twofold result. First, it made these people appear as never having existed before, whereas they really belonged among the many Bible followers who from the days of the early church existed in Europe and Asia. Secondly, it apparently detached the evangelical bodies from one another, whereas they were one in essential doctrines. The different groups taken together constituted the Church in the Wilderness.” Ibid., 224, 225. These names were usually derived from the name of a leader. We have already seen this with Vigilantius Leo and the term Leonists.

Waldensian leaders included Claude of Turin of the ninth century. He battled to restore New Testament faith and practice and denounced image worship and the worship of the cross, stating that many were willing to worship the cross who would not bear it. Transubstantiation was introduced in 839 through a new book. Joannes Scotus Erigena, an Irish scholar and head of the royal school at Paris, who had authored many celebrated works, took up his pen and produced a book which successfully met this falsehood. Two centuries later his book was condemned by a papal council which recognized that it had long stirred the believers of primitive Christianity. There is a tradition which states that Scotus came from one of the schools established by Columba who was a mighty leader among the primitive Celtic Christian church in Scotland.

Berengarius was hated by the papacy and more church councils were held against him than against anyone else. He lived two hundred years after Scotus and had also analyzed the doctrine of transubstantiation and believed it to be the height of seductive errors. Apostasy had strengthened since the days of Vigilantius and Claude, and Berengarius had to oppose all they fought against and more. He was driven into exile. Thousands who rejoiced in the light he brought were called Berengarians but who were really part of the increasing numbers who refused to follow Rome. In the eleventh century those who favored a married clergy retired to a separate place called Patara and were reproachfully called Patarines. Three new names were given to the people of the valleys; namely, Berengarians, Subalpini, and Patarines.

The next century saw three outstanding evangelical heroes. The Petrobusians were the followers of Peter de Bruys who was burned for his faith. He stirred southern France with a message that transformed the characters of the masses influenced by this deep spiritual movement. “He especially emphasized a day of worship that was recognized at the time among the Celtic churches of the British Isles, among the Paulicians, and in the great Church of the East; namely, the seventh day of the fourth commandment, the weekly sacred day of Jehovah.” Ibid., 237.

Henry of Lausanne traveled, labored, prayed, and preached to raise the masses to the truth. Pope Innocent II declared the doctrines of Henry to be heresies and condemned all who held or taught them. His followers were called Henricians. They were credited along with the Petrobrusians as being the spiritual fathers of French Protestantism.

Arnold of Brescia denounced the overgrown empire of ecclesiastical tyranny and also did what the reformers failed to do by attacking the union of church and state. His words were heard in Switzerland, southern Italy, Germany, and France. He preached against transubstantiation, infant baptism, and prayers for the dead. His followers were called Arnoldists. “The Waldenses look up to Arnold as to one of the spiritual founders of their churches; and his religious and political opinions probably fostered the spirit of republican independence which throughout Switzerland and the whole Alpine district was awaiting its time.” Ibid., 243.

Sabbath Keeping

“Among the leading causes that had led to the separation of the true church from Rome was the hatred of the latter toward the Bible Sabbath.” The Great Controversy, 65.

“In his (Vigilantius’) day another controversy existed which was to rock the Christian world. Milan, center of northern Italy, as well as all the Eastern churches, was sanctifying the seventh-day Sabbath, while Rome was requiring its followers to fast on that day in an effort to discredit it.” Truth Triumphant, 75.

Bible Sabbath keeping was widespread in Europe. Rome ever sought to persecute the keepers of the fourth commandment. A. C. Flick and other authorities claim that the Celtic Church observed Saturday as their sacred day of rest, and reputable scholarship has asserted that the Welsh sanctified it as such until the twelfth century. The same day was observed by the Petrobrucians and Henricians, and Adeney, with others, attributes to the Paulicians the observance of Saturday. There are reliable historians who say that the Waldenses and the Albigenses fundamentally were Sabbath-keepers.” Ibid., 211.

Socrates and Sozomen, fourth century historians, reveal to us that the Christianity of the Greek Church was a Sabbathkeeping Christianity; and that the Christianity of the West, with the exception of the city of Rome and possibly Alexandria, was also a Sabbathkeeping Christianity. (See Ibid., 256.)

Fortunately, the records of the church council at Elvira, Spain, in 305, still exists and in Canon 26 it reveals that the Church of Spain at that time kept Saturday, the seventh day. This is significant since Spain had the good fortune to escape the influence of Rome for many centuries and many believe that the true original Waldenses were from the Spanish Pyrenees. The original word is the Latin, vallis. From it came “valleys” in English, Valdesi in Italian, Vaudois in French, and Valdenses in Spanish. Near Barcelona is a city named Sabadell, “dell of the Sabbathkeepers.” Another author in Gebbes, Miscellaneous Tracts notes that ancient Spanish Gothic Church and the ancient British Church were the same. (See Ibid., 261.)

Pope Gregory issued a bull against the community of Sabbathkeepers in Rome in 602. It stated, “Further when speaking of that Sabbath which the Jews observe, the last day of the week, which also all peasants observe.” Ibid., 259. In 865–867 the Roman and Greek churches were fighting over the newly converted Bulgarians. The issue of the Bulgarians Sabbath-keeping was raised and is seen in a reply of Pope Nicolas I to the Bulgarian king.

Allix, in his Ancient Churches of Piedmont, says, it was a doctrine of the Waldenses that the Sabbath of the Law of Moses was to be observed. David Benedict says they were called Sabbatarians for keeping the seventh day. (Ibid.) Adeney indicates that a synod of “heretics” was held in Toulouse in 1167 and that the attendants disregarded Sunday and sanctified Saturday. Gilly notes, “It has been affirmed that the orders of the Franciscans and Dominicans were instituted to silence the Waldenses.” Ibid., 260.
In 1194, Alphonso of Aragon declared the Sabbathkeeping Waldenses, Insabbati, as heretic. There is an abundance of references to “heretics” under the name of Sabbatiti, or Insabbatiti, in the records of the Inquisition. These terms refer to keeping the seventh day. Lucas Tudensis, a papal writer, shows that the Insabbatiti in Spain were numerous in 1260.

Mosheim declares that in Bohemis, Moravia, Switzerland, and Germany, prior to Luther, there were groups who believed as the Waldenses, Wycliffites and Hussites. Lamy declares that these groups after the days of Luther were Sabbathkeeping, ” ‘All the counselors and great lords of the court, who were already fallen in with the doctrines of Wittenburg, of Ausburg, Geneva, and Zurich, as Petrowitz, Jasper Cornis, Christopher Famagali, John Gerendo, head of the Sabbatarians, a people who did not keep Sunday, but Saturday, and whose disciples took the name of Genoldist. All these, and others, declared for the opinions of Blandrat.’ ” Ibid., 263.

“There is an abundance of testimony to show the harmonious chain of doctrine extending from the days of the apostles down to the Reformation and later, including the beliefs held by the believers of northern Italy, the Albigenses, the Wycliffites, and the Hussites . . . Erasmus testifies that even as late as about 1500 these Bohemians not only kept the seventh day scrupulously, but also were called Sabbatarians.” Ibid., 264.

The Continuing Reformation

The prophetic twenty-three hundred day period of Daniel came to an end. “The centuries of faithfulness seen in the history of the Church in the Wilderness were succeeded by the period of the Remnant Church who would ‘keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ ” Ibid., 267.

“The Waldenses witnessed for God centuries before the birth of Luther. Scattered over many lands, they planted the seeds of the Reformation that began in the time of Wycliffe, grew broad and deep in the days of Luther, and is to be carried forward to the close of time by those who also are willing to suffer all things for ‘the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ Revelation 1:9.” The Great Controversy, 78. ‘the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ Revelation 1:9.” GC, 78.

Sinful Independence, part 2

John Was Independent of the Sanhedrin

When God called John the Baptist, a prophet equal with Moses (Matthew 11:11), to prepare the way for Jesus’ first coming, leaders like Korah were in charge of the church. Though John was faithful to the church, he did not recognize the authority of these self-appointed leaders and he fearlessly reproved them for their pride and arrogance. “John had not recognized the authority of the Sanhedrin by seeking their sanction for his work; and he had reproved rulers and people, Pharisees and Sadducees alike.” Desire of Ages, 132.
John’s calling and authority did not come from man, but from God, and John the Baptist respected the authority of heaven. The Sanhedrin, the highest human authority in the church, had tried to assume prerogatives and authority that belonged to God alone, thus making themselves independent of God. John the Baptist did not join in their independence by submitting himself to them. Moreover, he reproved rulers and elders just as well as the common people—he was no respecter of persons. Though some would consider that criticism of the leadership, John recognized clearly that sin in one was as bad as sin in another, and public sins, that were unrepented of, needed to be publicly reproved.

When John the Baptist “saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them . . . ‘bear fruits worthy of repentance, 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. 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 3:7–10.

John taught the people not to put full faith in any system, profession of personal piety, or institution—for “every tree which does not bear good fruit” will be “cut down.” Every person, congregation, conference, institution, or ministry, however large or small, that becomes independent from God will be cut down. “God has a church . . . It is the people who love God and keep His commandments.” Upward Look, 315. God’s church, His people who are totally dependent upon Him and who “follow the lamb wherever He goes,” Revelation 14:4, will go through to the end, and they will go through unitedly as a body of Christ. Yet it must be understood that the movement is much more than systems, buildings and legal documents. When the Seventh-day Adventist headquarters at Battle Creek became independent, God burned it down; but the church itself survived, and will ultimately triumph. We want to triumph with it. God is not going to start a new church or a new movement, but the movement must be purified from every element of independence from Him.

God’s Promises Are Conditional

The Jews thought that because they could trace their lineage and system back to Abraham, they were secure; but John said that God was not dependent upon them to have a people—He could take the stony hearts of the Gentiles and graft them into the true stock. In commenting upon John’s message, Ellen White elaborates: “Not by its name, but by its fruit, is the value of a tree determined. If the fruit is worthless, the name [Jew, Israel, Christian or Seventh-day Adventist] cannot save the tree from destruction. 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.

Somehow John did not seem to understand, as the leaders did, that the church (which to them meant the visible structure that was under their control) was going through regardless. “The Jews had misinterpreted God’s promise of eternal favor to Israel: ‘Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.’ Jeremiah 31:35–37. The Jews regarded their natural descent from Abraham as giving them a claim to this promise. But they overlooked the conditions which God had specified.” The Acts of the Apostles, 106.

The Jews trusted in these promises of the Bible—that they, as a people, would last forever, as long as the sun and moon existed. They could tauntingly argue with John the Baptist, asking, “Is the sun still shining, John? You see then, God must not have cast us off.” But they had overlooked the conditions upon which the promises were based. John assuredly warned them that “every tree which does not bear good fruit” will be cut down and “thrown into the fire”—even Israel and Jerusalem!

When John warned the church that God could work without them, in their eyes he committed the unpardonable sin. Instead of taking his message to heart and working to purify the church so that the conditions of acceptance with God could be fulfilled, they sought to silence the reprover. To them the church was the structure of buildings and the human leadership in Jerusalem, and that system was as secure in their eyes as the throne of God itself. Yet, “from the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church.” The Acts of the Apostles, 11. Never has the Lord, either anciently or today, made His work or His church totally dependent on physical structure. God removed the structure in Jesus’ day, but the true church survived. Throughout the Old Testament God had promised that “in the place where it was said . . . ‘You are not My people,’ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’ ” Hosea 1:10. As it is today, so it was then, God was not dependent upon the established church to preserve a people. He could raise up children to Abraham from the stony hearts of the Gentiles, for “if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29.

John warned that, “not by its name, but by its fruit, is the value of a tree determined. If the fruit is worthless, the name cannot save the tree from destruction.” Desire of Ages, 107. When God’s people begin to worry about the semantics of their name, seeking to protect the words themselves by crucifying people who use it, as they did Jesus upon the cross, it is a sure sign that they have lost the true significance of the name. The primary purpose of a name is to signify the character within. If Jesus had not called Himself a Jew, the Jewish leaders would not have put Him to death.

John the Baptist’s Message is Needed Today

It is time again for the message and ministry of John the Baptist to come to God’s heritage in order that we might be prepared for Jesus’ second coming. Today we are called to do a work similar to that of John the Baptist, and to give the same message in even stronger terms, yet in a spirit of love. “In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 321. It is a fearful thing to be a minister and speak smooth and popular messages that please the people. Though they may receive the credentials and tithes of the conference, God does not acknowledge them as His ministers.

” ‘Peace and safety’ is the cry from men who will never again lift up their voice like a trumpet to show God’s people their transgressions and the house of Jacob their sins. These dumb dogs that would not bark are the ones who feel the just vengeance of an offended God.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 211.

Jesus—Our Example

Probably the only person in the Bible who talked straighter than John the Baptist, as God’s preachers today are to do, was Jesus. When Jesus met the religious leaders, He did not simply call them poisonous snakes, as John had done; He plainly stated that they were the children of Satan. The Jews had argued with Him that they were assuredly God’s people because they had the official name and the official organization that had been sacredly handed down for centuries, John 8:39–41, but Jesus said, “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 . . .You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” John 8:42–44. You may think you represent God because you have the official name and represent the official organization, but if your life is not in harmony with God’s expressed will, you are most assuredly not His representatives.

When Jesus came, He was viewed from the very beginning as being independent; but of all the people on earth, He was the least independent person who ever lived. He said, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” John 5:30. Jesus was the least independent minister who ever lived, as far as His own will was concerned, but He was independent from the church organization on earth because they had become independent of God. He would like to have been united with them, but He could not unite with them and remain dependent on His Father, for the two were not in harmony. As the Bible says: “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Amos 3:3.

Thus, to outward appearances, He manifested what appeared to be an independent attitude. “Under the synagogue teachers the youth were instructed in the countless regulations which as orthodox Israelites they were expected to observe. But Jesus did not interest Himself in these matters. From childhood He acted independently.” Jesus was viewed as being independent, but what was He independent from? Let us finish the sentence. “From childhood He acted independently of the rabbinical laws. The Scriptures of the Old Testament were His constant study, and the words, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ were ever upon His lips.” Desire of Ages, 84.

If one wants to cause trouble, let him ask for the authority from the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy when confronted by the church manual. But that is the kind of trouble Jesus caused. (It was because we did not want our church to become like the Jewish church that we decided not to have a church manual when it was first proposed in 1883, but the decision was reversed in the General Conference of 1931.)

Though Jesus tried “in every gentle and submissive way . . . to please those with whom He came in contact . . . He would not be easily influenced by their teaching.” Desire of Ages, 85. The priests could not tolerate this spirit of independence in Jesus. “They urged Him to receive the maxims and traditions that had been handed down from the ancient rabbis, but He asked for their authority in Holy Writ. He would hear every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; but He could not obey the inventions of men.” Ibid. I can hear them urging Him: “Jesus, don’t you believe that this is God’s church?” “Yes,” He would answer. “Well, don’t you believe that God has guided and directed in this church down through the ages?” “Yes,” He would answer again. “Then you must believe the practices and teachings of this church which have been decided upon and practiced for centuries. You don’t believe that all these rabbis were wrong, do you?” (Notice,it was the “maxims and traditions that had been handed down from ancient rabbis” which they urged upon Jesus.) But Jesus would simply answer, “Where does it teach that in the Bible?”

Even Jesus’ own mother, who was a converted person and a conscientious member of the church, thought Jesus was too independent. “Mary often remonstrated with Jesus, and urged Him to conform to the usages of the rabbis.” Desire of Ages, 90. What a trial this must have been for Jesus. All alone Jesus bore His fidelity to truth. He was misunderstood by the best people in church—they could not understand how any sincere, consecrated person could become so independent from the teaching of the much respected rabbis of the past and present, since they had been ordained of God.

For Jesus, there was no inspired manual other than the holy Word of God. But so hierarchical had the church become that they knew of no other way that the church could function other than by man made rules, authority and a strong, Jerusalem centered structure. But Jesus elevated truth above structure.

Jesus was viewed as being so independent of the structure that the leaders of the church decided that if He was allowed to continue He would destroy the church—and there is no question that their power structure would have been destroyed. “He who was the foundation of the ritual and economy of Israel would be looked upon as its enemy and destroyer.” Desire of Ages, 111. The pious leaders of the church tried to prevent His influence from destroying the church in every way possible. They tried to prove Him wrong. They warned the people against listening to Him. They prevented Him from speaking in the churches. They spread lies and rumors about Him and His ministry. They tried everything to limit His influence (and they were quite successful at this), but nothing seemed to stop Him. Finally, as a last resort, they “regretfully” decided that they must put Him to death. They undoubtedly “hated” to do this, but the church must be preserved—its reputation and name must be protected from such irresponsible people as Barabbas and Jesus.

Jesus and Barabbas, of course, were quite different —one was a murderer and one was a life giver. But they were both independent, and of the two, Jesus was the most dangerous because His doctrines and practices fooled the common people. And once the spirit of independence gets started, they figured that there was no way to protect the church. It was inconceivable to them that God could protect and preserve His church if they would purify themselves and call upon Him for His protection —no, if they did not preserve it, the church would be destroyed. It was either Jesus or the church. John 11:50. Therefore, Jesus must be destroyed so that the church could survive. “If He stands in the way of Israel’s well-being, is it not doing God a service to remove Him? Better that one man perish than that the whole nation be destroyed. . . In their opinion, He had set aside the priesthood. He had refused to acknowledge the theology of the rabbinical schools. He had exposed the evil practices of the priests, and had irreparably hurt their influence . . . Satan told them that in order to maintain their authority, they must put Jesus to death. This counsel they followed . . . Such was their deception that they were well pleased with themselves. They regarded themselves as patriots, who were seeking the nation’s salvation.” Ibid., 540–541. Thus Jesus was disfellowshipped and the people who disfellowshipped Him thought they had saved the church from some great independent calamity that was threatening their very existence.

The Cow and Her Milk — Tasty or Risky

Twenty times in the Old Testament the promise was given that God’s chosen people would ultimately enter a land flowing with milk and honey. The fertile environment of Canaan was anticipated with eagerness, for there every nutritious agricultural product, both for man and animals could be supported. This goal was realized, flourishing under the magnificence of Israel’s greatest kings, David and Solomon. The animals were healthy because their food was good. Blessings accrued to those who followed the promised plan of God in strict detail.

Now we live in a different age. The greed of mankind has commercialized the agri-business to the place where home gardens are a necessity.

“The Lord desires His people to move into the country where they can settle in the land and raise their own fruits and vegetables, and where their children can be brought in direct contact with the works of God in nature. Take your families away from the cities, is my message.” Medical Ministry, 11.

We could study with profit the moral advantages, social advantages and spiritual benefits of country living today. Let us look for a moment at the physical enhancements we can have from home grown natural foods. Looking at God’s plan for the children of Israel we see that our Creator wanted each one to enjoy the work of their own hands. Building and living in their own hand-crafted house, eating and enjoying the fruits and vegetables of their own garden was God’s plan for His human family, ordained on earth as the foretaste of the heavenly land.

Almost a hundred years ago these nutritional benefits of vegetarian food were given for Seventh-day Adventists to share with their friends and neighbors around the world. “Flesh was never the best food; but its use is now doubly objectionable, since disease in animals is so rapidly increasing.” Ministry of Healing, 313 (1905). “Animals are becoming more and more diseased, and it will not be long until animal food will be discarded by many besides Seventh-day Adventists. Foods that are healthful and sustaining are to be prepared, so that men and women will not need to eat meat.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 124 (1902).

“The light given me is that it will not be very long before we shall have to give up using any animal food. Even milk will have to be discarded. Disease is accumulating rapidly.” Australasian Union Conference Record, July 28, 1889.

I could share many similar references, but today let us study the subject in the light of modern science. The winter of 1996 brought to the subject of animal disease an international cry of alarm. Mad Cow Disease, discovered in England in 1986, then exported to countries around the world, became the topic of international concern. Caused by a protein, which can not be cultured, this transmissible agent, called a prion, can cause many serious diseases. Most such syndromes attack the central nervous system, brain and spinal cord. Three “Mad Cow” equivalents have been documented in humans: Kuru, Gerstmann-Straussler syndrome (GSS) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). All three of these diseases can be transmitted to laboratory animals by inoculation. They have been found in chimpanzees, monkeys, rodents and seem to all have a common cause, namely a prion. There is a similar disease in sheep called scrapie. Libyan Jews living in Israel have acquired the human form, CJD, after eating lightly cooked sheep brain, or other delicacies such as sheep eyeballs. Primitive societies in the South Sea islands have transmitted Kuru through ritual cannibalism. Now we know that this disease can cross major species.

The most probable cause of Mad Cow Disease, scientifically called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), involves the abominable feeding practice, using scrapie-infected sheep meat and bone meal in cattle feed. The United Kingdom, in November of 1989, passed a ban on the human consumption of bovine offal. These include brain, spinal cord, thymus, spleen, tonsils and intestines. More recently a ban on feeding all bovine by-products to pet and farm animals was imposed after the successful experimental transmission of BSE to a pig. There was a Siamese cat from Bristol, England who developed symptoms of BSE after eating pet food made from a beef carcass. Mac, the hapless feline, died of a spongiform brain lesion which we could call the “mad cat disease.” BSE is a killer. The Mad Cow Disease has killed more than 161,663 cattle since it was discovered in 1985!

Dr. Virgil Hulse, a physician, veterinarian, and research scientist, has just published a book outlining these dangers (Mad Cow and Milk Gate). One of the worst is the feeding of unusable bits of cow and sheep back to the animals in the form of protein supplements. Most farmers did not realize what they were feeding their animals as the pellets are marketed primarily as animal protein supplements. Similar supplements are also given to cattle in the form of ground up chicken feathers, with inevitable contamination as is evident in any slaughterhouse or poultry factory. The American agri-business is just as guilty of these practices as in England, supported by vehement denials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that there could be any risk to human health. Interestingly, as I write this article a news note comes through the AMA weekly physician’s paper that the FDA has decided to ban this practice, phasing it out by the end of 1996. But our government may be “closing the barn door after the horse has already escaped.”

Cows and sheep and other ruminants are all by nature vegetarians. Thus it is biologically unnatural to feed a cow any substance derived from dead animals. First, these herbivorous creatures become carnivores, and later they are cannibals. Finally, they end up on the dinner table of the unsuspecting consumer. The meat from a dead cow with its bones, blood meal and soy bean is mixed up into pellets, advertised in dairy magazines with colorful pictures promoted to increase the cows milk production, thus making them “super cows.” Common sense should tell us that this practice is a bad idea.

Last summer it was my privilege to speak on the subject at two camp meetings in Europe. On a plane flight back from Stockholm to London I met a fascinating couple. Breakfast was being served on British Airlines. The gentleman politely asked the stewardess if the meat on his tray was beef. She replied with customary British tact, “No, it is not. We do not serve beef.”

The gentleman retorted, “Is that the policy of your airline?”

Replied the stewardess, “No it is not our policy. We just do not do it!”

One more question, he asked, “why?”

She replied, “Because no one would eat it; and we don’t like to waste food!”

So I had my bran muffin, fruit and granola while the gentleman ate his slice of pork. After the trays were collected I turned to this man and engaged him in conversation. Both the business man and his wife were international consultants to the dairy industry, experts from California who had just spent a week on a British farm. The news they shared was interesting and not likely to appear in the London Times.

When it became obvious that Mad Cow Disease had caused the deaths of several young people and was clearly transmissible to humans, the British beef industry was in a quandary. Should they incinerate all 11 million British cattle, start over and try to regain their international credibility? The thought was frightening to the future of agri-business in the United Kingdom.

What I learned from these friends on British Air fascinated me. This compromise was reached. Three million cows, namely the ones who had consumed animal products likely to be tainted with BSE are slated for cremation. This enormous multitude of cows now waiting on “death row” cannot be processed in a few weeks. There are less than a dozen incinerators (crematoriums) for cows in the United Kingdom. So these cows stay on the farms with a bounty on their head in which the government will pay the farmer as the cow goes to its final ashes. What to do in the meantime? The cows have to be fed. And, to earn their keep the cows are milked. Into the food chain goes the milk of condemned animals who, given enough time, are likely to develop BSE.

Normally cows trust man, but man became their worst nightmare. Cows have become our primary recycling agents in this twisted society. We feed cows orange skins, almond husks, dead sheep and chicken manure. Yes, cows eat dead sheep and dead cows! This unconscious cow cannibalism is supplemented by the feathers from chickens and turkeys, ground up and mixed up with the sheep and cows to become cow food. Fortunately, they don’t know what they are eating or they would really get mad. Sold to the dairy men as dairy supplements that contain a special bypass protein called PNP, protected natural protein, this is used to get more milk from the dairy cow. Traditionally a single cow would produce twenty gallons of milk a day. Today the average is more than three times that much.

We wonder why there is not more BSE-like disease in the United States. But there is in America an epidemic of “downer cow syndrome” which could be a mutated strain of Mad Cow Disease. Our country has hundreds of downer cows each year and no means for routinely diagnosing their cause. Many physicians, veterinarians and other scientists have warned the government of this BSE “time bomb” about to go off in our country. The BSE scientists in England have virtually all given up eating beef. If a human eats an infected beef carcass he has a 50% chance of developing Mad Cow Disease, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This sad affliction causes loss of memory, grinding headaches, tripping and stumbling as the nerves of the victim’s legs give out.

The muscles grow slack and flabby with loss of coordination and lethal psychotic stupor. Finally, they develop blindness and ultimately death. The average life expectancy from the onset of this disease is four months. That’s why we call BSE a time bomb.

The times in which we live call for a return to the original diet: fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables. I believe it is also time to advise our friends and neighbors to choose alternatives to milk. Avoid, too, the consumption of eggs; and, in short, make the diet completely vegetarian without recourse to any animal products at all. There are some wonderful recipes that can enable an average cook and homemaker to prepare healthful nut and seed based milks. I include a few, and we can offer many more in our recipe books and cards. All one needs is a blender, a little time, and some ingenuity. Commercial products are also available with milks based on the soybean, rice and other grains. Solait, Better Than Milk, Eden Soy and Rice Dream are just a few of the products available. Soy based cheeses are also easy to prepare and constitute excellent substitutes for any recipe that would use dairy based cheese. The risks are too great to wait much longer. In soy based milks you will obtain more magnesium, an excellent grade of protein, and completely avoid the risk of lactose intolerance with its annoying symptoms of abdominal cramps, gas and diarrhea. 75% of adults of Afro-American descent and as many as 40–50% of whites and Orientals lack some or all of the lactase enzyme. These therefore have an intolerance to milk.

Galactose, another sugar in cow’s milk, is normally transformed into glucose, even by the baby. Some infants, however have lactose intolerance manifested by the failure to thrive, a development of cataracts and other symptoms. These babies usually do very well on soy milk. Bed wetting in children can be improved when milk is removed from the diet. Constipation is relieved, particularly in the elderly. Colic in babies is relieved when mothers breast feed their infants or use a soy formula.
But most important is the reduced cholesterol, the elimination of oxidized cholesterol, and the lowered risk of arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. Powdered milk, powdered eggs, whey, smoked fish, meat or cheeses all contain oxidized cholesterol, a very toxic substance to the blood vessels. Cholesterol is found only in animal products. It is best not to eat any cholesterol containing food at all.

Of immediate concern, however, is the risk of cancer, now common in beef cows, dairies and other domestic food animals. Pasteurization offers no protection against many viruses including hoof and mouth disease, lymphosarcoma virus and the prions that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. These prions are so resistant that they survive radiation, formaldehyde and heating to 300 degrees Centigrade (700 degrees Fahrenheit)! Disease in animals has increased rapidly. The use of milk is becoming too unsafe for me to use it on my cereal.

We have just begun to discuss the reasons for vegetarianism. The life you save might be your own. May the Lord give health to His earthly friends as we live through the last days.


Making Your Own Milk:

Almond Milk


3/4 cup almonds, blanched

3 1/4 cups water

2 Tbs. honey

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup Soyagen

Blend almonds with small amount of water first, then add remaining water and ingredients. Whiz until smooth. Strain, chill and serve.

Cashew Milk



1 cup cashew meal

1 cup hot water


1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

3 Tbs. honey

3 cups water

Blend until smooth. Chill and serve.

Rice Milk


2/3 cup hot cooked rice

1/3 cup cashew meal

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. salt

1-2 Tbs. honey

3 cups hot water

Blend until smooth. Chill and serve.

Oatmeal Milk


2 cups cooked oatmeal

4 cups water

1/2 tsp. salt

1 ripe banana

1 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbs. honey

Blend until smooth. Chill and serve.

Sesame Milk


1 cup sesame seeds, light

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups water

1/4 cup honey

Bring sesame seeds and water to a boil. Simmer ten minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Chill and serve.

The Little Company Who Are Sighing and Crying

The following thoughts are derived from what Ellen White wrote about the little company who would be sighing and crying toward the end of time. The main source of these statements is in volume 5 of Testimonies for the Church pages 207–216.

We are living in that period of time described by the prophet when the great crisis of the ages is fast approaching, when the rapidly increasing wickedness shows that God’s visitation has about come, when every one of the Lord’s children must do his duty to labor diligently to save others. The danger and depression of the church are hastening toward their greatest point and at this time it is predicted that there will be a little company who are standing in the light and will be sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. The land where these awful abominations are done is the land of the church.

What we want to know is (1) who is this little company and what are their identifying characteristics and (2) what is this sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the church.

First we must understand that the church which Ellen White speaks about here is not the true church in reality but the professed people of God, most of whom are not living out the truth they profess. This can easily be shown. Just as there was an Israel according to the flesh and a true Israel of the promise (Romans 9:6-8) so there is a modern Israel according to the profession and there is within this a true Israel whose character lines up with their profession. Notice during this time, “But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel; although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 210. God’s power and presence were lacking from the church (the professed church) but concerning the true church the prophet writes, “To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church.” The Acts of the Apostles, 54, 55.

So there will be a large professed church (those who profess the Seventh-day Adventist faith) and within this large group there is a little company. As we will see, this little company will emerge as the church triumphant at the end. We now turn our attention to this little company. What qualifications must one have to be a part of this group?
The little company has the following characteristics:

  1. They keep the commandments, including the Sabbath. They have come out from the world and stand in defense of God’s law.
  2. They are standing in the light—they are obeying the counsels of God’s spirit to the remnant church. They are bound together by the truth. They have preserved the faith in its purity. (They are Historic Adventists!)
  3. They are sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. They will have a soul anguish, expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings.
  4. More especially their prayers are arising in behalf of the professed church whose members are doing after the manner of the world.
  5. They have kept themselves unspotted from the world.
  6. They have reproved, counseled and entreated, holding forth the words of life to the professed church.
  7. They will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any.
  8. They are filled with grief and alarm because they are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity (in God’s professed church).
  9. They mourn and lament because religion is despised in the homes of God’s professed people and pride, avarice, selfishness and deception of almost every kind are in the professed church.
  10. The spirit of God which prompts these people to reprove is trampled underfoot. The servants of Satan triumph, God is dishonored and the truth is made of none effect.
  11. They receive the seal of God.
  12. They make God their defense in the deadly conflict with the powers of earth who command them to worship the beast and receive his mark or die.
  13. Their character defects are remedied by the grace of God and their own diligent efforts. They do not yield to circumstances but engage in the conflict of overcoming.
  14. They are distrustful of self and are humbling themselves before God and purifying their souls by obeying the truth, they are being purified, overcome worldly ambition, love of the world and a false tongue and a deceitful heart—they are without spot before God.

In the same articles where Ellen White describes the true church (the little company) who are obeying the truth, she describes a much larger group. This group, though professing the Adventist faith, (they are the true church by profession) their character does not agree with their profession. They lose their souls at the end even if they have been Adventists all their lives! Here is the inspired description of them.


  1. They are contaminated by the prevailing iniquity.
  2. They lose their reverence for God’s law.
  3. They live after the manner of the world.
  4. They continue the forms of religion.
  5. They throw a cloak over the existing evil and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent. (When you are listening to sermons telling you to go back where you were disfellowshipped or forced out for conscience sake, remember who this group is described in #5.)
  6. This group triumphs over the little company.
  7. This group does not feel grieved over it’s own spiritual declension.
  8. They do not mourn over the sins of others.
  9. This group includes leaders who stand as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people.
  10. They take the position that we need not look for miracles and marked manifestation of God’s power as in former days. They say that “times have changed.”
  11. They cry peace and safety and talk about the mercy of God. (They overlook His justice.)
  12. They do not show God’s professed people their transgressions and sins.
  13. Those who have been regarded as worthy and righteous will be discovered by God as leaders in apostasy and examples in indifference.
  14. They have been used powerfully by God in the past but they have departed from God and led others into error.
  15. They link in sympathy with the world.
  16. Many among the leaders of God’s people will be in this category and will not receive the seal of God in their foreheads.
  17. These leaders understand every point of our faith (they are not heretics in the usual sense of the word) but had not corresponding works.
  18. They failed to reach a high religious standard by their lack of devotion and piety.
  19. Those who followed them did not see that in patterning after these men (these leaders in the big group of professed Adventists) they will surely endanger their souls.
  20. They yield to circumstances rather than engage in the conflict of overcoming.
  21. They are receiving the worldly mold and preparing for the mark of the beast.


From the context of the article it is clear that the small group described first are the Historic Adventists and the large group described last are the vast majority of those professing the Adventist faith. At first reading, this thought is so imponderable as to escape reflection—certainly such a thing seems impossible, yet it is the truth of prophecy.

It is not pleasant to contemplate the destruction of the majority of God’s professed people but many prophecies clearly predict this. (See for example Testimonies, vol. 1, 608, 609; Testimonies, vol. 5, 136.) How can such a thing happen? Do not these people expect to be ready to meet Jesus when He comes and go home with Him? Of course they do. So why will many be bitterly disappointed? Part of the reason is described in the quotations below. We must go to our closet and plead with God to be delivered from self-deception—thinking we are saved when we are not.

Our great danger today is the same danger that the Jews had—the danger of being self-deceived. In crucifying Christ they thought that they were doing God service. (See Signs of the Times, January 10, 1900.)

“The Jews pursued their course of rejecting Christ until, in their self-deceived, deluded state, they thought that in crucifying Him they were doing God a service. Thus it will be with all who resist the entreaties of the Spirit of God, and persist in doing what they know to be wrong. The Spirit once resisted, there will be less difficulty in resisting it a second time. If we maintain the independence of the natural heart, and refuse the correction of God, we shall, as did the Jews, stubbornly carry out our own purposes and ideas in the face of the plainest evidence, and shall be in danger of as great deception as came on them. In our blind infatuation we may go to as great lengths as they did, and yet flatter ourselves that we are doing work for God. Those who continue in this course will reap what they have sown. They were afforded a shelter, but they refused it. The plagues of God will fall, and He will prevent them not.” Review and Herald, July 27, 1897.

“If the worldly element is allowed to take possession of the heart, things that are not approved of God will seem right, and the religious life will be mixed with error. The perceptions will not be clear and distinct to understand the word and will of the Lord. There is danger of pursuing this course of disobedience until the wrong is gilded over, conscience is blunted, and the self-deceived one believes himself on the highway of holiness when he is on the downward road to perdition.” Signs of the Times, August 6, 1885.

“It is difficult for us to understand ourselves, to have a correct knowledge of our own characters. The Word of God is plain, but often there is an error in applying it to one’s self. There is liability to self-deception and to think its warnings and reproofs do not mean me. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’ (Jeremiah 17:9). Self-flattery may be construed into Christian emotion and zeal. Self-love and confidence may give us assurance that we are right when we are far from meeting the requirements of God’s Word.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 332, (1885).

The same events that happened in Jesus’ day are to happen again by those who must have their own way and as a result deceive not only others but themselves:

“Some who profess righteousness will, like Judas, betray their Lord into the hands of His bitterest enemies. These self-confident ones, determined to have their own way and to advocate their own ideas, will go on from bad to worse, until they will pursue any course rather than to give up their own will. They will go on blindly in the way of evil, but, like the deluded Pharisees, so self-deceived that they think they are doing God’s service. Christ portrayed the course which a certain class will take when they have a chance to develop their true character: ‘And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.’ ” Testimonies, vol. 5, 690, 691.

Our only chance of avoiding self-deception is to become humble and teachable like a little child, casting away all pride of opinion and choosing to follow the way of the Lord with humility and patience. (See Testimonies, vol. 5, 214.)

“There is danger, great danger with all men of becoming self-deceived.” Manuscript Release, vol. 13, 28.

“From the light that God has given me, I know that men’s great danger is in being self-deceived. Satan is watching his chance. He will come to men in human form, and will speak to them most entrancing words. He will bring against them the same temptations that he brought against Christ. Unless their minds and hearts are filled with the pure, unselfish, sanctified love that Christ revealed, they will fall under Satan’s power, and will do and say and write strange things, to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect.” Upward Look, 295.

We have been warned. The shaking taking place now, which will indeed intensify, was predicted and described by God’s messenger to the remnant in the most graphic terms. Unless you are a diligent student of inspired writings, unless the study of the Word of God has resulted in filling your heart with the love of Jesus and the faith of Jesus, if you are looking and trusting to the arm of flesh or anything that you can see or perceive in the flesh, not walking by faith alone, the snare will sweep you off your feet—you will be deceived with the majority and not know it until it is too late.

“Some who have been deceived by men in responsible places will repent, and be converted. And in all our dealings with them, we must remember that none of those who are in the depth of Satan’s snares know that they are there.” Battle Creek Letter, 125.

The Scruples of Childhood

What do we do when we feel like the earth is shaking and reeling under our feet? when what we thought was solid ground for our feet seems to be moving? We want to reach out to something or someone to steady us. But, sometimes we cannot find anything sturdy enough to hang onto. At times like this, the following text can become the anchor to our soul: “If any man will to do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:17. This text was spoken by Jesus when people were wondering about Him—”And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; But he deceiveth the people.” John 7:12. The earth felt like it was shaking under these people’s feet. Jesus was challenging what they had been taught since babyhood. This brings a real “shaking” in a person’s mind. Martin Luther realized how difficult it is to change your mind on things you have always held. He said, ” ‘I feel more and more every day how difficult it is to lay aside the scruples which one has imbibed in childhood.’ ” Great Controversy, 143.

Scruples of Childhood

What were the “scruples” that Martin Luther was writing of that he had held since childhood? What was it that he was struggling over? We can find the answer in Martin Luther’s own words. ” ‘I feel more and more every day how difficult it is to lay aside the scruples which one has imbibed in childhood. Oh, how much pain it has caused me, though I had the Scriptures on my side, to justify it to myself that I should dare to make a stand alone against the pope, and hold him forth as antichrist! What have the tribulations of my heart not been! How many times have I not asked myself with bitterness that question which was so frequent on the lips of the papists: “Art thou alone wise? Can everyone else be mistaken? How will it be, if, after all, it is thyself who art wrong, and who art involving in thy error so many souls, who will then be eternally damned?” “Twas so I fought with myself and with Satan, till Christ, by His own infallible word, fortified my heart against these doubts.” ’ ” Ibid., quoting Martyn, 372, 373.

When Luther, in reading the Scriptures, found that Christ is the head of the body, he began questioning whether there was any head of the whole church other than Christ. There came a point in his experience where he was engaged in the Leipzig debates, and as a result of that experience, Luther began coming to grips with the issue of authority in the church. He finally came to doubt whether, after all, any other head of the whole church had been appointed upon earth except Christ. Once he accepted the principle that the authority of God’s Word is above counsels, popes and all human authority, it began to transform all human life, changing even people’s concept of the church.

This same conflict is what brought such a shaking to the Jews, described in John 7—Jesus was challenging the scruples they had held since childhood. What were these scruples? Read the story for yourself in John 7 and 8. There you will see that the present contest between Jesus and the Jews was that He had healed on the Sabbath day—against their manmade laws. John 7:23, 24. This struck at the very root of the scruples the Jews were taught from babyhood —unquestioning obedience to the priests. Today we are still struggling with this same issue. Who will we obey—God or man? Whether we like to admit it or not, we have been taught from babyhood to obey man. Just as the Jews, we have been taught that the priests are God’s church. So we continue to shake—until we wonder if we can trust anyone.

“Brethren and sisters, look up; you who are tried, tempted, and discouraged, look up. Let no weary, halting, sin-oppressed soul become faint-hearted. The promises of God that come down along the lines to our times assure you that heaven can be reached if you will continue to climb. It is ever safe to look up; it is fatal to look down. If you look down, the earth reels and sways beneath you; nothing is sure. But heaven above you is calm and steady, and there is divine aid for every climber. The hand of the Infinite is reaching over the battlements of heaven to grasp you in its strong embrace. The mighty Helper is nigh to bless, lift up, and encourage the most erring, the most sinful, if they will look to Him by faith. But the sinner must look up; he must see the glory of God above the shining ladder, and the angels ascending and descending with messages of mercy.” Review and Herald, February 17, 1885.

We had better learn what this means to look up. These words are not merely rhetoric! “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him. If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31, 32. It is not time to quit—it is time to continue holding to the Word of God, time to look up!

People today are shaking to their very roots in consternation over those they see joining back up with apostasy. The Word of God still says, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” John 7:17. The devil is trying to destroy God’s people—he has come down with great fury—knowing that he hath but a short time. The real question is: Are we fully surrendered. (The devil is no match for the weakest one who is surrendered to Jesus.) Are we doing His will so John 17:17 can be fulfilled for us? Are we surrendered in the area of health reform? Or are we holding out on God so we can enjoy “little” cherished impulses? What about gossip and rumors? God’s people today seem to be having a hard time telling the difference between God’s messengers giving rebuke and reproof to a sleeping church, and criticism. Friends, there is a big, BIG difference. One is under the unction of the Holy Spirit and the other comes from an unregenerate human heart. The devil knows this is a trump card for him.

Evil Surmising

Thinking about evil surmising, I wonder what was said of Jesus’ disciples. Peter—ordained three or so years earlier by Jesus—attempted murder on the “secretary” of the “General Conference President.” John and James wanted a city to be burned with its inhabitants for not allowing Jesus to pass through. (Maybe this city had a good working relationship with the “powers that be” and this would jeopardize it!) Then, what about Judas? Any of these would give fertile soil to one who had a bent toward tale-bearing and evil surmising. In fact, you would not even have to surmise; you could just talk about facts! Do not let evil surmising steal your crown. (However, the only one who went and made a deal with the priests was Judas. After that he was not a part of the disciples.)

Have you ever wondered how the spectators could tell any difference between the disciples and the priests? It would certainly be easy to rationalize, would it not? Something like this: “I see faults on both sides;” or “If that Peter has anything to do with the camp meeting, I certainly will not attend.” Oh, friends, many in Jesus’ day lost eternal life because of the false scruples they had grown up with were not thrown off through the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of the false scruples that bound them were:

#1 — That the corrupt priesthood was the church.

#2 — That the Messiah was to establish a kingdom on this earth.

#3 — That the true Messiah would come through the priesthood and clean up the corruptions.

#4 —That Jesus and His little band of faulty disciples could not be the movement of truth.

The weaknesses and faults of men mar the work of God—but they cannot stop it. The truth will triumph. Do not let David and Bathsheeba, Peter, Judas or Paul and Barnabas (with their split) keep you from triumphing with the truth. There are experiences just ahead that have not been experienced yet—do we have something ahead for us as devastating as the death of Jesus was to the disciples? If we cannot keep up with the footmen, how will we keep up with the horses in the swelling of the Jordan? Jeremiah 12:15.

Friend, if the ground you are standing on seems to be quaking, reach out and grab hold of Jesus—Jesus dying alone. He will sustain you. Take time to pray; He will hear you. God’s Word is still true. “If any man will, he will know of the doctrine.” On your knees, investigate the doctrine; not from the scruples of childhood—but from a plain thus saith the Lord. Many refuse to stand on a plain Thus saith the Lord.

“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.” Great Controversy, 595.

No one should be afraid to have what they believe come under careful investigation from the Word of God! If people are afraid, they are not clinging to truth, but to the scruples of childhood. These scruples may be either right or wrong. The only thing that will stand is what is based upon the naked, unaided Word of God.

“Never give up your faith and hope in God. Cling to the promises. Do not trust in your feelings, but in the naked Word of God. Believe the assurances of the Lord. Take your stand upon the plain ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ and rest there, feeling or no feeling.” Upward Look, 176.

Caving In

When we see one after another apparently caving in to preconceived ideas that were formed in childhood—the belief that even in apostasy, the conference is the church—we feel shaken. But, the weakest one may stand firm in the Three Angels’ Messages. Not a thing has ever happened to God’s people—His church—that He has not foreseen. His purposes are steadily marching on to a certain triumph. Consider the following quotation as one reason why the Lord allows us to witness others falling back to cooperate with apostasy.

“Before the great trouble shall come upon the world such as has never been since there was a nation, those who have faltered and who would ignorantly lead in unsafe paths will reveal this before the real vital test, the last proving, comes, so that whatsoever they may say will not be regarded as voicing the True Shepherd.” 1888 Materials, 1002.

“To those who thus yield themselves to God, having an honest desire to know and to do His will, the truth is revealed as the power of God for their salvation. These will be able to distinguish between him who speaks for God, and him who speaks merely from himself.” Desire of Ages, 456.

With our eyes anointed with the eyesalve from above we will not be found accusing or condemning those who are joining back up with apostasy. No! We will walk humbly before the Lord lest we also fall back. It is time for us to weep between the porch and the altar. “Now is the time for us to lay hold of the arm of our strength. The prayer of David should be the prayer of pastors and laymen: ‘It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law.’ Let the servants of God weep between the porch and the altar, crying, ‘Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach.’ God has always wrought in behalf of His truth. The designs of wicked men, the enemies of the church, are subject to His power and His overruling providence. He can move upon the hearts of statesmen; the wrath of the haters of His truth and His people can be turned aside, even as the waters of a river could be turned, if thus He ordered it. Prayer moves the arm of Omnipotence. He who marshals the stars in order in the heavens, whose word controls the waves of the great deep—the same infinite Creator will work in behalf of His people,if they will call upon Him in faith. He will restrain all the forces of darkness, until the warning is given to the world, and all who will heed it are prepared for His coming.” Review and Herald, November 23, 1905.

“I looked for the burden bearers who in such a time as this should be weeping between the porch and the altar, crying, Spare thy people, Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach; but I heard no such supplications. A few earnest humble ones were seeking the Lord. At some of these meetings one or two ministers felt the burden, and were weighed down as a cart beneath sheaves. But a large majority of the ministers had no more sense of the sacredness of their work than children.” Review and Herald, August 15, 1882.

May you be one of these earnest humble ones who are seeking the Lord. We are told that ONLY those who are sighing and crying for the abominations done in the land will be spared the judgments of an offended God. May you be found in this small company, humbly entreating the Lord to spare His people.

The Double Minded Man Is Unstable in All His Ways

The Time in Which We Live

“The contest will wax more and more fierce on the part of Satan; for he is moved by a power from beneath. As the work of God’s people moves forward with sanctified, resistless energy, planting the standard of Christ’s righteousness in the church, moved by a power from the throne of God, the great controversy will wax stronger and stronger, and will become more and more determined. Mind will be arrayed against mind, plans against plans, principles of heavenly origin against principles of Satan. Truth in its varied phases will be in conflict with error in its ever-varying, increasing forms, and which, if possible, will deceive the very elect.” Testimonies to Ministers, 407.

According to this quotation, error is ever changing its form and increasing its forms. The person, whose mind is filled with truth from the throne of God, will be arrayed against the minds of those who have accepted the ever-varying and increasing forms of error. The plans in the minds of God’s people will be in opposition to the plans of others in the church who have accepted the plans of the adversary. The principles of heavenly origin will be in opposition to the principles originating with Satan. All this is described as going on in the church as we approach the end.

Since the principles of error are constantly varying and changing, they are not stable like the principles of truth. Those who accept them are not stable either, because they are constantly having to change their minds about what they believe. The truth which Adventists have accepted does not change. It is like an unfolding flower—although, as time goes on, the truth develops and is revealed more and more in its eternal beauty.

If we have been in error on some point, obviously sometime we are going to have to change our minds. But, if our minds are changing almost constantly, this is evidence that we are double-minded.

One of the main reasons that people deceive others and end up being deceived themselves is that they are double minded. We are strictly warned about this in the Bible. Let us look at the symptoms of the problem.

Symptoms and Propositions

Symptom 1: The double -minded man is the man who is bent on having his own way. He seeks to follow his own way while professing to be doing the will of God. Not only does this deceive others, eventually he is deceived himself. He really thinks when following his own way that he is doing the will of God. It took forty years of training to prepare Moses to withstand these types of problems: “It was the experience gained during the years of toil and waiting in Midian—the spirit of humility and long-suffering there developed—that prepared Moses to meet with patience the unbelief and murmuring of the people and the pride and envy of those who should have been his unswerving helpers. Moses ‘was very meek, above all men which were upon the face of the earth,’ and this is why he was granted divine wisdom and guidance above all others. Says the Scripture, ‘The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.’ Psalm 25:9. The meek are guided by the Lord, because they are teachable, willing to be instructed . . . God does not force the will of any; hence He cannot lead those who are too proud to be taught, who are bent upon having their own way. Of the double -minded man—he who seeks to follow his own will, while professing to do the will of God—it is written, ‘Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.’ James 1:7.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 384. [All emphasis supplied.]

Symptom 2: The double -minded man has two agendas in his mind. When people talk to him, sometimes he is on one agenda and sometimes on the other. Consequently, while everything he says might be absolutely the truth according to the agenda he is talking about, actually it is very deceptive. This deception eventually is manifest when the two agendas become known and are found often to be contradictory. “They are men of two minds.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 531.

Some years ago a conference minister moved to the area of a Seventh-day Adventist church which was not recognized by the conference and was therefore an independent church seeking to become sanctified and spread the Three Angels’ Messages to their community. When he explained why he had come, he said that he wanted to come and help with the work in that church. However when he talked to another worker over a 100 miles away, this same minister said that the conference president had sent him to that church to get control of it. Why was the story so different? Because there were two agendas —one public and another hidden.

Recently a number of conference ministers have issued appeals—calls to various special ministries to come back to the church—”Come back home.” These calls are most attractive to those who are mixed up about who and what the church really is. It is just as in Jesus’ day—if you did not know who the church was you most certainly would end up not being part of it. The interesting thing about these appeals is that they are sometimes addressed as from relatives of officials in the Adventist structure. These same people have confided privately that they (the structure) have an objective to destroy all independent ministries which they cannot control. Thus two distinct messages, contradictory to one another, are coming from the same people. One message is public, the other is private and hidden.

The proposed destruction will be accomplished by the double -minded upon all others who are double -minded:

Proposition 1: On the one hand those who have been determined for destruction are appealed to and flattered and an attempt is made in every possible way to win them over. Many will be won by this method.

Proposition 2: If this does not work then the power of the state is employed in an effort to silence them, and/or destroy them. How does this work today? At the very same time that apparently loving appeals are being made to come back to the structure, Historic Adventist churches are receiving threats from the very same organization. There is a double agenda—a double -mind.

Symptom 3: The double -minded man is unstable —he is constantly in the process of changing his mind, back and forth and up and down. “To be double -minded is to be unstable.” Youth’s Instructor, May 24, 1900. “They are unstable in all their ways, and cannot be depended upon.” Youth’s Instructor, February 8, 1894.

Examples of These Symptoms

Example 1: The Spirit of Prophecy made it very clear in 1893 that we were not to call Seventh-day Adventists Babylon. But, she also made it clear to the General Conference President in 1886 that we as a people could become part of Babylon. (See Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery and Divorce, 188.) Now there have been several positions taken:

Position 1: that the church has now become Babylon.

Position 2: we can become part of Babylon if we fulfill all the conditions laid down in the Spirit of Prophecy, but are not at the present time.

Position 3: that it is impossible for us as a people to ever become part of Babylon.

At Steps to Life we are convinced that the second position is the correct one and have proclaimed this position for several years in publications and sermons. We believe the Ellen White statement that we are on the track of Romanism (Testimonies to Ministers, 362) is more true now than then and that we are nearer the “city-limits” of Babylon now than then.

An interesting thing has developed in Historic Adventism. Some, having taken position number one, are proclaiming all others as heretics. They are saying that everybody must get their names off of the structure church rolls. Others, who used to do this same thing, have switched to the position that the organization they formerly called Babylon, is the true church. They are saying that everybody must belong to it or they are in danger of having their name stricken from the book of life in heaven. After saying this, if you ask them about it, they may tell you that they are still not part of the structure church!

Whenever you see a “Babylon” like this you can know that there is a problem with being double minded.

Example 2: Where do you take your converts? Some know from experience that if you bring them into a conference church in your area, that you may lose them. Others say that only baptisms into a conference church count. In plain language, who and what is the church that is founded upon a Rock that cannot be prevailed against by the powers from beneath? If you keep changing your mind, obviously you are double -minded. If you say, we are going back to the conference (“church” “home”) but a few days later you say that you are not—is this not being double -minded?

More Symptoms and Devices

Symptom 4: The double -minded man professes one thing and does another. To be more specific, he by profession deplores the work of Satan and yet enters into his devices. “Of what profit is it to say pleasant things, to deplore the works of Satan, and yet at the same time to enter into the fulfillment of all his devices? This is being double -minded.” Youth’s Instructor, February 15, 1894. What are some of Satan’s devices?

Device 1: Blaming others and justifying ourselves.
“The spirit of self-justification originated in the father of lies; it was indulged by our first parents as soon as they yielded to the influence of Satan, and has been exhibited by all the sons and daughters of Adam. Instead of humbly confessing their sins, they try to shield themselves by casting the blame upon others, upon circumstances, or upon God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 58.

“The very thing that gained for Satan the sympathy of one-third of the angels in heaven, was this spirit of self-justification. The angels were deceived by Satan’s misrepresentations and by his artful power of accusing those who would not unite with him. Satan has kept up this work ever since his fall, and he has large numbers of men and women who follow in the very steps he has taken, until they fall from the truth, give up their steadfastness, and stand on Satan’s side, as accusers, criticizing others.” Manuscript Release, vol. 18, 324, 325.

We are all in a world of temptation, “let no one feel . . . that he makes no mistakes.” Counsels on Health, 244. The problem is not so much that we make mistakes, but rather when we do make them, do we take responsibility? Or, do we instead accuse others, trying to cast the blame on some other minister or worker or ministry or on “the constituency” or on the Historic Adventists worldwide or on some conference or the general conference or some other scapegoat?

Device 2: Deception.

In the effort to cause good to happen to ourselves by self-justification and blaming others, inevitably we will sooner or later be caught up in deception. We may have proclaimed to all that we are transparent in all our actions, etc., but an attempt to justify self and blame others will always end up in a crooked course of action. Not only will others be deceived but we will deceive ourselves by this course.

Symptom 5: Instead of going to God for unerring, stable counsel, the double -minded man seeks counsel from man—he is controlled by men instead of God. Because of this he is never comfortable unless there is a coalition of people working together. Consequently, it is only through human association and groups that he can feel safe and comfortable. If things do not work out in one group, he is forced to seek some other group to be a part of so that he feels safe, secure and comfortable. If the home church is not big enough, he must go to some other church (no matter what is being taught) because he is not comfortable except in a group. ” ‘A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.’ God calls upon His people now to consecrate all their powers to His service. He would have every household become a home-church . . . None are to place themselves under the guidance of human beings; for God has not ordained this. He bids us look to One and depend upon One who understands our needs, and is able to supply them from His abundant fullness.” Australia Union Record, October 14, 1907.

Symptom 6: The double -minded man has not a personal spiritual foundation—he walks in the light of another’s torch. Why do you believe what you believe? Some people believe what they believe because that is what they were taught by their Bible teacher or by the evangelist they trained under or by some theologian, etc. All these people may know the truth, but you must know the truth for yourself, not just what somebody else believes, or you will not endure through the shaking. “Many of those who profess the truth have received it because some one else did, and for their life they could not give the reason of their faith. This is why they are so unstable. Instead of weighing their motives in the light of eternity, instead of obtaining a practical knowledge of the principles underlying all their actions, instead of digging down to the bottom and building upon a right foundation for themselves, they are walking in the light of another’s torch, and will surely fail.” Counsels on Diet and Foods, 196.

Symptom 7: The double -minded man deals in man-made tests. “Men will arise speaking perverse things . . . bringing sacred truth upon a level with common things . . . The devisings of men’s minds will invent tests that are no tests at all, that when the true test shall be made prominent, it shall be considered on a par with the man-made tests that have been of no value.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1064.

Popular Man-Made Tests

Test 1: You must have your name on the conference church book or your name is not written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Test 2: You must address God by Hebrew names.

Test 3: You must profess faith in and give your tithe and all your financial support to ______organization or you will be accounted as robbing God.

Test 4: “The Lord gave me this impression (or “sign”) and therefore I know this is the Lord’s will.” Some people can tell you of many signs and impressions they have received and multitudes have followed these undependable tests. Some stupendous mistakes have been made by Adventists because they have depended on “signs” and “impressions.”

“Whenever I have been called to meet fanaticism in its varied forms, I have received clear, positive, and definite instruction to lift my voice against its influence. With some the evil has revealed itself in the form of man-made tests for ascertaining a knowledge of the will of God; and I was shown that this was a delusion which became an infatuation, and that it is contrary to the will of the Lord. If we follow such methods, we shall be found aiding the enemy’s plans. In times past certain among the believers had great faith in the setting of signs by which to decide their duty. Some had such confidence in these signs that men went so far as to exchange wives, thus bringing adultery into the church.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 28.

“I have no faith in casting lots. We have in the Bible a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in regard to all church duties . . . Read your Bibles with much prayer. Do not try to humble others, but humble yourselves before God, and deal gently with one another. To cast lots for the officers of the church is not in God’s order.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1054.

“Will it furnish us with experiences that will glorify God, for us to decide what is His will by the dropping of a card or a coin, and observing how it falls? No, no. Such tests as this will spoil the religious experience of the one who adopts them. Everyone who depends upon such things for guidance, needs to be reconverted.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 327.

“Being nothing more than a matter of chance, the influence of adopting such tests regarding duty is calculated to lead the mind to depend on chance and guesswork, when all our work and plans for work should be established on the sure foundation of the Word of God.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 325.

More Symptoms

Symptom 8: The double -minded man speaks evil of his brethren who will not be turned from the truth to his present opinion. He will call them all sorts of names and epithets such as schismatic, “ignorant of theology or history,” divisive, back-biters, wishy-washy, filled with hatred against him—in short he blames his troubles on his brethren who do not agree with him about this or that.

“Satan is at the head of fallen principalities and powers, and is the ruler of the darkness of this world. Day and night he is plotting against God and against those who are seeking to obey the truth. He transforms himself into an angel of light, and makes darkness appear as light, and light as darkness; and he seeks continually to lead unstable souls to unite with him in thinking evil and in speaking evil of those who will not be turned from the truth. He is described in the Scriptures as a liar, a destroyer, a tormentor, an accuser, a murderer, and it will not be difficult to discern on which side a soul is fighting, or under what leadership he is moving, if he is found accusing and condemning others. If men and women have been placed so that they have gained influence, and they use that influence to further Satan’s designs, they are uniting with the great adversary and apostate.” Review and Herald, December 11, 1894.

Symptom 9: The double -minded man says anything that comes into his mind. He strongly advocates something and then strongly advocates just the opposite and then denies what he formerly advocated.

Where do you believe I should go to church? Oh, I believe that you should go to a home church. A few weeks later when you ask the same question you are told that if you do not have your name on the conference list then it probably is not in the book of life. With vehemence you are first told that you must not be a part of the conference churches but then with the same vehemence you are later told that you must be. Why? There is a double -mind.

To a double -minded minister Ellen White wrote as follows: “When a man gives evidence that he is sound in principle, when he is of good repute among those where he is best known, when his character is one whose influence will be Christ-like, he should be admitted to fellowship and confidence without hesitancy. But he whose works show him to be unstable, who says one thing and does the very opposite, is careless of his words and influence, bringing out of his heart the evil things lurking there, such a one will profane both men and God. He will say anything that comes into his mind, whether he knows it to be falsehood or truth. There is a mixture of good and bad in his character, and he speaks just as he feels without studying the influence his words must have upon those who believe him to be a true minister of the gospel. They have heard him speak as Christ’s ambassador, and therefore they will either regard his sins lightly or their confidence in him as a devoted servant of Christ will be destroyed. The minister of Christ should be circumspect, he should understand human nature.” Pamphlets #28 Testimonies on the case of Elder E.P. Daniels.

“One day you will stand in the pulpit and strongly advocate the testimonies which God has sent to his people; in a few days, if you feel like it, you do your best to unsettle faith in them, among those with whom you associate; and then in a day or two you are advocating the testimonies again. Now, my brother, are you anchored anywhere, or are you not more like the waves of the sea, tossed to and fro, unstable, unreliable, moved not by principle, but by emotion? Will not your work be of the same character? Will it not ravel out? Both you and your wife are under the reproof of God. What are you going to do about it? Will you draw nigh to God? Will you set your own house in order? Will you unitedly make earnest work for eternity? Or will you throw down the yoke of Jesus, refuse to lift his burdens, and choose to be independent, perverse, willful, uncontrollable? . . . You often deny what you have said or done.” Pamphlets #96 Testimonies on the case of Elder E.P. Daniels.

Ellen White was forced to consider workers’ past experience and how this past experience had molded the mind and judgment when making decisions about trusting a person in the future. She wrote concerning one such double -minded worker whom she refused to re-accept for employment: “This past experience has given a mold to the thoughts, and has fashioned the mind and judgment. I can see no safety in trusting the matter the Lord shall give me in the hands of one of such unstable, unreliable developments of character that a balance wheel is needed constantly, else she will be running off on a side track where Satan may choose to lead the way. Fannie is so wrapped up in her own exalted estimation of herself that any contrary influence that has been brought to bear upon her mind meets with a resistance that is according to the attributes of the enemy. The surroundings, the impulses, give tone and character to the whole life. There are too large and important interests at stake in this matter to be lightly imperiled. Should I consent that Fannie remain in connection with the work, there would be a constant burden of foreboding upon me, for these elements of character are not easily changed.” Manuscript Release, 926.

We have been given similar counsel in preparing for the time of trouble: “Before the great trouble shall come upon the world such as has never been since there was a nation, those who have faltered and who would ignorantly lead in unsafe paths will reveal this before the real vital test, the last proving comes, so that whatsoever they may say will not be regarded as voicing the True Shepherd. The time of our educating will soon be over. We have no time to lose in walking through clouds of doubt and uncertainty because of uncertain voices.” 1888 Materials, 1002.

God’s Gyroscope

“And Josiah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.” II Kings 22:2.

Deep in the hearts of human beings there seems to be a need for heroes, persons whom we can admire and emulate, persons who can serve as role models for ourselves and for others. One of my personal heroes is a man named Francis Asbury. He was a minister in the time of John Wesley, and served under Wesley in England during the years 1771–1777. But Wesley became aware that scattered along the Atlantic seaboard in far-off America there were almost a thousand Methodists, who were as sheep without a shepherd, so he assigned to Francis Asbury the task of going to the new land to minister to these Methodist people.

Most of them were scattered throughout the colonized areas along the coast, but some had made their homes in the mountains and valleys of the Appalachians, and a few were even beyond the mountains in the western plains. When Asbury arrived from England, he sized the situation up and bought himself a horse. For the next forty-five years he virtually lived on the road, most of the time on horse-back, never having a home of his own. He traveled a total of two hundred and fifty thousand miles on trails and primitive roads, through the wilderness and through the towns, across the rivers and through the swamps, defying the seasons and the weather. He said that a wagon with four wheels was too pompous for him. He did at times use a two wheeled, horse drawn cart, but since the awful condition of the roads occasioned so many upsets, he usually went back to his horse and saddle.

The journals that he kept, set forth an incredible record. He taught the scriptures and preached wherever he could find an audience, in pioneer cabins, in courthouses, in village streets and in forest groves, and frequently in churches. After preaching he would often sleep on someone’s floor, and travel on the next day to another such experience. This went on until he preached his last sermon in a church in Richmond, Virginia, in 1816. When he arrived there he was too weak to stand in the pulpit, so a special chair was arranged for him. Seven days later he died, as he had lived, in someone else’s home.

During his forty-five years of ministry he had seen the Methodist membership grow from one thousand to two hundred thousand, and they were uniformly among the most godly people in any community. He waged an incessant war with Calvinism, which encouraged the people to believe that victory over sin was not necessary. I was especially interested in the fact that he gave up eating bacon in 1777 and gave up tea and coffee in 1783, and noted, in his journal, a significant improvement in his health. I see him as a spiritual first cousin to the apostle Paul, and hold him as one of my personal heroes. Nothing could turn him aside from his chosen task. He was held on course by God’s gyroscope.

Josiah’s Gyroscope

Another person who is high on my list of personal heroes is King Josiah of Judah. He also was held on course by God’s gyroscope, so that he turned not aside to the right nor to the left.

What is a gyroscope? It basically is a device consisting of three wheels, one within the other. The innermost wheel spins on an axle, like all wheels do. But the difference is that the two ends of its axle are anchored in the outer rim of another wheel, which spins in a different direction. And this second wheel’s axle is anchored in the rim of still a third wheel, which can turn in a third direction. The result of this arrangement is that the inner wheel can have great flexibility of movement.

But here is the curious fact. Once the inner wheel is set to spinning, no movement of the other two wheels can change it in any way. It will hold to its course, regardless of how the other two wheels move. In the 1850s a French scientist named Foucault discovered that this inner wheel will hold to its course even against the rotation of the earth.

In the early 1900s inventors began to exploit the possibilities of this discovery. The result is that gyroscopes are now used as automatic pilots to hold ships and planes on their courses, in cruise controls and stabilizers, and as guidance systems in torpedoes and guided missiles.

But God had used His own kind of gyroscope long before that. The inner wheel is a determination to do God’s will, regardless of circumstances or conditions. We see it in the experiences of Abraham, Moses, Joseph and many others. And we see it in an especially appealing way in the experience of Josiah, king of Judah. We look at this with interest, because his experience is so similar to ours.

Josiah came to the throne when both the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem were filled with wickedness. He was the grandson of the evil king Manasseh, of whom it is written that he made the people do worse than the heathen about them, (II Chronicles 33:9) and that he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood from one end to the other, (II Kings 21:16). Josiah was the son of the even more wicked Amon, who was slain after only two years on the throne. So, there was evil all about him in Judah and Jerusalem, and the northern kingdom of Israel had already been destroyed for its wickedness. The prophets Habakkuk and Zephaniah were prophesying a similar doom for Judah. The remaining righteous remnant was in nearly total despair. How, they questioned, were the purposes of God for Israel ever going to be fulfilled? Had the promises of God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all failed?

Josiah realized that the warnings against apostasy given to Israel through Moses, might soon be realized in the wrath of God against Judah. He sent some of his leaders to the prophet Huldah to inquire whether there was any hope for the nation. The grim answer would have reduced many men to despair, but not Josiah. There was no hope for the nation, the prophet declared. The people had gone too far to be benefited by mercy or forgiveness. They would only become more bold in their wrong doing.
But Josiah’s gyroscope was working. He had made a commitment to God to do His will regardless of circumstances, and there was no provision in that commitment for giving up. He went right ahead with his plans for teaching righteousness to Judah, and he resolutely destroyed the altars of Baal in the groves. Then he did the same thing throughout the ruined northern kingdom of Israel. He could not save the nation, but because of his steadfast stand for the truth of God, there will be many in God’s kingdom who would otherwise not be there. His gyroscope held him right on course, and when he sees the results in the kingdom of God, he will be satisfied.

Our condition is very much like that of Josiah. There is evil all about us, both in the world and in the church. According to the inspired writings, there is no hope that the church structure can be called back to doing the will of God. We read rather of a dreadful shaking time, by which God will purge the church. Well may the righteous remnant inquire, as they did in Josiah’s day, “Is there any way that the purpose of God for this church can ever be fulfilled? Have the promises made to our spiritual ancestors all failed?”

Our Gyroscope

We need to make sure of our gyroscope. For our generation, I submit that the inner wheel is our commitment to do God’s will, regardless of circumstances, the second wheel is the Bible, and the third wheel is the Spirit of Prophecy. If our gyroscope is working, nothing can cause us to turn aside, either to the right hand or to the left. We will be like those persons described in Education, 57, whose “consciences are as true to duty as the needle to the pole.”

We are confronted with evils in the churches, in the schools, in the conferences and in the hospitals. And we are confronted with another distressing problem, against which we have been warned. In her discussion of the lessons to be learned from the experience of Josiah and others of his time Ellen White writes :

“The time of waiting may seem long, the soul may be oppressed by discouraging circumstances, many in whom confidence has been placed may fall by the way.” Prophets and Kings, 387.

On Sabbath, November 16, a prominent Historic Seventh-day Adventist ministry leader stood before the cameras on a national television broadcast, and announced to his stunned supporters, to the church and to the world, that he was through with being a Historic Seventh-day Adventist. His name is John Osborne. His exact words were these:

“I don’t want to be a Reformed Seventh-day Adventist—

I don’t want to be a Historic Seventh-day Adventist—

I just want to be a Seventh-day Adventist.”

Then he appealed to the conference minister who was standing beside him to “lead him back to the church.”

To say that this caused consternation among his supporters would be an understatement. Those who have placed their confidence in him and have given millions of dollars in answer to his eloquent appeals for support, were stunned. This is because in all the ranks of Historic Seventh-day Adventists, no one has been as vocal or as vigorous in relentlessly accusing the conference structure of evil doing as this man. He had even gone so far as to publicly predict that because of the great evils in the General Conference, that it would be swept away within twelve months of the time that he spoke (1994). Now he has announced that he wants to be a part of that same conference structure, and that he is through with being a Historic Seventh-day Adventist.

His spiritual gyroscope was obviously not working, but let us pity, and not condemn. The entire scene was pitiable in the extreme. To see it was to gain the uncomfortable feeling that one was watching something that should have been hidden from view, the deep anguish of a human soul. And this anguish is being duplicated in many sorrowing homes across the land. Some have even begun calling other ministry leaders to ask whether they, too, are going to abandon the cause of Historic Adventism. The answer, of course, is a firm “No.”

To all the sorrowing ones, may I say that your sacrificial giving has been recorded in heaven, and has brought joy to our Lord. He will not forget it. And let us remind ourselves that our commitment to Christ is the center of our spiritual gyroscope, and that the Lord Jesus Christ has not changed, the Bible has not changed, and the Spirit of Prophecy has not changed. We were given full advance warning about things like this, and our faith should be strengthened, not weakened.

Let us learn what we can from this experience. First, it is worth noting that persons who take extreme views are often capable of moving from those extreme views to their exact opposites in a surprisingly short period of time. While I was doing evangelistic work in Hawaii, a young man came to see me about a personal problem. He had a remarkable ability to make music with the simple little Hawaiian instrument, the ukulele. I had once heard him play a march, Under the Double Eagle, on it, and I could hardly believe my ears. Now he had a conviction that he should make a vow to the Lord that he would never play the instrument again.
I tried to proceed carefully, since I had learned that such extreme views can be dangerous, but I urged him rather to consecrate his talent to the Lord and use it for His glory. I was not greatly surprised to learn, a few weeks later, that he had given up all religion and returned to the world. Persons with extreme views do tend to be very changeable. They need to give more attention to their stabilizing gyroscope, that would hold them on a steady course.

Second, we must be sure that we are following God, not men. Men may come and go, and may disappoint us, but God is steadfast and sure. We must not let ourselves be charmed into a personality cult.

Third, we must remember that regardless of what men may do or may not do, the purposes of God will be fulfilled. His promises have never failed and they will never fail. The shaking time will be terrible, but God’s truth and God’s people will be victorious in the end. Habakkuk was required to prophesy the doom of Judah, but he was also shown the vision of the eventual victory and restoration. Therefore he could cope with the situations as they came, and he could triumphantly write:

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17, 18.

His spiritual gyroscope was in good working order, as was Josiah’s, and it held them both on course, no matter what happened around them. If God would do it for them, He will do it for us. Let us see this disappointment as a call for re-consecration, and renewed dedication, and press on our way.

Editorial — The Secret Place

“It is not the opposition of the world that most endangers the church of Christ.” The Acts of the Apostles, 549. Our greatest dangers come from within, not from without. (See also Testimonies, vol. 5, 477; Selected Messages, vol. 1, 122.)

John the beloved said near the end of his life, “I am a weak and sinful man.” The Acts of the Apostles, 570. If this man who was the beloved disciple, through whom Jesus communicated His deepest spiritual teaching to His people (The Desire of Ages, 292), was a weak and sinful man, what about the rest of us? Moses was wise concerning his condition, He asked the Lord not to let him see his own wretchedness (Numbers 11:15). “The vileness of the human heart is not understood.” Medical Ministry, 143. We dare not focus our attention within or upon others, this will only bring trouble, darkness and gloom of anguish (Isaiah 8:22). Our only safety is in the secret place of the Most High, where we will be under the omnipotent shadow. May you be learning to have this constant experience each day.

Here are some encouraging promises about it:

“Seek the Lord often in prayer. In the secret place, alone, the eye sees Jesus and the ear is opened to Jesus. You come forth from the secret place of prayer to abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Temptations come, but you press closer and still closer to the side of Jesus and place your hand in His hand. Then you gain a rich experience, resting in His love and rejoicing in His mercy. The worries and perplexities and cares are gone, and you rejoice in Jesus Christ. The soul is quick to hear the Father’s voice, and you will commune with God. All criticism is banished, all judging of others has been expelled from the soul . . .


“The way to the throne of God is always open. You cannot always be on your knees in prayer, but your silent petitions may constantly ascend to God for strength and guidance. When tempted, as you will be, you may flee to the secret place of the Most High. His everlasting arms will be underneath you. We come to God by special invitation, and He waits to welcome us to His audience chamber . . . We may be admitted into closest intimacy and communion with God.” In Heavenly Places, 86.

“The great mass of the world will reject God’s mercy, and will be overwhelmed in swift and irretrievable ruin. But those who heed the warning shall dwell ‘in the secret place of the most High,’ and ‘abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ His truth shall be their shield and buckler.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 167.

“While the voice of God is making itself heard through His servants in warning and entreaties, he [Satan] is mustering his forces. He engages his host with gigantic energies to make, through his sophistry, cruelties, and oppression, the words of warning of none effect. The people are tested, and the great mass will be found on the side of the great deceiver, and will be overwhelmed in swift and irretrievable destruction. But those that heed the warnings of God, and in their lives bring forth fruits meet for repentance, shall ‘dwell in the secret place of the Most High;’ they ‘shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ For them is the promise: ‘With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.’ ” Signs of the Times, April 1, 1886.

“Prayer is the breath of the soul. Jesus lived in dependence upon God and communion with Him. To the secret place of the Most High, under the shadow of the Almighty, men now and then repair; they abide for a season, and the result is manifest in noble deeds; then their faith fails, the communion is interrupted, and the life-work marred. But Jesus lived in dependence upon God and communion with Him. the life of Jesus was a life of constant trust, sustained by continual communion; and His service for heaven and earth was without failure or faltering.” Signs of the Times, February 3, 1904. (See also Education, 80.)

“Each worker, as he goes forth to this labor, should realize that he is as surely sent of God as were the first disciples. God’s eye follows them; His Spirit goes with them. To those who accept His great commission He gives the assurance, ‘Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.’ ‘He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.’ The psalmist declares, ‘I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.’ Servants of God, you have great advantages, which you should appreciate.” Manuscript Release, vol. 20, 266. Unless we live Christ’s life of obedience, our profession is worthless. RH August 2, 1906.