Editorial – What is Behind Religious Lawsuits?

We live in an age when lawsuits are common in all areas of society.  Some years ago it was church policy (as well as a Biblical prohibition, see I Corinthians 6) that Adventists did not sue one another. If you read the report about the Mary Kay Silver case you will see that as late as the seventies this was considered sufficient reason to disfellowship a member. If it was wrong to disfellowship those that sue another, then a formal apology needs to be made to those who were disfellowshipped at that time for those reasons. But if it was not wrong to disfellowship members who were doing it then, the only consistent course to follow today would be to disfellowship those who are doing it today—which would include those in the highest positions of leadership in the General Conference in Silver Springs Maryland.

Of course there is a way to get around all of this. If I am a person of influence I can go to the church where my opponent is a member and persuade a majority in a church business meeting to disfellowship him first. Then I can claim that he is no longer a Seventh-day Adventist (because he is not a member of the “church,”) therefore he is no longer a brother, and the injunction in I Corinthians 6 no longer applies. I am free to seek any sort or redress I desire.

This controversy over who can call themselves by  what name has been around for a long time, most of 2,000 years. It is the same controversy that produced the dark ages—those dismal times when over 50 million Bible-believing Christians lost their lives over the very same issue. That issue is, are we going to have a religion based on the New Testament idea of religion or not.

Although there were many attempts to teach this idea in the Old Testament, Jesus taught it so strongly and forcefully that the New Testament ushered in a new concept for the society of that time. The New Testament envisions human society in this world, not as united or living in unity, or one accord, but rather  as composed of opposing factions which will continue until the end of the millenium. The New Testament teaches that some men will glory in the very same cross that other men will despise. It teaches that the same person who is precious to some will be a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to others. But the New Testament also teaches that such diversity of religious beliefs do not make it impossible for a man to be a faithful and loyal citizen of the state. Although Christians of that time were of a different religious persuasion than the magistrates and all worldly rulers, they were to be obedient to all laws of the state (Romans 13 and I Peter 2), as long as these laws did not conflict with the law of God. When there was a conflict, Peter and the other apostles said,”We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29. The apostles would not consent for the state to tell them whether they could preach or what they could preach—not because they were not obedient citizens, but because that jurisdiction did not belong to the state.  Jesus had taught them that they were to render to the state all that belonged to the state (taxes, honor of state authority, customs, and all other civil laws) but then, in the same sentence, Jesus said that they were to render to God those things that were God’s.  What things belong to God and not to the state are spelled out in the first four precepts of the decalogue. These precepts spell out what a man’s relation to God is to be, and the state does not have a right to command a man or to enforce a man to keep these precepts. This fact was most emphatically taught to the world in Daniel 3 and again in Daniel 6.

The New Testament envisions human society made up, not of one, but of two parts—the secular, that is the civil, the state, or the human government, or “that which is Caesar’s.” And in contrast to this the religious, that which is not of the state but is of the church. That which belongs to God and not to Caesar (the church belongs to God and does not, in any sense, belong to the state) that which involves a man’s relation to his God, his maker is not a matter to be decided by the state, but by that man’s will. God does not want the worship or service of any man that is forced upon that man by the state. God only accepts that worship that is freely rendered from that man’s will. The New Testament repeats the message over and over “Whoever will let him …”Revelation 22:17.

It was confusion over this issue—the idea that a human ruler could take the place of God and direct and order the way that a human being should practice his religion—that led to persecution both before and after the time of Christ.  This is what lay at the foundation of the persecutions of Christians by the pagan Roman government.  This is what lay at the foundation of the persecutions of Bible-believing Christians by the papacy during the dark ages.  And this is what will lay at the foundation of the persecutions coming during the great tribulation yet in the future. It matters not whether the human ruler be a king, a senate, a legislature, a judge, a court, a general, a Protestant church, or any other church or religion, or any other human group; the result is the same.

Jesus did not teach His followers to leave the world for caves or isolation, (see John 17) rather He taught them that they were to be in the world and deeply involved in the affairs of society, just as salt permeates the entire dish, “in the world but not of the world.” (see Matthew 5-7.) Jesus taught then that society was not mono-lithic but composite—composed of completely different factions of religious belief and His followers were to live peaceably with those of all other religions, and even conform to the rules and laws of society as long as these did not conflict with the laws of God. As one early writer described it (the Christians), “dwelling as they do in Hellenic and in barbaric cities, as each man’s lot is, and following the customs of the country in dress and food and the rest of life, the manner of conduct which they display is wonderful and confessedly beyond belief. They inhabit their own fatherland, but as sojourners; they participate in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign country is to them a fatherland and every fatherland a foreign country… They live on the earth but their citizenship is in heaven.”

So the New Testament church was always a fellowship of believers, it was never, never all those who lived in a certain locality. The early Christians knew that the church and the state existed on difference planes.

But the very essence of New Testament religion and teaching was lost when Constantine made “Christianity” the religion of the Roman State. “Christianity” was made into law for those who have only been born, instead of reborn. The result was that religion was now to be enforced by law.  The state would force men to be good, and all of society would become law-abiding Christians. (This idea, remember is what brought on 1400 years called the dark ages.) Indoctrination in tenets of the ancient pagan beliefs became outlawed and strictly proscribed. Unbaptized persons were required to attend catechism classes in preparation for baptism; all who, after attending such classes, refused to present themselves for baptism were subject to punishment by the state.

True Christians who understood the teachings of the New Testament saw that, what was thought to be the “church” had fallen (had apostatized), that the great apostasy predicted by Paul in II Thessalonians was manifested.  It was during this time, during the bishopric of Sylvester, that the Waldenses and others separated from those calling themselves “Catholic” and declared that this  “church” had fallen.

The Donatist controversy was one of the reactions to this departure from New Testament teaching. The controversy was not about doctrine but it was a question of the nature of the church as a society and its relationship to the world. Was the church all in a given locality (a state church) or was it a body of those being saved, surrounded by an unregenerate mass of people, as the New Testament taught?

Augustine, who opposed the Donatists said, “The issue between us and the Donatists is about the question where this body is to be located, that is, what and where is the Church?”

The idea of a “Catholic church” is totally foreign to the New Testament and even to the word church itself. The world “catholic” comes from two Greek words that mean together, “according to the entirety.” But the New Testament word translated “church” means “those who are called out” in other words not according to the entirety. The Apostle Peter described the church in the following language, first describing those that are not part of the church he says, “they stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed, but you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession that you may proclaim the moral excellence of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” I Peter 2:8, 9. The apostles never speak of the church militant, according to the entirety of society, but as those called out from the world, “be blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Philippines 2:15.

For ‘twelve centuries that went before the Reformation it has never lacked for attempts to get away from the State-Church Priests’ Church and to reinstitute the apostolic congregational structurization.’ “Throughout Medieval times there never was a moment in which Constantinianism stood unchallenged. . . .Wherever the New Testament is held in honor there its concept of the Church of Christ will continue to challenge. There a Church based on personal faith will challenge the concept of a Church embracing all.”

The frantic efforts by the church of the dark ages to keep in power by destroying opponents at the stake, the scaffold, on the rack, or by the headsman’s ax is proof enough that the New Testament concept of the church was an ever-present threat. The effort to destroy all their writings shows what men were afraid of—the New Testament concept of the church would destroy the concept of a state church and the earthly power of those who, through this concept, had become the spiritual lords of their fellow-men.

The Donatists taught that a true Church cannot exist where the secular rule and the Christian Church are blended. The battle for separation of church and state was finally won in the American colonies after centuries of the most bloodly conflict recorded in all religious history. It is this concept of separation of church and state that brought freedom to the persecuted who fled to America, and freedom brought prosperity such as no nation has enjoyed in recent times. In America a person could not be prosecuted by the state for his religious beliefs or practices as long as he did not injure his neighbor. (The state has the right to enforce the outward compliance with the second table of the 10 commandments, see Romans 13.)

Today, this freedom is being rapidly lost. Society is rapidly making the state the tool for enforcing the wishes of the church. Since we are still in name under the Constitution and Bill of Rights, a way has to be figured out to show that a person has injured somebody else in the practice of his religion, or in making known his personal beliefs. So a person is sued for talking about problems with meat on television. If a person cannot express what they think anymore without somebody else deciding they have been injured, we soon will have no freedom of speech, and what is worse (which you can know if you have traveled to totalitarian countries), when freedom of speech is lost, freedom to think is eventually lost. The loss to society is beyond computation.

Jesus said about His church “My kingdom is not of this world, if My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight so that I should not be delivered to the Jews, but now My kingdom is not from here.” John 18:36. In the dark ages the professed church lost sight of this, they made the “church” a kingdom of this world, but any church which is also a kingdom of this world is not the true church of Christ according to Jesus statement. The “church” in the dark ages put Peter in the right for drawing the sword to promote the cause of Christ, and it put Jesus in the wrong for rebuking Peter for it. They conveniently forgot that Jesus had been deeply displeased at the first suggestion of a second sword; it forgot that Jesus had been so disappointed by Peter’s rash act of using the secular sword for promoting the cause of Christ, that He had stooped down to repair the damage Peter’s sword had inflicted.

The “bride of Christ” had so changed in appearance as to become unrecognizable. She, who had been sent on a mission of healing, had taken on the features of a modern police State.

The Anabaptists, one of the most persecuted groups, taught that the civil magistrate ‘must leave every man to his own devices in regard to religion no matter what he believes or teaches, so long as he does not disturb the outward civil quiet.’

The Donatists were proscribed, it was not allowed to call them Christians, they were to be called heretics and punished by the state for their heresy.  (Notice how their situation was identical to that of persecuted Christians today. They were forbidden to take the name of Christ because other Christians declared that the name belonged only to them and those of their religious beliefs, or of their church organization.) Their pastors told their flocks that nothing had changed now that the Roman empire had accepted Christianity. The only difference they said, was that before the devil had used force, he was now working in and with allies on the inside. For the true follower of Christ the result was the same, namely, persecution. There was no difference between the persecutions once staged by a pagan government and the persecutions of the flock from a supposedly Christian regime.

In commenting on this state of affairs a reformation writer says, ‘Who would not mistake the Christ for a moloch or some such god if indeed He delights in human sacrifice. . .? Imagine Him to be present, in the capacity of constable, to announce the sentence and light the fire. . .! Oh Christ, thou creator and king of all the earth, dost thou not see these things? Art thou so changed completely, become thus cruel and contrary to Thine own proper self . . .? Dost thou command that those who do not understand Thy commandments and institutions as yet, are to be choked in water, struck until the bowels gush forth, these then strewn with salt, to be struck with the sword or made to roast over small fire, with every torment martyred in as drawn out a manner as possible? Ah Christ, dost thou indeed command such things and dost thou approve of them when they are done? Are they indeed Thy lieutenants who officiate at such burned sacrifice? Dost thou allow Thyself to be seen at the scene of such butchery? Dost thou then verily eat human flesh, Oh Christ? If thou dost such things forsooth, or orderest them done, then what, pray what, hast thou left for the devil to do?

Quotations and many paraphrased statements in this editorial are from the first chapter of the excellent book “The Reformers and their Stepchildren” by Leonard Verduin, copyright 1964, published by Eerdmans Publishing Company, 255 Jefferson Ave., SE, Grand Rapids Michigan 49503

Bible Study Guides – “The Lord Added to the Church”

August 20-26, 2000

MEMORY VERSE: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24, 25.

STUDY HELP: Acts of the Apostles, 9–13.

INTRODUCTION: “The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to ‘the principalities and powers in heavenly places,’ the final and full display of the love of God. Ephesians 3:10.” Acts of the Apostles, 9.

“Till We All Come in the Unity of the Faith”

1 Before the Holy Spirit could be poured out upon the church, what change had to take place among them? Acts 2:1. (Compare Acts 2:44, 45; 4:32.)

NOTE: See Desire of Ages, 827.

2 What was Paul’s desire for the members of the church? Philippians 2:1–5; 1 Corinthians 1:10.

NOTE: “Notice that it was after the disciples had come into perfect unity, when they were no longer striving for the highest place, that the Spirit was poured out. They were of one accord. All differences had been put away. And the testimony borne of them after the Spirit had been given is the same. Mark the word: ‘The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.’ The Spirit of Him who died that sinners might live, animated the entire congregation of believers. The disciples did not ask for a blessing for themselves. They were weighted with the burden of souls. The gospel was to be carried to the ends of the earth, and they claimed the endowment of power that Christ had promised. Then it was that the Holy Spirit was poured out, and thousands were converted in a day. When we have entire, wholehearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God.” Evangelism, 698, 699.

“All That Believed Were Together”

3 How does Paul describe the blessing he and others received from fellowship with believers? Romans 15:32; 2 Corinthians 7:13; Philippians 1:25–26.

NOTE: See Gospel Workers, 1892, 242.

4 What blessing can reports of missionary activity bring to the church? Acts 15:3.

NOTE: See The Adventist Home, 487.

“We Are Laborers Together With God”

5 How does Paul describe the importance of co-operation among the members of the church? Ephesians 4:16; Philippians 1:27.

NOTE: “There is variety in the human body, from the eyes to the feet. Yet all these members are dependent upon one another to make a perfect whole. In all the variety composing the human body, there is harmonious action in conformity to the laws controlling the being….By the figure of the vine and the branches Christ illustrated not only the relation that should exist between Him and His followers but also the union between every believer and his fellow–believer. The branches of the vine are related to each other; but they are not alike. Each has its own individuality, which cannot be merged into that of another, but all have a special connection with each other. The root that supplies nourishment to one branch supplies nourishment to every other branch. Each must depend alike on the vine for sustenance; all must be joined to the parent stalk. The life and growth and faithfulness of each depend alike on the parent vine. In obedience to the laws of nature, their common hold of the true vine makes them one; in their diversity there is unity….It is not the purpose of God to centralize in this way, bringing all the interests of one branch of the work under the management of a comparatively few men. In His great purpose of advancing the cause of truth in the earth, He designs that every part of His work shall blend with every other part. The workers are to draw together in the Spirit of Christ. In their diversity, they are to preserve unity…. They are to work in sympathy and love, with entire confidence in one another….The law of co-operation is the great one work in reciprocal influence. There is to be no kingly power, one man controlling the whole. All influences are brought to bear one upon the other in revealing Christ and the cross to a world that is perishing in sin and iniquity.” Manuscript Releases vol. 5, 361–364.

6 What examples are we given of co-operation among God’s workers? Acts 8:5, 12, 14, 15; 1 Corinthians 3:6–9.

NOTE: “God’s servants are to work together, blending in kindly, courteous order, ‘in honor preferring one another.’ Romans 12:10. There is to be no unkind criticism, no pulling to pieces of another’s work; and there are to be no separate parties. Every man to whom the Lord has entrusted a message has his specific work. Each one has an individuality of his own, which he is not to sink in that of any other man. Yet each is to work in harmony with his brethren. In their service God’s workers are to be essentially one. No one is to set himself up as a criterion, speaking disrespectfully of his fellow workers or treating them as inferior. Under God each is to do his appointed work, respected, loved, and encouraged by the other laborers. Together they are to carry the work forward to completion.” Acts of the Apostles, 275.

“Many Were Gathered Together Praying”

7 What precious promises does Christ make to those who assemble together to pray? Matthew 18:19, 20.

NOTE: “Here are the great cities in England and on the continent with their millions of inhabitants that have not yet heard the last warning message. How are these to be warned? If the people of God would only exercise faith, He would work in a wonderful manner to accomplish this work. Hear the words of Christ: ‘If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven.’ Precious promise! Do we believe it? What marvelous results would appear if the united prayers of this company were to ascend to God in living faith! Jesus stands ready to take these petitions and present them to His Father, saying, ‘I know these persons by name. Send answers to their prayers; for I have graven their names on the palms of My hands.’” Evangelism, 414.

8 What examples are we given of the power manifested when the church meets for prayer? Acts 4:31, 12:5–17, 16:25, 26. (See also Romans 15:30, and 2 Corinthians 1:11.)

NOTE: “Those who are really representatives of Christ are working for the good of others. They delight in advancing the cause of God both at home and abroad. They are seen and heard, and their influence is felt, at the prayer meeting….They do not seek to exalt self, or to receive credit for doing a great work, but labor humbly, meekly, faithfully, doing small errands or doing a greater work, if necessary, because Christ has done so much for them.” Christian Service, 244.

“The Lord has promised that where two or three are met together in His name, there will He be in the midst. Those who meet together for prayer will receive an unction from the Holy One. There is great need of secret prayer, but there is also need that several Christians meet together and unite with earnestness their petitions to God. Seek every opportunity to go where prayer is wont to be made. Those who are really seeking for communion with God will be seen in the prayer meeting, faithful to do their duty, and earnest and anxious to reap all the benefits they can gain. They will improve every opportunity of placing themselves where they can receive the rays of light from heaven. We meet together to edify one another by an interchange of thoughts and feelings, to gather strength, and light, and courage by becoming acquainted with one another’s hopes and aspirations; and by our earnest, heartfelt prayers, offered up in faith, we receive refreshment and vigor from the Source of our strength. These meetings should be most precious seasons.” In Heavenly Places, 91.

“The Disciples Were Called Christians”

9 What special name was given to the early church by the people of Antioch? Acts 11:26. (See also Acts 26:28.)

NOTE: “The name was given them because Christ was the main theme of their preaching, their teaching, and their conversation. Continually they were recounting the incidents that had occurred during the days of His earthly ministry, when His disciples were blessed with His personal presence. Untiringly they dwelt upon His teachings and His miracles of healing. With quivering lips and tearful eyes they spoke of His agony in the garden, His betrayal, trial, and execution, the forbearance and humility with which He had endured the contumely and torture imposed upon Him by His enemies, and the Godlike pity with which He had prayed for those who persecuted Him. His resurrection and ascension, and His work in heaven as the Mediator for fallen man, were topics on which they rejoiced to dwell. Well might the heathen call them Christians, since they preached Christ and addressed their prayers to God through Him.” Acts of the Apostles, 157.

10 What does it really mean to be a Christian? Colossians 3:12–17.

NOTE: “Those professed Christians who are constantly whining and complaining, and who seem to think happiness and a cheerful countenance a sin, have not the genuine article of religion.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 334.

See also The Adventist Home, 431 and Messages to Young People, 363.

“The Assembling of Yourselves Together”

11 What counsel does Paul give to those tempted to absent themselves from meetings of God’s people? Hebrews 10:25. (See also Malachi 3:16, 17.)

NOTE: “A book of remembrance is written of those who do not forsake the assembling of themselves together, but speak often one to another. The remnant are to overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Some expect to overcome alone by the blood of the Lamb, without making any special effort of their own. I saw that God has been merciful in giving us the power of speech. He has given us a tongue, and we are accountable to Him for its use. We should glorify God with our mouth, speaking in honor of the truth and of His unbounded mercy, and overcome by the word of our testimony through the blood of the Lamb. We should not come together to remain silent; those only are remembered of the Lord who assemble to speak of His honor and glory and tell of His power; upon such the blessing of God will rest, and they will be refreshed.” Early Writings, 114.

12 What is the purpose of such meetings? Hebrews 10:24.

NOTE: “Make earnest and determined efforts to be to every meeting possible. The divine direction is, ‘Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but so much the more as you see the day approaching.’ You are to be found among the little few who meet to worship God. The help of every soul who loves the truth is needed to bear testimony of the truth and act as missionaries of God, home missionaries to strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die. Every jot of influence from Christ’s soldiers is now called for on the Lord’s side. Where two or three are assembled together in My name, there am I in the midst and that to bless. Then if we allow ourselves to be hindered by supposed excuses, the enemy will have a hand in creating circumstances so that we shall not be present where Jesus meets to bless His worshipers.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 105, 106.

Bible Study Guides – “Go Out into the Highways and Hedges”

August 13-19, 2000

MEMORY VERSE: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, ‘Thy God reigneth!’” Isaiah 52:7.

STUDY HELP: Christian Service, 113–120.

INTRODUCTION: “Those who have been most successful in soul–winning were men and women who did not pride themselves on their ability, but who in humility and faith sought to help those about them. Jesus did this very work. He came close to those whom He desired to reach. How often, with a few gathered about Him, He gave His lessons, and one by one the passers–by paused to listen, until a great multitude heard with wonder and awe the words of the heaven–sent Teacher.” Gospel Workers, 194.

“Go Home and Tell”

1 What examples are we given of personal testimony in witnessing? John 1:40, 41, 43–46.

NOTE: See Desire of Ages, 141.

2 What example did Christ show of witnessing to an individual? John 3:1–17.

NOTE: “In manifesting an unselfish interest in others, in doing those things that will please the Saviour, you will grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour….What can I do that can be counted as good service to Him who has died that I might live? The Master gives this answer, ‘Seek and save that which is lost.’ You are to work in Christ’s way, with patience, with interest, with determination that you will not feel discouraged as you work for time and eternity, believing that Jesus can do much through human ability consecrated to His service. What higher privilege could we desire than to be laborers together with God, making the most of our entrusted powers, that this very work may be accomplished?” Counsels on Sabbath School Work, 69.

“My Meat is to Do the Will of Him That Sent Me”

3 How did Christ manifest His desire for the salvation of others? John 4:6–26.

NOTE: See Ministry of Healing, 27, 28.

4 What examples of personal ministry does Christ suggest? Matthew 25:34–36; Isaiah 58:6, 7.

NOTE: See Desire of Ages, 151.

“Arise and Go”

5 What response should the faithful servant make to the Lord’s guidance? Acts 8:26,27; 13:2, 3; 16:6–10.

NOTE: See Acts of the Apostles, 107.

6 What similar response did Isaiah make to the Lord’s call to service? Isaiah 6:8.

NOTE: See Gospel Workers, 265-266.

“Preaching the Gospel, and Healing”

7 What are we told about the ministry of Jesus? Matthew 4:23; 9:35.

NOTE: See Desire of Ages, 350, 351.

8 How did the disciples follow Christ’s example? Luke 9:6.

NOTE: “There is to be no separation in His work. Christ sent out the twelve apostles, and afterward the seventy disciples, to preach the gospel and to heal the sick. ‘As ye go,’ He said, ‘preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.’ Matthew 10:7, 8. And as they went forth preaching the kingdom of God, power was given them to heal the sick and cast out evil spirits. In God’s work, teaching and healing are never to be separated.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 165.

“Medical missionary work brings to humanity the gospel of release from suffering. It is the pioneer work of the gospel. It is the gospel practiced, the compassion of Christ revealed. Of this work there is great need, and the world is open for it. God grant that the importance of medical missionary work shall be understood, and that new fields may be immediately entered.” Medical Ministry, 239.

“God calls for thousands to work for Him, not by preaching to those who know the truth for this time, but by warning those who have never heard the last message of mercy. Work with a heart filled with an earnest longing for souls. Do medical missionary work. Thus you will gain access to the hearts of people, and the way will be prepared for a more decided proclamation of the truth.” Counsels on Health, 499.

“I wish to tell you that soon there will be no work done in ministerial lines but medical missionary work.” Evangelism, 523.

“Thy Sins be Forgiven Thee”

9 How did Christ minister to the physical and spiritual needs of one who came to Him? Matthew 9:2–7.

NOTE: “When the poor, suffering paralytic was brought to the Saviour, the urgency of the case seemed not to admit of a moment’s delay, for already dissolution was doing its work upon the body….Our Saviour saw and understood his condition perfectly. He also knew that this wretched man had a sickness of the soul far more aggravating than bodily suffering. He knew that the greatest burden he had borne for months was on account of sins. The crowd of people waited with almost breathless silence to see how Christ would treat this case, apparently so hopeless, and were astonished to hear the words which fell from His lips: ‘Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.’ These were the most precious words that could fall upon the ear of that sick sufferer, for the burden of sin had lain so heavily upon him that he could not find the least relief. Christ lifts the burden that so heavily oppressed him: ‘Be of good cheer;’ I, your Saviour, came to forgive sins. How quickly the pallid countenance of the sufferer changes! Hope takes the place of dark despair, and peace and joy take the place of distressing doubt and stolid gloom. The mind being restored to peace and happiness, the suffering body can now be reached.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 168, 169.

10 How does James echo the same unity of physical and spiritual healing? James 5:15.

NOTE: “With all our treatments given to the sick, simple fervent prayer should be offered for the blessing of healing. We are to point the sick to the compassionate Saviour, and His power to forgive and to heal. Through His gracious providence they may be restored. Point the sufferers to their Advocate in the heavenly courts. Tell them that Christ will heal the sick, if they will repent and cease to transgress the laws of God. There is a Saviour who will reveal Himself…to save those who will submit themselves to Him. The suffering ones can unite with you in prayer, confessing their sin, and receiving pardon.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 268.

“Now in regard to that which we can do for ourselves. There is a point that requires careful, thoughtful consideration. I must become acquainted with myself, I must be a learner always as to how to take care of this building, the body God has given me, that I may preserve it in the very best condition of health. I must eat those things which will be for my very best good physically, and I must take special care to have my clothing such as will conduce to a healthful circulation of the blood. I must not deprive myself of exercise and air. I must get all the sunlight that it is possible for me to obtain. I must have wisdom to be a faithful guardian of my body.” Paulson Collection, 28.

“Questions and Strife of Words”

11 What counsel are we given about getting into arguments? 2 Timothy 2:23, 24; Romans 14:1; 1 Timothy 1:4.

NOTE: “The Holy Spirit does not work with men who love to be sharp and critical. This spirit has been cherished in meeting debaters, and some have formed the habit of squaring [off] for combat. God is dishonored in this. Keep back the sharp thrusts; do not learn in Satan’s school his methods of warfare. The Holy Spirit does not inspire the words of censure. A time of trouble is before us, and every honest soul who has not had the light of truth will then take a stand for Christ. Those who believe the truth are to be newly converted every day. Then they will be vessels unto honor. Do not repeat the words of your opponents, or enter into controversy with them. You meet not merely the men, but Satan and his angels. Christ did not bring against Satan a railing accusation concerning the body of Moses. If the world’s Redeemer, who understood the crooked, deceptive arts of Satan, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but in holiness and humility said, ‘The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan,’ is it not wise for His servants to follow His example?” The Upward Look, 270.

12 What example does the Bible give of contention among God’s servants? Acts 15:39. (See Philippians 1:16; Proverbs 13:10; 17:14; 18:16.)

NOTE: “Satan can skillfully play the game of life with many souls, and he acts in a most underhanded, deceptive manner to spoil the faith of the people of God and to discourage them….He works today as he worked in heaven, to divide the people of God in the very last stage of this earth’s history. He seeks to create dissension, and to arouse contention and discussion, and to remove if possible the old landmarks of truth committed to God’s people. He tries to make it appear as if the Lord contradicts Himself.” Evangelism, 359.

“Contention in the church is always attended with a dearth of spirituality. The Lord cannot be glorified by a contentious church. ‘All ye are brethren.’ Cultivate the grace of God. Lift up your hearts in prayer to Him for His keeping power. Avoid all contention among yourselves. Use every means within your reach to restrain the unsanctified words that are ever upon the tongue—words that would cast a reflection upon others. Be true to one another. We are bought with a price; therefore in word and act we should glorify God.” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 6, 1903.

13 How did Jesus deal with contentious questions? John 4:20–24; Matthew 22:17–22, 23–33.

NOTE: “We may answer foolish questions by saying, ‘Wait, and we shall all know what is essential for us to know. Our salvation does not depend on side issues.’” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 918.

Bible Study Guides – “They Went Forth and Preached Everywhere”

July 30- August 5, 2000

MEMORY VERSE: “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” Acts 8:4.

STUDY HELP: Ministry of Healing, 102–107.

INTRODUCTION: “God’s servants should be minutemen, ever ready to move as fast as His providence opens the way. Any delay on their part gives time for Satan to work to defeat them. His commandment-keeping people are to stand constantly in readiness for service. Those who are really representatives of Christ are working for the good of others. They delight in advancing the cause of God both at home and abroad. They are seen and heard, and their influence is felt.” Christian Service, 244.

“We Cannot but Speak”

1 How did Peter and John express their necessity to witness for Christ? Acts 4:20.

NOTE: “Christ’s living agents, those who have tasted and found that the Lord is good, should reveal Him in words, in actions, in cheerfulness, in patience, in long-suffering, in hopefulness, in joyousness. ‘Blessed are your eyes, for they see’ the marvelous love of God; ‘and your ears, for they hear’ the precious words of Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And we must see to some purpose, that we may present the glad tidings,—show that it is glad tidings. Put off the spirit of heaviness. Speak of the mercy, the goodness, and the love of Jesus; for ‘we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’” Signs of the Times, December 7, 1891.

2 After being threatened by the authorities, what prayer did the early Christians pray and how was it answered? Acts 4:29–31.

NOTE: See Acts of the Apostles, 67, 68.

“Full of Faith and of the Holy Spirit”

3 What qualification did Stephen have for his work for Christ? Acts 6:5.

NOTE: “What is needed now are men chosen of God and precious who will go forth full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the gospel, calling upon God for His grace to aid them in their work. The Lord has warned us that a large number of believers should not congregate in one place. Let men go out in the name of the Lord, humble and devoted, as colporteurs and canvassers to sell the books that bring light to the souls of those who know not the truth. When this is done, there will be seen striking instances of conversion.” Bible Training School, April 1, 1906.

4 When Stephen was called upon to testify to his faith, what did his hearers see in his face? Acts 6:15.

NOTE: “The Saviour of the world was revealed to him as looking down from Heaven upon him with the deepest interest; and the glorious light of Christ’s countenance shone upon Stephen with such brightness that even his enemies saw his face shine like the face of an angel.” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, May 3, 1881.

“The Bible Christian is a man of principle, sober, watchful, prayerful, a man full of faith and good works. He is not seeking the prominence of the hill, but is firm, established, strengthened, settled. It requires a sound conscience to do the works of Christ. It requires consistent and holy living. By much prayer, watching unto prayer, self-denial, the true Christian lifts the cross of Christ and follows in His footsteps. He walks with God, not with Satan. A Christian is the world’s light, and the only Bible that many…can read.” Manuscript Releases vol. 18, 279.

“And Preached Christ unto Them”

5 During the persecution that followed Stephen’s death, what did his colleague Philip do? Acts 8:5.

NOTE: “Philip left Jerusalem, and preached a risen Redeemer in Samaria. Many believed, and received Christian baptism. Philip’s preaching was marked with so great success, and so many were gathered into the fold of Christ, that he finally sent to Jerusalem for help. In answer to this petition, the church sent Peter and John to his assistance, who labored in Samaria with wonderful results. They now perceived the meaning of Christ, when He said, ‘Ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.’” Spirit of Prophecy vol. 3, 301, 3026.

6 What further work was Philip called to do? Acts 8:26–38.

NOTE: “This Ethiopian represented a large class who need to be taught by such missionaries as Philip—men who will hear the voice of God and go where He sends them. There are many who are reading the Scriptures who cannot understand their true import. All over the world men and women are looking wistfully to heaven. Prayers and tears and inquiries go up from souls longing for light, for grace, for the Holy Spirit. Many are on the verge of the kingdom, waiting only to be gathered in. An angel guided Philip to the one who was seeking for light and who was ready to receive the gospel, and today angels will guide the footsteps of those workers who will allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify their tongues and refine and ennoble their hearts. The angel sent to Philip could himself have done the work for the Ethiopian, but this is not God’s way of working. It is His plan that men are to work for their fellow men.” Acts of the Apostles, 109.

“By Two and Two”

7 How did the Lord send out His disciples to work for Him? Mark 6:7.

NOTE: See Desire of Ages, 350.

8 How did the Lord teach His disciples to live by faith? Mark 6:8, 9.

NOTE: “If our hearts are touched by His love, the question of compensation will not be uppermost in our minds. We shall rejoice to be co-workers with Christ, and we shall not fear to trust His care. If we make God our strength, we shall have clear perceptions of duty, and unselfish aspirations; our life will be actuated by a noble purpose, which will raise us above sordid motives.” Gospel Workers, 114.

“At Midnight Paul and Silas Prayed and Sang Praises”

9 What was the initial outcome of the ministry of Paul and Silas in Philippi? Acts 16:22–24.

NOTE: “‘Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted,’ Christ continued, ‘and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.’ All this the Christians suffered. Fathers and mothers betrayed their children; children betrayed their parents; friends delivered their friends to the Sanhedrin. Until he himself was converted, Saul of Tarsus was exceedingly bitter against all who believed in Christ. He then began to preach Christ and Him crucified, and the enemies of the gospel caused him and Silas to be whipped, and thrown into prison.” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 20, 1898.

10 What was the reaction of the two imprisoned witnesses to their plight? Acts 16:25.

NOTE: “It is an exalted privilege to be connected with Jesus. In every condition of trial, we may have the consolation of His presence. We may live in the very atmosphere of heaven. Our enemies may thrust us into prison, but prison walls cannot cut off the communication between Christ and our souls. One who sees our every weakness, who is acquainted with every trial, is above all earthly powers; and angels can come to us in lonely cells, bringing light and peace from heaven. The prison will be as a palace, for the rich in faith dwell there; and the gloomy walls will be lighted up with heavenly light, as when Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises at midnight in the Philippian prison. Bunyan was confined in Bedford jail; and from thence issued a light that has illuminated the pathway to the celestial city.” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 15, 1884.

“They Took Him unto Them”

11 What lessons can we learn from the ministry of Aquila and Priscilla? Acts 18:2, 3, 25, 26; Romans 16:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 16:19.

NOTE: See Acts of the Apostles, 355.

12 What other examples of humble helpers does the Bible reveal? Romans 16:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 16:15; Colossians 4:12, 13; 2 Timothy 4:11.

NOTE: “The Lord designs that we shall care for the interests of our brethren and sisters. The apostle Paul has given an illustration of this….Phoebe entertained the apostle, and she was in a marked manner an entertainer of strangers who needed care. Her example should be followed by the churches of today.” Testimonies vol. 6, 343, 344.

“That which will make our churches vigorous and successful in their efforts, is not bustle, but quiet, humble work; not parade and bombast, but patient, prayerful, persevering effort.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 130.

Rest, Your Body’s Need to Lie Down on the Job

The modern world strives to make laborsaving devices, to provide recreation and entertainment, and to increase speed and efficiency at home and work. So why are we not rested? Why are we weary and stressed? Back in the eras we consider primitive, people had no such resources. Folks worked very hard and when the light of day waned-they went to bed. Today the activities often start before the sky brightens and continues long after the last ray has disappeared.

Our minds and bodies operate on a fairly constant 24-hour rhythm called the circadian rhythm, with alternating periods of arousal and sleep. Much is known regarding sleep cycles and the factors, including natural body chemistry, that regulate sleep. We know that sleep is necessary, but still do not know exactly why. Yes, it allows the body time and quiet to repair itself, but there is much more to it than that. Humans and animals with more complex brains, like cats, sleep more than small animals with smaller cortexes.1 Dreams occur during REM (rapid-eye movement) sleep, and during REM a person goes into complete muscle relaxation which may lead to increased restoration of muscle tissues.2 Blood flow and temperature of the brain increase during the REM cycle of sleep.

Sleep deprivation causes memory loss, emotional instability, and affects one’s analytical abilities, perception, motivation and motor control. Lack of sleep also impairs our immune systems and our ability to learn as well as our creativity and productivity.3

Resting is also important. Your normal waking, thinking wave is the beta wave which looks short and spiky. During rest, when a person lies still, closes their eyes, and stills their mind, EEG (electroencephalogram) testing indicates that their brains go into an alpha wave pattern. Alpha waves are flowing and synchronous.4 Rest appears to invigorate the body and make the brain more able to function optimally.

What are some ways you can get better sleep? No late suppers, for one thing. Since our metabolisms slow at night, food tends to digest very slowly and one gets the sensation of food “just sitting there,” which is exactly what it is doing. The body must send blood to the stomach to facilitate digestion, pulling blood away from the brain which vitally needs it for sleep processing. The evening meal should be light and eaten several hours before bedtime.

Try to get eight hours of sleep each night and exercise regularly. Avoid the use of drugs and alcohol because although they can sometimes make you drowsy, they actually reduce or eliminate important REM sleep. Keep your bedroom dark and free from stimuli. Absolutely no television watching in bed. Practice breathing deeply and taper to smooth regular respirations. Eliminate caffeine from your diet and keep to a regular bedtime. Exposing yourself to sunlight will help keep your circadian rhythm on track.

Many of us are not getting enough sleep even though it is as necessary to health as is nutrition and water. Many disorders, both physical and mental, can be attributed to sleep deprivation. Even with all our technology and laborsaving devices, all we have accomplished is making more time available for even more activities. We must re-learn to give our bodies and minds the rest needed for healing.

  1. Everyday Science Explained, Curt Suplee, National Geographic Society, 1996, 264
  2. Simple Remedies for the Home, Clarence W. Dail, MD and Charles S. Thomas, PhD, MMI Press, Harrisville, New Hampshire, 1985, 80
  3. The Promise of Sleep, William C. Dement, MD, PhD, and Christopher Vaughn, Dell Publishing, New York, 1999
  4. Biology, Neil A. Campbell, PhD, The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Redwood City, California, 1990, 1003

Contending For the Faith

The trial of Raphael Perez vs. the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists began March 13, 2000, and involves a lawsuit against Pastor Perez for illegally using the trademarked name, Seventh-day Adventist. This court case has attracted worldwide attention and is of vital interest to all who cherish their religious freedom!

Opening Statements

Both sides presented opening statements on Tuesday, March 14, 2000.

The prosecution (or the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists) contends that Pastor Perez and his organization are an offshoot church. They labeled him a “hate group” and claimed he was a breakaway church trying to use the mother church’s name.

Robert Pershes, attorney for the defense, claimed that the name “Seventh-day Adventist” is a generic term describing a belief system, a religion. He stated that the trademark law was being used in a religious context here, when it was intended to be used commercially. He stated if you are a believer in Seventh-day Adventism, and you believe in the writings of Ellen G. White as a prophet, and if that prophet said that the name Seventh-day Adventist was given to us by God, you believe it. At this point there were several “Amens” from the spectators. The judge admonished the spectators that this was a courtroom, not a church, and further comments would cause him to clear the courtroom of spectators.

The Prosecution

Witnesses for the Prosecution were then called.

George Reid, current director of Biblical research for the General Conference, was first. He stated his educational background as such: He received his BA from Lincoln Ministerial School, and his Masters of Divinity from Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary.

Mr. Reid, who, at one time, served as head of the Religion Department at Southwest Adventist University in Keene, Texas was questioned as an expert witness on the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1860. It was his testimony that one must be a member of the General Conference to be a Seventh-day Adventist, “based on the understanding of unity.”

Attorney, Robert Nixon, stated Seventh-day Adventist does not refer to someone who believes in Seventh-day Adventism, but consists of Seventh-day Adventists in good and regular standing. They need to have membership in the Seventh-day Adventist organization.

The Survey

Harry O’Neill, researcher with Roper Worldwide, was paid $29,000 to conduct a telephone survey which took place between June 24 and July 2, 1999. The survey included a random selection of 1200 telephone numbers, (2% were Adventists) and asked the following questions:

  1. Have you ever heard or seen the term Seventh-day Adventist?
  2. What type or organization, if any, comes to mind when you hear Seventh-day Adventist?
  3. Do you associate the term Seventh-day Adventist with anything else? If so, what?

Responses to questions 2 and 3 were combined when presenting the final outcome.

70% of the 1200 respondents (or 840) had heard of Seventh-day Adventists.

44% of the 1200 respondents (or 528) responded that they thought of a church, a group, or a church organization.

56% of the 1200 respondents (or 672) responded that they thought of a religious group.

The Defense attorney objected to question number two of this survey as being leading. The fact that they used the word, “organization,” in their question, tainted the respondent’s answers, he claimed.

Dr. Standish for the Defense

The defense began their presentation by calling Dr. Colin Standish to the stand. Dr. Standish did a good job of defending our faith, and the judge, James Lawrence King, soon developed a good rapport with him. About fifteen minutes into Dr. Standish’s testimony, the judge asked the defense attorney to stand aside. The judge then began to question Colin directly about self-supporting work, the history of it, the name Seventh-day Adventist, and other things. The judge basically did all of the questioning for the defense with this witness.

After questioning Dr. Standish, the judge chastised the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists for bringing this issue to trial, and quoted 1 Corinthians 6, about bringing your brethren to trial. The judge quickly recognized this to be a religious liberty issue and stated that it should never have been brought into his courtroom. He instructed both sides to get together and see if they could work out an agreement and let him know the following day. When the prosecution tried to present and label Pastor Perez and his group as a “hate group,” Judge King threw that out as not being relevant to this trial. He stated that he was only concerned with the trademark issue.

No Agreement

The prosecution and the defense attorneys, along with the General Conference men and Pastor Perez, sat down together and attempted to come to an agreement as they had been instructed by the Judge. Pastor Perez stated that he would be happy to put a disclaimer under the name Seventh-day Adventist, stating that he was not affiliated with the General Conference. This was not good enough for them. They wanted the work stopped, and Pastor Perez could not agree to that.

The trial was to continue as scheduled.

The courtroom was filled to capacity, with the court personnel having to bring in additional chairs to accommodate the crowd. In spite of the fact that there are dozens of “Conference Churches” in the area, there were no attendants from the “conference church” other than those who were there to give testimony.

The Defense Argues

Two of the main points that were drilled home by the witnesses for the defense were these:

  1. The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has consistently removed the name “Seventh-day Adventist” from its magazines, buildings, schools, and hospitals.
  2. Since we believe that Ellen G. White was a prophet, and the prophet states that this name was a God-given name denoting a people and their belief, we cannot give it up.

Witnesses for the Defense:

David Zic, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement testified to the necessity of using the name as it identifies them. He stated that a church consists of faithful believers, not the buildings.

Also testifying for the defense were John Nicolici, Dr. Russell Standish, Pastor John Grosboll, and one or two others.

Pastor Grosboll testified that, in order to keep peace, we would be happy to change our name if we could. But, since this name was given to us by God, Himself we cannot, dare not change it to appease man.

In a small anteroom off to the side of the courtroom, the pastors gathered to intercede in prayer as each and every defense witness was called. It was not unusual for the judge to gain admittance to the courtroom using this route, and he would walk through the room while the pastors were gathered in prayer. Especially was Raphael Perez’ name lifted before the Father’s throne.

Obey God Rather than Man

Raphael Perez was extensively examined and cross-examined for over an hour. When asked if his newspaper ads started after the Southeastern Conference had told him he could not use the name, Seventh-day Adventist, Raphael stated that he did not need authorization from human beings to use a name given by God. It is not a matter of waiting for permission—permission has already been established by God, and we are to obey God rather than man. (Acts 5:29.)

Many attempts were made to trip Pastor Perez up in his testimony, but God worked with him in a mighty way to keep him focused and to give him understanding of the English language, that he might not only understand, but that his reply might be clearly understood. He firmly defended the faith.

The Prophet Speaks

Please note the following quotations. Two from the Spirit of Prophecy and one from Scripture:

“We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan’s devices.”Selected Messages, Book 1, 122. (1887.)

“This action, of appealing to human courts, never before entered into by Seventh-day Adventists, has now been done. God has permitted this that you who have been deceived may understand what power is controlling those who have had entrusted to them great responsibilities.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 302.

“Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, ‘That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, ‘My lord delayeth his coming’ and shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:46-50.

Heartbreaking Verdict

Sadly, despite the promising outlook, Judge James Lawrence King rendered a verdict in favor of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. We must pray that the Lord might strengthen and sustain Raphael and his little church, as they plan their appeal to a higher court. We know that God is still in control, and that in the end His name will be uplifted, honored, and vindicated. We must also pray for each other. There are others out there who are also targeted by the General Conference. The following is a list of groups who have already had suits started against them by the General Conference:

  • Word of Faith Congregational Seventh-day Church

3505 Pulaski Pike
Huntsville, AL 35810

  • United Seventh-day Adventist Church

128 9th Street, N.W.
Mason City, IA 50401

  • The Ten Commandments Universal Saturday Seventh-day Adventist Temple

1509 Ray Road, Apt. #301
Hyattsville, MD 20782

  • Seventh-day Adventist

Congregational Church
Kona Hawaii

  • Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International, Inc.

PO Box 3840
Los Angeles, CA 90078

  • Trinidad Church of Seventh-day Adventist

1201 Staples Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20002

  • Tabernacle Seventh-day Adventist Church

3600 Martin Luther King Blvd., S.E.
Mason City, IA 50401

  • Eternal Gospel Church of Seventh-day Adventist

5419 Southern Boulevard
West Palm Beach, FL 33415

The Inquisition has begun!

(Emphasis the author’s.)

Silver and Marik Betrayed

The Merikay McLeod Silver Case

Due to her writing capabilities, Merikay McLeod, author of the book, “Now,” was offered a position as Assistant Book Editor at Pacific Press. She was just a young woman, not yet out of college, and she was flattered that the brethren were impressed with her work. During the interview, when she inquired as to her salary, no dollar amount was mentioned, so she assumed she would be making about $600 a month, which is what the woman she was replacing had been making.

She described her feelings when starting work at Pacific Press: “I have a good ‘family’ feeling when I walk into chapel. These people are my people, my family, since their God is already my own…This is where I am supposed to be.”

Throughout the first week, various employees stopped by her office to introduce themselves, and to compliment her on her story, “Now.” She felt welcome and admired.


During the second week of her employment she was informed that the hiring committee was concerned over her lack of having a college degree. Although disappointed over this upset so early in her employment, Merikay stated that she “hates controversy and confrontation. I don’t want to start having to defend myself.” She still had not been told what her salary would be, and was concerned due to her living costs. When she was called in for a meeting, she assumed it would be to discuss her lack of a degree. Instead, she was questioned in regard to her beliefs.

After working at The Press for a month she received her first paycheck – $400. She was devastated. This was not enough money to even make ends meet. When she confronted her supervisor, she was told that this is how they had worked out the “hiring problem.” Since she had not finished college, the Committee had decided to give her the title “Editorial Assistant,” instead of Assistant Book Editor—justifying the lower wage.

To help make ends meet, and at her husband’s urging, Merikay submitted a collection of her own short stories to pacific press for publication. After changing the title, the book publishing committee decided to print the book.

Merikay was relieved. She enjoyed her work and was making friends, one of whom was Lorna Tobler, secretary to Lawrence Maxwell.

While still pursuing an acceptable salary, Merikay was told that Pacific Press had a wage system based on need. “The Church’s institutions take care of their workers,” she was told. “It’s a family centered concept.” So, in an effort to improve her financial position, Merikay returned to school to get her degree. Although Press workers were routinely released from work to complete degree requirements, Merikay put in a full eight-hour day and continued with her schooling. She decided she would not ask for a raise until she had her degree.


At the copy machine one day, she saw a male worker copying his W2 form. They were both shocked to find that he made 40% more than she did, even though they were both doing the same work. Even though the “law” requires equal pay for equal work and sex discrimination is illegal, Merikay felt she should wait until she had her degree before asking for a raise. However, she then wondered if her work was acceptable, and confronted her supervisor. She told him she learned of the pay difference and wondered if it was because her work was not satisfactory. She was told, “Our system is called ‘Head of Household’…we believe a family’s main wage-earner should receive more because of his added burdens. Merikay was mollified.

A short time later, Merikay’s husband, lost his job. She was sure she now qualified for “Head of Household” pay since she was now the sole wage earner. About this time, a pamphlet came down from the General Conference basically stating, “on the basis of need determined by marital status, dependents and financial responsibility, an additional amount of money may be paid to employees without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, age, national origin or color.” According to the General Conference, Merikay qualified! She was thrilled!

While discussing this with her supervisor, he offered to write a letter to his boss praising Merikay’s work and asking that “a liberal, conciliatory attitude” be taken in this case so Merikay would not become discouraged.

Check Your Rights

Merikay’s husband asked her to see Joan Bradford, an attorney he had heard lecture a few months earlier, just as a precaution. When Merikay told the attorney the situation at Pacific Press, Joan Bradford stated that “the system is illegal,” and asked if Merikay wanted to sue? No, Merikay only wanted to know if she was within her legal rights to ask for “Head of Household” pay. Joan assured her that she was. The Pacific Press “Head of Household” system is illegal,” Joan stated, and Merikay had the right to ask for equal pay.

As moral support, a fellow male employee agreed to go to the boss with Merikay. The boss responded that this male employee had an advanced degree and six years of editing experience. Merikay countered with the fact that she had ten years professional writing experience. “If we do something for you—then the women in the bindery will want something too,” the boss replied.

The fellow employee attempted to defend Merikay by stating that when he got married he got a big raise in pay, plus his wife was covered by company insurance. He also stated that men in the book department who have not even finished high school are making big salaries. Merikay was simply asking for the same pay and benefits that a married man in her position would get. The boss said, basically, “Merikay’s having a dependent (her out of work husband) is not our problem.”

The Light Dawns

The light began to dawn. Merikay now realized that no woman in the institution was getting “Head of Household” pay, whether divorced with children, widowed, or retired missionary women taking care of a sick spouse. Nothing was resolved, and Merikay decided to write a follow-up letter to the boss, and wait to see what happened.

She realized something was very wrong at the Press. “Head of Household” really meant “male.” A lot of women (100-150 female workers) were supporting children, invalid husbands or parents; none of which were receiving “Head of Household” status.

Merikay received a message that if she would just humble herself and agree to forget what had happened, she would get more money; but if she took a hard line, she would get nothing at all. Merikay went to Joan Bradford and expressed her fears. Joan offered to write a letter to the Press in which she would offer to help legalize their employment practices.

In 1972, Joan sent a letter to Merikay’s boss, pointing out the illegalities of Pacific Press’ practices and offering to help them out. The attorney also stated; “In view of the fact that you have so far failed to make any responsive communication to Mrs. Silver in regard to these matters—we are notifying you that all future communication to Mrs. Silver regarding her rights to equal employment benefits are to be made through this office.”

Merikay was accused of not being loyal, and Lorna Tobler informed her that she was told, “Merikay will never, never, never get equal pay.”

The Press did not respond to the attorney’s letter until July. Then it was through an attorney. They claimed they were not breaking the law, there was no sex discrimination—Now or ever! Joan Bradford wanted Merikay to file an official complaint with the EEOC. Merikay was stunned! The Press was denying the truth! Did they not want to obey the law?

Letters flew back and forth between Joan Bradford and the attorney for Pacific Press, but there was no word from the Press, themselves. Letters were sent to the chief executives of Pacific Press. There was still no response.

Lorna photocopied all pay scale records and gave them to Merikay’s attorney. The basic wage scale was the same, except men got higher promotions than the women did. However, if women would be allowed to go into those jobs, they would have received the same basic wage, but the rent allowance was sex related. All married men got $1.00 per hour rent allowance. Single men received $.75 per hour, and women earned $.30 per hour.

Lorna received a letter of reprimand for her part in counseling “younger workers to contact attorneys.”

Merikay wrote a letter to her boss showing many Spirit of Prophecy quotes to substantiate her position. (MS 47, 1898; MS 142, 1903; Gospel Workers 452-453 (1915). In response, she received an executive letter of rebuke: “I don’t think there is a single statement on that sheet which would give anyone the impression that women should have the same wages as men, although I am not opposed to the idea. We should be careful that we don’t make the Spirit of Prophecy say something that was not intended.”

The chairman of the board came to town but refused to see Merikay if her attorney was present at the meeting. He did, however, see Lorna and claimed Pacific Press would obey the law and tell the truth. Lorna met with the General Conference President and the chairman of the board. They both assured her the General Conference wanted to do what was right. However, the chairman of the board asked Lorna to go easy on the brethren. He asked for patience and understanding. He said, “If we don’t ease up, if we insist on pursuing this thing, the brethren will burn us at the stake.”

Out of the blue, Lorna Tobler’s husband received a “call” to Germany. However, they decided Lorna would not go with him immediately—she would stay and help fight Merikay’s battle.

Someone filed a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor. Everyone thought it was Merikay, but it was not. Her supervisor chastised her—”I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you, single-handedly, kicked off the time of trouble!” he yelled.

In November 1972, Merikay and Lorna filed an official complaint with the EEOC. In December 1972, Guy Guerrero, Department of Labor investigator arrived at the Press. After completing his investigation, he told Merikay, “Yes” he had found discrimination, and that it should all be taken care of shortly after the first of the year.

When Merikay received her January pay envelope, her check was the same, but there was $1,000 shown in the total-to-date column. She was puzzled by this, and called Guy Guerrero for an explanation. He told her it was the back pay Pacific Press owed her, and that they would cut her a check in a few days. Merikay explained there was an error. Her co-worker earned $11,000 a year while she earned $6,676.41. Guy Guerrero came to Merikay’s office—solemn faced he admited he never thought they (the Press) would lie to him. “Don’t cash any checks,” he instructed her, then left her office to confront the boss with copies of the W2 forms showing the discrepancies. He was dismissed from the office, and the statement was made, “The next time the Press sees you, it will be in court!” Guerrero began the process to sue Pacific Press.

Through this incident, Merikay realized that the Press would not do what was right because it was right, would not obey the law, because it was the law, nor would they treat their employee’s right because it was the moral thing to do. If the Press would work with her to correct the inequities, the government’s suit would automatically disappear, but they would not. She felt she had but three options. Either she could stay and leave things just as they were, which was unthinkable; file suit herself, or quit her job and find other work, which would not be hard with her talent. But what about all the other women, the ones who could not quit? Those who were afraid to speak up for themselves? The ones who could not find another job so easily? She was hurt and confused. She wrote, “All the love, all the idealism, all the pride I’ve had in my church and its institutions bubbles to the surface, only to be snuffed by the reality I’ve experienced.” Her days filled with confusion over what she should do, she finally decided that she “must file suit.” Eight months after asking for “Head of Household,” she filed suit in January 1973. The Press received notice of this filing in March.

The news traveled quickly, and Merikay received flowers from three women working at the General Conference headquarters in Washington D.C.—”Right on! Fight the good fight!” the card said.

The Press offered to settle for $10,000 for Merikay, which would have to be split with her attorney. No other women were to receive anything; no money, no promise of equal pay, no opportunity to move up through the ranks to higher positions. Merikay could not accept. Twice they came close to a settlement, but the Press refused to accept monitoring of potential settlements by anyone other than the Press or General Conference appointees. They were still denying, through their attorney, any wrongdoing.

The boss called a meeting of all the women employees. Attorney Bradford wrote a letter to Don McNeil, attorney for Pacific Press, stating that she was shocked and dismayed to learn that management had, without notifying her, called a meeting of certain employees, at which time management would, without attorney’s present, discuss employment policies with female employees. This was in direct contradiction to management’s agreement with her that they would meet with her, provide her with personnel records and attempt to set up employment guidelines before meeting with the women. “I regard management’s calling of the April 17 meeting to be another demonstration of the Press’ pattern of expressing superficially its desire to conform with the law, while at the same time, preserving its own authoritarian position over its female employees—instructing them without allowing them to receive information of appropriate employment practices from anyone other than their own employer.”… “I view these tactics by the Press to be another form of intimidation and coercion of its female employees…”

Merikay continued to receive letters of support from women (and some men) in all branches of the denominational work, while at the same time she had to sit through countless morning worship services while the men of the Press tore her to pieces in veiled words. Management was flexing their muscle through the morning worship period. A well-known editor spoke for an hour about modern Judas’s who sell the Lord’s work to the goat for a few pieces of silver.

Because of the many rumors circulating around the Press, Merikay decided to call a meeting of all of the women employees to explain her side. She and Lorna rented a building less than a mile from the Press office in which to hold this meeting. The day of the meeting, the Press executives, and their Attorney, Don McNeil had a Rah! Rah! session for worship, in which the women were urged to “divorce” themselves from the Class Action Suit by signing a form. Of course, they were assured that they were not being “told” to sign; they were simply being given the opportunity. That evening 50 women showed up at Merikay’s meeting.

The Press management ignored Joan Bradford’s request for information. They post-poned meetings with her and did not cooperate. Joan finally went to the Press offices and spent the day reviewing records, books, and files.

Finally, a new manager was brought into the Press. Shortly thereafter, in October 1973, Management sent Lorna Tobler a letter stating that they had agreed that she was to be terminated with two weeks severance pay so that she could join her husband in Germany. Lorna responded, “this action would certainly be viewed by the law as a reprisal.” Five days later the Press officially “clarified” the use of the word ‘terminated’—stating that they only meant she was free to go if she chose. However, the new boss visited Lorna, and a clear threat was made. Either she moved to Germany immediately or “something terribly serious will happen.”

In December, a letter from the General Conference, was sent to all SDA publishing houses instructing them not to accept articles or manuscripts written by Merikay, “because of her tendency to ignore Christian counsel,” and Lorna received a very strong letter from the German Conference stating that she must come to Germany immediately.

In January 1974, Lorna met with the Board Chairman. She showed him the letter she had received and asked if that meant her husband would lose his job.

“Well, those are some of the hazards,” he replied.

“That sounds to me like some little game or something,” Lorna stated.

He replied, “It’s not a little game, it’s a big game!”

The stress was beginning to cause Merikay to have migraine headaches, but the barrage continued. The Adventist Review published an article on the authority of the church, and her attorney, Joan Bradford, had back surgery. The rumor went about the Press offices that Joan had been struck down with cancer by ‘the Lord.’

In February 1974, an official of the General Conference came to see Merikay. He set aside the whole day for her, he stated, and she realized that this was an impressive gesture. After general “getting to know you” chitchat, he asked Merikay what she thought of the new boss. He then stated that he had the utmost confidence in the men in leadership at the Press. He asked her how negotiations were going, and Merikay informed him there were no negotiations.

“You know, Merikay,” he stated, “you aren’t shooting blanks in this. The main thing that bothers me about all of this is that I don’t think the government has any right coming into our publishing house and telling us what to do. Well, what can we do to end this thing?”

Merikay replied; “Talk, negotiate. Do what is right and lawful. I do not know what is so all-fired difficult about doing what is right.”

He opened the letter Merikay sent him and pointed to various items, asking what he could do about each of them. As they talked he took notes. Merikay was thrilled! He was the first leader who had actually listened to her. However, in March 1974, he urged Merikay to find a compromise.

In an April 1974, Settlement conference, the new boss refused to talk. He simply sat with his arms folded. Later a fellow employee told Merikay that her supervisor was laying the groundwork to fire her. “Be sure to keep a diary so you can document the things he says.”

The new boss read a letter in chapel, which was addressed to all the women employees of the Press. If the Silver lawsuit went to court, every woman’s name and how she voted on the Class Action Suit would be revealed.” One hundred ten women withdrew from the Class Action Suit. Sixty did not respond—which was counted as a “yes” we want to withdraw vote. Seventy-seven women now remained in the Class Action Suit.

EEOC Files Suit

The EEOC filed a preliminary injunction suit against the Press for harassing Merikay and Lorna.

The Press got a new attorney. They argued that they did not discriminate. “We’re a religious organization and as such do not have to answer to the government for our activities. The First Amendment protects us.” They also came up with a new argument. “The Press is the church and all workers are, in reality, ministers of the church. Matters of church government and administration are beyond the purview of Civil Authorities.” Press attorney, Dungan, argued that “church policy forbids members to use the court system to sue a church institution for any reason, let alone to determine intra-church, intra-family disputes. By continuing her suit, Merikay has put herself at variance with the church and has become a prime candidate for early disfellowshipping.”

In December 1974, the trial hearing began. The opening brief by the Press attorney included the following statements:

“Only members of the church who are in good standing are eligible for employment in the SDA church…”

“Determination by proper church tribunals respecting ecclesiastical matters…are accepted as binding. What the church cannot tolerate is for members to bring church disputes into civil courts.”

“Those who work for the Seventh-day Adventist church respond to a religious vocation in exactly the same sense as does a cloistered nun.”

“The church claims exemption from all civil laws in all of its religious institutions.”

In February 1975, the General Conference Committee recommended that the Press terminate Merikay and that she be disfellowshiped from the church. Action was also initiated to have Lorna disfellowshipped. A friend informed Merikay that a General Conference official was trying to get her fired and disfellowshipped. Her attorney instructed her to take some days off immediately so she would not be available to receive the termination notice. Merikay took a vacation. Her attorney also instructed her to leave her home, because the Press was going to try to serve notice to her there. Joan Bradford filed for a Temporary Restraining Order and the judge upheld the Order. Both Merikay and Lorna returned to work the following Tuesday.

In March 1975, a motion was made to the Board of Mountain View Church to have Lorna disfellowshipped.

The Trial Begins:

The Pacific Press attorney stated, “The Pacific Press Publishing Association is owned and operated by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which is the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

Many people in the courtroom gasp! But the vice president nodded in assent.

A friend of Merikay’s leaned over and told her, “The General Conference is not the church!”

The Vice President of the General Conference testified: “The General Conference is the highest authority in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” He claimed “when we join the church we agree to give up our individual rights for the good of the whole…When we are no longer in harmony with those principles…one is considered to be at variance with the church.”

Merikay was stunned by the testimony of these leaders of the church. “There is no truth or integrity in this room full of church men,” she stated.

On May 29, 1975, Merikay was fired, and in July, Judge Renfrew decertified the suit since Merikay was no longer employed by the Press.

One year later, May 1976, the 9th Court of Appeals reversed the decision, and two years later, April 1978, Merikay Silver settled out of court for $60,000; half of which went to her attorney. The very next month, the EEOC took Pacific Press to court.

Five years later, in February 1983, Lorna Tobler received $77,000, and in October 1983, the court ordered Pacific Press to deposit $600,000 to an account to be disbursed in non-traceable checks to Pacific Press women employees.

Sadly, Merikay reported, “The spirit of Christ and the spirit of the church are contradictory.”

The John Marik Case

In 1984, John Marik, a lay-pastor, received a letter from an attorney for the General Conference, regarding his use of the name Seventh-day Adventist Congregational Church. In this letter, John Marik was asked if he could furnish the General Conference with information on this offshoot group, showing the “offensive usage of Seventh-day Adventist.” Apparently this letter was sent to Pastor Marik by mistake, since John Marik was asked to report on his own church (as an offshoot group.)

Cease and Desist

A short time later John Marik received another letter in which the attorney corrected himself for having sent the previous letter. He stated the General Conference would be “moving to enforce our trademark registration…and will ask you and your congregation to agree to cease using the term Seventh-day Adventist in the name of your church.”

The President of the Hawaii Conference of Seventh-day Adventists wrote Pastor Marik asking him and his eleven member church to cease using the name Seventh-day Adventist.

In 1985, John Marik received a letter from another General Conference attorney which stated in part, “therefore, assuming that your use of ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ was done without intent to create confusion, even though such confusion is manifested by your use of Seventh-day Adventist, particularly as in your church name, we trust that upon receipt of this letter you will immediately cease and desist from utilizing the expression or any names or expressions equivalent… We consider your use of ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ to be an infringement of the SDA Church’s trademark/service mark rights, and also to constitute unfair competition and false designation of origin.”

Marik’s Reply

John Marik replied, “We are sorry that this situation has been such a cause of distress; that was certainly not our motives. We have had no intention or desire—neither do we now have—to confuse, mislead, or deceive anyone in regards to our congregational church and its reason for existing independently of the denominational church. We, just as you, are concerned about the prospect of people being confused. We do not at all want or wish that any Seventh-day Adventist visitor, who is from some other place and not knowledgeable of the difference, to be tricked or deceived into attending our church—being unaware of the fact that we are not associated with the denomination.

“We understand very well that our name and existence as an independent body of Seventh-day Adventists has been, is, and probably will continue to be an offense to the Denomination. This is not our desire, but this unfortunately, is the way it is. We also do not, in the least, feel that we are in the wrong! And this is the reason why: Our faith and beliefs are those of a Seventh-day Adventist as is described in the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White (who we also hold to be an inspired prophet of God). If we were to call ourselves by some other name, wouldn’t the general Christian community question our reason for not expressing what we really believe, wouldn’t that be concealing our true identity, and wouldn’t that give just cause for our Sunday-keeping brethren to consider our honesty in what we verily believe and who we truthfully claim to be?

“We do not apologize for our convictions in regard to the counsel that God has given us as a people who are honoring the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment of the decalogue, and who very much long for and believe in the near advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Hence the name, “seventh-day” + “adventist.” We believe, and very much so, that the name “Seventh-day Adventist” is not a denomination name—it is a name or term which describes a particular Christian faith or body of beliefs. We also are convicted, even against our own judgment, that this name is especially approved and ordained by God as testified to in the inspired counsel given to Ellen G. White (Testimonies to the Church, vol. 2, page 223, 224.) And contrary to our judgment, we have yielded to what we solemnly believe to be in harmony with the revealed will of God. We have sought to obey His counsel on this matter, and by His grace we must continue to do so; and this can be our only reply to our brethren of the Denomination.”

“Please consider our faith and conviction in this matter. We ask that you please read the inspired testimony mentioned above. Do we not have the liberty and the freedom to conscientiously follow what we, just as many other Seventh-day Adventists, believe to be the truth? Just because we are not under the authority of the Denomination, does that mean we have no right to live the message as given to those who wish to honor God’s commandments and anticipate His soon second advent, does that imply that we can’t seriously take to heart the counsel given in the writings of Ellen G. White?

Plea for Understanding

“…We would ask that you please be understanding; for these convictions involve our faith, beliefs, and conscientious study of the Word of God.…We, along with others, are rather amazed at the intentions of the Denomination toward our little self-sustaining church. Not too long ago, we would never have considered that the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination could resort to such things as this—to appeal to a secular court of law to force others to conform to their wishes! Dear brothers and fellow Adventists, this is the very thing true Seventh-day Adventists have stood against for years! These are the tactics the enemy will use against every conscientious Sabbath-keeper. Where is the great principle of religious liberty? What should the SDA department of Religious Liberty say about this kind of action? Moreover, what does God say about it?

“…Another thing which we find strange, is the idea of the church and its message being a business. Since when has that come to be? Is the church of God in business with the competition such that it needs a protected trade name? …Surely God will prosper His faithful people; if they are wronged He will make it right. Why can we not let God decide what is right? If we of the congregational Adventists are in the wrong and you of the denominational Adventists are in the right, then will God not reprove us and uphold you? We have ample testimony of God’s dealings pertaining to this.

“…We would like to have a friendly relationship with the Denomination. We realize that there is a tremendous work for all of God’s people to do; each has a sphere of influence which is special; certain souls will be won to Christ by certain individuals; and likewise certain people will be reached for Christ by certain churches.

“…We want peace if it is possible to be secured without having to compromise our convictions and conscientious understanding in regards to God’s testimony. We do not know what farther course you may pursue in this matter; but we are standing on the clear counsel of God.”

The reply to this letter of appeal was that the matter was put in the hands of the General Conference law office or legal counsel.

A General Conference attorney wrote to Marik, “We would recommend and will favorably consider your using, for example, the name ‘Seventh-day Congregational Church.’”

In 1987, John Marik wrote a pastoral letter explaining their position in regard to this lawsuit, and the General Conference attorneys submitted a formal, legal complaint. A court order was given, and a Scheduling Conference was set for July 1987.

In April 1987, John Marik sent a letter to friends telling them that he had just been informed that the General Conference had filed suit against him. He then wrote a
4-page letter to the General Conference giving Bible and Spirit of Prophecy reasons why they could not do as they had been asked.

Several years ago, after the Merikay Silver case, the General Conference set down a new ruling that if anyone initiated a lawsuit against the General Conference, or any church entity; he was subject to being disfellowshipped. Since the leadership at the General Conference is involved with suing local Adventist believers, should they not then be subject to their own laws and suffer the penalty of being disfellow-shipped?

Some of the complaints against John Marik were:

  1. “Defendants’ conduct of selecting and commercially using the Seventh-day Adventist name for defendants’ services and goods in direct competition with the Plaintiff was done willfully, wantonly, and maliciously for the purpose of unjustly enriching themselves and injuring Plaintiffs good will and trade identity rights…
    Wherefore, Plaintiff prays for judgment against the defendant…from using, promoting, or in any way displaying any name or mark which includes the term Seventh-day Adventist, or any term that is confusingly similar to ‘Seventh-day Adventist’ or is a colorable imitation thereof…”
  2. That each of them deliver up to Plaintiff for destruction, all labels, signs, prints, advertising materials, and other literature…bearing the term Seventh-day Adventist and all plates, molds, matrices and other means of making same.”

John Marik argued that the phrase Seventh-day Adventist described a system or set of Bible-based Christian beliefs, doctrines, and standards. One was a Seventh-day Adventist because of what he believed, not what organization he belonged to.

If each local church was not duly incorporated, then losing a lawsuit might strip every member of their property.

John Marik did not go into court with an attorney, and because of this, the General Conference submitted a paper to the court requesting no court trial be held, but that the court proceed directly to issue judgment. In July 1987, a hearing was held in the Judge’s office. Since John Marik, nor his church members had obtained legal counsel , a “Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, or in the Alternative, Motion to Strike” was submitted. Since John Marik did not object before or during the hearing, it was accepted by the judge and became official—no trial would be held, only a court judgment that would be based on the legal papers the judge received. Therefore, without realizing it, John Marik had just waived his right to trial.

In a lawsuit, whenever either party files a legal paper with the court, they are required by law to send a copy of that paper to the other party in the suit. The second party must then sign and date that they have received it. It is called a “Certificate of Service.” This certificate is then attached to the legal paper and filed with the court. In this case, John Marik claimed that he had not received this action paper, before or after the hearing. The General Conference claimed they sent it, and they filled out the “Certificate of Service” to guarantee this fact to the court. All the while, John Marik and his membership were praying for guidance and awaiting a chance to defend their faith at a trial that would never happen.

In August 1987, the group prepared a paper stating why they could not give up the name Seventh-day Adventist, and submitted it to the judge, and in September he filed a paper with the court declaring that the group would prefer not to enter into litigation with the General Conference.

An Order granting Motion on Judgment for Pleadings, given by the court, accepted the Motion that had been submitted by the General Conference attorneys, and in December 1987, the Federal Court handed down a verdict prohibiting the defendants from using the name Seventh-day Adventist and enjoined them to remove the sign from their church and hand over to Federal Agents all of their personal books, magazines, and other property with the name Seventh-day Adventist on it. The Federal Judge handed down his decision. There would be no trial.

A major position paper was submitted to the court by Max Corbett, now acting attorney for John Marik’s group. He requested that the Judgment be set aside, or dismissed, with the possibility of having a new trial. The small group submitted a paper explaining that they considered the December 8 court Order invalid “because of lack of jurisdiction” in religious matters, while the General Conference submitted a paper asking that the court decision be carried out immediately. The defendants must comply or be visited with civil penalties.

Attorneys for the General Conference requested that the court order the group to explain why they should not be considered in contempt of court for not complying with the judge’s decision, and requested that the hearing be held speedily. The court granted a date in February 1988.

In February 1988, John Marik’s attorney, Max Corbett, appeared in court and reminded the General Conference attorney about this problem of their stifling an open court hearing. This judge observed that the first judge may have made a wrong decision—but he felt duty-bound to uphold it. He counseled the General Conference to seek to come to a mutual agreement out of court to avoid the jailing of someone who believed the same thing the General Conference believed.

For the next two months papers continued to be filed by both sides of the suit, and in May 1988, the Federal District Court of Hawaii entered an Order for John Marik’s arrest, and a $500 a day penalty for every day of non-compliance. The Bench Warrant stated Mr. Marik, once jailed, was not to be released until the fine was paid and the books and related possessions bearing the name Seventh-day Adventist had been seized. This request was not for what they printed—but for what they possessed. It included:

  1. Adventist song books
  2. All Spirit of Prophecy books
  3. Back issues of denominational journals, and many more.
  4. Possible out of print books or papers dating back to 1800s.

All would be confiscated by the government agents and destroyed at the General Conference request.

The Southwestern Union Record, May 13, 1988 stated, “The church does not sue the offending organization for the purpose of obtaining damages or punitive judgments.” Yet the General Conference requested the judge “for an accounting to be determined, the damages that Plaintiff has suffered and the profits that were derived as a consequence of defendants acts as aforesaid; for an award of the damages suffered by Plaintiff and the profits derived by the defendants, as determined by the accounting, and that the award of profits be trebled (or 3 times as much) all pursuant to 15 U.S.C. Section 1117 and other applicable Law. For costs of suit herein.”

John Marik was subsequently arrested, and lost everything. Later he was a fugitive running from place to place, kept in hiding.

There are many others that the General Conference has pursued; Raphael Perez is just the latest. It is not needful for us to be prophets to understand motives; the actions speak for themselves without further comment.

(Emphasis supplied.)


  • Betrayal, by Merikay McLeod
  • The John Marik Case, by Vance Ferrell

Are You a Seventh-day Adventist? Can anybody Tell that you are?

Hundreds of years ago, with unerring accuracy, the Apostle Paul described the end times, which would surround society in general, and God’s professed people in particular. “Perilous times shall come,” he wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1. Various versions of Scripture render this warning sign posted by Paul as “difficult times will come,” “Times of great stress and trouble, hard to deal with and hard to bear.” One version says, “I want you to realize that as bad as times are now [in a.d. 66], this is nothing compared to the perilous times of the last days.”

Choose Ye This Day

Whichever rendering you prefer, the textual context of this warning describes the conditions of the end times that will affect and test the character and spirituality of all people. While 2 Timothy 3 and 4 could be given a wider application, nothing could be more tragic than to miss the application of these Scriptures to Adventism as today constituted. Furthermore, nothing would please Satan more than for God’s professed people to keep reading this biblical warning only “historically” as in the past, or “prophetically” as in the future. If we are ever going to benefit from this warning, then at some point in our experience and growth in character development, we must read and teach this warning as applying to us today! Therefore, 2 Timothy 3:1 would be read, not perilous times “shall come,” “could come,” or “may come,” but “have come.”

Far too many within the Adventist community believe that some time in the future the world conditions will be of such a nature that they will be led to take a bold stand for the truth, and pattern their lifestyle accordingly. But nothing could be more difficult and most unlikely. Generally, the end of such thinking in spiritual matters is disastrous. Without a doubt, such a mentality avoids and postpones the present preparation desperately needed for it delays dealing with the issues confronting us all today. It produces a quality of Adventists who oppose and resist correction. The duties imposed by present truth anger them, and unwittingly, but nevertheless by a choice, they become persecutors of their own brethren. This pattern of living and thinking confirms people deeper in Laodiceanism, and allies them with the popular churches of the world.

“Many are quieting a troubled conscience with the thought that they can change a course of evil when they choose; that they can trifle with the invitations of mercy, and yet be again and again impressed. They think that after doing despite to the spirit of grace, after casting their influence on the side of Satan, in a moment of terrible extremity they can change their course. But this is not so easily done. The experience, the education of a lifetime, has so thoroughly molded the character that few then desire to receive the image of Jesus.” Love Unlimited, 33.

Popular Deception—Do Nothing

And then there is another deception just as popular as the one described above, and just as perilous and fatal to Adventism. It is apparent everywhere. Clerics like it, teach it, and encourage it. It makes the membership “spectators” instead of “participants.” It has defrauded the membership from carrying out the divine assignment of the priesthood of all believers. It is doing nothing in a religious crisis; it is leaving for God to do that which He has mandated for us to do! This idea has so affected our belief that the teachings of the fallen churches have, in part, become ours. “You cannot stop sinning,” is heard in many of the Adventist churches, and it has become so bold that without hesitation, the teaching that you will continue to sin until Jesus returns, is widely spread.

This do-nothing concept Ellen White was inspired to label as an “astonishing deception,” and “apostasy,” and though rehearsing the history of Israel in this context, the Lord’s messenger makes it applicable to us in this day. The do-nothing, wait-and-see deception, she calls a “crime.”

“If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in time of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime, and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God.” Testimonies to the Church, vol. 3, 281.

The apostles’ warning and Ellen White’s testimony come painfully close to home to the Adventist community! Characteristics visible among the professed people of God are accurately described in the chapters of Timothy referred to above. The “perilous times” here mentioned are to prevail “in the last days.” To what time shall we apply this expression, “in the last days?” We have been so spiritually sedated by the ways of this world, accepting their praises, preoccupied with maintaining an acceptable image, lavishing in the fellowship of other churches, that Apostle Paul’s prophetic warning has been relegated to the times and events that mark the final test. But what a shocking revelation it must be to many to realize that we have been living in the last days, the perilous times that precede the “final test.” Expressions such as “the last days,” “perilous times,” “time of trouble,” “little time of trouble,” need to be applied to the present times. Ellen White places these perilous times of trouble while “Christ is still in the heavenly sanctuary,” and “while the work of salvation is closing.” Early Writings, 85. Lest anyone conclude that these scriptural warnings applied to our present time is unwarranted, consider the following from the Inspired writings:

“A storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it? We need not say the perils of the last days are soon to come upon us. Already they have come.Testimonies to the Church, vol. 8, 315. (Italics supplied.)

And this is not the only statement making this application. Two more should suffice:

“We are living in the perils of the last days.” Manuscript 148, Notebook Leaflets, 53.

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.’ (1 Timothy 4:1.) The time of this apostasy is here. Every conceivable effort will be made to throw doubt upon the positions that we have occupied for over half a century.” Letter 410, August 26, 1907.

Please Stand Up

If the above statements are correct, then the Scriptures, the Testimonies and these perilous times call for the real Seventh-day Adventist to stand up! Would you please stand up and identify yourself by the message you are proclaiming, the work you are doing, and by the lifestyle you are living? Was it not Jesus who said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”? Just think of it, we have been living in the end time, surrounded by the perils of the last days prophesied almost 2,000 years ago, and did not even know it!

“We must learn to stand alone and depend wholly upon God. The sooner we learn this the better.” Early Writings, 105.

The list of characteristics mentioned in 2 Timothy 3 and 4 is quite indicting. They are applicable to all Adventists in general, and to some in particular. The truth is that the entire list applies to Adventism. We have just arbitrarily selected several of the characteristics for the purpose of this presentation:

  1. Boasters
  2. Blasphemers
  3. Unholy
  4. Traitors
  5. Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof
  6. Ever-learning, never coming to the knowledge of the truth
  7. Will not endure sound doctrine
  8. Turn away their ears from the truth

Heavy charges, would you not say? Very much so, and these characteristics must be so damaging to character development, that Apostle Paul, under inspiration, called the real Adventist, the truthful Adventist, to action—”from such turn away.” Why such a drastic move? The experience of the first Christian Church is used by Ellen White to give us the reasons and to teach us our duty, as unpleasant as it may be, when such conditions continue to exist.

“But there is no union between the Prince of Light and the prince of darkness, and there can be no union between their followers. When Christians consented to unite with those who were but half converted from paganism, they entered upon a path which led farther and farther from the truth. Satan exulted that he had succeeded in deceiving so large a number of the followers of Christ. He then brought his power to bear more fully upon them, and inspired them to persecute those who remained true to God. None understood so well how to oppose the true Christian faith as did those who had once been its defenders, and these apostate Christians, uniting with their half-pagan companions, directed their warfare against the most essential features of the doctrines of Christ.

“It required a desperate struggle for those who would be faithful to stand firm against the deceptions and abominations which were disguised in sacerdotal garments and introduced into the church. The Bible was not accepted as the standard of faith. The doctrine of religious freedom was termed heresy, and its upholders were hated and proscribed.

“After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few decided to dissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to free herself from falsehood and idolatry. They saw that separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the word of God. They dared not tolerate errors fatal to their own souls, and set an example which would imperil the faith of their children and children’s children. To secure peace and unity they were ready to make any concession consistent with fidelity to God; but they felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle. If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war.” The Great Controversy, 45.

They Will Put You Out of the Synagogue

By now, many of you who are reading this article may be stirred with displeasure and even anger; and that is good! But remember the Scripture admonition, “sin not, and give no place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26, 27. But wait, have you thought it through? That which may unsettle and disturb most is the truthfulness of the condition within the professed Adventist family. The issue is that the message is either true or false. We either live in “the perilous times” or we do not. We are either in the end of time or we are not. Either the Three Angels’ Messages have done their work in our lives or they have not. We are either ready to enter the judgment session to be judged, or not!

Some of the members have been terrorized with the threat of being put out of the “synagogue,” if they become vocal; others, not having done their homework by studying for themselves, have been intimidated with “Remnant Church not Babylon” sermons—a technique that the ministry has used for decades hoping to keep the world-wide membership docile. But who said the Seventh-day Adventist church as constituted and functioning today, is the remnant church? Where is the evidence for that notion? Neither secular nor biblical history supports the infallibility idea that has been projected by misapplying this statement through the years. Adventism never taught the infallibility of any church in the past! That is not Protestant theology. Only those who are not the remnant church, but want to appear they are, make this claim! No Seventh-day Adventist group can claim the distinction of being the remnant church before the judgment has done its work—investigated the records and rendered its verdict in keeping with the unerring record of righteousness! And by the way, nowhere in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy writings does it say that “a backsliding church” (Signs of the Times, February 19, 1894) “drifting to sea without chart or compass” (Christ Our Righteousness 50, 51. 1937 edition,) charged as having “become a harlot” (Testimonies, vol. 8, 250,) can “never” become a part of Babylon or receive the same condemnation! To the surprise of many, the truth of the matter is, in fact, quite the opposite. Ellen White did sound the warning; “we are in danger of becoming a sister of fallen Babylon.” Letter 57, 1886. Why were you not told this before?

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are living in these perilous end times; we have acted a part in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy; we have been given the opportunity by God to act and react to the perils of the last days. What testimony have we borne? Every choice we have made in issues that have arisen in the family, the church or society at large has served to shape our character for the final pronouncement, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11. The final test does not fit us for salvation, it only reveals whether the preparation was made.

Given the nature of this public presentation, we cannot dwell in detail upon the individual application of the issues as they affect us personally. It is hoped that each will draw out the lesson for himself, “for God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14. However, let it be clearly understood that we have reached a sad chapter in the history of Adventism. There must be no uncertainty about the spiritual condition that exists within the broad spectrum of the professed people of God. Whether we care to admit it or not, the fact is that Adventism which started in 1844 is not what we have today. And when we lose the power of the truth, the loss is made up by coercion and man-made laws bringing us to one of the main issues of the Third Angel’s Message.

Whatever Happened to Religious Liberty?

Whatever happened to the religious liberty principles and doctrines that our Adventist forefathers contended for and taught as being part of the Three Angels’ Messages? Has that divine plant gone to seed? Do we now believe in religious liberty and freedom of conscience only for ourselves, while we deny it to others? Such perversion breeds persecution and invites tyranny. It does that which even God does not do. It violates the God-given freedom of choice and coerces the conscience of anyone and everyone that displeases. This divine principle of liberty of conscience and freedom of choice, given and bequeathed by God to mankind, offered in the Garden of Eden to our first parents, exemplified by the Lord Jesus Christ through His death on the cross, contended for by the first disciples of Christ, restored by the great Reformation of the 16th century, and again recognized and legislatively provided for by that divinely Inspired document, the Constitution of the United States of America, then embedded in the end-time message of Revelation 14:6–12, to be presented to the world by God’s people has been the basis and reason for heaven’s blessing that has followed all those who have recognized this principle, defended it, and regarded it as sacred.

Yet, sinister forces, working under satanic direction, have always tried to eliminate this freedom under one pretext or another. By divine revelation prophecy has indicated that when our nation, combined with apostate religious powers, shall mandate, by use and force of law, to deny the “free exercise” of this divine right to choose to follow the dictates of conscience, this should be a signal that God’s special favor and recognition are being removed. The result can only be devastating. But what if this divine principle is denied to believers within the family of Adventism? The words of Christ uttered to Jerusalem (the church), “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate,” Matthew 23:38, can only mean one thing—rejection! “Any house becomes a house of desolation when God leaves it.” Church Membership, 8.

It is right here at this point many become confused in their understanding. They conclude that the prediction of Christ, “your house is left unto you desolate,” means that the house (religious denomination, church) ceases to exist. But not so. Its existence continues. It functions. It progresses. It is vocal and still claims the former promises of God. It remains a recognizable entity in the world and by the world, but it operates without the divine approval or presence of God in its midst. Its so-called success, as the world sees it, is due to its having become, as Jesus said, “a house of merchandise.” John 2:16, Testimonies, vol. 8, 250. And how only can a “house of merchandise” function when the divine presence is lacking? The only way that a “house of merchandise” in a worldly environment can protect itself is by trademark laws enforced against others through state laws! Has this scenario, generally referred to by Christ almost 2,000 years ago and applied by Ellen White 97 years ago, found, at least in part if not in totality, fulfillment in our time? The use of a name, that at one time identified the faith and belief of God’s people, has now been applied to a house of merchandise to protect “goods and services.” Yet, just such an experience made headlines that not only received attention from Christians in particular, but the world in general. Every Seventh-day Adventist should make it their business to be acquainted with this issue, and prayerfully see the larger picture at stake here. On March 13, 2000, the Federal Court for the Southern District of Florida, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists petitioned the Court for an injunction (a judicial order) that would compel and require, under the threat of punishment, that none but those whose names are on the records of the merchandising Seventh-day Adventist church, with headquarters in Maryland, may use the name “Seventh-day Adventist” as an expression of this historic faith.

Our Disgraceful Witness

What a disgraceful witness to the universe and the world—Adventists suing Adventists! Those who, because of their employment or vested interests, try to excuse or defend, or simply do nothing to condemn such abomination, and also those who continue to support with their tithes and offerings have become a persecuting party against their brethren. By this action every rule of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy counsel has been violated, and also by this action the leadership has, by their office representing the entire membership, made every individual member throughout the world a party to this unrighteousness.

“Church members [through their leadership] who appeal to the courts of the world show that they have chosen the world as their judge, and their names are registered in heaven as one with unbelievers.” Manuscript 64, 1898.

So what then is a true Adventist to do under such circumstance? The answer is simple and straightforward. “Duties change in character with the increase of light.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 435. Just stand up and be counted! Disassociate yourself from its fellowship. Stop financing this persecution with your tithes and offerings, lest you be partakers of the sins of those who are promoting this work.

“Today, men are choosing Barabbas and saying, ‘Crucify Christ.’ They will do this in the person of His saints.” Testimonies to the Battle Creek Church, 27.

“When brethren manifest the spirit of the dragon, it is time to exert your liberty….” Testimonies, vol. 4, 245.

Adventism has fragmented into many groups for various reasons, from the most conservative to the most liberal. And make no mistake; the issues that have brought about this fracturing have not yet been solved as some hoped—within the structured church. Therefore, the fragmentation continues. Perilous times have come. They are here! And the results have been hazardous. Leadership has been frantically trying to keep intact the membership that supplied the gross revenue. They resent being questioned. The pleas from membership to change the direction of policies, mergers with non-Adventists and fraternization with Babylon and her daughters go unheeded. They have become a law unto themselves. Fundamental truths that made Seventh-day Adventists a unique and peculiar people at the outset are gradually but consistently attacked and undermined. Flagrant disbelief in the directives found in the Spirit of Prophecy writings is common and frequent.

To Excuse the Existing Situation is to Defend It!

This presentation should not be construed as a tirade against every Seventh-day Adventist. To the contrary, it is to show that the enemy of all righteousness, through men, has succeeded to introduce a worldly system within Adventism that is diluting the precious message that is designed to prepare people for eternity. To excuse the situation existing is to defend it. Do not do it! Let the authoritative word of God do its work, and may we each benefit from its warnings.

The divine messages that carved out the Advent believers from the other communions and set them aside as a distinct people have well nigh lost their sanctifying power, its preserving property. We are brain-damaged by the forces of the world. The secular tide is proving too strong, and we are voluntarily giving up our distinctiveness. We’ve been mesmerized by the educational norms of the world to the point that what started in 1844 is not what we have today. It is immoral to claim that we have a message that is designed to convert the world, when that work has not been accomplished in us.

But let it be heard loud and clear, that there are some, a very small number, who still believe that those historic messages of Revelation 14 still mean what they meant when first given. The application of these truths today carries the same divine mandate that stirred the world when the message was first given. “We have no new message,” wrote the Lord’s Messenger in the Review and Herald, January 19, 1905. “We are to proclaim the message that in 1843 and 1844 brought us out of the other churches.”

That being so, the message, “Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come,” must go out as the final warning to professed Adventists and to the world! “Worship Him,” not “our church,” “our educational accomplishments and institutions, not even our name” but “Him that made heaven and earth.” “It was to separate the church of Christ from the corrupting influence of the world that the First Angel’s Message was given.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 231.

The Second Message cannot and must not be separated or divorced from the first. Make no mistake; this message applies to all the churches that have rejected present truth. The message was designed to separate and keep distinct God’s people from all others. “This message announced the moral fall of the churches in consequence of their rejection of the First Message….Thus are represented those churches that cling to the doctrines and traditions of Rome and follow her worldly practices.” Their fall “is announced in the Second Angel’s Message.” Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 232, 233.

The Third Message draws a sharp distinction between the Sabbath observer and the entire rest of the world. It is a separating wall. There is no partnership or fellowship with any who do not acknowledge the binding claims of all the law of God.

“I saw that the holy Sabbath is and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question, to unite the hearts of God’s dear, waiting saints.” Early Writings, 33.

“Satan rejoices when he can lead souls to follow mistaken ideas, until their names are blotted out of the Book of Life and recorded among the names of the unjust.” This Day With God, 322.

The heavenly diagnostician has clearly spelled out our sickness. Do not argue with the True Witness.

Is there a remedy, and is there hope? The majority will reject the remedy, that has been predicted, but you, dear reader, can be made willing to accept the counsel of the True Witness and inherit, not only the following promise, but life eternal:

“Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Revelation 3:10.

“…In this Scripture is brought to view the hour of temptation that is to try them that dwell upon the earth. We are now living in this trying hour. There is no escape for any from this conflict.” Review and Herald, July 9, 1908.

Please, for Christ’s sake, stand up and be counted!


John Nicolici is an ordained minister, living in Sacramento, California, providing a teaching and support ministry within the Adventist community of self-supporting ministries and home churches.

A Leader’s Character

A new beginning, a new experiment, a nation for the people, ruled by the people, but under God. The Europeans did not think this would work. They thought it would end up in anarchy and ruin. Two hundred plus some years ago, our forefathers set out to establish a new nation, and, as Lincoln said, “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” This was an altogether new experiment, one that amazed the world, that a nation could be ruled by its own citizens, but under God.

In 1787, several of the greatest minds America has ever produced gathered in Philadelphia to attend what became known as the Constitutional Convention. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Governor Morris, and others were in attendance to write a constitution. They knew they were sailing in uncharted waters, they knew they were embarking on a new, untried plan to unify the colonies under one nation. And it was a unification that was to affect all nations. As Morris prophesied when he said, “The whole human race will be affected by the proceedings of this convention.” Morris’ declaration cannot be disputed. After the Constitution became the supreme law in the United States on March 4, 1789, America quickly ascended to astounding heights—becoming the most powerful and dominant nation the world has ever known.

To what extent can the awesome development and growth be attributed in America’s humble beginning? In the Bible, Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a mustard seed ‘which is indeed the least of all seeds: but when grown it is the greatest among herbs.” Matthew 13:32. And, as in the parable of the sower in the field, Christ said that unless that small seed starts right, in fertile ground, it can never develop. (See Matthew 13.)

As far as human governments go, the United States started about as right as any government that man has ever produced. Critics may say what they will about why it started right, but the founding fathers agreed on one issue, it was founded upon religion and morality. These are the two fundamental building blocks upon which America was built.

A “New Israel”

The founding fathers may not have known that America’s earliest settlers were, in fact, descendants of Israel, but they likened America to a “New Israel.” Historians and political commentators alike recognize this fact.

William Bennett wrote, “What made this country different from all others was a prevalent belief that God played a direct and active hand in founding a people. Like the Jerusalem of old, America’s ‘New Jerusalem’ was to become God’s promised land to the oppressed—an example to all humankind.” Our Sacred Honor, 366.

Probably the first American statesman to see a parallel between the Exodus and early American history was Benjamin Franklin. According to Milt Machlin, author of Joshua’s Altar, Franklin “described the independent colony on America’s shores as ‘God’s new Israel.’

“Without God’s blessing,” Bennett wrote, “many of the founders, especially Washington, believed that this country would never have come into being.” It was a belief that it was God’s will for America to stretch from sea to shining sea.

Fundamental Building Blocks of American Society

George Washington, America’s first President, championed this cause: that high morals and sincere religion had to be the fundamental building blocks of American society if it was to succeed and prosper. In his first Inaugural Address, on April 30, 1789, President Washington said, “The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality.” In other words, what we do in our homes does matter! For Washington, this was not a peripheral issue. It was the foundation of our national policy!

At the end of his presidential oath, Washington added the words, “So help me, God.” Every President since has followed in his tradition. And, according to Washington Irving, after our first President concluded his oath, he bowed down humbly and kissed the Bible. Without religion and morality, Washington knew the American “experiment” was doomed to fail.

Benjamin Franklin, a self-proclaimed non-churchgoer, was, nevertheless, very religious. In his autobiography he listed 13 points to follow for attaining moral perfection, the last of which was to imitate Jesus. During the Constitutional Convention, when the delegates arrived at an impasse, it was Franklin who offered this solution: “Pray for the assistance of heaven.” How’s that for a non-churchgoer!

In his Notes on the State of Virginia, even Thomas Jefferson, not considered very religious by many, demanded this of the American people: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?”

If you do not have access to American history in your home, take a trip to the library and read some. Check out a book on American history and study for yourself. You might learn some things that you never knew. See what priority our forefathers placed upon religion and morality. It was the chief cornerstone upon which this country was built.

The Power to Govern Ourselves According to the Ten Commandments

John Adams, our second President, said, “Statesmen may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.” And James Madison said, “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not on the power of government, but upon the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

James Madison knew that “the whole future of American civilization” was at stake! And if we Americans fail to govern ourselves by the Ten Commandments, this country is going to collapse into anarchy! The same holds true for any country. Madison gave us a wonderful definition of character and its importance. It is also his prophecy for America.

Our Founding Fathers created the constitution. It will be perilous if we ignore their deep understanding. The Constitution was established only for a people with strong morals. But we have degenerated greatly in this area. Without character our liberties will lead to deep division and anarchy. Only character can halt this natural flow of events!

What makes our forefathers’ statements so weighty is that they agree with God!

The Civil War almost destroyed America. Only the faith of Lincoln and the American people got us through that tragedy.

In 1954, Supreme Court Chief Justice, Earl Warren, wrote, “I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it.” Our forefathers knew that decaying morals meant a decaying nation!

Justice Stewart Potter said, it was impossible to define character. But many of our forefathers knew character meant not committing adultery and not lying. They knew that character meant keeping the Ten Commandments.

Is Character Necessary for Leadership?

The Bible reveals that character and effective leadership are as inseparable as oxygen and fire.

There are many references to God-fearing leaders in the Bible. God also recorded many of their weaknesses. King David was called a man after God’s own heart, (See Acts 13:22) but then he committed adultery, lied, and committed murder. Did that mean David was able to get away with his crimes? No. Let us look in the Bible to find out what happened. When God confronted David about his sin, David knew that no matter how he fooled his people into believing that he was a righteous leader, he could not fool God. David was overwhelmed with shame and remorse. He replied sorrowfully, “I have sinned against the Lord.” 2 Samuel 12:13. David repented (See Psalm 51.) He changed from his wickedness and God forgave him.

Facing the Consequences

However, the aftermath of David’s interlude with sin was not pretty. He suffered, and so did the nation. Even though he repented, God told him the sword would never pass from his house. While he was alive, (See 2 Samuel 12:10.) Israel was always at war.

God also told David, “I will raise up evil against you out of thine own house.” 2 Samuel 12:11. David’s son, Absalom, tried to kill his father. During Absalom’s rebellion, Israel erupted into civil war, during which tens of thousands of David’s own countrymen were slaughtered. Adonijah, another son of David, also rebelled against his father. On top of all that trouble, God sentenced to death the child Bathsheba conceived in adultery. This was the chain of events David’s sin triggered, and it would have been far worse if he had not repented.

Joseph was a man of upstanding character. Egypt prospered under his direction. In fact, when a dreadful famine struck the region, surrounding nations came to Joseph for help because he saved the excess during prosperous times. He did not lavishly spend more than he had. He saved for the future. He did not borrow from others to pay off mounting debts. He had no debts. All of Egypt and the surrounding nations benefited.

The Character of Their Leader is the Character of the People

After Joseph died and a new king arose who did not know Joseph, the new king feared the power and wealth of the Israelites, so he made slaves of them. For over 400 years the Israelites were subjugated to their Egyptian taskmasters. Then God delivered the ancient Israelites out of Egypt by the hand of one of their own, Moses. At last freed from religious persecution and the oppression of slavery, they departed with shouts of joy and singing praises to God. At Mt. Sinai, God delivered His moral code of ethics to Moses on two stone tablets. Then Moses returned to the people and told them all God had said and what God expected of them in morality and religion. If they agreed to abide by this strict moral standard, in return, they could have absolute freedom and abundant prosperity. Very quickly the people answered in unison, “All that the Lord hath said, we will do.” Exodus 24:7.

But they did not! Shortly into their journey, the Israelites became more concerned about their desire and lusts than they were about what was right in God’s eyes. And so they wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years, prohibited by God from entering the Promised Land. After their generation died, a new one matured which trusted in the words of Joshua, Moses’ successor. With a high hand, they crossed the Jordan River, routed the walled city of Jerico and settled in the Promised Land—a prosperous land flowing with milk and honey. Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and prospered and had success.

But when Joshua died, Israel lost an extraordinary leader. They also lost their passion for serving God and for subjecting themselves to an exalted moral standard; they turned to other religions. They were morally deteriorated. Their families divided, the nation suffered. Occasionally, while in the midst of a sore trial, the people would cry out to God for deliverance, and God would respond. He would send a leader who feared Him and kept His Commandments; a leader who was a man of truth; who was not led away by his own lusts. And that upright statesman would lead them out of the hole they had dug for themselves.

But when that leader died, they again forgot their God. Finally, it says in Judges 21:25, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

So what was the end result of their miraculous deliverance from the oppression of Egypt? Anarchy! There was no standard or purpose. There was no real political authority. Everyone continued to do what seemed right in their own eyes. And the final outcome of their anarchy? The great nation of Israel was eventually ripped apart and separated into two nations, the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah. God pled with both kingdoms to return to their past history that had afforded them much prosperity, but they rejected God’s pleas and His law—to their own shame.

In 721 B.C., the people of the northern kingdom of Israel were uprooted out of their own land by the ruthless and cruel Assyrian nation, thrust into slavery, and lost from world view to this day. Judah did not fare much better. They were overrun by the Babylonian Empire and made slaves in 604 B.C.

After such a promising start, the ancient nation of Israel rejected God and His moral standard, turned to anarchy, became divided, and eventually went into captivity.

Spiritual Applications

Our ancestors—biblical Israel—fell as a nation because every man was doing what he thought was right. That means the people did not trust their press, their politicians, or their religious leaders. What is the answer? Well, the answer is in today’s headlines, and everywhere we look! The people were profoundly degenerate and cared only for themselves. That led to their downfall.

The Bible tells us how to handle these situations; however, there is no relief if we do not heed. Any good history book will teach us that we are on a collision course with disaster. Today, “New Israel” is on course to follow in the same path our ancestors took. We have forsaken our God and the ideals of our forefathers. Every man does what he deems right. No one seems to care about the character of our leaders. Why should we, when we do not care about our own character?

Today, Americans reason that religion and morality are nice, but certainly not necessary for the overall well being of the nation. We have been led to falsely assume that private morality and public duty are separate issues. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln would have been appalled.

America may not care about the morality of its leaders, but what does God think? Does He care? The answer to that question is the most distressing of all. (See 2 Samuel 23:3, Proverbs 29:2, 4, Proverbs 29:12, Proverbs 29:14.)

“The anger of the Lord shall not return, until He have executed, and till He have performed the thoughts of His heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly,” [understand thoroughly] Jeremiah 23:20.

How could this prophecy be any clearer? We see it happening all around! These prophecies are being fulfilled now.

Why God is Angry

Here is why God is so angry. “I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.” Jeremiah 23:14.

Where is all of this leading? Our leaders lead the people into the most disgusting sexual sins of all. It is the grossest kind of immorality. That is the way lust works. A person starts with one lust. It soon fails to stimulate his evil desire. Then he twists his mind to a more disgusting lust until we have become Sodom and Gomorrah!

God thunders that our Sodom and Gomorrah society condemns all of us! Our nation has rebelled against our Creator, the living God. The depth of our sins is staggering. America spends over $4 billion annually on pornography. Of course this is only one problem. Our people have “sown the wind, and shall reap the whirlwind.” Hosea 8:7.

If we do not stop this process, our nation will become like Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 19.) Then God will have to destroy us like He did them! “Behold a whirlwind of the Lord is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked.” Jeremiah 23:19.

God is going to send a grievous whirlwind—the great tribulation. That is going to be the worst time of suffering ever. (See Daniel 12:1.)

It has been said; any free society founded upon liberty, yet without a sacred moral code to govern the actions of individuals cannot stand. It can only end in anarchy. Because America has forsaken the ideals of our Founding Fathers, because we have forsaken our God—that is where we are headed!

As it turns out, the Europeans were right…The grand American experiment has failed!

Your Name Will Not Save You

Are you concerned about your personal salvation? Where will your personal destiny be? Jesus said that if we deny Him before men then He will deny us in heaven; but if we confess Him before men then He will confess us in heaven. (See Matthew 10.) Sometimes this confession has a big price but, salvation is either worth everything or it is not worth anything.

Standing Firm

“Even life itself should not be purchased with the price of falsehood. By a word or a nod the martyrs might have denied the truth and saved their lives. By consenting to cast a single grain of incense upon the idol altar they might have been saved from the rack, the scaffold, or the cross. But they refused to be false in word or deed, though life was the boon they would receive by so doing. Imprisonment, torture, and death, with a clear conscience, were welcomed by them, rather than deliverance on condition of deception, falsehood, and apostasy. By fidelity and faith in Christ they earned spotless robes and jeweled crowns. Their lives were ennobled and elevated in the sight of God because they stood firmly for the truth under the most aggravated circumstances.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 336.

While we are never to deny the truth, we must not put our trust in anything external such as profession of faith or being a professed Christian. We will let the Prophet speak for us. The following statements bear this out. (Emphasis is supplied)

“We are not saved as a sect; no denominational name has any virtue to bring us into favor with God. We are saved individually as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. And ‘by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.’ We may have our names recorded on the books of the most spiritual of the churches, and yet we may not belong to Christ, and our names may not be written on the Lamb’s Book of Life. Christ said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.’ If we could reach heaven through our own merits and efforts, then Christ need not have come to the world, to endure suffering, reproach, and shame, to be subjected to humiliation, mockery, insult, and death. He made an infinite sacrifice, because it was the only way whereby man could be saved. Those who believe in Christ will reveal it in their life and character. By beholding Christ they will be changed into His image, and Christ will be represented to the world by His followers. If we are branches of the True Vine, precious clusters of rich fruit will appear in the life as the natural result. Practical faith in Christ will result in the doing of His words; the believer in Jesus will work the works of God. ‘We are laborers together with God.’ ‘Without Me,’ says Christ, ‘ye can do nothing.’ In and through the grace of Christ we can do all things.” Review and Herald, February 10, 1891.

Profession Does Not Save

The question in the judgment will not be primarily the name, because in this world many of God’s followers have been stigmatized as children of the devil. The question will not be the name, but the fruit of the life.

“’And now also,’ said the prophet, ‘the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.’ 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. 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.

“It is not profession, pharisaism, that God values, but moral worth. A Christian character unspotted by avarice, and possessing the grace of humility, is more precious in the sight of God than fine gold, even than the golden wedge of Ophir. Lazarus, though in so mean a condition, possessed true worth, and God regarded him of such value that He lifted him from his despised and suffering condition to exaltation and honor, while the wealthy, ease-loving man, who was devoid of the grace of Christ, was plunged into misery and woe unutterable. All the wealth of the rich man was unable to draw upon him the favor of God; for his character was worthless. And so Christ desires His followers to estimate character. They are not, like the Pharisees, to value men by their worldly possessions; for a man may possess both riches and worldly honor, and yet be worthless in the sight of God. The poor man, despised by his fellows, and loathsome to the sight, was of value with God because he possessed moral soundness; and these elements fitted him for the society of the holy angels, to be an heir of God and joint heir with Christ.” Review and Herald, December 19, 1899.

“Those who follow in the light need have no anxiety lest that in the outpouring of the latter rain they will not be baptized with the Holy Spirit. If we would receive the light of the glorious angel that shall lighten the earth with his glory, let us see to it that our hearts are cleansed, emptied of self, and turned toward heaven, that they may be ready for the latter rain. Let us be obtaining a fitting up to join in the proclamation of the angel who shall lighten the earth with his glory. Let us be co-laborers with Christ. Now is the time for us to let self die, to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts, to deny the cravings of appetite and passion. The minds of many are channels for impure thoughts. They do not have a realizing sense of the offensive character of sin. I call upon you to clear the King’s highway. Weighty responsibilities are resting upon you; for you are to represent the character of your Lord to the world. Faith without works is dead. There must be corresponding works, or the faith is worthless, a mere pretension, an empty profession. You are to manifest your faith by a life of integrity, making it evident that Christ is abiding in the heart, and that you are able to show forth what is the hope of His calling.” Signs of the Times, August 1, 1892.

“Your profession of Christianity is true if you follow Christ; worthless if you do not follow Him.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 16,49.

The Name that Will Save

“The name of Jesus is all powerful. It is accepted of the Father, always. No other name will He honor. It is through faith in His name that we are saved. We are complete in Him. Jesus will not sanction sectarianism or a legal religion, which is so prevalent even among those who claim to believe present truth. Christ and His righteousness is our only hope. Christ is our only hope, and He is everything to us. Self must die. Jesus must be to us all and in all. Let self be put out of sight. Let Jesus abide in our hearts by faith, and we will be strong in His strength.” 1888 Materials, 453.

Sectarianism is the idea that a person must belong to a certain religious organization or sect to be saved. It is forbidden and not allowed by Christ. (See Mark 9:38-41.)

“Only through faith in Christ’s name can the sinner be saved….Faith in Christ is not the work of nature, but the work of God on human minds, wrought in the very soul by the Holy Spirit, who reveals Christ, as Christ revealed the Father. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. With its justifying, sanctifying power, it is above what men call science. It is the science of eternal realities. Human science is often deceptive and misleading, but this heavenly science never misleads. It is so simple that a child may understand it, and yet the most learned men cannot explain it. It is unexplainable and immeasurable, beyond all human expression.” In His Presence, 51.

“Families must be divided, in order that all who call upon the name of the Lord may be saved. All who refuse His infinite love, will find Christianity a sword, a disturber of their peace. The light of Christ will cut away the darkness that covers their evil doings; and their corruption, their fraud, their cruelty will be exposed. Christianity unmasks the hypocrisies of Satan, and it is this unmasking of his designs that stirs his bitter hatred against Christ and His followers.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, March 26, 1894; Review and Herald, July 24, 1894.

“The test of discipleship is not brought to bear as closely as it should be upon those who present themselves for baptism. It should be understood whether those who profess to be converted are simply taking the name of Seventh-day Adventist, or whether they are taking their stand on the Lord’s side, to come out of the world and be separate and touch not the unclean thing. When they give evidence that they fully understand their position, they are to be accepted. But when they show that they are following the customs and fashions and sentiments of the world, they are to be faithfully dealt with. If they feel no burden to change their course of action, they should not be accepted as members of the church. The Lord wants those who compose His church to be true, faithful stewards of the grace of Christ.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, 329.

Our Banner, Which We are Not to Cast Down

“God has placed in our hands a banner on which is inscribed the words ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ ‘Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ,’ he declares. At all times and in all places we are to hold the banner firmly aloft. God’s denominated people are to take a firm stand under the banner of truth.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 246.

“As the fourth commandment and those who observe it are ignored and despised, the faithful feel that it is the time not to hide their faith but to exalt the law of Jehovah by unfurling the banner on which is inscribed the message of the Third Angel, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.Maranatha, 239.

“Our work now is to enlighten the world, in the place of bearing a peace-and-safety message. A banner has been placed in our hands, upon which is inscribed, ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ This is a distinct, separating message—a message that is to give no uncertain sound. It is to lead the people away from the broken cisterns that contain no water, to the fountain of living waters.” Letter 60, 1898. Counsels to Writers and Editors, 102, 103.

“Stand firmly for God’s truth. Exalt before the people the banner bearing the inscription, ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus’ (Rev. 14:12)” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 226.

This distinctive banner, described in the words, ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus,’ is to be borne through the world to the close of probation.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 144.

“Let the world go into spiritualism, into theosophy, into pantheism, if they choose. We are to have nothing to do with this deceptive branch of Satan’s work. The pleasing sentiments of pantheism will lead many souls into forbidden paths. God forbids His servants to leave their fields of labor to enter into a discussion of these sentiments. The last testimony published, opens to our people the danger of these theories, and the testimonies published in the future will urge still more strongly the necessity of lifting up and carrying high the banner on which are inscribed the words, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ God’s people are to let no one take this banner from their hands. I am instructed that false theories will be presented, and that some in the medical missionary work, who have been wavering, will yield up the faith, and give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” Special Testimonies, Series B.

Magnify the Law

“The Third Angel’s Message, embracing the messages of the First and Second Angels, is the message for this time. We are to raise aloft the banner on which is inscribed, ‘The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ The world is soon to meet the great Lawgiver over His broken law. This is not the time to put out of sight the great issues before us. God calls upon His people to magnify the law and make it honorable.” Counsels on Health, 357.

“The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God’s people upon the earth, [also] the First and Second Angels’ Messages and the Third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God’s law. The non-immortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks. All this cry about changing the old landmarks is all imaginary.” Counsels to Writers and Editors, 30, 31.

“I call upon my brethren who are appointed to educate, to change their course of action. It is a mistake for you to link your interests with any political party, to cast your vote with them or for them. Those who stand as educators, as ministers, as laborers together with God in any line, have no battles to fight in the political world. Their citizenship is in heaven. The Lord calls upon them to stand as separate and peculiar people. He would have no schisms in the body of believers. His people are to possess the elements of reconciliation. Is it their work to make enemies in the political world? No, no. They are to stand as subjects of Christ’s kingdom, bearing the banner on which is inscribed, ‘The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ They are to carry the burden of a special work, a special message. We have a personal responsibility, and this is to be revealed before the heavenly universe, before angels, and before men. God does not call upon us to enlarge our influence by mingling with society, by linking up with men on political questions, but by standing as individual parts of His great whole, with Christ as our head. Christ is our Prince, and as His subjects we are to do the work appointed us by God.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 478, 479.

“Pretenders will arise with theories that have no foundation in the word of God. We are to hold aloft the banner bearing the inscription, ‘The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ We are to hold the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end. Let no one attempt to dilute truth with a mixture of sophistry. Let no one attempt to tear down the foundation of our faith, or to spoil the pattern by bringing into the web threads of human devising. Not one thread of pantheism is to be drawn into the web. Sensuality, ruinous to soul and body, is always the result of drawing these threads into the web.” Letter 249, 1903. Medical Ministry, 97, 98.

Bear God’s Sign Before the World

“Every medical institution established by Seventh-day Adventists is to bear God’s sign before the world prominently, without disguising the facts in any way. We are to voice the message of the Third Angel flying in the midst of heaven with the everlasting gospel to proclaim to the world. We are to bear aloft the banner on which is inscribed, ‘The Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’” Medical Ministry, 164.

“In the name of God lift your banner for truth and righteousness—‘the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’” My Life Today, 315.

“In the name of the Lord we are to go forward, unfurling His banner, advocating His word. When the authorities command us not to do this work, when they forbid us to proclaim the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, then it will be necessary for us to say as did the apostles: ‘Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’ Acts 4:19, 20.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 395.

“Christ is our example. The determination of antichrist to carry out the rebellion he began in heaven will continue to work in the children of disobedience. Their envy and hatred against those who obey the fourth commandment will wax more and more bitter. But the people of God are not to hide their banner. They are not to ignore the commandments of God and, in order to have an easy time, go with the multitude to do evil.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 230.

“We are to raise the banner on which is inscribed, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ This is the great issue. Let it not be put out of sight. We must strive to arouse church members and those who make no profession, to see and obey the claims of the law of heaven. We are to magnify this law and make it honorable. We are to arouse those who are sunk in spiritual slumber.” Letter 138, December 12, 1910. This Day with God, 355.

“I am sure Satan with his hellish agencies, is striving his best to dishearten and discourage; but we must not be discouraged, neither must we fail. We must suffer loss and be spoken against; and have false witness borne against us, and take it patiently for Christ’s sake. One thing is sure, God is true. We may lean heavily upon Him, and we shall not become confused amid the babble of voices. We must put the armor on, and keep it on. Then what? Fight manfully the battles of the Lord, and having done all, stand ready for another conflict. We must keep in harmony, taking the whole armor of God. We must have increased faith and move forward, carrying this banner of truth—the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. We must not think that we are the generals, but that we are under the mighty General of armies. Oh, let us pray as never before. Let us believe with heart and soul the words of John, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.’ It is a poor time, when in the fierce conflict, to show one particle of cowardice. We have a General who never lost a battle. Have faith in God and we shall gain the victory.” Bible Training School, March 1, 1909.

“This is the work now to be done on earth. Those who are living in transgression of the holy law of God will not find the truth palatable. When it is made plain that Sunday is a spurious Sabbath, founded in the power of the man of sin, they will say in language too plain to be misunderstood, ‘We want not a knowledge of thy ways, O Lord.’ Others will say as did Pharaoh, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?’ But in the face of all opposition we must hold aloft the banner of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. It takes both of these to make up the burden of the message to be given to the world.” Review and Herald, February 7, 1893.

“Those who make light of the Third Angel’s Message do so because they know little of Daniel or the Revelation. They have not read these prophecies with a determination to find out the meaning by prayer, by study, and by fasting. If they had the experience of Daniel or of John, they would know that the Third Angel’s Message will go forth unto perfect victory. Those who proclaim that message because they see and believe it, will understand that very much is comprehended by it. The Third Angel is represented as flying through the heavens with a banner on which is inscribed, ‘The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ All who will gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their defections, and loyalty from their treason, will triumph with the Third Angel’s Message.” Review and Herald, June 8, 1897.

A Chosen Generation

“’Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ The time when God is especially dishonored by those who make void His law is the time when every loyal subject should unfurl the banner inscribed ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ Signs of the Times, June 12, 1893.

“But though the attitude of the churches is discouraging, yet there is no need of being disheartened; for God has a people who will preserve their fidelity to His truth, who will make the Bible, and the Bible alone, their rule of faith and doctrine; who will elevate the standard, and hold aloft the banner on which is inscribed, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ They will value a pure gospel, and make the Bible the foundation of their faith and doctrine.” Signs of the Times, February 19, 1894.

“Pray on, church of God, pray on; for the General of the heavenly army, with angels that excel in strength, is with His people on the field of battle. In the hour of peril, be steadfast. The adversary of souls is determined to oppose all who plant their feet on the platform of eternal truth, who would uplift the banner on which is inscribed, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ They are the objects of Satan’s deadly hatred. But rest assured that Christ fights with His army. He Himself leads His followers, and He will renew the strength of every faithful soldier.” Signs of the Times, September 15, 1898.

“Who will now understand these things that I write? There are men who have known the truth, who have feasted upon the truth, who are now divided between infidel sentiments. There is only a step between them and the precipice of eternal ruin. The Lord is coming; but those who venture to resist the light that God gave in rich measure at Minneapolis, who have not humbled their hearts before God, will follow on in the path of resistance, saying, ‘Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?’ The banner all will bear who voice the message of the Third Angel, is being covered with another color that virtually kills it. This is being done. Will our people now hold fast to the truth? ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ This is our standard. Hold it aloft; for it is truth.” Special Testimony, Series A, 26.

Banner to be Borne until the Close of Probation

“A company was presented before me under the name of Seventh-day Adventists, who were advising that the banner or sign which makes us a distinctive people should not be held out so strikingly; for they claimed it was not the best policy in securing success to our institutions. This distinctive banner is to be borne through the world to the close of probation. In describing the remnant people of God, John says, ‘Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ [Revelation 14:12.] This is the law and the gospel. The world and the churches are uniting in harmony in transgressing the law of God, in tearing away God’s memorial, and in exalting a sabbath that bears the signature of the man of sin. But the Sabbath of the Lord thy God is to be a sign to show the difference between the obedient and the disobedient. I saw some reaching out their hands to remove the banner, and to obscure its significance.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 69.

“While we inscribe on our banner the words, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus,’ we must not forget to cleanse the heart, that it may be a fit dwelling place for the Holy Spirit. By your words and your works, show that you love God supremely and your neighbor as yourself. The members of Christ’s flock are the objects of His constant favor. In holy love to their Saviour and to one another, they are to be hid with Christ in God. Discord and strife testify that the union with Christ is imperfect. God desires us to be bound heart to heart by His Spirit. He will save those who are imbued with His grace, for in dealing with one another they reveal His love and tenderness. They deal generously with one another.” Ibid., 223.

“Your voice is working against the success and triumph of the truth in these last days. Our God has a message for His people represented by an angel flying through heaven proclaiming the last message to a fallen world. What is the angel proclaiming? The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This represents that God’s messengers are to hold this banner high, and with no feeble voice proclaim to a perishing world the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 432.

“To every soul will come the searching test, Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Satan is putting forth his utmost efforts in the rage of a last despairing struggle against Christ and His followers. False teachers are employing every device possible to stimulate the hardened sinner in his rebellious daring, to confirm the questioning, the doubting, the unbelieving, and, by misrepresentation and falsehood, to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect. Who are prepared to stand firmly under the banner on which is inscribed, ‘The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus’? Signs of the Times, November 8, 1899.

“At last the victory was gained. The army following the banner with the inscription, ‘The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus,’ was gloriously triumphant. Testimonies, vol. 8, 41.