Children’s Story – Kant and the Robbers

John Kant was Professor and Doctor of Divinity at Cracow. Kant was a pious man, with a spirit peculiarly gentle and guileless, and he at all times would have preferred to suffer injustice rather than exercise it. For many years he had conscientiously followed his duties as spiritual teacher of the place to which he had been appointed by God. His head was covered with the snow of age, when he was seized with an ardent desire to revisit the scenes of his youth in his native country, Silesia. The journey appeared fraught with peril to one at his advanced age; but he set his affairs in order, and started on his way, commending himself to the care of God. Kant rode slowly along, attired in his black robe, with long beard and hair, according to the fashion of the time. Then he pursued his way through the gloomy woods of Poland, which scarcely a sunbeam could pierce; but there was a light in his soul, for God’s Spirit irradiated it.

One evening, as he was thus journeying along, holding communion with God, and taking no heed of objects beside him, on reaching an opening in the thick forest, a tramping noise was suddenly heard, and he was instantly surrounded by figures, some on horseback and some on foot. Knives and swords glittered in the moonlight, and the pious man saw that he was at the mercy of a band of robbers. Scarcely conscious of what passed, he alighted from his horse, and offered his property to the gang. He gave them a purse filled with silver coins, unclasped the chain from his neck, took the gold lace from his cap, drew a ring from his finger and took from his pocket his book of prayer, which was clasped with silver. Not till he had yielded all he possessed, and seen his horse led away, did Kant intercede for his life.

“Have you given us all?” cried the robber, threateningly. “Have you any more money?”

In his alarm and terror, the trembling doctor answered that he had given them every coin in his possession; and on receiving this assurance, he was allowed to proceed on his journey.

Quickly he hastened onward, rejoicing at his escape, when suddenly his hand felt something hard in the hem of his robe. It was his gold, which,having been stiched within the lining of his dress, had thus escaped discovery. The good man, in his alarm, had forgotten the secret store. His heart, therefore, again beat with joy; for the money would bear him home to his friends and kindred; and he saw rest and shelter in prospect, instead of a long and painful wandering, with the necessity of begging his way. But his conscience was a peculiarly tender one, and he suddenly stopped to listen to its voice. It cried in disturbed tones: “Tell not a lie! Tell not a lie!” These words burned in his heart. Joy, kindred, home, were all forgotten. Some writers on moral philosophy have held that promises made under such circumstances are not binding, and few men certainly would have been troubled with such scruples on that occasion. But Kant did not stop to reason. He hastily retraced his steps, and entering into the midst of the robbers, who were still in the same place, said meekly:—

“I have told you what is not true; but it was unintentional—fear and anxiety confused me; therefore, pardon me.”

With these words, he held forth the glittering gold; but, to his surprise, not one of the robbers would take it! A strange feeling was at work in their hearts. They could not laugh at the pious man. “Thou shalt not steal,” said a voice within them. All were deeply moved. Then, as if seized by a sudden impulse, one went and brought back his purse; another restored the book of prayer; while still another led his horse toward him, and helped him to remount it. Then they unitedly entreated his blessing; and solemnly giving it, the good old man continued his way, lifting up his heart in gratitude to God, who brought him in safety to the end of his journey.

The End

John Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland

Note: Calvin was to spend the second half of his life in the little city of Geneva and make it famous as the center of Protestantism and a place of refuge for the exiles of his native France and other persecuting countries. But before he entered the city, the surrounding territories and finally the city itself were to be evangelized by William Farel and other ministers, mostly Frenchmen. The stories of their courage and boldness are some of the most thrilling of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation. Space does not permit us to recount their mighty deeds in the detail that the reader might wish and it is hoped that this brief introduction will inspire further study of this period which D’Aubigne describes thus: “In no part of the Christian world will the resistance be so stubborn; but no where will the assailants display so much courage.” History of the Reformation, Book XV, 596 (BSI edition).

Farel in the Forest Cantons of Switzerland

Geneva lay in the part of Switzerland which had not been reached by the Reformation preaching of Zwingle. The Forest Cantons had been very resistant and remained obedient to Rome. But William Farel recognized the good to be achieved if these areas could be won to the Gospel. The people of Geneva had long been a freedom loving people who had offered martyrs, not a few, in their fight for political freedom. The location of the city, on the borders with both France and Italy, offered a good place for the headquarters of a work for these nations.

Before entering Geneva he sought to make progress in the surrounding areas. He first worked in Aigle as a school teacher under an assumed name. When his lessons had attracted a congregation of students and their families, he cast off his disguise and announced himself as Farel the preacher. He immediately mounted the pulpit and preached with his characteristic thunderous, yet eloquent voice and with a message which bore the stamp of divine truth. From one sermon, converts were won and the priests became fired with a zeal to rid their domains of this fellow. Despite letters from Protestant Bern, which ruled the area, giving Farel permission to teach the Scriptures, the priests worked the people into an army ready to make war and Farel’s followers were equally ready for the fight. Farel though undismayed decided to move on and carried his message to other towns and villages.

He would at times enter a town and while the priest was offering the mass at the altar, he would mount the pulpit and his voice would drown out the mass. This sometimes resulted in his being pulled violently from the pulpit, but at other times conviction would set in and the priest would throw off his robes and join the people in dismantling the altar and destroying the images. “In three weeks time four villages of the region had embraced the Reformed faith . . . The spring and summer sufficed to establish the Reformed faith in a great part of this region.” Wylie, The History of the Protestant Reformation, Book 14, 249, 250.

In the city of Neuchatel, known for its religious devotion, this man of short stature, red beard, glittering eyes, and stentorian voice, came to the market and announced that he had a religion, not from Rome, but from the Bible. After their first dumb astonishment, the monks and priests cried for his brains to be beaten out, but he lifted his voice above the clamor and the city was taken by storm. He again had to leave the town but returning a few weeks later the people formed around him and escorted him up the hill to the site of their cathedral and placed him in the pulpit. He preached one of his most powerful sermons and the citizens rose up and dismantled the altar, tore down crucifixes and pictures, broke images, and cast the lot down the summit of the terrace where the cathedral stood. They inscribed on a pillar of the great building the words— “On the 23rd October, 1530, Idolatry was overthrown and removed from this Church by the citizens.” Ibid., 250.

Farel’s life was in constant danger and, since it was winter, cold, hunger and weariness were his frequent attendants. The priests used tricks, threats, and violence to try to remove this danger to their “religion” and thus their tithes and offerings. They could not fight doctrine with doctrine since their ignorance prevented this approach. Instead they used violence. Once Farel was beaten nearly to death. He was so disfigured that his friends scarcely recognized him. He had to spend some time recuperating and had barely recovered his strength when he set out again to evangelize.

Due to the battles over religion, the nation was drifting toward civil war and in an attempt to avert bloodshed, a conference was held in Bern to try to work out a compromise. “Thus out of that necessity which is said to be the mother of invention, came the idea of toleration. We deem the mass idolatry, said Protestant Bern, but we shall prevent no one going to it. We deem the Protestant sermon heresy, rejoined Popish Friburg, but we shall give liberty to all who wish to attend it. Thus on the basis of liberty of worship was the public peace maintained. This dates in Switzerland from January, 1532. Toleration was adopted as a policy before it had been accepted as a principle. It was practiced as a necessity of the State before it had been promulgated as a right of conscience. It was only when it came to be recognized and claimed in the latter character as a right founded on a Divine charter—namely, the Word of God—and held irrespective of the permission or interdiction of man, that toleration established inviolably its existence and reign.” Ibid., 255.

Gospel Struggles in Geneva

On his return from the Waldensian synod in the valley of Angrogna, in October, 1532, Farel, with Saunier his companion, was able to visit Geneva. The friends of liberty in that city listened with intense interest to two sermons concerning the authority of the Word of God and the great pardon of God. “They had been shedding their blood for their franchises, but now the Reformer showed them a way by which their souls might escape from the dark dungeon in which tradition and human authority had succeeded in shutting them up . . . ‘This,’ said Farel, ‘is the Gospel; and this, and nothing short of this, is liberty, inasmuch as it is the enfranchisement of the whole man, body, conscience, and soul.’ ” Ibid., 257. His arrival was not unnoticed by the priests and he was called before the council. Thanks to the letters he carried from their Excellencies of Bern, he was released. Next he was invited to an episcopal council under the pretext of open debate but some council members carried weapons under their sacerdotal robes. “Such was their notion of a religious discussion.” Ibid. The event would have ended tragically but for the intervening of two magistrates. Outside the hall they met another armed mob and narrowly escaped. They slept with an armed guard and were escorted early the next morning to Lake Leman, to sail away.

Farel’s name was too powerful to begin the work in Geneva. A lowly minister by the name of Froment was sent to the city and he choose to begin his work, as Farel had, as an instructor of the young. His congregation quickly grew and the homes of the believers were not adequate to hold the crowds. One day the crowd carried their preacher to the market place and he expounded on “free pardon.” A band of armed priests and soldiers arrived and Froment had to be carried into hiding. He too had to quit the city. But the believers continued to meet in homes. They elected one of their number to be their leader, Guerin, who also had to flee the hatred of the priests.

Friends of the Duke of Savoy and of Rome—the Mamelukes, as they were called—determined that the only answer to the crisis was to kill all the Protestants in Geneva without an exception. They took an oath promising to perform their plan the next day. Three hundred armed priests led a host of 2,500 armed men followed by women and children with stones. These moved on a group of 400 Protestant believers who had gathered in the mansion of one of their leaders. They determined to stand their ground. Bloodshed was averted by the interposition of seven merchants from Friburg who stood between the forces and diligently worked to restore calm and succeeded in working out terms of pacification. The priests were not content with this action and a few weeks later went into the streets again armed for battle. In the darkness they fought each other as well as the foe and their leader was killed. This ended the street battles.

The papal prince-bishop of the city invited the leading Protestants to his castle for discussions and then threw them into the dungeon. Even the Catholics on the council could not tolerate this action and after giving over his captives, the prince-bishop, fearing his safety, fled the city.

Geneva’s Prolonged Struggles

With some dangers gone, Farel returned. He delivered sermons to congregations who wore helmets and carried arms. Both sides were ready for battle; some to defend the Word of God and others demanding the burning of all the Bibles in the city. Froment and Viret came to help Farel and their mighty preaching resulted in the majority of the city choosing Protestantism.

The cities’ battles were not over. One plot involved arming a large group who were disguised as pilgrims and duly outfitted, arriving outside the city gates in mass. But the citizens, recognizing a Trojan horse, refused them entry. Another plan had an army hidden without the city, ready in cooperation with the papist Mamelukes inside, to attack when the signal was given. The plot was discovered just minutes before the attack. The army retreated when they learned they were discovered. With the miscarriage of their plot, most of the Mamelukes fled the town and their priests, left without their flock, followed. The Genevans decided that they had to tear down the suburbs surrounding their city in order to have a buffer zone for security. One half of the city lay outside the walls, including the homes of rich and poor alike. They sacrificed their dwellings and gardens, which were demolished brick by brick and the area burned and cleared.

In this time of need all of Geneva’s allies forsook her. Even Bern refused aide. The duke was raising an army to force entrance into the city. The bishop published an excommunication and the Pope added his anathema against the city. It was seen as the dwelling place of devils. The Emperor Charles V joined their foes and demanded their surrender. The citizens were in constant danger when outside the walls. There were tortures and murders, as ferocious bands laid waste the country around Geneva, cut off the supplies coming to its markets, waylaid its citizens, and then tortured, beheaded or otherwise dispatched them.

A Convent Converted

An attempt to poison the three French pastors was made by a woman who claimed to be a Protestant exile, and was employed in the house where they lived. Viret alone ate the poison. He survived but suffered its debilitating results the rest of his life. The woman confessed and accused a priest of planning the attempt. She was executed and the ministers were assigned to apartments in a Franciscan Convent where it was thought they would be safe. The end of the affair was the conversion of almost all the brethren of the convent, including James Bernard, who thought it would be well to hold a public disputation. A date was fixed and invitations published and sent to a wide area. Learned men from both sides came and two Roman champions were chosen to defend the old faith. In the end, both acknowledged themselves vanquished and announced their conversion to the Reformed faith.

Tricks for Miracles

The advance of Protestantism in Geneva was accelerated by some startling revelations of frauds that had been perpetrated upon the citizens in the name of miracles. Investigations were made regarding miracles and relics that brought vast funds into Roman coffers. These investigations revealed tricks in place of miracles, and indignation intensified. Finally the Council met on August 10, 1535, to discuss the question of religion. The Protestant ministers addressed the Council, offering to submit themselves to death if the priests could prove that in the public disputation or in their sermons they had advanced anything contrary to the Word of God. Next the Council called the Cordeliers, Dominicans, Augustines, the canon, the grand-vicar of the bishop, and the parochial cures before them. They recounted the ten years of religious conflicts that had disturbed their city. They offered that the Roman religion would be restored to its former glory if they could prove the truth of their dogmas and worship from the Word of God. They declined. “The prospect of rendering Romanism once more supreme in Geneva, could not tempt them to do battle for their faith . . .They craved only to be permitted to exercise their religion without restraint. The deputation announced to them the order of the Council that they should cease to say mass, and then retired . . .On the 27th of August a general edict was issued, enjoining public worship to be conducted according to the rules of the Gospel, and prohibited all ‘acts of Popish idolatry’.” Ibid. 275.

This action infuriated the duke who determined to crush this city which had scarcely a soldier to defend it and no allies. He would starve the inhabitants with a total blockade by land and water. It so happened that Bern suffered an affront from the duke about this same time and they declared war against him. The combined efforts of Geneva and Bern resulted in a series of disasters for the duke’s army and ended by the Duke loosing not only Geneva his conquest, but Savoy and Piedmont with his capitol. He spent 17 years in humiliation and exile before his death.

Calvin Enters Geneva

Since the outside threats were diminished, the work of teaching the people and leading them to have transformed manners and habits commenced in earnest. There were two parties of the Protestants: those who had been transformed by the Gospel and those who professed a belief but did not expect this to mean any change in their licentious lives. The latter were known as Libertines for their professed love of liberty, which they defined as liberty from all restraint. Farel felt the weight of the task. He was thankfully surprised to learn that Calvin had come to the city. Calvin had been traveling and detoured from his intended route around the armies of Charles V and through Switzerland.

Farel felt that God had sent him the man he most needed to join him in his task and he immediately visited Calvin and urged him to become his comrade in the campaign. Calvin refused, for he felt that his contribution was through his studies and his pen. “But Farel would not stand aside. Putting on something of the authority of an ancient prophet, he commanded the young traveler to remain and labor in Geneva, and he imprecated upon his studies the curse of God, should he make them the pretext for declining the call now addressed to him. It was the voice not of Farel, but of God, that now spoke to Calvin; so he felt; and instantly he obeyed . . . He gave his hand to Farel, and in so doing he gave himself to Geneva.” Ibid., 281.

He was 27 years old and would spend 28 years in the service of this city. “He would display before all Christendom the Institutes, not as a volume of doctrines, but as a system of realized facts—a State rescued from the charnel-house of corruption, and raised to the glorious heritage of liberty and virtue—glorious in art, in letters, and in riches, because resplendent with every Christian virtue. To write Protestantism upon their banners, to proclaim it in their edicts, to install it as a worship in their Churches, Calvin and all the Reformers held to be but a small affair; what they strove above all things to achieve was to plant it as an operative moral force in the hearts of men, and at the foundation of States.” Ibid., 281, 282.

Calvin’s genius for system and organization was seen as he helped to draw up first a simple and brief Confession of Faith, setting forth in twenty-one articles, the leading doctrines of Protestantism. The citizens came forward in relays of ten to take the oath. This was followed by a Catechism for adults which showed the people the moral duties that were demanded by the Protestantism that they professed. “The Genevans had lifted up their hands: had they bowed their hearts? This was the main question with him.” Ibid., 282.

The Constitution for the Republic was also considered and Calvin again helped to revise the form of government of the State. There was to be a General Council which consisted of all the people, which would meet once a year to elect the four Syndics and at other times in case of an important emergency. The Syndics served on the Council of Twenty-five which actually governed the city in both legislative and judicial matters. There was also a new power to be added, the Consistory, which was to handle Church scandals. It was composed of five ministers and twelve laymen and met every Thursday. The strongest powers given this body was that of excommunication which they defined as the power to withhold the Sacraments from one whose life was “manifestly unholy.” (It did not seek to determine man’s condition before God.)

Calvin did see the need of distinguishing between the powers of the religious and the civil bodies. The religious body had no powers in the civil government but he did not clearly separate from the civil bodies, power over religious matters. Calvin held a “profound distinction between the civil and the religious community. Distinction, we say, and by no means separation . . . In this great question as to the relations between Church and State, Calvin desired and did more than his predecessors . . . he secured to the Reformed Church of Geneva, in purely religious questions and affairs, the right of self-government, according to the faith, and the law as they stand written in the Holy Books.” Ibid., 285.

Calvin’s attempts to establish a theocracy in Geneva with the government as the guardian over things both civil and spiritual, we, from our vantage point in history, “regard as a grave error.” Ibid., 284.

Sumptuary Laws

“Calvin’s theological code was followed by one of morals . . . The clergy were notoriously profligate, the government was tyrannical, and the people, in consequence, were demoralized. Geneva had but one redeeming trait, the love of liberty . . . It was clear that Protestantism must cleanse the city or leave it. Geneva was nothing unless it was moral; it could not stand a day. This was the task to which Calvin now turned his attention.”

“This introduces the subject of the sumptuary laws . . . The rules now framed forbade games of chance, oaths and blasphemies, dances, lascivious songs, farces, and masquerades. The hours of taverners were shortened; every one was to be at home by nine at night, and hotel-keepers were to see that these rules were observed by their guests. To these were added certain regulations with a view of restraining excess in dress and profusion at meals. All were enjoined to attend sermon and the other religious exercises . . . The second battle with the citizens proved a harder one than the first with the priests, and the reformation of manners a more difficult task than the reformation of beliefs.” Ibid., 285, 286.

“The Libertines, as the oppositionists began now to be called, demanded the abolition of the new code; they complained especially of the ‘excommunication’ . . . The reproofs which Calvin thundered against their vices from the pulpit were intolerable to many, perhaps to most . . . It was mortifying to find that very Protestantism which they had struggled to establish turning round upon them, and weighing them in its scales, and finding them wanting.” Ibid.

Calvin and Farel Banished

One principle which Calvin was determined not to compromise, for he believed that the Reformation would stand or fall with that principle, was that holy things were not to be given to unholy men. A question arose over whether unleavened bread should be used with the communion. Calvin and Farel said that the church could decide this issue, but that the more serious question was whether the communion should be given at all to those guilty of blasphemies and immoralities. The Libertines at this time enjoyed a majority on the Council and this left the pastors alone to uphold the standard.

The day of communion arrived and the ministers determined not to hold the ordinance at all. The Churches were filled with worshippers, many of whom had come with their swords at their sides. Farel held the services in one church and Calvin in another. When it became apparent that the Lord’s Supper was not going to be dispensed, there was a great uproar. Swords were unsheathed and men rushed toward the pulpit. They were met with resoluteness by both pastors. It was a miracle, many believed, that no blood was shed.

On the morrow, the Council banished their pastors. Farel went to Neuchatel where he completed his life’s labors. Calvin moved to Strasburg where he was able to study and commune with many other reformers. He spent three years here preaching and performing all the duties of a pastor. He lectured daily at the Academy and he attended several conferences between the Reformed leaders and the Papacy. He suffered from poverty as he was not paid for his labors and had to sell his books for his support. He met Melancthon and they became fast friends. He also married during his time in Strasburg. Idelette de Bure was to be his dearest companion. And from afar he kept Geneva from the attacks of the papacy, which was determined to reenter the city.

Calvin Returns to Geneva

Meanwhile in Geneva, the government passed more measures to try to control the manners of the populous, but without moral leadership these were ineffective. Finally after mighty turmoils, four Syndics were charged with sedition; two fled, another died trying to flee and the forth was hanged. Recognizing their need of Calvin, they sent a delegation to ask him to return. He considered this like lying on a bed of nails but agreed to return if his brethren so advised. They did, and he traveled back to his former field, ready to face the sneers, laughs, rage, plots and hatred that he would encounter for some years to come.

Calvin returned with a broader education which he received in banishment. His vision had enlarged with his travels and communications with Reformer’s throughout Europe. He learned to work for the work’s sake and although he longed for human sympathy he learned to be satisfied with the sympathy of his Master only. He also knew more of the selfishness, cruelty, and craft in the hearts of men, for he had felt the pain of receiving his deepest wounds in the “house of his friends.” His wife followed him to Geneva to be his companion during nine of the most laborious and stormy years of his life.

He saw a storm coming in the pantheistic doctrines that were flooding Europe. German Protestantism was weakened with her political involvements and Calvin with his clear, calm judgment, constructive skill and his profound submission to the Bible, was the man to lead the fight in this battle. Wittemberg had battled Romanism but Geneva was to battle Romanism and pantheism.

Upon his return he began the large task of organizing the church. The Consistory was to act in Church disorders and met weekly. The pastors were to meet weekly for mutual correction and improvement. His schedule was grueling. He delivered three theological lectures weekly, spoke in the pulpit every Sunday, and everyday of the alternate weeks, presided over the Consistory on Thursdays, gave a public exposition on Fridays, and carried a full load of pastoral duties with visitations. He studied early and late and carried on a vast correspondence, never failing to write to one awaiting martyrdom and advising the kings, queens, and princes as well as other government officials throughout Europe.

For years he battled the Libertines whose influence was still strong in the city. The grossest immoralities were spoken of as desirable and adding to the perfection of the saints. He suffered a persecution not felt by other reformers. He was met with insults and scoffing daily as he traveled the streets. His detractors named their dogs Calvin, they stuck out their tongues and hissed as he passed, but he remained above the outrages he was forced to endure in the streets. He maintained a consciousness of the great task that he was performing and rode out the long storm. During this time his wife of just nine years grew ill and died. He was deeply bereaved.

Servetus Burned in Geneva

One dreadful event of those years was the execution of Servetus. We today are shocked and saddened by the blot on Reformation history. Servetus was a scholar who had written a book on anti-Trinitarian doctrine which was also filled with pantheism. He had sent his work to Calvin who had condemned it. His native Vienne had tried him in the Inquisition and condemned him to die. He escaped and came to Geneva where Calvin called for his arrest. Messengers were sent to many Reformation leaders who advised that Servetus be condemned and executed. After a long trial he was found guilty of publicly promoting opinions treasonous to society and burned at the stake.

We are horrified by this verdict and none the less with the knowledge that that century saw thirty or forty thousand stakes kindled by Rome and one by the Protestants. “We deplore—we condemn—this one pile. It was a violation of the first principles of Protestantism.” Ibid., 338.

The Libertines next tried to have the public presses closed. A strange act for those so named for their love of liberty. They were finally banished from Geneva following their open attacks on the refugees of the city. They resented the refugees being supported by public resources and after slandering these exiles they vowed to massacre all. The refugees were among the most distinguished citizens of the countries they had fled. They represented almost every nationality and Geneva was elevated by their coming to her but they came nearly penniless and the city had been generous in their support. Its citizens had saved and even chosen to eat sparingly in order to accommodate them. When the night of the massacre arrived, not one refugee was found or killed, but the Libertines suffered the beheading of four of their number following the trial and the banishment of the lot.

Calvin’s Last Years

Calvin’s influence was felt in fields near and far but especially did he work for France. He urged the Protestants there to “eschew politics, shun the battle-field, and continue to fight their great war with spiritual weapons only.” Ibid., 359. He believed that more was to be gained by martyrdoms than politics. He was able in his last years to build an Academy in Geneva.

“The position which Calvin now filled was one of greater influence than perhaps any one man had exercised in the Church of Christ since the days of the apostles. He was the counselor of kings; he was the advisor of princes and statesmen; he corresponded with warriors, scholars, and Reformers; he consoled martyrs, and organized Churches; his admonitions were submitted to, and his letters treasured, as marks of no ordinary distinction. All the while the man who wielded this unexampled influence, was in life and manners in nowise different from an ordinary citizen of Geneva. He was as humbly lodged, he was as simply clothed, and he was served by as few attendants as any burgess of them all. He had been poor all his days, and he continued so to the end.” Ibid., 359 He died, before seeing his fifty-forth year, in May of 1564, after years of weakness and illness and months restricted to his bed. He was buried in a common cemetery without a stone marker, the exact spot is unknown today.

The End

In Fashion With God, The Outward Adorning

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

Is it possible that these verses could refer to dress? “Many today have veils upon their faces. These veils are sympathy with the customs and practices of the world, which hide from them the glory of the Lord. God desires us to keep our eyes fixed upon Him, that we may lose sight of the things of this world.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 146.

“As soon as any have a desire to imitate the fashions of the world, that they do not immediately subdue, just so soon God ceases to acknowledge them as His children. They are the children of the world and of darkness.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 137.

“If I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15.

“To many the dress reform is too simple and humbling to be adopted. They cannot lift the cross. God works by simple means to separate and distinguish His children from the world.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 523, 524.

“The dress reform is treated by some with great indifference and by others with contempt, because there is a cross attached to it. For this cross I thank God. It is just what we need to distinguish and separate God’s commandment keeping people from the world. The dress reform answers to us as did the ribbon of blue to ancient Israel.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 171.

“It is never difficult to do what we love to do; but to take a course directly against our inclinations, is lifting a cross.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 94.

“If we pass along without receiving censure or frowns from the world we may be alarmed, for it is our conformity to the world which makes us so much like them that there is nothing to arouse their envy or malice; there is no collision of spirits. The world despises the cross. ‘For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.’ 1 Corinthians 1:18.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 525.

“It is the duty of every child of God to inquire: ‘Wherein am I separate from the world?’ Let us suffer a little inconvenience, and be on the safe side. What crosses do God’s people bear? They mingle with the world, partake of their spirit, dress, talk, and act like them.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 278.

“Everyone must now search the Bible for himself upon his knees before God, with the humble, teachable heart of a child, if he would know what the Lord requires of him.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 214.

“The sin of ancient Israel was in disregarding the expressed will of God and following their own way according to the leadings of unsanctified hearts. Modern Israel are fast following in their footsteps, and the displeasure of the Lord is as surely resting upon them.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 94.

“Self denial in dress is a part of our Christian duty. To dress plainly, and abstain from display of jewelry and ornaments of every kind is in keeping with our faith.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 366.

“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God a great price.” 1 Peter 3:3, 4. “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, and or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9, 10.

“If all our sisters would adopt a simple, unadorned dress of modest length, the uniformity thus established would be pleasing to God.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 640.

“There is an increasing tendency to have women in their dress and appearance as near like the other sex as possible, and to fashion their dress very much like that of men, but God pronounces it abomination.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 457.

“I saw that God’s order has been reversed, and his special directions disregarded, by those who adopt the American costume. I was referred to Deuteronomy 22:5: ‘The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither a shall man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God . . . It is immodest apparel, wholly unfitted for the modest, humble followers of Christ.” Ibid.

“It is always right to be neat and to be clad appropriately in a manner becoming to your age and station in life.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 142.

“Christians should not take pains to make themselves a gazing stock by dressing differently from the world. But if, when following out their convictions of duty in respect to dressing modestly and healthfully, they find themselves out of fashion, they should not change their dress to be like the world; but they should manifest a noble independence and moral courage to be right, if all the world differ from them. If the world introduces a modest, convenient, and healthful mode of dress, which is in accordance with the Bible, it will not change our relation to God or to the world to adopt such a style of dress.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 458, 459.

“Correct taste is not to be despised or condemned. Our faith, if carried out, will lead us to be so plain in dress and zealous of good works that we shall be marked as peculiar. But when we lose taste for order and neatness in dress, we virtually leave the truth; for the truth never degrades but elevates.” Child Guidance, 419, 420.

“My sisters, your dress is telling either in favor of Christ and the sacred truth or in favor of the world. Which is it?” Child Guidance, 420.

The End

Who Shall Stand, Character Fit For Heaven

Who shall be able to stand when Jesus returns in the clouds of heaven? This is the most important question we could ever ask. What must you and I do to inherit eternal life?

There was a group of people in the Bible who asked this very question, but acknowledged that they could not stand before God. “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:15–17.

They asked the same question we are asking, but too late. Let us not make that mistake.

One answer to our question is found in Revelation 7:1, 2. “And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the winds should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth neither the sea, nor the trees, [till what happens?] till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.”

The Sealing

In order to stand before the Lord, what must happen? We must be sealed. Just before the children of Israel left Egypt, the Lord told them that they were to kill a lamb and take the blood and put it on the door post. This was to be a sign for the destroying angel who was to pass over the city, that the firstborn in that house should not be slain. If there was no blood the first born died.

It will be the same at the end. We can see that, if we look in Ezekiel where it talks about the sealing. “And, behold six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen alter. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” Ezekiel 9:2–6.

This is very serious! Isn’t it? The mark is what made the difference. That is why it is important that we ask ourselves the question, “What does it take to receive that mark?” It is a life and death matter.

Can I be a member of a church and yet not have the seal of God in my forehead? Is it possible? “The Lord would teach man the lesson that, though united in church capacity, he is not saved until the seal of God is placed upon him.” Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 969.

A Perfect Character

In Revelation 14:1, it says the seal is the Father’s name. In Exodus 33:19 we are told that God’s name is His character. In Great Controversy, 434 it tells us: “The law of God is the transcript of His character.” “Now is the time to lay up treasure in heaven and to set our hearts in order, ready for the time of trouble. Those only who have clean hands and pure hearts will stand in that trying time. Now is the time for the law of God to be in our minds, foreheads, and written in our hearts.” Early Writings, 58. If the mind is filled with other things, present truth is shut out and there is no place in our foreheads for the seal of God. We can not be too careful about the things that we think and the things that we do.

“By the power of the Holy Spirit the moral image of God is to be perfected in the character.” Testimonies to Ministers, 506. Every act, every word, and every thought is to be in accord with the principles of the law of heaven.

Christ Within

What do the people have written in their foreheads? They have their Father’s name. “John saw a lamb on mount Zion, and with Him 144,000 having His Father’s name written in their foreheads. They bore the signet of heaven. They reflected the image of God. They were full of the light and the glory of the Holy One.” Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 978. Then she gives some conditions if we want to have the image in our foreheads. “If we would have the image and superscription of God upon us, we must separate ourselves from all iniquity, we must forsake every evil way, we must have Christ formed within.” Ibid.

We know it must be pretty urgent because it says three times “we must, we must, we must.” Why does it says that? Because we cannot serve two masters. Jesus said it is impossible. You will either hate the one and love the other or you will hold to the one and despise the other. “We cannot be half the Lord’s and half the world’s. We are not God’s people unless we are such entirely. Every weight, every besetting sin, must be laid aside.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 83. [All emphasis supplied.]

Why do we want to hold onto these sins? The things of this world are very flammable. We know that when Jesus comes it is all going to burn up. If we are attached to it we will burn with it.

Not long ago I was burning some brush at my place in Idaho. You cannot get fires going very easily this time of the year, so I took some gasoline in a can and I poured it on. You have to be very careful that the gasoline is not connected to you because it is explosive. It is the same with sin. You must throw it away from you or you will get burned.

Crucify Self

“Closely examine your own hearts, and in your lives imitate the unerring Pattern, and all will be well with you. Preserve a clear conscience before God. In all you do glorify His name. Divest yourselves of selfishness and selfish love.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 71. Destroying self is the greatest battle that we can ever fight. It is a terrible thing, and we all have a problem with it. Self! We just love it, and pity it, and feed it, and nourish it. We do a lot of things for self. But the Lord says “We must divest ourselves from self.”

“In every act of life you are to make manifest the name of God.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 107. In other words, we need to reflect the character of Jesus. We can have the form of Godliness, but what good is it if we do not reflect the character of Jesus?

“It is . . . the possession of a Christlike character, that will open to us the gates of Paradise.” My Life Today 340. That is the key. If we have a Christlike character we will walk right in.

“To have a Christlike character it is necessary to act in a Christlike way.” Mind Character and Personality, vol. 2, 552. How many of us are doing this? It does not seem that there are many, because there is a lot of gossiping going around, and many things that are not Christlike.

There is good news in The Desire of Ages, 311: “A Christlike life, is accessible to every repenting, believing child of God.” Is that good news? It is available to each of us. The problem is with me. I do not want it bad enough.

“We must now strive for eternal life with an intensity that is proportionate to the value of the prize before us. It is not money or land or position but the possession of a Christlike character that will open to us the gates of Paradise.” My Life Today, 340. We spend much time and money and energy to gain the things of this life.

What is a Christlike character?. A Christlike character is obedience to God’s commandments. Christ’s Object Lessons, 315. A Christlike character is expressed in “self-denial and self-sacrifice, Christlike patience and gentleness.” Review and Herald, April 16, 1901. “The character is fashioned after the divine similitude, and integrity, uprightness, and true benevolence are manifested toward the sinful race.” My Life Today, 54.

A Perfect Portrayal of Christ

I like the book Desire of Ages. If you have not read it, you should read it. It is a perfect portrayal of what Jesus was like when He was here on earth. I would like to give you some highlights because that’s what you want to learn. Let us look at a few statements, because the only way that we can stand in the day of God is if we are like Jesus. (The following quotations will be referenced only by a page number.)

“At all times and in all places He manifested a loving interest in men, and shed about Him the light of a cheerful piety.” 86.

“Jesus worked to relieve every case of suffering that He saw.” 87.

“He spoke a word of sympathy here and a word there, as he saw men weary, yet compelled to bear heavy burdens.” 90.

“The life of Christ was marked with respect and love for His mother.” 90.

“The healing power of love—went out from Him to the sick and distressed.” 92.

“He manifested an interest in their secular affairs.” 151.

He spoke with solemn dignity in both look and tone. He expressed such earnestness that sinners were not offended, as they realized their humiliating position. See 173. How do I treat the so-called sinners? Do I look down upon them?

Peace by Compromise

“Jesus Himself never purchased peace by compromise. His heart overflowed with love for the whole human race, but He was never indulgent to their sins.” 356.

“He who taught the people the way to secure peace and happiness was just as thoughtful of their temporal necessities as of their spiritual needs.” 365.

“His love was not to be circumscribed to race or nation.” 402.

You can appreciate this if you came from another country. When I came to this country from Germany I could hardly speak English. I really appreciated the people that were understanding and kind.

“He seeks not to condemn, but to save . . . Jesus speaks words of comfort and hope.” 462. That is what we need to be like.

“Jesus was ever a lover of children . . . His gentle. Kindly manner won the love and confidence of children.” 511.

“His tender, pitying heart is ever awakened to sympathy by suffering. He weeps with those that weep, and rejoices with those that rejoice.” 533.

“[His] every feature expressed gentleness and resignation and the tenderest pity for His cruel foes.” 735.

“Jesus did not contend for His rights.” 89. We like to contend for our rights. If I am right, I am right, and I am going to fight for it. That is not what Jesus was like. He did not contend for His rights. He was always sacrificing Himself for the good of others. He was so emptied of self that He made no plans for Himself.

“The Saviour did not meet argument with argument.” 171. Are we arguing with people?

“He made truth beautiful by presenting it in the most direct and simple way.” 253.

“In all His intercourse with rude and violent men He did not use one unkind or discourteous expression.” 515.

Remember when Jesus was crucified? People were cruel to Him. As the King of the universe He had all power, He could have called legions of angels to destroy them, but He did not retaliate. Instead at this point He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

When He reproved, His words were spoken with the utmost gentleness. See 535.

“It was not Christ’s purpose to humiliate His opponents.” 594.

“He shunned all outward display.” 43.

“He did not strive for worldly greatness, and in even the lowliest position He was content.” 88.

He took “no measures to bring Himself to notice.” 137.

Our Example

“He was never elated by applause, nor dejected by censure or disappointment.” 330.

“He was willing and uncomplaining.” 89. Have you ever become discouraged?

I remember years ago, I worked as a colporteur in Germany. Someone encouraged me to sell books in Northern Germany. It was terrible. I could not sell one thing, all day. As soon as the people heard the word Christian, they slammed the door. You talk about discouragement. But Jesus never became discouraged. Do we need to learn that? The only way we can do it is by submitting to Him, because humanly speaking we cannot do it.

“Amid the greatest opposition and the most cruel treatment, He was still of good courage.” 330.

“Interrupted as He was, and robbed of His rest, He was not impatient.” 364.

“He hated but one thing in the world, and that was sin.” 88. That was the only thing that He hated, and that is the only thing that we should hate. The reason that we hold onto sin is that we do not hate it.

“He dwelt among men an example of spotless integrity.” 243.

“His language was pure and refined and clear as a running stream.” 253. This is also very important because the Bible tells us that, “By thy words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Matthew 12:37.

“His life was a rebuke to their sins.” 587.

“In principle He was as firm as a rock, His life revealed the grace of unselfish courtesy.” 69. Is that the way we are to be? In principle we need to be firm as a rock; we cannot be shaken.

“In His industrious life there were no idle moments to invite temptations.” 72.

“He would not enter into controversy.” 89.

“He would not betray the secrets they poured into His sympathizing ear.” 92.

“Jesus had nothing to do with the various subjects of dissension among the Jews. It was His work to present the truth.” 253. That is something that we need to learn. He had nothing to do with subjects of dissension among the Jews. He just preached the truth, and He stuck with that.

“Jesus taught the Scriptures as of unquestionable authority.” 253.

“It was in faith—faith in God’s love and care—that Jesus rested.” 336. That is good advice. Many times that is all we can do.

“As the Son of Man, Christ would stand loyal to God.” 115. To whom are we loyal? Are we loyal to God, to His Word, or are we loyal to a man or a system?

“At a very early age, Jesus had begun to act for Himself in the formation of His character, and not even respect and love for His parents could turn Him from obedience to God’s word.” 86.

“He denied the right of the priests and rabbis to question Him, or to interfere with His work.” 211.

The Divine Superscription

Who shall be able to stand? “Those who enter the heavenly mansions will have the name of the Father and the name of the City of God written in their foreheads. They will bare the divine superscription and be partakers of the divine nature.” That I May Know Him, 103.

How do we become partakers of the divine nature? “When Christ took human nature upon Him, He bound humanity to Himself by a tie of love that can never be broken by any power save the choice of man himself. Satan will constantly present allurements to induce us to break this tie—to choose to separate ourselves from Christ. Here is where we need to watch, to strive, to pray, that nothing may entice us to choose another master; for we are always free to do this. But let us keep our eyes fixed upon Christ, and He will preserve us. Looking unto Jesus, we are safe. Nothing can pluck us out of His hand. In constantly beholding Him, we ‘are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ 2 Corinthians 3:18.” Steps to Christ, 72. We must always point our eyes to Jesus Christ and away from self. We will then be able to stand, and will receive the seal of God in our foreheads. May God give us the strength, courage, and the determination to submit to Him completely.

The End

Cheap Grace or Costly Grace?

One of the most beautiful verses in all the Bible is found in Psalms 85:10. “Mercy ( Grace ) and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”

Let us start by analyzing the word truth. God declares in His Word that truth is the righteousness of God’s law. “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Thy law is truth.” Psalms 119:142. Righteousness and truth are two of the attributes of our eternal God. We know from reading the Scriptures that God is holy and the law is holy. See Romans 7:12. In Psalms 19:7 we find that the law is as perfect as God. He is also just, and Romans 7:12 says that the law is just. In the Bible we find that God is pure just as “the commandment of the Lord is pure.” Psalms 19:8. We read that God is forever and we find that the ten commandments are forever, for we read in Psalms 111:8, that the commandments are sure, “they stand fast for ever and ever.”

It is no wonder that in Signs of the Times, January 9, 1879, we read: “God . . . exalted them equal to Himself.” “The ten holy precepts spoken by Christ upon Sinai’s mount were the revelation of the character of God.” Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1105. So the law is the righteousness of God Himself.

Now let us examine the other attributes mentioned: mercy and truth. We find in Scripture that there is no clearer discernment of mercy than in what Jesus did on Calvary. Peter was so impressed with this that he wrote, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:18. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things . . . but with the precious blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18, 19.

I think it is very beautiful how Ellen White put it all together in Bible Echo, March 15, 1893. “At the cross, mercy and truth met together; righteousness and peace kissed each other. As the sinner looks upon the Savior dying on Calvary, this great sacrifice, and realizes that the Sufferer is divine, he asks why this great sacrifice was made; and the cross points to the holy law of God, which has been transgressed. The death of Christ is an unanswerable argument to the immutability and righteousness of the law.”

The law could not save, it only points out our defects and leads us to Christ, who becomes our substitute. Jesus meets the need of the sinner. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5.

The law and grace had to be separate attributes in order to meet together at the cross. They met together, they kissed each other, revealing that they are inseparably joined together in wedlock.

“Christ shows that in God’s plan they are indissolubly joined together; the one cannot exist without the other. ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ ” God’s Amazing Grace, 74. So the love of God, His grace, does not do away with the divine law. If God was only love, there would be no need for the atonement. There are conditions that come with the costly Gift. Justice demands holiness, and mercy opens the gates of eternal life to the obedient. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

This costly grace is being undermined today by a new theology called cheap grace. It’s invading every Protestant church in the world, including the Seventh-day Adventist church. The people are being taught that they are under grace, so they do not have to be a believer in obedience.

“God’s love has been expressed in His justice no less than in His mercy. Justice is the foundation of His throne, the fruit of His love. It had been Satan’s purpose to divorce mercy from truth and justice. He sought to prove that the righteousness of God’s law is an enemy to peace. But Christ shows that in God’s plan they are indissolubly joined together; the one cannot exist without the other. ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ By His life and His death, Christ proved that God’s justice did not destroy His mercy, but that sin could be forgiven, and that the law is righteous, and can be perfectly obeyed.” The Desire of Ages, 762.

Satan is coming with a new belief which is very disarming in its approach. If he can just get the ministers to preach only half the truth, he can fill the church. Such preaching ignores or minimizes sanctification, the High Priest ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary and the justice of God in demanding absolute obedience.

The book, Beyond Belief, by Jack Sequeira, which is being promoted by the General Conference, comes along and very quietly implants within your mind deadly errors. I have never read a book from our presses like this before.

In this article we will examine nine teachings of cheap grace theology that are in this book.

1. Cheap grace teaches that sanctification is not a requirement for heaven.

“We often describe the first aspect of salvation—the objective gospel—as the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is what qualifies the believer for heaven, both now and in the judgment. We describe the second aspect of salvation—the subjective gospel—as the imparted righteousness of Christ. This is what gives evidence of the reality of the imputed righteousness of Christ in the life. It does not contribute in the slightest way to our qualification for heaven; it witnesses or demonstrates what is already true of us in Christ. Imparted righteousness does not qualify us for heaven.” Beyond Belief, 32.

You notice he uses some terms you will never find in the Bible: the subjective and the objective gospel. That is foreign to the Bible. “We describe the second aspect as the imparted righteousness,” so he is talking about the imparted righteousness of Christ, and he says “it does not contribute in the slightest way to our qualification for heaven.” Ibid. He is taking away our very fitness for heaven in this kind of teaching.

“The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven.” Messages to Young People, 35.

As you read on, you will find that this kind of attack is really against obedience, for in Selected Messages, vol. 1, 367, it says that “righteousness is obedience.” He is telling us, “You don’t have to obey, it has no significance to God, it has nothing to do in qualifying you for heaven.”

2. Cheap grace teaches that all babies are born guilty of Adam’s sin, therefore Jesus was born with the unfallen nature of Adam.

“‘By one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin and so death passed upon all men for all have sinned’ . . . Did Paul mean that all die because ‘all have sinned’ personally as did Adam? Or did he mean that all die because ‘all have sinned’ in Adam? . . . It simply isn’t true that everyone dies because they have personally sinned as Adam did . . . ‘All have sinned’ most naturally refers to a single past historical event (Adam’s sin) and not to the continuing personal sins of his descendants over the centuries.” Beyond Belief, 52, 53.

That is the Catholic doctrine of the original sin. I do not worship a God that condemns me for something that I had nothing to do with. The Bible says: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.” Ezekiel 18:20. That is the kind of God that I like!

One of the foundation principles of cheap grace is the Catholic doctrine of original sin. It teaches that when Christ came, He did not come to this earth as you and I, He came in the unfallen nature of Adam, and that is why He could overcome. Cheap grace teaches that Jesus is not our example, because He overcame differently from you and I.

On page 54 of Beyond Belief, Mr. Sequeira contradicts what he says here, and on page 146 he says just the opposite again. What is he doing? He is using a form of N.L.P. He has implanted within you an error and then later on he says, No, I did not say that at all! But he implanted it in your mind.

3. Cheap grace does away with obedience to God’s law as essential to salvation.

“If a person does not believe that full and complete salvation has already been obtained in Jesus Christ, if a person believes that salvation ultimately depends to some decree on his or her behavior, then the faith such a person is able to generate will naturally be polluted with self-concern.” Beyond Belief, 91.

What is behavior? Behavior is obedience or disobedience. Obedience is the condition to which eternal life is granted. “Christ did not lessen the claims of the law. In unmistakable language He presents obedience to it as the condition of eternal life—the same condition that was required of Adam before his fall. The Lord expects no less of the soul now than He expected of man in Paradise, perfect obedience, unblemished righteousness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 391.

4. Cheap grace teaches that we may obtain advance forgiveness (this is the Catholic doctrine of indulgences).

“Justification is the work of a moment although it remains effective in all our believing lives . . . It’s true that one important truth about justification is the forgiveness of our past sins but justification involves far more than that. The righteousness of Christ includes the fact that He endured the just penalty of the law on behalf of our sins, past, present, future. But in a positive sense Christ also kept the whole law on our behalf. All this becomes ours the moment we become justified by faith. Justification means all of Christ’s righteousness that He provided for us so that nothing more is required of us to qualify for heaven.” Beyond Belief, 103.

Here he tells us that God has already forgiven us of all future sins. If this was true, we could go to the priest and pay him money to excuse our sin in advance, and then we could go out and steal or commit any other type of sin.

5. Cheap grace teaches that it is legalism to believe or to teach obedience.

“The devil has deceived many Christians into believing that justification by faith does not fully qualify them for heaven. That something more is necessary, that they must keep the law and do good works. As a result, many sincere Christians are trapped in a subtle form of legalism.” Beyond Belief, 104. If that is legalism, then God was the greatest legalist that ever existed, for He gave the law. And Jesus Christ believed in legalism for He kept the law and He taught others to be obedient. He said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”

“As a result, many sincere Christians are trapped in a subtle form of legalism. Living in fear and insecurity. Every time we fall or sin we become unjustified. This is another common misunderstanding about justification. It is a monstrous teaching that has no support from the Word of God. God does not reject us every time we make a mistake or fall into sin.” Ibid.

If I only believe, I can go ahead and steal, I can commit adultery with my neighbor’s wife, I can do anything and God does not reject me!

God still loves the sinner and He wants him to be saved, so He pleads with him, but this does not mean that He does not reject the sinner. When David took Bathsheba and committed adultery and then killed the husband, was he rejected of God? Yes, he was! It was not until the Lord, because of His love, sent the prophet in and told him, “You are the man!” When David saw his sin, he fell on his knees and pleaded with God for forgiveness. But during that time he was lost.

“In order for man to retain his justification, there must be continual obedience, through active, living faith that works by love and purifies the soul.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 366.

6. Cheap grace teaches that salvation was completed on the cross.

Therefore, there is no need for Jesus to intercede in the heavenly sanctuary nor is there need for an investigative judgment and the blotting out of our sins.

“The sanctuary of the old covenant was divided into three parts—the courtyard, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. Likewise, the believer who represents God’s temple on earth is divided into three parts spiritually—spirit, soul and body.” Beyond Belief, 139.

Now where did he ever concoct such an idea? There is an heavenly sanctuary and Jesus Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary. Let me read it, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Hebrews 9:24. What is He doing up there? He is presenting us to the Father as though we had never sinned—He is blotting out our sins. This is the investigative judgment. This is all done away with, if you believe that everything was completed at the cross.

7. Cheap grace teaches that we are no longer under the law but under grace.

Careful now! If you are not under God’s authority, whose authority are you under? “According to Paul, it is impossible for someone who truly understands salvation by grace, and who appreciates Christ’s cross, to go on condoning sin. Righteousness is by faith and if the faith is there, the righteousness is sure to be there as well and there is no sin in righteousness . . . but that sin no longer has authority to condemn or to control a believer because such a person is no longer under the law’s control but under grace.” Beyond Belief, 163, 164. Finally, he is throwing the law out the window.

“Since a believer is no longer under the law’s authority, sin can no longer bring the believer under the law’s condemnation of eternal death. The believer is delivered from the power of sin . . . there is a world of difference between sinning under the law and sinning under grace.” Ibid., 164, 165.

“You see, in this sense, the law and Christ differ radically.” Ibid. Oh, no they do not! The very character of my Lord is His law. Cheap grace divorces the righteousness from grace.

8. Cheap grace teaches that we can sin without punishment.

“Stumbling under grace, falling into sin, does not deprive us of justification. Neither does it bring condemnation.” Beyond Belief, 166. There is nothing in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy that teaches this. It is Calvinism!

He talks about the law as a standard. May I remind you that standards change, but God’s law does not. “How should we Christians view the law? Is it still binding on us? The answer is emphatically No; the law is not binding on us as a means of salvation. But the answer is a most definite yes if you are speaking of the law as a standard for Christian living.” Ibid., 173.

The law is a means of salvation, for “the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Psalms 19:7. It shows us our guilt, it shows us our need, and so it guides us to One who can help us.

9. Cheap Grace teaches that Sabbath-keeping is nothing but a work as a requirement of salvation.

“When we make Sabbath-keeping a requirement of salvation. . .” Beyond Belief, 183. What does the Bible say? “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

If you believe that Sabbath-keeping is legalistic and that God does not require it for salvation, then in the coming days of persecution you will find it very easy to worship on Sunday.

It says on page 185 of Beyond Belief that there are “two opposing methods of salvation.” I totally agree with this, for there is the truth and there is a counterfeit. One leads you to heaven, the other leads you to hell. Never forget the words of Christ, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” That is why Ellen White wrote these words in Selected Messages, vol. 1, 367, “Righteousness is obedience to the law.” No one will go to heaven without righteousness.

Cheap grace destroys the beautiful relationship between mercy and truth. Do not let anybody try to break that relationship in your life.

Beyond Belief is a book that will prepare you to receive the mark of the beast if you believe it. Now is the time for us to take hold of the Bible and study it, for it is our only guide. Let us hold fast to these truths. Let us be faithful to God that we may be ready to meet Him when He comes.

The End

The Two Ones, Adam and Christ

We cannot say that we have not been warned. The apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, warned us very clearly: “Even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; As also in all of his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to be understood, which they who are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” 2 Peter 3:15, 16.

What shall we do then, with the writings of Paul? Shall we just lay them aside? Certainly not, they are scriptures, and we need them. But let us not approach them carelessly, and let us carefully abide by our basic rule of all Bible study, that a passage which is not clear to us at first reading must be understood in the light of other passages on the same subject. Thus the Bible interprets itself to us, and we do not place a private interpretation on the Bible. And since the Holy Spirit is the ultimate author of the scriptures, it follows that all Spirit inspired writings should be included in our study. Peter did not say that some of Paul’s writings are impossible to understand—he just said that they are difficult.

So with all due caution and care, let us address ourselves to one of those difficult passages, Romans 5:12–19. Many people have started to read this scripture, and after a few verses have given it up and gone on to the next chapter. But just now this passage is being placed before us as the cornerstone of a false theology. We are going to be hearing a great deal about this false theology, and if we do not have an understanding of Paul’s message in these verses, we are in danger of being deceived. We note in passing that false teachers quite customarily seize upon obscure passages as a vehicle for their errors, but we do not have time to enlarge on that point and cite examples just now.

In Romans 5:12 Paul sets up a comparison, which might be called The Comparison of the Two Ones, since he uses the term “one” repeatedly, and in the comparison itself does not use names. Then he does something a bit out of the ordinary. Before finishing his comparison, he stops in the middle of it to make some explanations and state some qualifications. Having done this in verses 13–17, he then returns to his comparison and completes it in verses 18 and 19.

The King James translators took note of this unusual circumstance, and put verses 13–17 in parentheses, as you will see if you look at them carefully. Paul himself also took note of it, and used a word in verse 18 which, in the Greek language, signifies a return to a line of thought which has been interrupted. This is not indicated in the King James translation, where verse 18 is introduced with the word “therefore.” But Paul did not use the single word ara, which means “therefore.” He used the compound form, ara oun, which means “therefore, to return to my interrupted subject.” (Refer to any Greek-English lexicon.)

Phillip Schaff offers this comment: “The Apostle might have spared the commentators a great deal of trouble, if he had, according to the ordinary rules of composition, first stated the comparison in full, and then given the explanations and qualifications.” Quoted in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 529.

Having now made ourselves aware of Paul’s arrangement of his ideas, let us read the comparison in full, in verses 12, 18 and 19, passing by, for the moment, the explanations and qualifications in verses 13–17: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned . . . Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life; For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

Let us make a list of the comparisons and contrasts between the accomplishments and influences of “The Two Ones,” who are obviously Adam and Christ:

One (Adam): One (Christ):

·Disobedience ·Obedience

·Sin ·Righteousness

·Condemnation ·Justification

·Death ·Life

·Many made sinners ·Many made righteous

Now we understand his comparison, so let us go back and examine the explanations and qualifications that Paul had put in verses 13–17. Verses 13 and 14 are an explanation of what he had said in verse 12: “and so death passed upon all men.”

Nothing else that he had said in verse 12 called for any explanation, but this did. How did death pass upon all men? How about the Gentiles, who had not had the law? Were they not exceptions? If not, why not?

Paul denies that they are exceptions, though conceding that they had not sinned “after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,” that is, not in defiance of a direct and specific command, such as God had given to Adam about the tree of good and evil. Nevertheless he holds them accountable for such light as they had, insisting that “death reigned from Adam to Moses,” even over the Gentiles who did not have the written law of Moses.

“For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” Romans 5:13, 14.

Paul is arguing that the Gentiles, even though they were not being held accountable for disobeying the laws of Moses, which they had not known, were nevertheless being held accountable in the manner that he had already described in Romans 2:14–16: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves . . . their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another. In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”

This is a reflection of the same truth that had been expressed by the Apostle John in John 1:9: “[Jesus] was the true light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

Having thus explained in verses 13–14 what he had meant by the words, “death passed upon all men,” in verse 12, he moves on to state, in verse 15, a qualification of his comparison of “The Two Ones,” using the words “but not,” and “much more:” “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one, many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, had abounded unto many.”

The Grace of God

He recognizes that his comparison is lopsided, because the act of God in Christ is so much greater than the act of Adam, so he puts in this much more qualification, then follows it by another qualification of a similar nature in verses 16–17: “And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”

So the act of Adam and the act of Christ are not equal, even though both brought far-reaching results. The saving act of Christ far surpasses and transcends all other acts, and can only be compared with them if qualifications are stated. Having made this clear, he now returns to his comparison, and finishes it, in verses 18–19, which we have already examined.

The tragic act of Adam brought disobedience, sin, condemnation, death and the making of many sinners. The glorious act of Christ brought obedience, righteousness, justification, life, and the making of many righteous.

So where is the problem? How is this scripture being used as the cornerstone of a false theology?

First or the Second Death?

The problem is in the short phrase in verse 12: “and so death passed upon all men.”

Is this referring to the first death, or to the second death? We remember that the first death comes to all, as a result of Adam’s sin. We pause to reflect that others die as a result of Adam’s sin, not because they are responsible for it. Your cat, your dog, and your horse will all die as a result of Adam’s sin—not because they were responsible for it.

We remember that the second death is total annihilation. This creates a question: How could death pass from an annihilated person to other persons? Can annihilation be passed from one to another?

And in verse 15 Paul writes: “For if through the offence of one many be dead.”

Obviously these persons were already dead when Paul was writing, but had they been annihilated? No. And carrying this point a step further, Had Adam himself been annihilated? Again we must answer, No. If we choose to believe that the death referred to in Romans 5 is the second death of annihilation, we are confronted with insurmountable difficulties. How could an annihilated Adam pass on annihilation to others? Impossible.

Yet some theologians and some among us are arguing for that position. What shall we do when confronted with a problem like this? Go to the Spirit of Prophecy. That is what it is for. And if someone casts the senseless accusation at us, that we are putting Ellen White above the Bible, just look them in the eye and firmly set them straight. We are not putting Ellen White above the Bible, we are putting her above all earthly interpreters. We are saying that Ellen White had a better understanding of the Scriptures than anyone else since the Apostle Paul.

As quickly as we turn to her writings, we find that she understood clearly the difference between the first death and the second death, and that she understood which death Paul was referring to when he wrote in Romans 5:12 that “death passed upon all men.”

She discusses the matter on pages 533 and 544 of The Great Controversy. She quotes certain scriptures on page 544, including Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” She then writes: “The death referred to in these scriptures is not that pronounced upon Adam, for all mankind suffer the penalty of his transgression. It is the ‘second death’ that is placed in contrast with everlasting life.”

That makes sense. It would hardly be sensible to place eternal life in contrast with the earthly, temporary death. To contrast eternal life with eternal death would be much more logical. Then she enlarges on the subject of the first death, and in a precise parallel with Romans 5:12 she writes: “In consequence of Adam’s sin, death passed upon the whole human race.”

Here she uses three of Paul’s words, “death passed upon.” On page 533, dealing with the same subject, the first death, she uses a longer quotation from Romans 5:12: “While ‘death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,’ Christ ‘hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.’”

On page 544 she continues in the same vein, stating what happens after the first death: “In consequence of Adam’s sin, death passed upon the whole human race. All alike go down into the grave [the first death]. And through the provisions of the plan of salvation, all are to be brought forth from their graves. ‘There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust;’ (Acts 24:15) ‘for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ (1 Corinthians 15:22) But a distinction is made between the two classes that are brought forth. ‘All that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.’ (John 5:28, 29) They who have been ‘accounted worthy’ of the resurrection of life are ‘blessed and holy.’ ‘On such the second death hath no power.’ (Rev 20:6) But those who have not, through repentance, and faith, secured pardon, must receive the penalty of transgression,—‘the wages of sin.’ They suffer punishment varying in duration and intensity, ‘according to their works,’ but finally ending in the second death.”

So God’s inspired messenger answers our questions about Romans 5, and clears away our problems, just as she did in the early Bible conferences of our pioneers, and in countless other situations where divine insight was needed to protect God’s people from scriptural error. Now we know beyond question that the death described in Romans 5, that began with Adam and passed upon all men, is the first death, not the second death of annihilation.

What did not pass?

Another simple means of determining what passed from Adam to others is to pose the question, What did not pass from Adam to others? Ellen White, with crystal clear consistency, deals with this question in The Great Controversy, 533, 534: “Adam could not transfer to his posterity that which he did not possess . . . Had man after his fall been allowed free access to the tree of life, he would have lived forever, and thus sin would have been immortalized. But cherubim and a flaming sword ‘kept the way of the tree of life,’ (Genesis 3:24) and not one of the family of Adam has been permitted to pass that barrier and partake of the life-giving fruit. Therefore there is not an immortal sinner.”

A prominent Seventh-day Adventist theologian, one of those who were trying to introduce the falsehoods of Calvinism into Adventism, once challenged me with the question: If guilt is not passed from Adam to his children, why do babies die? He obviously was not familiar with the above passages from the scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy, or else just did not accept them.

Beyond Belief

It is even so today. Those who refuse to permit God’s chosen messenger to correct their thinking, and protect them from misunderstanding the scriptures, go blindly on, stumbling from one error to another, blundering in the darkness of their own presumed wisdom. An outstanding example may be seen in the recent book, Beyond Belief, by Jack Sequeira. In a chapter entitled The Two Adams—Romans 5, he argues most strenuously for six and a third pages that the death referred to in Romans 5 is the second death. Thus he firmly rejects the Spirit of Prophecy, placing his own judgment above the light that has come to us from God, and uses this as a foundation pillar in a fearfully false theology.

Substitutionary Atonement

Sequiera’s false theology is built upon three main pillars. The first pillar is his misuse of Romans 5, as already noted. The second pillar is a rejection of the substitutionary atonement, which we will consider next. The third is a total rewriting of the gospel into the incomprehensible gibberish of metaphysical language. But before I share with you anything from this book, I must caution you that the book abounds in inglorious self-contradictions. Whatever you read from it to a friend, you must be prepared to have the friend say, “Oh no, that is the opposite of what he believes,” and then actually read to you, from a different page, the exact opposite of what you read. We will have reason to note this as we go along.

Sequeira’s false theology’s rejection of the substitutionary atonement, the great truth that Christ took our punishment and died for our sins, is found on pages 39–49 of his book, Beyond Belief. There we find the following remarkable statements, attributed to Catholic scholars (but with no documentation):

“No law allows one person to assume the guilt or punishment of another. Righteousness cannot be passed from one person to another.” Beyond Belief, 39.

“It is a fundamental principle of all law, God’s or man’s, that guilt or punishment cannot be transferred from the guilty to the innocent, nor can the righteousness of one person be legally transferred to another.” Ibid., 40.

“No law of God or man will allow guilt or righteousness to be transferred from one person to another . . . Law simply will not allow sin to be transferred from the guilty to the innocent.” Ibid., 42.

What then of the following scripture?

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all . . . he shall bear their iniquities . . . he bare the sin of many.” Isaiah 53:5, 6, 11, 12.

I just made a quick scan of the writings of Paul, and counted sixteen references saying that Christ died for us. Are these all in error? And what of the sanctuary service, which is entirely built around the concept of a transfer of sin and guilt from the sinner to a sin bearer, a substitutionary atonement? Is this all nonsense? I have just counted seventeen references in the Spirit of Prophecy which use the word transfer in describing how our guilt is laid on Jesus, and His righteousness is credited to us. Here is a sample:

“The iniquity is transferred to the innocent, the pure, the holy Son of God; and man, all undeserving, stands before the Lord cleansed from all unrighteousness, and clothed with the imputed righteousness of Christ.” Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1178.

In my CD-ROM I found more than five hundred passages where Ellen White uses the word substitute in a similar manner. She firmly believed in the substitutionary atonement, that Christ took our punishment and died for our sins. Sequeira with equal firmness denies this, except as the word substitution is defined by himself as something other than substitution. See page 48, where he contradicts himself in a single paragraph. In a similar self-contradiction, he refers to Jesus as our sin-bearer, after redefining the term as something other than sin-bearing. (See pages 14, 124, 131, et. al.)

We have now noted two of the basic principles, the foundations, or pillars, upon which Sequeira’s false theology is based: the misuse of Romans 5 and the denial of the substitutionary atonement. We have noted that he contradicts himself in regard to the substitutionary atonement. He also contradicts himself in regard to the second death, advancing the argument that Romans 5 applies to both the first and the second death.

Metaphysical Gibberish

There is a third principle of his false theology which is made necessary by these two. This third basic principle is a virtual rewriting of the plan of salvation into the incomprehensible gibberish of metaphysical language. (Metaphysical means part physical and part nonphysical.) Consider these examples:

“All three aspects of our salvation—justification, sanctification, and glorification—have already been accomplished in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ibid., 30. (Then why are we still here? Glorified persons are in the kingdom of God.)

“All mankind, as a corporate unit, participated in Adam’s fall.” Ibid., 36. (Jesus, according to Sequeira, was a part of corporate humanity. Did Jesus participate in Adam’s fall?)

“In Him we lived a perfect life. . .” Ibid., 43. (Before we were born?)

“In Him we died the penalty for sin.” Ibid., 43. (Were we our own saviors?)

“All humanity corporately obeyed the law in one Man, Jesus Christ.” Ibid., 48. (Then why are they called sinners?)

“Every baby is born subjectively under the reign of sin, condemnation, and death because of Adam’s fall.” Ibid., 61. (What happens if they die soon after birth? And what about the baby Jesus?)

“Our eternal destiny depends on which humanity we have chosen.” Ibid., 62. (Are there two humanities, and do we have a choice?)

“Thus the life we receive at birth is a life that has sinned.” Ibid., 63. (Is this reincarnation?)

“On the cross, Christ actually experienced the second death on behalf of fallen humanity.” Ibid., 75. (This statement is not qualified, so it must include annihilation. Did Jesus experience annihilation? Ellen White indicates that Jesus did in a certain manner experience the anguish of the second death (See The Desire of Ages, chapter 74.) but she does not introduce that concept into Romans 5.)

“The whole human race, which originated in the first Adam, died in Christ, the last Adam.” Ibid., 86. (But there are still seven billion of us here.)

“God will never help the flesh to be good, because the flesh is Satan’s domain, and unalterably opposed to God.” Ibid., 94. (What about the flesh of Jesus? For the shocking answer, read on.)

“Christ’s flesh, being our corporate sinful flesh, lusted after sin.” Ibid., 147. (Is that clear enough? Ellen White says that the flesh, of itself, cannot sin. Adventist Home, 127.)

“A believer is no longer under the law’s authority.” Ibid., 164. ( Then how can we sin? and what about James 2:12: “So speak ye and so do as they who shall be judged by the law of liberty?”)

“I believe the Bible teaches that God actually and unconditionally saved all humanity at the cross.” Ibid., 8. (But the conditions are stated in the next sentence.)

We could go on, but is it necessary? In a statement that is exceptional for its accuracy, Sequeira writes in his preface: “This book presents the plan of salvation in a new light and, therefore, will require the reader to put aside all preconceived ideas in order to appreciate its message.” Ibid., 7. (It will also be helpful to put aside your reasoning faculties. This is tacitly conceded on page 8.)

“In studying the truth of the gospel, you will discover much that contradicts human reasoning.” Ibid., 8. (This is emphatically true of Sequeira’s gospel, but not of the true gospel.)

If one should put one or more of these questions directly to Sequeira, as I have done, there will be an immediate and fluent answer, but the answer will be just as incomprehensible as the statements themselves. We are reminded of Ellen White’s response to persons who asked her to explain the writings of John Harvey Kellogg in his pantheistic book, The Living Temple. They cannot be explained, she said. They are unexplainable. All in all, Sequeira’s book is a tragic conglomeration of false reasoning, contradictions of scripture, contradictions of the Spirit of Prophecy, and even contradictions of itself. What is strongly affirmed on one page is with equal firmness denied on another. The book appears to be bringing about a striking fulfillment of the solemn warning by Ellen White: “God will arouse His people. If other means fail, heresies will come in among them, separating the chaff from the wheat.” Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, 707.

The heresies are here, pouring forth from our publishing houses and being preached from the pulpits of our churches. How can we hope to analyze them all and decipher their incomprehensible mysteries? Here is a practical suggestion. Don’t bother with the intricate arguments, the convoluted concepts, the false reasoning. Just look at the bottom line. If the bottom line tells you that you don’t need to stop sinning, that is all that you need to know. Throw the book away, even if other pages tell you that you should stop sinning, and do not pollute your mind with its mixture of truth with falsehood. Then fortify your soul by drinking from the pure fountains that flow from the throne of God, the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Here are the strong towers in which we may find safety. May God be with you.

The End

The Track of Romanism

If we are going to be part of the church at the end, we must be faithful in helping to give the Three Angel’s Messages to all the world. The Three Angels’ Messages are going to triumph, and the people that are teaching and preaching them will triumph with them. Seventh-day Adventists were raised up by God to take a three-fold message to the entire world. This is the reason that we are here. In this article we will study the Second Angels’ Message. “And another angel followed saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Revelation 14:8. What are the defining points of Babylon?

1. Babylon has fallen

“When you are lying on the ground you cannot fall. In order to fall, at some previous time you must have been in an elevated position. That tells us that at some previous time Babylon was pure and was part of the people of God.” The Great Controversy, 383.

2. Babylon has made all nations drink of her wine

This is spiritual wine. Isaiah wrote about it in Isaiah 29:9: “Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with wine; They stagger, but not with intoxicating drink.” Here are people who are drunk. They are staggering, but they have not drunk physical alcohol. What is the problem? They have drunk spiritual alcohol.

Notice this verse: “For the Lord has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely, the seers; The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, Read this, please. And he says, I cannot because it is sealed. Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, Read this please. And he says, I am not literate.” Isaiah 29: 10, 11. Here are people who read the Bible. Those that are educated say, “It’s sealed.” Many people today say that the book of Revelation is sealed, but there is no place in the book of Revelation that says that.

Others say, “Oh, I can’t understand it because I’m not trained in theology; I can’t explain the Word of God.”

Notice what the Lord says: “Therefore the Lord said: Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the commandment of men, therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden.” Isaiah 29: 13, 14.

What is this spiritual wine that the people are drunk with? It is teaching the commandments of men instead of the Word of God.

All the way from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible teaches that God’s standard is His law, and all those who want to be His, must obey His law. The last part of the Third Angel’s Message 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. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

Babylon defies God’s standard by teaching that you do not have to keep God’s Law, or that you cannot keep God’s Law. That is part of the wine of Babylon.

Higher criticism, destroying faith in the Bible, the doctrine of eternal torment, all of that is part of the wine of Babylon—the commandments of men instead of the Word of God. The result is that people become spiritually drunk. They think that they are saved when they are lost.

3. Babylon is a world-wide phenomenon

Being drunk from Babylon’s wine is not something that just happens off somewhere in Africa or India or China or the United States. She has made all nations drink of her wine.

One of the saddest things in the world today is that many Christians are so satisfied. They say, “Oh, I am saved.” They think they are saved, yet they are living in sin. They are drunk with the wine of Babylon.

No one is saved who is living in sin. Matthew 7:21–32. The Bible says that the end of a sinful way of life is death. Romans 6. The only people who can have assurance of salvation are those that through the power of the Holy Spirit overcome sin. Romans 8. Those that go on living in sin are of the devil. 1 John 3:8. The children of God who have His seed inside overcome sin. 1 John 3:9. John says that you can tell who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil by whether or not they are living righteously—keeping God’s Law, the ten commandments. I John 3:10.

4. Babylon is defiled by fornication

What is this fornication? It is spiritual fornication. “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” Revelation 18:3.

In Ephesians 5 Paul talks about marriage, which is a symbol of the relationship between Christ and His church. “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. [He is talking about the church.] For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:29–32.

Christ and the church are to become one. As the husband and wife become one flesh, Christ and the church are to become one spirit. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.” 1 Corinthians 6:15–17. He that is joined to a harlot, is one flesh with her, one body with her; but he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.

When you have two, then it is holy, but when you have three, it is wicked! The church is to be joined to Christ; but if the church is joined to the leaders of this world, that is fornication.

Government and Christians

What type of relationship should the church have with the government?

Jesus said to Pilate, “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. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not a worldly kingdom.” Then if something is a worldly kingdom is that Christ’s kingdom? Absolutely not, it cannot be.

Did Jesus teach that we should just be members of the heavenly kingdom, and not even acknowledge any earthly government? Look in Matthew 22. At this time the Jews were trying to trap Jesus on this very point. He said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21.

There are some things that belong to government. God has given human government, and we are to render to them the things that belong to them. There are other things that belong to God alone; the government has no control of those.

We are now going to examine Romans 13 and see how the apostle Paul interpreted this instruction. It is important that we understand this because we will probably face these texts before courts someday. Paul tells us that we should be subject to the governing authorities in verse one. He says if you resist the authority you resist the ordinance of God in verse two. He says that the government is God’s minister to you for good in verse four. And he says in verse five, “Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience sake.” Then he talks about paying taxes in verse six. And in verse seven he says, “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

“Owe no one anything except you love one another, for he who loves one another has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8. Now especially notice verse nine. “For the commandments, You shall not commit adultery. You shall not murder. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness.You shall not covet. And if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this.”

The apostle Paul was the most highly educated of all the apostles. He knew the law. Why then would he quote only five commandments and say, “Now if there is any other, it’s summed up in this”? It is because of the context. God has given government the authority to enforce only the commandments in the second table of the law.

In other words, human governments have only the authority to enforce laws regarding my relation with my fellow men, but not my relationship with God.

Because of this, all down through history the devil has been attacking those first four commandments, and trying to make men break them.

Any time a church and state join together to try to enforce one of the first four commandments they have stepped over the line into forbidden territory. God will judge them for this, and He will also judge anyone that follows them. At this point we must obey God rather than men.

5. Babylon is a woman

In Bible prophecy a woman always represents a church. Babylon is called a harlot woman, or an apostate church. Because she, like the harlots of Judah and Samaria, is teaching people to break God’s law. Ezekiel 23:37, 38.

6. Babylon is richly adorned

“She was arrayed in purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.” Revelation 17:4. Notice, she is covered with jewelry and expensive clothes.

If you like beautiful things, if you like jewels, God has made a city for you that is full of jewels. The streets are gold. The foundations are adorned with twelve different types of precious stones. Each of the twelve gates are made out of one pearl. It is so beautiful! Once Ellen White said that if you could get one glance of the Holy City you would never want anything in this world again. Oh friend, you must be there! But nobody is going to be inside that city that is proud. Malachi 4:1.

Pride was the problem at the beginning. Do you know one of the things that the devil became proud of? his beauty. One of the reasons he was so beautiful was that he was covered with all kinds of jewels and precious stones. Pride is a lethal spiritual disease.

Paul said in 1 Timothy 2 that we should not wear gold and pearls and costly clothing. Why? Because our hearts might be lifted up with pride. And you will be shut out of the Holy City. We may think that it will not make us proud, but that is what God has told us. Do you think that you are wiser than God?

Friend, this jewelry and adornment issue is serious business. It is a matter of whether or not we are going to do what God’s Word says or not.

7. Babylon is a persecuting power

“I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” Revelation 17:6. She is drunk with the blood of the saints. She is a persecuting power. In verse eighteen it says: “The woman who you saw is that city which reigns over the kings of the earth.” It’s the great city. In John’s time, when the people read this, they did not have any question in their mind what city this was. Even in the time of the reformers they knew which city it was.

Let me ask you this question: If you were going to pick out right now, today, one city which has more influence over the kings and the governments of the world than any other one city, what city would you pick? It would be the same city!

“On her forehead a name was written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Revelation 17:5. This city has daughters—daughter churches. These daughter churches are the churches that are passing out the same wine—the doctrines of men, that she is passing out to all the world.

Stanton and His Message

In 1893, there was a man named Stanton who published a paper called the Loud Cry. He taught that you must come out of the Adventist church because it had become Babylon. He even said this message was the Loud Cry. Ellen White wrote a number of articles that were published in the Review and Herald in the latter part of 1893 condemning this man for what he was doing. In these articles Ellen White explains more than a dozen times who and what God’s church really is. She said that it is not going to go down, but will go through to the end.

She says that Babylon is the churches that cling to the doctrines and traditions of Rome and follow her worldly practices. Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 233. She also says what God’s church is that is going to go through. “However weak and compassed with infirmity the people of God may be, those who turn from disloyalty to God in this wicked and perverse generation, and come back to their allegiance, standing to vindicate the holy law of God, making up the breach made by the man of sin under the direction of Satan, will be accounted the children of God, and through the righteousness of Christ will stand perfect before God.” Tesimonies to Ministers, 40, 41.

Who is it that is going to make up the breach and are the children of God and are not to be called Babylon? It is the people who do what? That vindicate the law of God! They are not telling people that you cannot keep it!

“While the Lord was pouring out His Spirit upon the people, did these men receive of the heavenly anointing? While the deep movings of the Spirit of God were made manifest among the people, and souls were being converted, and hard hearts broken, there were those who were listening to the suggestions of Satan, and they were inspired with zeal from beneath to go forth and proclaim that the very people receiving of the Holy Spirit, who are to receive the latter rain and the glory that is to lighten the whole earth, were Babylon.” Testimonies to Ministers, 49. Who is the church that is going through? It is the people that are receiving God’s Spirit.

“Through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory.” Testimonies to Ministers, 50. The church that is going through are the people through whom God is going to make a final and full display of His love. Would you like to be a part of that group? You cannot have the love of God in your hearts and display it to others if you are not keeping His commandments. 1 John 5:2, 3.

The true church are those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12.

The Path to Life

What will happen if we are not faithful to our trust? Ellen White said in Testimonies to Ministers, 362, that we were in the track of Romanism, and she wrote in 1886 to the General Conference president and said we could become a sister of Babylon. This is a matter of prophecy that we cannot contradict, so we cannot say that at some point in time the structure could not become a part of Babylon.

What can we do so that we do not become part of Babylon?

1. We must preach the Three Angels’ Messages. These messages are present truth for our time, and include the doctrine of righteousness by faith.

2. We must cleanse the camp. “We must as a people arouse and cleanse the camp of Israel. Licentiousness, unlawful intimacy, and unholy practices are coming in among us in a large degree; and ministers who are handling sacred things are guilty of sin in this respect. They are coveting their neighbors’ wives, and the seventh commandment is broken. We are in danger of becoming a sister to fallen Babylon, of allowing our churches to become corrupted, and filled with every foul spirit, a cage for every unclean and hateful bird; and will we be clear unless we make decided movements to cure the existing evil?” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, 188.

3. We must repent and stop trying to control other men. In Testimonies to Ministers, Mrs. White says that we are on the track of Romanism because of this.

If we preach the Three Angels’ Messages, if we cleanse the camp, and if we repent and come back to New Testament church organization, we can avoid becoming Babylon.

Putting off a Decision

If we fail to do these things, we will be taking another path that ensures that we will become part of Babylon before the end.

“Oh,” somebody says, “I already knew that, Pastor John, that’s what I have believed for years, and I am waiting for that to happen, and when that happens, I am going to make the right decision.” People are preaching that today.

I have thought this through. What would have happened if you had been alive in the early part of 27 A.D. when John the Baptist was preaching? You were impressed with his preaching. It sounded like the truth, but you said, “I’m going to go and check with the local Rabbi.” You find out that John the Baptist did not have any permission from the Sanhedrin to do what he is doing. You say, “34 A.D. is not come yet and this is God’s church until the end of the 70 weeks, so I am going to follow the church and the church leaders.”

Then you set up an independent ministry and you send the word all over the country, “You have to stay with the church until 34 A.D. Stay with the leaders. We are God’s chosen people.”

Soon Jesus comes on the scene. You go to check with the Sanhedrin. They say, “Well, He came here without authorization and cleaned things out in the temple, but we do not approve of what He’s doing either because He has not come and told us anything. He does not acknowledge recognized, organized, and authorized church authority. You better get the word out.”

I want to tell you, the word did go out. Read the chapter in The Desire of Ages on the crisis in Galilee. The word went out all over the country that He was an impostor and that He was not the Messiah. It could have been said, “I’m following the church organization that God set up. We are God’s chosen people.”

The time comes that they crucify Jesus. But you say, “The end of the 70 weeks has not come yet.”

Finally you are there one day with Saul. You have been successful in convincing thousands and thousands of people that they should stay with God’s chosen people, with His church. They get ready to stone Stephen. Do you suppose that you would say then, “Well, I guess the 70 weeks are over now, I guess that we were wrong, I guess that we should turn around and believe.” Do you think you would have done that? No friend. You were lost way back there when you started listening to John the Baptist and decided to let someone else be conscience for you.

Friend, it is the same today. There are people all over the world saying, “Pastor John, I am just going to wait till the National Sunday Law, and the wicked are shaken out and then I will do what is right.” You will not. As we go through life, day by day, week by week, we are all developing habits. And if you developed the habit of just going along with the system, you will not suddenly, when a great crisis comes, turn around and do just the opposite. That does not happen.

Friend, we are living in serious times. Concerning the wine of Babylon, Ellen White said, “The neglect of plainest warnings will place us on the guilty list.” Manuscript Release, vol. 19, 381. “The wine of Babylon is received and all nations become drunken with the spiritual poison. We see that those who will not receive the truth are preparing to resist its influence.” Manuscript Release, vol. 21, 284. God has been sending a message of revival and reformation to the Seventh-day Adventist church now for many years. The vast majority are not listening. Instead they are getting ready to receive the mark of the beast.

Friend, it is time to wake up, and say, “Lord, I am going to follow you all the way, and do what you want me to do no matter what happens.” If you just drift along, you are going to receive the mark of the beast like many other Adventists.

Your only safety is to accept all of the Three Angels’ Messages and live by them. Say: “Lord, by your grace, I am going to keep all your commandments. I am going to have the faith of Jesus and do His will.”

The End

Editorial – Keeping Our Eyes On Jesus Christ

When we keep our eyes on Jesus, especially the closing scenes of His life, the love of God and the law of God become linked together in our minds. Unless Jesus had loved us beyond our comprehension He would never have gone to the cross. But He would not have needed to go to the cross if there had not been a law that we had broken which would result in our certain death if the death penalty was not paid. Christ died for our sins. 1 Corinthians 15:3.

The question is, what practical effect will such a study and meditation have on those who engage in it? The result will be unity in the church and in Christendom. The roadblock to unity is first of all selfishness of heart and then its practical result—failure to keep the law of God. Notice the inspired counsel on this subject.

“Satan will work to bring in criticism and misstatements, and to lead men to want their own way. There is no safety for any one who retains his selfish habits. God calls upon every soul to take up the work of self-examination. If all will now take up the work God has given them, and be converted in the doing of that work they will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Satan will make every effort to create disunion, and unless the love of Christ fills the heart there will be divisions. But divisions always dishonor God, and a great deal of time is spent in an effort to set things right, when it ought not to be necessary to spend a moment in this way.” Special Testimonies, Series B, 34, 35.

“Men hang with admiration upon the lips of eloquence while it teaches that the transgressor shall not die, that salvation may be secured without obedience to the law of God. If the professed followers of Christ would accept God’s standard, it would bring them into unity; but so long as human wisdom is exalted above His Holy Word, there will be divisions and dissension. The existing confusion of conflicting creeds and sects is fitly represented by the term ‘Babylon,’ which prophecy (Revelation 14:8; 18:2) applies to the world-loving churches of the last days.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 124.

“The Lord would have His church purified from all contention and strife. Every phase of character is to be in harmony with the character of Jesus Christ. Unity will then be seen as the sure result. Divisions are the fruit of Satan’s work. Those who love God and keep His commandments will ever reveal the meekness and lowliness of Christ, because they have learned in the school of the great Teacher. We need to be worked by the Holy Spirit.” Letter 24, 1900.

“Love to God comprises our duty to God; love to our neighbor, our duty to one another. Mutual love must be cherished at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances. This is the credential which we bear to the world, that God has sent his Son Jesus to die, to bring back the moral image of God in man: ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’ This love cultivated, becomes an abiding principle, and is effectual in rooting out dissensions and divisions among brethren. Where envying and jealousies are cherished, there is every evil work. All this must be cleansed from the soul temple, and then God will work in much greater power for his people. But he cannot do this where those evil things exist; for should God bless, each party would be confirmed in his conviction that he is right and his brother wrong. In the place of love there would be contention over the very blessings bestowed. In the place of acting like Christians, and guarding one another’s interest, there would be a tearing and rending of one another, like brute beasts. Such a spirit is wholly in harmony with Satan, and is in accordance with his mind and purposes, fulfilling his will, doing his pleasure; for he knows the sure result is separation from God. Then he obtains full control over their minds and affections. And while professing to be children of God, they are to all intents and purposes children of the wicked one; for they act out his spirit and do his will. It is mutual strife in the place of mutual love, that if persisted in will prove their common ruin. Professed Christian churches are often ruined by their own unchristian course toward one another.” Review and Herald, June, 28, 1887.

The End