Well Armed for the Battle

Few Adventists object to the idea of tract work, while the prospect of actually knocking on the door of a stranger’s house fills them with fear. The most commonly voiced fear is that they do not feel that they know their Bible well enough to be able to give a Bible study. While this is understandable, it does not correctly reflect the reality of the situation. Simply stated, most Adventists have little appreciation of how much of their Bible they really do know, at least relative to the average population. A little reflection, however, will reveal how great an advantage we really do have when presenting the truth to others.

A direct and simple approach is to, first of all, simply ask what subject your prospective student would like to study. Having them pick the subject will virtually guarantee that they will be eagerly anticipating the Bible study. It also makes a very excellent reason for us to say, “I have some good material on that subject at home. Let’s get together next Tuesday evening after I have had a chance to organize the study for you.” You will now have at least a week to gather up all of the necessary information on the subject.

Second, almost all Adventists have a Bible concordance. This places us far ahead of the vast majority of all non-Adventists who have never even heard of such a book.

Third, most Adventists have some form of access to the seven volume set of Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentaries. Every verse in the Bible is expertly exegized there, and volume 7A is inspired exegesis.

Fourth, we all either have or have access to an extensive collection of Spirit of Prophecy books, in addition to the three volume set of indexes. By way of example, in the single volume of Christ’s Objects Lessons alone we have the definitively inspired commentary on each of Jesus’ parables. And remember, you do not have to tell the Bible student that you borrowed the material from Mrs. White! All your student wants from you is to know what is the truth is that is in the Bible. He does not care who taught you.

While these are all advantages that are working for you in presenting the truth to others, there is one more advantage which is, perhaps, of more value than all of the rest. Let me share a short story to illustrate what I am talking about.

A lady on my tract route once surprised me with the question, “My son was born out of wedlock. The Jehovah’s Witnesses tell me that he can never go to heaven. Is that true?”

I gave her the only answer I ever give to any non-Adventist about theology, “May I show you from the Bible?” This answer virtually guarantees that I am going to be invited into the home to open the Word of God.

As I went to get my Bible, my thoughts were racing. I did not have any idea what verse I might use that would deal with the salvation of illegitimate children. But we do not enter into the conflict alone. Heavenly intelligences guide our every step when we are seeking to carry the message to a perishing world.

The only reference that came to mind was the eighteenth chapter of Ezekiel. I remembered that it spoke about salvation being lost by the righteous man who turned away from righteousness and gained by the wicked man who turned away from wickedness. I was confident that I could reason my way to the truth from those statements. For some peculiar reason, however, my mind was blocked to Revelation 20:13, a favorite text of mine, which clearly states that we are judged by our own works. Opening my Bible to Ezekiel 18, verse 20 seemed to just leap off of the page at me. I cannot explain, in physical terms, why my attention was drawn to it other than by divine influence.

I was not at all familiar with the text, but on faith I read aloud the first sentence of that verse. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” I thought, all right, I can reason my way to the truth with that alone. But when I read the next sentence, I was stunned. “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.”

I do not believe that we ever finished reading all of that verse. The lady was overjoyed! Her whole face just lit up to see the plain statement that her young son was not condemned because of her sin. She profusely expressed her thanks for the relief she felt.

I never knew that such a statement about illegitimate children even existed in the Bible and yet, when the need arose, I had gone directly to the text.

Brothers and sisters, when we go to fight the battles of the Lord, we do not go into the conflict unarmed, neither do we go alone.

The End

The Armada, part 2

Sunday, morning, July 31, witnessed the first encounter between the great navy of Spain and the little fleet of England. Medina Sidonia gave the signal for an engagement; but to his surprise, he found that the ability of accepting or declining battle lay entirely with the English. Howard’s ships were stationed to the windward and the sluggish Spanish galleons could not close with them. The English vessels, however, which were light and skillfully handled, would run up to the Armada, pour a broadside into it, and then as swiftly retreat beyond the reach of the Spanish guns. Sailing right into the wind, they defied pursuit. This was a method of fighting most frustrating to the Spanish, but they were unable to change it. All day the Armada moved slowly up-channel before the westerly breeze; and the English fleet hanging upon its rear, continued to fire into it, now a single shot, and again, a whole broadside. This action was repeated over and over again. The Spanish guns, seeking to return the fire, found that their shots, fired from lofty decks, passed over the English ships, falling harmlessly into the sea beyond them. It was in vain that the Spanish admiral raised the flag of battle, for the wind and the sea would not permit him to lie to. His nimble foe would not come within reach, unless it might be for a moment to send a cannonball through the side of some of his galleons and then make off, laughing to scorn the ungainly efforts of this bulky pursuer to overtake him. As yet there had been no loss of either ship or man on the part of the English.

In addition to the damage inflicted on them by the English guns, the Armada sustained other damage. As night fell, its ships huddled together to prevent dispersion. The galleon of Pedro di Valdez, fouling with the Santa Catalina, was damaged and fell behind, becoming the booty of the English. This galleon had onboard a large amount of treasure and, what was of even greater importance to the captors, whose scanty stock of ammunition was already becoming exhausted, many tons of gunpowder. A loss of even greater significance to the Spanish than the money and the ammunition was that of her commander. Pedro di Valdez was the only navel officer of the fleet who was acquainted with the Channel.

Later the same evening a yet greater calamity befell the Armada. The captain of the rear admiral’s galleon, much out of humor for the day’s adventures and quarreling with all who approached him, accused the master gunner of careless firing. Greatly offended, the man went straight to the powder magazine, thrust a burning match into it, and threw himself out of one of the portholes into the sea. Within seconds, in a momentary burst of splendor, the explosion lit the surrounding ocean. The deck was upheaved; the turrets at stern and stem rose into the air, carrying with them the paymaster of the fleet and 200 soldiers. The strong hulk, though torn by the explosion, continued to float and was seized in the morning by the English who found in it a great amount of treasure and supply of ammunition which had not ignited.

On the very first day of conflict, the Armada had lost two flagships, 450 officers and men, the paymaster of the fleet, and 100,000 ducats of Spanish gold, a sum equal to about 50,000 of English money. This was not a favorable start of an expedition which Spain had exhausted herself to outfit.

The following day the Armada continued its way slowly up-channel, followed by the fleet under Howard, who hovered upon its rear but did not attack it. On Tuesday the first really serious encounter took place. As the morning rose, the wind changed to the east, which exactly reversed the position of the two fleets, giving the weather advantage to the Armada. Howard attempted to sail around it and get to the windward side, but Medina Sidonia intercepted him by coming between him and the shore and compelled him to accept battle at close quarters. The combat was long and confused. In the evening the Spanish ships gathered themselves up and forming into a compact group, went on their way. It was believed that they were obeying Philip’s instructions to meet the duke of Parma and then, with his army, strike the decisive blow. The shores of the English Channel were crowded with anxious spectators, breathlessly watching their brave little fleet battling against the mighty ships of the Spanish invader. From every port of the realm, English merchant vessels were hastening to the spot where England’s very existence hung on the outcome of the battle. While the many small additions added greatly to the appearance, they did very little to the effectiveness of the queen’s navy.

On Wednesday a few shots were exchanged, but no general action took place. By the following day, the wind had once again changed to the east, giving the Armada once more the advantage. The sharpest action yet to be fought began. The ships of the two fleets engaged yardarm to yardarm, and broadside after broadside was exchanged at a distance of about 100 yards. The English admiral, Lord Howard, in his ship the Ark, and by the shock unshipped her rudder and rendered her unmanageable. Six Spanish galleons closed around her, never doubting that she was their prize. In an instant the Ark’s own boats had her in tow; and passing out of the hostile circle she was off, to the amazement of the Spaniards. The fight continued several hours longer. When evening fell, it found the English fleet, who had all through the conflict seen the Spanish shot pass harmlessly over it, burying itself in the sea, showing no sign of battle, with scarcely a cord torn and its crews intact. The sides of the galleons, however, were pierced and riddled with the English shot, and their masts were cut or splintered.

The following day the procession up-channel was resumed in the same order as before, the mighty Armada leading the van and the nimble English fleet following. By Saturday afternoon the Spaniards were approaching the point at which they were to be joined by the Duke of Parma. As he had not arrived yet, Medina Sidonia decided to cast anchor and wait.

The critical hour had arrived when it was to be determined whether England should remain an independent kingdom or become one of Philip’s numerous satrapies; whether it was to retain the light of the Protestant faith or to fall back into the darkness and serfdom of a medieval superstition. In the skirmishes that had preceded this moment, the English ships had fared well; but now the moment had come for a death struggle between Spain and England. The Armada had arrived on the battleground comparatively intact. It had experienced rough handling from the tempests of the Atlantic and had received some heavy blows from the English fleet; several of the galleons which had glided so proudly out of the harbor at Lisbon were now at the bottom of the ocean, but these losses were hardly felt by the great Armada. It only awaited the arrival of the Duke of Parma to be perhaps the mightiest combination of navel and military power which the world had seen.

As evening drew on, low, rapidly moving clouds gave evidence of an approaching storm. The waves of the Atlantic, forcing their way up the Channel, uneasily rocked the huge Spanish galleons. The night wore away and with the return of light, Medina Sidonia could be seen scrutinizing the eastern ocean, looking for the approach of the Duke of Parma.

Meanwhile, Parma was himself as anxious to join the Armada as they were to have him. A fleet of flat-bottomed vessels was ready to carry this powerful host; but one thing was wanting, and its absence rendered all of these vast preparations fruitless. In order to join the Spanish fleet, Parma needed an open door from his harbors to the ocean, and the Dutch saw to it that he had none. They drew a line of warships along the Netherland coast; and Parma, with his sailors and soldiers, was imprisoned in his own ports. It was strange that these circumstances had not been foreseen and provided for. In this oversight is revealed the working of a Hand powerful enough by its slightest touches to defeat the wisest schemes and crush the mightiest combinations of man when directed against a people who were leaning on Him for help.

Parma repeatedly wrote to both Philip and Medina Sidonia telling them of his predicament, but Philip either would not or could not understand.

In the meantime, anxious consultations were being held onboard the English fleet. The brave and patriotic men who led it recognized the gravity of the situation. If the Armada was joined by Parma, it would be so overwhelmingly powerful that it seemed nothing could hinder its crossing over to England. The men of the English fleet feared that before another dawn had come, Parman’s fleet would anchor alongside that of Medina Sidonia and the opportunity for striking a preemptive blow would be past.

A bold and somewhat novel idea was decided upon. Eight of the volunteer ships were selected, their masts smeared with pitch, and their hulls filled with powder, all kinds of explosives, and combustible materials. Once prepared they were set adrift in the direction of the Armada. The night favored the execution of this design. Dark clouds hid the stars while the muttering of distant thunder reverberated in the sky. The deep, heavy swell of the ocean that precedes the tempest was rocking the galleons, rendering their positions every moment more unpleasant. On the one side they found themselves close to the shallows of Calais, with the quicksand of Flanders behind them.

Suddenly, about the hour past midnight, the watch discerned dark objects emerging out of the blackness and advancing toward them. They had scarcely given the alarm when suddenly these dark shapes burst into flame, lighting up sea and sky in gloomy grandeur. Steadily these pillars of fire continued to move over the waters straight toward the Armada. The Spaniards gazed for one terrified moment upon the dreadful apparition; and then, divining its nature and mission, they instantly cut their cables, and, with the loss of some of their galleons and the damage of others, fled in confusion and panic.

With the first light, the English admiral weighed anchor and set sail in pursuit of the fleeing Spanish. At eight o’clock on Monday morning, Drake caught up with the Armada; and giving it no time to collect and form, began the most important of all the battles which had yet been fought.

The English ships drew close to the galleons, pouring broadside after broadside into them. From morning to night the rain of shot continued. The galleons, falling back before the fierce onslaught, huddled together. The English fire, pouring into the mass of hulls and masts, was doing fearful work, converting the ships into shambles. Rivulets of blood poured form their scuttles into the sea. By this time, many of the Spanish guns were dismounted; those that remained active fired but slowly, while the heavy rolling of the vessels threw the shot into the air. Several of the galleons were seen to go down in the action, others reeled away toward Ostend.

When evening fell the fighting was still going on. But with the shifting of the breeze to the northwest and the increasing rise of the sea, a new calamity threatened the disabled and helpless Armada; it was being forced upon the Flanders coast. If the English had had strength and ammunition to pursue them, the galleons would have that night found common burial on the shoals and quicksand of the Netherlands.

The power of the Armada had been broken; most of its vessels were in sinking condition. Between 4,000 and 5,000 of its soldiers had been killed and received burial in the ocean, and at least as many more lay wounded and dying onboard their shattered galleons. Of the English, not more than 100 had fallen.

Thankful was the terrified Medina Sidonia when night fell, giving him a few hours respite; but with morning his dangers and anxieties returned as he found himself between two great perils. On the windward of him was the English fleet. Behind him was that belt of muddy water of the Dutch coast, which, if he struck was lost. With every passing moment the helpless Armada was drawing nearer to those terrible shoals. Suddenly the wind shifted to the east, and the change rescued, at least for the moment, the Spanish galleons on the very brink of destruction.

The English fleet, having lost the advantage of the wind, stood off; and the Spanish admiral, relieved of their presence, assembled his officers to deliberate on the course to be taken. The question to be decided was: Should they return to their anchorage off Calais or go back to Spain by way of the Orkneys? To return to Calais involved a second battle with the English; and were this to take place, the officers were of the opinion that for the Armada, there would be no tomorrow. The alternative of returning to Spain in battered ships, passing without pilots through unknown and dangerous seas, was a solution nearly as formidable; nevertheless, it was the lesser of the two evils to which their choice was limited, and it was the one adopted.

No sooner had the change of wind rescued the Spanish from the destruction which seemed to await them than it shifted once more and, settling in the southwest, blew with ever increasing intensity. The mostly rudderless ships could do nothing but drift before the rising storm into the northern seas. Drake followed them for a day or two without firing a gun, having spent his supply of ammunition; but just the sight of his ships was enough for the terrified Spaniards and they fled.

Spreading the sail to the rising gale, the Armada bore northward. Drake had been uneasy, fearing that the Spaniards might seek refuge in Scotland; but when he saw this danger pass and the Armada speed away toward the shore of Norway, he resolved to return before famine should set in among his crews.

No sooner did Drake turn back from the fleeing foe than the tempest took up the pursuit. Suddenly a furious gale burst out, and the last the English saw of the Armada was the vanishing forms of their retreating galleons as they entered the cloud of storm and became lost in the blackness of the northern night.

Carried on the tempest’s wings around Cape Wrath, they were next launched amid the perils of the Hebrides. The rollers of the Atlantic hoisted them, dashing them against the cliffs or flinging them on the shelving shore. Their crews, too worn with toil and want to swim ashore, were drowned in the surf and littered the beaches with their corpses. The winds drove the survivors farther south until they reached the west coast of Ireland.

There came a day’s calm; hunger and thirst were raging on board the ships; their store of water was entirely spent. Seeking to relieve their desperate situation, the Spaniards sent some boats on shore to beg supplies. They prayed piteously, willing to pay any amount of money but were unable to obtain any. The natives knew that the Spaniards had lost the day and should they comfort and assist the enemies of Elizabeth, they would be held answerable.

The storm then returned in all its former violence and raged for eleven days. During that time, galleon after galleon came on shore, scattering its drowned crews by hundreds upon the beach.

The sea was not the only enemy these wretched men had to dread. The Irish, though of the same religion as the Spaniards, were more pitiless than the waves. As the Spaniards crawled through the surf up the beaches, the Irish slaughtered them for the sake of their velvets, their gold brocades, and their rich chains. In addition, prompted by the fear that the Spaniards might be joined by the Irish and lead them in revolt, the English garrisons in Ireland had received orders to execute all who fell into their hands. It was calculated that in the month of September alone, 8,000Spaniards perished between the Giant’s Causeway and Blosket Sound, 1,100 were executed by the government officers, and 3,000 were murdered by the Irish. The rest were drowned. The tragedy, witnessed of old on the shores of the Red Sea, had repeated itself, with wider horrors, on the coast of Ireland.

The few galleons that escaped the waves and rocks crept back home, one by one. The terrible tragedy was too great to be disclosed all at once. When the terrible facts became fully known, the nation was shocked. There was scarcely a noble family in all of Spain which had not lost one or more of its members. Of the 30,000 who had sailed in the Armada, scarcely 10,000 ever returned; and these returned, in almost every instance, to pine and die. The Duke of Medina Sidonia, the commander in chief, was almost the only one of the nobles who outlived the catastrophe; but his head was bowed in shame. Envying the fate of those who had perished, he buried himself from the eyes of his countrymen in his countryseat.

The sorrowful Philip was deeply wounded from a quarter from which he looked for sympathy and help. Pope Sixtus had promised a contribution of a million crowns toward the expenses of the Armada; but when he saw the outcome, he refused to pay a single ducat. In vain Philip urged that the Pope had instigated him to the attempt, the expedition had been undertaken in the sacred cause of the Church, and that the loss ought to be borne mutually. To his entreaties, Sixtus was deaf.

The Armada was the mightiest effort, by force of arms, ever put forth by the Roman Catholic powers against Protestantism; and it proved the turning point in the great war between Rome and the Reformation. Spain was never after what she had been before the failure of that expedition. It said in effect to her, “Remove the diadem; put off the crown.”

Almost all of the military genius and the naval skill enrolled in the service of Spain were lost in that ill-fated expedition. The financial loss could not be reckoned at less than six million ducats, but that was nothing compared with the loss of Spain’s prestige. The catastrophe stripped her naked. Her position and that of the Protestant powers were to a large extent reversed—England and the Netherlands rose, and Spain fell.

The tragedy of the Armada was a great sermon, the text of which was that the ordinary course of events had been interrupted; the heavens had been bowed, and the Great Judge had descended upon the scene, working out a marvelous deliverance for England. While dismay reined within the popish kingdoms, the Protestant states joined in a chorus of thanksgiving.

The End

The Church Without a Pastor

Do you know any churches that have no pastors? Are you aware of the fact that many of God’s faithful people attend churches that do not have a regular pastor? This situation is not going to get better in the sense that there are going to be more pastors; it is going to get worse. This is actually good news, however, because there are going to be more churches developing so fast around the world that there are not going to be enough pastors to care for them all.

Today many are meeting in homes or in unheated buildings because they have no other place to meet. There are some churches where the members are meeting in secret because of religious persecution, and most of these churches do not have a pastor.

By the way, how many people do you have to have to form a church? Have you ever thought that through? According to Matthew 18, you have to have two. In the book Upward Look, 315, Ellen White wrote an interesting statement about the church. It says, “God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations, it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ Matthew 18:20. Where Christ is, even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church. For the presence of the High and Holy one who inhabits eternity can alone constitute a church. Where two or three are present who love and obey the commandments, of God, Jesus there presides. Let it be in the desolate place of the earth, in the wilderness, in the city, enclosed in prison walls.”

Many people think it is a great calamity to be without a pastor, especially people who have attended large churches where they have had somone to preach to them regularly. They are used to going and sitting in a pew, listening to the choir, organ and piano, and listening the the speakers and sermons; and they think, “My, if we had no pastor, what would we do?” However, even if you consider it a calamity, it is certainly not nearly the worst thing that could happen to you. Do you know what is an infinitely worse calamity than having no pastor? It is having an apostate pastor. It is much better having no pastor than to have one who is an apostate. So, do not get to feeling too sorry for churches that have no pastor. They are not in nearly as bad as shape as they might be.

Every Christian today needs to understand what the Bible says about apostate pastors. Are you aware of how dangerous it really is? If you sit and listen to an apostate pastor, you are in danger of losing your soul.

According to the Bible, one of the primary characteristics of an apostate pastor is that they preach a peace and safety message. “Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone, is given to covetousness; and from the prophets even to the priests, everyone deals falsely. They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly saying ‘Peace, peace! When there is no peace.” Jeremiah 6:13, 14

It is the natural human tendency, when there is the belief that there is going to be peace and security, to relax and feel secure. A false sense of security, however, is not going to keep you from being destroyed.

Part of the peace and safety message is the concept that you cannot keep the law of God perfectly. When a person who has been taught this peace and safety message meets someone who knows what the New Testament truth of obedience is, it is a very shaking experience for him. His initial reaction is to go back to his pastor and to his fellow church members, who have been taught this same lie, and talk to them about it.

Now one of two things has to happen. When a person is confronted with the truth, they will either yield to the truth or decide to keep believing the lie that the Christian’s experience is one of sinning and confessing. If they choose to believe the lie, they will then feel the need to rid themselves of those people who keep troubling their conscience.

In Testimonies to Ministers, 409, 410, there is a prophecy. It was prophetic then, but it is taking place now. She said, “Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan. If doubts and unbelief are cherished, the faithful ministers will be removed from the people who think they know so much. ‘If thou hadst known,’ said Christ, ‘even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto they peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.’”

If you go to a church and listen to apostasy being preached, convicting yourself that you are strong and that you are going to do missionary work, you are committing the sin of presumption; and God will not work a miracle to save you. I cannot overstate how serious this is. It has to do with understanding how the human mind works. If you have studied psychology, you already know that if you tell someone something long enough, they will believe it. That is the way the human mind works.

There are going to be millions of people who sat in churches and listened to this type of smooth preaching, who will come to the Lord in the day of judgment, and who will be lost. We are talking about a serious matter. We are dealing not with life and death; we are dealing with eternal life and death.

So, if you are listening to false doctrines being preached that are not according to the New Testament, if you stay listening to that, you will eventually believe it, even if you do not believe it now. You might say, “My pastor is wrong.” Listen, if you know your pastor is wrong and you keep returning to listen to that error, the time will come when you will believe it. If you do not accept and follow all of the truth, eventually you will believe a lie and be deceived and be lost. This is very clearly spelled out in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2.

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

“I saw that we have no time to throw away in listening to fables. Our minds should not be thus diverted, but should be occupied with the present truth, and seeking wisdom that we may obtain a more thorough knowledge of our position, that with meekness we may able to give a reason of our hope from the Scriptures. While false doctrines and dangerous errors are pressed upon the mind, it cannot be dwelling upon the truth which is to fit and prepare the house of Israel to stand in the day of the Lord.” Early Writings, 124, 125

The question remaining in people’s minds is how to start a church without a pastor. This is keeping any people from starting home churches which they should have started long ago but were afraid to. Yet in the New Testament, there were many churches that had no pastor; and before the end there are going to be many more. So, we are going to look at the divine counsel for a church that has no pastor. We are going to look at how to have a Sabbath school and how to have a church service when you have no pastor.

“On the Sabbath, the few friends here assembled in Edson’s parlor for Sabbath school. There are four families—twelve persons in all—who usually meet for worship. Edson conducts a Sabbath school when he is at home. After Sabbath school they either have a Bible reading or a prayer and social meeting.”

The first service you want to have on Sabbath morning, if you have a church without a pastor, is Sabbath school. Notice that for church they did one of two things. They either had a Bible reading or they had prayer and a social meeting.

Ellen White goes on to say, “The family altar should be established in every home; and if in any locality there are more than two or three of like precious faith, they should meet together.” Ibid.

You do not say, “Well, I do not have a pastor, or my pastor is preaching heresy, so I am just going to stay home and not go to church.” What does it say in Hebrews 10:25? “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Is the Day approaching?

We have more need to get together for worship now than we have ever before. I have been a pastor now for some years, and over and over again, I have observed that when people do not meet together and worship, their faith and love grow cold. If you go directly contrary to Bible counsel, you are guilty of the sin of presumption; and, as we said before, God is not going to work a miracle to keep the result from taking place. It is just like jumping off of a building and saying, “Lord, please keep the law of gravity from working now so I will not get hurt.” It is not going to happen.

Did you know that God writes down in His book which people meet together and worship Him today and which people do not? “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.” Malachi 3:16. You must never think that because you have an apostate pastor and you cannot go to this particular church that you are to just stay home and have church. You have a worship service. Did you notice that she said they either had a Bible reading or prayer and a social meeting? Do you know what a Bible reading is? A Bible reading is when nobody preaches. Instead, you study the Bible together. It is something that anyone who is able to read can do. In fact, people who cannot read can do it if they can ask questions of people who can read.

“Well,” someone asks, “What should we study?” There is more than one subject that Ellen White lists that should always be included, but I am only going to mention one. This is never to be left out when you come together and worship. She calls it by two names; she refers to it in one place as practical religion and in another place she calls it practical godliness. What is practical godliness? It is “to see the necessity of religious principle and righteousness in everyday life.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 237. Practical godliness has to do with the way we live every day. You cannot read much from the Bible without getting into that subject.

Suppose that you are responsible for the church service and you cannot preach. Can you talk? Can you read? If you can talk and read, you can have a Bible study; and that is all that is necessary. In fact, Ellen White told our ministers that they were doing too much preaching. She said they would be better off, if when they went to church, they just had a Bible class.

Suppose that we had a Bible class for about ten minutes on the subject of practical godliness. Are there any passages of Scripture that come to your mind? What was the greatest sermon ever preached? The “Sermon on the Mount.” That whole sermon is about practical godliness.

In a sermon, if you ask questions and have the Bible texts to answer the questions you have time to go through about twelve to fifteen texts at the most. If you are in a home church, you do not have a preacher, and you have to prepare a Bible study, you do not need a hundred texts. Ten to fifteen is all you need on the subject.

By the way, you could have a Bible study on practical godliness every Sabbath for a year and you would never run out of material. You would have more and more and more; the more you started studying it, the more it would start opening up to your mind and you would have more and more material. Practical godliness is not something that happens in an instant; it is something that takes time.

Here is a passage you could read in a Bible study on practical godliness in 2 Peter 1:5-7. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue, knowledge, to knowledge, self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”

Peter goes on to say that if you do this, you are going to be saved. This passage is called Peter’s ladder. It is very practical. The top rung of the ladder is love. Do you know what love is? To understand what practical godliness means is to understand what God’s love is like and to partake of that love in our life. The Bible is just full of illustrations, stories, and examples on this subject.

If you understand this subject of practical godliness, then God can use you to start churches anywhere in the world that He might send you.

Every one of us here can look back into the past and remember a time when, if someone had not brought us the precious truth about Jesus and His soon coming, we would have been left in the dark. There are still some people out there friends. They are not going to drive one hundred or maybe not even fifty miles to go to a church. If we are going to save them, somebody is going to have to start some churches closer to where they are.

You do not have to have buildings and money and ministers. All you must have is an understanding of practical godliness. You have to be experiencing sanctification yourself and understand what the Bible teaches. Then share your faith with somebody else. You can start a home church if there are only two of you. Let us pray that the Lord will use each one of us to do this.

The End


Appetite is Satan’s strongest hold upon mankind. When somebody comes and gives messages in regard to how to break the hold that he has on man, I believe that he tells his demons, “Go and assail that ministry.” But friends, when we talk about appetite, the message could never be complete if I did not mingle it with the message on how to overcome temptation, what to do with temptation.

The Word of God says, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’” Genesis 3:1, 2. Notice that there is conversation going on here. Eve is parleying with the devil. “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’’ Genesis 3:3-5. And then the very famous verse, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6 [All emphasis supplied]

Notice several things: Eve had left her husband’s side. She stepped out on her own. She sought her own way and found herself standing and staring at the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Now the serpent eagerly awaits his opportunity to strike and begins to lay his bait to entice his prey. His ploy begins with an effort to break Eve’s faith in the word of God, and he tries to instill doubt in her mind by the first question, “Hath God said?” As she began to think on those words, her trust in God’s word began to be broken.

“The tempter can never compel us to do evil. He cannot control minds unless they are yielded to his control. The will must consent, faith must let go its hold upon Christ, before Satan can exercise his power upon us. But every sinful desire we cherish affords him a foothold. Every point in which we fail of meeting the divine standard is an open door by which he can enter to tempt and destroy us. And every failure or defeat on our part gives occasion for him to reproach Christ.” The Desire of Ages, 125

What did Eve do with temptation? Instead of fleeing to her husband’s side, she parleyed with Satan. She became enchanted with the melodious voice of the beautiful, winged serpent until she craved the luscious fruit dangling from the tree. She saw the fruit to be pleasant and desirable. She took the bait that Satan held out to her, yielded her will to the tempter’s voice, and then enticed Adam to eat it also.

What is temptation? Of Israel’s experience, as they were coming out of Egypt, we read, “But they sinned even more against Him by rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness. And they tested God in the their heart by asking for the food of their fancy. Yes, they spoke against God: They said, ‘Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?’” Psalm 78:17-19

The Israelites tempted and tried God; but in the case of Eve, there was an enticement to sin. We read about this in James 1:14, 15. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.” So we see that temptation can refer to being tested and tried, or to being enticed.

Now let us look at another wilderness experience involving temptation. “Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”’” Matthew 4:1-4

Here the devil continues on the point of appetite. Christ had fasted for forty days and was in a greatly weakened condition. As he had overcome the first Adam on appetite, was it not natural that he would begin on the Second Adam at the same point?

In the same way, Satan watches you daily. He knows your weak points of character and he is going to fit his temptations to assail you in these areas.

Between the temptation of Eve and the experience of Christ, there are some parallels and some significant differences. With Eve, Satan tried to instill doubt in her mind by saying, “Hath God said?” He approached Christ in the same way, saying, “If Thou be the Son of God.” But Eve was defeated by the devil, while Jesus Christ came off conqueror. You see, Jesus Christ refused to parley with the devil or contemplate his suggestion. When temptation comes to you, when the first thought presents itself to do something contrary to the Word of God, that is when you must act. Right then, do not wait, do not parley with it, do not think about it, don’t allow it to enter your mind.

Christ met the father of lies with the truth. His weapon was the Word of God; the book of Ephesians says “The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:17. When Satan came to Jesus Christ and tried to instill doubt with Him, Jesus did not parley with the devil in any way. He quoted the truth and the devil had to flee. “Not by even a thought did He [Christ] yield to temptation….so long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us. God reaches for the hand of faith in us to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that we may attain to perfection of character.

“And how this is accomplished, Christ has shown us. By what means did He overcome in the conflict with Satan? By the Word of God.” The Desire of Ages, 123

What did Eve do? She thought about it. She let her mind wander into it. She was enticed. She looked at the tree, and what did she see? A fruit, pleasant to the eyes. Now it became more lovely than ever, “desirable to make one wise.” She stood there and parleyed with Satan.

“Only by the word could He resist temptation. ‘It is written,’ He said. And unto us are given ‘exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’ 2 Peter 1:4. Every promise in God’s word is ours. ‘By every work that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’ are we to live. When assailed by temptation, look not to circumstances or to the weakness of self, but to the power of the Word. All its strength is yours. ‘thy word,’ says the psalmist, ‘have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.’” Ibid.

The Bible says, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance.” 1 Peter 1:13, 14

What does it say? “Gird up the loins of your mind.” With what? “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth.” Ephesians 6:14. In other words, we need to fill our minds with the Word. In ancient times, a man would gather his fold of outer garments and tuck them into his girdle. So, likewise, we are to prepare our minds for the diligent study of the Word. As Christians we are to gather up the loose ends of our unprofitable thoughts and exercise our minds on the great truths of salvation.

Think about this: The temptation that comes to you is common to all men. You are not getting something that somebody else does not get, but it is proportionate to your faith. “Temptation is not sin, and is no indication that God is displeased with us. The Lord suffers us to be tempted, but He measures every temptation, and apportions it according to our power to resist and overcome evil. It is in time of trial and temptation that we are enabled to measure the degree of our faith and trust in God, and to estimate the stability of our Christian character.” Signs of the Times, December 18, 1893. The secret is to immediately pray, “Lord give me a greater measure of Your faith,” and not yield by even a thought.

She continues and says, “If we are easily jostled and overcome, we should be alarmed; for our strength is small. Let us consider the words of comfort that have been left on record for our instruction: ‘There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye be able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.’ God has apportioned the temptation in proportion to the strength He can supply.” Ibid. You know, that gives me hope. It means that I do not have to fall.

“Our heavenly Father sees the hearts of men, and He knows their characters better than they themselves know them… He puts these persons on trial and in His wise providence brings them into different positions and under a variety of circumstances, testing them that they may reveal what is in their hearts and the weak points in their characters which have been concealed from their own knowledge… To men, whom God designs shall fill responsible positions, He in mercy reveals their hidden defects that they may look within and examine critically the complicated emotions and exercises of their own hearts, and detect that which is wrong; thus they may modify their dispositions and refine their manners. The Lord in His providence brings men where He can test their moral powers and reveal their motives of action, that they may improve what is right in themselves and put away that which is wrong. God would have His servants become acquainted with the moral machinery of their own hearts. In order to bring this about, He often permits the fire of affliction to assail them that they may become purified.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 84, 85

Count it all joy when you enter into divers temptation. Rejoice glory in tribulation. God is revealing your defects of character and measuring and testing your faith.

When tempted, how will God supply the strength to overcome? In Psalm 50:15 we read, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”

“When the first suggestion of wrong is hear, dart a prayer to heaven, and then firmly resist the temptation to tamper with the principles condemned in God’s Word.” Sons and Daughters of God, 164. When the thought comes, do not play with it. Dart a prayer to heaven; resist in the firmness you can have in Christ. Let the thought go or it will lead you right to the fulfilling of the lust.

“We know nothing about the strength of our faith until it is tried.” Review and Herald, May 19, 1891. You may think you are strong in the Lord, but when the trial comes, you really get to see how strong your faith is.

“Angels that excel in strength were on the battleground, guarding the interest of the tempted soul, and ready to resist the foe. This is always the case in the trial and temptation of any one of the human race; when man is assailed by the tempter, and the powers of darkness press upon the soul, the angels of heaven are on the ground to fly to the aid of him who would resist evil and follow after righteousness.” Review and Herald, April, 24, 1894. Just imagine, there are angels standing beside you, waiting to help you; but you have to make the choice.

“Will human beings now act their part in resisting the devil? If they will do this, he will surely flee from them. Angels, who will do for you what you cannot do for yourselves, are waiting for you cooperation.” Review and Herald, July 4, 1899. They are waiting for our cooperation, for us to cry out to God that we may glorify Him in overcoming.

She continues, “They are waiting for you to respond to the drawing of Christ. Dreaw nigh to God and to one another. By desire, by silent prayer, by resistance of satanic agencies, put your will on the side of God’s will. While you have one desire to resist the devil, and sincerely pray, Deliver me from temptation, you will have the strength for your day. It is the work of the heavenly angels to come close to the tried, the tempted, the suffering ones. They labor long and untiringly to save the souls for whom Christ has died. And when souls appreciate their advantages, appreciate the heavenly assistance sent them, respond to the Holy Spirit’s working on their behalf; when they put their will on the side of Christ’s will, angels bear the tidings heavenward. Returning to the heavenly courts, they report their success with the souls for whom they have ministered, and there is rejoicing among the heavenly hosts.” Ibid. Isn’t that beautiful? Here is a tempted, tried saint, and the angels are ready to fly. My Bible says in James 4:7 that if I submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from me.

Friends, you may gain one victory, but that is not enough. We must gain victory after victory. You know, the Bible tells us again in James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” You see, the man who faces the problems of life may at times regard himself as unfortunate and may be so regarded by others. However, the apostle James desires to correct this viewpoint and set before you a new perspective that envisions the result of faithful evidence as well as a clear view of how the trials began. He says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation.” Do not think that this is a bad thing that has happened to you. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation.”

God allows the trials to come, again, to reveal our weaknesses and to remove our defects of character. He permits trials but never with the intent that any man should fall. Remember, He measures it, He looks at it, and gives it in proportion to the strength that we have. In allowing the temptation, He is seeking to reveal our weakness so that, by faith, we will learn to depend on Him. You see, it is God who is the Refiner, and the trials are the fire. Satan’s purpose is to defeat us; but it is God’s purpose to strengthen our characters, to build up our faith through exercise.

“Every one of us needs to have a deep insight into the teachings of the Word of God. Our minds must be prepared to stand every test, and to resist every temptation, whether from without or from within. We must know why we believe as we do, why we are on the Lord’s side. The truth must keep watch in our hearts, ready to sound an alarm and summon us to action against every foe. The powers of darkness will open their batteries upon us; and all who are indifferent and careless, who have set their affections on their earthly treasure, and who have not cared to understand God’s dealings with His people, will be ready victims. No power but a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, will ever make us steadfast; but with this, one may chase a thousand, and put ten thousand to flight.” Review and Herald, April 29, 1884

Gird up the loins of your mind with the Word of God. Exercise faith and prayer for the angels of God to aid you. Do not let anything worldly creep into your mind; guard the avenues of the soul and fill your mind, again, with the Word of God.

The End

The Work of John the Baptist and the Stones That He Could Not Lay

For a time, John the Baptist’s influence over the Jewish nation was greater than that of the priests or rabbis. In fact, if he had announced himself as the Messiah, people would have flocked to his standard. But the day came when the tide of popularity began to shift toward Jesus. Day by day the crowds around him lessened. As the disciples of John observed the growing popularity of Jesus, feelings of jealousy and envy set in and they stood ready to criticize Jesus. It was not long before a dispute arose with regard to the words that were used when a person was baptized. (See The Desire of Ages, 178.)

Even though the popularity of John the Baptist was waning, he still might have greatly hindered the work of Christ. Of John, as of his prototype, Elijah, we are told that he “had by nature the faults and weaknesses common to humanity, but the touch of divine love had transformed him. He dwelt in an atmosphere uncontaminated with selfishness and ambition, and far above the miasma of jealousy.” The Desire of Ages, 179. John clearly understood what each of us must come to realize. Any work that we may accomplish is something that comes from God. He said to His disciples, “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” He manifested no sympathy with their dissatisfaction, but said to them, “Ye yourselves bear Me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before Him.” Ibid.

“John had been called to lead out as a reformer. Because of this, his disciples were in danger of fixing their attention upon him, feeling that the success of the work depended upon his labors, and losing sight of the fact that he was only an instrument through which God had wrought. But the work of John was not sufficient to lay the foundation of the Christian church. When he had fulfilled his mission, another work was to be done, which his testimony could not accomplish.” Ibid., 181, 182. This was not because John was a failure or out of tune with heaven, for we are told that God had given him his message. (See Ibid., 102.) We need to consider why, if God had given him his message, the work of John was not sufficient to lay the foundation of the Christian church.

What was the work of John? “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ for this is He who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.”’…But, when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham to our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.’” Matthew 3:1-3, 7-9. The first work of John was to call the people to repentance.

For a number of years there has been a similar call for repentance in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. There has been a crying out against the NLP, the new theology, and the worldliness and sin that has crept in until it has well-nigh overtaken us. If we fail to bring forth fruit worthy of repentance, God will raise up others. He is not dependent upon any person or any group of people. He is looking for righteousness, for a people who will accept the call to repentance that has been going forth.

“The work of John the Baptist represents the work for these times. His work, and the work of those who go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah to arouse the people from their apathy, are the same in many respects. Christ is to come the second time to judge the world in righteousness. The messengers of God who bear the last message of warning to be given to the world are to prepare the way for Christ’s second advent as John prepared the way for His first advent.” Youth’s Instructor, May 17, 1900. Satan is working with all his forces, seeking to counterwork the influence of the work of God through His servants, but God still calls men to repentance.

“‘John was called to do a special work; he was to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight His paths. The Lord did not send him to the school of the prophets and rabbis. He took him away from the assemblies of men to the desert, that he might learn of nature and nature’s God. God did not desire him to have the mold of the priests and rulers. He was called to do a special work. The Lord gave him his message. Did he go to the priests and rulers and ask if he might proclaim this message?—No, God put him away from them that he might not be influenced by their spirit and teaching….This is the very message that must be given to our people; we are near the end of time, and the message is, Clear the King’s highway; gather out the stones; raise up a standard for the people. The people must be awakened.” Selected Messages, book 1, 410 [All emphasis supplied]

Did you notice that it is not just a message to the world. This is the very message that must be given to our people. John laid the ax at the root of the tree. His work was to tear down the wicked, sinful desires of the human heart.

John the Baptist’s message was a message of warning. What was the warning? “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:10-12. Notice that his message of warning was to God’s church. God is going to gather the wheat into the barn, but He is going to burn the chaff up. Now, John’s message was, “Repent!” Wake up so that you can be the wheat.

“The teaching of John aroused in the hearts of many a great desire to have a part in the blessings that Christ was to bring, and they received the truth. These saw the need of reform.” Youth’s Instructor, May 17, 1900

The message of John awakened in the people a desire for something that they did not have. If people cannot be brought to the place of seeing the need for reform, there is no prospect of change. This is the work we are called to do.

“The multitudes who were gathered about Christ had been witnesses to the work of John. They had heard his fearless, rebuke of sin.” The Desire of Ages, 218. In fearlessly rebuking sin, John was laying the ax at the root of the tree.

This quotation from the Spirit of Prophecy demands thoughtful reflection as we think of how best to meet the Pharisees of today. “The hearts of men around him were filled with every evil, with strife, envy, malice, and wickedness. They would not be impressed by a message of mercy and love. They were represented by John as a generation of vipers, and to them he gave scathing rebukes because of their self-righteousness. His voice rang out as a trumpet, crying, ‘Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Review and Herald, April 3, 1894

God knew what He was working with in the human heart, and He knew that the best way to save as many as He could was to send a message of “scathing rebukes” because their hearts would not be impressed by “a message of mercy and love.”

“The message of John the Baptist was a new and startling message, and could not be interwoven with the superstitions and traditions of the Pharisees. The disciples of John were not to think that his self-denial, his self-sacrifice, his prayers, his devotions, his fastings, were like those of the Pharisees. The Pharisees fasted in hypocrisy, and there was no vitality in their religious exercises. To seek to blend the pretense of the Pharisees with the devotion of John would be only to make more evident the breach between them. The work of John was to expose the character of the work of the Pharisees, to set their traditions and heresies in their true light before the people.” Ibid.

John did not try to work with the Pharisees. They could not work together because they were led in a different way. They had different goals, different thoughts. It would not work.

Today we hear a lot about criticism but are you sure that you know what the difference is between rebuke and criticism? John was not critical, but he was sent to expose the “character of the works of the Pharisees, to set their traditions and heresies in their true light before the people.” God, in His great love for the Pharisees, knew that the only way He souls save some of them was to come to them with a message of “scathing rebukes.” A message of love, friends, would not have touched them. God does not make a mistake; and if we try to improve upon His work, we are going to find out that it is we who are making the mistake.

“If the minister’s lips are touched with a live coal from off the altar, he will lift up Jesus as the sinner’s only hope. When the heart of the speaker is sanctified through the truth, his words will be living realities to himself and others. Those who hear him know that he has been with God, and has drawn near to Him in effectual, fervent prayer. The Holy Spirit has fallen upon him, his soul has felt the vital, heavenly fire, and he will be able to compare spiritual things with spiritual. Power will be given him to tear down the strongholds of Satan.” Australasian Union Conference Record, December 30, 1907

John was to tear down the stronghold of Satan. He opened to the people the true condition of their hearts. And yet, as great as John was, as strong as his call to repentance was, the Sprit of Prophecy says that the work of John was not sufficient to lay the foundation of the Christian church.

“The message that God had given him to bear was designed to startle them from their lethargy, and cause them to tremble because of their great wickedness. Before the seed of the gospel could find lodgment, the soil of the heart must be broken up. Before they would seek healing from Jesus, they must be awakened to their danger from the wounds of sin.” The Desire of Ages, 103. Here are revealed two different works that always go together. They must be “startled from their lethargy” and the ground of the heart, she says, “must be broken up” so that the seed of the gospel could be planted and flourish. It was a work that must be done before the people could be prepared for a further work.

Would Jesus take someone who had rejected John’s call to repentance and give them the work of laying the foundation of the Christian church? No. None who had rejected John’s message accepted the message Jesus brought. There undoubtedly were many who had not heard John and who later accepted Jesus’ message, but nobody that rejected the work of John accepted the work of Christ. Before anyone can accept the work of Christ in his heart, the work of John has to have done its work. You cannot lay the foundation of the Christian life until you have accepted the reproof and rebuke from the Lord. It is not enough to just want to be loving and kind.

“God does not send messengers to flatter the sinner. He delivers no message of peace, to lull the unsanctified into fatal security. He lays heavy burdens upon the conscience of the wrongdoer, and pierces the soul with arrows of conviction. The ministering angels present to him the fearful judgments of God to deepen the sense of needs, and prompt the cry, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Then, the hand that has humbled in the dust, lifts up the penitent. The voice that has rebuked sin, and put to shame pride and ambition, inquires with tenderest sympathy, ‘What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?’” Ibid. 104. Until we fall on the Rock and are broken, we cannot see clearly. We are going to be confused.

“With the spirit and power of Elijah he denounced the national corruption, and rebuked the prevailing sins….He declared that those who claimed to be the chosen people of God were defiled by sin, and that without purification of heart and life they could have no part in the Messiah’s kingdom.” Ibid.

Notice that John did not just expose the character of the Pharisees; he denounced the national corruption. His message addressed the body as a whole. God could not use the Pharisees to give this message because the messengers of God must be saved by the same message that they give to others. God does not use actors. The loud cry is going to be given by a people who know by experience the loud cry message and have been broken on the Rock. That is why the Lord turns to the humble, to the lowliest of the earth.

It is not enough to point out the characters of the priests and Pharisees and the heresies that exist. A new tree needs to be planted in the heart, not just the old one pulled out. We must not only get rid of hatred, we must have love. We must not just get rid of anger, we must have joy. We must not just get rid of impatience, we must speak loving and kind words. We must not only give the message of rebuke; but beyond that, the Lord wants us to experience sanctification, to walk with Him in newness of life. He wants us to experience the power of His resurrection that is given to everyone who believes. He wants our hearts to throb with joy as He communes with us.

“Christ sifted His followers again and again, until at one time there remained only eleven and a few faithful women to lay the foundation of the Christian church. There are those who will stand back when burdens are to be borne; but when the church is all aglow, they catch the enthusiasm, sing and shout, and become rapturous; but watch them. When the fervor is gone, only a few faithful Calebs will come to the front and display unwavering principle. These are salt that retains the savor. It is when the work moves hard that the churches develop the true helpers. These will not be talking of self, vindicating self, but will lose their identity in Jesus Christ. To be great in God’s kingdom is to be a little child in humility, in simplicity of faith, and in the purity of love….All such will find Christ their rock of defense, their strong tower. In Him they may trust implicitly, and He will never fail them.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 130

We, at the very close of earth’s history, have the same work to do to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming as the apostles had in developing the Christian church. If all we have experienced is the work of John the Baptist, we are not ready for the Lord’s coming. In fact, we have more to preach than the message of rebuke against sin. We must show forth the fruits of the Spirit. “We have great reason to praise God that we have the inspired record that is given us in the Book of Acts, a narrative of the works of the apostles. We have the sure word of inspiration respecting the foundation of the Christian church. The Acts of the Apostles is full of instruction, and light, and knowledge. As Christ’s disciples living down in the last days, in the very close of earth’s history, we have the same work to do to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming as they had in developing the Christian church.” Youth’s Instructor, November 18, 1897. We must be led by the Holy Spirit because the teaching of the kingdom of God and the principles of how to live a righteous life must also go forward with power. We not only have the message to give to the world, the third angel’s message of warning, but those people who accept it have to be taught how to be Christians. We have a message of warning to wake people up; but there is much to do after that, and we must catch the vision of what we are called to do.

The End

Reformers and the Church

In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked His disciples who He was. This is an important question because a correct understanding can make all the difference between eternal life and eternal death. “And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘blessed are you, Simon BarJonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’” Now in verse 18 there is a play on words that does not come through in the English translation, so I would like to insert the Greek words. “’And I also say to you that you are [petros] Peter, and on this [petra] rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’” Matthew 16:18, 19. This is tremendous authority –not just earthly authority that has to do with eternal life.

Before we examine this question of church authority, let us look first of all at the text that says, “you are petros.” The word petros, which in Latin is the same as Peter, means a stone, while a petra is a very large boulder or rock.

On what rock is the church built? Let us allow Peter to give us his understanding of what Christ meant by the statement He made to him. “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.” 1 Peter is talking about Jesus Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.

This agrees with the apostle Paul, who said, “Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22

All through the Scriptures you will find that Jesus is described as that supernatural, living Rock in which His children hide and find security, stability, safety, and salvation. Jesus spoke of Himself as the Cornerstone when He said, “And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Matthew 21:44

In Matthew 18:19, it appears that the keys were given to Peter, though, as we look in other Scriptures, it is evident that they were given to the rest of the apostles and to the entire church. (See John 20:21-23.) It was by the misuse of Jesus’ statement to Peter that the bishops of Rome attained authority over the nations of Europe during the Dark Ages. They said, “We have received apostolic authority from Peter. We have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and we can shut you out and send you to hell, or we can give you eternal life.” When Bible-believing Christians dissented, before they were burned at the stake they were clothed with robes and miters on which there were painted demons, snakes, and devils. The church authorities would say, “Not only are you going to die, but we are consigning you to hell; and you are going to burn there forever.”

Before Jesus conferred authority on His apostles, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (See Ibid.) This is also clear from Jesus’ statement to Peter when He said, “for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Only people who are filled with the Holy Spirit have the divine authority of the church.

The question of apostolic succession has agitated the minds in the Christian world for hundreds of years. Who are the successors of the apostles? The way to understand this is to ask a question that was commonly asked in Christ’s day. Who is the true church? Who are Abraham’s seed?
This is a question that agitated the minds of the Jews a good deal. The Jews told Jesus that they were Abraham’s descendants. (See John 8:33.) They believed that they were saved; but Jesus said, “You don’t live like Abraham, You’re not working the works of Abraham. Therefore, you really are not Abraham’s seed.” He denied that they were Abraham’s seed because they did not have a character like Abraham.

The Bible says that we are going to be judged according to our works. That is the same as saying that we are going to be judged according to our character. Historic Seventh-day Adventists still believe that judgment is on the basis of your works—your character. This is why Ellen White said that the day of God would be a day of bitter disappointment to most of the Christian world because they make a profession, but they do not have a character that goes along with it. In the day of judgment, they are going to find out that their profession is worthless unless their character coincides with the profession. (See Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 970.)

Now if you profess to be Seventh-day Adventist, you profess that you are a member of that church that is mentioned in Revelation 12:17 “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus.” You profess to be a part of that group of people that it talks about in Revelation 14:12 where it says, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” That is what you profess; but if you do not keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus, if you do not have the testimony of Jesus, what good is your profession going to do? It will do no good.

Where did the concept come from that the church is the congregation of goodly men only? It came from the New Testament. Wherever you have a group of people who are filled with the Holy Spirit and are living godly, righteous lives, when they meet together and assemble and worship, that is a church. The Reformers all taught this concept; the Waldenses believed it. By the way, if they had not believed it, they could not have had a church. There would not have been a Reformation. They could not have remained true unless they understood who the church was. That time is coming again. It is right upon us. If you do not understand who the church is, the pressure will be so great that you will not be able to remain faithful and true.

The Bible teaches that it is character that counts. Now do not misunderstand; you do not earn salvation. Salvation is a gift; but let me tell you, it is a conditional gift. If you do not have the character qualification, you are not going to receive the gift. The apostles Paul, Peter, James, and John are all clear about that.

This concept was clearly understood by the great Protestant Reformers. One of the early leaders of the church, Claude of Turin, said, “Know thou that he only is apostolic who is the keeper and guardian of the apostle’s doctrine, and not he who boasts himself to be seated in the chair of the apostle, and in the meantime doth not acquit himself of the charge of the apostle.” J.A. Wylie, The History of Protestantism, vol. 1, 22

There was a remnant of the apostolic church in the land of Italy known as the Waldenses. They were terribly persecuted; and if you read such books as Martyrs Mirror, you will find that one of the main issues in the understanding of the Waldenses was the issue of who and what the church is. The Waldenses believed that they were the spiritual descendants of the apostles, and, therefore, they were the church. They were a perpetual reminder of what the church used to be; and as long as they were around, they testified to how far professed Christendom had departed from the original faith. For this reason they were bitterly persecuted.

You see, the battle of the Reformation had largely to do with the vital issue of who and what the church is. As long as people were afraid that there was someone who could say, “I am going to shut the kingdom of heaven against you and send you to hell,” there could be no Reformation.
On one occasion Tyndale was in a debate with a Roman Catholic by the name of More. During this debate, More said: “We must not examine the teaching of the church by Scripture, but understand Scripture by means of what the church says.”

Tyndale: “What! Does the air give light to the sun? Or the sun to the air? Is the church before the gospel or the gospel before the church? [Now notice his reasoning] Is not the father older than the son? God begat us with His own will, with the word of truth. James 1:18. If he who begets is before him who is begotten, the word is before the church. Or to speak more correctly, before the congregation.”

More: “Why do you say congregation and not church?”

Tyndale: “Because by the word church, you understand nothing but a multitude of shaved and shorn and oiled, which we now call the spirituality or clergy, while the word of right is common unto all the congregation of them that believe in Christ.”

More: “The church is the pope and his sect of followers.”

Tyndale: “The pope teaches us to trust in holy words for salvation, as penance, saints, merits, and friars codes. Now he that has no faith to be saved through Christ is not of Christ’s church.”

Calvin went through a period of great struggle and doubt in his mind over this issue. “The doubts by which his soul was now shaken, drew in strength with each renewed discussion. What shall he do? Shall he forsake the Church? That seems to him like casting himself into the gulf of perdition. And yet can the Church save him? There is a new light breaking in upon him, in which her dogmas are melting away; the ground beneath him is sinking. To what shall he cling?….

“’There can be no church,’ we hear Calvin saying to himself, ‘where the truth is not.’…

“In fine, Calvin concluded that the term ‘Church’ could not make the society that monopolised the term really ‘the Church.’ Highsounding titles and lofty assumptions could give neither unity nor authority; these could come form the Truth alone; and so he abandoned ‘the Church’ that he might enter the Church—the Church of the Bible.” J.A. Wylie, The History of Protestantism, vol. 2, 152, 154

Of John Knox, the Scottish Reformer, it is said, “Knox’s idea of a Church was, in brief, a divinely originated, a divinely enfranchised, and a divinely governed society. Its members were all those who made profession of the Gospel; its law was the Bible, and its King was Christ.” Ibid., vol. 3, 496

Taussan was a Danish Reformer. He drew up a confession which became the confession of the Protestants in Denmark. In this confession it was declared that the Holy Scriptures were to be the only rule of faith, “and the satisfaction of Christ in our room the only foundation of eternal life. It defined the Church to be the communion of the faithful, and it denied the power of any man to cast any one out of that Church, unless such shall have first cut himself off from the communion of the faithful by impenitence and sin.” Ibid., vol. 2, 42

The church is where Christ is. There can be no church without the presence of the deity. “Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church.” The Upward Look, 315. The church is where the Holy Spirit is. It is where Jesus is, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John 14:6. That is the spiritual building of the church. Now if I leave the truth, what have I done? I have left the church.

For many years Romanists have accused the Protestants of heresy and of separation from the true church; but Ellen White says in The Great Controversy, 51, that this accusation applies rather to themselves because they are the ones who laid down the banner of Christ and departed from the faith that was once delivered to the saints. And when you depart from the faith, when you leave the truth, you have left the church. The church stays right there with the truth because the church is “the pillar and ground of the truth.” The Great Controversy, 376. It was when Calvin began to understand this that it set his mind free. “‘There can be no church,’ we hear Calvin saying to himself, ‘where the truth is not.’… In fine, Calvin concluded that the term ‘Church could not make the society that monopolised the term really ‘the Church.’ High-sounding titles and lofty assumptions could give neither unity nor authority; these could come from the Truth alone.” J.A. Wylie, The History of Protestantism, vol. 2, 154. What is it that gives unity and authority? It is the truth; and if you leave the truth, you have no authority.

It is time for Historic Adventists to wake up to the reality that our profession must coincide with our character or our profession is worthless. (See The Desire of Ages, 107.)

Have you heard somebody say, “Well, the church is going through”? Well, I believe that. In fact, I believe that the church has always gone through. I believe that the church went through in Samuel’s time. Most of the professed people did not go with it. I believe the church went through in Jeremiah’s time and Daniel’s time, and I believe the church went through in the time of Jesus and the apostles. Who was the church in the time of Jesus?

Let me ask you a question. When Jesus came down to this world, do you think that He was here in the flesh? Of course He was. The church is His mystical body. He was the head of it then, and He is the head of it now. So who was the church when Jesus was here? It is very simple, friends; it was the people who followed Jesus. That is who it was, and that is still who it is.


A church is not just bricks and mortar or corporations or theology. A church is people who are filled with the Holy Spirit; and as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit, they are spoken of in the Bible as living stones, stones that emit light all around. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Mathew 5:14

The Jews of Christ’s day called themselves the true church. Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am the One, you are going to die in your sins.” That is about the most terrible thing that could happen to anyone. If you are a Christian, death is just a moment of silence and darkness. That is not the problem. But if you die in your sins, death will be forever. One of our greatest dangers is that we will be deceived, thinking that we are part of the church because we make a profession but not having a character to back it up. Unless we live the life, we are lost. The time is coming when every eternal destiny will be fixed. May the prayer of each one of our hearts be, “Lord Jesus, help me to have a character that will coincide with my profession.”

The End

The Eternal Weight of Glory

To be prepared for the time into which we are entering, every treasured moment that we can spend with our Lord, we need to spend in drinking in the wonders of His love, His peace, His grace, and His goodness. Whatever may be the circumstances of the Christian, however dark and mysterious may be the ways of providence, however great the deprivation and suffering, he may look away from them all to the unseen and the eternal. The things of the present time are not considered worth mentioning when compared with the eternal weight of glory that awaits him when the warfare will be over. These very afflictions are God’s workmen ordained for the perfection of Christian character.

Paul says, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17, 18

We have been blessed in America with the most amazing political experiment in the history of mankind, outside of the theocracy of Israel when it was obedient to God. Our constitution was established for a free people who believed in the Creator and who believed that men had certain inalienable rights granted them by the Creator, rights that no government can interfere with. What an outgrowth of the principles of the gospel! We have been so blessed by God.

When, however, an apostate Protestantism loses its understanding of the gospel and unites with the papacy, there will be a persecution like no other time in the history of humanity. Just as Jesus sought to prepare His disciples for His crucifixion, I believe that we need to face the reality of what lies ahead for us. When we realize the gravity of the hour in which we are living, it will make us sensitive to the urgency of treasuring up in our soul every ray of light and every experience of love and joy with our Saviour and our Redeemer. If, in viewing it, we keep it in perspective with the superior reality of the eternal weight of glory, we may know that whatever happens to us in this world, if we are faithful, the day will come when we will walk through those pearly gates and will cast our crowns at Jesus’ feet. We will walk by the river of life and see that crystal stream that flows out from the throne of God. We will see the trunk of the tree of life on either side of the river with its branches arching over the river of the water of life. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

What will it be like to experience the reality of worshiping in the actual presence of God and to live in a world of fadeless day, where there is no night? The light of the moon is as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun is seven times brighter than it is at noon time now. It is a world of incredible light. And, despite the fact that we have no merit coming to ourselves and that all of the works we have done have been done through His name, Jesus will honor us for them.

When a storm hits in the physical world, if you have not made preparation before hand, you are in trouble. We live in an area of the mountains where there are flash floods. One year while there was still snow on the ground, several inches of rain fell in a half-hour period of time up in the Black Hills. In some of the canyons, a torrent of water thirty feet high came rushing down. The dam broke and a flood of water, in which 272 people lost their lives, came down Rapid Creek. You have to be prepared for the storm when it hits. That is why we, as a people, must be treasuring this experience of the eternal weight of glory. If we will bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, the Holy Spirit will be given to us without measure.

There are many, many people who are going to lose their salvation because they have not learned to think correctly. There are some fundamental principles that we need to understand at this time in which we live. At the very origin of our thinking process, there must be the Word of God. The human heart must be fully in harmony with Christ and His gospel in order to understand some other very important things. If the character of Christ is not understood because our thoughts have not been brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, there are going to be a lot of misconceptions about other dimensions of human life.

One of those dimensions is the area of the nature of the church. Have you noticed that there are differing views and understandings about the church? I have a very interesting book by Reinhold Seeberg, a Lutheran scholar, who discusses Luther’s understanding of the church. It had come to the point in Luther’s day where the papacy was so controlling the minds of the people that they were like the Jews in Jesus’ day. They were afraid to even discuss certain things. You did not dare lift your head and acknowledge that you believed in the teachings of John Huss, who was burned at the stake. It was only after Luther had spent some time studying the Word of God that he finally said, “We have all been Hussites and we never even knew it.”

That Word led Luther to reexamine the whole idea of the nature of the church; and do you know what he found? He discovered the same truth that John Grosboll has been preaching for some time. He found that the foundational, non-negotiable element of the church is that inner union of a heart that believes in faith in Jesus Christ. IT is those who have this experience of salvation who make up the body of Christ. As Luther searched, he realized that, yes, there is a visible dimension to this church, but any legitimate, visible demonstration or exhibition of the church rests upon that non-negotiable foundation of the invisible union of the heart with Christ. It was the understanding that the church is made up of those who are united with Him, who are one with Him, that enabled him to break with Rome. It was because of this clear understanding that the Protestant Reformation was born.

Luther understood that a visible entity, calling itself the church but which was not grounded in this heart union with Christ, was a fraud. He went on to say that the thing which marks the true visible church is the preaching of the pure doctrine of the gospel. If false doctrine is preached, that is not the true church. This is a wonderful concept and one that we need to be anchored in.

Today we find that people are in a state of flux. The shaking is going on and it is shaking the entire movement. Those who have broken free from the human bonds in the glorious liberty of the sons of God have been advancing steadily, but they must understand that they must be solidly grounded in the Word of God so that the thought processes are correct. This has led to a division and separation from those who were content with Laodicea, satisfied with the structure.

Incidentally, I began doing a little research. Though I have not investigated this thing in depth, I found that the Roman Catholic Church talks about both a visible and an invisible church. I have a whole section on my shelves of the papal encyclicals for the last several hundred years, and I pulled down the encyclicals written by Pope Pius XII, who was the pope who signed the concordat with Hitler’s Germany. Pope Pius XII used the term “invisible” church. I found that the concept of the papacy is this: The visible head of the church on earth, which is the pope, controls the mystical body of Christ, which is the invisible dimension of the church. Whereas the Reformers said, No, Christ is the head of the church. It is the invisible union with Him that determines whether or not a person is a believer and a church member. Out of that group of believers, out of that body arises the visible church where the pure preaching of the pure doctrine of the gospel takes place and the correct administration of the sacraments.

People are confused today. What do you do with a structure that is not preaching the pure principles of the gospel, that is no longer preaching victory over sin? What do you do with a structure that teaches that one goes on in sin right up to the second coming of Christ, that it is impossible to obey? What do you do with the structure?

If you had been living in the time of Jesus, what would have been your reaction? You have listened to the leaders say, “This Man is a deceiver. He is motivated by Beelzebub. Pay no attention to Him. If you listen to Him and go along with Him, you will be thrown out of the synagogue.” Would you have had that vision of the eternal weight of glory and seen in Christ the character of the Messiah as described in the Old Testament and longed to possess it?

Before there can be an understanding of the nature of the church, there must be a deep personal experience of submission to the Word of God. Once we are thinking correctly, with our thinking founded on the Word of God, allowing nothing to divert us from submission to that Word, we are prepared to be stable and reliable in our commitment.

Do you want to be a theologian? Martin Luther said that there are three things that make a theologian. First you must have oratio. This refers to reading the Word aloud, as this makes a deeper impression upon the mind. Then you must have meditatio. You must meditate on the Word; that is when you digest the food of the Word. As Ellen White said, it is not enough to just read the letter of the Word, but the Word must be applied by the Holy Spirit. Then there must be anfechtung, a German word which refers to the application of the Word to the heart and all of the inner turmoil and struggle that take place when it runs into conflict with all of the natural tendencies as it is applied to the life. Luther said that the heart smarts under the application of the Word, but it is when the word of God is actually applied to the human heart that we really begin to have a correct theology.

When we have this experience of practical godliness, we are then prepared to understand the nature of the church. Only then are we prepared to do evangelism, to bring people to a knowledge of truth. If your theology is not right, if your experience is not right, how can you be an evangelist? You may launch out on an evangelistic project, but if there is not the inner correct thinking and understanding of bringing every thought into obedience to Christ, it may all collapse around you in ruins. The Jews crucified Christ because they had not learned to think in submission to the Word of God. They expected a different kind of Messiah, and they rejected Him because He did not meet their presuppositions, their preconditions as to what they believed the Messiah should be. In nailing Him to the cross of Calvary, the Jewish nation broke the bond of the theocracy with God.

What an awesome lesson about not digging deep enough. They did not dig deep enough in the Old Testament. They did not have the depth to understand what He was doing on the Sabbath day; therefore, they considered that He was a Sabbathbreaker. The whole book of Hebrews was written by Paul because of the misconception of the Hebrew people regarding the sanctuary and their failure, therefore, to realize that the sanctuary services on this earth were terminated and they had begun in heaven. Incidentally, because of incorrect thinking, virtually the whole Christian world have failed to correctly understand the book of Hebrews.

The Jews failed in not going deep enough to understand the kingdom, and John had to bring them a knowledge of the kingdom.

Jeremiah was sent by God to go to the very steps of the temple and tell the people that unless they started obeying God, they were going to go into captivity. (See Jeremiah 7.) He told them that to say that they had the structure as their security was a lying word.

The heathen had a perversion of the truth; but those who did inquire into the Hebrew economy, who wanted to know truth at all cost and were willing to dig deeply, came to an understanding of the knowledge of the truth, like the Magi who came to worship Jesus. At the end of time, the whole world will be shaken by the Sabbath/Sunday issue. The Sabbath will reveal those who have made their supreme allegiance to God, to his truth, to His kingdom, to all that is encompassed in the Word of God. And those who are prepared to go with man, to go with the flow of humanity in a direction that is alien to the Word of God, will accept the mark of the beast, the sign of submission to human authority over and against the authority of God.

So the whole world is going to be tested on whether or not it has gone deep enough in its experience with God. Our movement today of historic Adventism is being tested. Every individual is being tested. Ultimately, every individual in this world will be tested. Have they gone down deep and fastened themselves, riveted themselves to the Eternal Rock. Ellen White said that, “when the love of Jesus is abiding in the soul, many who are now but withered branches will become as the cedars of Lebanon ‘whose root is by the great water.’ The cedar is noted for the firmness of its roots. Not content to cling to the earth with a few weak fibers, it thrusts its rootlets, like a sturdy wedge, into the cloven rock, and reaches down deeper and deeper for strongholds to grasp.” Review and Herald, June 20, 1882

How is it with your life? Are the tendrils of the roots of your life going down into Christ? Down into the crevices of the Rock Christ Jesus, anchoring themselves? You know, rock climbers have to find ways of wedging their fingers and toes into the rock. They wedge pitons into the rock, and their life is suspended by such things. How is it with you and the Rock of Ages? Are you content with “a few weak fibers” like the palm trees that go over when the hurricanes come through; or are you like a cedar of Lebanon that has its rootlets going down like a sturdy wedge into the cloven rock, reaching down deeper and deeper for strongholds to grasp? How deep are you?

What a goodly cedar might not every follower of Christ become if he were but rooted and grounded in the truth, firmly united to the Eternal Rock. Yes, humanity is having to come to grips with how it is thinking. How deeply are you being anchored?

The End

Editorial – Why?

Often God’s people ask the question, “Why do we preach and teach about unity and yet there seems to be more division and separation among God’s professed people than ever before?” Though we do not have specific answers to each particular situation, we do have a general description in inspired writings of what we are going through right now in Adventism.

There are some who have entered the work, but who were not fitted to do so. Though they have a theory of the truth, they have not experienced true sanctification. God will allow circumstances to develop that will weed out those whom He has not appointed, leaving a pure, true, sanctified ministry prepared for the latter rain. A winnowing process is going on just as it did in the days of Christ; and by it, many will be separated from God’s work.

“It is wholehearted, thoroughly decided men and women who will stand now. Christ sifted His followers again and again, until at one time there remained only eleven and a few faithful women to lay the foundation of the Christian church….These are salt that retains the savor. It is when the work moves hard that the churches develop the true helpers.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 130 [Emphasis supplied]

What is the reason for this winnowing process?

“The dark hours of trial are to come to every one as a part of his education for higher work, for more devoted, consecrated effort. The storm was not sent upon the disciples to shipwreck them, but to test and prove them individually. Before the great trouble shall come upon the world such as has never been since there was a nation, those who have faltered and who would ignorantly lead in unsafe paths will reveal this before the real vital test, the last proving, comes, so that whatsoever they may say will not be regarded as voicing the True Shepherd. The time of our educating will soon be over. We have no time to lose in walking through clouds of doubt and uncertainty because of uncertain voices.” 1888 Materials, 1002

One of the great reasons for many of the trials is that only those who have fortified the mind with the truth of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict we go through. God will have a people who do not make decisions based on emotion or feeling but on His Word alone.

“If we would maintain our fidelity to God, in this time of danger and deception, we must constantly rely upon the power of Christ. We must be often before God in prayer, holding every emotion and every passion in calm subjection to reason and conscience, banishing all unholy imaginings, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. By earnest prayer and living faith we can resist the assaults of Satan, and keep our hearts unspotted from pollution.” Signs of the Times, October 4, 1883

“In His Word the Lord declared what He would do for Israel if they would obey His voice. But the leaders of the people yielded to the temptations of Satan, and God could not give them the blessings He designed them to have, because they did not obey His voice but listened to the voice and policy of Lucifer. This experience will be repeated in the last years of the history of the people of God, who have been established by His grace and power. Men whom he has greatly honored will in the closing scenes of this earth’s history pattern after ancient Israel.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 13, 379

In this great apostasy many of our leaders will fall and only a few will be faithful to truth. “I am in great distress and agony as I see how determined are some who have often been warned in their refusal to hear the words of entreaty. They have linked their arms in the arm of the deceiver, and are led captive by him at his will. I heard the words spoken, “So long have they been impregnated with the life and customs of the enemy that they have no desire to break away from his companionship.” Ellen G. White Pamphlets (“Perils Increase Till Jesus Comes,” 1) in the Concordance, vol. 2, 103

“Many a star that we have admired for its brilliancy will then go out in darkness. Chaff like a cloud will be borne away on the wind, even from places where we see only floors of rich wheat. All who assume the ornaments of the sanctuary, but are not clothed with Christ’s righteousness, will appear in the shame of their own nakedness.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 81

“To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader.” Ibid., 136

The End