Bohemia at War, Compromise and Betrayal

As he was dying, Ziska had named Procopius to be his successor. Though he is not as well known, Procopius was to prove himself an even greater leader than Ziska had been. The son of a nobleman, Procopius had an excellent education and was broadly traveled. Though his spirit was less fiery than that of Ziska, it was not due to a lack of devotion to the Hussite cause, but rather because it was better regulated. Ziska was a soldier and general; but in addition to these qualities, Procopius was a statesman as well.

The enemies of the Hussites, knowing that Ziska, their famous leader, was removed by death, deemed the moment opportune to strike another blow. They confidently expected an easy victory, failing to reflect that the blood of Huss and Jerome was weighing against them. They did not realize that it was not a blind warrior who had defeated them, but that he was merely the instrument of a righteous Power that they would encounter wherever they might raise the sword on Bohemian soil.

A new summons to arms was made. The emperor, having already suffered much for the cause and having no real delight in bitter defeat, was in no great hurry to take up the standard in another campaign. To encourage him, the pope wrote to the princes of Germany, exhorting them to unite in dealing a death blow to the Hussite cause and assuring them that the Hussite heretics were worse than the Turk himself and likewise, a greater threat to Christianity. The letter was soon followed by a bull ordaining a new crusade against the Hussites.

When the first mutterings of the distant storm reached Bohemia, it found the Hussites unhappily divided. There were the Taborites, who acknowledged Procopius as leader; and there were the Calixtines, commanded by Coribut, a candidate for the Bohemian crown. The sudden threat so rapidly approaching, however, had the effect of drawing them together for the common good. Forgetting their differences in the presence of the great danger that faced them, they stood side by side to meet the advancing foe.

The pontiff’s summons had been generally responded to, and the advancing army numbered not less than seventy thousand picked men, though some historians place the number as high as one hundred thousand. Entering Bohemia in three columns, they advanced toward the Hussite camp. Procopius sent a proposal to the invaders that quarter should be given by both sides. The Germans, not anticipating that they would need to avail themselves of this provision, refused to promise it, saying to the Hussites that they were under the curse of the pope and that to spare them would be to violate their duty to the church. “Let it be so, then,” Procopius replied, “and let no quarter be given on either side.” Wylie, The History of Protestantism, vol. 1, 193.

The Bohemians awaited the early morning attack; entrenched behind five hundred wagons fastened to one another by chains, which formed a somewhat formidable fortification. As the Germans stormed their first line of defense, hacking to pieces the wagons, the Bohemians were resting on their arms, discharging an occasional shot on the foe as they struggled to break through. Having once broken through the first line of defense, the Germans were faced with a weaker line of wooden shields stuck into the ground. They arrived within the second line of defense greatly wearied by the labor that their advance had cost them.

Now that they were face to face with the enemy, the Bohemians raised their war cry and, swinging their terrible flails, exacted a terrible price from their attackers. Rank after rank of the invaders pressed forward only to be felled in the terrible carnage. The battle raged till late in the afternoon. Though they fought with valor, the German knights’ labor was in vain. While the Germans were every moment falling before the rain of arrows that fell upon them and suffering greatly from the buffeting of the iron flails, the Bohemian ranks remained almost untouched. As the day wore to a close, the invaders fled the field in confusion, seeking refuge in the mountains and surrounding woods.

“The fugitives when overtaken implored quarter, but themselves had settled it, before going into battle, and accordingly, now quarter was given. Twenty-four counts and barons stuck their swords in the ground, and knelt before their captors, praying that their lives might be spared. But in vain. In one place three hundred slain knights are said to have been found laying together in a single heap.” Ibid. Of the Hussites, there fell only thirty men, while the loss to the invaders is estimated to have been as high as fifty thousand. The German nobility suffered greatly, nearly all of their leaders being left on the field.

The Bohemians, on the other hand, were greatly enriched by the booty that fell into their hands. This advantage was not, however, as important as the prestige that it gave them. From this day forward, the Hussite arms were looked upon as invincible.

The pope, undaunted, organized an even greater crusade the following year. Realizing that it would be in vain to look for a German prince to agree to such an undertaking, he sought the English for help. To his dismay, he found that the English held little enthusiasm for such an endeavor which, while it was no doubt holy, was also beyond doubt going to be very bloody. It was in Belgium that better fortune awaited him; and from all Western Europe, there was such a response, as Europe had not seen since the early crusades. Contemporary writers give the size of the newly formed army at ninety thousand, with an equal number of cavalry. Though this is but a guess at best, there is no doubt that there was a much larger response to this call to arms than for any crusade against the Hussites to that point.

Led by three electors of the empire, by many princes and counts, and headed by the legate-a-latere of the pope, the mighty host moved toward Bohemia and, as it was believed, toward a victory that would strike such a blow as would redeem all past defeats. Until this time, many of the Bohemian Catholics had opposed their Protestant countrymen; but faced with a common peril, they united forces and marched to meet the invaders. They drew within sight of each other with only a river between them. The crusaders, though in greatly superior numbers, instead of dashing across the stream to meet their foe, stood gazing in silence at them. In the face of the Hussites, whose features were hardened by constant exposure, they seemed to realize all of the terror that had been reported to them and suddenly, panic hit them. In utmost confusion they turned and fled. The legate, seeing his hopes and the result of his labors disappearing before his eyes, sought in vain to stop the human tide that was sweeping past him. The Hussites plunged into the river and were soon falling upon the fleeing enemy. The carnage was increased by the fury of the peasantry, who, having suffered the ravages of the advancing papal army, sought their revenge on the vanquished foe.

Still desiring the Bohemian crown but in utter despair of gaining it by force of arms, Emperor Sigismund resorted to diplomacy. Most of the Bohemians, feeling strongly the gulf which had been created by the violation of Huss’s safe conduct and greatly broadened by the bloodshed since, were adamantly opposed to any discussion of the matter; but Procopius was unwilling to forego the hope of peace if there was a possibility of bringing an end to the bloodshed. Though he was willing to die for liberty, he longed for anything resembling an honorable peace, if it could be obtained. In this hope, he assembled the Bohemian Diet at Prague in 1429, at which he obtained its consent to lay the terms of the Bohemian people before the emperor in person.

The terms of the Bohemian people were essentially the four points which they had held to when the war began—the free preaching of the gospel, Communion that included both the bread and wine, the ineligibility of the clergy to hold secular office and rule, and the execution of the laws in the case of crimes, without respect to persons.

Sigismund refused to listen to the proposal; and Procopius returned to Prague at peace in his mind in the knowledge that he had held out the olive branch, and that if blood must again flow, the responsibility would lie at the door of those who had spurned the overtures of a just and reasonable peace.

The Hussites now assumed the offensive; and those nations which had been so eager to carry war to Bohemia, experienced its miseries on their own soil. Procopius entered Germany in 1429; and during that summer and the summers that followed, the whole of Western Germany felt the weight of his sword. He converted some hundred towns and castles to ruins; and from the wealthy cities he spared; he exacted a heavy ransom as the price for their escape from captivity or death.

There was trembling throughout not only Germany but even Rome. The Hussite arms were the terror of all Europe. With the passing of Martin V in February of 1431, Eugenius IV ascended the papal throne. He proclaimed a fifth crusade against the Hussites. Confessors were appointed to give absolution of even the most heinous crimes, even to the burning of churches and murdering of priests, that the crusader might go into battle with a clear conscience. If he was to fall in battle, he was given the assurance of going immediately to Paradise; but should he survive, there awaited a paradise on earth in the booty that he was assured of gaining.

At last, on August 1, 1431, an army of 130,000 footmen assembled on the Bohemian frontier. The Hussites, day by day receiving news of the approaching horde, lifted their eyes to heaven and calmly awaited the approaching foe. Clouds of foreboding had before darkened their skies, only to be scattered by an omnipotent Hand. The advancing host came on, chanting triumph as they approached. Forming into three columns, the invaders moved forward. Procopius fell back before them, sowing reports as he retreated that the Bohemians had quarreled among themselves and were fleeing. His design was to lure the enemy further into the country and then fall upon them from all sides. On the morning of August 14, the Bohemians marched to meet the foe, who now suddenly became aware of the strategy that had been practiced against them. The terrible Hussite soldiers, once believed to be in flight, were not advancing to offer battle.

Before the Hussites broke into view, the rumble of their wagons and their war hymn, chanted by the whole army as it advanced, could be clearly heard. Suddenly, among the invading force there was a strange movement. As if smitten by some invisible power, it appeared all at once to break up and scatter. The proud army was suddenly only a rabble-rout, fleeing when no man pursued. So great was the supernatural terror with which the crusaders were smitten that many of them, instead of continuing their flight into their own country, wandered back into Bohemia. Others, meanwhile, reaching their own hometowns, did not recognize their native city; and when they entered it, began to beg for lodging as if they were strangers.

Having failed with the force of arms, Rome now resorted to wiles. The victorious Hussites were carrying the war to the enemy’s country. They had driven the Austrian soldiers out of Moravia and had invaded Hungary and other provinces, burning towns and carrying off booty. All of this had effectively opened the eyes of the pope and the emperor to the virtue of conciliation, which until this time they had flatly rejected.

A general council of the Church was called at Basel. Letters from the emperor and legate Julian invited the Bohemians to come and confer on their points of difference. Before leaving Prague, the deputies received instructions that they were to insist on the four points which they had previously submitted to Sigismund. Accordingly, when they appeared before the Council, they made it clear that their deliberations must be confined to these points and that the nation had not empowered them to entertain the question of the renunciation of their faith.

The Council sought to draw the Bohemian deputies into a broader discussion, believing that they could more easily be overcome. The Bohemian delegates, however, proving themselves able to defend themselves on both the broader ground and the four points, showed no inclination to yield. They managed to maintain their ground and proved themselves as worthy antagonists in the Council as well as on the field of battle. After three months of fruitless debates, the Bohemian delegates left Basel and returned home. The Council would admit to no terms other than that the Bohemians agree to surrender their faith and submit fully to Rome. The Council failed to remember that it was the Bohemians who were victorious and that it was they who were suing for peace.

A proposal was made to renew negotiations at Prague. The Hussites, reluctant to again engage in armed conflict, agreed. Many an armed embassy had sought to approach Prague, only to be turned back by the valor of her sons. Under a guise of friendship, the papal messengers were able to bring about that which her armies had been unable to accomplish.

The Bohemians sought to display great courtesy and respect on the occasion, and every expression of public welcome greeted the arriving delegates.

The Diet of Bohemia, convoked in 1434, met with much better success than that which had earlier met in Basel. Though the basis of the treaty, which was eventually signed, had the original four points, which Rome professed to accept, the Church reserved for herself the right to determine their true sense. The agreement, known as the Compactata, while ostensibly preserving the faith and liberties of the Bohemians, was, in fact, a surrender of both. It should have been foreseen that from this point onward, it would be the interpretation, rather than the Articles, that would be the rule.

Many of the Bohemians, and most notably the Calixtines, now returned to their obedience to the Roman See; and Sigismund was not acknowledged as the legitimate sovereign of Bohemia.

Divisions that had existed among the Bohemians from the beginning now widened in proportion as the great struggle relaxed. The party that most closely held to the teachings of John Huss was the Taborites. With them, the defense of their religion was the primary concern, with the defense of their civil rights and privileges taking second place. The Calixtines, on the other hand, had become lukewarm and believed that the rift between their country and Rome was unnecessarily wide. The majority of the city leaders and materially advantaged belonged to this party, helping to carry support for the Compactata with public opinion, in spite of the opposition of the Taborites.

In accepting the agreement, the Bohemians stepped down from a position of unparalleled grandeur. Their campaigns had been among the most heroic and brilliant in the annals of war. A little country, with but a small army, she had managed not only to withstand but to triumph over the armies of Rome with their almost unlimited resources that the Church then had at her command. As long as they remained united in purpose, there was no army in Europe that dared to attack them. From the day that the Compactata was accepted, the tide of national prosperity and prestige began to wane.

The Calixtines accepted and the Taborites rejected the proposed arrangement. The Calixtines were much the larger party, as it included not only the majority of those who had been dissenters from Rome but also the Roman Catholics. The Taborites, under the command of Procopius, though loath to take up arms, were unwilling to accept a peace that was fatal to the nation’s peace and liberty. Rather than witness this humiliation, Procopius again took to the field at the head of the Taborites.

After a series of bloody skirmishes, the two armies met on the plain of Lipan on May 29, 1434. In the battle that ensued, Procopius lost his life. With his passing, the Hussite wars came to an end. It was no longer possible for the Taborites to make an effectual stand.

Sigismund was permitted to ascend the throne of Bohemia but only after having sworn to enforce the Compactata. As could be expected from one who had broken his pledge to John Huss, as soon as he was securely seated upon the throne, he immediately set out to restore the dominance of the Church of Rome. This open treachery provoked a storm of indignation; and the country was on the brink of war when the emperor died in 1437, within a year after having been acknowledged as king by the Bohemians.

The years that made up the remainder of the century were checkered. There were wars with periods of relative peace but never again the unity and strength that the country had when it was united in its opposition to the tyranny of Rome.

Wherever the Taborites looked, there was only error. Resolving to separate themselves from the evils that everywhere prevailed, about the year 1455, they formed themselves into a distinct church under the name of the United Brethren. This step exposed them to the bitter enmity of both Calixtines and Roman Catholics. In the persecutions that followed, they were scattered into the woods and mountains where they met secretly in caves.

Wondering if they were along in keeping the true faith, they sent messengers into various countries of Christendom. These messengers returned to say that though darkness covered the face of the whole earth and prevailed everywhere, they had found isolated confessors of the truth. Most notably, they found in the Alps an ancient church that rested on the foundation of the Scriptures. This news greatly cheered and encouraged them.

Separated from the Church of Rome, the question of ordination caused them considerable perplexity. They had left the Church and had no bishop in their ranks. How were they to perpetuate that succession of pastors which Christ had appointed in His church? After much deliberation, seventy of their chief men met and, after humbling themselves with tears and prayer before God, chose nine of their number. From along these nine members, it was decided that three would be ordained. They then placed twelve pieces of paper in the hands of a boy who had no knowledge of what was taking place. Nine of the twelve pieces of paper were blank; the other three had the word Est—i.e., “It is the will of God,” written on them. He distributed the papers; and it was found that the three bearing the word Est had been given to Matthew Kunwaldius, Thomas Prezelaucius, and Elias Krezenovius. These three then received ordination at the hands of a group of Waldensian pastors.

The accession of Valdislav to the Bohemian throne in 1471 brought an end to persecution. The quiet that the Brethren now enjoyed was followed by an increase in their membership. “Their lot was cast in evil days, but they knew that the appointed years of darkness must be fulfilled. They remembered the words first uttered by Huss, and later repeated by Jerome, that a century must revolve before the day should break. These were to the Taborites what the words of Joseph were to the tribes in the House of Bondage: ‘I die, and God will surely visit you, and bring you out.’ The prediction kept alive their hopes in the night of their persecutions and in the darkest hour their eyes were still turned to the horizon like men who watch for the morning.” Ibid., 213.

The end of the century found two hundred churches of the United Brethren in Bohemia and Moravia. Such was the goodly remnant which, escaping persecution, was permitted to see the day foretold by Huss.

Life and Health – Three Delicious Holiday Recipes

“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.” Psalm 100:4. The holidays are approaching, how shall we observe them? “Will it be, as it has been in many instances, a thanksgiving to ourselves? Or will it be a thanksgiving to God?”

“We are to remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive. . . . Now a season is coming when we shall have our principles tested. Let us think what we can do for God’s needy ones. We can make them through ourselves the recipients of God’s blessings.

“But this does not embrace all of your duty. Make an offering to your best Friend; acknowledge His bounties; show your gratitude for His favors; bring a thank offering to God. . . . Brethren and sisters, eat a plain dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas day, and with the money you would spend in extras with which to indulge the appetite, make a thank offering to God.

“We want this Thanksgiving to be all that it implies. Do not let it be perverted, mingled with dross; but let it be what its name implies—giving thanks. LET OUR VOICES ASCEND IN PRAISE!” Adventist Home, 474, 475.

What a beautiful picture of the Christian’s holiday. In order to fulfill God’s ideal in us, we must have His Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts and lives at all times. The delicate nerve endings of our brains must be in the proper condition each hour of the day to receive this Gift Jesus left for us upon His ascension. And let us remember, with great solemnity, that “The brain nerves which communicate with the entire system are the only medium through which heaven can communicate with man and affect his inmost life.” My Life Today, 148. Therefore, we find out a very important aspect of our Christian life in eradicating sin from our lives, that “When men take any course which needlessly expends their vitality or beclouds their intellect, they sin against God: they do not glorify Him in their body and spirit, which are His.” Counsels on Health, 20. What a sobering thought as we approach the Second Coming of Christ. With what fervor should we “work intelligently to put away from our life-practice every perverted appetite.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 373.

What constitutes a beclouding and benumbing of the brain? Here are a few that God has mentioned:

Meat (see Testimonies, vol. 2, 64);

Sugar (see Testimonies, vol. 2, 369; Manuscript 93);

Grease (see Testimonies, vol. 2, 63);

Cheese (see Ministry of Healing, 302);

Stimulants (see Testimonies, vol. 1, 549);

Gluttony (see Testimonies, vol. 2, 412, 413);

Lack of Exercise (see My Life Today, 130);

Impure air (see My Life Today, 137);

Improper rest (see My Life Today, 143);

Irregularity (see My Life Today, 146.)

Let us endeavor during the days that come to follow God’s ideal and original program for our lives that we may claim His promise to us, “God has pledged Himself to keep this human machinery in healthful action if [remember, there are always conditions with God’s promises] the human agent will obey His Laws and cooperate with God.” My Life Today, 127.

Holiday Dressing:

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon Thyme

1 /2 cup onions (finely chopped)

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

1/2 cup celery (finely chopped)

1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder

1/2 cup mushrooms (sliced)

1/2 cup wheat germ

2 teaspoons Sea salt

1/2 cup Cashew milk

3 and ½ cups dry bread pieces (or Grapenuts are very tasty)

1 Tablespoon Vegex in 3 /4 cup hot water.

1-1/2 cup nut meats (walnuts, pecans, etc.) chopped

1 teaspoon Sweet Basil

1 small can of chestnuts (sliced)

Simmer onions, celery, mushrooms, and seasonings in the 1 /2 to 1 cup of water. Cook a few minutes till celery is tender but still crisp, stirring often. Mix the Vegex seasoning and Cashew milk together and add the bread pieces, crumbs, or Grapenuts and chopped nutmeats. Mix all ingredients lightly but well. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until slightly browned. For an added treat, you may use a loaf pan, arranging slices of Nut Meat alternately with the roast. Use with Cashew Gravy.

Cashew Gravy:

1-1/2 cups of cashew pieces

2 Tablespoons Vegex

1 Tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon Garlic powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

3-4 cups water

Place above ingredients in blender and blend thoroughly. Place in pan on medium heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. You may add I can of mushrooms if you like.

Pumpkin Pudding:

Place in Blender.

2 cups Cashew milk

1 /2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup date pieces

1 Tablespoon Vanilla

1 Tablespoon Corriander powder

1 /2 cup cashew pieces

Blend thoroughly on high speed, and add to one 16-oz can of Libby’s Pumpkin. Mix thoroughly, and add 1/2 cup chopped Pecans or Walnuts. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

May God be with you and protect each of you during this season, and may we in unity say, “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”

The Synagogue of Satan

Have her doctrines exerted an influence in your heart? Are you a part of her and not even aware of it? Is the power of the all-seeing eye influencing you?

“She is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures, in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated.” The Great Controversy, 581.

In the letter to Smyrna, we read, “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” Revelation 2:9. The term Jew no doubt refers to those claiming to serve God. In the context, however, it is clear that they are in actuality serving Satan. Jesus warned us in very strong language of the danger of falling into the class professing to be His while not accepting Him truly as Lord and Master in their lives. “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity [lawlessness].” Matthew 7:21–23. The Buddhist does not refer to Christ as Lord; neither does the Hindu, Moslem, Atheist, or Satanist. Jesus must, therefore, be referring to Christians. Clearly, it is possible to be a professing Christian, while unknowingly being a member of the synagogue of Satan.

In order to distinguish clearly between these two groups and to avoid being deceived, let us observe some of the characteristics of the synagogue of Satan.

“Satan had declared to his synagogue that not a single human soul would maintain his loyalty to God’s Commandments. One soul saved would prove this statement to be false. One soul saved would demonstrate the righteousness of God’s government. . . . Christ came to this earth, and by a life of obedience showed that man could obey. He canceled the guilt resting upon the sinner. That the sinner might stand before God clothed with His robe of righteousness. He clothed Himself with the robe of sorrow.” Upward Look, 223. [All emphasis supplied.]

“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie.” Revelation 3:9.

“Christ speaks of the church over which Satan presides as the synagogue of Satan. Its members are the children of disobedience. They are those who choose to sin, who labor to make void the holy law of God. It is Satan’s work to mingle evil with good, and to remove the distinction between good and evil. Christ would have a church that labors to separate the evil from the good, whose members will not willingly tolerate wrong-doing, but will expel it from the heart and life.” Review and Herald, December 4, 1900.

Before becoming a Christian, at one time I worked as a bartender. I had regular customers who would come into the bar wanting their usual drink, “Which had a lot of good in it.” The “screwdriver” consisted mostly of orange juice, a lot of good, and a shot of vodka, poison. It was my work to mingle evil with good in such a way that it was acceptable.

Other customers would come in asking for “Stoly on the rocks,” or “straight up,” which meant pure vodka, poison, either on ice or without ice. Quite often the one who left the bar most intoxicated was the customer who had the poison mingled with a lot of good.

Friends, Satan is a master bartender, mingling evil with good in just the right proportions to make it acceptable. If the best we can say about a certain television program, certain Christian music, certain favorite foods, or certain books, magazines, and articles is that they have a lot of good in them, then we should beware lest we be drinking from the hand of Satan whose work it is to mingle evil with good and to remove the distinction between good and evil, to build up our tolerance for evil to the point where he can eventually serve it straight up.

“There is no natural enmity between fallen men and fallen angels; both are partakers of the same spirit through indulgence in evil. It is according to the law of the synagogue of Satan that in the controversy of the evil against the good, fallen men and fallen angels shall unite in a desperate companionship. From the beginning Satan has worked continually to dethrone the Creator, and whatever may be the divisions among evil men and evil angels, there is no division in their opposition to God. Satan is determined to utterly deprave human nature through making of none effect the commandments of God. He originates traditions, and through his maxims he succeeds in assimilating to his own nature the nature of those who do not yield allegiance to the Law of God.” Signs of the Times, June 11, 1894.

“Those in the synagogue of Satan will profess to be converted and, unless God’s servants have keen eyesight, they will not discern the working of the power of darkness.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 281.

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness.” II Corinthians 11:14, 15.

“Satan has a large confederacy, his church. Christ calls them the synagogue of Satan because the members are the children of sin. The members of Satan’s church have been constantly working to cast off the divine law, and confuse the distinction between good and evil. Satan is working with great power in and through the children of disobedience to exalt treason and apostasy as truth and loyalty. And at this time the power of his satanic inspiration is moving the living agencies to carry out the great rebellion against God that commenced in heaven.” Testimonies to Ministers, 16.

“Those who are deceivers are those who have turned away their ears from hearing the truth, and who have opened the door of their heart for the entrance of the sophistries of Satan. At first those who are finally deceived do not believe what they assume themselves; but as they misinterpret the Scriptures, as they claim to have received new light, as they enter into by-paths, as they repeat their own falsehoods, they come to look upon their theories as matters of importance. They deceive others, presenting the arguments that were prepared by the synagogue of Satan. Every repetition of their errors confirms them in their false theories. They are inspired by the satanic agencies to present falsehoods before others, and finally come to believe a lie, deceiving and being deceived.” Signs of the Times, December 5, 1895.

“Never was Satan so fiercely stirred as now. As never before he will inspire everyone who has apostatized from obedience to God’s Law. He will work to create rebellion at the very time when the proclamation of the Third Angel’s Message—the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus—is going to the world. He will inspire members of his synagogue to make most desperate efforts to clothe in defiled garments all who take an active part in this message.” The Adventist Apocalypse, 62.

Let us summarize the characteristics that identify the members of the synagogue of Satan:

1. They do not keep God’s Commandments

  • They lie (hypocrites)
  • They are children of disobedience (sin)
  • They love and choose to sin’
  • They make void the Law of God
  • They mingle evil with good
  • They confuse the distinction between good and evil
  • They unite in opposition to God
  • They originate traditions
  • They profess to be converted
  • They assume the role of ministers of righteousness
  • They work to cast off the divine Law
  • They exalt treason and apostasy as truth and loyalty
  • They misinterpret the Scriptures
  • They claim to have received “new light”
  • They enter into by-paths
  • They repeat their own falsehoods
  • They look upon their theories as matters of importance
  • They deceive others
  • They clothe in defiled garments all who take an active part in the Third Angel’s Message of Revelation 14:12.

How can we be sure we are not of the synagogue of Satan, but are truly Israelites—the children of promise?

“God would have His children bear testimony to the fact that God cannot be satisfied until the fallen race is redeemed, reclaimed, and reinstated to their holy privileges, having free access to the tree of life. He would have them bear testimony to the fact that through the grace of Christ, they may represent Christlikeness of character, and find greatest joy in the assurance of His great love wherewith He has loved us. Once separated from God by the lying devices of Satan, they are reunited to Him by learning the lesson of redeeming love, as manifested in the great sacrifice of Christ in giving His precious life for mankind. The human united to the divine by a tie so strong that unfallen worlds, angels, and men are amazed, for those who believe in the love of God to them are secure in the refuge of His love, and not all the arts of Satan can induce them to continue in transgression of the Law of God.” Signs of the Times, April 11, 1895.

“Christ assumed human nature to demonstrate to the fallen world, to Satan and his synagogue, to the universe of heaven, and to the worlds unfallen, that human nature, united to His divine nature, could become entirely obedient to the Law of God, that His followers, by their love and unity, would give evidence that the power of redemption is sufficient to enable man to overcome.” Ibid., November 5, 1896.

“All need to inquire, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ God requires humble, contrite hearts, that tremble at His Word. It is only from the divine altar that we can receive the celestial torch, which, when received, will give us a full view of our incompetence, and reveal to us the dignity and glory of Christ. When this is seen, God places us under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and it will lead us into all truth.” Ibid., July 20, 1896.

Yes, “Satan has a church upon the earth which outnumbers the church of Christ. Christ calls it the synagogue of Satan, because its members are the children of sin and transgression. They have ceased to honor God [meaning they once were of Christ’s true church]; they have cast His divine law aside: they have confounded the distinction between good and evil. But, the world’s Redeemer will have a church in which these essential differences will be made apparent, where the character of God will be represented. In marked contrast to the character of Satan, the beauty of holiness will be exemplified, the loveliness of truth shine forth in life and practice. Its members will honor, love, and glorify God Whom the world has despised. These are the fruits by which they are known to the world; these will have the superscription of heaven by which all men may know that they are Christ’s disciples.” General Conference Bulletin, April 1, 1897.

“Remember that the nearer we approach Christ’s coming, the more earnestly and firmly we are to work, for the whole synagogue of Satan is opposed to us.” The Adventist Apocalypse, 214.

May the Lord bless you and impress upon your heart the desire to make Him truly Lord and Master in your life, allowing Him and His Word to be your only rule of practice. [All emphasis supplied.]

Our Character, Weighed in the Balance, part 2

When we consider our age, we taken into account the period of time that began when we were born and that reaches up to the present moment. When God looks at our life, He looks at it from a completely different perspective. When God looks at a person’s life, He is looking between now and the last day that he will spend in this world, and He knows what experiences must take place in his life between now and the last day to prepare him to be ready to enter His kingdom.

The last day of our life is spoken of throughout the Scriptures as a day of judgment. In our last study, we looked at the last night of Belshazzar and the heavenly message that was written on the wall of his banquet hall, “You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting.” Samuel 5:27. A serious thought, one that we need to carefully consider, is that every one of us is going to be weighed in those same balances.

The gospel involves not just forgiveness of sin, though that is certainly a part of it; it also involves restoration. Our character , thoughts, feelings, and even our motives are to be changed by the power of the gospel, fully restoring in us the moral image of God. There are people who would like to say that by simply being justified you have a title to heaven and are qualified to enter in. Let me put it in a very simple way so that it will be easy to understand.

Suppose that you are a blind man. You want to go places, and you have the money to afford a brand new car. Because you have the money, you may be able to obtain a title to the car; but would you be able to drive it? No, you would not, because you would not be qualified to drive, even though you owned it.

You see, you can say, “Lord, I am choosing to put my trust in Jesus,” and qualify to have a title to heaven; but in the day of judgment, if you are put in the balances and found wanting, the Lord will say to you, “Yes, the price has been paid; but you are not fit. You are not qualified.” Jesus provides the title, but you must have both a title and a fitness for heaven in order to go. “Righteousness within is testified to by righteousness without. He who is righteous within is not hard-hearted and unsympathetic, but day by day he grows into the image of Christ, going on from strength to strength. He who is being sanctified by the truth will be self-controlled, and will follow in the footsteps of Christ until grace is lost in glory. The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven; the second is our fitness for heaven.” Review and Herald, June 4, 1895.

“The robe of your character must be washed till it is spotless in the fount open for all uncleanness. Your moral worth will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary and if you are found wanting, you will be at an eternal loss.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 155.

Some are tempted to say, “Then I will never make it.” No, you will never make it on your own. Unless the Holy Spirit comes into your heart and it is purified and you are transformed, you never will meet the standard. We are not talking about an earn-it-yourself religion. The good news is that, if you surrender to the Lord and ask Him for His Holy Spirit, He has already told you in His Word that you will receive it.

Surprisingly, there are many people who do not want to receive the Holy Spirit. They are unwilling to do so because when the Holy Spirit comes, as Jesus said, He reproves of sin. (See John 16:8.) So, when a person comes to the Lord, the first thing that the Holy Spirit does when he enters into the heart is to rebuke them. As people do not like to receive a rebuke, they begin to resist. They want to be a Christian and they want to be saved, but they do not want to totally surrender to the Lord, or open their heart to Him, because they are afraid that God will require of them something they do not want to do.

One of the things that we have to recognize and remember is that God, although He is all-powerful, does not use His power to force Himself upon anyone. If you put up a wall in response to His rebuke, though He may continue to knock at the door of your heart, He will never force His way in. Ellen White expressed it like this. “He says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.’ How willing is Christ to take possession of the soul temple if we will let Him! He is represented as waiting and knocking t the door of the heart. As soon as we consent to give sin up, to acknowledge our guilt, the barrier is removed between the soul and the Saviour.” Signs of the Times, September 12, 1911.

Oh, friends, I do not know your heart; but if the Holy Spirit is speaking to you saying, “I want to come in; but you know that there is sin that you do not want to give up, so I can not come in,” let me remind you that the One who loved you enough to die on the cross to save you will never, ever make a requirement of you that is actually not in your best interest. You can trust Him.

God knows exactly how many days you have until it is your last day in this world and what work must be accomplished in your life if you are to be ready for heaven. If, however, you do not open the door; if you are hanging on to something and you do not want to let go, you are slowing the process. Soon your moral worth will be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary; and if you are found wanting, you will be at an eternal loss.

Let us consider for a moment what heaven is like. To begin with, we know that it is a wonderful place and that we all want to go there. The problem that arises is that, if we went like we are, it would no longer be such a wonderful place anymore. Heaven has already experienced what it is like to have sinful beings there; and according to the Bible, it resulted in a war. That war is still going on, and God has quarantined the war so that it is restricted to this world. The issue of sin was resolved for the rest of the universe when Jesus died on the cross, through it has taken another 2,000 years to resolve it here on the earth. God is not going to take anyone from here up to heaven who would again introduce the sin element. God has given His word on this; you can read it in the Old Testament. “Affliction will not rise up a second time.” Nahum 1:9. God determined, through His infinite wisdom and knowledge, that in order for this problem to be totally solved so that sin would never take place again, it was going to take some time for the whole thing to work out; so God has allowed this problem to develop and to go on for almost 6,000 years. In order for the sin problem to be totally resolved, the element of sin must be removed from the heart and life of everyone who goes to heaven.

One of the effects that sin has had on our lives is “coarseness.” When you go to heaven and you have a conversation, do you suppose that the people you talk with will be refined?

“We are to bear the image of God, and every soul saved through the sacrifice of the Son of God must in this life be made complete in Christ. There is much to do in order to fit us for the courts of the Lord. The roughness of spirit, the coarseness of speech, the cheapness of character, must be put away, or we can never wear the garment woven in the heavenly loom, —the righteousness of Christ.” Review and Herald, July 4, 1899.

The way that God works to refine our character is to subject us to the troubles that we experience here on earth. “It is in mercy that the Lord reveals to men their hidden defects. He would have them critically examine the complicated emotions and motives of their own hearts, and detect that which is wrong and modify their dispositions, and refine their manners. God would have His servants become acquainted with their own hearts. In order to bring them to a true knowledge of their condition, He permits the fires of affliction to assail them, so that they may be purified. The trials of life are God’s workmen to remove the impurities, infirmities, and roughness from our character , and fit them for the society of pure, heavenly angels in glory.” Review and Herald, April 10, 1894.

Suppose that you were taken to heaven and someone that you know received a crown nicer than yours. What are you going to do? If you have not laid aside your envy, your jealousy, you will only carry the same disposition to heaven with you; but there will be nothing of this character in the world to come. “Nothing will exist there but love and joy and harmony. Some will have brighter crowns than others, but there will be no jealous thoughts in any heart among the redeemed. Each one will be perfectly satisfied, for all will be rewarded according to their work; for ‘they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.’” Signs of the Times, February 10, 1888. If we are to go to heaven, all envy and jealousy will have to come out of our lives. It is the way of this world that people look at the way that someone else is dressed and compare that with their own. Jealousy is a problem in this world, have you noticed? If, however, we are to find our place in heaven, the love of Christ must replace it. We must develop His meekness and lowliness of heart.

The Bible says a great deal about speech. When you are put into the scales, one of the big factors that will determine your moral worth is your speech. Speech is so important that when God gave the Law of the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel, two of them dealt directly with speech—the third and the ninth. Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:35–37. In reviewing your life, a large part of what you should be reviewing is your speech. Has your speech today been in harmony with the Word of God? Is it true? Does it not take God’s name in vain? Is it kind?

Closely associated with speech is evil surmising. It only takes one person to get evil surmising started in a church, and if the other people succumb to it, it can destroy a whole church. There are many examples of this in the Bible. For instance, among Jesus’ disciples, there was constant quarreling and fighting prior to the crucifixion. And, though they were all at fault because they succumbed to it, Ellen White makes it very clear that there was one person who was continually stirring things up. It was Judas. Jesus knew this, though the rest of the disciples did not realize what was going on. They believed Judas to be a very spiritual person, one of the leading disciples.

Evil surmising can take place in a family, or in a church, and wreak havoc and destruction before the majority of the people realize what is taking place. It is a very, very destructive tool of the devil. We cannot go around judging each other’s hearts and motives. We do not have that right. The devil knows that if you become involved in evil surmising, he can work through you to bring everything into disarray. If we are going to heaven, friends, we personally have to get over evil surmising and we have to help the others do so, too. “Those who are filled with envy, jealousy, and evil surmising, and who indulge in evil speaking, make it manifest that they are unfit for the kingdom of heaven, because they are not peacemakers. Through trial and test, it is proved that they are weighed in the balances and found wanting.” Signs of the Times, October 3, 1895.

Just as it was with Belshazzar, when the handwriting was on the wall, there is coming a time when it will be too late for each of us to change. We will have been weighed in the balance. What is going to be the outcome for you? We are all going to have to face the handwriting on the wall; and it is going to say, “You are weighed in the balance. . . .” How will the sentence end for you?

Do you want a transformation of character to take place in your heart, your life, and your home? If that is what you want, kneel down right now and ask the Lord to work this miracle in your heart and life.

Ask For the Old Paths

“Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” Jeremiah 6:16.

What are these “old paths” for which Jeremiah told us to ask? Some doubters might quibble that the Israelites had never attained to the condition to which God wanted them. They might further argue that these “old paths” contained some pretty bad history. We could think of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; Zimri; Miriam and Aaron’s jealousy; and the golden calf—just to name a few of the problems.

Are these errors and departure from truth the “old paths” for which the Lord is telling us to ask? Oh, no, the text itself explains for what we are to look. “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein.” The qualifier is “the good way.”

The old path of truth must be walked on again. On this path lies the only way to victory for the church of God. Today we are calling to Christians across the land and around the world to return to the old paths of truth that God has committed to the Seventh-day Adventists—the path that James and Ellen White walked on, and J. N. Andrews, Benjamin Wilkersen, F. C. Gilbert, Julius Gilbert White, Edward Sutherland, and a host of others. The old historic pathway is the truth as expressed in the Law of God. It contains the truth of the Three Angels’ Messages, the heavenly sanctuary, the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Investigative Judgment. Those who are walking on the “old paths” are teaching the old truths. This is why we are “Historic” Seventh-day Adventists. Oh, yes, the pioneers did not reach the end of the path. They did not receive the Latter Rain—but they were on the right pathway.

Yes, as a people, there have been some bad experiences in our history. There was Canright, Conradi, the 1888 Conference at Minneapolis, and Desmond Ford, just to name a few. Is that the history we are talking about when we say “Historic” Seventh-day Adventists? Hardly! Jeremiah 6:16 gives us the context, “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein.”

We will never attain to the full condition that God would have us reach, or receive the Latter Rain and give the Loud Cry of warning to a perishing world until we first return to walking on the “old paths.”

Sabbath, October 22, I watched the Steps to Life special satellite television broadcast. I enjoyed the Hungarian report and was so glad for the work that Judi Kendall did in teaching the health reform message in Hungary. But my heart felt sad to think of the lack of unity among the independent ministries. Why is it this way when we are trying to walk on the “old paths”? My mind turned to the greatness and power of our kind, heavenly Father. It gave me peace to remember that our Almighty God has everything in control. Each truly Historic Seventh-day Adventist minister and worker giving the Three Angels’ Messages must go forward with greater power under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and with godly counsel. God will help and support each one of His workers. He is even working out His plans right now in the midst of shaking and turmoil. We must stay close to Him.

I continued to view the broadcast and listened to the opening for the radio program to China. The cry of the Chinese people—their oppression and hardship—touched a sympathizing chord in my heart. We must not let anything stop us from gibing the Third Angel’s Message. We will be held accountable for the message of truth that God has given us to give to the world. Fellow travelers on the bloodstained pathway—do not give up because of the lack of unity. Pray in earnest, as if your life depended on it, that you can help the cause of God to triumph. We often do not understand what God is accomplishing. We do not see things as He does. He is leading a people on a path cast up high above the world. It is the “old path,” the historic path of truth. But, friends, we must climb to higher ground and go further on the path than any group of people have ever gone before. We may make mistakes as we climb, but God has never made one. We may slip and fall, but the truth will triumph. At Steps to Life, we are in earnest prayer that the Lord will show us just what course to pursue as we seek to work in every way that we can with those who are giving the Three Angels’ Messages.

“There is not a single instance in which God has hidden His face from the supplication of His people. When every other resource failed, He was a present help in every emergency.” This Day With God, 194.

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

Sometimes the ground under our feet seems to be shaking to cause us to look up to heaven. But as the earth seems to be shaking, keep on giving the Three Angels’ Messages. Stay on the “old path.” The devil would like us to be so shaken up that we stop the work that God has given us to do. Remember that God is working out His purposes in the darkest of days. “We are prone to look to our fellow men for sympathy and uplifting, instead of looking to Jesus. In His mercy and faithfulness, God often permits those in whom we place confidence to fail us, in order that we may learn the folly of trusting in man and making flesh our arm. Let us trust fully, humbly, unselfishly in God. He knows the sorrows that we feel to the depths of our being, but which we cannot express. When all things seem dark and unexplainable, remember the words of Christ, ‘What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.’ John 13:7.” Ministry of Healing, 486, 487.

One of the great hindrances to our advancement along the path is the justification of self. The wise man said, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” Proverbs 21:2. We become so confident that we are right; that when others do not see things in the same way as we do, we are certain that they are wrong. It then becomes very natural, whey they fail to support us, to view them as actively seeking our destruction—they must be “attacking” us. We then attribute to them pride, selfishness, pettiness, evil surmising, and various other negative motives. Eventually, we reason that since God has been leading us and we are therefore right (righteous), for anyone to attack us is tantamount to an attack upon God Himself, when the truth of the matter is that we are often merely seeking to justify our own position. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes.” It is a fearful thing for individuals or organizations to unconsciously occupy the place of God in presuming to dictate to others what their responsibilities and duties are.

What are we to do when this happens? The apostle John once asked Jesus a question about a similar situation. “Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me. For he that is not against us is on our part.” March 9:38–40. Even if others are not in agreement with us, it is not our place to fault them for doing the work that they believe they are called of the Lord to do. If we can humbly pray and wait upon the Lord to work things out, we may find that we are receiving the very education that the Lord designs for us to have. Let us not be too quick to say that those who are not working closely with our plans are evil or that they are arrayed against us.

In every controversy, precious souls are lost. While in humility and waiting upon the Lord to subdue our natures, we do not need to let disagreements turn into controversies. “The difficulties we have to encounter may be very much lessened by that meekness which hides itself in Christ. If we possess the humility of our Master, we shall rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and they will cease to cast a gloom over the spirit.” The Desire of Ages, 301. If we would only do this, Jesus would then become the Lord and Master of all.

There will yet be a people who will answer the prayer of Christ recorded by the apostle John, “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent Me.” John 17:21. We may have confidence that the Lord is working to purify a people who will fulfill this prayer, though at the present time we can only view the end result by the eye of faith. It will most assuredly happen because the Word of God is sure and steadfast.

“As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks. Some who are now ready to take up weapons of warfare will in times of real peril make it manifest that they have not built upon the solid Rock; they will yield to temptation. Those who have had great light and precious privileges, but have not improved them, will, under one pretext or another, go out from us. Not having received the love of the truth, they will be taken in the delusions of the enemy; they will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, and will depart from the faith. But, on the other hand, when the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd’s voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together and present to the enemy a united front. In view of the common peril, strife for supremacy will cease; there will be no disputing as to who shall be accounted greatest. No one of the true believers will say: ‘I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas.’ The testimony of one and all will be: ‘I cleave unto Christ; I rejoice in Him as my personal Saviour.’” Testimonies, vol. 67, 400, 401.

Unmistakable Signs of the Times

Just before Jesus was to tread those torturous steps leading to the cross at Calvary, His disciples asked Him, “Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?” The Saviour answered, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilence’s, and earthquakes, in divers places.” Matthew 24:3, 6, 7.

Dear friends, how many of these prophecies are we seeing fulfilled? Even as I am writing this article, as a result of the trouble that is arising between nations, our government has a troop presence in many places in the world. We have moved to counter the massing of Iraqi troops on the border of Kuwait. We are deeply involved in Haiti’s internal problems and politics. Where will trouble arise next?

“The great conflagrations and the disasters by sea and land that have visited our country were the special providence’s of God, a warning of what is about to come upon the world. God would show man that He could kindle upon his idols a fire that water cannot quench. The great general conflagration is but just ahead, when all this wasted labor of life will be swept away in a night and day. The treasure laid up in heaven will be sage. No thief can approach nor moth corrupt it.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 49.

This century has witnessed many events unparalleled in recorded history. For example, when have there ever been universal wars like those that have taken place this century? Recently I stood at a monument to the inherent evil of human nature. In Poland, on a dank and dreary Monday,

Bob Vun Kannon and I were taken by our guide on a tour of the Auschwitz concentration camp where, according to German records, over one million innocent human beings perished for no other crime than that they were “politically incorrect.”

Friends, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” II Peter 3:9–12. [Emphasis supplied.]

The Lord is offering the last message of mercy to a rebellious and sinful world. He longs to pour out His grace and pardon upon all who will accept His invitation. Are you preparing in your life for “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time”? Daniel 12:1. Are you learning the beautiful, simple gospel of the gentle Jesus, and is the intensely practical teaching being applied in every aspect of your life? You cannot depend upon your pastor or anyone else to do this for you.

“All who are on the Lord’s side are to confess Christ. ‘Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.’ The faith of the genuine believer will be made manifest in purity and holiness of character. Faith works by love and purifies the soul, and with faith there will be corresponding obedience, a faithful doing of the words of Christ. Christianity is always intensely practical, adapting itself to all the circumstances of actual life.” The Youth’s Instructor, March 9, 1893.

Opposition to God’s Law began very early in this earth’s history. We have the account of His reckoning with that rebellion. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented [sorrowed] the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:5–8. Are we not seeing the same kind of heaven-daring rebellion in the world today?

Why did just one man find grace in the eyes of the Lord? “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” Verse 9. Friends, Noah was not just professing faith in God; he was obedient, demonstrating his faith in his life! If we are living our faith, will we not also be keeping all of God’s commandments? “’Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.’ When the heart has a deep longing for God, when the mind contemplates the goodness and the loving kindness of God, when the soul hopes and trusts in the Lord, the Holy Spirit will be as a comforter to the soul. Jesus says, ‘If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.’ ‘Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.’ Shall we be obedient to these inspired words that come sounding down the line to our time? The purpose to which we are called is an exalted one. Peter says, ‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ How can you show forth His praises? —By the words that you utter. You can speak in such a way as to bless others, —to be a savor of life unto life in working the works of righteousness. ‘Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may be your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.’” The Youth’s Instructor, July 18, 1895.

The signs of the times are fast fulfilling. We do not know the day or the hour of Christ’s Second Coming—but we do know from the parable of the fig tree that “when her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near; so ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the door.” Mark 13:28, 29.

With this in mind, are you taking seriously your position as a part of the Lord’s remnant army? Are you prepared to stand for truth? Are you looking for souls as one who must give an account? Of the many souls that you come in contact with every day, have you considered that for some of them, today might be their last opportunity to accept the Saviour’s invitation of mercy?

Urgently pray for the wisdom that comes only from on high. Study your Bibles and the Spirit of Prophecy that you may be equipped with the truth as it is found in Jesus, prepared not only to save your own soul but also those whom the Lord brings within the sphere of your influence during this closing hour of probation’s time.

Just Say “NO!” To Unarmed Combat

In just the gospel of Matthew alone, the Lord Jesus is recorded as having said, “It is written,” seven times (4:4, 6, 7, 10; 11:10; 21:13; 26:24; 26:31.) Clearly He could not have made these statements unless He had memorized the Scriptures. And, as Jesus is our Example (see I Peter 2:21), it is biblically sound to recommend that we memorize Scripture as well.

This point was driven home for me when I was serving as a translator for a Russian pastor who addressed a group of young Adventists one Sabbath. I wondered what this veteran of 12 years in Soviet concentration camps would have to say to our young people. It was a surprise to hear him begin by asking the class of juniors and young adults which of the three angels in Revelation 14 tells us to keep the Sabbath. Shockingly, none could answer him. He then asked which of the Ten Commandments tells us not to kill, and received a wrong answer! He pointed out that when you are taken to prison, they not only do not give you a Bible, but they take away the one that you have, and you are left with only what you have memorized. He stated that in his country where they know the meaning of persecution, all of the young adults have memorized the Ten Commandments and the Three Angels’ Messages. Some have memorized entire books of the Bible, and a few have even memorized the entire New Testament.

In our little historic church in Montana, we have added a new feature to our adult Sabbath School program. We allow time for voluntary recitation of Scripture. This is definitely a popular activity. We have six Sabbath School members actively involved; and it appears that another person, not yet even a baptized member, is beginning to memorize. We have only been doing this for about the past six months, yet I was surprised at how easy it is to memorize Scripture. Though it may seem difficult at first, it steadily becomes easier with practice.

The strongest weapon that we have been given to resist temptation is specified in Psalm 119:11, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” If we do not memorize the Word of God, with what will we resist the enemy? Would not a well-meaning Christian without Scripture be like a karate black-belt attacking a machine gun nest with his bare hands?

Just say “NO!” to meeting Satan’s temptations unarmed. Arm yourself by memorizing Scripture while you still have the opportunity.

The Sanctuary, Letters to the Churches, part 2

In Questions on Doctrine, beginning at page 661, there is a collection from the writings of Ellen White on the subject of the Atonement, 30 pages in all. It claims to be a “comprehensive assemblage” of Ellen White’s teachings on the Atonement. From the use of the word comprehensive, I expected to find a full and extensive collection. But in consulting this material, I was disappointed in its lack and one-sidedness. I found it to be a very incomplete and meager collection, leaving out numerous quotations that rightly belong even in a small compilation, not to say a comprehensive one. Strangely enough, quotations that were omitted were such as much on no account be left out.

First of all, I wanted to know what Sister White had to say of the date 1844, which is the “crisis year.” I wanted to know if it had anything particularly to do with the Atonement, or if it could safely be left out. I found that the author had omitted it. So I looked in turn for other quotations, not one of which I found in the assemblage. I looked for the statement: “At the termination of the 2300 days in 1844 . . . our great High Priest . . . enters the holy of holies, and there appears in the presence of God, to . . . perform the work of the Investigative Judgment and to make an Atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits.” This is said to be the “great day of final Atonement.” The Great Controversy, 480. [All Emphasis supplied.] This important statement was not there. I looked for the parallel statement: “At the termination of 2300 days in 1844, Christ entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary to perform the closing work of Atonement preparatory to His coming.” Ibid., 422. I did not find it. I looked for this statement: “This is the service which began when the 2300 days ended. At that time, as foretold by Daniel the prophet, our High Priest entered the most holy, to perform the last division of His solemn work—to cleanse the sanctuary.” Ibid., 421. I could not find it. I looked for the statement: “The end of the 2300 days in 1844 marked an important crisis.” Ibid., 49. I did not find it. I looked for other statements, such as: “The sacred work of Christ (that) is going on at the present time in the heavenly sanctuary,” “The atoning work of Christ is now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary,” “Today He is making atonement for us before the Father.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 520; White Board Minutes, 1483; Manuscript 21, 1895, quoted in Ministry, February, 2957, 30. I found none of these.

At first I thought that this book Questions on Doctrine did not have room for these texts, nor did the Ministry. But I had to abandon this reasoning when I observed that it was only a particular kind of statement that was omitted. The omitted quotations all clustered about the important “crisis” date, 1844, the Investigative Judgment, Christ’s entering into the most holy for the final Atonement, His making Atonement now, His making Atonement “today before the Father.”

One thing that kept our men from going overboard, body and soul, to the Evangelicals, was doubtless, Mrs. White’s writings. She is very emphatic on the question of the sanctuary; and it would not be easy to convert our people to the new view, as long as they had the Testimonies to sustain them in the old position. The faith of our people in the Spirit of Prophecy must be weakened, or better yet, destroyed, before much headway can be made in bringing in the new view. The Ministry article serves well for this purpose.

It was the editor himself, who in his research had “become acutely aware of the E. G. White statements which indicate that the atoning work of Christ is now in progress in the heavenly sanctuary.” White Minutes, 1483. This did not at all fit in with the new view that the atonement was made on the cross, so he suggested that footnotes or appendix notes might appear to clarify what she meant. He suggested haste in the “preparation and inclusion of such notes in future printings of the E. G. White books.” When the plan became known, it was abandoned. The author of the article in the February, 1957 Ministry then took over and had the article printed which we are considering.

The author asks this question, “Why, in the early days, in the light of all this, did not Mrs. White point out and correct the limited or sometimes erroneous concept of some of the early writers concerning the atonement? And why did she employ some of their restricted phrases? How could this be explained? The answer, which the author gives, is the most astonishing and astounding answer that has ever been given to such a question.

“In answer: it is essential that we first of all remember this basic fact: No doctrinal truth or prophetic interpretation ever came to this people initially through the Spirit of Prophecy—not in a single case.” [Emphasis his.]

Read those words again, keeping in mind that this is an article which claims to give the true meaning of the atonement, the official interpretation, and that it has the approval of the administration and that the editor passed it. Also, it has not been retracted or changed. It stands.

These are bold, almost unbelievable words and are utterly untrue. To assert that Sister White never, not even in a single case, initially contributed any doctrinal truth or prophetic interpretation will not be believed by her thousands and millions of readers who all have been benefited by her works. The reader will have noted that the author does not say that Sister White never contributed any doctrinal truth or prophetic interpretation. He says that she never contributed anything initially; that is, she never made any original contribution. She got it from somebody else; she “lifted” it. Our enemies have made that assertion for years, but I never thought that such would be announced to the whole world with the consent of the leaders; but here it is. Whatever Sister White wrote, be it the counsel of Father and Son in eternity or Satan’s inmost rebellious thoughts, “somebody told her.” She never contributed a thing, initially. Never in a single case! Let me produce a single case. The following is taken from Testimonies, Series B, No. 2, 56, 57.

“Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid. My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, were among those who after the passing of time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with them, and we studied and prayed earnestly. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light and studying the Word. Again and again these brethren came together to study the Bible in order that we might know its meaning and be prepared to teach it with power. When they came to the point in their study where they said, ‘We can do nothing more,’ the Spirit of the Lord would come upon me. I would be taken off in vision, and a clear explanation of the passages we had been studying would be given me, with instruction as to how we were to labor and teach effectively. Thus, light was given that helped us to understand the Scriptures in regard to Christ, His mission, and His priesthood. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God was made plain to me, and I gave others the instructions that the Lord had given me.” Review and Herald, May 25, 1905.

In this case, there was no human intermediary. Unless we are to believe that Sister White did not tell the truth, she got her instructions from above. In this case, the instruction concerned “Christ, His mission, and His priesthood,” the very subjects we have now under consideration. Whatever we may or may not be sure of, we know now that the instruction that came to Sister White on the subject of Christ, His mission, and His priesthood came direct from God. This means that the sanctuary question, as our forefathers taught and believed it, has God for its Author. It came as a result of a vision, which I do not believe can be said of any other doctrine that we hold.

We have reached a crisis in this denomination when leaders are attempting to enforce false doctrine and threaten those who object. The whole program is unbelievable. Men are now attempting to remove the foundations of many generations and think that they can succeed. To make the plain statement that “Christ is making atonement now” means that He is making application now is indefensible on grammatical, philological, theological or common sense ground. To go farther and upon such false interpretation build a new theology to be enforced by sanctions is simply out of this world. Undue assumption of authority coupled with over-confidence in the virtue of bestowed honors have borne fruit; and the fruit is not good.

The present attempt to lessen and destroy confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy and establish a new theology may deceive some, even many; but the foundations upon which we have built these many years, still stand; and God still lives. This warning should not go unheeded:

“If you lessen the confidence of God’s people in the testimonies He has sent them, you are rebelling against God as certainly as were Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 66.

From the booklet, A Word to the Little Flock, dated April 21, 1847, Sister White says: “I believe the sanctuary to be cleansed at the end of the 2300 days is the New Jerusalem temple of which Christ is a minister. The Lord showed me in vision more than a year ago that Brother Crosier had the true light on the cleansing of the sanctuary, etc., and that it was His will that Brother C. (Crosier) should write out the view which he gave us in the Day Star Extra, February 7, 1846. I feel fully authorized by the Lord to recommend that Extra to every saint. I pray that these lines may prove a blessing to you and to all the dear children who may read them. Signed, E. G. White.”

As I write this, I have before me a Photostat copy of the Day Star Extra from February 7, 1846. On pages 40 and 41 of that issue, I read Brother Crosier’s article. Brother Crosier observes, “But again, they say the atonement was made and finished on Calvary when the Lamb of God expired. So men have taught us, and so the churches and the world believe; but it is none the more true or sacred on that account, if unsupported by Divine authority. Perhaps few or none who hold that opinion have ever tested the foundation on which it rests.

  1. If the atonement was made on Calvary, by whom was it made? The making of the atonement is the work of a priest, but who officiated on Calvary? Roman soldiers and wicked Jews.
  2. The slaying was not making the atonement; the sinner slew the victim. (See Leviticus 4:1–5, 13–15, etc.) After the priest took the blood and made the atonement. (See Leviticus 4:5–12, 16–21.)
  3. Christ was the appointed High Priest to make the atonement and certainly could not have acted in that capacity until after His resurrection and we have no record of His doing anything on earth after His resurrection which could be called the atonement.
  4. The atonement was made in the sanctuary, but Calvary was not such a place.
  5. He could not, according to Hebrews 8:4, make the atonement while on earth. ‘If He were on earth, He could not be a priest.’ The Levitical was the earthly priesthood; the Divine, the heavenly.
  6. Therefore, He did not begin the work of making the atonement, whatever the nature of that work may be, until after His ascension, when by his own blood, He entered the heavenly sanctuary for us.”

This, then, is the “true light” which the Lord showed Sister White in vision, had His approval, and which she felt fully authorized to recommend to every saint. Only as we downgrade Sister White can we reject this testimony of hers. We are not ready to do this.

Keeping Up With the Light

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18. Notice, this verse does not say the room of the just, but the path of the just. As you walk that path, if you stay on it, the light is going to become brighter and brighter. But it is also true, friend, that if you do not keep walking on the path, the light is going to become darkness, because the light is moving.

The Bible talks about present truth. (See II Peter 1:12.) There are certain things that can be preached at one time that cannot be preached at another time. There are some truths that are timeless, but there is some truth that is present truth. What is present truth today is not exactly the same as it was 100 years ago.

I believe that very soon God’s servants are going to have to preach things that we have never thought we were going to preach. We are in a situation very similar to the Jews in the time of Christ. The devil had manipulated them into a situation, through what they had been taught, so that they were ready to reject the truth. They had developed a series of criteria which, if Jesus was the Messiah, they believed He would meet. Interestingly enough, they based these expectations on the Old Testament. Jesus did not, however, meet their criteria. It is interesting to note, in the study of history, that almost every time prophecy is fulfilled, it is not fulfilled in the way expected.

Seventh-day Adventists used to wonder what Ellen White meant when she said, “I was shown the startling fact that but a small portion of those who now profess the truth will be sanctified by it and be saved.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 608. Very soon we are going to find out.

This concept that spiritual light is moving and the person who does not keep walking in the light finds himself in the dark, explains many spiritual phenomena that are happening all around us that otherwise would be very confusing. A few years ago, two Seventh-day Adventist ministers came to Marshall’s home, where I was staying, to question me. One of them said something like this: “Do you believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church organization was ordained by God? Well, do you or don’t you?” Well, let me ask you some questions? Do you believe that the Jewish church organization was ordained by God, or that He had a hand in setting it up? Was there a time when the Jews were in the light? Yes, there was. The Jews had been called by God and chosen as His special people. They had been in the light. They had, friends, the spirit of prophecy. They had all of the Old Testament; that is the spirit of prophecy. But when the light moved, they did not move with it. God had more light for them, but they would not accept it. They stayed put and, as a result, they were left in the dark.

Jesus is the light of the world. I want you to notice Revelation 14:4 and what it says about the 144,000. “These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” When the light (Jesus) moves, the 144,000 follow. The problem today is that when the light moves, there are so many people who do not follow it; they stay put. They are left in the dark and are then spiritually blind. There was a time when they were in the light; but the light moved, and they did not move with it. “As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation.” The Desire of Ages, 232. Did you notice that she said that this has taken place in every succeeding generation? “Again and again the history of Christ’s withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the Reformers preached the Word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light.” Ibid. What happened? The religious leaders refused to walk in the light. “And those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who were longing for the truth.” Ibid. Everyone who does not love the truth is going to be deceived and be lost.

“Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teaching of the Word of God.” Ibid. Did you know that there are many people who no longer believe that this statement can apply today? Have you ever heard people say, “Well, the cycles have to stop somewhere, and they stopped in 1863 because that is when we incorporated”? The trouble is, friends, The Desire of Ages was not even written until 1898.

We are living in a time that a few years ago no one expected to see. We believed that when persecution came, it would come from outside of the church. We failed to understand what Ellen White meant when she said that we have far more to fear from within than from without. (See Selected Messages, Book 1, 122.) Who would have thought that in Adventism the apostasy would become so great that in many places it would become spiritually dangerous to even attend the local Seventh-day Adventist Church because error was being “forced home to the people.”? (See Early Writings, 125.) We were not expecting the true and faithful Seventh-day Adventists to be disfellowshipped and persecuted by their former brethren all over the world, as is taking place today. But when we go to the inspired writings, we see all of this prophesied—we just did not understand it. People have come to believe that these things would not happen until after the national Sunday law. Friend, that theory is a dangerous deception. The national Sunday law does not initiate the shaking; it brings the shaking to a climax! Those who are waiting to take a bold, unyielding stand for the truth until the Sunday law test comes are simply preparing to receive the mark of the beast.

You see, when anyone rejects the light of truth that God has given to this people, he has turned his back on the light and goes out in darkness. He may still call himself a Seventh-day Adventist; but if he does not believe the First Angel’s Message and truth of the Investigative Judgment beginning in 1844, he has gone into darkness. You cannot, with safety, go to his church and listen to him preach. When a person rejects the truth of the great Day of Atonement that began in 1844 and says that instead of afflicting the soul (Leviticus 16:29, 30) it is time to celebrate, they have gone out into darkness. If a preacher says that you will sin until Jesus comes, he has accepted Satan’s fatal sophistry (see The Great Controversy, 489), and you dare not go and listen to him preach lest you be deceived and lose your own soul. Finally, if you are not hearing the historic doctrines of Adventism preached in your church, if you are hearing the same kinds of sermons that you could hear in any other church, then you are endangering your soul if you do not either find an Historic Seventh-day Adventist congregation, or start a home church where you can teach the truth, at least to your own family.

Our opportunities for learning and knowing God’s last message to a perishing world and being prepared for what is coming on the world are very limited at best, and we dare not allow ourselves and our families to be exposed to either heretical preaching or “peace and safety” messages that come just before destruction. “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 be 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, 125.

Every Sabbath after church, you should be more fitted to stand in the day of the Lord than before. But the prophet wrote sadly, “Those who have been regarded as worthy and righteous prove to be ring-leaders in apostasy and examples in indifference and in the abuse of God’s mercies. Their wicked course He will tolerate no longer, and in His wrath He deals with them without mercy.

“It is with reluctance that the Lord withdraws His presence from those who have been blessed with great light and who have felt the power of the word in ministering to others. They were once His faithful servants, favored with His presence and guidance; but they departed from Him and led others into error, and therefore are brought under the divine displeasure. . . .

“Not all who profess to keep the Sabbath will be sealed. There are many even among those who teach the truth to others who will not receive the seal of God in their foreheads. They had the light of truth, they knew their Master’s will, they understood every point of our faith, but they had not corresponding works. These who were so familiar with prophecy and the treasures of divine wisdom should have acted their faith. They should have commanded their households after them, that by a well-ordered family they might present to the world the influence of the truth upon the human heart.

“By their lack of devotion and piety, and their failure to reach a high religious standard, they make other souls contented with their position. Men of finite judgment cannot see that in patterning after these men who have so often opened to them the treasures of God’s Word, they will surely endanger their souls. Jesus is the only true pattern. Everyone must now search the Bible for himself upon his knees before God, with the humble, teachable heart of a child, if he would know what the Lord requires of him. However high any minister may have stood in the favor of God, if he neglects to follow out the light given him of God, if he refuses to be taught as a little child, he will go into darkness and satanic delusions and will lead others in the same path. . . .

“What are you doing, brethren, in the great work of preparation? Those who are uniting with the world are receiving the worldly mold and preparing for the mark of the beast.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 212–216.

Friends, it is a dangerous thing to fail to advance in the opening providence of God. The light is moving. Are you moving with it or are you in the dark? Early in her experience, Ellen White saw a vision about this light. You can read this vision in Early Writings, 15–20. In other places in her writings, she speaks about the light that was set up at the beginning of the path that the Advent company was traveling that shone all of the way up to the Holy City. This path, friends, is narrow; and if you do not have light on the path, you are going to stumble and fall off.

What was that light that was set up at the beginning? Sister White says that it was the Midnight Cry. The Midnight Cry was based on the Bible prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9, and Revelation 14:6, 7—the message of the 2300 days and the sanctuary and the Investigative Judgment. The devil knows that if we reject these truths, we will stumble and fall off of the path. It is amazing how successful the devil has been in leading us to reject them.

We have been told that, “When the power of God testifies as to what is truth, that truth is to stand forever as the truth. No after suppositions contrary to the light God has given are to be entertained.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 161. Yet there are Adventist teachers and ministers today who no longer believe these truths. Friend, if you are in the situation where you listen to this error, you are in the dark; you are going to lose your way. The Lord is not going to work a miracle to save you; you have turned your back on the light. This idea that you can have a spirit of free inquiry and ask any question you want to is not according to the Scriptures. Jesus rebuked people for their doubt. Friend, if these truths are not being upheld in your church, your church is in the dark.

In Testimonies, vol. 2, 594–597, Ellen White describes a very impressive dream. “I dreamed of being with a large body of people. A portion of this assembly started out prepared to journey. We had heavily loaded wagons. As we journeyed, the road seemed to ascend. On one side of this road was a deep precipice; on the other was a high, smooth, white wall. . . . As we journeyed on, the road grew narrower and steeper. . . . We concluded that we could no longer travel with the loaded wagons. We . . . took a portion of the luggage from the wagons and placed it upon the horses, and journeyed on horseback. As we progressed, the path still continued to grow narrow. . . . We then cut the luggage from the horses, and it fell over the precipice. We continued on horseback. . . . A hand seemed to take the bridle and guide us over the perilous way. As the path grew more narrow, we . . . left the horses and went on foot, in single file. . . . At this point small cords were let down from the top of the pure white wall; these we eagerly grasped. . . . The path finally became so narrow that we concluded that we could travel more safely without our shoes, so we slipped them from our feet. . . . Soon it was decided that we could travel more safely without our stockings; these were removed, and we journeyed on with bare feet.”

One of the most interesting points of this dream is that several changes were made. They began with heavily loaded wagons, then changed to horses with a portion of the luggage, to horses with no luggage, to single file on foot, to removing their shoes, and finally to removing their stockings. Notice that “at every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only made these more eager to press on to the end. . . . We pressed close to the white wall, yet could not place our feet fully upon the path, for it was too narrow. We then suspended nearly our whole weight upon the cords, exclaiming: ‘We have hold from above!’” Ibid.

The light, friends, is moving. Are you keeping up with the providence of God? Are you aware that the road we are traveling is getting narrower? Have you noticed it? How are you going to stay on the path and keep up with the providence of God? The only way is to have faith. These cords represent faith. A few years ago a good friend of mine told me that he was sorry that I had worked so many years for the Adventist denomination and now had to give up all of my retirement benefits. If you stay on the road all the way to the end, you are going to give up much more than retirement benefits.

Oh friend, how much time are you spending in prayer? If you are energetic enough to get up and to pray, God will hear and answer.

“Where there is no active labor for others, love wanes, and faith grows dim.” The Desire of Ages, 825.

You must not only study your Bible and pray, you must be actively involved in missionary work. If you are not, ask the Lord to show you what to do to become involved in some type of outreach program spreading the Third Angel’s Message.

We did not follow the path to the end of the vision. The time came, however, when the path disappeared and all that was left were the cords that had been let down from above. When you come to this place in your experience, will you have a faith that will hold you? Do you want the Lord to let down a cord of faith today so that you can get a hold from above? If so, determine that from this day forward, you will faithfully walk in the light as God sheds it upon your pathway.

Accustomed to Hardship

I will begin by sharing with you a vision that Ellen White had, which is recorded in Testimonies, vol. 2, 594–597.

“While at Battle Creek in August, 1868, I dreamed of being with a large body of people. A portion of this assembly started out prepared to journey. We had heavily loaded wagons. As we journeyed, the road seemed to ascend. On one side of this road was a deep precipice; on the other was a high, smooth, white wall, like the hard finish upon plastered rooms.

“As we journeyed on, the road grew narrower and steeper. In some places it seemed so very narrow that we concluded that we could no longer travel with the loaded wagons. We then loosed them from the horses, took a portion of the luggage from the wagons and placed it upon the horses, and journeyed on horseback.

“As we progressed, the path still continued to grow narrow. We were obliged to press close to the wall, to save ourselves from falling off the narrow road down the steep precipice. As we did this, the luggage on the horses pressed against the wall and caused us to sway toward the precipice. We feared that we should fall and be dashed in pieces on the rocks. We then cut the luggage from the horses, and it fell over the precipice. We continued on horseback, greatly fearing, as we came to the narrower places in the road, that we should lose our balance and fall. At such times a hand seemed to take the bridle and guide us over the perilous way.

“As the path grew more narrow, we decided that we could no longer go with safety on horseback, and we left the horses and went on foot, in single file, one following in the footsteps of another. At this point, small cords were let down from the top of the pure white wall; these we eagerly grasped, to aid us in keeping our balance upon the path. As we traveled, the cord moved along with us. The path finally became so narrow that we concluded that we could travel more safely without our shoes, so we slipped them from out feet and went on some distance without them. Soon it was decided that we could travel more safely without our stockings; these were removed, and we journeyed on with bare feet.

“We then thought of those who had not accustomed themselves to privations and hardships. Where were such now? They were not in the company. At every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. The privations of the way only make these more eager to press on to the end.”

I want you to notice something. At every change some were left behind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships. Where were those who had not accustomed themselves to hardship? They were not in the company. That is such an all-inclusive statement. No one is going to be in the company who has not accustomed themselves to hardship. Are you accustomed to hardship?

Paul gives two qualifying characteristics for brethren. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity [love] of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.” II Thessalonians 1:3–5.

Notice that the believers of Thessalonica had faith and love, but they had these character traits because they had patiently endured persecutions and tribulations. You see, there is a purpose for what happens to us in life. “Our heavenly Father does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men. He has His purpose in the whirlwind and the storm, in the fire and in the flood. The Lord permits calamities to come to His people to save them from greater danger. . . . He works through natural causes to lead His people to remember that He has not forgotten them, but that He desires them to forsake the way which, if they were permitted to follow unchecked and unreproved, would lead them into great peril.

“Trials come to us all to lead us to investigate our hearts, to see if they are purified from all that defiles. Constantly the Lord is working for our present and eternal good. . . . If His Word is not followed in all humility and meekness, He brings to them experiences which, if rightly received, will help to prepare them for the work to be done in His name. God desires to reveal His power in a marked manner through the lives of His people.” The Upward Look, 65.

When the travelers left the horses, what happened to some who were on the path? They stayed right there. They said, “This is enough. We are not going any further.” This was not the first time that some had stayed behind. When they left the wagons, some stayed. Yet, some of those who withstood the first test turned back when they cut the luggage off. Even some of those who continued on when they got off of the horses stayed behind when the path became too narrow to continue with their shoes on. You see, there is more than one test in the Christian walk.

Why did the Lord not tell them at the beginning of the journey, “Do not worry with the horses and the wagons? You will not be able to take the luggage; and, in fact, you will not be able to wear your shoes and socks on the journey”? Why did He not do that? He knows the frailty of human nature, and He is merciful. He takes us with all of our baggage, if we have a heart to follow Him, and helps us to grow in our experience.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.” II Corinthians 4:6–8. Commenting on this verse, Ellen White says, “Christ commissions us to shine as lights in the world, by reflecting the light of God as seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

“Who among us is doing this? Are our lives all aglow with this wondrous light? God expects every one of us to reflect His image to the world. We have been led on step by step to make advancement. We have walked and worked by faith, and we need to discipline ourselves to endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” This Day With God, 65.

Even though we are perplexed, friends, we are not even distressed or in despair, because we have a heavenly Father who has caused light to shine out of the darkness onto our pathway. As His light shines upon us, it fills our hearts with thankfulness for what He has done for us; and we are willing to do anything for Him. No matter how narrow the pathway is, we would not want to be anywhere else.

Did you notice that even among those who had begun the trip, there were some who at each narrowing of the path did not go on? Sometimes, friends, we are going to have to endure some trials; but we must continue to press up the path. “But this doing the duty of a soldier means work. It is not always just such work as we would choose. Outward inconveniences, difficulties, and trials have to be borne by the soldier of Jesus. There is a constant warfare to be maintained against the evils and inclinations of our own natural hearts.” Youth’s Instructor, December 22, 1886.

Are there things in your life that you have allowed to go on for years? Things that you know you should be changing? Friends, the Christian experience does not just happen accidentally. It takes work. Everything must be laid on the altar.

“We must not pick and choose the work most agreeable to us; for we are Christ’s soldiers, under His discipline, and we are not to study our own pleasure. We might fight the battles of the Lord manfully. We have enemies to conquer that would gain the control of all our powers. Self-will in us must die; Christ’s will alone must be obeyed. The soldier in Christ’s army must learn to endure hardness, deny self, take up the cross, and follow where his Captain leads the way.” Ibid.

Our heavenly Father wants to do something with us. He wants to make a spectacle of us to the whole world. He knows how entangled we are with this world, so instead of revealing everything to us at once, in His great love, He leads us step by step. Are you willing to stay on the path no matter what the Lord asks you to do, even if it is to sacrifice life itself? He has something so mighty, so great, that He wants to accomplish in each of us, that as we look back on the path of this life, we would have it no other way than the way that He directed.

“Our danger of falling from the pathway increased. We pressed close to the white wall, yet could not place our feet fully upon the path, for it was too narrow. We then suspended nearly our whole weight upon the cords, exclaiming: ‘We have hold from above! We have hold from above!’ The same words were uttered by all the company in the narrow pathway. As we heard the sounds of mirth and revelry that seemed to come from the abyss below, we shuddered. We heard the profane oath, the vulgar jest, and low, vile songs.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 595.

The time is coming when there are going to be some steep places in the path that require work. In preparation for that time, I want to accustom myself to hardship.

“I noticed that the beautiful white wall was stained with blood. It caused a feeling of regret to see the wall thus stained. This feeling, however, lasted but for a moment, as I soon thought that it was all as it should be. Those who are following after will know that others have passed the narrow, difficult way before them, and will conclude that if others were able to pursue their onward course, they can do the same.” Ibid., 596.

There are those who have gone before, and we are to walk as they have walked. There is nothing that we are called upon to endure that has not been endured by those before us. “As the shepherd goes before his sheep, himself first encountering the perils of the way, so does Jesus with His people. ‘When He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them.’ The way to heaven is consecrated by the Saviour’s footprints. The path may be steep and rugged, but Jesus has traveled that way; His feet have pressed down the cruel thorns, to make the pathway easier for us. Every burden that we are called to bear He Himself has borne.

“Though now He has ascended to the presence of God, and shares the throne of the universe, Jesus has lost none of His compassionate nature. Today the same tender, sympathizing heart is open to all the woes of humanity. Today the hand that was pierced is reached forth to bless more abundantly His people that are in the world.” The Desire of Ages, 480.

And so, while our feet are aching and sore and bruised, His feet have gone before ours, smoothing the way and pressing down the cruel thorns, so the pathway is not as difficult for us. Is not that encouraging?

“At length we came to a large chasm, at which our path ended. There was nothing now to guide the feet, nothing upon which to rest them. Our whole reliance must be upon the cords, which had increased in size until they were as large as our bodies. Here we were for a time thrown into perplexity and distress. We inquired in fearful whispers: ‘To what is the cord attached?’ My husband was just before me. Large drops of sweat were falling from his brow, the veins in his neck and temples were increased to double their usual size, and suppressed, agonizing groans came from his lips. The sweat was dropping from my face, and I felt such anguish as I had never felt before. A fearful struggle was before us. Should we fail here, all the difficulties of our journey had been experienced for nought.

“Before us, on the other side of the chasm, was a beautiful field of green grass, about six inches high. I could not see the sun; but bright, soft beams of light, resembling fine gold and silver, were resting upon this field. Nothing I had seen upon earth could compare in beauty and glory with this field. But could we succeed in reaching it? was the anxious inquiry. Should the cord break, we must perish. Again, in whispered anguish, the words were breathed: ‘What holds the cord?’ For a moment we hesitated to venture. Then we exclaimed: ‘Our only hope is to trust wholly to the cord. It has been our dependence all the difficult way. It will not fail us now.’ Still we were hesitating and distressed. The words were then spoken: ‘God holds the cord. We need not fear.’ These words were then repeated by those behind us, accompanied with: ‘He will not fail us now. He has brought us thus far in safety.’

“My husband then swung himself over the fearful abyss into the beautiful field beyond. I immediately followed. And, oh, what a sense of relief and gratitude to God we felt! I heard voices raised in triumphant praise to God. I was happy, perfectly happy.” Ibid., 596, 597.
I am so glad that the prophet of the Lord does not leave us with the picture of them falling off of the path. In God’s Word we are assured, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:13.

“The heirs of God have come from garrets, from hovels, from dungeons, from scaffolds, from mountains, from deserts, from caves of the earth, from the caverns of the sea. On earth they were ‘destitute, afflicted, tormented.’ Millions went down to the grave loaded with infamy because they steadfastly refused to yield to the deceptive claims of Satan. By human tribunals they were adjudged the vilest of criminals. But now “God is judge Himself.’ Psalm 50:6. Now the decisions of earth are reversed. ‘The rebuke of His people shall He take away.’ Isaiah 25:8. ‘They shall call them, The Holy people, The redeemed of the Lord.’ He hath appointed ‘to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.’ Isaiah 62:12; 61:3. They are no longer feeble, afflicted, scattered, and oppressed. Henceforth they are to ever be with the Lord. They stand before the throne clad in richer robes than the most honored of the earth have ever worn. They are crowned with diadems more glorious than were ever placed upon the brow of earthly monarchs. The days of pain and weeping are forever ended. The King of Glory has wiped the tears from all faces; every cause of grief has been removed. Amid the waving of palm branches they pour forth a song of praise, clear, sweet, and harmonious; every voice takes up the strain, until the anthem swells through the vaults of heaven: ‘Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.’” The Great Controversy, 650.