What is happening in our beloved Seventh-day Adventist Church? Many of our members do not know what to believe. Some are attending home churches because they hear an unscriptural gospel preached from their Adventist pulpit. Our church is facing a very critical emergency. It is being divided into two camps, each teaching a different gospel, affecting the conscience of pastors, teachers and laymen.
The dividing question revolves around faith and works in the Christian life. James explained the subject this way: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:20–26.
Inspiration clarifies this Scripture so clearly that there can be no possible misunderstanding. ” ‘. . .Without faith it is impossible to please Him, . . . He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.’ Hebrews 11:6. There are many in the Christian world that claim that all that is necessary to salvation is to have faith; works are nothing. But God’s word tells us that faith without works is dead, being alone. Many refuse to obey God’s commandments, yet they make a great deal of faith. But faith must have a foundation. God’s promises are all made upon conditions. If we do His will, if we walk in truth, then we may ask what we will, and it shall be done unto us. While we earnestly endeavor to be obedient, God will hear our petitions; but He will not bless us in disobedience. If we choose to disobey His commandments, we may cry, ‘Faith, faith, only have faith,’ And the response will come back from the sure word of God, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ (James 2:20.) Such faith will only be as sounding brass and as a tinkling cymbal. In order to have the benefits of God’s grace we must do our part; we must faithfully work and bring forth fruits meet for repentance . . .
“Faith and works will keep us evenly balanced and make us successful in the work of perfecting Christian character. Jesus says, ‘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.’ (Matthew 7:21.) Speaking of temporal food, the apostle said, ‘For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.’ 2 Thessalonians 3:10. The same rule applies to our spiritual nourishment; if any would have the bread of eternal life, let him make efforts to obtain it. We are living in an important and interesting period of this earth’s history. We need more faith than we have yet had; we need a firmer hold from above. Satan is working with all power to obtain the victory over us, for he knows that he has but a short time in which to work. Paul had fear and trembling in working out his salvation and should not we fear lest the promise being left us, we should any of us seem to come short of it, and prove ourselves unworthy of eternal life? We should watch unto prayer. Strive with agonizing effort to enter in at the straight gate.” Faith and Works, 47, 49.
For years, modern Babylon has been teaching that Jesus kept the law for us, therefore it is not necessary for us to keep the law. It is commonly said that all that we need to do is believe that Christ obeyed the law for us, and we may continue to sin till Jesus comes and still be saved. Such teachings come straight from the doctrines of devils!
How the Pioneers Established Truth
It is amazing to discern how the Holy Spirit, through the servant of the Lord, guided our pioneers so clearly that they were able to distinguish truth from error and separate from Babylon’s false teachings. In Manuscript Releases, vol. 3, 412, Ellen White described this process: “My husband, Elder Joseph Bates, Father Pierce, Elder Edson, a man who was keen, noble, and true, and many others whose names I cannot now recall, were among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for truth. At our important meetings, these men would meet together and search for the truth as for hidden treasure. I met with them, and we studied and prayed earnestly; for we felt that we must learn God’s truth. Often we remained together until late at night, and sometimes through the entire night, praying for light, and studying the Word. As we fasted and prayed, great power came upon us. But I could not understand the reasoning of the brethren. My mind was locked, as it were, and I could not comprehend what we were studying. Then the Spirit of God 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 to me, with instruction as to the position we were to take regarding truth and duty. A line of truth extending from that time to the time when we shall enter the city of God, was plainly marked out before me, and I gave my brethren and sisters the instruction that the Lord had given me. They knew that when not in vision I could not understand these matters, and they accepted as light direct from heaven the revelations given me. The leading points of our faith as we hold them today were firmly established. Point after point were clearly defined, and all the brethren came into harmony.”
We need to consider that if we are tempted to embrace new doctrinal teachings, which differ from the faith delivered to our pioneers, that we are in danger of rejecting the light given by the Holy Spirit. God has always promised to increase our light by fuller development, but He never changes His truth. “Thus saith the Lord, 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 . . .” Jeremiah 6:16.
Warnings for Adventists
In view of this divine counsel, let us consider how we have been warned of what will happen in this end time and what God is expecting of His servants, the shepherds.
“God calls for men of decided fidelity. He has no use in an emergency for two-sided men. He wants men who will lay their hand upon a wrong work and say, This is not according to the will of God.” Selected Messages, vol. 2, 153.
“All who believe that the Lord has spoken through Sister White, and has given her a message, will be safe from the many delusions that will come in these last days.” Selected Messages, vol. 3, 83, 84.
“In these last days, false teachers will arise and become actively zealous . . . False theories will be mingled with every phase of experience . . . In the very midst of us will arise false teachers, giving heed to seducing spirits whose doctrines are of satanic origin. These teachers will draw away disciples after themselves . . . Confessions may be made, but no real reformation takes place, and erroneous theories bring ruin upon unsuspecting souls because these souls believe and rely upon the men advocating these theories.” Review and Herald, January 7, 1904.
“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. Men will arise with interpretations of Scripture which are to them truth, but which are not truth . . . One will arise, and still another, with new light, which contradicts the light that God has given under the demonstration of the Holy Spirit . . . We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it up as proof around their asserted theories . . . And while the Scriptures are God’s Word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake. He who makes such an application knows not the wonderful demonstration of the Holy Spirit that gave power and force to the past messages that have come to the people of God.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 161.
“He (Satan) works today as he worked in heaven, to divide the people of God in the very last state of this earth’s history. He seeks to create dissention, and to arouse contention and discussion, and to remove if possible the old landmarks of truth committed to God’s people. He tries to make it appear as if the Lord contradicts Himself.
“It is when Satan appears as an angel of light that he takes souls in his snare, deceiving them. Men who pretend to have been taught of God will adopt fallacious theories and in their teaching will so adorn these fallacies as to bring in satanic delusions. Thus Satan will be introduced as an angel of light, and will have opportunity to present his pleasing fables.” Manuscript Releases, No. 222.
In October of 1903, Ellen White urged immediate action to forestall the invasion of the New Theology teachings that God had revealed would soon enter the church in the end time. “The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines that stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of re-organization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the Remnant Church would be discarded . . . A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath, of course, would be lightly regarded as also the God Who created it . . . The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure.
“Who has authority to begin such a movement? We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth?” Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, 39, 40.
It is no wonder that there is an apostate theology of assurance and salvation being promoted today from the very top of the structure. I believe this apostasy to be exactly what the servant of the Lord called “The Omega,” as found in Selected Messages, vol. 1, 177, 205.
We are told that there would be few champions of truth within the church at the end time, and that the majority would reject the pure gospel. We see the fulfillment of Paul’s prophecy in 1 Timothy 4:1. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” “Every wind of doctrine will be blowing.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 80.
It is not uncommon to hear the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which God says in Revelation 2:6 that He hates, preached from Adventist pulpits. This “gospel” teaches that we may sin and still be saved.
The liberals among us are teaching Calvinistic concepts so that we are losing our distinctive pillars of faith. We are taught to blindly accept anything from the leadership. The results are inevitable. God’s professed people are becoming ecumenical and losing sight of the true identity of the antichrist. It is plain to see that there are those in leadership today who are attempting to remove the landmarks of truth, just as inspiration predicted. “There will be a removing of the landmarks and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith. A more decided effort will be made to exalt the false sabbath, and to cast contempt upon God Himself by supplanting the day He has blessed and sanctified.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 985.
The History of the New Theology*
Dr. Leroy Froom began the New Theology by misquoting Ellen White in order to substantiate a coexistence with the Evangelicals. The original statement by Mrs. White reads as follows: “In taking upon Himself man’s nature in its fallen condition, Christ did not in the least participate in its sin.” The Faith I Live By, 49. Froom changed it to read, ” . . .took the sinless nature of Adam before his fall.” He thus implanted words which Ellen White never said.
This New Theology was further upheld by Dr. Edward Heppenstall, the Chairman of the Systematic Theology Department at Andrews University. He wrote a book on perfection in which he made twenty-one statements that say it is impossible for Christians to stop sinning, even by the power of God. In one such statement he said: “The Bible rejects every possibility of our reaching sinless perfection in this life.” The Impossible Possibility, 73.
Next came Dr. Desmond Ford, a teacher at Avondale College in Australia and later at Pacific Union College. He made an all out attack on the Sanctuary doctrine, in 1979.
Many other books of a similar nature have now been printed by Pacific Press. One of the most blatant is Beyond Belief, by Jack Sequiera, in which the author denies many of our basic beliefs. But the worst apostasy is that which is being promoted by our General Conference President in which he totally ignores the instructions of the Spirit of Prophecy, claiming to have made a new discovery.
In his book, We Still Believe, he asserts that assurance of salvation is based on grace alone and that our response of sanctified obedience has nothing to do with our salvation.
In the following quotations, I shall compare Ford, Sequiera and Folkenberg in their new beliefs concerning the basis of our salvation. “The justification imputed to us is a righteousness which is one hundred percent, but it is not eternal. It is an alien righteousness that is outside of us. The righteousness of sanctification, however, is internal. It is the fruit of our cooperation with the Holy Spirit, but it is not one hundred percent. Thus we are ever dependent upon the merits of Christ; ever dependent upon justification for our standing with God.” The Only Two Religions in the World, 15, by Desmond Ford.
Someone says, “That sounds pretty good.” We will find out what is wrong with this as we compare this statement with Sequiera’s teaching. “The righteousness God obtained for all humanity in Christ, justification, is full of merit. It is this alone that qualifies us for heaven, now and in the judgment. See Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5. The righteousness God provides in us, on the other hand, has no saving value. It is never complete in this life.” Beyond Belief, 170.
The General Conference President believes the same as Ford and Sequiera. “Whatever changes God brings about in us, our salvation must always be based upon what He has done for us.” “Will the Evangelical Adventist Please Stand Up?” by Robert Folkenberg, The Review, April, 1997.
In the Scriptures, the righteousness of God includes both justification and sanctification. As we compare the writings of these men further, we note that Ford declares that the righteousness of God is not one hundred percent. Sequiera agrees that the righteousness of God has no saving value. And the General Conference President writes that the only thing that counts is what Christ did for us. Yet anyone who accepts the writings of Paul in the Holy Scriptures must agree that the righteousness of God includes both justification and sanctification.
God’s righteousness is never to be questioned, for the pardoning righteousness of Christ becomes a living power within us to enable us to overcome all sin. A righteous life cannot be separated from the divine living power that breaks the bondage of sin. For as we become united with Christ, the righteousness of God becomes our personal property so that in the final judgment, no trace of unrighteousness remains. This is the true meaning of the words, The Lord our Righteousness, Who changes the believers heart the moment he is united by faith in Christ and eventually purifies the heart from every sin.
Ford, Sequiera and Folkenberg on Christ’s Nature
Now, in comparison, let us see what Ford states. “We were ruined by our first representative, Adam, and we had nothing to do with that. The good news of the gospel is that we have been redeemed by our second representative, Jesus. And we had nothing to do with that either.” Good News for Adventists, 14. Now we see where this New Theology is leading. Ford states that we have nothing to do with Christ’s redemption for us.
Sequiera teaches the same. “If the down side of the idea of corporate oneness is that we all fell in the one man, Adam, the glorious up side of the idea is that God likewise has redeemed all of us in the One Man, Jesus Christ, Who is the second Adam.” Beyond Belief, 34.
The General Conference President agrees. “According to the Bible, two individuals, Adam and Christ, sum up and comprehend all those who have ever lived on the earth. We are all in Adam by reason of our birth, in him, in sin and death. But the glorious truth of the gospel is that Jesus died for us all, and we were in Him on the cross.” In Christ, 5, by Robert Folkenberg.
“We are all in Adam by reason of our birth”? If this is true, this applies to Christ. “Like every child of Adam, He (Christ) accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity.” The Desire of Ages, 49. But these men do not accept that Christ was born of the same flesh as you and I, yet without sin. They insist that Christ was born with the sinless nature of Adam before his fall!
As we compare further, we hear the New Theology continually emphasizing the unconditional good news. Ford would have us believe this by stating, “Justify never means to make righteous. Deuteronomy 25:1; Exodus 23:7. Down through the centuries false religion has made justify mean make righteous, in the sense of becoming more righteous.” Good News for Adventists, 15.
If justify never means to make righteous, there can be no conditions to salvation. Sequiera bluntly states this. “The gospel is the unconditional good news of salvation for all mankind.” Beyond Belief, 36.
The General Conference President reveals where this New Theology is leading the church. “This is why the gospel is unconditional good news. Our assurance of salvation is based, not on our behavior, but on Christ’s. Our assurance of salvation is based not on reaching some level of character development, but on our relationship with Jesus.” We Still Believe, 41. And on page 42 we read. “Such people, legalists, carrying an “anti-cheap grace” banner, back themselves in the other extreme, falling into the ditch of “conditional justification” and sacrificing the peace of mind that is born of assurance in Christ.”
Here is another gospel, which is contrary to the writings of both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. For the assurance taught by Ford, Sequiera and Folkenberg, teaches that we need do nothing but believe. That our behavior has nothing to do with our character development. “We can sin and yet live.”
This is what Ford teaches. “As soon as the sinner exercises faith in the atonement of the cross, he or she is declared righteous, perfect and without condemnation. These blessings are retained as long as he or she believes, despite personal mistakes and failures. Note it well, justification does not cover only our past but all our days.” Good News for Adventists. That is the teaching of once saved, always saved.
Sequiera teaches the same. “Stumbling under grace, falling into sin, does not deprive us of justification, neither does it bring condemnation.” Beyond Belief, 166. Such a statement is unbelievable in view of David’s sin and his response to the prophet’s words, “Thou art the man!” Who would ever think that the time would come in our beloved church when books would be printed with another gospel telling us that we can sin without condemnation?
And Folkenberg agrees with this New Theology. “We obtain salvation through agreeing to enter a relationship of trust in Jesus and occasional good deeds and misdeeds neither make nor break that relationship.” Called in Grace, 22. “Finally I discovered that our assurance of salvation is based on God’s grace by faith, not on our behavior or character development. Each sin we may commit does not turn off salvation in our lives.” We Still Believe, 40.
New Theology and the Sunday Law
New Theology teaches that deportment, behavior and character development mean absolutely nothing. You may sin until Jesus returns and you will still be saved. This is exactly what Satan would have us believe. When the Sunday law becomes a final issue, since our behavior means nothing, we will be urged by the leadership to go along with the law. The New Theology will have successfully evaded the issue of the Mark of the Beast, preparing the people to keep Sunday.
Our only ground of hope is in the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us and, in that wrought by His Spirit working in and through us. “The work of gaining salvation is one of co-partnership, a joint operation . . . Human effort of itself is not sufficient. Without the aid of divine power it avails nothing. God works and man works.” Acts of the Apostles, 482.
There is no such thing as the “sin and be saved” doctrine that is taught in the New Theology. Jesus clearly contradicted it with His teachings. In Matthew 19 He told us how we can be saved: “And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16, 17.
“And, behold a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And He said unto him, What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all they strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And He said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” Luke 10:25–28.
“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath. (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified).” Romans 2:7, 8, 13.
“And being made perfect, He (Christ) became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” Hebrews 5:9. “The gospel that is to be preached to all nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples represents the truth in clear lines, showing that obedience is the condition of gaining eternal life.” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 972.
“When the lawyer came to Christ saying, ‘Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ The Saviour did not say, Believe, only believe, and you will be saved. ‘What is written in the law?’ He said, ‘How readest thou?’ Here the false doctrine that man has nothing to do but believe is swept away. Eternal life is given to us on the condition that we obey the commandments of
*Material for this part of the article was taken from an appeal to the General Conference President by Elder Ron Spear.