“In the past, the servants of God wrestled with principalities and powers, and with the rulers of the darkness of this world, and with spiritual wickedness in high places, the same as we, who bear aloft the banner of truth, do today. These men were God’s noblemen, His living agencies, through whom He wrought in a wonderful manner. They were depositaries of divine truth to the extent that the Lord saw fit to reveal the truth that the world could bear to hear. They proclaimed the truth at a time when false, corrupt religion was magnifying itself in the world.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 345, 346.
“If the Bible was studied and obeyed; if we had the spirit of Christ, we should make determined efforts to be laborers together with God. We should better appreciate the worth of the soul; for every soul converted to God means a vessel dedicated to a holy use, a depositary of truth, a bearer of light to others. God expects more of the schools than has yet been brought forth. Christ has said, ‘Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life; which the Son of man shall give unto you; for Him hath God the Father sealed.’ [See John 6:27.] Christian Education, 82.
“‘Wake up, brethren and sisters, wake up. Sleep no longer. ‘Why stand ye here all the day idle?’ Jesus calls you, saying, ‘Go work today in My vineyard.’ Whoever has received the Holy Spirit, will make it manifest; for all his powers will be employed in the most active service. All, who actually receive Christ by faith, work. They feel the burden of souls. God now calls upon every one who has a knowledge of the truth, who is a depositary of sacred truth, to arise and impart the light of heaven to others. Those who have been illuminated by the Holy Spirit, will show its office work upon life and character. They will be mediums through which the Holy Spirit will communicate light and knowledge to others. The wonderful truth revealed to us in these last days, is to be revealed to others. ‘The end of all things is at hand.’ The Lord has been speaking to you in America, and may the Lord forbid that at the time of great illumination, darkness should come upon you because you fail to walk in the light that has been given. Darkness corresponding to your light will surely come upon you, if you do not now arouse from your slumbers, and shake off your useless musings and selfish indulgences, and trade diligently with your Lord’s goods. Move out from your pleasant homes. Develop the talents God has given you, and tell to others what the Holy Spirit has communicated to you. God requires you to work in proportion to the light He has given.” (Concluded next week.) — The Review and Herald, December 5, 1893.
“Ministers of Christ whom God has made the depositaries of His law, you have an unpopular truth. You must bear this truth to the world. Warnings must be given men to prepare for the great day of God. You must reach those whose hearts are callused by sin and love of the world. Continual and fervent prayer, and earnestness in well-doing, will bring you into communion with God; your mind and heart will imbibe a sense of eternal things, and the heavenly unction, which springs from connection with God, will be poured upon you. It will render your testimony powerful to convict and convert. Your light will not be uncertain, but your path will be luminous with heavenly brightness. God is all-powerful, and Heaven is full of light. You have only to use the means God has placed in your power to obtain the divine blessing.” Ibid., August 8, 1878.
A Sacred Responsibility
These statements are clear enough, and there are more like them. As individuals we have a sacred responsibility as depositaries of God—; indeed, vessels to be filled with all the fullness of Him who fills all in all, human safety deposit boxes entrusted with the most important message ever given to mortals.
Now look at some statements dealing with the church as a body of individuals being the depositary of God.
“Jesus came to the world, lived a holy life, and died, to leave to the church His legacy in the valuable treasures He entrusted to them. He made His disciples the depositaries of most precious doctrines, to be placed in the hands of His church unmixed with the errors and traditions of men. He revealed Himself to them as the light of the world, the Sun of Righteousness. And He promised them the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father was to send in His name.” Signs of the Times, November 16, 1891.
“Christ has said, ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ Then let us individually send forth clear, steady rays of light to the world. Our light is never to grow dim, never to burn low. The Lord is at the door; who will prove to be the wise, and who the foolish virgins? Who will be revealed at last as those who have the lamps, but no oil of grace in their vessels with their lamps? The church has been made the depositary of truth. Light has been imparted to her members, and they are to have works corresponding to their privileges and opportunities. They cannot correctly represent the truth in a single instance, unless they are sanctified through the truth. To sanctify is to set apart for a special service. Those who are controlled by worldly ambition will never shine as lights. ‘Ye cannot serve God and mammon.’” The Review and Herald, February 27, 1894.
“Let all understand the words that I now write. Those who are laborers together with God are but His instruments, and they in themselves possess no essential grace or holiness. It is only when they are cooperating with heavenly intelligences that they are successful. They are but earthen vessels, the depositaries in which God places the treasure of His truth. Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but it is God alone that gives the increase.
“God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. But Satan is a vigilant, unsleeping foe, ever at work upon human minds, seeking a soil in which he can sow his tares. If he finds any whom he can press into his service, he will suggest ideas and false theories, and make them zealous in advocating error. The truth not only converts, but works the purification of its receiver. Jesus has warned us to beware of false teachers. From the beginning of our work, men have arisen from time to time, advocating theories that were new and startling. But if those who claim to believe the truth would go to those who have had experience; would go to the word of God in a teachable, humble spirit, and examine their theories in the light of truth and with the aid of the brethren who have been diligent Bible students, and at the same time make supplication unto God, asking, Is this the way of the Lord, or is it a false path in which Satan would lead me? They would receive light, and would escape out of the net of the fowler.
“Let all our brethren and sisters beware of anyone who would set a time for the Lord to fulfill His word in regard to His coming, or in regard to any other promise He has made of special significance. ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.’ False teachers may appear to be very zealous for the work of God, and may expend means to bring their theories before the world and the church; but as they mingle error with truth, their message is one of deception, and will lead souls into false paths. They are to be met and opposed, not because they are bad men, but because they are teachers of falsehood and are endeavoring to put upon falsehood the stamp of truth.” Testimonies to Ministers, 53–55.
“But we see that the God of heaven sometimes commissions men to teach that which is regarded as contrary to the established doctrines. Because those who were once the depositaries of truth became unfaithful to their sacred trust, the Lord chose others who would receive the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, and would advocate truths that were not in accordance with the ideas of the religious leaders. And then these leaders, in the blindness of their minds, give full sway to what is supposed to be righteous indignation against the ones who have set aside cherished fables. They act like men who have lost their reason. They do not consider the possibility that they themselves have not rightly understood the word. They will not open their eyes to discern the fact that they have misinterpreted and misapplied the Scriptures, and have built up false theories, calling them fundamental doctrines of the faith.” Ibid., 69.
“Can we then be surprised to hear of ministers falling under temptation and sin, disgracing the cause they were professedly advocating? Can we wonder that there are apostasies when men who urge conversion upon others are not themselves converted; when they commend to others the love of Christ which does not glow in their own souls; preaching repentance which they themselves have not practiced, and faith which they have no experimental knowledge of; telling of a Saviour whom they have never known except by rumor? They are self-deceived men, not far from destruction. Pitiful indeed is their situation. All may seem peaceful to them, because the palsy of death is upon them. We are fully aware that dishonest men, immoral men, who preach the Word, are not always reproved and warned. They are not unmasked. They learn to hold the truth in unrighteousness, and can tamper with it without a trembling of heart and rebuke of conscience. Oh, that with pen and voice we might lead the people who claim to be the depositaries of sacred and eternal truth to feel the necessity of enthroning the Word of God in their heart, and bringing every thought, word, and action into subjection to Jesus Christ. It is a fearful thing to be in daily connection with the truth of God, telling others of eternal truth, and yet be unsanctified through that truth.
“It is not safe to place men in the position God should occupy, for men cannot be trusted. If they do not constantly live as in the presence of God, if they do not walk humbly before God and their brethren, they will diverge almost imperceptibly, and by slight degrees, from the straight line of God’s work. Trusting to their own wisdom, they will deceive themselves and their fellow men. Their ideas become so confused that they offer strange fire before the Lord.
“The Word of God is to be the man of our counsel. With pen and voice I proclaim to all who bear credentials, to all licentiates, to all colporteurs, and all canvassers, that the Bible, and the Bible only, studied on your knees, laid up in your heart, and practiced in your life, attended by the Holy Spirit’s power, can be your safeguard. It alone can make you righteous and holy, and keep you thus. Every human influence is weak and varying unless the truth of God’s Word is brought home to the soul, and placed upon the throne. Not till this is done will the heart be sanctified, purified, and made holy, a fountain out of which are the issues of life.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, 89, 90.
No One is Free from Failing in Responsibility
Needless to say, such warnings are not being heeded by the majority of professed believers in this hour of earth’s history, and it will get worse, as we have been warned. The point to be made here is that individuals making up a group have as much or more responsibility as depositaries as an entire group of people claiming depositary status. No individual is free from failing in responsibilities as a depositary of sacred things. Common sense would conclude no group of individuals is free either. Let us look at some statements dealing with the church as a working body.
“The people whom God has made the depositaries of His law are generally from the poorer classes, and they have not had the advantages of wealth and culture. As they wish to make a good impression, and win souls to the light of truth, they must become intelligent and refined. They should stop at no low standard; for they will be hated and criticized by all who choose darkness rather than light. .” The Review and Herald, May 6, 1884.
“We have a message of warning to the church. God says to you, ‘Be zealous and repent’ ‘I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.’ Precious time has been squandered in which you might have won souls to Christ,—souls that through your love of ease are now lost. Every member of the church should awake to duty now. May God help you to take on the burden. Let the church-members pray and fast and believe. Let the hearts of parents be turned to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents, ‘Lest I come,’ saith the Lord, ‘and smite the earth with a curse.’ Your souls are in peril. Shall the Sun of Righteousness set, and leave you enshrouded in the darkness of eternal night?
“Great light and privileges were given to the Jewish nation, but their sin was in neglecting to improve these blessings. Great privileges are granted to those whom God has made the depositaries of His law. These privileges are not evidences of our piety, and do not commend us to God; but they lay us under most solemn obligation to respond in holiness of life to the benefits received. Privileges abused will ever result in corresponding darkness and judgment from God.
“But God never forsakes a people until they first forsake Him. ‘Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause My anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever.’” Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 286, 287.
“The Lord Jesus has made His church the depositary of sacred truth. He has left with her the work of carrying out His purposes* and His plans to save the souls for whom He has manifested such interest, such unmeasured love. Like the sun in relation to our world, He rises amid the moral darkness—the Sun of Righteousness. He said of Himself, ‘I am the light of the world.’ He said to His followers, ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ Jesus came to the world in the garb of humanity, to instruct the world and guide them in the way of light, to eternal happiness. The followers of Christ are His representatives in the world. By reflecting the image of Jesus Christ, by the beauty and holiness of their characters, by their continual self-denial and their separation from all idols, large or small, they reveal that they have learned in the school of Christ. They are continually catching the spirit of love and forbearance, meekness and gentleness, and they stand as representatives of Christ, a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.” Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, 778.
[* “In order to endure the trial before them, they must understand the will of God as revealed in His word; they can honor Him only as they have a right conception of His character, government, and purposes, and act in accordance with them.” The Great Controversy, 593.]
Separated from the World!
“God has called His church in this day, as He called ancient Israel, to stand as a light in the earth. By the mighty cleaver of truth, the messages of the first, second, and third angels, He has separated them from the churches and from the world to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself. He has made them the depositaries of His law and has committed to them the great truths of prophecy for this time. Like the holy oracles committed to ancient Israel, these are a sacred trust to be communicated to the world. The Three Angels of Revelation 14 represent the people who accept the light of God’s messages and go forth as His agents to sound the warning throughout the length and breadth of the earth. Christ declares to His followers: ‘Ye are the light of the world.’ To every soul that accepts Jesus the cross of Calvary speaks: ‘Behold the worth of the soul: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”’ Nothing is to be permitted to hinder this work. It is the all-important work for time; it is to be far-reaching as eternity. The love that Jesus manifested for the souls of men in the sacrifice which He made for their redemption, will actuate all His followers.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 455. (See Also 619.)
“We profess to have more truth than other denominations; yet if this does not lead to greater consecration, to purer, holier lives, of what benefit is it to us? It would be better for us never to have seen the light of truth than to profess to accept it and not be sanctified through it.” Ibid., vol. 5., 619, 620.
Words of Warning
“I have been instructed to trace words of warning for our brethren and sisters who are in danger of losing sight of the special work for this time. The Lord has made us depositaries of sacred truth. We are to arise and shine. In every land we are to herald the Second Coming of Christ, in the language of the revelator proclaiming: ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.’ Revelation 1:7.” Ibid., vol. 8, 116.
“It is a solemn and terrible truth that many who have been zealous in proclaiming the Third Angel’s Message are now becoming listless and indifferent! The line of demarcation between worldlings and many professed Christians is almost indistinguishable. Many who once were earnest Adventists are conforming to the world—to its practices, its customs, and its selfishness. Instead of leading the world to render obedience to God’s law, the church is uniting more and more closely with the world in transgression. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world. How many professing Christians are slaves of mammon! Their indulgence of appetite, their extravagant expenditure of money for selfish gratification, greatly dishonors God.” Ibid.. vol. 8, 118.
“The world must not be introduced into the church and married to the church. Through union with the world the church will become corrupt, — ‘A cage of every unclean and hateful bird.’ The customs of the world must not have a place; for they will open doors through which the prince of darkness will find access, and the line of demarcation will become indistinguishable between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.” The Review and Herald, February 26, 1895.
“There are many who, if they understood the spirit and the result of religious legislation, would not do anything to forward in the least the movement for Sunday observance. The world is overborne with falsehood and iniquity, and those whom God has made the depositaries of His law and of the pure religion of Jesus, must be determined to let their light shine. If they do nothing to disabuse the minds of the people, and through ignorance of the truth our legislators should abjure the principles of Protestantism and give countenance and support to the Roman fallacy, enforcing allegiance to the spurious sabbath, God will hold His people, who have had great light, responsible for their lack of diligence and faithfulness. But if the subject of religious legislation is judiciously and intelligently laid before the people, and they see that through Sunday enforcement, the Roman apostasy would be re-enacted by the Christian world, and that the tyranny of past ages would be repeated, then whatever comes, we shall have done our duty. The Review and Herald, March 9, 1911.
“In these last days God has brought to His people a knowledge of His law. A flood of light has been poured upon the New Testament, revealing the truths of the Old. God has brought out from the world and from the church a people whom He has made the depositaries of His law. They are to teach that that law must be obeyed if men would enter into life. To those who keep His commandments He will be a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, to lighten and lead the way in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in.” Signs of the Times, July 19, 1899.
That last quote is very interesting, is it not? It is as plain as can be how God passes the torch to those who remain faithful to duty as individuals or religious bodies. It gets even plainer.
The Seventh-day Adventist church, or any of its actual congregations, interestingly enough, is only mentioned by name a few times in all the references available on this subject. Some are now included here. Pay close attention to the messages Mrs. White sent them.
“God is leading out a people. He has a chosen people, a church on the earth, whom He has made the depositaries of His law. He has committed to them sacred trust and eternal truth to be given to the world. He would reprove and correct them. The message to the Laodiceans is applicable to Seventh-day Adventists who have had great light and have not walked in the light. It is those who have made great profession, but have not kept in step with their Leader, that will be spewed out of His mouth unless they repent. The message to pronounce the Seventh-Day Adventist Church Babylon, and call the people of God out of her, does not come from any heavenly messenger, or any human agent inspired by the Spirit of God.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 66.
Well, here is one that is at the heart of great controversy among God’s professed people in our day. What would principle declare about the historical and present meaning of this passage, and others like it, in light of what you have already read and will now read? You decide, because God will, indeed, judge each one of us in how we relate to and judge heavenly principles.
“But the heart of the work, the great center, has been enfeebled by the mismanagement of men who have not kept pace with their Leader. Satan has diverted their money and their capabilities into wrong channels. Their precious time has been passing into eternity. The earnest work that is now being done, the aggressive warfare that is being carried on, might long ago have been just as vigorously carried forward in obedience to the light of God. The whole body is sick because of mismanagement and miscalculation. The people to whom God has entrusted eternal interests, the depositaries of truth pregnant with eternal results, the keepers of light that is to illuminate the whole world, have lost their bearings. Has God made a mistake? Are those at the heart of the work chosen vessels that can receive the golden oil, which the heavenly messengers, represented as two olive trees, empty into the golden tubes to replenish the lamps? Are those in Battle Creek, the men and women that God has appointed to do the most solemn work ever given to mortals, in partnership with Jesus Christ in His great firm? Are those whom He has bidden to communicate the light from the burning lamps to others, that the regions of darkness may have opportunity to hear the saving message, doing their duty? … “ Testimonies to Ministers, 397.
God Does Not Make Mistakes!
Does God make mistakes? No, of course not. His choosing of Israel was not a mistake. His choosing of the early church over the Jewish church was not a mistake. His choosing of the faithful few as the early church majority went into apostasy was not a mistake. His choosing of the Protestant Reformers was not a mistake. His choosing of the Adventists prior to 1844 was not a mistake. His choosing of another faithful remnant to carry on after 1844 was not a mistake. Now, given that God does not make mistakes, will the real depository please stand up?
Read this next statement carefully:
“The church at Battle Creek has had great light. As a people they have been peculiarly favored of God. They have not been left in ignorance in regard to the will of God concerning them. They might be far in advance of what they now are, if they had walked in the light. They are not that separate, peculiar, and holy people that their faith demands, and that God recognizes and acknowledges as children of the light. They are not as obedient and devotional as their exalted position and sacred obligation as children walking in the light require them to be. The most solemn message of mercy ever given to the world has been entrusted to them. The Lord has made that church the depositaries of His commandments in a sense that no other church is. God did not show them His special favor in trusting to them His sacred truth that they alone might be benefited by the light given, but that the light reflected upon them from heaven should shine forth to others and be reflected again to God by those who receive the truth glorifying Him. Many in Battle Creek will have a fearful account to give in the day of God for this sinful neglect of duty.
“Many of those who profess to believe the truth in Battle Creek contradict their faith by their works. They are as unbelieving, and as far from fulfilling the requirements of God and from coming up to their profession of faith, as was the Jewish church at the time of Christ’s first advent. Should Christ make His appearance among them, reproving and rebuking selfishness, pride, and love of the friendship of the world, as He did at His first advent, but few would recognize Him as the Lord of glory. The picture He would present before them of their neglect of duty they would not receive, but would tell Him to His face: ‘You are entirely mistaken; we have done this good and great thing, and performed this and that wonderful work, and we are entitled to be highly exalted for our good works.’
“The Jews did not go into darkness all at once. It was a gradual work, until they could not discern the gift of God in sending His Son. The church at Battle Creek has had superior advantages, and they will be judged by the light and privileges they have had. Their deficiencies, their unbelief, their hardness of heart, and their neglect to cherish and follow the light are not less than those of the favored Jews, who refused the blessings they might have accepted, and crucified the Son of God. The Jews are now an astonishment and reproach to the world.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 199, 200.
“Jerusalem is a representation of what the church will be if it refuses to walk in the light that God has given. Jerusalem was favored of God as the depositary of sacred trusts. But her people perverted the truth, and despised all entreaties and warnings. They would not respect His counsels. The temple courts were polluted with merchandise and robbery. Selfishness and love of mammon, envy and strife, were cherished. Everyone sought for gain from his quarter. Christ turned from them, saying: ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,’ how can I give thee up? ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!’ Matthew 23:37.
Christ Weeps Over our Failed Churches
“So Christ sorrows and weeps over our churches, over our institutions of learning, that have failed to meet the demand of God. He comes to investigate in Battle Creek, which has been moving in the same track as Jerusalem. The publishing house has been turned into desecrated shrines, into a place of unholy merchandise and traffic. It has become a place where injustice and fraud have been carried on, where selfishness, malice, envy, and passion have borne sway. Yet the men who have been led into this working upon wrong principles are seemingly unconscious of their wrong course of action. When warnings and entreaties come to them, they say: ‘Doth she not speak in parables?’ Words of warning and reproof have been treated as idle tales.
“When Christ looked down from the crest of Olivet, He saw this state of things existing in every church. The warnings come down to all that are following in the tread of the people of Jerusalem, who had such great light. This people is before us as a warning. By rejecting God’s warnings in this our day, men are repeating the sin of Jerusalem. The Lord sees what the human agent does not see and will not see—the outcome of all the human devising in Battle Creek. He has done all that a God could do. He has flashed light before the eyes of the people, that their sins might not reach the boundary where repentance cannot be felt. But by a long process of departure from just and righteous principles, men have placed themselves where light and truth, justice and mercy, are not discerned. This course has become part of their very nature.
“I call upon all who have united in a course of action that is wrong in principle, to make a decided reformation and forever after walk humbly with God .…
“These are no idle tales, but truth. Again I ask: On which side are you standing? ‘If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow Him.’ I Kings 18:21.” Ibid., vol. 8, 67, 68.
Frankly, dear reader, I am not into idle tales, and we should have no doubt in our minds that the Seventh-day Adventist denomination walks no safer ground than presented to any other group in religious history. Nay, she is held more accountable because of all the examples given her.
Who Are the Disfellowshipped and Disenfranchised?
If the Seventh-day Adventist denomination and its recognized, authorized membership is the depositary of God, who are those thousands now disfellowshipped and disenfranchised from her borders? If the Seventh-day Adventist denomination is God’s depositary, let it be proven from “true theology and common sense,” not sentimentality, false reasoning, or human wisdom and philosophy. It is Rome who says, “We are the true church. We are holy, no matter what was done in the past, or is done now, because the church is Christ’s and He is holy.” God forbid such Romanism should exist within that movement which was called into being as the final spearhead movement of the Protestant Reformation! But it does; God help us!
The church is the pillar and ground of truth. It cannot be the pillar and ground of error. It cannot be the pillar and ground of a mixture of truth and error, once light has shined on its pathway. The mixture of truth and error is the track of Satan and deception and the makeup of the prophetic family of Babylon. The Depositary and the Second Angel’s Message are now on the table for discussion as never before. If principles mean anything, if warnings mean anything, if circumstances mean anything, if conditions mean anything, they had better mean something now, because our present and future depend on it.
There is God; there is Baal. There is the true Mother and the remnant; there is the false Mother and her daughters. There is Protestantism; there is Romanism. There is light, there is darkness. There is Christ; there is Satan.
Pray tell, on whose side are you?
“He that has ears to hear . . . . “
[All emphasis supplied]