The Seventh-day Adventist church is God’s true and remnant movement of Bible prophecy. As such, it is the special target of the enemy of truth and righteousness. God thus calls for His watchman to maintain a constant vigil over His purchased property. When danger is perceived within the church it is the duty of every true and faithful Seventh-day Adventist to put personal interests and ecclesiastical positions behind him, and give the warning message necessary to protect the church, however unpopular that warning may be.
“As they [God’s people] assimilate their character to the divine Pattern, men will not guard their own personal dignity. With jealous, sleepless, loving, devoted interest, they will guard the sacred interest of the church from the evil which threatens to dim and cloud the glory that God intends shall shine forth through her.” — Testimonies to Ministers, page 406.
As members of His church, God holds us each responsible for its health and well- being. “If God abhors one sin above another, of which His people are guilty, it is doing nothing in case of an emergency. Indifference and neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God.” —Testimonies, vol. 3, page 281.
Many consider that our church is today facing the worst danger and crisis it has ever faced with the arrival of the celebration movement. The celebration movement is a new attempt, within the church, to receive the Holy Spirit. The meteoric rise of this new passion within the church is too phenomenal to be taken lightly. It is indeed either the manifestation of the true Holy Spirit or the false, counterfeit manifestation of the Spirit. If it is the true outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it would be disastrous to reject it. But if it is the counterfeit working of satanic agencies, it would be equally disastrous to receive it, or even to remain neutral about it. In this situation, as between Christ and Barabas, there is no neutral ground. The celebration movement is not pail good and part bad, it is one or the other. There is no accord between Christ and Belial, or between Christ’s spirit and Satan’s. To remain neutral is as bad, or even worse, than to decide the wrong way!
“Christ’s followers have no right to stand on the ground of neutrality. There is more hope of an open enemy than of one who is neutral.” — Review and Herald, Feb. 25, 1902.
The Timing of the Movement
In considering this movement, let us analyze two aspects: The timing of the movement and the philosophy behind it.
The Bible says, “There is a . . . time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Eccl. 3: 14, texts from the NKJV).
To do a good thing at a wrong time can be the worst of evils. To prune a tree at the wrong time can kill it. To prune it at the right time can save it. To be happy when someone dies, or to be sad when someone is healed, is the wrong timing. To worship God is a duty, but to worship Him on Sunday instead of Sabbath is rebellion. “It is the very essence of all right faith to do the right thing at the right time.” —Testimonies, vol. 6, page 24. In fact, doing a good thing at the wrong time is often worse than open evil — it is more deceptive. Worshipping on Sunday instead of Sabbath deceives many people who would not be deceived by Atheism.
One of the greatest concerns about the celebration movement is the timing. As we shall see, the Lord says that for us to celebrate at the wrong time, when we should be mourning for our own sins and for the sins of Israel, becomes an unpardonable sin!
In the Old Testament Day of Atonement, that prefigured our day just before the second coming of Jesus, those who celebrated instead of afflicting their souls were “cut off’ from Israel (Leviticus 23: 29). To us, living during the antitypical Day of Atonement, the Lord says: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double- minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4: 8- 10).
It is no time to celebrate when a church is in apostasy. Those who make celebration the focal point of worship during this time of crisis will not receive the seal of God. In speaking of the time just before the close of probation, the Bible says: “Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub [which were on the ark], where it had been [since 1844], to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man with the linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it. ‘ To the others He said in my hearing, ‘Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity’ “ (Ezekiel 9: 3- 5).
“The time will soon come when the prophecy of Ezekiel 9 will be fulfilled; that prophecy should be carefully studied, for it will be fulfilled to the very letter.”— Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1303.
After quoting the above verses from Ezekiel 9, Ellen White comments:
“These sighing, crying ones had been holding forth the words of life; they had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God repented and humbled their hearts before Him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel; although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking.
“In the time when His wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God’s honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. Their righteous souls are vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous. They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect.
“The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God.” Testimonies, vol. 5, pages 210, 211. What God is calling for today is the Straight Testimony, such as John the Baptist gave. “In this fearful time, just before Christ is to come the second time, God’s faithful preachers will have to bear a still more pointed testimony than was borne by John the Baptist. A responsible, important work is before them; and those who speak smooth things, God will not acknowledge as His shepherds. A fearful woe is upon them.” — Testimonies, vol. 1, page 322.
This calls for serious contemplation and heartfelt repentance, rather than jubilation and gaiety.
Isaiah Saw the Celebration Movement
In a striking prophecy of our day, when God is calling for heartfelt and tearful repentance because of the prevailing apostasy within the church, Isaiah predicted that some would be celebrating instead of repenting, and that this rebellion would constitute an unpardonable sin. Isaiah 21 and 22 are Old Testament parallels of Revelation. In repeating the second angel’s message, it says: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen” (Isaiah 21: 9). This must be referring to spiritual Babylon, in a primary sense, for it refers to the second fall of Babylon. The Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar’s time fell but once, whereas the second fall refers to the fall of spiritual Babylon in Revelation.
While Isaiah 21 deals with spiritual Babylon, chapter 22 deals with spiritual Israel. It is “The burden against the Valley of Vision” (verse 1). A “valley” in prophecy often refers to people, whereas a mountain refers to worship, religion, God or gods. The Hebrew uses a word meaning a “wide valley” when referring to the wicked, but a word meaning a “narrow valley” when referring to the righteous. (See, for example Isaiah 2: 2; Joel 3: 14; Psalm 121: 1; Isaiah 22: 1.) Possibly this symbolism comes from Sinai, where God spoke from the “mountain” to the people who were in the “valley” below. Here God has a message to the Valley of Vision, or the people of prophecy. In Revelation the people of prophecy, who keep the commandments, refers to God’s remnant church (Revelation 12: 17; 19: 10). This identification of the object of chapter 22 is further confirmed in verse 4, where the church is called the “daughter” of “my people.” In Isaiah’s day, God called Israel “My people” (Isaiah 51: 16), whereas spiritual Israel is here identified as the “daughter” of My people.
Isaiah 22 describes the condition of God’s people in the last days. It describes them as a “tumultuous city, a joyous city.” Yet their members are slain, though they “are not slain with the sword, nor dead in battle” (verse 2).
Today, as this prophecy predicted, our members are slain. Our young people are leaving the church in mass. Attendance figures in North America are generally on the decline. Most churches have less than half their membership even occasionally attending services. Even counting babies and visitors, most churches do well to have half as many in church as are on the books. Our people are slain, though not in martyrdom or from warfare with the enemy, but from apostasy. God’s power has seemingly been removed from the church and we are trying to replace that power with good public relations, exciting music, celebration worship, and colorful programs. Thus, while God’s people are “slain,” though not “in battle,” they are “a tumultuous city, a joyous city.” In order to secure themselves in the midst of these conditions, the leaders bind themselves together in a confederacy to support one another (verse 3). God and His people lament this condition within the church. He says: “I will weep bitterly; do not labor to comfort me because of the plundering of the daughter of my people. For it is a day of trouble and treading down and perplexity by the Lord God of hosts in the Valley of Vision” (verses 4, 5). God can no longer protect His people because of their spiritual condition. “He removed the protection of Judah. You looked in that day to the armor of the House of the Forest; you also saw the damage to the city of David, that it was great” (verses 8, 9).
God’s people do everything to cover up their losses and to turn them around — except for one thing. They look to the institutions of man’s accomplishments, they number the homes of Jerusalem, they sacrifice some institutions to preserve others, they consolidate, they expertly plan for the future — but they do not seek the wisdom of the One who established the church in the beginning through the Spirit of Prophecy. (See verses 8- 11.)
“In that day the Lord God of hosts called for weeping and for mourning, for baldness and for girding with sackcloth” (verse 12). “But instead,” what does He find in the church? He finds “joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating meat and drinking wine” (verse 13).
And what is the result of this apostasy of celebrating when the Lord calls for deep repentance? “Then it was revealed in my hearing by the Lord of hosts, ‘Surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you, even to your death, ‘ says the Lord God of hosts” (verse 14)! As in Ezekiel 9 and Leviticus 23, this rebellion constitutes a sin that cannot be pardoned. Probation is soon to close, and those who are celebrating when the Lord is calling for sorrow for sin will find themselves without a mediator. “Satan invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds” — his goal is to keep us joyfully celebrating within the church, until probation’s door is forever closed and we are unprepared (Great Controversy, page 488). That day is fast approaching.
New Theology for a New Movement
The celebration movement has its roots in the New Theology teachings that Desmond Ford and others brought into the church starting in the 1950s. The New Theology taught that, since Jesus had a different human nature than we do, we cannot be like He was. We can never hope to overcome sin and live a life like Jesus lived. “He is our substitute,” it was said, “not our example.”
The gospel, according to the New Theology, was the good news of justification. Sanctification was not a part of the gospel. Jesus forgives our sins without anything being done on our part except to accept Him as our Saviour. We will continue to sin until Jesus comes, but we will still be saved because of Jesus’ righteousness. He accepts us just as we are. This was called “good news.”
I remember a prominent Sabbath morning speaker at a conference campmeeting I was helping with a few years ago. He spoke about the joy of Sabbath- keeping. Sabbath is supposed to be a day of joy, but this joy is supposed to come from having victory over sin, not because God permits us to continue in sin. But this speaker proclaimed that the Sabbath is to be a day of joy because God accepts us in sin, just the way we are. He affirmed that we are to rejoice and be happy whether we have character defects or not — not because God can help us to overcome these defects, but because God happily accepts us while we continue to sin.
The speaker gave examples from the Bible to prove his point. He said that Moses threw down the Ten Commandments from the mountain in a fit of anger, yet the Lord accepted Him, without a word of reproof, and brought him back up into the mountain to talk with him face to face, even though Moses was continuing to manifest anger. The speaker went on to say that if the Lord accepted Moses — even with his uncontrolled temper, He will accept you if you have a temper problem too. That is why the Sabbath is to be a joyful day! Thus, he taught, we are to make Sabbath a day of rejoicing without worrying about our sins.
Either the speaker had not read the Spirit of Prophecy account of this story or he did not believe what it says, for there we are assured that when “he threw down the tables of stone and broke them. . . Moses did not sin . . . . He was wroth for God, jealous for His glory.” — Early Writings, page 163. But the speaker used this story to falsely assure his hearers that sin is inconsequential — God doesn’t care!
The speaker used other illustrations. He said that Paul boastfully claimed to have kept the law. Since those who believe in the New Theology do not believe that anyone can keep the law, this statement of Paul’s is not believed. He claimed that Paul was just manifesting boastful self-righteousness, but God accepted him too. Thus, God even accepts the self- righteous and boastful, according to this speaker. Again the thought was conveyed — forget about your shortcomings, simply rejoice in the goodness of the Lord.
I was shocked and distressed over this perverted theology that taught people to rejoice in their sins, but was even more surprised to hear the comments of delight in the message by those attending.
This is superficial Christianity. “If they were really one with Christ, if His Spirit were dwelling in them, they would see the sinfulness of sin. Not only would they confess; but they would forsake that which God abhors.” — Youth Instructor, March 5, 1903. “He who is truly penitent does not forget his past sins, and grow careless about them as soon as he has obtained forgiveness. On the contrary, the clearer the evidence he has of divine favor, the more he sees to regret in his past life of sin. He loathes, abhors, and condemns himself, and is more and more astonished that he should have continued in rebellion so long. He renews his repentance toward God, while he grasps more decidedly the hand of Jesus Christ, and finds that repentance is a daily, continued exercise, lasting until mortality is swallowed up of life. He who thus repents, appreciates the righteousness of Christ as above silver and gold, above every earthly tie and affection.” — Signs of the Times, Nov. 26, 1894
“He who is truly repentant, he who is regenerated, hates sin. All manner of selfishness is distressing to him. Indifference to God on the part of those around him grieves him. He is not led to exalt self in the performance of his duty, but abhors self. ‘I abhor myself is the language of the godly of all ages, who have had a clear view of the purity and holiness of Christ.” — Signs of the Times, Aug. 13, 1894.
“When the church are united, they will have strength and power; but when part of them are united to the world, and many are given to covetousness, which God abhors, He can do but little for them. Unbelief and sin shut them away from God.” —Testimonies, vol. 2, page 149.
It is the spirit of Satan that leads to indifference to sin. And it is this indifference and blindness to sin, which has been steadily growing in the church since the New Theology was introduced, that has laid the foundation for the celebration movement. No one who truly understands the significance of sin and the Laodicean apostasy within the church today is going to join a celebration movement — rather they are going to become a part of the movement calling for contrition and repentance for sin.
The Movement Finds a Home
The New Theology laid the foundation for the acceptance of the celebration movement within the church, but what was the catalyst that caused it to materialize?
For years there has been a growing interest in statistical growth, or “numbers,” within the organization. There was the “1000 days of Reaping” program followed by “Harvest 90.” These programs encouraged the baptizing of large numbers of people throughout the world. Literally millions joined the church, often without adequate preparation.
In Inter and South America and the third world countries, dramatic growth was witnessed. In contrast to the explosive Adventist growth in these countries, the church in North America has grown at a snail’s pace. Once the mainstay of the Adventist denomination, North America is becoming more and more insignificant compared to the other divisions. It no longer dominates the world field during the General Conference session.
In my state of Kansas, there were 100 churches around the turn of the century. Today Kansas has nearly a million more inhabitants, but the Adventist church has grown downward from 100 churches to 56! In church after church of thriving communities, I have asked how their church today compares to what it was thirty years ago — in nearly every instance there are fewer in attendance today. Somehow the power of the gospel has, for the most part, left the Adventist movement in the Western Countries. Though there are local exceptions, church schools, academies, pathfinders, evangelism, prayer meetings and in-gathering are all floundering compared to the advances made in prior years. Seemingly every program that has promised revival has failed.
In short, the condition of the church in North America, as well as in Europe and Australia, has become an embarrassment.
For years, in an attempt to turn things around, we have been inviting speakers from evangelical, non- Adventist churches and seminaries to speak to our ministers and share with them how we can grow like other churches. We have copied their programs, such as their New Testament Witnessing concepts, thinking that what works for them will work for us too, but it hasn’t. The “Caring Church” concept was one such program that was primarily a disappointment. The “Lab 1” and “Lab 2” programs for conflict management have not produced the results hoped for either. Nor has Management By Objectives brought about the miracles hoped for in administration. As was predicted in Isaiah 22, we have looked in every direction for every solution to our problems, but we have not looked to the Maker of the church — to the One who fashioned it long ago (Isaiah 22: 11). Isaiah says, in verse 13, that the next solution sought would be one of celebration!
With each failure, the desire for a program that works has grown more intense. We have developed a great desire for the Holy Spirit to come and give us “numbers” in the developed countries as we have heard about in the other countries. And since we have already reached outside of our church for the expertise of the Sunday- keeping churches, we have now looked to those Sunday- keeping churches that supposedly have the manifestations of the Holy Spirit — that is, the Pentecostal churches — to make up for what we have not found in the evangelical churches.
Several of our ministers have gone to the Pentecostal churches to learn the secret of their power. In years past there was no confusion as to the source of their power — we always believed that it was a counterfeit manifestation of the Holy Spirit. We tested all manifestations of the Holy Spirit with such verses as Isaiah 8: 20. We believed that the Pentecostal power was spiritualistic, and that it would help to unite apostate Protestantism and Catholicism together, and that under this three- fold power America would “follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.” — Great Controversy, page 588.
Generally, in our past history, we would not consider renting a Pentecostal church for our own services, or renting out our facilities for a Pentecostal service. We loved the Pentecostal people dearly, but believed that the movement was a form of spiritualism. We could not worship in the same room where spiritualism reigned.
The result of this new endeavor to revitalize our church through the introduction of Pentecostalism is the celebration movement. It is of no small significance that the two most heralded celebration churches, the flag- ship churches of Portland, Oregon and Colton, California, are both conducted in Pentecostal churches.
How surprised I was to hear a sermon from a minister in one of our largest conferences, in a revival meeting that had been promoted with a full back- page color advertisement in the Union paper, say that his best friend was a Pentecostal minister. He shared how the Holy Spirit is being manifested in churches today, and is now even coming into some Adventist churches as well. But he said that most Adventists are so afraid of the Holy Spirit that if it should come, they would flee from the room. The conference president and other conference leaders heartily endorsed his speech. His purpose was to start a new celebration church in their conference.
Many of the Adventist celebration books and materials are simply re- writes from straight Pentecostal books and materials. And the whole order of service in these churches is Pentecostal in style. In preparation for this article, I visited one church. I had heard the reports from others, and am not the one to visit questionable places just to see for myself. But I thought maybe the reports had been exaggerated. I was pleasantly surprised in the foyer at the conservative attire of the greeters — no jewelry or frivolous dress (though I soon found that other leaders in the church were not similarly attired). But inside I was in for a shock. A musical drama was in process, with the lights off and spot lights on the “actors.” Following was music by the band and lead singers from up front. The music had the definite beat of rock music. When the pastor called people to come up for prayer, hundreds went forward. There was the laying on of hands by elders while the pastor and his wife prayed, and many others waving there hands back and forth in a Pentecostal manner. Throughout the service there was clapping, joking, laughter, and a happy feeling. At the conclusion the band and lead singers let loose with the loudest music of the day, with a beat that was becoming harder all the time. The lead singers clapped their hands and swayed back and forth.
Those attending appeared to be an interesting amalgamation — everything was acceptable. Many think that this is wonderful. I, too, enjoy seeing people who represent a melange of philosophy and dress in a church if the people are non- Adventists looking for truth, but that was not the case in this church. While God accepts each one where they are initially when they first find the Lord, He expects practical, spiritual growth to ensue from that point on. The road to heaven is not the broad road that includes every brand of Christian practice and life- style, it is the narrow road that Jesus walked.
I wondered what Jesus would have said if He had attended. I am sure He would have called the service sacrilegious. I will not go back, for I do not believe the Lord could protect me from the evil influences that there prevailed. Is that too old- fashioned; too far fetched? Haven’t we always told our members not to attend spiritualistic meetings and pentecostal services because the Lord could not protect us in such places?
Ellen White says that “the final movements will be rapid ones” — Testimonies, vol. 9, page 11. We have seen the rapidity with which Eastern Europe has turned from Communism to the Pope. But nowhere have final events moved faster than they have in the celebration movement. Who even heard of a celebration church two years ago? But today it is world- wide. Pastors from all over America have been trained in the celebration concepts. Pastors from Australia and New Zealand, on the way to the General Conference, have stopped off and been trained in the celebration concepts. Celebration churches are springing up everywhere, as though empowered by some special force.
Twice before Satan has tried to bring this kind of spiritualistic experience into the church — after the disappointment of 1844 and again after the turn of the century. In both cases it was supposedly the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and was associated with music, drums, and the swaying of the people. Ellen White predicted that this phenomena would again come into the church.
“The things you have described as taking place in Indiana, the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit.” — Selected Messages, vol. 2, page 36.
The Lord here said that this would take place “just before the close of probation”! Isaiah 22 says there would be no atonement made for those who join in, for probation will close. Surely, we are seeing the final events of history being enacted! This is no time to be a sleeping Christian, but as Paul said, “knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep” (Romans 13: 11).
“But,” someone may say, “Our church is becoming a celebration church and we don’t see all the extremes mentioned above manifested in our church. Our church is just incorporating the good parts of the celebration movement.” But let us consider the source. Eve found it impossible to separate the good from the bad when she partook of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Let us consider one other thing: The two flagship celebration churches were started as celebration churches. It is impossible to change an existing, traditional church into a full- fledged celebration church immediately. There must be a conditioning process. Many times I have heard conference presidents counsel us ministers not to go too fast with the people. As in every other area of life, change comes one step at a time.
A person doesn’t become an alcoholic overnight. At first it appears that alcohol is quite a pleasant entertainment. The one who drinks doesn’t consider that he will ever go to the “excesses” of the alcoholic. But one must look at the alcoholic to see where alcohol consumption ultimately leads. And so, if one wants to see the end result of the celebration movement, he must see the character of the churches that have been started as celebration churches, without the baggage of traditional Adventists in the congregation to slow the process up. The pastor of the Colton, California celebration church found that he could not introduce all of his ideas in the Azure Hills Seventh- day Adventist church, because too many of the member objected to his ideas, as they should have done. Therefore, pastors who introduce the celebration concept into established churches must progress slowly, step by step — but the end result, though it will take a little longer to achieve will be the same as the full- fledged celebration churches. Thus, even the first vestiges of celebration must be vigorously opposed in every congregation. Once a church becomes a celebration church, it is the duty of every true and faithful Seventh- day Adventist to leave that apostate congregation.
Time to Speak Up
Today it is time for every true and faithful Seventh- day Adventist to raise his voice against this apostate movement within the church. This will bring persecution.
“It needs something besides theory to reach hearts now. It needs the stirring testimony to alarm and arouse; that will stir the enemy’s subjects, and then honest souls will be led to decide for truth. There has been and still is with some a disposition to have everything move on very smoothly. They see no necessity of [a] straight testimony.
“Sins exist in the church that God hates, but they are scarcely touched for fear of making enemies. Opposition has risen in the church to the plain testimony. Some will not bear it. They wish smooth things spoken unto them. If the wrongs of individuals are touched, they complain of severity, and sympathize with those in the wrong. As Ahab inquired of Elijah, ‘Art thou he that troubleth Israel? ‘ they are ready to look with suspicion and doubt upon those who bear the plain testimony, and like Ahab overlook the wrong which made it necessary for reproof and rebuke. . . . Just as long as God has a church, he will have those who will cry aloud and spare not. . . whether men will hear or forbear. I saw that individuals would rise up against the plain testimonies.” — Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, pages 283, 284.
Already persecution has arisen against those who speak out against the celebration movement. At least one has been disfellowshipped for this, and undoubtedly other disfellowshippings will follow.
When persecution arose in Battle Creek against the straight testimony, Ellen White wrote to the leaders of the church and recalled how she and others had been persecuted in their previous denominational churches and for this reason had to leave, and to call others out of these churches too. Then, in referring to our own church, she said: “We hoped that there would not be the necessity for another coming out.” — Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, page 357. But Ellen White found that she did have to call people out of the Battle Creek church, and to tell students not to attend school there. We, too, must recognize that we must not attend a place where God’s Spirit has left. The Seventh- day Adventist movement is going through, but, as in Ellen White’s day, there is proving to be a need for a calling out from certain congregations and institutions within the church.
In commenting on Adventists who had not accepted all the truth, the messenger to the remnant said: “I was shown the necessity of those who believe that we are having the last message of mercy, being separate from those who are daily imbibing new errors. I saw that neither young nor old should attend their meetings; for it is wrong to thus encourage them while they teach error that is a deadly poison to the soul and teach for doctrines the commandments of men. The influence of such gatherings is not good. If God has delivered us from such darkness and error, we should stand fast in the liberty wherewith He has set us free and rejoice in the truth. God is displeased with us when we go to listen to error, without being obliged to go; for unless He sends us to those meetings where error is forced home to the people by the power of the will, He will not keep us. The angels cease their watchful care over us, and we are left to the buffetings of the enemy, to be darkened and weakened by him and the power of his evil angels; and the light around us becomes contaminated with the darkness.
“I saw that we have no time to throw away in listening to fables. Our minds should not be thus diverted, but should be occupied with the present truth, and seeking wisdom that we may obtain a more thorough knowledge of our position, that with meekness we may 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, pages 124, 125.
Ellen White was shown the final struggle of God’s remnant people: “I saw some, with strong faith and agonizing cries, pleading with God. Their countenances were pale and marked with deep anxiety, expressive of their internal struggle. Firmness and great earnestness was expressed in their countenances; large drops of perspiration fell from their foreheads.
“Evil angels crowded around, pressing darkness upon them to shut out Jesus from their view. As the praying ones continued their earnest cries, at times a ray of light from Jesus came to them, to encourage their hearts and light up their countenances. Some, I saw, did not participate in this work of agonizing and pleading. They seemed indifferent and careless. They were not resisting the darkness around them, and it shut them in like a thick cloud. The angels of God left these and went to the aid of the earnest, praying ones. I saw angels of God hasten to the assistance of all who were struggling with all their power to resist the evil angels and trying to help themselves by calling upon God with perseverance.” — Early Writings, pages 269, 270.
Some day soon, before Jesus comes, each Christian must go through a Gethsemane experience. Those who have developed a shallow experience based upon emotionalism will not go through this time. But those who have learned to stand for truth and principle now, will be helped to stand true then.
There is coming a true outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But it will not be accompanied by worldly music, clapping of hands, lightness and triviality, and fanaticism — it will rather lead to deep contrition of soul. But before the genuine outpouring of the Holy Spirit will come a counterfeit movement, just as before the second coming of Christ will come a counterfeit second coming. I would rather choose to wait for the genuine Holy Spirit, and the genuine second coming.
Someday there will be a genuine celebration church. There will be the most beautiful, holy music in this church. There will be rejoicing and jubilee. There will be no sin within this church, and no tempter to destroy, for it will be the celebration of the redeemed of all the ages celebrating around the throne. Just as I can wait for the true Holy Spirit, and the true second coming, so I can wait for the true celebration church.
“And it will be said in that day: ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Isaiah 25: 9).