Easter Eggs, Bunnies & Religious Freedom

For some reason, there is great confusion among God’s professed people today about some very fundamental principles. If you study sacred history, you will find that God’s people have a poor track record in recognizing when prophecy is fulfilled.

Jesus got into great difficulty with God’s professed people in His day because He said to them, “This day is this word fulfilled in your ears.” And a little bit after He said that, they decided to kill Him. You see, I think all churches have a tendency to do one of two things with prophecy. We tend to say it was fulfilled in the past, or it is going to be fulfilled in the future. Is there no prophecy being fulfilled today? Is all prophecy either in the past or in the future? Very often prophecy is being fulfilled right in front of our eyes but we do not recognize what we see.

We want to look at Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, and religious freedom. Have you ever wondered how Easter eggs and Easter bunnies came into the Christian Church? Have you read anything about it in your Bible? I never have.

Here is a more difficult question. Have you ever wondered how a worldwide Virgin Mary Cult got into the Christian Church? Did you know that the images of the Madonna and her son are over four thousand years old, yet Jesus was not born until two thousand years ago? It is a documented fact. If you would like to see pictures of some of those images, look at The New Illustrated Great Controversy and you will see pictures of the Madonna.

The Son of the Sun

It started back in Genesis, a short time after the flood, with Nimrod and his wife, Semiramis. Nimrod died a violent death. After he died, Semiramis became pregnant. She was the queen and wanted to retain her power, so she told the people her dead husband had gone up into the sky. He was now the sun god and she was carrying his child. She bore a son, the “son of the sun,” she said, and he was named Tammuz. You can read about Tammuz in the Old Testament. Those images of the woman and the child, are actually images of Semiramis and Tammuz, and they were taken into the Christian Church. There were people in the Christian Church who had been taught by the followers of the apostles. These people had been taught both the Old and the New Testament, and they knew about idolatry. So the people who wanted to bring these things into the church, had to figure out a way to get them accepted. Do you know what they did? They changed the names of the images! They no longer called the woman, Semiramis, or the queen of heaven, they called her the Virgin Mary, and the son, of course, would no longer be Tammuz, but Jesus Christ.

The symbol for Tammuz was a cross, and all the Pagan people had crosses. They also had fertility gods and goddesses, and these things came into the Christian Church, too. That is where we got Easter. The egg was a symbol of fertility, and the rabbit, being prolific, was also a symbol of fertility, so the Easter egg and the Easter bunny were also brought into the Church.

“That which Satan has led men to do in the past he will, if possible, lead them to do again.” Review and Herald, November 22, 1892.

Pagan Christians?

Let me ask you a question, and remember, we are studying fundamental principles here. We want to understand the significance of what happened then and its relevance for us today. What did they do in the past? In the past they combined Paganism and Christianity. They took Pagan philosophy and combined it with the Christian Church.

Have you heard the theory that is in many Christian Churches today concerning the immortality of the soul? They teach that man has an immortal soul and that when you die, your immortal soul goes on living forever. Of course, if it can live forever, it can burn forever.

Do you know where that idea came from? It did not come from Scripture! It came from Plato! Plato was a Greek philosopher, and he believed that man had an immortal soul. Plato got his theory from the Egyptians, and he taught others that man had an immortal soul, and when man died, he had some entity that went on living forever. The Bible does not say that. According to the Bible, only God has immortality! (See 1 Timothy 6:15, 16.) But Plato’s teachings came into the Christian Church. And so, all of these Pagan ideas were joined to the Christian Church and they made it all one.

If you had been living back then, what would you have done? Here you are, going to church, and you come to church one Sabbath morning and there stands an image of a woman and child, right in the church. You might say, “What is that? I am a Christian, I don’t worship images,” and the response would come back, “Oh, that is just to remind us of the Virgin Mary and her Son, Jesus.” What would you have done? Do you think there were any people back then who saw those images in the church and said, “I cannot go to a church that is worshipping images. I am getting out of here?” There were a few, but not very many.

Why were there not very many? Because most of the people said the same thing they are saying today. They said, “Jesus Christ said that the gates of hell will not prevail against My church. So all I have to do is stay here and I will be saved.” That is what the majority said.

The Faithful Few

There were a few who felt they could not stay in a church that was worshipping idols, because that really was not the true church. It could not be! We can find out who the church is by turning to Scripture. The apostle Paul writes to a young minister, and he tells him who the church is: “But if I am delayed, I write so you will know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15. Notice the house of God is the church, and it is “the pillar and the ground of the truth.” That could also be translated, “the foundation, the ground or the foundation of the truth.”

The Foundation, the Rock, on which the church is built, is the truth. That is what it says, and that is what Jesus said. “On this Rock (that is Himself) I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” The church is built on the truth. There were a few people who knew from the Scripture that the church is built on the truth, and the church cannot go into idolatry and keep being the true church. That just cannot happen.

There was something else that happened about the same time that all of this was going on. “That which Satan has led men to do in the past, he will, if possible, lead them to do again. The early church was deceived by the enemy of God and man, and apostasy was brought into the ranks of those who professed to love God; and today, unless the people of God awake out of sleep, they will be taken unawares by the devices of Satan.” Ibid.

The Day of the Sun

At the same time that they were bringing these images into the church, people noticed that the Pagans got together to have a wild solar holiday on the first day of every week, and that is where the name Sunday comes from, it was the day of the sun.

Monday was the day of the moon, Wednesday, the day of Wardes [a German Pagan god], Saturday, the day of Saturn. All of our days of the week are named after the Pagan gods of that day. So the Pagans worshipped different heavenly bodies and different Pagan gods every single day of the week. But the greatest of all, was the sun god and Sunday. The Christians wanted to incorporate this into the Christian religion along with everything else they were bringing in, and they found a ready excuse to remember Sunday; it was the day that Jesus came out of the tomb. The Pagans worshipped the sun at sunrise on Sunday morning, and they worshipped toward the east. You will find, when you study the Sanctuary, that when God had the Sanctuary erected, He told Moses which direction it was to face. When you entered God’s Sanctuary, you were facing west. This was God’s instruction because the whole Pagan world faced east and worshipped the sun. (See Ezekiel 7, 8, 9.)

That had been going on for thousands of years, and it was going on by the latter part of the second century. So much so, that by 200 a.d. there were Pagan philosophers who told the Christians they were no different than them! The Christians claimed they were different, even though it was true that they were worshipping the rising sun on Sunday, they claimed they were actually worshipping the “Son of righteousness.”

The Shaking Has Begun!

Remember, that which Satan did before, if possible, he is going to do again. I want to tell you, he is doing it right now! He is doing it in Adventism; and Seventh-day Adventists are looking into the future saying there is going to be a national Sunday law sometime, and then everything is going to be shaken out. What they do not realize is, the shaking out has already begun, and the national Sunday law is the end of the shaking, not the beginning.

What would you do if you came to church some Sabbath and there was an image standing in your church? Pray to God that we will never have images in our church! That is why we do not have crosses in our church. Not because the cross itself is wrong, but it is wrong when people start worshipping it. You cannot find any place in the Bible where we are instructed to worship a cross. Of course, people claim they are not worshipping the cross, they are worshipping the Son of God, Who was on the cross. Be careful!

The Name of the Game is Compromise

What would you do if you came to church and found that the majority of the people had gotten together and decided to compromise to have more influence in the community?

This is the way it happened in early times. They wanted to have more influence with the Pagan world, thus they would have more converts, more influence. “We are going to have more converts if we accommodate ourselves to the customs of the people,” they said. It is not wrong to accommodate yourself to a culture or custom, if it does not involve the violation of the Word of God. But they decided to accommodate themselves to the Pagan world by doing what the Pagan world was doing. They were still going to worship on Sabbath, but they would join the Pagans in the customs of their sun day. If you study history, you will find that it was very insidious the way Sunday-keeping came into the Christian Church. It started really early in Alexandria [in Egypt], and in Rome. But for most of the Christian world, Sunday-keeping took hundreds of years to become established.

Ten years ago, I was in one of the largest Seventh-day Adventist Churches in the Midwest, and I listened with astonishment as the pastor announced that they were going to start having services on Sabbath and Sunday, because they would be able to get the community to come on Sunday. I was amazed!

The reason I was so astonished was that I had read a little bit of history. Some people do not like history, but when you do not know history, you can make the same mistakes made fifteen hundred years ago and not even know what you are doing.

That is what the early Christian church did. There were churches in the Roman Empire that kept both Sabbath and Sunday for hundreds of years. You could not tell them they were breaking the Sabbath, because they kept the Sabbath. But eventually the time came when Sunday was elevated more and more, and the Sabbath was pushed down. It took a long time, but it finally happened, and it is happening again!

People were saying this is God’s church and Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against it. So if you stay in here, you are going to be all right and are going to wind up on the heavenly shore. The fact of the matter is, the great majority of those people lost their souls. (See Early Writings, or The Great Controversy.)

“There is no union between the Prince of Light and the prince of darkness, and there can be no union between their followers.” The Great Controversy, 45.

Who were the followers of the Prince of Light and the followers of the prince of darkness? Remember they all called themselves Christians, so you could not divide them that way. How do you tell the difference between a follower of the Prince of Light and the prince of darkness? Is it what church they go to? Is it what organization they belong to? Absolutely not!

“When Christians consented to unite with those who were but half converted by Paganism, they entered upon a path which led further and further from the truth.” Ibid. They consented to unite with those who were not totally converted, they would become one church. They would baptize people who were not yet converted. In this way, they brought into the church a mass of “professors” of Christianity who were still worshipping idols and doing things contrary to the Bible.

Has that happened in Adventism? Yes, it has! What does that do to the church? It takes you on a path that leads farther and farther from the truth, but you do not realize it because it is only one step at a time.

The Majority is Never Right

There were a few people who decided that they were not going to go along with this program. There is no question that they tried to persuade their brethren against this move because they knew it was not in harmony with the Word of God. They tried, but they could not persuade them because they were in the minority. If you study religious history, you will find that there has never been a time recorded in the Bible, since Adam and Eve sinned, when the majority was in the right. That just never happens.

“It required a desperate struggle for those who would be faithful to stand firm against the deceptions and abominations which were disguised in sacerdotal garments and introduced into the church.” Ibid., 45. What happened to those who decided to stand firm? It required a desperate struggle.

Have you ever been involved in a desperate struggle? Have you ever seen someone involved in a desperate struggle? Have you ever seen anyone who is about to drown, flailing around trying to get out? That is a desperate struggle, and it required that same kind of struggle for those who would stand firm against these deceptions. We are in that kind of struggle again today.

Deceptions are flooding into the churches all over the world, including the Adventist Church. What has happened? “The Bible was not accepted as the standard of faith. The doctrine of religious freedom was termed heresy, and its upholders were hated and proscribed.” Ibid.

Just think that over. First, the Bible was not the rule of faith. The same thing is happening today with the Spirit of Prophecy. Secondly, they did not believe in the doctrine of religious freedom. Where did the religious freedom go?

The Pagans had a custom that was thousands of years old, and as the church combined with Paganism, this custom applied to them. You can read about it in Scripture, and in early Christian history. The ruler of the country dictated what religion you were going to follow, and you had to comply.

That is what Nebuchadnezzar did. It is what the Medo-Persians did. That is why Daniel got thrown into the den of lions. It is what the Greeks did. That is why forty thousand Jews were killed in Egypt during the time of the Greek wars. During just one war, forty thousand Jews were killed. Read the Macabees, the history of God’s people during that period.

How about the Roman Caesar? The Roman Caesar was called the personification of the sun god, and they would build an altar in the center of the city. They had town squares in Roman times, and they put an altar right in the middle of it. They would light a fire on the altar and burn incense there. The people of the town were required to walk by, take a pinch of incense, throw it in the fire and say, Caesar es corius. Meaning, Caesar is lord. They did this to find out who the Christians were. Can a Christian say that? No! When a Christian would come by, he would not take the incense, because that would be offering incense to the sun god, but he would say, Cristos es corius, meaning, Christ is Lord. We will never know, until the Day of Judgment, how many were martyred on that one point alone, just because they would not acknowledge Caesar as lord.

You see, in the Pagan countries, you had a state religion and you had to be of the same religious persuasion as the president or the king, or you could lose your head. As you study religious history, you find this went on in Europe all during the dark ages. In England, in the sixteenth century, when the Protestant ruler died and a Catholic Queen came to the throne, over a three-year period they burned at the stake, or got rid of, almost all of the Protestant leaders in the country.

When Elizabeth became queen, all of a sudden the Protestants could exercise their religion without getting killed any more. What was it that they took from Paganism? The idea that the state could dictate in regard to religion. Is that happening today? Yes! And it is not finished yet. It is going to get worse.

Clasping the Arm of the State

When you go into a court and ask them to make a ruling on something about religion, you have done the same thing they did back there. We are doing it, and we have been for several years.

When it gets so bad that you no longer have religious liberty, what should you do? The same as they did. The majority went along with it, but there were a faithful few that said we are not going to go along with this, no matter what, because it is wrong.

Do you believe that there are, in God’s government, moral absolutes? A moral absolute is a principle that is always wrong to violate—no matter what. It is even wrong to violate it to save your life. The world today does not believe in moral absolutes. The thing that made America a great nation was, as late as World War II, most of our population still believed in moral absolutes. But since World War II, the majority in our country have changed their minds.

In 1967, I was listening to a religious radio program. The speaker said, “In front of every one of the Ten Commandments you should put the word ‘ordinarily.’” Now if you put the word ‘ordinarily’ in front of every single one of the Ten Commandments, what does that do to them? It takes away their moral absolute character. It makes them say, you can do it most of the time, but you do not have to do it in certain situations. Today, we call this ‘situation ethics.’

People are living in fornication and adultery. When a Christian pastor goes to plead with them, they say things like “God does not expect me to be unhappy all my life and live in loneliness.” Do you see? Once you put the word “ordinarily” in front of any one of the Ten Commandments, you have no idea where you are going to end up.

Today there are people who are professional killers, claiming to be Christians. They go to confession, confess their sins, and would tell you they expect to go to heaven. But I want to tell you that, according to the Bible, they will not. (See Revelation 22:15.)

What do people do, who decide to resist this “after a long and severe conflict?” Has it been going on in Adventism? Yes, it has. I meet people all the time that have been going through a long and severe conflict for years and years in their churches. And the church is going into more apostasy and worldliness, and they cannot stop it. Notice what Christians did in the past. “After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few decided to dissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to free herself from falsehood and adultery.” Ibid., 45.

A Harlot Church

The apostate church decided to unite with the state. Read this carefully. What I am telling you now is something that I have thought through for many years and I do not expect to back down on this, because I know from history, and God’s word, it is so. When any church decides to unite with the state, that church has become a harlot church. That church is in apostasy. And it is not something to happen in the future, it is happening now.

Let me explain that for someone who has not thought that through before. Do you believe in marriage? Does the Bible teach that marriage is holy? Yes, it is so explicit in the Bible: “Marriage is holy in all things and the marriage bed is not defiled.” Hebrews 13:4. But in regard to marriage, Paul said, “What I am really talking about is Christ and the church.” (See Ephesians 5:32.) “The two [quoting from Genesis 2:24 where God instituted the marriage relationship] shall be one flesh.” Ephesians 5:31. So if the two are one flesh it is holy. But what if it is three? Is it holy then? No, it is not holy any more. It is wicked. Now let us think this through. Paul says, what I am really talking about here, when I talk about the two being one flesh, is Christ and the church.

The church is the bride of Christ. Is that what the Bible says? Yes, and Paul says, I have espoused you to how many husbands? One. God gave Adam only one wife and He gave Eve only one husband. Now the church is to be espoused to Christ and Christ says, “My kingdom is not of this world.” John 18:36. What if the church that is to be espoused to Christ, instead of having her relationship totally with the Lord, develops a relationship with a civil government in this world? What then? The church has two husbands. Can you have two husbands and be holy? No. Would you agree that a woman who has two husbands is a harlot? So, anytime any church develops a union with the state, that church has become a harlot because the church is to be united with the Lord only.

Jesus is very clear about this. (See Matthew 22:21.) “They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar.” Who is Caesar? He is the state government. In those days it was the government of the whole world. Caesar had a world empire and Jesus said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” In other words, it is lawful for you, as a Christian, to pay your taxes and to abide by the laws of Caesar. However, did Jesus make it clear that there are some things that do not belong to Caesar? Look at what the end of the text says, “And to God, the things that are God’s.” Ibid.

Are there some things that belong to God, that do not belong to Caesar? God does not forbid you, but He tells you to render to Caesar those things that belong to him. The New Testament spells out exactly what is due to the state government. (See Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2.)

As Christians we attempt to follow the Word of God and so we are loyal citizens—as long as the state government does not interfere with what belongs to God. You see, when a church unites with, and starts working through the government to get her way, she has become a harlot church. If you are in such a church and you cannot get that church to stop doing what it is doing, you are going to have to get free, or you are going to be a member of a harlot church too. You are going to be part of the harlotry, the spiritual adultery. That is the problem in the last days. (See Revelation.) The whole world is gone after this thing and the kings of the earth have committed fornication. It is not talking about physical fornication, even though there is plenty of that going on, it is talking about spiritual fornication. Spiritual fornication is when you claim that you are united with the Lord, but you are united with something else—a state government. It is union of church and state.

Separate—Dissolve all Union

“After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few decided to dissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to free herself from falsehood and adultery. They saw that separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the Word of God.” The Great Controversy, 45.

“Oh, no,” someone says, “you are teaching separationism!” I just quoted it from The Great Controversy. I never cease to be amazed at how frightened people are of what they call separationism. If the early Christian church had been afraid of separationism, they would have stayed in the organization and would have wound up being part of Babylon.

When a church becomes a harlot church, you cannot stay in it, participate, support and fund it, and not be contaminated. It is like living in a commune with a group of men and women who are living together in sin. You may think you will just live there, and not participate, but you will be taken by surprise after a while.

“They saw that separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the Word of God.” Ibid. Are you and your family obedient to the Word of God? If you want to stay that way, if you want to be ready for Jesus to come, you have to separate from apostasy and not participate in it.

They dared not tolerate errors fatal to their own souls, and set an example which would imperil the faith of their children and children’s children.” Ibid. Praise the Lord there were people like this. They were from all nations. Rome became the center, and in Italy those people who could not tolerate this went into the northern part of Italy, into Milan, and later on to Deuteron, and even later into what we call the Waldensian Valley. They became the Waldenses.

The Waldenses were a group of people who actually came from many different nations, part of the true church, but they were not the only group. There were the Albagenses and Paulicians. We do not know how many Paulicians there were, but we do know, from historical records, that in the middle ages, the Paulicians were farther up in the eastern Roman Empire. We also know that during the reign of just one queen, she had one hundred thousand of them killed. So we know there were a lot of them. But they were not very many in proportion to what the whole church was, because the whole church was in the many millions.

Peace at the Sacrifice of Principles?

“To secure peace and unity they were ready to make any concession consistent with fidelity to God; but they felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle.” Ibid.

Oh, friend, do you have some moral principles based on the Word of God that you are not going to sacrifice, no matter what happens? I hope you do. Because if you do not, if you are willing to purchase peace by compromising, you are on a downhill run and will end up in Babylon and not even know what happened.

You may not think you will ever do that because you are part of Zion, but remember that is what all those people, who called themselves Christians, thought, and the great majority lost out. What we are talking about has caused the loss of billions of souls.

This idea of trying to keep peace by compromising your principles a little bit is dangerous. As time goes on, you have to compromise a little bit more, and a little bit more, until there is no end.

You may think that the Lord is going to sort it out when the National Sunday Law comes. The Lord is going to sort it out, all right. Do you think the people who are compromising a little bit here and there right now will, all of a sudden, turn around and go the opposite direction when the National Sunday Law comes?

Think! If we cannot stand up and not compromise the truth in a relative time of peace, what do you think we are going to do when the pressure is put on us?

Let There be Difference—Even War!

Ellen White writes about the feelings of this small, faithful few. “If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war.” Ibid.

Do you mean a Christian would say, “Let there be war?” That is exactly what it said. “Well would it be for the church and the world if the principles that actuated those steadfast souls were revived in the hearts of God’s professed people.” Ibid., 46.

What were the principles that actuated these steadfast souls? They decided that they were going to absolve all union with an apostate church and would not listen to anyone that was united with the world. They would not be part of it.

Do you know what the apostate church called them, and has been calling them for over fifteen hundred years? They called them separationists!

In Vatican II, the Pope called them “separated brethren.” The Papacy is still calling them that, and they are not going to be content until they get them all back.

Who Really are the Separationists?

All Protestants are separationists according to the Pope. Who really are the separationists?

“Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants the charge of heresy and willful separation from the true church.” In other words, they accuse Protestants of being separationists because of willful separation from the true church. Now look at the next sentence. “But these accusations apply rather to themselves.” The Great Controversy, 51.

Who were the separationists? It was the majority, not the minority. The majority kept the church building, the pastor, the organization, the finances, the name, the collusion with the government, everything. They had worldly peace and prosperity, but Inspiration says they were the separationists.

How do you know that they were the separationists? There are two things that make a person a separationist. If these apply to you, or me, then we are separationists. But whoever they apply to, they are separationists.

They are the ones who lay down the banner of Christ and departed from the ‘faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’ Jude 3.” Ibid.

They did two things. They laid down the banner of Christ! They did that by accepting Pagan customs and teachings. They laid down the truth and picked up Pagan ideas and brought them into the church. They laid down the banner of Christ and “They departed from the faith, which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 3.”

That is why I personally like the term Historic Seventh-day Adventist, because I want the historic Seventh-day Adventist faith that the saints of all ages knew, what the pioneers of Adventism, who understood the judgment hour message, accepted.

Our Pioneers said, “We do not have any creed. The Bible is our creed.” When I was a young boy, I was taught this in the Adventist Church, and as a young preacher, I used to tell people, when I was studying the Bible with them in their homes, the Bible is the only creed that I have, and I am very sincere and I can say it in public today. I am still sincere when I say it. If you could show me anything in the Bible that is contrary to the way I am living, I am willing to change, starting today.

I want to live according to the Bible. The faith once delivered to the saints is in the Bible. The separationists are the people that lay the banner down and start following other teachings, customs, or traditions of philosophy. The separationists are the majority. The faithful few, who keep the faith that was once delivered unto the saints, are not the separationists, they are the true church.

The Future Brings the End of the Shaking

The same thing that happened back there is happening right now. Do not let somebody fool you and tell you it is going to happen some time in the future. It is going on right now. The future will not bring the beginning of the shaking, it is going to bring the end of the shaking. Are you ready?

There were a faithful few back then, and we know through prophecy (See Revelation 12:17,) there is going to be a faithful few again at the end. It says so. “The woman fled into the wilderness.” (See verse 6) It was the faithful few that fled into the wilderness.

At the end there is going to be a faithful few again, just a small group in proportion to the world’s population. Although, it will be a large group in terms of total numbers. I want to be part of 1the remnant that is talked about in Revelation 12:17, who still keep the commandments and have the testimony of Jesus. If that is what you want, and you want to dedicate your life to the Lord today, say, “Lord, whatever it takes. I am willing to go through the desperate struggle. I am willing to be called a separationist. I am willing, whatever people want to call me, I want to be part of the remnant that keep the commandments and have the faith of Jesus.” Pray and ask Him to help you be part of that group today.

Principles of Protestantism

The root word of Protestantism is protest, which means “to express strong dissent or objection.” Do Protestants today know the protest of their forefathers? Are Protestants today still standing in protest? During the Reformation, our forefathers stood for and died for the principles of Protestantism. Can you do the same? Do you know the principles of Protestantism?

The Bible alone is the foundation of faith

Protestants took the position that the Bible, and the Bible alone, constituted the rule of faith and doctrine, that the word of God is the only unerring guide for human souls, and that it is unnecessary and harmful to take the words of priests and prelates instead of the word of God. The Bible alone is the religion of true Protestantism.

All men may read and understand the Bible

The Protestant Reformers believed that the Bible was written for all mankind, and with the aid of the Holy Spirit, everyone could read and understand God’s Word.

Truth is progressive — Accept all new truth

Protestant Reformers believed that truth is progressive, and all should be ready to accept new light as it shines from God’s Word.

“The Puritans had joined themselves together by a solemn covenant, as the Lord’s free people, ‘to walk together in all His ways made known or to be made known to them.’…Here was the true spirit of reform, the vital principle of Protestantism.…John Robinson…said: ‘Brethren, . . I charge you before God and His blessed angels to follow me no farther than I have followed Christ. If God should reveal anything to you by any other instrument of His, be as ready to receive it as ever you were to receive any truth of my ministry; for I am very confident the Lord hath more truth and light yet to break forth out of His holy word.’.…‘Remember your church covenant, in which you have agreed to walk in all the ways of the Lord, made or to be made known unto you. Remember your promise and covenant with God and with one another, to receive whatever light and truth shall be made known to you from His written word; but withal, take heed, I beseech you, what you receive for truth, and compare it and weigh it with other scriptures of truth before you accept it; for it is not possible the Christian world should come so lately out of such thick antichristian darkness, and that full perfection of knowledge should break forth at once.’”
The Great Controversy
, 291, 292.

Church has no authority against the Scriptures

“In the presence of the monarch and the leading men of Sweden, Olaf Petri with great ability defended the doctrines of the reformed faith against the Romish champions. He declared that the teachings of the Fathers are to be received only when in accordance with the Scriptures. …Christ said, ‘My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me’ (John 7:16); and Paul declared that should he preach any other gospel than that which he had received, he would be accursed (Galatians 1:8). ‘How, then,’ said the Reformer, ‘shall others presume to enact dogmas at their pleasure, and impose them as things necessary to salvation?’…He showed that the decrees of the church are of no authority when in opposition to the commands of God, and maintained the great Protestant principle that ‘the Bible and the Bible only’ is the rule of faith and practice.” Ibid.,243.

Stood for freedom of speech

The Reformers believed in the right to teach and preach their convictions of truth. They denied the power of the church to try to control what they could preach.

Freedom to worship according to your conscience

The Protestant Reformers believed all men have the right to freedom of conscience, the freedom for all to worship according to the dictates of their own conscience.

Protesting the Principles of Rome

Bible interpreted by the leaders

“The mistake made by the Roman Catholic is that he reads the Bible in the light of the priests and rulers of the church, the early fathers, or other Catholic expositors.” Review and Herald, August 13, 1859.The Roman Church reserves to the clergy the right to interpret the Scriptures.” On the ground that ecclesiastics alone are competent to explain God’s word, it is withheld from the common people.” The Great Controversy,596.

Human traditions above the commands of God

“The spirit of the papacy,—the spirit of conformity to worldly customs, the veneration for human traditions above the commands of God,—is permeating the Protestant churches…” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 390.

Rome’s plans reach far into the future

“The Protestant churches are in great darkness, or they would discern the signs of the times. The Roman Church is far-reaching in her plans and modes of operation.” Signs of the Times, June 30, 1898.

Rome will use oppression to further it’s cause

“It was a fundamental principle of the [Jesuit] order that the end justifies the means. By this code, lying, theft, perjury, assassination, were not only pardonable but commendable, when they served the interests of the church.” The Great Controversy, 235.

Rome never changes

“It is the boast of Rome that she never changes. The principles of Gregory VII and Innocent III are still the principles of the Roman Catholic Church.” Ibid., 581.

America, a Protestant Nation

America was founded upon religious freedom. Many of our forefathers came to the shores of America fleeing from Roman oppression.

Fleeing from Papal religious intolerance

“Those who first found an asylum on the shores of America rejoiced that they had reached a country free from the arrogant claims of popery and the tyranny of kingly rule. They determined to establish a government upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty. Signs of the Times, November 1, 1899.

Government founded on Religious Liberty

“Among the Christian exiles who first fled to America and sought an asylum from royal oppression and priestly intolerance were many who determined to establish a government upon the broad foundation of civil and religious liberty. Their views found place in the Declaration of Independence, which sets forth the great truth that ‘all men are created equal’ and endowed with the inalienable right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’…Freedom of religious faith was also granted, every man being permitted to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. Republicanism and Protestantism became the fundamental principles of the nation. The Great Controversy,441.

Our greatest fear is to forget the past

Have Protestants forgotten the cruelty of Roman oppression, the slaughter of thousands of Christians? Have Protestants forgotten that Rome never changes? She may work in secret, but her plan is still the same—to take control of government power and rule with oppression. Take a look at a very recent Apostolic letter (decree) from Pope John Paul II, given May 28, 1998, and instituted into the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church.

“Canon 1436:

  1. Whoever denies a truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or who calls into doubt, or who totally repudiates the Christian faith, and does not retract after having been legitimately warned, is to be punished as a heretic or an apostate with a major excommunication; a cleric moreover can be punished with other penalties, not excluding deposition.
  2. In addition to these cases, whoever obstinately rejects a teaching that the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops, exercising the authentic Magisterium, have set forth to be held definitively, or who affirms what they have condemned as erroneous, and does not retract after having been legitimately warned, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.”

It is now time for Protestant churches to take a stand, before it is too late, and protest any concessions with Rome or Roman principles.

The greatest fear of the future is to forget the past.

Freedom of Choice, Part I

Religious liberty, freedom of choice, is of the utmost importance to God. The very thing that makes our love valuable to God is the fact that we do not have to give it. When we choose to give it, it makes it very valuable to Him. He gave us that freedom, that choice.

1888 Sunday Law

As some of you that are familiar with history—especially Seventh-day Adventist history—know, a lot of interesting things were going on during the late 1800s. In secular history, Senator Henry William Blair introduced a national Sunday law in the United States Senate. This proposed law was being discussed, and was ready to be voted upon. In church history, God had sent to E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones what the prophet called “the most precious message” that was to prepare God’s people for translation. (See Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, 128.) Because the church did not accept this “most precious message,” the message of righteousness by faith, God stopped what was going on in the Senate. A. T. Jones went before the Senate and argued against Senator Blair’s Sunday law. His arguments were so effective that even Senator Blair decided that Sunday laws were a bad idea.

The next large event that happened in the church, after the 1888 General Conference session, was a camp meeting held at Ottawa, Kansas, in 1889. In those days, camp meetings were a big deal; thousands and thousands of people would attend. So many people attended that sometimes the railroad companies would actually run tracks to the campsite so the people could ride the train right to that area! It was also common for the media to report the news of the camp meetings. At this camp meeting in Ottawa, Kansas, the Topeka Capital-Journal (Topeka, Kansas) published in its newspaper every sermon that was preached. A. T. Jones was one of the main speakers, and of the 31 sermons he preached during that camp meeting, at least 15 of them were on religious liberty. Other presentations included the topic of righteousness by faith. The message of righteousness by faith and the message of religious liberty were closely tied together.

Today, some of the laws that are introduced by our government leaders may come from good intentions. At times it is possible to see the logic in them, but it is a bit confusing to understand whether the proposed law is a good law or whether it is a bad law, whether it is going to take away personal freedom, or whether it is going to enhance the situation for everyone. In this article, we will study some principles in God’s Word that will help us to be able to judge these laws, to see where they are heading and the principles behind them. We are going to look at the subject of government through God’s Word. We are going to see what God thinks about civil government. Does He approve of it, and if He does, how much authority has He given it? What is its purpose? What should it regulate, and what should it leave alone?

Civil Government

First, let’s answer the question, Does God approve of civil government? Paul had some strong things to say about this in Romans 13:1–4: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

That makes it pretty plain that God definitely approves of government, does it not? He has ordained it and those who are in civil government, doing what they are supposed to do, He calls His ministers. But it seems that most of the governments in the world today are more evil than good. How can God condone that? As we look at history, perhaps we will find the answer to this question and others that have already been asked.


To start with, at some point of time in this universe, there may have been only one creature. What fact is evident if only one creature exists? If there is one creature, there has to not interfere, not try to force each other into their own belief system.

So a second creature called for a second principle of government, and Jesus stated this as the second commandment: “And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31.

Two = Ten

These two principles of government are just the simple dictates of reason and of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3–17). The Ten Commandments expand on these two principles, but they do not change them. The first four commandments basically tell us how to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We do not have other gods before Him; we do not set up idols in His place; we do not use His name in vain; and we remember His Sabbath to keep it holy. The Sabbath is a memorial to creation. If we remember the Sabbath, the memorial to creation, we do not forget our Creator.

The last six commandments tell us how to love our neighbors as ourselves. They tell us not to steal, not to kill, and not to commit adultery, not to lie, not to covet, and to honor our parents. They tell us how to handle this secondary relationship.

Original Government

These two principles are the original government. They are perfect government. They are the ultimate. People that live according to these principles live by self-government. Self-government does not mean that we let self do whatever it wants. Self-government means that we choose to be governed by reason—reason educated by the Word of God. That is the principle by which we live. God created all beings that He has ever made with freedom of choice. (Patriarchs and Prophets, 331, 332.) Men are free to choose. (See In Heavenly Places, 361.) God made us that way, and He always respects that freedom. When these created beings choose of their own free will to be in subjection to God, to His will and His design, then they are considered to be self-governed people. They choose it. It is a voluntary thing. It is government by the consent of the governed. It is a perfect government. It is self-government. The self-governed ones see the wisdom in God’s will, and they choose to be in subjection to it.

This perfect government ruled for an undisclosed period of time during eternity past. We do not know exactly how long it existed, but we know that the universe ran under this principle until the fall of Adam and Eve and that the rest of the unfallen universe—everywhere except this world—still operate under this principle. This planet is the only place where this principle is not in effect.

Everything went along fine as long as this principle governed. God did not use force to get His created beings to be in subjection to Him; it was voluntary. The beings saw the wisdom in it, and they submitted to Him and were governed by love.

Self-government Ends

But something went wrong. Someone chose not to give the Creator the love and honor that He deserved, and introduced a new and strange thing—selfishness—that led to rebellion, sin, and apostasy. It was the origin of evil. Any created being could have originated it, but Lucifer was the one who did. The important thing to realize is that everybody that follows his rebellion puts his or her stamp of approval on that type of government. A third of the angels changed rulers at that time and followed Lucifer. They put their stamp of approval on evil.

There would have been no way to ever return into God’s self-government, to choose Him as a ruler again, except He said to Lucifer, “I’m going to put enmity between you and the woman”—the woman being the church, and the church being those who choose self-government over rebellion. (Genesis 3:15.) God offered this enmity, but there was and is still the power of choice.

God had never before used force, but we are told that God had to use this new and strange thing that had never been used before in the universe. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7–9.

God does not believe in forcing anybody to do anything. He does believe in removing people from society when they threaten the lives of self-governed beings. That is how He handles such situations. He does not force them to behave; He does not force them to obey; but He does remove them from society. That is what civil government is supposed to do. That is what it has been ordained of God to do. Civil government’s purpose is to protect God’s self-governed people from the rebels who choose not to be self-governed. Only those who again learn self-government will be safe to save for eternity, because God is not going to allow rebellion to happen again in heaven.

God is very patient in His dealings with us. He has dealt patiently with the human race for 6,000 years, and He dealt patiently with Satan for an unknown length of time in eternity past. God gave Satan every opportunity to turn around, to repent, and to come back into line with the two original principles of government that we have studied. He has tried through many generations to bring us back. Some people have learned, but most have chosen to not be self-governed.


In the lives of Cain and Abel, the first children of Adam and Eve, we see that one chose the way of self-government and the other chose the way of rebellion. We see the two principles at work in their lives. Abel, who chose self-government, worshipped God the way God had outlined. Cain did a thing that the Spirit of Prophecy calls partial obedience. He built the altar, kind of like what God said; he brought the sacrifice, kind of like what God said; but it was not right. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, 72.) He decided that he would do things his own way. Partial obedience is disobedience. That is what he chose. God accepted Abel’s worship, and He rejected Cain’s. Abel tried to persuade Cain to do things the right way. It is a good thing to try to persuade people; it is a bad thing to try to force people. Cain became very angry. He did not like being reproved. He became so angry that he killed Abel. That is the ultimate step in trying to force people.

It is interesting that people who do not want to obey God do not want anybody else to obey either. That may be hard for us to understand, but people are not satisfied just to be in disobedience themselves. They want everybody else to be disobedient, too. It seems that Cain did not want to govern himself—he did not want to be self-governed—but he wanted to govern others. That is another principle we notice. People that cannot govern themselves always want to govern other people. That is what Cain did. That is how sinful human nature works.

Anarchy Reigns

Adam and Eve had another son after Cain and Abel. His name was Seth, and he chose the way of self-government. They then had many other sons, and the majority of them chose the way of rebellion. The history of this world before the flood is mostly a history of no government at all. Everybody just kind of did what he or she felt like, except for the few, the little group of those who chose to be self-governed. There was no civil government; there was no law. You just did whatever you felt like—unless you were governed by God.

If all of Adam’s children had chosen self-government, there never would have been any kingdoms on this earth except God’s. There would not have been civil government; there would have been no need for it. Obviously that did not happen. Before the flood there was not any government. There were societies; there were enlarged families; there were tribes; but there was no organized government. Everybody pretty much did what he or she wanted. It was kind of the law of the jungle; the strongest survived. That is the way it went up until the flood.

God will put up with that kind of thing for a period of time, but after a certain point, He says, “No more,” and He puts a stop to it. Genesis 6:11–13 tells about that: “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; and all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.”

So we are told that God will allow so much, and then He will quench it, and that is what He did. The first time God destroyed the earth because of anarchy; there was no government. In the end of time He will destroy it because of too much government and too much law, contrary to His Law.


God restarted the earth again with Noah and his family, eight people total. He started it again on the principle of self-government, but in spite of the awful demonstration of God’s wrath, it was not very long before the way of rebellion rose up again. Some chose the way of self-government, but the vast majority chose the way of rebellion. They even chose other gods and set up idols in God’s place.

Men would take the title of God and His authority and place it upon an idol, and they would make that idol their god and their king. But they had not gone so far in apostasy as to take that title and authority from that idol and put it on a man. The idol was god and king, and the people worshipped that idol, but they had not yet gone so far as to set themselves up in place of God.

An idol is nothing more than a reflection of the one that made it, the devotee. Therefore, it would follow that the idolater is really his own god. The idol is just a symbol of that. With each idolater being his own god, it becomes plain that all idolatry is more than just false worship, it is self-worship. The character of the false god is the character of the one that made it. Obviously it has no character of its own; it can only have what the worshipper gives it. Since its character comes from man, Mark 7:21, 22 tells us that “Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.” So it only follows that this describes the character of the idol, because it came from man, and that is what is in the heart of men. In Psalm 135:18 we are told, “They that make them [idols] are like unto them.” Men, being evil, build evil gods, and because of the law of beholding, they become more evil. It is a downward spiral. On the other hand, self-government beholds God, so it leads upward.


What happens when you have organized idol worship disguised as Christianity? What happens when you combine paganism and Christianity, build an idol, and worship that idol? You have created an evil god in your own image. You think that this god is good, but this god is actually so evil that he would burn people forever and ever and ever, just because they messed up on this planet for 70 years, give or take a few years. This god is so evil that he would torture people throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. It automatically follows that as you create that kind of god, and behold that kind of god, that it is nothing for you to kill a few people to help him. That is why it says in John 16:2 that “the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” That is the result of organized idolatry disguised as Christianity.

If the idol is nothing but the representation of the one that made it, it is logical that eventually someone would take the authority and title from that idol and place it upon himself. Obviously an idol cannot make anybody do anything, so somebody has to become the executor of the idol’s will. Somebody has to take it upon himself to enforce what this idol, this fake god, wants done. In other words, he is going to enforce what he wants done, because he made the idol. That is the origin of monarchies.

One man did set himself up to be the executor of the idol’s will, to enforce what the idol wanted. He had to rule over men by force in order to accomplish that. The strongest man prevailed, ruled over others, and became the monarch. For a time, that monarch was not called god. He was called a viceroy; he was in place of a god. The idol was still the king for quite some time. They had not gone so far as to be bold enough to actually take the title and authority from the god and place it upon themselves. They were just kind of standing in place of this idol, doing its will.


It was not until Nimrod that somebody finally got bold enough to step up another notch in apostasy and actually take the title and authority from an idol upon themselves. Genesis 10:8–10 talks about him: “And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel . . . .” It says there that Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the Lord. He was not just a hunter of animals and beasts, but he was actually a hunter and a pursuer and a crusher of the souls of men. That is the kind of hunter he was. From the time of the flood until Nimrod there had been tribes, but this thing that Nimrod set up was a whole new relationship that had never been done before—to have this man be in the place of God over all these people. Nimrod was the first to establish an organized kingdom. His kingdom was Babel, or Babylon. He became an overbearing tyrant. He crushed people and oppressed them, and he worked to enlarge his kingdom.

Nimrod worked to expand his empire by conquering men. He conquered other of Noah’s descendants, and he sought to crush and oppress everybody with whom he came in contact. He wanted to take everybody. Everybody was to be under his control. But there was a problem. God placed in the heart of men a desire to be free, a very strong desire. Because of Nimrod’s efforts to crush and expand his kingdom by crushing men, and by men resisting, the history of the world is largely a story of war—war between oppression and the fight for freedom.

Assyria, one of the oldest kingdoms in the world, found that every year, for approximately 800 years, they would go out and conquer some territory, and the next year they would have to go back and re-conquer it. The conquered would be ready the next year to fight again, because of that strong desire for freedom that God has placed in the hearts of men. Tyrants have continued to try to control the world throughout history, and others have fought for freedom throughout history.

To be continued . . .


Steve Currey is a Bible worker for Steps to Life Ministry.

Freedom of Choice, Part II

How did the human race ever go so far from God’s original plan of self-government to the thing that Nimrod did—having a man be in the place of God? In Romans 1:21–23, Paul tells us how it happened. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [Him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” These verses give us an idea of what some of the idols looked like. It also gives us some principles, kind of a step-by-step process, of how this thing got so far.

It says, for one thing, that they did not retain God in their knowledge. Then they made idols in the place of God. Then they put themselves in the place of the idols, and to hold this position, they had to use force. That is how the monarchy came to be. God has always been opposed to kingdoms. Yet He has allowed them, and He has even approved of them to a point. Why would that be? Because even bad government is better than no government at all. As we learned in part one of this article, God had to destroy the earth with a flood because there was no government. So He allows governments or kingdoms, and He even sanctions them. He will tolerate them for so long, and then He does something different.

Governments After the Flood

The first phase of history after the flood was the development of empires changing over from the government of the individual to the establishment of kingdoms, from Nimrod up until the time of Nebuchadnezzar. It was called Imperialism, that is another name for men in subjection to other men.

The second phase of history was empire, with full and undisputed sway, a world empire where one nation ruled the whole world. Four empires, in the history of the world, ruled the whole world. Only four, and there will never be another one, according to Daniel. These four empires were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and pagan Rome. When Babylon got wicked enough, God manifested His protest against Babylon by handing it over to the Medes and the Persians with a writing on the wall, apparently by His own hand—MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. (See Daniel 5:25.) God gave Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson a warning and basically told him it was over. He turned the kingdom over, because it had become so wicked. God continued to hand these kingdoms over until it got down to Rome.

Pagan Rome was the last of these world empires. During the time of this last world empire, God did something really special. He gave the ultimate demonstration of what self-government looks like. He did that by sending His Son.

Way of Self-government

Everything Christ did He did of His own free will. That is part of self-government. You choose to do it. He was not forced by His Father to do it. He chose to do it, but He helped identify some interesting principles of self-government through His life. Those principles include “I am thy servant” (Psalms 116:16; 119:125); “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart” (Psalm 40:8); “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30); “The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the work” (John 14:10); “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” (John 7:16). Jesus even spoke what His Father wanted! His words were not His own; He got them from His Father. “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me,” “and to finish his work” (John 6:38; 4:34). All these things Jesus did by His own free choice. He was governed with His own consent. He volunteered. He not only showed the way of self-government but He became the way of self-government.

The last of the world governments, Rome, fell. Something happened about that time. The apostate church of that day wondered why on earth all these great governments fell. They thought these kingdoms were great. They thought they could see the power involved. They watched these kingdoms take over cities, control men, oppress people, and conquer the world. Of course they did not see things from God’s perspective, so they thought all these actions were great.

They did not know that “[He that is] slow to anger [is] better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Proverbs 16:32. Neither did they understand that the people of God are overcomers, because “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4. If you want to be great in God’s eyes, you do not conquer cities, you conquer self. Self-government is what is really great and powerful. These leaders of the apostate church did not understand all that, so they stood back and wondered why these great empires fell.

Ecclesiastical Empire

As they analyzed the situation, they came to a logical conclusion. They thought, “You know, the reason these empires fall is because bad men control them. But what if we had an empire that had good and godly men in control of it. Why this would be heaven on earth!” That was their logical thinking. So thus began the third phase of civil government on this earth since the flood. It is called ecclesiastical empire. It is the church controlling the state. It sounded like a good idea; it looked good on paper. But the results are in, and we now know what those results are. We know that it is the worst form of government that has ever happened on this planet. It resulted in the worst oppression, the fiercest tyranny that this world has ever seen. It was an unequaled curse—politically, morally, and socially—and it resulted in what is now known as The Dark Ages.

This combining of church and state was so terrible that God gave it several labels throughout His Word: “that man of sin,” “the son of perdition,” “the mystery of iniquity,” “that Wicked,” “Babylon the Great,” “the mother of harlots,” and “abominations.” (11 Thessalonians 2:3, 7, 8; Revelation 17:5.) It was organized Christian idolatry. It was organized apostasy by force. It was a formation of the beast that we read about in Revelation 13, that first beast that came up. It was the one that would, “wear out the saints of the most High.” Daniel 7:25. It was Roman Catholicism controlling the governments.

Protestant Reformation

God sent Christ and Christianity into the world to save the world from pagan Rome, but then Christianity became corrupt. God sent Christianity in its purified form to save the world from Rome the second time. Christianity in its purified form is known as the Protestant Reformation. Through the Protestant Reformation, God gave again to the world the opportunity to see the way of self-government and the way of rebellion, side by side, so people could choose.

Protestantism and Republicanism

About this time, just shortly after the Reformation began, God did something really special once again. He raised up a special nation. That nation was to be a safe haven for God’s self-governed people. People were to be able to escape ecclesiastical oppression in this country. It was to be a safe haven from the union of church and state. This nation’s laws would protect the two principles of self-government, Protestantism and Republicanism.

The United States of America was formed as a republic. Now many of its citizens brag that it is a democracy. If that is true, we have taken a step backwards. In a democracy, the majority rules. In a republic, the rights of the minority are protected. We need to become a republic again. That’s what we started as, a Protestant republic.

The founders of this country stated some strange things that the world had not heard before. They stated things like all men are created equal with inalienable rights. It blew people’s minds, because no one had been born equal for thousands of years—you were either born royalty or you were born in subjection to royalty, and there was not much in between. To say that all men were created equal was a very unique and strange thought. They said some other things that all the other nations looked at and said, “There is no way that this can work. You guys are crazy.”

The founders said things like the government is going to be the servant of the people. All through history, as long as there have been governments, the people have been servants of the government. But this was to be a new experiment—a government that was of the people, by the people, for the people instead of the people being for the government. That was a very new thought; it was a strange idea to the rest of the world.

There was a wall of separation between church and state in this new government. That was a new thing, too. For the last 1,200 years, the church and the state had been combined, bringing a horrible curse on the earth. Some people today do not understand these things, and they are trying to make it look like that wall of separation never even existed. The Bible makes it very clear that God wants that wall of separation there, because we learned earlier that He ordained civil government. The question is, How much authority do they have?

Paul gives us some principles in Romans 13:6–9: “For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if [there be] any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Here Paul is talking about the last part of God’s Law. He is talking about the ones that deal with relationships between created beings, but he does not even mention one that deals with the relationship between the creature and his Creator.

Civil vs. Moral

Actually, Paul lists the last five commandments, not the last six. The one dealing with the relationship between parents and children has not been included. I will leave you to make your own conclusion about that, but it is something to think about. Why did he leave that out? There is no way that Paul just could not remember this one commandment. Paul was making a line of demarcation right there between what civil government has authority to do and what they have authority not to do. He was making very clear a principle. Civil government is responsible for keeping people civil; it is not responsible for keeping people moral. It is not moral government; it is civil government. Government does not have the authority to make people moral.

There is a big movement to bring this nation back to God. You hear about it all the time, if you listen to any Christian radio stations. They do not understand that this nation was raised up to protect us from such a movement. It is to keep government and religion separate. The founders realized that this nation’s form of government would only work as long as the people were self-governed. They realized that as soon as people stopped being self-governed, we would not be able to build jails fast enough to hold them all. Nevertheless, they still were never to force people to be moral. They were to keep them civil. They were to protect God’s self-governed people from those who chose not to be self-governed. Church and state were never to be combined. We were always to have that wall of separation between church and state.

Image of the Beast

Just as a great apostasy from Christianity led to the formation of the first beast, apostasy from Christianity the second time is going to lead to the image of the beast. Apostate Protestantism and Catholicism are going to combine.

Have you ever thought about, when natural disasters hit the United States, how little the damage is compared to other nations? We have some serious stuff, but we do not have anything compared to other nations. The actual physical damage to the buildings is not as great; the death toll is a smidgen compared to what happens in other parts of the world. There are thousands and thousands of people killed in other nations when an earthquake, a hurricane, or another disaster hits. In the United States, we might lose 20 or 30 people. That is a lot of people, and it is always sad to learn about such loss, but that is nothing compared to thousands and thousands. The only reason that happens is because God has His hand of protection over this nation because of the principles of religious liberty.

We are told that, as soon as this nation turns around, that national apostasy will be followed by national ruin. “The people of the United States have been a favored people; but when they restrict religious liberty, surrender Protestantism, and give countenance to popery, the measure of their guilt will be full, and ‘national apostasy’ will be registered in the books of heaven. The result of this apostasy will be national ruin.

“By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.” Maranatha, 216.

Sealed . . . or not

In Revelation 7:1–3, we are told that the four angels are holding back the four winds, protecting this world until God’s people are sealed in their foreheads. We are told that the sealing means to settle into the truth intellectually and spiritually to where we cannot be moved. The four angels are holding back all this strife that is going to come upon this world, including this nation, until God’s people are sealed. Everyone on this planet right now is making a decision. We are either settling into the truth intellectually and spiritually to where we cannot be moved, or we are settling into rebellion against the truth to where we cannot be moved.

Soon probation will close, because everybody on this planet will have made a decision from which they cannot be moved. There will not be a reason for probation to be available any longer. If it went on another thousand years, nobody would switch sides, because they are settled, they are sealed, either in rebellion or truth.


Soon the Sabbath–Sunday issue is going to be agitated, and it is going to come under civil law. The image to the beast will be formed over that issue.

In Mark 12, Jesus gave some principles of how to discern between what civil government can do and what it cannot do. “When they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see [it]. And they brought [it]. And he saith unto them, Whose [is] this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” Mark 12:14–17. Whose inscription was on the coin? Caesar’s. And so He said, “Give it to Caesar, it’s his. It’s got his inscription on it.” That is an important principle, when you think about it.

Whose inscription is on the Sabbath? In Exodus 20:10 it says, “The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God . . . .” God’s inscription is on it. Civil government needs to keep their hands off of it. They do not have any rights regarding it. God forbids that civil government deal with it, because it does not have their inscription on it.

Protest Again

We need to finish the Reformation. We need to protest again. We need to help people understand the principles in God’s Word. There is no reason to be deceived. We need to help people that are open-minded to understand these things, so they can make intelligent decisions and not join the group enforcing the mark of the beast. They can become the eleventh hour workers who take the place of the Adventists that apostatize when the heat is turned up. As Ellen White wrote, “The law of God is made void, and even among those who advocate its binding claims are some who break its sacred precepts. The Bible will be opened from house to house, and men and women will find access to these homes, and minds will be opened to receive the Word of God; and, when the crisis comes, many will be prepared to make right decisions, even in the face of the formidable difficulties that will be brought about through the deceptive miracles of Satan. Although these will confess the truth and become workers with Christ at the eleventh hour, they will receive equal wages with those who have wrought through the whole day. There will be an army of steadfast believers who will stand as firm as a rock through the last test. . . .” Selected Messages, Book 3, 390.

We have been given the great privilege to understand these things, but with information comes responsibility. We have a God-given duty to make these things known to anyone who will listen. We need to ask God to give us the strength and the willingness and the burden for souls to do what He has called us to do.

Steve Currey is a Bible worker for Steps to Life Ministry. He may be contacted by e-mail at: stevecurrey@stepstolife.org or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.

True Freedom in Worship

Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold.” According to Usher’s chronology it had been twenty-three years since the dream of this same Nebuchadnezzar as recorded in the second chapter of Daniel. As a result of the experience at that time, Daniel was made counselor, sitting in the gate of the king, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were appointed rulers in the province of Babylon. Many opportunities had presented themselves to these men of God, and they had kept the knowledge of their God before the people of Babylon. Jerusalem had in the meantime been destroyed. The Jews, as a nation, were scattered throughout the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar; their king, Jehoiachin, languished in one of the prisons of Babylon. It was a time of sorrow and mourning for the chosen people of God. Could it be that they were forgotten by Him who smote Egypt, and led the hosts across the Red Sea? As far as human eye could see, it was right to think so.

Pagan Still

Nebuchadnezzar had been humiliated when Daniel interpreted his dream, and he had then worshiped God. But as the years passed, he lost the spirit which characterized true worship, and while in the mind acknowledging the God of the Jews, in heart he was pagan still. So he made an image of gold, patterning it as closely as possible after the image revealed to him in his dream, at the same time gratifying his own pride, for the entire figure was gold. There was no trace of the other kingdoms, which were represented by the silver, the brass, the iron, and the clay in the dream. On the plain of Dura it stood, rising at least one hundred feet above the surrounding country, and visible for miles in every direction.

Then a decree was issued by Nebuchadnezzar calling to the capital the governors and rulers of provinces from all over the world. He, the ruler of kingdoms, thus showed his authority. It was a great occasion, and subject kings and governors dared not disobey the mandates of this universal king.

Heaven was watching with intense interest, for this was the occasion when the highest worldly authority was to meet the government of heaven.

Babylon was not only the greatest and most powerful government in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, but it is a symbol of earthly governments of all time, and for that reason we have the record as given in Daniel 3.

As a king, he had a perfect right to call his subjects together. As subjects, it was the duty of those who were called to obey.

Command to Worship

As that great company gathered around the image on the broad plain, the voice of the herald was heard: “At what time ye hear the sound . . . of all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image. . . . Whoso falleth not down and worshipeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.”

“God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit.” [John 4:24.] But of spiritual worship, paganism is entirely ignorant. Except there be some form, some image before which they can bow, there can be, to them, no worship. It was wholly in accordance with the religion, the education, and the government of Babylon, for the king to erect an image such as he did. It was wholly in harmony with the customs—educational, religious, and civil—for the people in general to respect a command to worship such an image.

While it was in harmony with worldly government, it was not, however, according to the principle of the heavenly government. Hence it is that again, in the person of the Babylonian king, Satan is challenging the government of God. When Lucifer and his angels refused to bow before the throne of God, the Father would not then destroy them. They should live until death should come as a result of the course they pursued. The Babylonian king, however, threatened utter destruction to all who refused to worship his golden image. The motive power in the heavenly government is love; human power when exercised becomes tyranny. All tyranny is a repetition of the Babylonian principles. We sometimes call it papal; it is likewise Babylonian. When the civil power enforces worship of any sort, be that worship true or false in itself, to obey is idolatry. The command must be backed by some form of punishment,—a fiery furnace,—and the conscience of man is no longer free. From a civil standpoint, such legislation is tyranny, and looked at from a religious point of view, it is persecution.

Can it be?

The vast throng fell prostrate before the image, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego remained erect. Then it was, certain Chaldeans,—teachers in the realm, jealous of the position and power of these Hebrews,—having waited for a chance to accuse them, said to the king, “There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, . . . these men have not regarded thee.”

Can it be, thought the king, that when the image is made after the pattern of the one shown me by the God of the Jews, that those men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, have failed to worship at my command? Can it be possible that when I have elevated those men, who were only slaves, to high positions in the government, that they disregard my laws? The thought rankled in the heart of the king. Self-exaltation brooks no opposition, and the men were called forthwith into the presence of Nebuchadnezzar.

Can it be possible, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, after all that has been done for you, that ye do not serve my gods nor worship the image, which I have set up? The reason for making the image was doubtless explained, and another opportunity offered them in which they might redeem the past offense. But if it was willful disregard of authority, the law of the land should be enforced. The furnace was pointed to by the king as awaiting traitors and rebels.

Test of Fidelity

What a test of the fidelity of these three companions of Daniel! They realized that they were in the presence of not only the richest monarch of earth, and that disobedience meant death, but before the assembled multitudes of the plain of Dura, and that they were a spectacle to God, to angels, and to the inhabitants of other worlds. The whole universe was watching with inexpressible interest to see what these men would do. The controversy was not between man and Satan, but between Satan and Christ, and eternal principles were at stake. Men were actors in the contest. They could stand as witnesses either for Christ or for Satan in this time of decision. Would they allow an unsanctified emotion to have possession of their lives, and compromise their faith? What could a religion be worth which admitted of compromise? What can any religion be worth if it does not teach loyalty to the God of heaven? What is there of any real value in the world,—especially when on the very borders of eternity,—unless it be God’s acknowledgement of us as his children?

These Hebrew youth had learned from the history of God’s dealings with the Israelites in times past, that disobedience brought only dishonor, disaster, and ruin; and that the fear of the Lord was not only the beginning of wisdom, but the basis of all true prosperity. They therefore calmly and respectfully told the king that they would not worship his golden image, and that they had faith that their God was able to protect them.

The king was angry. His proud spirit could not tolerate this refusal to obey his decree. He ordered that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual, and that the most mighty men of his army bind these three Hebrews and throw them into the fire. This was done, but God in this act began to vindicate his worthies. The furnace was so exceedingly hot that the mighty men who cast the Hebrews into the fire were themselves destroyed by the intense heat.

God suffered not envy and hatred to prevail against his children. How often have the enemies of God united their strength and wisdom to destroy the character and influence of a few humble, trusting persons! But nothing can prevail against those who are strong in the Lord. The promise is, “The wrath of man shall praise thee.”

God preserved his servants in the midst of the flames, and the attempt to force them into idolatry resulted in bringing the knowledge of the true God before the assemblage of princes and rulers of the vast kingdom of Babylon. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” All things are possible to those who believe. “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” God may not always work deliverance in the way that we think best, but he who sees everything from the beginning knows what will bring honor and praise to his name.

Recognizing the Son of God

Suddenly the king became pale with terror. He looked intently into the midst of the fiery furnace, and turned to those near him with the words, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered, “True, O king.” The king then said, “Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

How did the king recognize the form of the Son of God? Evidently by the teachings of the Jews in the court of Babylon and in remembrance of his vision. Daniel and his companions had ever sought to bring before the king, the princes, and the wise men of Babylon, a knowledge of the true God. These Hebrews, holding high positions in the government, had been associated with the king; and as they were not ashamed of their God, they had honored and given glory to the Lord whenever opportunity afforded. The king had heard from their lips descriptions of the glorious Being whom they served; and it was from this instruction that he was able to recognize the fourth person in the fire as the Son of God. The king also understood the ministry of angels, and now believed that they had interfered in behalf of these faithful men who would yield their bodies to punishment rather than consent with their minds to serve or worship any god but their own. These men were true missionaries. They held honored positions in the government, and at the same time let the light of the gospel shine through their lives. This miracle was one of the results of their godly lives.

With bitter remorse and feelings of humility, the king approached the furnace, and exclaimed, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither.” They did so, and all the hosts of the plain of Dura were witnesses to the fact that not even the smell of fire was upon their garments, and not a hair of their heads had been singed. God had triumphed through the constancy of his faithful servants. The magnificent image was forgotten by the people in their wonder, and solemnity pervaded the assembly.

Truth Prevails

What the Jewish nation as a nation had failed to do in proclaiming the truth to the nations of the world, God accomplished under the most trying circumstances, with only three men. The story of the miraculous deliverance was told to the ends of the earth. The principles of religious liberty and freedom of conscience were made known. The history of the Jews was told from mouth to mouth as those unacquainted with the three Hebrews asked who they were and how they came into Babylon. The Sabbath was proclaimed. The story of Jewish education was made known. The glory of Babylon was for the time forgotten as the splendor of the heavenly kingdom and the principles of God’s government became the absorbing theme. Without doubt some men dated their conversation from that day, and forces were set in operation which paved the way for the return of the Jews a few years later.

Again the heathen monarch is brought to acknowledge the power of heaven’s King. When Daniel interpreted the dream, worldly wisdom and the learning of the Babylonian schools fell before the simple gospel teaching as carried out by faithful mothers in Israel. When the three Hebrews were saved from the heat of the furnace, the principles of God’s government—true Protestantism, as it would be called today,—were proclaimed before the nations of the earth.

It was only a partial appreciation of these principles which Nebuchadnezzar at first gained; nevertheless it led to the decree that throughout the whole dominion, wherever a Jew might be living, no man should speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. This gave freedom to every believer to worship unmolested. Satan, in attempting to destroy the Hebrews, had overstepped the bounds, and in place of the death of three, life was granted to thousands.

Test of Faith

The trial on the plains of Dura was the crowning act in the lives of the three Hebrews. We are told that they were advanced to higher positions in the province of Babylon, but we hear nothing further of them. In the testing time they did not know that the Lord would deliver them from the furnace, but they had faith to believe that he had power to do it if it were his will to do so. In such times it takes more faith to trust that God will bring about his purposes in his own way than it does to believe in our own way. It is the absence of this faith and trust in critical times which brings perplexity, distress, fear, and surmising of evil. God is ever ready to do great things for his people when they put their trust in him. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Seldom are we placed in the same circumstances twice. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Daniel, and others were sorely tried, even unto death, yet each test came in a different way. Each one today has an experience peculiar to his character and circumstances. God has a work to accomplish in the life of each individual. Every act, however small, has its place in our life experience. God is more than willing to guide us in the right way. He has not closed the windows of heaven to prayer, but his ears are ever open to the cries of his children, and his eye watches every movement of Satan to counteract his work.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were men of like passions with ourselves. Their lives are given to show what man may become even in this life, if he will make God his strength and wisely improve the opportunities within his reach. Among the captives of the king who had similar advantages, only Daniel and his three companions bent all their energies to seek wisdom and knowledge from God as revealed in his Word and works. Although they afterward held high positions of trust, they were neither proud nor self-sufficient. They had a living connection with God, loving, fearing, and obeying him. They allowed their light to shine in undimmed luster, while occupying positions of responsibility. Amid all the temptations and fascinations of the court, they stood firm as a rock in adherence to principle.

A direct compliance with Bible requirements, and a faith in God, will bring strength to both the will and the body. The fruit of the Spirit is not only love, joy, and peace, but temperance also. If these youth had compromised with the heathen officers at first, and yielded to the pressure of the occasion by eating and drinking according to the custom of the Babylonians, contrary to God’s requirements, that one wrong step would undoubtedly have led to others, until their consciences would have become seared, and they would have been turned into wrong paths. Faithfulness in this one point prepared them to withstand greater temptations, until finally they stood firm in this critical test on the plain of Dura. . . .

Future Test of Faith

All the world was called to worship the image set up in the province of Babylon; refusing, they would suffer death. In Revelation there is brought to view an image to the beast,—governments on earth which will frame laws contrary to the requirements of God. Life and power will be given to this image, and it shall both speak and decree that as many as will not worship it shall be put to death. All, small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, will be required to receive a mark in the right hand or in the forehead. Men will be disfranchised for not worshiping this image; for no one will be allowed to buy or sell who has not the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Who will be able to stand the test when this decree to worship the image to the beast is enforced? Who will choose rather to “suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season”? What children are now being trained and educated in these principles of integrity to God? From what homes will come the Daniels and the Meshachs? This will be the final test brought upon the servants of God. The scenes portrayed in the third chapter of Daniel are but a miniature representation of those trials into which the people of God are coming as the end approaches.

Story of Daniel the Prophet (1904), 28–38. Printed with permission of the publisher, TEACH Services, Inc., Brushton, New York, 1995.

Children’s Story – On Freedom’s Shore

I wish I might have known my grandfather Leer, but he died before I was born. I can see him, though—a short, stout German farm boy, plowing the gently, rolling fields of his father’s land in Russia’s southern Ukraine.

It was good land, rich black soil. Valentine Leer stopped the horses and squatted on his heels to rub the dirt between his fingers. It was still moist from the winter rains. The best growing land in Russia, he smiled proudly to himself. And his father’s farm was the best kept, the most productive.

Straightening up, he looked out across the upturned furrows behind him to his little village nestled in the poplars among the low hills. Kassel, just fifty miles north of Odessa on the Black Sea, had been home to his people ever since they left Germany, maybe fifty years ago in the early 1800s. They had come in response to the Czar’s call for more thrifty, hardworking German farmers, with the modern methods of Western Europe, to settle these thousands of fertile acres.

Valentine loved the little village which his people had named after their hometown in Germany. He could see the Lutheran church where he helped with the younger boys, the school, and his whitewashed mud cottage in the cherry orchard under the great endless blue of the sky. Someday he would have his own cottage, and he knew who would share it with him—at least, he hoped he knew!

Putting up the horses for the night, Valentine strode toward the welcoming lamp light, hungry for a bowl of his mother’s Borsch. Or maybe there would be Kase Knepf or Strudel tonight. Whatever it was, he knew there would be plenty.

But when he came in, the kitchen was empty. From the next room, he heard his father’s angry voice.

“But, officer, I have already paid my taxes down at Odessa.”

“I did not make the law. I just follow my orders. Fifty more rubles to the Czar this year. After all, there is a war going on.”

There had been a war going on as long as Valentine could remember.

“I cannot pay it now,” his father said. “I do not have the money.”

“If you do not have it in by Monday night, you either go to jail, or we take five desiatine (roughly 1.1 hectares or 2.47 U.S. acres) of your land.”

There was a scraping of chairs and boots, and the front door closed.

Valentine saw his father sink heavily into a chair. His mother sat in the corner wiping her eyes. He waited for his father to speak.

“Ach, so. Another freedom gone.”

“But I do not understand, Father.”

“You are young, my son. Tonight you have seen two of the promises in Catherine the Great’s manifesto broken.

First, the taxes. She promised us freedom from taxation. But year by year they have become heavier until I can hardly pay them. And then this Russian officer! We Germans were to have our own government, with an administrative board appointed by the Czar. One of our own officers should be collecting the taxes. But now the only question is: Where do I get the money? If I do not get it, I will lose the land.”

For the first time, Valentine realized the heavy burden his father carried. He ate his supper silently, wishing there was some way he could help. Scarcely had they finished their meal when Conrad Schmidt, their neighbor to the east, came in. He looked so old and beaten that Valentine’s father exclaimed, “Conrad, what is wrong?”

“They have taken my land,” he almost whispered. “You know I did not have much. My wife has been sick and I had a poor harvest last year. There were other expenses and I could not pay the taxes. So they have taken the land.”

“If I were younger,” Conrad continued slowly, “yes, if I were younger and my wife strong, you know what I would do? I would go to America!”

Valentine slipped out the back door. He had to think. What was happening to the German colony? How could the Russians take their land away from them? It was not right.

He looked up to see Herr Wall, their Lutheran school teacher, swinging briskly down the road, bulging satchel in hand. Herr Wall was always hurrying. “Where are you going?” Valentine called.

“To America,” he answered. Then he stopped and laughed. “Ach, lieber, Valentine. You look surprised! Yes, but it is true. The Russian officers brought me orders from the Czar to turn over our Lutheran school to the Ministry of Education. We were to be free to control our own school, but now it is to be taught and controlled by the Russians!”

“But, America, Herr Wall,” Valentine protested. “What do you know about America? It is so far away.”

“But it is free, my lad. No one will take my school away from me in America. Yes, I am going. I will write and tell you all about it.”

During the following years, Valentine thought often about Herr Wall and America. As he became responsible for more of the duties and problems of the farm, and built the little cottage to which he brought his bride, Fredricka Hieb, he treasured the occasional letter which came from his teacher.

But there was much to keep him busy at home and in the community. As Valentine and his bride walked slowly home over the muddy road one spring evening, avoiding the deep ruts left by the farm wagons, they talked about the Baptist preacher who had recently come to their village.

“You know, Fredricka, I feel that this teaching is more like what I have studied in the Bible myself. I believe I must accept it and be baptized.” He saw her face whiten in the dusk. “But Valentine, you know it is forbidden to change your religion. You know how the Orthodox Church and the government are working together to clamp down on Protestants. I just know you will be put in jail!”

“When something is right to do,” he answered, “then the only thing is to go ahead and do it.”

In spite of Fredricka’s fears, he was baptized. That was when his life of active service really began: a word of comfort to a downhearted Russian peasant here, a pamphlet on the love of God to an educated Russian officer there, and guidance and help to the new little Baptist Church in the German community.

But Fredricka had been right. It was not long before these activities brought him persecution. During the next few years he began to feel that he knew the interior of the Velva jail, five miles away, almost as well as his own home. When he returned from jail, discouraged, he could always find comfort in his children, Karl and Carolina.

“Father!” called little Karl, running out through the lean-to one night. “There is a big, big man in the house!”

Valentine dropped the plow and hurried in. What could it be this time? Surely not more taxes.

Fredricka stood at the kitchen door, tears in her eyes. “It was an officer, Valentine,” she choked. “He is taking a census for … for military service. Sometime this year you will have to go!”

Valentine picked up baby Carolina and put his arm around his wife. “Come, Karl,” he said, “It is time to go in to worship.” He took the big German family Bible from the shelf and sat down.

“That breaks the last promise, does it not? Exemption from military service. But we must remember, Fredricka, that God has a purpose behind all this. Though we cannot see what it is yet, we can trust Him.”

Valentine remembered the confidence and peace of that worship period the next evening when the heavy door of the little jail in Velva slammed behind him.

“Ivanovitch!” He heard the towering, fur-capped officer bellow. “Take this … this Baptist and lock him up. I do not know for how long. Forever, for all I care!”

“But officer,” fussed the balding little jailer. “You know this Valentine Leer makes nothing but trouble in here. He is always converting …” The nervous little jailer’s voice trailed off. The door was shut and the officer gone.

“All right, all right, Valentine Leer,” he sighed. “What is it this time?”

Valentine sank down wearily on the hard slat-covered bed and began to unlace his muddy boots.

“This time, Mr. Ivanovitch, your officers on horseback drove me five miles on foot through the mud to you here because I was reading from the Bible to my Russian neighbor. I was reading from the Book of John, you know, the part where our Savior says …”

“You mean you were out making converts for the Baptist Church again. Proselytizing. That is against the law!”

“Yes, you are right. It is against the laws of Russia, and I am sorry for that. I do not like to disobey laws, especially the laws of a country which has been so good to our people in the past. But if God’s laws tell me to preach, and man’s laws say not to, then I must obey God’s laws.”

The jailer slid down beside Valentine, his eyes on the curious faces of the other inmates as he scooted nearer.

“Tell me something, Leer,” he half whispered. “I do not know much about the laws of God, but I would like to know why it is so important for you to do this—to keep preaching this gospel you talk about, always ending up in jail here. Why are you so different from the rest of us anyway?”

Valentine leaned against the wall, closing his eyes for a moment. He was very tired. Being marched five miles through deep mud had not been easy, especially after a hard day’s work in the fields. He wanted to be alone to rest and think—to think about the letter which had come that day from Herr Wall in America. He would really prefer to talk to the jailer later.

Then a picture of Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail came to his mind. They had been tired, too, and had been beaten besides, when they sang their triumphant hymns. He turned to the jailer.

“Mr. Ivanovitch, I am glad to tell you why I seem different. It is just a matter of faith. I see you have an icon over there. You have a fine one, my friend; the gold frame is beautiful and the picture of Jesus is lovely. Now when the priest has blessed this icon, you say it is sacred and you pray to it. You have faith in the icon, do you not?”

The jailer nodded.

“Now I have faith, too, but not in a picture made by a man like myself. I have faith in God and His Son, Jesus. I can pray directly to Him. I know that God hears me, that His Spirit is with me always, wherever I am. I do not have to buy an expensive icon, and then a more expensive one, hoping that it will bring me blessings. I talk with the Creator who made the universe, and yet Who loves and cares for me. Is that not wonderful?”

“Look,” he said, “I will read it to you just as our Savior said it.”

He took his German Bible from an inner pocket and slowly translated several sweet promises into Russian. He could see that the other prisoners were straining to hear, and he wished he could read louder so that they would be sure to get the meaning.

“Come now,” he said finally. “I will teach you how to pray directly to your heavenly Father. We will kneel together.”

As he knelt, Valentine rejoiced to see four of the men climb from their bunks and slip to their knees on the floor. “Now I will teach you the prayer our Savior taught His disciples.” And Valentine slowly repeated the words of the Lord’s Prayer. Soon others were joining in with, “Our Father, which art in heaven …”

Suddenly they heard the tramp of boots outside and the grating of a big key in the lock. Before the jailer could get to his feet, the heavy door swung open, revealing the overseer of the southern Ukrainian prisons.

The overseer cursed in anger.

“Ivanovitch, you swine; what is going on here? Oh, yes, now I see. It is that Valentine Leer here again. These Baptists,” he roared. “When you have one, you have two. If there are two, there will be four. And now look; we have six, and one of them is my jailer.”

“All right,” he sighed. “Let him go. And do not bring that little Leer into one of my jails again. He makes as many converts inside as he does outside!”

Well, I am free to go home again, Valentine thought, pushing along through the mud. Home to what? A few acres of land which could be taken from him at any time, Russian schools for his children where they would be indoctrinated with the Orthodox belief, military service which might take him from home for many years to fight in wars of conquest he could not conscientiously support, and most important, to a total lack of understanding of what religious freedom should be.

He realized that he had come to the place where he must either give up his spiritual work for others or be prepared for a future which could include not only the Velva jail, but also a Siberian prison.

He had almost memorized the words of Herr Wall’s letter—“There is freedom here in America, Valentine. You can worship or not, as you please. You can change your religion, preach any message you wish—no one hinders you in any way.”

Valentine turned to look at the fields of home. He would miss the rich acres and the mild climate, as well as the Russian people. But when he would plow and plant and preach again, it would be on freedom’s soil.

Sequel: Valentine Leer did come to America. He was a Baptist at that time. In America he met an English speaking man who shared the Ten Commandments with him. That was all it took. The Holy Spirit gave him understanding as he studied for himself.

Valentine Leer raised up twenty-five Seventh-day Adventist churches in North and South Dakota. He also raised $70,000 for the College of Medical Evangelists [now Loma Linda University] to give young people the opportunity he did not have—to learn.

The American branch of the Leer family prospered and grew over the years. Many of them are missionaries, ministers, and teachers carrying on the family tradition of active service for the Lord like their progenitor, Valentine Leer.

Will Freedom Survive?

Paul wrote 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.” What a warning to every Seventh-day Adventist, that, in the last days, there will be those who have heard and proclaimed the faith, have been convicted by it, but who will allow themselves to be seduced by fables and will accept the doctrines of devils.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.” 2 Timothy 3:1–3. Can you imagine Christians despising those who are good? But we know that they are not true Christians, but only professors of truth, because verse 5 tells us that they have “a form of godliness” but they deny the power thereof. They profess to be servants of Christ, but actually they are “traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” 2 Timothy 3:4.

How are we commanded to deal with people like this? God says, “From such turn away.” 2 Timothy 3:5. We are not to have any part with those who do not practice their profession. God’s warning is very plain. If we socialize with these sort of people, we will eventually become like them. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 4:3, 4.

What a pitiful representation of those who claim to be a part of the company that believes the truth. And yet, these prophecies are fulfilled in our ears. I hear so many people today in churches of every color and stripe that state, “Why do we worry about doctrine?” That is the cry of the ecumenical movement. They say, “Let us just preach the love of Jesus. The greatest doctrine in Scripture is Jesus’ love.” Every doctrine is vital; for the center of each doctrine is the love of Jesus. How can we preach the Sabbath if we do not love the One who is the Lord of the Sabbath? How can we believe in the state of the dead if we do not follow the One who is the resurrection and the life? How can we study the sanctuary message and that doctrine if we do not believe in our High Priest and Mediator?

Christ is the center of every doctrine. If we destroy the doctrines of Scripture, then we have destroyed our knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Doctrines are essential because the doctrines lead us to the foot of the cross, to Jesus Christ. It is the devil who would destroy the doctrines of Scripture. That is the reason why it is stated here that “they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” They will not endure sound doctrine.

We are living in extremely serious times and as Seventh-day Adventists, we need to be alert. Paul’s warning to the Thessalonians is very appropriate for us today: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” 1 Thessalonians 5:4, 5. The signs of the times give us startling proof that the day of Christ’s return is very near. Multiple events make it daily more clear that the closing scenes of earth’s history are upon us.

The Pope’s Letter

On July 6, 1998, Pope John Paul II issued an official apostolic letter entitled, “Dies Domini” (The Day of the Lord). This letter, which received a great deal of media publicity, was a call by the Pope for Catholics to come back to faithful Sunday keeping.

The Pope’s letter began with these words, “The Lord’s day—as Sunday was called from apostolic times . . . ” (This is the first falsehood of a continual line that is found in this letter.) As proof for this supposition, the Pope refers us to Revelation 1:10, the only reference to “the Lord’s day,” in the Bible. It is the Pope’s contention that the Lord’s day spoken of here is Sunday. But the Bible never says that. The text simply states, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day . . . ”

We are on a weak and faulty foundation when we rely on the mind of man to decide a matter which is not clear to us, for God has commanded us that the Bible is its own interpreter. This verse is interpreted clearly for us in Luke 6:5. “And He [Jesus] said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Which day is the Lord’s day? It is plain and clear. The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath day, not the first day of the week, the devil’s counterfeit, Sunday. The only day that God hallowed is confirmed also in Matthew 18 and Matthew 12:8: “For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.”

Clearly, without any possibility of dispute, the Scripture testifies that the Sabbath is the Lord’s day. But here, in the very initial words of this apostolic letter, the Pope states that the Lord’s day was called Sunday from apostolic times. If that were true, we should be able to search the Scripture and find the evidence there, because many of the apostles authored Scripture. All of them were written decades after the death of Jesus Christ. Instead we find that in the eight brief mentions that are made of the first day of the week, in the New Testament, not once is it called the Lord’s day! The Sabbath is mentioned sixty times, and never once was it referred to as “the former Sabbath that we kept,” or “the old Sabbath.” It is always used in the setting of a sacred day which was still being observed. The apostles knew nothing of Sunday being the Lord’s day.

The Psalmist and Sunday

If that were not enough, at the commencement of the second paragraph, the Pope makes a statement that any elementary school child, reared in a Christian home, would not be so foolish as to make. He wrote, “Rightly then, the Psalmist cry is applied to Sunday. ‘This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.’ Psalm 118:24.”

Did the Psalmist ever conceive that the day on which he was rejoicing was Sunday? It never entered his mind. But here the Pope is saying, “Rightly, the Psalmist cry is applied to Sunday.” Wrongly it is applied to Sunday! It is astonishing to see that the Pope, who was considered a very fine Roman Catholic theologian before he became Pope, reaching to such lengths of elementary reasoning in an attempt to prove his point. And he was not working alone. This letter is a product of the best theological minds in the Vatican.

What a disgrace to see how the Pope has been applauded by Protestants around the world. The Anglicans said what a wonderful letter it was, and in England he received the same response. The South Pacific Division Record reported that one of the senior lecturers in theology at Avondale College commented on the “wonderful scholarship” of the Pope’s letter! There is only one reason I would give the Pope an “F” for his scholarship in this and that is because you cannot give him anything lower. There is no scholarship at all!

The Pope Explains Sunday Laws

There are other ominous matters in this apostolic letter which we need to give attention to. One such statement is: “Wherefore also in the particular circumstances of our times, Christians will naturally strive to insure that civil legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy.” What does he mean? Was he merely saying, “Every convicted Sunday keeper should have the right to follow his convictions?” If that were all that the Pope was saying, we would not contend with it. We believe that every man has the right of religious liberty. However, the Pope did not have religious liberty in mind at all.

Earlier on the same page, he tries to underestimate what happened in centuries past in the Roman Catholic Church. “When through the centuries she has made laws concerning Sunday rest, the church has had in mind above all the work of service and worship.” In other words, “Our laws were only made to give a time of rest for workers and families.” Then you ended at the stake if you did not obey! He forgets to mention the millions of people who lost their lives standing against the evil of the devil’s counterfeit “sabbath.”

He goes on to say, “In this matter, my predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Rerum Novarum, spoke of Sunday rest as a worker’s right, which the state must guarantee.” (Pope Leo XIII, was the Pope, at the end of the nineteenth century, who stated that it was diabolical doctrine to preach religious liberty.) From these statements it is clear—religious liberty is certainly not what the Pope has in mind.

Why an Apostolic Letter Now?

What was the atmosphere in which the Pope sent out this letter full of Biblical falsehoods and scholarship of the poorest type? Many people have been studying this letter, without seeing it in the context of his prior letter that was sent out on May 28, 1998. That letter was sent out in order to inject into the Roman Catholic Canon law some additional penance. Every one of these new laws deals with punishment! And that is the context in which this letter follows.

Those of us who are well acquainted with Revelation 13:15–17, know that the time is nigh when persecution will come to those who are faithful to the law of God, who desire to worship God in holiness on His holy day.

One of these new Canons, number 1436 states: “Whoever denies a truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith or who calls into doubt or who totally repudiates the Christian faith and does not retract after having been legitimately warned is to be punished as a heretic or an apostate with a major excommunication. A cleric moreover can be punished with other penalties not excluding these positions. In addition to these paces, whoever obstinately rejects the teaching that the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops exercising the authentic magisterium have set forth to be held definitively or who affirms what they have condemned as erroneous and does not retract after having been legitimately warned, is to be punished with an appropriate penalty.”

Why did the Roman Catholic Church have to create this new Canon law in May, 1998, just prior to the issuing of this apostolic letter on Sunday, which is calling for civil legislation in the matter of Sunday worship? It is time for us to WAKE UP! We are at the end of earth’s history. Prophecy is being fulfilled and everything is in place. In the United States everything is in place for the enactment of Sunday laws and penalties of a severe nature.

Another new Canon, which was enacted, was Canon 1371. It states: “The following are to be punished with a just penalty: [We know how much justice there was in the penalties meted out during the Dark Ages.] Apart from the case mentioned in Canon 1364, a person that teaches a doctrine condemned by the Roman Pontiff or by an ecumenical council or obstinately rejects the teachings mentioned in Canon 750 or in Canon 752 when warned by the apostolic See or by the ordinary, does not retract, a person who in any other way does not obey the lawful command or prohibition of the apostolic See or the ordinary or superior and after being warned persists in disobedience.”

Did you notice how vague was the designation of those who would be punished? Nowhere does it say, “Those who are faithful to the Catholic faith” or “members of the Roman Catholic Church.” It says only “whoever denies” or “a person” who does these things will receive these punishments. A person means any person. It has not defined that these laws and punishments are applicable to Roman Catholics and Roman Catholics alone.

And did you notice how vague the penalties were? Such words were used as: “punished as a heretic,” “punished with an appropriate penalty” and “punished with a just penalty.” There is no limit placed upon the punishments. However, we do not have to study very far into Catholic history to see what it means to be “punished as a heretic.” Just read the stories of the Waldenses or the Reformers, and you can clearly see what the Papacy calls “an appropriate penalty.” It is time to awake! These things are happening before our eyes and we need to know where we are.

A New View for Catholicism

In this letter, the Pope takes a new view on Sunday keeping that Catholicism has never taken before. In his first statement he asserted that Sunday has been known as the Lord’s day from apostolic times. The Roman Catholic Church has never before proclaimed that their sabbath, Sunday, commenced in apostolic times. That is an absolute denial of what, for For example read the Catechism of Catholic Doctrines, which has the primature of the Catholic Church and was edited by a Roman Catholic priest, Peter Greerman. There a question and answer dialogue is given about Sunday keeping.

“Question: What is the Sabbath day?

“Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.

“Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?

“Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea 336 A.D., transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.”

Another example from a different priest’s catechism asks the question, “Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals?”

“Answer: Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her. Here are Bible believing Protestants who claim to base their religion on the Bible and the Bible alone, sola Scriptura, and yet they are following that which the Roman Catholic Church has instituted. That is the pagan sabbath of Sunday. Had not she had such power she could not have done that which all modern religionists agree with her, she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.”

Over two and a half centuries passed, beyond apostolic time, before the introduction, by the Roman Catholic Church, of Sunday observance. But now the Pope is taking a new route. He is appealing to those beguiled Protestants who believe that Sunday was kept by the apostles. He wants to have the Protestants of America concur with the Sunday legislation.

Christ, Our Only Safety

Reader, do you see the signs that Jesus is coming very soon? Is it now time for us to ponder what Jesus did to save us from our sins? It is only as we contemplate that amazing mystery that we can possibly be drawn so close to Jesus in love, that we will stand in the mighty test.

I know of no passage of Scripture, in either the Old Testament or New Testament, that so wonderfully brings home to me what Jesus did in order that I might be saved, than Psalm 22. As I read this chapter, I am drawn to Christ in love because of the love that He first had for me. Because of this love, I want to keep His commandments and be prepared to meet Him. (John 14:15.)

These are Christ’s words found in Psalms 22:1–19: “My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me? Why art Thou so far from helping Me, and from the words of My roaring? “O My God, I cry in the daytime, but Thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. “But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

“Our fathers trusted in Thee: they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them.

“They cried unto Thee, and were delivered: they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded.

“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see Me laugh Me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him.

“But Thou art He that took Me out of the womb: Thou didst make Me hope when I was upon My mother’s breasts.

“I was cast upon Thee from the womb: Thou art My God from My mother’s belly.

“Be not far from Me; for trouble is near: for there is none to help . . .

“I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint: My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of My bowels.

“My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and My tongue cleaveth to My jaws; and Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death.

“For dogs have compassed Me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed Me: they pierced My hands and My feet.

“I may tell all My bones: they look and stare upon Me.

“They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

“But be not far from Me, O Lord: O my strength, haste Thee to help Me.”

Each time I read that passage I feel so ashamed, for it was my sins that caused His suffering. My heart goes out in love to my Savior. I just so much want to meet Him face to face and thank Him for His matchless gift. I know that anything that I say in gratitude will be very, very inconsequential compared with what I ought to say, but maybe throughout eternity, I will be able to add to my gratitude as I express it to my Savior.

Jesus is coming soon! What we have just studied in these two apostolic letters and the alteration of course the Papacy is now taking, is evidence beyond dispute that everything is coming to the climax of Scripture. I pray, dear reader, that you will be ready, with your family, to meet our dear Savior when He comes.

Bible Study Guides – Religious Intolerance

October 17, 2010 – October 23, 2010

Key Text

“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:17.

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 293–295; Testimonies, vol. 6, 402, 403.


“In all ages Satan has persecuted the people of God.” The Acts of the Apostles, 576.

1 When the three Hebrews were miraculously delivered in the time of Daniel, how did the king err, even as he acknowledged God’s greatness? Daniel 3:28, 29.

Note: “It was right for the king to make public confession, and to seek to exalt the God of heaven above all other gods; but in endeavoring to force his subjects to make a similar confession of faith and to show similar reverence, Nebuchadnezzar was exceeding his right as a temporal sovereign. He had no more right, either civil or moral, to threaten men with death for not worshiping God, than he had to make the decree consigning to the flames all who refused to worship the golden image. God never compels the obedience of man. He leaves all free to choose whom they will serve.” Prophets and Kings, 510, 511.

2 In all ages, how have unconverted religionists dealt with dissenters? Acts 4:1–3, 15–18.

Note: “[In the first centuries] it required a desperate struggle for those who would be faithful to stand firm against the deceptions and abominations which were disguised in sacerdotal garments and introduced into the church. The Bible was not accepted as the standard of faith. The doctrine of religious freedom was termed heresy, and its upholders were hated and proscribed.” The Great Controversy, 45.

3 How does God describe the type of scene that fosters religious intolerance and triggers persecution against the faithful? Isaiah 65:2–5.

Note: “The Cain-spirit, which leads men to accuse, condemn, imprison, and put to death their fellow-men, has waxed strong in our world. The transgressors of God’s plain commands are inspired by the spirit of Satan to harm their fellow-men, because they differ from them in religious belief. They disregard God’s law, enacting man-made laws, and trying, by their cruel inventions, to compel men to blaspheme God, as they themselves are doing. But they have been given no right to do this. Those who pass sentence of pain and death upon their fellow-men because of a difference of religion, will have just such sentence passed upon them if they continue to transgress. By their works they bear testimony that should Christ come the second time as He came the first time, they would reject Him and put Him to death.” The Signs of the Times, March 21, 1900.

4 What teachings of Christ strike at the heart of intolerance? Matthew 7:12; John 14:15.

Note: “It is no part of Christ’s mission to compel men to receive Him. It is Satan, and men actuated by his spirit, that seek to compel the conscience. Under a pretense of zeal for righteousness, men who are confederate with evil angels bring suffering upon their fellow men, in order to convert them to their ideas of religion; but Christ is ever showing mercy, ever seeking to win by the revealing of His love. He can admit no rival in the soul, nor accept of partial service; but He desires only voluntary service, the willing surrender of the heart under the constraint of love. There can be no more conclusive evidence that we possess the spirit of Satan than the disposition to hurt and destroy those who do not appreciate our work, or who act contrary to our ideas.” The Desire of Ages, 487.

“The character of God is expressed in His law; and in order for you to be in harmony with God, the principles of His law must be the spring of your every action.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 391.

5 With what words did Christ seek to correct the bitter intolerance found even among His beloved disciples? Luke 9:54, 55.

6 What contrast did He present to those who use force? Revelation 3:20; John 6:66–69.

7 What can we learn from Christ’s methods of reaching hearts and enlisting workers? Revelation 3:18; Matthew 4:17–20.

Note: “Our ministers and teachers are to represent the love of God to a fallen world. With hearts melted in tenderness let the word of truth be spoken. Let all who are in error be treated with the gentleness of Christ. If those for whom you labor do not immediately grasp the truth, do not censure, do not criticize or condemn. Remember that you are to represent Christ in His meekness and gentleness and love. We must expect to meet unbelief and opposition. The truth has always had to meet these elements. But though you should meet the bitterest opposition, do not denounce your opponents. They may think, as did Paul, that they are doing God’s service, and to such we must manifest patience, meekness, and long-suffering.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 120.

8 What attitudes must we steadfastly avoid when discussing sacred truth with those whose views may differ from our own? Luke 11:52–54.

Note: “There are some who indulge in levity, sarcasm, and even mockery toward those who differ with them. Others present an array of objections to any new view; and when these objections are plainly answered by the words of Scripture, they do not acknowledge the evidence presented, nor allow themselves to be convinced. Their questioning is not for the purpose of arriving at truth, but is intended merely to confuse the minds of others.

“Some have thought it an evidence of intellectual keenness and superiority to perplex minds in regard to what is truth. They resort to subtlety of argument, to playing upon words; they take unjust advantage in asking questions. When their questions have been fairly answered, they will turn the subject [and] bring up another point to avoid acknowledging the truth. We should beware of indulging the spirit which controlled the Jews.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 108.

9 How does the prophet illustrate the manner of preaching the Word during the long period when religious intolerance was predominant? Revelation 11:1–3.

Note: “ ‘They shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.’ Revelation 11:3. During the greater part of this period, God’s witnesses remained in a state of obscurity.” The Great Controversy, 267.

10 Why does the Lord permit such terrible persecution and trials to come upon His people? I Peter 1:7; II Timothy 3:12.

Note: “ ‘The Lord is not slack concerning His promise.’ 11 Peter 3:9. He does not forget or neglect His children; but He permits the wicked to reveal their true character, that none who desire to do His will may be deceived concerning them. Again, the righteous are placed in the furnace of affliction, that they themselves may be purified; that their example may convince others of the reality of faith and godliness; and also that their consistent course may condemn the ungodly and unbelieving.” The Great Controversy, 48.

“In all ages Satan has persecuted the people of God. He has tortured them and put them to death, but in dying they became conquerors. They bore witness to the power of One mightier than Satan. Wicked men may torture and kill the body, but they cannot touch the life that is hid with Christ in God. They can incarcerate men and women in prison walls, but they cannot bind the spirit.” The Acts of the Apostles, 576.

11 What experiences reveal the character of God in His true followers? Matthew 3:11, 12; 20:22.

Note: “Through trial and persecution the glory—the character—of God is revealed in His chosen ones. The believers in Christ, hated and persecuted by the world, are educated and disciplined in the school of Christ. On earth they walk in narrow paths; they are purified in the furnace of affliction. They follow Christ through sore conflicts; they endure self-denial and experience bitter disappointments; but thus they learn the guilt and woe of sin, and they look upon it with abhorrence. Being partakers of Christ’s sufferings, they can look beyond the gloom to the glory, saying, ‘I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’ Romans 8:18.” The Acts of the Apostles, 576, 577.

12 To what did Paul direct the attention of believers when strengthening their faith for the time of persecution before them? Acts 14:22.

13 When men allow the spirit of Satan to lead them to persecute and attempt to force the conscience, what should we always remember? Matthew 10:28; 5:11, 12.

Additional Reading

“ ‘Remember your church covenant, in which you have agreed to walk in all the ways of the Lord, made or to be made known unto you. Remember your promise and covenant with God and with one another, to receive whatever light and truth shall be made known to you from His written word; but withal, take heed, I beseech you, what you receive for truth, and compare it and weigh it with other scriptures of truth before you accept it; for it is not possible the Christian world should come so lately out of such thick antichristian darkness, and that full perfection of knowledge should break forth at once.’—Martyn, vol. 5, pp. 70, 71.

“It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. ‘Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith.’—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 297. The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors. While the Reformers rejected the creed of Rome, they were not entirely free from her spirit of intolerance. The dense darkness in which, through the long ages of her rule, popery had enveloped all Christendom, had not even yet been wholly dissipated. Said one of the leading ministers in the colony of Massachusetts Bay: ‘It was toleration that made the world antichristian; and the church never took harm by the punishment of heretics.’—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 335. The regulation was adopted by the colonists that only church members should have a voice in the civil government. A kind of state church was formed, all the people being required to contribute to the support of the clergy, and the magistrates being authorized to suppress heresy. Thus the secular power was in the hands of the church. It was not long before these measures led to the inevitable result—persecution.

“Eleven years after the planting of the first colony, Roger Williams came to the New World. Like the early Pilgrims he came to enjoy religious freedom; but, unlike them, he saw—what so few in his time had yet seen—that this freedom was the inalienable right of all, whatever might be their creed. He was an earnest seeker for truth, with Robinson holding it impossible that all the light from God’s word had yet been received. Williams ‘was the first person in modern Christendom to establish civil government on the doctrine of the liberty of conscience, the equality of opinions before the law.’—Bancroft, pt. 1, ch. 15, par. 16. He declared it to be the duty of the magistrate to restrain crime, but never to control the conscience. ‘The public or the magistrates may decide,’ he said, ‘what is due from man to man; but when they attempt to prescribe a man’s duties to God, they are out of place, and there can be no safety; for it is clear that if the magistrates has the power, he may decree one set of opinions or beliefs today and another tomorrow; as has been done in England by different kings and queens, and by different popes and councils in the Roman Church; so that belief would become a heap of confusion.’ Martyn, vol. 5, p. 340.” The Great Controversy, 292–294.

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Bible Study Guides – Freedom of Choice

March 13, 2011 – March 19, 2011

Key Text

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19.

Study Help: The Great Controversy, 479–491; Steps to Christ, 105–114.


“To those who refuse the precious rays of light which would illuminate the darkness, the mysteries of God’s word remain such forever.” The Desire of Ages, 588.

1 What great privilege does God extend to erring man? Deuteronomy 30:19. What happens if freedom of choice is misused?

Note: “God gives sufficient light and evidence to enable man to distinguish truth from error. But He does not force man to receive truth. He leaves him free to choose the good or to choose the evil. If man resists evidence that is sufficient to guide his judgment in the right direction, and chooses evil once, he will do this more readily the second time. The third time he will still more eagerly withdraw himself from God and choose to stand on the side of Satan. And in this course he will continue until he is confirmed in evil, and believes the lie he has cherished as truth.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1112.

2 How is truth genuinely accepted? John 7:17.

Note: “The perception and appreciation of truth … depends less upon the mind than upon the heart. Truth must be received into the soul; it claims the homage of the will. If truth could be submitted to the reason alone, pride would be no hindrance in the way of its reception. But it is to be received through the work of grace in the heart; and its reception depends upon the renunciation of every sin that the Spirit of God reveals.” The Desire of Ages, 455.

3 If the truth is self-evident, why do men choose darkness rather than light? John 3:19, 20.

Note: “You may remove every prop today and close the mouths of objectors so that they can say nothing, and tomorrow they will go over the same ground again. Thus it will be, over and over, because they do not love the light and will not come to the light, lest their darkness and error should be removed from them.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 37.

“Light makes manifest and reproves the errors that were concealed in darkness; and as light comes, the life and character of men must change correspondingly, to be in harmony with it. Sins that were once sins of ignorance, because of the blindness of the mind, can no more be indulged in without incurring guilt. As increased light is given, men must be reformed, elevated, and refined by it, or they will be more perverse and stubborn than before the light came.” Gospel Workers, 162.

4 Through whose influence does Satan secure sin-loving multitudes to himself? Ezekiel 20:30; Micah 7:5, 6.

Note: “Many are the ways by which Satan works through human influence to bind his captives. He secures multitudes to himself by attaching them by the silken cords of affection to those who are enemies of the cross of Christ. Whatever this attachment may be, parental, filial, conjugal, or social, the effect is the same; the opposers of truth exert their power to control the conscience, and the souls held under their sway have not sufficient courage or independence to obey their own convictions of duty.

“The truth and the glory of God are inseparable; it is impossible for us, with the Bible within our reach, to honor God by erroneous opinions. Many claim that it matters not what one believes, if his life is only right. But the life is molded by the faith. If light and truth is within our reach, and we neglect to improve the privilege of hearing and seeing it, we virtually reject it; we are choosing darkness rather than light.

“ ‘There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.’ Proverbs 16:25. Ignorance is no excuse for error or sin, when there is every opportunity to know the will of God.” The Great Controversy, 597, 598.

5 How can people rise from the lowest depths of ignorance and sin? Psalm 119:98, 105.

Note: “By giving heed to the teachings of God’s word, men may rise from the lowest depths of ignorance and degradation to become sons of God, associates of sinless angels.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 85.

6 What will be no excuse for those who persist in error and sin? Hosea 4:6.

Note: “He [Jesus] came in humility, in order that the humblest being upon the face of the earth could have no excuse because of his poverty, or ignorance, and say, Because of these things, I cannot obey the law of Jehovah. Christ clothed His divinity with humanity, that humanity might touch humanity; that He might live with humanity and bear all the trials and afflictions of man. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. In His humanity He understood all the temptations that will come to man.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 925.

“Jesus is mighty to save His people from their sins. … Sin has been revealed to us by the Word and the Spirit of truth, that we may not be found transgressors of the divine precepts, and there is no opportunity to plead the excuse of ignorance. The command is ‘Depart from iniquity’ (II Timothy 2:19).” That I May Know Him, 255.

“The times of ignorance God winked at, but now, with the blazing light of truth shining all around us, with warnings, with reproofs, with increasing light if we will but open our eyes to see it, there is no excuse of any, even the weakest child of God, that they should not disperse light to the world. The four angels are holding the four winds that a special work may be accomplished: the saints of God are to be sealed in their foreheads. Brethren, how long before you will be ready for the seal of God? Every step you advance upon the path which God forbids, toward your own pleasure and in sin, is a step nearer your destruction. Every act of disobedience to the word of the Lord is exposing you to irreparable loss. Every moment of ease, of self-indulgence, secured by you in neglecting the divine admonitions and call to duty in earnest work for the Master, is placing you under the power and control of the prince of darkness.” The Review and Herald, June 7, 1887.

7 What falsehood did Satan use successfully to deceive the Jews of Christ’s day? John 7:48.

8 How can we be deceived today in the same way?

Note: “Many are deceived today in the same way as were the Jews. Religious teachers read the Bible in the light of their own understanding and traditions; and the people do not search the Scriptures for themselves, and judge for themselves as to what is truth; but they yield up their judgment, and commit their souls to their leaders. The preaching and teaching of His word is one of the means that God has ordained for diffusing light; but we must bring every man’s teaching to the test of Scripture. Whoever will prayerfully study the Bible, desiring to know the truth, that he may obey it, will receive divine enlightenment. He will understand the Scriptures.” The Desire of Ages, 459.

“Notwithstanding the Bible is full of warnings against false teachers, many are ready thus to commit the keeping of their souls to the clergy. There are today thousands of professors of religion who can give no other reason for points of faith which they hold than that they were so instructed by their religious leaders. They pass by the Saviour’s teachings almost unnoticed, and place implicit confidence in the words of the ministers. But are ministers infallible? How can we trust our souls to their guidance unless we know from God’s word that they are light bearers?” The Great Controversy, 596, 597.

9 How are people entrapped to cooperate with Satan? Isaiah 53:1; Acts 28:24.

Note: “Those to whom the message of truth is spoken seldom ask, ‘Is it true?’ but, ‘By whom is it advocated?’ Multitudes estimate it by the numbers who accept it; and the question is still asked, ‘Have any of the learned men or religious leaders believed?’ Men are no more favorable to real godliness now than in the days of Christ. They are just as intently seeking earthly good, to the neglect of eternal riches; and it is not an argument against the truth, that large numbers are not ready to accept it, or that it is not received by the world’s great men, or even by the religious leaders.” The Desire of Ages, 459, 460.

10 Why will one class of people remain blind to the truth? II Corinthians 4:3, 4.

Note: “God does not propose to remove every objection which the carnal heart may bring against His truth. To those who refuse the precious rays of light which would illuminate the darkness, the mysteries of God’s word remain such forever. From them the truth is hidden. They walk blindly, and know not the ruin before them.” The Desire of Ages, 588.

11 How might we (individuals, families and churches) be in danger of following the example of the Jewish people? Hosea 13:9; Jeremiah 6:19.

Note: “Christ overlooked the world and all ages from the height of Olivet; and His words are applicable to every soul who slights the pleadings of divine mercy. Scorner of His love, He addresses you today. It is ‘thou, even thou,’ who shouldest know the things that belong to thy peace. Christ is shedding bitter tears for you, who have no tears to shed for yourself. Already that fatal hardness of heart which destroyed the Pharisees is manifest in you. And every evidence of the grace of God, every ray of divine light, is either melting and subduing the soul, or confirming it in hopeless impenitence.

“Christ foresaw that Jerusalem would remain obdurate and impenitent; yet all the guilt, all the consequences of rejected mercy, lay at her own door. Thus it will be with every soul who is following the same course.” The Desire of Ages, 588.

Review and Thought Questions:

1 To whom does God reveal the truth?

2 When the light of truth comes to a person, what are the two alternative possibilities?

3 Why is ignorance no excuse for error or sin?

4 What help should a carnal heart never expect from God?

©2005 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.

Keys to the Storehouse – Strong Man Armed

“How can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.” Matthew 12:29.

For the longest time I had a hard time understanding the meaning of this verse and how it applied to my life. Before I made my commitment to the Lord Jesus, there was a strong man who had control of my house and all the goods it contained, the talents and gifts given from the Lord. I thought all was well because, “When men give themselves over to be the slaves of Satan, he does not manifest the enmity toward them which he does to those who bear the name of Christ, and give themselves to the service of God. … Satan will permit those to have a degree of rest who are bound as slaves to his chariot, for they are his willing captives.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 299.

This is what we need to understand. “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace.” Luke 11:21. As bond slaves, we think we are at peace!

When is it that the anger of the strong man is raised and our so-called peace is shaken? “His enmity is aroused when the message of mercy reaches his bondslaves, and they seek to wrench themselves away from his power, that they may follow the true Shepherd. Then it is that he seeks to bind them with additional chains to hold them in their captivity. The conflict between the soul and Satan begins when the captive begins to tug at the chain, and longs to be free; for it is then that the human agent begins to co-operate with heavenly intelligences, when faith takes hold on Christ.” Ibid.

When the Holy Spirit moves upon our hearts and we begin to yearn for freedom in Christ, this is the time when Jesus can enter into the strong man’s house and spoil his goods. “Then it is that the Stronger than the strong man armed, is the helper of the soul, and the poor captive is strengthened by the Holy Spirit to obtain his freedom.” Ibid. Praise the Lord!

“Jesus is stronger than the strong man armed, and will rescue from the power of Satan every soul that relies wholly upon him. Although we may be weak and helpless in ourselves, yet all the forces of heaven are at the command of the believing child of God, and the hosts of hell cannot make him depart from the right course if he clings to God by living faith.” The Review and Herald, May 20, 1884.

“He who unites himself with Christ will gather to himself the graces of Christ. … By cooperation with the Saviour, he becomes the instrument through which God works. Then when Satan comes and strives to take possession of the soul, he finds that Christ has made him stronger than the strong man armed.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1092.

Heavenly Father, I now understand that the strong man armed was Satan in control of my life and all of its talents. I am so thankful that I invited Jesus into my heart and that He is stronger than the strong man armed. I am so thankful that through Him I am free and that the doors of my heart are open for the Holy Spirit to use all of the gifts and talents You have bestowed upon me to Your glory in turning others heavenward. I cling to Thee so that the strong man armed can no longer use me to turn others earthward. Thank You for freedom from the strong man armed. Amen.